“Oh, Mr. Peter,” she whispered, glancing back over her shoulder, “did ye see?”
“Yes, Prudence, I saw.” And, speaking, I also glanced back towards the villainous little tent, and though the face appeared no more, I was aware, nevertheless, of a sudden misgiving that was almost like a foreboding of evil to come; for in those features, disfigured though they were with black rage and passion, I had recognized the face of Black George.
A WORD TO THE READER
Remembering the very excellent advice of my friend the Tinker as to the writing of a good “nov-el,” I am perturbed, and not a little discouraged, upon looking over these pages, to find that I have, as yet, described no desperate hand-to-hand encounters, no hairbreadth escapes (unless a bullet through one’s hat may be justly so regarded), and, above all—not one word of love!
You, sir, who have expectantly borne with me thus far, may be tempted to close the book in a huff, and, hurling it from you, with a deep-voiced anathema, clap on your hat, and sally forth into the sunshine.
Or you, madam, breathing a sigh o’er hopes deferred, may take up needle, and silk, and turn you, once again, to that embroidery which has engaged your dainty fingers this twelvemonth and more, yet which, like Penelope’s web, would seem no nearer completion.
Ah well, sir! exercise, especially walking, is highly beneficial to the liver, they tell me—and nothing, madam, believe me (unless it be playing the harp), can show off a pretty hand, or the delicate curves of a shapely wrist and arm to such advantage as that selfsame embroidery. But since needlework (like books and all sublunary things) is apt to grow monotonous, you may, perchance, for lack of better occupation, be driven to address yourself, once more, to this, my Narrative.
And since you, sir, no matter how far you walk, must, of necessity, return to your chair and chimney-corner, it is possible that, having dined adequately, and lighted your pipe (and being therefore in a more charitable and temperate frame of mind), you may lift my volume from the dusty corner where it has lain all this while, and (though probably with sundry grunts and snorts, indicative that the thing is done under protest, as it were) reopen these pages.
In the which hope, dear madam, and you, noble sir, I here commence this, my Second Book—which, as you see, is headed thus:
OF STORM, AND TEMPEST, AND OF THE COMING OF CHARMIAN
I was at sea in an open boat. Out of the pitch-black heaven there rushed a mighty wind, and the pitch-black seas above me rose high, and ever higher, flecked with hissing white; wherefore I cast me face downwards in my little boat, that I might not behold the horror of the waters; and above their ceaseless, surging thunder there rose a long-drawn cry: