are you?" I asked.
Gunn," he answered, and his voice sounded hoarse and awkward, like
a rusty lock. "I'm poor Ben Gunn, I am; and I haven't spoke with
a Christian these three years."
could now see that he was a white man like myself and that his features
were even pleasing. His skin, wherever it was exposed, was burnt
by the sun; even his lips were black, and his fair eyes looked quite
startling in so dark a face. Of all the beggar-men that I had seen
or fancied, he was the chief for raggedness. He was clothed with
tatters of old ship's canvas and old sea-cloth, and this extraordinary
patchwork was all held together by a system of the most various
and incongruous fastenings, brass buttons, bits of stick, and loops
of tarry gaskin. About his waist he wore an old brass-buckled leather
belt, which was the one thing solid in his whole accoutrement.
years!" I cried. "Were you shipwrecked?"
mate," said he; "marooned."
had heard the word, and I knew it stood for a horrible kind of punishment
common enough among the buccaneers, in which the offender is put
ashore with a little powder and shot and left behind on some desolate
and distant island.
three years agone," he continued, "and lived on goats since then,
and berries, and oysters. Wherever a man is, says I, a man can do
for himself. But, mate, my heart is sore for Christian diet. You
mightn't happen to have a piece of cheese about you, now? No? Well,
many's the long night I've dreamed of cheese--toasted, mostly--and
woke up again, and here I were."
ever I can get aboard again," said I, "you shall have cheese by
And I began to run towards the anchorage, my terrors all forgotten,
while close at my side the marooned man in his goatskins
trotted easily and lightly.