“Don’t let’s talk about it,” said Shirley, setting off. “I’d rather get my mind down to marlin-spikes and bilge-water.”
As the captain walked back to the cove, he said to himself:
“I expect it struck Shirley harder than it did the rest of us because he knew what he was looking at, and the first time we saw it we were not sure it was gold, as it might have been brass. But Shirley knew, for he had already had a lot of those bars, and had turned them into money. By George! I don’t wonder that a poor fellow who had struggled for life with a small bag of that gold was knocked over when he saw a wagon-load of it.”
Maka, closely following the others, had listened with eagerness to what had been said, and had been struck with additional horror when he heard Shirley request that he might not again be asked to look into that hole. Suddenly the captain and Shirley were startled by a deep groan behind them, and, turning, saw the negro sitting upon the sand, his knees drawn up to his face, and groaning grievously.
“What’s the matter?” cried the captain.
“I sick,” said Maka. “Sick same as Mr. Shirley.”
“Get up and come along,” said the captain, laughing. He saw that something was really ailing the black fellow, for he trembled from head to foot, and his face had the hue of a black horse recently clipped. But he thought it best not to treat the matter seriously. “Come along,” said he. “I am not going to give you any whiskey.” And then, struck by a sudden thought, he asked, “Are you afraid that you have got to go into that cave?”
“Yes, sir,” said Maka, who had risen to his feet. “It make me pretty near die dead to think that.”
“Well, don’t die any more,” said the captain. “You sha’n’t go anywhere that you have not been before.”
The pupils of Maka’s eyes, which had been turned up nearly out of sight, were now lowered. “All right, cap’n,” said he. “I lot better now.”
This little incident was not unpleasant to the captain. If the negroes were afraid to go into the blackness of the caves, it would make fewer complications in this matter.
THE “MIRANDA” TAKES IN CARGO
The next day the work of removing the treasure from the caves to the vessel began in good earnest. The Miranda was anchored not far from the little pier, which was found in good order, and Shirley, with one negro, was left on board, while the captain and Burke took the three others, loaded with coffee-bags, to the caves.