“Hurry up, Effrondat, and cast off the painter,” ordered the captain.
The boatswain obeyed, and pushed the boat off with his foot as he scrambled in.
The men bent to their oars and rowed rapidly to the schooner, which was easily distinguishable, having hung out a light at her mizzenmast head.
In two minutes they were alongside.
The Count d’Artigas was leaning on the bulwarks by the gangway.
“All right, Spade?” he questioned.
“Yes, sir, all right!”
“Both of them?”
“Both the madman and his keeper.”
“Doesn’t anybody know about it up at Healthful House?
“Not a soul.”
It was not likely that Gaydon, whose eyes and ears were bandaged, but who preserved all his sang-froid, could have recognized the voices of the Count d’Artigas and Captain Spade. Nor did he have the chance to. No attempt was immediately made to hoist him on board. He had been lying in the bottom of the boat alongside the schooner for fully half an hour, he calculated, before he felt himself lifted, and then lowered, doubtless to the bottom of the hold.
The kidnapping having been accomplished it would seem that it only remained for the Ebba to weigh anchor, descend the estuary and make her way out to sea through Pamlico Sound. Yet no preparations for departure were made.
Was it not dangerous to stay where they were after their daring raid? Had the Count d’Artigas hidden his prisoners so securely as to preclude the possibility of their being discovered if the Ebba, whose presence in proximity to Healthful House could not fail to excite suspicion, received a visit from the New-Berne police?
However this might have been, an hour after the return of the expedition, every soul on board save the watch—the Count d’Artigas, Serko, and Captain Spade in their respective cabins, and the crew in the fore-castle, were sound asleep.
THE SCHOONER EBBA.
It was not till the next morning, and then very leisurely, that the Ebba began to make preparations for her departure. From the extremity of New-Berne quay the crew might have been seen holystoning the deck, after which they loosened the reef lines, under the direction of Effrondat, the boatswain, hoisted in the boats and cleared the halyards.
At eight o’clock the Count d’Artigas had not yet appeared on deck. His companion, Serko the engineer, as he was called on board, had not quitted his cabin. Captain Spade was strolling quietly about giving orders.
The Ebba would have made a splendid racing yacht, though she had never participated in any of the yacht races either on the North American or British coasts. The height of her masts, the extent of the canvas she carried, her shapely, raking hull, denoted her to be a craft of great speed, and her general lines showed that she was also built to weather the roughest gales at sea. In a favorable wind she would probably make twelve knots an hour.