Black Bartlemys Treasure (Chapter 6, page 1 of 4)


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Chapter 6

I awoke with a sound in my ears like the never-ceasing surge and hiss of waters, a sound that waxed ever louder. Hearkening to this, I presently sought to move and wondered, vaguely uneasy, to find this impossible: I strove now to lift my right hand, found it fast held, tried my left and found it in like case, and so became conscious of something that gripped me about the throat, and ever my wonder and unease grew. And now, opening my eyes, the first thing they lighted on was a small pool of blood and beyond this a battered turnip, and beyond this, the carcass of a dead cat, and beyond this again, a pair of trim, buckled shoes, cotton stockings, wide breeches and a broad belt where swung a tuck or rapier prodigiously long of blade; in a while (my eyes ranging higher yet) I beheld a thin face scarred from mouth to eyebrow, a brown face with bright, very quick eyes and strange ears, they being cut to points like a dog's ears. Now looking at this face, it seemed to me in hazy fashion that somewhere and at some time I had seen such a face before. All this while, the noise I have likened to the sea had been growing louder, so that I began to recognise voices and even words, and, lifting my head as well as I might (by reason of the thing that gripped my throat), I saw faces all about me--they hemmed me in on every side and stretched away to the churchyard wall.

Then, all at once, the knowledge of my situation rushed upon me; I was in the pillory.

"Huroor! 'E be a-coming' round!" cried a voice.

"Time, too!" shouted a great, strapping fellow near by. "'Tis sinful shame to waste good bad-eggs on rogue as knoweth not when 'e do be hit! He be a mark as babe couldn't miss--a proper big 'un!" So saying, the fellow let fly an egg at me, the which, striking the board within an inch of my face, filled the air with suffocating stench.

This was a signal for me to become a target for all the garbage of the village. And now, indeed, good cause had I to be thankful for my thick mane of hair which (in some sort) saved me from sundry cuts and bruises, howbeit my face was soon clotted with blood and filth.

Vain were it to tell all the frenzy of rage that possessed me as I stood thus helpless against my howling tormentors, chief of whom was the great fellow I have mentioned, who (by reason of height and length of arm) struck me oftenest; once indeed when (beside myself with fury) I raised my head to curse him, he took me a blow in the mouth with some vile missile that set my very gums a-bleeding.

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