“The sahib will refuse, then. So be it! But what then shall we do with him?”
“He will not get the chance of refusing. He will not be told.”
“But he is taking us to Bombay. How then can we work our will?”
“He thinks he is sailing to Bombay: he will really take us to Cutch.”
“How that, brother?”
“Does he know Bombay? Of a truth no. He is a boy, he has never sailed these seas. He depends on us. Suppose we come in sight of Bombay, who will tell him? Nobody. If he asks, we will say it is some other place: how can he tell? We will run past Bombay until we are within sight of Cutch: then truly I will do the rest.”
The Maratha did not reply. The momentary silence was broken by Fuzl Khan again.
“See! Put the one thing in the balance against the other: how does it turn? On the one side the twenty rupees—a pitiful sum—promised by the sahib: and who knows he will keep his promise? On the other, a tenth share for each of you in the grab and whatsoever prey falls to it.”
“Then the Babu is to have a share? Of a truth he is a small man, a hare in spirit; does he merit an equal share with us? We are elephants to him.”
“No. He will have no share. He will go overboard.”
“Why, then, what of the tenth share?”
“It will be mine. I shall be your leader and take two.”
Desmond had heard enough. The Gujarati was showing himself in his true colors. His greed was roused, and the chance of setting up as a pirate on his own account, and making himself a copy of the man whose prisoner he had been, had prompted this pretty little scheme. Desmond crept noiselessly away and returned to his quarters. Not to sleep; he spent the remainder of his watch below in thinking out his position—in trying to devise some means of meeting this new and unexpected difficulty. He had not heard what Fuzl Khan proposed ultimately to do with him. He might share the Babu’s fate: at the best it would appear that he had shaken off one captivity to fall into the toils of another.
He had heard grim tales of the pirates of the Cambay Gulf; they were not likely to prove more pleasant masters than the Marathas farther south, even if they did not prefer to put him summarily out of the way. His presence among them might prove irksome, and what would the death of a single English youth matter? He was out of reach of all of his friends; on the Good Intent none but Bulger and the New Englander had any real kindness for him, and if Bulger were to mention at any port that a young English lad was in captivity with the Pirate, what could be done? Should the projected expedition against Gheria prove successful, and he not be found among the European prisoners, it would be assumed that he was no longer living; and even if the news of his escape became known, it was absurd to suppose that all India would be searched for him.