Why, I can run it with my eyes shut.'
'How much water is there in it?'
'Well, that is an odd question. I couldn't get bottom there with a
'You think so, do you?'
The very tone of the question shook my confidence. That was what Mr.
Bixby was expecting. He left, without saying anything more. I began to
imagine all sorts of things. Mr. Bixby, unknown to me, of course, sent
somebody down to the forecastle with some mysterious instructions to the
leadsmen, another messenger was sent to whisper among the officers, and
then Mr. Bixby went into hiding behind a smoke-stack where he could
observe results. Presently the captain stepped out on the hurricane
deck; next the chief mate appeared; then a clerk. Every moment or two a
straggler was added to my audience; and before I got to the head of the
island I had fifteen or twenty people assembled down there under my
nose. I began to wonder what the trouble was. As I started across, the
captain glanced aloft at me and said, with a sham uneasiness in his
'Where is Mr. Bixby?'
'Gone below, sir.'
But that did the business for me. My imagination began to construct
dangers out of nothing, and they multiplied faster than I could keep the
run of them. All at once I imagined I saw shoal water ahead!