And I wondered, desperately, if I might buy safety for us all at the price of the secret of the Island Queen, if a promise from the five scoundrels around the table would have more meaning than their wild boasts and shoutings now?
And now the night that I unutterably dreaded was upon us. But the pirates still thought of nothing but the gold. They had exhausted their own portable supplies of liquor, and were loud in their denunciations of our bone-dry camp, as they termed it. Mr. Tubbs enlarged upon the annoyance which Mr. Shaw’s restrictions in this matter had been to him, and regretted that he had long ago exhausted the small amount of spirituous refreshment which he had been able to smuggle in. Tony, however, was of another mind. “And a good thing, too,” he declared, “that you guys can’t booze yourselves blind before morning, or there wouldn’t be much gold took out of that there cave to-morrow. Once we make port somewheres with that chest of treasure aboard you can pour down enough to irrigate the Mojave Desert if you like.”
It was Tony, too, who intercepted a tentative movement of Captain Magnus in my direction, and ordered me into the cabin with my aunt and Miss Browne. Through the walls of the hut we heard loud and eager talk of the morrow and its certain golden harvest as the pirates made their dispositions for the night. Then the voices trailed off sleepily and silence succeeded, broken only by the ceaseless murmur of the waves around the island.
OF WHICH COOKIE IS THE HERO
Next morning I came out of the hut in time to see Mr. Shaw and his companion in duress led forth from the sleeping quarters which they had shared with their captors. They were moored as before to a palm tree, by a rope having a play of two or three feet, and their hands unbound while they made a hasty breakfast under the eye of a watchful sentinel. Then their wrists were tied again, not painfully, but with a firmness which made any slipping of their bonds impossible.
While the pirates were breakfasting a spirited dispute took place among them as to who should go to the treasure cave and who stay in camp to guard the prisoners. Slinker and Horny urged with justice that as they had missed all the excitement of the preceding day it was their turn to visit the cave. There not only the probable rapture of exhuming the chest awaited them, but the certain privilege of inspecting “the Bones.” This ghastly relic seemed to exercise an immense fascination upon their imaginations, a fascination not unmingled with superstitious dread. The right to see the Bones, then, Slinker and Horny passionately claimed. Tony supported them, and it ended with Chris and Captain Magnus being told off as our guards for the morning.