The boatmen had received their promised pay as soon as Frank had reached the yacht, and had taken their places in their boat, but Dominique told Frank that they would not go till the Osprey sailed, as they were afraid of being pursued and attacked by the villagers’ boats if they did so.
As Frank stood gazing at the scene, George Lechmere touched him. Frank, looking round, saw that he wished to speak to him privately.
“What is it, George?” he asked, when he had stepped a few paces from Bertha.
“Look there, Major,” George said, handing him a field glass. “I thought I had settled old scores with him, but the devil has looked after his own.”
“You don’t mean to say, George, that it is Carthew again.”
“It is he, sure enough, sir. I would have sworn that I had done for him. If I had thought there had been the slightest doubt about it, I would have put a pistol ball through his head.”
Frank raised the glass to his eyes. Just where the torches were thickest, he could make out a man’s figure raised above the heads of the rest. He was supported on a litter. His head was swathed with bandages. He had raised himself into a sitting position, supported by one arm, while he waved the other passionately. He was evidently haranguing the crowd.
As Frank looked, he saw the figure sink down. Then there was a deep roll of the drum, and a fantastic-looking figure, daubed as it seemed with paint and wearing a huge mask, appeared in his place. The drum and the horns were silent, and the shouting of the negroes was at once hushed. This man, too, harangued the crowd, and when he ceased there was a loud yell and a general movement among the throng. At that moment, Hawkins came up.
“The chain is up and down, sir. Shall I make sail? The wind is very light, but I think that it is enough to take her out.”
“Yes, make sail, Hawkins, as quickly as you can. I am afraid that those fellows are coming out to attack us, and I don’t want to kill any of the poor devils. There is a small boat coming out from the shore towards that craft. The white sailors are on board, and we shall have them on us, too.”
“Up with the anchor,” Hawkins shouted. “Make sail at once. Look sharp, my hearties, work with a will, or we shall have those niggers on us again.”
Never was sail made on the Osprey more quickly, and by the time that the anchor was apeak all the lower sails were set.
“Shall I tell the blacks to tow their boat behind us?” Hawkins asked Frank, as the yacht began to steal through the water.
“No; let them tow alongside, Hawkins. I don’t suppose the people ashore know that we have a native boat with us. If they did, they would be sure that it came from Nipes, and it might set up a feud and cost them their lives, especially as that Obi scoundrel is concerned in the affair.”