Banker looked at him admiringly. “He plays the part well,” he said to himself. “He is a great gun. There is no use of my charging against him. I will not try it, but I shall let him see where I stand.”
“Captain,” said he, “I have nothing to explain, except that I was stirred up a good deal and lost my temper. I oughtn’t to have made that charge against you. Of course, it could not be of any good to me, and I am perfectly ready to meet you on level ground. I will take back everything I have already said, and, if necessary, I will prove that I made a mistake and never saw you before, and I only ask in return that you get me out of this and give me enough to make me comfortable. That won’t take much, you know, and you seem to be in first-class condition these days. There! I have put it to you fair and square, and saved you the trouble of making me any offers. You stand by me, and I’ll stand by you. I am ready to swear until I am black in the face that you never were in Peru, and that I never saw you until the other day, when I made that mistake about you on account of the queer fashion of your eyebrows, which looked just like those of a man who really had been my captain, and that I now see you are two entirely different men. I will make a good tale of it, captain, and I will stick to it—you can rely on that. By all the saints, I hope those two fellows at the door don’t understand Spanish!”
The professor had made himself sure that the guards who accompanied him spoke nothing but French. Without referring to Banker’s proposed bargain, he said to him, “Was the captain of the bandits under whom you served a Spaniard?”
“Yes, you were a Spaniard,” said Banker.
“From what part of Spain did he come?”
“You let out several times that you once lived in Granada.”
“What was that captain’s real name?” asked the professor.
“Your name was Raminez—unless, indeed,” and here his face clouded a little, “unless, indeed, you tricked us. But I have pumped you well on that point, and, drunk or sober, it was always Raminez.”
“Raminez, then, a Spaniard of my appearance,” said the professor, “was your captain when you were in a band called the Rackbirds, which had its rendezvous on the coast of Peru?”
“Yes, you were all that,” said Banker.
“Very well, then,” said Barre. “I have nothing more to say to you at present,” and he turned and left the cell. The guards followed, and the door was closed.
Banker remained dumb with amazement. When he had regained his power of thought and speech, he fell into a state of savage fury, which could be equalled by nothing living, except, perhaps, by a trapped wildcat, and among his objurgations, as he strode up and down his cell, the most prominent referred to the new and incomprehensible trick which this prince of human devils had just played upon him. That he had been talking to his old captain he did not doubt for a moment, and that that captain had again got the better of him he doubted no less.