Physicians found no adequate cause the end, and laid it to heart trouble and a weakened constitution.
I now felt gnawing at my vitals that dark terror which will never leave me till I, too, am at rest; “accidentally” or otherwise. Persuad-g the widow that my connexion with her husband’s “technical matters” was sufficient to entitle me to his manuscript, I bore the document away and began to read it on the London boat.
It was a simple, rambling thing – a naive sailor’s effort at a post-facto diary – and strove to recall day by day that last awful voyage.
I cannot attempt to transcribe it verbatim in all its cloudiness and redundance, but I will tell its gist enough to shew why the sound the water against the vessel’s sides became so unendurable to me that I stopped my ears with cotton.
Johansen, thank God, did not know quite all, even though he saw the city and the Thing, but I shall never sleep calmly again when I think of the horrors that lurk ceaselessly behind life in time and in space, and of those unhallowed blasphemies from elder stars which dream beneath the sea, known and favoured by a nightmare cult ready and eager to loose them upon the world whenever another earthquake shall heave their monstrous stone city again to the sun and air.
Johansen’s voyage had begun just as he told it to the vice-admiralty.
The Emma, in ballast, had cleared Auckland on February 20th, and had felt the full force of that earthquake-born tempest which must have heaved up from the sea-bottom the horrors that filled men’s dreams.
Once more under control, the ship was making good progress when held up by the Alert on March 22nd, and I could feel the mate’s regret as he wrote of her bombardment and sinking.
Of the swarthy cult-fiends on the Alert he speaks with significant horror.
There was some peculiarly abominable quality about them which made their destruction seem almost a duty, and Johansen shews ingenuous wonder at the charge of ruthlessness brought against his party during the proceedings of the court of inquiry.