Far away out in the marsh there arose, all of a sudden, a sound like a cry of anger, then another on the back of it; and then one horrid, long-drawn scream. The rocks of the Spy-glass re-echoed it a score of times; the whole troop of marsh-birds rose again, darkening heaven, with a simultaneous whirr; and long after that death yell was still ringing in my brain, silence had re-established its empire, and only the rustle of the re-descending birds and the boom of the distant surges disturbed the languor of the afternoon.
“In heaven’s name, tell me, what was that?”
“That?” returned Silver, smiling away, but warier than ever. “That? Oh, I reckon that’ll be Alan.”
And at this point Tom flashed out like a hero. “Alan! Then rest his soul for a true seaman! And as for you, John Silver, you’re a mate of mine no more. You’ve killed Alan, have you? Kill me too, if you can. But I defies you.” And with that, this brave fellow turned his back directly on the cook and set off walking for the beach.
With a cry John whipped the crutch out of his armpit and sent that uncouth missile hurtling through the air. It struck poor Tom, point foremost, and with stunning violence, right between the shoulders in the middle of his back. His hands flew up, he gave a sort of gasp, and fell. He had no time given him to recover. Silver, agile as a monkey even without leg or crutch, was on top of him next moment and had twice buried his knife up to the hilt in that defenceless body.
From my place of ambush, I could hear him pant aloud as he struck the blows.
You will of course recognise this passage from Robert Louis Stevenson’s book. I have just finished reading it to my young children. It has a remarkably high body count for a book for children but for all that remains a classic adventure story.
This painting was first posted a few weeks ago showing how the idea developed. I had first wanted to show the Spy-glass, a volcanic plug of a mountain sitting proud above a marshy landscape, with trees in the foreground in which our protagonist is concealed.
I then played with this picture, turning it upside down and imposing reflected birds on the iPad.
From this I took the idea of developing the same underlying painting on the iPad into two versions rotated by 180 degrees, each one representing one of the two foul murders in the marsh of Treasure Island.
This is the actual painting after it dried and the various pigments settled. Having explored it digitally in two directions, perhaps I will leave this as it is. It makes sense to me visually now, but this has taken time.
Our previous bedtime book also painted a word picture of a marsh. These settings speak powerfully to me of solitude and wilderness. However, that fen was an altogether friendlier place.