I told him, indeed I was no great shot.
“And that’s very bravely said,” he cried, in a great admiration of my candour. “There’s many a pretty gentleman that wouldnae dare to say it.”
“But then, sir” said I, “there is the door behind you” which they may perhaps break in.”
“Ay,” said he, “and that is a part of your work. No sooner the pistols charged, than ye must climb up into yon bed where ye’re handy at the window; and if they lift hand, against the door, ye’re to shoot. But that’s not all. Let’s make a bit of a soldier of ye, David. What else have ye to guard?”
“There’s the skylight,” said I. “But indeed, Mr. Stewart, I would need to have eyes upon both sides to keep the two of them; for when my face is at the one, my back is to the other.”
“And that’s very true,” said Alan. “But have ye no ears to your head?”
“To be sure!” cried I. “I must hear the bursting of the glass!”
“Ye have some rudiments of sense,” said Alan, grimly.
THE SIEGE OF THE ROUND-HOUSE
But now our time of truce was come to an end. Those on deck had waited for my coming till they grew impatient; and scarce had Alan spoken, when the captain showed face in the open door.
“Stand!” cried Alan, and pointed his sword at him. The captain stood, indeed; but he neither winced nor drew back a foot.
“A naked sword?” says he. “This is a strange return for hospitality.”
“Do ye see me?” said Alan. “I am come of kings; I bear a king’s name. My badge is the oak. Do ye see my sword? It has slashed the heads off mair Whigamores than you have toes upon your feet. Call up your vermin to your back, sir, and fall on! The sooner the clash begins, the sooner ye’ll taste this steel throughout your vitals.”
The captain said nothing to Alan, but he looked over at me with an ugly look. “David,” said he, “I’ll mind this;” and the sound of his voice went through me with a jar.
Next moment he was gone.
“And now,” said Alan, “let your hand keep your head, for the grip is coming.”
Alan drew a dirk, which he held in his left hand in case they should run in under his sword. I, on my part, clambered up into the berth with an armful of pistols and something of a heavy heart, and set open the window where I was to watch. It was a small part of the deck that I could overlook, but enough for our purpose. The sea had gone down, and the wind was steady and kept the sails quiet; so that there was a great stillness in the ship, in which I made sure I heard the sound of muttering voices. A little after, and there came a clash of steel upon the deck, by which I knew they were dealing out the cutlasses and one had been let fall; and after that, silence again.