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The Yellow Cat

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The Yellow Cat

by Wilbur Daniel Steele

Genre: Mystery
Setting: America
Format of Original Source: Short Story
Recommended Adaptation Length: 60 Minutes

Candidate for Adaptation? Promising


At least once in my life I have had the good fortune to board a deserted vessel at sea. I say “good fortune” because it has left me the memory of a singular impression. I have felt a ghost of the same thing two or three times since then, when peeping through the doorway of an abandoned house.

Now that vessel was not dead. She was a good vessel, a sound vessel, even a handsome vessel, in her blunt-bowed, coastwise way. She sailed under four lowers across as blue and glittering a sea as I have ever known, and there was not a point in her sailing that one could lay a finger upon as wrong. And yet, passing that schooner at two miles, one knew, somehow, that no hand was on her wheel. Sometimes I can imagine a vessel, stricken like that, moving over the empty spaces of the sea, carrying it off quite well were it not for that indefinable suggestion of a stagger; and I can think of all those ocean gods, in whom no landsman will ever believe, looking at one another and tapping their foreheads with just the shadow of a smile.

I wonder if they all scream–these ships that have lost their souls? Mine screamed.


A dramatic tale about a cursed, abandoned ship in which something awful happened. Characters are telling a tale in the past tense; you’d undoubtedly want to tell it in the present tense…but you might lose the spooky ambience (“what HAPPENED on the ship”). Some very arresting images. Deserves a better title.


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