Across the Salt Seas
A Romance of the War of Succession
Library of Alexandria
Then I heard the old man's voice coming forth from the cabin where they had got him, the door of it being open for sake of air, because, in this tossing sea, the ports and scuttles were shut fast-heard him screaming, muttering, chuckling and laughing; calling of healths and toasts; dying hard! "The balustrades!" he screamed. "Look to them. See! Three men, their hands stretched out, peering down into the hall; fingers touching. God!"-he whispered this, yet still we heard-"how can dead men stand thus together, gazing over, glancing into dark corners, eyes rolling? See how yellow the mustee's eyes are! But still, all dead! Dead! Dead! Dead! Yet there they stand, waiting for us to come in from the garden. Ha! quick-the passado-one-two-in-out-good! through his midriff. Ha! Ha! Ha!" and he laughed hideously, then went on: "The worms will have a full meal. Or"-after a pause, and hissing this: "Was he dead before? Hast run a dead man through?" "Like this all day long," the captain muttered in my ear, "from the dawn. And now the sun is setting; see how its gleams light up the hills inland. God's mercy! I hope he dies ere long. I want not his howlings through my ship all night. Mr. Crespin," and he laid his hand on my arm, "will you go down to him, to service me? You are a gentleman. Maybe can soothe him. He is one, too. Will you?" I shrugged my shoulders and hitched my sea cloak tighter round me; then I said: "To do you a service-yes. Yet I like not the job. Still, I will go," and I put my hand on the brass rail to descend. Then, as I did so, we heard him again-a-singing of a song this time. But what a song! And to come from the dying lips of that old, white-haired, reverend-looking man! A song about drinkings and carousings, of girls' eyes and lips and other charms, which he should have thought no more of for the past two score years! and killing of men, and thievings and plunder. Then another change, orders bellowed loudly, as though he trod on deck-commands given to run out guns-cutlasses to be ready. Shrieks, whooping and huzzas!