With the room somewhat subdued, now the sound of a lute from one of Gerakis' back rooms carried through to them. It was a devilish strain, like as if it were from some dark, unfathomable continent. It compelled the soul and haunted them, though, if pressed, they could not say the effect was altogether distressing, rather that they would follow it, though it were the Dark Lord himself strumming the chords, through black tempests across unknown seas.
Then a voice like a hurricane began to sing, and Duncan, though mesmerized as were they all, thought he recognized it, and rose from the bar to discover with his eyes if what his ears told him was true, the song being thus:
The night I was born
The moon turned a fire red
Of a gypsy's scorn
Under a bad sign was I bred
And my mother cried
And my father, too
It can't be denied
You've got a spell on you
Up from the dust of the Earth
Did that first man spring
It weren't no natural birth
The Hands of God wrought a curs-ed thing
With a heart to burn
For love untrue
And flesh to turn
A mortal blue
See it written in the stars
Hear that whispering wind
Feel the thunder in your heart
Lord, you know it's the end
Duncan stood in the doorway leaning against the post and saw that his ears did not deceive him. The player of the lute and the singer of the song was his old shipmate, Kilduff, whom he had not seen since they had sailed together to Cathay many years ago. Duncan made to hail him, but his gesture was missed as Kilduff struck up again another song that was more dirge and chant that soon had them all who heard it yet again in thrall.
We'd just gone down below decks
And settled in our bunks
When the ship began to pitch and roll
In a great and powerful swell
Our captain's voice
With all his might he did yell
Down the fo'c'sle
Loud and clear did we hear
"All hands topside that love their lives
"And will heave and will strive
"To see another year
"For the sea this night she's angry, some tar
"Has scoffed and scorned her
"Now she's thrown at us this storm
"And our dear sweet ship will founder
"If ye boys ye don't bound yer
"Carc'ses aloft this instant to save her."
What choice had we but to follow
The command of our captain so dire
Sure as the sea finds its way through the hawsehole
The laggard riles the master's ire
And but only conspires
With the gale to consign to the deep one and all.
Lay to, did we, to the topsails and royals
With our marlinspikes to reef and take in
With the sky all aboil
Flinging lightning and hail
Our masts in the maelstrom did shiver
On her side did our poor ship roll over
By but a splinter spared the yardarms did not injure and scar
The sea's foamy surface
Hope sank and fear rose to roil in our gullets
We hung from the spars and dangled from the gunwale
No footing sure, no purchase level
Four men lost we to the delight of the devil
Yet our captain remained at the wheel
And denied all our calls to strike masts
"Haul, men!" yelled he, "Haul the brace
"If on her keel ye don't want to dance!
"Square the main yard all fast!"
We hauled and choked and our captain cried with ardor
"If ye don't haul it's murder!"
And someone replied, "She's paying off, sir!"
She rose slowly with the wind abaft her beam
She lurched and jerked herself free from that deadly grasp
That held us all in darkness
Till the Fates saw fit to smash that hasp
And she righted herself and the seas effervesced into cream
And the storm lost heart and faded like an evil dream.