I do not know to this day how I got out of the hammock, but no sooner did _ear the Spanish captain utter these words than I made haste to go on deck an_xamine the truth of his statement for myself. But before I could reach th_ompanion I reeled and staggered, and should have fallen, if Nunez had no_eized my arm and supported me. He helped me to a seat, and handed me a glas_ontaining a restorative.
“You are not well,” he said. “But you will come round presently.”
“Senor!” I cried, “what is the meaning of this? Why am I on this ship, and wh_re we at sea? How is it that I am not at Scarborough? There has been som_reachery—some foul play!”
“Nay,” said he, “be moderate, I entreat you, Senor. Do not let there be an_alk of treachery. Am I not serving you as a friend?”
“I do not comprehend anything of what you say,” I answered. “There is som_ystery here. Again I ask you—why am I on board your ship and at sea?”
“And I ask you, Senor, where else did you expect to be but on board my shi_nd at sea?”
I stared at the man in amaze and wonder. He returned my gaze unflinchingly,
but I felt certain that in his eyes there was a cruel mockery of me, and m_lood seemed to turn cold within me as I recognized that I was in th_paniard’s power. But, being now in a desperate mood, I strove to be cool an_o keep my wits about me.
“I expected to be at Scarborough, Senor,” I said. “Where else? I remembe_oming aboard your vessel and eating and drinking with you, but after that _ust have fallen asleep. I wake and find myself at sea.”
“Naturally you do,” said he with a smile. “Allow me, Master Salkeld, to recal_o you certain incidents which took place last night. You came on board m_hip with your cousin, Master Stapleton, and I offered you my poo_ospitality. Was that all that took place?”
“It was,” said I, confidently enough.
“That is strange,” said he, giving me another of his queer looks. “I fear yo_ave undergone some strange mental change in your long sleep. But as _erceive that you do not understand me, I will explain matters to you. Las_ight, Master Salkeld, as you and your cousin sat at meat with me, yo_xplained to me that you had committed some great crime against the laws o_our country, and that it was necessary, if you would save your head, to leav_ngland at once. I remarked that I was about to set sail for the West Indies,
and should be pleased to take you as my passenger, whereupon you and you_ousin having consulted together, you paid me the passage-money—and here w_re.”
The man told me all this with the utmost assurance, his face utterly unmove_nd his strange eyes inscrutable. It was a lie from beginning to end, and _new it to be a lie. Nevertheless, I knew also that I was powerless, and _ade up my mind to act prudently.
“Senor,” I replied, “as between you and me, I may as well tell you that I d_ot believe a single word of what you have said. There has been treachery—an_t lies with you and my rascal cousin, Jasper Stapleton. I have committed n_rime against the laws, and I wish to be put ashore at your earlies_pportunity.”
“You shall be obeyed, Master Salkeld,” he replied, bowing low, but with _ocking smile about his lips.
“Where do you first touch land?” I inquired.
“I have already told you, Master Salkeld. Somewhere in the West Indies.”
“But you do not mean to carry me to the West Indies?” I cried. “Why, ’tis _ourney of many thousands of miles!”
“Precisely. Nevertheless, you must undertake it. We touch no land until w_ake Barbadoes or Martinique.”
I said no more; it was useless. I was in the man’s power. Nothing that I coul_ay or do would alter his purpose. There had been villainy and treachery—an_y cousin, Jasper Stapleton, had worked it. I comprehended everything at tha_oment. I had been lured on board the Spanish vessel and subsequently drugged,
in order that Jasper might rid himself of my presence. That was plainly to b_een. But what of the future? The West Indies, I knew, were thousands of mile_way. They were in the hands of our hereditary enemies, the Spaniards. Fro_hem I should receive scant mercy or consideration. I was penniless—for m_oney had disappeared—and even if I had possessed money, what would it hav_enefited me in a savage land like that to which I was being carried? I migh_ait there many a long year without meeting with an English ship. I turned t_he Spaniard.
“So I am a prisoner, Senor,—your prisoner?”
“My ship and my goods are at your disposal, Senor,” he replied.
“So long as I do not make any demands upon them, eh?”
“Say unreasonable demands, Master Salkeld. As a matter of fact you are free t_alk or stand, sit or lie, wake or sleep as you please. I entertain you as _est can until we touch land—and then you go your own way. You have made _ontract with me, you have paid your money, and now I have nothing to do bu_arry out my share of the bargain.”
“And that is——?”
“To take you to the West Indies.”
“Very good, Senor. Now we understand each other. You will perhaps not objec_o my telling you, that when I next meet my cousin, Master Jasper Stapleton, _ill break his head for his share in this foul conspiracy.”
“I do not object in the least, Master Salkeld. But you do well to say, whe_ou next meet him.”
“Why so, Senor?”
“Because it is so highly improbable. Indeed, you will never be so near Englan_gain as you are at this moment.”
I looked through the port, and saw the long, flat Lincolnshire coast. The da_as dull and heavy, and the land was little more than a gray bank, but i_eant much to me. I was being carried away from all that I loved, from m_weetheart, my uncle, my friends, from everything that had grown a part of m_aily life. And I was going—where? That I knew not. Not to the West Indies—no,
I was sure of that. Captain Manuel Nunez was an accomplished liar i_verything, and I felt sure that he had another lie in reserve yet. At th_hought of him and of Jasper’s villainy the blood boiled in my veins, an_ears of rage and despair gathered in my eyes. But what was the use of ange_r sorrow? I was powerless.
I now made up my mind to show a good face to all these troubles an_ifficulties, and, therefore, I strove to be as much at my ease as wa_ossible under the circumstances. I walked the decks, talked with such of th_en as knew a word or two of English, and cultivated as much of the captain’_cquaintance as my aversion to his wickedness would permit. I learnt the name_f masts, sheets, stays, and sprits, and picked up other information o_eafaring matters, thinking that it might some day be useful to me. I am boun_o say that Senor Manuel Nunez was very courteous towards me. But what avail_ourtesy, when the courteous man is only waiting his time to injure you?
We had been at sea something like three weeks, and had passed Ushant four day_reviously, when, sailing south-by-west, we were overtaken by a gale and ha_o run before it with bare poles. Upon the second morning, our lookout, gazin_cross a stormy sea, cried that he saw a man clinging to a piece of wreckag_n the lee bow, and presently all those on deck were conscious of the sam_ight. The man was drifting and tossing half a mile away, and had seen us, fo_e was making frantic efforts to attract our notice. I was somewhat surprise_hen Captain Nunez took steps to rescue him, for it would have fitted in wit_y notion of his character if he had suffered the wretch to remain unaided,
However, he sent off a boat, which eventually brought away the man from hi_iece of wreckage, and had hard work to make the ship again, for the sea wa_unning hard and high. The rescued man crouched in the stern, hiding his hea_n his hands, so that I did not see his face until he came aboard. Then i_eemed familiar, but I could not bethink me where I had seen it before.
“And who art thou, friend?” asked Nunez.
“A mariner of Plymouth, good sir,” answered the man, “and sole survivor of th_hip Hawthorn. Lost she is, and all hands, save only me.”
Then I suddenly recognized him. It was the Cornish sailor, Pharaoh Nanjulian.