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Chapter II.8
FOR a moment, before this extraordinary find, they forgot their own concerns and
sensations. Senor Hirsch's sensations as he lay there must have been those of
extreme terror. For a long time he refused to give a sign of life, till at last
Decoud's objurgations, and, perhaps more, Nostromo's impatient suggestion that
he should be thrown overboard, as he seemed to be dead, induced him to raise
one eyelid first, and then the other.
It appeared that he had never found a safe opportunity to leave Sulaco. He
lodged with Anzani, the universal storekeeper, on the Plaza Mayor. But when the
riot broke out he had made his escape from his host's house before daylight, and
in such a hurry that he had forgotten to put on his shoes. He had run out
impulsively in his socks, and with his hat in his hand, into the garden of Anzani's
house. Fear gave him the necessary agility to climb over several low walls, and
afterwards he blundered into the overgrown cloisters of the ruined Franciscan
convent in one of the by-streets. He forced himself into the midst of matted
bushes with the recklessness of desperation, and this accounted for his
scratched body and his torn clothing. He lay hidden there all day, his tongue
cleaving to the roof of his mouth with all the intensity of thirst engendered by heat
and fear. Three times different bands of men invaded the place with shouts and
imprecations, looking for Father Corbelan; but towards the evening, still lying on
his face in the bushes, he thought he would die from the fear of silence. He was
not very clear as to what had induced him to leave the place, but evidently he
had got out and slunk successfully out of town along the deserted back lanes. He
wandered in the darkness near the railway, so maddened by apprehension that
he dared not even approach the fires of the pickets of Italian workmen guarding
the line. He had a vague idea evidently of finding refuge in the railway yards, but
the dogs rushed upon him, barking; men began to shout; a shot was fired at
random. He fled away from the gates. By the merest accident, as it happened, he
took the direction of the O.S.N. Company's offices. Twice he stumbled upon the
bodies of men killed during the day. But everything living frightened him much
more. He crouched, crept, crawled, made dashes, guided by a sort of animal
instinct, keeping away from every light and from every sound of voices. His idea
was to throw himself at the feet of Captain Mitchell and beg for shelter in the
Company's offices. It was all dark there as he approached on his hands and
knees, but suddenly someone on guard challenged loudly, "Quien vive?" There
were more dead men lying about, and he flattened himself down at once by the
side of a cold corpse. He heard a voice saying, "Here is one of those wounded
rascals crawling about. Shall I go and finish him?" And another voice objected
that it was not safe to go out without a lantern upon such an errand; perhaps it
was only some negro Liberal looking for a chance to stick a knife into the
stomach of an honest man. Hirsch didn't stay to hear any more, but crawling
away to the end of the wharf, hid himself amongst a lot of empty casks. After a
while some people came along, talking, and with glowing cigarettes. He did not