“All right, Dominique, but we won’t stick at two dollars. If it were necessary I would pay two hundred cheerfully for news.”
“We find dem widout dat,” the black said, confidently. “Not good offer too much. If black man offered two dollars he bery glad. If offered twenty he begin to say to himself, ’Dis bery good affair; perhaps someone else give forty.’”
“There is something in that, Dominique. Anyhow I shall leave that part of the business to you. As a rule, I shall keep in hiding with the boatmen and sailors all day. I shall be no good for asking questions, for I don’t know much French, and the dialect the negroes of these islands speak is beyond me altogether. I cannot understand the boatmen at all.”
“Black men here bad, sar; not like dem in de other islands. Here dey tink themselves better than white men; bery ignorant fellows, sar. Most of dem lost religion, and go back to fetish. Bery bad dat. All sorts of bad things in dat affair. Kill children and women to make fetish. Bad people, sar, and dey are worse here than at San Domingo.”
There was nothing to do all day, but to sit on deck and watch the brigantine. Most of the blacks had been landed, and only three or four sailors remained on watch on deck. Frank and George Lechmere, in their broad straw hats, sat and smoked in the deck chairs; the former’s eyes wandering over the mountains as if in search of something that might point out Bertha’s hiding place. The hills were for the most part covered with trees, with here and there a little clearing and a patch of cultivated ground, with two or three huts in the centre. With the glasses solitary huts could be seen, half hidden by trees, here and there; and an occasional little wreath of light smoke curling up showed that there were others entirely hidden in the forest.
“Don’t you think, Major,” George Lechmere said after a long pause, “that it would be a good thing to have the gig every night at some point agreed on, such as the spot where we land? You see, sir, there is no saying what may happen. We may have to make a running fight of it, and it would be very handy to have the boat to fall back upon.”
“Yes, I think that a good idea, George. I will tell Hawkins to send it ashore, say at ten o’clock every night. There is no chance whatever of our being down before that. They are sure to have taken her a long distance up the hills; and though, of course, one cannot say at present, it is pretty certain that we shall have to attack after dark.
“It is important that we should land where there is some sort of a path. I noticed one or two such places as we came along. We may as well get into the dinghy and row down and choose a spot now. Of course, they will be watching from the brigantine, but when they see the same number that went come back again, they will suppose that we have only gone for a row, or perhaps to get a shot at anything we come across. We may as well take a couple of guns with us.”