"I can believe it," I breathed out.
"God only knows why they locked me in every night. To see some of
their faces you'd have thought they were afraid I'd go about at night
strangling people. Am I a murdering brute? Do I look it? By Jove! If I
had been he wouldn't have trusted himself like that into my room. You'll
say I might have chucked him aside and bolted out, there and then--it
was dark already. Well, no. And for the same reason I wouldn't think of
trying to smash the door. There would have been a rush to stop me at the
noise, and I did not mean to get into a confounded scrimmage. Somebody
else might have got killed--for I would not have broken out only to
get chucked back, and I did not want any more of that work. He refused,
looking more sick than ever. He was afraid of the men, and also of
that old second mate of his who had been sailing with him for years--a
gray-headed old humbug; and his steward, too, had been with him devil
knows how long--seventeen years or more--a dogmatic sort of loafer who
hated me like poison, just because I was the chief mate. No chief mate
ever made more than one voyage in the Sephora, you know. Those two old
chaps ran the ship. Devil only knows what the skipper wasn't afraid of
(all his nerve went to pieces altogether in that hellish spell of bad
weather we had)--of what the law would do to him--of his wife, perhaps.
Oh, yes! she's on board. Though I don't think she would have meddled.
She would have been only too glad to have me out of the ship in any way.
The 'brand of Cain' business, don't you see. That's all right. I was
ready enough to go off wandering on the face of the earth--and that was
price enough to pay for an Abel of that sort. Anyhow, he wouldn't listen
to me. 'This thing must take its course. I represent the law here.' He
was shaking like a leaf. 'So you won't?' 'No!' 'Then I hope you will
be able to sleep on that,' I said, and turned my back on him. 'I wonder
that you can,' cries he, and locks the door.