Jones pushed the fragment of paper towards Captain Nasir. The muscular black man popped another date into his mouth as if he were a baby.
The wizened skipper took the paper and laid it reverently beside him. He pulled out a bundle from against the ribs of the vessel by the tool-box and unwound it slowly. He took out a pair of spectacles which he fitted in an exact manner on to his nose. Then he stood so that the light from the hatch fell on the tiny paper, the movement of his lips telling the pace of his reading. He read it twice, and in the course of the second reading his head began to nod with slow vigour. When he had finished he passed the paper back to Jones with both hands like the most destructible of palimpsests, shut his spectacles, ceremoniously wound them up in the old head-cloth and replaced them in their corner against the ship's ribs. Then put out his hard, narrow hand and took Jones's right hand, swollen with prickly heat, and lightly held it for several seconds. When his hand was released, Jones raised his fingers to his lips. Even now, news of the paper in his possession reaching the wrong ears on the quayside might cheat his poor heart of the privilege of ending him.
[The Man Who Knew Everything, Stacey, T.]