Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/181

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After several months of heartbreaking toil and hopes deferred, Ahamed concluded to take the business in hand and to see what could be done about getting rid of the captain and Pat and the three English boys at a satisfactory profit. The harvests had been gathered, and the demand for labor was not urgent. Ahamed had been greatly pestered by a hag of a sister who was anxious to get her hands on a looking-glass, comb, and scissors which had been mentioned as part of the bargain.

Accordingly they set out for the coast with Ahamed in charge of a small escort, all mounted on good Arab horses, the captives tortured by uncertainty, for "avarice was the ruling passion of our owners," says Captain Paddock, "and if they could have obtained as much money by putting us to death as by selling us, I verily believe they would not have hesitated to kill us on the spot, for of humane feelings toward Christians they were completely devoid."

Near the coast they met two horsemen, who halted to discuss conditions in the slave-marts, much as modern salesmen meet in the lobby of a hotel. One of these pilgrims advised Ahamed to stay away from Swearah, telling him:

"It is not best to carry them there. At Elic the Jews will give more for them than the consul at Swearah will