Tuesday, 31 May 2011

...of the deaf and dumb

For a long time Mr Tefft had hesitated over which of the many deserving causes he knew of should benefit in the event of Katherine's negligence. Mr Brindle had, in turn, suggested to his client a home for retired clerks, a school for orphans of men lost at sea, and a small mill staffed by young ladies rescued from Satan. Mr Tefft had expressed courteous interest and given small donations, but it was only after a typhoon had driven his impotent ship through the Djailoto Passage and into the roaring blackness of the Pacific, that he discovered precisely which charity would benefit from his burial at sea.
It was a home for the deaf and dumb a few miles from Gloucester. In its white-washed rooms, with their chintz and flowerpots, Mr Tefft found an oasis remote from his nightmare. The deaf could not hear the oceans rushing to the deeps not the dumb utter their horror at the thought. So Mr Tefft often visited the home, sat with its softly blinking inmates and poured out his visions to them. They would listen, nodding and smiling at the mere presence of this tall gentleman who came with baskets of fruit and addressed their silence with such seriousness. After having spoken his piece, Mr Tefft would feel less afraid. Yes, either his fortune would be Katherine's or - if by some dread negligence he fell a prey to the deeps - it would profit these men and women over whose brains the sea had no spell.

[The Deeps of the Sea, Steiner, G.]

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