Page:A Mainsail Haul - Masefield - 1913.djvu/181
A DEAL OF CARDS 169
a drop of water gaped at by all the damned among the fire.
He awoke upon the hut floor, in plain day, the blood beating on his brain, the surf roaring. A boat was pulling in from the ship, the oars keep- ing time to an old hauling tune. Willy Crackers was snoring in his chair, and after trying to rouse him, Joe helped himself to about a pint of rum and staggered out upon the beach. The terror of his sleep was strong upon him. The palm leaves, dangling green and heavy, were a horror to him. The surf terrified him. In every creeper of the jungle he saw the eyes of the devil with the cards. Not for a sack of minted gold would he have stayed in that place. So when the boat made the landing he tumbled into her, and fell asleep, in a drunkard's doze, among the breakers in the stern sheets. He did not rouse from where he lay until rough hands beat him with stretchers, and fierce voices bade him out of that. For the boat was alongside the ship, dragging to a tackle, and the ship was under a jib and topsail, forging slowly forward, while the hands were singing at the bows, heaving in the cable. They were under way.