‘I saw the captain.’
‘I said good morning, but he didn’t answer me.’
He washed and dressed, and together they headed for the galley. There was a sound of activity from inside, and opening the door Matthew saw that Skiopos was down on his knees, scrubbing the floor. He called: ‘Good morning, captain,’ but Skiopos did not even look up. He went on with his scrubbing as though he were quite alone. The white drill trousers were looking grubby and above the waist he was wearing a string vest through which fat bulged. There was a bald spot, Matthew noticed, just behind the crown of his head.
As he had guessed, the man was a psychotic, probably predisposed to insanity anyway, the actual illness triggered off by the earthquake and the wave. That was why he had stayed when the ship’s company left, why he spent so much of his time tidying and cleaning. As for his earlier friendly reception of them, it could have been that he was in a manic phase then, a depressive one now. Or that he was capable of welcoming intrusions from the outside, but closed his mind when they threatened to disturb the fantasy by which he lived. The thing which made him generous with his supplies was the same as forbade any mention, any thought, of their running out.
Mad, then, but apparently harmless.