At the moment when I was about to accost him, the Halbrane’s lieutenant rejoined his captain, and the latter availed himself of the opportunity to avoid me. He made a sign to the officer to follow him, and the two walked away at a rapid pace.
“This is serious,” said I to myself. “It looks as though I shall find it difficult to gain my point. But, after all it only means delay. To-morrow morning I will go on board the Halbrane. Whether he likes it or whether he doesn’t, this Len Guy will have to hear what I’ve got to say, and to give me an answer, yes or no!”
Besides, the captain of the Halbrane might come at dinner-time to the Green Cormorant, where the ship’s people usually took their meals when ashore. So I waited, and did not go to dinner until late. I was disappointed, however, for neither the captain nor anyone belonging to the ship patronized the Green Cormorant that day. I had to dine alone, exactly as I had been doing every day for two months.
After dinner, about half-past seven, when it was dark, I went out to walk on the port, keeping on the side of the houses. The quay was quite deserted; not a man of the Halbrane crew was ashore. The ship’s boats were alongside, rocking gently on the rising tide. I remained there until nine, walking up and down the edge in full view of the Halbrane. Gradually the mass of the ship became indistinct, there was no movement and no light. I returned to the inn, where I found Atkins smoking his pipe near the door.
“Atkins,” said I, “it seems that Captain Len Guy does not care to come to your inn very often?”
“He sometimes comes on Sunday, and this is Saturday, Mr. Jeorling.”
“You have not spoken to him ?”
“Yes, I have.”
Atkins was visibly embarrassed.
“You have informed him that a person of your acquaintance wished to take passage on the Halbrane?” “Yes.”
“What was his answer?”
“Not what either you or I would have wished, Mr. Jeorling.”
“Well, yes, I suppose it was refusing; what he said was: ‘My ship is not intended to carry passengers. I never have taken any, and I never intend to do so.’“
CAPTAIN LEN GUY
I slept ill. Again and again I “dreamed that I was dreaming.” Now—this is an observation made by Edgar Poe—when one suspects that one is dreaming, the waking comes almost instantly. I woke then, and every time in a very bad humour with Captain Len Guy. The idea of leaving the Kerguelens on the Halbrane had full possession of me, and I grew more and more angry with her disobliging captain. In fact, I passed the night in a fever of indignation, and only recovered my temper with daylight. Nevertheless I was determined to have an explanation with Captain Len Guy about his detestable conduct. Perhaps I should fail to get anything out of that human hedgehog, but at least I should have given him a piece of my mind.
I went out at eight o’clock in the morning. The weather was abominable. Rain, mixed with snow, a storm coming over the mountains at the back of the bay from the west, clouds scurrying down from the lower zones, an avalanche of wind and water. It was not likely that Captain Len Guy had come ashore merely to enjoy such a wetting and blowing.
No one on the quay; of course not. As for my getting on’ board the Halbrane, that could not be done without hailing one of her boats, and the boatswain would not venture to send it for me.
“Besides,” I reflected, “on his quarter-deck the captain is at home, and neutral ground is better for what I want to say to him, if he persists in his unjustifiable refusal. I will watch him this time, and if his boat touches the quay, he shall not succeed in avoiding me.”
I returned to the Green Cormorant, and took up my post behind the window panes, which were dimmed by the hissing rain. There I waited, nervous, impatient, and in a state of growing irritation. Two hours wore away thus. Then, with the instability of the winds in the Kerguelens, the weather became calm before I did. I opened my window, and at the same moment a sailor stepped into one of the boats of the Halbrane and laid hold of a pair of oars, while a second man seated himself in the back, but without taking the tiller ropes.