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horse, the sails filling, now on one tack, now on another, and the
boom swinging to and fro till the mast groaned aloud under the
strain. Now and again too there would come a cloud of light sprays
over the bulwark and a heavy blow of the ship’s bows against the
swell; so much heavier weather was made of it by this great rigged
ship than by my home-made, lop-sided coracle, now gone to the
bottom of the sea.
At every jump of the schooner, red-cap slipped to and fro, but--
what was ghastly to behold--neither his attitude nor his fixed
teeth-disclosing grin was anyway disturbed by this rough usage.
At every jump too, Hands appeared still more to sink into himself
and settle down upon the deck, his feet sliding ever the farther
out, and the whole body canting towards the stern, so that his face
became, little by little, hid from me; and at last I could see nothing
beyond his ear and the frayed ringlet of one whisker.
At the same time, I observed, around both of them, splashes of
dark blood upon the planks and began to feel sure that they had
killed each other in their drunken wrath.
While I was thus looking and wondering, in a calm moment,
when the ship was still, Israel Hands turned partly round and with
a low moan writhed himself back to the position in which I had
seen him first. The moan, which told of pain and deadly weakness,
and the way in which his jaw hung open went right to my heart.
But when I remembered the talk I had overheard from the apple
barrel, all pity left me.
I walked aft until I reached the main-mast.
“Come aboard, Mr. Hands,” I said ironically.
He rolled his eyes round heavily, but he was too far gone to
express surprise. All he could do was to utter one word, “Brandy.”