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Norris, Frank. "The Ship That Saw a Ghost".


The first person narrator, Mr Dixon, relates his experience of sailing with the steamer Glarus bound to B. 300. This was a mysterious point marked in the map in the president's office of the Ryder's South Pacific Exploitation Company. The voyage was not legitimate, but promised high profits.

On her way, the steamer gets as far as to the places outside of the scope of navigation. She meets no more ships, and the narrator experiences extreme loneliness. The place resembles the setting of S. T. Coleridge's "Ancient One". The island the ship is heading for is associated with a horror mystery: two hundred years before Glarus, a ship appeared there and its crew died within two weeks. The last survivor recorded what happened.

The seafaring men have a "Feel of the Sea" and expect troubles. The narrator has a similar feeling, but he can name it: he feels they are being watched. In the middle of the night the watch calls that there is sail to be seen. It is the sail of "Dead Ship", an ominous relic which does not resemble any ship built until present. At the same time the shaft of Glarus is broken and the steamer comes to a standstill. Before the outbreak of the day, the Dead Ship starts moving toward them. The ship fortunately misses the bows of the steamer, but the steamer suddenly becomes unmanageable, she would not go toward the island. The superstitious crew threatens mutiny, so the steamer is turned homewards. On its way back she meets the Other Ship again.

They happily reach San Francisco, but the crew spreads the legend of the Dead Ship. Now nobody would sail on Glarus again because the ship saw a ghost.


- a rather conventional story for amusement

- includes hints at S. T. Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner"


  • Author

    Norris, Frank. (1870 - 1902).
  • Full Title

    "The Ship That Saw a Ghost".
  • First Published

    In: A Deal in Wheat and Other Stories of the New and Old West. NY: Doubleday, 1903.
  • Form

    Short story.

Works Cited

Norris, Frank. "The Ship That Saw a Ghost". A Deal in Wheat and Other Stories of the New and Old West. (1903). Teddington: The Echo Library, 2006.


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