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Page:Weird Tales volume 30 number 01.djvu/97

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95
THE OCEAN OGRE

died from fright, or from drinking salt water. My friend didn't elaborate on details, but not liking the unsociable company of corpses, he naturally disposed of them. That's his story, and I accepted it at its face value. I am not a man to go poking about and asking questions. It's enough that he brought us a boatload of provisions and his own buoying companionship. He has actually injected spirit. We were growing to loathe each other, we five. He calls himself Alain Gervais.

June 11. — Gervais (he insisted we call him that) has been with us now for three days. He has the run of the ship, and I have turned the mate's cabin over to him. The mate has no further need for a cabin — he spends his nights rolling on the ocean floor. Gervais is tall and emaciated. His face is oyster-colored, drawn and haggard. His eyes are set, deeply in dark caverns and actually seem to consume you. There is something devastating about those eyes; sometimes they seem a hundred years old. His forehead is high and as yellow and dry as parchment, and his nose is shaped like a simitar. With long, gangling arms and thick wrists he presents an awesome picture. A very peculiar fellow now that I get to know him better. But he is one of us.

June 12. — Gervais has kept more to himself. He remained locked in his cabin all morning, and answered my anxious questions curtly, through the closed door. But I was too busy to investigate; there is a chill in the air that encourages hope for a wind in the near future. Some of the crew seem too tired to work. They came across a bottle of rum in Losier's locker, and by mixing it with salt water they concocted an elixir to alleviate their suffering. Who am I to assert my authority, but I hope for the first breeze, as it will surely bolster the ship's morale. At that time I plan to regain my old power of discipline.

June 13. — A breeze is surely coming. It is eerily still, all around us, except for a sharp report every now and then, as another deck plank snaps under the direct rays of a broiling sun. I am working frantically on a miserable substitute of a rudder. I am stripped to the waist, and the sweat rolls down into my eyes, almost blinding me. I have been over the side twice this afternoon for relief, but there is very little in the brackish water.

June 14. — Gervais slept on the planks with the crew last night, and this morning he looks ten years younger. His face is flushed and full, and the greenish hollows have disappeared from beneath his eyes. But Hanson isn't well. He complains of pains in his chest, and once or twice he spat a mixture of blood and rum. His big face seems sandpapered by age, and he is abnormally pale.

June 15. — No breeze. Hanson is surely stricken. Death hovers over him like an impatient doorman. He lies in his cabin and groans, and I can do nothing for him. His pallor is genuinely alarming. Even his lips are bloodless. He complains of his nose, and noises in his ears. And Gervais has shown his first glints of ill-nature. His eyes smolder when he speaks, and for the first time I discern a hard cruelty in the man. He is an alarming personality.

June 16. — Hanson died this morning. A horrible, racking death. It seemed as though he wanted to tell us something. I laid my ear on his broken, watery lips, but was unable to make out anything intelligible from his forced moaning. Gervais actually gloated over his death. What can it mean? Why such a metamorphosis in the man we befriended? He owes everything to our generosity. Human beings are utterly despicable, and