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A Middy of the Slave Squadron by Harry Collingwood

Monsieur doubtless means Monsieur Favart


"Collins,

bring your party into this room; and do not forget to bring along that length of ratline that I told you to have ready."

"Ay, ay, sir," answered Collins; and the reply was followed by the shuffling sound of several pairs of feet, the owners of which came shambling into the room the next moment, with naked cutlasses in their hands, while one of them carried, in addition, a length of some three or four fathoms of ratline.

Meanwhile, I had never for the smallest fraction of a second withdrawn my gaze from Captain Lenoir's eyes, or allowed the barrel of my pistol to waver a hair's-breadth from his larboard optic, for I knew that if I did he would be upon me like lightning. But although he dared not move his limbs he was not afraid to use his tongue, angrily demanding what I meant by perpetrating such an outrage upon one of Senor Morillo's best customers, and vowing that he would not be satisfied until he had seen me flogged within an inch of my life for my insolence. Then, when I explained to him the actual state of affairs--while Collins and another man securely lashed his hands together behind his back--his temper completely got the better of him, and he raved, and shrieked curses at us until we were perforce compelled to gag him lest his cries should reach the men in the boat and give them the alarm. However, we very soon secured and silenced him; and then, having marched him out at the back of the house and

secured him in a remote hut by himself, I gave Collins fresh instructions, after which I sauntered across the open space of blistering sunshine to the edge of the wharf, and looked down into the boat. The four men had already made fast her painter to a ring in the wharf wall, and were now lolling over the gunwale, staring down into the deep, clear water at the fish playing about beneath them, and chatting disjointedly as they sucked at their pipes.

"It is thirsty work sitting there and grilling in the sun, is it not, lads?" said I in French. "Come up to the house and drink Senor Morillo's health in a jug of sangaree; and then Captain Lenoir wants you to carry down some fruit and vegetables that Senor Morillo has given him for the ship's use."

"_Bien_! we come, monsieur," they answered with one accord; and the next moment they were all slouching toward the house, a pace or two in my wake. I traversed a good three-quarters of the distance from the wharf to the house, and then halted suddenly and smote my forehead violently, as though I had just remembered something.

"Dolt that I am," I exclaimed in French, "I had almost forgotten! Indeed I have completely forgotten something--your mate's name. I have a message for him." And I looked the man nearest me straight in the eye.

"Ah!" he ejaculated; "monsieur doubtless means Monsieur Favart, our chief mate--"

"Of course," I cut in. "Favart is the name. Thanks! Go you on to the house and walk straight in; you will find your friends awaiting you. As for me--" I flung out my hand with an expression of disgust, and turned back as though to return to the wharf edge. But as soon as the quartette had fairly entered the house and I was assured, by certain subdued sounds, that they had fallen into the trap that had been set for them, I turned on my heel again, and presently found the four prisoners in process of being secured.

"I am sorry, lads," I said to them in French, "that I have been compelled to resort to subterfuge to make prisoners of you, but, you see, we are all invalids here, and not strong enough to take your ship by force; and therefore, since it is imperative that we should have her, I have been compelled to use guile. However, I will keep my word with you in the matter of something to quench your parched throats; and if you choose to be sensible, and make no foolish attempts at escape, you shall have no reason to complain of harsh treatment."


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