Page:A Mainsail Haul - Masefield - 1913.djvu/27

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15
SEA SUPERSTITION

that sea, was a terror to me past power of words to tell. I went to the ship's rail, and shut my eyes for a moment, and then opened them to look down upon the water rushing past. I had shut my eyes upon the sea, but when I opened them I looked upon the forms of the sea-spirits. The water was indeed there, hurrying aft as the ship cut through; but in the bright foam for far about the ship I saw multitudes of beautiful, inviting faces that had an eagerness and a swiftness in them unlike the speed or the intensity of human beings. I remember thinking that I had never seen anything of such passionate beauty as those faces, and as I looked at them my melancholy fell away like a rag. I felt a longing to fling myself over the rail, so as to be with that inhuman beauty. Yet even as I looked that beauty became terrible, as the night had been terrible but a few seconds before. And with the changing of my emotions the faces changed. They became writhelled and hag-like: and in the leaping of the water, as we rushed, I saw malevolent white hands that plucked and snapped at me. I remember I was afraid to go near the rail again before the day dawned.