they were furiously angry. Oaths flew like hailstones, and every now and then there came forth such an explosion as I thought was sure to end in blows. But each time the quarrel passed off, and the voices grumbled lower for a while, until the next crisis came, and, in its turn, passed away without result.
On shore, I could see the glow of the great camp-fire burning warmly through the shore-side trees. Some one was singing, a dull, old, droning sailor's song, with a droop and a quaver at the end of every verse, and seemingly no end to it at all but the patience of the singer. I had heard it on the voyage more than once, and remembered these words:
"But one man of her crew alive, What put to sea with seventy-five."
And I thought it was a ditty rather too dolefully appropriate for a company that had met such cruel losses in the morning. But, indeed, from what I saw, all these bucaneers were as callous as the sea they sailed on.
At last the breeze came; the schooner sidled and drew nearer in the dark; I felt the hawser slacken once more, and, with a good tough effort, cut the last fibers through.
The breeze had but little action on the coracle, and I was almost instantly swept against the bows of the Hispaniola. At the same time the schooner began to turn upon her heel, spinning slowly, end for end, across the current.
I wrought like a fiend, for I expected every moment to be swamped; and since I found I could not push the coracle directly off, I now shoved straight astern. At length I was clear of my dangerous neighbor; and just as I gave the last impulsion my hands came across a light cord that was trailing overboard across the stern bulwarks. Instantly I grasped it.
Why I should have done so I can hardly say. It was at first mere instinct; but once I had it in my hands, and found it fast, curiosity began to get the upper hand, and I determined I should have one look through the cabin window.
I pulled in hand over hand on the cord, and when I judged