“Get a hold of yourself, man!” said Kirk Bill, firmly slapping Sergeant Major General across the face.
“Good God,” said Sergeant Major General, coming to again. “Did I just faint? How embarrassing!”
“Well, you did lose a bit of blood in that rough-and-tumble with the Bengal,” said Kirk Bill. “Loosen your shirt a little.”
“It’s this infernal diet of cod and cabbage!” grumbled Sergeant Major General, blushing just a little at his weakness. “My strength just isn’t what it was. Let’s get up on deck and see who was eviscerated.”
On deck, they found the crew gathered up at the pointy end, around a body spread-eagled on the deck. They parted to make way for our two heroes, who, gazing at the bloody mess before them, realized they had seen this awful thing before. A body, staring sightless at the stars, with a gaping wound in his chest where his heart had been ripped beating (again, unconfirmed) from his body! Also there were some entrails splattered about and something that could have once been an ear.
“I don’t understand, Bill,” frowned Sergeant Major General . “Didn’t you say the tiger jumped overboard, somewhat singed? Are there TWO tigers?”
“Or,” said Kirk Bill, narrowing his eyes thoughtfully, “the tiger was able to climb back on board, and merely lay patiently in wait for another victim!”
“But how?!” cried Sergeant Major General. “Tigers don’t have digits! They can’t climb rope ladders! Besides, he should have drowned!”
“Tigers can swim, and climb, and they’re very strong. I’m sure you can vouch for the sharpness of their claws,” said Kirk Bill. Sergeant Major General shuddered.
The Captain intervened. “You’ve seen what did this?”
Kirk Bill whirled to face him. “There is tiger loose on your ship, hunting us,” he said. “We must mount a watch. No one should travel alone, or without fire.”
There was immediate consternation amongst the crew. “At-il dit le tigre?” said one, wide-eyed. “Vad sa du? Jag talar inte franska” said another (the chef, as it happened). “Jag tror att de pratar om en tiger,” said another. “En tiger?!” cried the chef, looking about nervously.
Suddenly one of the crew shrieked, pointing a shaking finger straight at Sergeant Major General.
“What?! What is it?” he cried. He looked down at his chest, to see his loosened shirt had parted a little, displaying a robust growth of chest hair and —
“Good God,” Sergeant Major General whispered, shaken.
For on his chest, above his heart, was painted a golden circle, struck through with a vertical black slit.
“L’œil! L’œil du TIGRE!”
TO BE CONTINUED