My reply to that cannibal was, "However glad you may be, hold your noise, and don′t dance jigs and slap your knees about it, for I can′t abear to see you do it."
I was on duty then; we twelve who were left being divided into four watches of three each, three hours′ spell. I was relieved at twelve. A little before that time, I had challenged, and Miss Maryon and Mrs. Belltott had come in.
"Good Davis," says Miss Maryon, "what is the matter? Where is my brother?"
I told her what was the matter, and where her brother was.
"O Heaven help him!" says she, clasping her hands and looking up—she was close in front of me, and she looked most lovely to be sure; "he is not sufficiently recovered, not strong enough for such strife!"
"If you had seen him, miss," I told her, "as I saw him when he volunteered, you would have known that his spirit is strong enough for any strife. It will bear his body, miss, to wherever duty calls him. It will always bear him to an honourable life, or a brave death."
"Heaven bless you!" says she, touching my arm. "I know it. Heaven bless you!"
Mrs. Belltott surprised me by trembling and saying nothing. They were still standing looking towards the sea and listening, after the relief had come round. It continuing very dark, I asked to be allowed to take them back. Miss Maryon thanked me, and she put her arm in mine, and I did take them back. I have now got to make a confession that will appear singular. After I had left them, I laid myself down on my face on the beach, and cried for the first time since I had frightened birds as a boy at Snorridge Bottom, to think what a poor, ignorant, low-placed, private soldier I was.
It was only for half a minute or so. A man can′t at all times be quite master of himself, and it was only for half a minute or so. Then I up and went to my hut, and turned into my hammock, and fell asleep with wet eyelashes, and a sore, sore heart. Just as I had often done when I was a child, and had been worse used than usual.
I slept (as a child under those circumstances might) very sound, and yet very sore at heart all through my sleep. I was awoke by the words, "He is a determined man." I had sprung out of my hammock, and had seized my firelock, and was standing on the ground, saying the words myself. "He is a determined man." But, the curiosity of my state was, that I seemed to be repeating them after somebody, and to have been wonderfully startled by hearing them.
As soon as I came to myself, I went out of the hut, and away to where the guard was. Charker challenged:
"Who goes there?"
"Not Gill?" says he, as he shouldered his piece.
"Gill," says I.
"Why, what the deuce do you do out of your hammock?" says he.
"Too hot for sleep," says I; "is all right?"
"Right!" says Charker, "yes, yes; all′s right enough here; what should be wrong here? It′s the boats that we want to know of. Except for fire- flies twinkling about, and the lonesome splashes of great creatures as they drop into the water, there′s nothing going on here to ease a man′s mind from the boats."
The moon was above the sea, and had risen, I should say, some half-an- hour. As Charker spoke, with his face towards the sea, I, looking landward, suddenly laid my right hand on his breast, and said, "Don′t move. Don′t turn.
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