“For God’s sake, don’t!” Curtis groaned. “Skip over that part. The very mention of grub makes the gnawing pain in my stomach ten times worse.”
“You’re different to me then!” Hamar grinned; “I love to think of it. My word, what wouldn’t I give to be in Sadler’s now. Roast beef—done to a turn, eh! As only Sadler knows how! Potatoes nice and brown and crisp! Horseradish! Greens! Boiled celery! Pudding under the meat! Beer!—What, going?”
Curtis had risen from the table with his fingers crammed in his ears. “There’s a fat splice of the devil in you to-night, Leon!” he panted. “I’ve had enough of it. I’m off. Come on, Matt. If you want us, you know where to find us—only if we don’t get something to eat soon—you’ll find us dead.”
THE BLACK ART OF ATLANTIS
For some time after Kelson and Curtis had left him, Hamar lolled back in his seat, lost in thought. Thought, as he told himself repeatedly, should be the poor man’s chief recreation—it costs nothing: and if one wants a little variety, and the walls of one’s rooms are tolerably thick, one can think aloud. Hamar often did, and derived much enjoyment from it.
“I’m convinced of one thing,” he suddenly broke out; “I’d rather be hungry than cold. One can, in a measure, cheat one’s stomach by chewing leather or sucking pebbles, but I’ll be hanged if one can kid one’s liver. It’s cold that does me! A touch of cold on the liver! I could jog along comfortably on few dollars for food—but it’s a fire, a fire I want! The temperature of this room is infernally low after sunset: and half a dozen coats and three pairs of pants don’t make up for half a grateful of fuel. Hunger only makes me think of suicide—but cold—cold and a chilled liver—makes me think of crime. Yes, it’s cold! Cold that would make me a criminal. I would steal—burgle—housebreak—cut the sweetest lady’s throat in Christendom—for a fire!
“There! that little outbreak has relieved me. Now let me have a look at the book.”
He dragged the volume towards him, and despite the feeling of antagonism with which it had inspired him, and despite the cynical attitude he had, up to the present, adopted towards the supernatural, he speedily became engrossed. On a few leaves, somewhat clumsily inserted between the cover and first page of the book, Hamar read an account, presumably in the author’s own penmanship, of how he, Thomas Maitland, after being shipwrecked, had remained on Inisturk Island for a fortnight before being rescued, and had spent the greater portion of that time in examining the books, etc., in the chest he had found—his only food—shell-fish and a keg of mildewy ship’s biscuits.