Part 6 out of 7
Jeremy Pitt answered the laugh with an oath. A moment he stood
irresolute where Blood had left him. Then slowly, reluctance
dragging at his feet, he went down the companion to give the order
for the cock-boat.
"If anything should happen to you, Peter," he said, as Blood was
going over the side, "Colonel Bishop had better look to himself.
These fifty lads may be lukewarm at present, as you say, but - sink
me! - they'll be anything but lukewarm if there's a breach of faith."
"And what should be happening to me, Jeremy? Sure, now, I'll be
back for dinner, so I will."
Blood climbed down into the waiting boat. But laugh though he might,
he knew as well as Pitt that in going ashore that morning he carried
his life in his hands. Because of this, it may have been that when
he stepped on to the narrow mole, in the shadow of the shallow outer
wall of the fort through whose crenels were thrust the black noses
of its heavy guns, he gave order that the boat should stay for him
at that spot. He realized that he might have to retreat in a hurry.
Walking leisurely, he skirted the embattled wall, and passed through
the great gates into the courtyard. Half-a-dozen soldiers lounged
there, and in the shadow cast by the wall, Major Mallard, the
Commandant, was slowly pacing. He stopped short at sight of Captain
Blood, and saluted him, as was his due, but the smile that lifted
the officer's stiff mostachios was grimly sardonic. Peter Blood's
attention, however, was elsewhere.
On his right stretched a spacious garden, beyond which rose the
white house that was the residence of the Deputy-Governor. In that
garden's main avenue, that was fringed with palm and sandalwood,
he had caught sight of Miss Bishop alone. He crossed the courtyard
with suddenly lengthened stride.
"Good-morning to ye, ma'am," was his greeting as he overtook her;
and hat in hand now, he added on a note of protest: "Sure, it's
nothing less than uncharitable to make me run in this heat."
"Why do you run, then?" she asked him coolly, standing slim and
straight before him, all in white and very maidenly save in her
unnatural composure. "I am pressed," she informed him. "So you
will forgive me if I do not stay."
"You were none so pressed until I came," he protested, and if his
thin lips smiled, his blue eyes were oddly hard.
"Since you perceive it, sir, I wonder that you trouble to be so
That crossed the swords between them, and it was against Blood's
instincts to avoid an engagement.
"Faith, you explain yourself after a fashion," said he. "But since
it was more or less in your service that I donned the King's coat,
you should suffer it to cover the thief and pirate."
She shrugged and turned aside, in some resentment and some regret.
Fearing to betray the latter, she took refuge in the former. "I
do my best," said she.
"So that ye can be charitable in some ways!" He laughed softly.
"Glory be, now, I should be thankful for so much. Maybe I'm
presumptuous. But I can't forget that when I was no better than a
slave in your uncle's household ir Barbados, ye used me with a
"Why not? In those days you had some claim upon my kindness. You
were just an unfortunate gentleman then."
"And what else would you be calling me now?"
"Hardly unfortunate. We have heard of your good fortune on the
seas - how your luck has passed into a byword. And we have heard
other things: of your good fortune in other directions."
She spoke hastily, the thought of Mademoiselle d'Ogeron in her mind.
And instantly would have recalled the words had she been able. But
Peter Blood swept them lightly aside, reading into them none of her
meaning, as she feared he would.
"Aye - a deal of lies, devil a doubt, as I could prove to you."
"I cannot think why you should trouble to put yourself on your
defence," she discouraged him.
"So that ye may think less badly of me than you do."
"What I think of you can be a very little matter to you, sir."
This was a disarming stroke. He abandoned combat for expostulation.
"Can ye say that now? Can ye say that, beholding me in this livery
of a service I despise? Didn't ye tell me that I might redeem the
past? It's little enough I am concerned to redeem the past save
only in your eyes. In my own I've done nothing at all that I am
ashamed of, considering the provocation I received."
Her glance faltered, and fell away before his own that was so intent.
"I... I can't think why you should speak to me like this," she
said, with less than her earlier assurance.
"Ah, now, can't ye, indeed?" he cried. "Sure, then, I'll be
"Oh, please." There was real alarm in her voice. "I realize fully
what you did, and I realize that partly, at least, you may have
been urged by consideration for myself. Believe me, I am very
grateful. I shall always be grateful."
"But if it's also your intention always to think of me as a thief
and a pirate, faith, ye may keep your gratitude for all the good
it's like to do me."
A livelier colour crept into her cheeks. There was a perceptible
heave of the slight breast that faintly swelled the flimsy bodice
of white silk. But if she resented his tone and his words, she
stifled her resentment. She realized that perhaps she had, herself,
provoked his anger. She honestly desired to make amends.
"You are mistaken," she began. "It isn't that."
But they were fated to misunderstand each other.
Jealousy, that troubler of reason, had been over-busy with his wits
as it had with hers.
"What is it, then?" quoth he, and added the question: "Lord Julian?"
She started, and stared at him blankly indignant now.
"Och, be frank with me," he urged her, unpardonably. "'Twill be
a kindness, so it will."
For a moment she stood before him with quickened breathing, the
colour ebbing and flowing in her cheeks. Then she looked past him,
and tilted her chin forward.
"You... you are quite insufferable," she said. "I beg that you
will let me pass."
He stepped aside, and with the broad feathered hat which he still
held in his hand, he waved her on towards the house.
"I'll not be detaining you any longer, ma'am. After all, the cursed
thing I did for nothing can be undone. Ye'll remember afterwards
that it was your hardness drove me."
She moved to depart, then checked, and faced him again. It was she
now who was on her defence, her voice quivering with indignation.
"You take that tone! You dare to take that tone!" she cried,
astounding him by her sudden vehemence. "You have the effrontery
to upbraid me because I will not take your hands when I know how
they are stained; when I know you for a murderer and worse?"
He stared at her open-mouthed.
"A murderer- I?" he said at last.
"Must I name your victims? Did you not murder Levasseur?"
"Levasseur?" He smiled a little. "So they've told you about that!"
"Do you deny it?"
"I killed him, it is true. I can remember killing another man in
circumstances that were very similar. That was in Bridgetown on
the night of the Spanish raid. Mary Traill would tell you of it.
She was present."
He clapped his hat on his head with a certain abrupt fierceness,
and strode angrily away, before she could answer or even grasp the
full significance of what he had said.
Peter Blood stood in the pillared portico of Government House, and
with unseeing eyes that were laden with pain and anger, stared out
across the great harbour of Port Royal to the green hills rising
from the farther shore and the ridge of the Blue Mountains beyond,
showing hazily through the quivering heat.
He was aroused by the return of the negro who had gone to announce
him, and following now this slave, he made his way through the
house to the wide piazza behind it, in whose shade Colonel Bishop
and my Lord Julian Wade took what little air there was.
"So ye've come," the Deputy-Governor hailed him, and followed the
greeting by a series of grunts of vague but apparently ill-humoured
He did not trouble to rise, not even when Lord Julian, obeying the
instincts of finer breeding, set him the example. From under
scowling brows the wealthy Barbados planter considered his sometime
slave, who, hat in hand, leaning lightly upon his long beribboned
cane, revealed nothing in his countenance of the anger which was
being steadily nourished by this cavalier reception.
At last, with scowling brow and in self-sufficient tones, Colonel
Bishop delivered himself.
"I have sent for you, Captain Blood, because of certain news that
has just reached me. I am informed that yesterday evening a frigate
left the harbour having on board your associate Wolverstone and a
hundred men of the hundred and fifty that were serving under you.
His lordship and I shall be glad to have your explanation of how
you came to permit that departure."
"Permit?" quoth Blood. "I ordered it."
The answer left Bishop speechless for a moment. Then:
"You ordered it?" he said in accents of unbelief, whilst Lord Julian
raised his eyebrows. "'Swounds! Perhaps you'll explain yourself?
Whither has Wolverstone gone?"
"To Tortuga. He's gone with a message to the officers commanding
the other four ships of the fleet that is awaiting me there, telling
them what's happened and why they are no longer to expect me."
Bishop's great face seemed to swell and its high colour to deepen.
He swung to Lord Julian.
"You hear that, my lord? Deliberately he has let Wolverstone loose
upon the seas again - Wolverstone, the worst of all that gang of
pirates after himself. I hope your lordship begins at last to
perceive the folly of granting the King's commission to such a man
as this against all my counsels. Why, this thing is... it's just
mutiny... treason! By God! It's matter for a court-martial."
"Will you cease your blather of mutiny and treason and
courts-martial?" Blood put on his hat, and sat down unbidden.
"I have sent Wolverstone to inform Hagthorpe and Christian and
Yberville and the rest of my lads that they've one clear month in
which to follow my example, quit piracy, and get back to their
boucans or their logwood, or else sail out of the Caribbean Sea.
That's what I've done."
"But the men?" his lordship interposed in his level, cultured voice.
"This hundred men that Wolverstone has taken with him?"
"They are those of my crew who have no taste for King James's
service, and have preferred to seek work of other kinds. It was
in our compact, my lord, that there should be no constraining of
"I don't remember it," said his lordship, with sincerity.
Blood looked at him in surprise. Then he shrugged. "Faith, I'm
not to blame for your lordship's poor memory. I say that it was
so; and I don't lie. I've never found it necessary. In any case
ye couldn't have supposed that I should consent to anything different."
And then the Deputy-Governor exploded.
"You have given those damned rascals in Tortuga this warning so
that they may escape! That is what you have done. That is how you
abuse the commission that has saved your own neck!"
Peter Blood considered him steadily, his face impassive. "I will
remind you," he said at last, very quietly, "that the object in view
was - leaving out of account your own appetites which, as every one
knows, are just those of a hangman - to rid the Caribbean of
buccaneers. Now, I've taken the most effective way of accomplishing
that object. The knowledge that I've entered the King's service
should in itself go far towards disbanding the fleet of which I was
until lately the admiral."
"I see!" sneered the Deputy-Governor malevolently. "And if it does
"It will be time enough then to consider what else is to be done."
Lord Julian forestalled a fresh outburst on the part of Bishop.
"It is possible," he said, "that my Lord Sunderland will be
satisfied, provided that the solution is such as you promise."
It was a courteous, conciliatory speech. Urged by friendliness
towards Blood and understanding of the difficult position in which
the buccaneer found himself, his lordship was disposed to take his
stand upon the letter of his instructions. Therefore he now held
out a friendly hand to help him over the latest and most difficult
obstacle which Blood himself had enabled Bishop to place in the
way of his redemption. Unfortunately the last person from whom
Peter Blood desired assistance at that moment was this young
nobleman, whom he regarded with the jaundiced eyes of jealousy.
"Anyway," he answered, with a suggestion of defiance and more than
a suggestion of a sneer, "it's the most ye should expect from me,
and certainly it's the most ye'll get."
His lordship frowned, and dabbed his lips with a handkerchief.
"I don't think that I quite like the way you put it. Indeed,
upon reflection, Captain Blood, I am sure that I do not."
"I am sorry for that, so I am," said Blood impudently. "But
there it is. I'm not on that account concerned to modify it."
His lordship's pale eyes opened a little wider. Languidly he raised
"Ah!" he said. "You're a prodigiously uncivil fellow. You
disappoint me, sir. I had formed the notion that you might be a
"And that's not your lordship's only mistake," Bishop cut in.
"You made a worse when you gave him the King's commission, and so
sheltered the rascal from the gallows I had prepared for him in
"Aye - but the worst mistake of all in this matter of commissions,"
said Blood to his lordship, "was the one that trade this greasy
slaver Deputy-Governor of Jamaica instead of its hangman, which is
the office for which he's by nature fitted."
"Captain Blood!" said his lordship sharply in reproof. "Upon my
soul and honour, sir, you go much too far. You are...."
But here Bishop interrupted him. He had heaved himself to his feet,
at last, and was venting his fury in unprintable abuse. Captain
Blood, who had also risen, stood apparently impassive, for the
storm to spend itself. When at last this happened, he addressed
himself quietly to Lord Julian, as if Colonel Bishop had not spoken.
"Your lordship was about to say?" he asked, with challenging
But his lordship had by now recovered his habitual composure, and
was again disposed to be conciliatory. He laughed and shrugged.
"Faith! here's a deal of unnecessary heat," said he. "And God
knows this plaguey climate provides enough of that. Perhaps,
Colonel Bishop, you are a little uncompromising; and you, sir, are
certainly a deal too peppery. I have said, speaking on behalf of
my Lord Sunderland, that I am content to await the result of your
But Bishop's fury had by now reached a stage in which it was not
to be restrained.
"Are you, indeed?" he roared. "Well, then, I am not. This is a
matter in which your lordship must allow me to be the better judge.
And, anyhow, I'll take the risk of acting on my own responsibility."
Lord Julian abandoned the struggle. He smiled wearily, shrugged,
and waved a hand in implied resignation. The Deputy-Governor
"Since my lord here has given you a commission, I can't regularly
deal with you out of hand for piracy as you deserve. But you
shall answer before a court-martial for your action in the matter
of Wolverstone, and take the consequences."
"I see," said Blood. "Now we come to it. And it's yourself as
Deputy-Governor will preside over that same court-martial. So that
ye can wipe off old scores by hanging me, it's little ye care how
ye do it!" He laughed, and added: "Praemonitus, praemunitus."
"What shall that mean?" quoth Lord Julian sharply.
"I had imagined that your lordship would have had some education."
He was at pains, you see, to be provocative.
"It's not the literal meaning I am asking, sir," said Lord Julian,
with frosty dignity. "I want to know what you desire me to
"I'll leave your lordship guessing," said Blood. "And I'll be
wishing ye both a very good day." He swept off his feathered hat,
and made them a leg very elegantly.
"Before you go," said Bishop, "and to save you from any idle
rashness, I'll tell you that the Harbour-Master and the Commandant
have their orders. You don't leave Port Royal, my fine gallows
bird. Damme, I mean to provide you with permanent moorings here,
in Execution Dock."
Peter Blood stiffened, and his vivid blue eyes stabbed the bloated
face of his enemy. He passed his long cane into his left hand, and
with his right thrust negligently into the breast of his doublet,
he swung to Lord Julian, who was thoughtfully frowning.
"Your lordship, I think, promised me immunity from this."
"What I may have promised," said his lordship, "your own conduct
makes it difficult to perform." He rose. "You did me a service,
Captain Blood, and I had hoped that we might be friends. But since
you prefer to have it otherwise...." He shrugged, and waved a hand
towards the Deputy-Governor.
Blood completed the sentence in his own way:
"Ye mean that ye haven't the strength of character to resist the
urgings of a bully." He was apparently at his ease, and actually
smiling. "Well, well - as I said before - praemonitus, praemunitus.
I'm afraid that ye're no scholar, Bishop, or ye'd know that I means
"Forewarned? Ha!" Bishop almost snarled. "The warning comes a
little late. You do not leave this house." He took a step in the
direction of the doorway, and raised his voice. "Ho there..." he
was beginning to call.
Then with a sudden audible catch in his breath, he stopped short.
Captain Blood's right hand had reemerged from the breast of his
doublet, bringing with it a long pistol with silver mountings richly
chased, which he levelled within a foot of the Deputy-Governor's
"And forearmed," said he. "Don't stir from where you are, my lord,
or there may be an accident."
And my lord, who had been moving to Bishop's assistance, stood
instantly arrested. Chap-fallen, with much of his high colour
suddenly departed, the Deputy-Governor was swaying on unsteady legs.
Peter Blood considered him with a grimness that increased his panic.
"I marvel that I don't pistol you without more ado, ye fat
blackguard. If I don't, it's for the same reason that once before
I gave ye your life when it was forfeit. Ye're not aware of the
reason, to be sure; but it may comfort ye to know that it exists.
At the same time I'll warn ye not to put too heavy a strain on my
generosity, which resides at the moment in my trigger-finger. Ye
mean to hang me, and since that's the worst that can happen to me
anyway, you'll realize that I'll not boggle at increasing the
account by spilling your nasty blood." He cast his cane from him,
thus disengaging his left hand. "Be good enough to give me your
arm, Colonel Bishop. Come, come, man, your arm."
Under the compulsion of that sharp tone, those resolute eyes, and
that gleaming pistol, Bishop obeyed without demur. His recent
foul volubility was stemmed. He could not trust himself to speak.
Captain Blood tucked his left arm through the Deputy-Governor's
proffered right. Then he thrust his own right hand with its pistol
back into the breast of his doublet.
"Though invisible, it's aiming at ye none the less, and I give you
my word of honour that I'll shoot ye dead upon the very least
provocation, whether that provocation is yours or another's. Ye'll
bear that in mind, Lord Julian. And now, ye greasy hangman, step
out as brisk and lively as ye can, and behave as naturally as ye
may, or it's the black stream of Cocytus ye'll be contemplating."
Arm in arm they passed through the house, and down the garden, where
Arabella lingered, awaiting Peter Blood's return.
Consideration of his parting words had brought her first turmoil of
mind, then a clear perception of what might be indeed the truth of
the death of Levasseur. She perceived that the particular
inference drawn from it might similarly have been drawn from Blood's
deliverance of Mary Traill. When a man so risks his life for a
woman, the rest is easily assumed. For the men who will take such
risks without hope of personal gain are few. Blood was of those
few, as he had proved in the case of Mary Traill.
It needed no further assurances of his to convince her that she had
done him a monstrous injustice. She remembered words he had used
- words overheard aboard his ship (which he had named the Arabella)
on the night of her deliverance from the Spanish admiral; words he
had uttered when she had approved his acceptance of the King's
commission; the words he had spoken to her that very morning, which
had but served to move her indignation. All these assumed a fresh
meaning in her mind, delivered now from its unwarranted
Therefore she lingered there in the garden, awaiting his return
that she might make amends; that she might set a term to all
misunderstanding. In impatience she awaited him. Yet her patience,
it seemed, was to be tested further. For when at last he came, it
was in company - unusually close and intimate company - with her
uncle. In vexation she realized that explanations must be postponed.
Could she have guessed the extent of that postponement, vexation
would have been changed into despair.
He passed, with his companion, from that fragrant garden into the
courtyard of the fort. Here the Commandant, who had been instructed
to hold himself in readiness with the necessary men against the need
to effect the arrest of Captain Blood, was amazed by the curious
spectacle of the Deputy-Governor of Jamaica strolling forth arm in
arm and apparently on the friendliest terms with the intended
prisoner. For as they went, Blood was chatting and laughing
They passed out of the gates unchallenged, and so came to the mole
where the cock-boat from the Arabella was waiting. They took their
places side by side in the stern sheets, and were pulled away
together, always very close and friendly, to the great red ship
where Jeremy Pitt so anxiously awaited news.
You conceive the master's amazement to see the Deputy-Governor come
toiling up the entrance ladder, with Blood following very close
"Sure, I walked into a trap, as ye feared, Jeremy," Blood hailed
him. "But I walked out again, and fetched the trapper with me.
He loves his life, does this fat rascal."
Colonel Bishop stood in the waist, his great face blenched to the
colour of clay, his mouth loose, almost afraid to look at the sturdy
ruffians who lounged about the shot-rack on the main hatch.
Blood shouted an order to the bo'sun, who was leaning against the
"Throw me a rope with a running noose over the yardarm there,
against the need of it. Now, don't be alarming yourself, Colonel,
darling. It's no more than a provision against your being
unreasonable, which I am sure ye'll not be. We'll talk the matter
over whiles we are dining, for I trust ye'll not refuse to honour
my table by your company."
He led away the will-less, cowed bully to the great cabin. Benjamin,
the negro steward, in white drawers and cotton shirt, made haste
by his command to serve dinner.
Colonel Bishop collapsed on the locker under the stern ports, and
spoke now for the first time.
"May I ask wha... what are your intentions?" he quavered.
"Why, nothing sinister, Colonel. Although ye deserve nothing less
than that same rope and yardarm, I assure you that it's to be
employed only as a last resource. Ye've said his lordship made a
mistake when he handed me the commission which the Secretary of
State did me the honour to design for me. I'm disposed to agree
with you; so I'll take to the sea again. Cras ingens iterabimus
aequor. It's the fine Latin scholar ye'll be when I've done with ye.
I'll be getting back to Tortuga and my buccaneers, who at least are
honest, decent fellows. So I've fetched ye aboard as a hostage."
"My God!" groaned the Deputy-Governor. "Ye... ye never mean that
ye'll carry me to Tortuga !"
Blood laughed outright. "Oh, I'd never serve ye such a bad turn
as that. No, no. All I want is that ye ensure my safe departure
from Port Royal. And, if ye're reasonable, I'll not even trouble
you to swim for it this time. Ye've given certain orders to your
Harbour-Master, and others to the Commandant of your plaguey fort.
Ye'll be so good as to send for them both aboard here, and inform
them in my presence that the Arabella is leaving this afternoon on
the King's service and is to pass out unmolested. And so as to
make quite sure of their obedience, they shall go a little voyage
with us, themselves. Here's what you require. Now write - unless
you prefer the yardarm."
Colonel Bishop heaved himself up in a pet. "You constrain me with
violence..." he was beginning.
Blood smoothly interrupted him.
"Sure, now, I am not constraining you at all. I'm giving you a
perfectly free choice between the pen and the rope. It's a matter
for yourself entirely."
Bishop glared at him; then shrugging heavily, he took up the pen
and sat down at the table. In an unsteady hand he wrote that
summons to his officers. Blood despatched it ashore; and then
bade his unwilling guest to table.
"I trust, Colonel, your appetite is as stout as usual."
The wretched Bishop took the seat to which he was commanded. As
for eating, however, that was not easy to a man in his position;
nor did Blood press him. The Captain, himself, fell to with a
good appetite. But before he was midway through the meal came
Hayton to inform him that Lord Julian Wade had just come aboard,
and was asking to see him instantly.
"I was expecting him," said Blood. "Fetch him in."
Lord Julian came. He was very stem and dignified. His eyes took
in the situation at a glance, as Captain Blood rose to greet him.
"It's mighty friendly of you to have joined us, my lord."
"Captain Blood," said his lordship with asperity, "I find your
humour a little forced. I don't know what may be your intentions;
but I wonder do you realize the risks you are running."
"And I wonder does your lordship realize the risk to yourself in
following us aboard as I had counted that you would."
"What shall that mean, sir?"
Blood signalled to Benjamin, who was standing behind Bishop.
"Set a chair for his lordship. Hayton, send his lordship's boat
ashore. Tell them he'll not be returning yet awhile."
"What's that?" cried his lordship. "Blister me! D'ye mean to
detain me? Are ye mad?"
"Better wait, Hayton, in case his lordship should turn violent,"
said Blood. "You, Benjamin, you heard the message. Deliver it."
"Will you tell me what you intend, sir?" demanded his lordship,
quivering with anger.
"Just to make myself and my lads here safe from Colonel Bishop's
gallows. I've said that I trusted to your gallantry not to leave
him in the lurch, but to follow him hither, and there's a note
from his hand gone ashore to summon the Harbour-Master and the
Commandant of the fort. Once they are aboard, I shall have all
the hostages I need for our safety."
"You scoundrel!" said his lordship through his teeth.
"Sure, now, that's entirely a matter of the point of view," said
Blood. "Ordinarily it isn't the kind of name I could suffer any
man to apply to me. Still, considering that ye willingly did me
a service once, and that ye're likely unwillingly to do me
another now, I'll overlook your discourtesy, so I will."
His lordship laughed. "You fool," he said. "Do you dream that I
came aboard your pirate ship without taking my measures? I informed
the Commandant of exactly how you had compelled Colonel Bishop to
accompany you. Judge now whether he or the Harbour-Master will
obey the summons, or whether you will be allowed to depart as you
Blood's face became grave. "I'm sorry for that," said he.
I thought you would be, answered his lordship.
"Oh, but not on my own account. It's the Deputy-Governor there I'm
sorry for. D'ye know what Ye've done? Sure, now, ye've very likely
"My God!" cried Bishop in a sudden increase of panic.
"If they so much as put a shot across my bows, up goes their
Deputy-Governor to the yardarm. Your only hope, Colonel, lies in
the fact that I shall send them word of that intention. And so
that you may mend as far as you can the harm you have done, it's
yourself shall bear them the message, my lord."
"I'll see you damned before I do," fumed his lordship.
"Why, that's unreasonable and unreasoning. But if ye insist, why,
another messenger will do as well, and another hostage aboard - as
I had originally intended - will make my hand the stronger."
Lord Julian stared at him, realizing exactly what he had refused.
"You'll think better of it now that ye understand?" quoth Blood.
"Aye, in God's name, go, my lord," spluttered Bishop, "and make
yourself obeyed. This damned pirate has me by the throat."
His lordship surveyed him with an eye that was not by any means
admiring. "Why, if that is your wish..." he began. Then he
shrugged, and turned again to Blood.
"I suppose I can trust you that no harm will come to Colonel Bishop
if you are allowed to sail?"
"You have my word for it," said Blood. "And also that I shall put
him safely ashore again without delay."
Lord Julian bowed stiffly to the cowering Deputy-Governor. "You
understand, sir, that I do as you desire," he said coldly.
"Aye, man, aye!" Bishop assented hastily.
"Very well." Lord Julian bowed again and took his departure.
Blood escorted him to the entrance ladder at the foot of which
still swung the Arabella's own cock-boat.
"It's good-bye, my lord," said Blood. "And there's another thing."
He proffered a parchment that he had drawn from his pocket." It's
the commission. Bishop was right when he said it was a mistake."
Lord Julian considered him, and considering him his expression
"I am sorry," he said sincerely.
"In other circumstances..." began Blood. "Oh, but there! Ye'll
understand. The boat's waiting."
Yet with his foot on the first rung of the ladder, Lord Julian
"I still do not perceive - blister me if I do! - why you should
not have found some one else to carry your message to the Commandant,
and kept me aboard as an added hostage for his obedience to your
Blood's vivid eyes looked into the other's that were clear and
honest, and he smiled, a little wistfully. A moment he seemed to
hesitate. Then he explained himself quite fully.
"Why shouldn't I tell you? It's the same reason that's been urging
me to pick a quarrel with you so that I might have the satisfaction
of slipping a couple of feet of steel into your vitals. When I
accepted your commission, I was moved to think it might redeem me
in the eyes of Miss Bishop - for whose sake, as you may have guessed,
I took it. But I have discovered that such a thing is beyond
accomplishment. I should have known it for a sick man's dream. I
have discovered also that if she's choosing you, as I believe she
is, she's choosing wisely between us, and that's why I'll not have
your life risked by keeping you aboard whilst the message goes by
another who might bungle it. And now perhaps ye'll understand."
Lord Julian stared at him bewildered. His long, aristocratic
face was very pale.
"My God!" he said. "And you tell me this?"
"I tell you because... Oh, plague on it! - so that ye may tell her;
so that she may be made to realize that there's something of the
unfortunate gentleman left under the thief and pirate she accounts
me, and that her own good is my supreme desire. Knowing that, she
may... faith, she may remember me more kindly - if It's only in
her prayers. That's all, my lord."
Lord Julian continued to look at the buccaneer in silence. In
silence, at last, he held out his hand; and in silence Blood
"I wonder whether you are right," said his lordship, "and whether
you are not the better man."
"Where she is concerned see that you make sure that I am right.
Good-bye to you."
Lord Julian wrung his hand in silence, went down the ladder, and
was pulled ashore. From the distance he waved to Blood, who stood
leaning on the bulwarks watching the receding cock-boat.
The Arabella sailed within the hour, moving lazily before a sluggish
breeze. The fort remained silent and there was no movement from the
fleet to hinder her departure. Lord Julian had carried the message
effectively, and had added to it his own personal commands.
Five miles out at sea from Port Royal, whence the details of the
coast of Jamaica were losing their sharpness, the Arabella hove to,
and the sloop she had been towing was warped alongside.
Captain Blood escorted his compulsory guest to the head of the
ladder. Colonel Bishop, who for two hours and more had been in a
state of mortal anxiety, breathed freely at last; and as the tide
of his fears receded, so that of his deep-rooted hate of this
audacious buccaneer resumed its normal flow. But he practised
circumspection. If in his heart he vowed that once back in Port
Royal there was no effort he would spare, no nerve he would not
strain, to bring Peter Blood to final moorings in Execution Dock,
at least he kept that vow strictly to himself.
Peter Blood had no illusions. He was not, and never would be, the
complete pirate. There was not another buccaneer in all the
Caribbean who would have denied himself the pleasure of stringing
Colonel Bishop from the yardarm, and by thus finally stifling the
vindictive planter's hatred have increased his own security. But
Blood was not of these. Moreover, in the case of Colonel Bishop
there was a particular reason for restraint. Because he was Arabella
Bishop's uncle, his life must remain sacred to Captain Blood.
And so the Captain smiled into the sallow, bloated face and the
little eyes that fixed him with a malevolence not to be dissembled.
"A safe voyage home to you, Colonel, darling," said he in
valediction, and from his easy, smiling manner you would never have
dreamt of the pain he carried in his breast. "It's the second time
ye've served me for a hostage. Ye'll be well advised to avoid a
third. I'm not lucky to you, Colonel, as you should be perceiving."
Jeremy Pitt, the master, lounging at Blood's elbow, looked darkly
upon the departure of the Deputy-Governor. Behind them a little
mob of grim, stalwart, sun-tanned buccaneers were restrained from
cracking Bishop like a flea only by their submission to the dominant
will of their leader. They had learnt from Pitt while yet in Port
Royal of their Captain's danger, and whilst as ready as he to throw
over the King's service which had been thrust upon them, yet they
resented the manner in which this had been rendered necessary, and
they marvelled now at Blood's restraint where Bishop was concerned.
The Deputy-Governor looked round and met the lowering hostile
glances of those fierce eyes. Instinct warned him that his life at
that moment was held precariously, that an injudicious word might
precipitate an explosion of hatred from which no human power could
save him. Therefore he said nothing. He inclined his head in
silence to the Captain, and went blundering and stumbling in his
haste down that ladder to the sloop and its waiting negro crew.
They pushed off the craft from the red hull of the Arabella, bent
to their sweeps, then, hoisting sail, headed back for Port Royal,
intent upon reaching it before darkness should come down upon them.
And Bishop, the great bulk of him huddled in the stem sheets, sat
silent, his black brows knitted, his coarse lips pursed, malevolence
and vindictiveness so whelming now his recent panic that he forgot
his near escape of the yardarm and the running noose.
On the mole at Port Royal, under the low, embattled wall of the fort,
Major Mallard and Lord Julian waited to receive him, and it was with
infinite relief that they assisted him from the sloop.
Major Mallard was disposed to be apologetic.
"Glad to see you safe, sir," said he. "I'd have sunk Blood's ship
in spite of your excellency's being aboard but for your own orders
by Lord Julian, and his lordship's assurance that he had Blood's
word for it that no harm should come to you so that no harm came to
him. I'll confess I thought it rash of his lordship to accept the
word of a damned pirate...."
"I have found it as good as another's," said his lordship, cropping
the Major's too eager eloquence. He spoke with an unusual degree
of that frosty dignity he could assume upon occasion. The fact is
that his lordship was in an exceedingly bad humour. Having written
jubilantly home to the Secretary of State that his mission had
succeeded, he was now faced with the necessity of writing again to
confess that this success had been ephemeral. And because Major
Mallard's crisp mostachios were lifted by a sneer at the notion of
a buccaneer's word being acceptable, he added still more sharply:
"My justification is here in the person of Colonel Bishop safely
returned. As against that, sir, your opinion does not weigh for
very much. You should realize it."
"Oh, as your lordship says." Major Mallard's manner was tinged with
irony. "To be sure, here is the Colonel safe and sound. And out
yonder is Captain Blood, also safe and sound, to begin his piratical
ravages all over again."
"I do not propose to discuss the reasons with you, Major Mallard."
"And, anyway, it's not for long," growled the Colonel, finding
speech at last. "No, by....." He emphasized the assurance by an
unprintable oath. "If I spend the last shilling of my fortune and
the last ship of the Jamaica fleet, I'll have that rascal in a
hempen necktie before I rest. And I'll not be long about it." He
had empurpled in his angry vehemence, and the veins of his forehead
stood out like whipcord. Then he checked.
"You did well to follow Lord Julian's instructions," he commended
the Major. With that he turned from him, and took his lordship by
the arm. "Come, my lord. We must take order about this, you and I."
They went off together, skirting the redoubt, and so through
courtyard and garden to the house where Arabella waited anxiously.
The sight of her uncle brought her infinite relief, not only on his
own account, but on account also of Captain Blood.
"You took a great risk, sir," she gravely told Lord Julian after
the ordinary greetings had been exchanged.
But Lord Julian answered her as he had answered Major Mallard.
"There was no risk, ma'am."
She looked at him in some astonishment. His long, aristocratic
face wore a more melancholy, pensive air than usual. He answered
the enquiry in her glance:
"So that Blood's ship were allowed to pass the fort, no harm could
come to Colonel Bishop. Blood pledged me his word for that."
A faint smile broke the set of her lips, which hitherto had been
wistful, and a little colour tinged her cheeks. She would have
pursued the subject, but the Deputy-Governor's mood did not permit
it. He sneered and snorted at the notion of Blood's word being good
for anything, forgetting that he owed to it his own preservation at
At supper, and for long thereafter he talked of nothing but Blood
- of how he would lay him by the heels, and what hideous things he
would perform upon his body. And as he drank heavily the while, his
speech became increasingly gross and his threats increasingly
horrible; until in the end Arabella withdrew, white-faced and almost
on the verge of tears. It was not often that Bishop revealed
himself to his niece. Oddly enough, this coarse, overbearing planter
went in a certain awe of that slim girl. It was as if she had
inherited from her father the respect in which he had always been
held by his brother.
Lord Julian, who began to find Bishop disgusting beyond endurance,
excused himself soon after, and went in quest of the lady. He had
yet to deliver the message from Captain Blood, and this, he thought,
would be his opportunity. But Miss Bishop had retired for the
night, and Lord Julian must curb his impatience - it amounted by
now to nothing less - until the morrow.
Very early next morning, before the heat of the day came to render
the open intolerable to his lordship, he espied her from his window
moving amid the azaleas in the garden. It was a fitting setting
for one who was still as much a delightful novelty to him in
womanhood as was the azalea among flowers. He hurried forth to
join her, and when, aroused from her pensiveness, she had given
him a good-morrow, smiling and frank, he explained himself by the
announcement that he bore her a message from Captain Blood.
He observed her little start and the slight quiver of her lips,
and observed thereafter not only her pallor and the shadowy rings
about her eyes, but also that unusually wistful air which last night
had escaped his notice.
They moved out of the open to one of the terraces, where a pergola
of orange-trees provided a shaded sauntering space that was at once
cool and fragrant. As they went, he considered her admiringly, and
marvelled at himself that it should have taken him so long fully
to realize her slim, unusual grace, and to find her, as he now did,
so entirely desirable, a woman whose charm must irradiate all the
life of a man, and touch its commonplaces into magic.
He noted the sheen of her red-brown hair, and how gracefully one
of its heavy ringlets coiled upon her slender, milk-white neck.
She wore a gown of shimmering grey silk, and a scarlet rose,
fresh-gathered, was pinned at her breast like a splash of blood.
Always thereafter when he thought of her it was as he saw her at
that moment, as never, I think, until that moment had he seen her.
In silence they paced on a little way into the green shade. Then
she paused and faced him.
"You said something of a message, sir," she reminded him, thus
betraying some of her impatience.
He fingered the ringlets of his periwig, a little embarrassed how
to deliver himself, considering how he should begin. "He desired
me," he said at last, "to give you a message that should prove to
you that there is still something left in him of the unfortunate
gentleman that... that.., for which once you knew him."
"That is not now necessary," said she very gravely. He misunderstood
her, of course, knowing nothing of the enlightenment that yesterday
had come to her.
"I think..., nay, I know that you do him an injustice," said he.
Her hazel eyes continued to regard him.
"If you will deliver the message, it may enable me to judge."
To him, this was confusing. He did not immediately answer. He
found that he had not sufficiently considered the terms he should
employ, and the matter, after all, was of an exceeding delicacy,
demanding delicate handling. It was not so much that he was
concerned to deliver a message as to render it a vehicle by which
to plead his own cause. Lord Julian, well versed in the lore of
womankind and usually at his ease with ladies of the beau-monde,
found himself oddly constrained before this frank and unsophisticated
niece of a colonial planter.
They moved on in silence and as if by common consent towards the
brilliant sunshine where the pergola was intersected by the avenue
leading upwards to the house. Across this patch of light fluttered
a gorgeous butterfly, that was like black and scarlet velvet and
large as a man's hand. His lordship's brooding eyes followed it
out of sight before he answered.
"It is not easy. Stab me, it is not. He was a man who deserved
well. And amongst us we have marred his chances: your uncle, because
he could not forget his rancour; you, because... because having told
him that in the King's service he would find his redemption of what
was past, you would not afterwards admit to him that he was so
redeemed. And this, although concern to rescue you was the chief
motive of his embracing that same service.
She had turned her shoulder to him so that he should not see her face.
"I know. I know now," she said softly. Then after a pause she added
the question: "And you? What part has your lordship had in this -
that you should incriminate yourself with us?"
"My part?" Again he hesitated, then plunged recklessly on, as men
do when determined to perform a thing they fear. "If I understood
him aright, if he understood aright, himself, my part, though
entirely passive, was none the less effective. I implore you to
observe that I but report his own words. I say nothing for myself."
His lordship's unusual nervousness was steadily increasing. "He
thought, then - so he told me - that my presence here had contributed
to his inability to redeem himself in your sight; and unless he were
so redeemed, then was redemption nothing."
She faced him fully, a frown of perplexity bringing her brows
together above her troubled eyes.
"He thought that you had contributed?" she echoed. It was clear
she asked for enlightenment. He plunged on to afford it her, his
glance a little scared, his cheeks flushing.
"Aye, and he said so in terms which told me something that I hope
above all things, and yet dare not believe, for, God knows, I am no
coxcomb, Arabella. He said... but first let me tell you how I was
placed. I had gone aboard his ship to demand the instant surrender
of your uncle whom he held captive. He laughed at me. Colonel
Bishop should be a hostage for his safety. By rashly venturing
aboard his ship, I afforded him in my own person yet another hostage
as valuable at least as Colonel Bishop. Yet he bade me depart; not
from the fear of consequences, for he is above fear, nor from any
personal esteem for me whom he confessed that he had come to find
detestable; and this for the very reason that made him concerned
for my safety."
"I do not understand," she said, as he paused. "Is not that a
contradiction in itself?"
"It seems so only. The fact is, Arabella, this unfortunate man has
the... the temerity to love you."
She cried out at that, and clutched her breast whose calm was
suddenly disturbed. Her eyes dilated as she stared at him.
"I... I've startled you," said he, with concern. "I feared I should.
But it was necessary so that you may understand."
"Go on," she bade him.
"Well, then: he saw in me one who made it impossible that he should
win you - so he said. Therefore he could with satisfaction have
killed me. But because my death might cause you pain, because your
happiness was the thing that above all things he desired, he
surrendered that part of his guarantee of safety which my person
afforded him. If his departure should be hindered, and I should
lose my life in what might follow, there was the risk that... that
you might mourn me. That risk he would not take. Him you deemed
a thief and a pirate, he said, and added that - I am giving you his
own words always - if in choosing between us two, your choice, as
he believed, would fall on me, then were you in his opinion choosing
wisely. Because of that he bade me leave his ship, and had me put
She looked at him with eyes that were aswim with tears. He took a
step towards her, a catch in his breath, his hand held out.
"Was he right, Arabella? My life's happiness hangs upon your answer."
But she continued silently to regard him with those tear-laden eyes,
without speaking, and until she spoke he dared not advance farther.
A doubt, a tormenting doubt beset him. When presently she spoke,
he saw how true had been the instinct of which that doubt was born,
for her words revealed the fact that of all that he had said the
only thing that had touched her consciousness and absorbed it from
all other considerations was Blood's conduct as it regarded herself.
"He said that!" she cried. "He did that! Oh!" She turned away,
and through the slender, clustering trunks of the bordering
orange-trees she looked out across the glittering waters of the
great harbour to the distant hills. Thus for a little while, my
lord standing stiffly, fearfully, waiting for fuller revelation of
her mind. At last it came, slowly, deliberately, in a voice that
at moments was half suffocated. "Last night when my uncle displayed
his rancour and his evil rage, it began to be borne in upon me that
such vindictiveness can belong only to those who have wronged. It is
the frenzy into which men whip themselves to justify an evil passion.
I must have known then, if I had not already learnt it, that I had
been too credulous of all the unspeakable things attributed to Peter
Blood. Yesterday I had his own explanation of that tale of Levasseur
that you heard in St. Nicholas. And now this... this but gives me
confirmation of his truth and worth. To a scoundrel such as I was
too readily brought to believe him, the act of which you have just
told me would have been impossible."
"That is my own opinion," said his lordship gently.
"It must be. But even if it were not, that would now weigh for
nothing. What weighs - oh, so heavily and bitterly - is the thought
that but for the words in which yesterday I repelled him, he might
have been saved. If only I could have spoken to him again before
he went! I waited for him; but my uncle was with him, and I had no
suspicion that he was going away again. And now he is lost - back
at his outlawry and piracy, in which ultimately he will be taken
and destroyed. And the fault is mine - mine!"
"What are you saying? The only agents were your uncle's hostility
and his own obstinacy which would not study compromise. You must
not blame yourself for anything."
She swung to him with some impatience, her eyes aswim in tears. "You
can say that, and in spite of his message, which in itself tells how
much I was to blame! It was my treatment of him, the epithets I cast
at him that drove him. So much he has told you. I know it to be
"You have no cause for shame," said he. "As for your sorrow - why,
if it will afford you solace - you may still count on me to do what
man can to rescue him from this position."
She caught her breath.
"You will do that!" she cried with sudden eager hopefulness. "You
promise?" She held out her hand to him impulsively. He took it in
both his own.
"I promise," he answered her. And then, retaining still the hand
she had surrendered to him - "Arabella," he said very gently, "there
is still this other matter upon which you have not answered me."
"This other matter?" Was he mad, she wondered.
Could any other matter signify in such a moment.
"This matter that concerns myself; and all my future, oh, so very
closely. This thing that Blood believed, that prompted him..., that
... that you are not indifferent to me." He saw the fair face change
colour and grow troubled once more.
"Indifferent to you?" said she. "Why, no. We have been good
friends; we shall continue so, I hope, my lord."
"Friends! Good friends?" He was between dismay and bitterness.
"It is not your friendship only that I ask, Arabella. You heard
what I said, what I reported. You will not say that Peter Blood was
Gently she sought to disengage her hand, the trouble in her face
increasing. A moment he resisted; then, realizing what he did, he
set her free.
"Arabella!" he cried on a note of sudden pain.
"I have friendship for you, my lord. But only friendship." His
castle of hopes came clattering down about him, leaving him a little
stunned. As he had said, he was no coxcomb. Yet there was something
that he did not understand. She confessed to friendship, and it was
in his power to offer her a great position, one to which she, a
colonial planter's niece, however wealthy, could never have aspired
even in her dreams. This she rejected, yet spoke of friendship.
Peter Blood had been mistaken, then. How far had he been mistaken?
Had he been as mistaken in her feelings towards himself as he
obviously was in her feelings towards his lordship? In that case
... His reflections broke short. To speculate was to wound himself
in vain. He must know. Therefore he asked her with grim frankness:
"Is it Peter Blood?"
"Peter Blood?" she echoed. At first she did not understand the
purport of his question. When understanding came, a flush suffused
"I do not know," she said, faltering a little.
This was hardly a truthful answer. For, as if an obscuring veil had
suddenly been rent that morning, she was permitted at last to see
Peter Blood in his true relations to other men, and that sight,
vouchsafed her twenty-four hours too late, filled her with pity and
regret and yearning.
Lord Julian knew enough of women to be left in no further doubt.
He bowed his head so that she might not see the anger in his eyes,
for as a man of honour he took shame in that anger which as a human
being he could not repress.
And because Nature in him was stronger - as it is in most of us -
than training, Lord Julian from that moment began, almost in spite
of himself, to practise something that was akin to villainy. I
regret to chronicle it of one for whom - if I have done him any sort
of justice - you should have been conceiving some esteem. But the
truth is that the lingering remains of the regard in which he had
held Peter Blood were choked by the desire to supplant and destroy
a rival. He had passed his word to Arabella that he would use his
powerful influence on Blood's behalf. I deplore to set it down that
not only did he forget his pledge, but secretly set himself to aid
and abet Arabella's uncle in the plans he laid for the trapping and
undoing of the buccaneer. He might reasonably have urged - had he
been taxed with it - that he conducted himself precisely as his duty
demanded. But to that he might have been answered that duty with him
was but the slave of jealousy in this.
When the Jamaica fleet put to sea some few days later, Lord Julian
sailed with Colonel Bishop in Vice-Admiral Craufurd's flagship.
Not only was there no need for either of them to go, but the
Deputy-Governor's duties actually demanded that he should remain
ashore, whilst Lord Julian, as we know, was a useless man aboard a
ship. Yet both set out to hunt Captain Blood, each making of his
duty a pretext for the satisfaction of personal aims; and that
common purpose became a link between them, binding them in a sort
of friendship that must otherwise have been impossible between men
so dissimilar in breeding and in aspirations.
The hunt was up. They cruised awhile off Hispaniola, watching the
Windward Passage, and suffering the discomforts of the rainy season
which had now set in. But they cruised in vain, and after a month
of it, returned empty-handed to Port Royal, there to find awaiting
them the most disquieting news from the Old World.
The megalomania of Louis XIV had set Europe in a blaze of war.
The French legionaries were ravaging the Rhine provinces, and Spain
had joined the nations leagued to defend themselves from the wild
ambitions of the King of France. And there was worse than this:
there were rumours of civil war in England, where the people had
grown weary of the bigoted tyranny of King James. It was reported
that William of Orange had been invited to come over.
Weeks passed, and every ship from home brought additional news.
William had crossed to England, and in March of that year 1689
they learnt in Jamaica that he had accepted the crown and that
James had thrown himself into the arms of France for rehabilitation.
To a kinsman of Sunderland's this was disquieting news, indeed.
It was followed by letters from King William's Secretary of State
informing Colonel Bishop that there was war with France, and that
in view of its effect upon the Colonies a Governor-General was
coming out to the West Indies in the person of Lord Willoughby,
and that with him came a squadron under the command of Admiral van
der Kuylen to reenforce the Jamaica fleet against eventualities.
Bishop realized that this must mean the end of his supreme authority,
even though he should continue in Port Royal as Deputy-Governor.
Lord Julian, in the lack of direct news to himself, did not know
what it might mean to him. But he had been very close and
confidential with Colonel Bishop regarding his hopes of Arabella,
and Colonel Bishop more than ever, now that political events put him
in danger of being retired, was anxious to enjoy the advantages of
having a man of Lord Julian's eminence for his relative.
They came to a complete understanding in the matter, and Lord Julian
disclosed all that he knew.
"There is one obstacle in our path," said he. "Captain Blood. The
girl is in love with him."
"Ye're surely mad!" cried Bishop, when he had recovered speech.
"You are justified of the assumption," said his lordship dolefully.
"But I happen to be sane, and to speak with knowledge."
"Arabella herself has confessed it to me."
"The brazen baggage! By God, I'll bring her to her senses. It was
the slave-driver speaking, the man who governed with a whip."
"Don't be a fool, Bishop." His lordship's contempt did more than
any argument to calm the Colonel. "That's not the way with a girl
of Arabella's spirit. Unless you want to wreck my chances for all
time, you'll hold your tongue, and not interfere at all."
"Not interfere? My God, what, then?"
"Listen, man. She has a constant mind. I don't think you know
your niece. As long as Blood lives, she will wait for him."
"Then with Blood dead, perhaps she will come to her silly senses."
"Now you begin to show intelligence," Lord Julian commended him.
"That is the first essential step."
"And here is our chance to take it." Bishop warmed to a sort of
enthusiasm. "This war with France removes all restrictions in the
matter of Tortuga. We are free to invest it in the service of the
Crown. A victory there and we establish ourselves in the favour
of this new government."
"Ah!" said Lord Julian, and he pulled thoughtfully at his lip.
"I see that you understand," Bishop laughed coarsely. "Two birds
with one stone, eh? We'll hunt this rascal in his lair, right under
the beard of the King of France, and we'll take him this time, if
we reduce Tortuga to a heap of ashes."
On that expedition they sailed two days later - which would be some
three months after Blood's departure - taking every ship of the
fleet, and several lesser vessels as auxiliaries. To Arabella and
the world in general it was given out that they were going to raid
French Hispaniola, which was really the only expedition that could
have afforded Colonel Bishop any sort of justification for leaving
Jamaica at all at such a time. His sense of duty, indeed, should
have kept him fast in Port Royal; but his sense of duty was smothered
in hatred - that most fruitless and corruptive of all the emotions.
In the great cabin of Vice-Admiral Craufurd's flagship, the
Imperator, the Deputy-Governor got drunk that night to celebrate his
conviction that the sands of Captain Blood's career were running out.
THE SERVICE OF KING LOUIS
Meanwhile, some three months before Colonel Bishop set out to reduce
Tortuga, Captain Blood, bearing hell in his soul, had blown into
its rockbound harbour ahead of the winter gales, and two days ahead
of the frigate in which Wolverstone had sailed from Port Royal a day
In that snug anchorage he found his fleet awaiting him - the four
ships which had been separated in that gale off the Lesser Antilles,
and some seven hundred men composing their crews. Because they had
been beginning to grow anxious on his behalf, they gave him the
greater welcome. Guns were fired in his honour and the ships made
themselves gay with bunting. The town, aroused by all this noise in
the harbour, emptied itself upon the jetty, and a vast crowd of men
and women of all creeds and nationalities collected there to be
present at the coming ashore of the great buccaneer.
Ashore he went, probably for no other reason than to obey the general
expectation. His mood was taciturn; his face grim and sneering. Let
Wolverstone arrive, as presently he would, and all this hero-worship
would turn to execration.
His captains, Hagthorpe, Christian, and Yberville, were on the jetty
to receive him, and with them were some hundreds of his buccaneers.
He cut short their greetings, and when they plagued him with questions
of where he had tarried, he bade them await the coming of Wolverstone,
who would satisfy their curiosity to a surfeit. On that he shook
them off, and shouldered his way through that heterogeneous throng
that was composed of bustling traders of several nations - English,
French, and Dutch - of planters and of seamen of various degrees, of
buccaneers who were fruit-selling half-castes, negro slaves, some
doll-tearsheets and dunghill-queans from the Old World, and all the
other types of the human family that converted the quays of Cayona
into a disreputable image of Babel.
Winning clear at last, and after difficulties, Captain Blood took
his way alone to the fine house of M. d'Ogeron, there to pay his
respects to his friends, the Governor and the Governor's family.
At first the buccaneers jumped to the conclusion that Wolverstone
was following with some rare prize of war, but gradually from the
reduced crew of the Arabella a very different tale leaked out to
stem their satisfaction and convert it into perplexity. Partly out
of loyalty to their captain, partly because they perceived that if
he was guilty of defection they were guilty with him, and partly
because being simple, sturdy men of their hands, they were themselves
in the main a little confused as to what really had happened, the
crew of the Arabella practised reticence with their brethren in
Tortuga during those two days before Wolverstone's arrival. But
they were not reticent enough to prevent the circulation of certain
uneasy rumours and extravagant stories of discreditable adventures
- discreditable, that is, from the buccaneering point of view - of
which Captain Blood had been guilty.
But that Wolverstone came when he did, it is possible that there
would have been an explosion. When, however, the Old Wolf cast
anchor in the bay two days later, it was to him all turned for the
explanation they were about to demand of Blood.
Now Wolverstone had only one eye; but he saw a deal more with that
one eye than do most men with two; and despite his grizzled head
- so picturesquely swathed in a green and scarlet turban - he had
the sound heart of a boy, and in that heart much love for Peter
The sight of the Arabella at anchor in the bay had at first amazed
him as he sailed round the rocky headland that bore the fort. He
rubbed his single eye clear of any deceiving film and looked again.
Still he could not believe what it saw. And then a voice at his
elbow - the voice of Dyke, who had elected to sail with him -
assured him that he was not singular in his bewilderment.
"In the name of Heaven, is that the Arabella or is it the ghost of
The Old Wolf rolled his single eye over Dyke, and opened his mouth
to speak. Then he closed it again without having spoken; closed it
tightly. He had a great gift of caution, especially in matters that
he did not understand. That this was the Arabella he could no longer
doubt. That being so, he must think before he spoke. What the devil
should the Arabella be doing here, when he had left her in Jamaica?
And was Captain Blood aboard and in command, or had the remainder of
her hands made off with her, leaving the Captain in Port Royal?
Dyke repeated his question. This time Wolverstone answered him.
"Ye've two eyes to see with, and ye ask me, who's only got one,
what it is ye see!"
"But I see the Arabella."
"Of course, since there she rides. What else was you expecting?"
"Expecting?" Dyke stared at him, open-mouthed. "Was you expecting
to find the Arabella here?"
Wolverstone looked him over in contempt, then laughed and spoke
loud enough to be heard by all around him. "Of course. What else?"
And he laughed again, a laugh that seemed to Dyke to be calling him
a fool. On that Wolverstone turned to give his attention to the
operation of anchoring.
Anon when ashore he was beset by questioning buccaneers, it was
from their very questions that he gathered exactly how matters
stood, and perceived that either from lack of courage or other
motive Blood, himself, had refused to render any account of his
doings since the Arabella had separated from her sister ships.
Wolverstone congratulated himself upon the discretion he had used
"The Captain was ever a modest man," he explained to Hagthorpe and
those others who came crowding round him. "It's not his way to be
sounding his own praises. Why, it was like this. We fell in with
old Don Miguel, and when we'd scuttled him we took aboard a London
pimp sent out by the Secretary of State to offer the Captain the
King's commission if so be him'd quit piracy and be o' good
behaviour. The Captain damned his soul to hell for answer. And then
we fell in wi' the Jamaica fleet and that grey old devil Bishop in
command, and there was a sure end to Captain Blood and to every
mother's son of us all. So I goes to him, and 'accept this poxy
commission,' says I; 'turn King's man and save your neck and ours.'
He took me at my word, and the London pimp gave him the King's
commission on the spot, and Bishop all but choked hisself with rage
when he was told of it. But happened it had, and he was forced to
swallow it. We were King's men all, and so into Port Royal we
sailed along o' Bishop. But Bishop didn't trust us. He knew too
much. But for his lordship, the fellow from London, he'd ha' hanged
the Captain, King's commission and all. Blood would ha' slipped
out o' Port Royal again that same night. But that hound Bishop
had passed the word, and the fort kept a sharp lookout. In the end,
though it took a fortnight, Blood bubbled him. He sent me and most
o' the men off in a frigate that I bought for the voyage. His game
- as he'd secretly told me - was to follow and give chase. Whether
that's the game he played or not I can't tell ye; but here he is
afore me as I'd expected he would be."
There was a great historian lost in Wolverstone. He had the right
imagination that knows just how far it is safe to stray from the
truth and just how far to colour it so as to change its shape for
his own purposes.
Having delivered himself of his decoction of fact and falsehood,
and thereby added one more to the exploits of Peter Blood, he
enquired where the Captain might be found. Being informed that he
kept his ship, Wolverstone stepped into a boat and went aboard, to
report himself, as he put it.
In the great cabin of the Arabella he found Peter Blood alone and
very far gone in drink - a condition in which no man ever before
remembered to have seen him. As Wolverstone came in, the Captain
raised bloodshot eyes to consider him. A moment they sharpened in
their gaze as he brought his visitor into focus. Then he laughed,
a loose, idiot laugh, that yet somehow was half a sneer.
"Ah! The Old Wolf!" said he. "Got here at last, eh? And whatcher
gonnerdo wi' me, eh?" He hiccoughed resoundingly, and sagged back
loosely in his chair.
Old Wolverstone stared at him in sombre silence. He had looked
with untroubled eye upon many a hell of devilment in his time, but
the sight of Captain Blood in this condition filled him with sudden
grief. To express it he loosed an oath. It was his only expression
for emotion of all kinds. Then he rolled forward, and dropped into
a chair at the table, facing the Captain.
"My God, Peter, what's this?"
"Rum," said Peter. "Rum, from Jamaica." He pushed bottle and glass
Wolverstone disregarded them.
"I'm asking you what ails you?" he bawled.
"Rum," said Captain Blood again, and smiled. "Jus' rum. I answer
all your queshons. Why donjerr answer mine? Whatcher gonerdo wi'
"I've done it," said Wolverstone. "Thank God, ye had the sense to
hold your tongue till I came. Are ye sober enough to understand me?"
"Drunk or sober, allus 'derstand you."
"Then listen." And out came the tale that Wolverstone had told.
The Captain steadied himself to grasp it.
"It'll do as well asertruth," said he when Wolverstone had finished.
"And... oh, no marrer! Much obliged to ye, Old Wolf - faithful
Old Wolf! But was it worthertrouble? I'm norrer pirate now; never
a pirate again. 'S finished'" He banged the table, his eyes
"I'll come and talk to you again when there's less rum in your wits,"
said Wolverstone, rising. "Meanwhile ye'll please to remember the
tale I've told, and say nothing that'll make me out a liar. They all
believes me, even the men as sailed wi' me from Port Royal. I've made
'em. If they thought as how you'd taken the King's commission in
earnest, and for the purpose o' doing as Morgan did, ye guess what
"Hell would follow," said the Captain. "An' tha's all I'm fit for."
"Ye're maudlin," Wolverstone growled. "We'll talk again to-morrow."
They did; but to little purpose, either that day or on any day
thereafter while the rains - which set in that night - endured.
Soon the shrewd Wolverstone discovered that rum was not what ailed
Blood. Rum was in itself an effect, and not by any means the cause
of the Captain's listless apathy. There was a canker eating at his
heart, and the Old Wolf knew enough to make a shrewd guess of its
nature. He cursed all things that daggled petticoats, and, knowing
his world, waited for the sickness to pass.
But it did not pass. When Blood was not dicing or drinking in the
taverns of Tortuga, keeping company that in his saner days he had
loathed, he was shut up in his cabin aboard the Arabella, alone and
uncommunicative. His friends at Government House, bewildered at
this change in him, sought to reclaim him. Mademoiselle d'Ogeron,
particularly distressed, sent him almost daily invitations, to few
of which he responded.
Later, as the rainy season approached its end, he was sought by his
captains with proposals of remunerative raids on Spanish settlements.
But to all he manifested an indifference which, as the weeks passed
and the weather became settled, begot first impatience and then
Christian, who commanded the Clotho, came storming to him one day,
upbraiding him for his inaction, and demanding that he should take
order about what was to do.
"Go to the devil!" Blood said, when he had heard him out. Christian
departed fuming, and on the morrow the Clotho weighed anchor and
sailed away, setting an example of desertion from which the loyalty
of Blood's other captains would soon be unable to restrain their men.
Sometimes Blood asked himself why had he come back to Tortuga at all.
Held fast in bondage by the thought of Arabella and her scorn of him
for a thief and a pirate, he had sworn that he had done with
buccaneering. Why, then, was he here? That question he would answer
with another: Where else was he to go? Neither backward nor forward
could he move, it seemed.
He was degenerating visibly, under the eyes of all. He had entirely
lost the almost foppish concern for his appearance, and was grown
careless and slovenly in his dress. He allowed a black beard to
grow on cheeks that had ever been so carefully shaven; and the long,
thick black hair, once so sedulously curled, hung now in a lank,
untidy mane about a face that was changing from its vigorous
swarthiness to an unhealthy sallow, whilst the blue eyes, that had
been so vivid and compelling, were now dull and lacklustre.
Wolverstone, the only one who held the clue to this degeneration,
ventured once - and once only - to beard him frankly about it.
"Lord, Peter! Is there never to be no end to this?" the giant had
growled. "Will you spend your days moping and swilling 'cause a
white-faced ninny in Port Royal'll have none o' ye? 'Sblood and
'ounds! If ye wants the wench, why the plague doesn't ye go and
The blue eyes glared at him from under the jet-black eyebrows,
and something of their old fire began to kindle in them. But
Wolverstone went on heedlessly.
"I'll be nice wi' a wench as long as niceness be the key to her
favour. But sink me now if I'd rot myself in rum on account of
anything that wears a petticoat. That's not the Old Wolf's way.
If there's no other expedition'll tempt you, why not Port Royal?
What a plague do it matter if it is an English settlement? It's
commanded by Colonel Bishop, and there's no lack of rascals in your
company'd follow you to hell if it meant getting Colonel Bishop by
the throat. It could be done, I tell you. We've but to spy the
chance when the Jamaica fleet is away. There's enough plunder in
the town to tempt the lads, and there's the wench for you. Shall
I sound them on 't?"
Blood was on his feet, his eyes blazing, his livid face distorted.
"Ye'll leave my cabin this minute, so ye will, or, by Heaven, it's
your corpse'll be carried out of it. Ye mangy hound, d'ye dare
come to me with such proposals?"
He fell to cursing his faithful officer with a virulence the like
of which he had never yet been known to use. And Wolverstone, in
terror before that fury, went out without another word. The subject
was not raised again, and Captain Blood was left to his idle
But at last, as his buccaneers were growing desperate, something
happened, brought about by the Captain's friend M. d'Ogeron. One
sunny morning the Governor of Tortuga came aboard the Arabella,
accompanied by a chubby little gentleman, amiable of countenance,
amiable and self-sufficient of manner.
"My Captain," M. d'Ogeron delivered himself, "I bring you M. de
Cussy, the Governor of French Hispaniola, who desires a word with
Out of consideration for his friend, Captain Blood pulled the pipe
from his mouth, shook some of the rum out of his wits, and rose
and made a leg to M. de Cussy.
"Serviteur!" said he.
M. de Cussy returned the bow and accepted a seat on the locker under
the stem windows.
"You have a good force here under your command, my Captain," said he.
"Some eight hundred men."
"And I understand they grow restive in idleness."
"They may go to the devil when they please."
M. de Cussy took snuff delicately. "I have something better than
that to propose," said he.
"Propose it, then," said Blood, without interest.
M. de Cussy looked at M. d'Ogeron, and raised his eyebrows a little.
He did not find Captain Blood encouraging. But M. d'Ogeron nodded
vigorously with pursed lips, and the Governor of Hispaniola
propounded his business.
"News has reached us from France that there is war with Spain."
"That is news, is it?" growled Blood.
"I am speaking officially, my Captain. I am not alluding to
unofficial skirmishes, and unofficial predatory measures which we
have condoned out here. There is war - formally war - between
France and Spain in Europe. It is the intention of France that
this war shall be carried into the New World. A fleet is coming
out from Brest under the command of M. le Baron de Rivarol for
that purpose. I have letters from him desiring me to equip a
supplementary squadron and raise a body of not less than a thousand
men to reenforce him on his arrival. What I have come to propose
to you, my Captain, at the suggestion of our good friend M. d'Ogeron,
is, in brief, that you enroll your ships and your force under M. de
Blood looked at him with a faint kindling of interest. "You are
offering to take us into the French service?" he asked. "On what
"With the rank of Capitaine de Vaisseau for yourself, and suitable
ranks for the officers serving under you. You will enjoy the pay
of that rank, and you will be entitled, together with your men,
to one-tenth share in all prizes taken."
"My men will hardly account it generous. They will tell you that
they can sail out of here to-morrow, disembowel a Spanish settlement,
and keep the whole of the plunder."
"Ah, yes, but with the risks attaching to acts of piracy. With us
your position will be regular and official, and considering the
powerful fleet by which M. de Rivarol is backed, the enterprises
to be undertaken will be on a much vaster scale than anything you
could attempt on your own account. So that the one tenth in this
case may be equal to more than the whole in the other."
Captain Blood considered. This, after all, was not piracy that was
being proposed. It was honourable employment in the service of the
King of France.
"I will consult my officers," he said; and he sent for them.
They came and the matter was laid before them by M. de Cussy himself.
Hagthorpe announced at once that the proposal was opportune. The
men were grumbling at their protracted inaction, and would no doubt
be ready to accept the service which M. de Cussy offered on behalf
of France. Hagthorpe looked at Blood as he spoke. Blood nodded
gloomy agreement. Emboldened by this, they went on to discuss the
terms. Yberville, the young French filibuster, had the honour to
point out to M. de Cussy that the share offered was too small. For
one fifth of the prizes, the officers would answer for their men;
not for less.
M. de Cussy was distressed. He had his instructions. It was taking
a deal upon himself to exceed them. The buccaneers were firm.
Unless M. de Cussy could make it one fifth there was no more to be
said. M. de Cussy finally consenting to exceed his instructions,
the articles were drawn up and signed that very day. The buccaneers
were to be at Petit Goave by the end of January, when M. de Rivarol
had announced that he might be expected.
After that followed days of activity in Tortuga, refitting the ships,
boucanning meat, laying in stores. In these matters which once
would have engaged all Captain Blood's attention, he now took no
part. He continued listless and aloof. If he had given his consent
to the undertaking, or, rather, allowed himself to be swept into it
by the wishes of his officers - it was only because the service
offered was of a regular and honourable kind, nowise connected with
piracy, with which he swore in his heart that he had done for ever.
But his consent remained passive. The service entered awoke no zeal
in him. He was perfectly indifferent - as he told Hagthorpe, who
ventured once to offer a remonstrance - whether they went to Petit
Goave or to Hades, and whether they entered the service of Louis XIV
or of Satan.
M. de RIVAROL
Captain Blood was still in that disgruntled mood when he sailed from
Tortuga, and still in that mood when he came to his moorings in the
bay of Petit Goave. In that same mood he greeted M. le Baron de
Rivarol when this nobleman with his fleet of five men-of-war at last
dropped anchor alongside the buccaneer ships, in the middle of
February. The Frenchman had been six weeks on the voyage, he
announced, delayed by unfavourable weather.
Summoned to wait on him, Captain Blood repaired to the Castle of
Petit Goave, where the interview was to take place. The Baron,
a tall, hawk-faced man of forty, very cold and distant of manner,
measured Captain Blood with an eye of obvious disapproval. Of
Hagthorpe, Yberville, and Wolverstone who stood ranged behind
their captain, he took no heed whatever. M. de Cussy offered
Captain Blood a chair.
"A moment, M. de Cussy. I do not think M. le Baron has observed
that I am not alone. Let me present to you, sir, my companions:
Captain Hagthorpe of the Elizabeth, Captain Wolverstone of the
Atropos, and Captain Yberville of the Lachesis."
The Baron stared hard and haughtily at Captain Blood, then very
distantly and barely perceptibly inclined his head to each of the
other three. His manner implied plainly that he despised them and
that he desired them at once to understand it. It had a curious
effect upon Captain Blood. It awoke the devil in him, and it awoke
at the same time his self-respect which of late had been slumbering.
A sudden shame of his disordered, ill-kempt appearance made him
perhaps the more defiant. There was almost a significance in the
way he hitched his sword-belt round, so that the wrought hilt of
his very serviceable rapier was brought into fuller view. He waved
his captains to the chairs that stood about.
"Draw up to the table, lads. We are keeping the Baron waiting."
They obeyed him, Wolverstone with a grin that was full of
understanding. Haughtier grew the stare of M. de Rivarol. To
sit at table with these bandits placed him upon what he accounted
a dishonouring equality. It had been his notion that - with the
possible exception of Captain Blood - they should take his
instructions standing, as became men of their quality in the
presence of a man of his. He did the only thing remaining to
mark a distinction between himself and them. He put on his hat.
"Ye're very wise now," said Blood amiably. "I feel the draught
myself." And he covered himself with his plumed castor.
M. de Rivarol changed colour. He quivered visibly with anger, and
was a moment controlling himself before venturing to speak. M. de
Cussy was obviously very ill at ease.
"Sir," said the Baron frostily, "you compel me to remind you that
the rank you hold is that of Capitaine de Vaisseau, and that you
are in the presence of the General of the Armies of France by Sea
and Land in America. You compel me to remind you further that
there is a deference due from your rank to mine."
"I am happy to assure you," said Captain Blood, "that the reminder
is unnecessary. I am by way of accounting myself a gentleman,
little though I may look like one at present; and I should not
account myself that were I capable of anything but deference to
those whom nature or fortune may have placed above me, or to those
who being placed beneath me in rank may labour under a disability
to resent my lack of it." It was a neatly intangible rebuke. M.
de Rivarol bit his lip. Captain Blood swept on without giving
him time to reply: "Thus much being clear, shall we come to
M. de Rivarol's hard eyes considered him a moment. "Perhaps it will
be best," said he. He took up a paper. "I have here a copy of the
articles into which you entered with M. de Cussy. Before going
further, I have to observe that M. de Cussy has exceeded his
instructions in admitting you to one fifth of the prizes taken.
His authority did not warrant his going beyond one tenth."
"That is a matter between yourself and M. de Cussy, my General."
"Oh, no. It is a matter between myself and you."
"Your pardon, my General. The articles are signed. So far as we
are concerned, the matter is closed. Also out of regard for M. de
Cussy, we should not desire to be witnesses of the rebukes you may
consider that he deserves."
"What I may have to say to M. de Cussy is no concern of yours."
"That is what I am telling you, my General."
"But - nom de Dieu! - it is your concern, I suppose, that we cannot
award you more than one tenth share." M. de Rivarol smote the table
in exasperation. This pirate was too infernally skillful a fencer.
"You are quite certain of that, M. le Baron - that you cannot?"
"I am quite certain that I will not."
Captain Blood shrugged, and looked down his nose. "In that case,"
said he, "it but remains for me to present my little account for
our disbursement, and to fix the sum at which we should be
compensated for our loss of time and derangement in coming hither.
That settled, we can part friends, M. le Baron. No harm has been
"What the devil do you mean?" The Baron was on his feet, leaning
forward across the table.
"Is it possible that I am obscure? My French, perhaps, is not of
the purest, but...."
"Oh, your French is fluent enough; too fluent at moments, if I
may permit myself the observation. Now, look you here, M. le
filibustier, I am not a man with whom it is safe to play the fool,
as you may very soon discover. You have accepted service of the
King of France - you and your men; you hold the rank and draw the
pay of a Capitaine de Vaisseau, and these your officers hold the
rank of lieutenants. These ranks carry obligations which you
would do well to study, and penalties for failing to discharge
them which you might study at the same time. They are something
severe. The first obligation of an officer is obedience. I
commend it to your attention. You are not to conceive yourselves,
as you appear to be doing, my allies in the enterprises I have in
view, but my subordinates. In me you behold a commander to lead
you, not a companion or an equal. You understand me, I hope."
"Oh, be sure that I understand," Captain Blood laughed. He was
recovering his normal self amazingly under the inspiring stimulus
of conflict. The only thing that marred his enjoyment was the
reflection that he had not shaved. "I forget nothing, I assure you,
my General. I do not forget, for instance, as you appear to be
doing, that the articles we signed are the condition of our service;
and the articles provide that we receive one-fifth share. Refuse us
that, and you cancel the articles; cancel the articles, and you
cancel our services with them. From that moment we cease to have
the honour to hold rank in the navies of the King of France."
There was more than a murmur of approval from his three captains.
Rivarol glared at them, checkmated.
"In effect..." M. de Cussy was beginning timidly.
"In effect, monsieur, this is your doing," the Baron flashed on him,
glad to have some one upon whom he could fasten the sharp fangs of
his irritation. "You should be broke for it. You bring the King's
service into disrepute; you force me, His Majesty's representative,
into an impossible position."
"Is it impossible to award us the one-fifth share?" quoth Captain
Blood silkily. "In that case, there is no need for beat or for
injuries to M. de Cussy. M. de Cussy knows that we would not have
come for less. We depart again upon your assurance that you cannot
award us more. And things are as they would have been if M. de
Cussy had adhered rigidly to his instructions. I have proved, I
hope, to your satisfaction, M. le Baron, that if you repudiate the
articles you can neither claim our services nor hinder our departure
- not in honour."
"Not in honour, sir? To the devil with your insolence! Do you imply
that any course that were not in honour would be possible to me?"
"I do not imply it, because it would not be possible," said Captain
Blood. "We should see to that. It is, my General, for you to say
whether the articles are repudiated."
The Baron sat down. "I will consider the matter," he said sullenly.
"You shall be advised of my resolve."
Captain Blood rose, his officers rose with him. Captain Blood bowed.
"M. le Baron!" said he.
Then he and his buccaneers removed themselves from the August and
irate presence of the General of the King's Armies by Land and Sea
You conceive that there followed for M. de Cussy an extremely bad
quarter of an hour. M. de Cussy, in fact, deserves your sympathy.
His self-sufficiency was blown from him by the haughty M. de
Rivarol, as down from a thistle by the winds of autumn. The General
of the King's Armies abused him - this man who was Governor of
Hispaniola - as if he were a lackey. M. de Cussy defended himself
by urging the thing that Captain Blood had so admirably urged
already on his behalf - that if the terms he had made with the
buccaneers were not confirmed there was no harm done. M. de Rivarol
bullied and browbeat him into silence.
Having exhausted abuse, the Baron proceeded to indignities. Since
he accounted that M. de Cussy had proved himself unworthy of the post
he held, M. de Rivarol took over the responsibilities of that post
for as long as he might remain in Hispaniola, and to give effect to
this he began by bringing soldiers from his ships, and setting his
own guard in M. de Cussy's castle.
Out of this, trouble followed quickly. Wolverstone coming ashore
next morning in the picturesque garb that he affected, his head
swathed in a coloured handkerchief, was jeered at by an officer
of the newly landed French troops. Not accustomed to derision,
Wolverstone replied in kind and with interest. The officer passed
to insult, and Wolverstone struck him a blow that felled him, and
left him only the half of his poor senses. Within the hour the
matter was reported to M. de Rivarol, and before noon, by M. de
Rivarol's orders, Wolverstone was under arrest in the castle.
The Baron had just sat down to dinner with M. de Cussy when the
negro who waited on them announced Captain Blood. Peevishly M.
de Rivarol bade him be admitted, and there entered now into his
presence a spruce and modish gentleman, dressed with care and
sombre richness in black and silver, his swarthy, clear-cut face
scrupulously shaven, his long black hair in ringlets that fell to
a collar of fine point. In his right hand the gentleman carried a
broad black hat with a scarlet ostrich-plume, in his left hand an
ebony cane. His stockings were of silk, a bunch of ribbons masked
his garters, and the black rosettes on his shoes were finely
edged with gold.
For a moment M. de Rivarol did not recognize him. For Blood looked
younger by ten years than yesterday. But the vivid blue eyes under
their level black brows were not to be forgotten, and they
proclaimed him for the man announced even before he had spoken.
His resurrected pride had demanded that he should put himself on an
equality with the baron and advertise that equality by his exterior.
"I come inopportunely," he courteously excused himself. "My
apologies. My business could not wait. It concerns, M. de Cussy,
Captain Wolverstone of the Lachesis, whom you have placed under
"It was I who placed him under arrest," said M. de Rivarol.
"Indeed! But I thought that M. de Cussy was Governor of
"Whilst I am here, monsieur, I am the supreme authority. It is as
well that you should understand it."
"Perfectly. But it is not possible that you are aware of the
mistake that has been made."
"Mistake, do you say?"
"I say mistake. On the whole, it is polite of me to use that word.
Also it is expedient. It will save discussions. Your people have
arrested the wrong man, M. de Rivarol. Instead of the French
officer, who used the grossest provocation, they have arrested
Captain Wolverstone. It is a matter which I beg you to reverse
M. de Rivarol's hawk-face flamed scarlet. His dark eyes bulged.
"Sir, you... you are insolent! But of an insolence that is
intolerable!" Normally a man of the utmost self-possession
he was so rudely shaken now that he actually stammered.
"M. le Baron, you waste words. This is the New World. It is not
merely new; it is novel to one reared amid the superstitions of the
Old. That novelty you have not yet had time, perhaps, to realize;
therefore I overlook the offensive epithet you have used. But
justice is justice in the New World as in the Old, and injustice as
intolerable here as there. Now justice demands the enlargement of
my officer and the arrest and punishment of yours. That justice
I invite you, with submission, to administer."
"With submission?" snorted the Baron in furious scorn.
"With the utmost submission, monsieur. But at the same time I will
remind M. le Baron that my buccaneers number eight hundred; your
troops five hundred; and M. de Cussy will inform you of the
interesting fact that any one buccaneer is equal in action to at
least three soldiers of the line. I am perfectly frank with you,
monsieur, to save time and hard words. Either Captain Wolverstone
is instantly set at liberty, or we must take measures to set him at
liberty ourselves. The consequences may be appalling. But it is
as you please, M. le Baron. You are the supreme authority. It is
for you to say."
M. de Rivarol was white to the lips. In all his life he had never
been so bearded and defied. But he controlled himself.
"You will do me the favour to wait in the ante-room, M. le Capitaine.
I desire a word with M. de Cussy. You shall presently be informed
of my decision."
When the door had closed, the baron loosed his fury upon the head
of M. de Cussy.
"So, these are the men you have enlisted in the King's service,
the men who are to serve under me - men who do not serve, but
dictate, and this before the enterprise that has brought me from
France is even under way! What explanations do you offer me, M.
de Cussy? I warn you that I am not pleased with you. I am, in
fact, as you may perceive, exceedingly angry."
The Governor seemed to shed his chubbiness. He drew himself
"Your rank, monsieur, does not give you the right to rebuke me; nor
do the facts. I have enlisted for you the men that you desired me
to enlist. It is not my fault if you do not know how to handle them
better. As Captain Blood has told you, this is the New World."
"So, so!" M. de Rivarol smiled malignantly. "Not only do you offer
no explanation, but you venture to put me in the wrong. Almost I
admire your temerity. But there!" he waved the matter aside. He
was supremely sardonic. "It is, you tell me, the New World, and
- new worlds, new manners, I suppose. In time I may conform my
ideas to this new world, or I may conform this new world to my ideas."