"Come aboard, Mr. Hands," I said, ironically.
He rolled his eyes round heavily, but he was too far gone to express surprise. All he could do was to utter one wordó "Brandy."
It occurred to me there was no time to lose; and, dodging the boom as it once more lurched across the deck, I slipped aft and down the companion stairs into the cabin.
It was such a scene of confusion as you can hardly fancy. All the lock-fast places had been broken open in quest of the chart. The floor was thick with mud where ruffians had sat down to drink or consult after wading in the marshes round their camp. The bulkheads, all painted in clear white and beaded round with gilt, bore a pattern of dirty hands. Dozens of empty bottles clinked together in corners to the rolling of the ship. One of the doctor's medical books lay open on the table, half of the leaves gutted out, I suppose, for pipe-lights. In the midst of all this the lamp still cast a smoky glow, obscure and brown as umber.
I went into the cellar; all the barrels were gone, and of the bottles a most surprising number had been drunk out and thrown away. Certainly, since the mutiny began not a man of them could ever have been sober.
Foraging about, I found a bottle with some brandy left, for Hands; and for myself I routed out some biscuit, some pickled fruits, a great bunch of raisins, and a piece of cheese. With these I came on deck, put down my own stock behind the rudder-head and well out of the coxswain's reach, went forward to the water-beaker, and had a good deep drink of water, and then, and not till then, gave Hands the brandy.
He must have drunk a gill before he took the bottle from his mouth.
"Aye," said he, "by thunder, but I wanted some o' that!"
I had sat down already in my own corner and begun to eat.
"Much hurt?" I asked him.
He grunted, or rather I might say he barked.
"If that doctor was aboard," he said, "I'd be right enough in