It took about a quarter of an hour to make clear to the ruffled mind of Ralph the powerful, and in Mrs. Cliffs eyes the imperative, reasons for the sudden and unpremeditated matrimonial arrangements of the morning. But before she had finished, the boy grew quieter, and there appeared upon his face some expressions of astute sagacity.
“Well,” said he, “when you first put this business to me, it was tail side up, but now you’ve got heads up it looks a little different. He will be drowned, as like as not, and then I suppose we can call our souls our own, and if, besides that, we can call a lot of those chunks of gold our own, we ought not to grumble. All right. I won’t forbid the banns. But, between you and me, I think the whole thing is stuff and nonsense. What ought I to call him? Brother Horn?”
“Now, don’t say anything like that, Ralph,” urged Mrs. Cliff, “and don’t make yourself disagreeable in any way. This is a very serious time for all of us, and I am sure that you will not do anything which will hurt your sister’s feelings.”
“Oh, don’t be afraid,” said Ralph. “I’m not going to hurt anybody’s feelings. But when I first meet that man, I hope I may be able to keep him from knowing what I think of him.”
Five minutes later Ralph heard the voice of Captain Horn calling him. The voice came from the opening in the caves, and instantly Ralph turned and walked toward the beach. Again came the voice, louder than before: “Ralph, I want you.” The boy stopped, put his hands in his pockets, and shrugged his shoulders, then he slowly turned.
“If I were bigger,” he said to himself, “I’d thrash him on the spot. Then I’d feel easier in my mind, and things could go on as they pleased. But as I am not six feet high yet, I suppose I might as well go to see what he wants.”
“Ralph,” said the captain, as soon as the boy reached him, “I see Mrs. Cliff has been speaking to you, and so you know about the arrangements that have been made. But I have a great deal to do before I can start, and I want you to help me. I am now going to the mound in the cave to get out some of that gold, and I don’t want anybody but you to go with me. I have just sent all the negroes down to the beach to carry things to the boat, and we must be quick about our business. You take this leather bag. It is Mrs. Cliff’s, but I think it is strong enough. The lantern is lighted, so come on.”
To dive into a treasure mound Ralph would have followed a much more ruthless tyrant than Captain Horn, and although he made no remarks, he went willingly enough. When they had climbed the mound, and the captain had lifted the stone from the opening in the top, Ralph held the lantern while the captain, reaching down into the interior, set himself to work to fill the bag with the golden ingots. As the boy gazed down upon the mass of dull gold, his heart swelled within him. His feeling of indignant resentment began