All kept looking fearfully toward the arroyo. A dense white steam marked its course. The air was now heavy with portent. Successive explosions, some light, some severe, shook the foundations of the island. Great rocks and boulders bounded down the hills. The flashes of lightning had become more frequent. We moved, exaggerated to each other’s vision by the strange light, uncouth and gigantic.
“Let’s get out of this!” cried Thrackles.
We turned at the word and ran, Thrackles staggering under the weight of the chest. All our belongings we abandoned, and set out for the Laughing Lass with only the tatters in which we stood. Luckily for us a great part of the ship’s stores had been returned to her hold after the last thorough scrubbing, so we were in subsistence, but all our clothes, all our personal belongings, were left behind us on the beach. For after once we had topped the cliff that led over to the cove, I doubt if any consideration on earth would have induced us to return to that accursed place.
The row out to the ship was wet and dangerous. Seismic disturbances were undoubtedly responsible for high pyramidic waves that lifted and fell without onward movement. We fairly tumbled up out of the dory, which we did not hoist on deck, but left at the end of the painter to beat her sides against the ship.
THE OPEN SEA
Our haste, however, availed us little, for there was no wind at all. We lay for over two hours under the weird light, over-canopied by the red-brown cloud, while the explosions shook the foundations of the world. Nobody ventured below. The sails flapped idly from the masts: the blocks and spars creaked: the three-cornered waves rose straight up and fell again as though reaching from the deep.
When the men first began to sweat the sails up, evidently in preparation for an immediate departure, I objected vehemently.
“You aren’t going to leave him on the island,” I cried. “He’ll die of starvation.”
They did not answer me; but after a little more, when my expostulations had become more positive, Handy Solomon dropped the halliard, and drew me to one side.
“Look here, you,” he snarled, “you’d better just stow your gab. You’re lucky to be here yourself, let alone botherin’ your thick head about anybody else, and you can kiss the Book on that! Do you know why you ain’t with them carrion?” He jerked his thumb toward the beach. “It’s because Solomon Anderson’s your friend. Thrackles would have killed you in a minute ’count of his bit hand. I got you your chance. Now don’t you be a fool, for I ain’t goin’ to stand between you and them another time. Besides, he won’t last long if that volcano keeps at it.”
He left me. Whatever truth lay in his assumption of friendship, and I doubted there existed much of either truth or friendship in him, I saw the common sense of his advice. I was in no position to dictate a course of action.