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aim, though he had already turned and was once more coming
directly after me, and drew the trigger. The hammer fell, but there
followed neither flash nor sound; the priming was useless with
sea-water. I cursed myself for my neglect. Why had not I, long
before, reprimed and reloaded my only weapons? Then I should
not have been as now, a mere fleeing sheep before this butcher.

Wounded as he was, it was wonderful how fast he could move,
his grizzled hair tumbling over his face, and his face itself as red as
a red ensign with his haste and fury. I had no time to try my other
pistol, nor indeed much inclination, for I was sure it would be
useless. One thing I saw plainly: I must not simply retreat before
him, or he would speedily hold me boxed into the bows, as a
moment since he had so nearly boxed me in the stern. Once so
caught, and nine or ten inches of the blood-stained dirk would be
my last experience on this side of eternity. I placed my palms
against the main-mast, which was of a goodish bigness, and
waited, every nerve upon the stretch.

Seeing that I meant to dodge, he also paused; and a moment or
two passed in feints on his part and corresponding movements
upon mine. It was such a game as I had often played at home
about the rocks of Black Hill Cove, but never before, you may be
sure, with such a wildly beating heart as now. Still, as I say, it was
a boy’s game, and I thought I could hold my own at it against an
elderly seaman with a wounded thigh. Indeed my courage had
begun to rise so high that I allowed myself a few darting thoughts
on what would be the end of the affair, and while I saw certainly
that I could spin it out for long, I saw no hope of any ultimate

Well, while things stood thus, suddenly the Hispaniola struck,

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