Monday, February 13, 2012

Prisoners and hostages, taking the ship, the beast fights death

            ...Captain Burke ordered seven guns to be fired, which was the signal agreed upon with me to give me notice of his success, which you may be sure I was very glad to hear. Having thus heard the signal, I did head away from the shore to my castle for sleep, it having been a day of great fatigue to me.  Yet I had not cover'd half the distance when one stepped from the trees to confront me with a drawn broad sword, or cutlass, and made me set my hand upon my own. 
            At first, I bethought myself this was one of the four pirates lost in the shadow'd valley.  And then the quarter moon did come from behind a cloud and cast some light upon the shore, and I saw the Moor Slaader before me.  An awful wound marr'd his features, and show'd the skull and teeth below his flesh, for Burke's weapon had ruin'd much of his face.  Indeed, it had kill'd him, of this I would be sure even if the beast did not assure me of it from beneath my skin with furious snarls.  Yet before me he stood, and many of the dark symbols ink'd in his skin did burn and gleam like lamp light.
            "Robin Crusoe," said Slaader, and his voice was that of the grave, "there you are."  His brow did wrinkle in anger, tho' he was beyond all such feeling, and he point'd a stern finger at me.  "You shall not leave, Robin Crusoe!  Your soul will feed the Great Dreamer!  You shall not leave!!"
            At this he lunged at me with his cutlass.  I drew my own sword and leapt aside.  The boatswain follow'd, swinging his great weapon.  The blades met, but I was no swords man, and Slaader had a furious strength upon him.  Our swords met twice, high and low, and twice again, side to side, and then the pirate knock'd my blade from my hand and it flew far from my grasp.  Now from his mouth came the words, the awful words of Poll and the savages and Walla-Kay, Friday's father.  The dark prayers of Kathooloo.  The ink of his skin did flicker and flare with his words, like a lantern being brush'd with a breeze. 
            Within my skin the beast did howl for freedom, for the words of Slaader anger'd it, as the like words of Poll had years and years ago, as I have said.
            I dodged a swipe of his cutlass and felt a great freedom come across me, as a man must when he sees the door of his prison open'd after many, many years, yet the feeling was not mine but that of the beast.  The moon was of no consequence, for the years alone had made us too close for such things to matter, and like in the stories I had heard of my father's father, I call'd to the beast and set it free.
            The mantle of the beast fell upon me, and through the smok'd lens did I see the look of surprise come across the face of Slaader.  I felt the beast's displeasure at my cloathes, and its hunger for flesh, and its rage at the dead boatswain...

Monday, February 6, 2012

My new allies, villains, fear the island

            ...We had, upon the first appearance of the boat's coming from the ship, consider'd of separating our prisoners.  We had, indeed, secured them effectually.  Two of them, of whom Burke was less assured than ordinary, I sent with Friday, and one of the three deliver'd men to my cave, where they were remote enough and out of danger of being heard or discovered, or of finding their way out of the woods if they could have deliver'd themselves.  Here they left them bound, but gave them provisions and promised them if they continued there quietly to give them their liberty in a day or two.  If they attempted their escape, they should be kill'd by the beast of the island without mercy.  As Friday's countenance can be most fierce if he wills it, they dreaded at the thought of something more bestial than he.  They promised faithfully to bear their confinement with patience, and were very thankful they had such good usage as to have provisions and light left them.
            The other prisoners had better usage.  Two of them were kept pinioned, because the captain was not free to trust them.  The other two were taken into my service, upon Burke's recommendation and upon their solemnly engaging to live and die with us.  With them and the three honest men we were seven men well armed, and I made no doubt we should be able to deal well enough with the ten that were coming, considering the captain had said there were three or four honest men among them also. 
            As soon as the mutineers got to the place where their other boat lay, they ran their boat into the beach and came all on shore, hauling the boat up after them, which I was glad to see.  I was afraid they would rather have left the boat at an anchor, some distance from the shore, with some hands in her to guard her, and so we should not be able to seize the boat.  Being on shore, the first thing they did, they ran all to their other boat.  It was easy to see they were under a great surprise to find her stript of all that was in her and a great hole in her bottom. 
            After they had mused a while upon this, they set up two or three great shouts, hallooing with all their might to try if they could make their companions hear, but all was to no purpose.  Then they came all close in a ring and fired a volley of their small arms, and the echoes made the woods ring.  But those in the cave we were sure could not hear and those in our keeping, tho’ they heard it well enough, yet durst give no answer to them.  The men were so astonished at the surprise of this, they resolv’d to go all on board again and let them know the men were all murdered and the long-boat staved.  Accordingly, they immediately launched their boat again and got all of them on board.
            Captain Burke was amazed, and even confounded at this, believing they would go on board the ship again and set sail, giving their comrades over for lost, and so he should still lose the ship, which he was in hopes we should have recovered.  But he was quickly as much frightened the other way.
            They had not been long put off with the boat but we perceived them all coming on shore again.  With this was a new measure in their conduct, which it seemed they consulted together upon, viz. to leave three men in the boat, and the rest to go up into the country to look for their fellows.  This was a great disappointment to us, for now we were at a loss what to do.  Our seizing those seven men on shore would be no advantage to us if we let the boat escape, because they would then row away to the ship and then the rest of them would be sure to weigh and set sail, so our recovering the ship would be lost.  However, we had no remedy but to wait and see what the issue of things might present.  The seven men came on shore and the three who remained in the boat put her off to a good distance from the shore, and came to an anchor to wait for them.  Friday was quite sure he could reach the boat swimming, and of this I had no doubts, but were he to do so it was my belief those on the ship would observe his attack and, again, weigh and set sail.  So it was impossible for us to come at them in the boat.
            Those that came on shore kept close together, marching towards the top of the little hill under which my habitation lay.  We could see them plainly, tho’ they could not perceive us.   Slaader, who was the principal ringleader of the mutiny, was a large and fit man with hair like tar, much like all the Moors, and his tann'd skin had been ink'd with many pictures, as was common among the more superstitious sailors, which was many of them.  Altho' I did not think of it at the time, I did realize upon reflection I had seen many of the symbols ink'd on Slaader's skin upon the trees and stones of this island in the past years...