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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 411 pages of information about In Clive's Command.

Major Killpatrick laughed.

“Why, I know how that will end.  With Mr. Stringer Lawrence laid up there is only one man fit to do this job, and that’s Mr. Clive, and the sooner the gentlemen on their office stools at Madras see that, the better in the end for everybody.

“Now you’re strong again, eh?  Got rid of that touch of fever?”

“Yes, sir; I’m as well as ever.”

“And want to be doing something, I’ll be bound.  Well, ’twill need some thinking, what you’ve to do.  We’re badly served with news.  We’ve got spies, of course; but I don’t set much store by native spies in this country.  We’ve information by the bushel, but when you come to sift it out there’s precious little of it you can trust.  And the enemy has got spies, too—­hundreds of ’em.  I’ll bet my boots there’s a regular system of kasids for carrying news of us to Manik Chand and from him to the Nawab.  If the truth was known, I dare say that rascal knows how many hairs I have on my bald crown under my wig—­if that’s any interest to him.

“Well, I suppose you’ll join Mr. Merriman on board one of the ships.  Better chance of escaping the fever there.  I’ll turn over a thing or two I have in my mind and send for you when I’ve done turning.”

On the way back to the shore Desmond met the serang who had accompanied him down the river from Cossimbazar.  The man explained that after the capture of Calcutta his brother Hubbo, the Company’s syr serang {head boatman}, had been impressed into the service of the Nawab, and he himself had been sent by Hubbo to Fulta to assist the Council and merchants of the Company.  He had there met Mr. Merriman, whom in common with many others he had believed to be dead.  Mr. Merriman, having no immediate need for his services, had willingly permitted him to take his brother’s place in the employment of the Company.

Mr. Merriman welcomed Desmond with quite fatherly affection, and congratulated him heartily on his appointment.  The Hormuzzeer being unlikely, owing to the complete cessation of trade, to make another voyage for some months to come, he decided to take up his quarters on board, and Desmond lived with him as a matter of course.

Desmond was shocked to see the change wrought on his friend by the loss of his wife and daughter.  All his gay spirits had left him; he had thinned perceptibly, and his eyes had that strained look which only a great sorrow can cause.

“I have been thinking it over, Desmond,” he said as they sat in the cabin, “and I can only conclude that this is one more of Peloti’s villainies.  Good God! had he not done me and mine harm enough?  Who else would be so dead to all sense of right, of decency, as to seize upon two helpless women?  My brother was hanged, Desmond; hanging is too good for that scoundrel; but we cannot touch him; he laughs at us; and I am helpless—­helpless!”

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