Part 2 out of 7
knew the voice, as I have said.
"I am setting a broken leg," he answered, without pausing in his
"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
"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
"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?"
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
"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."
"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
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
"What intuitions!" cried sardonic Mr. Blood. But the doctor took
"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
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
"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. "0 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
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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
"But if there are questions meanwhile?" bleated Nuttall. He was a
thin, pale, small-featured, man with weak eyes that now blinked
"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
"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
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."
"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
"Nay, sir, that is an evasion. You shall answer me truthfully this
"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
"Will ye never forget it?"
"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
"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
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
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.
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
"I am seeking Doctor Blood," he announced breathlessly.
"You are in a rare haste," growled Kent. "What the devil is it?
"Eh? Oh! Nay, nay. I'm not married, sir. It's a cousin of mine,
"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
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
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
"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
The planter's bamboo cane fell on the lad's naked shoulders with
"Answer me, you dog! What's his name?"
Jeremy looked at the burly planter out of sullen, almost defiant
"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
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
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,
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
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
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,
"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
"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
"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.
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
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
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
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 guts 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
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
"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
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
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
"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
"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,
"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
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.
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
"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
"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
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
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
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
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
"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