Infomotions, Inc.Captain Blood / Sabatini, Rafael, 1875-1950



Author: Sabatini, Rafael, 1875-1950
Title: Captain Blood
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): lord julian; captain blood; captain; blood; don miguel; bishop; don diego; colonel bishop; colonel; peter blood; miss bishop; jeremy pitt
Contributor(s): Legge, James, 1815-1897 [Translator]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 115,140 words (average) Grade range: 8-10 (high school) Readability score: 66 (easy)
Identifier: etext1965
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Captain Blood

by Rafael Sabatini

November, 1999  [Etext #1965]
[Date last updated: July 28, 2006]


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Captain Blood, by Rafael Sabatini




CAPTAIN BLOOD
His Odyssey



CONTENTS

I.       THE MESSENGER
II.      KIRKE'S DRAGOONS
III.     THE LORD CHIEF JUSTICE
IV.      HUMAN MERCHANDISE
V.       ARABELLA BISHOP
VI.      PLANS OF ESCAPE
VII.     PIRATES
VIII.    SPANIARDS
IX.      THE REBELS-CONVICT
X.       DON DIEGO
XI.      FILIAL PIETY
XII.     DON PEDRO SANGRE
XIII.    TORTUGA
XIV.     LEVASSEUR'S HEROICS
XV.      THE RANSOM
XVI.     THE TRAP
XVII.    THE DUPES
XVIII.   THE MILAGROSA
XIX.     THE MEETING
XX.      THIEF AND PIRATE
XXI.     THE SERVICE OF KING JAMES
XXII.    HOSTILITIES
XXIII.   HOSTAGES
XXIV.    WAR
XXV.     THE SERVICE OF KING LOUIS
XXVI.    M. DE RIVAROL
XXVII.   CARTAGENA
XXVIII.  THE HONOUR OF M. DE RIVAROL
XXIX.    THE SERVICE OF KING WILLIAM
XXX.     THE LAST FIGHT OF THE ARABELLA
XXXI.    HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR




CHAPTER I

THE MESSENGER


Peter Blood, bachelor of medicine and several other things besides,
smoked a pipe and tended the geraniums boxed on the sill of his
window above Water Lane in the town of Bridgewater.

Sternly disapproving eyes considered him from a window opposite,
but went disregarded.  Mr. Blood's attention was divided between his
task and the stream of humanity in the narrow street below; a stream
which poured for the second time that day towards Castle Field,
where earlier in the afternoon Ferguson, the Duke's chaplain, had
preached a sermon containing more treason than divinity.

These straggling, excited groups were mainly composed of men with
green boughs in their hats and the most ludicrous of weapons in
their hands.  Some, it is true, shouldered fowling pieces, and here
and there a sword was brandished; but more of them were armed with
clubs, and most of them trailed the mammoth pikes fashioned out of
scythes, as formidable to the eye as they were clumsy to the hand.
There were weavers, brewers, carpenters, smiths, masons, bricklayers,
cobblers, and representatives of every other of the trades of peace
among these improvised men of war.  Bridgewater, like Taunton, had
yielded so generously of its manhood to the service of the bastard
Duke that for any to abstain whose age and strength admitted of his
bearing arms was to brand himself a coward or a papist.

Yet Peter Blood, who was not only able to bear arms, but trained and
skilled in their use, who was certainly no coward, and a papist only
when it suited him, tended his geraniums and smoked his pipe on that
warm July evening as indifferently as if nothing were afoot.  One
other thing he did.  He flung after those war-fevered enthusiasts a
line of Horace - a poet for whose work he had early conceived an
inordinate affection:

"Quo, quo, scelesti, ruitis?"

And now perhaps you guess why the hot, intrepid blood inherited from
the roving sires of his Somersetshire mother remained cool amidst
all this frenzied fanatical heat of rebellion; why the turbulent
spirit which had forced him once from the sedate academical bonds
his father would have imposed upon him, should now remain quiet in
the very midst of turbulence.  You realize how he regarded these
men who were rallying to the banners of liberty - the banners woven
by the virgins of Taunton, the girls from the seminaries of Miss
Blake and Mrs. Musgrove, who - as the ballad runs - had ripped open
their silk petticoats to make colours for King Monmouth's army.
That Latin line, contemptuously flung after them as they clattered
down the cobbled street, reveals his mind.  To him they were fools
rushing in wicked frenzy upon their ruin.

You see, he knew too much about this fellow Monmouth and the pretty
brown slut who had borne him, to be deceived by the legend of
legitimacy, on the strength of which this standard of rebellion had
been raised.  He had read the absurd proclamation posted at the
Cross at Bridgewater - as it had been posted also at Taunton and
elsewhere - setting forth that "upon the decease of our Sovereign
Lord Charles the Second, the right of succession to the Crown of
England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, with the dominions and
territories thereunto belonging, did legally descend and devolve
upon the most illustrious and high-born Prince James, Duke of
Monmouth, son and heir apparent to the said King Charles the Second."

It had moved him to laughter, as had the further announcement that
"James Duke of York did first cause the said late King to be
poysoned, and immediately thereupon did usurp and invade the Crown."

He knew not which was the greater lie.  For Mr. Blood had spent a
third of his life in the Netherlands, where this same James Scott
 - who now proclaimed himself James the Second, by the grace of God,
King, et cetera - first saw the light some six-and-thirty years ago,
and he was acquainted with the story current there of the fellow's
real paternity.  Far from being legitimate - by virtue of a
pretended secret marriage between Charles Stuart and Lucy Walter
 - it was possible that this Monmouth who now proclaimed himself
King of England was not even the illegitimate child of the late
sovereign.  What but ruin and disaster could be the end of this
grotesque pretension?  How could it be hoped that England would
ever swallow such a Perkin?  And it was on his behalf, to uphold
his fantastic claim, that these West Country clods, led by a few
armigerous Whigs, had been seduced into rebellion!

"Quo, quo, scelesti, ruitis?"

He laughed and sighed in one; but the laugh dominated the sigh, for
Mr. Blood was unsympathetic, as are most self-sufficient men; and he
was very self-sufficient; adversity had taught him so to be.  A more
tender-hearted man, possessing his vision and his knowledge, might
have found cause for tears in the contemplation of these ardent,
simple, Nonconformist sheep going forth to the shambles - escorted
to the rallying ground on Castle Field by wives and daughters,
sweethearts and mothers, sustained by the delusion that they were
to take the field in defence of Right, of Liberty, and of Religion.
For he knew, as all Bridgewater knew and had known now for some
hours, that it was Monmouth's intention to deliver battle that same
night.  The Duke was to lead a surprise attack upon the Royalist
army under Feversham that was now encamped on Sedgemoor.  Mr. Blood
assumed that Lord Feversham would be equally well-informed, and if
in this assumption he was wrong, at least he was justified of it.
He was not to suppose the Royalist commander so indifferently
skilled in the trade he followed.

Mr. Blood knocked the ashes from his pipe, and drew back to close
his window.  As he did so, his glance travelling straight across
the street met at last the glance of those hostile eyes that watched
him.  There were two pairs, and they belonged to the Misses Pitt,
two amiable, sentimental maiden ladies who yielded to none in
Bridgewater in their worship of the handsome Monmouth.

Mr. Blood smiled and inclined his head, for he was on friendly terms
with these ladies, one of whom, indeed, had been for a little while
his patient.  But there was no response to his greeting.  Instead,
the eyes gave him back a stare of cold disdain.  The smile on his
thin lips grew a little broader, a little less pleasant.  He
understood the reason of that hostility, which had been daily growing
in this past week since Monmouth had come to turn the brains of women
of all ages.  The Misses Pitt, he apprehended, contemned him that he,
a young and vigorous man, of a military training which might now be
valuable to the Cause, should stand aloof; that he should placidly
smoke his pipe and tend his geraniums on this evening of all
evenings, when men of spirit were rallying to the Protestant
Champion, offering their blood to place him on the throne where he
belonged.

If Mr. Blood had condescended to debate the matter with these ladies,
he might have urged that having had his fill of wandering and
adventuring, he was now embarked upon the career for which he had
been originally intended and for which his studies had equipped him;
that he was a man of medicine and not of war; a healer, not a slayer.
But they would have answered him, he knew, that in such a cause it
behoved every man who deemed himself a man to take up arms.  They
would have pointed out that their own nephew Jeremiah, who was by
trade a sailor, the master of a ship - which by an ill-chance for
that young man had come to anchor at this season in Bridgewater Bay
 - had quitted the helm to snatch up a musket in defence of Right.
But Mr. Blood was not of those who argue.  As I have said, he was
a self-sufficient man.

He closed the window, drew the curtains, and turned to the pleasant,
candle-lighted room, and the table on which Mrs. Barlow, his
housekeeper, was in the very act of spreading supper.  To her,
however, he spoke aloud his thought.

"It's out of favour I am with the vinegary virgins over the way."

He had a pleasant, vibrant voice, whose metallic ring was softened
and muted by the Irish accent which in all his wanderings he had
never lost.  It was a voice that could woo seductively and
caressingly, or command in such a way as to compel obedience.
Indeed, the man's whole nature was in that voice of his.  For the
rest of him, he was tall and spare, swarthy of tint as a gipsy,
with eyes that were startlingly blue in that dark face and under
those level black brows.  In their glance those eyes, flanking a
high-bridged, intrepid nose, were of singular penetration and of
a steady haughtiness that went well with his firm lips.  Though
dressed in black as became his calling, yet it was with an
elegance derived from the love of clothes that is peculiar to the
adventurer he had been, rather than to the staid medicus he now
was.  His coat was of fine camlet, and it was laced with silver;
there were ruffles of Mechlin at his wrists and a Mechlin cravat
encased his throat.  His great black periwig was as sedulously
curled as any at Whitehall.

Seeing him thus, and perceiving his real nature, which was plain
upon him, you might have been tempted to speculate how long such
a man would be content to lie by in this little backwater of the
world into which chance had swept him some six months ago; how
long he would continue to pursue the trade for which he had
qualified himself before he had begun to live.  Difficult of belief
though it may be when you know his history, previous and subsequent,
yet it is possible that but for the trick that Fate was about to
play him, he might have continued this peaceful existence, settling
down completely to the life of a doctor in this Somersetshire haven.
It is possible, but not probable.

He was the son of an Irish medicus, by a Somersetshire lady in whose
veins ran the rover blood of the Frobishers, which may account for
a certain wildness that had early manifested itself in his
disposition.  This wildness had profoundly alarmed his father, who
for an Irishman was of a singularly peace-loving nature.  He had
early resolved that the boy should follow his own honourable
profession, and Peter Blood, being quick to learn and oddly greedy
of knowledge, had satisfied his parent by receiving at the age of
twenty the degree of baccalaureus medicinae at Trinity College,
Dublin.  His father survived that satisfaction by three months only.
His mother had then been dead some years already.  Thus Peter Blood
came into an inheritance of some few hundred pounds, with which he
had set out to see the world and give for a season a free rein to
that restless spirit by which he was imbued.  A set of curious
chances led him to take service with the Dutch, then at war with
France; and a predilection for the sea made him elect that this
service should be upon that element.  He had the advantage of a
commission under the famous de Ruyter, and fought in the
Mediterranean engagement in which that great Dutch admiral lost
his life.

After the Peace of Nimeguen his movements are obscure.  But we know
that he spent two years in a Spanish prison, though we do not know
how he contrived to get there.  It may be due to this that upon his
release he took his sword to France, and saw service with the French
in their warring upon the Spanish Netherlands.  Having reached, at
last, the age of thirty-two, his appetite for adventure surfeited,
his health having grown indifferent as the result of a neglected
wound, he was suddenly overwhelmed by homesickness.  He took ship
from Nantes with intent to cross to Ireland.  But the vessel being
driven by stress of weather into Bridgewater Bay, and Blood's health
having grown worse during the voyage, he decided to go ashore there,
additionally urged to it by the fact that it was his mother's native
soil.

Thus in January of that year 1685 he had come to Bridgewater,
possessor of a fortune that was approximately the same as that with
which he had originally set out from Dublin eleven years ago.

Because he liked the place, in which his health was rapidly
restored to him, and because he conceived that he had passed
through adventures enough for a man's lifetime, he determined to
settle there, and take up at last the profession of medicine from
which he had, with so little profit, broken away.

That is all his story, or so much of it as matters up to that night,
six months later, when the battle of Sedgemoor was fought.

Deeming the impending action no affair of his, as indeed it was not,
and indifferent to the activity with which Bridgewater was that
night agog, Mr. Blood closed his ears to the sounds of it, and went
early to bed.  He was peacefully asleep long before eleven o'clock,
at which hour, as you know, Monmouth rode but with his rebel host
along the Bristol Road, circuitously to avoid the marshland that
lay directly between himself and the Royal Army.  You also know
that his numerical advantage - possibly counter-balanced by the
greater steadiness of the regular troops on the other side - and
the advantages he derived from falling by surprise upon an army that
was more or less asleep, were all lost to him by blundering and bad
leadership before ever he was at grips with Feversham.

The armies came into collision in the neighbourhood of two o'clock
in the morning.  Mr. Blood slept undisturbed through the distant
boom of cannon.  Not until four o'clock, when the sun was rising to
dispel the last wisps of mist over that stricken field of battle,
did he awaken from his tranquil slumbers.

He sat up in bed, rubbed the sleep from his eyes, and collected
himself.  Blows were thundering upon the door of his house, and a
voice was calling incoherently.  This was the noise that had aroused
him.  Conceiving that he had to do with some urgent obstetrical
case, he reached for bedgown and slippers, to go below.  On the
landing he almost collided with Mrs. Barlow, new-risen and unsightly,
in a state of panic.  He quieted her cluckings with a word of
reassurance, and went himself to open.

There in slanting golden light of the new-risen sun stood a
breathless, wild-eyed man and a steaming horse.  Smothered in dust
and grime, his clothes in disarray, the left sleeve of his doublet
hanging in rags, this young man opened his lips to speak, yet for
a long moment remained speechless.

In that moment Mr. Blood recognized him for the young shipmaster,
Jeremiah Pitt, the nephew of the maiden ladies opposite, one who
had been drawn by the general enthusiasm into the vortex of that
rebellion.  The street was rousing, awakened by the sailor's noisy
advent; doors were opening, and lattices were being unlatched for
the protrusion of anxious, inquisitive heads.

"Take your time, now," said Mr. Blood.  "I never knew speed made
by overhaste."

But the wild-eyed lad paid no heed to the admonition.  He plunged,
headlong, into speech, gasping, breathless.

"It is Lord Gildoy," he panted.  "He is sore wounded ... at
Oglethorpe's Farm by the river.  I bore him thither ... and ...
and he sent me for you.  Come away!  Come away!"

He would have clutched the doctor, and haled him forth by force in
bedgown and slippers as he was.  But the doctor eluded that too
eager hand.

"To be sure, I'll come," said he.  He was distressed.  Gildoy had
been a very friendly, generous patron to him since his settling in
these parts.  And Mr. Blood was eager enough to do what he now
could to discharge the debt, grieved that the occasion should have
arisen, and in such a manner - for he knew quite well that the rash
young nobleman had been an active agent of the Duke's.  "To be sure,
I'll come.  But first give me leave to get some clothes and other
things that I may need."

"There's no time to lose."

"Be easy now.  I'll lose none.  I tell ye again, ye'll go quickest
by going leisurely.  Come in ... take a chair..."  He threw open the
door of a parlour.

Young Pitt waved aside the invitation.

"I'll wait here.  Make haste, in God's name."  Mr. Blood went off
to dress and to fetch a case of instruments.

Questions concerning the precise nature of Lord Gildoy's hurt could
wait until they were on their way.  Whilst he pulled on his boots,
he gave Mrs. Barlow instructions for the day, which included the
matter of a dinner he was not destined to eat.

When at last he went forth again, Mrs. Barlow clucking after him
like a disgruntled fowl, he found young Pitt smothered in a crowd
of scared, half-dressed townsfolk - mostly women - who had come
hastening for news of how the battle had sped.  The news he gave
them was to be read in the lamentations with which they disturbed
the morning air.

At sight of the doctor, dressed and booted, the case of instruments
tucked under his arm, the messenger disengaged himself from those
who pressed about, shook off his weariness and the two tearful aunts
that clung most closely, and seizing the bridle of his horse, he
climbed to the saddle.

"Come along, sir," he cried.  "Mount behind me."

Mr. Blood, without wasting words, did as he was bidden.  Pitt touched
the horse with his spur.  The little crowd gave way, and thus, upon
the crupper of that doubly-laden horse, clinging to the belt of his
companion, Peter Blood set out upon his Odyssey.  For this Pitt, in
whom he beheld no more than the messenger of a wounded rebel
gentleman, was indeed the very messenger of Fate.



CHAPTER TWO

KIRKE'S DRAGOONS


Oglethorpe's farm stood a mile or so to the south of Bridgewater on
the right bank of the river.  It was a straggling Tudor building
showing grey above the ivy that clothed its lower parts.  Approaching
it now, through the fragrant orchards amid which it seemed to drowse
in Arcadian peace beside the waters of the Parrett, sparkling in
the morning sunlight, Mr. Blood might have had a difficulty in
believing it part of a world tormented by strife and bloodshed.

On the bridge, as they had been riding out of Bridgewater, they had
met a vanguard of fugitives from the field of battle, weary, broken
men, many of them wounded, all of them terror-stricken, staggering
in speedless haste with the last remnants of their strength into the
shelter which it was their vain illusion the town would afford them.
Eyes glazed with lassitude and fear looked up piteously out of haggard
faces at Mr. Blood and his companion as they rode forth; hoarse
voices cried a warning that merciless pursuit was not far behind.
Undeterred, however, young Pitt rode amain along the dusty road by
which these poor fugitives from that swift rout on Sedgemoor came
flocking in ever-increasing numbers.  Presently he swung aside,
and quitting the road took to a pathway that crossed the dewy
meadowlands.  Even here they met odd groups of these human derelicts,
who were scattering in all directions, looking fearfully behind them
as they came through the long grass, expecting at every moment to
see the red coats of the dragoons.

But as Pitt's direction was a southward one, bringing them ever
nearer to Feversham's headquarters, they were presently clear of
that human flotsam and jetsam of the battle, and riding through
the peaceful orchards heavy with the ripening fruit that was soon
to make its annual yield of cider.

At last they alighted on the kidney stones of the courtyard, and
Baynes, the master, of the homestead, grave of countenance and
flustered of manner, gave them welcome.

In the spacious, stone-flagged hall, the doctor found Lord Gildoy
 - a very tall and dark young gentleman, prominent of chin and nose
 - stretched on a cane day-bed under one of the tall mullioned
windows, in the care of Mrs. Baynes and her comely daughter.  His
cheeks were leaden-hued, his eyes closed, and from his blue lips
came with each laboured breath a faint, moaning noise.

Mr. Blood stood for a moment silently considering his patient.  He
deplored that a youth with such bright hopes in life as Lord Gildoy's
should have risked all, perhaps existence itself, to forward the
ambition of a worthless adventurer.  Because he had liked and
honoured this brave lad he paid his case the tribute of a sigh.
Then he knelt to his task, ripped away doublet and underwear to
lay bare his lordship's mangled side, and called for water and linen
and what else he needed for his work.

He was still intent upon it a half-hour later when the dragoons
invaded the homestead.  The clatter of hooves and hoarse shouts
that heralded their approach disturbed him not at all.  For one
thing, he was not easily disturbed; for another, his task absorbed
him.  But his lordship, who had now recovered consciousness,
showed considerable alarm, and the battle-stained Jeremy Pitt sped
to cover in a clothes-press.  Baynes was uneasy, and his wife and
daughter trembled.  Mr. Blood reassured them.

"Why, what's to fear?" he said.  "It's a Christian country, this, and
Christian men do not make war upon the wounded, nor upon those who
harbour them."  He still had, you see, illusions about Christians.
He held a glass of cordial, prepared under his directions, to his
lordship's lips.  "Give your mind peace, my lord.  The worst is done."

And then they came rattling and clanking into the stone-flagged hall
 - a round dozen jack-booted, lobster-coated troopers of the Tangiers
Regiment, led by a sturdy, black-browed fellow with a deal of gold
lace about the breast of his coat.

Baynes stood his ground, his attitude half-defiant, whilst his wife
and daughter shrank away in renewed fear.  Mr. Blood, at the head
of the day-bed, looked over his shoulder to take stock of the
invaders.

The officer barked an order, which brought his men to an attentive
halt, then swaggered forward, his gloved hand bearing down the
pummel of his sword, his spurs jingling musically as he moved.  He
announced his authority to the yeoman.

"I am Captain Hobart, of Colonel Kirke's dragoons.  What rebels do
you harbour?"

The yeoman took alarm at that ferocious truculence.  It expressed
itself in his trembling voice.

"I... I am no harbourer of rebels, sir.  This wounded gentleman...."

"I can see for myself."  The Captain stamped forward to the day-bed,
and scowled down upon the grey-faced sufferer.

"No need to ask how he came in this state and by his wounds.  A
damned rebel, and that's enough for me."  He flung a command at his
dragoons.  "Out with him, my lads."

Mr. Blood got between the day-bed and the troopers.

"In the name of humanity, sir!" said he, on a note of anger.  "This
is England, not Tangiers.  The gentleman is in sore case.  He may
not be moved without peril to his life."

Captain Hobart was amused.

"Oh, I am to be tender of the lives of these rebels!  Odds blood!
Do you think it's to benefit his health we're taking him?  There's
gallows being planted along the road from Weston to Bridgewater,
and he'll serve for one of them as well as another.  Colonel Kirke'll
learn these nonconforming oafs something they'll not forget in
generations."

"You're hanging men without trial?  Faith, then, it's mistaken I am.
We're in Tangiers, after all, it seems, where your regiment belongs."

The Captain considered him with a kindling eye.  He looked him over
from the soles of his riding-boots to the crown of his periwig.  He
noted the spare, active frame, the arrogant poise of the head, the
air of authority that invested Mr. Blood, and soldier recognized
soldier.  The Captain's eyes narrowed.  Recognition went further.

"Who the hell may you be?" he exploded."

"My name is Blood, sir - Peter Blood, at your service."

"Aye - aye!  Codso!  That's the name.  You were in French service
once, were you not?"

If Mr. Blood was surprised, he did not betray it.

"I was."

"Then I remember you - five years ago, or more, you were in Tangiers."

"That is so.  I knew your colonel."

"Faith, you may be renewing the acquaintance."  The Captain laughed
unpleasantly.  "What brings you here, sir?"

"This wounded gentleman.  I was fetched to attend him.  I am a
medicus."

"A doctor - you?"  Scorn of that lie - as he conceived it - rang in
the heavy, hectoring voice.

"Medicinae baccalaureus," said Mr. Blood.

"Don't fling your French at me, man," snapped Hobart.  "Speak
English!"

Mr. Blood's smile annoyed him.

"I am a physician practising my calling in the town of Bridgewater."

The Captain sneered.  "Which you reached by way of Lyme Regis in
the following of your bastard Duke."

It was Mr. Blood's turn to sneer.  "If your wit were as big as your
voice, my dear, it's the great man you'd be by this."

For a moment the dragoon was speechless.  The colour deepened in his
face.

"You may find me great enough to hang you."

"Faith, yes.  Ye've the look and the manners of a hangman.  But if
you practise your trade on my patient here, you may be putting a
rope round your own neck.  He's not the kind you may string up and
no questions asked.  He has the right to trial, and the right to
trial by his peers."

"By his peers?"

The Captain was taken aback by these three words, which Mr. Blood
had stressed.

"Sure, now, any but a fool or a savage would have asked his name
before ordering him to the gallows.  The gentleman is my Lord Gildoy."

And then his lordship spoke for himself, in a weak voice.

"I make no concealment of my association with the Duke of Monmouth.
I'll take the consequences.  But, if you please, I'll take them after
trial - by my peers, as the doctor has said."

The feeble voice ceased, and was followed by a moment's silence.  As
is common in many blustering men, there was a deal of timidity deep
down in Hobart.  The announcement of his lordship's rank had touched
those depths.  A servile upstart, he stood in awe of titles.  And he
stood in awe of his colonel.  Percy Kirke was not lenient with
blunderers.

By a gesture he checked his men.  He must consider.  Mr. Blood,
observing his pause, added further matter for his consideration.

"Ye'll be remembering, Captain, that Lord Gildoy will have friends
and relatives on the Tory side, who'll have something to say to
Colonel Kirke if his lordship should be handled like a common felon.
You'll go warily, Captain, or, as I've said, it's a halter for your
neck ye'll be weaving this morning."

Captain Hobart swept the warning aside with a bluster of contempt,
but he acted upon it none the less.  "Take up the day-bed," said he,
"and convey him on that to Bridgewater.  Lodge him in the gaol until
I take order about him."

"He may not survive the journey," Blood remonstrated.  "He's in no
case to be moved."

"So much the worse for him.  My affair is to round up rebels."  He
confirmed his order by a gesture.  Two of his men took up the day-bed,
and swung to depart with it.

Gildoy made a feeble effort to put forth a hand towards Mr. Blood.
"Sir," he said, "you leave me in your debt.  If I live I shall study
how to discharge it."

Mr. Blood bowed for answer; then to the men:  "Bear him steadily,"
he commanded.  "His life depends on it."

As his lordship was carried out, the Captain became brisk.  He turned
upon the yeoman.

"What other cursed rebels do you harbour?"

"None other, sir.  His lordship...."

"We've dealt with his lordship for the present.  We'll deal with
you in a moment when we've searched your house.  And, by God, if
you've lied to me...."  He broke off, snarling, to give an order.
Four of his dragoons went out.  In a moment they were heard moving
noisily in the adjacent room.  Meanwhile, the Captain was questing
about the hall, sounding the wainscoting with the butt of a pistol.

Mr. Blood saw no profit to himself in lingering.

"By your leave, it's a very good day I'll be wishing you," said he.

"By my leave, you'll remain awhile," the Captain ordered him.

Mr. Blood shrugged, and sat down.  "You're tiresome," he said.
"I wonder your colonel hasn't discovered it yet."

But the Captain did not heed him.  He was stooping to pick up a
soiled and dusty hat in which there was pinned a little bunch of
oak leaves.  It had been lying near the clothes-press in which the
unfortunate Pitt had taken refuge.  The Captain smiled malevolently.
His eyes raked the room, resting first sardonically on the yeoman,
then on the two women in the background, and finally on Mr. Blood,
who sat with one leg thrown over the other in an attitude of
indifference that was far from reflecting his mind.

Then the Captain stepped to the press, and pulled open one of the
wings of its massive oaken door.  He took the huddled inmate by
the collar of his doublet, and lugged him out into the open.

"And who the devil's this?" quoth he.  "Another nobleman?"

Mr. Blood had a vision of those gallows of which Captain Hobart had
spoken, and of this unfortunate young shipmaster going to adorn one
of them, strung up without trial, in the place of the other victim
of whom the Captain had been cheated.  On the spot he invented not
only a title but a whole family for the young rebel.

"Faith, ye've said it, Captain.  This is Viscount Pitt, first cousin
to Sir Thomas Vernon, who's married to that slut Moll Kirke, sister
to your own colonel, and sometime lady in waiting upon King James's
queen."

Both the Captain and his prisoner gasped.  But whereas thereafter
young Pitt discreetly held his peace, the Captain rapped out a nasty
oath.  He considered his prisoner again.

"He's lying, is he not?" he demanded, seizing the lad by the shoulder,
and glaring into his face.  "He's rallying rue, by God!"

"If ye believe that," said Blood, "hang him, and see what happens to
you."

The dragoon glared at the doctor and then at his prisoner.  "Pah!"
He thrust the lad into the hands of his men.  "Fetch him along to
Bridgewater.  And make fast that fellow also," he pointed to Baynes.
"We'll show him what it means to harbour and comfort rebels."

There was a moment of confusion.  Baynes struggled in the grip of
the troopers, protesting vehemently.  The terrified women screamed
until silenced by a greater terror.  The Captain strode across to
them.  He took the girl by the shoulders.  She was a pretty,
golden-headed creature, with soft blue eyes that looked up
entreatingly, piteously into the face of the dragoon.  He leered
upon her, his eyes aglow, took her chin in his hand, and set her
shuddering by his brutal kiss.

"It's an earnest," he said, smiling grimly.  "Let that quiet you,
little rebel, till I've done with these rogues."

And he swung away again, leaving her faint and trembling in the
arms of her anguished mother.  His men stood, grinning, awaiting
orders, the two prisoners now fast pinioned.

"Take them away.  Let Cornet Drake have charge of them."  His
smouldering eye again sought the cowering girl.  "I'll stay awhile
 - to search out this place.  There may be other rebels hidden here."
As an afterthought, he added:  "And take this fellow with you."  He
pointed to Mr. Blood.  "Bestir!"

Mr. Blood started out of his musings.  He had been considering that
in his case of instruments there was a lancet with which he might
perform on Captain Hobart a beneficial operation.  Beneficial, that
is, to humanity.  In any case, the dragoon was obviously plethoric
and would be the better for a blood-letting.  The difficulty lay in
making the opportunity.  He was beginning to wonder if he could
lure the Captain aside with some tale of hidden treasure, when this
untimely interruption set a term to that interesting speculation.

He sought to temporize.

"Faith it will suit me very well," said he.  "For Bridgewater is my
destination, and but that ye detained me I'd have been on my way
thither now."

"Your destination there will be the gaol."

"Ah, bah!  Ye're surely joking!"

"There's a gallows for you if you prefer it.  It's merely a question
of now or later."

Rude hands seized Mr. Blood, and that precious lancet was in the
case on the table out of reach.  He twisted out of the grip of the
dragoons, for he was strong and agile, but they closed with him again
immediately, and bore him down.  Pinning him to the ground, they tied
his wrists behind his back, then roughly pulled him to his feet
again.

"Take him away," said Hobart shortly, and turned to issue his orders
to the other waiting troopers.  "Go search the house, from attic to
cellar; then report to me here."

The soldiers trailed out by the door leading to the interior.  Mr.
Blood was thrust by his guards into the courtyard, where Pitt and
Baynes already waited.  From the threshold of the hall, he looked
back at Captain Hobart, and his sapphire eyes were blazing.  On his
lips trembled a threat of what he would do to Hobart if he should
happen to survive this business.  Betimes he remembered that to
utter it were probably to extinguish his chance of living to execute
it.  For to-day the King's men were masters in the West, and the
West was regarded as enemy country, to be subjected to the worst
horror of war by the victorious side.  Here a captain of horse was
for the moment lord of life and death.

Under the apple-trees in the orchard Mr. Blood and his companions
in misfortune were made fast each to a trooper's stirrup leather.
Then at the sharp order of the cornet, the little troop started
for Bridgewater.  As they set out there was the fullest confirmation
of Mr. Blood's hideous assumption that to the dragoons this was a
conquered enemy country.  There were sounds of rending timbers,
of furniture smashed and overthrown, the shouts and laughter of
brutal men, to announce that this hunt for rebels was no more than
a pretext for pillage and destruction.  Finally above all other
sounds came the piercing screams of a woman in acutest agony.

Baynes checked in his stride, and swung round writhing, his face
ashen.  As a consequence he was jerked from his feet by the rope
that attached him to the stirrup leather, and he was dragged
helplessly a yard or two before the trooper reined in, cursing him
foully, and striking him with the flat of his sword.

It came to Mr. Blood, as he trudged forward under the laden
apple-trees on that fragrant, delicious July morning, that man - as
he had long suspected - was the vilest work of God, and that only
a fool would set himself up as a healer of a species that was best
exterminated.



CHAPTER III

THE LORD CHIEF JUSTICE


It was not until two months later - on the 19th of September, if
you must have the actual date - that Peter Blood was brought to
trial, upon a charge of high treason.  We know that he was not
guilty of this; but we need not doubt that he was quite capable
of it by the time he was indicted.  Those two months of inhuman,
unspeakable imprisonment had moved his mind to a cold and deadly
hatred of King James and his representatives.  It says something
for his fortitude that in all the circumstances he should still
have had a mind at all.  Yet, terrible as was the position of this
entirely innocent man, he had cause for thankfulness on two counts.
The first of these was that he should have been brought to trial at
all; the second, that his trial took place on the date named, and
not a day earlier.  In the very delay which exacerbated him lay -
although he did not realize it - his only chance of avoiding the
gallows.

Easily, but for the favour of Fortune, he might have been one of
those haled, on the morrow of the battle, more or less haphazard
from the overflowing gaol at Bridgewater to be summarily hanged in
the market-place by the bloodthirsty Colonel Kirke.  There was about
the Colonel of the Tangiers Regiment a deadly despatch which might
have disposed in like fashion of all those prisoners, numerous as
they were, but for the vigorous intervention of Bishop Mews, which
put an end to the drumhead courts-martial.

Even so, in that first week after Sedgemoor, Kirke and Feversham
contrived between them to put to death over a hundred men after a
trial so summary as to be no trial at all.  They required human
freights for the gibbets with which they were planting the
countryside, and they little cared how they procured them or what
innocent lives they took.  What, after all, was the life of a clod?
The executioners were kept busy with rope and chopper and cauldrons
of pitch.  I spare you the details of that nauseating picture.  It
is, after all, with the fate of Peter Blood that we are concerned
rather than with that of the Monmouth rebels.

He survived to be included in one of those melancholy droves of
prisoners who, chained in pairs, were marched from Bridgewater to
Taunton.  Those who were too sorely wounded to march were conveyed
in carts, into which they were brutally crowded, their wounds
undressed and festering.  Many were fortunate enough to die upon
the way.  When Blood insisted upon his right to exercise his art so
as to relieve some of this suffering, he was accounted importunate
and threatened with a flogging.  If he had one regret now it was
that he had not been out with Monmouth.  That, of course, was
illogical; but you can hardly expect logic from a man in his position.

His chain companion on that dreadful march was the same Jeremy Pitt
who had been the agent of his present misfortunes.  The young
shipmaster had remained his close companion after their common arrest.
Hence, fortuitously, had they been chained together in the crowded
prison, where they were almost suffocated by the heat and the stench
during those days of July, August, and September.

Scraps of news filtered into the gaol from the outside world.  Some
may have been deliberately allowed to penetrate.  Of these was the
tale of Monmouth's execution.  It created profoundest dismay amongst
those men who were suffering for the Duke and for the religious cause
he had professed to champion.  Many refused utterly to believe it.
A wild story began to circulate that a man resembling Monmouth had
offered himself up in the Duke's stead, and that Monmouth survived
to come again in glory to deliver Zion and make war upon Babylon.

Mr. Blood heard that tale with the same indifference with which he
had received the news of Monmouth's death.  But one shameful thing
he heard in connection with this which left him not quite so unmoved,
and served to nourish the contempt he was forming for King James.
His Majesty had consented to see Monmouth.  To have done so unless
he intended to pardon him was a thing execrable and damnable beyond
belief; for the only other object in granting that interview could
be the evilly mean satisfaction of spurning the abject penitence of
his unfortunate nephew.

Later they heard that Lord Grey, who after the Duke - indeed,
perhaps, before him - was the main leader of the rebellion, had
purchased his own pardon for forty thousand pounds.  Peter Blood
found this of a piece with the rest.  His contempt for King James
blazed out at last.

"Why, here's a filthy mean creature to sit on a throne.  If I had
known as much of him before as I know to-day, I don't doubt I should
have given cause to be where I am now."  And then on a sudden thought:
"And where will Lord Gildoy be, do you suppose?" he asked.

Young Pitt, whom he addressed, turned towards him a face from which
the ruddy tan of the sea had faded almost completely during those
months of captivity.  His grey eyes were round and questioning.
Blood answered him.

"Sure, now, we've never seen his lordship since that day at
Oglethorpe's.  And where are the other gentry that were taken? -
the real leaders of this plaguey rebellion.  Grey's case explains
their absence, I think.  They are wealthy men that can ransom
themselves.  Here awaiting the gallows are none but the unfortunates
who followed; those who had the honour to lead them go free.  It's
a curious and instructive reversal of the usual way of these things.
Faith, it's an uncertain world entirely!"

He laughed, and settled down into that spirit of scorn, wrapped in
which he stepped later into the great hall of Taunton Castle to take
his trial.  With him went Pitt and the yeoman Baynes.  The three of
them were to be tried together, and their case was to open the
proceedings of that ghastly day.

The hall, even to the galleries - thronged with spectators, most of
whom were ladies - was hung in scarlet; a pleasant conceit, this, of
the Lord Chief Justice's, who naturally enough preferred the colour
that should reflect his own bloody mind.

At the upper end, on a raised dais, sat the Lords Commissioners, the
five judges in their scarlet robes and heavy dark periwigs, Baron
Jeffreys of Wem enthroned in the middle place.

The prisoners filed in under guard.  The crier called for silence
under pain of imprisonment, and as the hum of voices gradually became
hushed, Mr. Blood considered with interest the twelve good men and
true that composed the jury.  Neither good nor true did they look.
They were scared, uneasy, and hangdog as any set of thieves caught
with their hands in the pockets of their neighbours.  They were
twelve shaken men, each of whom stood between the sword of the Lord
Chief Justice's recent bloodthirsty charge and the wall of his own
conscience.

From them Mr. Blood's calm, deliberate glance passed on to consider
the Lords Commissioners, and particularly the presiding Judge, that
Lord Jeffreys, whose terrible fame had come ahead of him from
Dorchester.

He beheld a tall, slight man on the young side of forty, with an
oval face that was delicately beautiful.  There were dark stains of
suffering or sleeplessness under the low-lidded eyes, heightening
their brilliance and their gentle melancholy.  The face was very
pale, save for the vivid colour of the full lips and the hectic
flush on the rather high but inconspicuous cheek-bones.  It was
something in those lips that marred the perfection of that
countenance; a fault, elusive but undeniable, lurked there to belie
the fine sensitiveness of those nostrils, the tenderness of those
dark, liquid eyes and the noble calm of that pale brow.

The physician in Mr. Blood regarded the man with peculiar interest
knowing as he did the agonizing malady from which his lordship
suffered, and the amazingly irregular, debauched life that he led
in spite of it - perhaps because of it.

"Peter Blood, hold up your hand!"

Abruptly he was recalled to his position by the harsh voice of the
clerk of arraigns.  His obedience was mechanical, and the clerk
droned out the wordy indictment which pronounced Peter Blood a
false traitor against the Most Illustrious and Most Excellent Prince,
James the Second, by the grace of God, of England, Scotland, France,
and Ireland King, his supreme and natural lord.  It informed him
that, having no fear of God in his heart, but being moved and
seduced by the instigation of the Devil, he had failed in the love
and true and due natural obedience towards his said lord the King,
and had moved to disturb the peace and tranquillity of the kingdom
and to stir up war and rebellion to depose his said lord the King
from the title, honour, and the regal name of the imperial crown -
and much more of the same kind, at the end of all of which he was
invited to say whether he was guilty or not guilty.  He answered
more than was asked.

"It's entirely innocent I am."

A small, sharp-faced man at a table before and to the right of him
bounced up.  It was Mr. Pollexfen, the Judge-Advocate.

"Are you guilty or not guilty?" snapped this peppery gentleman.
"You must take the words."

"Words, is it?" said Peter Blood.  "Oh - not guilty."  And he went
on, addressing himself to the bench.  "On this same subject of words,
may it please your lordships, I am guilty of nothing to justify any
of those words I have heard used to describe me, unless it be of a
want of patience at having been closely confined for two months and
longer in a foetid gaol with great peril to my health and even life."

Being started, he would have added a deal more; but at this point
the Lord Chief Justice interposed in a gentle, rather plaintive
voice.

"Look you, sir:  because we must observe the common and usual methods
of trial, I must interrupt you now.  You are no doubt ignorant of
the forms of law?"

"Not only ignorant, my lord, but hitherto most happy in that
ignorance.  I could gladly have forgone this acquaintance with them."

A pale smile momentarily lightened the wistful countenance.

"I believe you.  You shall be fully heard when you come to your
defence.  But anything you say now is altogether irregular and
improper."

Enheartened by that apparent sympathy and consideration, Mr. Blood
answered thereafter, as was required of him, that he would be tried
by God and his country.  Whereupon, having prayed to God to send him
a good deliverance, the clerk called upon Andrew Baynes to hold up
his hand and plead.

From Baynes, who pleaded not guilty, the clerk passed on to Pitt,
who boldly owned his guilt.  The Lord Chief Justice stirred at that.

"Come; that's better," quoth he, and his four scarlet brethren
nodded.  "If all were as obstinate as his two fellow-rebels, there
would never be an end."

After that ominous interpolation, delivered with an inhuman iciness
that sent a shiver through the court, Mr. Pollexfen got to his feet.
With great prolixity he stated the general case against the three
men, and the particular case against Peter Blood, whose indictment
was to be taken first.

The only witness called for the King was Captain Hobart.  He
testified briskly to the manner in which he had found and taken the
three prisoners, together with Lord Gildoy.  Upon the orders of his
colonel he would have hanged Pitt out of hand, but was restrained
by the lies of the prisoner Blood, who led him to believe that Pitt
was a peer of the realm and a person of consideration.

As the Captain's evidence concluded, Lord Jeffreys looked across at
Peter Blood.

"Will the prisoner Blood ask the witness any questions?"

"None, my lord.  He has correctly related what occurred."

"I am glad to have your admission of that without any of the
prevarications that are usual in your kind.  And I will say this,
that here prevarication would avail you little.  For we always have
the truth in the end.  Be sure of that."

Baynes and Pitt similarly admitted the accuracy of the Captain's
evidence, whereupon the scarlet figure of the Lord Chief Justice
heaved a sigh of relief.

"This being so, let us get on, in God's name; for we have much to
do."  There was now no trace of gentleness in his voice.  It was
brisk and rasping, and the lips through which it passed were curved
in scorn.  "I take it, Mr. Pollexfen, that the wicked treason of
these three rogues being established - indeed, admitted by them
 - there is no more to be said."

Peter Blood's voice rang out crisply, on a note that almost seemed
to contain laughter.

"May it please your lordship, but there's a deal more to be said."

His lordship looked at him, first in blank amazement at his audacity,
then gradually with an expression of dull anger.  The scarlet lips
fell into unpleasant, cruel lines that transfigured the whole
countenance.

"How now, rogue?  Would you waste our time with idle subterfuge?"

"I would have your lordship and the gentlemen of the jury hear me
on my defence, as your lordship promised that I should be heard."

"Why, so you shall, villain; so you shall."  His lordship's voice
was harsh as a file.  He writhed as he spoke, and for an instant
his features were distorted.  A delicate dead-white hand, on which
the veins showed blue, brought forth a handkerchief with which he
dabbed his lips and then his brow.  Observing him with his
physician's eye, Peter Blood judged him a prey to the pain of the
disease that was destroying him.  "So you shall.  But after the
admission made, what defence remains?"

"You shall judge, my lord."

"That is the purpose for which I sit here."

"And so shall you, gentlemen."  Blood looked from judge to jury.
The latter shifted uncomfortably under the confident flash of his
blue eyes.  Lord Jeffreys's bullying charge had whipped the spirit
out of them.  Had they, themselves, been prisoners accused of
treason, he could not have arraigned them more ferociously.

Peter Blood stood boldly forward, erect, self-possessed, and
saturnine.  He was freshly shaven, and his periwig, if out of curl,
was at least carefully combed and dressed.

"Captain Hobart has testified to what he knows - that he found me
at Oglethorpe's Farm on the Monday morning after the battle at
Weston.  But he has not told you what I did there."

Again the Judge broke in.  "Why, what should you have been doing
there in the company of rebels, two of whom - Lord Gildoy and your
fellow there - have already admitted their guilt?"

"That is what I beg leave to tell your lordship."

"I pray you do, and in God's name be brief, man.  For if I am to be
troubled with the say of all you traitor dogs, I may sit here until
the Spring Assizes."

"I was there, my lord, in my quality as a physician, to dress Lord
Gildoy's wounds."

"What's this?  Do you tell us that you are a physician?"

"A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin."

"Good God!" cried Lord Jeffreys, his voice suddenly swelling, his
eyes upon the jury.  "What an impudent rogue is this!  You heard the
witness say that he had known him in Tangiers some years ago, and
that he was then an officer in the French service.  You heard the
prisoner admit that the witness had spoken the truth?"

"Why, so he had.  Yet what I am telling you is also true, so it is.
For some years I was a soldier; but before that I was a physician,
and I have been one again since January last, established in
Bridgewater, as I can bring a hundred witnesses to prove."

"There's not the need to waste our time with that.  I will convict
you out of your own rascally mouth.  I will ask you only this:  How
came you, who represent yourself as a physician peacefully following
your calling in the town of Bridgewater, to be with the army of the
Duke of Monmouth?"

"I was never with that army.  No witness has sworn to that, and I
dare swear that no witness will.  I never was attracted to the late
rebellion.  I regarded the adventure as a wicked madness.  I take
leave to ask your lordship" (his brogue became more marked than ever)
"what should I, who was born and bred a papist, be doing in the army
of the Protestant Champion?"

"A papist thou?" The judge gloomed on him a moment.  "Art more like
a snivelling, canting Jack Presbyter.  I tell you, man, I can smell
a Presbyterian forty miles."

"Then I'll take leave to marvel that with so keen a nose your
lordship can't smell a papist at four paces."

There was a ripple of laughter in the galleries, instantly quelled
by the fierce glare of the Judge and the voice of the crier.

Lord Jeffreys leaned farther forward upon his desk.  He raised that
delicate white hand, still clutching its handkerchief, and sprouting
from a froth of lace.

"We'll leave your religion out of account for the moment, friend,"
said he.  "But mark what I say to you."  With a minatory forefinger
he beat the time of his words.  "Know, friend, that there is no
religion a man can pretend to can give a countenance to lying.  Thou
hast a precious immortal soul, and there is nothing in the world
equal to it in value.  Consider that the great God of Heaven and
Earth, before Whose tribunal thou and we and all persons are to
stand at the last day, will take vengeance on thee for every
falsehood, and justly strike thee into eternal flames, make thee
drop into the bottomless pit of fire and brimstone, if thou offer
to deviate the least from the truth and nothing but the truth.  For
I tell thee God is not mocked.  On that I charge you to answer
truthfully.  How came you to be taken with these rebels?"

Peter Blood gaped at him a moment in consternation.  The man was
incredible, unreal, fantastic, a nightmare judge.  Then he collected
himself to answer.

"I was summoned that morning to succour Lord Gildoy, and I conceived
it to be the duty imposed upon me by my calling to answer that
summons."

"Did you so?"  The Judge, terrible now of aspect - his face white,
his twisted lips red as the blood for which they thirsted - glared
upon him in evil mockery.  Then he controlled himself as if by an
effort.  He sighed.  He resumed his earlier gentle plaintiveness.
"Lord!  How you waste our time.  But I'll have patience with you.
Who summoned you?"

"Master Pitt there, as he will testify."

"Oh!  Master Pitt will testify - he that is himself a traitor
self-confessed.  Is that your witness?"

"There is also Master Baynes here, who can answer to it."

"Good Master Baynes will have to answer for himself; and I doubt not
he'll be greatly exercised to save his own neck from a halter.
Come, come, sir; are these your only witnesses?"

"I could bring others from Bridgewater, who saw me set out that
morning upon the crupper of Master Pitt's horse."

His lordship smiled.  "It will not be necessary.  For, mark me, I
do not intend to waste more time on you.  Answer me only this:  When
Master Pitt, as you pretend, came to summon you, did you know that
he had been, as you have heard him confess, of Monmouth's following?"

"I did, My lord."

"You did! Ha!"  His lordship looked at the cringing jury and uttered
a short, stabbing laugh.  "Yet in spite of that you went with him?"

"To succour a wounded man, as was my sacred duty."

"Thy sacred duty, sayest thou?"  Fury blazed out of him again.  "Good
God!  What a generation of vipers do we live in!  Thy sacred duty,
rogue, is to thy King and to God.  But let it pass.  Did he tell you
whom it was that you were desired to succour?"

"Lord Gildoy - yes."

"And you knew that Lord Gildoy had been wounded in the battle, and
on what side he fought?"

"I knew."

"And yet, being, as you would have us believe, a true and loyal
subject of our Lord the King, you went to succour him?"

Peter Blood lost patience for a moment.  "My business, my lord, was
with his wounds, not with his politics."

A murmur from the galleries and even from the jury approved him.
It served only to drive his terrible judge into a deeper fury.

"Jesus God!  Was there ever such an impudent villain in the world
as thou?"  He swung, white-faced, to the jury.  "I hope, gentlemen
of the jury, you take notice of the horrible carriage of this traitor
rogue, and withal you cannot but observe the spirit of this sort of
people, what a villainous and devilish one it is.  Out of his own
mouth he has said enough to hang him a dozen times.  Yet is there
more.  Answer me this, sir:  When you cozened Captain Hobart with
your lies concerning the station of this other traitor Pitt, what
was your business then?"

"To save him from being hanged without trial, as was threatened."

"What concern was it of yours whether or how the wretch was hanged?"

"Justice is the concern of every loyal subject, for an injustice
committed by one who holds the King's commission is in some sense
a dishonour to the King's majesty."

It was a shrewd, sharp thrust aimed at the jury, and it reveals,
I think, the alertness of the man's mind, his self-possession ever
steadiest in moments of dire peril.  With any other jury it must
have made the impression that he hoped to make.  It may even have
made its impression upon these poor pusillanimous sheep.  But the
dread judge was there to efface it.

He gasped aloud, then flung himself violently forward.

"Lord of Heaven!" he stormed.  "Was there ever such a canting,
impudent rascal?  But I have done with you.  I see thee, villain, I
see thee already with a halter round thy neck."

Having spoken so, gloatingly, evilly, he sank back again, and
composed himself.  It was as if a curtain fell.  All emotion passed
again from his pale face.  Back to invest it again came that gentle
melancholy.  Speaking after a moment's pause, his voice was soft,
almost tender, yet every word of it carried sharply through that
hushed court.

"If I know my own heart it is not in my nature to desire the hurt
of anybody, much less to delight in his eternal perdition.  It is
out of compassion for you that I have used all these words - because
I would have you have some regard for your immortal soul, and not
ensure its damnation by obdurately persisting in falsehood and
prevarication.  But I see that all the pains in the world, and all
compassion and charity are lost upon you, and therefore I will say
no more to you."  He turned again to the jury that countenance of
wistful beauty.  "Gentlemen, I must tell you for law, of which we
are the judges, and not you, that if any person be in actual
rebellion against the King, and another person - who really and
actually was not in rebellion - does knowingly receive, harbour,
comfort, or succour him, such a person is as much a traitor as he
who indeed bore arms.  We are bound by our oaths and consciences to
declare to you what is law; and you are bound by your oaths and your
consciences to deliver and to declare to us by your verdict the
truth of the facts."

Upon that he proceeded to his summing-up, showing how Baynes and
Blood were both guilty of treason, the first for having harboured
a traitor, the second for having succoured that traitor by dressing
his wounds.  He interlarded his address by sycophantic allusions
to his natural lord and lawful sovereign, the King, whom God had
set over them, and with vituperations of Nonconformity and of
Monmouth, of whom - in his own words - he dared boldly affirm that
the meanest subject within the kingdom that was of legitimate birth
had a better title to the crown.  "Jesus God!  That ever we should
have such a generation of vipers among us," he burst out in
rhetorical frenzy.  And then he sank back as if exhausted by the
violence he had used.  A moment he was still, dabbing his lips again;
then he moved uneasily; once more his features were twisted by pain,
and in a few snarling, almost incoherent words he dismissed the jury
to consider the verdict.

Peter Blood had listened to the intemperate, the blasphemous, and
almost obscene invective of that tirade with a detachment that
afterwards, in retrospect, surprised him.  He was so amazed by the
man, by the reactions taking place in him between mind and body,
and by his methods of bullying and coercing the jury into bloodshed,
that he almost forgot that his own life was at stake.

The absence of that dazed jury was a brief one.  The verdict found
the three prisoners guilty.  Peter Blood looked round the
scarlet-hung court.  For an instant that foam of white faces seemed
to heave before him.  Then he was himself again, and a voice was
asking him what he had to say for himself, why sentence of death
should not be passed upon him, being convicted of high treason.

He laughed, and his laugh jarred uncannily upon the deathly stillness
of the court.  It was all so grotesque, such a mockery of justice
administered by that wistful-eyed jack-pudding in scarlet, who was
himself a mockery - the venal instrument of a brutally spiteful and
vindictive king.  His laughter shocked the austerity of that same
jack-pudding.

"Do you laugh, sirrah, with the rope about your neck, upon the very
threshold of that eternity you are so suddenly to enter into?"

And then Blood took his revenge.

"Faith, it's in better case I am for mirth than your lordship.  For
I have this to say before you deliver judgment.  Your lordship sees
me - an innocent man whose only offence is that I practised charity
 - with a halter round my neck.  Your lordship, being the justiciar,
speaks with knowledge of what is to come to me.  I, being a physician,
may speak with knowledge of what is to come to your lordship.  And I
tell you that I would not now change places with you - that I would
not exchange this halter that you fling about my neck for the stone
that you carry in your body.  The death to which you may doom me is
a light pleasantry by contrast with the death to which your lordship
has been doomed by that Great Judge with whose name your lordship
makes so free."

The Lord Chief Justice sat stiffly upright, his face ashen, his lips
twitching, and whilst you might have counted ten there was no sound
in that paralyzed court after Peter Blood had finished speaking.  All
those who knew Lord Jeffreys regarded this as the lull before the
storm, and braced themselves for the explosion.  But none came.

Slowly, faintly, the colour crept back into that ashen face.  The
scarlet figure lost its rigidity, and bent forward.  His lordship
began to speak.  In a muted voice and briefly - much more briefly
than his wont on such occasions and in a manner entirely mechanical,
the manner of a man whose thoughts are elsewhere while his lips are
speaking - he delivered sentence of death in the prescribed form,
and without the least allusion to what Peter Blood had said.  Having
delivered it, he sank back exhausted, his eyes half-closed, his brow
agleam with sweat.

The prisoners filed out.

Mr. Pollexfen - a Whig at heart despite the position of
Judge-Advocate which he occupied - was overheard by one of the
jurors to mutter in the ear of a brother counsel:

"On my soul, that swarthy rascal has given his lordship a scare.
It's a pity he must hang.  For a man who can frighten Jeffreys
should go far."



CHAPTER IV

HUMAN MERCHANDISE


Mr. Pollexfen was at one and the same time right and wrong - a
condition much more common than is generally supposed.

He was right in his indifferently expressed thought that a man whose
mien and words could daunt such a lord of terror as Jeffreys, should
by the dominance of his nature be able to fashion himself a
considerable destiny.  He was wrong - though justifiably so - in his
assumption that Peter Blood must hang.

I have said that the tribulations with which he was visited as a
result of his errand of mercy to Oglethorpe's Farm contained -
although as yet he did not perceive it, perhaps - two sources of
thankfulness:  one that he was tried at all; the other that his trial
took place on the 19th of September.  Until the 18th, the sentences
passed by the court of the Lords Commissioners had been carried out
literally and expeditiously.  But on the morning of the 19th there
arrived at Taunton a courier from Lord Sunderland, the Secretary of
State, with a letter for Lord Jeffreys wherein he was informed that
His Majesty had been graciously pleased to command that eleven
hundred rebels should be furnished for transportation to some of His
Majesty's southern plantations, Jamaica, Barbados, or any of the
Leeward Islands.

You are not to suppose that this command was dictated by any sense
of mercy.  Lord Churchill was no more than just when he spoke of the
King's heart as being as insensible as marble.  It had been realized
that in these wholesale hangings there was taking place a reckless
waste of valuable material.  Slaves were urgently required in the
plantations, and a healthy, vigorous man could be reckoned worth at
least from ten to fifteen pounds.  Then, there were at court many
gentlemen who had some claim or other upon His Majesty's bounty.
Here was a cheap and ready way to discharge these claims.  From
amongst the convicted rebels a certain number might be set aside to
be bestowed upon those gentlemen, so that they might dispose of them
to their own profit.

My Lord Sunderland's letter gives precise details of the royal
munificence in human flesh.  A thousand prisoners were to be
distributed among some eight courtiers and others, whilst a
postscriptum to his lordship's letter asked for a further hundred
to be held at the disposal of the Queen.  These prisoners were to
be transported at once to His Majesty's southern plantations, and
to be kept there for the space of ten years before being restored
to liberty, the parties to whom they were assigned entering into
security to see that transportation was immediately effected.

We know from Lord Jeffreys's secretary how the Chief Justice
inveighed that night in drunken frenzy against this misplaced
clemency to which His Majesty had been persuaded.  We know how he
attempted by letter to induce the King to reconsider his decision.
But James adhered to it.  It was - apart from the indirect profit
he derived from it - a clemency full worthy of him.  He knew that
to spare lives in this fashion was to convert them into living
deaths.  Many must succumb in torment to the horrors of West
Indian slavery, and so be the envy of their surviving companions.

Thus it happened that Peter Blood, and with him Jeremy Pitt and
Andrew Baynes, instead of being hanged, drawn, and quartered as
their sentences directed, were conveyed to Bristol and there shipped
with some fifty others aboard the Jamaica Merchant.  From close
confinement under hatches, ill-nourishment and foul water, a
sickness broke out amongst them, of which eleven died.  Amongst
these was the unfortunate yeoman from Oglethorpe's Farm, brutally
torn from his quiet homestead amid the fragrant cider orchards
for no other sin but that he had practised mercy.

The mortality might have been higher than it was but for Peter Blood.
At first the master of the Jamaica Merchant had answered with oaths
and threats the doctor's expostulations against permitting men to
perish in this fashion, and his insistence that he should be made
free of the medicine chest and given leave to minister to the sick.
But presently Captain Gardner came to see that he might be brought
to task for these too heavy losses of human merchandise and because
of this he was belatedly glad to avail himself of the skill of Peter
Blood.  The doctor went to work zealously and zestfully, and wrought
so ably that, by his ministrations and by improving the condition of
his fellow-captives, he checked the spread of the disease.

Towards the middle of December the Jamaica Merchant dropped anchor
in Carlisle Bay, and put ashore the forty-two surviving
rebels-convict.

If these unfortunates had imagined - as many of them appear to have
done - that they were coming into some wild, savage country, the
prospect, of which they had a glimpse before they were hustled over
the ship's side into the waiting boats, was enough to correct the
impression.  They beheld a town of sufficiently imposing proportions
composed of houses built upon European notions of architecture, but
without any of the huddle usual in European cities.  The spire of
a church rose dominantly above the red roofs, a fort guarded the
entrance of the wide harbour, with guns thrusting their muzzles
between the crenels, and the wide facade of Government House
revealed itself dominantly placed on a gentle hill above the town.
This hill was vividly green as is an English hill in April, and the
day was such a day as April gives to England, the season of heavy
rains being newly ended.

On a wide cobbled space on the sea front they found a guard of
red-coated militia drawn up to receive them, and a crowd - attracted
by their arrival - which in dress and manner differed little from a
crowd in a seaport at home save that it contained fewer women and a
great number of negroes.

To inspect them, drawn up there on the mole, came Governor Steed,
a short, stout, red-faced gentleman, in blue taffetas burdened by
a prodigious amount of gold lace, who limped a little and leaned
heavily upon a stout ebony cane.  After him, in the uniform of a
colonel of the Barbados Militia, rolled a tall, corpulent man who
towered head and shoulders above the Governor, with malevolence
plainly written on his enormous yellowish countenance.  At his side,
and contrasting oddly with his grossness, moving with an easy
stripling grace, came a slight young lady in a modish riding-gown.
The broad brim of a grey hat with scarlet sweep of ostrich plume
shaded an oval face upon which the climate of the Tropic of Cancer
had made no impression, so delicately fair was its complexion.
Ringlets of red-brown hair hung to her shoulders.  Frankness looked
out from her hazel eyes which were set wide; commiseration repressed
now the mischievousness that normally inhabited her fresh young
mouth.

Peter Blood caught himself staring in a sort of amazement at that
piquant face, which seemed here so out of place, and finding his
stare returned, he shifted uncomfortably.  He grew conscious of the
sorry figure that he cut.  Unwashed, with rank and matted hair and
a disfiguring black beard upon his face, and the erstwhile splendid
suit of black camlet in which he had been taken prisoner now reduced
to rags that would have disgraced a scarecrow, he was in no case for
inspection by such dainty eyes as these.  Nevertheless, they
continued to inspect him with round-eyed, almost childlike wonder
and pity.  Their owner put forth a hand to touch the scarlet sleeve
of her companion, whereupon with an ill-tempered grunt the man swung
his great bulk round so that he directly confronted her.

Looking up into his face, she was speaking to him earnestly, but the
Colonel plainly gave her no more than the  half of his attention.
His little  beady eyes, closely flanking a fleshly, pendulous nose,
had passed from her and were fixed upon fair-haired, sturdy young
Pitt, who was standing beside Blood.

The Governor had also come to a halt, and for a moment now that
little group of three stood in conversation.  What the lady said,
Peter could not hear at all, for she lowered her voice; the Colonel's
reached him in a confused rumble, but the Governor was neither
considerate nor indistinct; he had a high-pitched voice which carried
far, and believing himself witty, he desired to be heard by all.

"But, my dear Colonel Bishop, it is for you to take first choice
from this dainty nosegay, and at your own price.  After that we'll
send the rest to auction."

Colonel Bishop nodded his acknowledgment.  He raised his voice in
answering.  "Your excellency is very good.  But, faith, they're a
weedy lot, not likely to be of much value in the plantation."  His
beady eyes scanned them again, and his contempt of them deepened
the malevolence of his face.  It was as if he were annoyed with
them for being in no better condition.  Then he beckoned forward
Captain Gardner, the master of the Jamaica Merchant, and for some
minutes stood in talk with him over a list which the latter produced
at his request.

Presently he waved aside the list and advanced alone towards the
rebels-convict, his eyes considering them, his lips pursed.  Before
the young Somersetshire shipmaster he came to a halt, and stood an
instant pondering him.  Then he fingered the muscles of the young
man's arm, and bade him open his mouth that he might see his teeth.
He pursed his coarse lips again and nodded.

He spoke to Gardner over his shoulder.

"Fifteen pounds for this one."

The Captain made a face of dismay.  "Fifteen pounds!  It isn't half
what I meant to ask for him."

"It is double what I had meant to give," grunted the Colonel.

"But he would be cheap at thirty pounds, your honour."

"I can get a negro for that.  These white swine don't live.  They're
not fit for the labour."

Gardner broke into protestations of Pitt's health, youth, and vigour.
It was not a man he was discussing; it was a beast of burden.  Pitt,
a sensitive lad, stood mute and unmoving.  Only the ebb and flow of
colour in his cheeks showed the inward struggle by which he
maintained his self-control.

Peter Blood was nauseated by the loathsome haggle.

In the background, moving slowly away down the line of prisoners,
went the lady in conversation with the Governor, who smirked and
preened himself as he limped beside her.  She was unconscious of the
loathly business the Colonel was transacting.  Was she, wondered
Blood, indifferent to it?

Colonel Bishop swung on his heel to pass on.

"I'll go as far as twenty pounds.  Not a penny more, and it's twice
as much as you are like to get from Crabston."

Captain Gardner, recognizing the finality of the tone, sighed and
yielded.  Already Bishop was moving down the line.  For Mr. Blood,
as for a weedy youth on his left, the Colonel had no more than a
glance of contempt.  But the next man, a middle-aged Colossus named
Wolverstone, who had lost an eye at Sedgemoor, drew his regard, and
the haggling was recommenced.

Peter Blood stood there in the brilliant sunshine and inhaled the
fragrant air, which was unlike any air that he had ever breathed.
It was laden with a strange perfume, blend of logwood flower,
pimento, and aromatic cedars.  He lost himself in unprofitable
speculations born of that singular fragrance.  He was in no mood for
conversation, nor was Pitt, who stood dumbly at his side, and who
was afflicted mainly at the moment by the thought that he was at
last about to be separated from this man with whom he had stood
shoulder to shoulder throughout all these troublous months, and
whom he had come to love and depend upon for guidance and sustenance.
A sense of loneliness and misery pervaded him by contrast with which
all that he had endured seemed as nothing.  To Pitt, this separation
was the poignant climax of all his sufferings.

Other buyers came and stared at them, and passed on.  Blood did not
heed them.  And then at the end of the line there was a movement.
Gardner was speaking in a loud voice, making an announcement to the
general public of buyers that had waited until Colonel Bishop had
taken his choice of that human merchandise.  As he finished, Blood,
looking in his direction, noticed that the girl was speaking to
Bishop, and pointing up the line with a silver-hilted riding-whip
she carried.  Bishop shaded his eyes with his hand to look in the
direction in which she was pointing.  Then slowly, with his
ponderous, rolling gait, he approached again accompanied by Gardner,
and followed by the lady and the Governor.

On they came until the Colonel was abreast of Blood.  He would have
passed on, but that the lady tapped his arm with her whip.

"But this is the man I meant," she said.

"This one?"  Contempt rang in the voice.  Peter Blood found himself
staring into a pair of beady brown eyes sunk into a yellow, fleshly
face like currants into a dumpling.  He felt the colour creeping
into his face under the insult of that contemptuous inspection.
"Bah!  A bag of bones.  What should I do with him?"

He was turning away when Gardner interposed.

"He maybe lean, but he's tough; tough and healthy.  When half of
them was sick and the other half sickening, this rogue kept his legs
and doctored his fellows.  But for him there'd ha' been more deaths
than there was.  Say fifteen pounds for him, Colonel.  That's cheap
enough.  He's tough, I tell your honour - tough and strong, though
he be lean.  And he's just the man to bear the heat when it comes.
The climate'll never kill him."

There came a chuckle from Governor Steed.  "You hear, Colonel.
Trust your niece.  Her sex knows a man when it sees one."  And he
laughed, well pleased with his wit.

But he laughed alone.  A cloud of annoyance swept across the face
of the Colonel's niece, whilst the Colonel himself was too absorbed
in the consideration of this bargain to heed the Governor's humour.
He twisted his lip a little, stroking his chin with his hand the
while.  Jeremy Pitt had almost ceased to breathe.

"I'll give you ten pounds for him," said the Colonel at last.

Peter Blood prayed that the offer might be rejected.  For no reason
that he could have given you, he was taken with repugnance at the
thought of becoming the property of this gross animal, and in some
sort the property of that hazel-eyed young girl.  But it would need
more than repugnance to save him from his destiny.  A slave is a
slave, and has no power to shape his fate.  Peter Blood was sold
to Colonel Bishop - a disdainful buyer - for the ignominious sum of
ten pounds.



CHAPTER V

ARABELLA BISHOP


One sunny morning in January, about a month after the arrival of
the Jamaica Merchant at Bridgetown, Miss Arabella Bishop rode out
from her uncle's fine house on the heights to the northwest of the
city.  She was attended by two negroes who trotted after her at a
respectful distance, and her destination was Government House,
whither she went to visit the Governor's lady, who had lately been
ailing.  Reaching the summit of a gentle, grassy slope, she met a
tall, lean man dressed in a sober, gentlemanly fashion, who was
walking in the opposite direction.  He was a stranger to her, and
strangers were rare enough in the island.  And yet in some vague
way he did not seem quite a stranger.

Miss Arabella drew rein, affecting to pause that she might admire
the prospect, which was fair enough to warrant it.  Yet out of the
corner of those hazel eyes she scanned this fellow very attentively
as he came nearer.  She corrected her first impression of his dress.
It was sober enough, but hardly gentlemanly.  Coat and breeches were
of plain homespun; and if the former sat so well upon him it was
more by virtue of his natural grace than by that of tailoring.  His
stockings were of cotton, harsh and plain, and the broad castor,
which he respectfully doffed as he came up with her, was an old one
unadorned by band or feather.  What had seemed to be a periwig at a
little distance was now revealed for the man's own lustrous coiling
black hair.

Out of a brown, shaven, saturnine face two eyes that were startlingly
blue considered her gravely.  The man would have passed on but that
she detained him.

"I think I know you, sir," said she.

Her voice was crisp and boyish, and there was something of boyishness
in her manner - if one can apply the term to so dainty a lady.  It
arose perhaps from an ease, a directness, which disdained the
artifices of her sex, and set her on good terms with all the world.
To this it may be due that Miss Arabella had reached the age of five
and twenty not merely unmarried but unwooed.  She used with all men
a sisterly frankness which in itself contains a quality of aloofness,
rendering it difficult for any man to become her lover.

Her negroes had halted at some distance in the rear, and they
squatted now upon the short grass until it should be her pleasure
to proceed upon her way.

The stranger came to a standstill upon being addressed.

"A lady should know her own property," said he.

"My property?"

"Your uncle's, leastways.  Let me present myself.  I am called Peter
Blood, and I am worth precisely ten pounds.  I know it because that
is the sum your uncle paid for me.  It is not every man has the same
opportunities of ascertaining his real value."

She recognized him then.  She had not seen him since that day upon
the mole a month ago, and that she should not instantly have known
him again despite the interest he had then aroused in her is not
surprising, considering the change he had wrought in his appearance,
which now was hardly that of a slave.

"My God!" said she.  "And you can laugh!"

"It's an achievement," he admitted.  "But then, I have not fared as
ill as I might."

"I have heard of that," said she.

What she had heard was that this rebel-convict had been discovered
to be a physician.  The thing had come to the ears of Governor Steed,
who suffered damnably from the gout, and Governor Steed had borrowed
the fellow from his purchaser.  Whether by skill or good fortune,
Peter Blood had afforded the Governor that relief which his
excellency had failed to obtain from the ministrations of either of
the two physicians practising in Bridgetown.  Then the Governor's
lady had desired him to attend her for the megrims.  Mr. Blood had
found her suffering from nothing worse than peevishness - the result
of a natural petulance aggravated by the dulness of life in Barbados
to a lady of her social aspirations.  But he had prescribed for her
none the less, and she had conceived herself the better for his
prescription.  After that the fame of him had gone through Bridgetown,
and Colonel Bishop had found that there was more profit to be made
out of this new slave by leaving him to pursue his profession than
by setting him to work on the plantations, for which purpose he had
been originally acquired.

"It is yourself, madam, I have to thank for my comparatively easy
and clean condition," said Mr. Blood, "and I am glad to take this
opportunity of doing so."

The gratitude was in his words rather than in his tone.  Was he
mocking, she wondered, and looked at him with the searching frankness
that another might have found disconcerting.  He took the glance for
a question, and answered it.

"If some other planter had bought me," he explained, "it is odds
that the facts of my shining abilities might never have been brought
to light, and I should be hewing and hoeing at this moment like the
poor wretches who were landed with me."

"And why do you thank me for that?  It was my uncle who bought you."

"But he would not have done so had you not urged him.  I perceived
your interest.  At the time I resented it."

"You resented it?"  There was a challenge in her boyish voice.

"I have had no lack of experiences of this mortal life; but to be
bought and sold was a new one, and I was hardly in the mood to love
my purchaser."

"If I urged you upon my uncle, sir, it was that I commiserated you."
There was a slight severity in her tone, as if to reprove the mixture
of mockery and flippancy in which he seemed to be speaking.

She proceeded to explain herself.  "My uncle may appear to you a
hard man.  No doubt he is.  They are all hard men, these planters.
It is the life, I suppose.  But there are others here who are worse.
There is Mr. Crabston, for instance, up at Speightstown.  He was
there on the mole, waiting to buy my uncle's leavings, and if you
had fallen into his hands ...  A dreadful man.  That is why."

He was a little bewildered.

"This interest in a stranger ..." he began.  Then changed the
direction of his probe.  "But there were others as deserving of
commiseration."

"You did not seem quite like the others."

"I am not," said he.

"Oh!" She stared at him, bridling a little.  "You have a good
opinion of yourself."

"On the contrary.  The others are all worthy rebels.  I am not.
That is the difference.  I was one who had not the wit to see that
England requires purifying.  I was content to pursue a doctor's
trade in Bridgewater whilst my betters were shedding their blood
to drive out an unclean tyrant and his rascally crew."

"Sir!" she checked him.  "I think you are talking treason."

"I hope I am not obscure," said he.

"There are those here who would have you flogged if they heard you."

"The Governor would never allow it.  He has the gout, and his lady
has the megrims."

"Do you depend upon that?" She was frankly scornful.

"You have certainly never had the gout; probably not even the
megrims," said he.

She made a little impatient movement with her hand, and looked away
from him a moment, out to sea.  Quite suddenly she looked at him
again; and now her brows were knit.

"But if you are not a rebel, how come you here?"

He saw the thing she apprehended, and he laughed.  "Faith, now, it's
a long story," said he.

"And one perhaps that you would prefer not to tell?"

Briefly on that he told it her.

"My God!  What an infamy!" she cried, when he had done.

"Oh, it's a sweet country England under King James!  There's no need
to commiserate me further.  All things considered I prefer Barbados.
Here at least one can believe in God."

He looked first to right, then to left as he spoke, from the distant
shadowy bulk of Mount Hillbay to the limitless ocean ruffled by the
winds of heaven.  Then, as if the fair prospect rendered him
conscious of his own littleness and the insignificance of his woes,
he fell thoughtful.

"Is that so difficult elsewhere?" she asked him, and she was very
grave.

"Men make it so."

"I see."  She laughed a little, on a note of sadness, it seemed to
him.  "I have never deemed Barbados the earthly mirror of heaven,"
she confessed.  "But no doubt you know your world better than I."
She touched her horse with her little silver-hilted whip.  "I
congratulate you on this easing of your misfortunes."

He bowed, and she moved on.  Her negroes sprang up, and went
trotting after her.

Awhile Peter Blood remained standing there, where she left him,
conning the sunlit waters of Carlisle Bay below, and the shipping
in that spacious haven about which the gulls were fluttering
noisily.

It was a fair enough prospect, he reflected, but it was a prison,
and in announcing that he preferred it to England, he had indulged
that almost laudable form of boasting which lies in belittling our
misadventures.

He turned, and resuming his way, went off in long, swinging strides
towards the little huddle of huts built of mud and wattles - a
miniature village enclosed in a stockade which the plantation slaves
inhabited, and where he, himself, was lodged with them.

Through his mind sang the line of Lovelace:

  "Stone walls do not a prison make,
   Nor iron bars a cage."

But he gave it a fresh meaning, the very converse of that which its
author had intended.  A prison, he reflected, was a prison, though
it had neither walls nor bars, however spacious it might be.  And
as he realized it that morning so he was to realize it increasingly
as time sped on.  Daily he came to think more of his clipped wings,
of his exclusion from the world, and less of the fortuitous liberty
he enjoyed.  Nor did the contrasting of his comparatively easy lot
with that of his unfortunate fellow-convicts bring him the
satisfaction a differently constituted mind might have derived from
it.  Rather did the contemplation of their misery increase the
bitterness that was gathering in his soul.

Of the forty-two who had been landed with him from the Jamaica
Merchant, Colonel Bishop had purchased no less than twenty-five.
The remainder had gone to lesser planters, some of them to
Speightstown, and others still farther north.  What may have been
the lot of the latter he could not tell, but amongst Bishop's slaves
Peter Blood came and went freely, sleeping in their quarters, and
their lot he knew to be a brutalizing misery.  They toiled in the
sugar plantations from sunrise to sunset, and if their labours
flagged, there were the whips of the overseer and his men to quicken
them.  They went in rags, some almost naked; they dwelt in squalor,
and they were ill-nourished on salted meat and maize dumplings -
food which to many of them was for a season at least so nauseating
that two of them sickened and died before Bishop remembered that
their lives had a certain value in labour to him and yielded to
Blood's intercessions for a better care of such as fell ill.  To
curb insubordination, one of them who had rebelled against Kent, the
brutal overseer, was lashed to death by negroes under his comrades'
eyes, and another who had been so misguided as to run away into the
woods was tracked, brought back, flogged, and then branded on the
forehead with the letters "F. T.," that all might know him for a
fugitive traitor as long as he lived.  Fortunately for him the poor
fellow died as a consequence of the flogging.

After that a dull, spiritless resignation settled down upon the
remainder.  The most mutinous were quelled, and accepted their
unspeakable lot with the tragic fortitude of despair.

Peter Blood alone, escaping these excessive sufferings, remained
outwardly unchanged, whilst inwardly the only change in him was a
daily deeper hatred of his kind, a daily deeper longing to escape
from this place where man defiled so foully the lovely work of his
Creator.  It was a longing too vague to amount to a hope.  Hope
here was inadmissible.  And yet he did not yield to despair.  He
set a mask of laughter on his saturnine countenance and went his
way, treating the sick to the profit of Colonel Bishop, and
encroaching further and further upon the preserves of the two
other men of medicine in Bridgetown.

Immune from the degrading punishments and privations of his
fellow-convicts, he was enabled to keep his self-respect, and was
treated without harshness even by the soulless planter to whom he
had been sold.  He owed it all to gout and megrims.  He had won
the esteem of Governor Steed, and - what is even more important
- of Governor Steed's lady, whom he shamelessly and cynically
flattered and humoured.

Occasionally he saw Miss Bishop, and they seldom met but that she
paused to hold him in conversation for some moments, evincing her
interest in him.  Himself, he was never disposed to linger.  He was
not, he told himself, to be deceived by her delicate exterior, her
sapling grace, her easy, boyish ways and pleasant, boyish voice.
In all his life - and it had been very varied - he had never met a
man whom he accounted more beastly than her uncle, and he could not
dissociate her from the man.  She was his niece, of his own blood,
and some of the vices of it, some of the remorseless cruelty of
the wealthy planter must, he argued, inhabit that pleasant body of
hers.  He argued this very often to himself, as if answering and
convincing some instinct that pleaded otherwise, and arguing it he
avoided her when it was possible, and was frigidly civil when it
was not.

Justifiable as his reasoning was, plausible as it may seem, yet he
would have done better to have trusted the instinct that was in
conflict with it.  Though the same blood ran in her veins as in
those of Colonel Bishop, yet hers was free of the vices that tainted
her uncle's, for these vices were not natural to that blood; they
were, in his case, acquired.  Her father, Tom Bishop - that same
Colonel Bishop's brother - had been a kindly, chivalrous, gentle
soul, who, broken-hearted by the early death of a young wife, had
abandoned the Old World and sought an anodyne for his grief in
the New.  He had come out to the Antilles, bringing with him his
little daughter, then five years of age, and had given himself up
to the life of a planter.  He had prospered from the first, as men
sometimes will who care nothing for prosperity.  Prospering, he
had bethought him of his younger brother, a soldier at home
reputed somewhat wild.  He had advised him to come out to Barbados;
and the advice, which at another season William Bishop might have
scorned, reached him at a moment when his wildness was beginning to
bear such fruit that a change of climate was desirable.  William
came, and was admitted by his generous brother to a partnership
in the prosperous plantation.  Some six years later, when Arabella
was fifteen, her father died, leaving her in her uncle's
guardianship.  It was perhaps his one mistake.  But the goodness of
his own nature coloured his views of other men; moreover, himself,
he had conducted the education of his daughter, giving her an
independence of character upon which perhaps he counted unduly.  As
things were, there was little love between uncle and niece.  But
she was dutiful to him, and he was circumspect in his behaviour
before her.  All his life, and for all his wildness, he had gone
in a certain awe of his brother, whose worth he had the wit to
recognize; and now it was almost as if some of that awe was
transferred to his brother's child, who was also, in a sense, his
partner, although she took no active part in the business of the
plantations.

Peter Blood judged her - as we are all too prone to judge - upon
insufficient knowledge.

He was very soon to have cause to correct that judgment.  One day
towards the end of May, when the heat was beginning to grow
oppressive, there crawled into Carlisle Bay a wounded, battered
English ship, the Pride of Devon, her freeboard scarred and broken,
her coach a gaping wreck, her mizzen so shot away that only a jagged
stump remained to tell the place where it had stood.  She had been
in action off Martinique with two Spanish treasure ships, and
although her captain swore that the Spaniards had beset him without
provocation, it is difficult to avoid a suspicion that the encounter
had been brought about quite otherwise.  One of the Spaniards had
fled from the combat, and if the Pride of Devon had not given chase
it was probably because she was by then in no case to do so.  The
other had been sunk, but not before the English ship had transferred
to her own hold a good deal of the treasure aboard the Spaniard.
It was, in fact, one of those piratical affrays which were a
perpetual source of trouble between the courts of St. James's and
the Escurial, complaints emanating now from one and now from the
other side.

Steed, however, after the fashion of most Colonial governors, was
willing enough to dull his wits to the extent of accepting the
English seaman's story, disregarding any evidence that might belie
it.  He shared the hatred so richly deserved by arrogant, overbearing
Spain that was common to men of every other nation from the Bahamas
to the Main.  Therefore he gave the Pride of Devon the shelter she
sought in his harbour and every facility to careen and carry out
repairs.

But before it came to this, they fetched from her hold over a score
of English seamen as battered and broken as the ship herself, and
together with these some half-dozen Spaniards in like case, the
only survivors of a boarding party from the Spanish galleon that
had invaded the English ship and found itself unable to retreat.
These wounded men were conveyed to a long shed on the wharf, and
the medical skill of Bridgetown was summoned to their aid.  Peter
Blood was ordered to bear a hand in this work, and partly because
he spoke Castilian - and he spoke it as fluently as his own native
tongue - partly because of his inferior condition as a slave, he
was given the Spaniards for his patients.

Now Blood had no cause to love Spaniards.  His two years in a Spanish
prison and his subsequent campaigning in the Spanish Netherlands had
shown him a side of the Spanish character which he had found anything
but admirable.  Nevertheless he performed his doctor's duties
zealously and painstakingly, if emotionlessly, and even with a
certain superficial friendliness towards each of his patients.
These were so surprised at having their wounds healed instead of
being summarily hanged that they manifested a docility very unusual
in their kind.  They were shunned, however, by all those charitably
disposed inhabitants of Bridgetown who flocked to the improvised
hospital with gifts of fruit and flowers and delicacies for the
injured English seamen.  Indeed, had the wishes of some of these
inhabitants been regarded, the Spaniards would have been left to
die like vermin, and of this Peter Blood had an example almost at
the very outset.

With the assistance of one of the negroes sent to the shed for the
purpose, he was in the act of setting a broken leg, when a deep,
gruff voice, that he had come to know and dislike as he had never
disliked the voice of living man, abruptly challenged him.

"What are you doing there?"

Blood did not look up from his task.  There was not the need.  He
knew the voice, as I have said.

"I am setting a broken leg," he answered, without pausing in his
labours.

"I can see that, fool."  A bulky body interposed between Peter Blood
and the window.  The half-naked man on the straw rolled his black
eyes to stare up fearfully out of a clay-coloured face at this
intruder.  A knowledge of English was unnecessary to inform him that
here came an enemy.  The harsh, minatory note of that voice
sufficiently expressed the fact.  "I can see that, fool; just as I
can see what the rascal is.  Who gave you leave to set Spanish legs?"

"I am a doctor, Colonel Bishop.  The man is wounded.  It is not for
me to discriminate.  I keep to my trade."

"Do you, by God!  If you'd done that, you wouldn't now be here."

"On the contrary, it is because I did it that I am here."

"Aye, I know that's your lying tale."  The Colonel sneered; and
then, observing Blood to continue his work unmoved, he grew really
angry.  "Will you cease that, and attend to me when I am speaking?"

Peter Blood paused, but only for an instant.  "The man is in pain,"
he said shortly, and resumed his work.

"In pain, is he?  I hope he is, the damned piratical dog.  But will
you heed me, you insubordinate knave?"

The Colonel delivered himself in a roar, infuriated by what he
conceived to be defiance, and defiance expressing itself in the
most unruffled disregard of himself.  His long bamboo cane was
raised to strike.  Peter Blood's blue eyes caught the flash of it,
and he spoke quickly to arrest the blow.

"Not insubordinate, sir, whatever I may be.  I am acting upon the
express orders of Governor Steed."

The Colonel checked, his great face empurpling.  His mouth fell open.

"Governor Steed!" he echoed.  Then he lowered his cane, swung round,
and without another word to Blood rolled away towards the other end
of the shed where the Governor was standing at the moment.

Peter Blood chuckled.  But his triumph was dictated less by
humanitarian considerations than by the reflection that he had
baulked his brutal owner.

The Spaniard, realizing that in this altercation, whatever its
nature, the doctor had stood his friend, ventured in a muted voice
to ask him what had happened.  But the doctor shook his head in
silence, and pursued his work.  His ears were straining to catch
the words now passing between Steed and Bishop.  The Colonel was
blustering and storming, the great bulk of him towering above the
wizened little overdressed figure of the Governor.  But the little
fop was not to be browbeaten.  His excellency was conscious that
he had behind him the force of public opinion to support him.
Some there might be, but they were not many, who held such ruthless
views as Colonel Bishop.  His excellency asserted his authority.
It was by his orders that Blood had devoted himself to the wounded
Spaniards, and his orders were to be carried out.  There was no
more to be said.

Colonel Bishop was of another opinion.  In his view there was a
great deal to be said.  He said it, with great circumstance, loudly,
vehemently, obscenely - for he could be fluently obscene when moved
to anger.

"You talk like a Spaniard, Colonel," said the Governor, and thus
dealt the Colonel's pride a wound that was to smart resentfully
for many a week.  At the moment it struck him silent, and sent him
stamping out of the shed in a rage for which he could find no words.

It was two days later when the ladies of Bridgetown, the wives and
daughters of her planters and merchants, paid their first visit of
charity to the wharf, bringing their gifts to the wounded seamen.

Again Peter Blood was there, ministering to the sufferers in his
care, moving among those unfortunate Spaniards whom no one heeded.
All the charity, all the gifts were for the members of the crew of
the Pride of Devon.  And this Peter Blood accounted natural enough.
But rising suddenly from the re-dressing of a wound, a task in
which he had been absorbed for some moments, he saw to his surprise
that one lady, detached from the general throng, was placing some
plantains and a bundle of succulent sugar cane on the cloak that
served one of his patients for a coverlet.  She was elegantly
dressed in lavender silk and was followed by a half-naked negro
carrying a basket.

Peter Blood, stripped of his coat, the sleeves of his coarse shirt
rolled to the elbow, and holding a bloody rag in his hand, stood at
gaze a moment.  The lady, turning now to confront him, her lips
parting in a smile of recognition, was Arabella Bishop.

"The man's a Spaniard," said he, in the tone of one who corrects a
misapprehension, and also tinged never so faintly by something of
the derision that was in his soul.

The smile with which she had been greeting him withered on her lips.
She frowned and stared at him a moment, with increasing haughtiness.

"So I perceive.  But he's a human being none the less," said she.

That answer, and its implied rebuke, took him by surprise.

"Your uncle, the Colonel, is of a different opinion," said he, when
he had recovered.  "He regards them as vermin to be left to languish
and die of their festering wounds."

She caught the irony now more plainly in his voice.  She continued
to stare at him.

"Why do you tell me this?"

"To warn you that you may be incurring the Colonel's displeasure.
If he had had his way, I should never have been allowed to dress
their wounds."

"And you thought, of course, that I must be of my uncle's mind?"
There was a crispness about her voice, an ominous challenging
sparkle in her hazel eyes.

"I'd not willingly be rude to a lady even in my thoughts," said he.
"But that you should bestow gifts on them, considering that if your
uncle came to hear of it...."  He paused, leaving the sentence
unfinished.  "Ah, well - there it is!" he concluded.

But the lady was not satisfied at all.

"First you impute to me inhumanity, and then cowardice.  Faith!
For a man who would not willingly be rude to a lady even in his
thoughts, it's none so bad."  Her boyish laugh trilled out, but the
note of it jarred his ears this time.

He saw her now, it seemed to him, for the first time, and saw how
he had misjudged her.

"Sure, now, how was I to guess that...  that Colonel Bishop could
have an angel for his niece?" said he recklessly, for he was reckless
as men often are in sudden penitence.

"You wouldn't, of course.  I shouldn't think you often guess aright."
Having withered him with that and her glance, she turned to her
negro and the basket that he carried.  From this she lifted now the
fruits and delicacies with which it was laden, and piled them in
such heaps upon the beds of the six Spaniards that by the time she
had so served the last of them her basket was empty, and there was
nothing left for her own fellow-countrymen.  These, indeed, stood
in no need of her bounty - as she no doubt observed - since they
were being plentifully supplied by others.

Having thus emptied her basket, she called her negro, and without
another word or so much as another glance at Peter Blood, swept out
of the place with her head high and chin thrust forward.

Peter watched her departure.  Then he fetched a sigh.

It startled him to discover that the thought that he had incurred
her anger gave him concern.  It could not have been so yesterday.
It became so only since he had been vouchsafed this revelation of
her true nature.  "Bad cess to it now, it serves me right.  It
seems I know nothing at all of human nature.  But how the devil was
I to guess that a family that can breed a devil like Colonel Bishop
should also breed a saint like this?"



CHAPTER VI

PLANS OF ESCAPE

After that Arabella Bishop went daily to the shed on the wharf with
gifts of fruit, and later of money and of wearing apparel for the
Spanish prisoners.  But she contrived so to time her visits that
Peter Blood never again met her there.  Also his own visits were
growing shorter in a measure as his patients healed.  That they all
throve and returned to health under his care, whilst fully one
third of the wounded in the care of Whacker and Bronson - the two
other surgeons - died of their wounds, served to increase the
reputation in which this rebel-convict stood in Bridgetown.  It may
have been no more than the fortune of war.  But the townsfolk did
not choose so to regard it.  It led to a further dwindling of the
practices of his free colleagues and a further increase of his own
labours and his owner's profit.  Whacker and Bronson laid their
heads together to devise a scheme by which this intolerable state
of things should be brought to an end.  But that is to anticipate.

One day, whether by accident or design, Peter Blood came striding
down the wharf a full half-hour earlier than usual, and so met Miss
Bishop just issuing from the shed.  He doffed his hat and stood
aside to give her passage.  She took it, chin in the air, and eyes
which disdained to look anywhere where the sight of him was possible.

"Miss Arabella," said he, on a coaxing, pleading note.

She grew conscious of his presence, and looked him over with an air
that was faintly, mockingly searching.

"La!" said she.  "It's the delicate-minded gentleman!"

Peter groaned.  "Am I so hopelessly beyond forgiveness?  I ask it
very humbly."

"What condescension!"

"It is cruel to mock me," said he, and adopted mock-humility.  "After
all, I am but a slave.  And you might be ill one of these days."

"What, then?"

"It would be humiliating to send for me if you treat me like an enemy."

"You are not the only doctor in Bridgetown."

"But I am the least dangerous."

She grew suddenly suspicious of him, aware that he was permitting
himself to rally her, and in a measure she had already yielded to
it.  She stiffened, and looked him over again.

"You make too free, I think," she rebuked him.

"A doctor's privilege."

"I am not your patient.  Please to remember it in future."  And on
that, unquestionably angry, she departed.

"Now is she a vixen or am I a fool, or is it both?" he asked the
blue vault of heaven, and then went into the shed.

It was to be a morning of excitements.  As he was leaving an hour
or so later, Whacker, the younger of the other two physicians, joined
him - an unprecedented condescension this, for hitherto neither of
them had addressed him beyond an occasional and surly "good-day!"

"If you are for Colonel Bishop's, I'll walk with you a little way,
Doctor Blood," said he.  He was a short, broad man of five-and-forty
with pendulous cheeks and hard blue eyes.

Peter Blood was startled.  But he dissembled it.

"I am for Government House," said he.

"Ah!  To be sure!  The Governor's lady."  And he laughed; or perhaps
he sneered.  Peter Blood was not quite certain.  "She encroaches a
deal upon your time, I hear.  Youth and good looks, Doctor Blood!
Youth and good looks!  They are inestimable advantages in our
profession  as in others - particularly where the ladies are
concerned."

Peter stared at him.  "If you mean what you seem to mean, you had
better say it to Governor Steed.  It may amuse him."

"You surely misapprehend me."

"I hope so."

"You're so very hot, now!"  The doctor linked his arm through Peter's.
"I protest I desire to be your friend - to serve you.  Now, listen."
Instinctively his voice grew lower.  "This slavery in which you find
yourself must be singularly irksome to a man of parts such as
yourself."

"What intuitions!" cried sardonic Mr. Blood.  But the doctor took
him literally.

"I am no fool, my dear doctor.  I know a man when I see one, and
often I can tell his thoughts."

"If you can tell me mine, you'll persuade me of it," said
Mr. Blood.

Dr. Whacker drew still closer to him as they stepped along the wharf.
He lowered his voice to a still more confidential tone.  His hard
blue eyes peered up into the swart, sardonic face of his companion,
who was a head taller than himself.

"How often have I not seen you staring out over the sea, your soul
in your eyes!  Don't I know what you are thinking?  If you could
escape from this hell of slavery, you could exercise the profession
of which you are an ornament as a free man with pleasure and profit
to yourself.  The world is large.  There are many nations besides
England where a man of your parts would be warmly welcomed.  There
are many colonies besides these English ones."  Lower still came
the voice until it was no more than a whisper.  Yet there was no
one within earshot.  "It is none so far now to the Dutch settlement
of Curacao.  At this time of the year the voyage may safely be
undertaken in a light craft.  And Curacao need be no more than a
stepping-stone to the great world, which would lie open to you once
you were delivered from this bondage."

Dr. Whacker ceased.  He was pale and a little out of breath.  But
his hard eyes continued to study his impassive companion.

"Well?" he said alter a pause.  "What do you say to that?"

Yet Blood did not immediately answer.  His mind was heaving in
tumult, and he was striving to calm it that he might take a proper
survey of this thing flung into it to create so monstrous a
disturbance.  He began where another might have ended.

"I have no money.  And for that a handsome sum would be necessary."

"Did I not say that I desired to be your friend?"

"Why?" asked Peter Blood at point-blank range.

But he never heeded the answer.  Whilst Dr. Whacker was professing
that his heart bled for a brother doctor languishing in slavery,
denied the opportunity which his gifts entitled him to make for
himself, Peter Blood pounced like a hawk upon the obvious truth.
Whacker and his colleague desired to be rid of one who threatened
to ruin them.  Sluggishness of decision was never a fault of Blood's.
He leapt where another crawled.  And so this thought of evasion
never entertained until planted there now by Dr. Whacker sprouted
into instant growth.

"I see, I see," he said, whilst his companion was still talking,
explaining, and to save Dr. Whacker's face he played the hypocrite.
"It is very noble in you - very brotherly, as between men of medicine.
It is what I myself should wish to do in like case."

The hard eyes flashed, the husky voice grew tremulous as the other
asked almost too eagerly:

"You agree, then?  You agree?"

"Agree?"  Blood laughed.  "If I should be caught and brought back,
they'd clip my wings and brand me for life."

"Surely the thing is worth a little risk?"  More tremulous than ever
was the tempter's voice.

"Surely," Blood agreed.  "But it asks more than courage.  It asks
money.  A sloop might be bought for twenty pounds, perhaps."

"It shall be forthcoming.  It shall be a loan, which you shall repay
us - repay me, when you can."

That betraying "us" so hastily retrieved completed Blood's
understanding.  The other doctor was also in the business.

They were approaching the peopled part of the mole.  Quickly, but
eloquently, Blood expressed his thanks, where he knew that no thanks
were due.

"We will talk of this again, sir - to-morrow," he concluded.  "You
have opened for me the gates of hope."

In that at least he tittered no more than the bare truth, and
expressed it very baldly.  It was, indeed, as if a door had been
suddenly flung open to the sunlight for escape from a dark prison
in which a man had thought to spend his life.

He was in haste now to be alone, to straighten out his agitated
mind and plan coherently what was to be done.  Also he must consult
another.  Already he had hit upon that other.  For such a voyage a
navigator would be necessary, and a navigator was ready to his hand
in Jeremy Pitt.  The first thing was to take counsel with the young
shipmaster, who must be associated with him in this business if it
were to be undertaken.  All that day his mind was in turmoil with
this new hope, and he was sick with impatience for night and a
chance to discuss the matter with his chosen partner.  As a result
Blood was betimes that evening in the spacious stockade that enclosed
the huts of the slaves together with the big white house of the
overseer, and he found an opportunity of a few words with Pitt,
unobserved by the others.

"To-night when all are asleep, come to my cabin.  I have something
to say to you."

The young man stared at him, roused by Blood's pregnant tone out
of the mental lethargy into which he had of late been lapsing as a
result of the dehumanizing life he lived.  Then he nodded
understanding and assent, and they moved apart.

The six months of plantation life in Barbados had made an almost
tragic mark upon the young seaman.  His erstwhile bright alertness
was all departed.  His face was growing vacuous, his eyes were dull
and lack-lustre, and he moved in a cringing, furtive manner, like
an over-beaten dog.  He had survived the ill-nourishment, the
excessive work on the sugar plantation under a pitiless sun, the
lashes of the overseer's whip when his labours flagged, and the
deadly, unrelieved animal life to which he was condemned.  But the
price he was paying for survival was the usual price.  He was in
danger of becoming no better than an animal, of sinking to the
level of the negroes who sometimes toiled beside him.  The man,
however, was still there, not yet dormant, but merely torpid from
a surfeit of despair; and the man in him promptly shook off that
torpidity and awoke at the first words Blood spoke to him that
night - awoke and wept.

"Escape?" he panted.  "O God!"  He took his head in his hands,
and fell to sobbing like a child.

"Sh!  Steady now!  Steady!"  Blood admonished him in a whisper,
alarmed by the lad's blubbering.  He crossed to Pitt's side, and
set a restraining hand upon his shoulder.  "For God's sake, command
yourself.  If we're overheard we shall both be flogged for this."

Among the privileges enjoyed by Blood was that of a hut to himself,
and they were alone in this.  But, after all, it was built of
wattles thinly plastered with mud, and its door was composed of
bamboos, through which sound passed very easily.  Though the stockade
was locked for the night, and all within it asleep by now - it was
after midnight - yet a prowling overseer was not impossible, and a
sound of voices must lead to discovery.  Pitt realized this, and
controlled his outburst of emotion.

Sitting close thereafter they talked in whispers for an hour or more,
and all the while those dulled wits of Pitt's were sharpening
themselves anew upon this precious whetstone of hope.  They would
need to recruit others into their enterprise, a half-dozen at least,
a half-score if possible, but no more than that.  They must pick
the best out of that score of survivors of the Monmouth men that
Colonel Bishop had acquired.  Men who understood the sea were
desirable.  But of these there were only two in that unfortunate
gang, and their knowledge was none too full.  They were Hagthorpe,
a gentleman who had served in the Royal Navy, and Nicholas Dyke, who
had been a petty officer in the late king's time, and there was
another who had been a gunner, a man named Ogle.

It was agreed before they parted that Pitt should begin with these
three and then proceed to recruit some six or eight others.  He was
to move with the utmost caution, sounding his men very carefully
before making anything in the nature of a disclosure, and even then
avoid rendering that disclosure so full that its betrayal might
frustrate the plans which as yet had to be worked out in detail.
Labouring with them in the plantations, Pitt would not want for
opportunities of broaching the matter to his fellow-slaves.

"Caution above everything," was Blood's last recommendation to him
at parting.  "Who goes slowly, goes safely, as the Italians have it.
And remember that if you betray yourself, you ruin all, for you are
the only navigator amongst us, and without you there is no escaping."

Pitt reassured him, and slunk off back to his own hut and the straw
that served him for a bed.

Coming next morning to the wharf, Blood found Dr. Whacker in a
generous mood.  Having slept on the matter, he was prepared to
advance the convict any sum up to thirty pounds that would enable
him to acquire a boat capable of taking him away from the settlement.
Blood expressed his thanks becomingly, betraying no sign that he
saw clearly into the true reason of the other's munificence.

"It's not money I'll require," said he, "but the boat itself.  For
who will be selling me a boat and incurring the penalties in Governor
Steed's proclamation?  Ye'll have read it, no doubt?"

Dr. Whacker's heavy face grew overcast.  Thoughtfully he rubbed his
chin.  "I've read it - yes.  And I dare not procure the boat for you.
It would be discovered.  It must be.  And the penalty is a fine of
two hundred pounds besides imprisonment.  It would ruin me.  You'll
see that?"

The high hopes in Blood's soul, began to shrink.  And the shadow of
his despair overcast his face.

"But then..." he faltered.  "There is nothing to be done."

"Nay, nay:  things are not so desperate."  Dr. Whacker smiled a little
with tight lips.  "I've thought of it.  You will see that the man who
buys the boat must be one of those who goes with you - so that he is
not here to answer questions afterwards."

"But who is to go with me save men in my own case?  What I cannot
do, they cannot."

"There are others detained on the island besides slaves.  There are
several who are here for debt, and would be glad enough to spread
their wings.  There's a fellow Nuttall, now, who follows the trade
of a shipwright, whom I happen to know would welcome such a chance
as you might afford him."

"But how should a debtor come with money to buy a boat?  The question
will be asked."

"To be sure it will.  But if you contrive shrewdly, you'll all be
gone before that happens."

Blood nodded understanding, and the doctor, setting a hand upon his
sleeve, unfolded the scheme he had conceived.

"You shall have the money from me at once.  Having received it,
you'll forget that it was I who supplied it to you.  You have friends
in England - relatives, perhaps - who sent it out to you through the
agency of one of your Bridgetown patients, whose name as a man of
honour you will on no account divulge lest you bring trouble upon
him.  That is your tale if there are questions."

He paused, looking hard at Blood.  Blood nodded understanding and
assent.  Relieved, the doctor continued:

"But there should be no questions if you go carefully to work.  You
concert matters With Nuttall.  You enlist him as one of your
companions and a shipwright should be a very useful member of your
crew.  You engage him to discover a likely sloop whose owner is
disposed to sell.  Then let your preparations all be made before the
purchase is effected, so that your escape may follow instantly
upon it before the inevitable questions come to be asked.  You take
me?"

So well did Blood take him that within an hour he contrived to see
Nuttall, and found the fellow as disposed to the business as Dr.
Whacker had predicted.  When he left the shipwright, it was agreed
that Nuttall should seek the boat required, for which Blood would
at once produce the money.

The quest took longer than was expected by Blood, who waited
impatiently with the doctor's gold concealed about his person.  But
at the end of some three weeks, Nuttall - whom he was now meeting
daily - informed him that he had found a serviceable wherry, and
that its owner was disposed to sell it for twenty-two pounds.  That
evening, on the beach, remote from all eyes, Peter Blood handed that
sum to his new associate, and Nuttall went off with instructions to
complete the purchase late on the following day.  He was to bring
the boat to the wharf, where under cover of night Blood and his
fellow-convicts would join him and make off.

Everything was ready.  In the shed, from which all the wounded men
had now been removed and which had since remained untenanted,
Nuttall had concealed the necessary stores: a hundredweight of
bread, a quantity of cheese, a cask of water and some few bottles
of Canary, a compass, quadrant, chart, half-hour glass, log and
line, a tarpaulin, some carpenter's tools, and a lantern and candles.
And in the stockade, all was likewise in readiness.  Hagthorpe, Dyke,
and Ogle had agreed to join the venture, and eight others had been
carefully recruited.  In Pitt's hut, which he shared with five other
rebels-convict, all of whom were to join in this bid for liberty, a
ladder had been constructed in secret during those nights of waiting.
With this they were to surmount the stockade and gain the open.  The
risk of detection, so that they made little noise, was negligible.
Beyond locking them all into that stockade at night, there was no
great precaution taken.  Where, after all, could any so foolish as
to attempt escape hope to conceal himself in that island?  The chief
risk lay in discovery by those of their companions who were to be
left behind.  It was because of these that they must go cautiously
and in silence.

The day that was to have been their last in Barbados was a day of
hope and anxiety to the twelve associates in that enterprise, no
less than to Nuttall in the town below.

Towards sunset, having seen Nuttall depart to purchase and fetch
the sloop to the prearranged moorings at the wharf, Peter Blood
came sauntering towards the stockade, just as the slaves were being
driven in from the fields.  He stood aside at the entrance to let
them pass, and beyond the message of hope flashed by his eyes, he
held no communication with them.

He entered the stockade in their wake, and as they broke their ranks
to seek their various respective huts, he beheld Colonel Bishop in
talk with Kent, the overseer.  The pair were standing by the stocks,
planted in the middle of that green space for the punishment of
offending slaves.

As he advanced, Bishop turned to regard him, scowling.  "Where have
you been this while?" he bawled, and although a minatory note was
normal to the Colonel's voice, yet Blood felt his heart tightening
apprehensively.

"I've been at my work in the town," he answered.  "Mrs. Patch has a
fever and Mr. Dekker has sprained his ankle."

"I sent for you to Dekker's, and you were not there.  You are given
to idling, my fine fellow.  We shall have to quicken you one of
these days unless you cease from abusing the liberty you enjoy.
D'ye forget that ye're a rebel convict?"

"I am not given the chance," said Blood, who never could learn to
curb his tongue.

"By God!  Will you be pert with me?"

Remembering all that was at stake, growing suddenly conscious that
from the huts surrounding the enclosure anxious ears were listening,
he instantly practised an unusual submission.

"Not pert, sir.  I... I am sorry I should have been sought...."

"Aye, and you'll be sorrier yet.  There's the Governor with an
attack of gout, screaming like a wounded horse, and you nowhere to
be found.  Be off, man - away with you at speed to Government House!
You're awaited, I tell you.  Best lend him a horse, Kent, or the
lout'll be all night getting there."

They bustled him away, choking almost from a reluctance that he dared
not show.  The thing was unfortunate; but after all not beyond remedy.
The escape was set for midnight, and he should easily be back by then.
He mounted the horse that Kent procured him, intending to make all
haste.

"How shall I reenter the stockade, sir?" he enquired at parting.

"You'll not reenter it," said Bishop.  "When they've done with you
at Government House, they may find a kennel for you there until
morning."

Peter Blood's heart sank like a stone through water.

"But..." he began.

"Be off, I say.  Will you stand there talking until dark?  His
excellency is waiting for you."  And with his cane Colonel Bishop
slashed the horse's quarters so brutally that the beast bounded
forward all but unseating her rider.

Peter Blood went off in a state of mind bordering on despair.  And
there was occasion for it.  A postponement of the escape at least
until to-morrow night was necessary now, and postponement must mean
the discovery of Nuttall's transaction and the asking of questions
it would be difficult to answer.

It was in his mind to slink back in the night, once his work at
Government House were done, and from the outside of the stockade
make known to Pitt and the others his presence, and so have them
join him that their project might still be carried out.  But in
this he reckoned without the Governor, whom he found really in the
thrall of a severe attack of gout, and almost as severe an attack
of temper nourished by Blood's delay.

The doctor was kept in constant attendance upon him until long after
midnight, when at last he was able to ease the sufferer a little by
a bleeding.  Thereupon he would have withdrawn.  But Steed would
not hear of it.  Blood must sleep in his own chamber to be at hand
in case of need.  It was as if Fate made sport of him.  For that
night at least the escape must be definitely abandoned.

Not until the early hours of the morning did Peter Blood succeed in
making a temporary escape from Government House on the ground that
he required certain medicaments which he must, himself, procure from
the apothecary.

On that pretext, he made an excursion into the awakening town, and
went straight to Nuttall, whom he found in a state of livid panic.
The unfortunate debtor, who had sat up waiting through the night,
conceived that all was discovered and that his own ruin would be
involved.  Peter Blood quieted his fears.

"It will be for to-night instead," he said, with more assurance than
he felt, "if I have to bleed the Governor to death.  Be ready as
last night."

"But if there are questions meanwhile?" bleated Nuttall.  He was a
thin, pale, small-featured, man with weak eyes that now blinked
desperately.

"Answer as best you can.  Use your wits, man.  I can stay no longer."
And Peter went off to the apothecary for his pretexted drugs.

Within an hour of his going came an officer of the Secretary's to
Nuttall's miserable hovel.  The seller of the boat had - as by law
required since the coming of the rebels-convict - duly reported
the sale at the Secretary's office, so that he might obtain the
reimbursement of the ten-pound surety into which every keeper of a
small boat was compelled to enter.  The Secretary's office postponed
this reimbursement until it should have obtained confirmation of
the transaction.

"We are informed that you have bought a wherry from Mr. Robert
Farrell," said the officer.

"That is so," said Nuttall, who conceived that for him this was
the end of the world.

"You are in no haste, it seems, to declare the same at the
Secretary's office."  The emissary had a proper bureaucratic
haughtiness.

Nuttall's weak eyes blinked at a redoubled rate.

"To... to declare it?"

"Ye know it's the law."

"I... I didn't, may it please you."

"But it's in the proclamation published last January."

"I... I can't read, sir.  I... I didn't know."

"Faugh!" The messenger withered him with his disdain.

"Well, now you're informed.  See to it that you are at the
Secretary's office before noon with the ten pounds surety into which
you are obliged to enter."

The pompous officer departed, leaving Nuttall in a cold perspiration
despite the heat of the morning.  He was thankful that the fellow
had not asked the question he most dreaded, which was how he, a
debtor, should come by the money to buy a wherry.  But this he knew
was only a respite.  The question would presently be asked of a
certainty, and then hell would open for him.  He cursed the hour in
which he had been such a fool as to listen to Peter Blood's chatter
of escape.  He thought it very likely that the whole plot would be
discovered, and that he would probably be hanged, or at least branded
and sold into slavery like those other damned rebels-convict, with
whom he had been so mad as to associate himself.  If only he had
the ten pounds for this infernal surety, which until this moment
had never entered into their calculations, it was possible that the
thing might be done quickly and questions postponed until later.
As the Secretary's messenger had overlooked the fact that he was a
debtor, so might the others at the Secretary's office, at least for
a day or two; and in that time he would, he hoped, be beyond the
reach of their questions.  But in the meantime what was to be
done about this money?  And it was to be found before noon!

Nuttall snatched up his hat, and went out in quest of Peter Blood.
But where look for him?  Wandering aimlessly up the irregular,
unpaved street, he ventured to enquire of one or two if they had
seen Dr. Blood that morning.  He affected to be feeling none so
well, and indeed his appearance bore out the deception.  None
could give him information; and since Blood had never told him
of Whacker's share in this business, he walked in his unhappy
ignorance past the door of the one man in Barbados who would
eagerly have saved him in this extremity.

Finally he determined to go up to Colonel Bishop's plantation.
Probably Blood would be there.  If he were not, Nuttall would find
Pitt, and leave a message with him.  He was acquainted with Pitt
and knew of Pitt's share in this business.  His pretext for
seeking Blood must still be that he needed medical assistance.

And at the same time that he set out, insensitive in his anxiety to
the broiling heat, to climb the heights to the north of the town,
Blood was setting out from Government House at last, having so far
eased the Governor's condition as to be permitted to depart.  Being
mounted, he would, but for an unexpected delay, have reached the
stockade ahead of Nuttall, in which case several unhappy events
might have been averted.  The unexpected delay was occasioned by
Miss Arabella Bishop.

They met at the gate of the luxuriant garden of Government House,
and Miss Bishop, herself mounted, stared to see Peter Blood on
horseback.  It happened that he was in good spirits.  The fact that
the Governor's condition had so far improved as to restore him his
freedom of movement had sufficed to remove the depression under
which he had been labouring for the past twelve hours and more.
In its rebound the mercury of his mood had shot higher far than
present circumstances warranted.  He was disposed to be optimistic.
What had failed last night would certainly not fail again to-night.
What was a day, after all?  The Secretary's office might be
troublesome, but not really troublesome for another twenty-four
hours at least; and by then they would be well away.

This joyous confidence of his was his first misfortune.  The next
was that his good spirits were also shared by Miss Bishop, and
that she bore no rancour.  The two things conjoined to make the
delay that in its consequences was so deplorable.

"Good-morning, sir," she hailed him pleasantly.  "It's close upon
a month since last I saw you."

"Twenty-one days to the hour," said he.  "I've counted them."

"I vow I was beginning to believe you dead."

"I have to thank you for the wreath."

"The wreath?"

"To deck my grave," he explained.

"Must you ever be rallying?" she wondered, and looked at him gravely,
remembering that it was his rallying on the last occasion had driven
her away in dudgeon.

"A man must sometimes laugh at himself or go mad," said he.  "Few
realize it.  That is why there are so many madmen in the world."

"You may laugh at yourself all you will, sir.  But sometimes I
think you laugh at me, which is not civil."

"Then, faith, you're wrong.  I laugh only at the comic, and you are
not comic at all."

"What am I, then?" she asked him, laughing.

A moment he pondered her, so fair and fresh to behold, so entirely
maidenly and yet so entirely frank and unabashed.

"You are," he said, "the niece of the man who owns me his slave."
But he spoke lightly.  So lightly that she was encouraged to
insistence.

"Nay, sir, that is an evasion.  You shall answer me truthfully this
morning."

"Truthfully?  To answer you at all is a labour.  But to answer
truthfully!  Oh, well, now, I should say of you that he'll be lucky
who counts you his friend."  It was in his mind to add more.  But
he left it there.

"That's mighty civil," said she.  "You've a nice taste in
compliments, Mr. Blood.  Another in your place...."

"Faith, now, don't I know what another would have said?  Don't I
know my fellow-man at all?"

"Sometimes I think you do, and sometimes I think you don't.  Anyway,
you don't know your fellow-woman.  There was that affair of the
Spaniards."

"Will ye never forget it?"

"Never."

"Bad cess to your memory.  Is there no good in me at all that you
could be dwelling on instead?"

"Oh, several things."

"For instance, now?" He was almost eager.

"You speak excellent Spanish."

"Is that all?" He sank back into dismay.

"Where did you learn it?  Have you been in Spain?"

"That I have.  I was two years in a Spanish prison."

"In prison?"  Her tone suggested apprehensions in which he had no
desire to leave her.

"As a prisoner of war," he explained.  "I was taken fighting with
the French - in French service, that is."

"But you're a doctor!" she cried.

"That's merely a diversion, I think.  By trade I am a soldier - at
least, it's a trade I followed for ten years.  It brought me no great
gear, but it served me better than medicine, which, as you may
observe, has brought me into slavery.  I'm thinking it's more pleasing
in the sight of Heaven to kill men than to heal them.  Sure it must
be."

"But how came you to be a soldier, and to serve the French?"

"I am Irish, you see, and I studied medicine.  Therefore - since it's
a perverse nation we are - ....   Oh, but it's a long story, and the
Colonel will be expecting my return."  She was not in that way to be
defrauded of her entertainment.  If he would wait a moment they would
ride back together.  She had but come to enquire of the Governor's
health at her uncle's request.

So he waited, and so they rode back together to Colonel Bishop's
house.  They rode very slowly, at a walking pace, and some whom
they passed marvelled to see the doctor-slave on such apparently
intimate terms with his owner's niece.  One or two may have promised
themselves that they would drop a hint to the Colonel.  But the two
rode oblivious of all others in the world that morning.  He was
telling her the story of his early turbulent days, and at the end
of it he dwelt more fully than hitherto upon the manner of his arrest
and trial.

The tale was barely done when they drew up at the Colonel's door,
and dismounted, Peter Blood surrendering his nag to one of the negro
grooms, who informed them that the Colonel was from home at the
moment.

Even then they lingered a moment, she detaining him.

"I am sorry, Mr. Blood, that I did not know before," she said, and
there was a suspicion of moisture in those clear hazel eyes.  With
a compelling friendliness she held out her hand to him.

"Why, what difference could it have made?" he asked.

"Some, I think.  You have been very hardly used by Fate."

"Och, now...."  He paused.  His keen sapphire eyes considered her
steadily a moment from under his level black brows.  "It might have
been worse," he said, with a significance which brought a tinge of
colour to her cheeks and a flutter to her eyelids.

He stooped to kiss her hand before releasing it, and she did not
deny him.  Then he turned and strode off towards the stockade a
half-mile away, and a vision of her face went with him, tinted with
a rising blush and a sudden unusual shyness.  He forgot in that
little moment that he was a rebel-convict with ten years of slavery
before him; he forgot that he had planned an escape, which was to
be carried into effect that night; forgot even the peril of discovery
which as a result of the Governor's gout now overhung him.



CHAPTER VII

PIRATES


Mr. James Nuttall made all speed, regardless of the heat, in his
journey from Bridgetown to Colonel Bishop's plantation, and if ever
man was built for speed in a hot climate that man was Mr. James
Nuttall, with his short, thin body, and his long, fleshless legs.
So withered was he that it was hard to believe there were any juices
left in him, yet juices there must have been, for he was sweating
violently by the time he reached the stockade.

At the entrance he almost ran into the overseer Kent, a squat,
bow-legged animal with the arms of a Hercules and the jowl of a
bulldog.

"I am seeking Doctor Blood," he announced breathlessly.

"You are in a rare haste," growled Kent.  "What the devil is it?
Twins?"

"Eh?  Oh!  Nay, nay.  I'm not married, sir.  It's a cousin of mine,
sir."

"What is?"

"He is taken bad, sir," Nuttall lied promptly upon the cue that
Kent himself had afforded him.  "Is the doctor here?"

"That's his hut yonder."  Kent pointed carelessly.  "If he's not
there, he'll be somewhere else."  And he took himself off.  He was
a surly, ungracious beast at all times, readier with the lash of
his whip than with his tongue.

Nuttall watched him go with satisfaction, and even noted the
direction that he took.  Then he plunged into the enclosure, to
verify in mortification that Dr. Blood was not at home.  A man
of sense might have sat down and waited, judging that to be the
quickest and surest way in the end.  But Nuttall had no sense.
He flung out of the stockade again, hesitated a moment as to which
direction he should take, and finally decided to go any way but
the way that Kent had gone.  He sped across the parched savannah
towards the sugar plantation which stood solid as a rampart and
gleaming golden in the dazzling June sunshine.  Avenues intersected
the great blocks of ripening amber cane.  In the distance down one
of these he espied some slaves at work.  Nuttall entered the avenue
and advanced upon them.  They eyed him dully, as he passed them.
Pitt was not of their number, and he dared not ask for him.  He
continued his search for best part of an hour, up one of those
lanes and then down another.  Once an overseer challenged him,
demanding to know his business.  He was looking, he said, for Dr.
Blood.  His cousin was taken ill.  The overseer bade him go to the
devil, and get out of the plantation.  Blood was not there.  If he
was anywhere he would be in his hut in the stockade.

Nuttall passed on, upon the understanding that he would go.  But
he went in the wrong direction; he went on towards the side of the
plantation farthest from the stockade, towards the dense woods that
fringed it there.  The overseer was too contemptuous and perhaps
too languid in the stifling heat of approaching noontide to correct
his course.

Nuttall blundered to the end of the avenue, and round the corner of
it, and there ran into Pitt, alone, toiling with a wooden spade upon
an irrigation channel.  A pair of cotton drawers, loose and ragged,
clothed him from waist to knee; above and below he was naked, save
for a broad hat of plaited straw that sheltered his unkempt golden
head from the rays of the tropical sun.  At sight of him Nuttall
returned thanks aloud to his Maker.  Pitt stared at him, and the
shipwright poured out his dismal news in a dismal tone.  The sum of
it was that he must have ten pounds from Blood that very morning or
they were all undone.  And all he got for his pains and his sweat
was the condemnation of Jeremy Pitt.

"Damn you for a fool!" said the slave.  "If it's Blood you're
seeking, why are you wasting your time here?"

"I can't find him," bleated Nuttall.  He was indignant at his
reception.  He forgot the jangled state of the other's nerves
after a night of anxious wakefulness ending in a dawn of despair.
"I thought that you...."

"You thought that I could drop my spade and go and seek him for you?
Is that what you thought?  My God! that our lives should depend upon
such a dummerhead.  While you waste your time here, the hours are
passing!  And if an overseer should catch you talking to me?  How'll
you explain it?"

For a moment Nuttall was bereft of speech by such ingratitude.
Then he exploded.

"I would to Heaven I had never had no hand in this affair.  I would
so!  I wish that...."

What else he wished was never known, for at that moment round the
block of cane came a big man in biscuit-coloured taffetas followed
by two negroes in cotton drawers who were armed with cutlasses.  He
was not ten yards away, but his approach over the soft, yielding marl
had been unheard.

Mr. Nuttall looked wildly this way and that a moment, then bolted
like a rabbit for the woods, thus doing the most foolish and
betraying thing that in the circumstances it was possible for him to
do.  Pitt groaned and stood still, leaning upon his spade.

"Hi, there!  Stop!" bawled Colonel Bishop after the fugitive, and
added horrible threats tricked out with some rhetorical indecencies.

But the fugitive held amain, and never so much as turned his head.
It was his only remaining hope that Colonel Bishop might not have
seen his face; for the power and influence of Colonel Bishop was
quite sufficient to hang any man whom he thought would be better
dead.

Not until the runagate had vanished into the scrub did the planter
sufficiently recover from his indignant amazement to remember the
two negroes who followed at his heels like a brace of hounds.  It
was a bodyguard without which he never moved in his plantations
since a slave had made an attack upon him and all but strangled him
a couple of years ago.

"After him, you black swine!" he roared at them.  But as they
started he checked them.  "Wait!  Get to heel, damn you!"

It occurred to him that to catch and deal with the fellow there was
not the need to go after him, and perhaps spend the day hunting him
in that cursed wood.  There was Pitt here ready to his hand, and
Pitt should tell him the identity of his bashful friend, and also
the subject of that close and secret talk he had disturbed.  Pitt
might, of course, be reluctant.  So much the worse for Pitt.  The
ingenious Colonel Bishop knew a dozen ways - some of them quite
diverting - of conquering stubbornness in these convict dogs.

He turned now upon the slave a countenance that was inflamed by heat
internal and external, and a pair of heady eyes that were alight
with cruel intelligence.  He stepped forward swinging his light
bamboo cane.

"Who was that runagate?" he asked with terrible suavity.  Leaning
over on his spade, Jeremy Pitt hung his head a little, and shifted
uncomfortably on his bare feet.  Vainly he groped for an answer in
a mind that could do nothing but curse the idiocy of Mr. James
Nuttall.

The planter's bamboo cane fell on the lad's naked shoulders with
stinging force.

"Answer me, you dog!  What's his name?"

Jeremy looked at the burly planter out of sullen, almost defiant
eyes.

"I don't know," he said, and in his voice there was a faint note at
least of the defiance aroused in him by a blow which he dared not,
for his life's sake, return.  His body had remained unyielding under
it, but the spirit within writhed now in torment.

"You don't know?  Well, here's to quicken your wits."  Again the cane
descended.  "Have you thought of his name yet?"

"I have not."

"Stubborn, eh?"  For a moment the Colonel leered.  Then his passion
mastered him.  "'Swounds!  You impudent dog!  D'you trifle with me?
D'you think I'm to be mocked?"

Pitt shrugged, shifted sideways on his feet again, and settled into
dogged silence.  Few things are more provocative; and Colonel Bishop's
temper was never one that required much provocation.  Brute fury now
awoke in him.  Fiercely now he lashed those defenceless shoulders,
accompanying each blow by blasphemy and foul abuse, until, stung
beyond endurance, the lingering embers of his manhood fanned into
momentary flame, Pitt sprang upon his tormentor.

But as he sprang, so also sprang the watchful blacks.  Muscular
bronze arms coiled crushingly about the frail white body, and in a
moment the unfortunate slave stood powerless, his wrists pinioned
behind him in a leathern thong.

Breathing hard, his face mottled, Bishop pondered him a moment.
Then:  "Fetch him along," he said.

Down the long avenue between those golden walls of cane standing
some eight feet high, the wretched Pitt was thrust by his black
captors in the Colonel's wake, stared at with fearful eyes by his
fellow-slaves at work there.  Despair went with him.  What torments
might immediately await him he cared little, horrible though he
knew they would be.  The real source of his mental anguish lay in
the conviction that the elaborately planned escape from this
unutterable hell was frustrated now in the very moment of execution.

They came out upon the green plateau and headed for the stockade
and the overseer's white house.  Pitt's eyes looked out over Carlisle
Bay, of which this plateau commanded a clear view from the fort on
one side to the long sheds of the wharf on the other.  Along this
wharf a few shallow boats were moored, and Pitt caught himself
wondering which of these was the wherry in which with a little luck
they might have been now at sea.  Out over that sea his glance ranged
miserably.

In the roads, standing in for the shore before a gentle breeze that
scarcely ruffled the sapphire surface of the Caribbean, came a
stately red-hulled frigate, flying the English ensign.

Colonel Bishop halted to consider her, shading his eyes with his
fleshly hand.  Light as was the breeze, the vessel spread no canvas
to it beyond that of her foresail.  Furled was her every other sail,
leaving a clear view of the majestic lines of her hull, from towering
stern castle to gilded beakhead that was aflash in the dazzling
sunshine.

So leisurely an advance argued a master indifferently acquainted
with these waters, who preferred to creep forward cautiously,
sounding his way.  At her present rate of progress it would be an
hour, perhaps, before she came to anchorage within the harbour.  And
whilst the Colonel viewed her, admiring, perhaps, the gracious beauty
of her, Pitt was hurried forward into the stockade, and clapped into
the stocks that stood there ready for slaves who required correction.

Colonel Bishop followed him presently, with leisurely, rolling gait.

"A mutinous cur that shows his fangs to his master must learn good
manners at the cost of a striped hide," was all he said before
setting about his executioner's job.

That with his own hands he should do that which most men of his
station would, out of self-respect, have relegated to one of the
negroes, gives you the measure of the man's beastliness.  It was
almost as if with relish, as if gratifying some feral instinct of
cruelty, that he now lashed his victim about head and shoulders.
Soon his cane was reduced, to splinters by his violence.  You know,
perhaps, the sting of a flexible bamboo cane when it is whole.  But
do you realize its murderous quality when it has been split into
several long lithe blades, each with an edge that is of the keenness
of a knife?

When, at last, from very weariness, Colonel Bishop flung away the
stump and thongs to which his cane had been reduced, the wretched
slave's back was bleeding pulp from neck to waist.

As long as full sensibility remained, Jeremy Pitt had made no sound.
But in a measure as from pain his senses were mercifully dulled, he
sank forward in the stocks, and hung there now in a huddled heap,
faintly moaning.

Colonel Bishop set his foot upon the crossbar, and leaned over his
victim, a cruel smile on his full, coarse face.

"Let that teach you a proper submission," said he.  "And now touching
that shy friend of yours, you shall stay here without meat or drink
 - without meat or drink, d' ye hear me?  - until you please to tell
me his name and business."  He took his foot from the bar.  "When
you've had enough of this, send me word, and we'll have the
branding-irons to you."

On that he swung on his heel, and strode out of the stockade, his
negroes following.

Pitt had heard him, as we hear things in our dreams.  At the moment
so spent was he by his cruel punishment, and so deep was the despair
into which he had fallen, that he no longer cared whether he lived
or died.

Soon, however, from the partial stupor which pain had mercifully
induced, a new variety of pain aroused him.  The stocks stood in the
open under the full glare of the tropical sun, and its blistering
rays streamed down upon that mangled, bleeding back until he felt
as if flames of fire were searing it.  And, soon, to this was added
a torment still more unspeakable.  Flies, the cruel flies of the
Antilles, drawn by the scent of blood, descended in a cloud upon him.

Small wonder that the ingenious Colonel Bishop, who so well
understood the art of loosening stubborn tongues, had not deemed it
necessary to have recourse to other means of torture.  Not all his
fiendish cruelty could devise a torment more cruel, more unendurable
than the torments Nature would here procure a man in Pitt's condition.

The slave writhed in his stocks until he was in danger of breaking
his limbs, and writhing, screamed in agony.

Thus was he found by Peter Blood, who seemed to his troubled vision
to materialize suddenly before him.  Mr. Blood carried a large
palmetto leaf.  Having whisked away with this the flies that were
devouring Jeremy's back, he slung it by a strip of fibre from the
lad's neck, so that it protected him from further attacks as well as
from the rays of the sun.  Next, sitting down beside him, he drew
the sufferer's head down on his own shoulder, and bathed his face
from a pannikin of cold water.  Pitt shuddered and moaned on a long,
indrawn breath.

"Drink!" he gasped.  "Drink, for the love of Christ!"  The pannikin
was held to his quivering lips.  He drank greedily, noisily, nor
ceased until he had drained the vessel.  Cooled and revived by the
draught, he attempted to sit up.

"My back!" he screamed.

There was an unusual glint in Mr. Blood's eyes; his lips were
compressed.  But when he parted them to speak, his voice came cool
and steady.

"Be easy, now.  One thing at a time.  Your back's taking no harm at
all for the present, since I've covered it up.  I'm wanting to know
what's happened to you.  D' ye think we can do without a navigator
that ye go and provoke that beast Bishop until he all but kills you?"

Pitt sat up and groaned again.  But this time his anguish was mental
rather than physical.

"I don't think a navigator will be needed this time, Peter."

"What's that?" cried Mr. Blood.

Pitt explained the situation as briefly as he could, in a halting,
gasping speech.  "I'm to rot here until I tell him the identity of
my visitor and his business."

Mr. Blood got up, growling in his throat.  "Bad cess to the filthy
slaver!" said he.  "But it must be contrived, nevertheless.  To the
devil with Nuttall!  Whether he gives surety for the boat or not,
whether he explains it or not, the boat remains, and we're going,
and you're coming with us."

"You're dreaming, Peter," said the prisoner.  "We're not going this
time.  The magistrates will confiscate the boat since the surety's
not paid, even if when they press him Nuttall does not confess the
whole plan and get us all branded on the forehead."

Mr. Blood turned away, and with agony in his eyes looked out to sea
over the blue water by which he had so fondly hoped soon to be
travelling back to freedom.

The great red ship had drawn considerably nearer shore by now.
Slowly, majestically, she was entering the bay.  Already one or two
wherries were putting off from the wharf to board her.  From where
he stood, Mr. Blood could see the glinting of the brass cannons
mounted on the prow above the curving beak-head, and he could make
out the figure of a seaman in the forechains on her larboard side,
leaning out to heave the lead.

An angry voice aroused him from his unhappy thoughts.

"What the devil are you doing here?"

The returning Colonel Bishop came striding into the stockade, his
negroes following ever.

Mr. Blood turned to face him, and over that swarthy countenance
 - which, indeed, by now was tanned to the golden brown of a
half-caste Indian - a mask descended.

"Doing?" said he blandly.  "Why, the duties of my office."

The Colonel, striding furiously forward, observed two things.  The
empty pannikin on the seat beside the prisoner, and the palmetto
leaf protecting his back.  "Have you dared to do this?"  The veins
on the planter's forehead stood out like cords.

"Of course I have."  Mr. Blood's tone was one of faint surprise.

"I said he was to have neither meat nor drink until I ordered it."

"Sure, now, I never heard ye."

"You never heard me?  How should you have heard me when you weren't
here?"

"Then how did ye expect me to know what orders ye'd given?"  Mr.
Blood's tone was positively aggrieved.  "All that I knew was that
one of your slaves was being murthered by the sun and the flies.
And I says to myself, this is one of the Colonel's slaves, and I'm
the Colonel's doctor, and sure it's my duty to be looking after the
Colonel's property.  So I just gave the fellow a spoonful of water
and covered his back from the sun.  And wasn't I right now?"

"Right?"  The Colonel was almost speechless.

"Be easy, now, be easy!" Mr. Blood implored him.  "It's an apoplexy
ye'll be contacting if ye give way to heat like this."

The planter thrust him aside with an imprecation, and stepping
forward tore the palmetto leaf from the prisoner's back.

"In the name of humanity, now...."  Mr. Blood was beginning.

The Colonel swung upon him furiously.  "Out of this!" he commanded.
"And don't come near him again until I send for you, unless you want
to be served in the same way."

He was terrific in his menace, in his bulk, and in the power of him.
But Mr. Blood never flinched.  It came to the Colonel, as he found
himself steadily regarded by those light-blue eyes that looked so
arrestingly odd in that tawny face - like pale sapphires set in
copper - that this rogue had for some time now been growing
presumptuous.  It was a matter that he must presently correct.
Meanwhile Mr. Blood was speaking again, his tone quietly insistent.

"In the name of humanity," he repeated, "ye'll allow me to do what I
can to ease his sufferings, or I swear to you that I'll forsake at
once the duties of a doctor, and that it's devil another patient will
I attend in this unhealthy island at all."

For an instant the Colonel was too amazed to speak. Then -

"By God!" he roared.  "D'ye dare take that tone with me, you dog?
D'ye dare to make terms with me?"

"I do that."  The unflinching blue eyes looked squarely into the
Colonel's, and there was a devil peeping out of them, the devil of
recklessness that is born of despair.

Colonel Bishop considered him for a long moment in silence.  "I've
been too soft with you," he said at last.  "But that's to be mended."
And he tightened his lips.  "I'll have the rods to you, until there's
not an inch of skin left on your dirty back."

"Will ye so?  And what would Governor Steed do, then?"

"Ye're not the only doctor on the island."

Mr. Blood actually laughed.  "And will ye tell that to his excellency,
him with the gout in his foot so bad that he can't stand?  Ye know
very well it's devil another doctor will he tolerate, being an
intelligent man that knows what's good for him."

But the Colonel's brute passion thoroughly aroused was not so easily
to be baulked.  "If you're alive when my blacks have done with you,
perhaps you'll come to your senses."

He swung to his negroes to issue an order.  But it was never issued.
At that moment a terrific rolling thunderclap drowned his voice and
shook the very air.  Colonel Bishop jumped, his negroes jumped with
him, and so even did the apparently imperturbable Mr. Blood.  Then
the four of them stared together seawards.

Down in the bay all that could be seen of the great ship, standing
now within a cable's-length of the fort, were her topmasts thrusting
above a cloud of smoke in which she was enveloped.  From the cliffs
a flight of startled seabirds had risen to circle in the blue,
giving tongue to their alarm, the plaintive curlew noisiest of all.

As those men stared from the eminence on which they stood, not yet
understanding what had taken place, they saw the British Jack dip
from the main truck and vanish into the rising cloud below.  A moment
more, and up through that cloud to replace the flag of England soared
the gold and crimson banner of Castile.  And then they understood.

"Pirates!" roared the Colonel, and again, "Pirates!"

Fear and incredulity were blent in his voice.  He had paled under
his tan until his face was the colour of clay, and there was a wild
fury in his beady eyes.  His negroes looked at him, grinning
idiotically, all teeth and eyeballs.



CHAPTER VIII

SPANIARDS


The stately ship that had been allowed to sail so leisurely into
Carlisle Bay under her false colours was a Spanish privateer, coming
to pay off some of the heavy debt piled up by the predaceous Brethren
of the Coast, and the recent defeat by the Pride of Devon of two
treasure galleons bound for Cadiz.  It happened that the galleon
which escaped in a more or less crippled condition was commanded by
Don Diego de Espinosa y Valdez, who was own brother to the Spanish
Admiral Don Miguel de Espinosa, and who was also a very hasty, proud,
and hot-tempered gentleman.

Galled by his defeat, and choosing to forget that his own conduct
had invited it, he had sworn to teach the English a sharp lesson
which they should remember.  He would take a leaf out of the book
of Morgan and those other robbers of the sea, and make a punitive
raid upon an English settlement.  Unfortunately for himself and for
many others, his brother the Admiral was not at hand to restrain
him when for this purpose he fitted out the Cinco Llagas at San Juan
de Porto Rico.  He chose for his objective the island of Barbados,
whose natural strength was apt to render her defenders careless.  He
chose it also because thither had the Pride of Devon been tracked by
his scouts, and he desired a measure of poetic justice to invest
his vengeance.  And he chose a moment when there were no ships of
war at anchor in Carlisle Bay.

He had succeeded so well in his intentions that he had aroused no
suspicion until he saluted the fort at short range with a broadside
of twenty guns.

And now the four gaping watchers in the stockade on the headland
beheld the great ship creep forward under the rising cloud of smoke,
her mainsail unfurled to increase her steering way, and go about
close-hauled to bring her larboard guns to bear upon the unready fort.

With the crashing roar of that second broadside, Colonel Bishop awoke
from stupefaction to a recollection of where his duty lay.  In the
town below drums were beating frantically, and a trumpet was bleating,
as if the peril needed further advertising.  As commander of the
Barbados Militia, the place of Colonel Bishop was at the head of his
scanty troops, in that fort which the Spanish guns were pounding
into rubble.

Remembering it, he went off at the double, despite his bulk and the
heat, his negroes trotting after him.

Mr. Blood turned to Jeremy Pitt.  He laughed grimly.  "Now that,"
said he, "is what I call a timely interruption.  Though what'll come
of it," he added as an afterthought, "the devil himself knows."

As a third broadside was thundering forth, he picked up the palmetto
leaf and carefully replaced it on the back of his fellow-slave.

And then into the stockade, panting and sweating, came Kent followed
by best part of a score of plantation workers, some of whom were
black and all of whom were in a state of panic.  He led them into
the low white house, to bring them forth again, within a moment, as
it seemed, armed now with muskets and hangers and some of them
equipped with bandoleers.

By this time the rebels-convict were coming in, in twos and threes,
having abandoned their work upon finding themselves unguarded and
upon scenting the general dismay.

Kent paused a moment, as his hastily armed guard dashed forth, to
fling an order to those slaves.

"To the woods!" he bade them.  "Take to the woods, and lie close
there, until this is over, and we've gutted these Spanish swine."

On that he went off in haste after his men, who were to be added to
those massing in the town, so as to oppose and overwhelm the Spanish
landing parties.

The slaves would have obeyed him on the instant but for Mr. Blood.

"What need for haste, and in this heat?" quoth he.  He was
surprisingly cool, they thought.  "Maybe there'll be no need to take
to the woods at all, and, anyway, it will be time enough to do so
when the Spaniards are masters of the town."

And so, joined now by the other stragglers, and numbering in all a
round score - rebels-convict all - they stayed to watch from their
vantage-ground the fortunes of the furious battle that was being
waged below.

The landing was contested by the militia and by every islander
capable of bearing arms with the fierce resoluteness of men who
knew that no quarter was to be expected in defeat.  The ruthlessness
of Spanish soldiery was a byword, and not at his worst had Morgan or
L'Ollonais ever perpetrated such horrors as those of which these
Castilian gentlemen were capable.

But this Spanish commander knew his business, which was more than
could truthfully be said for the Barbados Militia.  Having gained
the advantage of a surprise blow, which had put the fort out of
action, he soon showed them that he was master of the situation.
His guns turned now upon the open space behind the mole, where the
incompetent Bishop had marshalled his men, tore the militia into
bloody rags, and covered the landing parties which were making the
shore in their own boats and in several of those which had rashly
gone out to the great ship before her identity was revealed.

All through the scorching afternoon the battle went on, the rattle
and crack of musketry penetrating ever deeper into the town to show
that the defenders were being driven steadily back.  By sunset two
hundred and fifty Spaniards were masters of Bridgetown, the islanders
were disarmed, and at Government House, Governor Steed - his gout
forgotten in his panic - supported by Colonel Bishop and some lesser
officers, was being informed by Don Diego, with an urbanity that was
itself a mockery, of the sum that would be required in ransom.

For a hundred thousand pieces of eight and fifty head of cattle, Don
Diego would forbear from reducing the place to ashes.  And what time
that suave and courtly commander was settling these details with the
apoplectic British Governor, the Spaniards were smashing and looting,
feasting, drinking, and ravaging after the hideous manner of their
kind.

Mr. Blood, greatly daring, ventured down at dusk into the town.
What he saw there is recorded by Jeremy Pitt to whom he subsequently
related it - in that voluminous log from which the greater part of
my narrative is derived.  I have no intention of repeating any of
it here.  It is all too loathsome and nauseating, incredible, indeed,
that men however abandoned could ever descend such an abyss of
bestial cruelty and lust.

What he saw was fetching him in haste and white-faced out of that
hell again, when in a narrow street a girl hurtled into him,
wild-eyed, her unbound hair streaming behind her as she ran.  After
her, laughing and cursing in a breath, came a heavy-booted Spaniard.
Almost he was upon her, when suddenly Mr. Blood got in his way.  The
doctor had taken a sword from a dead man's side some little time
before and armed himself with it against an emergency.

As the Spaniard checked in anger and surprise, he caught in the dusk
the livid gleam of that sword which Mr. Blood had quickly unsheathed.

"Ah, perro ingles!" he shouted, and flung forward to his death.

"It's hoping I am ye're in a fit state to meet your Maker," said Mr.
Blood, and ran him through the body.  He did the thing skilfully:
with the combined skill of swordsman and surgeon.  The man sank in
a hideous heap without so much as a groan.

Mr. Blood swung to the girl, who leaned panting and sobbing against
a wall.  He caught her by the wrist.

"Come!" he said.

But she hung back, resisting him by her weight.  "Who are you?" she
demanded wildly.

"Will ye wait to see my credentials?" he snapped.  Steps were
clattering towards them from beyond the corner round which she had
fled from that Spanish ruffian.  "Come," he urged again.  And this
time, reassured perhaps by his clear English speech, she went without
further questions.

They sped down an alley and then up another, by great good fortune
meeting no one, for already they were on the outskirts of the town.
They won out of it, and white-faced, physically sick, Mr. Blood
dragged her almost at a run up the hill towards Colonel Bishop's
house.  He told her briefly who and what he was, and thereafter
there was no conversation between them until they reached the big
white house.  It was all in darkness, which at least was reassuring.
If the Spaniards had reached it, there would be lights.  He knocked,
but had to knock again and yet again before he was answered.  Then
it was by a voice from a window above.

"Who is there?"  The voice was Miss Bishop's, a little tremulous,
but unmistakably her own.

Mr. Blood almost fainted in relief.  He had been imagining the
unimaginable.  He had pictured her down in that hell out of which
he had just come.  He had conceived that she might have followed
her uncle into Bridgetown, or committed some other imprudence, and
he turned cold from head to foot at the mere thought of what might
have happened to her.

"It is I - Peter Blood," he gasped.

"What do you want?"

It is doubtful whether she would have come down to open.  For at
such a time as this it was no more than likely that the wretched
plantation slaves might be in revolt and prove as great a danger as
the Spaniards.  But at the sound of her voice, the girl Mr. Blood
had rescued peered up through the gloom.

"Arabella!" she called.  "It is I, Mary Traill."

"Mary!"  The voice ceased above on that exclamation, the head was
withdrawn.  After a brief pause the door gaped wide.  Beyond it in
the wide hall stood Miss Arabella, a slim, virginal figure in white,
mysteriously revealed in the gleam of a single candle which she
carried.

Mr. Blood strode in followed by his distraught companion, who,
falling upon Arabella's slender bosom, surrendered herself to a
passion of tears.  But he wasted no time.

"Whom have you here with you?  What servants?" he demanded sharply.

The only male was James, an old negro groom.

"The very man," said Blood.  "Bid him get out horses.  Then away
with you to Speightstown, or even farther north, where you will be
safe.  Here you are in danger - in dreadful danger."

"But I thought the fighting was over..." she was beginning, pale
and startled.

"So it is.  But the deviltry's only beginning.  Miss Traill will
tell you as you go.  In God's name, madam, take my word for it, and
do as I bid you."

"He... he saved me," sobbed Miss Traill.

"Saved you?"  Miss Bishop was aghast.  "Saved you from what, Mary?"

"Let that wait," snapped Mr. Blood almost angrily.  "You've all
the night for chattering when you're out of this, and away beyond
their reach.  Will you please call James, and do as I say - and at
once!"

"You are very peremptory...."

"Oh, my God!  I am peremptory!  Speak, Miss Trail!, tell her whether
I've cause to be peremptory."

"Yes, yes," the girl cried, shuddering.  "Do as he says - Oh, for
pity's sake, Arabella."

Miss Bishop went off, leaving Mr. Blood and Miss Traill alone again.

"I... I shall never forget what you did, sir," said she, through
her diminishing tears.  She was a slight wisp of a girl, a child,
no more.

"I've done better things in my time.  That's why I'm here," said Mr.
Blood, whose mood seemed to be snappy.

She didn't pretend to understand him, and she didn't make the attempt.

"Did you... did you kill him?" she asked, fearfully.

He stared at her in the flickering candlelight.  "I hope so.  It is
very probable, and it doesn't matter at all," he said.  "What matters
is that this fellow James should fetch the horses."  And he was
stamping off to accelerate these preparations for departure, when
her voice arrested him.

"Don't leave me!  Don't leave me here alone!" she cried in terror.

He paused.  He turned and came slowly back.  Standing above her he
smiled upon her.

"There, there!  You've no cause for alarm.  It's all over now.
You'll be away soon - away to Speightstown, where you'll be quite
safe."

The horses came at last - four of them, for in addition to James who
was to act as her guide, Miss Bishop had her woman, who was not to
be left behind.

Mr. Blood lifted the slight weight of Mary Traill to her horse, then
turned to say good-bye to Miss Bishop, who was already mounted.  He
said it, and seemed to have something to add.  But whatever it was,
it remained unspoken.  The horses started, and receded into the
sapphire starlit night, leaving him standing there before Colonel
Bishop's door.  The last he heard of them was Mary Traill's childlike
voice calling back on a quavering note -

"I shall never forget what you did, Mr. Blood.  I shall never forget."

But as it was not the voice he desired to hear, the assurance brought
him little satisfaction.  He stood there in the dark watching the
fireflies amid the rhododendrons, till the hoofbeats had faded.  Then
he sighed and roused himself.  He had much to do.  His journey into
the town had not been one of idle curiosity to see how the Spaniards
conducted themselves in victory.  It had been inspired by a very
different purpose, and he had gained in the course of it all the
information he desired.  He had an extremely busy night before him,
and must be moving.

He went off briskly in the direction of the stockade, where his
fellow-slaves awaited him in deep anxiety and some hope.



CHAPTER IX

THE REBELS-CONVICT


There were, when the purple gloom of the tropical night descended
upon the Caribbean, not more than ten men on guard aboard the Cinco
Llagas, so confident - and with good reason - were the Spaniards of
the complete subjection of the islanders.  And when I say that there
were ten men on guard, I state rather the purpose for which they
were left aboard than the duty which they fulfilled.  As a matter
of fact, whilst the main body of the Spaniards feasted and rioted
ashore, the Spanish gunner and his crew - who had so nobly done
their duty and ensured the easy victory of the day - were feasting
on the gun-deck upon the wine and the fresh meats fetched out to
them from shore.  Above, two sentinels only kept vigil, at stem and
stern.  Nor were they as vigilant as they should have been, or else
they must have observed the two wherries that under cover of the
darkness came gliding from the wharf, with well-greased rowlocks,
to bring up in silence under the great ship's quarter.

From the gallery aft still hung the ladder by which Don Diego had
descended to the boat that had taken him ashore.  The sentry on
guard in the stern, coming presently round this gallery, was
suddenly confronted by the black shadow of a man standing before
him at the head of the ladder.

"Who's there?" he asked, but without alarm, supposing it one of his
fellows.

"It is I," softly answered Peter Blood in the fluent Castillan of
which he was master.

"Is it you, Pedro?"  The Spaniard came a step nearer.

"Peter is my name; but I doubt I'll not be the Peter you're
expecting."

"How?" quoth the sentry, checking.

"This way," said Mr. Blood.

The wooden taffrail was a low one, and the Spaniard was taken
completely by surprise.  Save for the splash he made as he struck
the water, narrowly missing one of the crowded boats that waited
under the counter, not a sound announced his misadventure.  Armed
as he was with corselet, cuissarts, and headpiece, he sank to
trouble them no more.

"Whist!" hissed Mr. Blood to his waiting rebels-convict.  "Come on,
now, and without noise."

Within five minutes they had swarmed aboard, the entire twenty of
them overflowing from that narrow gallery and crouching on the
quarter-deck itself.  Lights showed ahead.  Under the great lantern
in the prow they saw the black figure of the other sentry, pacing
on the forecastle.  From below sounds reached them of the orgy on
the gun-deck:  a rich male voice was singing an obscene ballad to
which the others chanted in chorus:

"Y estos son los usos de Castilla y de Leon!"

"From what I've seen to-day I can well believe it," said Mr. Blood,
and whispered:  "Forward - after me."

Crouching low, they glided, noiseless as shadows, to the quarter-deck
rail, and thence slipped without sound down into the waist.  Two
thirds of them were armed with muskets, some of which they had found
in the overseer's house, and others supplied from the secret hoard
that Mr. Blood had so laboriously assembled against the day of escape.
The remainder were equipped with knives and cutlasses.

In the vessel's waist they hung awhile, until Mr. Blood had satisfied
himself that no other sentinel showed above decks but that
inconvenient fellow in the prow.  Their first attention must be for
him.  Mr. Blood, himself, crept forward with two companions, leaving
the others in the charge of that Nathaniel Hagthorpe whose sometime
commission in the King's Navy gave him the best title to this office.

Mr. Blood's absence was brief.  When he rejoined his comrades there
was no watch above the Spaniards' decks.

Meanwhile the revellers below continued to make merry at their ease
in the conviction of complete security.  The garrison of Barbados
was overpowered and disarmed, and their companions were ashore in
complete possession of the town, glutting themselves hideously upon
the fruits of victory.  What, then, was there to fear?  Even when
their quarters were invaded and they found themselves surrounded by
a score of wild, hairy, half-naked men, who - save that they appeared
once to have been white - looked like a horde of savages, the
Spaniards could not believe their eyes.

Who could have dreamed that a handful of forgotten plantation-slaves
would have dared to take so much upon themselves?

The half-drunken Spaniards, their laughter suddenly quenched, the
song perishing on their lips, stared, stricken and bewildered at
the levelled muskets by which they were checkmated.

And then, from out of this uncouth pack of savages that beset them,
stepped a slim, tall fellow with light-blue eyes in a tawny face,
eyes in which glinted the light of a wicked humour.  He addressed
them in the purest Castilian.

"You will save yourselves pain and trouble by regarding yourselves
my prisoners, and suffering yourselves to be quietly bestowed out
of harm's way."

"Name of God!" swore the gunner, which did no justice at all to an
amazement beyond expression.

"If you please," said Mr. Blood, and thereupon those gentlemen of
Spain were induced without further trouble beyond a musket prod or
two to drop through a scuttle to the deck below.

After that the rebels-convict refreshed themselves with the good
things in the consumption of which they had interrupted the Spaniards.
To taste palatable Christian food after months of salt fish and maize
dumplings was in itself a feast to these unfortunates.  But there were
no excesses.  Mr. Blood saw to that, although it required all the
firmness of which he was capable.

Dispositions were to be made without delay against that which must
follow before they could abandon themselves fully to the enjoyment
of their victory.  This, after all, was no more than a preliminary
skirmish, although it was one that afforded them the key to the
situation.  It remained to dispose so that the utmost profit might
be drawn from it.  Those dispositions occupied some very considerable
portion of the night.  But, at least, they were complete before the
sun peeped over the shoulder of Mount Hilibay to shed his light upon
a day of some surprises.

It was soon after sunrise that the rebel-convict who paced the
quarter-deck in Spanish corselet and headpiece, a Spanish musket on
his shoulder, announced the approach of a boat.  It was Don Diego
de Espinosa y Valdez coming aboard with four great treasure-chests,
containing each twenty-five thousand pieces of eight, the ransom
delivered to him at dawn by Governor Steed.  He was accompanied
by his son, Don Esteban, and by six men who took the oars.

Aboard the frigate all was quiet and orderly as it should be.  She
rode at anchor, her larboard to the shore, and the main ladder on
her starboard side.  Round to this came the boat with Don Diego and
his treasure.  Mr. Blood had disposed effectively.  It was not for
nothing that he had served under de Ruyter.  The swings were waiting,
and the windlass manned.  Below, a gun-crew held itself in readiness
under the command of Ogle, who - as I have said - had been a gunner
in the Royal Navy before he went in for politics and followed the
fortunes of the Duke of Monmouth.  He was a sturdy, resolute fellow
who inspired confidence by the very confidence he displayed in
himself.

Don Diego mounted the ladder and stepped upon the deck, alone, and
entirely unsuspicious.  What should the poor man suspect?

Before he could even look round, and survey this guard drawn up to
receive him, a tap over the head with a capstan bar efficiently
handled by Hagthorpe put him to sleep without the least fuss.

He was carried away to his cabin, whilst the treasure-chests, handled
by the men he had left in the boat, were being hauled to the deck.
That being satisfactorily accomplished, Don Esteban and the fellows
who had manned the boat came up the ladder, one by one, to be handled
with the same quiet efficiency.  Peter Blood had a genius for these
things, and almost, I suspect, an eye for the dramatic.  Dramatic,
certainly, was the spectacle now offered to the survivors of the raid.

With Colonel Bishop at their head, and gout-ridden Governor Steed
sitting on the ruins of a wall beside him, they glumly watched the
departure of the eight boats containing the weary Spanish ruffians
who had glutted themselves with rapine, murder, and violences
unspeakable.

They looked on, between relief at this departure of their remorseless
enemies, and despair at the wild ravages which, temporarily at least,
had wrecked the prosperity and happiness of that little colony.

The boats pulled away from the shore, with their loads of laughing,
jeering Spaniards, who were still flinging taunts across the water at
their surviving victims.  They had come midway between the wharf and
the ship, when suddenly the air was shaken by the boom of a gun.

A round shot struck the water within a fathom of the foremost boat,
sending a shower of spray over its occupants.  They paused at their
oars, astounded into silence for a moment.  Then speech burst from
them like an explosion.  Angrily voluble they anathematized this
dangerous carelessness on the part of their gunner, who should know
better than to fire a salute from a cannon loaded with shot.  They
were still cursing him when a second shot, better aimed than the
first, came to crumple one of the boats into splinters, flinging its
crew, dead and living, into the water.

But if it silenced these, it gave tongue, still more angry, vehement,
and bewildered to the crews of the other seven boats.  From each the
suspended oars stood out poised over the water, whilst on their feet
in the excitement the Spaniards screamed oaths at the ship, begging
Heaven and Hell to inform them what madman had been let loose among
her guns.

Plump into their middle came a third shot, smashing a second boat
with fearful execution.  Followed again a moment of awful silence,
then among those Spanish pirates all was gibbering and jabbering
and splashing of oars, as they attempted to pull in every direction
at once.  Some were for going ashore, others for heading straight
to the vessel and there discovering what might be amiss.  That
something was very gravely amiss there could be no further doubt,
particularly as whilst they discussed and fumed and cursed two more
shots came over the water to account for yet a third of their boats.

The resolute Ogle was making excellent practice, and fully justifying
his claims to know something of gunnery.  In their consternation the
Spaniards had simplified his task by huddling their boats together.

After the fourth shot, opinion was no longer divided amongst them.
As with one accord they went about, or attempted to do so, for before
they had accomplished it two more of their boats had been sunk.

The three boats that remained, without concerning themselves with
their more unfortunate fellows, who were struggling in the water,
headed back for the wharf at speed.

If the Spaniards understood nothing of all this, the forlorn
islanders ashore understood still less, until to help their wits
they saw the flag of Spain come down from the mainmast of the Cinco
Llagas, and the flag of England soar to its empty place.  Even then
some bewilderment persisted, and it was with fearful eyes that they
observed the return of their enemies, who might vent upon them the
ferocity aroused by these extraordinary events.

Ogle, however, continued to give proof that his knowledge of gunnery
was not of yesterday.  After the fleeing Spaniards went his shots.
The last of their boats flew into splinters as it touched the wharf,
and its remains were buried under a shower of loosened masonry.

That was the end of this pirate crew, which not ten minutes ago had
been laughingly counting up the pieces of eight that would fall to
the portion of each for his share in that act of villainy.  Close
upon threescore survivors contrived to reach the shore.  Whether
they had cause for congratulation, I am unable to say in the absence
of any records in which their fate may be traced.  That lack of
records is in itself eloquent.  We know that they were made fast as
they landed, and considering the offence they had given I am not
disposed to doubt that they had every reason to regret the survival.

The mystery of the succour that had come at the eleventh hour to
wreak vengeance upon the Spaniards, and to preserve for the island
the extortionate ransom of a hundred thousand pieces of eight,
remained yet to be probed.  That the Cinco Llagas was now in friendly
hands could no longer be doubted after the proofs it had given.  But
who, the people of Bridgetown asked one another, were the men in
possession of her, and whence had they come?  The only possible
assumption ran the truth very closely.  A resolute party of islanders
must have got aboard during the night, and seized the ship.  It
remained to ascertain the precise identity of these mysterious
saviours, and do them fitting honour.

Upon this errand - Governor Steed's condition not permitting him to
go in person - went Colonel Bishop as the Governor's deputy, attended
by two officers.

As he stepped from the ladder into the vessel's waist, the Colonel
beheld there, beside the main hatch, the four treasure-chests, the
contents of one of which had been contributed almost entirely by
himself.  It was a gladsome spectacle, and his eyes sparkled in
beholding it.

Ranged on either side, athwart the deck, stood a score of men in
two well-ordered files, with breasts and backs of steel, polished
Spanish morions on their heads, overshadowing their faces, and
muskets ordered at their sides.

Colonel Bishop could not be expected to recognize at a glance in
these upright, furbished, soldierly figures the ragged, unkempt
scarecrows that but yesterday had been toiling in his plantations.
Still less could he be expected to recognize at once the courtly
gentleman who advanced to greet him - a lean, graceful gentleman,
dressed in the Spanish fashion, all in black with silver lace, a
gold-hilted sword dangling beside him from a gold embroidered
baldrick, a broad castor with a sweeping plume set above carefully
curled ringlets of deepest black.

"Be welcome aboard the Cinco Llagas, Colonel, darling," a voice
vaguely familiar addressed the planter.  "We've made the best of
the Spaniards' wardrobe in honour of this visit, though it was
scarcely yourself we had dared hope to expect.  You find yourself
among friends - old friends of yours, all."  The Colonel stared in
stupefaction.  Mr. Blood tricked out in all this splendour -
indulging therein his natural taste - his face carefully shaven,
his hair as carefully dressed, seemed transformed into a younger
man.  The fact is he looked no more than the thirty-three years he
counted to his age.

"Peter Blood!"  It was an ejaculation of amazement.  Satisfaction
followed swiftly.  "Was it you, then...?"

"Myself it was - myself and these, my good friends and yours."
Mr. Blood tossed back the fine lace from his wrist, to wave a hand
towards the file of men standing to attention there.

The Colonel looked more closely.  "Gad's my life!" he crowed on a
note of foolish jubilation.  "And it was with these fellows that you
took the Spaniard and turned the tables on those dogs!  Oddswounds!
It was heroic!"

"Heroic, is it?  Bedad, it's epic!  Ye begin to perceive the breadth
and depth of my genius."

Colonel Bishop sat himself down on the hatch-coaming, took off his
broad hat, and mopped his brow.

"Y'amaze me!" he gasped.  "On my soul, y'amaze me!  To have recovered
the treasure and to have seized this fine ship and all she'll hold!
It will be something to set against the other losses we have suffered.
As Gad's my life, you deserve well for this."

"I am entirely of your opinion."

"Damme!  You all deserve well, and damme, you shall find me grateful."

"That's as it should be," said Mr. Blood.  "The question is how well
we deserve, and how grateful shall we find you?"

Colonel Bishop considered him.  There was a shadow of surprise in
his face.

"Why - his excellency shall write home an account of your exploit,
and maybe some portion of your sentences shall be remitted."

"The generosity of King James is well known," sneered Nathaniel
Hagthorpe, who was standing by, and amongst the ranged
rebels-convict some one ventured to laugh.

Colonel Bishop started up.  He was pervaded by the first pang of
uneasiness.  It occurred to him that all here might not be as
friendly as appeared.

"And there's another matter," Mr. Blood resumed.  "There's a matter
of a flogging that's due to me.  Ye're a man of your word in such
matters, Colonel - if not perhaps in others - and ye said, I think,
that ye'd not leave a square inch of skin on my back."

The planter waved the matter aside.  Almost it seemed to offend him.

"Tush!  Tush!  After this splendid deed of yours, do you suppose I
can be thinking of such things?"

"I'm glad ye feel like that about it.  But I'm thinking it's
mighty lucky for me the Spaniards didn't come to-day instead of
yesterday, or it's in the same plight as Jeremy Pitt I'd be this
minute.  And in that case where was the genius that would have
turned the tables on these rascally Spaniards?"

"Why speak of it now?"

Mr. Blood resumed:  "ye'll please to understand that I must, Colonel,
darling.  Ye've worked a deal of wickedness and cruelty in your time,
and I want this to be a lesson to you, a lesson that ye'll remember
- for the sake of others who may come after us.  There's Jeremy up
there in the round-house with a back that's every colour of the
rainbow; and the poor lad'll not be himself again for a month.  And
if it hadn't been for the Spaniards maybe it's dead he'd be by now,
and maybe myself with him."

Hagthorpe lounged forward.  He was a fairly tall, vigorous man
with a clear-cut, attractive face which in itself announced his
breeding.

"Why will you be wasting words on the hog?" wondered that sometime
officer in the Royal Navy.  "Fling him overboard and have done with
him."

The Colonel's eyes bulged in his head.  "What the devil do you mean?"
he blustered.

"It's the lucky man ye are entirely, Colonel, though ye don't guess
the source of your good fortune."

And now another intervened - the brawny, one-eyed Wolverstone, less
mercifully disposed than his more gentlemanly fellow-convict.

"String him up from the yardarm," he cried, his deep voice harsh and
angry, and more than one of the slaves standing to their arms made
echo.

Colonel Bishop trembled.  Mr. Blood turned.  He was quite calm.

"If you please, Wolverstone," said he, "I conduct affairs in my own
way.  That is the pact.  You'll please to remember it."  His eyes
looked along the ranks, making it plain that he addressed them all.
"I desire that Colonel Bishop should have his life.  One reason is
that I require him as a hostage.  If ye insist on hanging him, ye'll
have to hang me with him, or in the alternative I'll go ashore."

He paused.  There was no answer.  But they stood hang-dog and
half-mutinous before him, save Hagthorpe, who shrugged and smiled
wearily.

Mr. Blood resumed:  "Ye'll please to understand that aboard a ship
there is one captain.  So."  He swung again to the startled Colonel.
"Though I promise you your life, I must - as you've heard - keep
you aboard as a hostage for the good behaviour of Governor Steed
and what's left of the fort until we put to sea."

"Until you..."  Horror prevented Colonel Bishop from echoing the
remainder of that incredible speech.

"Just so," said Peter Blood, and he turned to the officers who had
accompanied the Colonel.  "The boat is waiting, gentlemen.  You'll
have heard what I said.  Convey it with my compliments to his
excellency."

"But, sir..." one of them began.

"There is no more to be said, gentlemen.  My name is Blood - Captain
Blood, if you please, of this ship the Cinco Llagas, taken as a
prize of war from Don Diego de Espinosa y Valdez, who is my prisoner
aboard.  You are to understand that I have turned the tables on more
than the Spaniards.  There's the ladder.  You'll find it more
convenient than being heaved over the side, which is what'll happen
if you linger."

They went, though not without some hustling, regardless of the
bellowings of Colonel Bishop, whose monstrous rage was fanned by
terror at finding himself at the mercy of these men of whose cause
to hate him he was very fully conscious.

A half-dozen of them, apart from Jeremy Pitt, who was utterly
incapacitated for the present, possessed a superficial knowledge
of seamanship.  Hagthorpe, although he had been a fighting officer,
untrained in navigation, knew how to handle a ship, and under his
directions they set about getting under way.

The anchor catted, and the mainsail unfurled, they stood out for
the open before a gentle breeze, without interference from the fort.

As they were running close to the headland east of the bay, Peter
Blood returned to the Colonel, who, under guard and panic-stricken,
had dejectedly resumed his seat on the coamings of the main batch.

"Can ye swim, Colonel?"

Colonel Bishop looked up.  His great face was yellow and seemed in
that moment of a preternatural flabbiness; his beady eyes were
beadier than ever.

"As your doctor, now, I prescribe a swim to cool the excessive heat
of your humours."  Blood delivered the explanation pleasantly, and,
receiving still no answer from the Colonel, continued:  "It's a mercy
for you I'm not by nature as bloodthirsty as some of my friends here.
And it's the devil's own labour I've had to prevail upon them not
to be vindictive.  I doubt if ye're worth the pains I've taken for
you."

He was lying.  He had no doubt at all.  Had he followed his own
wishes and instincts, he would certainly have strung the Colonel up,
and accounted it a meritorious deed.  It was the thought of Arabella
Bishop that had urged him to mercy, and had led him to oppose the
natural vindictiveness of his fellow-slaves until he had been in
danger of precipitating a mutiny.  It was entirely to the fact that
the Colonel was her uncle, although he did not even begin to suspect
such a cause, that he owed such mercy as was now being shown him.

"You shall have a chance to swim for it," Peter Blood continued.
"It's not above a quarter of a mile to the headland yonder, and with
ordinary luck ye should manage it.  Faith, you're fat enough to
float.  Come on!  Now, don't be hesitating or it's a long voyage
ye'll be going with us, and the devil knows what may happen to you.
You're not loved any more than you deserve."

Colonel Bishop mastered himself, and rose.  A merciless despot, who
had never known the need for restraint in all these years, he was
doomed by ironic fate to practise restraint in the very moment when
his feelings had reached their most violent intensity.

Peter Blood gave an order.  A plank was run out over the gunwale,
and lashed down.

"If you please, Colonel," said he, with a graceful flourish of
invitation.

The Colonel looked at him, and there was hell in his glance.  Then,
taking his resolve, and putting the best face upon it, since no
other could help him here, he kicked off his shoes, peeled off his
fine coat of biscuit-coloured taffetas, and climbed upon the plank.

A moment he paused, steadied by a hand that clutched the ratlines,
looking down in terror at the green water rushing past some
five-and-twenty feet below.

"Just take a little walk, Colonel, darling," said a smooth, mocking
voice behind him.

Still clinging, Colonel Bishop looked round in hesitation, and saw
the bulwarks lined with swarthy faces - the faces of men that as
lately as yesterday would have turned pale under his frown, faces
that were now all wickedly agrin.

For a moment rage stamped out his fear.  He cursed them aloud
venomously and incoherently, then loosed his hold and stepped out
upon the plank.  Three steps he took before he lost his balance and
went tumbling into the green depths below.

When he came to the surface again, gasping for air, the Cinco Llagas
was already some furlongs to leeward.  But the roaring cheer of
mocking valediction from the rebels-convict reached him across the
water, to drive the iron of impotent rage deeper into his soul.



CHAPTER X

DON DIEGO


Don Diego de Espinosa y Valdez awoke, and with languid eyes in
aching head, he looked round the cabin, which was flooded with
sunlight from the square windows astern.  Then he uttered a moan,
and closed his eyes again, impelled to this by the monstrous ache
in his head.  Lying thus, he attempted to think, to locate himself
in time and space.  But between the pain in his head and the
confusion in his mind, he found coherent thought impossible.

An indefinite sense of alarm drove him to open his eyes again, and
once more to consider his surroundings.

There could be no doubt that he lay in the great cabin of his own
ship, the Cinco Llagas, so that his vague disquiet must be, surely,
ill-founded.  And yet, stirrings of memory coming now to the
assistance of reflection, compelled him uneasily to insist that
here something was not as it should be.  The low position of the
sun, flooding the cabin with golden light from those square ports
astern, suggested to him at first that it was early morning, on
the assumption that the vessel was headed westward.  Then the
alternative occurred to him.  They might be sailing eastward, in
which case the time of day would be late afternoon.  That they
were sailing he could feel from the gentle forward heave of the
vessel under him.  But how did they come to be sailing, and he,
the master, not to know whether their course lay east or west, not
to be able to recollect whither they were bound?

His mind went back over the adventure of yesterday, if of yesterday
it was.  He was clear on the matter of the easily successful raid
upon the Island of Barbados; every detail stood vividly in his
memory up to the moment at which, returning aboard, he had stepped
on to his own deck again.  There memory abruptly and inexplicably
ceased.

He was beginning to torture his mind with conjecture, when the door
opened, and to Don Diego's increasing mystification he beheld his
best suit of clothes step into the cabin.  It was a singularly
elegant and characteristically Spanish suit of black taffetas with
silver lace that had been made for him a year ago in Cadiz, and he
knew each detail of it so well that it was impossible he could now
be mistaken.

The suit paused to close the door, then advanced towards the couch
on which Don Diego was extended, and inside the suit came a tall,
slender gentleman of about Don Diego's own height and shape.  Seeing
the wide, startled eyes of the Spaniard upon him, the gentleman
lengthened his stride.

"Awake, eh?" said he in Spanish.

The recumbent man looked up bewildered into a pair of light-blue
eyes that regarded him out of a tawny, sardonic face set in a
cluster of black ringlets.  But he was too bewildered to make any
answer.

The stranger's fingers touched the top of Don Diego's head,
whereupon Don Diego winced and cried out in pain.

"Tender, eh?" said the stranger.  He took Don Diego's wrist between
thumb and second finger.  And then, at last, the intrigued Spaniard
spoke.

"Are you a doctor?"

"Among other things."  The swarthy gentleman continued his study of
the patient's pulse.  "Firm and regular," he announced at last, and
dropped the wrist.  "You've taken no great harm."

Don Diego struggled up into a sitting position on the red velvet
couch.

"Who the devil are you?" he asked.  "And what the devil are you
doing in my clothes and aboard my ship?"

The level black eyebrows went up, a faint smile curled the lips of
the long mouth.

"You are still delirious, I fear.  This is not your ship.  This is
my ship, and these are my clothes."

"Your ship?" quoth the other, aghast, and still more aghast he added:
"Your clothes?  But... then...."  Wildly his eyes looked about him.
They scanned the cabin once again, scrutinizing each familiar object.
"Am I mad?" he asked at last.  "Surely this ship is the Cinco Llagas?"

"The Cinco Llagas it is."

"Then...."  The Spaniard broke off.  His glance grew still more
troubled.  "Valga me Dios!" he cried out, like a man in anguish.
"Will you tell me also that you are Don Diego de Espinosa?"

"Oh, no, my name is Blood - Captain Peter Blood.  This ship, like
this handsome suit of clothes, is mine by right of conquest.  Just
as you, Don Diego, are my prisoner."

Startling as was the explanation, yet it proved soothing to Don
Diego, being so much less startling than the things he was beginning
to imagine.

"But... Are you not Spanish, then?"

"You flatter my Castilian accent.  I have the honour to be Irish.
You were thinking that a miracle had happened.  So it has - a
miracle wrought by my genius, which is considerable."

Succinctly now Captain Blood dispelled the mystery by a relation of
the facts.  It was a narrative that painted red and white by turns
the Spaniard's countenance.  He put a hand to the back of his head,
and there discovered, in confirmation of the story, a lump as large
as a pigeon's egg.  Lastly, he stared wild-eyed at the sardonic
Captain Blood.

"And my son?  What of my son?" he cried out.  "He was in the boat
that brought me aboard."

"Your son is safe; he and the boat's crew together with your gunner
and his men are snugly in irons under hatches."

Don Diego sank back on the couch, his glittering dark eyes fixed
upon the tawny face above him.  He composed himself.  After all, he
possessed the stoicism proper to his desperate trade.  The dice had
fallen against him in this venture.  The tables had been turned upon
him in the very moment of success.  He accepted the situation with
the fortitude of a fatalist.

With the utmost calm he enquired:

"And now, Senior Capitan?"

"And now," said Captain Blood - to give him the title he had assumed
- "being a humane man, I am sorry to find that ye're not dead from
the tap we gave you.  For it means that you'll be put to the trouble
of dying all over again."

"Ah!" Don Diego drew a deep breath.  "But is that necessary?" he
asked, without apparent perturbation.

Captain Blood's blue eyes approved his bearing.  "Ask yourself," said
he.  "Tell me, as an experienced and bloody pirate, what in my place
would you do, yourself?"

"Ah, but there is a difference."  Don Diego sat up to argue the
matter.  "It lies in the fact that you boast yourself a humane man."

Captain Blood perched himself on the edge of the long oak table.
"But I am not a fool," said he, "and I'll not allow a natural Irish
sentimentality to stand in the way of my doing what is necessary
and proper.  You and your ten surviving scoundrels are a menace on
this ship.  More than that, she is none so well found in water and
provisions.  True, we are fortunately a small number, but you and
your party inconveniently increase it.  So that on every hand, you
see, prudence suggests to us that we should deny ourselves the
pleasure of your company, and, steeling our soft hearts to the
inevitable, invite you to be so obliging as to step over the side."

"I see," said the Spaniard pensively.  He swung his legs from the
couch, and sat now upon the edge of it, his elbows on his knees.  He
had taken the measure of his man, and met him with a mock-urbanity
and a suave detachment that matched his own.  "I confess," he
admitted, "that there is much force in what you say."

"You take a load from my mind," said Captain Blood.  "I would not
appear unnecessarily harsh, especially since I and my friends owe
you so very much.  For, whatever it may have been to others, to us
your raid upon Barbados was most opportune.  I am glad, therefore,
that you agree the I have no choice."

"But, my friend, I did not agree so much."

"If there is any alternative that you can suggest, I shall be most
happy to consider it."

Don Diego stroked his pointed black beard.

"Can you give me until morning for reflection?  My head aches so
damnably that I am incapable of thought.  And this, you will admit,
is a matter that asks serious thought."

Captain Blood stood up.  From a shelf he took a half-hour glass,
reversed it so that the bulb containing the red sand was uppermost,
and stood it on the table.

"I am sorry to press you in such a matter, Don Diego, but one glass
is all that I can give you.  If by the time those sands have run
out you can propose no acceptable alternative, I shall most
reluctantly be driven to ask you to go over the side with your
friends."

Captain Blood bowed, went out, and locked the door.  Elbows on his
knees and face in his hands, Don Diego sat watching the rusty sands
as they filtered from the upper to the lower bulb.  And what time
he watched, the lines in his lean brown face grew deeper.  Punctually
as the last grains ran out, the door reopened.

The Spaniard sighed, and sat upright to face the returning Captain
Blood with the answer for which he came.

"I have thought of an alternative, sir captain; but it depends upon
your charity.  It is that you put us ashore on one of the islands
of this pestilent archipelago, and leave us to shift for ourselves."

Captain Blood pursed his lips.  "It has its difficulties," said he
slowly.

"I feared it would be so."  Don Diego sighed again, and stood up.
"Let us say no more."

The light-blue eyes played over him like points of steel.

"You are not afraid to die, Don Diego?"

The Spaniard threw back his head, a frown between his eyes.

"The question is offensive, sir."

"Then let me put it in another way - perhaps more happily: You do
not desire to live?"

"Ah, that I can answer.  I do desire to live; and even more do I
desire that my son may live.  But the desire shall not make a coward
of me for your amusement, master mocker."  It was the first sign he
had shown of the least heat or resentment.

Captain Blood did not directly answer.  As before he perched himself
on the corner of the table.

"Would you be willing, sir, to earn life and liberty - for yourself,
your son, and the other Spaniards who are on board?"

"To earn it?" said Don Diego, and the watchful blue eyes did not
miss the quiver that ran through him.  "To earn it, do you say?
Why, if the service you would propose is one that cannot hurt my
honour...."

"Could I be guilty of that?" protested the Captain.  "I realize that
even a pirate has his honour."  And forthwith he propounded his
offer.  "If you will look from those windows, Don Diego, you will
see what appears to be a cloud on the horizon.  That is the island
of Barbados well astern.  All day we have been sailing east before
the wind with but one intent - to set as great a distance between
Barbados and ourselves as possible.  But now, almost out of sight
of land, we are in a difficulty.  The only man among us schooled in
the art of navigation is fevered, delirious, in fact, as a result
of certain ill-treatment he received ashore before we carried him
away with us.  I can handle a ship in action, and there are one or
two men aboard who can assist me; but of the higher mysteries of
seamanship and of the art of finding a way over the trackless wastes
of ocean, we know nothing.  To hug the land, and go blundering about
what you so aptly call this pestilent archipelago, is for us to court
disaster, as you can perhaps conceive.  And so it comes to this:  We
desire to make for the Dutch settlement of Curacao as straightly as
possible.  Will you pledge me your honour, if I release you upon
parole, that you will navigate us thither?  If so, we will release
you and your surviving men upon arrival there."

Don Diego bowed his head upon his breast, and strode away in thought
to the stern windows.  There he stood looking out upon the sunlit sea
and the dead water in the great ship's wake - his ship, which these
English dogs had wrested from him; his ship, which he was asked to
bring safely into a port where she would be completely lost to him
and refitted perhaps to make war upon his kin.  That was in one scale;
in the other were the lives of sixteen men.  Fourteen of them mattered
little to him, but the remaining two were his own and his son's.

He turned at length, and his back being to the light, the Captain
could not see how pale his face had grown.

"I accept," he said.



CHAPTER XI

FILIAL PIETY


By virtue of the pledge he had given, Don Diego de Espinosa enjoyed
the freedom of the ship that had been his, and the navigation which
he had undertaken was left entirely in his hands.  And because those
who manned her were new to the seas of the Spanish Main, and because
even the things that had happened in Bridgetown were not enough to
teach them to regard every Spaniard as a treacherous, cruel dog to
be slain at sight, they used him with the civility which his own
suave urbanity invited.  He took his meals in the great cabin with
Blood and the three officers elected to support him: Hagthorpe,
Wolverstone, and Dyke.

They found Don Diego an agreeable, even an amusing companion, and
their friendly feeling towards him was fostered by his fortitude and
brave equanimity in this adversity.

That Don Diego was not playing fair it was impossible to suspect.
Moreover, there was no conceivable reason why he should not.  And
he had been of the utmost frankness with them.  He had denounced
their mistake in sailing before the wind upon leaving Barbados.
They should have left the island to leeward, heading into the
Caribbean and away from the archipelago.  As it was, they would now
be forced to pass through this archipelago again so as to make
Curacao, and this passage was not to be accomplished without some
measure of risk to themselves.  At any point between the islands
they might come upon an equal or superior craft; whether she were
Spanish or English would be equally bad for them, and being
undermanned they were in no case to fight.  To lessen this risk
as far as possible, Don Diego directed at first a southerly and
then a westerly course; and so, taking a line midway between
the islands of Tobago and Grenada, they won safely through the
danger-zone and came into the comparative security of the Caribbean
Sea.

"If this wind holds," he told them that night at supper, after he
had announced to them their position, "we should reach Curacao
inside three days."

For three days the wind held, indeed it freshened a little on the
second, and yet when the third night descended upon them they had
still made no landfall.  The Cinco Llagas was ploughing through a
sea contained on every side by the blue bowl of heaven.  Captain
Blood uneasily mentioned it to Don Diego.

"It will be for to-morrow morning," he was answered with calm
conviction.

"By all the saints, it is always 'to-morrow morning' with you
Spaniards; and to-morrow never comes, my friend."

"But this to-morrow is coming, rest assured.  However early you may
be astir, you shall see land ahead, Don Pedro."

Captain Blood passed on, content, and went to visit Jerry Pitt, his
patient, to whose condition Don Diego owed his chance of life.  For
twenty-four hours now the fever had left the sufferer, and under
Peter Blood's dressings, his lacerated back was beginning to heal
satisfactorily.  So far, indeed, was he recovered that he complained
of his confinement, of the heat in his cabin.  To indulge him Captain
Blood consented that he should take the air on deck, and so, as the
last of the daylight was fading from the sky, Jeremy Pitt came forth
upon the Captain's arm.

Seated on the hatch-coamings, the Somersetshire lad gratefully
filled his lungs with the cool night air, and professed himself
revived thereby.  Then with the seaman's instinct his eyes wandered
to the darkling vault of heaven, spangled already with a myriad
golden points of light.  Awhile he scanned it idly, vacantly; then,
his attention became sharply fixed.  He looked round and up at
Captain Blood, who stood beside him.

"D'ye know anything of astronomy, Peter?" quoth he.

"Astronomy, is it?  Faith, now, I couldn't tell the Belt of Orion
from the Girdle of Venus."

"Ah!  And I suppose all the others of this lubberly crew share
your ignorance."

"It would be more amiable of you to suppose that they exceed it."

Jeremy pointed ahead to a spot of light in the heavens over the
starboard bow.  "That is the North Star," said he.

"Is it now?  Glory be, I wonder ye can pick it out from the rest."

"And the North Star ahead almost over your starboard bow means that
we're steering a course, north, northwest, or maybe north by west,
for I doubt if we are standing more than ten degrees westward."

"And why shouldn't we?" wondered Captain Blood.

"You told me - didn't you?  - that we came west of the archipelago
between Tobago and Grenada, steering for Curacao.  If that were
our present course, we should have the North Star abeam, out yonder."

On the instant Mr. Blood shed his laziness.  He stiffened with
apprehension, and was about to speak when a shaft of light clove
the gloom above their heads, coming from the door of the poop cabin
which had just been opened.  It closed again, and presently there
was a step on the companion.  Don Diego was approaching.  Captain
Blood's fingers pressed Jerry's shoulder with significance.  Then he
called the Don, and spoke to him in English as had become his custom
when others were present.

"Will ye settle a slight dispute for us, Don Diego?" said he lightly.
"We are arguing, Mr. Pitt and I, as to which is the North Star."

"So?"  The Spaniard's tone was easy; there was almost a suggestion
that laughter lurked behind it, and the reason for this was yielded
by his next sentence.  "But you tell me Mr. Pitt he is your navigant?"

"For lack of a better," laughed the Captain, good-humouredly
contemptuous.  "Now I am ready to wager him a hundred pieces of eight
that that is the North Star."  And he flung out an arm towards a
point of light in the heavens straight abeam.  He afterwards told
Pitt that had Don Diego confirmed him, he would have run him through
upon that instant.  Far from that, however, the Spaniard freely
expressed his scorn.

"You have the assurance that is of ignorance, Don Pedro; and you lose.
The North Star is this one."  And he indicated it.

"You are sure?"

"But my dear Don Pedro!"  The Spaniard's tone was one of amused
protest.  "But is it possible that I mistake?  Besides, is there
not the compass?  Come to the binnacle and see there what course we
make."

His utter frankness, and the easy manner of one who has nothing to
conceal resolved at once the doubt that had leapt so suddenly in
the mind of Captain Blood.  Pitt was satisfied less easily.

"In that case, Don Diego, will you tell me, since Curacao is our
destination, why our course is what it is?"

Again there was no faintest hesitation on Don Diego's part.  "You
have reason to ask," said he, and sighed.  "I had hope' it would not
be observe'.  I have been careless - oh, of a carelessness very
culpable.  I neglect observation.  Always it is my way.  I make too
sure.  I count too much on dead reckoning.  And so to-day I find
when at last I take out the quadrant that we do come by a half-degree
too much south, so that Curacao is now almost due north.  That is
what cause the delay.  But we will be there to-morrow."

The explanation, so completely satisfactory, and so readily and
candidly forthcoming, left no room for further doubt that Don Diego
should have been false to his parole.  And when presently Don Diego
had withdrawn again, Captain Blood confessed to Pitt that it was
absurd to have suspected him.  Whatever his antecedents, he had
proved his quality when he announced himself ready to die sooner
than enter into any undertaking that could hurt his honour or his
country.

New to the seas of the Spanish Main and to the ways of the
adventurers who sailed it, Captain Blood still entertained
illusions.  But the next dawn was to shatter them rudely and for
ever.

Coming on deck before the sun was up, he saw land ahead, as the
Spaniard had promised them last night.  Some ten miles ahead it lay,
a long coast-line filling the horizon east and west, with a massive
headland jutting forward straight before them.  Staring at it, he
frowned.  He had not conceived that Curacao was of such considerable
dimensions.  Indeed, this looked less like an island than the main
itself.

Beating out aweather, against the gentle landward breeze he beheld
a great ship on their starboard bow, that he conceived to be some
three or four miles off, and - as well as he could judge her at
that distance - of a tonnage equal if not superior to their own.
Even as he watched her she altered her course, and going about came
heading towards them, close-hauled.

A dozen of his fellows were astir on the forecastle, looking
eagerly ahead, and the sound of their voices and laughter reached
him across the length of the stately Cinco Llagas.

"There," said a soft voice behind him in liquid Spanish, "is the
Promised Land, Don Pedro."

It was something in that voice, a muffled note of exultation, that
awoke suspicion in him, and made whole the half-doubt he had been
entertaining.  He turned sharply to face Don Diego, so sharply that
the sly smile was not effaced from the Spaniard's countenance
before Captain Blood's eyes had flashed upon it.

"You find an odd satisfaction in the sight of it - all things
considered," said Mr.  Blood.

"Of course."  The Spaniard rubbed his hands, and Mr. Blood observed
that they were unsteady.  "The satisfaction of a mariner."

"Or of a traitor - which?"  Blood asked him quietly.  And as the
Spaniard fell back before him with suddenly altered countenance
that confirmed his every suspicion, he flung an arm out in the
direction of the distant shore.  "What land is that?" he demanded.
"Will you have the effrontery to tell me that is the coast of
Curacao?"

He advanced upon Don Diego suddenly, and Don Diego, step by step,
fell back.  "Shall I tell you what land it is?  Shall I?"  His fierce
assumption of knowledge seemed to dazzle and daze the Spaniard.  For
still Don Diego made no answer.  And then Captain Blood drew a bow
at a venture - or not quite at a venture.  Such a coast-line as that,
if not of the main itself, and the main he knew it could not be,
must belong to either Cuba or Hispaniola.  Now knowing Cuba to lie
farther north and west of the two, it followed, he reasoned swiftly,
that if Don Diego meant betrayal he would steer for the nearer of
these Spanish territories.  "That land, you treacherous, forsworn
Spanish dog, is the island of Hispaniola."

Having said it, he closely watched the swarthy face now overspread
with pallor, to see the truth or falsehood of his guess reflected
there.  But now the retreating Spaniard had come to the middle of
the quarter-deck, where the mizzen sail made a screen to shut them
off from the eyes of the Englishmen below.  His lips writhed in a
snarling smile.

"Ah, perro ingles!  You know too much," he said under his breath,
and sprang for the Captain's throat.

Tight-locked in each other's arms, they swayed a moment, then
together went down upon the deck, the Spaniard's feet jerked from
under him by the right leg of Captain Blood.  The Spaniard had
depended upon his strength, which was considerable.  But it proved
no match for the steady muscles of the Irishman, tempered of late
by the vicissitudes of slavery.  He had depended upon choking
the life out of Blood, and so gaining the half-hour that might be
necessary to bring up that fine ship that was beating towards them
- a Spanish ship, perforce, since none other would be so boldly
cruising in these Spanish waters off Hispaniola.  But all that Don
Diego had accomplished was to betray himself completely, and to no
purpose.  This he realized when he found himself upon his back,
pinned down by Blood, who was kneeling on his chest, whilst the
men summoned by their Captain's shout came clattering up the
companion.

"Will I say a prayer for your dirty soul now, whilst I am in this
position?" Captain Blood was furiously mocking him.

But the Spaniard, though defeated, now beyond hope for himself,
forced his lips to smile, and gave back mockery for mockery.

"Who will pray for your soul, I wonder, when that galleon comes to
lie board and board with you?"

"That galleon!" echoed Captain Blood with sudden and awful
realization that already it was too late to avoid the consequences
of Don Diego's betrayal of them.

"That galleon," Don Diego repeated, and added with a deepening sneer:
"Do you know what ship it is?  I will tell you.  It is the
Encarnacion, the flagship of Don Miguel de Espinosa, the Lord Admiral
of Castile, and Don Miguel is my brother.  It is a very fortunate
encounter.  The Almighty, you see, watches over the destinies of
Catholic Spain."

There was no trace of humour or urbanity now in Captain Blood.  His
light eyes blazed:  his face was set.

He rose, relinquishing the Spaniard to his men.  "Make him fast,"
he bade them.  "Truss him, wrist and heel, but don't hurt him - not
so much as a hair of his precious head."

The injunction was very necessary.  Frenzied by the thought that
they were likely to exchange the slavery from which they had so
lately escaped for a slavery still worse, they would have torn the
Spaniard limb from limb upon the spot.  And if they now obeyed
their Captain and refrained, it was only because the sudden steely
note in his voice promised for Don Diego Valdez something far more
exquisite than death.

"You scum!  You dirty pirate!  You man of honour!"  Captain Blood
apostrophized his prisoner.

But Don Diego looked up at him and laughed.

"You underrated me."  He spoke English, so that all might hear.
"I tell you that I was not fear death, and I show you that I was
not fear it.  You no understand.  You just an English dog."

"Irish, if you please," Captain Blood corrected him.  "And your
parole, you tyke of Spain?"

"You think I give my parole to leave you sons of filth with this
beautiful Spanish ship, to go make war upon other Spaniards!  Ha!"
Don Diego laughed in his throat.  "You fool!  You can kill me.
Pish!  It is very well.  I die with my work well done.  In less
than an hour you will be the prisoners of Spain, and the Cinco
Llagas will go belong to Spain again."

Captain Blood regarded him steadily out of a face which, if
impassive, had paled under its deep tan.  About the prisoner,
clamant, infuriated, ferocious, the rebels-convict surged, almost
literally "athirst for his blood."

"Wait," Captain Blood imperiously commanded, and turning on his
heel, he went aside to the rail.  As he stood there deep in thought,
he was joined by Hagthorpe, Wolverstone, and Ogle the gunner.  In
silence they stared with him across the water at that other ship.
She had veered a point away from the wind, and was running now on
a line that must in the end converge with that of the Cinco Llagas.

"In less than half-an-hour," said Blood presently, "we shall have
her athwart our hawse, sweeping our decks with her guns."

"We can fight," said the one-eyed giant with an oath.

"Fight!" sneered Blood.  "Undermanned as we are, mustering a bare
twenty men, in what case are we to fight?  No, there would be only
one way.  To persuade her that all is well aboard, that we are
Spaniards, so that she may leave us to continue on our course."

"And how is that possible?" Hagthorpe asked.

"It isn't possible," said Blood.  "If it...."  And then he broke off,
and stood musing, his eyes upon the green water.  Ogle, with a bent
for sarcasm, interposed a suggestion bitterly.

"We might send Don Diego de Espinosa in a boat manned by his
Spaniards to assure his brother the Admiral that we are all loyal
subjects of his Catholic Majesty."

The Captain swung round, and for an instant looked as if he would
have struck the gunner.  Then his expression changed:  the light of
inspiration Was in his glance.

"Bedad! ye've said it.  He doesn't fear death, this damned pirate;
but his son may take a different view.  Filial piety's mighty
strong in Spain."  He swung on his heel abruptly, and strode back
to the knot of men about his prisoner.  "Here!" he shouted to them.
"Bring him below."  And he led the way down to the waist, and thence
by the booby hatch to the gloom of the 'tween-decks, where the air
was rank with the smell of tar and spun yarn.  Going aft he threw
open the door of the spacious wardroom, and went in followed by a
dozen of the hands with the pinioned Spaniard.  Every man aboard
would have followed him but for his sharp command to some of them
to remain on deck with Hagthorpe.

In the ward-room the three stern chasers were in position, loaded,
their muzzles thrusting through the open ports, precisely as the
Spanish gunners had left them.

"Here, Ogle, is work for you," said Blood, and as the burly gunner
came thrusting forward through the little throng of gaping men,
Blood pointed to the middle chaser; "Have that gun hauled back,"
he ordered.

When this was done, Blood beckoned those who held Don Diego.

"Lash him across the mouth of it," he bade them, and whilst, assisted
by another two, they made haste to obey, he turned to the others.
"To the roundhouse, some of you, and fetch the Spanish prisoners.
And you, Dyke, go up and bid them set the flag of Spain aloft."

Don Diego, with his body stretched in an arc across the cannon's
mouth, legs and arms lashed to the carriage on either side of it,
eyeballs rolling in his head, glared maniacally at Captain Blood.
A man may not fear to die, and yet be appalled by the form in which
death comes to him.

From frothing lips he hurled blasphemies and insults at his tormentor.

"Foul barbarian!  Inhuman savage!  Accursed heretic!  Will it not
content you to kill me in some Christian fashion?"  Captain Blood
vouchsafed him a malignant smile, before he turned to meet the
fifteen manacled Spanish prisoners, who were thrust into his presence.

Approaching, they had heard Don Diego's outcries; at close quarters
now they beheld with horror-stricken eyes his plight.  From amongst
them a comely, olive-skinned stripling, distinguished in bearing and
apparel from his companions, started forward with an anguished cry
of "Father!"

Writhing in the arms that made haste to seize and hold him, he
called upon heaven and hell to avert this horror, and lastly,
addressed to Captain Blood an appeal for mercy that was at once
fierce and piteous.  Considering him, Captain Blood thought with
satisfaction that he displayed the proper degree of filial piety.

He afterwards confessed that for a moment he was in danger of
weakening, that for a moment his mind rebelled against the pitiless
thing it had planned.  But to correct the sentiment he evoked a
memory of what these Spaniards had performed in Bridgetown.  Again
he saw the white face of that child Mary Traill as she fled in
horror before the jeering ruffian whom he had slain, and other
things even more unspeakable seen on that dreadful evening rose
now before the eyes of his memory to stiffen his faltering purpose.
The Spaniards had shown themselves without mercy or sentiment or
decency of any kind; stuffed with religion, they were without a
spark of that Christianity, the Symbol of which was mounted on
the mainmast of the approaching ship.  A moment ago this cruel,
vicious Don Diego had insulted the Almighty by his assumption that
He kept a specially benevolent watch over the destinies of Catholic
Spain.  Don Diego should be taught his error.

Recovering the cynicism in which he had approached his task, the
cynicism essential to its proper performance, he commanded Ogle
to kindle a match and remove the leaden apron from the touch-hole
of the gun that bore Don Diego.  Then, as the younger Espinosa
broke into fresh intercessions mingled with imprecations, he
wheeled upon him sharply.

"Peace!" he snapped.  "Peace, and listen!  It is no part of my
intention to blow your father to hell as he deserves, or indeed
to take his life at all."

Having surprised the lad into silence by that promise - a promise
surprising enough in all the circumstances - he proceeded to
explain his aims in that faultless and elegant Castilian of which
he was fortunately master - as fortunately for Don Diego as for
himself.

"It is your father's treachery that has brought us into this plight
and deliberately into risk of capture and death aboard that ship of
Spain.  Just as your father recognized his brother's flagship, so
will his brother have recognized the Cinco Llagas.  So far, then,
all is well.  But presently the Encarnacion will be sufficiently
close to perceive that here all is not as it should be.  Sooner or
later, she must guess or discover what is wrong, and then she will
open fire or lay us board and board.  Now, we are in no case to
fight, as your father knew when he ran us into this trap.  But
fight we will, if we are driven to it.  We make no tame surrender
to the ferocity of Spain."

He laid his hand on the breech of the gun that bore Don Diego.

"Understand this clearly:  to the first shot from the Encarnacion
this gun will fire the answer.  I make myself clear, I hope?"

White-faced and trembling, young Espinosa stared into the pitiless
blue eyes that so steadily regarded him.

"If it is clear?" he faltered, breaking the utter silence in which
all were standing.  "But, name of God, how should it be clear?
How should I understand?  Can you avert the fight?  If you know a
way, and if I, or these, can help you to it - if that is what you
mean - in Heaven's name let me hear it."

"A fight would be averted if Don Diego de Espinosa were to go aboard
his brother's ship, and by his presence and assurances inform the
Admiral that all is well with the Cinco Llagas, that she is indeed
still a ship of Spain as her flag now announces.  But of course
Don Diego cannot go in person, because he is... otherwise engaged.
He has a slight touch of fever - shall we say?  - that detains him
in his cabin.  But you, his son, may convey all this and some other
matters together with his homage to your uncle.  You shall go in a
boat manned by six of these Spanish prisoners, and I - a
distinguished Spaniard delivered from captivity in Barbados by your
recent raid - will accompany you to keep you in countenance.  If I
return alive, and without accident of any kind to hinder our free
sailing hence, Don Diego shall have his life, as shall every one of
you.  But if there is the least misadventure, be it from treachery
or ill-fortune - I care not which - the battle, as I have had the
honour to explain, will be opened on our side by this gun, and your
father will be the first victim of the conflict."

He paused a moment.  There was a hum of approval from his comrades,
an anxious stirring among the Spanish prisoners.  Young Espinosa
stood before him, the colour ebbing and flowing in his cheeks.  He
waited for some direction from his father.  But none came.  Don
Diego's courage, it seemed, had sadly waned under that rude test.
He hung limply in his fearful bonds, and was silent.  Evidently he
dared not encourage his son to defiance, and presumably was ashamed
to urge him to yield.  Thus, he left decision entirely with the
youth.

"Come," said Blood.  "I have been clear enough, I think.  What do
you say?"

Don Esteban moistened his parched lips, and with the back of his
hand mopped the anguish-sweat from his brow.  His eyes gazed
wildly a moment upon the shoulders of his father, as if beseeching
guidance.  But his father remained silent.  Something like a sob
escaped the boy.

"I... I accept," he answered at last, and swung to the Spaniards.
"And you - you will accept too," he insisted passionately.  "For
Don Diego's sake and for your own - for all our sakes.  If you do
not, this man will butcher us all without mercy."

Since he yielded, and their leader himself counselled no resistance,
why should they encompass their own destruction by a gesture of
futile heroism?  They answered without much hesitation that they
would do as was required of them.

Blood turned, and advanced to Don Diego.

"I am sorry to inconvenience you in this fashion, but..."  For
a second he checked and frowned as his eyes intently observed
the prisoner.  Then, after that scarcely perceptible pause, he
continued, "but I do not think that you have anything beyond
this inconvenience to apprehend, and you may depend upon me to
shorten it as far as possible."  Don Diego made him no answer.

Peter Blood waited a moment, observing him; then he bowed and
stepped back.



CHAPTER XII

DON PEDRO SANGRE


The Cinco Llagas and the Encarnacion, after a proper exchange of
signals, lay hove to within a quarter of a mile of each other, and
across the intervening space of gently heaving, sunlit waters sped
a boat from the former, manned by six Spanish seamen and bearing
in her stern sheets Don Esteban de Espinosa and Captain Peter Blood.

She also bore two treasure-chests containing fifty thousand pieces
of eight.  Gold has at all times been considered the best of
testimonies of good faith, and Blood was determined that in all
respects appearances should be entirely on his side.  His followers
had accounted this a supererogation of pretence.  But Blood's will
in the matter had prevailed.  He carried further a bulky package
addressed to a grande of Spain, heavily sealed with the arms of
Espinosa - another piece of evidence hastily manufactured in the
cabin of the Cinco Llagas - and he was spending these last moments
in completing his instructions to his young companion.

Don Esteban expressed his last lingering uneasiness:

"But if you should betray yourself?" he cried.

"It will be unfortunate for everybody.  I advised your father to
say a prayer for our success.  I depend upon you to help me more
materially."

"I will do my best.  God knows I will do my best," the boy protested.

Blood nodded thoughtfully, and no more was said until they bumped
alongside the towering mass of the Encarnadon.  Up the ladder went
Don Esteban closely followed by Captain Blood.  In the waist stood
the Admiral himself to receive them, a handsome, self-sufficient
man, very tall and stiff, a little older and greyer than Don Diego,
whom he closely resembled.  He was supported by four officers and a
friar in the black and white habit of St. Dominic.

Don Miguel opened his arms to his nephew, whose lingering panic he
mistook for pleasurable excitement, and having enfolded him to his
bosom turned to greet Don Esteban's companion.

Peter Blood bowed gracefully, entirely at his ease, so far as might
be judged from appearances.

"I am," he announced, making a literal translation of his name,
"Don Pedro Sangre, an unfortunate gentleman of Leon, lately
delivered from captivity by Don Esteban's most gallant father."
And in a few words he sketched the imagined conditions of his
capture by, and deliverance from, those accursed heretics who
held the island of Barbados.  "Benedicamus Domino," said the
friar to his tale.

"Ex hoc nunc et usque in seculum," replied Blood, the occasional
papist, with lowered eyes.

The Admiral and his attending officers gave him a sympathetic
hearing and a cordial welcome.  Then came the dreaded question.

"But where is my brother?  Why has he not come, himself, to
greet me?"

It was young Espinosa who answered this:

"My father is afflicted at denying himself that honour and pleasure.
But unfortunately, sir uncle, he is a little indisposed - oh,
nothing grave; merely sufficient to make him keep his cabin.  It is
a little fever, the result of a slight wound taken in the recent
raid upon Barbados, which resulted in this gentleman's happy
deliverance."

"Nay, nephew, nay," Don Miguel protested with ironic repudiation.
"I can have no knowledge of these things.  I have the honour to
represent upon the seas His Catholic Majesty, who is at peace with
the King of England.  Already you have told me more than it is good
for me to know.  I will endeavour to forget it, and I will ask you,
sirs," he added, glancing at his officers, "to forget it also."  But
he winked into the twinkling eyes of Captain Blood; then added
matter that at once extinguished that twinkle.  "But since Diego
cannot come to me, why, I will go across to him."

For a moment Don Esteban's face was a mask of pallid fear.  Then
Blood was speaking in a lowered, confidential voice that admirably
blended suavity, impressiveness, and sly mockery.

"If you please, Don Miguel, but that is the very thing you must not
do - the very thing Don Diego does not wish you to do.  You must not
see him until his wounds are healed.  That is his own wish.  That
is the real reason why he is not here.  For the truth is that his
wounds are not so grave as to have prevented his coming.  It was
his consideration of himself and the false position in which you
would be placed if you had direct word from him of what has happened.
As your excellency has said, there is peace between His Catholic
Majesty and the King of England, and your brother Don Diego...."
He paused a moment.  "I am sure that I need say no more.  What you
hear from us is no more than a mere rumour.  Your excellency
understands."

His excellency frowned thoughtfully.  "I understand... in part,"
said he.

Captain Blood had a moment's uneasiness.  Did the Spaniard doubt
his bona fides?  Yet in dress and speech he knew himself to be
impeccably Spanish, and was not Don Esteban there to confirm him?
He swept on to afford further confirmation before the Admiral
could say another word.

"And we have in the boat below two chests containing fifty thousand
pieces of eight, which we are to deliver to your excellency."

His excellency jumped; there was a sudden stir among his officers.

"They are the ransom extracted by Don Diego from the Governor
of...."

"Not another word, in the name of Heaven!" cried the Admiral in
alarm.  "My brother wishes me to assume charge of this money, to
carry it to Spain for him?  Well, that is a family matter between
my brother and myself.  So, it can be done.  But I must not
know...."  He broke off.  "Hum!  A glass of Malaga in my cabin,
if you please," he invited them, "whilst the chests are being
hauled aboard."

He gave his orders touching the embarkation of these chests, then
led the way to his regally appointed cabin, his four officers and
the friar following by particular invitation.

Seated at table there, with the tawny wine before them, and the
servant who had poured it withdrawn, Don Miguel laughed and
stroked his pointed, grizzled beard.

"Virgen santisima!  That brother of mine has a mind that thinks
of everything.  Left to myself, I might have committed a fine
indiscretion by venturing aboard his ship at such a moment.  I
might have seen things which as Admiral of Spain it would be
difficult for me to ignore."

Both Esteban and Blood made haste to agree with him, and then
Blood raised his glass, and drank to the glory of Spain and the
damnation of the besotted James who occupied the throne of England.
The latter part of his toast was at least sincere.

The Admiral laughed.

"Sir, sir, you need my brother here to curb your imprudences.  You
should remember that His Catholic Majesty and the King of England
are very good friends.  That is not a toast to propose in this
cabin.  But since it has been proposed, and by one who has such
particular personal cause to hate these English hounds, why, we
will honour it - but unofficially."

They laughed, and drank the damnation of King James - quite
unofficially, but the more fervently on that account.  Then Don
Esteban, uneasy on the score of his father, and remembering that
the agony of Don Diego was being protracted with every moment that
they left him in his dreadful position, rose and announced that
they must be returning.

"My father," he explained, "is in haste to reach San Domingo.  He
desired me to stay no longer than necessary to embrace you.  If
you will give us leave, then, sir uncle."

In the circumstances "sir uncle" did not insist.

As they returned to the ship's side, Blood's eyes anxiously scanned
the line of seamen leaning over the bulwarks in idle talk with the
Spaniards in the cock-boat that waited at the ladder's foot.  But
their manner showed him that there was no ground for his anxiety.
The boat's crew had been wisely reticent.

The Admiral took leave of them - of Esteban affectionately, of
Blood ceremoniously.

"I regret to lose you so soon, Don Pedro.  I wish that you could
have made a longer visit to the Encarnacion."

"I am indeed unfortunate," said Captain Blood politely.

"But I hope that we may meet again."

"That is to flatter me beyond all that I deserve."

They reached the boat; and she cast off from the great ship.  As
they were pulling away, the Admiral waving to them from the taffrail,
they heard the shrill whistle of the bo'sun piping the hands to
their stations, and before they had reached the Cinco Llagas, they
beheld the Encarnacion go about under sail.  She dipped her flag to
them, and from her poop a gun fired a salute.

Aboard the Cinco Llagas some one - it proved afterwards to be
Hagthorpe - had the wit to reply in the same fashion.  The comedy
was ended.  Yet there was something else to follow as an epilogue,
a thing that added a grim ironic flavour to the whole.

As they stepped into the waist of the Cinco Llagas, Hagthorpe
advanced to receive them.  Blood observed the set, almost scared
expression on his face.

"I see that you've found it," he said quietly.

Hagthorpe's eyes looked a question.  But his mind dismissed whatever
thought it held.

"Don Diego..." he was beginning, and then stopped, and looked
curiously at Blood.

Noting the pause and the look, Esteban bounded forward, his face
livid.

"Have you broken faith, you curs?  Has he come to harm?" he cried
 - and the six Spaniards behind him grew clamorous with furious
questionings.

"We do not break faith," said Hagthorpe firmly, so firmly that he
quieted them.  "And in this case there was not the need.  Don Diego
died in his bonds before ever you reached the Encarnacion."

Peter Blood said nothing.

"Died?" screamed Esteban.  "You killed him, you mean.  Of what did
he die?"

Hagthorpe looked at the boy.  "If I am a judge," he said, "Don Diego
died of fear."

Don Esteban struck Hagthorpe across the face at that, and Hagthorpe
would have struck back, but that Blood got between, whilst his
followers seized the lad.

"Let be," said Blood.  "You provoked the boy by your insult to his
father."

"I was not concerned to insult," said Hagthorpe, nursing his cheek.
"It is what has happened.  Come and look."

"I have seen," said Blood.  "He died before I left the Cinco Llagas.
He was hanging dead in his bonds when I spoke to him before leaving."

"What are you saying?" cried Esteban.

Blood looked at him gravely.  Yet for all his gravity he seemed
almost to smile, though without mirth.

"If you had known that, eh?" he asked at last.  For a moment Don
Esteban stared at him wide-eyed, incredulous.  "I don't believe
you," he said at last.

"Yet you may.  I am a doctor, and I know death when I see it."

Again there came a pause, whilst conviction sank into the lad's mind.

"If I had known that," he said at last in a thick voice, "you would
be hanging from the yardarm of the Encarnacion at this moment."

"I know," said Blood.  "I am considering it - the profit that a man
may find in the ignorance of others."

"But you'll hang there yet," the boy raved.

Captain Blood shrugged, and turned on his heel.  But he did not on
that account disregard the words, nor did Hagthorpe, nor yet the
others who overheard them, as they showed at a council held that
night in the cabin.

This council was met to determine what should be done with the
Spanish prisoners.  Considering that Curacao now lay beyond their
reach, as they were running short of water and provisions, and also
that Pitt was hardly yet in case to undertake the navigation of the
vessel, it had been decided that, going east of Hispaniola, and
then sailing along its northern coast, they should make for Tortuga,
that haven of the buccaneers, in which lawless port they had at
least no danger of recapture to apprehend.  It was now a question
whether they should convey the Spaniards thither with them, or turn
them off in a boat to make the best of their way to the coast of
Hispaniola, which was but ten miles off.  This was the course urged
by Blood himself.

"There's nothing else to be done," he insisted.  "In Tortuga they
would be flayed alive."

"Which is less than the swine deserve," growled Wolverstone.

"And you'll remember, Peter," put in Hagthorpe, "that boy's threat
to you this morning.  If he escapes, and carries word of all this
to his uncle, the Admiral, the execution of that threat will become
more than possible."

It says much for Peter Blood that the argument should have left him
unmoved.  It is a little thing, perhaps, but in a narrative in which
there is so much that tells against him, I cannot - since my story
is in the nature of a brief for the defence - afford to slur a
circumstance that is so strongly in his favour, a circumstance
revealing that the cynicism attributed to him proceeded from his
reason and from a brooding over wrongs rather than from any natural
instincts.  "I care nothing for his threats."

"You should," said Wolverstone.  "The wise thing'd be to hang him,
along o' all the rest."

"It is not human to be wise," said Blood.  "It is much more human
to err, though perhaps exceptional to err on the side of mercy.
We'll be exceptional.  Oh, faugh!  I've no stomach for cold-blooded
killing.  At daybreak pack the Spaniards into a boat with a keg of
water and a sack of dumplings, and let them go to the devil."

That was his last word on the subject, and it prevailed by virtue
of the authority they had vested in him, and of which he had taken
so firm a grip.  At daybreak Don Esteban and his followers were
put off in a boat.

Two days later, the Cinco Llagas sailed into the rock-bound bay of
Cayona, which Nature seemed to have designed for the stronghold of
those who had appropriated it.



CHAPTER XIII

TORTUGA


It is time fully to disclose the fact that the survival of the story
of Captain Blood's exploits is due entirely to the industry of Jeremy
Pitt, the Somersetshire shipmaster.  In addition to his ability as
a navigator, this amiable young man appears to have wielded an
indefatigable pen, and to have been inspired to indulge its fluency
by the affection he very obviously bore to Peter Blood.

He kept the log of the forty-gun frigate Arabella, on which he
served as master, or, as we should say to-day, navigating officer,
as no log that I have seen was ever kept.  It runs into some
twenty-odd volumes of assorted sizes, some of which are missing
altogether and others of which are so sadly depleted of leaves as
to be of little use.  But if at times in the laborious perusal of
them - they are preserved in the library of Mr. James Speke of
Comerton - I have inveighed against these lacunae, at others I have
been equally troubled by the excessive prolixity of what remains
and the difficulty of disintegrating from the confused whole the
really essential parts.

I have a suspicion that Esquemeling - though how or where I can
make no surmise - must have obtained access to these records, and
that he plucked from them the brilliant feathers of several exploits
to stick them into the tail of his own hero, Captain Morgan.  But
that is by the way.  I mention it chiefly as a warning, for when
presently I come to relate the affair of Maracaybo, those of you
who have read Esquemeling may be in danger of supposing that Henry
Morgan really performed those things which here are veraciously
attributed to Peter Blood.  I think, however, that when you come to
weigh the motives actuating both Blood and the Spanish Admiral, in
that affair, and when you consider how integrally the event is a
part of Blood's history - whilst merely a detached incident in
Morgan's - you will reach my own conclusion as to which is the real
plagiarist.

The first of these logs of Pitt's is taken up almost entirely with
a retrospective narrative of the events up to the time of Blood's
first coming to Tortuga.  This and the Tannatt Collection of State
Trials are the chief - though not the only - sources of my history
so far.

Pitt lays great stress upon the fact that it was the circumstances
upon which I have dwelt, and these alone, that drove Peter Blood to
seek an anchorage at Tortuga.  He insists at considerable length,
and with a vehemence which in itself makes it plain that an opposite
opinion was held in some quarters, that it was no part of the design
of Blood or of any of his companions in misfortune to join hands
with the buccaneers who, under a semi-official French protection,
made of Tortuga a lair whence they could sally out to drive their
merciless piratical trade chiefly at the expense of Spain.

It was, Pitt tells us, Blood's original intention to make his way
to France or Holland.  But in the long weeks of waiting for a ship
to convey him to one or the other of these countries, his resources
dwindled and finally vanished.  Also, his chronicler thinks that he
detected signs of some secret trouble in his friend, and he
attributes to this the abuses of the potent West Indian spirit of
which Blood became guilty in those days of inaction, thereby sinking
to the level of the wild adventurers with whom ashore he associated.

I do not think that Pitt is guilty in this merely of special
pleading, that he is putting forward excuses for his hero.  I think
that in those days there was a good deal to oppress Peter Blood.
There was the thought of Arabella Bishop - and that this thought
loomed large in his mind we are not permitted to doubt.  He was
maddened by the tormenting lure of the unattainable.  He desired
Arabella, yet knew her beyond his reach irrevocably and for all time.
Also, whilst he may have desired to go to France or Holland, he had
no clear purpose to accomplish when he reached one or the other of
these countries.  He was, when all is said, an escaped slave, an
outlaw in his own land and a homeless outcast in any other.  There
remained the sea, which is free to all, and particularly alluring
to those who feel themselves at war with humanity.  And so,
considering the adventurous spirit that once already had sent him
a-roving for the sheer love of it, considering that this spirit was
heightened now by a recklessness begotten of his outlawry, that his
training and skill in militant seamanship clamorously supported the
temptations that were put before him, can you wonder, or dare you
blame him, that in the end he succumbed?  And remember that these
temptations proceeded not only from adventurous buccaneering
acquaintances in the taverns of that evil haven of Tortuga, but even
from M. d'Ogeron, the governor of the island, who levied as his
harbour dues a percentage of one tenth of all spoils brought into
the bay, and who profited further by commissions upon money which
he was desired to convert into bills of exchange upon France.

A trade that might have worn a repellent aspect when urged by
greasy, half-drunken adventurers, boucan-hunters, lumbermen,
beach-combers, English, French, and Dutch, became a dignified,
almost official form of privateering when advocated by the courtly,
middle-aged gentleman who in representing the French West India
Company seemed to represent France herself.

Moreover, to a man - not excluding Jeremy Pitt himself, in whose
blood the call of the sea was insistent and imperative - those who
had escaped with Peter Blood from the Barbados plantations, and
who, consequently, like himself, knew not whither to turn, were
all resolved upon joining the great Brotherhood of the Coast, as
those rovers called themselves.  And they united theirs to the
other voices that were persuading Blood, demanding that he should
continue now in the leadership which he had enjoyed since they had
left Barbados, and swearing to follow him loyally whithersoever he
should lead them.

And so, to condense all that Jeremy has recorded in the matter,
Blood ended by yielding to external and internal pressure, abandoned
himself to the stream of Destiny.  "Fata viam invenerunt," is his
own expression of it.

If he resisted so long, it was, I think, the thought of Arabella
Bishop that restrained him.  That they should be destined never to
meet again did not weigh at first, or, indeed, ever.  He conceived
the scorn with which she would come to hear of his having turned
pirate, and the scorn, though as yet no more than imagined, hurt
him as if it were already a reality.  And even when he conquered
this, still the thought of her was ever present.  He compromised
with the conscience that her memory kept so disconcertingly active.
He vowed that the thought of her should continue ever before him
to help him keep his hands as clean as a man might in this desperate
trade upon which he was embarking.  And so, although he might
entertain no delusive hope of ever winning her for his own, of ever
even seeing her again, yet the memory of her was to abide in his
soul as a bitter-sweet, purifying influence.  The love that is never
to be realized will often remain a man's guiding ideal.  The resolve
being taken, he went actively to work.  Ogeron, most accommodating
of governors, advanced him money for the proper equipment of his
ship the Cinco Llagas, which he renamed the Arabella.  This after
some little hesitation, fearful of thus setting his heart upon his
sleeve.  But his Barbados friends accounted it merely an expression
of the ever-ready irony in which their leader dealt.

To the score of followers he already possessed, he added threescore
more, picking his men with caution and discrimination - and he was
an exceptional judge of men - from amongst the adventurers of
Tortuga.  With them all he entered into the articles usual among the
Brethren of the Coast under which each man was to be paid by a share
in the prizes captured.  In other respects, however, the articles
were different.  Aboard the Arabella there was to be none of the
ruffianly indiscipline that normally prevailed in buccaneering
vessels.  Those who shipped with him undertook obedience and
submission in all things to himself and to the officers appointed
by election.  Any to whom this clause in the articles was distasteful
might follow some other leader.

Towards the end of December, when the hurricane season had blown
itself out, he put to sea in his well-found, well-manned ship, and
before he returned in the following May from a protracted and
adventurous cruise, the fame of Captain Peter Blood had run like
ripples before the breeze across the face of the Caribbean Sea.
There was a fight in the Windward Passage at the outset with a
Spanish galleon, which had resulted in the gutting and finally the
sinking of the Spaniard.  There was a daring raid effected by means
of several appropriated piraguas upon a Spanish pearl fleet in the
Rio de la Hacha, from which they had taken a particularly rich haul
of pearls.  There was an overland expedition to the goldfields of
Santa Maria, on the Main, the full tale of which is hardly credible,
and there were lesser adventures through all of which the crew of
the Arabella came with credit and profit if not entirely unscathed.

And so it happened that before the Arabella came homing to Tortuga
in the following May to refit and repair - for she was not without
scars, as you conceive - the fame of her and of Peter Blood her
captain had swept from the Bahamas to the Windward Isles, from New
Providence to Trinidad.

An echo of it had reached Europe, and at the Court of St. James's
angry representations were made by the Ambassador of Spain, to whom
it was answered that it must not be supposed that this Captain Blood
held any commission from the King of England; that he was, in fact,
a proscribed rebel, an escaped slave, and that any measures against
him by His Catholic Majesty would receive the cordial approbation
of King James II.

Don Miguel de Espinosa, the Admiral of Spain in the West Indies, and
his nephew Don Esteban who sailed with him, did not lack the will to
bring the adventurer to the yardarm.  With them this business of
capturing Blood, which was now an international affair, was also a
family matter.

Spain, through the mouth of Don Miguel, did not spare her threats.
The report of them reached Tortuga, and with it the assurance that
Don Miguel had behind him not only the authority of his own nation,
but that of the English King as well.

It was a brutum fulmen that inspired no terrors in Captain Blood.
Nor was he likely, on account of it, to allow himself to run to rust
in the security of Tortuga.  For what he had suffered at the hands
of Man he had chosen to make Spain the scapegoat.  Thus he accounted
that he served a twofold purpose: he took compensation and at the
same time served, not indeed the Stuart King, whom he despised, but
England and, for that matter, all the rest of civilized mankind
which cruel, treacherous, greedy, bigoted Castile sought to exclude
from intercourse with the New World.

One day as he sat with Hagthorpe and Wolverstone over a pipe and a
bottle of rum in the stifling reek of tar and stale tobacco of a
waterside tavern, he was accosted by a splendid ruffian in a
gold-laced coat of dark-blue satin with a crimson sash, a foot wide,
about the waist.

"C'est vous qu'on appelle Le Sang?" the fellow hailed him.

Captain Blood looked up to consider the questioner before replying.
The man was tall and built on lines of agile strength, with a
swarthy, aquiline face that was brutally handsome.  A diamond of
great price flamed on the indifferently clean hand resting on the
pummel of his long rapier, and there were gold rings in his ears,
half-concealed by long ringlets of oily chestnut hair.

Captain Blood took the pipe-stem from between his lips.

"My name," he said, "is Peter Blood.  The Spaniards know me for Don
Pedro Sangre and a Frenchman may call me Le Sang if he pleases."

"Good," said the gaudy adventurer in English, and without further
invitation he drew up a stool and sat down at that greasy table.
"My name," he informed the three men, two of whom at least were
eyeing him askance, "it is Levasseur.  You may have heard of me."

They had, indeed.  He commanded a privateer of twenty guns that had
dropped anchor in the bay a week ago, manned by a crew mainly
composed of French boucanhunters from Northern Hispaniola, men who
had good cause to hate the Spaniard with an intensity exceeding that
of the English.  Levasseur had brought them back to Tortuga from an
indifferently successful cruise.  It would need more, however, than
lack of success to abate the fellow's monstrous vanity.  A roaring,
quarrelsome, hard-drinking, hard-gaming scoundrel, his reputation as
a buccaneer stood high among the wild Brethren of the Coast.  He
enjoyed also a reputation of another sort.  There was about his
gaudy, swaggering raffishness something that the women found
singularly alluring.  That he should boast openly of his bonnes
fortunes did not seem strange to Captain Blood; what he might have
found strange was that there appeared to be some measure of
justification for these boasts.

It was current gossip that even Mademoiselle d'Ogeron, the Governor's
daughter, had been caught in the snare of his wild attractiveness,
and that Levasseur had gone the length of audacity of asking her
hand in marriage of her father.  M. d'Ogeron had made him the only
possible answer.  He had shown him the door.  Levasseur had departed
in a rage, swearing that he would make mademoiselle his wife in the
teeth of all the fathers in Christendom, and that M. d'Ogeron should
bitterly rue the affront he had put upon him.

This was the man who now thrust himself upon Captain Blood with a
proposal of association, offering him not only his sword, but his
ship and the men who sailed in her.

A dozen years ago, as a lad of barely twenty, Levasseur had sailed
with that monster of cruelty L'Ollonais, and his own subsequent
exploits bore witness and did credit to the school in which he had
been reared.  I doubt if in his day there was a greater scoundrel
among the Brethren of the Coast than this Levasseur.  And yet,
repulsive though he found him, Captain Blood could not deny that the
fellow's proposals displayed boldness, imagination, and resource,
and he was forced to admit that jointly they could undertake
operations of a greater magnitude than was possible singly to either
of them.  The climax of Levasseur's project was to be a raid upon
the wealthy mainland city of Maracaybo; but for this, he admitted,
six hundred men at the very least would be required, and six hundred
men were not to be conveyed in the two bottoms they now commanded.
Preliminary cruises must take place, having for one of their objects
the capture of further ships.

Because he disliked the man, Captain Blood would not commit himself
at once.  But because he liked the proposal he consented to consider
it.  Being afterwards pressed by both Hagthorpe and Wolverstone, who
did not share his own personal dislike of the Frenchman, the end of
the matter was that within a week articles were drawn up between
Levasseur and Blood, and signed by them and - as was usual - by the
chosen representatives of their followers.

These articles contained, inter alia, the common provisions that,
should the two vessels separate, a strict account must afterwards
be rendered of all prizes severally taken, whilst the vessel taking
a prize should retain three fifths of its value, surrendering two
fifths to its associate.  These shares were subsequently to be
subdivided among the crew of each vessel, in accordance with the
articles already obtaining between each captain and his own men.
For the rest, the articles contained all the clauses that were usual,
among which was the clause that any man found guilty of abstracting
or concealing any part of a prize, be it of the value of no more
than a peso, should be summarily hanged from the yardarm.

All being now settled they made ready for sea, and on the very eve
of sailing, Levasseur narrowly escaped being shot in a romantic
attempt to scale the wall of the Governor's garden, with the object
of taking passionate leave of the infatuated Mademoiselle d'Ogeron.
He desisted after having been twice fired upon from a fragrant
ambush of pimento trees where the Governor's guards were posted,
and he departed vowing to take different and very definite measures
on his return.

That night he slept on board his ship, which with characteristic
flamboyance he had named La Foudre, and there on the following day
he received a visit from Captain Blood, whom he greeted
half-mockingly as his admiral.  The Irishman came to settle certain
final details of which all that need concern us is an understanding
that, in the event of the two vessels becoming separated by accident
or design, they should rejoin each other as soon as might be at
Tortuga.

Thereafter Levasseur entertained his admiral to dinner, and jointly
they drank success to the expedition, so copiously on the part of
Levasseur that when the time came to separate he was as nearly drunk
as it seemed possible for him to be and yet retain his understanding.

Finally, towards evening, Captain Blood went over the side and was
rowed back to his great ship with her red bulwarks and gilded ports,
touched into a lovely thing of flame by the setting sun.

He was a little heavy-hearted.  I have said that he was a judge of
men, and his judgment of Levasseur filled him with misgivings which
were growing heavier in a measure as the hour of departure
approached.

He expressed it to Wolverstone, who met him as he stepped aboard
the Arabella:

"You over persuaded me into those articles, you blackguard; and it'll
surprise me if any good comes of this association."

The giant rolled his single bloodthirsty eye, and sneered, thrusting
out his heavy jaw.  "We'll wring the dog's neck if there's any
treachery."

"So we will - if we are there to wring it by then."  And on that,
dismissing the matter:  "We sail in the morning, on the first of the
ebb," he announced, and went off to his cabin.



CHAPTER XIV

LEVASSEUR'S HEROICS


It would be somewhere about ten o'clock on the following morning,
a full hour before the time appointed for sailing, when a canoe
brought up alongside La Foudre, and a half-caste Indian stepped out
of her and went up the ladder.  He was clad in drawers of hairy,
untanned hide, and a red blanket served him for a cloak.  He was
the bearer of a folded scrap of paper for Captain Levasseur.

The Captain unfolded the letter, sadly soiled and crumpled by
contact with the half-caste's person.  Its contents may be
roughly translated thus:

"My well-beloved - I am in the Dutch brig Jongvrow, which is
about to sail.  Resolved to separate us for ever, my cruel father
is sending me to Europe in my brother's charge.  I implore you,
come to my rescue.  Deliver me, my well-beloved hero! - Your
desolated Madeleine, who loves you."

The well-beloved hero was moved to the soul of him by that
passionate appeal.  His scowling glance swept the bay for the
Dutch brig, which he knew had been due to sail for Amsterdam with
a cargo of hides and tobacco.

She was nowhere to be seen among the shipping in that narrow,
rock-bound harbour.  He roared out the question in his mind.

In answer the half-caste pointed out beyond the frothing surf that
marked the position of the reef constituting one of the stronghold's
main defences.  Away beyond it, a mile or so distant, a sail was
standing out to sea.  "There she go," he said.

"There!"  The Frenchman gazed and stared, his face growing white.
The man's wicked temper awoke, and turned to vent itself upon the
messenger.  "And where have you been that you come here only now
with this?  Answer me!"

The half-caste shrank terrified before his fury.  His explanation,
if he had one, was paralyzed by fear.  Levasseur took him by the
throat, shook him twice, snarling the while, then hurled him into
the scuppers.  The man's head struck the gunwale as he fell, and he
lay there, quite still, a trickle of blood issuing from his mouth.

Levasseur dashed one hand against the other, as if dusting them.

"Heave that muck overboard," he ordered some of those who stood
idling in the waist.  "Then up anchor, and let us after the
Dutchman."

"Steady, Captain.  What's that?"  There was a restraining hand
upon his shoulder, and the broad face of his lieutenant Cahusac,
a burly, callous Breton scoundrel, was stolidly confronting him.

Levasseur made clear his purpose with a deal of unnecessary
obscenity.

Cahusac shook his head.  "A Dutch brig!" said he.  "Impossible!
We should never be allowed."

"And who the devil will deny us?" Levasseur was between amazement
and fury.

"For one thing, there's your own crew will be none too willing.  For
another there's Captain Blood."

"I care nothing for Captain Blood...."

"But it is necessary that you should.  He has the power, the weight
of metal and of men, and if I know him at all he'll sink us before
he'll suffer interference with the Dutch.  He has his own views of
privateering, this Captain Blood, as I warned you."

"Ah!" said Levasseur, showing his teeth.  But his eyes, riveted
upon that distant sail, were gloomily thoughtful.  Not for long.
The imagination and resource which Captain Blood had detected in
the fellow soon suggested a course.

Cursing in his soul, and even before the anchor was weighed, the
association into which he had entered, he was already studying ways
of evasion.  What Cahusac implied was true:  Blood would never suffer
violence to be done in his presence to a Dutchman; but it might be
done in his absence; and, being done, Blood must perforce condone
it, since it would then be too late to protest.

Within the hour the Arabella and La Foudre were beating out to sea
together.  Without understanding the change of plan involved,
Captain Blood, nevertheless, accepted it, and weighed anchor before
the appointed time upon perceiving his associate to do so.

All day the Dutch brig was in sight, though by evening she had
dwindled to the merest speck on the northern horizon.  The course
prescribed for Blood and Levasseur lay eastward along the northern
shores of Hispaniola.  To that course the Arabella continued to
hold steadily throughout the night.  When day broke again, she was
alone.  La Foudre under cover of the darkness had struck away to
The northeast with every rag of canvas on her yards.

Cahusac had attempted yet again to protest against this.

"The devil take you!" Levasseur had answered him.  "A ship's a
ship, be she Dutch or Spanish, and ships are our present need.
That will suffice for the men."

His lieutenant said no more.  But from his glimpse of the letter,
knowing that a girl and not a ship was his captain's real objective,
he gloomily shook his head as he rolled away on his bowed legs to
give the necessary orders.

Dawn found La Foudre close on the Dutchman's heels, not a mile
astern, and the sight of her very evidently flustered the Jongvrow.
No doubt mademoiselle's brother recognizing Levasseur's ship would
be responsible for the Dutch uneasiness.  They saw the Jongvrow
crowding canvas in a futile endeavour to outsail them, whereupon
they stood off to starboard and raced on until they were in a
position whence they could send a warning shot across her bow.
The Jongvrow veered, showed them her rudder, and opened fire with
her stern chasers.  The small shot went whistling through La
Foudre's shrouds with some slight damage to her canvas.  Followed
a brief running fight in the course of which the Dutchman let fly
a broadside.

Five minutes after that they were board and board, the Jongvrow held
tight in the clutches of La Foudre's grapnels, and the buccaneers
pouring noisily into her waist.

The Dutchman's master, purple in the face, stood forward to beard
the pirate, followed closely by an elegant, pale-faced young
gentleman in whom Levasseur recognized his brother-in-law elect.

"Captain Levasseur, this is an outrage for which you shall be made
to answer.  What do you seek aboard my ship?"

"At first I sought only that which belongs to me, something of
which I am being robbed.  But since you chose war and opened fire
on me with some damage to my ship and loss of life to five of my
men, why, war it is, and your ship a prize of war."

From the quarter rail Mademoiselle d'Ogeron looked down with glowing
eyes in breathless wonder upon her well-beloved hero.  Gloriously
heroic he seemed as he stood towering there, masterful, audacious,
beautiful.  He saw her, and with a glad shout sprang towards her.
The Dutch master got in his way with hands upheld to arrest his
progress.  Levasseur did not stay to argue with him:  he was too
impatient to reach his mistress.  He swung the poleaxe that he
carried, and the Dutchman went down in blood with a cloven skull.
The eager lover stepped across the body and came on, his countenance
joyously alight.

But mademoiselle was shrinking now, in horror.  She was a girl upon
the threshold of glorious womanhood, of a fine height and nobly
moulded, with heavy coils of glossy black hair above and about a face
that was of the colour of old ivory.  Her countenance was cast in
lines of arrogance, stressed by the low lids of her full dark eyes.

In a bound her well-beloved was beside her, flinging away his bloody
poleaxe, he opened wide his arms to enfold her.  But she still shrank
even within his embrace, which would not be denied; a look of dread
had come to temper the normal arrogance of her almost perfect face.

"Mine, mine at last, and in spite of all!" he cried exultantly,
theatrically, truly heroic.

But she, endeavouring to thrust him back, her hands against his
breast, could only falter: "Why, why did you kill him?"

He laughed, as a hero should; and answered her heroically, with the
tolerance of a god for the mortal to whom he condescends:  "He stood
between us.  Let his death be a symbol, a warning.  Let all who
would stand between us mark it and beware."

It was so splendidly terrific, the gesture of it was so broad and
fine and his magnetism so compelling, that she cast her silly
tremors and yielded herself freely, intoxicated, to his fond embrace.
Thereafter he swung her to his shoulder, and stepping with ease
beneath that burden, bore her in a sort of triumph, lustily cheered
by his men, to the deck of his own ship.  Her inconsiderate brother
might have ruined that romantic scene but for the watchful Cahusac,
who quietly tripped him up, and then trussed him like a fowl.

Thereafter, what time the Captain languished in his lady's smile
within the cabin, Cahusac was dealing with the spoils of war.  The
Dutch crew was ordered into the longboat, and bidden go to the devil.
Fortunately, as they numbered fewer than thirty, the longboat,
though perilously overcrowded, could yet contain them.  Next,
Cahusac having inspected the cargo, put a quartermaster and a score
of men aboard the Jongvrow, and left her to follow La Foudre, which
he now headed south for the Leeward Islands.

Cahusac was disposed to be ill-humoured.  The risk they had run in
taking the Dutch brig and doing violence to members of the family
of the Governor of Tortuga, was out of all proportion to the value
of their prize.  He said so, sullenly, to Levasseur.

"You'll keep that opinion to yourself," the Captain answered him.
"Don't think I am the man to thrust my neck into a noose, without
knowing how I am going to take it out again.  I shall send an offer
of terms to the Governor of Tortuga that he will be forced to accept.
Set a course for the Virgen Magra.  We'll go ashore, and settle
things from there.  And tell them to fetch that milksop Ogeron to
the cabin."

Levasseur went back to the adoring lady.

Thither, too, the lady's brother was presently conducted.  The
Captain rose to receive him, bending his stalwart height to avoid
striking the cabin roof with his head.  Mademoiselle rose too.

"Why this?" she asked Levasseur, pointing to her brother's pinioned
wrists - the remains of Cahusac's precautions.

"I deplore it," said he.  "I desire it to end.  Let M. d'Ogeron
give me his parole...."

"I give you nothing," flashed the white-faced youth, who did not
lack for spirit.

"You see."  Levasseur shrugged his deep regret, and mademoiselle
turned protesting to her brother.

"Henri, this is foolish!  You are not behaving as my friend.
You...."

"Little fool," her brother answered her - and the "little" was out
of place; she was the taller of the twain.  "Little fool, do you
think I should be acting as your friend to make terms with this
blackguard pirate?"

"Steady, my young cockerel!" Levasseur laughed.  But his laugh was
not nice.

"Don't you perceive your wicked folly in the harm it has brought
already?  Lives have been lost - men have died - that this monster
might overtake you.  And don't you yet realize where you stand - in
the power of this beast, of this cur born in a kennel and bred in
thieving and murder?"

He might have said more but that Levasseur struck him across the
mouth.  Levasseur, you see, cared as little as another to hear the
truth about himself.

Mademoiselle suppressed a scream, as the youth staggered back under
the blow.  He came to rest against a bulkhead, and leaned there
with bleeding lips.  But his spirit was unquenched, and there was
a ghastly smile on his white face as his eyes sought his sister's.

"You see," he said simply.  "He strikes a man whose hands are bound."

The simple words, and, more than the words, their tone of ineffable
disdain, aroused the passion that never slumbered deeply in
Levasseur.

"And what should you do, puppy, if your hands were unbound?"  He
took his prisoner by the breast of his doublet and shook him.
"Answer me!  What should you do?  Tchah!  You empty windbag!
You...."  And then came a torrent of words unknown to mademoiselle,
yet of whose foulness her intuitions made her conscious.

With blanched cheeks she stood by the cabin table, and cried out
to Levasseur to stop.  To obey her, he opened the door, and flung
her brother through it.

"Put that rubbish under hatches until I call for it again," he
roared, and shut the door.

Composing himself, he turned to the girl again with a deprecatory
smile.  But no smile answered him from her set face.  She had seen
her beloved hero's nature in curl-papers, as it were, and she found
the spectacle disgusting and terrifying.  It recalled the brutal
slaughter of the Dutch captain, and suddenly she realized that what
her brother had just said of this man was no more than true.  Fear
growing to panic was written on her face, as she stood there leaning
for support against the table.

"Why, sweetheart, what is this?" Levasseur moved towards her.  She
recoiled before him.  There was a smile on his face, a glitter in
his eyes that fetched her heart into her throat.

He caught her, as she reached the uttermost limits of the cabin,
seized her in his long arms and pulled her to him.

"No, no!" she panted.

"Yes, yes," he mocked her, and his mockery was the most terrible
thing of all.  He crushed her to him brutally, deliberately hurtful
because she resisted, and kissed her whilst she writhed in his
embrace.  Then, his passion mounting, he grew angry and stripped
off the last rag of hero's mask that still may have hung upon his
face.  "Little fool, did you not hear your brother say that you
are in my power?  Remember it, and remember that of your own free
will you came.  I am not the man with whom a woman can play fast
and loose.  So get sense, my girl, and accept what you have invited."
He kissed her again, almost contemptuously, and flung her off.
"No more scowls," he said.  "You'll be sorry else."

Some one knocked.  Cursing the interruption, Levasseur strode off
to open.  Cahusac stood before him.  The Breton's face was grave.
He came to report that they had sprung a leak between wind and
water, the consequence of damage sustained from one of the Dutchman's
shots.  In alarm Levasseur went off with him.  The leakage was not
serious so long as the weather kept fine; but should a storm overtake
them it might speedily become so.  A man was slung overboard to make
a partial stoppage with a sail-cloth, and the pumps were got to work.

Ahead of them a low cloud showed on the horizon, which Cahusac
pronounced one of the northernmost of the Virgin Islands.

"We must run for shelter there, and careen her," said Levasseur.
"I do not trust this oppressive heat.  A storm may catch us
before we make land."

"A storm or something else," said Cahusac grimly.  "Have you
noticed that?"  He pointed away to starboard.

Levasseur looked, and caught his breath.  Two ships that at the
distance seemed of considerable burden were heading towards them
some five miles away.

"If they follow us what is to happen?" demanded Cahusac.

"We'll fight whether we're in case to do so or not," swore Levasseur.

"Counsels of despair."  Cahusac was contemptuous.  To mark it he
spat upon the deck.  "This comes of going to sea with a lovesick
madman.  Now, keep your temper, Captain, for the hands will be at
the end of theirs if we have trouble as a result of this Dutchman
business."

For the remainder of that day Levasseur's thoughts were of anything
but love.  He remained on deck, his eyes now upon the land, now
upon those two slowly gaining ships.  To run for the open could
avail him nothing, and in his leaky condition would provide an
additional danger.  He must stand at bay and fight.  And then,
towards evening, when within three miles of shore and when he was
about to give the order to strip for battle, he almost fainted from
relief to hear a voice from the crow's-nest above announce that the
larger of the two ships was the Arabella.  Her companion was
presumably a prize.

But the pessimism of Cahusac abated nothing.

"That is but the lesser evil," he growled.  "What will Blood say
about this Dutchman?"

"Let him say what he pleases."  Levasseur laughed in the immensity
of his relief.

"And what about the children of the Governor of Tortuga?"

"He must not know."

"He'll come to know in the end."

"Aye, but by then, morbleu, the matter will be settled.  I shall
have made my peace with the Governor.  I tell you I know the way
to compel Ogeron to come to terms."

Presently the four vessels lay to off the northern coast of La
Virgen Magra, a narrow little island arid and treeless, some twelve
miles by three, uninhabited save by birds and turtles and
unproductive of anything but salt, of which there were considerable
ponds to the south.

Levasseur put off in a boat accompanied by Cahusac and two other
officers, and went to visit Captain Blood aboard the Arabella.

"Our brief separation has been mighty profitable," was Captain
Blood's greeting.  "It's a busy morning we've both had."  He was
in high good-humour as he led the way to the great cabin for a
rendering of accounts.

The tall ship that accompanied the Arabella was a Spanish vessel
of twenty-six guns, the Santiago from Puerto Rico with a hundred
and twenty thousand weight of cacao, forty thousand pieces of eight,
and the value of ten thousand more in jewels.  A rich capture of
which two fifths under the articles went to Levasseur and his crew.
Of the money and jewels a division was made on the spot.  The cacao
it was agreed should be taken to Tortuga to be sold.

Then it was the turn of Levasseur, and black grew the brow of
Captain Blood as the Frenchman's tale was unfolded.  At the end
he roundly expressed his disapproval.  The Dutch were a friendly
people whom it was a folly to alienate, particularly for so paltry
a matter as these hides and tobacco, which at most would fetch a
bare twenty thousand pieces.

But Levasseur answered him, as he had answered Cahusac, that a ship
was a ship, and it was ships they needed against their projected
enterprise.  Perhaps because things had gone well with him that
day, Blood ended by shrugging the matter aside.  Thereupon Levasseur
proposed that the Arabella and her prize should return to Tortuga
there to unload the cacao and enlist the further adventurers that
could now be shipped.  Levasseur meanwhile would effect certain
necessary repairs, and then proceeding south, await his admiral at
Saltatudos, an island conveniently situated - in the latitude of
11 deg. 11' N. - for their enterprise against Maracaybo.

To Levasseur's relief, Captain Blood not only agreed, but pronounced
himself ready to set sail at once.

No sooner had the Arabella departed than Levasseur brought his ships
into the lagoon, and set his crew to work upon the erection of
temporary quarters ashore for himself, his men, and his enforced
guests during the careening and repairing of La Foudre.

At sunset that evening the wind freshened; it grew to a gale, and
from that to such a hurricane that Levasseur was thankful to find
himself ashore and his ships in safe shelter.  He wondered a little
how it might be faring with Captain Blood out there at the mercy
of that terrific storm; but he did not permit concern to trouble
him unduly.



CHAPTER XV

THE RANSOM


In the glory of the following morning, sparkling and clear after
the storm, with an invigorating, briny tang in the air from the
salt-ponds on the south of the island, a curious scene was played
on the beach of the Virgen Magra, at the foot of a ridge of
bleached dunes, beside the spread of sail from which Levasseur
had improvised a tent.

Enthroned upon an empty cask sat the French filibuster to transact
important business:  the business of making himself safe with the
Governor of Tortuga.

A guard of honour of a half-dozen officers hung about him; five of
them were rude boucan-hunters, in stained jerkins and leather
breeches; the sixth was Cahusac.  Before him, guarded by two
half-naked negroes, stood young d'Ogeron, in frilled shirt and
satin small-clothes and fine shoes of Cordovan leather.  He was
stripped of doublet, and his hands were tied behind him.  The
young gentleman's comely face was haggard.  Near at hand, and
also under guard, but unpinioned, mademoiselle his sister sat
hunched upon a hillock of sand.  She was very pale, and it was
in vain that she sought to veil in a mask of arrogance the fears
by which she was assailed.

Levasseur addressed himself to M. d'Ogeron.  He spoke at long length.
In the end -

"I trust, monsieur," said he, with mock suavity, "that I have made
myself quite clear.  So that there may be no misunderstandings, I
will recapitulate.  Your ransom is fixed at twenty thousand pieces
of eight, and you shall have liberty on parole to go to Tortuga to
collect it.  In fact, I shall provide the means to convey you
thither, and you shall have a month in which to come and go.
Meanwhile, your sister remains with me as a hostage.  Your father
should not consider such a sum excessive as the price of his son's
liberty and to provide a dowry for his daughter.  Indeed, if
anything, I am too modest, pardi!  M. d'Ogeron is reputed a wealthy
man."

M. d'Ogeron the younger raised his head and looked the Captain
boldly in the face.

"I refuse - utterly and absolutely, do you understand?  So do your
worst, and be damned for a filthy pirate without decency and without
honour."

"But what words!" laughed Levasseur.  "What heat and what
foolishness!  You have not considered the alternative.  When you do,
you will not persist in your refusal.  You will not do that in any
case.  We have spurs for the reluctant.  And I warn you against
giving me your parole under stress, and afterwards playing me false.
I shall know how to find and punish you.  Meanwhile, remember your
sister's honour is in pawn to me.  Should you forget to return with
the dowry, you will not consider it unreasonable that I forget to
marry her."

Levasseur's smiling eyes, intent upon the young man's face, saw the
horror that crept into his glance.  M. d'Ogeron cast a wild glance
at mademoiselle, and observed the grey despair that had almost
stamped the beauty from her face.  Disgust and fury swept across
his countenance.

Then he braced himself and answered resolutely:

"No, you dog!  A thousand times, no!"

"You are foolish to persist."  Levasseur spoke without anger, with
a coldly mocking regret.  His fingers had been busy tying knots in
a length of whipcord.  He held it up.  "You know this?  It is a
rosary of pain that has wrought the conversion of many a stubborn
heretic.  It is capable of screwing the eyes out of a man's head
by way of helping him to see reason.  As you please."

He flung the length of knotted cord to one of the negroes, who in
an instant made it fast about the prisoner's brows.  Then between
cord and cranium the black inserted a short length of metal, round
and slender as a pipe-stem.  That done he rolled his eyes towards
Levasseur, awaiting the Captain's signal.

Levasseur considered his victim, and beheld him tense and braced,
his haggard face of a leaden hue, beads of perspiration glinting on
his pallid brow just beneath the whipcord.

Mademoiselle cried out, and would have risen:  but her guards
restrained her, and she sank down again, moaning.

"I beg that you will spare yourself and your sister," said the
Captain, "by being reasonable.  What, after all, is the sum I have
named?  To your wealthy father a bagatelle.  I repeat, I have been
too modest.  But since I have said twenty thousand pieces of eight,
twenty thousand pieces it shall be."

"And for what, if you please, have you said twenty thousand pieces
of eight?"

In execrable French, but in a voice that was crisp and pleasant,
seeming to echo some of the mockery that had invested Levasseur's,
that question floated over their heads.

Startled, Levasseur and his officers looked up and round.  On the
crest of the dunes behind them, in sharp silhouette against the
deep cobalt of the sky, they beheld a tall, lean figure scrupulously
dressed in black with silver lace, a crimson ostrich plume curled
about the broad brim of his hat affording the only touch of colour.
Under that hat was the tawny face of Captain Blood.

Levasseur gathered himself up with an oath of amazement.  He had
conceived Captain Blood by now well below the horizon, on his way
to Tortuga, assuming him to have been so fortunate as to have
weathered last night's storm.

Launching himself upon the yielding sand, into which he sank to the
level of the calves of his fine boots of Spanish leather, Captain
Blood came sliding erect to the beach.  He was followed by
Wolverstone, and a dozen others.  As he came to a standstill, he
doffed his hat, with a flourish, to the lady.  Then he turned to
Levasseur.

"Good-morning, my Captain," said he, and proceeded to explain his
presence.  "It was last night's hurricane compelled our return.  We
had no choice but to ride before it with stripped poles, and it
drove us back the way we had gone.  Moreover - as the devil would
have it! - the Santiago sprang her mainmast; and so I was glad to
put into a cove on the west of the island a couple of miles away,
and we've walked across to stretch our legs, and to give you
good-day.  But who are these?"  And he designated the man and the
woman.

Cahusac shrugged his shoulders, and tossed his long arms to heaven.

"Voila!" said he, pregnantly, to the firmament.

Levasseur gnawed his lip, and changed colour.  But he controlled
himself to answer civilly:

"As you see, two prisoners."

"Ah!  Washed ashore in last night's gale, eh?"

"Not so."  Levasseur contained himself with difficulty before that
irony.  "They were in the Dutch brig."

"I don't remember that you mentioned them before."

"I did not.  They are prisoners of my own - a personal matter.
They are French."

"French!" Captain Blood's light eyes stabbed at Levasseur, then at
the prisoners.

M. d'Ogeron stood tense and braced as before, but the grey horror
had left his face.  Hope had leapt within him at this interruption,
obviously as little expected by his tormentor as by himself.  His
sister, moved by a similar intuition, was leaning forward with
parted lips and gaping eyes.

Captain Blood fingered his lip, and frowned thoughtfully upon
Levasseur.

"Yesterday you surprised me by making war upon the friendly Dutch.
But now it seems that not even your own countrymen are safe from
you."

"Have I not said that these... that this is a matter personal to
me?"

"Ah!  And their names?"

Captain Blood's crisp, authoritative, faintly disdainful manner
stirred Levasseur's quick anger.  The blood crept slowly back into
his blenched face, and his glance grew in insolence, almost in
menace.  Meanwhile the prisoner answered for him.

"I am Henri d'Ogeron, and this is my sister."

"D'Ogeron?" Captain Blood stared.  "Are you related by chance to
my good friend the Governor of Tortuga?"

"He is my father."

Levasseur swung aside with an imprecation.  In Captain Blood,
amazement for the moment quenched every other emotion.

"The saints preserve us now!  Are you quite mad, Levasseur?  First
you molest the Dutch, who are our friends; next you take prisoners
two persons that are French, your own countrymen; and now, faith,
they're no less than the children of the Governor of Tortuga, which
is the one safe place of shelter that we enjoy in these islands...."

Levasseur broke in angrily:

"Must I tell you again that it is a matter personal to me?  I make
myself alone responsible to the Governor of Tortuga."

"And the twenty thousand pieces of eight?  Is that also a matter
personal to you?"

"It is."

"Now I don't agree with you at all."  Captain Blood sat down on the
cask that Levasseur had lately occupied, and looked up blandly.  "I
may inform you, to save time, that I heard the entire proposal that
you made to this lady and this gentleman, and I'll also remind you
that we sail under articles that admit no ambiguities.  You have
fixed their ransom at twenty thousand pieces of eight.  That sum
then belongs to your crews and mine in the proportions by the
articles established.  You'll hardly wish to dispute it.  But what
is far more grave is that you have concealed from me this part of
the prizes taken on your last cruise, and for such an offence as
that the articles provide certain penalties that are something
severe in character."

"Ho, ho!" laughed Levasseur unpleasantly.  Then added:  "If you
dislike my conduct we can dissolve the association."

"That is my intention.  But we'll dissolve it when and in the manner
that I choose, and that will be as soon as you have satisfied the
articles under which we sailed upon this cruise.

"What do you mean?"

"I'll be as short as I can," said Captain Blood.  "I'll waive for
the moment the unseemliness of making war upon the Dutch, of taking
French prisoners, and of provoking the anger of the Governor of
Tortuga.  I'll accept the situation as I find it.  Yourself you've
fixed the ransom of this couple at twenty thousand pieces, and, as
I gather, the lady is to be your perquisite.  But why should she be
your perquisite more than another's, seeing that she belongs by the
articles to all of us, as a prize of war?"

Black as thunder grew the brow of Levasseur.

"However," added Captain Blood, "I'll not dispute her to you if you
are prepared to buy her."

"Buy her?"

"At the price you have set upon her."

Levasseur contained his rage, that he might reason with the Irishman.
"That is the ransom of the man.  It is to be paid for him by the
Governor of Tortuga."

"No, no.  Ye've parcelled the twain together - very oddly, I
confess.  Ye've set their value at twenty thousand pieces, and for
that sum you may have them, since you desire it; but you'll pay for
them the twenty thousand pieces that are ultimately to come to you
as the ransom of one and the dowry of the other; and that sum shall
be divided among our crews.  So that you do that, it is conceivable
that our followers may take a lenient view of your breach of the
articles we jointly signed."

Levasseur laughed savagely.  "Ah ca!  Credieu!  The good jest!"

"I quite agree with you," said Captain Blood.

To Levasseur the jest lay in that Captain Blood, with no more than
a dozen followers, should come there attempting to hector him who
had a hundred men within easy call.  But it seemed that he had left
out of his reckoning something which his opponent had counted in.
For as, laughing still, Levasseur swung to his officers, he saw that
which choked the laughter in his throat.  Captain Blood had shrewdly
played upon the cupidity that was the paramount inspiration of those
adventurers.  And Levasseur now read clearly on their faces how
completely they adopted Captain Blood's suggestion that all must
participate in the ransom which their leader had thought to
appropriate to himself.

It gave the gaudy ruffian pause, and whilst in his heart he cursed
those followers of his, who could be faithful only to their greed,
he perceived - and only just in time - that he had best tread warily.

"You misunderstand," he said, swallowing his rage.  "The ransom is
for division, when it comes.  The girl, meanwhile, is mine on that
understanding."

"Good!" grunted Cahusac.  "On that understanding all arranges
itself."

"You think so?" said Captain Blood.  "But if M. d'Ogeron should
refuse to pay the ransom?  What then?"  He laughed, and got lazily
to his feet.  "No, no.  If Captain Levasseur is meanwhile to keep
the girl, as he proposes, then let him pay this ransom, and be
his the risk if it should afterwards not be forthcoming."

"That's it!" cried one of Levasseur's officers.  And Cahusac added:
"It's reasonable, that!  Captain Blood is right.  It is in the
articles."

"What is in the articles, you fools?"  Levasseur was in danger of
losing his head.  "Sacre Dieu!  Where do you suppose that I have
twenty thousand pieces?  My whole share of the prizes of this
cruise does not come to half that sum.  I'll be your debtor until
I've earned it.  Will that content you?"

All things considered, there is not a doubt that it would have
done so had not Captain Blood intended otherwise.

"And if you should die before you have earned it?  Ours is a calling
fraught with risks, my Captain."

"Damn you!" Levasseur flung upon him livid with fury.  "Will nothing
satisfy you?"

"Oh, but yes.  Twenty thousand pieces of eight for immediate
division."

"I haven't got it."

"Then let some one buy the prisoners who has."

"And who do you suppose has it if I have not?"

"I have," said Captain Blood.

"You have!"  Levasseur's mouth fell open.  "You... you want the
girl?"

"Why not?  And I exceed you in gallantry in that I will make
sacrifices to obtain her, and in honesty in that I am ready to pay
for what I want."

Levasseur stared at him foolishly agape.  Behind him pressed his
officers, gaping also.

Captain Blood sat down again on the cask, and drew from an inner
pocket of his doublet a little leather bag.  "I am glad to be
able to resolve a difficulty that at one moment seemed insoluble."
And under the bulging eyes of Levasseur and his officers, he
untied the mouth of the bag and rolled into his left palm four or
five pearls each of the size of a sparrow's egg.  There were
twenty such in the bag, the very pick of those taken in that raid
upon the pearl fleet.  "You boast a knowledge of pearls, Cahusac.
At what do you value this?"

The Breton took between coarse finger and thumb the proffered
lustrous, delicately iridescent sphere, his shrewd eyes appraising
it.

"A thousand pieces," he answered shortly.

"It will fetch rather more in Tortuga or Jamaica," said Captain
Blood, "and twice as much in Europe.  But I'll accept your valuation.
They are almost of a size, as you can see.  Here are twelve,
representing twelve thousand pieces of eight, which is La Foudre's
share of three fifths of the prize, as provided by the articles.
For the eight thousand pieces that go to the Arabella, I make
myself responsible to my own men.  And now, Wolverstone, if you
please, will you take my property aboard the Arabella?"  He stood
up again, indicating the prisoners.

"Ah, no!" Levasseur threw wide the floodgates of his fury.  "Ah,
that, no, by example!  You shall not take her...."  He would have
sprung upon Captain Blood, who stood aloof, alert, tight-lipped,
and watchful.

But it was one of Levasseur's own officers who hindered him.

"Nom de Dieu, my Captain!  What will you do?  It is settled;
honourably settled with satisfaction to all."

"To all?" blazed Levasseur.  "Ah ca!  To all of you, you animals!
But what of me?"

Cahusac, with the pearls clutched in his capacious hand, stepped up
to him on the other side.  "Don't be a fool, Captain.  Do you want
to provoke trouble between the crews?  His men outnumber us by
nearly two to one.  What's a girl more or less?  In Heaven's name,
let her go.  He's paid handsomely for her, and dealt fairly with us."

"Dealt fairly?" roared the infuriated Captain.  "You...."  In all
his foul vocabulary he could find no epithet to describe his
lieutenant.  He caught him a blow that almost sent him sprawling.
The pearls were scattered in the sand.

Cahusac dived after them, his fellows with him.  Vengeance must
wait.  For some moments they groped there on hands and knees,
oblivious of all else.  And yet in those moments vital things were
happening.

Levasseur, his hand on his sword, his face a white mask of rage,
was confronting Captain Blood to hinder his departure.

"You do not take her while I live!" he cried.

"Then I'll take her when you're dead," said Captain Blood, and his
own blade flashed in the sunlight.  "The articles provide that any
man of whatever rank concealing any part of a prize, be it of the
value of no more than a peso, shall be hanged at the yardarm.  It's
what I intended for you in the end.  But since ye prefer it this
way, ye muckrake, faith, I'll be humouring you."

He waved away the men who would have interfered, and the blades
rang together.

M. d'Ogeron looked on, a man bemused, unable to surmise what the
issue either way could mean for him.  Meanwhile, two of Blood's men
who had taken the place of the Frenchman's negro guards, had removed
the crown of whipcord from his brow.  As for mademoiselle, she had
risen, and was leaning forward, a hand pressed tightly to her
heaving breast, her face deathly pale, a wild terror in her eyes.

It was soon over.  The brute strength, upon which Levasseur so
confidently counted, could avail nothing against the Irishman's
practised skill.  When, with both lungs transfixed, he lay prone
on the white sand, coughing out his rascally life, Captain Blood
looked calmly at Cahusac across the body.

"I think that cancels the articles between us," he said.  With
soulless, cynical eyes Cahusac considered the twitching body of
his recent leader.  Had Levasseur been a man of different temper,
the affair might have ended in a very different manner.  But,
then, it is certain that Captain Blood would have adopted in
dealing with him different tactics.  As it was, Levasseur commanded
neither love nor loyalty.  The men who followed him were the very
dregs of that vile trade, and cupidity was their only inspiration.
Upon that cupidity Captain Blood had deftly played, until he had
brought them to find Levasseur guilty of the one offence they
deemed unpardonable, the crime of appropriating to himself something
which might be converted into gold and shared amongst them all.

Thus now the threatening mob of buccaneers that came hastening to
the theatre of that swift tragi-comedy were appeased by a dozen
words of Cahusac's.

Whilst still they hesitated, Blood added something to quicken their
decision.

"If you will come to our anchorage, you shall receive at once your
share of the booty of the Santiago, that you may dispose of it as you
please."

They crossed the island, the two prisoners accompanying them, and
later that day, the division made, they would have parted company
but that Cahusac, at the instances of the men who had elected him
Levasseur's successor, offered Captain Blood anew the services of
that French contingent.

"If you will sail with me again," the Captain answered him, "you may
do so on the condition that you make your peace with the Dutch, and
restore the brig and her cargo."

The condition was accepted, and Captain Blood went off to find his
guests, the children of the Governor of Tortuga.

Mademoiselle d'Ogeron and her brother - the latter now relieved of
his bonds - sat in the great cabin of the Arabella, whither they
had been conducted.

Wine and food had been placed upon the table by Benjamin, Captain
Blood's negro steward and cook, who had intimated to them that it
was for their entertainment.  But it had remained untouched.
Brother and sister sat there in agonized bewilderment, conceiving
that their escape was but from frying-pan to fire.  At length,
overwrought by the suspense, mademoiselle flung herself upon her
knees before her brother to implore his pardon for all the evil
brought upon them by her wicked folly.

M. d'Ogeron was not in a forgiving mood.

"I am glad that at least you realize what you have done.  And now
this other filibuster has bought you, and you belong to him.  You
realize that, too, I hope."

He might have said more, but he checked upon perceiving that the
door was opening.  Captain Blood, coming from settling matters with
the followers of Levasseur, stood on the threshold.  M. d'Ogeron
had not troubled to restrain his high-pitched voice, and the Captain
had overheard the Frenchman's last two sentences.  Therefore he
perfectly understood why mademoiselle should bound up at sight of
him, and shrink back in fear.

"Mademoiselle," said he in his vile but fluent French, "I beg you
to dismiss your fears.  Aboard this ship you shall be treated with
all honour.  So soon as we are in case to put to sea again, we
steer a course for Tortuga to take you home to your father.  And
pray do not consider that I have bought you, as your brother has
just said.  All that I have done has been to provide the ransom
necessary to bribe a gang of scoundrels to depart from obedience
to the arch-scoundrel who commanded them, and so deliver you from
all peril.  Count it, if you please, a friendly loan to be repaid
entirely at your convenience."

Mademoiselle stared at him in unbelief.  M. d'Ogeron rose to his feet.

"Monsieur, is it possible that you are serious?"

"I am.  It may not happen often nowadays.  I may be a pirate.  But
my ways are not the ways of Levasseur, who should have stayed in
Europe, and practised purse-cutting.  I have a sort of honour
 - shall we say, some rags of honour? - remaining me from better
days."  Then on a brisker note he added: "We dine in an hour, and
I trust that you will honour my table with your company.  Meanwhile,
Benjamin will see, monsieur, that you are more suitably provided
in the matter of wardrobe."

He bowed to them, and turned to depart again, but mademoiselle
detained him.

"Monsieur!" she cried sharply.

He checked and turned, whilst slowly she approached him, regarding
him between dread and wonder.

"Oh, you are noble!"

"I shouldn't put it as high as that myself," said he.

"You are, you are!  And it is but right that you should know all."

"Madelon!" her brother cried out, to restrain her.

But she would not be restrained.  Her surcharged heart must overflow
in confidence.

"Monsieur, for what befell I am greatly at fault.  This man - this
Levasseur...."

He stared, incredulous in his turn.  "My God!  Is it possible?
That animal!"

Abruptly she fell on her knees, caught his hand and kissed it
before he could wrench it from her.

"What do you do?" he cried.

"An amende.  In my mind I dishonoured you by deeming you his like,
by conceiving your fight with Levasseur a combat between jackals.
On my knees, monsieur, I implore you to forgive me."

Captain Blood looked down upon her, and a smile broke on his lips,
irradiating the blue eyes that looked so oddly light in that tawny
face.

"Why, child," said he, "I might find it hard to forgive you the
stupidity of having thought otherwise."

As he handed her to her feet again, he assured himself that he had
behaved rather well in the affair.  Then he sighed.  That dubious
fame of his that had spread so quickly across the Caribbean would
by now have reached the ears of Arabella Bishop.  That she would
despise him, he could not doubt, deeming him no better than all
the other scoundrels who drove this villainous buccaneering trade.
Therefore he hoped that some echo of this deed might reach her also,
and be set by her against some of that contempt.  For the whole
truth, which he withheld from Mademoiselle d'Ogeron, was that in
venturing his life to save her, he had been driven by the thought
that the deed must be pleasing in the eyes of Miss Bishop could
she but witness it.



CHAPTER XVI

THE TRAP


That affair of Mademoiselle d'Ogeron bore as its natural fruit an
improvement in the already cordial relations between Captain Blood
and the Governor of Tortuga.  At the fine stone house, with its
green-jalousied windows, which M. d'Ogeron had built himself in a
spacious and luxuriant garden to the east of Cayona, the Captain
became a very welcome guest.  M. d'Ogeron was in the Captain's debt
for more than the twenty thousand pieces of eight which he had
provided for mademoiselle's ransom; and shrewd, hard bargain-driver
though he might be, the Frenchman could be generous and understood
the sentiment of gratitude.  This he now proved in every possible
way, and under his powerful protection the credit of Captain Blood
among the buccaneers very rapidly reached its zenith.

So when it came to fitting out his fleet for that enterprise against
Maracaybo, which had originally been Levasseur's project, he did not
want for either ships or men to follow him.  He recruited five
hundred adventurers in all, and he might have had as many thousands
if he could have offered them accommodation.  Similarly without
difficulty he might have increased his fleet to twice its strength of
ships but that he preferred to keep it what it was.  The three
vessels to which he confined it were the Arabella, the La Foudre,
which Cahusac now commanded with a contingent of some sixscore
Frenchmen, and the Santiago, which had been refitted and rechristened
the Elizabeth, after that Queen of England whose seamen had humbled
Spain as Captain Blood now hoped to humble it again.  Hagthorpe, in
virtue of his service in the navy, was appointed by Blood to command
her, and the appointment was confirmed by the men.

It was some months after the rescue of Mademoiselle d'Ogeron - in
August of that year 1687 - that this little fleet, after some minor
adventures which I pass over in silence, sailed into the great lake
of Maracaybo and effected its raid upon that opulent city of the
Main.

The affair did not proceed exactly as was hoped, and Blood's force
came to find itself in a precarious position.  This is best explained
in the words employed by Cahusac - which Pitt has carefully recorded
 - in the course of an altercation that broke out on the steps of the
Church of Nuestra Senora del Carmen, which Captain Blood had
impiously appropriated for the purpose of a corps-de-garde.  I have
said already that he was a papist only when it suited him.

The dispute was being conducted by Hagthorpe, Wolverstone, and Pitt
on the one side, and Cahusac, out of whose uneasiness it all arose,
on the other.  Behind them in the sun-scorched, dusty square,
sparsely fringed by palms, whose fronds drooped listlessly in the
quivering heat, surged a couple of hundred wild fellows belonging to
both parties, their own excitement momentarily quelled so that they
might listen to what passed among their leaders.

Cahusac appeared to be having it all his own way, and he raised
his harsh, querulous voice so that all might hear his truculent
denunciation.  He spoke, Pitt tells us, a dreadful kind of English,
which the shipmaster, however, makes little attempt to reproduce.
His dress was as discordant as his speech.  It was of a kind to
advertise his trade, and ludicrously in contrast with the sober
garb of Hagthorpe and the almost foppish daintiness of Jeremy Pitt.
His soiled and blood-stained shirt of blue cotton was open in front,
to cool his hairy breast, and the girdle about the waist of his
leather breeches carried an arsenal of pistols and a knife, whilst
a cutlass hung from a leather baldrick loosely slung about his body;
above his countenance, broad and flat as a Mongolian's, a red scarf
was swathed, turban-wise, about his head.

"Is it that I have not warned you from the beginning that all was
too easy?" he demanded between plaintiveness and fury.  "I am no fool,
my friends.  I have eyes, me.  And I see.  I see an abandoned fort
at the entrance of the lake, and nobody there to fire a gun at us
when we came in.  Then I suspect the trap.  Who would not that had
eyes and brain?  Bah! we come on.  What do we find?  A city,
abandoned like the fort; a city out of which the people have taken
all things of value.  Again I warn Captain Blood.  It is a trap,
I say.  We are to come on; always to come on, without opposition,
until we find that it is too late to go to sea again, that we cannot
go back at all.  But no one will listen to me.  You all know so much
more.  Name of God!  Captain Blood, he will go on, and we go on.  We
go to Gibraltar.  True that at last, after long time, we catch the
Deputy-Governor; true, we make him pay big ransom for Gibraltar;
true between that ransom and the loot we return here with some two
thousand pieces of eight.  But what is it, in reality, will you tell
me?  Or shall I tell you?  It is a piece of cheese - a piece of
cheese in a mousetrap, and we are the little mice.  Goddam!  And the
cats - oh, the cats they wait for us!  The cats are those four
Spanish ships of war that have come meantime.  And they wait for us
outside the bottle-neck of this lagoon.  Mort de Dieu!  That is what
comes of the damned obstinacy of your fine Captain Blood."

Wolverstone laughed.  Cahusac exploded in fury.

"Ah, sangdieu!  Tu ris, animal?  You laugh!  Tell me this:  How do
we get out again unless we accept the terms of Monsieur the Admiral
of Spain?"

From the buccaneers at the foot of the steps came an angry rumble
of approval.  The single eye of the gigantic Wolverstone rolled
terribly, and he clenched his great fists as if to strike the
Frenchman, who was exposing them to mutiny.  But Cahusac was not
daunted.  The mood of the men enheartened him.

"You think, perhaps, this your Captain Blood is the good God.  That
he can make miracles, eh?  He is ridiculous, you know, this Captain
Blood; with his grand air and his...."

He checked.  Out of the church at that moment, grand air and all,
sauntered Peter Blood.  With him came a tough, long-legged French
sea-wolf named Yberville, who, though still young, had already won
fame as a privateer commander before the loss of his own ship had
driven him to take service under Blood.  The Captain advanced
towards that disputing group, leaning lightly upon his long ebony
cane, his face shaded by a broad-plumed hat.  There was in his
appearance nothing of the buccaneer.  He had much more the air of
a lounger in the Mall or the Alameda - the latter rather, since
his elegant suit of violet taffetas with gold-embroidered
button-holes was in the Spanish fashion.  But the long, stout,
serviceable rapier, thrust up behind by the left hand resting
lightly on the pummel, corrected the impression.  That and those
steely eyes of his announced the adventurer.

"You find me ridiculous, eh, Cahusac?" said he, as he came to a halt
before the Breton, whose anger seemed already to have gone out of
him.  "What, then, must I find you?"  He spoke quietly, almost
wearily.  "You will be telling them that we have delayed, and that
it is the delay that has brought about our danger.  But whose is the
fault of that delay?  We have been a month in doing what should have
been done, and what but for your blundering would have been done,
inside of a week."

"Ah ca!  Nom de Dieu!  Was it my fault that...."

"Was it any one else's fault that you ran your ship La Foudre
aground on the shoal in the middle of the lake?  You would not be
piloted.  You knew your way.  You took no soundings even.  The
result was that we lost three precious days in getting canoes to
bring off your men and your gear.  Those three days gave the folk
at Gibraltar not only time to hear of our coming, but time in which
to get away.  After that, and because of it, we had to follow the
Governor to his infernal island fortress, and a fortnight and best
part of a hundred lives were lost in reducing it.  That's how we
come to have delayed until this Spanish fleet is fetched round from
La Guayra by a guarda-costa; and if ye hadn't lost La Foudre, and
so reduced our fleet from three ships to two, we should even now be
able to fight our way through with a reasonable hope of succeeding.
Yet you think it is for you to come hectoring here, upbraiding us
for a situation that is just the result of your own ineptitude."

He spoke with a restraint which I trust you will agree was admirable
when I tell you that the Spanish fleet guarding the bottle-neck exit
of the great Lake of Maracaybo, and awaiting there the coming forth
of Captain Blood with a calm confidence based upon its overwhelming
strength, was commanded by his implacable enemy, Don Miguel de
Espinosa y Valdez, the Admiral of Spain.  In addition to his duty to
his country, the Admiral had, as you know, a further personal
incentive arising out of that business aboard the Encarnacion a year
ago, and the death of his brother Don Diego; and with him sailed his
nephew Esteban, whose vindictive zeal exceeded the Admiral's own.

Yet, knowing all this, Captain Blood could preserve his calm in
reproving the cowardly frenzy of one for whom the situation had not
half the peril with which it was fraught for himself.  He turned
from Cahusac to address the mob of buccaneers, who had surged nearer
to hear him, for he had not troubled to raise his voice.  "I hope
that will correct some of the misapprehension that appears to have
been disturbing you," said he.

"There's no good can come of talking of what's past and done," cried
Cahusac, more sullen now than truculent.  Whereupon Wolverstone
laughed, a laugh that was like the neighing of a horse.  "The
question is:  what are we to do now?"

"Sure, now, there's no question at all," said Captain Blood.

"Indeed, but there is," Cahusac insisted.  "Don Miguel, the Spanish
Admiral, have offer us safe passage to sea if we will depart at once,
do no damage to the town, release our prisoners, and surrender all
that we took at Gibraltar."

Captain Blood smiled quietly, knowing precisely how much Don Miguel's
word was worth.  It was Yberville who replied, in manifest scorn of
his compatriot:

"Which argues that, even at this disadvantage as he has us, the
Spanish Admiral is still afraid of us."

"That can be only because he not know our real weakness," was the
fierce retort.  "And, anyway, we must accept these terms.  We have
no choice.  That is my opinion."

"Well, it's not mine, now," said Captain Blood.  "So, I've refused
them."

"Refuse'!" Cahusac's broad face grew purple.  A muttering from the
men behind enheartened him.  "You have refuse'?  You have refuse'
already - and without consulting me?"

"Your disagreement could have altered nothing.  You'd have been
outvoted, for Hagthorpe here was entirely of my own mind.  Still,"
he went on, "if you and your own French followers wish to avail
yourselves of the Spaniard's terms, we shall not hinder you.  Send
one of your prisoners to announce it to the Admiral.  Don Miguel
will welcome your decision, you may be sure."

Cahusac glowered at him in silence for a moment.  Then, having
controlled himself, he asked in a concentrated voice:

"Precisely what answer have you make to the Admiral?"

A smile irradiated the face and eyes of Captain Blood.  "I have
answered him that unless within four-and-twenty hours we have his
parole to stand out to sea, ceasing to dispute our passage or hinder
our departure, and a ransom of fifty thousand pieces of eight for
Maracaybo, we shall reduce this beautiful city to ashes, and
thereafter go out and destroy his fleet."

The impudence of it left Cahusac speechless. But among the English
buccaneers in the square there were many who savoured the audacious
humour of the trapped dictating terms to the trappers.  Laughter
broke from them.  It spread into a roar of acclamation; for bluff
is a weapon dear to every adventurer.  Presently, when they
understood it, even Cahusac's French followers were carried off
their feet by that wave of jocular enthusiasm, until in his truculent
obstinacy Cahusac remained the only dissentient.  He withdrew in
mortification.  Nor was he to be mollified until the following day
brought him his revenge.  This came in the shape of a messenger from
Don Miguel with a letter in which the Spanish Admiral solemnly vowed
to God that, since the pirates had refused his magnanimous offer to
permit them to surrender with the honours of war, he would now await
them at the mouth of the lake there to destroy them on their coming
forth.  He added that should they delay their departure, he would
so soon as he was reenforced by a fifth ship, the Santo Nino, on its
way to join him from La Guayra, himself come inside to seek them at
Maracaybo.

This time Captain Blood was put out of temper.

"Trouble me no more," he snapped at Cahusac, who came growling to
him again.  "Send word to Don Miguel that you have seceded from me.
He'll give you safe conduct, devil a doubt.  Then take one of the
sloops, order your men aboard and put to sea, and the devil go
with you."

Cahusac would certainly have adopted that course if only his men had
been unanimous in the matter.  They, however, were torn between
greed and apprehension.  If they went they must abandon their share
of the plunder, which was considerable, as well as the slaves and
other prisoners they had taken.  If they did this, and Captain
Blood should afterwards contrive to get away unscathed - and from
their knowledge of his resourcefulness, the thing, however unlikely,
need not be impossible - he must profit by that which they now
relinquished.  This was a contingency too bitter for contemplation.
And so, in the end, despite all that Cahusac could say, the surrender
was not to Don Miguel, but to Peter Blood.  They had come into the
venture with him, they asserted, and they would go out of it with
him or not at all.  That was the message he received from them that
same evening by the sullen mouth of Cahusac himself.

He welcomed it, and invited the Breton to sit down and join the
council which was even then deliberating upon the means to be
employed.  This council occupied the spacious patio of the
Governor's house - which Captain Blood had appropriated to his
own uses - a cloistered stone quadrangle in the middle of which
a fountain played coolly under a trellis of vine.  Orange-trees
grew on two sides of it, and the still, evening air was heavy
with the scent of them.  It was one of those pleasant
exterior-interiors which Moorish architects had introduced to
Spain and the Spaniards had carried with them to the New World.

Here that council of war, composed of six men in all, deliberated
until late that night upon the plan of action which Captain Blood
put forward.

The great freshwater lake of Maracaybo, nourished by a score of
rivers from the snow-capped ranges that surround it on two sides,
is some hundred and twenty miles in length and almost the same
distance across at its widest.  It is - as has been indicated -
in the shape of a great bottle having its neck towards the sea
at Maracaybo.

Beyond this neck it widens again, and then the two long, narrow
strips of land known as the islands of Vigilias and Palomas block
the channel, standing lengthwise across it.  The only passage out
to sea for vessels of any draught lies in the narrow strait between
these islands.  Palomas, which  is some ten miles in length, is
unapproachable for half a mile on either side by any but the
shallowest craft save at its eastern end, where, completely
commanding the narrow passage out to sea, stands the massive fort
which the buccaneers had found deserted upon their coming.  In the
broader water between this passage and the bar, the four Spanish
ships were at anchor in mid-channel.  The Admiral's Encarnacion,
which we already know, was a mighty galleon of forty-eight great
guns and eight small.  Next in importance was the Salvador with
thirty-six guns; the other two, the Infanta and the San Felipe,
though smaller vessels, were still formidable enough with their
twenty guns and a hundred and fifty men apiece.

Such was the fleet of which the gauntlet was to be run by Captain
Blood with his own Arabella of forty guns, the Elizabeth of
twenty-six, and two sloops captured at Gibraltar, which they had
indifferently armed with four culverins each.  In men they had a
bare four hundred survivors of the five hundred-odd that had left
Tortuga, to oppose to fully a thousand Spaniards manning the
galleons.

The plan of action submitted by Captain Blood to that council was
a desperate one, as Cahusac uncompromisingly pronounced it.

"Why, so it is," said the Captain.  "But I've done things more
desperate."  Complacently he pulled at a pipe that was loaded with
that fragrant Sacerdotes tobacco for which Gibraltar was famous,
and of which they had brought away some hogsheads.  "And what is
more, they've succeeded.  Audaces fortuna juvat.  Bedad, they knew
their world, the old Romans."

He breathed into his companions and even into Cahusac some of his
own spirit of confidence, and in confidence all went busily to
work.  For three days from sunrise to sunset, the buccaneers
laboured and sweated to complete the preparations for the action
that was to procure them their deliverance.  Time pressed.  They
must strike before Don Miguel de Espinosa received the reenforcement
of that fifth galleon, the Santo Nino, which was coming to join him
from La Guayra.

Their principal operations were on the larger of the two sloops
captured at Gibraltar; to which vessel was assigned the leading part
in Captain Blood's scheme.  They began by tearing down all bulkheads,
until they had reduced her to the merest shell, and in her sides
they broke open so many ports that her gunwale was converted into
the semblance of a grating.  Next they increased by a half-dozen the
scuttles in her deck, whilst into her hull they packed all the tar
and pitch and brimstone that they could find in the town, to which
they added six barrels of gunpowder, placed on end like guns at the
open ports on her larboard side.  On the evening of the fourth day,
everything being now in readiness, all were got aboard, and the
empty, pleasant city of Maracaybo was at last abandoned.  But they
did not weigh anchor until some two hours after midnight.  Then,
at last, on the first of the ebb, they drifted silently down towards
the bar with all canvas furled save only their spiltsails, which,
so as to give them steering way, were spread to the faint breeze
that stirred through the purple darkness of the tropical night.

The order of their going was as follows:  Ahead went the improvised
fire-ship in charge of Wolverstone, with a crew of six volunteers,
each of whom was to have a hundred pieces of eight over and above
his share of plunder as a special reward.  Next came the Arabella.
She was followed at a distance by the Elizabeth, commanded by
Hagthorpe, with whom was the now shipless Cahusac and the bulk of
his French followers.  The rear was brought up by the second sloop
and some eight canoes, aboard of which had been shipped the
prisoners, the slaves, and most of the captured merchandise.  The
prisoners were all pinioned, and guarded by four buccaneers with
musketoons who manned these boats in addition to the two fellows
who were to sail them.  Their place was to be in the rear and they
were to take no part whatever in the coming fight.

As the first glimmerings of opalescent dawn dissolved the darkness,
the straining eyes of the buccaneers were able to make out the tall
rigging of the Spanish vessels, riding at anchor less than a quarter
of a mile ahead.  Entirely without suspicion as the Spaniards were,
and rendered confident by their own overwhelming strength, it is
unlikely that they used a vigilance keener than their careless habit.
Certain it is that they did not sight Blood's fleet in that dim light
until some time after Blood's fleet had sighted them.  By the time
that they had actively roused themselves, Wolverstone's sloop was
almost upon them, speeding under canvas which had been crowded to
her yards the moment the galleons had loomed into view.

Straight for the Admiral's great ship, the Encarnacion, did
Wolverstone head the sloop; then, lashing down the helm, he kindled
from a match that hung ready lighted beside him a great torch of
thickly plaited straw that had been steeped in bitumen.  First it
glowed, then as he swung it round his head, it burst into flame,
just as the slight vessel went crashing and bumping and scraping
against the side of the flagship, whilst rigging became tangled
with rigging, to the straining of yards and snapping of spars
overhead.  His six men stood at their posts on the larboard side,
stark naked, each armed with a grapnel, four of them on the gunwale,
two of them aloft.  At the moment of impact these grapnels were
slung to bind the Spaniard to them, those aloft being intended to
complete and preserve the entanglement of the rigging.

Aboard the rudely awakened galleon all was confused hurrying,
scurrying, trumpeting, and shouting.  At first there had been a
desperately hurried attempt to get up the anchor; but this was
abandoned as being already too late; and conceiving themselves on
the point of being boarded, the Spaniards stood to arms to ward
off the onslaught.  Its slowness in coming intrigued them, being
so different from the usual tactics of the buccaneers.  Further
intrigued were they by the sight of the gigantic Wolverstone
speeding naked along his deck with a great flaming torch held high.
Not until he had completed his work did they begin to suspect the
truth - that he was lighting slow-matches - and then one of their
officers rendered reckless by panic ordered a boarding-party on to
the shop.

The order came too late.  Wolverstone had seen his six fellows drop
overboard after the grapnels were fixed, and then had sped, himself,
to the starboard gunwale.  Thence he flung his flaming torch down
the nearest gaping scuttle into the hold, and thereupon dived
overboard in his turn, to be picked up presently by the longboat
from the Arabella.  But before that happened the sloop was a thing
of fire, from which explosions were hurling blazing combustibles
aboard the Encarnacion, and long tongues of flame were licking
out to consume the galleon, beating back those daring Spaniards
who, too late, strove desperately to cut her adrift.

And whilst the most formidable vessel of the Spanish fleet was
thus being put out of action at the outset, Blood had sailed in
to open fire upon the Salvador.  First athwart her hawse he had
loosed a broadside that had swept her decks with terrific effect,
then going on and about, he had put a second broadside into her
hull at short range.  Leaving her thus half-crippled, temporarily,
at least, and keeping to his course, he had bewildered the crew
of the Infanta by a couple of shots from the chasers on his
beak-head, then crashed alongside to grapple and board her, whilst
Hagthorpe was doing the like by the San Felipe.

And in all this time not a single shot had the Spaniards contrived
to fire, so completely had they been taken by surprise, and so
swift and paralyzing had been Blood's stroke.

Boarded now and faced by the cold steel of the buccaneers, neither
the San Felipe nor the Infanta offered much resistance.  The sight
of their admiral in flames, and the Salvador drifting crippled from
the action, had so utterly disheartened them that they accounted
themselves vanquished, and laid down their arms.

If by a resolute stand the Salvador had encouraged the other two
undamaged vessels to resistance, the Spaniards might well have
retrieved the fortunes of the day.  But it happened that the
Salvador was handicapped in true Spanish fashion by being the
treasure-ship of the fleet, with plate on board to the value of
some fifty thousand pieces.  Intent above all upon saving this
from falling into the hands of the pirates, Don Miguel, who, with
a remnant of his crew, had meanwhile transferred himself aboard
her, headed her down towards Palomas and the fort that guarded the
passage.  This fort the Admiral, in those days of waiting, had
taken the precaution secretly to garrison and rearm.  For the
purpose he had stripped the fort of Cojero, farther out on the
gulf, of its entire armament, which included some cannon-royal of
more than ordinary range and power.

With no suspicion of this, Captain Blood gave chase, accompanied
by the Infanta, which was manned now by a prize-crew under the
command of Yberville.  The stern chasers of the Salvador
desultorily returned the punishing fire of the pursuers; but
such was the damage she, herself, sustained, that presently,
coming under the guns of the fort, she began to sink, and finally
settled down in the shallows with part of her hull above water.
Thence, some in boats and some by swimming, the Admiral got his
crew ashore on Palomas as best he could.

And then, just as Captain Blood accounted the victory won, and that
his way out of that trap to the open sea beyond lay clear, the fort
suddenly revealed its formidable and utterly unsuspected strength.
With a roar the cannons-royal proclaimed themselves, and the
Arabella staggered under a blow that smashed her bulwarks at the
waist and scattered death and confusion among the seamen gathered
there.

Had not Pitt, her master, himself seized the whipstaff and put the
helm hard over to swing her sharply off to starboard, she must have
suffered still worse from the second volley that followed fast upon
the first.

Meanwhile it had fared even worse with the frailer Infanta.
Although hit by one shot only, this had crushed her larboard timbers
on the waterline, starting a leak that must presently have filled
her, but for the prompt action of the experienced Yberville in
ordering her larboard guns to be flung overboard.  Thus lightened,
and listing now to starboard, he fetched her about, and went
staggering after the retreating Arabella, followed by the fire of
the fort, which did them, however, little further damage.

Out of range, at last, they lay to, joined by the Elizabeth and the
San Felipe, to consider their position.



CHAPTER XVII

THE DUPES


It was a crestfallen Captain Blood who presided over that hastily
summoned council held on the poop-deck of the Arabella in the
brilliant morning sunshine.  It was, he declared afterwards, one
of the bitterest moments in his career.  He was compelled to digest
the fact that having conducted the engagement with a skill of which
he might justly be proud, having destroyed a force so superior in
ships and guns and men that Don Miguel de Espinosa had justifiably
deemed it overwhelming, his victory was rendered barren by three
lucky shots from an unsuspected battery by which they had been
surprised.  And barren must their victory remain until they could
reduce the fort that still remained to defend the passage.

At first Captain Blood was for putting his ships in order and making
the attempt there and then.  But the others dissuaded him from
betraying an impetuosity usually foreign to him, and born entirely
of chagrin and mortification, emotions which will render unreasonable
the most reasonable of men.  With returning calm, he surveyed the
situation.  The Arabella was no longer in case to put to sea; the
Infanta was merely kept afloat by artifice, and the San Felipe was
almost as sorely damaged by the fire she had sustained from the
buccaneers before surrendering.

Clearly, then, he was compelled to admit in the end that nothing
remained but to return to Maracaybo, there to refit the ships before
attempting to force the passage.

And so, back to Maracaybo came those defeated victors of that short,
terrible fight.  And if anything had been wanting further to
exasperate their leader, he had it in the pessimism of which Cahusac
did not economize expressions.  Transported at first to heights of
dizzy satisfaction by the swift and easy victory of their inferior
force that morning, the Frenchman was now plunged back and more
deeply than ever into the abyss of hopelessness.  And his mood
infected at least the main body of his own followers.

"It is the end," he told Captain Blood.  "This time we are
checkmated."

"I'll take the liberty of reminding you that you said the same
before," Captain Blood answered him as patiently as he could.
"Yet you've seen what you've seen, and you'll not deny that in ships
and guns we are returning stronger than we went.  Look at our
present fleet, man."

"I am looking at it," said Cahusac.

"Pish!  Ye're a white-livered cur when all is said."

"You call me a coward?"

"I'll take that liberty."

The Breton glared at him, breathing hard.  But he had no mind to
ask satisfaction for the insult.  He knew too well the kind of
satisfaction that Captain Blood was likely to afford him.  He
remembered the fate of Levasseur.  So he confined himself to words.

"It is too much!  You go too far!" he complained bitterly.

"Look you, Cahusac:  it's sick and tired I am of your perpetual
whining and complaining when things are not as smooth as a convent
dining-table.  If ye wanted things smooth and easy, ye shouldn't
have taken to the sea, and ye should never ha' sailed with me, for
with me things are never smooth and easy.  And that, I think, is
all I have to say to you this morning."

Cahusac flung away cursing, and went to take the feeling of his men.

Captain Blood went off to give his surgeon's skill to the wounded,
among whom he remained engaged until late afternoon.  Then, at last,
he went ashore, his mind made up, and returned to the house of the
Governor, to indite a truculent but very scholarly letter in purest
Castilian to Don Miguel.

"I have shown your excellency this morning of what I am capable,"
he wrote.  "Although  outnumbered by more than two to one in men,
in ships, and in guns, I have sunk or captured the vessels of the
great fleet with which you were to come to Maracaybo to destroy us.
So that you are no longer in case to carry out your boast, even
when your reenforcements on the Santo Nino, reach you from La Guayra.
From what has occurred, you may judge of what must occur.  I should
not trouble your excellency with this letter but that I am a humane
man, abhorring bloodshed.  Therefore before proceeding to deal with
your fort, which you may deem invincible, as I have dealt already
with your fleet, which you deemed invincible, I make you, purely out
of humanitarian considerations, this last offer of terms.  I will
spare this city of Maracaybo and forthwith evacuate it, leaving
behind me the forty prisoners I have taken, in consideration of your
paying me the sum of fifty thousand pieces of eight and one hundred
head of cattle as a ransom, thereafter granting me unmolested passage
of the bar.  My prisoners, most of whom are persons of consideration,
I will retain as hostages until after my departure, sending them
back in the canoes which we shall take with us for that purpose.  If
your excellency should be so ill-advised as to refuse these terms,
and thereby impose upon me the necessity of reducing your fort at
the cost of some lives, I warn you that you may expect no quarter
from us, and that I shall begin by leaving a heap of ashes where this
pleasant city of Maracaybo now stands."

The letter written, he bade them bring him from among the prisoners
the Deputy-Governor of Maracaybo, who had been taken at Gibraltar.
Disclosing its contents to him, he despatched him with it to Don
Miguel.

His choice of a messenger was shrewd.  The Deputy-Governor was of
all men the most anxious for the deliverance of his city, the one
man who on his own account would plead most fervently for its
preservation at all costs from the fate with which Captain Blood
was threatening it.  And as he reckoned so it befell.  The
Deputy-Governor added his own passionate pleading to the proposals
of the letter.

But Don Miguel was of stouter heart.  True, his fleet had been partly
destroyed and partly captured.  But then, he argued, he had been
taken utterly by surprise.  That should not happen again.  There
should be no surprising the fort.  Let Captain Blood do his worst at
Maracaybo, there should be a bitter reckoning for him when eventually
he decided - as, sooner or later, decide he must - to come forth.
The Deputy-Governor was flung into panic.  He lost his temper, and
said some hard things to the Admiral.  But they were not as hard as
the thing the Admiral said to him in answer.

"Had you been as loyal to your King in hindering the entrance of
these cursed pirates as I shall be in hindering their going forth
again, we should not now find ourselves in our present straits.
So weary me no more with your coward counsels.  I make no terms
with Captain Blood.  I know my duty to my King, and I intend to
perform it.  I also know my duty to myself.  I have a private score
with this rascal, and I intend to settle it.  Take you that message
back."

So back to Maracaybo, back to his own handsome house in which
Captain Blood had established his quarters, came the Deputy-Governor
with the Admiral's answer.  And because he had been shamed into a
show of spirit by the Admiral's own stout courage in adversity, he
delivered it as truculently as the Admiral could have desired.  "And
is it like that?" said Captain Blood with a quiet smile, though the
heart of him sank at this failure of his bluster.  "Well, well, it's
a pity now that the Admiral's so headstrong.  It was that way he
lost his fleet, which was his own to lose.  This pleasant city of
Maracaybo isn't.  So no doubt he'll lose it with fewer misgivings.
I am sorry.  Waste, like bloodshed, is a thing abhorrent to me.  But
there ye are!  I'll have the faggots to the place in the morning,
and maybe when he sees the blaze to-morrow night he'll begin to
believe that Peter Blood is a man of his word.  Ye may go, Don
Francisco."

The Deputy-Governor went out with dragging feet, followed by
guards, his momentary truculence utterly spent.

But no sooner had he departed than up leapt Cahusac, who had been
of the council assembled to receive the Admiral's answer.  His face
was white and his hands shook as he held them out in protest.

"Death of my life, what have you to say now?" he cried, his voice
husky.  And without waiting to hear what it might be, he raved on:
"I knew you not frighten the Admiral so easy.  He hold us entrap',
and he knows it; yet you dream that he will yield himself to your
impudent message.  Your fool letter it have seal' the doom of us
all."

"Have ye done?" quoth Blood quietly, as the Frenchman paused
for breath.

"No, I have not."

"Then spare me the rest.  It'll be of the same quality, devil a
doubt, and it doesn't help us to solve the riddle that's before us."

"But what are you going to do?  Is it that you will tell me?"  It
was not a question, it was a demand.

"How the devil do I know?  I was hoping you'd have some ideas
yourself.  But since Ye're so desperately concerned to save your
skin, you and those that think like you are welcome to leave us.
I've no doubt at all the Spanish Admiral will welcome the abatement
of our numbers even at this late date.  Ye shall have the sloop as
a parting gift from us, and ye can join Don Miguel in the fort for
all I care, or for all the good ye're likely to be to us in this
present pass."

"It is to my men to decide," Cahusac retorted, swallowing his fury,
and on that stalked out to talk to them, leaving the others to
deliberate in peace.

Next morning early he sought Captain Blood again.  He found him
alone in the patio, pacing to and fro, his head sunk on his breast.
Cahusac mistook consideration for dejection.  Each of us carries
in himself a standard by which to measure his neighbour.

"We have take' you at your word, Captain," he announced, between
sullenness and defiance.  Captain Blood paused, shoulders hunched,
hands behind his back, and mildly regarded the buccaneer in silence.
Cahusac explained himself.  "Last night I send one of my men to the
Spanish Admiral with a letter.  I make him offer to capitulate if
he will accord us passage with the honours of war.  This morning I
receive his answer.  He accord us this on the understanding that we
carry nothing away with us.  My men they are embarking them on the
sloop.  We sail at once."

"Bon voyage," said Captain Blood, and with a nod he turned on his
heel again to resume his interrupted mediation.

"Is that all that you have to say to me?" cried Cahusac.

"There are other things," said Blood over his shoulder.  "But I
know ye wouldn't like them."

"Ha!  Then it's adieu, my Captain."  Venomously he added:  "It is
my belief that we shall not meet again."

"Your belief is my hope," said Captain Blood.

Cahusac flung away, obscenely vituperative.  Before noon he was
under way with his followers, some sixty dejected men who had
allowed themselves to be persuaded by him into that empty-handed
departure - in spite even of all that Yberville could do to prevent
it.  The Admiral kept faith with him, and allowed him free passage
out to sea, which, from his knowledge of Spaniards, was more than
Captain Blood had expected.

Meanwhile, no sooner had the deserters weighed anchor than Captain
Blood received word that the Deputy-Governor begged to be allowed
to see him again.  Admitted, Don Francisco at once displayed the
fact that a night's reflection had quickened his apprehensions for
the city of Maracaybo and his condemnation of the Admiral's
intransigence.

Captain Blood received him pleasantly.

"Good-morning to you, Don Francisco.  I have postponed the bonfire
until nightfall.  It will make a better show in the dark."

Don Francisco, a slight, nervous, elderly man of high lineage and
low vitality, came straight to business.

"I am here to tell you, Don Pedro, that if you will hold your hand
for three days, I will undertake to raise the ransom you demand,
which Don Miguel de Espinosa refuses."

Captain Blood confronted him, a frown contracting the dark brows
above his light eyes:

"And where will you be raising it?" quoth he, faintly betraying his
surprise.

Don Francisco shook his head.  "That must remain my affair," he
answered.  "I know where it is to be found, and my compatriots must
contribute.  Give me leave for three days on parole, and I will see
you fully satisfied.  Meanwhile my son remains in your hands as a
hostage for my return."  And upon that he fell to pleading.  But in
this he was crisply interrupted.

"By the Saints!  Ye're a bold man, Don Francisco, to come to me
with such a tale - to tell me that ye know where the ransom's to be
raised, and yet to refuse to say.  D'ye think now that with a match
between your fingers ye'd grow more communicative?"

If Don Francisco grew a shade paler, yet again he shook his head.

"That was the way of Morgan and L'Ollonais and other pirates.  But
it is not the way of Captain Blood.  If I had doubted that I should
not have disclosed so much."

The Captain laughed.  "You old rogue," said he.  "Ye play upon my
vanity, do you?"

"Upon your honour, Captain."

"The honour of a pirate?  Ye're surely crazed!"

"The honour of Captain Blood," Don Francisco insisted.  "You have
the repute of making war like a gentleman."

Captain Blood laughed again, on a bitter, sneering note that made
Don Francisco fear the worst.  He was not to guess that it was
himself the Captain mocked.

"That's merely because it's more remunerative in the end.  And that
is why you are accorded the three days you ask for.  So about it,
Don Francisco.  You shall have what mules you need.  I'll see to it."

Away went Don Francisco on his errand, leaving Captain Blood to
reflect, between bitterness and satisfaction, that a reputation for
as much chivalry as is consistent with piracy is not without its
uses.

Punctually on the third day the Deputy-Governor was back in Maracaybo
with his mules laden with plate and money to the value demanded and a
herd of a hundred head of cattle driven in by negro slaves.

These bullocks were handed over to those of the company who
ordinarily were boucan-hunters, and therefore skilled in the curing
of meats, and for best part of a week thereafter they were busy at
the waterside with the quartering and salting of carcases.

While this was doing on the one hand and the ships were being
refitted for sea on the other, Captain Blood was pondering the riddle
on the solution of which his own fate depended.  Indian spies whom
he employed brought him word that the Spaniards, working at low tide,
had salved the thirty guns of the Salvador, and thus had added yet
another battery to their already overwhelming strength.  In the end,
and hoping for inspiration on the spot, Captain Blood made a
reconnaissance in person.  At the risk of his life, accompanied by
two friendly Indians, he crossed to the island in a canoe under cover
of dark.  They concealed themselves and the canoe in the short thick
scrub with which that side of the island was densely covered, and
lay there until daybreak.  Then Blood went forward alone, and with
infinite precaution, to make his survey.  He went to verify a
suspicion that he had formed, and approached the fort as nearly as
he dared and a deal nearer than was safe.

On all fours he crawled to the summit of an eminence a mile or so
away, whence he found himself commanding a view of the interior
dispositions of the stronghold.  By the aid of a telescope with
which he had equipped himself he was able to verify that, as he
had suspected and hoped, the fort's artillery was all mounted on
the seaward side.

Satisfied, he returned to Maracaybo, and laid before the six who
composed his council - Pitt, Hagthorpe, Yberville, Wolverstone,
Dyke, and Ogle - a proposal to storm the fort from the landward
side.  Crossing to the island under cover of night, they would take
the Spaniards by surprise and attempt to overpower them before they
could shift their guns to meet the onslaught.

With the exception of Wolverstone, who was by temperament the kind
of man who favours desperate chances, those officers received the
proposal coldly.  Hagthorpe incontinently opposed it.

"It's a harebrained scheme, Peter," he said gravely, shaking his
handsome head.  "Consider now that we cannot depend upon approaching
unperceived to a distance whence we might storm the fort before the
cannon could be moved.  But even if we could, we can take no cannon
ourselves; we must depend entirely upon our small arms, and how
shall we, a bare three hundred" (for this was the number to which
Cahusac's defection had reduced them), "cross the open to attack
more than twice that number under cover?"

The others - Dyke, Ogle, Yberville, and even Pitt, whom loyalty to
Blood may have made reluctant - loudly approved him.  When they had
done, "I have considered all," said Captain Blood.  "I have weighed
the risks and studied how to lessen them.  In these desperate
straits...."

He broke off abruptly.  A moment he frowned, deep in thought; then
his face was suddenly alight with inspiration.  Slowly he drooped
his head, and sat there considering, weighing, chin on breast.  Then
he nodded, muttering, "Yes," and again, "Yes."  He looked up, to
face them.  "Listen," he cried.  "You may be right.  The risks may
be too heavy.  Whether or not, I have thought of a better way.  That
which should have been the real attack shall be no more than a feint.
Here, then, is the plan I now propose."

He talked swiftly and clearly, and as he talked one by one his
officers' faces became alight with eagerness.  When he had done,
they cried as with one voice that he had saved them.

"That is yet to be proved in action," said he.

Since for the last twenty-four hours all had been in readiness for
departure, there was nothing now to delay them, and it was decided
to move next morning.

Such was Captain Blood's assurance of success that he immediately
freed the prisoners held as hostages, and even the negro slaves,
who were regarded by the others as legitimate plunder.  His only
precaution against those released prisoners was to order them into
the church and there lock them up, to await deliverance at the
hands of those who should presently be coming into the city.

Then, all being aboard the three ships, with the treasure safely
stowed in their holds and the slaves under hatches, the buccaneers
weighed anchor and stood out for the bar, each vessel towing three
piraguas astern.

The Admiral, beholding their stately advance in the full light of
noon, their sails gleaming white in the glare of the sunlight,
rubbed his long, lean hands in satisfaction, and laughed through
his teeth.

"At last!" he cried.  "God delivers him into my hands!"  He turned
to the group of staring officers behind him.  "Sooner or later it
had to be," he said.  "Say now, gentlemen, whether I am justified
of my patience.  Here end to-day the troubles caused to the subjects
of the Catholic King by this infamous Don Pedro Sangre, as he once
called himself to me."

He turned to issue orders, and the fort became lively as a hive.
The guns were manned, the gunners already kindling fuses, when the
buccaneer fleet, whilst still heading for Palomas, was observed to
bear away to the west.  The Spaniards watched them, intrigued.

Within a mile and a half to westward of the fort, and within a
half-mile of the shore - that is to say, on the very edge of the
shoal water that makes Palomas unapproachable on either side by
any but vessels of the shallowest draught - the four ships cast
anchor well within the Spaniards' view, but just out of range of
their heaviest cannon.

Sneeringly the Admiral laughed.

"Aha!  They hesitate, these English dogs!  Por Dios, and well
they may."

"They will be waiting for night," suggested his nephew, who stood
at his elbow quivering with excitement.

Don Miguel looked at him, smiling.  "And what shall the night avail
them in this narrow passage, under the very muzzles of my guns?  Be
sure, Esteban, that to-night your father will be paid for."

He raised his telescope to continue his observation of the
buccaneers.  He saw that the piraguas towed by each vessel were
being warped alongside, and he wondered a little what this manoeuver
might portend.  Awhile those piraguas were hidden from view behind
the hulls.  Then one by one they reappeared, rowing round and away
from the ships, and each boat, he observed, was crowded with armed
men.  Thus laden, they were headed for the shore, at a point where
it was densely wooded to the water's edge.  The eyes of the
wondering Admiral followed them until the foliage screened them from
his view.

Then he lowered his telescope and looked at his officers.

"What the devil does it mean?" he asked.

None answered him, all being as puzzled as he was himself.

After a little while, Esteban, who kept his eyes on the water,
plucked at his uncle's sleeve.  "There they go!" he cried, and
pointed.

And there, indeed, went the piraguas on their way back to the ships.
But now it was observed that they were empty, save for the men who
rowed them.  Their armed cargo had been left ashore.

Back to the ships they pulled, to return again presently with a
fresh load of armed men, which similarly they conveyed to Palomas.
And at last one of the Spanish officers ventured an explanation:

"They are going to attack us by land - to attempt to storm the fort."

"Of course." The Admiral smiled.  "I had guessed it.  Whom the gods
would destroy they first make mad."

"Shall we make a sally?" urged Esteban, in his excitement.

"A sally?  Through that scrub?  That would be to play into their
hands.  No, no, we will wait here to receive this attack.  Whenever
it comes, it is themselves will be destroyed, and utterly.  Have no
doubt of that."

But by evening the Admiral's equanimity was not quite so perfect.
By then the piraguas had made a half-dozen journeys with their loads
of men, and they had landed also - as Don Miguel had clearly observed
through his telescope - at least a dozen guns.

His countenance no longer smiled; it was a little wrathful and a
little troubled now as he turned again to his officers.

"Who was the fool who told me that they number but three hundred
men in all?  They have put at least twice that number ashore
already."

Amazed as he was, his amazement would have been deeper had he been
told the truth: that there was not a single buccaneer or a single
gun ashore on Palomas.  The deception had been complete.  Don Miguel
could not guess that the men he had beheld in those piraguas were
always the same; that on the journeys to the shore they sat and
stood upright in full view; and that on the journeys back to the
ships, they lay invisible at the bottom of the boats, which were
thus made to appear empty.

The growing fears of the Spanish soldiery at the prospect of a
night attack from the landward side by the entire buccaneer force
 - and a force twice as strong as they had suspected the pestilent
Blood to command - began to be communicated to the Admiral.

In the last hours of fading daylight, the Spaniards did precisely
what Captain Blood so confidently counted that they would do -
precisely what they must do to meet the attack, preparations for
which had been so thoroughly simulated.  They set themselves to
labour like the damned at those ponderous guns emplaced to
command the narrow passage out to sea.

Groaning and sweating, urged on by the curses and even the whips
of their officers, they toiled in a frenzy of panic-stricken haste
to shift the greater number and the more powerful of their guns
across to the landward side, there to emplace them anew, so that
they might be ready to receive the attack which at any moment now
might burst upon them from the woods not half a mile away.

Thus, when night fell, although in mortal anxiety of the onslaught
of those wild devils whose reckless courage was a byword on the seas
of the Main, at least the Spaniards were tolerably prepared for it.
Waiting, they stood to their guns.

And whilst they waited thus, under cover of the darkness and as the
tide began to ebb, Captain Blood's fleet weighed anchor quietly; and,
as once before, with no more canvas spread than that which their
sprits could carry, so as to give them steering way - and even these
having been painted black - the four vessels, without a light
showing, groped their way by soundings to the channel which led to
that narrow passage out to sea.

The Elizabeth and the Infanta, leading side by side, were almost
abreast of the fort before their shadowy bulks and the soft gurgle
of water at their prows were detected by the Spaniards, whose
attention until that moment had been all on the other side.  And
now there arose on the night air such a sound of human baffled fury
as may have resounded about Babel at the confusion of tongues.  To
heighten that confusion, and to scatter disorder among the Spanish
soldiery, the Elizabeth emptied her larboard guns into the fort as
she was swept past on the swift ebb.

At once realizing - though not yet how - he had been duped, and that
his prey was in the very act of escaping after all, the Admiral
frantically ordered the guns that had been so laboriously moved to
be dragged back to their former emplacements, and commanded his
gunners meanwhile to the slender batteries that of all his powerful,
but now unavailable, armament still remained trained upon the
channel.  With these, after the loss of some precious moments, the
fort at last made fire.

It was answered by a terrific broadside from the Arabella, which had
now drawn abreast, and was crowding canvas to her yards.  The enraged
and gibbering Spaniards had a brief vision of her as the line of
flame spurted from her red flank, and the thunder of her broadside
drowned the noise of the creaking halyards.  After that they saw her
no more.  Assimilated by the friendly darkness which the lesser
Spanish guns were speculatively stabbing, the escaping ships fired
never another shot that might assist their baffled and bewildered
enemies to locate them.

Some slight damage was sustained by Blood's fleet.  But by the time
the Spaniards had resolved their confusion into some order of
dangerous offence, that fleet, well served by a southerly breeze,
was through the narrows and standing out to sea.

Thus was Don Miguel de Espinosa left to chew the bitter cud of a
lost opportunity, and to consider in what terms he would acquaint
the Supreme Council of the Catholic King that Peter Blood had got
away from Maracaybo, taking with him two twenty-gun frigates that
were lately the property of Spain, to say nothing of two hundred
and fifty thousand pieces of eight and other plunder.  And all this
in spite of Don Miguel's four galleons and his heavily armed fort
that at one time had held the pirates so securely trapped.

Heavy, indeed, grew the account of Peter Blood, which Don Miguel
swore passionately to Heaven should at all costs to himself be
paid in full.

Nor were the losses already detailed the full total of those suffered
on this occasion by the King of Spain.  For on the following evening,
off the coast of Oruba, at the mouth of the Gulf of Venezuela,
Captain Blood's fleet came upon the belated Santo Nino, speeding
under full sail to reenforce Don Miguel at Maracaybo.

At first the Spaniard had conceived that she was meeting the
victorious fleet of Don Miguel, returning from the destruction of
the pirates.  When at comparatively close quarters the pennon of St.
George soared to the Arabella's masthead to disillusion her, the
Santo Nino chose the better part of valour, and struck her flag.

Captain Blood ordered her crew to take to the boats, and land
themselves at Oruba or wherever else they pleased.  So considerate
was he that to assist them he presented them with several of the
piraguas which he still had in tow.

"You will find," said he to her captain, "that Don Miguel is in an
extremely bad temper.  Commend me to him, and say that I venture to
remind him that he must blame himself for all the ills that have
befallen him.  The evil has recoiled upon him which he loosed when
he sent his brother unofficially to make a raid upon the island of
Barbados.  Bid him think twice before he lets his devils loose upon
an English settlement again."

With that he dismissed the Captain, who went over the side of the
Santo Nino, and Captain Blood proceeded to investigate the value of
this further prize.  When her hatches were removed, a human cargo
was disclosed in her hold.

"Slaves," said Wolverstone, and persisted in that belief cursing
Spanish devilry until Cahusac crawled up out of the dark bowels of
the ship, and stood blinking in the sunlight.

There was more than sunlight to make the Breton pirate blink.  And
those that crawled out after him - the remnants of his crew - cursed
him horribly for the pusillanimity which had brought them into the
ignominy of owing their deliverance to those whom they had deserted
as lost beyond hope.

Their sloop had encountered and had been sunk three days ago by the
Santo Nino, and Cahusac had narrowly escaped hanging merely that
for some time he might be a mock among the Brethren of the Coast.

For many a month thereafter he was to hear in Tortuga the jeering
taunt:

"Where do you spend the gold that you brought back from Maracaybo?"



CHAPTER XVIII

THE MILAGROSA


The affair at Maracaybo is to be considered as Captain Blood's
buccaneering masterpiece.  Although there is scarcely one of the
many actions that he fought - recorded in such particular detail by
Jeremy Pitt - which does not afford some instance of his genius for
naval tactics, yet in none is this more shiningly displayed than
in those two engagements by which he won out of the trap which Don
Miguel de Espinosa had sprung upon him.

The fame which he had enjoyed before this, great as it already was,
is dwarfed into insignificance by the fame that followed.  It was
a fame such as no buccaneer - not even Morgan - has ever boasted,
before or since.

In Tortuga, during the months he spent there refitting the three
ships he had captured from the fleet that had gone out to destroy
him, he found himself almost an object of worship in the eyes of
the wild Brethren of the Coast, all of whom now clamoured for the
honour of serving under him.  It placed him in the rare position
of being able to pick and choose the crews for his augmented fleet,
and he chose fastidiously.  When next he sailed away it was with a
fleet of five fine ships in which went something over a thousand
men.  Thus you behold him not merely famous, but really formidable.
The three captured Spanish vessels he had renamed with a certain
scholarly humour the Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, a grimly jocular
manner of conveying to the world that he made them the arbiters of
the fate of any Spaniards he should henceforth encounter upon the
seas.

In Europe the news of this fleet, following upon the news of the
Spanish Admiral's defeat at Maracaybo, produced something of a
sensation.  Spain and England were variously and unpleasantly
exercised, and if you care to turn up the diplomatic correspondence
exchanged on the subject, you will find that it is considerable
and not always amiable.

And meanwhile in the Caribbean, the Spanish Admiral Don Miguel de
Espinosa might be said - to use a term not yet invented in his
day - to have run amok.  The disgrace into which he had fallen as
a result of the disasters suffered at the hands of Captain Blood
had driven the Admiral all but mad.  It is impossible, if we
impose our minds impartially, to withhold a certain sympathy from
Don Miguel.  Hate was now this unfortunate man's daily bread, and
the hope of vengeance an obsession to his mind.  As a madman he
went raging up and down the Caribbean seeking his enemy, and in
the meantime, as an hors d'oeuvre to his vindictive appetite, he
fell upon any ship of England or of France that loomed above his
horizon.

I need say no more to convey the fact that this illustrious
sea-captain and great gentleman of Castile had lost his head, and
was become a pirate in his turn.  The Supreme Council of Castile
might anon condemn him for his practices.  But how should that matter
to one who already was condemned beyond redemption?  On the contrary,
if he should live to lay the audacious and ineffable Blood by the
heels, it was possible that Spain might view his present irregularities
and earlier losses with a more lenient eye.

And so, reckless of the fact that Captain Blood was now in vastly
superior strength, the Spaniard sought him up and down the trackless
seas.  But for a whole year he sought him vainly.  The circumstances
in which eventually they met are very curious.

An intelligent observation of the facts of human existence will
reveal to shallow-minded folk who sneer at the use of coincidence
in the arts of fiction and drama that life itself is little more
than a series of coincidences.  Open the history of the past at
whatsoever page you will, and there you shall find coincidence at
work bringing about events that the merest chance might have
averted.  Indeed, coincidence may be defined as the very tool used
by Fate to shape the destinies of men and nations.

Observe it now at work in the affairs of Captain Blood and of some
others.

On the 15th September of the year 1688 - a memorable year in the
annals of England - three ships were afloat upon the Caribbean,
which in their coming conjunctions were to work out the fortunes of
several persons.

The first of these was Captain Blood's flagship the Arabella, which
had been separated from the buccaneer fleet in a hurricane off the
Lesser Antilles.  In somewhere about 17 deg. N. Lat., and 74 deg.
Long., she was beating up for the Windward Passage, before the
intermittent southeasterly breezes of that stifling season, homing
for Tortuga, the natural rendezvous of the dispersed vessels.

The second ship was the great Spanish galleon, the Milagrosa, which,
accompanied by the smaller frigate Hidalga, lurked off the Caymites,
to the north of the long peninsula that thrusts out from the
southwest corner of Hispaniola.  Aboard the Milagrosa sailed the
vindictive Don Miguel.

The third and last of these ships with which we are at present
concerned was an English man-of-war, which on the date I have given
was at anchor in the French port of St. Nicholas on the northwest
coast of Hispaniola.  She was on her way from Plymouth to Jamaica,
and carried on board a very distinguished passenger in the person
of Lord Julian Wade, who came charged by his kinsman, my Lord
Sunderland, with a mission of some consequence and delicacy, directly
arising out of that vexatious correspondence between England and
Spain.

The French Government, like the English, excessively annoyed by the
depredations of the buccaneers, and the constant straining of
relations with Spain that ensued, had sought in vain to put them
down by enjoining the utmost severity against them upon her various
overseas governors.  But these, either - like the Governor of Tortuga
 - throve out of a scarcely tacit partnership with the filibusters,
or - like the Governor of French Hispaniola - felt that they were
to be encouraged as a check upon the power and greed of Spain, which
might otherwise be exerted to the disadvantage of the colonies of
other nations.  They looked, indeed, with apprehension upon recourse
to any vigorous measures which must result in driving many of the
buccaneers to seek new hunting-grounds in the South Sea.

To satisfy King James's anxiety to conciliate Spain, and in response
to the Spanish Ambassador's constant and grievous expostulations,
my Lord Sunderland, the Secretary of State, had appointed a strong
man to the deputy-governorship of Jamaica.  This strong man was that
Colonel Bishop who for some years now had been the most influential
planter in Barbados.

Colonel Bishop had accepted the post, and departed from the
plantations in which his great wealth was being amassed with an
eagerness that had its roots in a desire to pay off a score of his
own with Peter Blood.

From his first coming to Jamaica, Colonel Bishop had made himself
felt by the buccaneers.  But do what he might, the one buccaneer
whom he made his particular quarry - that Peter Blood who once had
been his slave - eluded him ever, and continued undeterred and in
great force to harass the Spaniards upon sea and land, and to keep
the relations between England and Spain in a state of perpetual
ferment, particularly dangerous in those days when the peace of
Europe was precariously maintained.

Exasperated not only by his own accumulated chagrin, but also by
the reproaches for his failure which reached him from London,
Colonel Bishop actually went so far as to consider hunting his
quarry in Tortuga itself and making an attempt to clear the
island of the buccaneers it sheltered.  Fortunately for himself,
he abandoned the notion of so insane an enterprise, deterred not
only by the enormous natural strength of the place, but also by
the reflection that a raid upon what was, nominally at least, a
French settlement, must be attended by grave offence to France.
Yet short of some such measure, it appeared to Colonel Bishop
that he was baffled.  He confessed as much in a letter to the
Secretary of State.

This letter and the state of things which it disclosed made my Lord
Sunderland despair of solving this vexatious problem by ordinary
means.  He turned to the consideration of extraordinary ones, and
bethought him of the plan adopted with Morgan, who had been enlisted
into the King's service under Charles II.  It occurred to him that
a similar course might be similarly effective with Captain Blood.
His lordship did not omit the consideration that Blood's present
outlawry might well have been undertaken not from inclination, but
under stress of sheer necessity; that he had been forced into it by
the circumstances of his transportation, and that he would welcome
the opportunity of emerging from it.

Acting upon this conclusion, Sunderland sent out his kinsman, Lord
Julian Wade, with some commissions made out in blank, and full
directions as to the course which the Secretary considered it
desirable to pursue and yet full discretion in the matter of pursuing
them.  The crafty Sunderland, master of all labyrinths of intrigue,
advised his kinsman that in the event of his finding Blood
intractable, or judging for other reasons that it was not desirable
to enlist him in the King's service, he should turn his attention
to the officers serving under him, and by seducing them away from
him leave him so weakened that he must fall an easy victim to Colonel
Bishop's fleet.

The Royal Mary - the vessel bearing that ingenious, tolerably
accomplished, mildly dissolute, entirely elegant envoy of my Lord
Sunderland's - made a good passage to St. Nicholas, her last port
of call before Jamaica.  It was understood that as a preliminary
Lord Julian should report himself to the Deputy-Governor at Port
Royal, whence at need he might have himself conveyed to Tortuga.
Now it happened that the Deputy-Governor's niece had come to St.
Nicholas some months earlier on a visit to some relatives, and so
that she might escape the insufferable heat of Jamaica in that
season.  The time for her return being now at hand, a passage was
sought for her aboard the Royal Mary, and in view of her uncle's
rank and position promptly accorded.

Lord Julian hailed her advent with satisfaction.  It gave a voyage
that had been full of interest for him just the spice that it
required to achieve perfection as an experience.  His lordship was
one of your gallants to whom existence that is not graced by
womankind is more or less of a stagnation.  Miss Arabella Bishop
 - this straight up and down slip of a girl with her rather boyish
voice and her almost boyish ease of movement - was not perhaps a
lady who in England would have commanded much notice in my lord's
discerning eyes.  His very sophisticated, carefully educated tastes
in such matters inclined him towards the plump, the languishing,
and the quite helplessly feminine.  Miss Bishop's charms were
undeniable.  But they were such that it would take a delicate-minded
man to appreciate them; and my Lord Julian, whilst of a mind that
was very far from gross, did not possess the necessary degree of
delicacy.  I must not by this be understood to imply anything against
him.

It remained, however, that Miss Bishop was a young woman and a lady;
and in the latitude into which Lord Julian had strayed this was a
phenomenon sufficiently rare to command attention.  On his side,
with his title and position, his personal grace and the charm of a
practised courtier, he bore about him the atmosphere of the great
world in which normally he had his being - a world that was little
more than a name to her, who had spent most of her life in the
Antilles.  It is not therefore wonderful that they should have been
attracted to each other before the Royal Mary was warped out of St.
Nicholas.  Each could tell the other much upon which the other
desired information.  He could regale her imagination with stories
of St. James's - in many of which he assigned himself a heroic, or
at least a distinguished part - and she could enrich his mind with
information concerning this new world to which he had come.

Before they were out of sight of St. Nicholas they were good friends,
and his lordship was beginning to correct his first impressions of
her and to discover the charm of that frank, straightforward attitude
of comradeship which made her treat every man as a brother.
Considering how his mind was obsessed with the business of his
mission, it is not wonderful that he should have come to talk to her
of Captain Blood.  Indeed, there was a circumstance that directly
led to it.

"I wonder now," he said, as they were sauntering on the poop, "if
you ever saw this fellow Blood, who was at one time on your uncle's
plantations as a slave."

Miss Bishop halted.  She leaned upon the taffrail, looking out
towards the receding land, and it was a moment before she answered
in a steady, level voice:

"I saw him often.  I knew him very well."

"Ye don't say!"  His lordship was slightly moved out of an
imperturbability that he had studiously cultivated.  He was a young
man of perhaps eight-and-twenty, well above the middle height in
stature and appearing taller by virtue of his exceeding leanness.
He had a thin, pale, rather pleasing hatchet-face, framed in the
curls of a golden periwig, a sensitive mouth and pale blue eyes that
lent his countenance a dreamy expression, a rather melancholy
pensiveness.  But they were alert, observant eyes notwithstanding,
although they failed on this occasion to observe the slight change
of colour which his question had brought to Miss Bishop's cheeks
or the suspiciously excessive composure of her answer.

"Ye don't say!" he repeated, and came to lean beside her.  "And what
manner of man did you find him?"

"In those days I esteemed him for an unfortunate gentleman."

"You were acquainted with his story?"

"He told it me.  That is why I esteemed him - for the calm fortitude
with which he bore adversity.  Since then, considering what he has
done, I have almost come to doubt if what he told me of himself was
true."

"If you mean of the wrongs he suffered at the hands of the Royal
Commission that tried the Monmouth rebels, there's little doubt that
it would be true enough.  He was never out with Monmouth; that is
certain.  He was convicted on a point of law of which he may well
have been ignorant when he committed what was construed into treason.
But, faith, he's had his revenge, after a fashion."

"That," she said in a small voice, "is the unforgivable thing.  It
has destroyed him - deservedly."

"Destroyed him?" His lordship laughed a little.  "Be none so sure
of that.  He has grown rich, I hear.  He has translated, so it is
said, his Spanish spoils into French gold, which is being treasured
up for him in France.  His future father-in-law, M. d'Ogeron, has
seen to that."

"His future father-in-law?" said she, and stared at him round-eyed,
with parted lips.  Then added:  "M. d'Ogeron?  The Governor of
Tortuga?"

"The same.  You see the fellow's well protected.  It's a piece of
news I gathered in St. Nicholas.  I am not sure that I welcome it,
for I am not sure that it makes any easier a task upon which my
kinsman, Lord Sunderland, has sent me hither.  But there it is.
You didn't know?"

She shook her head without replying.  She had averted her face, and
her eyes were staring down at the gently heaving water.  After a
moment she spoke, her voice steady and perfectly controlled.

"But surely, if this were true, there would have been an end to his
piracy by now.  If he... if he loved a woman and was betrothed, and
was also rich as you say, surely he would have abandoned this
desperate life, and...."

"Why, so I thought," his lordship interrupted, "until I had the
explanation.  D'Ogeron is avaricious for himself and for his child.
And as for the girl, I'm told she's a wild piece, fit mate for such
a man as Blood.  Almost I marvel that he doesn't marry her and take
her a-roving with him.  It would be no new experience for her.  And
I marvel, too, at Blood's patience.  He killed a man to win her."

"He killed a man for her, do you say?"  There was horror now in her
voice.

"Yes - a French buccaneer named Levasseur.  He was the girl's lover
and Blood's associate on a venture.  Blood coveted the girl, and
killed Levasseur to win her.  Pah!  It's an unsavoury tale, I own.
But men live by different codes out in these parts...."

She had turned to face him.  She was pale to the lips, and her hazel
eyes were blazing, as she cut into his apologies for Blood.

"They must, indeed, if his other associates allowed him to live
after that."

"Oh, the thing was done in fair fight, I am told."

"Who told you?"

"A man who sailed with them, a Frenchman named Cahusac, whom I found
in a waterside tavern in St. Nicholas.  He was Levasseur's
lieutenant, and he was present on the island where the thing
happened, and when Levasseur was killed."

"And the girl?  Did he say the girl was present, too?"

"Yes.  She was a witness of the encounter.  Blood carried her off
when he had disposed of his brother-buccaneer."

"And the dead man's followers allowed it?"  He caught the note of
incredulity in her voice, but missed the note of relief with which
it was blent.  "Oh, I don't believe the tale.  I won't believe it!"

"I honour you for that, Miss Bishop.  It strained my own belief that
men should be so callous, until this Cahusac afforded me the
explanation."

"What?"  She checked her unbelief, an unbelief that had uplifted
her from an inexplicable dismay.  Clutching the rail, she swung
round to face his lordship with that question.  Later he was to
remember and perceive in her present behaviour a certain oddness
which went disregarded now.

"Blood purchased their consent, and his right to carry the girl
off.  He paid them in pearls that were worth more than twenty
thousand pieces of eight."  His lordship laughed again with a touch
of contempt.  "A handsome price!  Faith, they're scoundrels all
- just thieving, venal curs.  And faith, it's a pretty tale this
for a lady's ear."

She looked away from him again, and found that her sight was
blurred.  After a moment in a voice less steady than before she
asked him:

"Why should this Frenchman have told you such a tale?  Did he hate
this Captain Blood?"

"I did not gather that," said his lordship slowly.  "He related
it... oh, just as a commonplace, an instance of buccaneering ways.

"A commonplace!" said she.  "My God!  A commonplace!"

"I dare say that we are all savages under the cloak that civilization
fashions for us," said his lordship.  "But this Blood, now, was a
man of considerable parts, from what else this Cahusac told me.  He
was a bachelor of medicine."

"That is true, to my own knowledge."

"And he has seen much foreign service on sea and land.  Cahusac said
- though this I hardly credit - that he had fought under de Ruyter."

"That also is true," said she.  She sighed heavily.  "Your Cahusac
seems to have been accurate enough.  Alas!"

"You are sorry, then?"

She looked at him.  She was very pale, he noticed.

"As we are sorry to hear of the death of one we have esteemed.
Once I held him in regard for an unfortunate but worthy gentleman.
Now...."

She checked, and smiled a little crooked smile.  "Such a man is best
forgotten."

And upon that she passed at once to speak of other things.  The
friendship, which it was her great gift to command in all she met,
grew steadily between those two in the little time remaining, until
the event befell that marred what was promising to be the
pleasantest stage of his lordship's voyage.

The marplot was the mad-dog Spanish Admiral, whom they encountered
on the second day out, when halfway across the Gulf of Gonaves.
The Captain of the Royal Mary was not disposed to be intimidated
even when Don Miguel opened fire on him.  Observing the Spaniard's
plentiful seaboard towering high above the water and offering him
so splendid a mark, the Englishman was moved to scorn.  If this
Don who flew the banner of Castile wanted a fight, the Royal Mary
was just the ship to oblige him.  It may be that he was justified
of his gallant confidence, and that he would that day have put an
end to the wild career of Don Miguel de Espinosa, but that a
lucky shot from the Milagrosa got among some powder stored in his
forecastle, and blew up half his ship almost before the fight had
started.  How the powder came there will never now be known, and
the gallant Captain himself did not survive to enquire into it.

Before the men of the Royal Mary had recovered from their
consternation, their captain killed and a third of their number
destroyed with him, the ship yawing and rocking helplessly in a
crippled state, the Spaniards boarded her.

In the Captain's cabin under the poop, to which Miss Bishop had
been conducted for safety, Lord Julian was seeking to comfort and
encourage her, with assurances that all would yet be well, at the
very moment when Don Miguel was stepping aboard.  Lord Julian
himself was none so steady, and his face was undoubtedly pale.
Not that he was by any means a coward.  But this cooped-up fighting
on an unknown element in a thing of wood that might at any moment
founder under his feet into the depths of ocean was disturbing to
one who could be brave enough ashore.  Fortunately Miss Bishop did
not appear to be in desperate need of the poor comfort he was in
case to offer.  Certainly she, too, was pale, and her hazel eyes
may have looked a little larger than usual.  But she had herself
well in hand.  Half sitting, half leaning on the Captain's table,
she preserved her courage sufficiently to seek to calm the octoroon
waiting-woman who was grovelling at her feet in a state of terror.

And then the cabin-door flew open, and Don Miguel himself, tall,
sunburned, and aquiline of face, strode in.  Lord Julian span round,
to face him, and clapped a hand to his sword.

The Spaniard was brisk and to the point.

"Don't be a fool," he said in his own tongue, "or you'll come by a
fool's end.  Your ship is sinking."

There were three or four men in morions behind Don Miguel, and Lord
Julian realized the position.  He released his hilt, and a couple
of feet or so of steel slid softly back into the scabbard.  But Don
Miguel smiled, with a flash of white teeth behind his grizzled
beard, and held out his hand.

"If you please," he said.

Lord Julian hesitated.  His eyes strayed to Miss Bishop's.  "I think
you had better," said that composed young lady, whereupon with a
shrug his lordship made the required surrender.

"Come you - all of you - aboard my ship," Don Miguel invited them,
and strode out.

They went, of course.  For one thing the Spaniard had force to compel
them; for another a ship which he announced to be sinking offered
them little inducement to remain.  They stayed no longer than was
necessary to enable Miss Bishop to collect some spare articles of
dress and my lord to snatch up his valise.

As for the survivors in that ghastly shambles that had been the Royal
Mary, they were abandoned by the Spaniards to their own resources.
Let them take to the boats, and if those did not suffice them, let
them swim or drown.  If Lord Julian and Miss Bishop were retained, it
was because Don Miguel perceived their obvious value.  He received
them in his cabin with great urbanity.  Urbanely he desired to have
the honour of being acquainted with their names.

Lord Julian, sick with horror of the spectacle he had just witnessed,
commanded himself with difficulty to supply them.  Then haughtily he
demanded to know in his turn the name of their aggressor.  He was in
an exceedingly ill temper.  He realized that if he had done nothing
positively discreditable in the unusual and difficult position into
which Fate had thrust him, at least he had done nothing creditable.
This might have mattered less but that the spectator of his
indifferent performance was a lady.  He was determined if possible
to do better now.

"I am Don Miguel de Espinosa," he was answered.  "Admiral of the
Navies of the Catholic King."

Lord Julian gasped.  If Spain made such a hubbub about the
depredations of a runagate adventurer like Captain Blood, what could
not England answer now?

"Will you tell me, then, why you behave like a damned pirate?" he
asked.  And added:  "I hope you realize what will be the consequences,
and the strict account to which you shall be brought for this day's
work, for the blood you have murderously shed, and for your violence
to this lady and to myself."

"I offer you no violence," said the Admiral, smiling, as only the
man who holds the trumps can smile.  "On the contrary, I have saved
your lives...."

"Saved our lives!"  Lord Julian was momentarily speechless before
such callous impudence.  "And what of the lives you have destroyed
in wanton butchery?  By God, man, they shall cost you dear."

Don Miguel's smile persisted.  "It is possible.  All things are
possible.  Meantime it is your own lives that will cost you dear.
Colonel Bishop is a rich man; and you, milord, are no doubt also
rich.  I will consider and fix your ransom."

"So that you're just the damned murderous pirate I was supposing
you," stormed his lordship.  "And you have the impudence to call
yourself the Admiral of the Navies of the Catholic King?  We shall
see what your Catholic King will have to say to it."

The Admiral ceased to smile.  He revealed something of the rage that
had eaten into his brain.  "You do not understand," he said.  "It
is that I treat you English heretic dogs just as you English heretic
dogs have treated Spaniards upon the seas - you robbers and thieves
out of hell!  I have the honesty to do it in my own name - but you,
you perfidious beasts, you send your Captain Bloods, your Hagthorpes,
and your Morgans against us and disclaim responsibility for what
they do.  Like Pilate, you wash your hands."  He laughed savagely.
"Let Spain play the part of Pilate.  Let her disclaim responsibility
for me, when your ambassador at the Escurial shall go whining to the
Supreme Council of this act of piracy by Don Miguel de Espinosa."

"Captain Blood and the rest are not admirals of England!" cried
Lord Julian.

"Are they not?  How do I know?  How does Spain know?  Are you not
liars all, you English heretics?"

"Sir!" Lord Julian's voice was harsh as a rasp, his eyes flashed.
Instinctively he swung a hand to the place where his sword habitually
hung.  Then he shrugged and sneered:  "Of course," said he, "it sorts
with all I have heard of Spanish honour and all that I have seen of
yours that you should insult a man who is unarmed and your prisoner."

The Admiral's face flamed scarlet.  He half raised his hand to strike.
And then, restrained, perhaps, by the very words that had cloaked the
retorting insult, he turned on his heel abruptly and went out without
answering.



CHAPTER XIX

THE MEETING


As the door slammed after the departing Admiral, Lord Julian turned
to Arabella, and actually smiled.  He felt that he was doing better,
and gathered from it an almost childish satisfaction - childish in
all the circumstances.  "Decidedly I think I had the last word
there," he said, with a toss of his golden ringlets.

Miss Bishop, seated at the cabin-table, looked at him steadily,
without returning his smile.  "Does it matter, then, so much, having
the last word?  I am thinking of those poor fellows on the Royal
Mary.  Many of them have had their last word, indeed.  And for what?
A fine ship sunk, a score of lives lost, thrice that number now in
jeopardy, and all for what?"

"You are overwrought, ma'am.  I...."

"Overwrought!"  She uttered a single sharp note of laughter.  "I
assure you I am calm.  I am asking you a question, Lord Julian.
Why has this Spaniard done all this?  To what purpose?"

"You heard him." Lord Julian shrugged angrily.  "Blood-lust," he
explained shortly.

"Blood-lust?" she asked.  She was amazed.  "Does such a thing exist,
then?  It is insane, monstrous."

"Fiendish," his lordship agreed.  "Devil's work."

"I don't understand.  At Bridgetown three years ago there was a
Spanish raid, and things were done that should have been impossible
to men, horrible, revolting things which strain belief, which seem,
when I think of them now, like the illusions of some evil dream.
Are men just beasts?"

"Men?" said Lord Julian, staring.  "Say Spaniards, and I'll agree."
He was an Englishman speaking of hereditary foes.  And yet there
was a measure of truth in what he said.  "This is the Spanish way
in the New World.  Faith, almost it justifies such men as Blood of
what they do."

She shivered, as if cold, and setting her elbows on the table, she
took her chin in her hands, and sat staring before her.

Observing her, his lordship noticed how drawn and white her face
had grown.  There was reason enough for that, and for worse.  Not
any other woman of his acquaintance would have preserved her
self-control in such an ordeal; and of fear, at least, at no time
had Miss Bishop shown any sign.  It is impossible that he did not
find her admirable.

A Spanish steward entered bearing a silver chocolate service and
a box of Peruvian candies, which he placed on the table before the
lady.

"With the Admiral's homage," he said, then bowed, and withdrew.

Miss Bishop took no heed of him or his offering, but continued to
stare before her, lost in thought.  Lord Julian took a turn in the
long low cabin, which was lighted by a skylight above and great
square windows astern.  It was luxuriously appointed:  there were
rich Eastern rugs on the floor, well-filled bookcases stood against
the bulkheads, and there was a carved walnut sideboard laden with
silverware.  On a long, low chest standing under the middle stern
port lay a guitar that was gay with ribbons.  Lord Julian picked
it up, twanged the strings once as if moved by nervous irritation,
and put it down.

He turned again to face Miss Bishop.

"I came out here," he said, "to put down piracy.  But - blister me!
- I begin to think that the French are right in desiring piracy to
continue as a curb upon these Spanish scoundrels."

He was to be strongly confirmed in that opinion before many hours
were past.  Meanwhile their treatment at the hands of Don Miguel
was considerate and courteous.  It confirmed the opinion,
contemptuously expressed to his lordship by Miss Bishop, that since
they were to be held to ransom they need not fear any violence or
hurt.  A cabin was placed at the disposal of the lady and her
terrified woman, and another at Lord Julian's.  They were given the
freedom of the ship, and bidden to dine at the Admiral's table; nor
were his further intentions regarding them mentioned, nor yet his
immediate destination.

The Milagrosa, with her consort the Hidalga rolling after her,
steered a south by westerly course, then veered to the southeast
round Cape Tiburon, and thereafter, standing well out to sea, with
the land no more than a cloudy outline to larboard, she headed
directly east, and so ran straight into the arms of Captain Blood,
who was making for the Windward Passage, as we know.  That happened
early on the following morning.  After having systematically hunted
his enemy in vain for a year, Don Miguel chanced upon him in this
unexpected and entirely fortuitous fashion.  But that is the ironic
way of Fortune.  It was also the way of Fortune that Don Miguel
should thus come upon the Arabella at a time when, separated from
the rest of the fleet, she was alone and at a disadvantage.  It
looked to Don Miguel as if the luck which so long had been on Blood's
side had at last veered in his own favour.

Miss Bishop, newly risen, had come out to take the air on the
quarter-deck with his lordship in attendance - as you would expect
of so gallant a gentleman - when she beheld the big red ship that
had once been the Cinco Llagas out of Cadiz.  The vessel was
bearing down upon them, her mountains of snowy canvas bellying
forward, the long pennon with the cross of St. George fluttering
from her main truck in the morning breeze, the gilded portholes in
her red hull and the gilded beak-head aflash in the morning sun.

Miss Bishop was not to recognize this for that same Cinco Llagas
which she had seen once before - on a tragic day in Barbados three
years ago.  To her it was just a great ship that was heading
resolutely, majestically, towards them, and an Englishman to judge
by the pennon she was flying.  The sight thrilled her curiously; it
awoke in her an uplifting sense of pride that took no account of
the danger to herself in the encounter that must now be inevitable.

Beside her on the poop, whither they had climbed to obtain a better
view, and equally arrested and at gaze, stood Lord Julian.  But he
shared none of her exultation.  He had been in his first sea-fight
yesterday, and he felt that the experience would suffice him for a
very considerable time.  This, I insist, is no reflection upon his
courage.

"Look," said Miss Bishop, pointing; and to his infinite amazement
he observed that her eyes were sparkling.  Did she realize, he
wondered, what was afoot?  Her next sentence resolved his doubt.
"She is English, and she comes resolutely on.  She means to fight."

"God help her, then," said his lordship gloomily.  "Her captain must
be mad.  What can he hope to do against two such heavy hulks as
these?  If they could so easily blow the Royal Mary out of the water,
what will they do to this vessel?  Look at that devil Don Miguel.
He's utterly disgusting in his glee."

From the quarter-deck, where he moved amid the frenzy of preparation,
the Admiral had turned to flash a backward glance at his prisoners.
His eyes were alight, his face transfigured.  He flung out an arm to
point to the advancing ship, and bawled something in Spanish that
was lost to them in the noise of the labouring crew.

They advanced to the poop-rail, and watched the bustle.  Telescope
in hand on the quarter-deck, Don Miguel was issuing his orders.
Already the gunners were kindling their matches; sailors were aloft,
taking in sail; others were spreading a stout rope net above the
waist, as a protection against falling spars.  And meanwhile Don
Miguel had been signalling to his consort, in response to which the
Hidalga had drawn steadily forward until she was now abeam of the
Milagrosa, half cable's length to starboard, and from the height of
the tall poop my lord and Miss Bishop could see her own bustle of
preparation.  And they could discern signs of it now aboard the
advancing English ship as well.  She was furling tops and mainsail,
stripping in fact to mizzen and sprit for the coming action.  Thus,
almost silently without challenge or exchange of signals, had action
been mutually determined.

Of necessity now, under diminished sail, the advance of the Arabella
was slower; but it was none the less steady.  She was already within
saker shot, and they could make out the figures stirring on her
forecastle and the brass guns gleaming on her prow.  The gunners of
the Milagrosa raised their linstocks and blew upon their smouldering
matches, looking up impatiently at the Admiral.

But the Admiral solemnly shook his head.

"Patience," he exhorted them.  "Save your fire until we have him.
He is coming straight to his doom - straight to the yardarm and the
rope that have been so long waiting for him."

"Stab me!" said his lordship.  "This Englishman may be gallant
enough to accept battle against such odds.  But there are times
when discretion is a better quality than gallantry in a commander."

"Gallantry will often win through, even against overwhelming
strength," said Miss Bishop.  He looked at her, and noted in her
bearing only excitement.  Of fear he could still discern no trace.
His lordship was past amazement.  She was not by any means the kind
of woman to which life had accustomed him.

"Presently," he said, "you will suffer me to place you under cover."

"I can see best from here," she answered him.  And added quietly:
"I am praying for this Englishman.  He must be very brave."

Under his breath Lord Julian damned the fellow's bravery.

The Arabella was advancing now along a course which, if continued,
must carry her straight between the two Spanish ships.  My lord
pointed it out.  "He's crazy surely!" he cried.  "He's driving
straight into a death-trap.  He'll be crushed to splinters between
the two.  No wonder that black-faced Don is holding his fire.  In
his place, I should do the same."

But even at that moment the Admiral raised his hand; in the waist,
below him, a trumpet blared, and immediately the gunner on the prow
touched off his guns.  As the thunder of them rolled out, his
lordship saw ahead beyond the English ship and to larboard of her
two heavy splashes.  Almost at once two successive spurts of flame
leapt from the brass cannon on the Arabella's beak-head, and
scarcely had the watchers on the poop seen the shower of spray,
where one of the shots struck the water near them, then with a
rending crash and a shiver that shook the Milagrosa from stem to
stern, the other came to lodge in her forecastle.  To avenge that
blow, the Hidalga blazed at the Englishman with both her forward
guns.  But even at that short range - between two and three hundred
yards - neither shot took effect.

At a hundred yards the Arabella's forward guns, which had meanwhile
been reloaded, fired again at the Milagrosa, and this time smashed
her bowsprit into splinters; so that for a moment she yawed wildly
to port.  Don Miguel swore profanely, and then, as the helm was put
over to swing her back to her course, his own prow replied.  But
the aim was too high, and whilst one of the shots tore through the
Arabella's shrouds and scarred her mainmast, the other again went
wide.  And when the smoke of that discharge had lifted, the English
ship was found almost between the Spaniards, her bows in line with
theirs and coming steadily on into what his lordship deemed a
death-trap.

Lord Julian held his breath, and Miss Bishop gasped, clutching the
rail before her.  She had a glimpse of the wickedly grinning face
of Don Miguel, and the grinning faces of the men at the guns in the
waist.

At last the Arabella was right between the Spanish ships prow to
poop and poop to prow.  Don Miguel spoke to the trumpeter, who had
mounted the quarter-deck and stood now at the Admiral's elbow.  The
man raised the silver bugle that was to give the signal for the
broadsides of both ships.  But even as he placed it to his lips,
the Admiral seized his arm, to arrest him.  Only then had he
perceived what was so obvious - or should have been to an experienced
sea-fighter:  he had delayed too long and Captain Blood had
outmanoeuvred him.  In attempting to fire now upon the Englishman,
the Milagrosa and her consort would also be firing into each other.
Too late he ordered his helmsman to put the tiller hard over and
swing the ship to larboard, as a preliminary to manoeuvring for a
less impossible position of attack.  At that very moment the Arabella
seemed to explode as she swept by.  Eighteen guns from each of her
flanks emptied themselves at that point-blank range into the hulls of
the two Spanish vessels.

Half stunned by that reverberating thunder, and thrown off her
balance by the sudden lurch of the ship under her feet, Miss Bishop
hurtled violently against Lord Julian, who kept his feet only by
clutching the rail on which he had been leaning.  Billowing clouds
of smoke to starboard blotted out everything, and its acrid odour,
taking them presently in the throat, set them gasping and coughing.

From the grim confusion and turmoil in the waist below arose a
clamour of fierce Spanish blasphemies and the screams of maimed men.
The Milagrosa staggered slowly ahead, a gaping rent in her bulwarks;
her foremast was shattered, fragments of the yards hanging in the
netting spread below.  Her beak-head was in splinters, and a shot
had smashed through into the great cabin, reducing it to wreckage.

Don Miguel was bawling orders wildly, and peering ever and anon
through the curtain of smoke that was drifting slowly astern, in
his anxiety to ascertain how it might have fared with the Hidalga.

Suddenly, and ghostly at first through that lifting haze, loomed
the outline of a ship; gradually the lines of her red hull became
more and more sharply defined as she swept nearer with poles all
bare save for the spread of canvas on her sprit.

Instead of holding to her course as Don Miguel had expected she
would, the Arabella had gone about under cover of the smoke, and
sailing now in the same direction as the Milagrosa, was converging
sharply upon her across the wind, so sharply that almost before
the frenzied Don Miguel had realized the situation, his vessel
staggered under the rending impact with which the other came
hurtling alongside.  There was a rattle and clank of metal as a
dozen grapnels fell, and tore and caught in the timbers of the
Milagrosa, and the Spaniard was firmly gripped in the tentacles
of the English ship.

Beyond her and now well astern the veil of smoke was rent at last
and the Hidalga was revealed in desperate case.  She was bilging
fast, with an ominous list to larboard, and it could be no more
than a question of moments before she settled down.  The attention
of her hands was being entirely given to a desperate endeavour to
launch the boats in time.

Of this Don Miguel's anguished eyes had no more than a fleeting but
comprehensive glimpse before his own decks were invaded by a wild,
yelling swarm of boarders from the grappling ship.  Never was
confidence so quickly changed into despair, never was hunter more
swiftly converted into helpless prey.  For helpless the Spaniards
were.  The swiftly executed boarding manoeuvre had caught them
almost unawares in the moment of confusion following the punishing
broadside they had sustained at such short range.  For a moment
there was a valiant effort by some of Don Miguel's officers to rally
the men for a stand against these invaders.  But the Spaniards,
never at their best in close-quarter fighting, were here demoralized
by knowledge of the enemies with whom they had to deal.  Their
hastily formed ranks were smashed before they could be steadied;
driven across the waist to the break of the poop on the one side,
and up to the forecastle bulkheads on the other, the fighting
resolved itself into a series of skirmishes between groups.  And
whilst this was doing above, another horde of buccaneers swarmed
through the hatch to the main deck below to overpower the gun-crews
at their stations there.

On the quarter deck, towards which an overwhelming wave of buccaneers
was sweeping, led by a one-eyed giant, who was naked to the waist,
stood Don Miguel, numbed by despair and rage.  Above and behind him
on the poop, Lord Julian and Miss Bishop looked on, his lordship
aghast at the fury of this cooped-up fighting, the lady's brave calm
conquered at last by horror so that she reeled there sick and faint.

Soon, however, the rage of that brief fight was spent.  They saw
the banner of Castile come fluttering down from the masthead.  A
buccaneer had slashed the halyard with his cutlass.  The boarders
were in possession, and on the upper deck groups of disarmed
Spaniards stood huddled now like herded sheep.

Suddenly Miss Bishop recovered from her nausea, to lean forward
staring wild-eyed, whilst if possible her cheeks turned yet a
deadlier hue than they had been already.

Picking his way daintily through that shambles in the waist came a
tall man with a deeply tanned face that was shaded by a Spanish
headpiece.  He was armed in back-and-breast of black steel
beautifully damascened with golden arabesques.  Over this, like a
stole, he wore a sling of scarlet silk, from each end of which
hung a silver-mounted pistol.  Up the broad companion to the
quarter-deck he came, toying with easy assurance, until he stood
before the Spanish Admiral.  Then he bowed stiff and formally.  A
crisp, metallic voice, speaking perfect Spanish, reached those
two spectators on the poop, and increased the admiring wonder in
which Lord Julian had observed the man's approach.

"We meet again at last, Don Miguel," it said.  "I hope you are
satisfied.  Although the meeting may not be exactly as you pictured
it, at least it has been very ardently sought and desired by you."

Speechless, livid of face, his mouth distorted and his breathing
laboured, Don Miguel de Espinosa received the irony of that man to
whom he attributed his ruin and more beside.  Then he uttered an
inarticulate cry of rage, and his hand swept to his sword.  But
even as his fingers closed upon the hilt, the other's closed upon
his wrist to arrest the action.

"Calm, Don Miguel!" he was quietly but firmly enjoined.  "Do not
recklessly invite the ugly extremes such as you would, yourself,
have practised had the situation been reversed."

A moment they stood looking into each other's eyes.

"What do you intend by me?" the Spaniard enquired at last, his voice
hoarse.

Captain Blood shrugged.  The firm lips smiled a little.  "All that
I intend has been already accomplished.  And lest it increase your
rancour, I beg you to observe that you have brought it entirely
upon yourself.  You would have it so."  He turned and pointed to the
boats, which his men were heaving from the boom amidships.  "Your
boats are being launched.  You are at liberty to embark in them
with your men before we scuttle this ship.  Yonder are the shores
of Hispaniola.  You should make them safely.  And if you'll take my
advice, sir, you'll not hunt me again.  I think I am unlucky to you.
Get you home to Spain, Don Miguel, and to concerns that you
understand better than this trade of the sea."

For a long moment the defeated Admiral continued to stare his hatred
in silence, then, still without speaking, he went down the companion,
staggering like a drunken man, his useless rapier clattering behind
him.  His conqueror, who had not even troubled to disarm him, watched
him go, then turned and faced those two immediately above him on the
poop.  Lord Julian might have observed, had he been less taken up
with other things, that the fellow seemed suddenly to stiffen, and
that he turned pale under his deep tan.  A moment he stood at gaze;
then suddenly and swiftly he came up the steps.  Lord Julian stood
forward to meet him.

"Ye don't mean, sir, that you'll let that Spanish scoundrel go
free?" he cried.

The gentleman in the black corselet appeared to become aware of his
lordship for the first time.

"And who the devil may you be?" he asked, with a marked Irish accent.
"And what business may it be of yours, at all?"

His lordship conceived that the fellow's truculence and utter lack
of proper deference must be corrected.  "I am Lord Julian Wade,"
he announced, with that object.

Apparently the announcement made no impression.

"Are you, indeed!  Then perhaps ye'll explain what the plague you're
doing aboard this ship?"

Lord Julian controlled himself to afford the desired explanation.
He did so shortly and impatiently.

"He took you prisoner, did he - along with Miss Bishop there?"

"You are acquainted with Miss Bishop?" cried his lordship, passing
from surprise to surprise.

But this mannerless fellow had stepped past him, and was making a
leg to the lady, who on her side remained unresponsive and
forbidding to the point of scorn.  Observing this, he turned to
answer Lord Julian's question.

"I had that honour once," said he.  "But it seems that Miss Bishop
has a shorter memory."

His lips were twisted into a wry smile, and there was pain in the
blue eyes that gleamed so vividly under his black brows, pain
blending with the mockery of his voice.  But of all this it was the
mockery alone that was perceived by Miss Bishop; she resented it.

"I do not number thieves and pirates among my acquaintance, Captain
Blood," said she; whereupon his lordship exploded in excitement.

"Captain Blood!" he cried.  "Are you Captain Blood?"

"What else were ye supposing?"

Blood asked the question wearily, his mind on other things.  "I do
not number thieves and pirates among my acquaintance."  The cruel
phrase filled his brain, reechoing and reverberating there.

But Lord Julian would not be denied.  He caught him by the sleeve
with one hand, whilst with the other he pointed after the retreating,
dejected figure of Don Miguel.

"Do I understand that ye're not going to hang that Spanish scoundrel?"

"What for should I be hanging him?"

"Because he's just a damned pirate, as I can prove, as I have proved
already."

"Ah!" said Blood, and Lord Julian marvelled at the sudden haggardness
of a countenance that had been so devil-may-care but a few moments
since.  "I am a damned pirate, myself; and so I am merciful with my
kind.  Don Miguel goes free."

Lord Julian gasped.  "After what I've told you that he has done?
After his sinking of the Royal Mary?  After his treatment of me -
of us?" Lord Julian protested indignantly.

"I am not in the service of England, or of any nation, sir.  And I
am not concerned with any wrongs her flag may suffer."

His lordship recoiled before the furious glance that blazed at him
out of Blood's haggard face.  But the passion faded as swiftly as
it had arisen.  It was in a level voice that the Captain added:

"If you'll escort Miss Bishop aboard my ship, I shall be obliged to
you.  I beg that you'll make haste.  We are about to scuttle this
hulk."

He turned slowly to depart.  But again Lord Julian interposed.
Containing his indignant amazement, his lordship delivered himself
coldly.  "Captain Blood, you disappoint me.  I had hopes of great
things for you."

"Go to the devil," said Captain Blood, turning on his heel, and
so departed.



CHAPTER XX

THIEF AND PIRATE


Captain Blood paced the poop of his ship alone in the tepid dusk,
and the growing golden radiance of the great poop lantern in which
a seaman had just lighted the three lamps.  About him all was peace.
The signs of the day's battle had been effaced, the decks had been
swabbed, and order was restored above and below.  A group of men
squatting about the main hatch were drowsily chanting, their
hardened natures softened, perhaps, by the calm and beauty of the
night.  They were the men of the larboard watch, waiting for eight
bells which was imminent.

Captain Blood did not hear them; he did not hear anything save the
echo of those cruel words which had dubbed him thief and pirate.

Thief and pirate!

It is an odd fact of human nature that a man may for years possess
the knowledge that a certain thing must be of a certain fashion,
and yet be shocked to discover through his own senses that the fact
is in perfect harmony with his beliefs.  When first, three years
ago, at Tortuga he had been urged upon the adventurer's course which
he had followed ever since, he had known in what opinion Arabella
Bishop must hold him if he succumbed.  Only the conviction that
already she was for ever lost to him, by introducing a certain
desperate recklessness into his soul had supplied the final impulse
to drive him upon his rover's course.

That he should ever meet her again had not entered his calculations,
had found no place in his dreams.  They were, he conceived,
irrevocably and for ever parted.  Yet, in spite of this, in spite
even of the persuasion that to her this reflection that was his
torment could bring no regrets, he had kept the thought of her ever
before him in all those wild years of filibustering.  He had used
it as a curb not only upon himself, but also upon those who followed
him.  Never had buccaneers been so rigidly held in hand, never had
they been so firmly restrained, never so debarred from the excesses
of rapine and lust that were usual in their kind as those who sailed
with Captain Blood.  It was, you will remember, stipulated in their
articles that in these as in other matters they must submit to the
commands of their leader.  And because of the singular good fortune
which had attended his leadership, he had been able to impose that
stern condition of a discipline unknown before among buccaneers.
How would not these men laugh at him now if he were to tell them
that this he had done out of respect for a slip of a girl of whom
he had fallen romantically enamoured?  How would not that laughter
swell if he added that this girl had that day informed him that she
did not number thieves and pirates among her acquaintance.

Thief and pirate!

How the words clung, how they stung and burnt his brain!

It did not occur to him, being no psychologist, nor learned in the
tortuous workings of the feminine mind, that the fact that she should
bestow upon him those epithets in the very moment and circumstance
of their meeting was in itself curious.  He did not perceive the
problem thus presented; therefore he could not probe it.  Else he
might have concluded that if in a moment in which by delivering her
from captivity he deserved her gratitude, yet she expressed herself
in bitterness, it must be because that bitterness was anterior to
the gratitude and deep-seated.  She had been moved to it by hearing
of the course he had taken.  Why?  It was what he did not ask
himself, or some ray of light might have come to brighten his dark,
his utterly evil despondency.  Surely she would never have been so
moved had she not cared - had she not felt that in what he did there
was a personal wrong to herself.  Surely, he might have reasoned,
nothing short of this could have moved her to such a degree of
bitterness and scorn as that which she had displayed.

That is how you will reason.  Not so, however, reasoned Captain
Blood.  Indeed, that night he reasoned not at all.  His soul was
given up to conflict between the almost sacred love he had borne her
in all these years and the evil passion which she had now awakened
in him.  Extremes touch, and in touching may for a space become
confused, indistinguishable.  And the extremes of love and hate were
to-night so confused in the soul of Captain Blood that in their
fusion they made up a monstrous passion.

Thief and pirate!

That was what she deemed him, without qualification, oblivious of
the deep wrongs he had suffered, the desperate case in which he
found himself after his escape from Barbados, and all the rest that
had gone to make him what he was.  That he should have conducted
his filibustering with hands as clean as were possible to a man
engaged in such undertakings had also not occurred to her as a
charitable thought with which to mitigate her judgment of a man
she had once esteemed.  She had no charity for him, no mercy.  She
had summed him up, convicted him and sentenced him in that one
phrase.  He was thief and pirate in her eyes; nothing more, nothing
less.  What, then, was she?  What are those who have no charity? he
asked the stars.

Well, as she had shaped him hitherto, so let her shape him now.
Thief and pirate she had branded him.  She should be justified.
Thief and pirate should he prove henceforth; no more nor less; as
bowelless, as remorseless, as all those others who had deserved
those names.  He would cast out the maudlin ideals by which he had
sought to steer a course; put an end to this idiotic struggle to
make the best of two worlds.  She had shown him clearly to which
world he belonged.  Let him now justify her.  She was aboard his
ship, in his power, and he desired her.

He laughed softly, jeeringly, as he leaned on the taffrail, looking
down at the phosphorescent gleam in the ship's wake, and his own
laughter startled him by its evil note.  He checked suddenly, and
shivered.  A sob broke from him to end that ribald burst of mirth.
He took his face in his hands and found a chill moisture on his brow.

Meanwhile, Lord Julian, who knew the feminine part of humanity rather
better than Captain Blood, was engaged in solving the curious problem
that had so completely escaped the buccaneer.  He was spurred to it,
I suspect, by certain vague stirrings of jealousy.  Miss Bishop's
conduct in the perils through which they had come had brought him at
last to perceive that a woman may lack the simpering graces of
cultured femininity and yet because of that lack be the more
admirable.  He wondered what precisely might have been her earlier
relations with Captain Blood, and was conscious of a certain
uneasiness which urged him now to probe the matter.

His lordship's pale, dreamy eyes had, as I have said, a habit of
observing things, and his wits were tolerably acute.

He was blaming himself now for not having observed certain things
before, or, at least, for not having studied them more closely, and
he was busily connecting them with more recent observations made
that very day.

He had observed, for instance, that Blood's ship was named the
Arabella, and he knew that Arabella was Miss Bishop's name.  And he
had observed all the odd particulars of the meeting of Captain Blood
and Miss Bishop, and the curious change that meeting had wrought in
each.

The lady had been monstrously uncivil to the Captain.  It was a very
foolish attitude for a lady in her circumstances to adopt towards a
man in Blood's; and his lordship could not imagine Miss Bishop as
normally foolish.  Yet, in spite of her rudeness, in spite of the fact
that she was the niece of a man whom Blood must regard as his enemy,
Miss Bishop and his lordship had been shown the utmost consideration
aboard the Captain's ship.  A cabin had been placed at the disposal of
each, to which their scanty remaining belongings and Miss Bishop's
woman had been duly transferred.  They were given the freedom of the
great cabin, and they had sat down to table with Pitt, the master,
and Wolverstone, who was Blood's lieutenant, both of whom had shown
them the utmost courtesy.  Also there was the fact that Blood,
himself, had kept almost studiously from intruding upon them.

His lordship's mind went swiftly but carefully down these avenues
of thought, observing and connecting.  Having exhausted them, he
decided to seek additional information from Miss Bishop.  For this
he must wait until Pitt and Wolverstone should have withdrawn.  He
was hardly made to wait so long, for as Pitt rose from table to
follow Wolverstone, who had already departed, Miss Bishop detained
him with a question:

"Mr. Pitt," she asked, "were you not one of those who escaped from
Barbados with Captain Blood?"

"I was.  I, too, was one of your uncle's slaves."

"And you have been with Captain Blood ever since?"

"His shipmaster always, ma'am."

She nodded.  She was very calm and self-contained; but his lordship
observed that she was unusually pale, though considering what she
had that day undergone this afforded no matter for wonder.

"Did you ever sail with a Frenchman named Cahusac?"

"Cahusac?" Pitt laughed.  The name evoked a ridiculous memory.
"Aye.  He was with us at Maracaybo."

"And another Frenchman named Levasseur?"

His lordship marvelled at her memory of these names.

"Aye.  Cahusac was Levasseur's lieutenant, until he died."

"Until who died?"

"Levasseur.  He was killed on one of the Virgin Islands two years
ago."

There was a pause.  Then, in an even quieter voice than before,
Miss Bishop asked:

"Who killed him?"

Pitt answered readily.  There was no reason why he should not, though
he began to find the catechism intriguing.

"Captain Blood killed him."

"Why?"

Pitt hesitated.  It was not a tale for a maid's ears.

"They quarrelled," he said shortly.

"Was it about a... a lady?" Miss Bishop relentlessly pursued him.

"You might put it that way."

"What was the lady's name?"

Pitt's eyebrows went up; still he answered.

"Miss d'Ogeron.  She was the daughter of the Governor of Tortuga.
She had gone off with this fellow Levasseur, and... and Peter
delivered her out of his dirty clutches.  He was a black-hearted
scoundrel, and deserved what Peter gave him."

"I see.  And... and yet Captain Blood has not married her?"

"Not yet," laughed Pitt, who knew the utter groundlessness of the
common gossip in Tortuga which pronounced Mdlle. d'Ogeron the
Captain's future wife.

Miss Bishop nodded in silence, and Jeremy Pitt turned to depart,
relieved that the catechism was ended.  He paused in the doorway to
impart a piece of information.

"Maybe it'll comfort you to know that the Captain has altered our
course for your benefit.  It's his intention to put you both ashore
on the coast of Jamaica, as near Port Royal as we dare venture.
We've gone about, and if this wind holds ye'll soon be home again,
mistress."

"Vastly obliging of him," drawled his lordship, seeing that Miss
Bishop made no shift to answer.  Sombre-eyed she sat, staring into
vacancy.

"Indeed, ye may say so," Pitt agreed.  "He's taking risks that few
would take in his place.  But that's always been his way."

He went out, leaving his lordship pensive, those dreamy blue eyes
of his intently studying Miss Bishop's face for all their
dreaminess; his mind  increasingly uneasy.  At length Miss Bishop
looked at him, and spoke.

"Your Cahusac told you no more than the truth, it seems."

"I perceived that you were testing it," said his lordship.  "I am
wondering precisely why."

Receiving no answer, he continued to observe her silently, his long,
tapering fingers toying with a ringlet of the golden periwig in
which his long face was set.

Miss Bishop sat bemused, her brows knit, her brooding glance seeming
to study the fine Spanish point that edged the tablecloth.  At last
his lordship broke the silence.

"He amazes me, this man," said he, in his slow, languid voice that
never seemed to change its level.  "That he should alter his course
for us is in itself matter for wonder; but that he should take a risk
on our behalf - that he should venture into Jamaica waters....  It
amazes me, as I have said."

Miss Bishop raised her eyes, and looked at him.  She appeared to be
very thoughtful.  Then her lip flickered curiously, almost
scornfully, it seemed to him.  Her slender fingers drummed the table.

"What is still more amazing is that he does not hold us to ransom,"
said she at last.

"It's what you deserve."

"Oh, and why, if you please?"

"For speaking to him as you did."

"I usually call things by their names."

"Do you?  Stab me!  I shouldn't boast of it.  It argues either
extreme youth or extreme foolishness."  His lordship, you see,
belonged to my Lord Sunderland's school of philosophy.  He added
after a moment:  "So does the display of ingratitude."

A faint colour stirred in her cheeks.  "Your lordship is evidently
aggrieved with me.  I am disconsolate.  I hope your lordship's
grievance is sounder than your views of life.  It is news to me that
ingratitude is a fault only to be found in the young and the foolish."

"I didn't say so, ma'am."  There was a tartness in his tone evoked
by the tartness she had used.  "If you would do me the honour to
listen, you would not misapprehend me.  For if unlike you I do not
always say precisely what I think, at least I say precisely what I
wish to convey.  To be ungrateful may be human; but to display it
is childish."

"I... I don't think I understand."  Her brows were knit.  "How have
I been ungrateful and to whom?"

"To whom?  To Captain Blood.  Didn't he come to our rescue?"

"Did he?" Her manner was frigid.  "I wasn't aware that he knew of
our presence aboard the Milagrosa."

His lordship permitted himself the slightest gesture of impatience.

"You are probably aware that he delivered us," said he.  "And living
as you have done in these savage places of the world, you can hardly
fail to be aware of what is known even in England: that this fellow
Blood strictly confines himself to making war upon the Spaniards.
So that to call him thief and pirate as you did was to overstate the
case against him at a time when it would have been more prudent to
have understated it."

"Prudence?" Her voice was scornful.  "What have I to do with
prudence?"

"Nothing - as I perceive.  But, at least, study generosity.  I tell
you frankly, ma'am, that in Blood's place I should never have been
so nice.  Sink me!  When you consider what he has suffered at the
hands of his fellow-countrymen, you may marvel with me that he should
trouble to discriminate between Spanish and English.  To be sold into
slavery!  Ugh!" His lordship shuddered.  "And to a damned colonial
planter!"  He checked abruptly.  "I beg your pardon, Miss Bishop.
For the moment...."

"You were carried away by your heat in defence of this...
sea-robber."  Miss Bishop's scorn was almost fierce.

His lordship stared at her again.  Then he half-closed his large,
pale eyes, and tilted his head a little.  "I wonder why you hate him
so," he said softly.

He saw the sudden scarlet flame upon her cheeks, the heavy frown
that descended upon her brow.  He had made her very angry, he judged.
But there was no explosion.  She recovered.

"Hate him?  Lord!  What a thought!  I don't regard the fellow at all."

"Then ye should, ma'am."  His lordship spoke his thought frankly.
"He's worth regarding.  He'd be an acquisition to the King's navy - a
man that can do the things he did this morning.  His service under de
Ruyter wasn't wasted on him.  That was a great seaman, and - blister
me! - the pupil's worthy the master if I am a judge of anything.  I
doubt if the Royal Navy can show his equal.  To thrust himself
deliberately between those two, at point-blank range, and so turn the
tables on them!  It asks courage, resource, and invention.  And we
land-lubbers were not the only ones he tricked by his manoeuvre.  That
Spanish Admiral never guessed the intent until it was too late and
Blood held him in check.  A great man, Miss Bishop.  A man worth
regarding."

Miss Bishop was moved to sarcasm.

"You should use your influence with my Lord Sunderland to have the
King offer him a commission."

His lordship laughed softly.  "Faith, it's done already.  I have his
commission in my pocket."  And he increased her amazement by a brief
exposition of the circumstances.  In that amazement he left her, and
went in quest of Blood.  But he was still intrigued.  If she were a
little less uncompromising in her attitude towards Blood, his lordship
would have been happier.

He found the Captain pacing the quarter-deck, a man mentally
exhausted from wrestling with the Devil, although of this particular
occupation his lordship could have no possible suspicion.  With the
amiable familiarity he used, Lord Julian slipped an arm through one
of the Captain's, and fell into step beside him.

"What's this?" snapped Blood, whose mood was fierce and raw.  His
lordship was not disturbed.

"I desire, sir, that we be friends," said he suavely.

"That's mighty condescending of you!"

Lord Julian ignored the obvious sarcasm.

"It's an odd coincidence that we should have been brought together
in this fashion, considering that I came out to the Indies especially
to seek you."

"Ye're not by any means the first to do that," the other scoffed.
"But they've mainly been Spaniards, and they hadn't your luck."

"You misapprehend me completely," said Lord Julian.  And on that he
proceeded to explain himself and his mission.

When he had done, Captain Blood, who until that moment had stood
still under the spell of his astonishment, disengaged his arm from
his lordship's, and stood squarely before him.

"Ye're my guest aboard this ship," said he, "and I still have some
notion of decent behaviour left me from other days, thief and pirate
though I may be.  So I'll not be telling you what I think of you for
daring to bring me this offer, or of my Lord Sunderland - since he's
your kinsman for having the impudence to send it.  But it does not
surprise me at all that one who is a minister of James Stuart's
should conceive that every man is to be seduced by bribes into
betraying those who trust him."  He flung out an arm in the direction
of the waist, whence came the half-melancholy chant of the lounging
buccaneers.

"Again you misapprehend me," cried Lord Julian, between concern and
indignation.  "That is not intended.  Your followers will be included
in your commission."

"And d' ye think they'll go with me to hunt their brethren - the
Brethren of the Coast?  On my soul, Lord Julian, it is yourself does
the misapprehending.  Are there not even notions of honour left in
England?  Oh, and there's more to it than that, even.  D'ye think
I could take a commission of King James's?  I tell you I wouldn't
be soiling my hands with it - thief and pirate's hands though they
be.  Thief and pirate is what you heard Miss Bishop call me to-day
 - a thing of scorn, an outcast.  And who made me that?  Who made me
thief and pirate?"

"If you were a rebel...?" his lordship was beginning.

"Ye must know that I was no such thing - no rebel at all.  It wasn't
even pretended.  If it were, I could forgive them.  But not even
that cloak could they cast upon their foulness.  Oh, no; there was
no mistake.  I was convicted for what I did, neither more nor less.
That bloody vampire Jeffreys - bad cess to him! - sentenced me to
death, and his worthy master James Stuart afterwards sent me into
slavery, because I had performed an act of mercy; because
compassionately and without thought for creed or politics I had
sought to relieve the sufferings of a fellow-creature; because I
had dressed the wounds of a man who was convicted of treason.  That
was all my offence.  You'll find it in the records.  And for that I
was sold into slavery: because by the law of England, as administered
by James Stuart in violation of the laws of God, who harbours or
comforts a rebel is himself adjudged guilty of rebellion.  D'ye
dream man, what it is to be a slave?"

He checked suddenly at the very height of his passion.  A moment
he paused, then cast it from him as if it had been a cloak.  His
voice sank again.  He uttered a little laugh of weariness and
contempt.

"But there!  I grow hot for nothing at all.  I explain myself, I
think, and God knows, it is not my custom.  I am grateful to you,
Lord Julian, for your kindly intentions.  I am so.  But ye'll
understand, perhaps.  Ye look as if ye might."

Lord Julian stood still.  He was deeply stricken by the other's
words, the passionate, eloquent outburst that in a few sharp,
clear-cut strokes had so convincingly presented the man's bitter
case against humanity, his complete apologia and justification for
all that could be laid to his charge.  His lordship looked at that
keen, intrepid face gleaming lividly in the light of the great
poop lantern, and his own eyes were troubled.  He was abashed.

He fetched a heavy sigh.  "A pity," he said slowly.  "Oh, blister
me - a cursed pity!"  He held out his hand, moved to it on a sudden
generous impulse.  "But no offence between us, Captain Blood!"

"Oh, no offence.  But... I'm a thief and a pirate."  He laughed
without mirth, and, disregarding the proffered hand, swung on his
heel.

Lord Julian stood a moment, watching the tall figure as it moved
away towards the taffrail.  Then letting his arms fall helplessly
to his sides in dejection, he departed.

Just within the doorway of the alley leading to the cabin, he ran
into Miss Bishop.  Yet she had not been coming out, for her back
was towards him, and she was moving in the same direction.  He
followed her, his mind too full of Captain Blood to be concerned
just then with her movements.

In the cabin he flung into a chair, and exploded, with a violence
altogether foreign to his nature.

"Damme if ever I met a man I liked better, or even a man I liked
as well.  Yet there's nothing to be done with him."

"So I heard," she admitted in a small voice.  She was very white,
and she kept her eyes upon her folded hands.

He looked up in surprise, and then sat conning her with brooding
glance.  "I wonder, now," he said presently, "if the mischief is
of your working.  Your words have rankled with him.  He threw them
at me again and again.  He wouldn't take the King's commission;
he wouldn't take my hand even.  What's to be done with a fellow like
that?  He'll end on a yardarm for all his luck.  And the quixotic
fool is running into danger at the present moment on our behalf."

"How?" she asked him with a sudden startled interest.

"How?  Have you forgotten that he's sailing to Jamaica, and that
Jamaica is the headquarters of the English fleet?  True, your uncle
commands it...."

She leaned across the table to interrupt him, and he observed that
her breathing had grown labored, that her eyes were dilating in
alarm.

"But there is no hope for him in that!" she cried.  "Oh, don't
imagine it!  He has no bitterer enemy in the world!  My uncle is a
hard, unforgiving man.  I believe that it was nothing but the hope
of taking and hanging Captain Blood that made my uncle leave his
Barbados plantations to accept the deputy-governorship of Jamaica.
Captain Blood doesn't know that, of course...."  She paused with a
little gesture of helplessness.

"I can't think that it would make the least difference if he did,"
said his lordship gravely.  "A man who can forgive such an enemy as
Don Miguel and take up this uncompromising attitude with me isn't
to be judged by ordinary rules.  He's chivalrous to the point of
idiocy."

"And yet he has been what he has been and done what he has done in
these last three years," said she, but she said it sorrowfully now,
without any of her earlier scorn.

Lord Julian was sententious, as I gather that he often was.  "Life
can be infernally complex," he sighed.



CHAPTER XXI

THE SERVICE OF KING JAMES


Miss Arabella Bishop was aroused very early on the following morning
by the brazen voice of a bugle and the insistent clanging of a bell
in the ship's belfry.  As she lay awake, idly watching the rippled
green water that appeared to be streaming past the heavily glazed
porthole, she became gradually aware of the sounds of swift, laboured
bustle - the clatter of many feet, the shouts of hoarse voices, and
the persistent trundlings of heavy bodies in the ward-room
immediately below the deck of the cabin.  Conceiving these sounds to
portend a more than normal activity, she sat up, pervaded by a vague
alarm, and roused her still slumbering woman.

In his cabin on the starboard side Lord Julian, disturbed by the
same sounds, was already astir and hurriedly dressing.  When
presently he emerged under the break of the poop, he found himself
staring up into a mountain of canvas.  Every foot of sail that she
could carry had been crowded to the Arabella's yards, to catch the
morning breeze.  Ahead and on either side stretched the limitless
expanse of ocean, sparkling golden in the sun, as yet no more than
a half-disc of flame upon the horizon straight ahead.

About him in the waist, where all last night had been so peaceful,
there was a frenziedly active bustle of some threescore men.  By
the rail, immediately above and behind Lord Julian, stood Captain
Blood in altercation with a one-eyed giant, whose head was swathed
in a red cotton kerchief, whose blue shirt hung open at the waist.
As his lordship, moving forward, revealed himself, their voices
ceased, and Blood turned to greet him.

"Good-morning to you," he said, and added "I've blundered badly,
so I have.  I should have known better than to come so close to
Jamaica by night.  But I was in haste to land you.  Come up here.
I have something to show you."

Wondering, Lord Julian mounted the companion as he was bidden.
Standing beside Captain Blood, he looked astern, following the
indication of the Captain's hand, and cried out in his amazement.
There, not more than three miles away, was land - an uneven wall of
vivid green that filled the western horizon.  And a couple of miles
this side of it, bearing after them, came speeding three great white
ships.

"They fly no colours, but they're part of the Jamaica fleet."  Blood
spoke without excitement, almost with a certain listlessness.  "When
dawn broke we found ourselves running to meet them.  We went about,
and it's been a race ever since.  But the Arabella 's been at sea
these four months, and her bottom's too foul for the speed we're
needing."

Wolverstone hooked his thumbs into his broad leather belt, and from
his great height looked down sardonically upon Lord Julian, tall
man though his lordship was.  "So that you're like to be in yet
another sea-fight afore ye've done wi' ships, my lord."

"That's a point we were just arguing," said Blood.  "For I hold that
we're in no case to fight against such odds."

"The odds be damned!" Wolverstone thrust out his heavy jowl.  "We're
used to odds.  The odds was heavier at Maracaybo; yet we won out,
and took three ships.  They was heavier yesterday when we engaged
Don Miguel."

"Aye - but those were Spaniards."

"And what better are these?  - Are ye afeard of a lubberly Barbados
planter?  Whatever ails you, Peter?  I've never known ye scared
afore."

A gun boomed out behind them.

"That'll be the signal to lie to," said Blood, in the same listless
voice; and he fetched a sigh.

Wolverstone squared himself defiantly before his captain

"I'll see Colonel Bishop in hell or ever I lies to for him."  And
he spat, presumably for purposes of emphasis.

His lordship intervened.

"Oh, but - by your leave - surely there is nothing to be apprehended
from Colonel Bishop.  Considering the service you have rendered to
his niece and to me...."

Wolverstone's horse-laugh interrupted him.  "Hark to the gentleman!"
he mocked.  "Ye don't know Colonel Bishop, that's clear.  Not for
his niece, not for his daughter, not for his own mother, would he
forgo the blood what he thinks due to him.  A drinker of blood, he
is.  A nasty beast.  We knows, the Cap'n and me.  We been his
slaves."

"But there is myself," said Lord Julian, with great dignity.

Wolverstone laughed again, whereat his lordship flushed.  He was
moved to raise his voice above its usual languid level.

"I assure you that my word counts for something in England."

"Oh, aye - in England.  But this ain't England, damme."

Came the roar of a second gun, and a round shot splashed the water
less than half a cable's-length astern.  Blood leaned over the rail
to speak to the fair young man immediately below him by the helmsman
at the whipstaff.

"Bid them take in sail, Jeremy," he said quietly.  "We lie to."

But Wolverstone interposed again.

"Hold there a moment, Jeremy!" he roared.  "Wait!"  He swung back
to face the Captain, who had placed a hand on is shoulder and was
smiling, a trifle wistfully.

"Steady, Old Wolf!  Steady!" Captain Blood admonished him.

"Steady, yourself, Peter.  Ye've gone mad!  Will ye doom us all to
hell out of tenderness for that cold slip of a girl?"

"Stop!" cried Blood in sudden fury.

But Wolverstone would not stop.  "It's the truth, you fool.  It's
that cursed petticoat's making a coward of you.  It's for her that
ye're afeard - and she, Colonel Bishop's niece!  My God, man, ye'll
have a mutiny aboard, and I'll lead it myself sooner than surrender
to be hanged in Port Royal."

Their glances met, sullen defiance braving dull anger, surprise, and
pain.

"There is no question," said Blood, "of surrender for any man aboard
save only myself.  If Bishop can report to England that I am taken
and hanged, he will magnify himself and at the same time gratify his
personal rancour against me.  That should satisfy him.  I'll send
him a message offering to surrender aboard his ship, taking Miss
Bishop and Lord Julian with me, but only on condition that the
Arabella is allowed to proceed unharmed.  It's a bargain that he'll
accept, if I know him at all."

"It's a bargain he'll never be offered," retorted Wolverstone, and
his earlier vehemence was as nothing to his vehemence now.  "Ye're
surely daft even to think of it, Peter!"

"Not so daft as you when you talk of fighting that."  He flung out
an arm as he spoke to indicate the pursuing ships, which were slowly
but surely creeping nearer.  "Before we've run another half-mile we
shall be within range."

Wolverstone swore elaborately, then suddenly checked.  Out of the
tail of his single eye he had espied a trim figure in grey silk
that was ascending the companion.  So engrossed had they been that
they had not seen Miss Bishop come from the door of the passage
leading to the cabin.  And there was something else that those
three men on the poop, and Pitt immediately below them, had failed
to observe.  Some moments ago Ogle, followed by the main body of
his gun-deck crew, had emerged from the booby hatch, to fall into
muttered, angrily vehement talk with those who, abandoning the
gun-tackles upon which they were labouring, had come to crowd about
him.

Even now Blood had no eyes for that.  He turned to look at Miss
Bishop, marvelling a little, after the manner in which yesterday
she had avoided him, that she should now venture upon the
quarter-deck.  Her presence at this moment, and considering the
nature of his altercation with Wolverstone, was embarrassing.

Very sweet and dainty she stood before him in her gown of shimmering
grey, a faint excitement tinting her fair cheeks and sparkling in
her clear, hazel eyes, that looked so frank and honest.  She wore
no hat, and the ringlets of her gold-brown hair fluttered
distractingly in the morning breeze.

Captain Blood bared his head and bowed silently in a greeting which
she returned composedly and formally.

"What is happening, Lord Julian?" she enquired.

As if to answer her a third gun spoke from the ships towards which
she was looking intent and wonderingly.  A frown rumpled her brow.
She looked from one to the other of the men who stood there so glum
and obviously ill at ease.

"They are ships of the Jamaica fleet," his lordship answered her.

It should in any case have been a sufficient explanation.  But
before more could be added, their attention was drawn at last to
Ogle, who came bounding up the broad ladder, and to the men lounging
aft in his wake, in all of which, instinctively, they apprehended a
vague menace.

At the head of the companion, Ogle found his progress barred by
Blood, who confronted him, a sudden sternness in his face and in
every line of him.

"What's this?" the Captain demanded sharply.  "Your station is on
the gun-deck.  Why have you left it?"

Thus challenged, the obvious truculence faded out of Ogle's bearing,
quenched by the old habit of obedience and the natural dominance
that was the secret of the Captain's rule over his wild followers.
But it gave no pause to the gunner's intention.  If anything it
increased his excitement.

"Captain," he said, and as he spoke he pointed to the pursuing ships,
"Colonel Bishop holds us.  We're in no case either to run or fight."

Blood's height seemed to increase, as did his sternness.

"Ogle," said he, in a voice cold and sharp as steel, "your station
is on the gun-deck.  You'll return to it at once, and take your crew
with you, or else...."

But Ogle, violent of mien and gesture, interrupted him.

"Threats will not serve, Captain."

"Will they not?"

It was the first time in his buccaneering career that an order of
his had been disregarded, or that a man had failed in the obedience
to which he pledged all those who joined him.  That this
insubordination should proceed from one of those whom he most
trusted, one of his old Barbados associates, was in itself a
bitterness, and made him reluctant to that which instinct told him
must be done.  His hand closed over the butt of one of the pistols
slung before him.

"Nor will that serve you," Ogle warned him, still more fiercely.
"The men are of my thinking, and they'll have their way."

"And what way may that be?"

"The way to make us safe.  We'll neither sink nor hang whiles we
can help it."

From the three or four score men massed below in the waist came a
rumble of approval.  Captain Blood's glance raked the ranks of
those resolute, fierce-eyed fellows, then it came to rest again on
Ogle.  There was here quite plainly a vague threat, a mutinous
spirit he could not understand.  "You come to give advice, then,
do you?" quoth he, relenting nothing of his sternness.

"That's it, Captain; advice.  That girl, there."  He flung out a
bare arm to point to her.  "Bishop's girl; the Governor of Jamaica's
niece....  We want her as a hostage for our safety."

"Aye!" roared in chorus the buccaneers below, and one or two of
them elaborated that affirmation.

In a flash Captain Blood saw what was in their minds.  And for all
that he lost nothing of his outward stern composure, fear invaded
his heart.

"And how," he asked, "do you imagine that Miss Bishop will prove
such a hostage?"

"It's a providence having her aboard; a providence.  Heave to,
Captain, and signal them to send a boat, and assure themselves
that Miss is here.  Then let them know that if they attempt to
hinder our sailing hence, we'll hang the doxy first and fight for
it after.  That'll cool Colonel Bishop's heat, maybe."

"And maybe it won't."  Slow and mocking came Wolverstone's voice to
answer the other's confident excitement, and as he spoke he advanced
to Blood's side, an unexpected ally.  "Some o' them dawcocks may
believe that tale."  He jerked a contemptuous thumb towards the men
in the waist, whose ranks were steadily being increased by the advent
of others from the forecastle.  "Although even some o' they should
know better, for there's still a few was on Barbados with us, and
are acquainted like me and you with Colonel Bishop.  If ye're
counting on pulling Bishop's heartstrings, ye're a bigger fool,
Ogle, than I've always thought you was with anything but guns.
There's no heaving to for such a matter as that unless you wants
to make quite sure of our being sunk.  Though we had a cargo of
Bishop's nieces it wouldn't make him hold his hand.  Why, as I was
just telling his lordship here, who thought like you that having
Miss Bishop aboard would make us safe, not for his mother would
that filthy slaver forgo what's due to him.  And if ye' weren't a
fool, Ogle, you wouldn't need me to tell you this.  We've got to
fight, my lads...."

"How can we fight, man?" Ogle stormed at him, furiously battling
the conviction which Wolverstone's argument was imposing upon his
listeners.  "You may be right, and you may be wrong.  We've got to
chance it.  It's our only chance...."

The rest of his words were drowned in the shouts of the hands
insisting that the girl be given up to be held as a hostage.  And
then louder than before roared a gun away to leeward, and away on
their starboard beam they saw the spray flung up by the shot, which
had gone wide.

"They are within range," cried Ogle.  And leaning from the rail,
"Put down the helm," he commanded.

Pitt, at his post beside the helmsman, turned intrepidly to face
the excited gunner.

"Since when have you commanded on the main deck, Ogle?  I take my
orders from the Captain."

"You'll take this order from me, or, by God, you'll...."

"Wait!"  Blood bade him, interrupting, and he set a restraining hand
upon the gunner's arm.  "There is, I think, a better way."

He looked over his shoulder, aft, at the advancing ships, the
foremost of which was now a bare quarter of a mile away.  His glance
swept in passing over Miss Bishop and Lord Julian standing side by
side some paces behind him.  He observed her pale and tense, with
parted lips and startled eyes that were fixed upon him, an anxious
witness of this deciding of her fate.  He was thinking swiftly,
reckoning the chances if by pistolling Ogle he were to provoke a
mutiny.  That some of the men would rally to him, he was sure.  But
he was no less sure that the main body would oppose him, and prevail
in spite of all that he could do, taking the chance that holding
Miss Bishop to ransom seemed to afford them.  And if they did that,
one way or the other, Miss Bishop would be lost.  For even if Bishop
yielded to their demand, they would retain her as a hostage.

Meanwhile Ogle was growing impatient.  His arm still gripped by
Blood, he thrust his face into the Captain's.

"What better way?" he demanded.  "There is none better.  I'll not
be bubbled by what Wolverstone has said.  He may be right, and he
may be wrong.  We'll test it.  It's our only chance, I've said, and
we must take it."

The better way that was in Captain Blood's mind was the way that
already he had proposed to Wolverstone.  Whether the men in the
panic Ogle had aroused among them would take a different view from
Wolverstone's he did not know.  But he saw quite clearly now that
if they consented, they would not on that account depart from their
intention in the matter of Miss Bishop; they would make of Blood's
own surrender merely an additional card in this game against the
Governor of Jamaica.

"It's through her that we're in this trap," Ogle stormed on.
"Through her and through you.  It was to bring her to Jamaica that
you risked all our lives, and we're not going to lose our lives as
long as there's a chance to make ourselves safe through her."

He was turning again to the helmsman below, when Blood's grip
tightened on his arm.  Ogle wrenched it free, with an oath.  But
Blood's mind was now made up.  He had found the only way, and
repellent though it might be to him, he must take it.

"That is a desperate chance," he cried.  "Mine is the safe and easy
way.  Wait!"  He leaned over the rail.  "Put the helm down," he bade
Pitt.  "Heave her to, and signal to them to send a boat."

A silence of astonishment fell upon the ship - of astonishment and
suspicion at this sudden yielding.  But Pitt, although he shared it,
was prompt to obey.  His voice rang out, giving the necessary orders,
and after an instant's pause, a score of hands sprang to execute
them.  Came the creak of blocks and the rattle of slatting sails as
they swung aweather, and Captain Blood turned and beckoned Lord
Julian forward.  His lordship, after a moment's hesitation, advanced
in surprise and mistrust - a mistrust shared by Miss Bishop, who,
like his lordship and all else aboard, though in a different way,
had been taken aback by Blood's sudden submission to the demand to
lie to.

Standing now at the rail, with Lord Julian beside him, Captain Blood
explained himself.

Briefly and clearly he announced to all the object of Lord Julian's
voyage to the Caribbean, and he informed them of the offer which
yesterday Lord Julian had made to him.

"That offer I rejected, as his lordship will tell you, deeming
myself affronted by it.  Those of you who have suffered under the
rule of King James will understand me.  But now in the desperate
case in which we find ourselves - outsailed, and likely to be
outfought, as Ogle has said - I am ready to take the way of Morgan:
to accept the King's commission and shelter us all behind it."

It was a thunderbolt that for a moment left them all dazed.  Then
Babel was reenacted.  The main body of them welcomed the announcement
as only men who have been preparing to die can welcome a new lease
of life.  But many could not resolve one way or the other until they
were satisfied upon several questions, and chiefly upon one which
was voiced by Ogle.

"Will Bishop respect the commission when you hold it?"

It was Lord Julian who answered:

"It will go very hard with him if he attempts to flout the King's
authority.  And though he should dare attempt it, be sure that his
own officers will not dare to do other than oppose him."

"Aye," said Ogle, "that is true."

But there were some who were still in open and frank revolt against
the course.  Of these was Wolverstone, who at once proclaimed his
hostility.

"I'll rot in hell or ever I serves the King," he bawled in a great
rage.

But Blood quieted him and those who thought as he did.

"No man need follow me into the King's service who is reluctant.
That is not in the bargain.  What is in the bargain is that I accept
this service with such of you as may choose to follow me.  Don't
think I accept it willingly.  For myself, I am entirely of
Wolverstone's opinion.  I accept it as the only way to save us all
from the certain destruction into which my own act may have brought
us.  And even those of you who do not choose to follow me shall
share the immunity of all, and shall afterwards be free to depart.
Those are the terms upon which I sell myself to the King.  Let Lord
Julian, the representative of the Secretary of State, say whether
he agrees to them."

Prompt, eager, and clear came his lordship's agreement.  And that
was practically the end of the matter.  Lord Julian, the butt now
of good-humouredly ribald jests and half-derisive acclamations,
plunged away to his cabin for the commission, secretly rejoicing at
a turn of events which enabled him so creditably to discharge the
business on which he had been sent.

Meanwhile the bo'sun signalled to the Jamaica ships to send a boat,
and the men in the waist broke their ranks and went noisily flocking
to line the bulwarks and view the great stately vessels that were
racing down towards them.

As Ogle left the quarter-deck, Blood turned, and came face to face
with Miss Bishop.  She had been observing him with shining eyes, but
at sight of his dejected countenance, and the deep frown that scarred
his brow, her own expression changed.  She approached him with a
hesitation entirely unusual to her.  She set a hand lightly upon
his arm.

"You have chosen wisely, sir," she commended him, "however much
against your inclinations."

He looked with gloomy eyes upon her for whom he had made this
sacrifice.

"I owed it to you - or thought I did," he said.

She did not understand.  "Your resolve delivered me from a horrible
danger," she admitted.  And she shivered at the memory of it.  "But
I do not understand why you should have hesitated when first it was
proposed to you.  It is an honourable service."

"King James's?" he sneered.

"England's," she corrected him in reproof.  "The country is all,
sir; the sovereign naught.  King James will pass; others will come
and pass; England remains, to be honourably served by her sons,
whatever rancour they may hold against the man who rules her in
their time."

He showed some surprise.  Then he smiled a little.  "Shrewd advocacy,"
he approved it.  "You should have spoken to the crew."

And then, the note of irony deepening in his voice:  "Do you suppose
now that this honourable service might redeem one who was a pirate
and a thief?"

Her glance fell away.  Her voice faltered a little in replying.
"If he... needs redeeming.  Perhaps... perhaps he has been judged
too harshly."

The blue eyes flashed, and the firm lips relaxed their grim set.

"Why... if ye think that," he said, considering her, an odd hunger
in his glance, "life might have its uses, after all, and even the
service of King James might become tolerable."

Looking beyond her, across the water, he observed a boat putting
off from one of the great ships, which, hove to now, were rocking
gently some three hundred yards away.  Abruptly his manner changed.
He was like one recovering, taking himself in hand again.  "If you
will go below, and get your gear and your woman, you shall presently
be sent aboard one of the ships of the fleet."  He pointed to the
boat as he spoke.

She left him, and thereafter with Wolverstone, leaning upon the
rail, he watched the approach of that boat, manned by a dozen
sailors, and commanded by a scarlet figure seated stiffly in the
stern sheets.  He levelled his telescope upon that figure.

"It'll not be Bishop himself," said Wolverstone, between question
and assertion.

"No." Blood closed his telescope.  "I don't know who it is."

"Ha!"  Wolverstone vented an ejaculation of sneering mirth.  "For
all his eagerness, Bishop'd be none so willing to come, hisself.
He's been aboard this hulk afore, and we made him swim for it that
time.  He'll have his memories.  So he sends a deputy."

This deputy proved to be an officer named Calverley, a vigorous,
self-sufficient fellow, comparatively fresh from England, whose
manner made it clear that he came fully instructed by Colonel
Bishop upon the matter of how to handle the pirates.

His air, as he stepped into the waist of the Arabella, was haughty,
truculent, and disdainful.

Blood, the King's commission now in his pocket, and Lord Julian
standing beside him, waited to receive him, and Captain Calverley
was a little taken aback at finding himself confronted by two men
so very different outwardly from anything that he had expected.
But he lost none of his haughty poise, and scarcely deigned a
glance at the swarm of fierce, half-naked fellows lounging in a
semicircle to form a background.

"Good-day to you, sir," Blood hailed him pleasantly.  "I have the
honour to give you welcome aboard the Arabella.  My name is Blood
 - Captain Blood, at your service.  You may have heard of me."

Captain Calverley stared hard.  The airy manner of this redoubtable
buccaneer was hardly what he had looked for in a desperate fellow,
compelled to ignominious surrender.  A thin, sour smile broke on
the officer's haughty lips.

"You'll ruffle it to the gallows, no doubt," he said contemptuously.
"I suppose that is after the fashion of your kind.  Meanwhile it's
your surrender I require, my man, not your impudence."

Captain Blood appeared surprised, pained.  He turned in appeal to
Lord Julian.

"D'ye hear that now?  And did ye ever hear the like?  But what did
I tell ye?  Ye see, the young gentleman's under a misapprehension
entirely.  Perhaps it'll save broken bones if your lordship explains
just who and what I am."

Lord Julian advanced a step and bowed perfunctorily and rather
disdainfully to that very disdainful but now dumbfounded officer.
Pitt, who watched the scene from the quarter-deck rail, tells us
that his lordship was as grave as a parson at a hanging.  But I
suspect this gravity for a mask under which Lord Julian was secretly
amused.

"I have the honour to inform  you, sir," he said stiffly, "that
Captain Blood holds a commission in the King's service under the
seal of my Lord Sunderland, His Majesty's Secretary of State."

Captain Calverley's face empurpled; his eyes bulged.  The buccaneers
in the background chuckled and crowed and swore among themselves in
their relish of this comedy.  For a long moment Calverley stared in
silence at his lordship, observing the costly elegance of his dress,
his air of calm assurance, and his cold, fastidious speech, all of
which savoured distinctly of the great world to which he belonged.

"And who the devil may you be?" he exploded at last.

Colder still and more distant than ever grew his lordship's voice.

"You're not very civil, sir, as I have already noticed.  My name is
Wade - Lord Julian Wade.  I am His Majesty's envoy to these barbarous
parts, and my Lord Sunderland's near kinsman.  Colonel Bishop has
been notified of my coming."

The sudden change in Calverley's manner at Lord Julian's mention of
his name showed that the notification had been received, and that
he had knowledge of it.

"I... I believe that he has," said Calverley, between doubt and
suspicion.  "That is:  that he has been notified of the coming of
Lord Julian Wade.  But... but... aboard this ship...?"  The
officer made a gesture of helplessness, and, surrendering to his
bewilderment, fell abruptly silent.

"I was coming out on the Royal Mary...."

"That is what we were advised."

"But the Royal Mary fell a victim to a Spanish privateer, and I
might never have arrived at all but for the gallantry of Captain
Blood, who rescued me."

Light broke upon the darkness of Calverley's mind.  "I see.  I
understand."

"I will take leave to doubt it."  His lordship's tone abated nothing
of its asperity.  "But that can wait.  If Captain Blood will show
you his commission, perhaps that will set all doubts at rest, and we
may proceed.  I shall be glad to reach Port Royal."

Captain Blood thrust a parchment under Calverley's bulging eyes.
The officer scanned it, particularly the seals and signature.  He
stepped back, a baffled, impotent man.  He bowed helplessly.

"I must return to Colonel Bishop for my orders," he informed them.

At that moment a lane was opened in the ranks of the men, and
through this came Miss Bishop followed by her octoroon woman.  Over
his shoulder Captain Blood observed her approach.

"Perhaps, since Colonel Bishop is with you, you will convey his
niece to him.  Miss Bishop was aboard the Royal Mary also, and I
rescued her together with his lordship.  She will be able to acquaint
her uncle with the details of that and of the present state of
affairs."

Swept thus from surprise to surprise, Captain Calverley could do no
more than bow again.

"As for me," said Lord Julian, with intent to make Miss Bishop's
departure free from all interference on the part of the buccaneers,
"I shall remain aboard the Arabella until we reach Port Royal.  My
compliments to Colonel Bishop.  Say that I look forward to making
his acquaintance there."



CHAPTER XXII

HOSTILITIES


In the great harbour of Port Royal, spacious enough to have given
moorings to all the ships of all the navies of the world, the
Arabella rode at anchor.  Almost she had the air of a prisoner, for
a quarter of a mile ahead, to starboard, rose the lofty, massive
single round tower of the fort, whilst a couple of cables'-length
astern, and to larboard, rode the six men-of-war that composed
the Jamaica squadron.

Abeam with the Arabella, across the harbour, were the flat-fronted
white buildings of that imposing city that came down to the very
water's edge.  Behind these the red roofs rose like terraces, marking
the gentle slope upon which the city was built, dominated here by a
turret, there by a spire, and behind these again a range of green
hills with for ultimate background a sky that was like a dome of
polished steel.

On a cane day-bed that had been set for him on the quarter-deck,
sheltered from the dazzling, blistering sunshine by an improvised
awning of brown sailcloth, lounged Peter Blood, a calf-bound,
well-thumbed copy of Horace's Odes neglected in his hands.

From immediately below him came the swish of mops and the gurgle of
water in the scuppers, for it was still early morning, and under the
directions of Hayton, the bo'sun, the swabbers were at work in the
waist and forecastle.  Despite the heat and the stagnant air, one of
the toilers found breath to croak a ribald buccaneering ditty:

  "For we laid her board and board,
   And we put her to the sword,
   And we sank her in the deep blue sea.
   So It's heigh-ho, and heave-a-ho!
   Who'll sail for the Main with me?"

Blood fetched a sigh, and the ghost of a smile played over his lean,
sun-tanned face.  Then the black brows came together above the vivid
blue eyes, and thought swiftly closed the door upon his immediate
surroundings.

Things had not sped at all well with him in the past fortnight since
his acceptance of the King's commission.  There had been trouble
with Bishop from the moment of landing.  As Blood and Lord Julian
had stepped ashore together, they had been met by a man who took
no pains to dissemble his chagrin at the turn of events and his
determination to change it.  He awaited them on the mole, supported
by a group of officers.

"You are Lord Julian Wade, I understand," was his truculent greeting.
For Blood at the moment he had nothing beyond a malignant glance.

Lord Julian bowed.  "I take it I have the honour to address Colonel
Bishop, Deputy-Governor of Jamaica."  It was almost as if his
lordship were giving the Colonel a lesson in deportment.  The
Colonel accepted it, and belatedly bowed, removing his broad hat.
Then he plunged on.

"You have granted, I am told, the King's commission to this man."
His very tone betrayed the bitterness of his rancour.  "Your motives
were no doubt worthy... your gratitude to him for delivering you
from the Spaniards.  But the thing itself is unthinkable, my lord.
The commission must be cancelled."

"I don't think I understand," said Lord Julian distantly.

"To be sure you don't, or you'd never ha' done it.  The fellow's
bubbled you.  Why, he's first a rebel, then an escaped slave, and
lastly a bloody pirate.  I've been hunting him this year past."

"I assure you, sir, that I was fully informed of all.  I do not
grant the King's commission lightly."

"Don't you, by God!  And what else do you call this?  But as His
Majesty's Deputy-Governor of Jamaica, I'll take leave to correct
your mistake in my own way."

"Ah!  And what way may that be?"

"There's a gallows waiting for this rascal in Port Royal."

Blood would have intervened at that, but Lord Julian forestalled him.

"I see, sir, that you do not yet quite apprehend the circumstances.
If it is a mistake to grant Captain Blood a commission, the mistake
is not mine.  I am acting upon the instructions of my Lord
Sunderland; and with a full knowledge of all the facts, his lordship
expressly designated Captain Blood for this commission if Captain
Blood could be persuaded to accept it."

Colonel Bishop's mouth fell open in surprise and dismay.

"Lord Sunderland designated him?" he asked, amazed.

"Expressly."

His lordship waited a moment for a reply.  None coming from the
speechless Deputy-Governor, he asked a question:  "Would you still
venture to describe the matter as a mistake, sir?  And dare you
take the risk of correcting it?"

"I... I had not dreamed...."

"I understand, sir.  Let me present Captain Blood."

Perforce Bishop must put on the best face he could command.  But
that it was no more than a mask for his fury and his venom was
plain to all.

From that unpromising beginning matters had not improved; rather
had they grown worse.

Blood's thoughts were upon this and other things as he lounged
there on the day-bed.  He had been a fortnight in Port Royal, his
ship virtually a unit now in the Jamaica squadron.  And when the
news of it reached Tortuga and the buccaneers who awaited his
return, the name of Captain Blood, which had stood so high among
the Brethren of the Coast, would become a byword, a thing of
execration, and before all was done his life might pay forfeit
for what would be accounted a treacherous defection.  And for
what had he placed himself in this position?  For the sake of a
girl who avoided him so persistently and intentionally that he
must assume that she still regarded him with aversion.  He had
scarcely been vouchsafed a glimpse of her in all this fortnight,
although with that in view for his main object he had daily haunted
her uncle's residence, and daily braved the unmasked hostility and
baffled rancour in which Colonel Bishop held him.  Nor was that
the worst of it.  He was allowed plainly to perceive that it was
the graceful, elegant young trifler from St. James's, Lord Julian
Wade, to whom her every moment was devoted.  And what chance had he,
a desperate adventurer with a record of outlawry, against such a
rival as that, a man of parts, moreover, as he was bound to admit?

You conceive the bitterness of his soul.  He beheld himself to be
as the dog in the fable that had dropped the substance to snatch
at a delusive shadow.

He sought comfort in a line on the open page before him:

  "levius fit patientia quicquid corrigere est nefas."

Sought it, but hardly found it.

A boat that had approached unnoticed from the shore came scraping
and bumping against the great red hull of the Arabella, and a
raucous voice sent up a hailing shout.  From the ship's belfry
two silvery notes rang clear and sharp, and a moment or two later
the bo'sun's whistle shrilled a long wail.

The sounds disturbed Captain Blood from his disgruntled musings.
He rose, tall, active, and arrestingly elegant in a scarlet,
gold-laced coat that advertised his new position, and slipping
the slender volume into his pocket, advanced to the carved rail
of the quarter-deck, just as Jeremy Pitt was setting foot upon
the companion.

"A note for you from the Deputy-Governor," said the master shortly,
as he proffered a folded sheet.

Blood broke the seal, and read.  Pitt, loosely clad in shirt and
breeches, leaned against the rail the while and watched him,
unmistakable concern imprinted on his fair, frank countenance.

Blood uttered a short laugh, and curled his lip.  "It is a very
peremptory summons," he said, and passed the note to his friend.

The young master's grey eyes skimmed it.  Thoughtfully he stroked
his golden beard.

"You'll not go?" he said, between question and assertion.

"Why not?  Haven't I been a daily visitor at the fort...?"

"But it'll be about the Old Wolf that he wants to see you.  It gives
him a grievance at last.  You know, Peter, that it is Lord Julian
alone has stood between Bishop and his hate of you.  If now he can
show that...."

"What if he can?" Blood interrupted carelessly.  "Shall I be in
greater danger ashore than aboard, now that we've but fifty men
left, and they lukewarm rogues who would as soon serve the King as
me?  Jeremy, dear lad, the Arabella's a prisoner here, bedad, 'twixt
the fort there and the fleet yonder.  Don't be forgetting that."

Jeremy clenched his hands.  "Why did ye let Wolverstone and the
others go?" he cried, with a touch of bitterness.  "You should have
seen the danger."

"How could I in honesty have detained them?  It was in the bargain.
Besides, how could their staying have helped me?"  And as Pitt did
not answer him:  "Ye see?" he said, and shrugged.  "I'll be getting
my hat and cane and sword, and go ashore in the cock-boat.  See it
manned for me."

"Ye're going to deliver yourself into Bishop's hands," Pitt warned
him.

"Well, well, maybe he'll not find me quite so easy to grasp as he
imagines.  There's a thorn or two left on me."  And with a laugh
Blood departed to his cabin.

Jeremy Pitt answered the laugh with an oath.  A moment he stood
irresolute where Blood had left him.  Then slowly, reluctance
dragging at his feet, he went down the companion to give the order
for the cock-boat.

"If anything should happen to you, Peter," he said, as Blood was
going over the side, "Colonel Bishop had better look to himself.
These fifty lads may be lukewarm at present, as you say, but - sink
me! - they'll be anything but lukewarm if there's a breach of faith."

"And what should be happening to me, Jeremy?  Sure, now, I'll be
back for dinner, so I will."

Blood climbed down into the waiting boat.  But laugh though he might,
he knew as well as Pitt that in going ashore that morning he carried
his life in his hands.  Because of this, it may have been that when
he stepped on to the narrow mole, in the shadow of the shallow outer
wall of the fort through whose crenels were thrust the black noses
of its heavy guns, he gave order that the boat should stay for him
at that spot.  He realized that he might have to retreat in a hurry.

Walking leisurely, he skirted the embattled wall, and passed through
the great gates into the courtyard.  Half-a-dozen soldiers lounged
there, and in the shadow cast by the wall, Major Mallard, the
Commandant, was slowly pacing.  He stopped short at sight of Captain
Blood, and saluted him, as was his due, but the smile that lifted
the officer's stiff mostachios was grimly sardonic.  Peter Blood's
attention, however, was elsewhere.

On his right stretched a spacious garden, beyond which rose the
white house that was the residence of the Deputy-Governor.  In that
garden's main avenue, that was fringed with palm and sandalwood,
he had caught sight of Miss Bishop alone.  He crossed the courtyard
with suddenly lengthened stride.

"Good-morning to ye, ma'am," was his greeting as he overtook her;
and hat in hand now, he added on a note of protest:  "Sure, it's
nothing less than uncharitable to make me run in this heat."

"Why do you run, then?" she asked him coolly, standing slim and
straight before him, all in white and very maidenly save in her
unnatural composure.  "I am pressed," she informed him.  "So you
will forgive me if I do not stay."

"You were none so pressed until I came," he protested, and if his
thin lips smiled, his blue eyes were oddly hard.

"Since you perceive it, sir, I wonder that you trouble to be so
insistent."

That crossed the swords between them, and it was against Blood's
instincts to avoid an engagement.

"Faith, you explain yourself after a fashion," said he.  "But since
it was more or less in your service that I donned the King's coat,
you should suffer it to cover the thief and pirate."

She shrugged and turned aside, in some resentment and some regret.
Fearing to betray the latter, she took refuge in the former.  "I
do my best," said she.

"So that ye can be charitable in some ways!"  He laughed softly.
"Glory be, now, I should be thankful for so much.  Maybe I'm
presumptuous.  But I can't forget that when I was no better than a
slave in your uncle's household in Barbados, ye used me with a
certain kindness."

"Why not?  In those days you had some claim upon my kindness.  You
were just an unfortunate gentleman then."

"And what else would you be calling me now?"

"Hardly unfortunate.  We have heard of your good fortune on the
seas - how your luck has passed into a byword.  And we have heard
other things:  of your good fortune in other directions."

She spoke hastily, the thought of Mademoiselle d'Ogeron in her mind.
And instantly would have recalled the words had she been able.  But
Peter Blood swept them lightly aside, reading into them none of her
meaning, as she feared he would.

"Aye - a deal of lies, devil a doubt, as I could prove to you."

"I cannot think why you should trouble to put yourself on your
defence," she discouraged him.

"So that ye may think less badly of me than you do."

"What I think of you can be a very little matter to you, sir."

This was a disarming stroke.  He abandoned combat for expostulation.

"Can ye say that now?  Can ye say that, beholding me in this livery
of a service I despise?  Didn't ye tell me that I might redeem the
past?  It's little enough I am concerned to redeem the past save
only in your eyes.  In my own I've done nothing at all that I am
ashamed of, considering the provocation I received."

Her glance faltered, and fell away before his own that was so intent.

"I... I can't think why you should speak to me like this," she
said, with less than her earlier assurance.

"Ah, now, can't ye, indeed?" he cried.  "Sure, then, I'll be
telling ye."

"Oh, please." There was real alarm in her voice.  "I realize fully
what you did, and I realize that partly, at least, you may have
been urged by consideration for myself.  Believe me, I am very
grateful.  I shall always be grateful."

"But if it's also your intention always to think of me as a thief
and a pirate, faith, ye may keep your gratitude for all the good
it's like to do me."

A livelier colour crept into her cheeks.  There was a perceptible
heave of the slight breast that faintly swelled the flimsy bodice
of white silk.  But if she resented his tone and his words, she
stifled her resentment.  She realized that perhaps she had, herself,
provoked his anger.  She honestly desired to make amends.

"You are mistaken," she began.  "It isn't that."

But they were fated to misunderstand each other.

Jealousy, that troubler of reason, had been over-busy with his wits
as it had with hers.

"What is it, then?" quoth he, and added the question:  "Lord Julian?"

She started, and stared at him blankly indignant now.

"Och, be frank with me," he urged her, unpardonably.  "'Twill be
a kindness, so it will."

For a moment she stood before him with quickened breathing, the
colour ebbing and flowing in her cheeks.  Then she looked past him,
and tilted her chin forward.

"You... you are quite insufferable," she said.  "I beg that you
will let me pass."

He stepped aside, and with the broad feathered hat which he still
held in his hand, he waved her on towards the house.

"I'll not be detaining you any longer, ma'am.  After all, the cursed
thing I did for nothing can be undone.  Ye'll remember afterwards
that it was your hardness drove me."

She moved to depart, then checked, and faced him again.  It was she
now who was on her defence, her voice quivering with indignation.

"You take that tone!  You dare to take that tone!" she cried,
astounding him by her sudden vehemence.  "You have the effrontery
to upbraid me because I will not take your hands when I know how
they are stained; when I know you for a murderer and worse?"

He stared at her open-mouthed.

"A murderer- I?" he said at last.

"Must I name your victims?  Did you not murder Levasseur?"

"Levasseur?" He smiled a little.  "So they've told you about that!"

"Do you deny it?"

"I killed him, it is true.  I can remember killing another man in
circumstances that were very similar.  That was in Bridgetown on
the night of the Spanish raid.  Mary Traill would tell you of it.
She was present."

He clapped his hat on his head with a certain abrupt fierceness,
and strode angrily away, before she could answer or even grasp the
full significance of what he had said.



CHAPTER XXIII

HOSTAGES


Peter Blood stood in the pillared portico of Government House, and
with unseeing eyes that were laden with pain and anger, stared out
across the great harbour of Port Royal to the green hills rising
from the farther shore and the ridge of the Blue Mountains beyond,
showing hazily through the quivering heat.

He was aroused by the return of the negro who had gone to announce
him, and following now this slave, he made his way through the
house to the wide piazza behind it, in whose shade Colonel Bishop
and my Lord Julian Wade took what little air there was.

"So ye've come," the Deputy-Governor hailed him, and followed the
greeting by a series of grunts of vague but apparently ill-humoured
import.

He did not trouble to rise, not even when Lord Julian, obeying the
instincts of finer breeding, set him the example.  From under
scowling brows the wealthy Barbados planter considered his sometime
slave, who, hat in hand, leaning lightly upon his long beribboned
cane, revealed nothing in his countenance of the anger which was
being steadily nourished by this cavalier reception.

At last, with scowling brow and in self-sufficient tones, Colonel
Bishop delivered himself.

"I have sent for you, Captain Blood, because of certain news that
has just reached me.  I am informed that yesterday evening a frigate
left the harbour having on board your associate Wolverstone and a
hundred men of the hundred and fifty that were serving under you.
His lordship and I shall be glad to have your explanation of how
you came to permit that departure."

"Permit?" quoth Blood.  "I ordered it."

The answer left Bishop speechless for a moment.  Then:

"You ordered it?" he said in accents of unbelief, whilst Lord Julian
raised his eyebrows.  "'Swounds!  Perhaps you'll explain yourself?
Whither has Wolverstone gone?"

"To Tortuga.  He's gone with a message to the officers commanding
the other four ships of the fleet that is awaiting me there, telling
them what's happened and why they are no longer to expect me."

Bishop's great face seemed to swell and its high colour to deepen.
He swung to Lord Julian.

"You hear that, my lord?  Deliberately he has let Wolverstone loose
upon the seas again - Wolverstone, the worst of all that gang of
pirates after himself.  I hope your lordship begins at last to
perceive the folly of granting the King's commission to such a man
as this against all my counsels.  Why, this thing is... it's just
mutiny... treason!  By God!  It's matter for a court-martial."

"Will you cease your blather of mutiny and treason and
courts-martial?"  Blood put on his hat, and sat down unbidden.
"I have sent Wolverstone to inform Hagthorpe and Christian and
Yberville and the rest of my lads that they've one clear month in
which to follow my example, quit piracy, and get back to their
boucans or their logwood, or else sail out of the Caribbean Sea.
That's what I've done."

"But the men?" his lordship interposed in his level, cultured voice.
"This hundred men that Wolverstone has taken with him?"

"They are those of my crew who have no taste for King James's
service, and have preferred to seek work of other kinds.  It was
in our compact, my lord, that there should be no constraining of
my men."

"I don't remember it," said his lordship, with sincerity.

Blood looked at him in surprise.  Then he shrugged.  "Faith, I'm
not to blame for your lordship's poor memory.  I say that it was
so; and I don't lie.  I've never found it necessary.  In any case
ye couldn't have supposed that I should consent to anything different."

And then the Deputy-Governor exploded.

"You have given those damned rascals in Tortuga this warning so
that they may escape!  That is what you have done.  That is how you
abuse the commission that has saved your own neck!"

Peter Blood considered him steadily, his face impassive.  "I will
remind you," he said at last, very quietly, "that the object in view
was - leaving out of account your own appetites which, as every one
knows, are just those of a hangman - to rid the Caribbean of
buccaneers.  Now, I've taken the most effective way of accomplishing
that object.  The knowledge that I've entered the King's service
should in itself go far towards disbanding the fleet of which I was
until lately the admiral."

"I see!" sneered the Deputy-Governor malevolently.  "And if it does
not?"

"It will be time enough then to consider what else is to be done."

Lord Julian forestalled a fresh outburst on the part of Bishop.

"It is possible," he said, "that my Lord Sunderland will be
satisfied, provided that the solution is such as you promise."

It was a courteous, conciliatory speech.  Urged by friendliness
towards Blood and understanding of the difficult position in which
the buccaneer found himself, his lordship was disposed to take his
stand upon the letter of his instructions.  Therefore he now held
out a friendly hand to help him over the latest and most difficult
obstacle which Blood himself had enabled Bishop to place in the
way of his redemption.  Unfortunately the last person from whom
Peter Blood desired assistance at that moment was this young
nobleman, whom he regarded with the jaundiced eyes of jealousy.

"Anyway," he answered, with a suggestion of defiance and more than
a suggestion of a sneer, "it's the most ye should expect from me,
and certainly it's the most ye'll get."

His lordship frowned, and dabbed his lips with a handkerchief.

"I don't think that I quite like the way you put it.  Indeed,
upon reflection, Captain Blood, I am sure that I do not."

"I am sorry for that, so I am," said Blood impudently.  "But
there it is.  I'm not on that account concerned to modify it."

His lordship's pale eyes opened a little wider.  Languidly he raised
his eyebrows.

"Ah!" he said.  "You're a prodigiously uncivil fellow.  You
disappoint me, sir.  I had formed the notion that you might be a
gentleman."

"And that's not your lordship's only mistake," Bishop cut in.
"You made a worse when you gave him the King's commission, and so
sheltered the rascal from the gallows I had prepared for him in
Port Royal."

"Aye - but the worst mistake of all in this matter of commissions,"
said Blood to his lordship, "was the one that trade this greasy
slaver Deputy-Governor of Jamaica instead of its hangman, which is
the office for which he's by nature fitted."

"Captain Blood!" said his lordship sharply in reproof.  "Upon my
soul and honour, sir, you go much too far.  You are...."

But here Bishop interrupted him.  He had heaved himself to his feet,
at last, and was venting his fury in unprintable abuse.  Captain
Blood, who had also risen, stood apparently impassive, for the
storm to spend itself.  When at last this happened, he addressed
himself quietly to Lord Julian, as if Colonel Bishop had not spoken.

"Your lordship was about to say?" he asked, with challenging
smoothness.

But his lordship had by now recovered his habitual composure, and
was again disposed to be conciliatory.  He laughed and shrugged.

"Faith! here's a deal of unnecessary heat," said he.  "And God
knows this plaguey climate provides enough of that.  Perhaps,
Colonel Bishop, you are a little uncompromising; and you, sir, are
certainly a deal too peppery.  I have said, speaking on behalf of
my Lord Sunderland, that I am content to await the result of your
experiment."

But Bishop's fury had by now reached a stage in which it was not
to be restrained.

"Are you, indeed?" he roared.  "Well, then, I am not.  This is a
matter in which your lordship must allow me to be the better judge.
And, anyhow, I'll take the risk of acting on my own responsibility."

Lord Julian abandoned the struggle.  He smiled wearily, shrugged,
and waved a hand in implied resignation.  The Deputy-Governor
stormed on.

"Since my lord here has given you a commission, I can't regularly
deal with you out of hand for piracy as you deserve.  But you
shall answer before a court-martial for your action in the matter
of Wolverstone, and take the consequences."

"I see," said Blood.  "Now we come to it.  And it's yourself as
Deputy-Governor will preside over that same court-martial.  So that
ye can wipe off old scores by hanging me, it's little ye care how
ye do it!"  He laughed, and added:  "Praemonitus, praemunitus."

"What shall that mean?" quoth Lord Julian sharply.

"I had imagined that your lordship would have had some education."

He was at pains, you see, to be provocative.

"It's not the literal meaning I am asking, sir," said Lord Julian,
with frosty dignity.  "I want to know what you desire me to
understand?"

"I'll leave your lordship guessing," said Blood.  "And I'll be
wishing ye both a very good day."  He swept off his feathered hat,
and made them a leg very elegantly.

"Before you go," said Bishop, "and to save you from any idle
rashness, I'll tell you that the Harbour-Master and the Commandant
have their orders.  You don't leave Port Royal, my fine gallows
bird.  Damme, I mean to provide you with permanent moorings here,
in Execution Dock."

Peter Blood stiffened, and his vivid blue eyes stabbed the bloated
face of his enemy.  He passed his long cane into his left hand, and
with his right thrust negligently into the breast of his doublet,
he swung to Lord Julian, who was thoughtfully frowning.

"Your lordship, I think, promised me immunity from this."

"What I may have promised," said his lordship, "your own conduct
makes it difficult to perform."  He rose.  "You did me a service,
Captain Blood, and I had hoped that we might be friends.  But since
you prefer to have it otherwise...."  He shrugged, and waved a hand
towards the Deputy-Governor.

Blood completed the sentence in his own way:

"Ye mean that ye haven't the strength of character to resist the
urgings of a bully."  He was apparently at his ease, and actually
smiling.  "Well, well - as I said before - praemonitus, praemunitus.
I'm afraid that ye're no scholar, Bishop, or ye'd know that I means
forewarned, forearmed."

"Forewarned?  Ha!"  Bishop almost snarled.  "The warning comes a
little late.  You do not leave this house."  He took a step in the
direction of the doorway, and raised his voice.  "Ho there..." he
was beginning to call.

Then with a sudden audible catch in his breath, he stopped short.
Captain Blood's right hand had reemerged from the breast of his
doublet, bringing with it a long pistol with silver mountings richly
chased, which he levelled within a foot of the Deputy-Governor's
head.

"And forearmed," said he.  "Don't stir from where you are, my lord,
or there may be an accident."

And my lord, who had been moving to Bishop's assistance, stood
instantly arrested.  Chap-fallen, with much of his high colour
suddenly departed, the Deputy-Governor was swaying on unsteady legs.
Peter Blood considered him with a grimness that increased his panic.

"I marvel that I don't pistol you without more ado, ye fat
blackguard.  If I don't, it's for the same reason that once before
I gave ye your life when it was forfeit.  Ye're not aware of the
reason, to be sure; but it may comfort ye to know that it exists.
At the same time I'll warn ye not to put too heavy a strain on my
generosity, which resides at the moment in my trigger-finger.  Ye
mean to hang me, and since that's the worst that can happen to me
anyway, you'll realize that I'll not boggle at increasing the
account by spilling your nasty blood."  He cast his cane from him,
thus disengaging his left hand.  "Be good enough to give me your
arm, Colonel Bishop.  Come, come, man, your arm."

Under the compulsion of that sharp tone, those resolute eyes, and
that gleaming pistol, Bishop obeyed without demur.  His recent
foul volubility was stemmed.  He could not trust himself to speak.
Captain Blood tucked his left arm through the Deputy-Governor's
proffered right.  Then he thrust his own right hand with its pistol
back into the breast of his doublet.

"Though invisible, it's aiming at ye none the less, and I give you
my word of honour that I'll shoot ye dead upon the very least
provocation, whether that provocation is yours or another's.  Ye'll
bear that in mind, Lord Julian.  And now, ye greasy hangman, step
out as brisk and lively as ye can, and behave as naturally as ye
may, or it's the black stream of Cocytus ye'll be contemplating."
Arm in arm they passed through the house, and down the garden, where
Arabella lingered, awaiting Peter Blood's return.

Consideration of his parting words had brought her first turmoil of
mind, then a clear perception of what might be indeed the truth of
the death of Levasseur.  She perceived that the particular
inference drawn from it might similarly have been drawn from Blood's
deliverance of Mary Traill.  When a man so risks his life for a
woman, the rest is easily assumed.  For the men who will take such
risks without hope of personal gain are few.  Blood was of those
few, as he had proved in the case of Mary Traill.

It needed no further assurances of his to convince her that she had
done him a monstrous injustice.  She remembered words he had used
 - words overheard aboard his ship (which he had named the Arabella)
on the night of her deliverance from the Spanish admiral; words he
had uttered when she had approved his acceptance of the King's
commission; the words he had spoken to her that very morning, which
had but served to move her indignation.  All these assumed a fresh
meaning in her mind, delivered now from its unwarranted
preconceptions.

Therefore she lingered there in the garden, awaiting his return
that she might make amends; that she might set a term to all
misunderstanding.  In impatience she awaited him.  Yet her patience,
it seemed, was to be tested further.  For when at last he came, it
was in company - unusually close and intimate company - with her
uncle.  In vexation she realized that explanations must be postponed.
Could she have guessed the extent of that postponement, vexation
would have been changed into despair.

He passed, with his companion, from that fragrant garden into the
courtyard of the fort.  Here the Commandant, who had been instructed
to hold himself in readiness with the necessary men against the need
to effect the arrest of Captain Blood, was amazed by the curious
spectacle of the Deputy-Governor of Jamaica strolling forth arm in
arm and apparently on the friendliest terms with the intended
prisoner.  For as they went, Blood was chatting and laughing
briskly.

They passed out of the gates unchallenged, and so came to the mole
where the cock-boat from the Arabella was waiting.  They took their
places side by side in the stern sheets, and were pulled away
together, always very close and friendly, to the great red ship
where Jeremy Pitt so anxiously awaited news.

You conceive the master's amazement to see the Deputy-Governor come
toiling up the entrance ladder, with Blood following very close
behind him.

"Sure, I walked into a trap, as ye feared, Jeremy," Blood hailed
him.  "But I walked out again, and fetched the trapper with me.
He loves his life, does this fat rascal."

Colonel Bishop stood in the waist, his great face blenched to the
colour of clay, his mouth loose, almost afraid to look at the sturdy
ruffians who lounged about the shot-rack on the main hatch.

Blood shouted an order to the bo'sun, who was leaning against the
forecastle bulkhead.

"Throw me a rope with a running noose over the yardarm there,
against the need of it.  Now, don't be alarming yourself, Colonel,
darling.  It's no more than a provision against your being
unreasonable, which I am sure ye'll not be.  We'll talk the matter
over whiles we are dining, for I trust ye'll not refuse to honour
my table by your company."

He led away the will-less, cowed bully to the great cabin.  Benjamin,
the negro steward, in white drawers and cotton shirt, made haste
by his command to serve dinner.

Colonel Bishop collapsed on the locker under the stern ports, and
spoke now for the first time.

"May I ask wha... what are your intentions?" he quavered.

"Why, nothing sinister, Colonel.  Although ye deserve nothing less
than that same rope and yardarm, I assure you that it's to be
employed only as a last resource.  Ye've said his lordship made a
mistake when he handed me the commission which the Secretary of
State did me the honour to design for me.  I'm disposed to agree
with you; so I'll take to the sea again.  Cras ingens iterabimus
aequor.  It's the fine Latin scholar ye'll be when I've done with ye.
I'll be getting back to Tortuga and my buccaneers, who at least are
honest, decent fellows.  So I've fetched ye aboard as a hostage."

"My God!" groaned the Deputy-Governor.  "Ye... ye never mean that
ye'll carry me to Tortuga!"

Blood laughed outright.  "Oh, I'd never serve ye such a bad turn
as that.  No, no.  All I want is that ye ensure my safe departure
from Port Royal.  And, if ye're reasonable, I'll not even trouble
you to swim for it this time.  Ye've given certain orders to your
Harbour-Master, and others to the Commandant of your plaguey fort.
Ye'll be so good as to send for them both aboard here, and inform
them in my presence that the Arabella is leaving this afternoon on
the King's service and is to pass out unmolested.  And so as to
make quite sure of their obedience, they shall go a little voyage
with us, themselves.  Here's what you require.  Now write - unless
you prefer the yardarm."

Colonel Bishop heaved himself up in a pet.  "You constrain me with
violence..." he was beginning.

Blood smoothly interrupted him.

"Sure, now, I am not constraining you at all.  I'm giving you a
perfectly free choice between the pen and the rope.  It's a matter
for yourself entirely."

Bishop glared at him; then shrugging heavily, he took up the pen
and sat down at the table.  In an unsteady hand he wrote that
summons to his officers.  Blood despatched it ashore; and then
bade his unwilling guest to table.

"I trust, Colonel, your appetite is as stout as usual."

The wretched Bishop took the seat to which he was commanded.  As
for eating, however, that was not easy to a man in his position;
nor did Blood press him.  The Captain, himself, fell to with a
good appetite.  But before he was midway through the meal came
Hayton to inform him that Lord Julian Wade had just come aboard,
and was asking to see him instantly.

"I was expecting him," said Blood.  "Fetch him in."

Lord Julian came.  He was very stem and dignified.  His eyes took
in the situation at a glance, as Captain Blood rose to greet him.

"It's mighty friendly of you to have joined us, my lord."

"Captain Blood," said his lordship with asperity, "I find your
humour a little forced.  I don't know what may be your intentions;
but I wonder do you realize the risks you are running."

"And I wonder does your lordship realize the risk to yourself in
following us aboard as I had counted that you would."

"What shall that mean, sir?"

Blood signalled to Benjamin, who was standing behind Bishop.

"Set a chair for his lordship.  Hayton, send his lordship's boat
ashore.  Tell them he'll not be returning yet awhile."

"What's that?" cried his lordship.  "Blister me!  D'ye mean to
detain me?  Are ye mad?"

"Better wait, Hayton, in case his lordship should turn violent,"
said Blood.  "You, Benjamin, you heard the message.  Deliver it."

"Will you tell me what you intend, sir?" demanded his lordship,
quivering with anger.

"Just to make myself and my lads here safe from Colonel Bishop's
gallows.  I've said that I trusted to your gallantry not to leave
him in the lurch, but to follow him hither, and there's a note
from his hand gone ashore to summon the Harbour-Master and the
Commandant of the fort.  Once they are aboard, I shall have all
the hostages I need for our safety."

"You scoundrel!" said his lordship through his teeth.

"Sure, now, that's entirely a matter of the point of view," said
Blood.  "Ordinarily it isn't the kind of name I could suffer any
man to apply to me.  Still, considering that ye willingly did me
a service once, and that ye're likely unwillingly to do me
another now, I'll overlook your discourtesy, so I will."

His lordship laughed.  "You fool," he said.  "Do you dream that I
came aboard your pirate ship without taking my measures?  I informed
the Commandant of exactly how you had compelled Colonel Bishop to
accompany you.  Judge now whether he or the Harbour-Master will
obey the summons, or whether you will be allowed to depart as you
imagine."

Blood's face became grave.  "I'm sorry for that," said he.

I thought you would be, answered his lordship.

"Oh, but not on my own account.  It's the Deputy-Governor there I'm
sorry for.  D'ye know what Ye've done?  Sure, now, ye've very likely
hanged him."

"My God!" cried Bishop in a sudden increase of panic.

"If they so much as put a shot across my bows, up goes their
Deputy-Governor to the yardarm.  Your only hope, Colonel, lies in
the fact that I shall send them word of that intention.  And so
that you may mend as far as you can the harm you have done, it's
yourself shall bear them the message, my lord."

"I'll see you damned before I do," fumed his lordship.

"Why, that's unreasonable and unreasoning.  But if ye insist, why,
another messenger will do as well, and another hostage aboard - as
I had originally intended - will make my hand the stronger."

Lord Julian stared at him, realizing exactly what he had refused.

"You'll think better of it now that ye understand?" quoth Blood.

"Aye, in God's name, go, my lord," spluttered Bishop, "and make
yourself obeyed.  This damned pirate has me by the throat."

His lordship surveyed him with an eye that was not by any means
admiring.  "Why, if that is your wish..." he began.  Then he
shrugged, and turned again to Blood.

"I suppose I can trust you that no harm will come to Colonel Bishop
if you are allowed to sail?"

"You have my word for it," said Blood.  "And also that I shall put
him safely ashore again without delay."

Lord Julian bowed stiffly to the cowering Deputy-Governor.  "You
understand, sir, that I do as you desire," he said coldly.

"Aye, man, aye!" Bishop assented hastily.

"Very well."  Lord Julian bowed again and took his departure.
Blood escorted him to the entrance ladder at the foot of which
still swung the Arabella's own cock-boat.

"It's good-bye, my lord," said Blood.  "And there's another thing."
He proffered a parchment that he had drawn from his pocket.  "It's
the commission.  Bishop was right when he said it was a mistake."

Lord Julian considered him, and considering him his expression
softened.

"I am sorry," he said sincerely.

"In other circumstances..." began Blood.  "Oh, but there!  Ye'll
understand.  The boat's waiting."

Yet with his foot on the first rung of the ladder, Lord Julian
hesitated.

"I still do not perceive - blister me if I do!  - why you should
not have found some one else to carry your message to the Commandant,
and kept me aboard as an added hostage for his obedience to your
wishes."

Blood's vivid eyes looked into the other's that were clear and
honest, and he smiled, a little wistfully.  A moment he seemed to
hesitate.  Then he explained himself quite fully.

"Why shouldn't I tell you?  It's the same reason that's been urging
me to pick a quarrel with you so that I might have the satisfaction
of slipping a couple of feet of steel into your vitals.  When I
accepted your commission, I was moved to think it might redeem me
in the eyes of Miss Bishop - for whose sake, as you may have guessed,
I took it.  But I have discovered that such a thing is beyond
accomplishment.  I should have known it for a sick man's dream.  I
have discovered also that if she's choosing you, as I believe she
is, she's choosing wisely between us, and that's why I'll not have
your life risked by keeping you aboard whilst the message goes by
another who might bungle it.  And now perhaps ye'll understand."

Lord Julian stared at him bewildered.  His long, aristocratic
face was very pale.

"My God!" he said.  "And you tell me this?"

"I tell you because... Oh, plague on it! - so that ye may tell her;
so that she may be made to realize that there's something of the
unfortunate gentleman left under the thief and pirate she accounts
me, and that her own good is my supreme desire.  Knowing that, she
may... faith, she may remember me more kindly - if It's only in
her prayers.  That's all, my lord."

Lord Julian continued to look at the buccaneer in silence.  In
silence, at last, he held out his hand; and in silence Blood
took it.

"I wonder whether you are right," said his lordship, "and whether
you are not the better man."

"Where she is concerned see that you make sure that I am right.
Good-bye to you."

Lord Julian wrung his hand in silence, went down the ladder, and
was pulled ashore.  From the distance he waved to Blood, who stood
leaning on the bulwarks watching the receding cock-boat.

The Arabella sailed within the hour, moving lazily before a sluggish
breeze.  The fort remained silent and there was no movement from the
fleet to hinder her departure.  Lord Julian had carried the message
effectively, and had added to it his own personal commands.


CHAPTER XXIV

WAR


Five miles out at sea from Port Royal, whence the details of the
coast of Jamaica were losing their sharpness, the Arabella hove to,
and the sloop she had been towing was warped alongside.

Captain Blood escorted his compulsory guest to the head of the
ladder.  Colonel Bishop, who for two hours and more had been in a
state of mortal anxiety, breathed freely at last; and as the tide
of his fears receded, so that of his deep-rooted hate of this
audacious buccaneer resumed its normal flow.  But he practised
circumspection.  If in his heart he vowed that once back in Port
Royal there was no effort he would spare, no nerve he would not
strain, to bring Peter Blood to final moorings in Execution Dock,
at least he kept that vow strictly to himself.

Peter Blood had no illusions.  He was not, and never would be, the
complete pirate.  There was not another buccaneer in all the
Caribbean who would have denied himself the pleasure of stringing
Colonel Bishop from the yardarm, and by thus finally stifling the
vindictive planter's hatred have increased his own security.  But
Blood was not of these.  Moreover, in the case of Colonel Bishop
there was a particular reason for restraint.  Because he was Arabella
Bishop's uncle, his life must remain sacred to Captain Blood.

And so the Captain smiled into the sallow, bloated face and the
little eyes that fixed him with a malevolence not to be dissembled.

"A safe voyage home to you, Colonel, darling," said he in
valediction, and from his easy, smiling manner you would never have
dreamt of the pain he carried in his breast.  "It's the second time
ye've served me for a hostage.  Ye'll be well advised to avoid a
third.  I'm not lucky to you, Colonel, as you should be perceiving."

Jeremy Pitt, the master, lounging at Blood's elbow, looked darkly
upon the departure of the Deputy-Governor.  Behind them a little
mob of grim, stalwart, sun-tanned buccaneers were restrained from
cracking Bishop like a flea only by their submission to the dominant
will of their leader.  They had learnt from Pitt while yet in Port
Royal of their Captain's danger, and whilst as ready as he to throw
over the King's service which had been thrust upon them, yet they
resented the manner in which this had been rendered necessary, and
they marvelled now at Blood's restraint where Bishop was concerned.
The Deputy-Governor looked round and met the lowering hostile
glances of those fierce eyes.  Instinct warned him that his life at
that moment was held precariously, that an injudicious word might
precipitate an explosion of hatred from which no human power could
save him.  Therefore he said nothing.  He inclined his head in
silence to the Captain, and went blundering and stumbling in his
haste down that ladder to the sloop and its waiting negro crew.

They pushed off the craft from the red hull of the Arabella, bent
to their sweeps, then, hoisting sail, headed back for Port Royal,
intent upon reaching it before darkness should come down upon them.
And Bishop, the great bulk of him huddled in the stem sheets, sat
silent, his black brows knitted, his coarse lips pursed, malevolence
and vindictiveness so whelming now his recent panic that he forgot
his near escape of the yardarm and the running noose.

On the mole at Port Royal, under the low, embattled wall of the fort,
Major Mallard and Lord Julian waited to receive him, and it was with
infinite relief that they assisted him from the sloop.

Major Mallard was disposed to be apologetic.

"Glad to see you safe, sir," said he.  "I'd have sunk Blood's ship
in spite of your excellency's being aboard but for your own orders
by Lord Julian, and his lordship's assurance that he had Blood's
word for it that no harm should come to you so that no harm came to
him.  I'll confess I thought it rash of his lordship to accept the
word of a damned pirate...."

"I have found it as good as another's," said his lordship, cropping
the Major's too eager eloquence.  He spoke with an unusual degree
of that frosty dignity he could assume upon occasion.  The fact is
that his lordship was in an exceedingly bad humour.  Having written
jubilantly home to the Secretary of State that his mission had
succeeded, he was now faced with the necessity of writing again to
confess that this success had been ephemeral.  And because Major
Mallard's crisp mostachios were lifted by a sneer at the notion of
a buccaneer's word being acceptable, he added still more sharply:
"My justification is here in the person of Colonel Bishop safely
returned.  As against that, sir, your opinion does not weigh for
very much.  You should realize it."

"Oh, as your lordship says."  Major Mallard's manner was tinged with
irony.  "To be sure, here is the Colonel safe and sound.  And out
yonder is Captain Blood, also safe and sound, to begin his piratical
ravages all over again."

"I do not propose to discuss the reasons with you, Major Mallard."

"And, anyway, it's not for long," growled the Colonel, finding
speech at last.  "No, by....."  He emphasized the assurance by an
unprintable oath.  "If I spend the last shilling of my fortune and
the last ship of the Jamaica fleet, I'll have that rascal in a
hempen necktie before I rest.  And I'll not be long about it."  He
had empurpled in his angry vehemence, and the veins of his forehead
stood out like whipcord.  Then he checked.

"You did well to follow Lord Julian's instructions," he commended
the Major.  With that he turned from him, and took his lordship by
the arm.  "Come, my lord.  We must take order about this, you and I."

They went off together, skirting the redoubt, and so through
courtyard and garden to the house where Arabella waited anxiously.
The sight of her uncle brought her infinite relief, not only on his
own account, but on account also of Captain Blood.

"You took a great risk, sir," she gravely told Lord Julian after
the ordinary greetings had been exchanged.

But Lord Julian answered her as he had answered Major Mallard.
"There was no risk, ma'am."

She looked at him in some astonishment.  His long, aristocratic
face wore a more melancholy, pensive air than usual.  He answered
the enquiry in her glance:

"So that Blood's ship were allowed to pass the fort, no harm could
come to Colonel Bishop.  Blood pledged me his word for that."

A faint smile broke the set of her lips, which hitherto had been
wistful, and a little colour tinged her cheeks.  She would have
pursued the subject, but the Deputy-Governor's mood did not permit
it.  He sneered and snorted at the notion of Blood's word being good
for anything, forgetting that he owed to it his own preservation at
that moment.

At supper, and for long thereafter he talked of nothing but Blood
 - of how he would lay him by the heels, and what hideous things he
would perform upon his body.  And as he drank heavily the while, his
speech became increasingly gross and his threats increasingly
horrible; until in the end Arabella withdrew, white-faced and almost
on the verge of tears.  It was not often that Bishop revealed
himself to his niece.  Oddly enough, this coarse, overbearing planter
went in a certain awe of that slim girl.  It was as if she had
inherited from her father the respect in which he had always been
held by his brother.

Lord Julian, who began to find Bishop disgusting beyond endurance,
excused himself soon after, and went in quest of the lady.  He had
yet to deliver the message from Captain Blood, and this, he thought,
would be his opportunity.  But Miss Bishop had retired for the
night, and Lord Julian must curb his impatience - it amounted by
now to nothing less - until the morrow.

Very early next morning, before the heat of the day came to render
the open intolerable to his lordship, he espied her from his window
moving amid the azaleas in the garden.  It was a fitting setting
for one who was still as much a delightful novelty to him in
womanhood as was the azalea among flowers.  He hurried forth to
join her, and when, aroused from her pensiveness, she had given
him a good-morrow, smiling and frank, he explained himself by the
announcement that he bore her a message from Captain Blood.

He observed her little start and the slight quiver of her lips,
and observed thereafter not only her pallor and the shadowy rings
about her eyes, but also that unusually wistful air which last night
had escaped his notice.

They moved out of the open to one of the terraces, where a pergola
of orange-trees provided a shaded sauntering space that was at once
cool and fragrant.  As they went, he considered her admiringly, and
marvelled at himself that it should have taken him so long fully
to realize her slim, unusual grace, and to find her, as he now did,
so entirely desirable, a woman whose charm must irradiate all the
life of a man, and touch its commonplaces into magic.

He noted the sheen of her red-brown hair, and how gracefully one
of its heavy ringlets coiled upon her slender, milk-white neck.
She wore a gown of shimmering grey silk, and a scarlet rose,
fresh-gathered, was pinned at her breast like a splash of blood.
Always thereafter when he thought of her it was as he saw her at
that moment, as never, I think, until that moment had he seen her.

In silence they paced on a little way into the green shade.  Then
she paused and faced him.

"You said something of a message, sir," she reminded him, thus
betraying some of her impatience.

He fingered the ringlets of his periwig, a little embarrassed how
to deliver himself, considering how he should begin.  "He desired
me," he said at last, "to give you a message that should prove to
you that there is still something left in him of the unfortunate
gentleman that... that.., for which once you knew him."

"That is not now necessary," said she very gravely.  He misunderstood
her, of course, knowing nothing of the enlightenment that yesterday
had come to her.

"I think..., nay, I know that you do him an injustice," said he.

Her hazel eyes continued to regard him.

"If you will deliver the message, it may enable me to judge."

To him, this was confusing.  He did not immediately answer.  He
found that he had not sufficiently considered the terms he should
employ, and the matter, after all, was of an exceeding delicacy,
demanding delicate handling.  It was not so much that he was
concerned to deliver a message as to render it a vehicle by which
to plead his own cause.  Lord Julian, well versed in the lore of
womankind and usually at his ease with ladies of the beau-monde,
found himself oddly constrained before this frank and unsophisticated
niece of a colonial planter.

They moved on in silence and as if by common consent towards the
brilliant sunshine where the pergola was intersected by the avenue
leading upwards to the house.  Across this patch of light fluttered
a gorgeous butterfly, that was like black and scarlet velvet and
large as a man's hand.  His lordship's brooding eyes followed it
out of sight before he answered.

"It is not easy.  Stab me, it is not.  He was a man who deserved
well.  And amongst us we have marred his chances:  your uncle, because
he could not forget his rancour; you, because... because having told
him that in the King's service he would find his redemption of what
was past, you would not afterwards admit to him that he was so
redeemed.  And this, although concern to rescue you was the chief
motive of his embracing that same service."

She had turned her shoulder to him so that he should not see her face.

"I know.  I know now," she said softly.  Then after a pause she added
the question:  "And you?  What part has your lordship had in this -
that you should incriminate yourself with us?"

"My part?"  Again he hesitated, then plunged recklessly on, as men
do when determined to perform a thing they fear.  "If I understood
him aright, if he understood aright, himself, my part, though
entirely passive, was none the less effective.  I implore you to
observe that I but report his own words.  I say nothing for myself."
His lordship's unusual nervousness was steadily increasing.  "He
thought, then - so he told me - that my presence here had contributed
to his inability to redeem himself in your sight; and unless he were
so redeemed, then was redemption nothing."

She faced him fully, a frown of perplexity bringing her brows
together above her troubled eyes.

"He thought that you had contributed?" she echoed.  It was clear
she asked for enlightenment.  He plunged on to afford it her, his
glance a little scared, his cheeks flushing.

"Aye, and he said so in terms which told me something that I hope
above all things, and yet dare not believe, for, God knows, I am no
coxcomb, Arabella.  He said... but first let me tell you how I was
placed.  I had gone aboard his ship to demand the instant surrender
of your uncle whom he held captive.  He laughed at me.  Colonel
Bishop should be a hostage for his safety.  By rashly venturing
aboard his ship, I afforded him in my own person yet another hostage
as valuable at least as Colonel Bishop.  Yet he bade me depart; not
from the fear of consequences, for he is above fear, nor from any
personal esteem for me whom he confessed that he had come to find
detestable; and this for the very reason that made him concerned
for my safety."

"I do not understand," she said, as he paused.  "Is not that a
contradiction in itself?"

"It seems so only.  The fact is, Arabella, this unfortunate man has
the... the temerity to love you."

She cried out at that, and clutched her breast whose calm was
suddenly disturbed.  Her eyes dilated as she stared at him.

"I... I've startled you," said he, with concern.  "I feared I should.
But it was necessary so that you may understand."

"Go on," she bade him.

"Well, then:  he saw in me one who made it impossible that he should
win you - so he said.  Therefore he could with satisfaction have
killed me.  But because my death might cause you pain, because your
happiness was the thing that above all things he desired, he
surrendered that part of his guarantee of safety which my person
afforded him.  If his departure should be hindered, and I should
lose my life in what might follow, there was the risk that... that
you might mourn me.  That risk he would not take.  Him you deemed
a thief and a pirate, he said, and added that - I am giving you his
own words always - if in choosing between us two, your choice, as
he believed, would fall on me, then were you in his opinion choosing
wisely.  Because of that he bade me leave his ship, and had me put
ashore."

She looked at him with eyes that were aswim with tears.  He took a
step towards her, a catch in his breath, his hand held out.

"Was he right, Arabella?  My life's happiness hangs upon your answer."

But she continued silently to regard him with those tear-laden eyes,
without speaking, and until she spoke he dared not advance farther.

A doubt, a tormenting doubt beset him.  When presently she spoke,
he saw how true had been the instinct of which that doubt was born,
for her words revealed the fact that of all that he had said the
only thing that had touched her consciousness and absorbed it from
all other considerations was Blood's conduct as it regarded herself.

"He said that!" she cried.  "He did that!  Oh!"  She turned away,
and through the slender, clustering trunks of the bordering
orange-trees she looked out across the glittering waters of the
great harbour to the distant hills.  Thus for a little while, my
lord standing stiffly, fearfully, waiting for fuller revelation of
her mind.  At last it came, slowly, deliberately, in a voice that
at moments was half suffocated.  "Last night when my uncle displayed
his rancour and his evil rage, it began to be borne in upon me that
such vindictiveness can belong only to those who have wronged.  It is
the frenzy into which men whip themselves to justify an evil passion.
I must have known then, if I had not already learnt it, that I had
been too credulous of all the unspeakable things attributed to Peter
Blood.  Yesterday I had his own explanation of that tale of Levasseur
that you heard in St. Nicholas.  And now this... this but gives me
confirmation of his truth and worth.  To a scoundrel such as I was
too readily brought to believe him, the act of which you have just
told me would have been impossible."

"That is my own opinion," said his lordship gently.

"It must be.  But even if it were not, that would now weigh for
nothing.  What weighs - oh, so heavily and bitterly - is the thought
that but for the words in which yesterday I repelled him, he might
have been saved.  If only I could have spoken to him again before
he went!  I waited for him; but my uncle was with him, and I had no
suspicion that he was going away again.  And now he is lost - back
at his outlawry and piracy, in which ultimately he will be taken
and destroyed.  And the fault is mine - mine!"

"What are you saying?  The only agents were your uncle's hostility
and his own obstinacy which would not study compromise.  You must
not blame yourself for anything."

She swung to him with some impatience, her eyes aswim in tears.  "You
can say that, and in spite of his message, which in itself tells how
much I was to blame!  It was my treatment of him, the epithets I cast
at him that drove him.  So much he has told you.  I know it to be
true."

"You have no cause for shame," said he.  "As for your sorrow - why,
if it will afford you solace - you may still count on me to do what
man can to rescue him from this position."

She caught her breath.

"You will do that!" she cried with sudden eager hopefulness.  "You
promise?"  She held out her hand to him impulsively.  He took it in
both his own.

"I promise," he answered her.  And then, retaining still the hand
she had surrendered to him - "Arabella," he said very gently, "there
is still this other matter upon which you have not answered me."

"This other matter?"  Was he mad, she wondered.

Could any other matter signify in such a moment.

"This matter that concerns myself; and all my future, oh, so very
closely.  This thing that Blood believed, that prompted him..., that
... that you are not indifferent to me."  He saw the fair face change
colour and grow troubled once more.

"Indifferent to you?" said she.  "Why, no.  We have been good
friends; we shall continue so, I hope, my lord."

"Friends!  Good friends?"  He was between dismay and bitterness.
"It is not your friendship only that I ask, Arabella.  You heard
what I said, what I reported.  You will not say that Peter Blood was
wrong?"

Gently she sought to disengage her hand, the trouble in her face
increasing.  A moment he resisted; then, realizing what he did, he
set her free.

"Arabella!" he cried on a note of sudden pain.

"I have friendship for you, my lord.  But only friendship."  His
castle of hopes came clattering down about him, leaving him a little
stunned.  As he had said, he was no coxcomb.  Yet there was something
that he did not understand.  She confessed to friendship, and it was
in his power to offer her a great position, one to which she, a
colonial planter's niece, however wealthy, could never have aspired
even in her dreams.  This she rejected, yet spoke of friendship.
Peter Blood had been mistaken, then.  How far had he been mistaken?
Had he been as mistaken in her feelings towards himself as he
obviously was in her feelings towards his lordship?  In that case
... His reflections broke short.  To speculate was to wound himself
in vain.  He must know.  Therefore he asked her with grim frankness:

"Is it Peter Blood?"

"Peter Blood?" she echoed.  At first she did not understand the
purport of his question.  When understanding came, a flush suffused
her face.

"I do not know," she said, faltering a little.

This was hardly a truthful answer.  For, as if an obscuring veil had
suddenly been rent that morning, she was permitted at last to see
Peter Blood in his true relations to other men, and that sight,
vouchsafed her twenty-four hours too late, filled her with pity and
regret and yearning.

Lord Julian knew enough of women to be left in no further doubt.
He bowed his head so that she might not see the anger in his eyes,
for as a man of honour he took shame in that anger which as a human
being he could not repress.

And because Nature in him was stronger - as it is in most of us -
than training, Lord Julian from that moment began, almost in spite
of himself, to practise something that was akin to villainy.  I
regret to chronicle it of one for whom - if I have done him any sort
of justice - you should have been conceiving some esteem.  But the
truth is that the lingering remains of the regard in which he had
held Peter Blood were choked by the desire to supplant and destroy
a rival.  He had passed his word to Arabella that he would use his
powerful influence on Blood's behalf.  I deplore to set it down that
not only did he forget his pledge, but secretly set himself to aid
and abet Arabella's uncle in the plans he laid for the trapping and
undoing of the buccaneer.  He might reasonably have urged - had he
been taxed with it - that he conducted himself precisely as his duty
demanded.  But to that he might have been answered that duty with him
was but the slave of jealousy in this.

When the Jamaica fleet put to sea some few days later, Lord Julian
sailed with Colonel Bishop in Vice-Admiral Craufurd's flagship.
Not only was there no need for either of them to go, but the
Deputy-Governor's duties actually demanded that he should remain
ashore, whilst Lord Julian, as we know, was a useless man aboard a
ship.  Yet both set out to hunt Captain Blood, each making of his
duty a pretext for the satisfaction of personal aims; and that
common purpose became a link between them, binding them in a sort
of friendship that must otherwise have been impossible between men
so dissimilar in breeding and in aspirations.

The hunt was up.  They cruised awhile off Hispaniola, watching the
Windward Passage, and suffering the discomforts of the rainy season
which had now set in.  But they cruised in vain, and after a month
of it, returned empty-handed to Port Royal, there to find awaiting
them the most disquieting news from the Old World.

The megalomania of Louis XIV had set Europe in a blaze of war.
The French legionaries were ravaging the Rhine provinces, and Spain
had joined the nations leagued to defend themselves from the wild
ambitions of the King of France.  And there was worse than this:
there were rumours of civil war in England, where the people had
grown weary of the bigoted tyranny of King James.  It was reported
that William of Orange had been invited to come over.

Weeks passed, and every ship from home brought additional news.
William had crossed to England, and in March of that year 1689
they learnt in Jamaica that he had accepted the crown and that
James had thrown himself into the arms of France for rehabilitation.

To a kinsman of Sunderland's this was disquieting news, indeed.
It was followed by letters from King William's Secretary of State
informing Colonel Bishop that there was war with France, and that
in view of its effect upon the Colonies a Governor-General was
coming out to the West Indies in the person of Lord Willoughby,
and that with him came a squadron under the command of Admiral van
der Kuylen to reenforce the Jamaica fleet against eventualities.

Bishop realized that this must mean the end of his supreme authority,
even though he should continue in Port Royal as Deputy-Governor.
Lord Julian, in the lack of direct news to himself, did not know
what it might mean to him.  But he had been very close and
confidential with Colonel Bishop regarding his hopes of Arabella,
and Colonel Bishop more than ever, now that political events put him
in danger of being retired, was anxious to enjoy the advantages of
having a man of Lord Julian's eminence for his relative.

They came to a complete understanding in the matter, and Lord Julian
disclosed all that he knew.

"There is one obstacle in our path," said he.  "Captain Blood.  The
girl is in love with him."

"Ye're surely mad!" cried Bishop, when he had recovered speech.

"You are justified of the assumption," said his lordship dolefully.
"But I happen to be sane, and to speak with knowledge."

"With knowledge?"

"Arabella herself has confessed it to me."

"The brazen baggage!  By God, I'll bring her to her senses."  It was
the slave-driver speaking, the man who governed with a whip.

"Don't be a fool, Bishop."  His lordship's contempt did more than
any argument to calm the Colonel.  "That's not the way with a girl
of Arabella's spirit.  Unless you want to wreck my chances for all
time, you'll hold your tongue, and not interfere at all."

"Not interfere?  My God, what, then?"

"Listen, man.  She has a constant mind.  I don't think you know
your niece.  As long as  Blood lives, she will wait for him."

"Then with Blood dead, perhaps she will come to her silly senses."

"Now you begin to show intelligence," Lord Julian commended him.
"That is the first essential step."

"And here is our chance to take it."  Bishop warmed to a sort of
enthusiasm.  "This war with France removes all restrictions in the
matter of Tortuga.  We are free to invest it in the service of the
Crown.  A victory there and we establish ourselves in the favour
of this new government."

"Ah!" said Lord Julian, and he pulled thoughtfully at his lip.

"I see that you understand," Bishop laughed coarsely.  "Two birds
with one stone, eh?  We'll hunt this rascal in his lair, right under
the beard of the King of France, and we'll take him this time, if
we reduce Tortuga to a heap of ashes."

On that expedition they sailed two days later - which would be some
three months after Blood's departure - taking every ship of the
fleet, and several lesser vessels as auxiliaries.  To Arabella and
the world in general it was given out that they were going to raid
French Hispaniola, which was really the only expedition that could
have afforded Colonel Bishop any sort of justification for leaving
Jamaica at all at such a time.  His sense of duty, indeed, should
have kept him fast in Port Royal; but his sense of duty was smothered
in hatred - that most fruitless and corruptive of all the emotions.
In the great cabin of Vice-Admiral Craufurd's flagship, the
Imperator, the Deputy-Governor got drunk that night to celebrate his
conviction that the sands of Captain Blood's career were running out.



CHAPTER XXV

THE SERVICE OF KING LOUIS


Meanwhile, some three months before Colonel Bishop set out to reduce
Tortuga, Captain Blood, bearing hell in his soul, had blown into
its rockbound harbour ahead of the winter gales, and two days ahead
of the frigate in which Wolverstone had sailed from Port Royal a day
before him.

In that snug anchorage he found his fleet awaiting him - the four
ships which had been separated in that gale off the Lesser Antilles,
and some seven hundred men composing their crews.  Because they had
been beginning to grow anxious on his behalf, they gave him the
greater welcome.  Guns were fired in his honour and the ships made
themselves gay with bunting.  The town, aroused by all this noise in
the harbour, emptied itself upon the jetty, and a vast crowd of men
and women of all creeds and nationalities collected there to be
present at the coming ashore of the great buccaneer.

Ashore he went, probably for no other reason than to obey the general
expectation.  His mood was taciturn; his face grim and sneering.  Let
Wolverstone arrive, as presently he would, and all this hero-worship
would turn to execration.

His captains, Hagthorpe, Christian, and Yberville, were on the jetty
to receive him, and with them were some hundreds of his buccaneers.
He cut short their greetings, and when they plagued him with questions
of where he had tarried, he bade them await the coming of Wolverstone,
who would satisfy their curiosity to a surfeit.  On that he shook
them off, and shouldered his way through that heterogeneous throng
that was composed of bustling traders of several nations - English,
French, and Dutch - of planters and of seamen of various degrees, of
buccaneers who were fruit-selling half-castes, negro slaves, some
doll-tearsheets and dunghill-queans from the Old World, and all the
other types of the human family that converted the quays of Cayona
into a disreputable image of Babel.

Winning clear at last, and after difficulties, Captain Blood took
his way alone to the fine house of M. d'Ogeron, there to pay his
respects to his friends, the Governor and the Governor's family.

At first the buccaneers jumped to the conclusion that Wolverstone
was following with some rare prize of war, but gradually from the
reduced crew of the Arabella a very different tale leaked out to
stem their satisfaction and convert it into perplexity.  Partly out
of loyalty to their captain, partly because they perceived that if
he was guilty of defection they were guilty with him, and partly
because being simple, sturdy men of their hands, they were themselves
in the main a little confused as to what really had happened, the
crew of the Arabella practised reticence with their brethren in
Tortuga during those two days before Wolverstone's arrival.  But
they were not reticent enough to prevent the circulation of certain
uneasy rumours and extravagant stories of discreditable adventures
 - discreditable, that is, from the buccaneering point of view - of
which Captain Blood had been guilty.

But that Wolverstone came when he did, it is possible that there
would have been an explosion.  When, however, the Old Wolf cast
anchor in the bay two days later, it was to him all turned for the
explanation they were about to demand of Blood.

Now Wolverstone had only one eye; but he saw a deal more with that
one eye than do most men with two; and despite his grizzled head
 - so picturesquely swathed in a green and scarlet turban - he had
the sound heart of a boy, and in that heart much love for Peter
Blood.

The sight of the Arabella at anchor in the bay had at first amazed
him as he sailed round the rocky headland that bore the fort.  He
rubbed his single eye clear of any deceiving film and looked again.
Still he could not believe what it saw.  And then a voice at his
elbow - the voice of Dyke, who had elected to sail with him -
assured him that he was not singular in his bewilderment.

"In the name of Heaven, is that the Arabella or is it the ghost of
her?"

The Old Wolf rolled his single eye over Dyke, and opened his mouth
to speak.  Then he closed it again without having spoken; closed it
tightly.  He had a great gift of caution, especially in matters that
he did not understand.  That this was the Arabella he could no longer
doubt.  That being so, he must think before he spoke.  What the devil
should the Arabella be doing here, when he had left her in Jamaica?
And was Captain Blood aboard and in command, or had the remainder of
her hands made off with her, leaving the Captain in Port Royal?

Dyke repeated his question.  This time Wolverstone answered him.

"Ye've two eyes to see with, and ye ask me, who's only got one,
what it is ye see!"

"But I see the Arabella."

"Of course, since there she rides.  What else was you expecting?"

"Expecting?" Dyke stared at him, open-mouthed.  "Was you expecting
to find the Arabella here?"

Wolverstone looked him over in contempt, then laughed and spoke
loud enough to be heard by all around him.  "Of course.  What else?"
And he laughed again, a laugh that seemed to Dyke to be calling him
a fool.  On that Wolverstone turned to give his attention to the
operation of anchoring.

Anon when ashore he was beset by questioning buccaneers, it was
from their very questions that he gathered exactly how matters
stood, and perceived that either from lack of courage or other
motive Blood, himself, had refused to render any account of his
doings since the Arabella had separated from her sister ships.
Wolverstone congratulated himself upon the discretion he had used
with Dyke.

"The Captain was ever a modest man," he explained to Hagthorpe and
those others who came crowding round him.  "It's not his way to be
sounding his own praises.  Why, it was like this.  We fell in with
old Don Miguel, and when we'd scuttled him we took aboard a London
pimp sent out by the Secretary of State to offer the Captain the
King's commission if so be him'd quit piracy and be o' good
behaviour.  The Captain damned his soul to hell for answer.  And then
we fell in wi' the Jamaica fleet and that grey old devil Bishop in
command, and there was a sure end to Captain Blood and to every
mother's son of us all.  So I goes to him, and 'accept this poxy
commission,' says I; 'turn King's man and save your neck and ours.'
He took me at my word, and the London pimp gave him the King's
commission on the spot, and Bishop all but choked hisself with rage
when he was told of it.  But happened it had, and he was forced to
swallow it.  We were King's men all, and so into Port Royal we
sailed along o' Bishop.  But Bishop didn't trust us.  He knew too
much.  But for his lordship, the fellow from London, he'd ha' hanged
the Captain, King's commission and all.  Blood would ha' slipped
out o' Port Royal again that same night.  But that hound Bishop
had passed the word, and the fort kept a sharp lookout.  In the end,
though it took a fortnight, Blood bubbled him.  He sent me and most
o' the men off in a frigate that I bought for the voyage.  His game
 - as he'd secretly told me - was to follow and give chase.  Whether
that's the game he played or not I can't tell ye; but here he is
afore me as I'd expected he would be."

There was a great historian lost in Wolverstone.  He had the right
imagination that knows just how far it is safe to stray from the
truth and just how far to colour it so as to change its shape for
his own purposes.

Having delivered himself of his decoction of fact and falsehood,
and thereby added one more to the exploits of Peter Blood, he
enquired where the Captain might be found.  Being informed that he
kept his ship, Wolverstone stepped into a boat and went aboard, to
report himself, as he put it.

In the great cabin of the Arabella he found Peter Blood alone and
very far gone in drink - a condition in which no man ever before
remembered to have seen him.  As Wolverstone came in, the Captain
raised bloodshot eyes to consider him.  A moment they sharpened in
their gaze as he brought his visitor into focus.  Then he laughed,
a loose, idiot laugh, that yet somehow was half a sneer.

"Ah!  The Old Wolf!" said he.  "Got here at last, eh?  And whatcher
gonnerdo wi' me, eh?"  He hiccoughed resoundingly, and sagged back
loosely in his chair.

Old Wolverstone stared at him in sombre silence.  He had looked
with untroubled eye upon many a hell of devilment in his time, but
the sight of Captain Blood in this condition filled him with sudden
grief.  To express it he loosed an oath.  It was his only expression
for emotion of all kinds.  Then he rolled forward, and dropped into
a chair at the table, facing the Captain.

"My God, Peter, what's this?"

"Rum," said Peter.  "Rum, from Jamaica."  He pushed bottle and glass
towards Wolverstone.

Wolverstone disregarded them.

"I'm asking you what ails you?" he bawled.

"Rum," said Captain Blood again, and smiled.  "Jus' rum.  I answer
all your queshons.  Why donjerr answer mine?  Whatcher gonerdo wi'
me?"

"I've done it," said Wolverstone.  "Thank God, ye had the sense to
hold your tongue till I came.  Are ye sober enough to understand me?"

"Drunk or sober, allus 'derstand you."

"Then listen."  And out came the tale that Wolverstone had told.
The Captain steadied himself to grasp it.

"It'll do as well asertruth," said he when Wolverstone had finished.
"And... oh, no marrer!  Much obliged to ye, Old Wolf - faithful
Old Wolf!  But was it worthertrouble?  I'm norrer pirate now; never
a pirate again.  'S finished'"  He banged the table, his eyes
suddenly fierce.

"I'll come and talk to you again when there's less rum in your wits,"
said Wolverstone, rising.  "Meanwhile ye'll please to remember the
tale I've told, and say nothing that'll make me out a liar.  They all
believes me, even the men as sailed wi' me from Port Royal.  I've made
'em.  If they thought as how you'd taken the King's commission in
earnest, and for the purpose o' doing as Morgan did, ye guess what
would follow."

"Hell would follow," said the Captain.  "An' tha's all I'm fit for."

"Ye're maudlin," Wolverstone growled.  "We'll talk again to-morrow."

They did; but to little purpose, either that day or on any day
thereafter while the rains - which set in that night - endured.
Soon the shrewd Wolverstone discovered that rum was not what ailed
Blood.  Rum was in itself an effect, and not by any means the cause
of the Captain's listless apathy.  There was a canker eating at his
heart, and the Old Wolf knew enough to make a shrewd guess of its
nature.  He cursed all things that daggled petticoats, and, knowing
his world, waited for the sickness to pass.

But it did not pass.  When Blood was not dicing or drinking in the
taverns of Tortuga, keeping company that in his saner days he had
loathed, he was shut up in his cabin aboard the Arabella, alone and
uncommunicative.  His friends at Government House, bewildered at
this change in him, sought to reclaim him.  Mademoiselle d'Ogeron,
particularly distressed, sent him almost daily invitations, to few
of which he responded.

Later, as the rainy season approached its end, he was sought by his
captains with proposals of remunerative raids on Spanish settlements.
But to all he manifested an indifference which, as the weeks passed
and the weather became settled, begot first impatience and then
exasperation.

Christian, who commanded the Clotho, came storming to him one day,
upbraiding him for his inaction, and demanding that he should take
order about what was to do.

"Go to the devil!" Blood said, when he had heard him out.  Christian
departed fuming, and on the morrow the Clotho weighed anchor and
sailed away, setting an example of desertion from which the loyalty
of Blood's other captains would soon be unable to restrain their men.

Sometimes Blood asked himself why had he come back to Tortuga at all.
Held fast in bondage by the thought of Arabella and her scorn of him
for a thief and a pirate, he had sworn that he had done with
buccaneering.  Why, then, was he here?  That question he would answer
with another:  Where else was he to go?  Neither backward nor forward
could he move, it seemed.

He was degenerating visibly, under the eyes of all.  He had entirely
lost the almost foppish concern for his appearance, and was grown
careless and slovenly in his dress.  He allowed a black beard to
grow on cheeks that had ever been so carefully shaven; and the long,
thick black hair, once so sedulously curled, hung now in a lank,
untidy mane about a face that was changing from its vigorous
swarthiness to an unhealthy sallow, whilst the blue eyes, that had
been so vivid and compelling, were now dull and lacklustre.

Wolverstone, the only one who held the clue to this degeneration,
ventured once - and once only - to beard him frankly about it.

"Lord, Peter!  Is there never to be no end to this?" the giant had
growled.  "Will you spend your days moping and swilling 'cause a
white-faced ninny in Port Royal'll have none o' ye?  'Sblood and
'ounds!  If ye wants the wench, why the plague doesn't ye go and
fetch her?"

The blue eyes glared at him from under the jet-black eyebrows,
and something of their old fire began to kindle in them.  But
Wolverstone went on heedlessly.

"I'll be nice wi' a wench as long as niceness be the key to her
favour.  But sink me now if I'd rot myself in rum on account of
anything that wears a petticoat.  That's not the Old Wolf's way.
If there's no other expedition'll tempt you, why not Port Royal?
What a plague do it matter if it is an English settlement?  It's
commanded by Colonel Bishop, and there's no lack of rascals in your
company'd follow you to hell if it meant getting Colonel Bishop by
the throat.  It could be done, I tell you.  We've but to spy the
chance when the Jamaica fleet is away.  There's enough plunder in
the town to tempt the lads, and there's the wench for you.  Shall
I sound them on 't?"

Blood was on his feet, his eyes blazing, his livid face distorted.
"Ye'll leave my cabin this minute, so ye will, or, by Heaven, it's
your corpse'll be carried out of it.  Ye mangy hound, d'ye dare
come to me with such proposals?"

He fell to cursing his faithful officer with a virulence the like
of which he had never yet been known to use.  And Wolverstone, in
terror before that fury, went out without another word.  The subject
was not raised again, and Captain Blood was left to his idle
abstraction.

But at last, as his buccaneers were growing desperate, something
happened, brought about by the Captain's friend M. d'Ogeron.  One
sunny morning the Governor of Tortuga came aboard the Arabella,
accompanied by a chubby little gentleman, amiable of countenance,
amiable and self-sufficient of manner.

"My Captain," M. d'Ogeron delivered himself, "I bring you M. de
Cussy, the Governor of French Hispaniola, who desires a word with
you."

Out of consideration for his friend, Captain Blood pulled the pipe
from his mouth, shook some of the rum out of his wits, and rose
and made a leg to M. de Cussy.

"Serviteur!" said he.

M. de Cussy returned the bow and accepted a seat on the locker under
the stem windows.

"You have a good force here under your command, my Captain," said he.

"Some eight hundred men."

"And I understand they grow restive in idleness."

"They may go to the devil when they please."

M. de Cussy took snuff delicately.  "I have something better than
that to propose," said he.

"Propose it, then," said Blood, without interest.

M. de Cussy looked at M. d'Ogeron, and raised his eyebrows a little.
He did not find Captain Blood encouraging.  But M. d'Ogeron nodded
vigorously with pursed lips, and the Governor of Hispaniola
propounded his business.

"News has reached us from France that there is war with Spain."

"That is news, is it?" growled Blood.

"I am speaking officially, my Captain.  I am not alluding to
unofficial skirmishes, and unofficial predatory measures which we
have condoned out here.  There is war - formally war - between
France and Spain in Europe.  It is the intention of France that
this war shall be carried into the New World.  A fleet is coming
out from Brest under the command of M. le Baron de Rivarol for
that purpose.  I have letters from him desiring me to equip a
supplementary squadron and raise a body of not less than a thousand
men to reenforce him on his arrival.  What I have come to propose
to you, my Captain, at the suggestion of our good friend M. d'Ogeron,
is, in brief, that you enroll your ships and your force under M. de
Rivarol's flag."

Blood looked at him with a faint kindling of interest.  "You are
offering to take us into the French service?" he asked.  "On what
terms, monsieur?"

"With the rank of Capitaine de Vaisseau for yourself, and suitable
ranks for the officers serving under you.  You will enjoy the pay
of that rank, and you will be entitled, together with your men,
to one-tenth share in all prizes taken."

"My men will hardly account it generous.  They will tell you that
they can sail out of here to-morrow, disembowel a Spanish settlement,
and keep the whole of the plunder."

"Ah, yes, but with the risks attaching to acts of piracy.  With us
your position will be regular and official, and considering the
powerful fleet by which M. de Rivarol is backed, the enterprises
to be undertaken will be on a much vaster scale than anything you
could attempt on your own account.  So that the one tenth in this
case may be equal to more than the whole in the other."

Captain Blood considered.  This, after all, was not piracy that was
being proposed.  It was honourable employment in the service of the
King of France.

"I will consult my officers," he said; and he sent for them.

They came and the matter was laid before them by M. de Cussy himself.
Hagthorpe announced at once that the proposal was opportune.  The
men were grumbling at their protracted inaction, and would no doubt
be ready to accept the service which M. de Cussy offered on behalf
of France.  Hagthorpe looked at Blood as he spoke.  Blood nodded
gloomy agreement.  Emboldened by this, they went on to discuss the
terms.  Yberville, the young French filibuster, had the honour to
point out to M. de Cussy that the share offered was too small.  For
one fifth of the prizes, the officers would answer for their men;
not for less.

M. de Cussy was distressed.  He had his instructions.  It was taking
a deal upon himself to exceed them.  The buccaneers were firm.
Unless M. de Cussy could make it one fifth there was no more to be
said.  M. de Cussy finally consenting to exceed his instructions,
the articles were drawn up and signed that very day.  The buccaneers
were to be at Petit Goave by the end of January, when M. de Rivarol
had announced that he might be expected.

After that followed days of activity in Tortuga, refitting the ships,
boucanning meat, laying in stores.  In these matters which once
would have engaged all Captain Blood's attention, he now took no
part.  He continued listless and aloof.  If he had given his consent
to the undertaking, or, rather, allowed himself to be swept into it
by the wishes of his officers - it was only because the service
offered was of a regular and honourable kind, nowise connected with
piracy, with which he swore in his heart that he had done for ever.
But his consent remained passive.  The service entered awoke no zeal
in him.  He was perfectly indifferent - as he told Hagthorpe, who
ventured once to offer a remonstrance - whether they went to Petit
Goave or to Hades, and whether they entered the service of Louis XIV
or of Satan.



CHAPTER XXVI

M. de RIVAROL


Captain Blood was still in that disgruntled mood when he sailed from
Tortuga, and still in that mood when he came to his moorings in the
bay of Petit Goave.  In that same mood he greeted M. le Baron de
Rivarol when this nobleman with his fleet of five men-of-war at last
dropped anchor alongside the buccaneer ships, in the middle of
February.  The Frenchman had been six weeks on the voyage, he
announced, delayed by unfavourable weather.

Summoned to wait on him, Captain Blood repaired to the Castle of
Petit Goave, where the interview was to take place.  The Baron,
a tall, hawk-faced man of forty, very cold and distant of manner,
measured Captain Blood with an eye of obvious disapproval.  Of
Hagthorpe, Yberville, and Wolverstone who stood ranged behind
their captain, he took no heed whatever.  M. de Cussy offered
Captain Blood a chair.

"A moment, M. de Cussy.  I do not think M. le Baron has observed
that I am not alone.  Let me present to you, sir, my companions:
Captain Hagthorpe of the Elizabeth, Captain Wolverstone of the
Atropos, and Captain Yberville of the Lachesis."

The Baron stared hard and haughtily at Captain Blood, then very
distantly and barely perceptibly inclined his head to each of the
other three.  His manner implied plainly that he despised them and
that he desired them at once to understand it.  It had a curious
effect upon Captain Blood.  It awoke the devil in him, and it awoke
at the same time his self-respect which of late had been slumbering.
A sudden shame of his disordered, ill-kempt appearance made him
perhaps the more defiant.  There was almost a significance in the
way he hitched his sword-belt round, so that the wrought hilt of
his very serviceable rapier was brought into fuller view.  He waved
his captains to the chairs that stood about.

"Draw up to the table, lads.  We are keeping the Baron waiting."

They obeyed him, Wolverstone with a grin that was full of
understanding.  Haughtier grew the stare of M. de Rivarol.  To
sit at table with these bandits placed him upon what he accounted
a dishonouring equality.  It had been his notion that - with the
possible exception of Captain Blood - they should take his
instructions standing, as became men of their quality in the
presence of a man of his.  He did the only thing remaining to
mark a distinction between himself and them.  He put on his hat.

"Ye're very wise now," said Blood amiably.  "I feel the draught
myself." And he covered himself with his plumed castor.

M. de Rivarol changed colour.  He quivered visibly with anger, and
was a moment controlling himself before venturing to speak.  M. de
Cussy was obviously very ill at ease.

"Sir," said the Baron frostily, "you compel me to remind you that
the rank you hold is that of Capitaine de Vaisseau, and that you
are in the presence of the General of the Armies of France by Sea
and Land in America.  You compel me to remind you further that
there is a deference due from your rank to mine."

"I am happy to assure you," said Captain Blood, "that the reminder
is unnecessary.  I am by way of accounting myself a gentleman,
little though I may look like one at present; and I should not
account myself that were I capable of anything but deference to
those whom nature or fortune may have placed above me, or to those
who being placed beneath me in rank may labour under a disability
to resent my lack of it."  It was a neatly intangible rebuke.  M.
de Rivarol bit his lip.  Captain Blood swept on without giving
him time to reply:  "Thus much being clear, shall we come to
business?"

M. de Rivarol's hard eyes considered him a moment.  "Perhaps it will
be best," said he.  He took up a paper.  "I have here a copy of the
articles into which you entered with M. de Cussy.  Before going
further, I have to observe that M. de Cussy has exceeded his
instructions in admitting you to one fifth of the prizes taken.
His authority did not warrant his going beyond one tenth."

"That is a matter between yourself and M. de Cussy, my General."

"Oh, no.  It is a matter between myself and you."

"Your pardon, my General.  The articles are signed.  So far as we
are concerned, the matter is closed.  Also out of regard for M. de
Cussy, we should not desire to be witnesses of the rebukes you may
consider that he deserves."

"What I may have to say to M. de Cussy is no concern of yours."

"That is what I am telling you, my General."

"But - nom de Dieu! - it is your concern, I suppose, that we cannot
award you more than one tenth share."  M. de Rivarol smote the table
in exasperation.  This pirate was too infernally skillful a fencer.

"You are quite certain of that, M. le Baron - that you cannot?"

"I am quite certain that I will not."

Captain Blood shrugged, and looked down his nose.  "In that case,"
said he, "it but remains for me to present my little account for
our disbursement, and to fix the sum at which we should be
compensated for our loss of time and derangement in coming hither.
That settled, we can part friends, M. le Baron.  No harm has been
done."

"What the devil do you mean?"  The Baron was on his feet, leaning
forward across the table.

"Is it possible that I am obscure?  My French, perhaps, is not of
the purest, but...."

"Oh, your French is fluent enough; too fluent at moments, if I
may permit myself the observation.  Now, look you here, M. le
filibustier, I am not a man with whom it is safe to play the fool,
as you may very soon discover.  You have accepted service of the
King of France - you and your men; you hold the rank and draw the
pay of a Capitaine de Vaisseau, and these your officers hold the
rank of lieutenants.  These ranks carry obligations which you
would do well to study, and penalties for failing to discharge
them which you might study at the same time.  They are something
severe.  The first obligation of an officer is obedience.  I
commend it to your attention.  You are not to conceive yourselves,
as you appear to be doing, my allies in the enterprises I have in
view, but my subordinates.  In me you behold a commander to lead
you, not a companion or an equal.  You understand me, I hope."

"Oh, be sure that I understand," Captain Blood laughed.  He was
recovering his normal self amazingly under the inspiring stimulus
of conflict.  The only thing that marred his enjoyment was the
reflection that he had not shaved.  "I forget nothing, I assure you,
my General.  I do not forget, for instance, as you appear to be
doing, that the articles we signed are the condition of our service;
and the articles provide that we receive one-fifth share.  Refuse us
that, and you cancel the articles; cancel the articles, and you
cancel our services with them.  From that moment we cease to have
the honour to hold rank in the navies of the King of France."

There was more than a murmur of approval from his three captains.

Rivarol glared at them, checkmated.

"In effect..." M. de Cussy was beginning timidly.

"In effect, monsieur, this is your doing," the Baron flashed on him,
glad to have some one upon whom he could fasten the sharp fangs of
his irritation.  "You should be broke for it.  You bring the King's
service into disrepute; you force me, His Majesty's representative,
into an impossible position."

"Is it impossible to award us the one-fifth share?" quoth Captain
Blood silkily.  "In that case, there is no need for beat or for
injuries to M. de Cussy.  M. de Cussy knows that we would not have
come for less.  We depart again upon your assurance that you cannot
award us more.  And things are as they would have been if M. de
Cussy had adhered rigidly to his instructions.  I have proved, I
hope, to your satisfaction, M. le Baron, that if you repudiate the
articles you can neither claim our services nor hinder our departure
 - not in honour."

"Not in honour, sir?  To the devil with your insolence!  Do you imply
that any course that were not in honour would be possible to me?"

"I do not imply it, because it would not be possible," said Captain
Blood.  "We should see to that.  It is, my General, for you to say
whether the articles are repudiated."

The Baron sat down.  "I will consider the matter," he said sullenly.
"You shall be advised of my resolve."

Captain Blood rose, his officers rose with him.  Captain Blood bowed.

"M. le Baron!" said he.

Then he and his buccaneers removed themselves from the August and
irate presence of the General of the King's Armies by Land and Sea
in America.

You conceive that there followed for M. de Cussy an extremely bad
quarter of an hour.  M. de Cussy, in fact, deserves your sympathy.
His self-sufficiency was blown from him by the haughty M. de
Rivarol, as down from a thistle by the winds of autumn.  The General
of the King's Armies abused him - this man who was Governor of
Hispaniola - as if he were a lackey.  M. de Cussy defended himself
by urging the thing that Captain Blood had so admirably urged
already on his behalf - that if the terms he had made with the
buccaneers were not confirmed there was no harm done.  M. de Rivarol
bullied and browbeat him into silence.

Having exhausted abuse, the Baron proceeded to indignities.  Since
he accounted that M. de Cussy had proved himself unworthy of the post
he held, M. de Rivarol took over the responsibilities of that post
for as long as he might remain in Hispaniola, and to give effect to
this he began by bringing soldiers from his ships, and setting his
own guard in M. de Cussy's castle.

Out of this, trouble followed quickly.  Wolverstone coming ashore
next morning in the picturesque garb that he affected, his head
swathed in a coloured handkerchief, was jeered at by an officer
of the newly landed French troops.  Not accustomed to derision,
Wolverstone replied in kind and with interest.  The officer passed
to insult, and Wolverstone struck him a blow that felled him, and
left him only the half of his poor senses.  Within the hour the
matter was reported to M. de Rivarol, and before noon, by M. de
Rivarol's orders, Wolverstone was under arrest in the castle.

The Baron had just sat down to dinner with M. de Cussy when the
negro who waited on them announced Captain Blood.  Peevishly M.
de Rivarol bade him be admitted, and there entered now into his
presence a spruce and modish gentleman, dressed with care and
sombre richness in black and silver, his swarthy, clear-cut face
scrupulously shaven, his long black hair in ringlets that fell to
a collar of fine point.  In his right hand the gentleman carried a
broad black hat with a scarlet ostrich-plume, in his left hand an
ebony cane.  His stockings were of silk, a bunch of ribbons masked
his garters, and the black rosettes on his shoes were finely
edged with gold.

For a moment M. de Rivarol did not recognize him.  For Blood looked
younger by ten years than yesterday.  But the vivid blue eyes under
their level black brows were not to be forgotten, and they
proclaimed him for the man announced even before he had spoken.
His resurrected pride had demanded that he should put himself on an
equality with the baron and advertise that equality by his exterior.

"I come inopportunely," he courteously excused himself.  "My
apologies.  My business could not wait.  It concerns, M. de Cussy,
Captain Wolverstone of the Lachesis, whom you have placed under
arrest."

"It was I who placed him under arrest," said M. de Rivarol.

"Indeed!  But I thought that M. de Cussy was Governor of
Hispaniola."

"Whilst I am here, monsieur, I am the supreme authority.  It is as
well that you should understand it."

"Perfectly.  But it is not possible that you are aware of the
mistake that has been made."

"Mistake, do you say?"

"I say mistake.  On the whole, it is polite of me to use that word.
Also it is expedient.  It will save discussions.  Your people have
arrested the wrong man, M. de Rivarol.  Instead of the French
officer, who used the grossest provocation, they have arrested
Captain Wolverstone.  It is a matter which I beg you to reverse
without delay."

M. de Rivarol's hawk-face flamed scarlet.  His dark eyes bulged.

"Sir, you... you are insolent!  But of an insolence that is
intolerable!"  Normally a man of the utmost self-possession
he was so rudely shaken now that he actually stammered.

"M. le Baron, you waste words.  This is the New World.  It is not
merely new; it is novel to one reared amid the superstitions of the
Old.  That novelty you have not yet had time, perhaps, to realize;
therefore I overlook the offensive epithet you have used.  But
justice is justice in the New World as in the Old, and injustice as
intolerable here as there.  Now justice demands the enlargement of
my officer and the arrest and punishment of yours.  That justice
I invite you, with submission, to administer."

"With submission?" snorted the Baron in furious scorn.

"With the utmost submission, monsieur.  But at the same time I will
remind M. le Baron that my buccaneers number eight hundred; your
troops five hundred; and M. de Cussy will inform you of the
interesting fact that any one buccaneer is equal in action to at
least three soldiers of the line.  I am perfectly frank with you,
monsieur, to save time and hard words.  Either Captain Wolverstone
is instantly set at liberty, or we must take measures to set him at
liberty ourselves.  The consequences may be appalling.  But it is
as you please, M. le Baron.  You are the supreme authority.  It is
for you to say."

M. de Rivarol was white to the lips.  In all his life he had never
been so bearded and defied.  But he controlled himself.

"You will do me the favour to wait in the ante-room, M. le Capitaine.
I desire a word with M. de Cussy.  You shall presently be informed
of my decision."

When the door had closed, the baron loosed his fury upon the head
of M. de Cussy.

"So, these are the men you have enlisted in the King's service,
the men who are to serve under me - men who do not serve, but
dictate, and this before the enterprise that has brought me from
France is even under way!  What explanations do you offer me, M.
de Cussy?  I warn you that I am not pleased with you.  I am, in
fact, as you may perceive, exceedingly angry."

The Governor seemed to shed his chubbiness.  He drew himself
stiffly erect.

"Your rank, monsieur, does not give you the right to rebuke me; nor
do the facts.  I have enlisted for you the men that you desired me
to enlist.  It is not my fault if you do not know how to handle them
better.  As Captain Blood has told you, this is the New World."

"So, so!" M. de Rivarol smiled malignantly.  "Not only do you offer
no explanation, but you venture to put me in the wrong.  Almost I
admire your temerity.  But there!" he waved the matter aside.  He
was supremely sardonic.  "It is, you tell me, the New World, and
 - new worlds, new manners, I suppose.  In time I may conform my
ideas to this new world, or I may conform this new world to my ideas."
He was menacing on that.  "For the moment I must accept what I find.
It remains for you, monsieur, who have experience of these savage
by-ways, to advise me out of that experience how to act."

"M. le Baron, it was a folly to have arrested the buccaneer captain.
It would be madness to persist.  We have not the forces to meet
force."

"In that case, monsieur, perhaps you will tell me what we are to
do with regard to the future.  Am I to submit at every turn to the
dictates of this man Blood?  Is the enterprise upon which we are
embarked to be conducted as he decrees?  Am I, in short, the King's
representative in America, to be at the mercy of these rascals?"

"Oh, by no means.  I am enrolling volunteers here in Hispaniola,
and I am raising a corps of negroes.  I compute that when this is
done we shall have a force of a thousand men, the buccaneers apart."

"But in that case why not dispense with them?"

"Because they will always remain the sharp edge of any weapon that
we forge.  In the class of warfare that lies before us they are so
skilled that what Captain Blood has just said is not an overstatement.
A buccaneer is equal to three soldiers of the line.  At the same
time we shall have a sufficient force to keep them in control.  For
the rest, monsieur, they have certain notions of honour.  They will
stand by their articles, and so that we deal justly with them, they
will deal justly with us, and give no trouble.  I have experience
of them, and I pledge you my word for that."

M. de Rivarol condescended to be mollified.  It was necessary that
he should save his face, and in a degree the Governor afforded him
the means to do so, as well as a certain guarantee for the future
in the further force he was raising.

"Very well," he said.  "Be so good as to recall this Captain Blood."

The Captain came in, assured and very dignified.  M. de Rivarol
found him detestable; but dissembled it.

"M. le Capitaine, I have taken counsel with M. le Gouverneur.  From
what he tells me, it is possible that a mistake has been committed.
Justice, you may be sure, shall be done.  To ensure it, I shall
myself preside over a council to be composed of two of my senior
officers, yourself and an officer of yours.  This council shall
hold at once an impartial investigation into the affair, and the
offender, the man guilty of having given provocation, shall be
punished."

Captain Blood bowed.  It was not his wish to be extreme.  "Perfectly,
M. le Baron.  And now, sir, you have had the night for reflection
in this matter of the articles.  Am I to understand that you confirm
or that you repudiate them?"

M. de Rivarol's eyes narrowed.  His mind was full of what M. de Cussy
had said - that these buccaneers must prove the sharp edge of any
weapon he might forge.  He could not dispense with them.  He
perceived that he had blundered tactically in attempting to reduce
the agreed share.  Withdrawal from a position of that kind is ever
fraught with loss of dignity.  But there were those volunteers that
M. de Cussy was enrolling to strengthen the hand of the King's
General.  Their presence might admit anon of the reopening of this
question.  Meanwhile he must retire in the best order possible.

"I have considered that, too," he announced.  "And whilst my opinion
remains unaltered, I must confess that since M. de Cussy has pledged
us, it is for us to fulfil the pledges.  The articles are confirmed,
sir."

Captain Blood bowed again.  In vain M. de Rivarol looked searchingly
for the least trace of a smile of triumph on those firm lips.  The
buccaneer's face remained of the utmost gravity.

Wolverstone was set at liberty that afternoon, and his assailant
sentenced to two months' detention.  Thus harmony was restored.
But it had been an unpromising beginning, and there was more to
follow shortly of a similar discordant kind.

Blood and his officers were summoned a week later to a council which
sat to determine their operations against Spain.  M. de Rivarol laid
before them a project for a raid upon the wealthy Spanish town of
Cartagena.  Captain Blood professed astonishment.  Sourly invited by
M. de Rivarol to state his grounds for it, he did so with the utmost
frankness.

"Were I General of the King's Armies in America," said he, "I should
have no doubt or hesitation as to the best way in which to serve my
Royal master and the French nation.  That which I think will be
obvious to M. de Cussy, as it is to me, is that we should at once
invade Spanish Hispaniola and reduce the whole of this fruitful and
splendid island into the possession of the King of France."

"That may follow," said M. de Rivarol.  "It is my wish that we begin
with Cartagena."

"You mean, sir, that we are to sail across the Caribbean on an
adventurous expedition, neglecting that which lies here at our very
door.  In our absence, a Spanish invasion of French Hispaniola is
possible.  If we begin by reducing the Spaniards here, that
possibility will be removed.  We shall have added to the Crown of
France the most coveted possession in the West Indies.  The
enterprise offers no particular difficulty; it may be speedily
accomplished, and once accomplished, it would be time to look
farther afield.  That would seem the logical order in which this
campaign should proceed."

He ceased, and there was silence.  M. de Rivarol sat back in his
chair, the feathered end of a quill between his teeth.  Presently
he cleared his throat and asked a question.

"Is there anybody else who shares Captain Blood's opinion?"

None answered him.  His own officers were overawed by him; Blood's
followers naturally preferred Cartagena, because offering the
greater chance of loot.  Loyalty to their leader kept them silent.

"You seem to be alone in your opinion," said the Baron with his
vinegary smile.

Captain Blood laughed outright.  He had suddenly read the Baron's
mind.  His airs and graces and haughtiness had so imposed upon Blood
that it was only now that at last he saw through them, into the
fellow's peddling spirit.  Therefore he laughed; there was really
nothing else to do.  But his laughter was charged with more anger
even than contempt.  He had been deluding himself that he had done
with piracy.  The conviction that this French service was free of
any taint of that was the only consideration that had induced him
to accept it.  Yet here was this haughty, supercilious gentleman,
who dubbed himself General of the Armies of France, proposing a
plundering, thieving raid which, when stripped of its mean,
transparent mask of legitimate warfare, was revealed as piracy of
the most flagrant.

M. de Rivarol, intrigued by his mirth, scowled upon him
disapprovingly.

"Why do you laugh, monsieur?"

"Because I discover here an irony that is supremely droll.  You, M.
le Baron, General of the King's Armies by Land and Sea in America,
propose an enterprise of a purely buccaneering character; whilst
I, the buccaneer, am urging one that is more concerned with upholding
the honour of France.  You perceive how droll it is."

M. de Rivarol perceived nothing of the kind.  M. de Rivarol in fact
was extremely angry.  He bounded to his feet, and every man in the
room rose with him - save only M. de Cussy, who sat on with a grim
smile on his lips.  He, too, now read the Baron like an open book,
and reading him despised him.

"M. le filibustier," cried Rivarol in a thick voice, "it seems that
I must again remind you that I am your superior officer."

"My superior officer!  You!  Lord of the World!  Why, you are just
a common pirate!  But you shall hear the truth for once, and that
before all these gentlemen who have the honour to serve the King
of France.  It is for me, a buccaneer, a sea-robber, to stand here
and tell you what is in the interest of French honour and the
French Crown.  Whilst you, the French King's appointed General,
neglecting this, are for spending the King's resources against an
outlying settlement of no account, shedding French blood in seizing
a place that cannot be held, only because it has been reported to
you that there is much gold in Cartagena, and that the plunder of
it will enrich you.  It is worthy of the huckster who sought to
haggle with us about our share, and to beat us down after the
articles pledging you were already signed.  If I am wrong - let
M. de Cussy say so.  If I am wrong, let me be proven wrong, and I
will beg your pardon.  Meanwhile, monsieur, I withdraw from this
council.  I will have no further part in your deliberations.  I
accepted the service of the King of France with intent to honour
that service.  I cannot honour that service by lending countenance
to a waste of life and resources in raids upon unimportant
settlements, with plunder for their only object.  The responsibility
for such decisions must rest with you, and with you alone.  I desire
M. de Cussy to report me to the Ministers of France.  For the rest,
monsieur, it merely remains for you to give me your orders.  I await
them aboard my ship - and anything else, of a personal nature, that
you may feel I have provoked by the terms I have felt compelled to
use in this council.  M. le Baron, I have the honour to wish you
good-day."

He stalked out, and his three captains - although they thought him
mad - rolled after him in loyal silence.

M. de Rivarol was gasping like a landed fish.  The stark truth had
robbed him of speech.  When he recovered, it was to thank Heaven
vigorously that the council was relieved by Captain Blood's own act
of that gentleman's further participation in its deliberations.
Inwardly M. de Rivarol burned with shame and rage.  The mask had been
plucked from him, and he had been held up to scorn - he, the General
of the King's Armies by Sea and Land in America.

Nevertheless, it was to Cartagena that they sailed in the middle of
March.  Volunteers and negroes had brought up the forces directly
under M. de Rivarol to twelve hundred men.  With these he thought
he could keep the buccaneer contingent in order and submissive.

They made up an imposing fleet, led by M. de Rivarol's flagship, the
Victorieuse, a mighty vessel of eighty guns.  Each of the four other
French ships was at least as powerful as Blood's Arabella, which
was of forty guns.  Followed the lesser buccaneer vessels, the
Elizabeth, Lachesis, and Atropos, and a dozen frigates laden with
stores, besides canoes and small craft in tow.

Narrowly they missed the Jamaica fleet with Colonel Bishop, which
sailed north for Tortuga two days after the Baron de Rivarol's
southward passage.



CHAPTER XXVII

CARTAGENA


Having crossed the Caribbean in the teeth of contrary winds, it was
not until the early days of April that the French fleet hove in sight
of Cartagena, and M. de Rivarol summoned a council aboard his
flagship to determine the method of assault.

"It is of importance, messieurs," he told them, "that we take the
city by surprise, not only before it can put itself into a state of
defence; but before it can remove its treasures inland.  I propose
to land a force sufficient to achieve this to the north of the city
to-night after dark."  And he explained in detail the scheme upon
which his wits had laboured.

He was heard respectfully and approvingly by his officers, scornfully
by Captain Blood, and indifferently by the other buccaneer captains
present.  For it must be understood that Blood's refusal to attend
councils had related only to those concerned with determining the
nature of the enterprise to be undertaken.

Captain Blood was the only one amongst them who knew exactly what
lay ahead.  Two years ago he had himself considered a raid upon the
place, and he had actually made a survey of it in circumstances
which he was presently to disclose.

The Baron's proposal was one to be expected from a commander whose
knowledge of Cartagena was only such as might be derived from maps.

Geographically and strategically considered, it is a curious place.
It stands almost four-square, screened east and north by hills, and
it may be said to face south upon the inner of two harbours by which
it is normally approached.  The entrance to the outer harbour, which
is in reality a lagoon some three miles across, lies through a neck
known as the Boca Chica - or Little Mouth - and defended by a fort.
A long strip of densely wooded land to westward acts here as a
natural breakwater, and as the inner harbour is approached, another
strip of land thrusts across at right angles from the first, towards
the mainland on the east.  Just short of this it ceases, leaving a
deep but very narrow channel, a veritable gateway, into the secure
and sheltered inner harbour.  Another fort defends this second
passage.  East and north of Cartagena lies the mainland, which may
be left out of account.  But to the west and northwest this city,
so well guarded on every other side, lies directly open to the sea.
It stands back beyond a half-mile of beach, and besides this and
the stout Walls which fortify it, would appear to have no other
defences.  But those appearances are deceptive, and they had
utterly deceived M. de Rivarol, when he devised his plan.

It remained for Captain Blood to explain the difficulties when M.
de Rivarol informed him that the honour of opening the assault in
the manner which he prescribed was to be accorded to the buccaneers.

Captain Blood smiled sardonic appreciation of the honour reserved
for his men.  It was precisely what he would have expected.  For
the buccaneers the dangers; for M. de Rivarol the honour, glory and
profit of the enterprise.

"It is an honour which I must decline," said he quite coldly.

Wolverstone grunted approval and Hagthorpe nodded.  Yberville, who
as much as any of them resented the superciliousness of his noble
compatriot, never wavered in loyalty to Captain Blood.  The French
officers - there were six of them present - stared their haughty
surprise at the buccaneer leader, whilst the Baron challengingly
fired a question at him.

"How?  You decline it, 'sir?  You decline to obey orders, do you say?"

"I understood, M. le Baron, that you summoned us to deliberate upon
the means to be adopted."

"Then you understood amiss, M. le Capitaine.  You are here to receive
my commands.  I have already deliberated, and I have decided.  I hope
you understand."

"Oh, I understand," laughed Blood.  "But, I ask myself, do you?"
And without giving the Baron time to set the angry question that
was bubbling to his lips, he swept on:  "You have deliberated, you
say, and you have decided.  But unless your decision rests upon a
wish to destroy my buccaneers, you will alter it when I tell you
something of which I have knowledge.  This city of Cartagena looks
very vulnerable on the northern side, all open to the sea as it
apparently stands.  Ask yourself, M. le Baron, how came the Spaniards
who built it where it is to have been at such trouble to fortify it
to the south, if from the north it is so easily assailable."

That gave M. de Rivarol pause.

"The Spaniards," Blood pursued, "are not quite the fools you are
supposing them.  Let me tell you, messieurs, that two years ago I made
a survey of Cartagena as a preliminary to raiding it.  I came hither
with some friendly trading Indians, myself disguised as an Indian,
and in that guise I spent a week in the city and studied carefully
all its approaches.  On the side of the sea where it looks so
temptingly open to assault, there is shoal water for over half a
mile out - far enough out, I assure you, to ensure that no ship
shall come within bombarding range of it.  It is not safe to venture
nearer land than three quarters of a mile."

"But our landing will be effected in canoes and piraguas and open
boats," cried an officer impatiently.

"In the calmest season of the year, the surf will hinder any such
operation.  And you will also bear in mind that if landing were
possible as you are suggesting, that landing could not be covered by
the ships' guns.  In fact, it is the landing parties would be in
danger from their own artillery."

"If the attack is made by night, as I propose, covering will be
unnecessary.  You should be ashore in force before the Spaniards are
aware of the intent."

"You are assuming that Cartagena is a city of the blind, that at
this very moment they are not conning our sails and asking themselves
who we are and what we intend."

"But if they feel themselves secure from the north, as you suggest,"
cried the Baron impatiently, "that very security will lull them."

"Perhaps.  But, then, they are secure.  Any attempt to land on this
side is doomed to failure at the hands of Nature."

"Nevertheless, we make the attempt," said the obstinate Baron, whose
haughtiness would not allow him to yield before his officers.

"If you still choose to do so after what I have said, you are,
of course, the person to decide.  But I do not lead my men into
fruitless danger."

"If I command you..." the Baron was beginning.  But Blood
unceremoniously interrupted him.

"M. le Baron, when M. de Cussy engaged us on your behalf, it was as
much on account of our knowledge and experience of this class of
warfare as on account of our strength.  I have placed my own
knowledge and experience in this particular matter at your disposal.
I will add that I abandoned my own project of raiding Cartagena, not
being in sufficient strength at the time to force the entrance of the
harbour, which is the only way into the city.  The strength which you
now command is ample for that purpose."

"But whilst we are doing that, the Spaniards will have time to
remove great part of the wealth this city holds.  We must take them
by surprise."

Captain Blood shrugged.  "If this is a mere pirating raid, that, of
course, is a prime consideration.  It was with me.  But if you are
concerned to abate the pride of Spain and plant the Lilies of France
on the forts of this settlement, the loss of some treasure should
not really weigh for much."

M. de Rivarol bit his lip in chagrin.  His gloomy eye smouldered as
it considered the self-contained buccaneer.

"But if I command you to go - to make the attempt?" he asked.
"Answer me, monsieur, let us know once for all where we stand,
and who commands this expedition."

"Positively, I find you tiresome," said Captain Blood, and he
swung to M. de Cussy, who sat there gnawing his lip, intensely
uncomfortable.  "I appeal to you, monsieur, to justify me to the
General."

M. de Cussy started out of his gloomy abstraction.  He cleared his
throat.  He was extremely nervous.

"In view of what Captain Blood has submitted...."

"Oh, to the devil with that!" snapped Rivarol.  "It seems that I am
followed by poltroons.  Look you, M. le Capitaine, since you are
afraid to undertake this thing, I will myself undertake it.  The
weather is calm, and I count upon making good my landing.  If I do
so, I shall have proved you wrong, and I shall have a word to say to
you to-morrow which you may not like.  I am being very generous with
you, sir."  He waved his hand regally.  "You have leave to go."

It was sheer obstinacy and empty pride that drove him, and he
received the lesson he deserved.  The fleet stood in during the
afternoon to within a mile of the coast, and under cover of darkness
three hundred men, of whom two hundred were negroes - the whole of
the negro contingent having been pressed into the undertaking - were
pulled away for the shore in the canoes, piraguas, and ships' boats.
Rivarol's pride compelled him, however much he may have disliked
the venture, to lead them in person.

The first six boats were caught in the surf, and pounded into
fragments before their occupants could extricate themselves.  The
thunder of the breakers and the cries of the shipwrecked warned
those who followed, and thereby saved them from sharing the same
fate.  By the Baron's urgent orders they pulled away again out of
danger, and stood about to pick up such survivors as contrived to
battle towards them.  Close upon fifty lives were lost in the
adventure, together with half-a-dozen boats stored with ammunition
and light guns.

The Baron went back to his flagship an infuriated, but by no means
a wiser man.  Wisdom - not even the pungent wisdom experience
thrusts upon us - is not for such as M. de Rivarol.  His anger
embraced all things, but focussed chiefly upon Captain Blood.
In some warped process of reasoning he held the buccaneer chiefly
responsible for this misadventure.  He went to bed considering
furiously what he should say to Captain Blood upon the morrow.

He was awakened at dawn by the rolling thunder of guns.  Emerging
upon the poop in nightcap and slippers, he beheld a sight that
increased his unreasonable and unreasoning fury.  The four buccaneer
ships under canvas were going through extraordinary manoeuvre half
a mile off the Boca Chica and little more than half a mile away
from the remainder of the fleet, and from their flanks flame and
smoke were belching each time they swung broadside to the great
round fort that guarded that narrow entrance.  The fort was
returning the fire vigorously and viciously.  But the buccaneers
timed their broadsides with extraordinary judgment to catch the
defending ordnance reloading; then as they drew the Spaniards'
fire, they swung away again not only taking care to be ever moving
targets, but, further, to present no more than bow or stern to the
fort, their masts in line, when the heaviest cannonades were to be
expected.

Gibbering and cursing, M. de Rivarol stood there and watched this
action, so presumptuously undertaken by Blood on his own
responsibility.  The officers of the Victorieuse crowded round him,
but it was not until M. de Cussy came to join the group that he
opened the sluices of his rage.  And M. de Cussy himself invited the
deluge that now caught him.  He had come up rubbing his hands and
taking a proper satisfaction in the energy of the men whom he had
enlisted.

"Aha, M. de Rivarol!" he laughed.  "He understands his business, eh,
this Captain Blood.  He'll plant the Lilies of France on that fort
before breakfast."

The Baron swung upon him snarling.  "He understands his business,
eh?  His business, let me tell you, M. de Cussy, is to obey my
orders, and I have not ordered this.  Par la Mordieu!  When this
is over I'll deal with him for his damned insubordination."

"Surely, M. le Baron, he will have justified it if he succeeds."

"Justified it!  Ah, parbleu!  Can a soldier ever justify acting
without orders?"  He raved on furiously, his officers supporting
him out of their detestation of Captain Blood.

Meanwhile the fight went merrily on.  The fort was suffering badly.
Yet for all their manoeuvring the buccaneers were not escaping
punishment.  The starboard gunwale of the Atropos had been hammered
into splinters, and a shot had caught her astern in the coach.  The
Elizabeth was badly battered about the forecastle, and the Arabella's
maintop had been shot away, whilst' towards the end of that
engagement the Lachesis came reeling out of the fight with a
shattered rudder, steering herself by sweeps.

The absurd Baron's fierce eyes positively gleamed with satisfaction.

"I pray Heaven they may sink all his infernal ships!" he cried in
his frenzy.

But Heaven didn't hear him.  Scarcely had he spoken than there was
a terrific explosion, and half the fort went up in fragments.  A
lucky shot from the buccaneers had found the powder magazine.

It may have been a couple of hours later, when Captain Blood, as
spruce and cool as if he had just come from a levee, stepped upon
the quarter-deck of the Victoriense, to confront M. de Rivarol,
still in bedgown and nightcap.

"I have to report, M. le Baron, that we are in possession of the
fort on Boca Chica.  The standard of France is flying from what
remains of its tower, and the way into the outer harbour is open
to your fleet."

M. de Rivarol was compelled to swallow his fury, though it choked
him.  The jubilation among his officers had been such that he could
not continue as he had begun.  Yet his eyes were malevolent, his
face pale with anger.

"You are fortunate, M. Blood, that you succeeded," he said.  "It
would have gone very ill with you had you failed.  Another time be
so good as to await my orders, lest you should afterwards lack the
justification which your good fortune has procured you this morning."

Blood smiled with a flash of white teeth, and bowed.  "I shall be
glad of your orders now, General, for pursuing our advantage.  You
realize that speed in striking is the first essential."

Rivarol was left gaping a moment.  Absorbed in his ridiculous anger,
he had considered nothing.  But he made a quick recovery.  "To my
cabin, if you please," he commanded peremptorily, and was turning
to lead the way, when Blood arrested him.

"With submission, my General, we shall be better here.  You behold
there the scene of our coming action.  It is spread before you like
a map."  He waved his hand towards the lagoon, the country flanking
it and the considerable city standing back from the beach.  "If it
is not a presumption in me to offer a suggestion...."  He paused.
M. de Rivarol looked at him sharply, suspecting irony.  But the
swarthy face was bland, the keen eyes steady.

"Let us hear your suggestion," he consented.

Blood pointed out the fort at the mouth of the inner harbour, which
was just barely visible above the waving palms on the intervening
tongue of land.  He announced that its armament was less formidable
than that of the outer fort, which they had reduced; but on the
other hand, the passage was very much narrower than the Boca Chica,
and before they could attempt to make it in any case, they must
dispose of those defences.  He proposed that the French ships should
enter the outer harbour, and proceed at once to bombardment.
Meanwhile, he would land three hundred buccaneers and some artillery
on the eastern side of the lagoon, beyond the fragrant garden islands
dense with richly bearing fruit-trees, and proceed simultaneously to
storm the fort in the rear.  Thus beset on both sides at once, and
demoralized by the fate of the much stronger outer fort, he did not
think the Spaniards would offer a very long resistance.  Then it
would be for M. de Rivarol to garrison the fort, whilst Captain
Blood would sweep on with his men, and seize the Church of Nuestra
Senora de la Poupa, plainly visible on its hill immediately eastward
of the town.  Not only did that eminence afford them a valuable and
obvious strategic advantage, but it commanded the only road that
led from Cartagena to the interior, and once it were held there
would be no further question of the Spaniards attempting to remove
the wealth of the city.

That to M. de Rivarol was - as Captain Blood had judged that it
would be - the crowning argument.  Supercilious until that moment,
and disposed for his own pride's sake to treat the buccaneer's
suggestions with cavalier criticism, M. de Rivarol's manner suddenly
changed.  He became alert and brisk, went so far as tolerantly to
commend Captain Blood's plan, and issued orders that action might
be taken upon it at once.

It is not necessary to follow that action step by step.  Blunders
on the part of the French marred its smooth execution, and the
indifferent handling of their ships led to the sinking of two of
them in the course of the afternoon by the fort's gunfire.  But
by evening, owing largely to the irresistible fury with which the
buccaneers stormed the place from the landward side, the fort had
surrendered, and before dusk Blood and his men with some ordnance
hauled thither by mules dominated the city from the heights of
Nuestra Senora de la Poupa.

At noon on the morrow, shorn of defences and threatened with
bombardment, Cartagena sent offers of surrender to M. de Rivarol.

Swollen with pride by a victory for which he took the entire credit
to himself, the Baron dictated his terms.  He demanded that all
public effects and office accounts be delivered up; that the
merchants surrender all moneys and goods held by them for their
correspondents; the inhabitants could choose whether they would
remain in the city or depart; but those who went must first deliver
up all their property, and those who elected to remain must surrender
half, and become the subjects of France; religious houses and
churches should be spared, but they must render accounts of all
moneys and valuables in their possession.

Cartagena agreed, having no choice in the matter, and on the next
day, which was the 5th of April, M. de Rivarol entered the city and
proclaimed it now a French colony, appointing M. de Cussy its
Governor.  Thereafter he proceeded to the Cathedral, where very
properly a Te Deum was sung in honour of the conquest.  This by way
of grace, whereafter M. de Rivarol proceeded to devour the city.
The only detail in which the French conquest of Cartagena differed
from an ordinary buccaneering raid was that under the severest
penalties no soldier was to enter the house of any inhabitant.
But this apparent respect for the persons and property of the
conquered was based in reality upon M. de Rivarol's anxiety lest a
doubloon should be abstracted from all the wealth that was pouring
into the treasury opened by the Baron in the name of the King of
France.  Once the golden stream had ceased, he removed all
restrictions and left the city in prey to his men, who proceeded
further to pillage it of that part of their property which the
inhabitants who became French subjects had been assured should
remain inviolate.  The plunder was enormous.  In the course of four
days over a hundred mules laden with gold went out of the city and
down to the boats waiting at the beach to convey the treasure aboard
the ships.



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE HONOUR OF M. DE RIVAROL


During the capitulation and for some time after, Captain Blood and
the greater portion of his buccaneers had been at their post on the
heights of Nuestra Senora de la Poupa, utterly in ignorance of what
was taking place.  Blood, although the man chiefly, if not solely,
responsible for the swift reduction of the city, which was proving
a veritable treasure-house, was not even shown the consideration
of being called to the council of officers which with M. de Rivarol
determined the terms of the capitulation.

This was a slight that at another time Captain Blood would not have
borne for a moment.  But at present, in his odd frame of mind, and
its divorcement from piracy, he was content to smile his utter
contempt of the French General.  Not so, however, his captains, and
still less his men.  Resentment smouldered amongst them for a while,
to flame out violently at the end of that week in Cartagena.  It was
only by undertaking to voice their grievance to the Baron that their
captain was able for the moment to pacify them.  That done, he went
at once in quest of M. de Rivarol.

He found him in the offices which the Baron had set up in the town,
with a staff of clerks to register the treasure brought in and to
cast up the surrendered account-books, with a view to ascertaining
precisely what were the sums yet to be delivered up.  The Baron
sat there scrutinizing ledgers, like a city merchant, and checking
figures to make sure that all was correct to the last peso.  A
choice occupation this for the General of the King's Armies by
Sea and Land.  He looked up irritated by the interruption which
Captain Blood's advent occasioned.

"M. le Baron," the latter greeted him.  "I must speak frankly; and
you must suffer it.  My men are on the point of mutiny."

M. de Rivarol considered him with a faint lift of the eyebrows.

"Captain Blood, I, too, will speak frankly; and you, too, must
suffer it.  If there is a mutiny, you and your captains shall be
held personally responsible.  The mistake you make is in assuming
with me the tone of an ally, whereas I have given you clearly to
understand from the first that you are simply in the position of
having accepted service under me.  Your proper apprehension of
that fact will save the waste of a deal of words."

Blood contained himself with difficulty.  One of these fine days,
he felt, that for the sake of humanity he must slit the comb of
this supercilious, arrogant cockerel.

"You may define our positions as you please," said he.  "But I'll
remind you that the nature of a thing is not changed by the name
you give it.  I am concerned with facts; chiefly with the fact
that we entered into definite articles with you.  Those articles
provide for a certain distribution of the spoil.  My men demand it.
They are not satisfied."

"Of what are they not satisfied?" demanded the Baron.

"Of your honesty, M. de Rivarol."

A blow in the face could scarcely have taken the Frenchman more
aback.  He stiffened, and drew himself up, his eyes blazing, his
face of a deathly pallor.  The clerks at the tables laid down their
pens, and awaited the explosion in a sort of terror.

For a long moment there was silence.  Then the great gentleman
delivered himself in a voice of concentrated anger.  "Do you really
dare so much, you and the dirty thieves that follow you?  God's
Blood!  You shall answer to me for that word, though it entail
a yet worse dishonour to meet you.  Faugh!"

"I will remind you," said Blood, "that I am speaking not for myself,
but for my men.  It is they who are not satisfied, they who threaten
that unless satisfaction is afforded them, and promptly, they will
take it."

"Take it?" said Rivarol, trembling in his rage.  "Let them attempt
it, and...."

"Now don't be rash.  My men are within their rights, as you are
aware.  They demand to know when this sharing of the spoil is to
take place, and when they are to receive the fifth for which their
articles provide."

"God give me patience!  How can we share the spoil before it has
been completely gathered?"

"My men have reason to believe that it is gathered; and, anyway,
they view with mistrust that it should all be housed aboard your
ships, and remain in your possession.  They say that hereafter
there will be no ascertaining what the spoil really amounts to."

"But - name of Heaven! - I have kept books.  They are there for
all to see."

"They do not wish to see account-books.  Few of them can read.
They want to view the treasure itself.  They know - you compel me
to be blunt - that the accounts have been falsified.  Your books
show the spoil of Cartagena to amount to some ten million livres.
The men know - and they are very skilled in these computations -
that it exceeds the enormous total of forty millions.  They insist
that the treasure itself be produced and weighed in their presence,
as is the custom among the Brethren of the Coast."

"I know nothing of filibuster customs."  The gentleman was
disdainful.

"But you are learning quickly."

"What do you mean, you rogue?  I am a leader of armies, not of
plundering thieves."

"Oh, but of course!"  Blood's irony laughed in his eyes.  "Yet,
whatever you may be, I warn you that unless you yield to a demand
that I consider just and therefore uphold, you may look for trouble,
and it would not surprise me if you never leave Cartagena at all,
nor convey a single gold piece home to France."

"Ah, pardieu! Am I to understand that you are threatening me?"

"Come, come, M. le Baron!  I warn you of the trouble that a little
prudence may avert.  You do not know on what a volcano you are
sitting.  You do not know the ways of buccaneers.  If you persist,
Cartagena will be drenched in blood, and whatever the outcome the
King of France will not have been well served."

That shifted the basis of the argument to less hostile ground.
Awhile yet it continued, to be concluded at last by an ungracious
undertaking from M. de Rivarol to submit to the demands of the
buccaneers.  He gave it with an extreme ill-grace, and only
because Blood made him realize at last that to withhold it longer
would be dangerous.  In an engagement, he might conceivably defeat
Blood's followers.  But conceivably he might not.  And even if he
succeeded, the effort would be so costly to him in men that he
might not thereafter find himself in sufficient strength to
maintain his hold of what he had seized.

The end of it all was that he gave a promise at once to make the
necessary preparations, and if Captain Blood and his officers would
wait upon him on board the Victorieuse to-morrow morning, the
treasure should be produced, weighed in their presence, and their
fifth share surrendered there and then into their own keeping.

Among the buccaneers that night there was hilarity over the sudden
abatement of M. de Rivarol's monstrous pride.  But when the next
dawn broke over Cartagena, they had the explanation of it.  The
only ships to be seen in the harbour were the Arabella and the
Elizabeth riding at anchor, and the Atropos and the Lachesis
careened on the beach for repair of the damage sustained in the
bombardment.  The French ships were gone.  They had been quietly
and secretly warped out of the harbour under cover of night, and
three sails, faint and small, on the horizon to westward was all
that remained to be seen of them.  The absconding M. de Rivarol
had gone off with the treasure, taking with him the troops and
mariners he had brought from France.  He had left behind him at
Cartagena not only the empty-handed buccaneers, whom he had
swindled, but also M. de Cussy and the volunteers and negroes
from Hispaniola, whom he had swindled no less.

The two parties were fused into one by their common fury, and
before the exhibition of it the inhabitants of that ill-fated
town were stricken with deeper terror than they had yet known
since the coming of this expedition.

Captain Blood alone kept his head, setting a curb upon his deep
chagrin.  He had promised himself that before parting from M. de
Rivarol he would present a reckoning for all the petty affronts
and insults to which that unspeakable fellow - now proved a
scoundrel - had subjected him.

"We must follow," he declared.  "Follow and punish."

At first that was the general cry.  Then came the consideration
that only two of the buccaneer ships were seaworthy - and these
could not accommodate the whole force, particularly being at the
moment indifferently victualled for a long voyage.  The crews of
the Lachesis and Atropos and with them their captains, Wolverstone
and Yberville, renounced the intention.  After all, there would be
a deal of treasure still hidden in Cartagena.  They would remain
behind to extort it whilst fitting their ships for sea.  Let Blood
and Hagthorpe and those who sailed with them do as they pleased.

Then only did Blood realize the rashness of his proposal, and in
attempting to draw back he almost precipitated a battle between
the two parties into which that same proposal had now divided the
buccaneers.  And meanwhile those French sails on the horizon were
growing less and less.  Blood was reduced to despair.  If he went
off now, Heaven knew what would happen to the town, the temper of
those whom he was leaving being what it was.  Yet if he remained,
it would simply mean that his own and Hagthorpe's crews would
join in the saturnalia and increase the hideousness of events now
inevitable.  Unable to reach a decision, his own men and Hagthorpe's
took the matter off his hands, eager to give chase to Rivarol.  Not
only was a dastardly cheat to be punished but an enormous treasure
to be won by treating as an enemy this French commander who, himself,
had so villainously broken the alliance.

When Blood, torn as he was between conflicting considerations, still
hesitated, they bore him almost by main force aboard the Arabella.

Within an hour, the water-casks at least replenished and stowed
aboard, the Arabella and the Elizabeth put to sea upon that angry
chase.

"When we were well at sea, and the Arabella's course was laid,"
writes Pitt, in his log, "I went to seek the Captain, knowing him
to be in great trouble of mind over these events.  I found him
sitting alone in his cabin, his head in his hands, torment in the
eyes that stared straight before him, seeing nothing."

"What now, Peter?" cried the young Somerset mariner.  "Lord, man,
what is there here to fret you?  Surely 't isn't the thought of
Rivarol!"

"No," said Blood thickly.  And for once he was communicative.  It
may well be that he must vent the thing that oppressed him or be
driven mad by it.  And Pitt, after all, was his friend and loved
him, and, so, a proper man for confidences.  "But if she knew!  If
she knew!  O God!  I had thought to have done with piracy; thought
to have done with it for ever.  Yet here have I been committed by
this scoundrel to the worst piracy that ever I was guilty of.
Think of Cartagena!  Think of the hell those devils will be making
of it now!  And I must have that on my soul!"

"Nay, Peter- 't isn't on your soul; but on Rivarol's.  It is that
dirty thief who has brought all this about.  What could you have
done to prevent it?"

"I would have stayed if it could have availed."

"It could not, and you know it.  So why repine?"

"There is more than that to it," groaned Blood.  "What now?  What
remains?  Loyal service with the English was made impossible for me.
Loyal service with France has led to this; and that is equally
impossible hereafter.  What to live clean, I believe the only thing
is to go and offer my sword to the King of Spain."

But something remained - the last thing that he could have expected
 - something towards which they were rapidly sailing over the
tropical, sunlit sea.  All this against which he now inveighed so
bitterly was but a necessary stage in the shaping of his odd destiny.

Setting a course for Hispaniola, since they judged that thither
must Rivarol go to refit before attempting to cross to France,
the Arabella and the Elizabeth ploughed briskly northward with a
moderately favourable wind for two days and nights without ever
catching a glimpse of their quarry.  The third dawn brought with
it a haze which circumscribed their range of vision to something
between two and three miles, and deepened their growing vexation
and their apprehension that M. de Rivarol might escape them
altogether.

Their position then - according to Pitt's log - was approximately
75 deg. 30' W. Long. by 17 deg. 45' N. Lat., so that they had Jamaica
on their larboard beam some thirty miles to westward, and, indeed,
away to the northwest, faintly visible as a bank of clouds, appeared
the great ridge of the Blue Mountains whose peaks were thrust into
the clear upper air above the low-lying haze.  The wind, to which
they were sailing very close, was westerly, and it bore to their ears
a booming sound which in less experienced ears might have passed for
the breaking of surf upon a lee shore.

"Guns!" said Pitt, who stood with Blood upon the quarter-deck.
Blood nodded, listening.

"Ten miles away, perhaps fifteen - somewhere off Port Royal, I should
judge," Pitt added.  Then he looked at his captain.  "Does it concern
us?" he asked.

"Guns off Port Royal... that should argue Colonel Bishop at work.
And against whom should he be in action but against friends of ours
I think it may concern us.  Anyway, we'll stand in to investigate.
Bid them put the helm over."

Close-hauled they tacked aweather, guided by the sound of combat,
which grew in volume and definition as they approached it.  Thus
for an hour, perhaps.  Then, as, telescope to his eye, Blood raked
the haze, expecting at any moment to behold the battling ships,
the guns abruptly ceased.

They held to their course, nevertheless, with all hands on deck,
eagerly, anxiously scanning the sea ahead.  And presently an object
loomed into view, which soon defined itself for a great ship on
fire.  As the Arabella with the Elizabeth following closely raced
nearer on their north-westerly tack, the outlines of the blazing
vessel grew clearer.  Presently her masts stood out sharp and black
above the smoke and flames, and through his telescope Blood made out
plainly the pennon of St. George fluttering from her maintop.

"An English ship!" he cried.

He scanned the seas for the conqueror in the battle of which this
grim evidence was added to that of the sounds they had heard, and
when at last, as they drew closer to the doomed vessel, they made
out the shadowy outlines of three tall ships, some three or four
miles away, standing in toward Port Royal, the first and natural
assumption was that these ships must belong to the Jamaica fleet,
and that the burning vessel was a defeated buccaneer, and because
of this they sped on to pick up the three boats that were standing
away from the blazing hulk.  But Pitt, who through the telescope
was examining the receding squadron, observed things apparent
only to the eye of the trained mariner, and made the incredible
announcement that the largest of these three vessels was Rivarol's
Victorieuse.

They took in sail and hove to as they came up with the drifting
boats, laden to capacity with survivors.  And there were others
adrift on some of the spars and wreckage with which the sea was
strewn, who must be rescued.



CHARTER XXIX

THE SERVICE OF KING WILLIAM


One of the boats bumped alongside the Arabella, and up the entrance
ladder came first a slight, spruce little gentleman in a coat of
mulberry satin laced with gold, whose wizened, yellow, rather
peevish face was framed in a heavy black periwig.  His modish and
costly apparel had nowise suffered by the adventure through which
he had passed, and he carried himself with the easy assurance of
a man of rank.  Here, quite clearly, was no buccaneer.  He was
closely followed by one who in every particular, save that of
age, was his physical opposite, corpulent in a brawny, vigorous
way, with a full, round, weather-beaten face whose mouth was
humourous and whose eyes were blue and twinkling.  He was well
dressed without fripperies, and bore with him an air of vigorous
authority.

As the little man stepped from the ladder into the waist, whither
Captain Blood had gone to receive him, his sharp, ferrety dark
eyes swept the uncouth ranks of the assembled crew of the Arabella.

"And where the devil may I be now?" he demanded irritably.  "Are you
English, or what the devil are you?"

"Myself, I have the honour to be Irish, sir.  My name is Blood
 - Captain Peter Blood, and this is my ship the Arabella, all very
much at your service.

"Blood!" shrilled the little man.  "O 'Sblood!  A pirate!"  He swung
to the Colossus who followed him - "A damned pirate, van der Kuylen.
Rend my vitals, but we're come from Scylla to Charybdis."

"So?" said the other gutturally, and again, "So?"  Then the humour
of it took him, and he yielded to it.

"Damme!  What's to laugh at, you porpoise?" spluttered mulberry-coat.
"A fine tale this'll make at home!  Admiral van der Kuylen first
loses his fleet in the night, then has his flagship fired under him
by a French squadron, and ends all by being captured by a pirate.
I'm glad you find it matter for laughter.  Since for my sins I
happen to be with you, I'm damned if I do."

"There's a misapprehension, if I may make so bold as to point it
out," put in Blood quietly.  "You are not captured, gentlemen; you
are rescued.  When you realize it, perhaps it will occur to you to
acknowledge the hospitality I am offering you.  It may be poor, but
it is the best at my disposal."

The fierce little gentleman stared at him.  "Damme!  Do you permit
yourself to be ironical?" he disapproved him, and possibly with a
view to correcting any such tendency, proceeded to introduce himself.
"I am Lord Willoughby, King William's Governor-General of the West
Indies, and this is Admiral van der Kuylen, commander of His
Majesty's West Indian fleet, at present mislaid somewhere in this
damned Caribbean Sea."

"King William?" quoth Blood, and he was conscious that Pitt and
Dyke, who were behind him, now came edging nearer, sharing his own
wonder.  "And who may be King William, and of what may he be King?"

"What's that?"  In a wonder greater than his own, Lord Willoughby
stared back at him.  At last:  "I am alluding to His Majesty King
William III - William of Orange - who, with Queen Mary, has been
ruling England for two months and more."

There was a moment's silence, until Blood realized what he was
being told.

"D'ye mean, sir, that they've roused themselves at home, and kicked
out that scoundrel James and his gang of ruffians?"

Admiral van der Kuylen nudged his lordship, a humourous twinkle in
his blue eyes.

"His bolitics are fery sound, I dink," he growled.

His lordship's smile brought lines like gashes into his leathery
cheeks.  "'Slife! hadn't you heard?  Where the devil have you
been at all?"

"Out of touch with the world for the last three months," said Blood.

"Stab me!  You must have been.  And in that three months the world
has undergone some changes."  Briefly he added an account of them.
King James was fled to France, and living under the protection of
King Louis, wherefore, and for other reasons, England had joined
the league against her, and was now at war with France.  That was
how it happened that the Dutch Admiral's flagship had been
attacked by M. de Rivarol's fleet that morning, from which it
clearly followed that in his voyage from Cartagena, the Frenchman
must have spoken some ship that gave him the news.

After that, with renewed assurances that aboard his ship they
should be honourably entreated, Captain Blood led the
Governor-General and the Admiral to his cabin, what time the work
of rescue went on.  The news he had received had set Blood's mind
in a turmoil.  If King James was dethroned and banished, there was
an end to his own outlawry for his alleged share in an earlier
attempt to drive out that tyrant.  It became possible for him to
return home and take up his life again at the point where it was
so unfortunately interrupted four years ago.  He was dazzled by
the prospect so abruptly opened out to him.  The thing so filled
his mind, moved him so deeply, that he must afford it expression.
In doing so, he revealed of himself more than he knew or intended
to the astute little gentleman who watched him so keenly the while.

"Go home, if you will," said his lordship, when Blood paused.
"You may be sure that none will harass you on the score of your
piracy, considering what it was that drove you to it.  But why be
in haste?  We have heard of you, to be sure, and we know of what
you are capable upon the seas.  Here is a great chance for you,
since you declare yourself sick of piracy.  Should you choose to
serve King William out here during this war, your knowledge of
the West Indies should render you a very valuable servant to His
Majesty's Government, which you would not find ungrateful.  You
should consider it.  Damme, sir, I repeat:  it is a great chance
you are given.

"That your lordship gives me," Blood amended, "I am very grateful.
But at the moment, I confess, I can consider nothing but this great
news.  It alters the shape of the world.  I must accustom myself
to view it as it now is, before I can determine my own place in it."

Pitt came in to report that the work of rescue was at an end, and
the men picked up - some forty-five in all - safe aboard the two
buccaneer ships.  He asked for orders.  Blood rose.

"I am negligent of your lordship's concerns in my consideration
of my own.  You'll be wishing me to land you at Port Royal."

"At Port Royal?"  The little man squirmed wrathfully on his seat.
Wrathfully and at length he informed Blood that they had put into
Port Royal last evening to find its Deputy-Governor absent.  "He
had gone on some wild-goose chase to Tortuga after buccaneers,
taking the whole of the fleet with him."

Blood stared in surprise a moment; then yielded to laughter.

"He went, I suppose, before news reached him of the change of
government at home, and the war with France?"

"He did not," snapped Willoughby.  "He was informed of both, and
also of my coming before he set out."

"Oh, impossible!"

"So I should have thought.  But I have the information from a Major
Mallard whom I found in Port Royal, apparently governing in this
fool's absence."

"But is he mad, to leave his post at such a time?" Blood was amazed.

"Taking the whole fleet with him, pray remember, and leaving the
place open to French attack.  That is the sort of Deputy-Governor
that the late Government thought fit to appoint:  an epitome of its
misrule, damme!  He leaves Port Royal unguarded save by a ramshackle
fort that can be reduced to rubble in an hour.  Stab me!  It's
unbelievable!"

The lingering smile faded from Blood's face.  "Is Rivarol aware of
this?" he cried sharply.

It was the Dutch Admiral who answered him.  "Vould he go dere if
he were not?  M. de Rivarol he take some of our men prisoners.
Berhabs dey dell him.  Berhabs he make dem tell.  Id is a great
obbordunidy."

His lordship snarled like a mountain-cat.  "That rascal Bishop shall
answer for it with his head if there's any mischief done through
this desertion of his post.  What if it were deliberate, eh?  What
if he is more knave than fool?  What if this is his way of serving
King James, from whom he held his office?"

Captain Blood was generous.  "Hardly so much.  It was just
vindictiveness that urged him.  It's myself he's hunting at Tortuga,
my lord.  But, I'm thinking that while he's about it, I'd best be
looking after Jamaica for King William."  He laughed, with more mirth
than he had used in the last two months.

"Set a course for Port Royal, Jeremy, and make all speed.  We'll be
level yet with M. de Rivarol, and wipe off some other scores at the
same time."

Both Lord Willoughby and the Admiral were on their feet.

"But you are not equal to it, damme!" cried his lordship.  "Any one
of the Frenchman's three ships is a match for both yours, my man."

"In guns - aye," said Blood, and he smiled.  "But there's more than
guns that matter in these affairs.  If your lordship would like to
see an action fought at sea as an action should be fought, this is
your opportunity."

Both stared at him.  "But the odds!" his lordship insisted.

"Id is imbossible," said van der Kuylen, shaking his great head.
"Seamanship is imbordand.  Bud guns is guns."

"If I can't defeat him, I can sink my own ships in the channel, and
block him in until Bishop gets back from his wild-goose chase with
his squadron, or until your own fleet turns up."

"And what good will that be, pray?" demanded Willoughby.

"I'll be after telling you.  Rivarol is a fool to take this chance,
considering what he's got aboard.  He carried in his hold the
treasure plundered from Cartagena, amounting to forty million
livres."  They jumped at the mention of that colossal sum.  "He
has gone into Port Royal with it.  Whether he defeats me or not,
he doesn't come out of Port Royal with it again, and sooner or
later that treasure shall find its way into King William's coffers,
after, say, one fifth share shall have been paid to my buccaneers.
Is that agreed, Lord Willoughby?"

His lordship stood up, and shaking back the cloud of lace from his
wrist, held out a delicate white hand.

"Captain Blood, I discover greatness in you," said he.

"Sure it's your lordship has the fine sight to perceive it," laughed
the Captain.

"Yes, yes!  Bud how vill you do id?" growled van der Kuylen.

"Come on deck, and it's a demonstration I'll be giving you before
the day's much older."



CHAPTER XXX

THE LAST FIGHT OF THE ARABELLA


"VHY do you vait, my friend?" growled van der Kuylen.

"Aye - in God's name!" snapped Willoughby.

It was the afternoon of that same day, and the two buccaneer ships
rocked gently with idly flapping sails under the lee of the long
spit of land forming the great natural harbour of Port Royal, and
less than a mile from the straits leading into it, which the fort
commanded.  It was two hours and more since they had brought up
thereabouts, having crept thither unobserved by the city and by M.
de Rivarol's ships, and all the time the air had been aquiver with
the roar of guns from sea and land, announcing that battle was
joined between the French and the defenders of Port Royal.  That
long, inactive waiting was straining the nerves of both Lord
Willoughby and van der Kuylen.

"You said you vould show us zome vine dings.  Vhere are dese vine
dings?"

Blood faced them, smiling confidently.  He was arrayed for battle,
in back-and-breast of black steel.  "I'll not be trying your
patience much longer.  Indeed, I notice already a slackening in
the fire.  But it's this way, now:  there's nothing at all to be
gained by precipitancy, and a deal to be gained by delaying, as
I shall show you, I hope."

Lord Willoughby eyed him suspiciously.  "Ye think that in the
meantime Bishop may come back or Admiral van der Kuylen's fleet
appear?"

"Sure, now, I'm thinking nothing of the kind.  What I'm thinking
is that in this engagement with the fort M. de Rivarol, who's a
lubberly fellow, as I've reason to know, will be taking some damage
that may make the odds a trifle more even.  Sure, it'll be time
enough to go forward when the fort has shot its bolt."

"Aye, aye!"  The sharp approval came like a cough from the little
Governor-General.  "I perceive your object, and I believe ye're
entirely right.  Ye have the qualities of a great commander, Captain
Blood.  I beg your pardon for having misunderstood you."

"And that's very handsome of your lordship.  Ye see, I have some
experience of this kind of action, and whilst I'll take any risk
that I must, I'll take none that I needn't.  But...."  He broke off
to listen.  "Aye, I was right.  The fire's slackening.  It'll mean
the end of Mallard's resistance in the fort.  Ho there, Jeremy!"

He leaned on the carved rail and issued orders crisply.  The
bo'sun's pipe shrilled out, and in a moment the ship that had
seemed to slumber there, awoke to life.  Came the padding of feet
along the decks, the creaking of blocks and the hoisting of sail.
The helm was put over hard, and in a moment they were moving, the
Elizabeth following, ever in obedience to the signals from the
Arabella, whilst Ogle the gunner, whom he had summoned, was
receiving Blood's final instructions before plunging down to his
station on the main deck.

Within a quarter of an hour they had rounded the head, and stood
in to the harbour mouth, within saker shot of Rivarol's three
ships, to which they now abruptly disclosed themselves.

Where the fort had stood they now beheld a smoking rubbish heap,
and the victorious Frenchman with the lily standard trailing
from his mastheads was sweeping forward to snatch the rich prize
whose defences he had shattered.

Blood scanned the French ships, and chuckled.  The Victorieuse and
the Medusa appeared to have taken no more than a few scars; but
the third ship, the Baleine, listing heavily to larboard so as
to keep the great gash in her starboard well above water, was
out of account.

"You see!" he cried to van der Kuylen, and without waiting for
the Dutchman's approving grunt, he shouted an order:  "Helm,
hard-a-port!"

The sight of that great red ship with her gilt beak-head and open
ports swinging broadside on must have given check to Rivarol's
soaring exultation.  Yet before he could move to give an order,
before he could well resolve what order to give, a volcano of
fire and metal burst upon him from the buccaneers, and his decks
were swept by the murderous scythe of the broadside.  The Arabella
held to her course, giving place to the Elizabeth, which, following
closely, executed the same manoeuver.  And then whilst still the
Frenchmen were confused, panic-stricken by an attack that took them
so utterly by surprise, the Arabella had gone about, and was
returning in her tracks, presenting now her larboard guns, and
loosing her second broadside in the wake of the first.  Came yet
another broadside from the Elizabeth and then the Arabella's
trumpeter sent a call across the water, which Hagthorpe perfectly
understood.

"On, now, Jeremy!" cried Blood.  "Straight into them before they
recover their wits.  Stand by, there!  Prepare to board!  Hayton
... the grapnels!  And pass the word to the gunner in the prow
to fire as fast as he can load."

He discarded his feathered hat, and covered himself with a steel
head-piece, which a negro lad brought him.  He meant to lead this
boarding-party in person.  Briskly he explained himself to his
two guests.  "Boarding is our only chance here.  We are too
heavily outgunned."

Of this the fullest demonstration followed quickly.  The Frenchmen
having recovered their wits at last, both ships swung broadside on,
and concentrating upon the Arabella as the nearer and heavier and
therefore more immediately dangerous of their two opponents,
volleyed upon her jointly at almost the same moment.

Unlike the buccaneers, who had fired high to cripple their enemies
above decks, the French fifed low to smash the hull of their
assailant.  The Arabella rocked and staggered under that terrific
hammering, although Pitt kept her headed towards the French so that
she should offer the narrowest target.  For a moment she seemed to
hesitate, then she plunged forward again, her beak-head in splinters,
her forecastle smashed, and a gaping hole forward, that was only
just above the water-line.  Indeed, to make her safe from bilging,
Blood ordered a prompt jettisoning of the forward guns, anchors,
and water-casks and whatever else was moveable.

Meanwhile, the Frenchmen going about, gave the like reception to
the Elizabeth.  The Arabella, indifferently served by the wind,
pressed forward to come to grips.  But before she could accomplish
her object, the Victorieuse had loaded her starboard guns again,
and pounded her advancing enemy with a second broadside at close
quarters.  Amid the thunder of cannon, the rending of timbers, and
the screams of maimed men, the half-necked Arabella plunged and
reeled into the cloud of smoke that concealed her prey, and then
from Hayton went up the cry that she was going down by the head.

Blood's heart stood still.  And then in that very moment of his
despair, the blue and gold flank of the Victorieuse loomed through
the smoke.  But even as he caught that enheartening glimpse he
perceived, too, how sluggish now was their advance, and how with
every second it grew more sluggish.  They must sink before they
reached her.

Thus, with an oath, opined the Dutch Admiral, and from Lord
Willoughby there was a word of blame for Blood's seamanship in
having risked all upon this gambler's throw of boarding.

"There was no other chance!" cried Blood, in broken-hearted frenzy.
"If ye say it was desperate and foolhardy, why, so it was; but the
occasion and the means demanded nothing less.  I fail within an
ace of victory."

But they had not yet completely failed.  Hayton himself, and a
score of sturdy rogues whom his whistle had summoned, were
crouching for shelter amid the wreckage of the forecastle with
grapnels ready.  Within seven or eight yards of the Victorieuse,
when their way seemed spent, and their forward deck already awash
under the eyes of the jeering, cheering Frenchmen, those men
leapt up and forward, and hurled their grapnels across the chasm.
Of the four they flung, two reached the Frenchman's decks, and
fastened there.  Swift as thought itself, was then the action of
those sturdy, experienced buccaneers.  Unhesitatingly all threw
themselves upon the chain of one of those grapnels, neglecting
the other, and heaved upon it with all their might to warp the
ships together.  Blood, watching from his own quarter-deck, sent
out his voice in a clarion call:

"Musketeers to the prow!"

The musketeers, at their station at the waist, obeyed him with
the speed of men who know that in obedience is the only hope of
life.  Fifty of them dashed forward instantly, and from the ruins
of the forecastle they blazed over the heads of Hayton's men,
mowing down the French soldiers who, unable to dislodge the irons,
firmly held where they had deeply bitten into the timbers of the
Victorieuse, were themselves preparing to fire upon the grapnel
crew.

Starboard to starboard the two ships swung against each other with
a jarring thud.  By then Blood was down in the waist, judging and
acting with the hurricane speed the occasion demanded.  Sail had
been lowered by slashing away the ropes that held the yards.  The
advance guard of boarders, a hundred strong, was ordered to the
poop, and his grapnel-men were posted, and prompt to obey his
command at the very moment of impact.  As a result, the foundering
Arabella was literally kept afloat by the half-dozen grapnels that
in an instant moored her firmly to the Victorieuse.

Willoughby and van der Kuylen on the poop had watched in breathless
amazement the speed and precision with which Blood and his desperate
crew had gone to work.  And now he came racing up, his bugler
sounding the charge, the main host of the buccaneers following him,
whilst the vanguard, led by the gunner Ogle, who had been driven
from his guns by water in the gun-deck, leapt shouting to the prow
of the Victorieuse, to whose level the high poop of the water-logged
Arabella had sunk.  Led now by Blood himself, they launched
themselves upon the French like hounds upon the stag they have
brought to bay.  After them went others, until all had gone, and
none but Willoughby and the Dutchman were left to watch the fight
from the quarter-deck of the abandoned Arabella.

For fully half-an-hour that battle raged aboard the Frenchman.
Beginning in the prow, it surged through the forecastle to the waist,
where it reached a climax of fury.  The French resisted stubbornly,
and they had the advantage of numbers to encourage them.  But for
all their stubborn valour, they ended by being pressed back and back
across the decks that were dangerously canted to starboard by the
pull of the water-logged Arabella.  The buccaneers fought with the
desperate fury of men who know that retreat is impossible, for there
was no ship to which they could retreat, and here they must prevail
and make the Victorieuse their own, or perish.

And their own they made her in the end, and at a cost of nearly half
their numbers.  Driven to the quarter-deck, the surviving defenders,
urged on by the infuriated Rivarol, maintained awhile their desperate
resistance.  But in the end, Rivarol went down with a bullet in his
head, and the French remnant, numbering scarcely a score of whole men,
called for quarter.

Even then the labours of Blood's men were not at an end.  The
Elizabeth and the Medusa were tight-locked, and Hagthorpe's
followers were being driven back aboard their own ship for the
second time.  Prompt measures were demanded.  Whilst Pitt and his
seamen bore their part with the sails, and Ogle went below with a
gun-crew, Blood ordered the grapnels to be loosed at once.  Lord
Willoughby and the Admiral were already aboard the Victorieuse.
As they swung off to the rescue of Hagthorpe, Blood, from the
quarter-deck of the conquered vessel, looked his last upon the
ship that had served him so well, the ship that had become to him
almost as a part of himself.  A moment she rocked after her release,
then slowly and gradually settled down, the water gurgling and
eddying about her topmasts, all that remained visible to mark the
spot where she had met her death.

As he stood there, above the ghastly shambles in the waist of the
Victorieuse, some one spoke behind him.  "I think, Captain Blood,
that it is necessary I should beg your pardon for the second time.
Never before have I seen the impossible made possible by resource
and valour, or victory so gallantly snatched from defeat."

He turned, and presented to Lord Willoughby a formidable front.
His head-piece was gone, his breastplate dinted, his right sleeve
a rag hanging from his shoulder about a naked arm.  He was splashed
from head to foot with blood, and there was blood from a scalp-wound
that he had taken matting his hair and mixing with the grime of
powder on his face to render him unrecognizable.

But from that horrible mask two vivid eyes looked out preternaturally
bright, and from those eyes two tears had ploughed each a furrow
through the filth of his cheeks.



CHAPTER XXXI

HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR


When the cost of that victory came to be counted, it was found that
of three hundred and twenty buccaneers who had left Cartagena with
Captain Blood, a bare hundred remained sound and whole.  The
Elizabeth had suffered so seriously that it was doubtful if she
could ever again be rendered seaworthy, and Hagthorpe, who had so
gallantly commanded her in that last action, was dead.  Against this,
on the other side of the account, stood the facts that, with a far
inferior force and by sheer skill and desperate valour, Blood's
buccaneers had saved Jamaica from bombardment and pillage, and they
had captured the fleet of M. de Rivarol, and seized for the benefit
of King William the splendid treasure which she carried.

It was not until the evening of the following day that van der
Kuylen's truant fleet of nine ships came to anchor in the harbour
of Port Royal, and its officers, Dutch and English, were made
acquainted with their Admiral's true opinion of their worth.

Six ships of that fleet were instantly refitted for sea.  There
were other West Indian settlements demanding the visit of inspection
of the new Governor-General, and Lord Willoughby was in haste to
sail for the Antilles.

"And meanwhile," he complained to his Admiral, "I am detained here
by the absence of this fool of a Deputy-Governor."

"So?" said van der Kuylen.  "But vhy should dad dedam you?"

"That I may break the dog as he deserves, and appoint his successor
in some man gifted with a sense of where his duty lies, and with
the ability to perform it."

"Aha!  But id is not necessary you remain for dat.  And he vill
require no insdrucshons, dis one.  He vill know how to make Port
Royal safe, bedder nor you or me."

"You mean Blood?"

"Of gourse.  Could any man be bedder?  You haf seen vhad he can do."

"You think so, too, eh?  Egad!  I had thought of it; and, rip me,
why not?  He's a better man than Morgan, and Morgan was made
Governor."

Blood was sent for.  He came, spruce and debonair once more, having
exploited the resources of Port Royal so to render himself.  He was
a trifle dazzled by the honour proposed to him, when Lord Willoughby
made it known.  It was so far beyond anything that he had dreamed,
and he was assailed by doubts of his capacity to undertake so
onerous a charge.

"Damme!" snapped Willoughby, "Should I offer it unless I were
satisfied of your capacity?  If that's your only objection...."

"It is not, my lord.  I had counted upon going home, so I had.
I am hungry for the green lanes of England."  He sighed.  "There
will be apple-blossoms in the orchards of Somerset."

"Apple-blossoms!"  His lordship's voice shot up like a rocket, and
cracked on the word.  "What the devil...?  Apple-blossoms!"  He
looked at van der Kuylen.

The Admiral raised his brows and pursed his heavy lips.  His eyes
twinkled humourously in his great face.

"So!" he said.  "Fery boedical!"

My lord wheeled fiercely upon Captain Blood.  "You've a past score
to wipe out, my man!" he admonished him.  "You've done something
towards it, I confess; and you've shown your quality in doing it.
That's why I offer you the governorship of Jamaica in His Majesty's
name - because I account you the fittest man for the office that I
have seen."

Blood bowed low.  "Your lordship is very good.  But...."

"Tchah!  There's no 'but' to it.  If you want your past forgotten,
and your future assured, this is your chance.  And you are not to
treat it lightly on account of apple-blossoms or any other damned
sentimental nonsense.  Your duty lies here, at least for as long
as the war lasts.  When the war's over, you may get back to Somerset
and cider or your native Ireland and its potheen; but until then
you'll make the best of Jamaica and rum."

Van der Kuylen exploded into laughter.  But from Blood the
pleasantry elicited no smile.  He remained solemn to the point of
glumness.  His thoughts were on Miss Bishop, who was somewhere here
in this very house in which they stood, but whom he had not seen
since his arrival.  Had she but shown him some compassion....

And then the rasping voice of Willoughby cut in again, upbraiding
him for his hesitation, pointing out to him his incredible stupidity
in trifling with such a golden opportunity as this.  He stiffened
and bowed.

"My lord, you are in the right.  I am a fool.  But don't be
accounting me an ingrate as well.  If I have hesitated, it is
because there are considerations with which I will not trouble
your lordship."

"Apple-blossoms, I suppose?" sniffed his lordship.

This time Blood laughed, but there was still a lingering wistfulness
in his eyes.

"It shall be as you wish - and very gratefully, let me assure your
lordship.  I shall know how to earn His Majesty's approbation.  You
may depend upon my loyal service.

"If I didn't, I shouldn't offer you this governorship."

Thus it was settled.  Blood's commission was made out and sealed
in the presence of Mallard, the Commandant, and the other officers
of the garrison, who looked on in round-eyed astonishment, but kept
their thoughts to themselves.

"Now ve can aboud our business go," said van der Kuylen.

"We sail to-morrow morning," his lordship announced.

Blood was startled.

"And Colonel Bishop?" he asked.

"He becomes your affair.  You are now the Governor.  You will deal
with him as you think proper on his return.  Hang him from his own
yardarm.  He deserves it."

"Isn't the task a trifle invidious?" wondered Blood.

"Very well.  I'll leave a letter for him.  I hope he'll like it."

Captain Blood took up his duties at once.  There was much to be done
to place Port Royal in a proper state of defence, after what had
happened there.  He made an inspection of the ruined fort, and
issued instructions for the work upon it, which was to be started
immediately.  Next he ordered the careening of the three French
vessels that they might be rendered seaworthy once more.  Finally,
with the sanction of Lord Willoughby, he marshalled his buccaneers
and surrendered to them one fifth of the captured treasure, leaving
it to their choice thereafter either to depart or to enrol themselves
in the service of King William.

A score of them elected to remain, and amongst these were Jeremy
Pitt, Ogle, and Dyke, whose outlawry, like Blood's, had come to an
end with the downfall of King James.  They were - saving old
Wolverstone, who had been left behind at Cartagena - the only
survivors of that band of rebels-convict who had left Barbados over
three years ago in the Cinco Llagas.

On the following morning, whilst van der Kuylen's fleet was making
finally ready for sea, Blood sat in the spacious whitewashed room
that was the Governor's office, when Major Mallard brought him word
that Bishop's homing squadron was in sight.

"That is very well," said Blood.  "I am glad he comes before Lord
Willoughby's departure.  The orders, Major, are that you place him
under arrest the moment he steps ashore.  Then bring him here to me.
A moment."  He wrote a hurried note.  "That to Lord Willoughby
aboard Admiral van der Kuylen's flagship."

Major Mallard saluted and departed.  Peter Blood sat back in his
chair and stared at the ceiling, frowning.  Time moved on.  Came
a tap at the door, and an elderly negro slave presented himself.
Would his excellency receive Miss Bishop?

His excellency changed colour.  He sat quite still, staring at the
negro a moment, conscious that his pulses were drumming in a manner
wholly unusual to them.  Then quietly he assented.

He rose when she entered, and if he was not as pale as she was, it
was because his tan dissembled it.  For a moment there was silence
between them, as they stood looking each at the other.  Then she
moved forward, and began at last to speak, haltingly, in an
unsteady voice, amazing in one usually so calm and deliberate.

"I... I... Major Mallard has just told me...."

"Major Mallard exceeded his duty," said Blood, and because of the
effort he made to steady his voice it sounded harsh and unduly loud.

He saw her start, and stop, and instantly made amends.  "You alarm
yourself without reason, Miss Bishop.  Whatever may lie between me
and your uncle, you may be sure that I shall not follow the example
he has set me.  I shall not abuse my position to prosecute a private
vengeance.  On the contrary, I shall abuse it to protect him.  Lord
Willoughby's recommendation to me is that I shall treat him without
mercy.  My own intention is to send him back to his plantation in
Barbados."

She came slowly forward now.  "I... I am glad that you will do that.
Glad, above all, for your own sake."  She held out her hand to him.

He considered it critically.  Then he bowed over it.  "I'll not
presume to take it in the hand of a thief and a pirate," said he
bitterly.

"You are no longer that," she said, and strove to smile.

"Yet I owe no thanks to you that I am not," he answered.  "I think
there's no more to be said, unless it be to add the assurance that
Lord Julian Wade has also nothing to apprehend from me.  That, no
doubt, will be the assurance that your peace of mind requires?"

"For your own sake - yes.  But for your own sake only.  I would
not have you do anything mean or dishonouring."

"Thief and pirate though I be?"

She clenched her hand, and made a little gesture of despair and
impatience.

"Will you never forgive me those words?"

"I'm finding it a trifle hard, I confess.  But what does it matter,
when all is said?"

Her clear hazel eyes considered him a moment wistfully.  Then she
put out her hand again.

"I am going, Captain Blood.  Since you are so generous to my uncle,
I shall be returning to Barbados with him.  We are not like to meet
again - ever.  Is it impossible that we should part friends?  Once
I wronged you, I know.  And I have said that I am sorry.  Won't
you... won't you say 'good-bye'?"

He seemed to rouse himself, to shake off a mantle of deliberate
harshness.  He took the hand she proffered.  Retaining it, he spoke,
his eyes sombrely, wistfully considering her.

"You are returning to Barbados?" he said slowly.  "Will Lord Julian
be going with you?"

"Why do you ask me that?" she confronted him quite fearlessly.

"Sure, now, didn't he give you my message, or did he bungle it?"

"No.  He didn't bungle it.  He gave it me in your own words.  It
touched me very deeply.  It made me see clearly my error and my
injustice.  I owe it to you that I should say this by way of amend.
I judged too harshly where it was a presumption to judge at all."

He was still holding her hand.  "And Lord Julian, then?" he asked,
his eyes watching her, bright as sapphires in that copper-coloured
face.

"Lord Julian will no doubt be going home to England.  There is
nothing more for him to do out here."

"But didn't he ask you to go with him?"

"He did.  I forgive you the impertinence."

A wild hope leapt to life within him.

"And you?  Glory be, ye'll not be telling me ye refused to become
my lady, when...."

"Oh!  You are insufferable!"  She tore her hand free and backed
away from him.  "I should not have come.  Good-bye!"  She was
speeding to the door.

He sprang after her, and caught her.  Her face flamed, and her eyes
stabbed him like daggers.  "These are pirate's ways, I think!
Release me!"

"Arabella!" he cried on a note of pleading.  "Are ye meaning it?
Must I release ye?  Must I let ye go and never set eyes on ye again?
Or will ye stay and make this exile endurable until we can go home
together?  Och, ye're crying now!  What have I said to make ye
cry, my dear?"

"I... I thought you'd never say it," she mocked him through her
tears.

"Well, now, ye see there was Lord Julian, a fine figure of a...."

"There was never, never anybody but you, Peter."

They had, of course, a deal to say thereafter, so much, indeed,
that they sat down to say it, whilst time sped on, and Governor
Blood forgot the duties of his office.  He had reached home at
last.  His odyssey was ended.

And meanwhile Colonel Bishop's fleet had come to anchor, and the
Colonel had landed on the mole, a disgruntled man to be disgruntled
further yet.  He was accompanied ashore by Lord Julian Wade.

A corporal's guard was drawn up to receive him, and in advance of
this stood Major Mallard and two others who were unknown to the
Deputy-Governor:  one slight and elegant, the other big and brawny.

Major Mallard advanced.  "Colonel Bishop, I have orders to arrest
you.  Your sword, sir!"

"By order of the Governor of Jamaica," said the elegant little
man behind Major Mallard.  Bishop swung to him.

"The Governor?  Ye're mad!"  He looked from one to the other.
"I am the Governor."

"You were," said the little man dryly.  "But we've changed that in
your absence.  You're broke for abandoning your post without due
cause, and thereby imperiling the settlement over which you had
charge.  It's a serious matter, Colonel Bishop, as you may find.
Considering that you held your office from the Government of King
James, it is even possible that a charge of treason might lie
against you.  It rests with your successor entirely whether ye're
hanged or not."

Bishop rapped out an oath, and then, shaken by a sudden fear:  "Who
the devil may you be?" he asked.

"I am Lord Willoughby, Governor General of His Majesty's colonies
in the West Indies.  You were informed, I think, of my coming."

The remains of Bishop's anger fell from him like a cloak.  He broke
into a sweat of fear.  Behind him Lord Julian looked on, his handsome
face suddenly white and drawn.

"But, my lord..." began the Colonel.

"Sir, I am not concerned to hear your reasons," his lordship
interrupted him harshly.  "I am on the point of sailing and I have
not the time.  The Governor will hear you, and no doubt deal justly
by you."  He waved to Major Mallard, and Bishop, a crumpled,
broken man, allowed himself to be led away.

To Lord Julian, who went with him, since none deterred him, Bishop
expressed himself when presently he had sufficiently recovered.

"This is one more item to the account of that scoundrel Blood," he
said, through his teeth.  "My God, what a reckoning there will be
when we meet!"

Major Mallard turned away his face that he might conceal his smile,
and without further words led him a prisoner to the Governor's
house, the house that so long had been Colonel Bishop's own
residence.   He was left to wait under guard in the hall, whilst
Major Mallard went ahead to announce him.

Miss Bishop was still with Peter Blood when Major Mallard entered.
His announcement startled them back to realities.

"You will be merciful with him.  You will spare him all you can for
my sake, Peter," she pleaded.

"To be sure I will," said Blood.  "But I'm afraid the circumstances
won't."

She effaced herself, escaping into the garden, and Major Mallard
fetched the Colonel.

"His excellency the Governor will see you now," said he, and threw
wide the door.

Colonel Bishop staggered in, and stood waiting.

At the table sat a man of whom nothing was visible but the top of
a carefully curled black head.  Then this head was raised, and a
pair of blue eyes solemnly regarded the prisoner.  Colonel Bishop
made a noise in his throat, and, paralyzed by amazement, stared
into the face of his excellency the Deputy-Governor of Jamaica,
which was the face of the man he had been hunting in Tortuga to
his present undoing.

The situation was best expressed to Lord Willoughby by van der
Kuylen as the pair stepped aboard the Admiral's flagship.

"Id is fery boedigal!" he said, his blue eyes twinkling.  "Cabdain
Blood is fond of boedry - you remember de abble-blossoms.  So?
Ha, ha!"



End of this Project Gutenberg Etext of Captain Blood

Colophon

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