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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 merit 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
V 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 completely 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 flint against his blade. He lighted a cigarette, and crossed the deck to lean cloaked against the bulwark, smoking moodily under his slouched hat.
m escape was the last event of that memorable night. Nothing more happened, and nothing more 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 penetrated, at least, into my drowsy ear. I awoke slowly from a trance-like sleep, with a confused notion of having to pick up the thread of a dropped hint. I went up on deck.
The sun shone, a faint breeze blew, the sea sparkled freshly, and the wet decks glistened. I stood still, touched by the new glory of light falling on me; it was a new world—new and familiar, yet disturbingly beautiful. I seemed to discover all sorts of secret charms that I had never seen in things I had seen a hundred times. The watch on deck were busy with brooms and buckets; a sailor, coiling a rope over a pin, paused in his work to point over the port-quarter, with a massive fore-arm like a billet of red mahogany.
I looked about, rubbing my eyes. The Lion, close-hauled, was heading straight away from the coast, which stood out, not very far yet, outlined heavily and flooded with light. Astern, and to leeward of us, against a headland of black and indigo, a dazzling white speck resembled a snowflake fallen upon the blue of the sea.
"That's a schooner," said the seaman.
They were the first words I heard that morning, and their friendly hoarseness brushed away whatever of doubt might seem to mar the inexplicability of my new glow of my happiness. It was because we were safe—she and I—and because my undisturbed love let my heart open to the beauty of the young day and the joyousness of a splendid sea. I took deep breaths, and my eyes went all over the ship, embracing, like an affectionate contact, her elongated shape, the flashing brasses, the tall masts, the gentle curves of her sails soothed into perfect stillness by the wind. I felt that she was a shrine, for was not Seraphina sleeping in her, as safe as a child in its cradle? And presently the beauty, the serenity, the purity, and the splendor of the world would be reflected in her clear eyes, and made over to me by her glance.
There are times when an austere and just Providence, in its march along the inscrutable way, brings our hearts to the test of their own unreason. Which of us has not been tried by irrational awe, fear, pride, abasement, exultation? And such moments remain marked by indelible physical impressions, standing out of the ghostly level of memory like rocks out of the sea, like towers on a plain. I had many of these unforgettable emotions—the profound horror of Don Balthasar's death; the first floating of the boat, like the opening of wings in space; the first fluttering of the flames in the fog—many others afterwards, more cruel, more terrible, with a terror worse than death, in which the very suffering was lost; and also this—this moment of elation in the clear morning, as if the universe had shed its glory upon my feelings as the sunshine glorifies the sea. I laughed in very lightness of heart, in a profound sense of success; I laughed, irresponsible and oblivious, as one laughs in the thrilling delight of a dream.
"Do I look so confoundedly silly?" asked Sebright, speaking as though he had a heavy cold. "I am stupid—tired. I've been on my feet this twenty-four hours—about the liveliest in my life, too. You haven't slept very long either—none of us have. I'm sure I hope your young lady has rested."
He put his hands in his pockets. He might have been very tired, but I had never seen a boy fresh out of bed with a rosier face. The black pin-points of his pupils seemed to bore through distance, exploring the horizon beyond my shoulder. The man called Mike, the one I had had the tussle with overnight, came up behind the indefatigable mate, and shyly offered me my pistol. His head was bound over the top, and under the chin, as if for toothache, and his bronzed, rough-hewn face looked out astonishingly through the snowy whiteness of the linen. Only a few hours before, we had been doing our best to kill each other. In my cordial glow, I bantered him light-heartedly about his ferocity and his strength.
He stood before me, patiently rubbing the brown instep of one thick foot with the horny sole of the other.
"You paid me off for that bit, sir," he said bashfully. "It was in the way of duty."
"I'm uncommon glad you didn't squeeze the ghost out of me." I said; "a morning like this is enough to make you glad you can breathe."
To this day I remember the beauty of that rugged, grizzled,' hairy seaman's eyelashes. They were long and thick, shadowing the eyes softly like the lashes of a young girl. ,
"I'm sure, sir, we wish you luck—to you and the young lady—