Lord Julian stood a moment, watching the tall figure as it moved away towards the taffrail. Then letting his arms fall helplessly to his sides in dejection, he departed.
Just within the doorway of the alley leading to the cabin, he ran into Miss Bishop. Yet she had not been coming out, for her back was towards him, and she was moving in the same direction. He followed her, his mind too full of Captain Blood to be concerned just then with her movements.
In the cabin he flung into a chair, and exploded, with a violence altogether foreign to his nature.
“Damme if ever I met a man I liked better, or even a man I liked as well. Yet there’s nothing to be done with him.”
“So I heard,” she admitted in a small voice. She was very white, and she kept her eyes upon her folded hands.
He looked up in surprise, and then sat conning her with brooding glance. “I wonder, now,” he said presently, “if the mischief is of your working. Your words have rankled with him. He threw them at me again and again. He wouldn’t take the King’s commission; he wouldn’t take my hand even. What’s to be done with a fellow like that? He’ll end on a yardarm for all his luck. And the quixotic fool is running into danger at the present moment on our behalf.”
“How?” she asked him with a sudden startled interest.
“How? Have you forgotten that he’s sailing to Jamaica, and that Jamaica is the headquarters of the English fleet? True, your uncle commands it....”
She leaned across the table to interrupt him, and he observed that her breathing had grown labored, that her eyes were dilating in alarm.
“But there is no hope for him in that!” she cried. “Oh, don’t imagine it! He has no bitterer enemy in the world! My uncle is a hard, unforgiving man. I believe that it was nothing but the hope of taking and hanging Captain Blood that made my uncle leave his Barbados plantations to accept the deputy-governorship of Jamaica. Captain Blood doesn’t know that, of course....” She paused with a little gesture of helplessness.
“I can’t think that it would make the least difference if he did,” said his lordship gravely. “A man who can forgive such an enemy as Don Miguel and take up this uncompromising attitude with me isn’t to be judged by ordinary rules. He’s chivalrous to the point of idiocy.”
“And yet he has been what he has been and done what he has done in these last three years,” said she, but she said it sorrowfully now, without any of her earlier scorn.
Lord Julian was sententious, as I gather that he often was. “Life can be infernally complex,” he sighed.
THE SERVICE OF KING JAMES