The Buried Millions of Zarnda
A Story of Adventure Revolving Around a Hunt for Treasure in Venezuela and a Midnight Cruise
R. H. YOUNG
THE surf beating thunderously on the protecting reef of coral which encircles the entire island, made a glorious sight. The deep blue rollers, smashed into billions of scintillating diamonds, flashed in the sun with an exquisite beauty of coloring, pausing a moment, in a maelstrom of foam, then onward to the gently sloping gold of the beach in an avalanche of the purest snow.
It was Busby’s first day on the island of Barbadoes. He had only arrived from Demerara the previous evening, joyously expectant of a glorious holiday, and with the pleasing knowledge that the few hundred dollars in his pocket would be ample to last him at least a couple of months in luxury.
Everything was so ridiculously cheap in Barbadoes.
But now, after barely sixteen hours, things were completely altered. What a couple of hundred dollars could accomplish, a mere couple of dollars could not possibly attempt. Indeed, if he squared his hotel bill he should have to leave next morning at the latest, for his total funds amounted now to just exactly seven dollars and sixty cents.
“What an ass I have been—what an execrable ass,” he reflected, bitterly. “But then when, in Heaven’s name have I been otherwise?”
He glanced back over the past few years of his adventurous career. An inexorable fate seemed to have dogged him from childhood. And yet he had in some ways been lucky, had held good positions at times; held them creditably too, and in the majority of cases, gained fast promotion, only to fling up everything on the spur of the moment, whenever a spasm of the wanderlust fever took him. These spells always seemed to come just when everything was at its brightest.
He wondered vaguely if he could work a passage back to Guiana, or perhaps over to Colon. But to land in Colon, lie would have to produce at least fifteen dollars before the authorities would allow him ashore.
Demerara then it must be again, for there was absolutely no employment of any description on the island for a white man. To have to return there so quickly, and ‘broke,’ touched him on the raw, more than anything else about the whole rotten affair.
“Why the devil can’t I leave cards alone?” he said to himself.
He gave an order to a passing waiter, and lighting a cigarette fell to anathematizing himself afresh.
A little old gentleman watched Busby grimly from one of the verandah doors, as he tossed off a good three fingers of raw whiskey which the darkey brought, and moving forward as the waiter retired, tapped lightly on the back of the lounge.
“Well, Senhor,” he said, with an unmistakable Spanish accefUt. “I trust your vile luck last night has left no ill
effects to disturb, on such an entrancing morning?” Busby surveyed him rather ungraciously for a few seconds before replying.
“It certainly is a splendid morning,” he said.
The old gentleman pulled a chair forward and sat down.
“Oh, well,” he remarked, smiling benignly, “perhaps to-night good Dame Fortune may smile, and the Senhor’s luck may change, ‘Quien Sabel’ ”
Busby glanced up at him amusedly. How was this old codger to know that tonight of all nights, instead of playing poker in the smoke-room of a fashionable hotel, he should rather be attempting to secure a coalpasser’s billet on some outward bound steamer.
Turning in his chair he watched a shining bevy of fling fish rise from the sea, far out, and dipping now and then to the swell, vanish at last on the horizon.
“I do not think, Senhor, that I shall play again tonight,” he said carelessly.
The old man eyed him contemplatively for a minute, then drew his chair closer.
“Will you pardon what may seem an indiscretion on my part. Senhor Busby?” he asked. “I have seen and heard of you before. I was at Bartica a year ago when you successfully crossed from the Cuyuni river to the Puruni through the bush alone. Ah, Senhor, whilst we admired your courage. I am afraid most of us thought it a most foolhardy bet to have made, and one which few could have won.”
“It certainly was a fool bet,” said Busby, smiling, “And one I am not likely to repeat.”
The other tugged at his moustache, glanced round nervously, and then as if suddenly having come to a momentous decision, leaned forward and spoke guardedly.
“Would the Senhor care to make another dangerous trip?—This time by water, if—er—the remuneration were ample?”
“Would I?” said Busby, laughing. “Well, you just try me. I’d go pretty far just now for anything remunerative.”
“Ah, I was not wrong then. That was the cause of the Senlior’s gloom this morning. He—er—lost too much last night, eh?”
“You’ve got it x-ight down to a fine point sir, “said Busby sourly, “though how that concerns you I fail to see.”
“And yet, Senhor, it concerns me vitally, and I am so destitute of sympathy that I can truthfully say T am very glad that it is so. Yes, Senhor, exceedingly glad, since it enables me to make you a proposal, which if successful will enrish us both amply. What say you, Senhor? Shall we adjourn to my quarters? It is more private.”
Busby rose, and D ’Andrade, having first ordered a bottle of wine, they passed upstairs together.
When the refreshments had arrived the old man carefully locked the door, and crossed over to where Busby sat expectantly.
“Senhor,” he said, in a low tone, as he seated himself, “You, of course, know of the embarrassing situation in which the president of Venezuela finds himself at present. Having left his country on account of ill-health, for a European tour, his enemies have grasped the opportunity to disown his government, and have even now elected a new president. Under the circumstances, it is, of course, impossible for the late president to return to Venezuela at present, even if the state of his health permitted, which needless to say, it does not.
“There is, however, an urgent necess>ty, for someone, whose integrity and loyalty is unquestionable, to visit the country in order to advance certain projects of vital importance. Such a man must be an absolute stranger to both parties, and be at the same time possessed of more than the average courage and resource. Senhor, I have heard of you; nay, as I have already said, I have met you before, at Bartiea, and I believe you to be suitable. The ease is urgent. Even now it may be too late. We cannot say. In any event it will soon be sc, it we can do nothing. If you will pass your word Senhor, to treat this conversation as strictly confidential, whether you accept or not, I shall explain as concisely as possible the business in question. Senhor, do I have your word?”
The man’s absolute earnestness, his semi-whispering tones, and the hasty, apprehensive glances he continuously shot at the door had set Busby’s blood tmgling with expectation, and he silently held out his hand as lie nodded affirmatively.
, Good,” said D ’Andrade, grasping the
other s hand in both his own, and unconsciously pulling his chair closer “Our newspaper world has told us. that the president has with him several millions ot money, which, expecting just such an occurrence as has taken place, he had the foresight to invest in Europe.
this, unfortunately for we of his government, who have remained loyal, is only partly true. The late upheaval was,
of course, a premeditated affair, but owing to unforeseen circumstances, it took place much earlier than we had expected. That it would be successful we, of course, had anticipated, in the enforced absence of the president, and you may be sure Senhor, that we had our plans made accordingly in advance, but as I say, we, and in fact they as well, were surprised by the prematuresness of the revolution, and our plans confounded.”
He leaned eagerly forward; “Senhor,” he whispered intensely, “Ten miles from La Guayra, in a place we know of, there are two million dollars in American notes and securities, hurriedly abandoned to save our necks, on the proclaiming of the new president.
“You wonder, perhaps, why this place should be difficult of access, and why I should class it as a most dangerous undertaking, to secure this money safely, Senhor, when I tell you that the new government suspects its whereabouts, that a gunboat is constantly patrolling the coast in a radius of fifteen or twenty miles, that almost one-third of the entire Venezuelan army is encamped within a mile of the exact location, and that we know from sure sources that Gastrana is in communication, and bargaining with the new president from Paris, to sell the secret, you will understand the danger.
“The man we send, Senhor, must of necessity know the exact location, and should he be captured—eh—well!” and the old man turned his palms upward, shrugged his shoulders, and smiled grimly.
“Should he be captured, Senhor,” he repeated slowly, “well, the Senhor will understand that the Venezuelan methods of extorting secrets are not, to say the least, over mild. If you undertake this mission Senhor Busby, I—, we, offer you one thousand dollars, over and above your expenses. Should you be successful, and bring the money safely through, either to Demerara, or Barbadoes, or to any British possession, we offer you oneeighth part of the entire amount. Should you fail, Senhor, you will most assuredly die—or worse. On the one hand affluence; on the other, death, and probably mutilation. I do not seek to deceive you. one way or the other. What sav you, mv friend?”
The Spaniard leaned back in his chair, eyeing the other closely, the tips of his fingers pressed closely together.
Busby held his glass up to the light, noting the brilliant hue of the liquor in the sunlight.
“Why sir, I think you know the answer, don’t you? If you do not mind, I will trouble you for some of that thousand to go on with,” he said, as he laid the glass down.
D’Andrade could not conceal his gratification at the other’s reply and fumbling hastily in his pocket, produced a roll of bills.
“Senhor, you gladden my heart; I have a wife and family to think of and to lose all would be hard. Here are five hundred dollars; the balance I will give you before night. Your expenses we will, of course, pay, and T, personally, will see
that everything you may suggest, is carried out most exactly.”
The Scotsman crammed the bills uncounted into his pocket, and swallowing his wine, stood up.
“I shall want.” he said shortly, “a small launch, gasoline by preference, and a good man to run it. The speed of the Venezuelan gunboat is, I think, about ten or eleven knots, if it is the ‘El Pablo.’ The launch should be slightly faster,, obviously. To-night you will give me the exact location, and see stores aboard. If possible, I will start to-morrow, and if you could arrange for a tow to some point off the Venezuelan coast, it would save fuel. If not, it will be necessary tu utilize every available space for stowing gasoline. I shall take my own servant, and the engineer I leave to your discretion, but he must be a thoroughly competent man, as I, personally, know practically nothing about these engines, and any breakdowns might prove disastrous. ’ ’
They left the room, and Busby, lighting a cigarette, strolled to his own quarters, where his East Indian servant, Sam Dass, was busy brushing his clothes.
“Samivel,” he said, seating himself, “you savvy Venezuelan dago, eh?”
“Who you mean. Sahib? Dougla Portigee ? ’ ’
Busby laughed. “Yes,” he said, “Something like that. Dougla Portigee, yes. You savvy that time your boss get plenty shot gun bullet up in the gold bush in Demerara, eh? Well, same kind o’ fella do him.”
The ‘boy’ nodded his head.
“You like for come with your boss, give ’em back some ’o them bullet, eh? Perhaps we get plenty bullet too. You no frighten go?”
“0 Sahib, suppose you go, I no frighten, but I think you go stay B’ados, long time.”
“Well, pretty soon we come back. Suppose we no catch dago bullet. I think mabe one. two week; I no savvy when,, proper. ’ ’
He knew perfectly well that the boy would go but it pleased him to test his faithfulness, on every possible occasion.
They liad been together for over five years, ever since, as an overseer on a sugar estate in Demarara, he had picked the boy up, a dirty ragged little urchin of eleven or twelve. He had clothed him and sent him to school in the odd hours of the day when he had no use for him, and the boy, under exceptionally good treatment, had grown to almost worship him and would willingly have done anything for his ‘Sahib,’ whom he really looked upon as being the best and greatest man in his world.
After dinner that evening, Busby again tackled the poker table and when D’Andrade came in about, ten o’clock, had almost recuperated his previous night’s losses.
“Money begets money.” he said, as he rose and they passed upstairs together. “Now if 1 had not had that five hundred in my pocket, I’d assuredly have lost every hand I played.”
“May you be as successful in your new venture, Senhor,” said the other with
significant brevity, as he locked his door securely.
Approaching a small table in the centre of the room, D’Andrade laid down a small leather cigarette case, and they both drew up their chairs.
“I have secured the boat you desired, my friend,” he said, looking intently at Busby, “and to-night it will be fully provisioned and loaded on the deck of the 'Harry Lewis,’ which sails to-morrow for Georgetown with a cargo of vegetables. She will drop you as near as possible to the Venezuelan coast, should you so desire. I have also engaged a competent engineer. He is now supervising the shipment of gasoline. The launch is rather small for comfort, Senhor, but she is the best I could get in the time, and has the advantage of being almost new. Her engines are in first-class shape and she has a speed of over thirteen knots.”
“I have here,” he continued, “The other five hundred dollars.”
Busby raised his hand in protest. “No, Senhor,” he said, “We will let that stand until I re-
“As you please, Senhor,” said the Spaniard returning the money to his pocket, with a deprecatory shrug.
He picked up the cigarette ease from the table, inserted the blade of his knife behind the lining, and ripped out the back.
A piece of tissue paper slipped out, and this with nervous fingers he unfolded and spread on the table. It was a laboriously accurate chart of part of the Venezuelan coast.
“Here you see La Guayra,” he whispered, pointing with his knife. “And here, ten miles to the south-east, is the little village of Zarnda, in an unfrequented and practically unknown harbor.
“Here at the entrance, you will observe, a small island called Maliva, practically screens the harbor from all outside view. It is said that at one time, your pirate eompratiot, Morgan, had occasion to use the harbor both before and after the sack of La Guayra. But of the truth of this I know nothing. On the high plateau, about one mile from Zarnda, the newstate troops are encamped, and from its elevation they can and do maintain a strict scrutiny over the surrounding country. Now please followme closely, Senhor. This point marked with an O is a small bungalow somewhat separated from, and lying nearer the plateau than the village, and this is your objective. Directly in the rear of this bungalow which is used at present as officers’ quarters, is an old unused well. Down this well, a water-tight box. buoyed by
a copper cable to a point in the side, close to the top, contains that which we seek.
“That is all that I can tell you, Senhor, and I have no plans to suggest or to recommend. You alone must do the rest. As far as we know, there is only a very small fortification, and this is established on Maliva, but your greatest danger lies with Gastrana or any of his agents, and should you be seized—well,” and he paused with a significant raising of the eyebrows, “a speedy death is preferable.”
Busby studied the map intently for some time, then handing it over to D’Andrade w-ho carefully replaced it, they passed out, and once more rejoined the players in the smokeroom.
Early next morning the trade schooner, ‘Harry Lewis,’ passed out of the harbor of Bridgetown unostentatiously, and commenced a rather northerly passage to Demerara.
Four days later, with the Venezuelan coast looming up on the horizon, the gasoline launch. ‘Lilian A,’ with Busby, Sam Dass, and mulatto named Dodds, was cast adrift on the ocean.
The same evening, in spite of a rather choppy sea, the three voyagers found themselves in close proximity to Zarnda.
Day was jusl breaking the following morning, when the sentries on duty on the island fort of Maliva, and the lookout on the gunboat ‘El Pablo,’ at almost the identical time, noticed a launch close in shore, and apparently barely afloat,
from which urgent signals of distress were flying.
The boat’s crew from the fort were the first to reach the launch, which was found to be almost full of water. A gaping hole in her bows obviously accounted for her condition, and the occupants appeared to be much the worse for long exposure to the elements. At the request of the owner, a ‘crazy Englishman,’ with money, the launch was towed in, and duly beached on shore at Zarnda.
The tale the owner told of broken down engines and a sunken reef was accepted without hesitation by the Commandant and officers, and he was at once made free of the officers’ mess, in the solitary Zarnda hotel, whilst repairs were commenced on the launch by Dodds.
It was on the second night after their arrival, and possibly just at the exact time when Busby, returning from a rather hilarious night with some of his officer friends at their quarters in an old bungalow, a short distance from the village, managed to mistake his road home, and fall down an old well, that the commander of the ‘El Pablo,’ then on patrol in the vicinity of La Guayra. picked up the urgent wireless message which sent the gunboat flying under forced draught back to Zarnda.
At three o’clock in the morning, Busby, waked from peaceful slumber in his room at the hotel, by an officer and squad of marines, was forced to don his clothes, still wet from immersion in the well, and proceed under escort before Commander Da Silva, in the hotel dining room.
The Commander was a stout pompous little individual, and an uncommonly tight-fitting uniform, and he evidently felt that he had made an important capture.
Presumably, his idea was to obtain the sole credit, for he at once ordered the room to be cleared, save for himself and the prisoner. He gave the marines orders to remain within call.
“The Senhor Inglese,” he said, turning to the other when his orders had been executed, “has boon playing a game ver’ amusing, is it not ? ’ ’
Busby raised his eyebrows as if highly offended.
“I will be obliged if you will enlighten me as to the precise meaning of all of this.” lie said “Why am Í a prisoner, and what is all this palaver about, anyway?”
“The Senhor will know:—oh. yes, the Senhor will know ver’ soon,” sneered tlie little man. his bleared eves glinting
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viciously, “That is unless-,” and he
“Unless what, my friend?” “Unless,” said the other slowly, leaning forward and frowning fiercely, “Unless you answer my questions, in detail, completely and correctly. ’ ’
“If that is all, why fire ahead,” laughed Busby, leaning back against the wall, and rolling a cigarette indifferently.
“In the first place then, Senhor, why are you in Zarnda?”
The Scotman’s eyes lifted. “Why,” he said, “You know all about that, I’m sure. My boat ran amuck, and the waters of the Atlantic answered for the rest. What more can I say?”
“You can tell the truth, Senhor,” said the Commander with a scowl, “that you came here in the employ of the scum D’Andrade; that you came here as a thief and the confidante of a thief, to help steal the ill-gotten gold which a villainous tyrant stole from the citizens of this Republic. You can say also whether you have succeeded or not—. ” And his voice rose viciously as he leaned forward with narrowing eyes. “You can say, and by God, you will say, or I’ll have you curse the day of vour birth, you dog.”
A loaded revolver lay at the Commander’s elbow on the table, but he disregarded it as he leaned across and his voice rose almost to a shriek; “You will say, or your own mother—-—.”
He never finished. Bushy cleared the table in a jump, and before the other knew it, his throat was in a grasp of iron.
“You dago swine. You’d mention the name of God’s best woman! For two pins I’d tear your head off your beastly little carcass.”
He reached down suddenly, and grasped the revolver from the table, “Listen!” he gritted, “Just call to those Johnnies outside the window, to come round to the door. At once, or its the sulphury smoke for yours, do you hear?” It was some time before the Commander, in an apoplexy of teror, was able to find voice to obey, and Busby, listening intently heard the guard muster outside the door, ready for the command to enter. Still keeping the Venezuelan covered with the revolver, he locked the door and moved noiselessly to the window.
Opening the casement, with a vindictive parting threat, he dropped outside silently. Once out, lie ran as he liad never run before, towards that part of the beacli where the “Lilian A” was lying; and even as he ran, Da Silva’s furious shrieks of rage sounded behind him. He knew that only a few moments would elapse before the hounds were on his trail, and presently a promiscuous sniping warned him that the sooner he trained the lower grade of the beacli, the safer it would bo for him, as a slight ridge of sand would then cover his flight.
partially. He blessed bis lucky stars, for the blackness of the night. The boat he knew, would be alloat, as the tide was high, and Dodds had already finished the patch in her bows, and he prayed fervently as lie ran that Da Silva had not as yet set any guard on her, and that Sam and Dodds might be awake. The lateness of the hour gave him little hope of that, however. At any time a stray bullet might find a billet in his back, and of a sudden, as he topped the ridge, he crashed into someone coming in the opposite direction. They grappled silently, and together rolled down the slope, Busby’s hands groping wildly for the other’s throat.
A half stifled curse in Hindustanee, first aroused him to the fact that his opponent was none other than his own servant, and he released him with an
“Baas,” the boy whispered, chokingly, as soon as he could speak; “I no know you in the dark. I think you Portugee. I been come for tell you two Dougla sol dier come to the boat, look see everything. He no find that box though, Baas. I hide him. Dodds, he frighten for true. I think so, time we get out this place, Sahib.”
Busby did not answer, but grasping Sam’s arm, led the way across the beach at a run.
The launch was afloat about twenty feet from the land, and a small dinghy, which had evidently been used by the soldiers to board her, was floating idly at her stern. The light of a hurricane lamp on deck showed up the occupants painly. Dodds, half sitting, half lying, on top of the cabin was cowering under repeated interrogatory jabs from the bayonet of a soldier who stood over him, and protesting voluminously. The other soldier, apparently unmindful of the continuous shooting on shore, was standing in the well of the boat, holding the lamp high above him, an evidently much amused onlooker.
To these came suddenly, a terrorizing apparition of a dripping head, and outstretched hand, protruding over the side of the boat.
The muzzle of a dangerous-looking revolver zigzagged most uncertainly from one to the other. The peremptory order to drop their guns, was obeyed with feverish haste, as Busby pulled himself on board.
“Take that dingy ashore Dodds, and get Sam, and that box he has, and look lively if you w'ant to see to-morrow,” he said as he picked up the two rifles and laid them in the stern of the launch.
The sound of rapidly approaching footsteps along the beach was faintly borne to them as Sam and Dodds reappeared. the former holding tightly on to a verdigris-covered box.
“Start ’er up, you!” he shouted to Dodds, as a host of lights appeared on the ridge, and a couple of shots passed over their heads. “And you,” turning to the scared soldiers, “Overboard with you; Sam. cut that cable. Get a hustle now, Dodds, if you want to see that copper-colored girl of yours in B’ados any
As the soldiers hesitated, a rifle cracked and a bullet tore through the cabin, breaking one of the port hole glasses.
One of the soldiers jumped for the water instantly, and Busby, swinging the hurricane lamp round his head knocked the other over, and extinguished the lamp, just as the engine started.
“Thank Heaven, it’s an under water exhaust,” he muttered as he grasped the wheel, “Not but what they’d still hear us if they’d only stop that row.”
He backed the launch along shore for a while.
“Wonder how long it’ll be before these beggars on the gunboat get wise what the shootin’s about, and switch their searchlight on to us,” as a fusillade of bullets ploughed the water, all round the spot they had-just vacated.
“I’m afraid, Samivel, my boy,” he said as his servant came and stood alongside him; “Your boss bring you in plenty too much trouble this time all right, all right. We’ll never be able to make Maliva, before that bally gunboat gets us in their daylight.”
He swung the launch round as he spoke, and headed for the harbor entrance, a little more than a mile away.
It semed a miracle that none of the shots save the one, had hit them, and as they rushed along at full speed, Busby commenced even to hope that they might pass the gunboat unobserved. Suddenly, however, his hopes were dashed, as without any warning, the searchlight of the ‘E1 Pablo’ broke out right ahead. The rays passed slowly in a circle, pausing for a minute on a crowd of madly gesticulating soldiers on the beach, and fortunately for the launch, passing clear over their heads without focussing them, owing to the close proximity. The next circle would be almost sure to show them up though, and Busby groaned audibly as he recognized the obvious futility of trying to run past the gunboat with that light shining on them.
The warship was anchored as nearly as possible, in the centre of the inlet, and about four or five hundred yards from flther side, whilst a distance of about ihree hundred yards past her would bring the launch to comparative safety, behind Maliva Head on either channel, f they could only make it.
“Here Sam,” shouted Busby, as the ight slowly circled towards them again, his time clearly low enough to hold them n full view. “Take the wheel, and keep 1er just as she goes. I’ll put someone >r something out of business, before they •et us anyway.”
He jumped aft and picked up one of he rifles from the well deck. The aunch was now close on the gunboat, nd in a couple of seconds, the slowly otating light would be full on them.
Resting the rifle on the cabin, he took areful aim at the light and fired without esult. Even as the shot rang out the ight found them.
They could hear the excited cries on oard the gunboat, and half blinded by íe glare, Busby, maddened by his utter ■npotence, pumped bullet after bullet, ecklessly and at random in its direction.
A desperate frenzy seized him, and when the chamber was emptied, he ! jumped aft and continued his seemingly I futile bombardment witli the other rifle. Then the improbable happened.
At the third shot from the second rifle, the light suddenly vanished, but so great was his excitement, that he had actually • fired two more shots in the direction, before lie realized that he had accomplished his object.
Throwing down the rifle, lie sprang to the wheel, and in a second, the launch, which had been heading to pass on the right of the warship, was swung clear over to the left, passing so closely as to graze the anchor chain.
The whole proceeding, from the first shot had occupied so short a period, that as yet, not even one shot had been fired from the ‘El Pablo,’ but now, as if to make up for lost time, a perfect hail of bullets ploughed the sea round where the launch had so lately been heading.
As they fled bravely past, unscathed, and at a tangent, Busby laughed grimly.
“Them ‘Dougla Portigee’ no savvy white ‘Buckra’ yet. Eh Sam?”
“Sahib, I scared fo’ true,” was the only answer he got.
Sam and Dodds lay cowered in the bottom of the boat.
The report of a couple of shells, evidently fired at haphazard on the other side of the ‘El Pablo,’ reverberated through the mountains on either side.
“Oh you no need for frighten boy,” he said, putting his hand affectionately on the lad’s head, as he switched the course straight for the left-hand entrance of the harbor. “I no think them dago got light on the island, and if they have,” he added hopefully, “they no got sense for use him. Make me one big cocktail, Sam ; and Dodds, you better see that the engine is all right. We don’t want any break-downs now. Sam’ll give you some whiskey. I guess you need
The mulatto raised a scared face, and started toward the engine.
“Mr. Busby, sah,” he half gasped, i “Befo’ God sah, if I ever get back to B’ados, I sure never leave ’urn again.
! No sah.”
‘ ‘ Oh, wait till you drink a good shot of whiskey and you’ll want to go back and do it all over again,” laughed Busby, but the mulatto did not reply other than with a groan.
Luck was with them, and as Busby had surmised, the little fort on Maliva was either without any searchlights, or else the discipline maintained was not of an over strict nature, for, although they could hear sounds of commotion on shore as they fled past in the darkness, no attempt of any description was made to stop their progress.
When they had gained about three or four miles outside the harbor, the lights of a vessel, presumably the ‘El Pablo,’ showed up astern, leaving the harbor, but by daylight they found themselves alone on the ocean.
Busby laid a straight course for Barbadoes again, preferring that to the somewhat dangerous navigation of the
muddy waters and treacherous shoals of the British Guiana coast.
Three days later, he and an absurdlv hilarious old gentleman dined ‘perdu,’ in company with an exceedingly fascinating young senhorita, Inez D ’Andrade, in a most comfortable bungalow, overlooking the sea in an isolated part of the island.
According to the facts gleaned from subsequent rather heated correspondence between officials of the British and Venezuelan governments, it transpired that some irresponsible person, whom the British ambassador at Caracas most emphatically refused to accept any responsibility for, had, by a wonderfully lucky shot, severed one of the wires attached to the searchlight on the ‘El Pablo,’ very effectively cutting off the current, and at the same time wounding one of the operators. This was news to Busby, who had imagined that his shot had smashed the light itself.