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mean to be unkind. I knew nothing, and a married woman can't be too careful. For all I could have told, you might have been a—a libertine; one of the poor lost souls that Satan ..
Manuel, as if struggling with the waves, managed to free his lips. "Excellency, help!” he spluttered, like a drowning man.
"I will give the young lady every care," Mrs. Williams said, "until light shall be vouchsafed."
She shut the door.
"You will go too far, Sebright," Williams remonstrated; "and I'll have to give you the sack."
" It's all right, captain. I can turn her round my little finger," said the young man cheerily. "Somebody has to do it if you won't—or can't. What shall we do with that yelping Dago? He's a distressful beast to have about the decks."
Put him in the coal-hole, I suppose, as far as Havana. I won't rest till I see him on his way to the gallows. The CaptainGeneral shall be made sick of this business, or my name isn't Williams. I'll make a breeze over it at home. You shall help in that, Kemp. You aint afraid of big-wigs. Not you. You aint afraid of anything. ...
"He's a devil of a fellow, and a dead shot," threw in Sebright. "And jolly lucky for us, too, sir. It's simply marvelous that you should turn up like this, Mr. Kemp. We hadn't a grain of powder that wasn't caked solid in the canisters. Nothing 'll take it out of my head that somebody had got at the magazine while we lay in Kingston..
It did not occur to Williams to ask whether I was wounded, or tired, or hungry. And yet all through the West Indies the dinners you got on board the Lion were famous in shipping circles. But festive men of his stamp are often like that. They do it more for the glory and romance of the hospitality, and he could not, perhaps, under the circumstances, expect me to intone " for he is a jolly good fellow over the wine. He was by no means a bad or unfeeling man; only he was not hungry himself, and another's mere necessity of that sort failed to excite his imagination. I know he was no worse than other men, and I have reason to remember him with gratitude; but, at the time, I was surprised and indignant at the extraordinary way he took my presence for granted,
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-witness nobleman'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 with 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!"
Malediction ... My eyelids “Thou! Englishman's dog!"
Ha! Porco." 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 flung 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!
"Kill him, señor!" 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
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
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 Aint against his blade. He lighted a cigarette, and crossed the deck to lean cloaked against the bulwark, smoking moodily under his slouched hat.