Page:A Mainsail Haul - Masefield - 1913.djvu/29

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17
SEA SUPERSTITION

next day, and at the dawn of each day till the barque reached Norway, a white gull flew at the slayer, crying the cry of the gulls. It was the dead man's soul, my friend said, getting her revenge. The slayer gave himself up on his arrival at the home port, and took poison while awaiting trial.

When he had told me this tale, the Dane called for a tot of the raw spirits of that land, though he must have known, he being so old a sailor, that drink was poison to him. When he had swallowed the liquor, he began a story of one of his voyages to the States. He said that he was in a little English ship coming from New York to Hamburg, and that the ship—the winds being westerly—was making heavy running, under upper topsails, nearly all the voyage. When he was at the wheel with his mate (for two men steered in the pitch and hurry of that sailing) he was given to looking astern at the huge comber known as "the following sea," which topples up, green and grisly, astern of every ship with the wind aft. The sight of that water has a fascination for all men, and it fascinated him, he said, till he thought he saw in the shaking wave the image of an old halt man who