Poison Island eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 327 pages of information about Poison Island.

“‘Melhuish,’ says he, ’there’s trouble below.  The men will have it that we are steering for treasure.  I tell them that, if you are, they are bound to know as soon as we sight it, and neither you nor I—­being two to twelve—­can prevent their having the game in their own hands.  I have told them, over and above this,’ he went on, pitching his voice loud—­but having his back towards them he winked at me—­’that by your reckoning we shall sight land in a few hours at the farthest, and are willing to serve out a double tot of rum; that, as soon as ever land is sighted, you will call all hands aft and tell them our intention, as man to man; and that then, if they have a mind, they can elect whatever new captain they choose.’

“The impudence of this took me fair between wind and water.  I saw, of course, that I was trapped, and naturally my first thought was to suspect the man speaking to me.  I looked at him, and he winked again, not seeming one bit abashed.

“‘You may tell them,’ said I, with my eyes on his face, ’that as soon as we sight land I shall have a statement to make to them.’  I wondered what it would be; but I said it to gain time.  ’As for the rum,’ I went on, ’they can drink their fill.  If we sight land, I will steer the ship in.’

“‘Better go and draw the liquor yourself,’ said he, and, picking up a ship’s bucket, came aft to me.  ‘The second barrel in the afterhold,’ he whispered.  ‘And don’t drink any yourself.’

“I nodded, as careless as I could.  It seemed a rash thing to go down to the afterhold, where any one might batten me down.  But, there being no help for it, I took the bucket and went.  I filled it well up to the brim from the second cask, returned to deck, and handed it to the man who stood behind Martin.  They took it, pretty respectfully, and went below, Martin still standing amidships, where he had stood from the first.

“‘And now,’ said I, turning back to him, ‘perhaps you will explain.’

“‘Keep your eye on the helmsman,’ was his answer, ’and pistol him if he gives trouble.’

“He walked forward and stood leaning over the forehatch, seeming to listen.” . . .

[1] Qy.  “Bleeding.”



Up to this Melhuish had been making good weather of his tale, though forced to break off once or twice by reason of his weakness.  But here he came to a dead stop, which at first I set down to the same.  But by-and-by I looks up.  He was making a curious noise in his throat, and fencing with both hands to push something away from him.

“I never done it!” he broke out.  “Take them away!  I never done it!  Oh, my God! never—­never—­never!”

With that he ran off into a string of prayers and cursings, all mixed up together, the fever shaking him like a sail caught head-to-wind, and at every shake he screeched louder.

Project Gutenberg
Poison Island from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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