When Garta’s examination had been finished, the captain sent him forward, and then repeated his story in brief to Shirley and Burke, for, as the prisoner had spoken in Spanish, they had understood but little of it.
“I don’t see that it makes much difference,” said Burke, “as to what his story is. We’ve got to get rid of him in some way. We don’t want to carry him about with us. We might leave him here, with a lot of grub and a tent. That would be all he deserves.”
“I should put him in irons, to begin with,” said Shirley, “and then we can consider what to do with him when we have time.”
“I shall not leave him on shore,” said the captain, “for that would simply be condemning him to starvation; and as for putting him in irons, that would deprive us of an able seaman. I suppose, if we took him to France, he would have to be sent to Chili for trial, and that would be of no use, unless we went there as witnesses. It is a puzzling question to know what to do with him.”
“It is that,” said Burke, “and it is a great pity he wasn’t shot with the others.”
“Well,” said the captain, “we’ve got a lot of work before us, and we want hands, so I think it will be best to let him turn in with the rest, and make him pay for his passage, wherever we take him. The worst he can do is to desert, and if he does that, he will settle his own business, and we shall have no more trouble with him.”
“I don’t like him,” said Shirley. “I don’t think we ought to have such a fellow going about freely on board.”
“I am not afraid he will hurt any of us,” said the captain, “and I am sure he will not corrupt the negroes. They hate him. It is easy to see that.”
“Yes,” said Burke, with a laugh. “They think he is a Rackbird, and it is just as well to let them keep on thinking so.”
“Perhaps he is,” thought the captain, but he did not speak this thought aloud.
INKSPOT HAS A DREAM OF HEAVEN