The end of things …
Clinging to the steps as a wave washed over the Kreya, Mouritzen thought the wind was even higher. He made his way across a deck running with water towards the cluster of lights above the forward hold. Herning was there, with half a dozen hands; and also, he saw with some disquiet, Carling. But Carling made no attempt to interfere as Herning made his report.
‘Smashed open, like a tin box, sir! And every sea we ship cracks it farther open.’
Their torches, cast together, threw a double beam and Mouritzen saw what had happened. Presumably a wave had got under the hatch cover and lifted it. Subsequent seas had crashed the cover down against the hatch, lifted it and crashed it again, in a rhythmic pounding under which, in the end, the heavy steel had twisted and buckled. Now the cover on the starboard side was forced down below the level of its mate, useless, and with each wave water was sucked through into the hold, wrenching it further out of shape.
The Kreya heeled and a wave lifted higher and higher above them before thundering down to immerse them, for an instant, in a world of savage water. Holding on to the rail, Mouritzen had a moment’s dread that there would be no more solid, that this was the end of things – a roaring in the ears, a choking, liquid coldness. In the apprehension of death, he thought of the sun, of all its lavish fire, and desperately worshipped it.