In five seconds it was over, and the three of them, shaken but unhurt, were clinging to each other on the ground. Then as the dark pall of smoke drifted southward Foy scrambled up his tree again. But now there was little to be seen, for the Swallow had vanished utterly, and for many yards round where she lay the wreckage-strewn water was black as ink with the stirred mud. The Spaniards had gone also, nothing of them was left, save the two men and the boat which rode unhurt at a distance. Foy stared at them. The steersman was seated and wringing his hands, while the captain, on whose armour the rays of the rising sun now shone brightly, held to the mast like one stunned, and gazed at the place where, a minute before, had been a ship and a troop of living men. Presently he seemed to recover himself, for he issued an order, whereon the boat’s head went about, and she began to glide away.
“Now we had best try to catch him,” said Martha, who, by standing up, could see this also.
“Nay, let him be,” answered Foy, “we have sent enough men to their account,” and he shuddered.
“As you will, master,” grumbled Martin, “but I tell you it is not wise. That man is too clever to be allowed to live, else he would have accompanied the others on board and perished with them.”
“Oh! I am sick,” replied Foy. “The wind from that powder has shaken me. Settle it as you will with Mother Martha and leave me in peace.”
So Martin turned to speak with Martha, but she was not there. Chuckling to herself in the madness of her hate and the glory of this great revenge, she had slipped away, knife in hand, to discover whether perchance any of the powder-blasted Spaniards still lived. Fortunately for them they did not, the shock had killed them all, even those who at the first alarm had thrown themselves into the water. At length Martin found her clapping her hands and crooning above a dead body, so shattered that no one could tell to what manner of man it had belonged, and led her away.
But although she was keen enough for the chase, by now it was too late, for, travelling before the strong wind, Ramiro and his boat had vanished.
If Foy van Goorl, by some magic, could have seen what was passing in the mind of that fugitive in the boat as he sailed swiftly away from the scene of death and ruin, bitterly indeed would he have cursed his folly and inexperience which led him to disregard the advice of Red Martin.