PART THREE: My Shore Adventure
Chapter 13: How My Shore Adventure Began
There was not a breath of air moving, nor a sound but that
of the surf booming half a mile away along the beaches and
against the rocks outside. A peculiar stagnant smell hung
over the anchorage--a smell of sodden leaves and rotting
tree trunks. I observed the doctor sniffing and sniffing,
like someone tasting a bad egg.
"I don't know about treasure," he said, "but I'll stake
my wig there's fever here."
If the conduct of the men had been alarming in the
boat, it became truly threatening when they had come
aboard. They lay about the deck growling together in
talk. The slightest order was received with a black
look and grudgingly and carelessly obeyed. Even the
honest hands must have caught the infection, for there
was not one man aboard to mend another. Mutiny, it was
plain, hung over us like a thunder-cloud.
And it was not only we of the cabin party who perceived
the danger. Long John was hard at work going from
group to group, spending himself in good advice, and as
for example no man could have shown a better. He
fairly outstripped himself in willingness and civility;
he was all smiles to everyone. If an order were given,
John would be on his crutch in an instant, with the
cheeriest "Aye, aye, sir!" in the world; and when there
was nothing else to do, he kept up one song after
another, as if to conceal the discontent of the rest.
Of all the gloomy features of that gloomy afternoon, this
obvious anxiety on the part of Long John appeared the worst.
We held a council in the cabin.
"Sir," said the captain, "if I risk another order, the
whole ship'll come about our ears by the run. You see,
sir, here it is. I get a rough answer, do I not? Well,
if I speak back, pikes will be going in two shakes; if I
don't, Silver will see there's something under that, and
the game's up. Now, we've only one man to rely on."
"And who is that?" asked the squire.