When the Skipper Was Taken by the Evil One

Updated on December 13, 2016
Eva Weggelaar profile image

Eva Weggelaar is a writer and translator, especially interested in poetry and folklore. She also runs her own blog: Paradise is this Way.


Journey By Night

Dead drunk as usual, the captain had come back on board by the time evening fell, after he’d spent a couple of hours at the inn, cursing and raging. Cursing and threatening, he had wobbled across the plank to the ship’s boy, ordering him to raise the sails and hurry up. The boy had obeyed without argument.
The skipper stood, somewhat unstable, at the helm. And so they sailed out of the harbour accompanied by a strong North-easterly.
They’d barely reached the open sea before the skipper gave the wheel to the boy, shuffled to the afterhold and, with many curses, lowered himself into it. The boy closed the hatch after the skipper, reduced the sails and calmly returned to his place at the helm. ‘That must surely be the last time,’ he thought, ‘as soon as the drunkard has slept it off, I’ll tell him he’ll have to look for another boy. The people in Harderwijk would start to associate me with him. Aren’t they already saying that he’s sold his soul to the devil to ensure he’ll always have a good load...and if that should turn out to be true...you wouldn’t even want to think about it. Many things can happen out at sea.’

A Strange Visitor

He heard the sound of voices coming from the afterhold. At first he thought he could recognise the voice of the captain, but no, there was another voice, laughing loudly and cursing. Carefully he opened the hatch a little and peered downwards. To his great astonishment he saw the skipper sitting at the table with a strange black gentleman, busy playing dice, a large jug of Dutch gin and two glasses standing between them. After each throw of the dice the captain furiously banged his hand on the little table, so hard, that everything clattered, and then the black gentleman laughed. In great fear the boy closed the hatch again, and laid a heavy hawser on it. He didn’t feel at all at ease and failed to understand how the black gentleman could’ve made his way on board.

Now it was as if the ship wouldn’t listen to the wheel, sailing around in a large circle instead. In the meantime the shouts and laughter from below continued, and then it was suddenly silent. That silence was even more unpleasant for the boy, as it made him uncertain, and he felt he had to keep looking around in the darkness. He was startled by the slightest rustle of the sails and peered all around in the dark. The old familiar Zuiderzee had never seemed as big and strange and hostile as it did now. She appeared as a large black hole, gaping around him like an eternal emptiness. And, good God!...the ship started to sink. Was he only imagining it? No, it wasn’t his imagination. The ship was sinking; it was sinking fast and with a strange swishing sound. It must have sprung a leak.

He wanted to go below to convince himself, overcame his fear to take the hawser from the hatch and open it. But when he had opened it a crack a disgusting smell came from the dark space down below and a pale, skinny hand with crooked, grabbing fingers made its way through the crack. With superhuman strength he managed to push the frightful claw back inside with the edge of the hatch, which he now shut thoroughly. He covered it with everything heavy he could find.
Suddenly the wind howled through the rigging and all the woodwork creaked. One leap and he was standing behind the wheel again, holding the tiller with all his strength; but there below in the dark waters behind him the rudder was being pulled. Mad with fear he let out a loud scream. Almighty God help! We’re sinking.

The wind lessened and once again he could see the white heads of foam on the dark calm sea, over which the ship calmly sailed on before the wind. With his handkerchief he wiped the sweat of fear from his forehead and it took a long time before his pounding heart had quieted down.

A Discovery After Dawn

In the wide beyond the dawn flashed like a swan-pale bird across the water. Their destination appeared hazily on the horizon. Small waves regularly splashed up against the ship. With the returning light of the young day he recovered his self-control. He must’ve imagined it all and the skipper was most likely asleep in his berth. He would call him on deck to take over the helm.
He moved the hatch aside and called into the afterhold. No answer. Again and more loudly he called, but it remained silent. Impatiently he threw the hatch aside and lowered himself into it so he could firmly shake the skipper out of his stupor. With one movement the door of the berth opened. It was empty. The bedding was lying exactly where he’d placed it the day before. The skipper had disappeared. Only the empty jug of gin was lying on the floor, rolling back and forth with the movement of the ship. Two broken glasses and a dice were lying next to it. The other dice was lying on the little table, and there wasn’t a trace of the skipper anywhere.
Again the fear of the previous night crept up on him and, deadly stunned, he wanted to go back upstairs; but suddenly he saw that the glass in one of the portholes was missing...and...a handful of the skipper’s hair was stuck to the woodwork, together with a bloodstain.
It had been true after all, that the Evil one had come for him this night.

No matter how much they later scrubbed or painted, the bloodstain kept coming back, until they replaced the entire porthole.

From Legends of the Veluwe/Veluwsche Sagen by Gust van de Wall Perné, published in 1910-1912 by Scheltens & Giltay and translated by Eva Weggelaar

Gustave Courbet
Gustave Courbet

Questions & Answers


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • Eva Weggelaar profile imageAUTHOR

        Eva Weggelaar 

        2 years ago

        Thank you! The next one is on its way :-)

      • Nils Visser profile image

        Nils Visser 

        2 years ago from Brighton UK

        Another awesome read, keep 'em coming

      • Eva Weggelaar profile imageAUTHOR

        Eva Weggelaar 

        2 years ago

        Thanks for the link Hans!


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, letterpile.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://letterpile.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)