George Lechmere saw to the preparations for victualling the gig. Two large hampers of fresh provisions were placed on board, and two four-and-a-half gallon kegs of water. A bundle of rugs was placed in the stern sheets, and the boat’s flagstaff was fixed in its place in the stern. The yard of the sail was at night to be lashed from the mast to the staff at a height of four feet above the gunwale, and across this the sail was to be thrown to act as a tent. A kettle, frying pan, plates, knives and forks were put in forward, and a box of signal lights under the seat aft. Canisters of tea, sugar, coffee, and all necessaries had been stowed away in the hamper, together with a plentiful supply of tobacco; and a bag of twenty-eight pounds of flour, wrapped up in tarpaulin, was placed under one of the thwarts.
As soon as it was daylight, anchor was got up, and when the yacht had sailed for seven or eight miles to the west, the gig was lowered, and the four black boatmen took their places in her. Frank took the rudder lines, and Dominique sat near him. The sail was then hoisted, and as the wind was light, the boatmen got out their oars and shot ahead of the Osprey, directing their course obliquely towards the shore.
It was not necessary to land at the coast villages here, as it was morally certain that the Phantom had not touched anywhere within twenty or thirty miles of San Domingo, and she would hardly have entered any of the narrow rivers at night. Nevertheless, they did not pass any of these without rowing up them. When some native huts were reached, Dominique closely questioned the negroes.
The pilot had, by this time, been informed of the cause of their search for the Phantom, which had, until they left San Domingo, been a profound mystery to him. Frank, however, being now fully convinced both of the negro’s trustworthiness, and of his readiness to do all in his power to assist, thought it as well to confide in him, and when they were together in the boat, informed him that the brigantine they were searching for had carried off a young lady and her maid from England.
“That man must be a rascal,” the negro said, angrily. “What do he want dat lady for, sar? He love her bery much?”
“No, Dominique, what he loves is her fortune. She is rich. He has gambled away a fine property, and wants her money to set him on his legs again.”
“Bery bad fellow dat,” the pilot said, shaking his head earnestly. “Ought to be hung, dat chap. Dominique do all he can to help you, sar. Do more now for you and dat young lady. We find him for suah. You tink there will be any fighting, sar?”
“I think it likely that he will show fight when we come up with him, but you see I have a very strong crew, and I have arms for them all.”
“Dat good. Me wonder often why you have so many men. Nothing for half of dem to do. Now me understand. Well, sar, if there be any fighting, you see me fight. You gib me cutlass; me fight like debil.”