until by and by, in spite of his suffering and his despair, he dozed off into a loose sleep, that was more like waking than sleep, being possessed continually by the most vivid and distasteful dreams, from which he would awaken only to doze off and to dream again.
It was from the midst of one of these extravagant dreams that he was suddenly aroused by the noise of a pistol shot, and then the noise of another and another, and then a great bump and a grinding jar, and then the sound of many footsteps running across the deck and down into the great cabin. Then came a tremendous uproar of voices in the great cabin, the struggling as of men’s bodies being tossed about, striking violently against the partitions and bulkheads. At the same instant arose a screaming of women’s voices, and one voice, and that Sir John Malyoe’s, crying out as in the greatest extremity: “You villains! You damned villains!” and with the sudden detonation of a pistol fired into the close space of the great cabin.
Barnaby was out in the middle of his cabin in a moment, and taking only time enough to snatch down one of the pistols that hung at the head of his berth, flung out into the great cabin, to find it as black as night, the lantern slung there having been either blown out or dashed out into darkness. The prodigiously dark space was full of uproar, the hubbub and confusion pierced through and through by that keen sound of women’s voices screaming, one in the cabin and the other in the stateroom beyond. Almost immediately Barnaby pitched headlong over two or three struggling men scuffling together upon the deck, falling with a great clatter and the loss of his pistol, which, however, he regained almost immediately.
What all the uproar meant he could not tell, but he presently heard Captain Manly’s voice from somewhere suddenly calling out, “You bloody pirate, would you choke me to death?” wherewith some notion of what had happened came to him like a dash, and that they had been attacked in the night by pirates.