September 13th, 1851
These past few months have slipped away from me like plankton through the belly of a whale. It seems every time I sit down to write you, another issue arises on the ship that I must tend to. I am sure you will forgive my hiatus between letters. We are days away from Cape Horn and as we draw nearer, the wind develops a chill that no fur or heavy coat seems to shake. A dead of winter day in your mountain home of Arkham cannot begin to compare to the cold my crew and I are experiencing. It is not just the temperature I speak of either. There is an unspoken fear of what lies in wait for us around the cape that has put man, beast (in my own negligence I have failed to previously mention the 12 sled dogs we have aboard), and, now, me on edge. To compound matters further, we have had two more uncanny deaths on the Salty Beggar. It was not crewman this time, but two of the sled dogs. Doctor West has determined the dogs were ailed by the same form of sun poisoning that the three crewmen we lost over the past two years were taken by. Indeed, you could see the same queer green color of skin where patches of fur had fallen out, but for the good doctor to assess the cause of death was the same as the crewmen, puts a reasonable doubt in my mind. There was something more malicious about the death of the dogs…Their intestines had been ripped from their stomachs and their teeth looked as though they had been smashed with some form of bludgeoning force. The doctor and I have been in a steady state of disagreement regarding the cause of death of the sled dogs. I suspect foul play , though, on a ship with 137 crewman, narrowing down the list of possible suspects is a task to say the least. Doctor West defends his position that it was sun poisoning with an almost uncalled for vigor. He feels that I have undermined his training as a medical professional by suggesting foul play as an option! And what’s more, he accuses me of knowing nothing of the medical field! He is, of course, unaware that father was head of the medical board at the Edinburgh branch of Miskatonic University and that you and I were privy to endless vistas of medical knowledge. I know that father wished for us both to be medical professionals, but you were always more like him than I. I am grateful that he got half of his wish before he passed. Nostalgia aside, only Mr. Bradley Newton (my first mate in case you don’t recall) knows of my upbringing around the medical field and I prefer to keep it that way. Too many people knowing too much about their captain gives way to too much vulnerability that could be used against him. I know I have rambled about the ship’s crew being as family and to that I hold fast, but every family has secrets. Even ours. To think otherwise would be foolish and naïve. I have tried to keep the sled dog incident under wraps for the time being, but trickling whispers of rumors echo through the ship as quick as a venom through the veins and I am fairly sure almost every man aboard is aware of the incident only three days after it happened. I plan on investigating further into my theory of foul play without Doctor West’s knowledge and with the aid of Mr. Bradley Newton. As I said, every family has secrets. What matters most is the purpose of the secrecy, I surmise. I do what seems underhanded to the doctor in order to keep the peace. I do not think any man can judge me and say that peace among a family is not worth a few secrets unless those secrets are in some way harmful to another’s wellbeing. All that could be harmed, in this case, is Doctor West’s ego. At this pivotal point in the journey, a ship-wide panic is a folly that we can all do without and I will stop at nothing to avoid said folly. I apologize, dear brother, for my agitated and restless words. Understand that, outside of you, Mr. Bradley Newton, and the skies above, I have no one to talk to about matters such as these. Another incident on board has spooked the more superstitious crew members (as though two dead sled dogs were not enough already). One of my officers, John Murphy Doyle, mistakenly shot an albatross (claiming he thought it was a goose) which, by some phantom wind blown by the devil himself, landed on the ship’s wheel. I do not give credence to the supernatural tales that have spawned from Coleridge’s poem; however most of the crewmen do, in part due to the fact that most of them were raised in sea-faring families. I must apologize for the brevity of this letter as I am meticulously preparing for the next few days. Once around the Cape, I will update you further on other matters I have failed to mention here.
Capt. Edgar P. Wright