Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/70

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The moment could have been no more dramatic, the coincidence any happier, if it had been contrived by a motion-picture director. To the modern reader it will come as an agreeable surprise, I fancy, for until now the character of Nikola, as conveyed in glimpses by Captain Lincoln, fails to win one's implicit confidence. While among the pirates he seemed a bit mushy and impressionable, not quite the man to stand by through thick and thin and hew a way out of his difficulties ; but this was an unfair judgment. He was leal and true to the last hair of his discarded mustachios. As though he surmised that Captain Lincoln might have formed the same opinion of him, the first words of this worthy hero were:

"Do you now believe that Jamieson is your friend? And are these all that are left of you? Ah, I suspected, and now I know what you were put here for!"

Captain Lincoln explained the absence of the mate and the five sailors who had vanished from the waterlogged boat. Jamieson had heard nothing of them and ventured the conjecture:

"How unfortunate! They must be lost, or some pirates have taken them."

He called to the two comrades who had come ashore with him, Frenchmen and fine fellows, who