The story opens with two men fighting over very little, something that has to do with making punch. One man is getting the better of the other by choking him. This man, however, manages to get his knife out, and he slashes the arm muscles of his attacker, after which he leaves the bar where the fight has taken place. He gets into his skiff, which is full of water from a recent storm, bails it out, and sails toward the open sea.
First he sees a three-masted ship that has sunk during the storm. He can see the stumps of the ship’s spars sticking out of the water, but the vessel itself rests in water too deep for him to have any hope of reaching it and claiming the salvage. Then he notices a huge congregation of birds in the distance. He sails toward them and eventually comes on the wreckage of the largest steamer he has ever seen. The ship is lying on its side in sand, some of it close enough to the surface of the water that he can stand on it and be only chin-deep in water. He can see rows of sealed portholes as he looks at the side of the ship down through the clear water.
He speculates on what riches the ship might have been carrying. After he tries unsuccessfully to break one of the porthole windows with a wrench tied to a pole, he strips and dives into the water carrying the wrench with him. He gets a grip on the edge of one of the portholes and tries to break the glass, but it will not yield. He can see through the window. On the other side is a dead woman, her hair floating languidly in the water.
He makes several dives to the porthole and succeeds only in cracking it. He cannot break it. His nose is bleeding badly from staying under the water so long and from diving so deep. He cuts the grapple from his...
(The entire section is 713 words.)