PART FIVE: My Sea Adventure
Chapter 27: "Pieces of Eight"
The moon was climbing higher and higher, its light
began to fall here and there in masses through the more
open districts of the wood, and right in front of me a
glow of a different colour appeared among the trees.
It was red and hot, and now and again it was a little
darkened--as it were, the embers of a bonfire smouldering.
For the life of me I could not think what it might be.
At last I came right down upon the borders of the
clearing. The western end was already steeped in moon-shine;
the rest, and the block house itself, still lay
in a black shadow chequered with long silvery streaks
of light. On the other side of the house an immense
fire had burned itself into clear embers and shed a
steady, red reverberation, contrasted strongly with the
mellow paleness of the moon. There was not a soul
stirring nor a sound beside the noises of the breeze.
I stopped, with much wonder in my heart, and perhaps a
little terror also. It had not been our way to build
great fires; we were, indeed, by the captain's orders,
somewhat niggardly of firewood, and I began to fear
that something had gone wrong while I was absent.
I stole round by the eastern end, keeping close in
shadow, and at a convenient place, where the darkness
was thickest, crossed the palisade.
To make assurance surer, I got upon my hands and knees
and crawled, without a sound, towards the corner of the
house. As I drew nearer, my heart was suddenly and
greatly lightened. It is not a pleasant noise in
itself, and I have often complained of it at other
times, but just then it was like music to hear my
friends snoring together so loud and peaceful in their
sleep. The sea-cry of the watch, that beautiful "All's
well," never fell more reassuringly on my ear.
In the meantime, there was no doubt of one thing; they
kept an infamous bad watch. If it had been Silver and
his lads that were now creeping in on them, not a soul
would have seen daybreak. That was what it was,
thought I, to have the captain wounded; and again I
blamed myself sharply for leaving them in that danger
with so few to mount guard.