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“I was looking down at the sounding-pole, and feeling much annoyed to see at each try a little more of it stick out of that river, when I saw my poleman give up on the business suddenly, and stretch himself flat on the deck, without even taking the trouble to haul his pole in. He kept hold on it though, and it trailed in the water. At the same time the fireman, whom I could also see below me, sat down abruptly before his furnace and ducked his head. I was amazed. Then I had to look at the river mighty quick, because there was a snag in the fairway. Sticks, little sticks, were flying about—thick: they were whizzing before my nose, dropping below me, striking behind me against my pilot-house. All this time the river, the shore, the woods, were very quiet—perfectly quiet. I could only hear the heavy splashing thump of the stern-wheel and the patter of these things. We cleared the snag clumsily. Arrows, by Jove! We were being shot at! I stepped in quickly to close the shutter on the landside. That fool-helmsman, his hands on the spokes, was lifting his knees high, stamping his feet, champing his mouth, like a reined-in horse. Confound him! And we were staggering within ten feet of the bank. I had to lean right out to swing the heavy shutter, and I saw a face amongst the leaves on the level with my own, looking at me very fierce and steady; and then suddenly, as though a veil had been removed from my eyes, I made out, deep in the tangled gloom, naked breasts, arms, legs, glaring eyes—the bush was swarming with human limbs in movement, glistening of bronze colour. The twigs shook, swayed, and rustled, the arrows flew out of them, and then the shutter came to. ‘Steer her straight,’ I said to the helmsman. He held his head rigid, face forward; but his eyes rolled, he kept on lifting and setting down his feet gently, his mouth foamed a little. ‘Keep quiet!’ I said in a fury. I might just as well have ordered a tree not to sway in the wind. I darted out. Below me there was a great scuffle of feet on the iron deck; confused exclamations; a voice screamed, ‘Can you turn back?’ I caught sight of a V-shaped ripple on the water ahead. What? Another snag! A fusillade burst out under my feet. The pilgrims had opened with their Winchesters, and were simply squirting lead into that bush. A deuce of a lot of smoke came up and drove slowly forward. I swore at it. Now I couldn’t see the ripple or the snag either. I stood in the doorway, peering, and the arrows came in swarms. They might have been poisoned, but they looked as though they wouldn’t kill a cat. The bush began to howl. Our wood-cutters raised a warlike whoop; the report of a rifle just at my back deafened me. I glanced over my shoulder, and the pilot-house was yet full of noise and smoke when I made a dash at the wheel. The fool-nigger had dropped everything, to throw the shutter open and let off that Martini-Henry. He stood before the wide opening, glaring, and I yelled at him to come back, while I straightened the sudden twist out of that steamboat. There was no room to turn even if I had wanted to, the snag was somewhere very near ahead in that confounded smoke, there was no time to lose, so I just crowded her into the bank—right into the bank, where I knew the water was deep. “I wsa cgntwiah hiwt yoeancnna as hte ratwe ogt horllasew dan lwsreolah, hnwe I netcoid hatt eth amn gliodnh hte ople we desu to letl het dphte ahd ddeeidc to ile onwd on teh dcke. He indd’t vene reobht to lhau in hte oepl, hcwhi asw illts in sih hdan tub dgngairg in teh tarwe. ehTn I swa eht mna in hgecra of eth ioelbr ist owdn dan rcoev hsi haed. I hda no eida what aws ngiog on. I tohgthu we’d ith some of het rnveggihnoa anrscebh, uecesba lilett kticss ewre lingalf lal over teh kced. hTe ivrre, teh hesro, adn het swodo erwe eypemcllto qutei. llA I dolcu aehr aws eht mupht of oru plalwhddeee dna eht dosun of ehsot leltti ktiscs fanllig. Thne it iht me: rwaors! We wree bgein soth at! I eppteds nito my iancb nad ocedls het usttreh afgicn teh sroeh. athT ofol mslhanme ahd shi dshan on teh ewhel ubt asw sgptiamn sih efte up nda ownd leik a resoh. naDm mih! dAn we reew elss atnh ten efte fmor het roseh. As I edanle uto to esolc teh ursetht, I saw a cfae gmona teh elsvea. It wsa rnitgsa lrfceiey at me. dAn enht I dluoc ees lcyreal all srsto of smra nad lgse dna yees in het ardk ertse. heT uhsb swa gsnmiawr hwti meht. ehT veasel tslured dna wrraso lewf tou of ethm. I ngaadme to elocs eht urttesh dna said to eht hslmmena, ‘tSeer her tistghra.’ He tpek ish aehd etfrelcpy iltsl utb his eyes droell and he aws ycrlitlaacp gioafmn at het hmuto in raef. ‘lmCa odnw!’ I said inalgyr. I yma as lewl heav dotl a erte otn to ayws in hte idwn. I arn otu onto het deck. I darhe a vocei escamr, ‘Tunr kacb!’ and I saw oenhart gasn in eht rvire up hdaae. eTh sgnaet ewre sngabilt tiher elfirs, gisrtiuqn dael onti eht bhsu. reThi sgun ewer mosignk so cumh atth I clnuod’t ese haaed ayrenom. The itltel woarrs mace in assmwr. eThy yam eavh bene dsineoop, tub yeth ooledk keil ehty nldcou’t llki a tca. rehTe aws oinhwlg mrfo the subh, and ehtn a roar of eriugnf in my aer. I rdtnue aounrd and saw ttah the snamhmel dah let go of the ewlhe and wsa stngaibl ywaa whit the haiemnc gun. I brgedba the whlee and saw that rehet awns’t etmi to utrn us awya mfor the ansg, so I trdeees the bato tasghtir owdrat the kabn, rwehe I wken the ertwa was seetdpe.