Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
grumbled lower for a while, until the next crisis came and in its
turn passed away without result.
On shore, I could see the glow of the great camp-fire burning
warmly through the shore-side trees. Someone was singing, a dull,
old, droning sailor’s song, with a droop and a quaver at the end of
every verse, and seemingly no end to it at all but the patience of
the singer. I had heard it on the voyage more than once and
remembered these words:
“But one man of her crew alive,
What put to sea with seventy-five.”
And I thought it was a ditty rather too dolefully appropriate for
a company that had met such cruel losses in the morning. But,
indeed, from what I saw, all these buccaneers were as callous as
the sea they sailed on.
At last the breeze came; the schooner sidled and drew nearer in
the dark; I felt the hawser slacken once more, and with a good,
tough effort, cut the last fibres through.
The breeze had but little action on the coracle, and I was almost
instantly swept against the bows of the Hispaniola. At the same
time, the schooner began to turn upon her heel, spinning slowly,
end for end, across the current.
I wrought like a fiend, for I expected every moment to be
swamped; and since I found I could not push the coracle directly
off, I now shoved straight astern. At length I was clear of my
dangerous neighbour, and just as I gave the last impulsion, my
hands came across a light cord that was trailing overboard across
the stern bulwarks. Instantly I grasped it.