PART THREE: My Shore Adventure
Chapter 14: The First Blow
"Silver," said the other man--and I observed he was not
only red in the face, but spoke as hoarse as a crow, and
his voice shook too, like a taut rope--"Silver," says he,
"you're old, and you're honest, or has the name for it;
and you've money too, which lots of poor sailors hasn't;
and you're brave, or I'm mistook. And will you tell me
you'll let yourself be led away with that kind of a mess
of swabs? Not you! As sure as God sees me, I'd sooner
lose my hand. If I turn agin my dooty--"
And then all of a sudden he was interrupted by a noise.
I had found one of the honest hands--well, here, at
that same moment, came news of another. Far away out
in the marsh there arose, all of a sudden, a sound like
the cry of anger, then another on the back of it; and
then one horrid, long-drawn scream. The rocks of the
Spy-glass re-echoed it a score of times; the whole
troop of marsh-birds rose again, darkening heaven, with
a simultaneous whirr; and long after that death yell
was still ringing in my brain, silence had re-established
its empire, and only the rustle of the
redescending birds and the boom of the distant surges
disturbed the languor of the afternoon.
Tom had leaped at the sound, like a horse at the spur,
but Silver had not winked an eye. He stood where he
was, resting lightly on his crutch, watching his
companion like a snake about to spring.
"John!" said the sailor, stretching out his hand.
"Hands off!" cried Silver, leaping back a yard, as it seemed
to me, with the speed and security of a trained gymnast.
"Hands off, if you like, John Silver," said the other.
"It's a black conscience that can make you feared of
me. But in heaven's name, tell me, what was that?"
"That?" returned Silver, smiling away, but warier than
ever, his eye a mere pin-point in his big face, but
gleaming like a crumb of glass. "That?" Oh, I reckon
that'll be Alan."