“You are justified of the assumption,” said his lordship dolefully. “But I happen to be sane, and to speak with knowledge.”
“Arabella herself has confessed it to me.”
“The brazen baggage! By God, I’ll bring her to her senses.” It was the slave-driver speaking, the man who governed with a whip.
“Don’t be a fool, Bishop.” His lordship’s contempt did more than any argument to calm the Colonel. “That’s not the way with a girl of Arabella’s spirit. Unless you want to wreck my chances for all time, you’ll hold your tongue, and not interfere at all.”
“Not interfere? My God, what, then?”
“Listen, man. She has a constant mind. I don’t think you know your niece. As long as Blood lives, she will wait for him.”
“Then with Blood dead, perhaps she will come to her silly senses.”
“Now you begin to show intelligence,” Lord Julian commended him. “That is the first essential step.”
“And here is our chance to take it.” Bishop warmed to a sort of enthusiasm. “This war with France removes all restrictions in the matter of Tortuga. We are free to invest it in the service of the Crown. A victory there and we establish ourselves in the favour of this new government.”
“Ah!” said Lord Julian, and he pulled thoughtfully at his lip.
“I see that you understand,” Bishop laughed coarsely. “Two birds with one stone, eh? We’ll hunt this rascal in his lair, right under the beard of the King of France, and we’ll take him this time, if we reduce Tortuga to a heap of ashes.”
On that expedition they sailed two days later — which would be some three months after Blood’s departure — taking every ship of the fleet, and several lesser vessels as auxiliaries. To Arabella and the world in general it was given out that they were going to raid French Hispaniola, which was really the only expedition that could have afforded Colonel Bishop any sort of justification for leaving Jamaica at all at such a time. His sense of duty, indeed, should have kept him fast in Port Royal; but his sense of duty was smothered in hatred — that most fruitless and corruptive of all the emotions. In the great cabin of Vice-Admiral Craufurd’s flagship, the Imperator, the Deputy-Governor got drunk that night to celebrate his conviction that the sands of Captain Blood’s career were running out.
THE SERVICE OF KING LOUIS
Meanwhile, some three months before Colonel Bishop set out to reduce Tortuga, Captain Blood, bearing hell in his soul, had blown into its rockbound harbour ahead of the winter gales, and two days ahead of the frigate in which Wolverstone had sailed from Port Royal a day before him.