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Chapter 3

They did not suspect how close I was to them. And their temper struck
me at once as unsafe. They seemed very much on the alert, and, as I
imagined, disposed to precipitate action. I called out, deadening my
voice warily:

"I am an Englishman, escaping from the pirates here. We want your help."

To this no answer was made, but by that time the captain had come on
deck. The dinghy must have drifted in a little closer, for I made
out behind the shadowy rail one, two, three figures in a row, looming
bulkily above my head, as men appear enlarged in mist.

"'Englishman,' he says." "That's very likely," pronounced a new voice.
They held a hurried consultation up there, of which I caught only
detached sentences, and the general tone of concern. "It's perfectly
well known that there _is_ an Englishman here.... Aye, a runaway second
mate.... Killed a man in a Bristol ship.... What was his name, now?"

"Won't you answer me?" I called out.

"Aye, we will answer you as soon as we see you.... Keep your eyes
skinned fore and aft on deck there.... Ready, boys?"

"All ready, sir"; voices came from further off.

"Listen to me," I entreated.

Someone called out briskly, "This is a bad place for pretty tales of
Englishmen in distress. We know very well where we are."

"You are off Rio Medio," I began anxiously; "and I-------"

"Speaks the truth like a Briton, anyhow," commented a lazy drawl.

"I would send another man to the pump," a reflective voice suggested.
"To make sure of the force, Mr. Sebright, you know."

"Certainly, sir.... Another hand to the brakes, bo'sun."

"I have been held captive on shore," I said. "I escaped this evening,
three hours ago."

"And found this ship in the fog? You made a good shot at it, didn't
you?"

"It's no time for trifling, I swear to you," I continued. "They are out
looking for you, in force. I've heard them. I was with them when they
started."

"I believe you."

"They seem to have missed the ship."

"So you came to have a friendly chat meantime. That's kind. Beastly
weather, aint it?"

"I want to come aboard," I shouted. "You must be crazy not to believe
me."

"But we do believe every single word you say," bantered the Sebright
voice with serenity.

Suddenly another struck in, "Nichols, I call to mind, sir."

"Of course, of course. This is the man."

"My name's not Nichols," I protested.

"Now, now. You mustn't begin to lie," remonstrated Sebright. Somebody
laughed discreetly.

"You are mistaken, on my honour," I said. "Nichols left Rio Medio some
time ago."

"About three hours, eh?" came the drawl of insufferable folly in these
precious minutes.

It was clear that Manuel had gone astray, but I feared not for long.
They would spread out in search. And now I had found this hopeless ship,
it seemed impossible that anybody else could miss her.

"You may be boarded any moment by more than a dozen boats. I warn you
solemnly. Will you let me come?"

A low whistle was heard on board. They were impressed, "Why should he
tell us this?" an undertone inquired.

"Why the devil shouldn't he? It's no great news, is it? Some scoundrelly
trick. This man's up to any dodge. Why, the '_Jane_' was taken in broad
day by two boats that pretended they were going to sell vegetables."

"Look out, or by heavens you'll be taken by surprise. There's a lot of
them," I said as impressively as I could.

"Look out, look out. There's a lot of them," someone yelled in a sort of
panic.

"Oh, that's your game," Sebright's voice said to me. "Frighten us, eh?
Never you mind what this skunk says, men. Stand fast. We shall take a
lot of killing." He was answered by a sort of pugnacious uproar, a clash
of cutlasses and laughter, as if at some joke.

"That's right, boys; mind and send them away with clean faces, you
gunners. Jack, you keep a good lookout for that poor distressed
Englishman. What's that? a noise in the fog? Stand by. Now then,
cook!..."

"All ready to dish up, sir," a voice answered him.

It was like a sort of madness. Were they thinking of eating? Even at
that the English talk made my heart expand--the homeliness of it. I
seemed to know all their voices, as if I had talked to each man before.
It brought back memories, like the voices of friends.

But there was the strange irrelevancy, levity, the enmity--the
irrational, baffling nature of the anguishing conversation, as if with
the unapproachable men we meet in nightmares.

We in the dinghy, as well as those on board, were listening anxiously. A
profound silence reigned for a time.

"I don't care for myself," I tried once more, speaking distinctly. "But
a lady in the boat here is in great danger, too. Won't you do something
for a woman?"

I perceived, from the sort of stir on board, that this caused some
sensation.

"Or is the whole ship's company afraid to let one little boat come
alongside?" I added, after waiting for an answer.

A throat was cleared on board mildly, "Hem... you see, we don't know who
you are."

"I've told you who I am. The lady is Spanish."

"Just so. But there are Englishmen and Englishmen in these days. Some of
them keep very bad company ashore, and others afloat. I couldn't think
of taking you on board, unless I know something more of you."

I seemed to detect an intention of malice in the mild voice. The more
so that I overheard a rapid interchange of mutterings up there. "See him
yet?" "Not a thing, sir." "Wait, I say."

Nothing could overcome the fixed idea of these men, who seemed to enjoy
so much the cleverness of their suspicions. It was the most dangerous of
tempers to deal with. It made them as untrustworthy as so many lunatics.
They were capable of anything, of decoying us alongside, and stoving
the bottom out of the boat, and drowning us before they discovered their
mistake, if they ever did. Even as it was, there was danger; and yet I
was extremely loath to give her up. It was impossible to give her up.
But what were we to do? What to say? How to act?

"Castro, this is horrible," I said blankly. That he was beginning to
chafe, to fret, and shuffle his feet only added to my dismay. He might
begin at any moment to swear in Spanish, and that was sure to bring a
shower of lead, blind, fired blindly. "We have nothing to expect from
the people of that ship. We cannot even get on board."

"Not without Manuel's help, it seems," he said bitterly. "Strange, is
it not, Seņor? Your countrymen--your excellent and virtuous countrymen.
Generous and courageous and perspicacious."

Seraphina said suddenly, "They have reason. It is well for them to be
suspicious of us in this place." She had a tone of calm reproof, and of
faith.

"They shall be of more use when they are dead," Castro muttered. "The
senor's other dead countrymen served us well."

"I shall give you great, very great sums of money," Seraphina suddenly
cried towards the ship. "I am the Seņorita Seraphina Riego."

"There is a woman--that's a woman's voice, I'll swear," I heard them
exclaim on board, and I cried again:

"Yes, yes. There is a woman."

"I dare say. But where do you come in? You are a distressed Englishman,
aren't you?" a voice came back.

"You shall let us come up on your ship," Seraphina said. "I shall come
myself, alone--Seraphina Riego."

"Eh, what?" the voice asked.

I felt a little wind on the back of my head. There was desperate hurry.

"We are escaping to get married," I called out. They were beginning to
shout orders on the ship. "Oh, you've come to the wrong shop. A church
is what you want for _that_ trouble," the voice called back brutally,
through the other cries of orders to square the yards.

I shouted again, but my voice must have been drowned in the creaking
of blocks and yards. They were alert enough for every chance of getting
away--for every flaw of wind. Already the ship was less distinct, as if
my eyes had grown dim. By the time a voice on board her cried, "Belay,"
faintly, she had gone from my sight. Then the puff of wind passed away,
too, and left us more alone than ever, with only the small disk of the
moon poised vertically above the mists.

"Listen," said Tomas Castro, after what seemed an eternity of
crestfallen silence.

He need not have spoken; there could be no doubt that Manuel had lost
himself, and my belief is that the ship had sailed right into the midst
of the flotilla. There was an unmistakable character of surprise in the
distant tumult that arose suddenly, and as suddenly ceased for a space
of a breath or two. "Now, Castro," I shouted. "Ha! _bueno!_"

We gave way with a vigour that seemed to lift the dinghy out of the
water. The uproar gathered volume and fierceness.

From the first it was a hand-to-hand contest, engaged in suddenly, as if
the assailants had at once managed to board in a body, and, as it were,
in one unanimous spring. No shots had been fired. Too far to hear the
blows, and seeing nothing as yet of the ship, we seemed to be hastening
towards a deadly struggle of voices, of shadows with leathern throats;
every cry heard in battle was there--rage, encouragement, fury, hate,
and pain. And those of pain were amazingly distinct. They were yells;
they were howls. And suddenly, as we approached the ship, but before we
could make out any sign of her, we came upon a boat. We had to swerve
to clear her. She seemed to have dropped out of the fight in utter
disarray; she lay with no oars out, and full of men who writhed and
tumbled over each other, shrieking as if they had been flayed. Above the
writhing figures in the middle of the boat, a tall man, upright in the
stern-sheets, raved awful imprecations and shook his fists above his
head.

The blunt dinghy foamed past that vision within an oar's length, no
more, making straight for the clamour of the fight. The last puff of
wind must have thinned the fog in the ship's track; for, standing up,
face forward to pull stroke, I saw her come out, stern-on to us, from
truck to water-line, mistily tall and motionless, but resounding with
the most fierce and desperate noises. A cluster of empty boats clung low
to her port side, raft-like and vague on the water.

We heard now, mingled with the fury and hate of shouts reverberating
from the placid sails, mighty thuds and crashes, as though it had been a
combat with clubs and battle-axes.

Evidently, in the surprise and haste of the unexpected coming together,
they had been obliged to board all on the same side. As I headed for the
other a big boat, full of men, with many oars, shot across our bows,
and vanished round the ship's counter in the twinkling of an eye. The
defenders, engaged on the port side, were going to be taken in the rear.
We were then so close to the counter that the cries of "Death, death,"
rang over our heads. A voice on the poop said furiously in English,
"Stand fast, men." Next moment, we, too, rounded the quarter only twenty
feet behind the big boat, but with a slightly wider sweep.

I said, "Have the pistols ready, Seraphina." And she answered quite
steadily:

"They are ready, Juan."

I could not have believed that any handiwork of man afloat could have
got so much way through the water. To this very day I am not rid of
the absurd impression that, at that particular moment, the dinghy was
travelling with us as fast as a cannon-ball. No sooner round than we
were upon them. We were upon them so fast that I had barely the time
to fling away my oar, and close my grip on the butt of the pistols
Seraphina pressed into my hand from behind. Castro, too, had dropped
his oar, and, turning as swift as a cat, crouched in the bows. I saw his
good arm darting out towards their boat.

They had cast a grapnel cleverly, and, swung abreast of the main chains,
were grimly busied in boarding the undefended side in silence. One had
already his leg over the ship's rail, and below him three more were
clambering resolutely, one above the other. The rest of them, standing
up in a body with their faces to the ship, were so oblivious of
everything in their purpose, that they staggered all together to the
shock of the dinghy, heavily, as if the earth had reeled under them.

Castro knew what he was doing. I saw his only hand hop along the
gunwale, dragging our cockle-shell forward very swiftly. The tottering
Spaniards turned their heads, and for a moment we looked at each other
in silence.

I was too excited to shout; the surprise seemed to have deprived them
of their senses, and they all had the same grin of teeth closed upon
the naked blades of their knives, the same stupid stare fastened upon my
eyes. I pulled the trigger in the nearest face, and the terrific din of
the fight going on above us was overpowered by the report of the pistol,
as if by a clap of thunder. The man's gaping mouth dropped the knife,
and he stood stiffly long enough for the thought, "I've missed him," to
flash through my mind before he tumbled clean out of the boat without
touching anything, like a wooden dummy tipped by the heels. His headlong
fall sent the water flying high over the stern of the dinghy. With the
second barrel I took a long shot at the man sitting amazed, astride of
the rail above. I saw him double up suddenly, and fall inboard sideways,
but the fellow following him made a convulsive effort, and leapt out of
sight on to the deck of the ship. I dropped the discharged weapon, and
fired the first barrel of the other at the upper of the two men clinging
halfway up the ship's side. To that one shot they both vanished as if
by enchantment, the fellow I had hit knocking off his friend below. The
crash of their fall was followed by a great yell.

These had been all nearly point-blank shots, and, anyhow, I had had a
good deal of pistol practice. Macdonald had a little gallery at Horton
Pen. The _Lugareņos_, huddled together in the boat, were only able to
moan with terror. They made soft, pitiful, complaining noises. Two or
three took headers overboard, like so many frogs, and then one began to
squeak exactly like a rat.

By that time, Castro, with his fixed blade, had cut their grapnel rope
close to the ring. As the ship kept forging ahead all the time, the
boat of the pirate bumped away lightly from between the vessel and our
dinghy, and we remained alongside, holding to the end of the severed
line. I sent my fourth shot after them and got in exchange a scream and
a howl of "Mercy! mercy! we surrender!" She swung clear of the quarter,
all hushed, and faded into the mist and moonlight, with the head and
arms of a motionless man hanging grotesquely over the bows.

Leaving Seraphina with Castro, and sticking the remaining pair of
pistols in my belt, I swarmed up the rope. The moon, the lights of
several lanthorns, the glare from the open doors, mingled violently in
the steamy fog between the high bulwarks of the ship. But the character
of the contest was changing, even as I paused on the rail to get my
bearings. The fellow who had leapt on board to escape my shot had bolted
across the deck to his friends on the other side, yelling:

"Fly, fly! The heretics are coming, shooting from the sea. All is lost.
Fly, oh fly!"

He had jumped straight overboard, but the infection of his panic was
already visible. The cries of "_Muerte, muerte!_ Death, death!" had
ceased, and the Englishmen were cheering ferociously. In a moment, under
my eyes, the seamen, who had been holding their own with difficulty in
a shower of defensive blows, began to dart forward, striking out with
their fists, catching with their hands. I jumped upon the main hatch,
and found myself in the skirt ef the final rush.

A tall _Lugareņo_ had possessed himself of one of the ship's capstan
bars, and, less craven than the others, was flourishing it on high,
aiming at the head of a sailor engaged in throttling a negro whom he
held at the full length of his immense arms. I fired, and the _Lugareņo_
tumbled down with all the appearance of having knocked himself over with
the bar he had that moment uplifted. It rested across his neck as he lay
stretched at my feet.

I was not able to effect anything more after this, because the sailor,
after rushing his limp antagonist overboard with terrific force, turned
raging for more, caught sight of me--an evident stranger--and flew at
my throat. He was English, but as he squeezed my windpipe so hard that
I couldn't utter a word I brought the butt of my pistol upon his thick
skull without the slightest compunction, for, indeed, I had to deal with
a powerful man, well able to strangle me with his bare hands, and very
determined to achieve the feat. He grunted under the blow, reeled away
a few steps, then, charging back at once, gripped me round the body, and
tried to lift me off my feet. We fell together into a warm puddle.

I had no idea spilt blood kept its warmth so much. And the quantity
of it was appalling; the deck seemed to swim with gore, and we simply
weltered in it. We rolled rapidly along the reeking scuppers, amongst
the feet of a lot of men who were hopping about us in the greatest
excitement, the hearty thuds of blows, aimed with all sorts of weapons,
just missing my head. The pistol was kicked out of my hand.

The horror of my position was very great. Must I kill the man? must I
die myself in this miserable and senseless manner? I tried to shout,
"Drag this maniac off me."

He was pinning my arms to my body. I saw the furious faces bending over
me, the many hands murderously uplifted. They, of course, couldn't tell
that I wasn't one of the men who had boarded them, and my life had never
been in such jeopardy. I felt all the fury of rage and mortification.
Was I to die like this, villainously trodden underfoot, on the threshold
of safety, of liberty, of love? And, in those moments of violent
struggle I saw, as one sees in moments of wisdom and meditation, my
soul--all life, lying under the shadow of a perfidious destiny. And
Seraphina was there in the boat, waiting for me. The sea! The boat! They
were in another land, and I, I should no more.... never any more....
A sharp voice called, "Back there, men. Steady. Take him alive." They
dragged me up.

I needn't relate by what steps, from being terribly handled as a
captive, I was promoted to having my arms shaken off in the character of
a saviour. But I got any amount of praise at last, though I was
terribly out of breath--at the very last gasp, as you might say. A man,
smooth-faced, well-knit, very elated and buoyant, began talking to me
endlessly. He was mighty happy, and anyhow he could talk to me, because
I was past doing anything but taking a moment's rest. He said I had come
in the nick of time, and was quite the best of fellows.

"If you had a fancy to be called the Archbishop of Canterbury, we'd
'your Grace' you. I am the mate, Sebright. The captain's gone in to
show himself to the missus; she wouldn't like to have him too much
chipped.... Wonderful is the love of woman. She sat up a bit later
to-night with her fancy-sewing to see what might turn up. I told her at
tea-time she had better go in early and shut her stateroom door, because
if any of the Dagos chanced to come aboard, I couldn't be responsible
for the language of my crowd. We are supposed to keep clear of profanity
this trip, she being a niece of Mr. Perkins of Bristol, our owner, and
a Methodist. But, hang it all, there's reason in all things. You can't
have a ship like a chapel--though _she_ would. Oh, bless you, she would,
even when we're beating off these picaroons."

I was sitting on the afterhatch, and leaning my head on my arms.

"Feel bad? Do you? Handled you like a bag of shavings. Well, the boys
got their monkey up, hammering the Dagos. Here you, Mike, go look along
the deck, for a double-barrelled pistol. Move yourself a bit. Feel along
under the spars."

There was something authoritative and knowing in his personality;
boyishly elated and full of business.

"We must put the ship to rights. You don't think they'd come back for
another taste? The blessed old deck's afloat. That's my little dodge,
boiling water for these Dagos, if they come. So I got the cook to fire
up, and we put the suction-hose of the fire pump into the boiler, and we
filled the coppers and the kettles. Not a bad notion, eh? But ten times
as much wouldn't have been enough, and the hose burst at the third
stroke, so that only one boat got anything to speak of. But Lord, _she_
dropped out of the ruck as if she'd been swept with langridge. Squealed
like a litter of pigs, didn't they?"

What I had taken for blood had been the water from the burst hose. I
must say I was relieved. My new friend babbled any amount of joyous
information into me before I quite got my wind back. He rubbed his hands
and clapped me on the shoulder. But his heart was kind, and he became
concerned at my collapsed state.

"I say, you don't think my chaps broke some of your ribs, do you? Let me
feel."

And then I managed to tell him something of Seraphina that he would
listen to.

"What, what?" he said. "Oh, heavens and earth! there's your girl. Of
course.... Hey, bo'sun, rig a whip and chair on the yardarm to take a
lady on board. Bear a hand. A lady! yes, a lady. Confound it, don't lose
your wits, man. Look over the starboard rail, and you will see a lady
alongside with a Dago in a small boat. Let the Dago come on board, too;
the gentleman here says he's a good sort. Now, do you understand?"

He talked to me a good deal more; told me that they had made a
prisoner--"a tall, comical chap; wears his hair like an old aunt of
mine, a bunch of curls flapping on each side of his face"--and then said
that he must go and report to Captain Williams, who had gone into his
wife's stateroom. The name struck me. I said:

"Is this ship the _Lion?_"

"Aye, aye. That's her. She is," several seamen answered together,
casting curious glances from their work.

"Tell your captain my name is Kemp," I shouted after Sebright with what
strength of lung I had.

What luck! Williams was the jolly little ship's captain I was to have
dined with on the day of execution on Kingston Point--the day I had been
kidnapped. It seemed ages ago. I wanted to get to the side to look after
Seraphina, but I simply couldn't remember how to stand. I sat on the
hatch, looking at the seamen.

They were clearing the ropes, collecting the lamps, picking up
knives, handspikes, crowbars, swabbing the decks with squashy flaps.
A bare-footed, bare-armed fellow, holding a bundle of brass-hilted
cutlasses under his arm, had lost himself in the contemplation of my
person.

"Where are you bound to?" I inquired at large, and everybody showed a
friendly alacrity in answer.

"Havana." "Havana, sir." "Havana's our next port. Aye, Havana."

The deck rang with modulations of the name.

I heard a loud, "Alas," sighed out behind me. A distracted, stricken
voice repeated twice in Spanish, "Oh, my greatness; oh, my greatness."
Then, shiveringly, in a tone of profound self-communion, "I have a
greatly parched throat," it said. Harshly jovial voices answered:

"Stow your lingo and come before the captain. Step along."

A prisoner, conducted aft, stalked reluctantly into the light between
two short, bustling sailors. Dishevelled black hair like a damaged
peruke, mournful, yellow face, enormous stag's eyes straining down on
me. I recognized Manuel-del-Popolo. At the same moment he sprang back,
shrieking, "This is a miracle of the devil--of the devil."

The sailors fell to tugging at his arms savagely, asking, "What's come
to you?" and, after a short struggle that shook his tatters and his
raven locks tempestuously like a gust of wind, he submitted to be walked
up repeating:

"Is it you, Seņor? Is it you? Is it _you?_"

One of his shoulders was bare from neck to elbow; at every step one of
his knees and part of a lean thigh protruded their nakedness through a
large rent; a strip of grimy, blood-stained linen, torn right down to
the waist, dangled solemnly in front of his legs. There was a horrible
raw patch amongst the roots of his hair just above his temple; there was
blood in his nostrils, the stamp of excessive anguish on his features, a
sort of guarded despair in his eye. His voice sank while he said again,
twice:

"Is it you? Is it you?" And then, for the last time, "Is it you?" he
repeated in a whisper.

The seamen formed a wide ring, and, looking at me, he talked to himself
confidentially.

"Escaped--the _Inglez!_ Then thou art doomed, Domingo. Domingo, thou art
doomed. Dom... Seņor!"

The change of tone, his effort to extend his hands towards me, surprised
us all. I looked away.

"Hold hard! Hold him, mate!"

"Seņor, condescend to behold my downfall. I am led here to the
slaughter, Seņor! To the slaughter, Seņor! Pity! Grace! Mercy! And
only a short while ago--behold. Slaughter... I... Manuel. Seņor, I am
universally admired--with a parched throat, Seņor. I could compose
a song that would make a priest weep.... A greatly parched throat,
Seņor," he added piteously.

I could not help turning my head. I had not been used half as hard
as he. It was enough to look at him to believe in the dryness of his
throat. Under the matted mass of his hair, he was grinning in amiable
agony, and his globular eyes yearned upon me with a motionless and
glassy lustre.

"You have not forgotten me, Seņor? Forget Manuel! Impossible! Manuel,
Seņor. For the love of God. Manuel. Manuel-del-Popolo. I did sing, deign
to remember. I offered you my fidelity, Seņor. As you are a _caballero_,
I charge you to remember. Save me, Seņor. Speak to those men.... For the
sake of your honour, Seņor."

His voice was extraordinarily harsh--not his own. Apparently, he
believed that he was going to be cut to pieces there and then by the
sailors. He seemed to read it in their faces, shuddering and shrinking
whenever he raised his eyes. But all these faces gaped with good-natured
wonder, except the faces of his two guardians, and these expressed a
state of conscientious worry. They were ridiculously anxious to suppress
his sudden contortions, as one would some gross indecency. In the
scuffle they hissed and swore under their breath. They were scandalized
and made unhappy by his behaviour.

"Are you ready down there?" roared the bo'sun in the waist.

"Olla raight! Olla raight! Waita a leetle," I heard Castro's voice
coming, as if from under the ship. I said coldly a few words about the
certain punishment awaiting a pirate in Havana, and got on to my feet
stiffly. But Manuel was too terrified to understand what I meant. He
attempted to snatch at me with his imprisoned hands, and got for his
pains a severe jerking, which made his head roll about his shoulders
weirdly.

"Pity, Seņor!" he screamed. And then, with low fervour, "Don't go away.
Listen! I am profound. Perhaps the Seņor did not know that? Mercy! I
am a man of intrigue. A _politico_. You have escaped, and I rejoice at
it."... He bared his fangs, and frothed like a mad dog.... "Seņor, I am
made happy because of the love I bore you from the first--and Domingo,
who let you slip out of the Casa, is doomed. He is doomed. Thou art
doomed, Domingo! But the excessive affection for your noble person
inspires my intellect with a salutary combination. Wait, Seņor! A
moment! An instant!... A combination!..."

He gasped as though his heart had burst. The seamen, open-mouthed, were
slowly narrowing their circle.

"Can't he gabble!" remarked someone patiently.

His eyes were starting out of his head. He spoke with fearful rapidity.

"... There's no refuge from the anger of the _Juez_ but the grave--the
grave--the grave!... Ha! ha! Go into thy grave, Domingo. But you,
Seņor--listen to my supplications--where will you go? To Havana. The
_Juez_ is there, and I call the malediction of the priests on my head if
you, too, are not doomed. Life! Liberty! Seņor, let me go, and I shall
run--I shall ride, Seņor--I shall throw myself at the feet of the
_Juez_, and say... I shall say I killed you. I am greatly trusted by
the reason of my superior intelligence. I shall say, 'Domingo let
him go--but he is dead. Think of him no more--of that _Inglez_ who
escaped--from Domingo. Do not look for him. I, your own Manuel, have
killed him.' Give me my life for yours, Seņor. I shall swear I had
killed you with this right hand! Ah!"

He hung on my lips breathless, with a face so distorted that, though it
might have been death alone he hated, he looked, indeed, as if impatient
to set to and tear me to pieces with his long teeth. Men clutching at
straws must have faces thus convulsed by an eager and despairing hope.
His silence removed the spell--the spell of his incredible loquacity. I
heard the boatswain's hoarse tones:

"Hold on well, ma'am. Right! Walk away steady with that whip!"

I ran limping forward.

"High enough," he rumbled; and I received Seraphina into my arms.


Joseph Conrad

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