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A Pirate of the Caribbees by Harry Collingwood

Answered Dominguez impatiently


"No?"

he queried coolly; "not even to save yourself from--"

"Not even to save myself from the utmost refinement of cruelty that your friend Morillo is capable of devising," I answered decisively.

"Pardon me, senor, but I can scarcely believe you," retorted Dominguez, with that hateful, sneering smile of his. "You have been exceptionally fortunate in the matter of prizes since your arrival in these waters, and I feel convinced that in prize money alone you must now have a very handsome sum standing to your credit. Then, if I am correctly informed, you have made many friends. You are, for instance, a great favourite with the admiral, who would doubtless be willing to advance a very considerable sum to help you out of your present exceedingly disagreeable predicament; and I have no doubt there are others who would be equally willing to help you if your position were clearly laid before them."

"But, man alive, I cannot do it," I exclaimed angrily. "So far as prize money is concerned, I suppose three thousand pounds is the very utmost that I possess. And as for the admiral, I am no more to him than any other officer, and I am certain that he would absolutely refuse to advance a single penny-piece for such a purpose as you suggest; to do so would simply be offering an inducement to you--and others like you--to kidnap officers, and then hold them to ransom. But I tell you what it

is," I continued; "you may rest assured of this, that if any harm befalls me,--if, in short, you deliver me into Morillo's power,--the admiral will make you suffer as severely for it as Morillo himself could possibly do. So there you are, between two fires; and, if you care for my opinion, it is that the admiral is likely to prove a worse enemy to you than even Morillo over this business."

"That, possibly, might be the case if the admiral happened to discover that I have been implicated in it," replied my companion, with exasperating composure. "But then, you see, he never will! I have taken every possible precaution against that."

"How about Caesar and Peter, the two negroes who brought me aboard here?" I inquired.

"Pshaw!" answered Dominguez impatiently, "do you suppose they would inform against me? Not they. Why, they are both--well, never mind what they are, except that I feel perfectly safe, so far as they are concerned."

"Very well," I retorted, "time will show whether your confidence in them is well founded or not. Meanwhile, my position is such that three thousand pounds is the outside figure I can offer you as my ransom, and you may take it or leave it as you please."

"Then I fear, amigo, that your days are numbered," replied Dominguez composedly, as he rose from his seat preparatory to returning on deck. "I am sorry for you," he continued, "very sorry; but I _must_ think of myself before all else, and three thousand is not nearly tempting enough. Possibly when you have had a little longer to think it over you will be able to see your way to make a very considerable advance upon that sum. There is plenty of time; the _Josefa_ is a grand little ship, but she has one fault, she is slow, and I do not expect that we shall reach Cariacou in less than a full week. You have therefore six or seven days before you in which to consider the matter; and should you see your way to raise the ten thousand, at any time before we sight the island, I shall be happy to talk with you again. Meanwhile, there is your bunk. Will you turn in at once, or would you prefer to take a turn on deck first?"

"Thanks," answered I, with alacrity, delighted to discover that I was not to be confined to the cabin. "I think I will go on deck for half an hour or so, to get a breath of fresh air; it is rather close down here."


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