“Virginia—quick, Virginia!” Dugald Shaw was stretching out his bound hands to me, and I had dropped on my knees before him and begun to cut at the knotted cords. They were tough strong cords, and I was hacking at them feverishly when something bounded across the clearing and flung itself upon me. Crusoe, of course!—and wild with the joy of reunion. I strangled a cry of dismay, and with one hand tried to thrust him off while I cut through the rope with the other.
“Down, Crusoe!” I kept desperately whispering. But Crusoe was unused to whispered orders. He kept bounding up on me, intent to fulfil an unachieved ambition of licking my ear. Cuthbert Vane tried, under his breath, to lure him away. But Crusoe’s emotions were all for me, and swiftly becoming uncontrollable they burst forth in a volley of shrill yelps.
A loud cry answered them. It came from Captain Magnus, who had scrambled to his feet and was staggering across the clearing. One hand was groping at his belt—it was flourished in the air with the gleam of a knife in it—and staggering and shouting the captain came on.
“Ah, you would, would you? I’ll teach you—but first I settle him, the porridge-eatin’ Scotch swine—”
The reeling figure with the knife was right above me. I sprang up, in my hand the little two-inch weapon which was all I had for my defense—and Dugald Shaw’s. There were loud noises in my ears, the shouting of men, and a shrill continuous note which I have since realized came from the lungs of Miss Higglesby-Browne. Magnus made a lunge forward—the arm with the knife descended. I caught it—wrenched at it frantically—striving blindly to wield my little penknife, whether or not with deadly intent I don’t know to this day. He turned on me savagely, and the penknife was whirled from my hand as he caught my wrist in a terrible clutch.
All I remember after that is the terrible steely grip of the captain’s arms and a face, flushed, wild-eyed, horrible, that was close to mine and inevitably coming closer, though I fought and tore at it—of hot feverish lips whose touch I knew would scorch me to the soul—and then I was suddenly free, and falling, falling, a long way through darkness.
THE YOUNG PERSON SCORES
My first memory is of voices, and after that I was shot swiftly out of a tunnel from an immense distance and opened my eyes upon the same world which I had left at some indefinite period in the past. Faces, at first very large, by and by adjusted themselves in a proper perspective and became quite recognizable and familiar. There was Aunt Jane’s, very tearful, and Miss Higglesby-Browne’s, very glum, and the Honorable Cuthbert’s, very anxious and a little dazed, and Cookie’s, very, very black. The face of Dugald Shaw I did not see, for the quite intelligible reason that I was lying with my head upon his shoulder.