“Me neber fired off gun in my life, sar. Me more afraid of gun than of dose rascals. Dominique fight with um sword; dat plenty good for him.”
The path mounted the hill until they were, as Frank thought, some three hundred feet above the water. Here the ground was cultivated, and after walking for ten minutes they saw two or three lights in front.
“You stop here, sar,” Dominique said, handing the lantern to Frank. “Me go on and see how best get round de village. Must not be seen here. If native boat come in at night suah to go up to end ob water, and land at village dere.”
The negro soon returned, and said that the cultivated land extended on both sides of the village, and there was no difficulty in crossing it. The village was passed quietly, and when it was once well behind them they came down upon the path again, which was much larger and better marked than it had been before. After following it for half a mile, they came upon a road, which led obliquely up from the water, and ran somewhat inland.
“This is no doubt the road from the village at the head of the arm of the bay. They have probably come along here, though they may have turned more directly into the hills. That is the first point to find out, Dominique.”
“Yes, sar, next village we see me go in wid two ob de boatmen and ask a few questions.”
Following the path along for another few hundred yards, they saw a road ahead of them. Here they halted, and two of the blacks handed over their muskets and cutlasses to the care of the sailors. Dominique also left his cutlass behind him, and as he went on gave instructions to his two companions.
“Now look here,” he said in negro French, “don’t you say much. I will do the talking, but just say a word or two if they ask questions. Mind we three belong to the brigantine. I am the pilot. The captain has given me a message to send to his friends who have gone up into the hills. He asked me to take it, but I am not sure about the way. I am ready to pay well for a guide. I expect that they will say that the ladies came along, but that they do not know how they went afterwards. Then we ask him to come as guide, and promise to pay him very well.”
By this time they were close to the hut, which, as Dominique assured himself before knocking at the door, stood alone. There was an old man and woman inside, and a boy of about seventeen. Dominique took off his hat as he entered, and said in French:
“Excuse me for disturbing you so late. I am the pilot of a vessel now in the bay, and have been sent by the captain to carry an important message to a gentleman who landed with another and two ladies and some armed men. He did not give me sufficient directions to find him, and I thought that if they passed along here you might be able to put me in the way.”
“They came along here between eleven and twelve, I think. We saw them,” the old man said, “and we heard afterwards that the ladies were being taken away because the ship was, they thought, going to be attacked by a pirate that had followed them. The people from the villages went to help fight, for the gentleman had bought many things and had paid well for them, and each man was promised a dollar if there was no fighting, and four dollars if they helped beat off the pirate.”