It took about a day and half to lay the devices about the back half of the island, and then return the ship to an easy point from where Stephen and Bonden could make landfall for a second time. During it Stephen listened as best he could to the words of the hands. The excitement over the affair of the lantern seemed to have died down a little, but despite his best efforts, the false story of the plague managed to get out, and be believed as true, naturally, and not everyone was so confident that no one on board had it. Although the anxiety over this distracted the sailors enough that if anyone managed to hear of Jack’s dispute with the French captain over his possibly being paroled and put ashore, they did not see it worth talking about.
That he remained, of course, could not help but be noticed, especially when Jack made the decision to parole everyone else. “There are several neutral countries that have plenty of merchantmen in the area,” he told Stephen. “We shall approach one of those and let them take the men into the island’s harbour. It is not how I would like to do these things normally, of course, especially if we are reducing to bribing a captain for his trouble, but the truth is I am uneasy about this whole matter, and about having both this captain and his crew on board.”
“I agree,” said Stephen. “Best to have him separated from them. Though I do tell you, brother, I have thought about it further, and whatever his reasons for wanting to be kept here, I am glad we are keeping him here, and under our eyes, for I still cannot guess as what secret plans he may have, or what it is he is not telling us.”