Amyas laughed.

“Thou art a right valiant bit of copper. Pick up thy dollar, and go thy way in peace. Make room for him, men. We can learn what we want without his help.”

The Indian paused, incredulous and astonished. “Overboard with you!” quoth Amyas. “Don’t you know when you are well off?”

“Most illustrious señor,” began the Indian, in the drawling sententious fashion of his race (when they take the trouble to talk at all), “I have been deceived. I heard that you heretics roasted and ate all true Catholics (as we Guayquerias are), and that all your padres had tails.”

“Plague on you, sirrah!” squeaked Jack Brimblecombe. “Have I a tail? Look here!”

“Quien sabe? Who knows?” quoth the Indian through his nose.

“How do you know we are heretics?” said Amyas.

“Humph! But in repayment for your kindness, I would warn you, illustrious señor, not to go on to La Guayra. There are ships of war there waiting for you; and moreover, the governor Don Guzman sailed to the eastward only yesterday to look for you; and I wonder much that you did not meet him.”

“To look for us! On the watch for us!” said Cary. “Impossible; lies! Amyas, this is some trick of the rascal’s to frighten us away.”

“Don Guzman came out but yesterday to look for us? Are you sure you spoke truth?”

“As I live, señor, he and another ship, for which I took yours.”

Amyas stamped upon the deck: that then was the ship which they had passed!

“Fool that I was to have been close to my enemy, and let my opportunity slip! If I had but done my duty, all would have gone right!”

But it was too late to repine; and after all, the Indian’s story was likely enough to be false.

“Off with you!” said he; and the Indian bounded over the side into his canoe, leaving the whole crew wondering at the stateliness and courtesy of this bold sea-cavalier.

So Westward-ho they ran, beneath the mighty northern wall, the highest cliff on earth, some seven thousand feet of rock parted from the sea by a narrow strip of bright green lowland. Here and there a patch of sugar-cane, or a knot of cocoa-nut trees, close to the water’s edge, reminded them that they were in the tropics; but above, all was savage, rough, and bare as an Alpine precipice. Sometimes deep clefts allowed the southern sun to pour a blaze of light down to the sea marge, and gave glimpses far above of strange and stately trees lining the glens, and of a veil of perpetual mist which shrouded the inner summits; while up and down, between them and the mountain side, white fleecy clouds hung motionless in the burning air, increasing the impression of vastness and of solemn rest, which was already overpowering.

“Within those mountains, three thousand feet above our heads,” said Drew, the master, “lies Saint Yago de Leon, the great city which the Spaniards founded fifteen years agone.”

“Is it a rich place?” asked Cary.

“Very, they say.”

“Is it a strong place?” asked Amyas.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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