“By the soul of my mother! speak what you have to say!”
“I will tell you all—if you can tell me what was the printed paper, contained in the last letter that General Simon wrote you from Sumatra.”
“It was a cutting from a French newspaper.”
“Did it announce good or bad news for the general?”
“Good news—for it related that, during his absence, they had acknowledged the last rank and title bestowed on him by the Emperor, as they had done for others of his brothers in arms, exiled like him.”
“You are indeed Prince Djalma,” said the Smuggler, after a moment’s reflection. “I may speak. General Simon landed last night in Java, but on a desert part of the coast.”
“On a desert part?”
“Because he has to hide himself.”
“Hide himself!” exclaimed Djalma, in amazement; “why?”
“That I don’t know.”
“But where is he?” asked Djalma, growing pale with alarm.
“He is three leagues hence—near the sea-shore—in the ruins of Tchandi.”
“Obliged to hide himself!” repeated Djalma, and his countenance expressed increasing surprise and anxiety.
“Without being certain, I think it is because of a duel he fought in Sumatra,” said the Smuggler, mysteriously.
“A duel—with whom?”
“I don’t know—I am not at all certain on the subject. But do you know the ruins of Tchandi?”
“The general expects you there; that is what he ordered me to tell you.”
“So you came with him from Sumatra?”
“I was pilot of the little smuggling coaster, that landed him in the night on a lonely beach. He knew that you went every day to the mole, to wait for him; I was almost sure that I should meet you. He gave me details about the letter you received from him as a proof that he had sent me. If he could have found the means of writing, he would have written.”
“But he did not tell you why he was obliged to hide himself?”
“He told me nothing. Certain words made me suspect what I told you—a duel.”
Knowing the mettle of General Simon, Djalma thought the suspicions of the Smuggler not unfounded. After a moment’s silence he said to him: “Can you undertake to lead home my horse? My dwelling is without the town—there, in the midst of those trees—by the side of the new mosque. In ascending the mountain of Tchandi, my horse would be in my way; I shall go much faster on foot.”
“I know where you live; General Simon told me. I should have gone there if I had not met you. Give me your horse.”
Djalma sprang lightly to the ground, threw the bridle to Mahal, unrolled one end of his sash, took out a silk purse, and gave it to the Smuggler, saying: “You have been faithful and obedient. Here!—it is a trifle—but I have no more.”
“Kadja-sing was rightly called the ‘Father of the Generous,’” said the Smuggler, bowing with respect and gratitude. He took the road to Batavia, leading Djalma’s horse. The young Indian, on the contrary, plunged into the coppice, and, walking with great strides, he directed his course towards the mountain, on which were the ruins of Tchandi, where he could not arrive before night.