“They will be certain to hang you,” said the youth, bitterly.
“I think it likely they will,” replied his companion.
“And would you call that justice?” asked Henry, sharply. “Whatever punishment you may deserve, you do not deserve to die. You know well enough that your word will go for nothing, and no one else can bear witness in your favor. You will be regarded simply as a notorious pirate. Even if some of the people whose lives you have spared while taking their goods should turn up, their testimony could not prove that you had not murdered others; so your fate is certain if you go to trial. Have you any right, then, to compass your own death by thus giving yourself up?”
“Ah, boy, your logic is not sound.”
“But answer my question,” said the youth, testily.
“Henry, plead with me no longer,” said Gascoyne, in a deep, stern tone. “My mind is made up. I have spent many years in dishonesty and self-deception. It is perhaps possible that by a life devoted to doing good I might in the long run benefit men more than I have damaged them. This is just possible, I say, though I doubt it; but I have promised to give myself up whenever this cruise is at an end, and I won’t break the last promise I am likely to give in this world; so do not attempt to turn me, boy.”
Henry made no reply, but his knitted brows and compressed lips showed that a struggle was going on within him. Suddenly he stood erect, and said, firmly:
“Be it so, Gascoyne. I will hold you to your promise. You shall not escape me!”
With this somewhat singular reply, Henry left his surprised companion, and mingled with the crowd of men who stood on the quarter-deck.
A light breeze had now sprung up, and the Foam was gliding rapidly towards the island. Gascoyne’s deep voice was still heard at intervals issuing a word of command, for, as he knew the reefs better than any one else on board, Montague had intrusted him with the pilotage of the vessel into harbor.
When they had passed the barrier-reef, and were sailing over the calm waters of the enclosed lagoon in the direction of Sandy Cove, the young officer went up to the pirate captain with a perplexed air and a degree of hesitation that was very foreign to his character.
Gascoyne flushed deeply when he observed him. “I know what you would say to me,” he said, quickly. “You have a duty to perform. I am ready.”
“Gascoyne,” said Montague, with deep earnestness of tone and manner, “I would willingly spare you this, but, as you say, I have a duty to perform. I would, with all my heart, that it had fallen to other hands. Believe me, I appreciate what you have done within the last few days, and I believe what you have said in regard to yourself and your career. All this, you may depend upon it, will operate powerfully with your judges. But you know I cannot permit you to quit this vessel a free man.”