Looking toward the companionway, he saw, outlined against the darkness of the night without, the blacker form of a man’s figure, standing still and motionless as a statue in the midst of all this hubbub, and so by some instinct he knew in a moment that that must be the master maker of all this devil’s brew. Therewith, still kneeling upon the deck, he covered the bosom of that shadowy figure pointblank, as he thought, with his pistol, and instantly pulled the trigger.
In the flash of red light, and in the instant stunning report of the pistol shot, Barnaby saw, as stamped upon the blackness, a broad, flat face with fishy eyes, a lean, bony forehead with what appeared to be a great blotch of blood upon the side, a cocked hat trimmed with gold lace, a red scarf across the breast, and the gleam of brass buttons. Then the darkness, very thick and black, swallowed everything again.
But in the instant Sir John Malyoe called out, in a great loud voice: “My God! ’Tis William Brand!” Therewith came the sound of some one falling heavily down.
The next moment, Barnaby’s sight coming back to him again in the darkness, he beheld that dark and motionless figure still standing exactly where it had stood before, and so knew either that he had missed it or else that it was of so supernatural a sort that a leaden bullet might do it no harm. Though if it was indeed an apparition that Barnaby beheld in that moment, there is this to say, that he saw it as plain as ever he saw a living man in all of his life.
This was the last our hero knew, for the next moment somebody—whether by accident or design he never knew—struck him such a terrible violent blow upon the side of the head that he saw forty thousand stars flash before his eyeballs, and then, with a great humming in his head, swooned dead away.
When Barnaby True came back to his senses again it was to find himself being cared for with great skill and nicety, his head