Day after day passed, and larger and larger grew the treasure stored in the sands under the tent, but no sail appeared. Sometimes the captain could not prevent evil fancies coming to him. What if the ship should never come back? What if no vessel should touch here for a year or two? And why should a vessel ever touch? When the provisions he had brought and those left in the Rackbirds’ storehouse had been exhausted, what could he do but lie down here and perish?—another victim added to the millions who had already perished from the thirst of gold. He thought of his little party in San Francisco. They surely would send in search of him, if he did not appear in a reasonable time. But he felt this hope was a vain one. In a letter to Edna, written from Lima, he had told her she must not expect to hear from him for a long time, for, while he was doing the work he contemplated, it would be impossible for him to communicate with her.
She would have no reason to suppose that he would start on such an expedition without making due arrangements for safety and support, and so would hesitate long before she would commission a vessel to touch at this point in search of him. If he should starve here, he would die months before any reasonable person, who knew as much of his affairs as did Edna, would think the time had arrived to send a relief expedition for him.
But he did not starve. Ten days overdue, at last the Chilian schooner appeared and anchored in the cove. She had now no white men on board but the captain and his mate, for the negroes had improved so much in seamanship that the economical captain had dispensed with his Chilian crew.
Captain Horn was delighted to be able to speak again to a fellow-being, and it pleased him far better to see Maka than any of the others.
“You no eat ’nough, cap’n,” said the black man, as he anxiously scanned the countenance of Captain Horn, which, although the captain was in better physical condition than perhaps he had ever been in his life, was thinner than when Maka had seen it last. “When I cook for you, you not so long face,” the negro continued. “Didn’t us leave you ’nough to eat? Did you eat ’em raw?”
The captain laughed. “I have had plenty to eat,” he said, “and I never felt better. If I had not taken exercise, you would have found me as fat as a porpoise.”
The interview with the Chilian captain was not so cordial, for Captain Horn found that the Chilian had not brought him a full cargo of bags of guano, and, by searching questions, he discovered that this was due entirely to unnecessary delay in beginning to load the vessel. The Chilian declared he would have taken on board all the guano which Captain Horn had purchased at the smaller island, had he not begun to fear that Captain Horn would suffer if he did not soon return to him, and when he thought it was not safe to wait any longer, he had sailed with a partial cargo.