The Black Spot Again

Thecouncilofbuccaneershadlastedsometime,whenoneofthemre-enteredthehouse,andwitharepetitionofthesamesalute,whichhadinmyeyesanironicalair,beggedforamoment’sloanofthetorch.Silverbrieflyagreed,andthisemissaryretiredagain,leavingustogetherinthedark.

“There’sabreezecoming,Jim,”saidSilver,whohadbythistimeadoptedquiteafriendlyandfamiliartone.

Iturnedtotheloopholenearestmeandlookedout.TheembersofthegreatfirehadsofarburnedthemselvesoutandnowglowedsolowandduskilythatIunderstoodwhytheseconspiratorsdesiredatorch.Abouthalf-waydowntheslopetothestockade,theywerecollectedinagroup;oneheldthelight,anotherwasonhiskneesintheirmidst,andIsawthebladeofanopenknifeshineinhishandwithvaryingcoloursinthemoonandtorchlight.Therestwereallsomewhatstooping,asthoughwatchingthemanoeuvresofthislast.Icouldjustmakeoutthathehadabookaswellasaknifeinhishand,andwasstillwonderinghowanythingsoincongruoushadcomeintheirpossessionwhenthekneelingfigureroseoncemoretohisfeetandthewholepartybegantomovetogethertowardsthehouse.

“Heretheycome,”saidI;andIreturnedtomyformerposition,foritseemedbeneathmydignitythattheyshouldfindmewatchingthem.

“Well,let’emcome,ladlet’emcome,”saidSilvercheerily.“I’vestillashotinmylocker.”

Thedooropened,andthefivemen,standinghuddledtogetherjustinside,pushedoneoftheirnumberforward.Inanyothercircumstancesitwouldhavebeencomicaltoseehisslowadvance,hesitatingashesetdowneachfoot,butholdinghisclosedrighthandinfrontofhim.

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