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a glimmer of the stars. On its edge Shivering, Yarde leaned nearer.
. he saw a great black hand.
The man stirred; his arm dropped from He was not alone. There was a his face. Yarde shrank back. man in the sea behind him, swimming, It was an inexpressibly somber and and pushing the cover along with one savage face, low in the brow, with a hand on it.
great out-thrust jaw and a broad Yarde could not see anything of him nose; across one hollowed cheek ran a but that one hand. He melted into pinkish scar. It was a face from the the night. The broken reflections of older world; Yarde was ten thousand stars twinkled along his sides as he years younger than it. It filled him swam, and that alone gave him sub- with the panic of a dream, for his stance, that and the hand. The
nerves were rotten by inheritance. tremendous, mournful music of his He leaped from the cover, and ran voice belonged to the sea and the sky, yelling up the sand. and was not human. Yarde could not He knew that the black sailor had understand what he said.
come to his feet in a lithe bound and But he was not lost. He under- was running after him; he heard a stood that. He lay on the heave of great booming cry. Warm, drenched, the quiet, warm, black sea, linked to and sick with incredible terror, the boy existence by the black hand on the ran on. He did not know where he edge of the white wood. He crawled was going. He just ran, clear across near it and went to sleep.
the sand-bar and into the sea again.
There he dropped. The bright sky $ 3
and the foam met over his face, a vast When he roused, it was dawn. The silver dazzle. The last thing he was cover had been pushed up and aware of was a huge black hand grounded on sand. This sand and the
This sand and the swooping from the dazzle and plucking sighing, quiet ocean and the sky were him forth as if he were a fish. all palpitating with rose color. Little Young Yarde was pretty bad that flickering, rosy flames seemed to race day. He did n't know much until with the reflections of ripples on the it was night again; then he woke beside
; beach. Only the man lying beside a small fire. The sand about it was the cover, one arm across his eyes, one warm. He felt
He felt naturally sleepy. hand yet grasping the edge of the wood, Some one was patting him on the was a dark shadow in all that radiance. back, steadily, to a monotonous, mur
Young Yarde gathered his weak mured rhythm, as a mother pats a limbs together and looked down at his child to sleep. The great black sailor rescuer. He saw a big, black sailor, was squatting beside him; the black wearing ragged dungaree breeches held hand rose and fell softly, ceaselessly, up by a broad leather belt. He was pat, pat, pat, pat. Yarde slept. magnificently built. He must have He woke in full sunlight, very hunswum many hours. His flesh was all gry; he stood up. His clothes were grayed and crinkled with the sea, and dry; the sea sparkled like a faceted gem. tiny crystals of salt glittered in his No one was in sight, but the driftwood woolly hair and in the thatch of his coals glowed. From the fireside a great chest.
man's footprints led down to the sea, savage footprints, long, with perfect jerked. He laid it on the rock, and toes, pointing inward. Yarde fol- crushed the life out of it with one lowed the track.
stroke of his heel. Yarde shivered The sailor was lying stretched on again; yet when the man strode back white rocks above a blue pool. His
His to the fire, he followed, and ate ravsinewy arm swung down like a shadow; enously of the fish cooked on the his hand hovered above the water. wood coals. In a moment, while Yarde watched, The day passed. Yarde was weak the hand dashed into the pool. There and dozed a great deal. The black was a scatter of white drops; then the sailor sat with his knees drawn up and man pulled out a jerking silver fish. his chin resting on them, staring imHe got up, and strode to Yarde across movably out to sea; but Yarde knew the rocks, his long, black shadow no that the man was aware of all he did, blacker than he. His face took the of every movement he made. light, heavy, scarred, terrible with the It was terrible to be alone on that unmeaning fierceness of an ancient island with another human being with sculpture. . Yarde mastered his dread whom no communication was possible. of that face; he went to meet the man. Neither could understand the other. He said:
Yarde felt silence shutting in on him. “Where are we?"
He woke from his dozes screaming, The man answered, but Yarde trying to push it away, to break it. could not understand. It was some When night came, he slipped off in kind of melodious, mutilated French. the darkness and hid behind the rocks. He stood with the wriggling fish in one He did not want to sleep by the fire hand, and pointed seaward with the near the sailor. It grew cold when other, which he swept three or four the sun dipped; the rocks were wet times in a half-circle. Yarde thought with dew. The sea had a hollow, he meant something about a ship, that melancholy sound. they might be taken off in three or With the first stars, it was as if the four days. He looked about, shiver- island had sent out a voice into the ing with fear and loneliness. They forsaken seas—a voice, musical, deep, appeared to be on a small sandy island heavy with years of solitude, "A-hofringed with white limestone rocks. 0-0-o! a-ho-o-o-o!" Hard-leaved bushes grew in the sand; The black sailor came striding over in one place there was green grass. the rocks, looking for Yarde. He Here a small spring trickled, and Yarde climbed the rocks beneath which the ran and drank as though he would boy lay. He it was who had called. never stop.
Yarde cried out and ran. The sailor followed him closely; He ran whimpering into the dark. his towering shadow fell across Yarde. He knew the other ran behind him, The boy looked up and asked hoarsely: enormous, relentless. He felt a hand “Who are you?”
close irresistibly on his shoulder; it felt The man did not appear to under- like a hand of iron, black, heavy. He stand; his face did not change. His cried out again, and his strength went. eyes had just the fierce, heavy stare of The sailor picked him up and carried a bull's. In his hand the fish yet him back to the fire.
It was like being carried by an clock, the beat of a great heart. It animal, a machine, a great automaton was like the heart of all humanity, for impervious to any appeal. Yarde which Yarde hungered, which he had shrieked to be put down, to be let go. never reached, beating there between The sailor did not seem to hear; he the night and the sea. It swept Yarde strode on. Yarde struck him. It into sleep as though it had been a drug. was like striking metal warmed with Next day he was much stronger, life; the black face against the stars but that enabled him to feel fear all never changed its appalling and savage the more acutely. The loneliness, the serenity. When the man laid Yarde separateness, of youth was intensified down in the sand beside the small fire, in the son of Gibson and Laure, the the boy broke into hysterical weeping. promoter of bubble companies and the
He wept himself faint. Then he light woman. He had no steadfastwas aware of a slow and steady motion, ness, no confidence, no resource of soft, relentless. The black sailor was endurance. He began to question, to holding him down in the sand with wonder, facing the locked puzzle of
, one hand and patting him with the existence. “Why did the man save other.
me? Why is he taking care of me this Pat, pat, pat; pat, pat; pat-it was way?" like the pulse of time, the tick of a He could not get away from the
sailor. The man was always there, bowed together. He stopped, quiveralways watchful. If Yarde slipped ing, and the sailor led him back to the out of his sight, he followed with his fire. tremendous, mournful call. Yarde The fire made a little round glow in thought: "He must know who I am. the night. Still holding Yarde with He must be doing it for a reward.” one hand, the sailor stooped, and with
That thought held comfort. He the other hand scooped a hollow in the imagined himself filling with gold the sand just long enough for the boy to black hand that saved him; he saw it lie down in. He gently pushed Yarde that way—just the hand dripping gold into it. Yarde lay there, shaking, in dollars supplied by Gibson.
a cold sweat. Then, as it drew toward night, he He stared up at the marching stars. lost that thought. He remembered If he turned his head one way, he saw tales of shipwreck and hunger. He nothing but blackness. If he turned imagined that black hand slowly his head the other way, there was scraping the sand, scraping it into a the sailor squatting in the firelight, grave. He imagined worse things. watching him with a savage, impeneShut in his prison of loneliness, he trable regard. Again and again Yarde pictured the extreme horrors of the looked fearfully at that unreadable
face. Why was the man guarding Why had the sailor saved him? him so closely? Did he know who he was? Why did Once he started from a doze, weak he watch so closely? Why did he keep with sickening terror. He was quite so near? Why?
in the dark; the fire had died down,
and over his face, between it and the $ 4
warm, sleepy stars, hovered the shape Yarde had collected a heap of drift- of a hand. It descended, touched his
a wood for himself, and dried it in the face, his throat. With a sob, Yarde sun. Only with the dark did he re- fainted. member that he had no matches. The The next day was a bar of fierce sailor had some in a water-tight box in sunlight, blackened with his increashis belt. Yarde was afraid to ask for ing terror of the night to come. That one, though he had worked all day terror was so intense that he felt none with the determination to have a fire of the fear natural to his circumstances. of his own that night.
He did not fear thirst, hunger, or When it was quite dark, he slipped death. He feared the sailor, he feared away. He walked rapidly over the the night. At last this came. He sand, through the bushes, across the knew it was no use hiding. He went, rocks; he walked and walked. Soon shaking, and lay down by the little he heard the sailor following him in fire the sailor had made. He remained the dark. He walked on. The sailor there alone. Presently he fell asleep. came up with him, spoke to him in his He woke in the middle of the night, deep voice, mournfully. Yarde walked the vast night striding, as it were, on. The sailor stepped in front of with a huge visible motion over the him and laid on his breast a black sea and the island. It seemed to adhand. At the touch the boy's body vance with a cry. Yarde sat up. He
knew it was the sailor who was crying. That night the sailor lighted the fire.
He crept among the rocks. Soon he Yarde lay in the sand beneath, sick saw the sailor, a great black figure upon with blind terror. As the sailor stalked the highest rock of all. At intervals round the fire to feed it, his huge he threw back his head; he sent the shadow passed over the sand, over mighty music of his voice rolling into Yarde, out to sea. the dark:
Yarde knew that he could stand no "Ah-ho-0-0-0! ah-ho-0-0-0-0!"
more of it. He would die of fright if He was like some dark priest of the he stopped on the island; he would die night calling upon his gods to come. if he tried to get off. But better that Yarde shuddered, and fled back to the than waiting with the sailor. fire. All night that great voice rolled Fear made Yarde, the stupid, beauover him, wordless, beautiful, appall- tiful youth, as cunning as a weasel. It
. ing, "Ah-ho-o-o-o! ah-ho-o-o-o!" was just as if he were drunk with fear,
Why was the man up there, awake and therefore abnormally intelligent. in the night, and calling? Yarde The sailor had not slept for two found no answer, and he could not ask. nights. If he would sleep by day, If he could have reached the sailor, Yarde thought he might be able to it would not have been so bad; but launch the hatch-cover, which still lay they were shut off from each other in above the tide-mark, and float off on loneliness.
it. He would rather surrender himself The next day Yarde tried desper- to the sea, which lay in a vast blue ring ately to communicate with the sailor. under the sun, than to the nameless air He talked, chattered, sang, whistled, of mystery that made the island a gesticulated, drew things on the sand. prison by day and a horror by night. It was like dancing in propitiation be- All the next day he waited, watching fore some jungle god cut in black the sailor, and drinking deep of the stone, so impassive was the wild face, spring. He did not know if he would so somber the bull-like stare. He ever drink again, and he had suddenly desisted at last. He repeated to him
He repeated to him- discovered the excellence of cold water self: "It's all right. It 'll be all right. on hot lips. He had nothing in which He knows who I am."
he could carry water, nor any food, for After catching a couple of small he could not catch fish in his hand as fish, the sailor busied himself that day the sailor did. But his fear was so incarrying all the dry wood up to the tense that this did not hinder him. topmost rock. There was nothing in this to make Yarde uneasy; yet, as the
§ 5 darkness inevitably advanced, he grew He waited through interminable desperately uneasy. If only he could bright hours. At last the sailor have asked the man what he wanted stopped his unmeaning stare at the the wood for, and received the obvious He lay down in the sun; a radiaanswer, “To make a signal-fire.” He tion, like that from hot metal, quivered could n't ask, and he could n't get that above his motionless body. He was answer. The sailor built the wood in as still as an iron idol fresh from the the form of a pyre, and Yarde could casting, terrible and unhuman. In a not reach his mind to find out anything. little while he slept.