"I don't quite see," he said, "why we should risk a row for the sake of you two."
"Look here," he said; "I suppose you know your business. You don't want me to tell you that a decent excuse for having a row with this old Johnny is about the best thing that could happen to you. He's a bit too near the borders of civilisation to be a decent savage. Sooner or later some one will have to take him under their protection. If you don't do it, the French will. They're hanging round now looking out for an opportunity. Listen!
Both men moved instinctively towards the open part of the hut and looked across towards the village. Up from the little open space in front of the King's dwelling-house leaped a hissing bright flame; they had kindled a fire, and black forms of men, stark naked and wounding themselves with spears, danced around it and made the air hideous with discordant cries. The King himself, too drunk to stand, squatted upon the ground with an empty bottle by his side. A breath of wind brought a strong, noxious odour to the two men who stood watching. Captain Francis puffed hard at his cigarette.
"You may take my word for it," Trent said gruffly, "that if your two hundred soldiers weren't camped in the bush yonder, you and I and poor Monty would be making sport for them to-night. Now come. Do you think a quarrel with that crew is a serious thing to risk?"
"In the interests of civilisation," Captain Francis answered, with a smile, "I think not."
"I don't care how you put it," Trent answered shortly. "You soldiers all prate of the interests of civilisation. Of course it's all rot. You want the land - you want to rule, to plant a flag, and be called a patriot."
Captain Francis laughed. "And you, my superior friend," he said, glancing at Trent, gaunt, ragged, not too clean, and back at Monty - " you want gold - honestly if you can get it, if not - well, it is not too wise to ask. Your partnership is a little mysterious, isn't it - with a man like that? Out of your magnificent morality I trust that he may get his share."
Trent flushed a brick - red. An angry answer trembled upon his lips, but Oom Sam, white and with his little fat body quivering with fear, came hurrying up to them in the broad track of the moonlight.