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CHAPTER 3: TO THE WATER'S EDGE (continued)
One of the cabin stewards had presented himself on the poop; he had a bottle in one hand, a glass in the other; in the red glare we saw him dancing in front of the captain like an unruly marionette. Harris appeared to threaten him. What he said we could not hear for the deep-drawn blast and the high staccato crackle of the blazing hold. But we saw the staggering steward offering him a drink; saw the glass flung next instant in the captain's face, the blood running, a pistol drawn, fired without effect, and snatched away by the drunken mutineer. Next instant a smooth black cane was raining blow after blow on the man's head. He dropped; the blows fell thick and heavy as before. He lay wriggling; the Portuguese struck and struck until he lay quite still; then we saw Joaquin Santos kneel, and rub his stick carefully on the still thing's clothes, as a man might wipe his boots.
Curses burst from our throats; yet the fellow deserved to die. Nor, as I say, had we time to waste two thoughts upon any one incident. This last had begun and ended in the same minute; in another we were at the starboard gangway, tumbling helter-skelter aboard the lowered long-boat.
She lay safely on the water: how we thanked our gods for that! Lower and lower sank her gunwale as we dropped aboard her, with no more care than the Gadarene swine whose fate we courted. Discipline, order, method, common care, we brought none of these things with us from our floating furnace; but we fought to be first over the bulwarks, and in the bottom of the long-boat we fought again.
And yet she held us all! All, that is, but a terror-stricken few, who lay along the jibboom like flies upon a stick: all but two or three more whom we left fatally hesitating in the forechains: all but the selfish savages who had been the first to perish in the pinnace, and one distracted couple who had thrown their children into the kindly ocean, and jumped in after them out of their torment, locked for ever in each other's arms.
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