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horse. Ten to one, if I were so foolhardy as to cut the Hispaniola
from her anchor, I and the coracle would be knocked clean out of
the water.

This brought me to a full stop, and if fortune had not again
particularly favoured me, I should have had to abandon my
design. But the light airs which had begun blowing from the
south-east and south had hauled round after nightfall into the
south-west. Just while I was meditating, a puff came, caught the
Hispaniola, and forced her up into the current; and to my great
joy, I felt the hawser slacken in my grasp, and the hand by which I
held it dip for a second under water.

With that I made my mind up, took out my gully, opened it with
my teeth, and cut one strand after another, till the vessel swung
only by two. Then I lay quiet, waiting to sever these last when the
strain should be once more lightened by a breath of wind.

All this time I had heard the sound of loud voices from the
cabin, but to say truth, my mind had been so entirely taken up
with other thoughts that I had scarcely given ear. Now, however,
when I had nothing else to do, I began to pay more heed.

One I recognized for the coxswain’s, Israel Hands, that had
been Flint’s gunner in former days. The other was, of course, my
friend of the red night-cap. Both men were plainly the worse of
drink, and they were still drinking, for even while I was listening,
one of them, with a drunken cry, opened the stern window and
threw out something, which I divined to be an empty bottle. But
they were not only tipsy; it was plain that they were furiously
angry. Oaths flew like hailstones, and every now and then there
came forth such an explosion as I thought was sure to end in
blows. But each time the quarrel passed off and the voices

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