“What motive could that man have had for deceiving Emile?”
“Mercy knows, but it will not do to trust these treacherous Spaniards too far. Still his story may have been a truthful one. He was undoubtedly a sailor. We will at least go and see. The pony and chaise are ready.”
“Take care of my darling, Margarita,” said Leah, as she kissed her sleeping child, and stepped out to the waiting volante.
“Now drive fast, Mr. Gardner. My heart misgives me.”
Without replying, Mr. Gardner urged forward the fleet pony, and they did not slacken their speed until street after street had been traversed, corner upon corner turned, and they were in sight of the Plaza de la Mar, with its myriads of ships’ masts and flags in view. Then, driving more slowly, Mr. Gardner turned upon the dock of pier number three, and looked eagerly forward. There was no ship there. Alighting from the chaise, Leah and Mr. Gardner approached a party of ship-hands at work there, and asked:
“Is not this pier number three, where an American vessel has been anchored?”
“Yes, se¤or, but the American vessel has been out of port an hour.”
“Out of port an hour!” repeated Leah, in dismay. “Where is my husband, then?”
Mr. Gardner shook his head dubiously, and said, “He may have gone with them.”
“Gone with them?” said Leah wildly. “Gone!” she uttered again, and then sank helpless upon the wharf.
Mr. Gardner, deeply moved, lifted her again into the chaise, with the assurance that her husband in all probability had returned to his place of business.
Once more at the bank, Mr. Gardner was disappointed to find that Emile had not returned, but instead, another scrap of paper was awaiting him, bearing these dreadfully significant words:
“They have stolen me away, to take me back to my native State, to answer for a fiendish crime of which I am not guilty. Send my wife after me as soon as—”
Here Emile had stopped for want of time. He had thrown the note into the hands of the same slave who had carried the first one.
“Take that to Gardner & Company, and they will pay you,” he said, as the Tigress pushed from shore.
The ship had started; and Emile, alone in darkness and despair, tried vainly to conjecture whence this mysterious trouble had come, and what would be its probable result.
The captain of the Tigress, as has been said, was a mercenary and rapacious man, caring no more for a bleeding country than does a bird of prey for a bleeding dove. So long as he obtained the gold of his impoverished countrymen, and eluded the grasp of the blockading fleet that so vigilantly guarded every important port, he was contented. To the care of this man, this iron-hearted captain, Rebecca Mordecai had committed herself, in her endeavor, as she said, “to recall Emile Le Grande to the bar of justice.”
“If you land me safely there, captain, I will give you gold. If you bring me safely back with the culprit, I will give you more.”