Summary and Analysis
Part 3: Chapter 10
The observer is Martin Ricardo. He can't sleep either although his companion, Mr. Jones, appears to be sleeping. Ricardo feels himself personally responsible for the success of this venture. He goes out on the verandah of the counting house and can hardly resist an urge to creep toward the other building. Then he sees the red trail of light from Heyst's cigar. Full of fear, Ricardo dodges back into the counting house and wakens Mr. Jones. The two talk for a long time. Ricardo tells Jones that Heyst is "doing a think," and he regards such an exercise as dangerous. The two discuss Heyst. "I don't like him," Ricardo says. "He isn't hearty."
Jones suggests that perhaps Schomberg is lying about all the plunder they have supposed is concealed here in Samburan. Heyst may be a "very poor devil indeed." But Ricardo is sure there is treasure. There must be.
Jones asks if Heyst is here all alone. Ricardo thinks of the girl but evades his master's question. He reminds Jones that of course the "Chink" is here. Again he decides to conceal the girl's presence on Samburan. It will be easier to tell Jones later on.
The two villains generate a lot of righteous indignation over Heyst's supposed crimes and resolve to avenge all the innocent victims the Swede has swindled. They speculate in where the gold may be hidden. Jones reminds Ricardo that "this is a calculating man." And Ricardo says, "He strikes me as the sort of man to start prancing when one didn't expect it."
The only consideration that holds back these two beasts of prey is their ignorance of the hiding place for Heyst's imagined treasure. This bit of impossible knowledge stands for the moment between Heyst and death.
Ricardo's expression "Prance" means an act of willful aggression on the part of an intended victim. Should Heyst start shooting or attack his tormentors in any way, Ricardo would regard such action as "prancing."
The long conversation between the two ruffians in the middle of the night characterizes them fully. Jones, ghoulish and smooth, and Ricardo, feline and hell-bent for violence, plan their campaign. These two have less than forty-eight hours to live.
The function of Part III is to set the stage on Samburan and introduce the villains to the island. The reader knows that, in spite of their dissimilar backgrounds and attitudes, Heyst and Lena are drawing closer. Give them time and they will make a loving and satisfactory adjustment. But time is running out.