“I agree with you,” said Cardatas, as he lighted his twenty-seventh cigarette.
Nunez did not smoke, but he mused as he walked along.
“If she has gold on board,” said he, presently, “it must be a good deal.”
“Yes,” said the other. “They wouldn’t take so much trouble for a small lot. Of course, there can’t be enough of it to take the place of all the ballast, but it must weigh considerable.”
Here the two men were joined by an acquaintance, and their special conversation ceased. That night they met again.
“What are you going to do about this?” asked Nunez. “We can’t keep on supporting that negro.”
“What is to be done?” asked the other, his sharp eyes fixed upon his companion’s face.
“Would it pay to go over to Rio and meet that brig when she arrives there? If we could get on board and have a talk with her captain, he might be willing to act handsomely when he found out we know something about him and his ship. And if he won’t do that, we might give information, and have his vessel held until the authorities in California can be communicated with. Then I should say we ought to make something.”
“I don’t think much of that plan,” said Cardatas. “I don’t believe she’s going to touch at Rio. If she’s afraid to go into port here, why shouldn’t she be afraid to go into port there? No. It would be stupid for us to go to Rio and sit down and wait for her.”
“Then,” answered the other, a little angrily, “what can be done?”
“We can go after her,” said Cardatas.
The other sneered. “That would be more stupid than the other,” said he. “She left here four days ago, and we could never catch up with her, even if we could find such a pin-point of a vessel on the great Pacific.”
Cardatas laughed. “You don’t know much about navigation,” said he, “but that’s not to be expected. With a good sailing-vessel I could go after her, and overhaul her somewhere in the Straits of Magellan. With such a cargo, I am sure she would make for the Straits. That Captain Horn is said to be a good sailor, and the fact that he is in command of such a tub as the Miranda is a proof that there is something underhand about his business.”
“And if we should overhaul her?” said the other.
“Well,” was the reply, “we might take along a dozen good fellows, and as the Miranda has only three men on board,—I don’t count negroes worth anything,—I don’t see why we couldn’t induce the captain to talk reasonably to us. As for a vessel, there’s the Arato.”
“Your vessel?” said the other.
“Yes, I own a small share in her, and she’s here in port now, waiting for a cargo.”
“I forget what sort of a craft she is,” said Nunez.
“She’s a schooner,” said the other, “and she can sail two miles to the Miranda’s one in any kind of weather. If I had money enough, I could get the Arato, put a good crew on board, and be at sea and on the wake of that brig in twenty-four hours.”