On the bridge the first officer was standing at the captain’s side.
“Captain,” he shouted, “where did you get that Frenchman?”
“Picked him up day before yestiddy. Speaks fair English an’ a bit o’ Dago. They’re allus handy on a pleasure-boat. He c’n keep off th’ riffraff boatmen. An’ you know what persistent cusses they be in the Med’terranean. Why?”
“Oh, nothing, if he’s a good sailor. Notice his hands?”
“Soft as a woman’s.”
“Y’ don’t say! Well, we’ll see ’em tough enough before we sight Funchal. Smells good up here; huh?”
“Yes; but I don’t mind three months on land, full pay. Not me. But this Frenchman?”
“Oh, he had good papers from a White Star liner; an’ you can leave it to me regardin’ his lily-white hands. By th’ way, George, will you have them bring up my other leg? Th’ salt takes th’ color out o’ this here brass ferrule, an’ rubber’s safer.”
There was one vacant chair in the dining-salon. M. Ferraud was indisposed. He could climb the highest peak, he could cross ice-ridges, with a sheer mile on either side of him, with never an attack of vertigo; but this heaving mystery under his feet always got the better of him the first day out. He considered it the one flaw in an otherwise perfect system. Thus, he misled the comedy and the tragedy of the eyes at dinner, nor saw a woman throw her all and lose it.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” asked Fitzgerald, venturing his head into M. Ferraud’s cabin.
“Nothing; to-morrow it will all be gone. I am always so. The miserable water!” M. Ferraud drew the blanket under his chin.
“When you are better I should like to ask you some questions.”
“My friend, you have been very good. I promise to tell you all when the time comes. It will interest you.”
“What makes you think I am interested in Mr. Breitmann?”
Fitzgerald could not exactly tell. “Perhaps I have noticed you watching him.”
“Ah, you have good eyes, Mr. Fitzgerald. Have you observed that I have been watching you also?”
“Yes. You haven’t been quite sure of me.” Fitzgerald smiled a little. “But you may rest your mind. I never break my word.”
“Nor do I, my friend. Have patience. Satan take these small boats!” He stifled a groan.
“A little champagne?”
“Nothing, nothing; thank you.”
“As you will. Good night.”
Fitzgerald shut the door and returned to the smoking-room. Something or other, concerning Breitmann; he was sure of it. What had he done, or what was he going to do, that France should watch him? There was no doubt in his mind now; Breitmann had known of this treasure and had come to The Pines simply to put his hands on the casket. M. Ferraud had tried to forestall him. This much of the riddle was plain. But the pivots upon which these things turned! There was something more than a treasure in the balance. Well, M. Ferraud had told him to wait. There was nothing else for him to do.