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The Haunted Yacht
by [?]

The diversity of Dewy dazed me.

“You are staying the night at F–?” he said.

“Why, yes. I sleep at the Ship Inn, but hoped to leave early to-morrow.”

“Of course you could inspect the sails and gear at once; they are in the loft behind.” He jerked a thumb over his shoulder.

“So I understand, but it would be better to see the boat first.”

“Naturally, naturally. I hope you see how I am placed? You would not desire me, I feel sure, to disappoint the chapel members who will be waiting presently for their rehearsal. Stay . . . perhaps you would not greatly object to rowing up and inspecting the yacht by yourself? Here are the keys, and my boat is at your disposal; or, if you prefer it, a waterman–“

“Nothing would suit me better, if you don’t mind my using the boat.”

“It will be a favour, sir, your using her, I assure you. This way, if you please.”

He jumped down from the table and led the way downstairs, and through some very rickety back premises to the quay door, where his boat lay moored to a frape. As I climbed down and cast off, Mr. Dewy pulled out his watch again.

“The evenings are lengthening, and you will have plenty of time. Half an hour to high water; you will have the tide with you each way. The keys will open everything on board. By the way, you can’t miss her–black, with a tarnished gilt line, moored beside a large white schooner, just three-quarters of a mile up. You can tie up the boat to the frape on your return; to-morrow will do for the keys; at your service any time after nine a.m. Good evening, sir!”

Mr. Dewy turned and hurried back to his client, whose presence during our interview he had completely ignored.

The sun had dropped behind the tall hills that line the western shore of the beautiful F– River; but a soft yellow light, too generously spread to dazzle, suffused the whole sky, and was reflected on the tide that stole up with scarcely a ripple. A sharp bend of the stream brought me in sight of the two yachts, not fifty yards away–their inverted reflections motionless as themselves; I rested on my oars and drifted up towards them, conning the black yawl carefully.

She struck me as too big for a 35-tonner, fore-shortened though she lay–a wall-sided narrow boat, but a very pretty specimen of her type. Her dismantled masts were painted white, and her upper boards had been removed, of course.


There was a man standing on her deck.

She lay with her nose pointing up the river and her stern towards me. The man stood by her wheel (for some idiotic reason, best known to himself, her builder had given her a wheel instead of a tiller), which was covered up with tarpaulin. He stood with a hand on this tarpaulin case, and looked back over his shoulder towards me–a tall fellow with a reddish beard and a clean-shaven upper lip. I was drifting close by this time–he looking curiously at me–and I must have been studying his features for half a minute before I hailed him.

“Yacht ahoy!” I called out. “Is that the Siren?”

Getting no answer, I pulled the boat close under the yacht’s side, made her fast, and climbed on board by way of the channels.

“This is the Siren, eh?” I said, looking down her deck towards the wheel.

There was no man to be seen.

I stared around for a minute or so; ran to the opposite side and looked over; ran aft and leaned over her taffrail; ran forward and peered over her bows. Her counter was too short to conceal a man, and her stem had absolutely no overhang at all; yet no man was to be seen, nor boat nor sign of a man. I tried the companion: it was covered and padlocked. The sail-hatch and fore-hatch were also fastened and padlocked, and the skylights covered with tarpaulin and screwed firmly down. A mouse could not have found its way below, except perhaps by the stove-pipe or the pipe leading down to the chain-locker.