“I’ll be after telling you. Rivarol is a fool to take this chance, considering what he’s got aboard. He carried in his hold the treasure plundered from Cartagena, amounting to forty million livres.” They jumped at the mention of that colossal sum. “He has gone into Port Royal with it. Whether he defeats me or not, he doesn’t come out of Port Royal with it again, and sooner or later that treasure shall find its way into King William’s coffers, after, say, one fifth share shall have been paid to my buccaneers. Is that agreed, Lord Willoughby?”
His lordship stood up, and shaking back the cloud of lace from his wrist, held out a delicate white hand.
“Captain Blood, I discover greatness in you,” said he.
“Sure it’s your lordship has the fine sight to perceive it,” laughed the Captain.
“Yes, yes! Bud how vill you do id?” growled van der Kuylen.
“Come on deck, and it’s a demonstration I’ll be giving you before the day’s much older.”
THE LAST FIGHT OF THE ARABELLA
“VHY do you vait, my friend?” growled van der Kuylen.
“Aye — in God’s name!” snapped Willoughby.
It was the afternoon of that same day, and the two buccaneer ships rocked gently with idly flapping sails under the lee of the long spit of land forming the great natural harbour of Port Royal, and less than a mile from the straits leading into it, which the fort commanded. It was two hours and more since they had brought up thereabouts, having crept thither unobserved by the city and by M. de Rivarol’s ships, and all the time the air had been aquiver with the roar of guns from sea and land, announcing that battle was joined between the French and the defenders of Port Royal. That long, inactive waiting was straining the nerves of both Lord Willoughby and van der Kuylen.
“You said you vould show us zome vine dings. Vhere are dese vine dings?”
Blood faced them, smiling confidently. He was arrayed for battle, in back-and-breast of black steel. “I’ll not be trying your patience much longer. Indeed, I notice already a slackening in the fire. But it’s this way, now: there’s nothing at all to be gained by precipitancy, and a deal to be gained by delaying, as I shall show you, I hope.”
Lord Willoughby eyed him suspiciously. “Ye think that in the meantime Bishop may come back or Admiral van der Kuylen’s fleet appear?”
“Sure, now, I’m thinking nothing of the kind. What I’m thinking is that in this engagement with the fort M. de Rivarol, who’s a lubberly fellow, as I’ve reason to know, will be taking some damage that may make the odds a trifle more even. Sure, it’ll be time enough to go forward when the fort has shot its bolt.”
“Aye, aye!” The sharp approval came like a cough from the little Governor-General. “I perceive your object, and I believe ye’re entirely right. Ye have the qualities of a great commander, Captain Blood. I beg your pardon for having misunderstood you.”