“You ’ll learn it all soon enough.”
“You ’re a sneaking detective!”
“Oh, no, Henley; I ’m merely a man who drifted into this adventure blindly, but now I am going to fight it out for sake of the woman. It’s a pity for you that you did n’t tap me on the head a bit harder back in the cellar.”
His teeth ground together savagely, and he burst into a string of oaths.
“That’s enough,” and I got to my feet. “I see I ’ll have to gag you again.”
“Where ’s the steward?”
“Asleep in the pantry when I came in here.”
“And Herman—has n’t he got on board yet?”
“Oh, yes; two hours, or more, ago. He has the deck watch, while the Creole is below. Anything else you desire explained?”
“You think you ’re smart, but you ’ll sing a different song before I ’m through,” he snarled. “I ’m hungry, and I want to know why that Dutchman did n’t come down here and report.”
“You ’ll have to stand the hunger for awhile. As to Herman, I suppose he had nothing to tell. Well, I ’ve wasted time enough.”
I replaced the gag, and took a survey of the cabin to make sure all was secure. Uncomfortable as the man was, he was not in the slightest danger, and I felt little tenderness. He would not remain long undiscovered after we got away, and our only possible safety required harsh methods. Nothing had occurred in the outer cabin during my absence, but the growing shadows evidenced the approach of twilight. In those waters night came quickly. Locking the Captain’s door, I entered my own stateroom, and sat down on the lower berth to wait, leaving my door slightly ajar. The cabin grew constantly darker, although outside, through the open port, I could still distinguish gleams of light along the water surface, and the heights of the island. Herman came down, and entered his stateroom, but without closing the door. He remained but a moment, or two, and then hurried back on deck. Suddenly a gust of wind blew in through the port, and it began to rain gently, but in huge drops. Far away was the rumble of thunder, echoing across the open sea. The storm was evidently coming up slowly from the east, as all the western sky was clear, and streaked with golden red.
Then a sailor—I thought he was Peters, but could not tell—came shuffling down the companion stairs, his oilskins rustling, and pounded on the second mate’s door.
“All hands, Mr. Broussard!”
There was a muffled response, and the Creole, buttoning his jacket as he passed, followed the other on deck. A moment later I heard the slow throb of the engines, and glanced out to note the shore-line slipping past into the gloom. The Sea Gull was under way.
WE MAKE THE EFFORT
It would be some time yet—fifteen or twenty minutes at the best—before I dared attempt to carry out my plan of escape. In spite of the overspreading cloud, and steady rainfall, daylight lingered in the west, and a spectral glow hung above the ocean. It was a peculiar, almost ghastly light, yet of sufficient intensity to render objects visible for a considerable distance. However, there were preliminaries to be attended to, and I was eager to be busy.