"Dinner over, Carnacki as usual passed round his smokes, snuggled himself down luxuriously in his favourite armchair and went straight to the story we knew he had invited us to hear.
'I've been on a trip in one of the real old-time sailing ships,' he said without any preliminary remarks. 'The Jarvee, owned by my old friend Captain Thompson. I went on the voyage primarily for my health, but I picked on the old Jarvee because Captain Thompson had often told me there was something queer about her. I used to ask him up here whenever he came ashore and try to get him to tell me more about it, you know; but the funny thing was he never could tell me anything definite concerning her queerness. He seemed always to know but when it came to putting his knowledge into words it was as if he found that the reality melted out of it. ....
Then on the eighteenth day something truly happened. I had been pacing the poop as usual with old Thompson when suddenly he stopped and looked up at the mizzen royal which had just begun to flap against the mast. He glanced at the wind-vane near him, then ruffled his hat back and stared at the sea.
'"Wind's droppin', mister. There'll be trouble tonight," he said. "D'you see yon?" And he pointed away to windward. '"What?" I asked, staring with a curious little thrill that was due to more than curiosity. "Where?"
'"Right off the beam," he said. "Comin' from under the sun." "I don't see anything," I explained after a long stare at the wide-spreading silence of the sea that was already glassing into a dead calm surface now that the wind had died. "Yon shadow fixin'" said the old man, reaching for his glasses.
He focussed them and took a long look, then passed them across to me and pointed with his finger. "Just under the sun," he repeated. "Comin' towards us at the rate o' knots." He was curiously calm and matter-of-fact and yet I felt that a certain excitement had him in the throat; so that I took the glasses eagerly and stared according to his directions.
After a minute I saw it - a vague shadow upon the still surface of the sea that seemed to move towards us as I stared. For a moment I gazed fascinated, yet ready every moment to swear that I saw nothing and in the same instant to be assured that there was truly something out there upon the water, apparently coming towards the ship.
'"It's only a shadow, captain," I said at length...."