“From here to Cape La Move, following the indentations, must be somewhere between five and six hundred miles, perhaps more than that. The breeze is regular, and with a sail we ought to make from forty to fifty miles a day—say forty—so that in three weeks we should thoroughly have searched the coast, even allowing for putting in three or four times a day to make inquiries. The yacht must follow, keeping a few miles astern. At any rate she must not pass us.
“At night when she anchors she must have two head lights, one at the crosstrees and one at the topmast head. I shall be on the lookout for her, and we will take some blue lights and some red lights with us. Every night I will burn a blue light, say at nine o’clock. A man in the crosstrees will make it out twenty miles away, and that will tell them where I am, and that I don’t want them. If I burn a red light it will be a signal for the yacht to come and pick me up.”
“Then you will go in the boat yourself, Major?”
“Yes, I must be doing something. I shall take Pedro with me, and perhaps Dominique. We can get another pilot here. Dominique is a shrewd fellow, and can get more out of the negroes than Pedro can. Certainly, that will be the best plan, and will avoid the necessity of spoiling the yacht’s speed, which may be of vital importance to us at a critical moment.
“Call Dominique down. I will send him ashore at once with Pedro, to get hold of a good pilot and four good negro boatmen, and a native sail. I think that is all we want.”
As soon as the dinghy, with Dominique and Pedro, had left the side of the yacht; the captain, by Frank’s orders, set four men to work to paint the gig black, while others gave a coat of dull lead colour to the varnished oars. The order was received with much surprise by the men, who audibly expressed their regret at seeing their brightly varnished boat and oars thus disfigured.
After about three hours on shore, the dinghy returned loaded with fruit and vegetables, which Pedro had purchased, and a native mast and sail. The former was at once cut so as to step in the gig. The sail was hoisted, and was then taken in hand by one of the crew, who was a fair sailmaker, to be altered so as to stand flatter. Half an hour later the new pilot and four powerful negroes came alongside in a shore boat.
It was now late in the afternoon, so the start was postponed until the next morning. A few other arrangements were made as to signalling, and it was settled that if Frank showed a red light, a rocket should be sent up from the yacht, to show that the signal had been observed, and that they were getting up sail. They were to keep their lights up, so that Frank could make them out as they came up, and put off to meet them.