Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/324

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Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates

the floor, and then back at him again with eyes at once quizzical and cunning. Then his face broke into a grin that might hardly be called of drollery. “Accident!” quoth he. “By the blood! d’ye see ’tis a strange accident, indeed, that lays two men by the heels and lets the third go without a scratch!” Delivering himself thus, he came forward into the room, and, taking the last victim of Jonathan’s adventure by the arm, with as little compunction as he would have handled a sack of grain he dragged the limp and helpless figure from where it lay to the floor beside the first victim. Then, lifting the lighted candle, he bent over the two prostrate bodies, holding the illumination close to the lineaments first of one and then of the other. He looked at them very carefully for a long while, with the closest and most intent scrutiny, and in perfect silence. “They are both as dead,” says he, “as Davy Jones, and, whoever you be, I protest that you have done your business the most completest that I ever saw in all of my life.”

“Indeed,” cried Jonathan, in the same shrill and panting voice, “it was themselves who did it. First one of them attacked me and then the other, and I did but try to keep them from murdering me. This one fell on his knife, and that one shot himself in his efforts to destroy me.”

“That,” says the seaman, “you may very well tell to a dry-lander, and maybe he will believe you; but you cannot so easily pull the wool over the eyes of Captain Benny Willitts. And what, if I may be so bold as for to ask you, was the reason for their attacking so harmless a man as you proclaim yourself to be?”

“That I know not,” cried Jonathan; “but I am entirely willing to tell thee all the circumstances. Thou must know that I am a member of the Society of Friends. This day I landed here in Kingston, and met a young woman of very comely appearance, who intrusted me with this little ivory ball, which she requested me to keep for her a few days. The sight of this ball—in which I can detect nothing that could be likely to arouse any feelings of