“After all it is merely a humble proposition that I submit to you. Were it in my power to take an active part in the matter, I should do nothing of myself. My will is not my own. It belongs, with all I possess, to those whom I have sworn absolute obedience.”
Here a slight noise interrupted M. Joshua, and drew his attention from his work. He rose abruptly, and went straight to the window. Three gentle taps were given on the outside of one of the slats of the blind.
“Is it you, Mahal?” asked M. Joshua, in a low voice.
“It is I,” was answered from without, also in a low tone.
“And the Malay?”
“He has succeeded.”
“Really!” cried M. Joshua, with an expression of great satisfaction; “are you sure of it?”
“Quite sure: there is no devil more clever and intrepid.”
“The parts of the letter, which I quoted, convinced him that I came from General Simon, and that he would find him at the ruins of Tchandi.”
“Therefore, at this moment—”
“Djalma goes to the ruins, where he will encounter the black, the half blood, and the Indian. It is there they have appointed to meet the Malay, who tattooed the prince during his sleep.”
“Have you been to examine the subterraneous passage?”
“I went there yesterday. One of the stones of the pedestal of the statue turns upon itself; the stairs are large; it will do.”
“And the three chiefs have no suspicion?”
“None—I saw them in the morning—and this evening the Malay came to tell me all, before he went to join them at the ruins of Tchandi—for he had remained hidden amongst the bushes, not daring to go there in the daytime.”
“Mahal—if you have told the truth, and if all succeed—your pardon and ample reward are assured to you. Your berth has been taken on board the ‘Ruyter;’ you will sail to-morrow; you will thus be safe from the malice of the Stranglers, who would follow you hither to revenge the death of their chiefs, Providence having chosen you to deliver those three great criminals to justice. Heaven will bless you!—Go and wait for me at the door of the governor’s house; I will introduce you. The matter is so important that I do not hesitate to disturb him thus late in the night. Go quickly!—I will follow on my side.”
The steps of Mahal were distinctly audible, as he withdrew precipitately, and then silence reigned once more in the house. Joshua returned to his desk, and hastily added these words to the despatch, which he had before commenced:
“Whatever may now happen, it will be impossible for Djalma to leave Batavia at present. You may rest quite satisfied; he will not be at Paris by the 13th of next February. As I foresaw, I shall have to be up all night.—I am just going to the governor’s. To-morrow I will add a few lines to this long statement, which the steamship ‘Ruyter’ will convey to Europe.”