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as if I had come off casually in a shore boat to idle away an hour or two on board. Since his wife appeared satisfied, he did not seem to desire any explanation. I felt as if I had for him no independent existence. When I had ceased to be a source of domestic difficulty, I became a precious sort of convenience, a most welcome person (" an English gentleman to back me up," he repeated several times), who would help him to make " these old women at the Admiralty sit up!" A burning shame, this! It had gone on long enough, God knows, but if they were to tackle an old trader, like the Lion, now, it was time the whole country should hear of it. His owner, J. Perkins, his wife's uncle, wasn't the man to go to sleep over the job. Parliament should hear of it. Most fortunate I was there to be produced—eye-witnessnobleman's son. He knew I could speak up in a good cause.
"And by the way, Kemp," he said, with sudden annoyance, recollecting himself, as it were,"you never turned up for that dinner—sent no word, nor anything. ..."
Williams had been talking to me, but it was with Sebright that I felt myself growing intimate. The young mate of the Lion stood by, very quiet, listening prith a capable smile. Now he said, in a tone of dry comment:
"Jolly sight more useful turning up here."
"I was kidnaped away from Ramon's back shop, if that's a sufficient apology. It's rather a long story.".
"Well, you can't tell it on deck, that's very clear," Sebright had to shout to me. "Not while this infernal noise—what the deuce's up? It sounds more like a dog-fight than anything else."
As we ran towards the main hatch I recognized the aptness of the comparison. It was that sort of vicious, snarling, yelping clamor which arises all at once and suddenly dies.
“ Castro! Thou Castro!”
The voices ceased. Castro ran tiptoeing lightly, mantled in ample folds. He assumed his hat with a brave tap, crouched swiftly inside his cloak. It touched the deck all round in a black cone surmounted by a peering, quivering head. Quick as thought
he hopped and sank low again. Everybody watched with wonder this play, as of some large and diabolic toy. For my part, knowing the deadly purpose of these preliminaries, I was struck with horror. Had he chosen to run on him at once, nothing could have saved Manuel. The poor wretch, vigorously held in front of Castro, was far too terrified to make a sound. With an immovable sailor on each side, he scuffled violently, and cowered by starts as if tied up between two stone posts. His dumb, rapid panting was in our ears. I shouted:
"Stop, Castro! Stop! ... Stop him, some of you! He weans to kill the fellow!”.
Nobody heeded my shouting. Castro Aung his cloak on the deck, jumped on it, kicked it aside, all in the same moment as it seemed, dodged to the right, to the left, drew himself up, and stepped high, paunchy in his tight smalls and short jacket, making all the time a low, sibilant sound, which was perfectly bloodcurdling.
“ He has a blade on his forearm!" I yelled. "He's armed, I tell you!"
No one could comprehend my distress. A sailor, raising a lamp, had a broad smile. Somebody laughed outright. Castro planted himself before Manuel, nodded menacingly, and stooped ready for a spring. I was too late in my grab at his collar, but Manuel's guardians, acting with precision, put out one arm each to meet his rush, and he came flying backwards upon me, as though he had rebounded from a wall.
He had almost knocked me down, and while I staggered to keep my feet the air resounded with urgent calls to shoot, to fire, to bring him down! ... Kill him, senor!” came in an entreating yell from Castro. And I became aware that Manuel had taken this opportunity to wrench himself free. I heard the hard thud of his leap. Straight from the hatch (as I was told later by the marveling sailors) he had alighted with both feet on the rail. I only saw him already there, sitting on his heels, jabbering and nodding at us like an enormous baboon. "Shoot, sir! Shoot!" "Kill! Kill, senor! As you love your life—kill!”.
Unwittingly, without volition, as if compelled by the suggestion of the bloodthirsty cries, my hand drew the remaining pistol out of my belt. I raised it, and found myself covering the strange antics of an infuriated ape. He tore at his flanks with both hands in the idea, I suppose, of stripping for a swim. Rags flew from him in all directions; an astounding eruption of rags round a huddled-up figure crouching, wildly active, in front of the muzzle. I had him. I was sure of my shot. He was only an ape. A dead ape. But why? Wherefore? To what end? What could it matter whether he lived or died. He sickened me, and I pitied him, as I should have pitied an ape.
I lowered my arm an almost imperceptible fraction of a second before he sprang up and vanished. The sound of the heavy plunge was followed by a regretful clamor all over the decks, and a general rush to the side. There was nothing to be seen; he had gone through the layer of fog covering the water. No one heard him blow or splutter. It was as if a lump of lead had fallen overboard.
Williams wouldn't have had this happen for a five-pound note. Sebright expressed the hope that he wouldn't cheat the gallows by drowning. The two men who had held him slunk away abashed. To lower a boat for the purpose of catching him in the water would have been useless and imprudent.
"His friends can't be far off yet in the boats," growled the bo'sun; “and if they don't pick him up, they would be mere than likely to pick up our chaps."
Somebody expectorated in so marked a manner that I looked ? behind me. Castro had resumed his cloak, and was draping himself with deliberate dignity. When this undertaking had been accomplished, he came up very close to me, and without a word looked up balefully from the heavy folds thrown across his mouth and chin under the very tip of his hooked nose.
"I could not do it," I said. "I could not. It would have been useless. Too much like murder, Tomas."
"Oh! the inconstancy, the fancifulness of these English," he generalized, with suppressed passion, right into my face. "I don't know what's worse, their fury or their pity. The childishness of it! The childishness. . . . Do you imagine, senor, that Manuel or the Juez O'Brien shall some day spare you in their turn? If I didn't know the courage of your nation ..."
"I despise the Juez and Manuel alike," I interrupted angrily.
I despised Castro, too, at that moment, and he paid me back with interest. There was no mistaking his scathing tone.
"I know you well. You scorn your friends, as well as your foes. I have seen so many of you. The blessed saints guard us from the calamity of your friendship. ..."
"No friendship could make an assassin of me, Mr. Castro. ..."
"... Which is only a very little less calamitous than your enmity," he continued, in a cold rage. "A very little less. You let Manuel go.... Manuel! . . . Because of your mercy. ... Mercy! Bah! It is all your pride—your mad pride. You shall rue it, senor. Heaven is just. You shall rue it, senor."
He denounced me prophetically, wrapped up with an air of midnight secrecy; but, after all, he had been a friend in the act, if not in the spirit, and I contented myself by asking, with some pity for his imbecile craving after murder:
"Why? What can Manuel do to me? He at least is com pletely helpless."
"Did the Senor Don Juan ever ask himself what Manuel could do to me—Tomas Castro? To me, who am poor and a vagabond, and a friend of Don Carlos, may his soul rest with God. Are all you English like princes that you should never think of anybody but yourselves ?"
He revolted and provoked me, as if his opinion of the English could matter, or his point of view signify anything against the authority of my conscience. And it is our conscience that illumines the romantic side of our life. His point of view was as benighted and primitive as the point of view of hunger; but, in his fidelity to the dead architect of my fortunes, he reflected dimly the light of Carlos' romance, and I had taken advantage of it, not so much for the saving of my life as for the guarding of my love. I had reached that point when love displaces one's personality, when it becomes the only ground under our feet, the only sky over our head, the only light of vision, the first condition of thought—when we are ready to strive for it, as we fight for the breath of our body. Brusquely I turned my back on him, and heard the repeated clicking of fint against his blade. He lighted a cigarette, and crossed the deck to lean cloaked against the bulwark, smoking moodily under his slouched hat.
ANUEL'S escape was the last event of that memorable
night. Nothing more happened, and nothing more
I could be done; but there remained much talk and wonderment to get through. I did all the talking, of course, under the cuddy lamps. Williams, red and stout, sat staring at me across the table. His round eyes were perfectly motionless with astonishment—the story of what had happened in the Casa Riego was not what he had expected of the small, badly reputed Cuban town.
Sebright, who had all the duties of the soiled ship and chipped men to attend to, came in from the deck several times, and would stand listening for minutes with his fingers playing thoughtfully about his slight mustache. The dawn was not very far when he led me into his own cabin. I was half dead with fatigue, and troubled by an inward restlessness.
"Turn in into my berth," said Sebright.
I protested with a stiff tongue, but he gave me a friendly push, and I tumbled like a log on to the bed-clothes. As soon as my head felt the pillow the fresh coloring of his face appeared blurred, and an arm, mistily large, was extended to put out the light of the lamp screwed to the bulkhead.
"I suppose you know there are warrants out in Jamaica against you—for that row with the admiral," he said.
An irresistible and unexpected drowsiness had relaxed all my limbs.
"Hang Jamaica!” I said, with difficult animation. "We are going home."
"Hang Jamaica!” he agreed. Then, in the dark, as if coming after me across the obscure threshold of sleep, his voice meditated, "I am sorry, though, we are bound for Havana. Pity. Great pity! Has it occurred to you, Mr. Kemp, that ..." It is very possible that he did not finish his sentence; no more