BOOK THE FIRST: THE CUP AND THE LIP
Chapter 14: The Bird of Prey Brought Down
Cold on the shore, in the raw cold of that leaden crisis in the four-
and-twenty hours when the vital force of all the noblest and
prettiest things that live is at its lowest, the three watchers looked
each at the blank faces of the other two, and all at the blank face of
Riderhood in his boat.
'Gaffer's boat, Gaffer in luck again, and yet no Gaffer!' So spake
Riderhood, staring disconsolate.
As if with one accord, they all turned their eyes towards the light
of the fire shining through the window. It was fainter and duller.
Perhaps fire, like the higher animal and vegetable life it helps to
sustain, has its greatest tendency towards death, when the night is
dying and the day is not yet born.
'If it was me that had the law of this here job in hand,' growled
Riderhood with a threatening shake of his head, 'blest if I wouldn't
lay hold of HER, at any rate!'
'Ay, but it is not you,' said Eugene. With something so suddenly
fierce in him that the informer returned submissively; 'Well, well,
well, t'other governor, I didn't say it was. A man may speak.'
'And vermin may be silent,' said Eugene. 'Hold your tongue, you
Astonished by his friend's unusual heat, Lightwood stared too, and
then said: 'What can have become of this man?'
'Can't imagine. Unless he dived overboard.' The informer wiped
his brow ruefully as he said it, sitting in his boat and always
'Did you make his boat fast?'
'She's fast enough till the tide runs back. I couldn't make her faster
than she is. Come aboard of mine, and see for your own-selves.'