The Sea-chest

Ilostnotime,ofcourse,intellingmymotherallthatIknew,andperhapsshouldhavetoldherlongbefore,andwesawourselvesatonceinadifficultanddangerousposition.Someoftheman’smoneyifhehadanywascertainlyduetous,butitwasnotlikelythatourcaptain’sshipmates,aboveallthetwospecimensseenbyme,BlackDogandtheblindbeggar,wouldbeinclinedtogiveuptheirbootyinpaymentofthedeadman’sdebts.Thecaptain’sordertomountatonceandrideforDoctorLiveseywouldhaveleftmymotheraloneandunprotected,whichwasnottobethoughtof.Indeed,itseemedimpossibleforeitherofustoremainmuchlongerinthehouse;thefallofcoalsinthekitchengrate,theverytickingoftheclock,filleduswithalarms.Theneighbourhood,toourears,seemedhauntedbyapproachingfootsteps;andwhatbetweenthedeadbodyofthecaptainontheparlourfloorandthethoughtofthatdetestableblindbeggarhoveringnearathandandreadytoreturn,thereweremomentswhen,asthesayinggoes,Ijumpedinmyskinforterror.Somethingmustspeedilyberesolvedupon,anditoccurredtousatlasttogoforthtogetherandseekhelpintheneighbouringhamlet.Nosoonersaidthandone.Bare-headedaswewere,weranoutatonceinthegatheringeveningandthefrostyfog.

Thehamletlaynotmanyhundredyardsaway,thoughoutofview,ontheothersideofthenextcove;andwhatgreatlyencouragedme,itwasinanoppositedirectionfromthatwhencetheblindmanhadmadehisappearanceandwhitherhehadpresumablyreturned.Wewerenotmanyminutesontheroad,thoughwesometimesstoppedtolayholdofeachotherandhearken.Buttherewasnounusualsoundnothingbutthelowwashoftherippleandthecroakingoftheinmatesofthewood.

Itwasalreadycandle-lightwhenwereachedthehamlet,andIshallneverforgethowmuchIwascheeredtoseetheyellowshineindoorsandwindows;butthat,asitproved,wasthebestofthehelpwewerelikelytogetinthatquarter.

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