Davids was at the wheel and Mander stood near him. These old friends had not yet finished talking about what had happened in the days since they had seen each other. Mrs. Mander sat, not far away, still making clothes, and the little Lena was helping her in her childlike way. Lucilla and Dickory were still talking about Barbadoes. There never was a girl who wanted to know so much about an island as that girl wanted to know about Barbadoes.
Suddenly there was a shout from above.
“What’s that?” asked Mander.
“A sail,” said Davids, peering out over the sea but able to see nothing. Lucilla and Dickory did not cease talking. At that moment Lucilla did not care greatly about sails, there was so much to be said about Barbadoes.
There was a good deal of talking forward, and after a while the captain walked to the quarter-deck. He was a gruff man and his face was troubled.
“I am sorry to say,” he growled, “that the ship we have sighted is a pirate; she flies the black flag.”
Now there was no more talk about Barbadoes, or what had happened to old friends, and the sewing dropped on the deck. Those poor Manders were chilled to the soul. Were they again to be taken by pirates?
“Captain,” cried Mander, “what can we do, can we run away from them?”
“We could not run away from their guns,” growled the captain, “and there is nothing to do. They intend to take this brig, and that’s the reason they have run up their skull and bones. They are bearing directly down upon us with a fair wind; they will be firing a gun presently, and then I shall lay to and wait for them.”
Mander stepped towards Dickory and Lucilla; his voice was husky as he said: “We cannot expect, my dear, that we shall again be captured by forbearing pirates. I shall kill my wife and little daughter rather than they shall fall into the bloody hands of ordinary pirates, and to you, sir, I will commit the care of my Lucilla. If this vessel is delivered over to a horde of savages, I pray you, plunge your dirk into her heart.”
“Yes,” said Lucilla, clinging to the arm of Dickory, “if those fierce pirates shall attack us, we will die together.”
Dickory shook his head. In an awful moment such as this he could hold out no illusions. “No,” said he, “I cannot die with you; I have a duty before me, and until it is accomplished I cannot willingly give up my life. I must rather be even a pirate’s slave than that. But I will accept your father’s charge; should there be need, I will kill you.”
“Thank you very much,” said Lucilla coolly.
To the surprise of the people on the Black Swan there came no shot from the approaching pirate; but as she still bore down upon them, running before the wind, the captain of the brig lay to and lowered his flag. Submission now was all there was before them. No man on the brig took up arms, nor did the crew form themselves into any show of resistance; that would have but made matters worse.