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Why I should have done so I can hardly say. It was at first mere
instinct, but once I had it in my hands and found it fast, curiosity
began to get the upper hand, and I determined I should have one
look through the cabin window.

I pulled in hand over hand on the cord, and when I judged
myself near enough, rose at infinite risk to about half my height
and thus commanded the roof and a slice of the interior of the

By this time the schooner and her little consort were gliding
pretty swiftly through the water; indeed, we had already fetched
up level with the camp-fire. The ship was talking, as sailors say,
loudly, treading the innumerable ripples with an incessant
weltering splash; and until I got my eye above the window-sill I
could not comprehend why the watchmen had taken no alarm.
One glance, however, was sufficient; and it was only one glance
that I durst take from that unsteady skiff. It showed me Hands and
his companion locked together in deadly wrestle, each with a hand
upon the other’s throat.

I dropped upon the thwart again, none too soon, for I was near
overboard. I could see nothing for the moment but these two
furious, encrimsoned faces swaying together under the smoky
lamp, and I shut my eyes to let them grow once more familiar with
the darkness.

The endless ballad had come to an end at last, and the whole
diminished company about the camp-fire had broken into the
chorus I had heard so often:

“Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest--
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

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