Chapter XXIX

THE council of the buccaneers had lasted some time, when one of them re-entered the house, and with a repetition of the same salute, which had in my eyes an ironical air, begged for a moment's loan of the torch. Silver briefly agreed; and this emissary retired again, leaving us together in the dark.

`There's a breeze coming, Jim,' said Silver, who had, by this time, adopted quite a friendly and familiar tone.

I turned to the loophole nearest me and looked out. The embers of the great fire had so far burned themselves out, and now glowed so low and duskily, that I understood why these conspirators desired a torch. About half way down the slope to the stockade, they were collected in a group; one held the light; another was on his knees in their midst, and I saw the blade of an open knife shine in his hand with varying colours, in the moon and torchlight. The rest were all somewhat stooping, as though watching the manoeuvres of this last. I could just make out that he had a book as well as a knife in his hand; and was still wondering how anything so incongruous had come in their possession, when the kneeling figure rose once more to his feet, and the whole party began to move together towards the house.

`Here they come,' said I; and I returned to my former position, for it seemed beneath my dignity that they should find me watching them.

`Well, let 'em come, lad - let 'em come,' said Silver, cheerily. `I've still a shot in my locker.'

The door opened, and the five men, standing huddled together just inside, pushed one of their number forward. In any other circumstances it would have been comical to see his slow advance, hesitating as he set down each foot, but holding his closed right hand in front of him.

`Step up, lad,' cried Silver. `I won't eat you. Hand it over, lubber. I know the rules, I do; I won't hurt a depytation.'

Thus encouraged, the buccaneer stepped forth more briskly, and having passed something to Silver, from hand to hand, slipped yet more smartly back again to hi companions.

The sea-cook looked at what had been given him.

`The black spot! I thought so,' he observed. `Where might you have got the paper? Why, hillo! look here, now: this aint lucky! You've gone and cut this out of a Bible. What fool's cut a Bible?'

`Ah, there!' said Morgan - there! Wot did I say? No good'll come o' that, I said.'

`Well, you've about fixed it now, among you,' continue Silver. `You'll all swing now, I reckon. What soft- headed lubber had a Bible?'

`It was Dick,' said one.

`Dick, was it? Then Dick can get to prayers,' said Silver `He's seen his slice of luck, has Dick, and you may lay to that.'

But here the long man with the yellow eyes struck in.

`Belay that talk, John Silver,' he said. `This crew has tipped you the black spot in full council, as in dooty bound; just you turn it over, as in dooty bound, and see what's wrote there. Then you can talk.'

`Thanky, George,' replied the sea-cook. `You always was brisk for business, and has the rules by heart, George, as I'm pleased to see. Well, what is it, anyway? Ah! "Deposed" - that's it, is it? Very pretty wrote, to be sure; like print, I swear. Your hand o' write, George? Why, you was gettin' quite a leadin' man in this here crew. You'll be cap'n next, shouldn't wonder. Just oblige me with that torch again, will you? this pipe don't draw.'

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