There was a deal of cursing and groaning as the men at the bottom of the ladder crawled to their feet.
Somebody strike a light, my thumbs out of joint, said one of the men, Parsons, a swarthy, saturnine man, boat-steerer in Standishs boat, in which Harrison was puller.
Youll find it knockin about by the bitts, Leach said, sitting down on the edge of the bunk in which I was concealed.
There was a fumbling and a scratching of matches, and the sea-lamp flared up, dim and smoky, and in its weird light bare-legged men moved about nursing their bruises and caring for their hurts. Oofty- Oofty laid hold of Parsonss thumb, pulling it out stoutly and snapping it back into place. I noticed at the same time that the Kanakas knuckles were laid open clear across and to the bone. He exhibited them, exposing beautiful white teeth in a grin as he did so, and explaining that the wounds had come from striking Wolf Larsen in the mouth.
So it was you, was it, you black beggar? belligerently demanded one Kelly, an Irish-American and a longshoreman, making his first trip to sea, and boat-puller for Kerfoot.
As he made the demand he spat out a mouthful of blood and teeth and shoved his pugnacious face close to Oofty-Oofty. The Kanaka leaped backward to his bunk, to return with a second leap, flourishing a long knife.
Aw, go lay down, you make me tired, Leach interfered. He was evidently, for all of his youth and inexperience, cock of the forecastle. Gwan, you Kelly. You leave Oofty alone. How in hell did he know it was you in the dark?
Kelly subsided with some muttering, and the Kanaka flashed his white teeth in a grateful smile. He was a beautiful creature, almost feminine in the pleasing lines of his figure, and there was a softness and dreaminess in his large eyes which seemed to contradict his well-earned reputation for strife and action.
How did he get away? Johnson asked.
He was sitting on the side of his bunk, the whole pose of his figure indicating utter dejection and hopelessness. He was still breathing heavily from the exertion he had made. His shirt had been ripped entirely from him in the struggle, and blood from a gash in the cheek was flowing down his naked chest, marking a red path across his white thigh and dripping to the floor.
Because he is the devil, as I told you before, was Leachs answer; and thereat he was on his feet and raging his disappointment with tears in his eyes.
And not one of you to get a knife! was his unceasing lament.
But the rest of the hands had a lively fear of consequences to come and gave no heed to him.
Howll he know which was which? Kelly asked, and as he went on he looked murderously about him - unless one of us peaches.
Hell know as soon as ever he claps eyes on us, Parsons replied. One look at youd be enough.
Tell him the deck flopped up and gouged yer teeth out iv yer jaw, Louis grinned. He was the only man who was not out of his bunk, and he was jubilant in that he possessed no bruises to advertise that he had had a hand in the nights work. Just wait till he gets a glimpse iv yer mugs to-morrow, the gang iv ye, he chuckled.
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