The Digital Adventures

Love of Siam-CH15

Chapter 10B

Fanique exploded in a rage of fury. In two short leaps he closed the distance between him and Phaulkon, and with his sword raised above his head, he brought it down in a sweeping cut. At the same instant, Marie cried out for him to stop. The servants gasped in disbelief. Phaulkon stood immobile as a statue. He neither moved nor flinched. In a terrifying scream, Fanique stopped the downward thrust of his sword a hair’s distance above Phaulkon’s head. The cutting edge was a breath away from split ting Phaulkon skull in two.

Phaulkon’s defiance angered Fanique even more, and he might have taken another cut at Phaulkon, this time not stopping, had Marie not rushed up and stood between them. She pleaded, begging for him to stop.

Fanique shouted again. “What is the meaning of this?” he demanded.

Marie attempted to calm him down, at which he called for her to leave the room.

“No,” Phaulkon said, “stay here to listen to this.”

“This is my house,” Fatigue shouted, “and I give the orders here!” He called for the servants to take Marie away. They responded, taking Marie by both arms.

As they began dragging her across the room, Phaulkon shouted to them to stop. They hesitated for a moment giving Phaulkon time to remove the leather pouch from his pocket. He quickly pulled at the string to open it, and with all eyes upon him, he placed the necklace on a table in the middle of the room and stuffed the pouch back into his pocket. Everyone in the room, Fanique, Marie, the four servants, all froze in dismay, dazzled by the beauty of the necklace. Phaulkon then announced to Fanique, and for all to hear, that he will marry Marie.

“You are mad,” Fanique shouted at him. “You are mad. You will never marry my daughter, never. You understand. I have prepared her for better things in life than the likes of you.”

“The likes of me!” Phaulkon cried out. “And who are you to tell me this? Are you no more than a pirate yourself, no more than a black marketeer.” Phaulkon waved his arm above his head, like he was swinging a sword in mockery of Fanique. “If a pirate is good enough to be Marie’s father, then why not a pirate for her husband. She will be my wife one day.”

Fanique threw the final blow. He lowered his sword. “My daughter will never marry a non-Catholic. Do you hear that?” he said and pointed to the door for Phaulkon to leave.

In anger, Phaulkon headed for the door. Marie called to him to wait, and when he turned in her direction he saw her rush up to the table and grab hold of the necklace. She took it in both hands and held it against her breasts.

Phaulkon headed straight to Abu Umar’s shop. He had his strategy worked out. He wouldn’t tell Abu that he had already given the necklace to Marie. He would agree to deliver the shipment under one condition: the jewels would be the down payment and a cash settlement equal to the cost of the jewels had to be made upon completion of the delivery.

“You drive much too hard a bargain,” Abu said after hearing the proposal.

“It’s your decision,” Phaulkon said and withdrew the empty leather pouch from his pocket.

“No, no, agreed,” snapped Abu. “The shipment will be prepared by tomorrow night.” Phaulkon slipped the pouch back into his pocket. He was in his delight. He had no idea of his cargo or the danger involved but the thought of pleasing Marie reigned higher than anything else.

That night Phaulkon sent a message to Diego and Christoph for them to come to him at once. It was near dawn when they arrived. Phaulkon explained to his two friends that he was making a delivery of contraband goods to Songkau and he didn’t trust the Arab merchant. He asked if the two men would accompany him. Diego and Christoph looked at him in amazement. “You don’t know,” Diego said.

“Know what?” Phaulkon asked.

“Arab Muslims at Songkau are rebelling against the Siamese for independence,” Diego said. “They need arms. That’s what they are waiting for.”

Phaulkon could feel his blood run thin. Could the cargo be a shipment of arms, arms against the Siamese and their king? “It can’t be,” he said, refusing to believe it. “Where would this Arab merchant get arms?”

The three men racked their brains for answers but could find none. They knew of no one who might supply the rebels with arms. There was but one way to find out. Diego and Christoph would come aboard just before they sailed. They would check the cargo and then they would know. Before Diego and Christoph departed, Phaulkon asked them if they could find out who the rebel leader might be. “We will do our best,” Christoph said and they silently slipped away into the darkness.

Phaulkon had been instructed by Abu to come to the dock at midnight to take command. Phaulkon arrived an hour before midnight, and with him was Diego and Christoph. Four Arab Muslims crew members were aboard guarding the ship. They said the cargo had been loaded and was in the hold. Phaulkon said he wanted to check it but the men protested and blocked his entrance to the hatch. Phaulkon gave the signal and Diego and Christoph appeared at his side with drawn daggers. Phaulkon ordered the men to step aside. In Malay he told them he was their captain. They had no alternative and they let the three men pass. But Phaulkon knew they would summon help, and maybe even Abu himself.

Diego and Christoph were right. The cargo was arms. They broke open two wooden crates to find muzzle loading muskets and dozens of barrels of gunpowder. There were as many as a hundred crates, enough arms to supply a small army. Phaulkon realized it was too late for him to change his mind. His name would be on the manifest making him an accomplice even before he started. Besides, Marie already had the jewels. He could hardly take them back. There was still a question unanswered. Where did Abu Umar, an Arab merchant, get the arms and supplies? Who supplied him? The three men closely checked the crates. Phaulkon couldn’t believe what they saw. They recognized the East India Company markings.

Phaulkon called for one of the Arabs to come below deck, and when one did, Phaulkon grabbed the henchmen and, pressing a dagger under his chin, shouted at him to go fetch his boss or else Phaulkon would set fire to the ship. He didn’t have to wait long. Abu Umar appeared and Phaulkon and Diego ran topside to meet him. Abu was trembling, and instantly began pleading for Phaulkon not to set fire to the ship. Phaulkon then demanded that unless Abu disclose where he got the cargo, the deal was off. He reached into his bag, and said he would give back the jewels that instant. In panic, Abu Umar told Phaulkon that his bosses were Richard Burnaby and George White. They were the culprits, smuggling arms and ammunition to the rebels.

The words came as a hard blow to Phaulkon. He could understand White’s motives, an interloper, but Burnaby was an employee of the EIC.

”And who are these rebels?” Phaulkon asked.

“I do not know. I swear I don’t,” Abu said. “I only make deliveries.”

Before he could say more, Diego pulled Phaulkon aside and led him below deck where they wouldn’t be heard. “We already found out,” Diego whispered. “It’s a Makassar. He goes by the name Mosafat.”

Had Phaulkon not been sitting on a broken crate of arms he might have fallen over. “I think I know him,” he said. “If he’s who I think he is, we met when Samuel White smuggled me across the isthmus. If he is the one, he and his band can be dangerous, but if need be we can deal with them.” He thought for a moment. “What worries me is the Arab crew aboard. We can’t trust them. Once we deliver the cargo, if we deliver it at all, they might well murder the three of us.”

Abu Umar came down the hatch, said nothing when he saw the broken crates, and announced it was getting late. They had to hurry. He handed Phaulkon the port clearance papers. “In case you get stopped, they will let you pass. You are with the EIC.” His next statement confirmed Phaulkon’s suspicion. When Phaulkon announced he was taking his two men as crew, Abu said there was already enough men on board and two extra men would only add to the confusion. Phaulkon reminded Abu Umar that he was in command, and stated he would take only two of Abu Umar’s men aboard. Abu Umar protested and argued his point but he had no choice in the end other than to agree.

The tiny schooner flying the flag of Siam with its cargo of arms and supplies for the rebels set sail down river an hour after midnight with the tide in its favor. By dawn it had crossed the sand bar at the mouth of River Menam and entered the open sea.

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