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Moonfleet eBook

J. Meade Falkner
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 250 pages of information about Moonfleet.
when that head had scarce a grizzle on it, and the back was straight as the massive stubborn pillars in old Moonfleet church.  What was it had brought us to this pitch?  And then I called to mind a July evening, years ago, the twilight summer-house and a sweet grave voice that said, ’Have a care how you touch the treasure:  it was evilly come by and will bring a curse with it.’  Ay, ’twas the diamond had done it all, and brought a blight upon my life, since that first night I spent in Moonfleet vault; and I cursed the stone, and Blackbeard and his lost Mohunes, and trudged on bearing their cognizance branded on my face.

We marched back to the Hague, and through that very street where Aldobrand dwelt, only the house was shut, and the board that bore his name taken away; so it seemed that he had left the place or else was dead.  Thus we reached the quays at last, and though I knew that I was leaving Europe and leaving all hope behind, yet ’twas a delight to smell the sea again, and fill my nostrils with the keen salt air.

CHAPTER 18

IN THE BAY

Let broad leagues dissever
  Him from yonder foam,
O God! to think man ever
  Comes too near his home—­Hood

The ship that was to carry us swung at the buoy a quarter of a mile offshore, and there were row-boats waiting to take us to her.  She was a brig of some 120 tons burthen, and as we came under the stern I saw her name was the Aurungzebe.

’Twas with regret unspeakable I took my last look at Europe; and casting my eyes round saw the smoke of the town dark against the darkening sky; yet knew that neither smoke nor sky was half as black as was the prospect of my life.

They sent us down to the orlop or lowest deck, a foul place where was no air nor light, and shut the hatches down on top of us.  There were thirty of us all told, hustled and driven like pigs into this deck, which was to be our pigsty for six months or more.  Here was just light enough, when they had the hatches off, to show us what sort of place it was, namely, as foul as it smelt, with never table, seat, nor anything, but roughest planks and balks; and there they changed our bonds, taking away the bar, and putting a tight bracelet round one wrist, with a padlocked chain running through a loop on it.  Thus we were still ironed, six together, but had a greater freedom and more scope to move.  And more than this, the man who shifted the chains, whether through caprice, or perhaps because he really wished to show us what pity he might, padlocked me on to the same chain with Elzevir, saying, we were English swine and might sink or swim together.  Then the hatches were put on, and there they left us in the dark to think or sleep or curse the time away.  The weariness of Ymeguen was bad indeed, and yet it was a heaven to this night of hell, where all we had to look for was twice a day the moving of the hatches, and half an hour’s glimmer of a ship’s lantern, while they served us out the broken victuals that the Dutch crew would not eat.

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