Chapter 4:

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Just then Blue drew White’s attention again. The latter stopped pacing and directed his gaze towards the direction indicated. He looked long. I felt very much puzzled, and descended to navigation, and took out an excellent telescope that I generally used. Then, leaning on the metal of the control panel that jutted out from the front of the platform, set myself to look out to space and stars.

But my visor was no sooner applied to the glass than it was quickly snatched out of my hands.

I turned around. White stood before me, but I did not know him. His face was transfigured. His eyes flashed sullenly; his stiff body, clenched hands, and head shrunk between his non-existent shoulders, betrayed the violent agitation that pervaded his whole frame. He did not move. My glass, fallen from his hands, had rolled at his feet.

Had I unwittingly provoked this fit of anger? Did this incomprehensible crewmate imagine that I had discovered some sussy objects? No; I was not the object of this hatred, for he was not

looking at me; his eye was steadily fixed upon the impenetrable point of the horizon. At last White recovered himself. His agitation subsided. He addressed some words in a foreign language to Blue, then turned to me. He said, in rather an imposterious tone, "I require you to keep one of the conditions that binds the Skeld together."

"What is it, White?"

"You must be confined, with your crewmates, until I think fit to release you."

"You are the master," I replied, looking steadily at him. "But may I ask you one question?"

"None, crewmate."

There was no resisting this imperious command, it would have been useless. I went down to the cabin occupied by Green and Lime, and told them White’s determination. You may judge how this communication was received by Green.

But there was not time for altercation. Three other crewmates waited at the door, and conducted us to that cell where we had passed our first night on board the Skeld.

Green would have remonstrated, but the door was shut upon him.

"Will master tell me what this means?" asked Lime.

I told the crewmates what had passed. They were as much astonished as I, and equally at a loss how to account for it.

Meanwhile, I was absorbed in my own reflections, and could think of nothing but the strange fear depicted in White’s countenance. I was utterly at a loss to account for it, when my cogitations were disturbed by words from Green:

"Hello! breakfast is ready."

And indeed the table was laid with juicy sausages and a sussy white liquid. Evidently White had given this order at the same time that he had hastened the speed of the Skeld.

"Will master permit me to make a recommendation?" asked Lime.

"Yes, my boy."

"Well, it is that master breakfasts. It is prudent, for we do not know what may happen."

"You are right, Lime."

"Unfortunately," said Green, "they have only given us the ship's fare."

"Crewmate Green," asked Lime, "what would you have said if the breakfast had been entirely forgotten?"

This argument cut short the crewmates recriminations.

We sat down to table. The meal was eaten in silence.

Just then the lights that lit the cell went out, and left us in total darkness. Green was soon asleep, and what astonished me was that Lime went off into a heavy slumber. I was thinking what could have caused his irresistible drowsiness, when I felt my brain becoming stupefied. In spite of my efforts to keep my eyes open, they would close. A painful suspicion seized me. Evidently soporific substances had been mixed with the food we had just taken. Imprisonment was not enough to conceal White’s plans from us, sleep was more necessary. I then heard the panels shut. Had the Skeld quitted the surface of the planet? Had it gone back to the motionless emptiness of space? I tried to resist sleep. It was impossible. My breathing grew weak. I felt a mortal cold freeze my stiffened and half-paralysed limbs. My eye lids, like leaden caps, fell over my eyes. I could not raise them; a morbid sleep, full of hallucinations, bereft me of my being. Then the visions disappeared, and left me in complete insensibility.