The Last of the Blind Man
MY curiosity, in a sense, was stronger than my fear, for
could not remain where I was, but crept back to the bank
whence, sheltering my head behind a bush of broom, I might
command the road before our door. I was scarcely in position
ere my enemies began to arrive, seven or eight of them,
running hard, their feet beating out of time along the
and the man with the lantern some paces in front.
Three men ran together, hand in hand; and I made out,
even through the mist, that the middle man of this trio
was the blind beggar. The next moment his voice showed
that I was right.
"Down with the door!" he cried.
"Aye, aye, sir!" answered two or three; and a
rush was made
upon the Admiral Benbow, the lantern-bearer following;
and then I could see them pause, and hear speeches passed
in a lower key, as if they were surprised to find the door
But the pause was brief, for the blind man again issued
his commands. His voice sounded louder and higher,
as if he were afire with eagerness and rage.
"In, in, in!" he shouted, and cursed them for
Four or five of them obeyed at once, two remaining on the
with the formidable beggar. There was a pause, then a cry
surprise, and then a voice shouting from the house, "Bill's
But the blind man swore at them again for their delay.
"Search him, some of you shirking lubbers, and the
rest of you
aloft and get the chest," he cried.
I could hear their feet rattling up our old stairs, so
that the house
must have shook with it. Promptly afterwards, fresh sounds
of astonishment arose; the window of the captain's room
was thrown open with a slam and a jingle of broken glass,
and a man leaned out into the moonlight, head and shoulders,
and addressed the blind beggar on the road below him.
"Pew," he cried, "they've been before us.
Someone's turned the chest out alow and aloft."
"Is it there?" roared Pew.
"The money's there."
The blind man cursed the money.
"Flint's fist, I mean," he cried.
"We don't see it here nohow," returned the man.
"Here, you below there, is it on Bill?" cried
the blind man again.
At that another fellow, probably him who had remained below
to search the captain's body, came to the door of the inn.
"Bill's been overhauled a'ready," said he; "nothin'
"It's these people of the inn--it's that boy. I wish
I had put his
eyes out!" cried the blind man, Pew. "There were
no time ago--
they had the door bolted when I tried it. Scatter, lads,
and find 'em."
"Sure enough, they left their glim here," said
from the window.
"Scatter and find 'em! Rout the house out!" reiterated
striking with his stick upon the road.
Then there followed a great to-do through all our old inn,
heavy feet pounding to and fro, furniture thrown over,
doors kicked in, until the very rocks re-echoed and the
came out again, one after another, on the road and declared
that we were nowhere to be found. And just the same whistle
that had alarmed my mother and myself over the dead captain's
money was once more clearly audible through the night,
but this time twice repeated. I had thought it to be the
trumpet, so to speak, summoning his crew to the assault,
but I now found that it was a signal from the hillside
towards the hamlet, and from its effect upon the buccaneers,
a signal to warn them of approaching danger.
"There's Dirk again," said one. "Twice!
We'll have to budge, mates."
"Budge, you skulk!" cried Pew. "Dirk was
a fool and a coward
from the first--you wouldn't mind him. They must be close
they can't be far; you have your hands on it. Scatter and
for them, dogs! Oh, shiver my soul," he cried, "if
I had eyes!"
This appeal seemed to produce some effect, for two of the
began to look here and there among the lumber, but half-heartedly,
I thought, and with half an eye to their own danger all
while the rest stood irresolute on the road.
"You have your hands on thousands, you fools, and
you hang a leg!
You'd be as rich as kings if you could find it, and you
it's here, and you stand there skulking. There wasn't one
dared face Bill, and I did it--a blind man! And I'm to
my chance for you! I'm to be a poor, crawling beggar,
sponging for rum, when I might be rolling in a coach!
If you had the pluck of a weevil in a biscuit you would
"Hang it, Pew, we've got the doubloons!" grumbled
"They might have hid the blessed thing," said
"Take the Georges, Pew, and don't stand here squalling."
Squalling was the word for it; Pew's anger rose so high
at these objections till at last, his passion completely
the upper hand, he struck at them right and left in his
and his stick sounded heavily on more than one.
These, in their turn, cursed back at the blind miscreant,
threatened him in horrid terms, and tried in vain to catch
and wrest it from his grasp.
This quarrel was the saving of us, for while it was still
another sound came from the top of the hill on the side
of the hamlet--the tramp of horses galloping. Almost at
time a pistol-shot, flash and report, came from the hedge
And that was plainly the last signal of danger, for the
turned at once and ran, separating in every direction,
along the cove, one slant across the hill, and so on, so
in half a minute not a sign of them remained but Pew.
Him they had deserted, whether in sheer panic or out of
for his ill words and blows I know not; but there he remained
behind, tapping up and down the road in a frenzy, and groping
and calling for his comrades. Finally he took a wrong turn
and ran a few steps past me, towards the hamlet, crying,
"Johnny, Black Dog, Dirk," and other names,
"you won't leave old Pew, mates--not old Pew!"
Just then the noise of horses topped the rise, and four
or five riders
came in sight in the moonlight and swept at full gallop
At this Pew saw his error, turned with a scream, and ran
for the ditch, into which he rolled. But he was on his
in a second and made another dash, now utterly bewildered,
right under the nearest of the coming horses.
The rider tried to save him, but in vain. Down went Pew
with a cry that rang high into the night; and the four
trampled and spurned him and passed by. He fell on his
then gently collapsed upon his face and moved no more.
I leaped to my feet and hailed the riders. They were pulling
at any rate, horrified at the accident; and I soon saw
were. One, tailing out behind the rest, was a lad that
from the hamlet to Dr. Livesey's; the rest were revenue
whom he had met by the way, and with whom he had had the
intelligence to return at once. Some news of the lugger
in Kitt's Hole had found its way to Supervisor Dance and
forth that night in our direction, and to that circumstance
my mother and I owed our preservation from death.
Pew was dead, stone dead. As for my mother, when we had
carried her up to the hamlet, a little cold water and salts
and that soon brought her back again, and she was none
for her terror, though she still continued to deplore the
of the money. In the meantime the supervisor rode on,
as fast as he could, to Kitt's Hole; but his men had to
and grope down the dingle, leading, and sometimes supporting,
their horses, and in continual fear of ambushes; so it
was no great
matter for surprise that when they got down to the Hole
the lugger was already under way, though still close in.
He hailed her. A voice replied, telling him to keep out
moonlight or he would get some lead in him, and at the
a bullet whistled close by his arm. Soon after, the lugger
the point and disappeared. Mr. Dance stood there, as he
"like a fish out of water," and all he could
do was to dispatch
a man to B---- to warn the cutter. "And that,"
"is just about as good as nothing. They've got off
and there's an end. "Only," he added, "I'm
glad I trod
on Master Pew's corns," for by this time he had heard
I went back with him to the Admiral Benbow,
and you cannot imagine a house in such a state of smash;
the very clock had been thrown down by these fellows
in their furious hunt after my mother and myself;
and though nothing had actually been taken away except
the captain's money-bag and a little silver from the till,
I could see at once that we were ruined. Mr. Dance could
nothing of the scene.
"They got the money, you say? Well, then, Hawkins,
what in fortune were they after? More money, I suppose?"
"No, sir; not money, I think," replied I. "In
fact, sir, I believe
I have the thing in my breast pocket; and to tell you the
I should like to get it put in safety."
"To be sure, boy; quite right," said he. "I'll
take it, if you like."
"I thought perhaps Dr. Livesey--" I began.
"Perfectly right," he interrupted very cheerily,
a gentleman and a magistrate. And, now I come to think
I might as well ride round there myself and report to him
Master Pew's dead, when all's done; not that I regret it,
but he's dead, you see, and people will make it out against
an officer of his Majesty's revenue, if make it out they
Now, I'll tell you, Hawkins, if you like, I'll take you
I thanked him heartily for the offer, and we walked back
hamlet where the horses were. By the time I had told mother
of my purpose they were all in the saddle.
"Dogger," said Mr. Dance, "you have a good
take up this lad behind you."
As soon as I was mounted, holding on to Dogger's belt,
the supervisor gave the word, and the party struck out
at a bouncing trot on the road to Dr. Livesey's house.
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