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over the woods, but in less than a minute they were down again
and all was once more silent.
The place was entirely land-locked, buried in woods, the trees
coming right down to high-water mark, the shores mostly flat, and
the hilltops standing round at a distance in a sort of amphitheatre,
one here, one there. Two little rivers, or rather two swamps,
emptied out into this pond, as you might call it; and the foliage
round that part of the shore had a kind of poisonous brightness.
From the ship we could see nothing of the house or stockade, for
they were quite buried among trees; and if it had not been for the
chart on the companion, we might have been the first that had
ever anchored there since the island arose out of the seas.
There was not a breath of air moving, nor a sound but that of
the surf booming half a mile away along the beaches and against
the rocks outside. A peculiar stagnant smell hung over the
anchorage--a smell of sodden leaves and rotting tree trunks. I
observed the doctor sniffing and sniffing, like someone tasting a
“I don’t know about treasure,” he said, “but I’ll stake my wig
there’s fever here.”
If the conduct of the men had been alarming in the boat, it
became truly threatening when they had come aboard. They lay
about the deck growling together in talk. The slightest order was
received with a black look and grudgingly and carelessly obeyed.
Even the honest hands must have caught the infection, for there
was not one man aboard to mend another. Mutiny, it was plain,
hung over us like a thunder-cloud.
And it was not only we of the cabin party who perceived the
danger. Long John was hard at work going from group to group,