“The Malay has succeeded!” exclaimed the Indian, listening to a singular kind of hoot, which sounded through the profound silence of the night and of the woods.
“Yes, it is the scream of the vulture seizing its prey,” said the negro, listening in his turn; “it is also the signal of our brethren, after they have seized their prey.”
In a few minutes, the Malay appeared at the door of the hut. He had wound around him a broad length of cotton, adorned with bright colored stripes.
“Well,” said the negro, anxiously; “have you succeeded?”
“Djalma must bear all his life the mark of the good work,” said the Malay, proudly. “To reach him, I was forced to offer up to Bowanee a man who crossed my path—I have left his body under the brambles, near the ajoupa. But Djalma is marked with the sign. Mahal the Smuggler was the first to know it.”
“And Djalma did not awake?” said the Indian, confounded by the Malay’s adroitness.
“Had he awoke,” replied the other, calmly, “I should have been a dead man—as I was charged to spare his life.”
“Because his life may be more useful to us than his death,” said the half-caste. Then, addressing the Malay, he added: “Brother, in risking life for the good work, you have done to-day what we did yesterday, what we may do again to-morrow. This time, you obey; another you will command.”
“We all belong to Bowanee,” answered the Malay. “What is there yet to do?—I am ready.” Whilst he thus spoke, his face was turned towards the door of the hut; on a sudden, he said in a low voice: “Here is Djalma. He approaches the cabin. Mahal has not deceived us.”
“He must not see me yet,” said Faringhea, retiring to an obscure corner of the cabin, and hiding himself under a mat; “try to persuade him. If he resists—I have my project.”
Hardly had Faringhea disappeared, saying these words, when Djalma arrived at the door of the hovel. At sight of those three personages with their forbidding aspect, Djalma started in surprise. But ignorant that these men belonged to the Phansegars, and knowing that, in a country where there are no inns, travellers often pass the night under a tent, or beneath the shelter of some ruins, he continued to advance towards them. After the first moment, he perceived by the complexion and the dress of one of these men, that he was an Indian, and he accosted him in the Hindoo language: “I thought to have found here a European—a Frenchman—”
“The Frenchman is not yet come,” replied the Indian; “but he will not be long.”
Guessing by Djalma’s question the means which Mahal had employed to draw him into the snare, the Indian hoped to gain time by prolonging his error.
“You knew this Frenchman?” asked Djalma of the Phansegar.
“He appointed us to meet here, as he did you,” answered the Indian.
“For what?” inquired Djalma, more and more astonished.