He paused. He turned and came slowly back. Standing above her he smiled upon her.
“There, there! You’ve no cause for alarm. It’s all over now. You’ll be away soon — away to Speightstown, where you’ll be quite safe.”
The horses came at last — four of them, for in addition to James who was to act as her guide, Miss Bishop had her woman, who was not to be left behind.
Mr. Blood lifted the slight weight of Mary Traill to her horse, then turned to say good-bye to Miss Bishop, who was already mounted. He said it, and seemed to have something to add. But whatever it was, it remained unspoken. The horses started, and receded into the sapphire starlit night, leaving him standing there before Colonel Bishop’s door. The last he heard of them was Mary Traill’s childlike voice calling back on a quavering note —
“I shall never forget what you did, Mr. Blood. I shall never forget.”
But as it was not the voice he desired to hear, the assurance brought him little satisfaction. He stood there in the dark watching the fireflies amid the rhododendrons, till the hoofbeats had faded. Then he sighed and roused himself. He had much to do. His journey into the town had not been one of idle curiosity to see how the Spaniards conducted themselves in victory. It had been inspired by a very different purpose, and he had gained in the course of it all the information he desired. He had an extremely busy night before him, and must be moving.
He went off briskly in the direction of the stockade, where his fellow-slaves awaited him in deep anxiety and some hope.
There were, when the purple gloom of the tropical night descended upon the Caribbean, not more than ten men on guard aboard the Cinco Llagas, so confident — and with good reason — were the Spaniards of the complete subjection of the islanders. And when I say that there were ten men on guard, I state rather the purpose for which they were left aboard than the duty which they fulfilled. As a matter of fact, whilst the main body of the Spaniards feasted and rioted ashore, the Spanish gunner and his crew — who had so nobly done their duty and ensured the easy victory of the day — were feasting on the gun-deck upon the wine and the fresh meats fetched out to them from shore. Above, two sentinels only kept vigil, at stem and stern. Nor were they as vigilant as they should have been, or else they must have observed the two wherries that under cover of the darkness came gliding from the wharf, with well-greased rowlocks, to bring up in silence under the great ship’s quarter.
From the gallery aft still hung the ladder by which Don Diego had descended to the boat that had taken him ashore. The sentry on guard in the stern, coming presently round this gallery, was suddenly confronted by the black shadow of a man standing before him at the head of the ladder.