WHH Short Fiction: “The Albatross”

Essay: “The Albatross”, William Hope Hodgson, 1911.

This sea story has a basic setup similar to Hodgson’s The Night Land: a man gets a message from a lonely girl in danger and sets out to rescue her across a waste.

Here the narrator is a sailor onboard a boat which retrieves a message in a bottle from a woman alone on a derelict. The message gives her position which is only 250 miles away. But it is weeks since her message was sent, and the narrator’s ship is becalmed. Hodgson’s monster here is a plague of rats threatening the woman.

The captain of the ship is sympathetic to rescuing the woman but insists she’s too far away and too much time has passed. However, the narrator, like X in The Night Land, undertakes by rowboat a solitary voyage of several days enabled by his strength and endurance.

The woman, Miss Doriswold, is undergoing one of Hodgson’s sieges in the ship’s chart-house. Eventually, after being besieged several days, the narrator’s ship, the Skylark, rescues the woman and narrator.

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