The parries and science of the unfortunate General were at this moment set at nought, by a blow from Richard, which broke down all his defences, descending through cap and skull to the jaw.
“Hold, murderers!” cried Wilder, who saw the numberless blows that were falling on the defenceless body of the still undaunted black. “Strike here! and spare an unarmed man!”
The sight of our adventurer became confused, for he saw the negro fall, dragging with him to the deck two of his assailants; and then a voice, deep as the emotion which such a scene might create, appeared to utter in the very portals of his ear,—“Our work is done! He that strikes another blow makes an enemy of me.”
The whole world shall not save him.”—Cymbeline
The recent gust had not passed more fearfully and suddenly over the ship, than the scene just related. But the smiling aspect of the tranquil sky, and bright sun of the Caribbean sea, found no parallel in the horrors that succeeded the combat. The momentary confusion which accompanied the fall of Scipio soon disappeared, and Wilder was left to gaze on the wreck of all the boasted powers of his cruiser, and on that waste of human life, which had been the attendants of the struggle. The former has already been sufficiently described; but a short account of the present state of the actors may serve to elucidate the events that are to follow.
Within a few yards of the place he was permitted to occupy himself, stood the motionless form of the Rover. A second glance was necessary, however, to recognise, in the grim visage to which the boarding-cap already mentioned lent a look of artificial ferocity the usually bland countenance of the individual. As the eye of Wilder roamed over the swelling, erect, and still triumphant figure, it was difficult not to fancy that even the stature had been suddenly and unaccountably increased. One hand rested on the hilt of a yataghan, which, by the crimson drops that flowed along its curved blade, had evidently done fatal service in the fray; and one foot was placed, seemingly with supernatural weight, on that national emblem which it had been his pride to lower. His eye was wandering sternly, but understandingly, over the scene, though he spoke not, nor in any other manner betrayed the deep interest he felt in the past. At his side, and nearly within the circle of his arm stood the cowering form of the boy Roderick, unprovided with weapon, his garments sprinkled with blood, his eye contracted, wild, and fearful, and his face pallid as those in whom the tide of life had just ceased to circulate.
Here and there, were to be seen the wounded captives still sullen and unconquered in spirit, while many of their scarcely less fortunate enemies lay in their blood, around the deck, with such gleamings of ferocity on their countenances as plainly denoted that the current of their meditations was still running on vengeance. The uninjured and the slightly wounded, of both bands, were already pursuing their different objects of plunder or of secretion.