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Chapter 10


The observer was Martin Ricardo. To him life was not a matter of
passive renunciation, but of a particularly active warfare. He was
not mistrustful of it, he was not disgusted with it, still less was he
inclined to be suspicious of its disenchantments; but he was vividly
aware that it held many possibilities of failure. Though very far from
being a pessimist, he was not a man of foolish illusions. He did
not like failure, not only because of its unpleasant and dangerous
consequences, but also because of its damaging effect upon his own
appreciation of Martin Ricardo. And this was a special job, of his own
contriving, and of considerable novelty. It was not, so to speak, in his
usual line of business--except, perhaps, from a moral standpoint, about
which he was not likely to trouble his head. For these reasons Martin
Ricardo was unable to sleep.

Mr Jones, after repeated shivering fits, and after drinking much hot
tea, had apparently fallen into deep slumber. He had very peremptorily
discouraged attempts at conversation on the part of his faithful
follower. Ricardo listened to his regular breathing. It was all very
well for the governor. He looked upon it as a sort of sport. A gentleman
naturally would. But this ticklish and important job had to be pulled
off at all costs, both for honour and for safety. Ricardo rose quietly,
and made his way on the veranda. He could not lie still. He wanted to
go out for air, and he had a feeling that by the force of his eagerness
even the darkness and the silence could be made to yield something to
his eyes and ears.

He noted the stars, and stepped back again into the dense darkness.
He resisted the growing impulse to go out and steal towards the other
bungalow. It would have been madness to start prowling in the dark on
unknown ground. And for what end? Unless to relieve the oppression.
Immobility lay on his limbs like a leaden garment. And yet he was
unwilling to give up. He persisted in his objectless vigil. The man of
the island was keeping quiet.

It was at that moment that Ricardo's eyes caught the vanishing red
trail of light made by the cigar--a startling revelation of the man's
wakefulness. He could not suppress a low "Hallo!" and began to sidle
along towards the door, with his shoulders rubbing the wall. For all he
knew, the man might have been out in front by this time, observing the
veranda. As a matter of fact, after flinging away the cheroot, Heyst
had gone indoors with the feeling of a man who gives up an unprofitable
occupation. But Ricardo fancied he could hear faint footfalls on the
open ground, and dodged quickly into the room. There he drew breath, and
meditated for a while. His next step was to feel for the matches on
the tall desk, and to light the candle. He had to communicate to his
governor views and reflections of such importance that it was absolutely
necessary for him to watch their effect on the very countenance of the
hearer. At first he had thought that these matters could have waited
till daylight; but Heyst's wakefulness, disclosed in that startling way,
made him feel suddenly certain that there could be no sleep for him that
night.

He said as much to his governor. When the little dagger-like flame had
done its best to dispel the darkness, Mr. Jones was to be seen reposing
on a camp bedstead, in a distant part of the room. A railway rug
concealed his spare form up to his very head, which rested on the
other railway rug rolled up for a pillow. Ricardo plumped himself down
cross-legged on the floor, very close to the low bedstead; so that Mr.
Jones--who perhaps had not been so very profoundly asleep--on opening
his eyes found them conveniently levelled at the face of his secretary.

"Eh? What is it you say? No sleep for you tonight? But why can't you let
_me_ sleep? Confound your fussiness!"

"Because that there fellow can't sleep--that's why. Dash me if he hasn't
been doing a think just now! What business has he to think in the middle
of the night?"

"How do you know?"

"He was out, sir--up in the middle of the night. My own eyes saw it."

"But how do you know that he was up to think?" inquired Mr. Jones. "It
might have been anything--toothache, for instance. And you may have
dreamed it for all I know. Didn't you try to sleep?"

"No, sir. I didn't even try to go to sleep."

Ricardo informed his patron of his vigil on the veranda, and of the
revelation which put an end to it. He concluded that a man up with a
cigar in the middle of the night must be doing a think.

Mr Jones raised himself on his elbow. This sign of interest comforted
his faithful henchman.

"Seems to me it's time we did a little think ourselves," added Ricardo,
with more assurance. Long as they had been together the moods of his
governor were still a source of anxiety to his simple soul.

"You are always making a fuss," remarked Mr. Jones, in a tolerant tone.

"Ay, but not for nothing, am I? You can't say that, sir. Mine may not be
a gentleman's way of looking round a thing, but it isn't a fool's way,
either. You've admitted that much yourself at odd times."

Ricardo was growing warmly argumentative. Mr. Jones interrupted him
without heat.

"You haven't roused me to talk about yourself, I presume?"

"No, sir." Ricardo remained silent for a minute, with the tip of
his tongue caught between his teeth. "I don't think I could tell you
anything about myself that you don't know," he continued. There was a
sort of amused satisfaction in his tone which changed completely as he
went on. "It's that man, over there, that's got to be talked over. I
don't like him."

He, failed to observe the flicker of a ghastly smile on his governor's
lips.

"Don't you?" murmured Mr. Jones, whose face, as he reclined on his
elbow, was on a level with the top of his follower's head.

"No, sir," said Ricardo emphatically. The candle from the other side of
the room threw his monstrous black shadow on the wall. "He--I don't know
how to say it--he isn't hearty-like."

Mr Jones agreed languidly in his own manner:

"He seems to be a very self-possessed man."

"Ay, that's it. Self--" Ricardo choked with indignation. "I would soon
let out some of his self-possession through a hole between his ribs, if
this weren't a special job!"

Mr Jones had been making his own reflections, for he asked:

"Do you think he is suspicious?"

"I don't see very well what he can be suspicious of," pondered Ricardo.
"Yet there he was doing a think. And what could be the object of it?
What made him get out of his bed in the middle of the night. 'Tain't
fleas, surely."

"Bad conscience, perhaps," suggested Mr. Jones jocularly.

His faithful secretary suffered from irritation, and did not see the
joke. In a fretful tone he declared that there was no such thing as
conscience. There was such a thing as funk; but there was nothing to
make that fellow funky in any special way. He admitted, however, that
the man might have been uneasy at the arrival of strangers, because of
all that plunder of his put away somewhere.

Ricardo glanced here and there, as if he were afraid of being overheard
by the heavy shadows cast by the dim light all over the room. His
patron, very quiet, spoke in a calm whisper:

"And perhaps that hotel-keeper has been lying to you about him. He may
be a very poor devil indeed."

Ricardo shook his head slightly. The Schombergian theory of Heyst had
become in him a profound conviction, which he had absorbed as naturally
as a sponge takes up water. His patron's doubts were a wanton denying
of what was self-evident; but Ricardo's voice remained as before, a soft
purring with a snarling undertone.

"I am sup-prised at you, sir! It's the very way them tame ones--the
common 'yporcrits of the world--get on. When it comes to plunder
drifting under one's very nose, there's not one of them that would keep
his hands off. And I don't blame them. It's the way they do it that sets
my back up. Just look at the story of how he got rid of that pal of his!
Send a man home to croak of a cold on the chest--that's one of your tame
tricks. And d'you mean to say, sir, that a man that's up to it wouldn't
bag whatever he could lay his hands in his 'yporcritical way? What was
all that coal business? Tame citizen dodge; 'yporcrisy--nothing else.
No, no, sir! The thing is to extract it from him as neatly as possible.
That's the job; and it isn't so simple as it looks. I reckon you have
looked at it all round, sir, before you took up the notion of this
trip."

"No." Mr. Jones was hardly audible, staring far away from his couch. "I
didn't think about it much. I was bored."

"Ay, that you were--bad. I was feeling pretty desperate that afternoon,
when that bearded softy of a landlord got talking to me about this
fellow here. Quite accidentally, it was. Well, sir, here we are after a
mighty narrow squeak. I feel all limp yet; but never mind--his swag will
pay for the lot!"

"He's all alone here," remarked Mr. Jones in a hollow murmur.

"Ye-es, in a way. Yes, alone enough. Yes, you may say he is."

"There's that Chinaman, though."

"Ay, there's the Chink," assented Ricardo rather absentmindedly.

He was debating in his mind the advisability of making a clean breast of
his knowledge of the girl's existence. Finally he concluded he wouldn't.
The enterprise was difficult enough without complicating it with an
upset to the sensibilities of the gentleman with whom he had the honour
of being associated. Let the discovery come of itself, he thought,
and then he could swear that he had known nothing of that offensive
presence.

He did not need to lie. He had only to hold his tongue.

"Yes," he muttered reflectively, "there's that Chink, certainly."

At bottom, he felt a certain ambiguous respect for his governor's
exaggerated dislike of women, as if that horror of feminine presence
were a sort of depraved morality; but still morality, since he counted
it as an advantage. It prevented many undesirable complications. He did
not pretend to understand it. He did not even try to investigate
this idiosyncrasy of his chief. All he knew was that he himself was
differently inclined, and that it did not make him any happier or safer.
He did not know how he would have acted if he had been knocking about
the world on his own. Luckily he was a subordinate, not a wage-slave but
a follower--which was a restraint. Yes! The other sort of disposition
simplified matters in general; it wasn't to be gainsaid. But it was
clear that it could also complicate them--as in this most important and,
in Ricardo's view, already sufficiently delicate case. And the worst of
it was that one could not tell exactly in what precise manner it would
act.

It was unnatural, he thought somewhat peevishly. How was one to reckon
up the unnatural? There were no rules for that. The faithful henchman
of plain Mr. Jones, foreseeing many difficulties of a material order,
decided to keep the girl out of the governor's knowledge, out of his
sight, too, for as long a time as it could be managed. That, alas,
seemed to be at most a matter of a few hours; whereas Ricardo feared
that to get the affair properly going would take some days. Once well
started, he was not afraid of his gentleman failing him. As is often the
case with lawless natures, Ricardo's faith in any given individual was
of a simple, unquestioning character. For man must have some support in
life.

Cross-legged, his head drooping a little and perfectly still, he might
have been meditating in a bonze-like attitude upon the sacred syllable
"Om." It was a striking illustration of the untruth of appearances, for
his contempt for the world was of a severely practical kind. There was
nothing oriental about Ricardo but the amazing quietness of his pose.
Mr. Jones was also very quiet. He had let his head sink on the rolled-up
rug, and lay stretched out on his side with his back to the light. In
that position the shadows gathered in the cavities of his eyes made
them look perfectly empty. When he spoke, his ghostly voice had only to
travel a few inches straight into Ricardo's left ear.

"Why don't you say something, now that you've got me awake?"

"I wonder if you were sleeping as sound as you are trying to make out,
sir," said the unmoved Ricardo.

"I wonder," repeated Mr. Jones. "At any rate, I was resting quietly!"

"Come, sir!" Ricardo's whisper was alarmed. "You don't mean to say
you're going to be bored?"

"No."

"Quite right!" The secretary was very much relieved. "There's no
occasion to be, I can tell you, sir," he whispered earnestly. "Anything
but that! If I didn't say anything for a bit, it ain't because there
isn't plenty to talk about. Ay, more than enough."

"What's the matter with you?" breathed out his patron. "Are you going to
turn pessimist?"

"Me turn? No, sir! I ain't of those that turn. You may call me hard
names, if you like, but you know very well that I ain't a croaker."
Ricardo changed his tone. "If I said nothing for a while, it was because
I was meditating over the Chink, sir."

"You were? Waste of time, my Martin. A Chinaman is unfathomable."

Ricardo admitted that this might be so. Anyhow, a Chink was neither
here nor there, as a general thing, unfathomable as he might be; but a
Swedish baron wasn't--couldn't be! The woods were full of such barons.

"I don't know that he is so tame," was Mr. Jones's remark, in a
sepulchral undertone.

"How do you mean, sir? He ain't a rabbit, of course. You couldn't
hypnotize him, as I saw you do to more than one Dago, and other kinds
of tame citizens, when it came to the point of holding them down to a
game."

"Don't you reckon on that," murmured plain Mr. Jones seriously.

"No, sir, I don't, though you have a wonderful power of the eye. It's a
fact."

"I have a wonderful patience," remarked Mr. Jones dryly.

A dim smile flitted over the lips of the faithful Ricardo who never
raised his head.

"I don't want to try you too much, sir, but this is like no other job we
ever turned our minds to."

"Perhaps not. At any rate let us think so."

A weariness with the monotony of life was reflected in the tone of this
qualified assent. It jarred on the nerves of the sanguine Ricardo.

"Let us think of the way to go to work," he retorted a little
impatiently. "He's a deep one. Just look at the way he treated that chum
of his. Did you ever hear of anything so low? And the artfulness of the
beast--the dirty, tame artfulness!"

"Don't you start moralizing, Martin," said Mr. Jones warningly. "As far
as I can make out the story that German hotel-keeper told you, it seems
to show a certain amount of character;--and independence from common
feelings which is not usual. It's very remarkable, if true."

"Ay, ay! Very remarkable. It's mighty low down, all the same," muttered,
Ricardo obstinately. "I must say I am glad to think he will be paid off
for it in a way that'll surprise him!"

The tip of his tongue appeared lively for an instant, as if trying for
the taste of that ferocious retribution on his compressed lips. For
Ricardo was sincere in his indignation before the elementary principle
of loyalty to a chum violated in cold blood, slowly, in a patient
duplicity of years. There are standards in villainy as in virtue, and
the act as he pictured it to himself acquired an additional horror
from the slow pace of that treachery so atrocious and so tame. But
he understood too the educated judgement of his governor, a gentleman
looking on all this with the privileged detachment of a cultivated mind,
of an elevated personality.

"Ay, he's deep--he's artful," he mumbled between his sharp teeth.

"Confound you!" Mr. Jones's calm whisper crept into his ear. "Come to
the point."

Obedient, the secretary shook off his thoughtfulness. There was a
similarity of mind between these two--one the outcast of his vices, the
other inspired by a spirit of scornful defiance, the aggressiveness of
a beast of prey looking upon all the tame creatures of the earth as its
natural victim. Both were astute enough, however, and both were aware
that they had plunged into this adventure without a sufficient scrutiny
of detail. The figure of a lonely man far from all assistance had
loomed up largely, fascinating and defenceless in the middle of the sea,
filling the whole field of their vision. There had not seemed to be any
need for thinking. As Schomberg had been saying: "Three to one."

But it did not look so simple now in the face of that solitude which was
like an armour for this man. The feeling voiced by the henchman in his
own way--"We don't seem much forwarder now we are here" was acknowledged
by the silence of the patron. It was easy enough to rip a fellow up or
drill a hole in him, whether he was alone or not, Ricardo reflected in
low, confidential tones, but--

"He isn't alone," Mr. Jones said faintly, in his attitude of a man
composed for sleep. "Don't forget that Chinaman." Ricardo started
slightly.

"Oh, ay--the Chink!"

Ricardo had been on the point of confessing about the girl; but no! He
wanted his governor to be unperturbed and steady. Vague thoughts,
which he hardly dared to look in the face, were stirring his brain in
connection with that girl. She couldn't be much account, he thought. She
could be frightened. And there were also other possibilities. The Chink,
however, could be considered openly.

"What I was thinking about it, sir," he went on earnestly, "is
this--here we've got a man. He's nothing. If he won't be good, he can be
made quiet. That's easy. But then there's his plunder. He doesn't carry
it in his pocket."

"I hope not," breathed Mr. Jones.

"Same here. It's too big, we know, but if he were alone, he would not
feel worried about it overmuch--I mean the safety of the pieces. He
would just put the lot into any box or drawer that was handy."

"Would he?"

"Yes, sir. He would keep it under his eye, as it were. Why not? It is
natural. A fellow doesn't put his swag underground, unless there's a
very good reason for it."

"A very good reason, eh?"

"Yes, sir. What do you think a fellow is--a mole?"

From his experience, Ricardo declared that man was not a burrowing
beast. Even the misers very seldom buried their hoard, unless for
exceptional reasons. In the given situation of a man alone on an island,
the company of a Chink was a very good reason. Drawers would not be
safe, nor boxes, either, from a prying, slant-eyed Chink. No, sir,
unless a safe--a proper office safe. But the safe was there in the room.

"Is there a safe in this room? I didn't notice it," whispered Mr. Jones.

That was because the thing was painted white, like the walls of the
room; and besides, it was tucked away in the shadows of a corner. Mr.
Jones had been too tired to observe anything on his first coming ashore;
but Ricardo had very soon spotted the characteristic form. He only
wished he could believe that the plunder of treachery, duplicity, and
all the moral abominations of Heyst had been there. But no; the blamed
thing was open.

"It might have been there at one time or another," he commented
gloomily, "but it isn't there now."

"The man did not elect to live in this house," remarked Mr. Jones. "And
by the by, what could he have meant by speaking of circumstances which
prevented him lodging us in the other bungalow? You remember what he
said, Martin? Sounded cryptic."

Martin, who remembered and understood the phrase as directly motived by
the existence of the girl, waited a little before saying:

"Some of his artfulness, sir; and not the worst of it either. That
manner of his to us, this asking no questions, is some more of his
artfulness. A man's bound to be curious, and he is; yet he goes on as if
he didn't care. He does care--or else what was he doing up with a cigar
in the middle of the night, doing a think? I don't like it."

"He may be outside, observing the light here, and saying the very same
thing to himself of our own wakefulness," gravely suggested Ricardo's
governor.

"He may be, sir; but this is too important to be talked over in the
dark. And the light is all right, it can be accounted for. There's a
light in this bungalow in the middle of the night because--why, because
you are not well. Not well, sir--that's what's the matter, and you will
have to act up to it."

The consideration had suddenly occurred to the faithful henchman, in the
light of a felicitous expedient to keep his governor and the girl apart
as long as possible. Mr. Jones received the suggestion without the
slightest stir, even in the deep sockets of his eyes, where a steady,
faint gleam was the only thing telling of life and attention in his
attenuated body. But Ricardo, as soon as he had enunciated his happy
thought, perceived in it other possibilities more to the point and of
greater practical advantage.

"With your looks, sir, it will be easy enough," he went on evenly, as
if no silence had intervened, always respectful, but frank, with
perfect simplicity of purpose. "All you've got to do is just to lie down
quietly. I noticed him looking sort of surprised at you on the wharf,
sir."

At these words, a naive tribute to the aspect of his physique, even more
suggestive of the grave than of the sick-bed, a fold appeared on that
side of the governor's face which was exposed to the dim light--a deep,
shadowy, semicircular fold from the side of the nose to bottom of the
chin--a silent smile. By a side-glance Ricardo had noted this play of
features. He smiled, too, appreciative, encouraged.

"And you as hard as nails all the time," he went on. "Hang me if anybody
would believe you aren't sick, if I were to swear myself black in
the face! Give us a day or two to look into matters and size up that
'yporcrit."

Ricardo's eyes remained fixed on his crossed shins. The chief, in his
lifeless accents, approved.

"Perhaps it would be a good idea."

"The Chink, he's nothing. He can be made quiet any time."

One of Ricardo's hands, reposing palm upwards on his folded legs, made
a swift thrusting gesture, repeated by the enormous darting shadow of an
arm very low on the wall. It broke the spell of perfect stillness in
the room. The secretary eyed moodily the wall from which the shadow had
gone. Anybody could be made quiet, he pointed out. It was not anything
that the Chink could do; no, it was the effect that his company must
have produced on the conduct of the doomed man. A man! What was a man? A
Swedish baron could be ripped up, or else holed by a shot, as easily as
any other creature; but that was exactly what was to be avoided, till
one knew where he had hidden his plunder.

"I shouldn't think it would be some sort of hole in his bungalow,"
argued Ricardo with real anxiety.

No. A house can be burnt--set on fire accidentally, or on purpose, while
a man's asleep. Under the house--or in some crack, cranny, or crevice?
Something told him it wasn't that. The anguish of mental effort
contracted Ricardo's brow. The skin of his head seemed to move in this
travail of vain and tormenting suppositions.

"What did you think a fellow is, sir--a baby?" he said, in answer to Mr.
Jones's objections. "I am trying to find out what I would do myself. He
wouldn't be likely to be cleverer than I am."

"And what do you know about yourself?"

Mr Jones seemed to watch his follower's perplexities with amusement
concealed in a death-like composure.

Ricardo disregarded the question. The material vision of the spoil
absorbed all his faculties. A great vision! He seemed to see it. A few
small canvas bags tied up with thin cord, their distended rotundity
showing the inside pressure of the disk-like forms of coins--gold,
solid, heavy, eminently portable. Perhaps steel cash-boxes with a chased
design, on the covers; or perhaps a black and brass box with a handle
on the top, and full of goodness knows what. Bank notes? Why not? The
fellow had been going home; so it was surely something worth going home
with.

"And he may have put it anywhere outside--anywhere!" cried Ricardo in a
deadened voice, "in the forest--"

That was it! A temporary darkness replaced the dim light of the room.
The darkness of the forest at night and in it the gleam of a lantern, by
which a figure is digging at the foot of a tree-trunk. As likely as not,
another figure holding that lantern--ha, feminine! The girl!

The prudent Ricardo stifled a picturesque and profane exclamation,
partly joy, partly dismay. Had the girl been trusted or mistrusted by
that man? Whatever it was, it was bound to be wholly! With women there
could be no half-measures. He could not imagine a fellow half-trusting
a woman in that intimate relation to himself, and in those particular
circumstances of conquest and loneliness where no confidences could
appear dangerous since, apparently, there could be no one she could
give him away to. Moreover, in nine cases out of ten the woman would be
trusted. But, trusted or mistrusted, was her presence a favourable or
unfavourable condition of the problem? That was the question!

The temptation to consult his chief, to talk over the weighty fact, and
get his opinion on it, was great indeed. Ricardo resisted it; but the
agony of his solitary mental conflict was extremely sharp. A woman in
a problem is an incalculable quantity, even if you have something to go
upon in forming your guess. How much more so when you haven't even once
caught sight of her.

Swift as were his mental processes, he felt that a longer silence was
inadvisable. He hastened to speak:

"And do you see us, sir, you and I, with a couple of spades having to
tackle this whole confounded island?"

He allowed himself a slight movement of the arm. The shadow enlarged it
into a sweeping gesture.

"This seems rather discouraging, Martin," murmured the unmoved governor.

"We mustn't be discouraged--that's all!" retorted his henchman. "And
after what we had to go through in that boat too! Why it would be--"

He couldn't find the qualifying words. Very calm, faithful, and yet
astute, he expressed his new-born hopes darkly.

"Something's sure to turn up to give us a hint; only this job can't be
rushed. You may depend on me to pick up the least little bit of a hint;
but you, sir--you've got to play him very gently. For the rest you can
trust me."

"Yes; but I ask myself what YOU are trusting to."

"Our luck," said the faithful Ricardo. "Don't say a word against that.
It might spoil the run of it."

"You are a superstitious beggar. No, I won't say anything against it."

"That's right, sir. Don't you even think lightly of it. Luck's not to be
played with."

"Yes, luck's a delicate thing," assented Mr. Jones in a dreamy whisper.

A short silence ensued, which Ricardo ended in a discreet and tentative
voice.

"Talking of luck, I suppose he could be made to take a hand with
you, sir--two-handed picket or ekkarty, you being seedy and keeping
indoors--just to pass the time. For all we know, he may be one of them
hot ones once they start--"

"Is it likely?" came coldly from the principal. "Considering what we
know of his history--say with his partner."

"True, sir. He's a cold-blooded beast; a cold-blooded, inhuman--"

"And I'll tell you another thing that isn't likely. He would not be
likely to let himself be stripped bare. We haven't to do with a young
fool that can be led on by chaff or flattery, and in the end simply
overawed. This is a calculating man."

Ricardo recognized that clearly. What he had in his mind was something
on a small scale, just to keep the enemy busy while he, Ricardo, had
time to nose around a bit.

"You could even lose a little money to him, sir," he suggested.

"I could."

Ricardo was thoughtful for a moment.

"He strikes me, too, as the sort of man to start prancing when one
didn't expect it. What do you think, sir? Is he a man that would prance?
That is, if something startled him. More likely to prance than to
run--what?"

The answer came at once, because Mr. Jones understood the peculiar idiom
of his faithful follower.

"Oh, without doubt! Without doubt!"

"It does me good to hear that you think so. He's a prancing beast,
and so we mustn't startle him--not till I have located the stuff.
Afterwards--"

Ricardo paused, sinister in the stillness of his pose. Suddenly he
got up with a swift movement and gazed down at his chief in moody
abstraction. Mr. Jones did not stir.

"There's one thing that's worrying me," began Ricardo in a subdued
voice.

"Only one?" was the faint comment from the motionless body on the
bedstead.

"I mean more than all the others put together."

"That's grave news."

"Ay, grave enough. It's this--how do you feel in yourself, sir? Are you
likely to get bored? I know them fits come on you suddenly; but surely
you can tell--"

"Martin, you are an ass."

The moody face of the secretary brightened up.

"Really, sir? Well, I am quite content to be on these terms--I mean as
long as you don't get bored. It wouldn't do, sir."

For coolness, Ricardo had thrown open his shirt and rolled up his
sleeves. He moved stealthily across the room, bare-footed, towards the
candle, the shadow of his head and shoulders growing bigger behind him
on the opposite wall, to which the face of plain Mr. Jones was turned.
With a feline movement, Ricardo glanced over his shoulder at the thin
back of the spectre reposing on the bed, and then blew out the candle.

"In fact, I am rather amused, Martin," Mr. Jones said in the dark.

He heard the sound of a slapped thigh and the jubilant exclamation of
his henchman:

"Good! That's the way to talk, sir!"

Joseph Conrad