By the time Ralph finished blowing the conch the platform was crowded. There were differences between this meeting and the one held in the morning. The afternoon sun slanted in from the other side of the platform and most of the children, feeling too late the smart of sunburn, had put their clothes on. The choir, less of a group, had discarded their cloaks. Ralph sat on a fallen trunk, his left side to the sun. On his right were most of the choir; on his left the larger boys who had not known each other before the evacuation; before him small children squatted in the grass.
Silence now. Ralph lifted the cream and pink shell to his knees and a sudden breeze scattered light over the platform. He was uncertain whether to stand up or remain sitting. He looked sideways to his left, toward the bathing pool. Piggy was sitting near but giving no help. Ralph cleared his throat.
He passed a hand through his fair hair and spoke.
“We’re on an island. We’ve been on the mountain top and seen water all round. We saw no houses, no smoke, no footprints, no boats, no people. We’re on an uninhabited island with no other people on it.” Jack broke in.
“All the same you need an army–for hunting. Hunting pigs–” “Yes. There are pigs on the island.”
All three of them tried to convey the sense of the pink live thing struggling in the creepers.
“It broke away–”
“Before I could kill it–but–next time!”
Jack slammed his knife into a trunk and looked round challengingly. The meeting settled down again.
“So you see,” said Ralph, “We need hunters to get us meat. And another thing.”
He lifted the shell on his knees and looked round the sun-slashed faces. “There aren’t any grownups. We shall have to look after ourselves.” The meeting hummed and was silent.
“And another thing. We can’t have everybody talking at once. We’ll have to have ’Hands up’ like at school.”
He held the conch before his face and glanced round the mouth....
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