For the rest of the voyage, I repeatedly conferred with the scientists on board. Various theories were advanced. The biologist, Thomas Young, who was feeling much better thanks to the relatively calm seas and a tonic from Malcolm’s store of medication, thought it quite possible that a hitherto undiscovered species existed in the far north.
“Gentlemen,” he informed us loudly, “hidden away on our planet are living beings whose discovery will utterly amaze us.”
My old friend Malcolm disagreed. “Spiritual beings, you mean,” he retorted.
Young stared at Malcolm as if he had just mutated into one of the aforementioned creatures from another dimension.
“That’s absurd,” he said indignantly. “You’re a man of science, Dr. Hurd. With all due respect, sir, don’t entertain such a superstition.”
“What’s your opinion, Sir Arthur?” asked Professor Kinnock, turning to me. He produced a metal flask from the pocket of his jacket. Flat and curved, it was excellently suited to be housed in a jacket pocket. I owned several similar examples.
Kinnock offered me the flask. “Take a good pull at that before you answer, it’s an aid to thought.”
I thanked him and complied. A truly delectable whiskey irrigated my tonsils.
“Well?” The geologist looked at me expectantly. “Scotch,” I said, smacking my lips.
Kinnock laughed. “I wanted to learn your opinion on spiritual beings, so-called. I know you’re a member of the Parapsychology Society.”
“True,” I replied. The man was well-informed.
Thomas Young could not forbear to snort contemptuously.
“The existence of a poltergeist was recently proved in the village of Welshpool in Wales,” I said, “so I wouldn’t argue with Dr. Hurd on that score.”
“Humbug!” Young snapped. “You mark my words, there’ll be a perfectly rational explanation for the events on Prins Karls Forland.”
A loud cry rang out on the deck. The experienced seafarer. I sensed that the helmsman would react and the freighter change course. Something grazed the ship’s side. There followed a long, rasping sound.
Young, who was mystified, turned pale. “Are we in danger?” he asked anxiously.
“Come, gentlemen,” I said in a studiously unemotional voice. “Let’s go and take a look.” Up on deck, we were greeted by the sight I had been expecting. My interpretation of the lookout’s cry had been correct.
The Ramsgate was steering clear of an iceberg at least twice her size, and that was only its visible bulk. Its true dimensions were only vaguely conveyed by the greenish ice shimmering below the surface.
Fragments of the colossus must have become detached and struck the freighter’s hull. They had been responsible for the ominous noises, but I could tell that, now that she had changed course, the Ramsgate ran no risk of colliding with the iceberg.
“Such things happen occasionally, even in these latitudes,” I said, “especially when the temperature rises. It was a greeting from Greenland.”
Young was clinging to the rail and staring at the iceberg’s bizarre structure. If he wasn’t careful, his eyes would pop out of their sockets.
We reached our destination the next morning.