The plunge of our anchor sent up clouds of birds wheeling and crying over the woods; but in less than a minute they were down again, and all was once more silent.
The place was entirely landlocked, 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 amphitheater, 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 the 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 some one tasting a bad egg.
"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, spending himself in good advice, and as for example no man could have shown a better. He fairly outstripped himself in willingness and civility; he was all smiles to every one. If an order were given John would be on his crutch in an instant with the cheeriest "Ay, ay, sir!" in the world; and when there was