In Clive's Command eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 515 pages of information about In Clive's Command.

Why had the speaker been hushed—­and by Fuzl Khan?  He remembered the ugly rumors—­the veiled hints he had heard about the man in Gheria.  If they were true, he had sold his comrades who trusted him.  They might not be true; the man himself had always indignantly denied them.  Desmond had nothing against him.  So far he had acted loyally enough; but then he had nothing to gain by playing his fellow fugitives false, and it was with this knowledge that Desmond had decided to make him privy to the escape.

But now they were clear of Gheria.  Fuzl Khan was free like the rest; he had no longer the same inducement to play straight if his interest seemed to him to clash with the general.  Yet it was not easy to see how such a clashing could occur.  Like the others he was lost at sea; until land was reached, at any rate, he could have no motive for opposition or mutiny.

While these, thoughts were passing through Desmond’s mind he heard a man rise from the group aft and come forward.  Instinctively he moved from the side of the vessel towards the mainmast, and as the man drew near Desmond stood so that the stout tree trunk was between them.  The man went rapidly towards the bows, and in a low tone hailed the lookout, whispering him a summons to join the Gujarati at the helm.  The lookout, one of the Marathas, left his post; he came aft with the messenger, and both passing on the same side of the vessel, Desmond by dodging round the mast escaped their notice.

At the best, the action of Fuzl Khan was a dereliction of duty; at the worst!—­Desmond could not put his suspicions into words.  It was clear that something was afoot, and he resolved to find out what it was.  Very cautiously he followed the two men.  Bending low, and keeping under the shadow of the bulwarks, he crept to within a few feet of the almost invisible group.  A friendly coil of rope near the taffrail gave him additional cover; but the night was so dark that he ran little risk of being perceived so long as the men remained stationary.  He himself could barely see the tall form of the Gujarati dimly outlined against the sky.

Chapter 16:  In which a mutiny is quelled in a minute; and our Babu proves himself a man of war.

Crouching low, Desmond waited.  When the Maratha joined the groups Fuzl Khan addressed him directly in a low firm tone.

“We are all agreed, Nanna,” he said.  “You are the only man wanting to our purpose.  This is the fastest grab on the coast.  I know a port where we can get arms and ammunition; with a few good men (and I know where they can be found), we can make a strong band, and grow rich upon our spoils.”

“But what about the sahib?”

“Wah!  We know what these Firangi are like—­at least the Angrezi {English}.  They have the heads of pigs:  there is no moving them.  It would be vain to ask the young sahib to join us; his mind is set on getting to Bombay and telling all his troubles to the Company.  What a folly!  And what an injustice to us!  It would destroy our chance of making our fortunes, for what would happen?  The grab would be sold; the sahib would take the most of the price; we should get a small share, not enough to help us to become rovers of the sea and our own masters.”

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In Clive's Command from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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