Peter Blood waited a moment, observing him; then he bowed and stepped back.
DON PEDRO SANGRE
The Cinco Llagas and the Encarnacion, after a proper exchange of signals, lay hove to within a quarter of a mile of each other, and across the intervening space of gently heaving, sunlit waters sped a boat from the former, manned by six Spanish seamen and bearing in her stern sheets Don Esteban de Espinosa and Captain Peter Blood.
She also bore two treasure-chests containing fifty thousand pieces of eight. Gold has at all times been considered the best of testimonies of good faith, and Blood was determined that in all respects appearances should be entirely on his side. His followers had accounted this a supererogation of pretence. But Blood’s will in the matter had prevailed. He carried further a bulky package addressed to a grande of Spain, heavily sealed with the arms of Espinosa — another piece of evidence hastily manufactured in the cabin of the Cinco Llagas — and he was spending these last moments in completing his instructions to his young companion.
Don Esteban expressed his last lingering uneasiness:
“But if you should betray yourself?” he cried.
“It will be unfortunate for everybody. I advised your father to say a prayer for our success. I depend upon you to help me more materially.”
“I will do my best. God knows I will do my best,” the boy protested.
Blood nodded thoughtfully, and no more was said until they bumped alongside the towering mass of the Encarnadon. Up the ladder went Don Esteban closely followed by Captain Blood. In the waist stood the Admiral himself to receive them, a handsome, self-sufficient man, very tall and stiff, a little older and greyer than Don Diego, whom he closely resembled. He was supported by four officers and a friar in the black and white habit of St. Dominic.
Don Miguel opened his arms to his nephew, whose lingering panic he mistook for pleasurable excitement, and having enfolded him to his bosom turned to greet Don Esteban’s companion.
Peter Blood bowed gracefully, entirely at his ease, so far as might be judged from appearances.
“I am,” he announced, making a literal translation of his name, “Don Pedro Sangre, an unfortunate gentleman of Leon, lately delivered from captivity by Don Esteban’s most gallant father.” And in a few words he sketched the imagined conditions of his capture by, and deliverance from, those accursed heretics who held the island of Barbados. “Benedicamus Domino,” said the friar to his tale.
“Ex hoc nunc et usque in seculum,” replied Blood, the occasional papist, with lowered eyes.
The Admiral and his attending officers gave him a sympathetic hearing and a cordial welcome. Then came the dreaded question.
“But where is my brother? Why has he not come, himself, to greet me?”