Martin Conisby (Chapter 3, page 1 of 4)


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Chapter 3

I was early at work next morning, since now my mind was firm-set on quitting the island at all hazards, thereby winning free of this woman once and for all. To this end I laboured heartily, sparing myself no pains and heedless of sweat and sun-glare, very joyous to see my work go forward apace; and ere the sun was very high my boat lay stripped of all the splintered timbers on the larboard side. My next care was to choose me such planks from my store of driftwood as by reason of shape and thickness should be best adapted to my purpose. And great plenty of wrought wood had I and of all sorts, it having long been my wont to collect the best of such as drove ashore and store it within those caves that opened on Deliverance Beach. Thus, after no great search, I had discovered all such planking as I needed and forthwith began to convey it down to the boat.

In the which labour the woman met me (I staggering under a load of my planks) and strutted along beside me, vastly supercilious and sneering.

"Hold!" cried she. "He sweateth, he panteth purple o' the gills! And wherefore, to what end?"

"To win free of two things do weary me."

"Ah--ah? And these?"

"This island and yourself."

"So! Do I then weary you, good Master Innocence?"

"Mightily!"

"Ah--bah! 'Tis because you be fool and no man!"

"Mayhap," said I, taking up my hammer, "howbeit I do know this island for a prison and you for an evil thing--"

"Ah!" sighed she softly. "I have had men hanged for saying less!"

"So would I be quit of you as soon as may be," said I, fitting my first timber in place whiles she watched me, mighty disdainful.

"So you would mend the boat, amigo mio, and sail away from the island and me--yes?"

"God knoweth it!"

"Mayhap He doth, but what o' me? Think ye I shall suffer you to leave me here alone and destitute, fool?"

"The which is to be seen!" said I; and having measured my plank and sawed it to proper length I began to rivet it to the frame, making such din with my hammer that she, unable to make herself heard, presently strode away in a fury, to my great content.

But, in a little back she cometh, and on her hip that bejewelled Spanish rapier that had once been part of Black Bartlemy's treasure (as hath been told) and which (having my own stout cut-and-thrust) I had not troubled to bring away from the cave.

Whipping out the long blade then, she makes with it various passes in the air, very supple and dexterous, and would have me fight with her then and there.

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