The old fellow, once set going, had the pluck of a boy. The very next night he called in A. G., and took him into the secret, in his bluff way overriding me, that was for keeping it close between us two. That the map was mine did not trouble him. He agreed that I should be guardian of it, but took charge of all the outfit, ordering me about sometimes like a dog, though, properly speaking, the vessel herself belonged to me—or, at any rate, more to me than to him. As for A. G., he didn’t count. We filled up and weighed anchor on August 12, having on board 420 blacks—290 men and 130 women—all chained, and all held under by us twenty-two whites, of the which nineteen were women. The weather turned sulky almost from the start, and after ten days of drifting, with here and there a fluke of wind, we found ourselves off the Gaboon river. From this we crept our way to the Island of St. Thomas, three days; watered there, and fetched down to the south-east trades. The niggers were dying fast, and between the south-east and north-east trades, six weeks from our starting, we lost between one and two score every day. I will say that all the women worked like horses. We reached Barbadoes short of our complement by 134 negroes and one of Klootz’s wives. This last did not trouble him much.
He kept mighty cheerful all the way, although the speculation up to now had turned out far from cheerful; and all the way he kept singing scraps about the Kays of Mortallone in a way to turn even a healthy man sick. I had patched up a kind of friendship with A.G., and we allowed that, for all his heartiness, the old man was enough to madden a saint. The slaves we landed fetched about nineteen pounds on an average. They cost at starting from two pounds to three pounds; but the ones that had died at sea knocked a hole in the profits.
At Barbadoes Klootz left the womenfolk in a kind of boarding-house, and hired a pinnace, twenty tons, to take us across to the main, pretending he wanted to inquire into the market there. Klootz and I made the whole crew, with A. G., who could not navigate. January 17, late in the afternoon, we ran down upon Mortallone Island and anchored off the Kays, north of Gable Point. Next morning we out with the boat and landed. Time, about three-quarters of an hour short of low water.
The Kays are nothing but sand. At low water, and for an hour before and after, you can cross to Gable point dry-shod. We spent that day getting bearings; dug a little, but nothing to reward us. Next day we got to work early. Had been digging for two hours, when we turned up the first body. It turned A. G. poorly in the stomach, and he sat down to watch us. Half an hour later we struck the first of the chests. It did not hold more than five shillings’ worth, and we saw that somebody had been there before us.
The third day we turned up three more bodies, besides two chests, empty as before, and a full one. We stove it in, emptied the stuff into the boat, and made our way back to the ship.