Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/321

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The Ruby of Kishmoor

astounding detonation of a pistol-shot, and for a moment he wondered whether he had received a mortal wound without being aware of it. Then suddenly he beheld an extraordinary and dreadful transformation take place in the countenance thrust so close to his own; the eyes winked several times with incredible rapidity, and then rolled upward and inward; the jaws gaped into a dreadful and cavernous yawn; the pistol fell with a clatter to the floor, and the next moment the muscles, so rigid but an instant before, relaxed into a limp and listless flaccidity. The joints collapsed, and the entire man fell into an indistinguishable heap upon and across the dead figure stretched out upon the floor, while at the same time a pungent and blinding cloud of gunpowder smoke filled the apartment. For a few moments the hands twitched convulsively; the neck stretched itself to an abominable length; the long, lean legs slowly and gradually relaxed, and every fibre of the body gradually collapsed into the lassitude of death. A spot of blood appeared and grew upon the collar at the throat, and in the same degree the color ebbed from the face leaving it of a dull and leaden pallor.

All these terrible and formidable changes of aspect our hero stood watching with a motionless and riveted attention, and as though they were to him matters of the utmost consequence and importance; and only when the last flicker of life had departed from his second victim did he lift his gaze from this terrible scene of dissolution to stare about him, this way and that, his eyes blinded, and his breath stifled by the thick cloud of sulphurous smoke that obscured the objects about him in a pungent cloud.


The Unexpected Encounter with the Sea Captain with the Broken Nose

If our hero had been distracted and bedazed by the first catastrophe that had befallen, this second and even more dreadful and violent occurrence appeared to take away from him, for the