“And leave us here!” cried Mrs. Cliff. “Do not think of that, captain! Whatever happens, let us all keep together.”
“That cannot be,” he said. “I must go because I am the only seaman among you, and I will take four of those black fellows with me. I do not apprehend any danger unless we have to make a surf landing, and even then they can all swim like fishes, while I am very well able to take care of myself in the water. I shall sail down the coast until I come to a port, and there put in. Then I will get a vessel of some sort and come back for you. I shall leave with you two of these negroes—Cheditafa, who seems to be a highly respectable old person, and can speak English, and Mok, who, although he can’t talk to you, can understand a great deal that is said to him. Apart from his being such an abject coward, he seems to be a good, quiet fellow, willing to do what he is told. On the whole, I think he has the best disposition of the four black dummies, begging their pardons. I will take the three others, with Maka as head man and interpreter. If I should be cast on shore by a storm, I could swim through the surf to the dry land, but I could not undertake to save any one else. If this misfortune should happen, we could make our way on foot down the coast.”
“But suppose you should meet some Rackbirds?” cried Ralph.
“I have no fear of that,” answered the captain. “I do not believe there is another set of such scoundrels on this hemisphere. So, as soon as I can get that boat in order, and rig up a mast and a sail for her, I shall provision her well and set out. Of course, I do not want to leave you all here, but there is no help for it, and I don’t believe you need have the slightest fear of harm. Later, we will plan what is to be done by you and by me, and get everything clear and straight. The first thing is to get the boat ready, and I shall go to work on that to-day. I will also take some of the negroes down to the Rackbirds’ camp, and bring away more stores.”
“Oh, let me go!” cried Ralph. “It is the cruellest thing in the world to keep me cooped up here. I never go anywhere, and never do anything.”
But the captain shook his head. “I am sorry, my boy,” said he, “to keep you back so much, but it cannot be helped. When I go away, I shall make it a positive condition that you do not leave your sister and Mrs. Cliff, and I do not want you to begin now.” A half-hour afterwards, when the captain and his party had set out, Ralph came to his sister and sat down by her.
“Do you know,” said he, “what I think of Captain Horn? I think he is a brave man, and a man who knows what to do when things turn up suddenly, but, for all that, I think he is a tyrant. He does what he pleases, and he makes other people do what he pleases, and consults nobody.”
“My dear Ralph,” said Edna, “if you knew how glad I am we have such a man to manage things, you would not think in that way. A tyrant is just what we want in our situation, provided he knows what ought to be done, and I think that Captain Horn does know.”