I am writing this under an appreciable mental strain, since by tonight I shall be no more. Penniless, and
at the end of my supply of the drug which alone, makes life endurable, I can bear the torture no longer;
and shall cast myself from this garret window into the squalid street below. Do not think from my
slavery to morphine that I am a weakling or a degenerate. When you have read these hastily scrawled
pages you may guess, though never fully realise, why it is that I must have forgetfulness or death.
It was in one of the most open and least frequented parts of the broad Pacific that the packet of which I
was supercargo fell a victim to the German sea-raider. The great war was then at its very beginning,
and the ocean forces of the Hun had not completely sunk to their later degradation; so that our vessel
was made a legitimate prize, whilst we of her crew were treated with all the fairness and consideration
due us as naval prisoners. So liberal, indeed, was the discipline of our captors, that five days after we
were taken I managed to escape alone in a small boat with water and provisions for a good length of
When I finally found myself adrift and free, I had but little idea of my surroundings. Never a
competent navigator, I could only guess vaguely by the sun and stars that I was somewhat south of the
equator. Of the longitude I knew nothing, and no island or coastline was in sight. The weather kept fair,
and for uncounted days I drifted aimlessly beneath the scorching sun; waiting either for some passing
ship, or to be cast on the shores of some habitable land. But neither ship nor land appeared, and I began
to despair in my solitude upon the heaving vastness of unbroken blue.
The change happened whilst I slept. Its details I shall never know; for my slumber, though troubled and
dream-infested, was continuous. When at last I awakened, it was to discover myself half sucked into a
slimy expanse of hellish black mire which extended about me in monotonous undulations as far as I
could see, and in which my boat lay grounded some distance away.
Though one might well imagine that my first sensation would be of wonder at so prodigious and
unexpected a transformation of scenery, I was in reality more horrified than astonished; for there was
in the air and in the rotting soil a sinister quality which chilled me to the very core. The region was
putrid with the carcasses of decaying fish, and of other less describable things which I saw protruding
from the nasty mud of the unending plain. Perhaps I should not hope to convey in mere words the
unutterable hideousness that can dwell in absolute silence and barren immensity. There was nothing
within hearing, and nothing in sight save a vast reach of black slime; yet the very completeness of the
stillness and the homogeneity of the landscape oppressed me with a nauseating fear.
The sun was blazing down from a sky which seemed to me almost black in its cloudless cruelty; as