Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/314

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Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates

was there no longer, but in his stead a man with a countenance convulsed with some furious and nameless passion.

“That ball!” he cried, in a hoarse and raucous voice. “That ivory ball! Give it to me upon the instant!”

As he spoke he whipped out from his bosom a long, keen Spanish knife that in its every appearance spoke without equivocation of the most murderous possibilities.

The malignant passions that distorted every lineament of the countenance of the little old gentleman in black filled our hero with such astonishment that he knew not whether he were asleep or awake; but when he beheld the other advancing with the naked and shining knife in his hand his reason returned to him like a flash. Leaping to his feet, he lost no time in putting the table between himself and his sudden enemy.

“Indeed, friend,” he cried, in a voice penetrated with terror—“indeed, friend, thou hadst best keep thy distance from me, for though I am a man of peace and a shunner of bloodshed, I promise thee that I will not stand still to be murdered without outcry or without endeavoring to defend my life!”

“Cry as loud as you please!” exclaimed the other. “No one is near this place to hear you! Cry until you are hoarse; no one in this neighborhood will stop to ask what is the matter with you. I tell you I am determined to possess myself of that ivory ball, and have it I shall, even though I am obliged to cut out your heart to get it!” As he spoke he grinned with so extraordinary and devilish a distortion of his countenance, and with such an appearance of every intention of carrying out his threat as to send the goose-flesh creeping like icy fingers up and down our hero’s spine with the most incredible rapidity and acuteness.

Nevertheless, mastering his fears, Jonathan contrived to speak up with a pretty good appearance of spirit. “Indeed, friend,” he said, “thou appearest to forget that I am a man of twice thy bulk and half thy years, and that though thou hast a knife I am