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PAGE 2

A Psychological Shipwreck
by [?]

“To sundry it is given to be drawn away, and to be apart from the body for a season; for, as concerning rills which would flow across each other the weaker is borne along by the stronger, so there be certain of kin whose paths intersecting, their souls do bear company, the while their bodies go fore-appointed ways, unknowing.”

Miss Harford arose, shuddering; the sun had sunk below the horizon, but it was not cold. There was not a breath of wind; there were no clouds in the sky, yet not a star was visible. A hurried tramping sounded on the deck; the captain, summoned from below, joined the first officer, who stood looking at the barometer. “Good God!” I heard him exclaim.

An hour later the form of Janette Harford, invisible in the darkness and spray, was torn from my grasp by the cruel vortex of the sinking ship, and I fainted in the cordage of the floating mast to which I had lashed myself.

It was by lamplight that I awoke. I lay in a berth amid the familiar surroundings of the stateroom of a steamer. On a couch opposite sat a man, half undressed for bed, reading a book. I recognized the face of my friend Gordon Doyle, whom I had met in Liverpool on the day of my embarkation, when he was himself about to sail on the steamer City of Prague, on which he had urged me to accompany him.

After some moments I now spoke his name. He simply said, “Well,” and turned a leaf in his book without removing his eyes from the page.

“Doyle,” I repeated, “did they save HER?”

He now deigned to look at me and smiled as if amused. He evidently thought me but half awake.

“Her? Whom do you mean?”

“Janette Harford.”

His amusement turned to amazement; he stared at me fixedly, saying nothing.

“You will tell me after a while,” I continued; “I suppose you will tell me after a while.”

A moment later I asked: “What ship is this?”

Doyle stared again. “The steamer City of Prague, bound from Liverpool to New York, three weeks out with a broken shaft. Principal passenger, Mr. Gordon Doyle; ditto lunatic, Mr. William Jarrett. These two distinguished travelers embarked together, but they are about to part, it being the resolute intention of the former to pitch the latter overboard.”

I sat bolt upright. “Do you mean to say that I have been for three weeks a passenger on this steamer?”

“Yes, pretty nearly; this is the 3d of July.”

“Have I been ill?”

“Right as a trivet all the time, and punctual at your meals.”

“My God! Doyle, there is some mystery here; do have the goodness to be serious. Was I not rescued from the wreck of the ship Morrow?”

Doyle changed color, and approaching me, laid his fingers on my wrist. A moment later, “What do you know of Janette Harford?” he asked very calmly.

“First tell me what YOU know of her?”

Mr. Doyle gazed at me for some moments as if thinking what to do, then seating himself again on the couch, said:

“Why should I not? I am engaged to marry Janette Harford, whom I met a year ago in London. Her family, one of the wealthiest in Devonshire, cut up rough about it, and we eloped–are eloping rather, for on the day that you and I walked to the landing stage to go aboard this steamer she and her faithful servant, a negress, passed us, driving to the ship Morrow. She would not consent to go in the same vessel with me, and it had been deemed best that she take a sailing vessel in order to avoid observation and lessen the risk of detection. I am now alarmed lest this cursed breaking of our machinery may detain us so long that the Morrow will get to New York before us, and the poor girl will not know where to go.”

I lay still in my berth–so still I hardly breathed. But the subject was evidently not displeasing to Doyle, and after a short pause he resumed:

“By the way, she is only an adopted daughter of the Harfords. Her mother was killed at their place by being thrown from a horse while hunting, and her father, mad with grief, made away with himself the same day. No one ever claimed the child, and after a reasonable time they adopted her. She has grown up in the belief that she is their daughter.”

“Doyle, what book are you reading?”

“Oh, it’s called ‘Denneker’s Meditations.’ It’s a rum lot, Janette gave it to me; she happened to have two copies. Want to see it?”

He tossed me the volume, which opened as it fell. On one of the exposed pages was a marked passage:

“To sundry it is given to be drawn away, and to be apart from the body for a season; for, as concerning rills which would flow across each other the weaker is borne along by the stronger, so there be certain of kin whose paths intersecting, their souls do bear company, the while their bodies go fore-appointed ways, unknowing.”

“She had–she has–a singular taste in reading,” I managed to say, mastering my agitation.

“Yes. And now perhaps you will have the kindness to explain how you knew her name and that of the ship she sailed in.”

“You talked of her in your sleep,” I said.

A week later we were towed into the port of New York. But the Morrow was never heard from.