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staggered, ground for an instant in the sand, and then, swift as a
blow, canted over to the port side till the deck stood at an angle of
forty-five degrees and about a puncheon of water splashed into the
scupper holes and lay, in a pool, between the deck and bulwark.

We were both of us capsized in a second, and both of us rolled,
almost together, into the scuppers, the dead red-cap, with his arms
still spread out, tumbling stiffly after us. So near were we, indeed,
that my head came against the coxswain’s foot with a crack that
made my teeth rattle. Blow and all, I was the first afoot again, for
Hands had got involved with the dead body. The sudden canting
of the ship had made the deck no place for running on; I had to
find some new way of escape, and that upon the instant, for my foe
was almost touching me. Quick as thought, I sprang into the
mizzen shrouds, rattled up hand over hand, and did not draw a
breath till I was seated on the cross-trees.

I had been saved by being prompt; the dirk had struck not half
a foot below me as I pursued my upward flight; and there stood
Israel Hands with his mouth open and his face upturned to mine, a
perfect statue of surprise and disappointment.

Now that I had a moment to myself, I lost no time in changing
the priming of my pistol, and then, having one ready for service,
and to make assurance doubly sure, I proceeded to draw the load
of the other and recharge it afresh from the beginning.

My new employment struck Hands all of a heap; he began to
see the dice going against him, and after an obvious hesitation, he
also hauled himself heavily into the shrouds, and with the dirk in
his teeth, began slowly and painfully to mount. It cost him no end
of time and groans to haul his wounded leg behind him, and I had
quietly finished my arrangements before he was much more than

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