“Obstinacy and extravagance!” muttered Myndert; “what use can a troublesome girl be to one of thy habits? If thou hast deluded—”
“I have deluded none. The brigantine is not an Algerine, to ask and take ransom.”
“Then let it submit to what I believe it is yet a stranger. If thou hast not enticed my niece away, by, Heaven knows, a most vain delusion! let the vessel be searched. This will make the minds of the young men tranquil, and keep the treaty open between us, and the value of the article fixed in the market.”
“Freely:—but mark! If certain bales containing worthless furs of martens and beavers, with other articles of thy colony trade, should discover the character of my correspondents, I stand exonerated of all breach of faith.”
“There is prudence in that.—Yes, there must be no impertinent eyes peeping into bales and packages. Well, I see, Master Seadrift, the impossibility of immediately coming to an understanding; and therefore I will quit thy vessel, for truly a merchant of reputation should have no unnecessary connexion with one so suspected.”
The free-trader smiled, partly in scorn and yet much in sadness, and passed his fingers over the strings of the guitar.
“Show this worthy burgher to his friends, Zephyr,” ne said; and, bowing to the Alderman, he dismissed him in a manner that betrayed a singular compound of feeling. One quick to discover the traces of human passion, might have fancied, that regret, and even sorrow, were powerfully blended with the natural or assumed recklessness of the smuggler’s air and language.
“This will prove a brave
kingdom to me;
Where I shall have my music, for nothing.”
During the time past in the secret conference of the cabin, Ludlow and the Patroon were held in discourse on the quarter-deck, by the hero of the India-shawl. The dialogue was professional, as Van Staats maintained his ancient reputation for taciturnity. The appearance of Myndert, thoughtful, disappointed, and most evidently perplexed, caused the ideas of all to take a new direction. It is probable that the burgher believed he had not yet bid enough to tempt the free-trader to restore his niece; for, by his air, it was apparent his mind was far from being satisfied that she was not in the vessel. Still, when questioned by his companions concerning the result of his interview with the free-trader, for reasons best understood by himself, he was fain to answer evasively.
“Of one thing rest satisfied,” he said; “the misconception in this affair will yet be explained, and Alida Barberie return unfettered, and with a character as free from blemish as the credit of the Van Stoppers of Holland. The fanciful-looking person in the cabin denies that my niece is here, and I am inclined to think the balance of truth is on his side I confess, if one could just look into the cabins, without the trouble of rummaging lockers and cargo, the statement would give more satisfaction; but—hem—gentlemen, we must take the assertion on credit, for want of more sufficient security.”