In the Foam, the few men who were lounging about the deck looked uneasily from the war vessel to the countenance of Manton, in whose hands they felt that their fate now lay. The object of their regard paced the deck slowly, with his hands in his pockets and a pipe in his mouth, in the most listless manner, in order to deceive the numerous eyes which he knew full well scanned his movements with deep curiosity. The frowning brow and the tightly compressed lips alone indicated the storm of anger which was in reality raging in the pirate’s breast at what he deemed the obstinacy of his captain in running into such danger, and the folly of his men in having shown fight on shore when there was no occasion for doing so. But Manton was too much alive to his own danger and interests to allow passion at such a critical moment to interfere with his judgment. He paced the deck slowly, as we have said, undecided as to what course he ought to pursue, but ready to act with the utmost energy and promptitude when the time for action should arrive.
On board the Talisman, on the other hand, the young commander began to feel certain of his prize; and when he witnessed the scuffle on shore, the flight of the boat’s crew with the three young people, and the subsequent events, he could not conceal a smile of triumph as he turned to Gascoyne and said:
“Your men are strangely violent in their proceedings, sir, for the crew of a peaceable trader. If it were not that they are pulling straight for your schooner, where, no doubt, they will be received with open arms, I would have fancied they had been part of the crew of that wonderful pirate, who seems to be able to change color almost as quickly as he changes position.”
The allusion had no effect whatever on the imperturbable Gascoyne, on whose countenance good humor seemed to have been immovably enthroned; for the worse his case became, the more amiable and satisfied was his aspect.
“Surely, Captain Montague does not hold me responsible for the doings of my men in my absence,” said he, calmly. “I have already said that they are a wild set—not easily restrained even when I am present; and fond of getting into scrapes when they can. You see, we have not a choice of men in these out-of-the-way parts of the world.”
“Apparently not,” returned Montague; “but I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you order your men to be punished for their misdeeds; for, if not, I shall be under the necessity of punishing them for you. Is the boat ready, Mr. Mulroy?”
“It is, sir.”
“Then, Mr. Gascoyne, if you will do me the favor to step into this boat, I will have much pleasure in accompanying you on board your schooner.”
“By all means,” replied Gascoyne, with a bland smile, as he rose and threw away the end of another cigar, after having lighted therewith the sixth or seventh in which he had indulged that day. “Your boat is well manned, and your men are well armed, Captain Montague; do you go on some cutting-out expedition, or are you so much alarmed at the terrible aspect of the broadside of my small craft that—”