within was rattling about among the pans and dishes in preparation of their supper, of which a strong, porky smell already filled the air.
Then Tom Chist told his story, panting, hurrying, tumbling one word over another in his haste, and Parson Jones listened, breaking every now and then into an ejaculation of wonder. The light in his pipe went out and the bowl turned cold.
“And I don’t see why they should have killed the poor black man,” said Tom, as he finished his narrative.
“Why, that is very easy enough to understand,” said the good reverend man. “‘Twas a treasure box they buried!”
In his agitation Mr. Jones had risen from his seat and was now stumping up and down, puffing at his empty tobacco pipe as though it were still alight.
“A treasure box!” cried out Tom.
“Aye, a treasure box! And that was why they killed the poor black man. He was the only one, d’ye see, besides they two who knew the place where ’twas hid, and now that they’ve killed him out of the way, there’s nobody but themselves knows. The villains— Tut, tut, look at that now!” In his excitement the dominie had snapped the stem of his tobacco pipe in two.
“Why, then,” said Tom, “if that is so, ’tis indeed a wicked, bloody treasure, and fit to bring a curse upon anybody who finds it!”
“’Tis more like to bring a curse upon the soul who buried it,” said Parson Jones, “and it may be a blessing to him who finds it. But tell me, Tom, do you think you could find the place again where ’twas hid?”
“I can’t tell that,” said Tom, “’twas all in among the sand humps, d’ye see, and it was at night into the bargain. Maybe we could find the marks of their feet in the sand,” he added.
“’Tis not likely,” said the reverend gentleman, “for the storm last night would have washed all that away.”
“I could find the place,” said Tom, “where the boat was drawn up on the beach.”