PART FIVE: My Sea Adventure
Chapter 27: "Pieces of Eight"
These last I broke through with a sudden jerk, and then
regained the deck by the starboard shrouds. For
nothing in the world would I have again ventured,
shaken as I was, upon the overhanging port shrouds from
which Israel had so lately fallen.
I went below and did what I could for my wound; it pained
me a good deal and still bled freely, but it was neither
deep nor dangerous, nor did it greatly gall me when I used
my arm. Then I looked around me, and as the ship was now,
in a sense, my own, I began to think of clearing it from
its last passenger--the dead man, O'Brien.
He had pitched, as I have said, against the bulwarks,
where he lay like some horrible, ungainly sort of puppet,
life-size, indeed, but how different from life's colour
or life's comeliness! In that position I could easily
have my way with him, and as the habit of tragical
adventures had worn off almost all my terror for the
dead, I took him by the waist as if he had been a sack
of bran and with one good heave, tumbled him overboard.
He went in with a sounding plunge; the red cap came off
and remained floating on the surface; and as soon as the
splash subsided, I could see him and Israel lying side
by side, both wavering with the tremulous movement of
the water. O'Brien, though still quite a young man, was
very bald. There he lay, with that bald head across the
knees of the man who had killed him and the quick fishes
steering to and fro over both.
I was now alone upon the ship; the tide had just
turned. The sun was within so few degrees of setting
that already the shadow of the pines upon the western
shore began to reach right across the anchorage and
fall in patterns on the deck. The evening breeze had
sprung up, and though it was well warded off by the
hill with the two peaks upon the east, the cordage had
begun to sing a little softly to itself and the idle
sails to rattle to and fro.