He bowed to them, and turned to depart again, but mademoiselle detained him.
“Monsieur!” she cried sharply.
He checked and turned, whilst slowly she approached him, regarding him between dread and wonder.
“Oh, you are noble!”
“I shouldn’t put it as high as that myself,” said he.
“You are, you are! And it is but right that you should know all.”
“Madelon!” her brother cried out, to restrain her.
But she would not be restrained. Her surcharged heart must overflow in confidence.
“Monsieur, for what befell I am greatly at fault. This man — this Levasseur....”
He stared, incredulous in his turn. “My
God! Is it possible?
Abruptly she fell on her knees, caught his hand and kissed it before he could wrench it from her.
“What do you do?” he cried.
“An amende. In my mind I dishonoured you by deeming you his like, by conceiving your fight with Levasseur a combat between jackals. On my knees, monsieur, I implore you to forgive me.”
Captain Blood looked down upon her, and a smile broke on his lips, irradiating the blue eyes that looked so oddly light in that tawny face.
“Why, child,” said he, “I might find it hard to forgive you the stupidity of having thought otherwise.”
As he handed her to her feet again, he assured himself that he had behaved rather well in the affair. Then he sighed. That dubious fame of his that had spread so quickly across the Caribbean would by now have reached the ears of Arabella Bishop. That she would despise him, he could not doubt, deeming him no better than all the other scoundrels who drove this villainous buccaneering trade. Therefore he hoped that some echo of this deed might reach her also, and be set by her against some of that contempt. For the whole truth, which he withheld from Mademoiselle d’Ogeron, was that in venturing his life to save her, he had been driven by the thought that the deed must be pleasing in the eyes of Miss Bishop could she but witness it.
That affair of Mademoiselle d’Ogeron bore as its natural fruit an improvement in the already cordial relations between Captain Blood and the Governor of Tortuga. At the fine stone house, with its green-jalousied windows, which M. d’Ogeron had built himself in a spacious and luxuriant garden to the east of Cayona, the Captain became a very welcome guest. M. d’Ogeron was in the Captain’s debt for more than the twenty thousand pieces of eight which he had provided for mademoiselle’s ransom; and shrewd, hard bargain-driver though he might be, the Frenchman could be generous and understood the sentiment of gratitude. This he now proved in every possible way, and under his powerful protection the credit of Captain Blood among the buccaneers very rapidly reached its zenith.