Then he moved away to George Lechmere.
“Don’t say a word about that fellow Carthew,” he said. “Miss Greendale thinks he is killed; and it is just as well that she should continue to think that she is safe from him in the future.”
“So far as she is concerned, I think that is true; but I would not answer for you, Major. You have ruined his plans, and burned his yacht, and as long as he lives he will never forgive you.”
“Well, it is of no use to worry about it now, George; but I expect that we shall hear more about him someday.”
“What are they doing, Frank?” Bertha asked, as he rejoined her. “I think that they are getting into the boats again.”
“Yes. I fancy they are going to try to take us, but they have no more chance of doing so than they have of flying. The Obi man has worked them up to a state of frenzy, but it will evaporate pretty quickly when they get within range of our muskets.”
“But we have got the cannon on board, have we not?”
“Yes; but we did not bring off any ammunition with us. It was the men’s idea to bring them as a trophy. However, I have plenty of powder and can load them with bullets; but I certainly won’t use them if it can be possibly avoided. I have no grudge against the poor fellows who have been told that we are desperate pirates, and who are only doing what they believe to be a meritorious action in trying to capture us.”
In a few minutes six boats put out from the shore. The Osprey was not going through the water more than two miles an hour, though she had every stitch of canvas spread. Frank had the guns taken aft and loaded. As the boats came within the circle of the light of the burning yacht, it could be seen that they were crowded with men, who encouraged themselves with defiant yells and shouts, which excited the derision of the Osprey’s crew. When they got within a quarter of a mile they opened a fusillade of musketry, but the balls dropped in the water some distance astern of the yacht. As the boats came nearer, however, they began to drop round her.
“Sit down behind the bulwarks,” Frank said. “They are not good shots, but a stray ball might come on board, and there is no use running risks.”
By this time he had persuaded Bertha to go below. The boats rowed on until some seventy or eighty yards off the Osprey. The shouting had gradually died away, for the silence on board the yacht oppressed them. There was something unnatural about it, and their superstitious fear of the Obi man disappeared before their dread of the unknown.
As if affected simultaneously by the disquietude of their companions, the rowers all stopped work at the same moment. Dominique had already received instructions, and at once hailed them in French.
“If you value your lives, turn back. We have the guns of the brigantine. They are crammed with bullets and are pointed at you. The owner has but to give the word, and you will all be blown to pieces. He is a good man, and wishes you no harm. We have come here not to quarrel with you poor ignorant black fellows, but to rescue two ladies the villain that ship belongs to had carried off. Therefore, go away back to your wives and families while you are able to, for if you come but one foot nearer not one of you will live to return.”