ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred, one hundred and one”—the slow, monotonous count coming nearer and nearer; “one hundred and two, one hundred and three, one hundred and four,” and so on in its monotonous reckoning.
Suddenly he saw three heads appear above the sand hill, so close to him that he crouched down quickly with a keen thrill, close beside the hummock near which he stood. His first fear was that they might have seen him in the moonlight; but they had not, and his heart rose again as the counting voice went steadily on. “One hundred and twenty,” it was saying—“and twenty-one, and twenty-two, and twenty-three, and twenty-four,” and then he who was counting came out from behind the little sandy rise into the white and open level of shimmering brightness.
It was the man with the cane whom Tom had seen some time before the captain of the party who had landed. He carried his cane under his arm now, and was holding his lantern close to something that he held in his hand, and upon which he looked narrowly as he walked with a slow and measured tread in a perfectly straight line across the sand, counting each step as he took it. “And twenty-five, and twenty-six, and twenty-seven, and twenty-eight, and twenty-nine, and thirty.”
Behind him walked two other figures; one was the half-naked negro, the other the man with the plaited queue and the earrings, whom Tom had seen lifting the chest out of the boat. Now they were carrying the heavy box between them, laboring through the sand with shuffling tread as they bore it onward.
As he who was counting pronounced the word “thirty,” the two men set the chest down on the sand with a grunt, the white man panting and blowing and wiping his sleeve across his forehead. And immediately he who