Part 5 out of 7
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
"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.
She checked, and smiled a little crooked smile. "Such a man is best
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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."
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,
"Vastly obliging of him," drawled his lordship, seeing that Miss
Bishop made no shift to answer. Sombre-eyed she sat, staring into
"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
"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
"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 manouvre. 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
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
"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
"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
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
She leaned across the table to interrupt him, and he observed that
her breathing had grown labored, that her eyes were dilating in
"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
"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.
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
Jamaca 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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
Standing now at the rail, with Lord Julian beside him, Captain Blood
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
"I'll rot in hell or ever I serves the King," he bawled in a great
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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."
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
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
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.
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
"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
"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
"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.