The Sea-Hawk HTML version

The Messenger
For the rest of the day she kept the cabin, chafing with anxiety to know what was toward
and the more racked by it because Sakr-el-Bahr refrained through all those hours from
coming to her. At last towards evening, unable longer to contain herself, she went forth
again, and as it chanced she did so at an untimely moment.
The sun had set, and the evening prayer was being recited aboard the galeasse, her crew
all prostrate. Perceiving this, she drew back again instinctively, and remained screened by
the curtain until the prayer was ended. Then putting it aside, but without stepping past the
Nubians who were on guard, she saw that on her left Asad-ed-Din, with Marzak,
Biskaine, and one or two other officers, was again occupying the divan under the awning.
Her eyes sought Sakr-el-Bahr, and presently they beheld him coming up the gangway
with his long, swinging stride, in the wake of the boat-swain's mates who were doling out
the meagre evening meal to the slaves.
Suddenly he halted by Lionel, who occupied a seat at the head of his oar immediately
next to the gangway. He addressed him harshly in the lingua franca, which Lionel did not
understand, and his words rang clearly and were heard--as he intended that they should
be--by all upon the poop.
"Well, dog? How does galley-slave fare suit thy tender stomach?"
Lionel looked up at him.
"What are you saying?" he asked in English.
Sakr-el-Bahr bent over him, and his face as all could see was evil and mocking. No doubt
he spoke to him in English also, but no more than a murmur reached the straining ears of
Rosamund, though from his countenance she had no doubt of the purport of his words.
And yet she was far indeed from a correct surmise. The mockery in his countenance was
but a mask.
"Take no heed of my looks," he was saying. "I desire them up yonder to think that I abuse
you. Look as a man would who were being abused. Cringe or snarl, but listen. Do you
remember once when as lads we swam together from Penarrow to Trefusis Point?"
"What do you mean?" quoth Lionel, and the natural sullenness of his mien was all that
Sakr-el-Bahr could have desired.
"I am wondering whether you could still swim as far. If so you might find a more
appetizing supper awaiting you at the end--aboard Sir John Killigrew's ship. You had not
heard? The Silver Heron is at anchor in the bay beyond that headland. If I afford you the
means, could you swim to her do you think?"
Lionel stared at him in profoundest amazement. "Do you mock me?" he asked at length.