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The Story Of The Ghost Ship. Part I/IV

July 28th, 2009 Comments off

My father owned a small store in Balsora; he was neither wealthy, nor poor, but one of those who do not like to risk anything, because they fear losing the little that they have. He brought me up plainly, but virtuously, and soon I advanced so far, that I was able to make valuable suggestions to him in his business affairs. When I reached my 18th year, in the middle of his first speculation of any importance, he died; probably because of anxiety at having entrusted a thousand gold pieces to the sea. I was obliged, soon after, to deem him happy in his fortunate death, for in a few weeks the intelligence reached us, that the ship, to which my father had committed his goods, had been wrecked at sea. This misfortune, however, could not depress my youthful spirits. I sold everything that my father had left and set out to try my luck in foreign countries, accompanied only by an old servant of the family, who, on account of ancient attachment, would not part from me and my destiny.

In the port of Balsora we embarked, with a favourable wind. The vessel, in which I had taken passage, was headed for India. We had now for fifteen days sailed in the usual track, when the Captain warned us of an approaching storm. He wore a pensative look, for it seemed he knew that, in this place, there was not sufficient depth of water to encounter a storm with safety. He ordered them to take in all sail, and we moved along quite slowly. The night set in clear and cold, and the Captain began to think that he had been mistaken in his forebodings. All at once there floated close by ours, a ship which none of us had observed before. A wild shout and cry ascended from the deck, at which, occurring at this anxious season, before a storm, I wondered not a little. But the Captain by my side was deadly pale: “My ship is lost,” cried he; “there sails Death!” Before I could demand an explanation of these strange words, the sailors rushed in, weeping and crying. “Have you seen it? All is now over with us!”, they shouted.

But the Captain had words of comforting read to them out of the Quran, and seated himself at the front. But in vain! The tempest began visibly to rise with a roaring noise, and, before an hour passed by, the ship struck and remained aground. The boats were lowered, and scarcely had the last sailors saved themselves, when the vessel went down before our eyes, and I was launched, a beggar, upon the sea. But our misfortune had still no end. Frightfully roared the tempest, the boat could no longer be governed. I fastened myself firmly to my old servant, and we mutually promised not to be separated from each other. At last the day broke, but, with the first glance of the morning-red, the wind struck and upset the boat in which we were seated. After that I saw my shipmates no more. The shock deprived me of consciousness, and when I returned to my senses, I found myself in the arms of my old faithful attendant, who had saved himself on the boat which had been upturned, and had come in search of me. The storm had abated; of our vessel there was nothing any more to be seen, but we plainly descried, at no great distance from us, another ship, towards which the waves were driving us. As we approached, I recognised the vessel as the same which had passed by us in the night, and which had thrown the Captain into such consternation. I felt a strange horror of this ship; the intimation of the Captain, which had been so fearfully corroborated, the desolate appearance of the ship, on which, although as we drew near we uttered loud cries, no one was visible, alarmed me.
Nevertheless this was our only expedient; accordingly, we praised the Prophet, who had so miraculously preserved us.