“Haul in the gangplank!” ordered Ferragut.
The mate aided three of the hands who had just come up to retire the gangplank hastily. Then he threatened the dog, to make it cease howling.
Ferragut, near the railing, scanned carefully the darkness of the quay. It seemed to him that he could see some men carrying another in their arms. A remnant of his wrath made him raise his right hand, still armed, aiming at the group. Then he lowered it again.... He remembered that officers would be coming to investigate the occurrence. It was better that they should find the boat absolutely silent.
Still panting, he entered the saloon under the poop and sat down.
As soon as he was within the circle of pale light that a hanging lamp spread upon the table Toni fixed his glance on his left shoulder.
“It’s nothing.... Merely a scratch. The proof of it is that I can move my arm.”
And he moved it, although with a certain difficulty, feeling the weight of an increasing swelling.
“By-and-by I’ll tell you how it happened.... I don’t believe they’ll be anxious to repeat it.”
Then he remained thoughtful for an instant.
“At any rate, it’s best for us to get away from this port quickly.... Go and see our men. Not one of them is to speak about it!... Call Caragol.”
Before Toni could go out, the shining countenance of the cook surged up out of the obscurity. He was on his way to the saloon, without being called, anxious to know what had occurred, and fearing to find Ferragut dying. Seeing the blood, his consternation expressed itself with maternal vehemence.
“Cristo del Grao!... My captain’s going to die!...”
He wanted to run to the galley in search of cotton and bandages. He was something of a quack doctor and always kept things necessary for such cases.
Ulysses stopped him. He would accept his services, but he wished something more.
“I want to eat, Uncle Caragol,” he said gayly. “I shall be content with whatever you have.... Fright has given me an appetite.”
“FAREWELL, I AM GOING TO DIE”
When Ferragut left Barcelona the wound in his shoulder was already nearly healed. The rotund negative given by the captain and his pilot to the questions of the Carabineers freed them from further annoyance. They “knew nothing,—had seen nothing.” The captain received with feigned indifference the news that the dead body of a man had been found that very night,—a man who appeared to be a German, but without papers, without anything that assured his identification,—on a dock some distance from the berth occupied by the Mare Nostrum. The authorities had not considered it worth while to investigate further, classifying it as a simple struggle among refugees.
Provisioning the troops of the Orient obliged Ferragut, in the months following, to sail as part of a convoy. A cipher dispatch would sometimes summon him to Marseilles, at others to an Atlantic port,—Saint-Nazaire, Quiberon, or Brest.