Desmond took the earliest opportunity of seeking the body of Fuzl Khan. Fortunately the fires and the noises of the night had preserved it from mangling by wild beasts. The poor man lay where he had fallen, near the body of the overseer.
“Poor fellow!” thought Desmond, looking at the strong, fierce face and the gigantic frame now stiff and cold. “Little he knew, when he said he’d serve me to his life’s end, that the end was so near.”
He had the body carried into the town, and reverently buried according to Mohammedan rites. From the lascar he had learned all that he ever knew of the motives of the Gujarati’s action. Desmond had hardly left the boat when the man sprang quickly after him, saying briefly:
“I go to guard the sahib.”
It was like the instinctive impulse of a faithful dog; and Desmond often regretted the loss of the man who had shown himself so capable of devotion.
That evening Clive summoned Desmond to attend him in the palace. When he entered the durbar hall he saw, seated on the dais, a small group consisting of Clive, Admiral Watson, and two or three subordinate officers. Standing in front of them was Diggle, in the charge of two marines.
“How many European prisoners have been released, Mr. Ward?” the admiral was saying.
“Thirteen, sir; ten English and three Dutch.”
“Is that correct, Mr. Burke? Was that the number when you were here?”
“Yes, sir, that is correct.”
“Then you may go, Mr. Ward, and see that the poor fellows are taken on board the Tyger and well looked after.”
As the officer saluted and withdrew the admiral turned to Clive.
“Now for this white pirate,” he said: “a most unpleasant matter, truly.”
Signing to the marines to bring forward their prisoner, he threw himself back upon the divan, leaving the matter in Clive’s hands. Clive was gazing hard at Diggle, who had lost the look of terror he had worn two nights before, and stood before them in his usual attitude of careless ease.
“You captured this man,” said Clive, turning to Desmond, “within the precincts of the fort?”
His hard level tone contrasted strongly with the urbaner manner of the admiral.
“Yes, sir,” replied Desmond.
“He is the same man who inveigled you on board the interloper Good Intent and delivered you to the Pirate?”
“And he was to your knowledge associated with the Pirate, and offered you inducements to spy upon his Majesty’s forces in Bombay?”
“Have you anything to say for yourself, Mr. Peloti?”
“Pardon me, Mr. Clive; Diggle—Marmaduke Diggle.”
“Diggle, if you like,” said Clive with a shrug. “You will hang as well in that name as another.”
One of the officers smiled at the grim jest, but there was no smile on Clive’s stern set face.
“You asked me if I had anything to say for myself,” said Diggle quietly. “Assuredly; but it seems your Honors have condemned me already. Why should I waste your time, and my breath? I bethink me ’twas not even in Rome the custom to judge a matter before learning the facts—prius rem dijudicare—but it is a long time, Mr. Clive, since we conned our Terence together.”