“I shouldn’t wonder,” said Burke, “if that Inkspot had done it. Perhaps he could talk a good deal better than we thought. But I vow I wouldn’t have supposed that he would be the man to go back on us. I thought he was the best of the lot.”
“Get behind that wall of bags,” cried the captain, “every one of you. Whoever they are, we will talk to them over a breastwork.”
“I think we shall have to do more than talk,” said Burke, “for a blind man could see that there are guns in those boats.”
THE BATTLE OF THE GOLDEN WALL
The five men now got behind the barrier of bags, but, before following them, Captain Horn, with the butt of his rifle, drew a long, deep furrow in the sand about a hundred feet from the breastwork of bags, and parallel with it. Then he quickly joined the others.
The three white men stationed themselves a little distance apart, and each moved a few of the top bags so as to get a good sight between them, and not expose themselves too much.
As the boats came on, the negroes crouched on the sand, entirely out of sight, while Shirley and Burke each knelt down behind the barrier, with his rifle laid in a crevice in the top. The captain’s rifle was in his hand, but he did not yet prepare for action. He stooped down, but his head was sufficiently above the barrier to observe everything.
The two boats came rapidly on, and were run up on the beach, and the men jumped out and drew them up, high and safe. Then, without the slightest hesitation, the ten of them, each with a gun in his hand, advanced in a body toward the line of bags.
“Ahoy!” shouted the captain, suddenly rising from behind the barrier. “Who are you, and what do you want?” He said this in English, but immediately repeated it in Spanish.
“Ahoy, there!” cried Cardatas. “Are you Captain Horn?”
“Yes, I am,” said the captain, “and you must halt where you are. The first man who passes that line is shot.”
Cardatas laughed, and so did some of the others, but they all stopped.
“We’ll stop here a minute to oblige you,” said Cardatas, “but we’ve got something to say to you, and you might as well listen to it.”
Shirley and Burke did not understand a word of these remarks, for they did not know Spanish, but each of them kept his eye running along the line of men who still stood on the other side of the furrow the captain had made in the sand, and if one of them had raised his gun to fire at their skipper, it is probable that he would have dropped. Shirley and Burke had been born and bred in the country; they were hunters, and were both good shots. It was on account of their fondness for sport that they had been separated from the rest of their party on the first day of the arrival of the people from the Castor at the caves.
“What have you to say?” said the captain. “Speak quickly.”