PART THREE: My Shore Adventure
Chapter 14: The First Blow
This put me in a great fear, and I crawled under cover
of the nearest live-oak and squatted there, hearkening,
as silent as a mouse.
Another voice answered, and then the first voice, which
I now recognized to be Silver's, once more took up the
story and ran on for a long while in a stream, only now
and again interrupted by the other. By the sound they
must have been talking earnestly, and almost fiercely;
but no distinct word came to my hearing.
At last the speakers seemed to have paused and perhaps
to have sat down, for not only did they cease to draw
any nearer, but the birds themselves began to grow more
quiet and to settle again to their places in the swamp.
And now I began to feel that I was neglecting my business,
that since I had been so foolhardy as to come ashore with
these desperadoes, the least I could do was to overhear
them at their councils, and that my plain and obvious duty
was to draw as close as I could manage, under the favourable
ambush of the crouching trees.
I could tell the direction of the speakers pretty
exactly, not only by the sound of their voices but by
the behaviour of the few birds that still hung in alarm
above the heads of the intruders.
Crawling on all fours, I made steadily but slowly
towards them, till at last, raising my head to an
aperture among the leaves, I could see clear down into
a little green dell beside the marsh, and closely set
about with trees, where Long John Silver and another of
the crew stood face to face in conversation.
The sun beat full upon them. Silver had thrown his hat
beside him on the ground, and his great, smooth, blond
face, all shining with heat, was lifted to the other
man's in a kind of appeal.
"Mate," he was saying, "it's because I thinks gold dust
of you--gold dust, and you may lay to that! If I
hadn't took to you like pitch, do you think I'd have
been here a-warning of you? All's up--you can't make
nor mend; it's to save your neck that I'm a-speaking,
and if one of the wild uns knew it, where'd I be, Tom--
now, tell me, where'd I be?"