Up the gangway between the lines of slumbering slaves came a quick patter of feet. Ali,
who since sunset had been replacing Larocque on the heights, sprang suddenly upon the
poop still shouting.
"Captain! Captain! My lord! Afoot! Up! or we are taken!"
Throughout the vessel's length came the rustle and stir of waking men. A voice
clamoured somewhere on the forecastle. Then the flap of the awning was suddenly
whisked aside and Asad himself appeared with Marzak at his elbow.
From the starboard side as suddenly came Biskaine and Othmani, and from the waist
Vigitello, Jasper--that latest renegade--and a group of alarmed corsairs.
"What now?" quoth the Basha.
Ali delivered his message breathlessly. "The galleon has weighed anchor. She is moving
out of the bay."
Asad clutched his beard, and scowled. "Now what may that portend? Can knowledge of
our presence have reached them?"
"Why else should she move from her anchorage thus in the dead of night?" said Biskaine.
"Why else, indeed?" returned Asad, and then he swung upon Oliver standing there in the
entrance of the poop-house. "What sayest thou, Sakr-el-Bahr?" he appealed to him.
Sakr-el-Bahr stepped forward, shrugging. "What is there to say? What is there to do?" he
asked. "We can but wait. If our presence is known to them we are finely trapped, and
there's an end to all of us this night."
His voice was cool as ice, contemptuous almost, and whilst it struck anxiety into more
than one it awoke terror in Marzak.
"May thy bones rot, thou ill-omened prophet!" he screamed, and would have added more
but that Sakr-el-Bahr silenced him.
"What is written is written!" said he in a voice of thunder and reproof.
"Indeed, indeed," Asad agreed, grasping at the fatalist's consolation. "If we are ripe for
the gardeners hand, the gardener will pluck us."
Less fatalistic and more practical was the counsel of Biskaine.