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Lights

By PHILIP FISHER
Author of "The Devil of the Western Sea," "Beyond the Pole," etc.

Hazard on the high sea and a ghostly warning that the eyes of one sailor only could see

I

THERE had never been any question of Carey's seamanship. Officers who knew had testified to that. The captain himself had declared so to the court. And he had added further the unsolicited opinion that he knew no officer he would more fully trust to keep safe position when the destroyer division was making twenty-five knots in close column.

Furtive glances flickered between the officers grouped about the green baized wardroom table. A disagreeable duty, this trying a brother at arms. The judge advocate himself hesitated. Then, pushing aside a thought not entirely complimentary to naval regulations, he sighed almost audibly and put another question.

Captain Kennart shook his head with grim decision.

"No," he said emphatically. "Carey never used the stadimeter. Always judged the distance with his naked eye."

A member of the court cleared his throat. Another tapped the table top with his pencil. The judge advocate sighed within himself again.

"That's all," he said finally.

Carey's counsel nodded. The president of the court looked inquiringly at his confrères. Each shook his head in turn.

The president made the routine admonition regarding silence and Captain Kennart left the room.

Lieutenant, junior grade, Warren Carey relaxed somewhat in his seat. He had felt that his captain would do his best by him. He thrilled with a growing faith in his fellow man at this positive evidence that despite what had occurred the captain bore no grudge. Yet had Captain Kennart given testimony inspired by an active hate, he could have found no fault.

Hope again grew in his breast. These officers about him, too, he had shopped and partied with all over the China coast. The admiral had ordered them on this court. A regulation duty. They were to ascertain facts, impartially weigh them, give judgment in accordance with navy law. This they would do, Carey knew. Yet when one's fate is to be settled by real men, mercy ever tempers justice. Real men can understand.

A fluttering breath escaped Carey, nevertheless.

He dared not succumb to optimism. Between him and these others, all other men indeed, he still sensed something inexplicable, as if he were befogged in vibrations of a different plane. He could not see this clouding envelope. It was a thing to be felt, but not by a normal perceptive faculty. He wondered if he really differed in any strange way from ordinary men. It appeared almost that he did. He shuddered slightly in recollection of that night on the lower Yangtze when he, and only he, had seen those lights. Every man who had been on the bridge when the thing had occurred had sworn to having seen not a single light. He, Carey, witness at the captain's own trial, had been alone in the affirmative. He had not been told this of course. Yet instinctively he knew it must be so. That night they had declared themselves. Before the court they assuredly had done the same thing.

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