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Title:  The Privateer (1952)
Author: Gordon Daviot [Elizabeth MacKintosh] (1896-1952)
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Language:  English
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Title:  The Privateer (1952)
Author: Gordon Daviot [Elizabeth MacKintosh] (1896-1952)


*


Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17


*

Chapter 1


Below the veranda in the noon sunlight stood a cluster of slaves and
bond-servants, bright and noisy as macaws.

In other climes light is a negative thing: a mere absence of darkness.
But in the islands when the fronds of the palm-trees move in the wind
the light runs in and out among them like a live thing. So now when the
restless island wind played with the kerchiefs and the petticoats the
light, too, danced and ran, and the crowd moved continuously, like a
field of flowers in the sun.

Only one among them did not move: the young man with the black hair who
was leaning against the jacaranda tree. He looked equable but
absent-minded.

A house-slave staggered on to the veranda carrying the estate-book.
They greeted him with jests and laughter, and he stuck his tongue out
at them. He put the book down on the table and fled from their mockery.
Then the factor came, and waited by the table, and some of the chatter
and shrieking died away. Their interest narrowed on the book. They all
knew the book. Indeed, to some of them it represented all the identity
they had ever had. And today the book was of acute importance.

Then their master walked on to the veranda, and the crowd hushed to
stillness in the dancing wind and the light. After him came his son, to
stand behind his father's shoulder.

The factor sat down at the table and opened the book, and the tired,
middle-aged man stepped forward a little so that they might see him the
better, and began to speak to them.

They listened to him, but only with their ears. They knew already all
that he had to say. The drought. The blighted canes. The lack of work
for them. The lack of food. The lack of money to buy any, to keep them
alive until next season. They knew it all already. They had lived with
the drought and alongside the dead canes and the blasted cocoa trees.
They had come there this morning to be given their freedom. That was
all that interested them.

There was a written paper for each of them, he said, that would show to
all that they were free men and not runaways, and they must keep the
paper and show it to any who asked.

Then the factor called the first name.

'John Alison.'

A negro capered like a figure on the end of a string.

'Field hand. Slave.'

'You may go,' said his master, and the black took the magic piece of
paper from the factor and bounded laughing back to the throng.

'Michel Duchesne.'

The Frenchman came forward; a small, gnarled man.

'Field hand. Bondsman. Engaged for seven years; has served five.'

'You may go.'

'Ah Ling.'

The Chinese bowed.

'Field hand. Slave.'

'You may go.'

'Elias Brown.'

The mulatto came smiling.

'Field hand. Slave.'

'You may go.'

'Maria Perez.'

The Indian half-breed swung her full skirts in a curtsey.

'Sorter. Slave.'

'You may go.'

'William Chapman.'

The huge jailbird shouldered his way out of the crowd.

'Field hand. Slave.'

'You may go.'

'Candlemas.'

The Indian came doubtfully.

'Field hand. Slave.'

'You may go.'

'Henry Morgan.'

The young man detached himself from the tree.

'Field hand. Of late, clerk in the estate office. Bondsman. Engaged for
four years and has served two.'

'You may go.'

The young man took his discharge and was turning away when the youth
came from behind his father and said: 'Wait! It was you who caught my
pony the day he bolted. Wasn't it?'

'That was I.'

'Here!' said the youth, and flung a coin. It was a gold coin, and it
lay in the dust while the young man eyed it. And everyone else eyed the
young man.

'Does a Welshman refuse good money?' asked the youth.

'No. But a Morgan cannot pick it up.'

'It seems to be deadlock.'

'Not quite. You could make it a loan.'

'Very well,' said the youth, amused. 'A loan it is.'

'Pick it up,' said the young man to the slave who was standing nearest;
and the slave did meekly as he was bid and handed over the coin.

The young man bowed to his benefactor. 'At the usual rate of interest,
sir,' he said, and turned away.

'Jan Martin,' summoned the factor.

But the young man did not wait to see. He went back to his tree, picked
up the bundle that was lying there ready, and walked away without a
backward glance.

'Harr-ee!' cried a girl, breaking from the press and running after him.
'Harr-ee!'

She came to the edge of the terrace as he came level with her on the
path below.

'Good-bye, Chloe,' he said, without stopping.

'But, Harr-ee! You are not going now, this minute, are you? You are
staying for the festa, for the dance, for the celebration? Surely! You
are not going before tonight!'

But he went steadily away.

'Harr-ee!'

'Good-bye,' he called, without turning his head.

She stood on the terrace pouting, and watched him grow small down the
long avenue to the lane.

When she could no longer see him she went back to her fellows.

And Henry Morgan walked away into the landscape with a bundle of
clothes, and a gold coin, and his freedom.

He knew better what to do with the coin than what to do with his
freedom. Having had a more intimate acquaintance with the estate's
finances than is the lot of most servants, he had known weeks ago that
this must come, and he had lain awake of nights on his bed on the
office floor pondering his future.

That he slept in peace in the office quiet, and not among the snores,
stenches, and quarrelling in the bunkhouse was typical of Henry Morgan.
When he had first asked the factor's permission to spread his pallet
there of nights, the factor had said tartly that his office was neither
a hospital nor a flop-house. Henry accepted the prohibition with the
proper disappointment and began to make mistakes in his arithmetic. He
continued to make mistakes in his arithmetic, and when the maddened
factor asked what had come over that alert and accurate brain of his,
he had explained that sleepless nights in the bunkhouse forbade that
his brain should ever be either alert or accurate. After that Henry
slept on the office floor. And until three or four weeks ago had slept
unmoving till cockcrow.

But of late he had lain awake thinking about his freedom. And today,
walking away to his future, he still did not know what he was going to
do with it.

It was much too hot to be walking with any degree of pleasure, even in
the shade, but at least he had an immediate purpose. He was going to
keep on walking until he came to the sea. The sea was the symbol of his
freedom. The sea was freedom made tangible and manifest.

And he amused himself by picturing how it would look. In what mood
would he find it? Pale and translucent? Or patterned purple and green
by the shoals? Or leaping all over into little white tufts like a
baby's cockscomb? Or oily and dark, indigo-blue, with a sullen swell?

It was in its taffeta mood. Palest blue taffeta, of the very best
quality. He stretched himself out in the shade and looked at it. Bland
and innocent, it lay at his feet, curling at the edges into a foam
demure as lace.

The sea. He gave a great sigh and his eyelids drooped. The sea. He was
alone and free, and the world was his for the taking. What did it
matter that he was two years short of the sum he had counted on? He had
never been quite sure, in any case, what he was going to do with the
money. What most people did with money in Barbados was to buy land.
Fine, rich, virgin land that would pay a man back a hundred-fold--when
there was no drought. But not he. It was from land that he had run
away. He had had some idea of buying a place in one of the foot
companies that defended Barbados against the importunities of Spain.
That had seemed an appropriate occupation for the nephew of two
distinguished soldiers and the descendant of more. Now that was no
longer possible, but he was something short of heartbroken. It had
been only an idea. The world was full of ideas, running over with
opportunity. He could no longer buy his future, but there was nothing
to hinder his making it.

He lay supine in the shade, so relaxed that he could feel the earth
pushing up against him. The leaves whispered above him, the insects
sang past him in endless pursuit of unimaginable business, the surf
made a soft susurration in his ears. Free. He was free. There was
nothing a man could not do if he was young and free.

For an hour he lay there unmoving and dreamed; but no longer. Leisure
palled. Leisure was never a love of Henry Morgan's. Moreover, when you
are young you grow hungry, and when you are free you do not have to eat
food out of the communal trough any more. Good food waited for him in
Bridgetown. He would go and get it. He would sit like a lord at a table
covered with a fair white cloth and pick and choose from a dozen
dainties while menials hovered round to anticipate his wishes. A pair
of denim breeches and a frieze coat were perhaps not the best
introduction to the finest places in Bridgetown, but he had money to
pay for what he wanted. He might lack the sum that would set him up as
commander of a company, but he had, thank God, enough to buy himself
the best meal west of the Azores.

This more practical dream lasted him to the outskirts of Bridgetown,
where his youth and his hunger betrayed him. It was late afternoon:
dinner-time; and from all around him in the frowsy suburb there rose
the succulent smells of cooking. His boy's stomach yearned and his
teeth were awash. Ignoring the unswept porch and the fish-heads in the
dust, he stopped at a workman's eating-house and wolfed an enormous
bowlful of fish stew, hot and spiced and various. It might not be the
best meal west of the Azores, but no meal had ever tasted better.

He topped it off with the usual rum, and sat, gorged and amiable,
playing with the black babies who rolled at his feet in the dust. They
were very beautiful, the babies; fat and merry. One had found a
drooping scarlet flower and had stuck it behind his ear in imitation
of the local bloods. His innocently rakish eye, together with the
coquettish bloom, enchanted Henry, and he laughed aloud. Which had the
effect of recalling him to his own purposes. He reminded himself that
enchanting black babies grew up to be stupid and unreliable adults of
uncontrolled imagination and invincible laziness, and having by this
sternness detached himself from their infant wiles, he took his bundle
and sauntered on into the town.

The thatch and rain-stained plaster gave place to stone and tiles, and
pleasant arcades against the heat. He lingered by the shop-windows,
planning a wardrobe for himself. He hung over the sea-wall, counting
the ships in harbour and analysing their rig. The sea had stopped being
taffeta and was now a burning shield of silver, so fierce and colourless
that the ships lacked reflection and stood as if stranded on it.

'Looking for me, John-ny?' a woman said, laying her elbows on the wall
alongside him.

'No,' he said, and moved on.

Along the harbour front were the taverns and eating-houses. The more
popular hummed and clattered, and hot gusts that were as strong of
human sweat as of food came reeking from their open doors. From one a
sailor was pitched drunk into the gutter. He sat up, shaken and
bewildered, and presently began to laugh tipsily to himself. 'Change of
scene. Change of scene,' he said to Morgan as he passed. 'Vastly
puzzling.' The quieter places were not yet full--or perhaps were never
full. Henry passed them all in review--he was in no hurry to eat now,
but he had a thirst--and chose the Dolphin, one of the older and less
garish places with a garden at the back of it. After the brilliance of
the harbour the interior was so dark that he was for a moment at a
loss. He put out his hand and felt a chair-back. So it was the kind of
place that had chairs. He had no idea that such elegance existed in
Bridgetown. The chair was empty, and he sat down on it against the
wall.

A voice in the dimness asked his wants and, remembering his former
promises to himself, he said: 'I want some imported wine. Have you
claret?'

'We have claret,' said the voice, 'but I doubt if you'd like it.'

'Why? Has it not carried?'

'Claret's a wine for the quality.'

There was a moment's pause. He could see the man now, and realised that
it was not at all dark in the room. The front part of the building was
used, it seemed, for those who wanted merely to drink and talk. Three
arches divided it from the rear portion, which was furnished with
dining-tables and was open to the garden.

'Bring me the wine,' he said, 'and let me be the judge of quality.'

The quietness of the reprimand daunted the waiter, and he went away
hostile but obedient. He came back and set the wine down with a gesture
that was as near insult as he could make it.

Henry had silver in his pocket, but his Celt vanity, pricked by the
man's sneer, was too much for him. He dropped his gold piece with a
fine casual movement on to the table, so that it rolled a little and
spun before settling. The waiter checked his dawning expression of
surprise and went to get change.

Henry was childishly delighted--until he saw his change.

'Claret's expensive,' said the waiter, enjoying him.

'I gave you a gold piece.'

'You gave me a Spanish "eight."'

'A gold piece,' Henry said through his teeth.

'I don't think that's very likely, now, is it?' said the man, with a
diabolic air of reasonableness, and Henry, with contracted heart,
realised that on appearances it was indeed unlikely. Who would take his
word against the waiter's?--the word of a man in workman's clothes who
claimed to have paid for a flagon of wine with a gold piece?

'The gentleman gave you a gold piece, cock,' said a gentle Cockney
voice on his right.

The waiter favoured the man at the next table with a baleful glare.

'And who----' he began.

'Me and my friends don't like mistakes,' said the little elderly man in
the same reflective croon, and the waiter looked suddenly doubtful.

'A conspiracy, is it?' he said, and began to retreat. 'Or should I say
a cons-_pyracy_?' With which fling he gave the proper change, retired
to the doorway, and stood there glowering.

'Thank you,' Henry said to his neighbour. 'I am much obliged to you,
sir.'

'It's nothing, nothing,' said the little man. 'Your good health.'

The wine tasted thin and harsh after the island rum, but it was cool
from the cellar, and Henry was glad of it. The place was pleasant, and
the customers had the air of habitués. No one had taken any notice of
the altercation with the serving-man; perhaps they had not overheard
it.

From beyond the archway he met the glance of a man who was dining there
with a friend. The man did not look away when their eyes met, and Henry
wondered whether it was that the man found him interesting or whether
he found him so insignificant as to represent merely a blank space.

He became aware that his companion was talking to him.

'You belong to the island, young man?'

Henry said that he had been employed in Barbados, but was now planning
a different future.

'What name do you go by?'

'My own.'

'Well, well, don't jump down my throat, boy. I go by the name of
Bartholomew Kindness, and Kindness was my father's name and Bartholomew
is what I was baptised.'

'I had not meant--My name is Henry Morgan.'

'From old England,' Bartholomew said, approving.

'Wales,' said the conscientious Morgan.

'And what, if you won't jump down my throat, are you planning for the
future?'

Henry said that he had not yet decided, but that if Bartholomew had no
immediate plans for this evening and had not yet dined he would be very
glad to be his host.

For one horrible moment, while Bartholomew hesitated, Henry was afraid
that Bartholomew was doubting his ability to afford it and was going to
refuse out of sheer good heart.

But Bartholomew's heart was bigger even than that. 'Thank you,' he
said. 'I should be greatly honoured.'

Before he could sound Bartholomew about his own affairs, Mad Meg came
in from the street, and made her mechanical round of the tables. That
part of her dirty white locks which did not stand on end hung down to
her sharp chin, and from their ambush her pale old eyes looked forth,
bright and glowing as coals. 'Ribbons and laces,' she said, 'ribbons
and laces,' exhibiting from her crone's fingers the same tattered
merchandise that served her year in, year out.

The proprietor noticed her with resignation, and the waiter with fury
and loathing. Neither was prepared to risk her curses. No Brahminee
bull was ever safer in Hind than Mad Meg in Bridgetown.

She paused to stare at Morgan, aware perhaps that here was a new face.
A little embarrassed by her withdrawn regard and by the attention that
her interest was bringing upon him, he bade her good-afternoon.

'Black hair and blue eyes,' she said. And then, irrelevantly: 'It's
green, green, in Kildare.'

'I'm not Irish, mother,' he said; but she seemed unaware of him.

'Tell his fortune, Meg,' someone said; and the others joined him. 'Tell
the young man's future, Meg,' they said. 'He'll cross your hand with
silver.'

'With gold, I've no doubt,' said the waiter, sourly.

But she moved on with her resumed chant: 'Ribbons and laces, ribbons
and laces...' and then, as one changing to the second motif of a
composition: 'Woe! Woe! Woe to the evildoers; the fornicators, the
lechers, the deceivers, the double-dealers, the ones without conscience
or courtesy----'

She broke off, debating with herself. And then, as if suddenly reminded
of business elsewhere, she turned and came back down the room to the
doorway. But as she came level with the newcomer she caught sight of
him again and paused. In some recess of her mind she connected that
face with the telling of fortune.

'You'll write your name in water,' she said. And while he stared, held
by the unhuman eyes beyond the tangle of hair, and dismayed by her
unhappy promise, she repeated: 'You'll write your name in water for all
the world to read.'

And she went, rapt and urgent, out into the hot world beyond the door.

'Is that a good fortune or a bad?' Henry said, into the vacuum that
personality leaves in its wake.

'It's a fine conspicuous one, anyhow,' Bartholomew said.

'It would be no comfort for failure to know that it was conspicuous.'

'Not you! I could have told you'd be a success in life without telling
fortunes. One glance is all I need. You have a nose that's broad at the
point. It's a sure sign of being able to look after Number One, a nose
broad at the point.'

Henry tried very hard not to stare at Bartholomew's nose, which was so
broad at the tip as to be practically all point. The little man was
neat and respectable, but hardly an advertisement for his theory.

'No, not my kind of "broad,"' Bartholomew said, quite without rancour.
'The kind that starts bony and has a blob on the end. It's my hobby:
faces. See that man facing us through the archway? That's a clever one,
that is. You'd have to start very early to get the better of that one
or he'd make you feel unpunctual.'

'Do you know who he is?' Henry asked, catching again the absent glance
of the man on himself.

'No, I don't know this place well. Come here now and then on business,
that's all. We supply meat to ships, me and my partners. I like the
islands, but I'd give a lot to see Bristol docks this minute. Even
Bristol docks in the rain. I was born in London, but I married a
Bristol girl. When I've made my little pile, me and my old woman's
going to retire to a cottage in the Mendips.'

Henry said that he was lucky to have a home waiting for him.

'Oh, it ain't built yet, the cottage. But we've picked out the place
for it. In a green valley where the moors begin half-way up the sides.'

And suddenly Henry saw Llanrhymny.

That, too, was 'a green valley where the moors begin half-way up'. He
saw it small, and clear, and far away, like something in the wrong end
of a telescope.

Llanrhymny.

'I expect a young gentleman like you is handy with a pen,' he heard
Bartholomew say, and turned to him surprised at this apparent change of
subject.

'Fairly. Why do you ask?'

'Well, you see, I can read, but I never learned penmanship, and my old
woman, she misses hearing from me, and--well----'

'You want me to write a letter for you, is that it?'

'Oh, not a letter. A few lines would do to say that I'm keeping fine.
If it wouldn't be imposing on you.'

'I owe you much more than that,' Henry said. 'Let us dine first, shall
we, and then write the letter.'

'Well--about that dinner--Tell me, do you like sucking pig? Roast
sucking pig?'

'Of course. Who doesn't?'

'Well, I was going to suggest that you come back with me to our hunting
camp, back up the coast a bit, and eat hearty of the best meat in the
Caribbean.'

Henry, whose appetite for the Bridgetown flesh-pots was not what it had
been before the episode of the gold coin, considered a combination of
roast pig, a hunting camp on the coast, and Bartholomew Kindness almost
too much luck for his first night of freedom. He required a pen and ink
from the Dolphin's proprietor, and wrote the letter there and then, so
that it might go to England with the _Mary Ryde_, which was sailing for
Plymouth in the morning. And in the intervals of Bartholomew's
inspiration he watched the man beyond the archway. Henry, whose taste
had a Celt flamboyance, thought his clothes a little subdued, but
admired the fineness of his linen and his ruffle's candidness. The man
had been joined by his son--a young man so like him that the
relationship could be in no doubt--and his clever, worldly face had so
softened that he looked like a different person. This was remarked with
astonishment by a Henry unprepared for the idea that a father might
love his son. Nor could he imagine himself sitting down and chatting
happily with his father's friends, on equal terms, as this young man
was doing. 'If my father had been a Royalist instead of a damned
Puritan, it might have been like that,' he thought.

'Your very loving husband, Bartholomew Kindness,' finished Bartholomew,
released from the pains of composition. 'And now we'll 'ave another
drink.'

They had their drink, and gathering up Henry's bundle and the large
sack of purchases that was the result of Bartholomew's day in town,
they made their way out of the Dolphin. As they left, Henry saw that
the party beyond the archway was also leaving, and he pulled
Bartholomew's sleeve to detain him, so that the party from the
dining-room passed out first.

'Who is that?' Henry asked the loafer outside who had touched his hat
to the man.

'That's Sir Thomas Modyford,' the man said. 'Got one of the biggest
estates in the island. Be Governor one day, if the Commonwealth lasts.'

'A _Cromwell_ man!' Henry said.

'Isn't it going to last?' Bartholomew asked with interest.

'Nothing lasts,' said the man, but his eyes were on Henry. Henry's
disappointment was too acute to be anything but genuine.

'Been everything in his time, they say,' he added, risking a mild
indiscretion, and went back to his tooth-picking.

'A weathercock!' Henry said disgusted, as they walked away.

'No, no,' said Bartholomew. 'A sail-trimmer.'

'What is the difference?'

'Oh, all the difference in the world. All the difference in the world.
A weathercock is a poor helpless thing that's twirled round and round
by every breeze that blows. No brains, no sense, no say. But a
sail-trimmer--ah, a sail-trimmer is an artist. Sees a change of wind
before it comes, chooses his course, makes the wind work for him
instead of drowning him, coaxes a little rag of sail to take him into
harbour instead of making a distress signal of it.'

'Are you a sailor?' Henry asked.

'Yes, I'm a sailor. So that's Modyford. I told you he was a clever one.
It's thanks to Modyford, they say, that the island ever declared for
the Protector at all.' Henry snorted. 'Which is no small achievement
for a man that fought for King Charles.'

'Fought on the Royalist side?' asked Henry, arrested.

'So they say. I told you he was an expert sail-trimmer. Now we'll go
down here and collect my equipage.'




Chapter 2


Bartholomew's 'equipage' proved to be one small donkey with neither
saddle nor bridle. A rope had been arranged not very expertly in place
of the absent bridle; it looked like the work of someone who knew more
about ropes than about bridles.

'This is Ananias,' said Bartholomew, and hoisted himself across the
donkey's bare back.

'Why Ananias, poor brute?' asked Henry.

'Well, I did call it Anna, until I found out my mistake. So I just
tacked a bit on.' He slung the sack of purchases in front of him. 'Now
give me your bundle and I'll put it on top.' Then, to the donkey: 'Gee
up!'

But the donkey stood still.

'He doesn't understand English,' Bartholomew explained. 'I don't know
his nationality.'

'You don't need any parley-vous,' Henry said. 'Just dig your heels in
his ribs.'

Bartholomew did as he was bid, with gratifying results.

'You know as much about horse-flesh as I know about sails,' he said, as
they moved on their way out of town. 'Owned one of your own, perhaps.'

'Yes, I had one of my own.'

'What made you leave that nice home of yours? Seeking your fortune?'

'How do you know what kind of home I had?'

'It takes more than a few square yards of denim to cover up breeding,
my boy. Found your Welsh valley too narrow?'

'That's about it.' He considered the mild-looking little man riding by
his side, and said: 'I would never have said that you were a sailor.'

'Well, you see, by nature I'm not one for a wild life. But tar's the
undoing of me.'

'Tar?'

The minute I smell tar I come unsettled like.' He looked back at the
shipping in the harbour, and added: 'But wait till I get that cottage
in the Mendips. They'll have to pulley-hauley me to get me back from
there.'

They walked in a companionable silence along the dusty road.

'Think there's going to be a change at home?' Bartholomew asked
presently.

'There was no sign of one when I left. Why do you ask?'

'That's the third time lately I've heard a remark about there being an
end in sight to this new-fangled way of running the country.'

'The islands are always full of rumours. And what would they know about
it, anyhow, four thousand miles away?'

'Ah, but that's just where you do get to know first about things like
that. It's the chap who's standing outside that hears the note of the
hive. The bees themselves are buzzing far too loud to pay any
attention. Don't think that the Caribbean won't hear the change in the
bees' buzzing when it comes!'

He rode on for a little, cogitating.

'Stands to reason it wouldn't last, anyhow,' he said. 'Folk don't want
anyone just like themselves ruling them, do they?'

He was silent for another half-mile.

'You want more than a gift of the gab to rule England. No one ever
loved a Parliament. It was bound not to last.'

'What do you think they'll do? If it comes to pieces, I mean.'

'Bring the boy over to take his father's place, I suppose.'

'How can they, if the Army is still the Protector's? It's the best army
in the world, God blast it.'

'Huh!' said Bartholomew. 'Ten armies won't stop them if they've made up
their minds about something.'

The high road turned inland and left them with only a track along the
coast. But the track was shaded, and the rains that had come too late
to save the cane and the cocoa made the undergrowth green and
sweet-smelling. For another hour they followed the track, veering with
the coast until all sight of Bridgetown had long disappeared and they
had the world to themselves. Here and there a fence marked the limit of
some planter's domain, and now and then a plank flung over a freshet
showed that civilisation lurked in the background. But for the most
part it was a virgin world, full of the evening chatter of birds and
the flight of wild animals from their approach.

At a gate in a wood fence, Bartholomew dismounted and removed the sack
of purchases from the donkey. Whereupon the beast, with relief in every
line of him, made joyfully for the gate.

'Hey! Wait a minute! My rope!' said Bartholomew, and removed the
bridle. Then, opening the gate, he smacked the animal on the rump and
said: 'Good-bye, Ananias. Glad to have met you.'

'Isn't he yours?' asked Henry.

'Oh, no,' said Bartholomew, carefully fastening the gate. 'I just
borrowed him.'

He humped the sack over his shoulder and went on up the path. And
Henry, picking up his much smaller bundle, forbore to offer to carry
the larger one. To be no longer young, with all the world in front of
you, must be bad enough, without having it brought forcibly to your
notice.

Now the forest came down to the water, and the going was less easy. He
had begun to wonder how far it still was to that dinner of wild pig,
when the silence was broken by the high, hostile yelling of a dog, and
in a moment it appeared on the edge of the slope ahead of them, and
stood there shrieking their approach to all creation.

'Shut up, Killick!' Bartholomew called.

A tall man with the face of an unfrocked priest came to the edge and
watched them as they toiled upwards.

'Evening, Chris,' Bartholomew said, panting.

'Who's he?' asked the man, leaning his head at Henry.

'Friend of mine. Did me a good turn. Name's Harry Morgan. Here! Take
this for me.' He slid the sack from his back and held it out, and the
man took it meekly. Which surprised Henry a little.

They moved together over the crest, and Henry found that the edge on
which the man and dog had stood was the lip of a wide saucer of
clearing in the forest, and over the floor of the saucer was spread the
evening activity of a hunting camp. A man was pegging out
freshly-skinned hides to dry, another was jointing meat. On a clear
fire just below, a meal was being cooked; and on a second smoky one on
the other side of the clearing choice strips of meat were being dried
into boucan. Two men were cleaning guns, and one was washing blood from
his shirt.

By the cooking-fire a second dog was standing, uncertain. Chris walked
up to it and began to kick it with a businesslike detachment. Henry
knew why he was kicking it. Because it had not warned them, like the
other, of approaching visitors.

'Let him be,' Bartholomew said; and, again surprisingly, the man
obeyed. 'I think he's getting a little deaf, but he still has the best
nose a hound ever had.'

The man picked up a wooden bucket and held it out to Henry. 'If you've
come to supper, Harry Morgan, best make yourself useful. Water's
beyond, there.' And he tilted his head to the farther rim of the
clearing.

Henry took the bucket and walked through the camp, receiving nods or
stares, according to a man's mood or inclination. He climbed the
opposite lip of the saucer and found that it was the high bank of a
stream; a bank so high and sudden that no sound of water came over it
into the camp. Indeed, he found when he made his way down to the stream
to fill the bucket that he was out of sight and sound of human
activity. The camp on its high hollow shelf of land might not exist.

And then he saw the longboat.

It was drawn up from the beach under the sheltering branches.

So the men disjointing pig so busily up there did not belong to the
island. That caused a great many new thoughts to race through his mind
while he filled his bucket. Something the Dolphin's serving-man had
said came back to him. Something he had not understood at the time. A
play on the word conspiracy.

He walked the few yards down to the beach, but the sea was empty.
Limpid and quiet in the evening light. They had come from some other
island, not from any ship.

He hauled the water up the steep bank and brought it to the fire. Some
of the flayed and disembowelled pig carcases laid out ready for
transportation looked a little too large and fat for wild ones, but it
was none of his business. If honest traders in meat did a little
poaching as side-line to their hunting, that, in the Caribbean, was a
very small iniquity.

The smell of the cooking pork made him faint with ecstasy, and for a
share of it he would have looked with indulgence on more spectacular
sins than cattle-stealing.

When the men gathered round for supper, each with his wooden porringer
or pewter plate, Bartholomew distributed the articles they had
commissioned him to buy. Except that he also distributed their change,
or announced deficits, he might have been a benevolent uncle doling out
gifts.

'Bluey, your jew's-harp. Tugnet, your pomade, and keep it for your
girl's benefit; it smells like a brothel. Timsy, your candy, and you
owe me two pence on it.'

When a man stretched forward to spear a piece of meat before his turn,
Bartholomew smacked him sharply on the wrist and said: 'Manners!' like
a nursery governess, and the man desisted.

It was difficult to know why they should obey him, and still more
difficult, in the absoluteness of their freemasonry, to know who the
actual leader was. There were eleven of them, Henry counted; and they
were all white except for a mulatto and a man who looked like some sort
of Indian from Campeche way.

'Know anything of sea business?' the man called Chris asked him as they
ate.

'I came out from England before the mast,' Henry said.

'That's hardly a degree in seamanship.'

'Passed his entrance examination, though,' someone said, and they
laughed a little and the atmosphere grew easier.

They argued in a desultory way among themselves where they should sell
their meat. It would be easier to get to one place because the trades
would blow them almost straight there, but they would get a better
price in the second. The pig melted in the mouth, and they ate until
there was nothing left but bones. The rum was heavy and crude and
potent. One by one they lay back replete. The dogs, gorged on the
offal, came to the fire and sank their muzzles on their paws. Bluey
took out his jew's-harp and began to play softly. The mulatto sang the
words to himself. It was all sufficiently Arcadian, and Henry was glad
that he was going to sleep in the forest instead of on the office
floor. He wondered if they would invite him to join them when they left
in the morning. He had no idea whether he was going to say yes or no if
they gave him the choice, but it did not matter. This was tonight, and
tomorrow was another day. Tonight he was free, excellently fed, and
beautifully rummed up; and he wouldn't call the King his cousin.

'Ssh!' said Chris of a sudden, sitting up and listening.

In the instant silence they all heard it. A familiar sound, it was. The
long, smooth sound of an anchor cable rolling off the windlass.

The mulatto dived for the dogs before they could move, and hushed them.

'Stay!' he said to the obedient creatures, and joined the rush to the
stream edge of the hollow. Lying there on the reverse slope they looked
down the funnel of land to the sea. There was indeed a ship there. She
had arrived, after the surprising manner of ships, from nowhere, and
now stood large and immediate in the very middle of the picture.
Already she had begun to lower a boat.

'Stopped for fresh water,' Chris said. 'They seem to know the coast
very well!'

'Seen the flag?' someone said.

'Yes. Spanish.'

'I like their nerve, anyhow,' another said. 'They refuse _us_ the
courtesy of wood and water.'

'Ah, well, we won't have to hump that meat round the Caribbean, after
all. Our customers have come to our doorstep.'

'Victual a Spaniard!' said Henry.

'Why not?' they said. 'A Spanish coin rings just as clear on a counter
as any English one.'

'But that very ship may blow an unoffending English one out of the
water six hours from now.'

'Not her,' they said. 'She's in too much of a hurry to get back to
Spain, for one thing. And for another, six hours from now she'll be
just where she is. When the wind drops like this of an evening, it
won't come up again before dawn.'

'Becalmed?' said Henry. 'Then why don't we take her?'

'Take her?' they said. 'Have you had a good look at her?'

'Yes. Why?'

'Take a ten-gun ship with eleven men and some sporting guns?'

'Twelve men. And that is not the correct odds.'

'All right, we do have some muskets. How much does that shorten the
odds?'

'The odds have nothing to do with muskets. It's a case of a dozen
brains against let us say forty men who haven't even thought about the
subject.'

'Brains!' they laughed, the only power they had ever used being force.

'How would you go about it, Brains?' asked one, spinning out the joke.

'I haven't thought about it--but I can tell you one way.' And he told
them.

They listened in silence, their eyes turning from him to the ship's
boat and back again until presently their eyes were on him alone.

'Even a small grapnel would make a noise like the crack of doom,' said
one in a slow Dorset voice when he had finished.

'Pad it,' said Henry, noting with a lift of excitement in his chest
that the questioning of a detail implied a respect for the plan itself.

'With what?'

'Moss. Creepers. Anything. You can pad it so much that it bounces like
a baby's wool ball, but it will still stay a grapnel and do what it is
meant to do.'

Their delight in contrivance, always acute in men who live
precariously, snared them into interest.

'Yes, and Chakka can do the throwing,' someone said. Chakka was the
Indian. 'Chakka can make a rope fall round a marline-spike stuck in the
sand thirty yards away.'

'Are we going to lose our market just to have our throats cut on
board?' asked a dissenter.

'As for marketing,' Henry said, 'I don't suppose she is going home to
Spain empty.'

And at that reminder interest flared to something like eagerness. They
knew the kind of cargo that ships carried from the mainland to Spain.
And if she was bound home as far west as Barbados, then she almost
certainly came from the South American coast. And South America meant
gold, and silver, and pearls. South America was the fabled El Dorado.

Their interest went back to the boat that was being now rowed ashore,
but they made no movement to go down to meet it. Instead they went over
to the sea side of the camp and watched it come, through the tangle of
creepers that screened them from the shore below. Through the still air
they could hear the men in the boat laughing and talking as they rowed.
They were glad to be setting foot on land for a little.

'I can't remember whether we are at war with Spain at the moment or
not,' Bartholomew said meditatively, making his first contribution to
the discussion.

'There is no peace beyond the Line,' supplied Chris, quoting a
well-known tag.

'It's a holy war, anyhow,' said one. 'The Protector has said that who
fights Spain fights the Inquisition and does God's work.'

'I've no mind to be strung up just to gratify Cromwell,' said the
dissenter.

'A minute ago you were going to have your throat cut,' they said. 'Make
up your mind!'

'I know a couple of ears that I'd like to hang pearls in,' said the man
who had commissioned Bartholomew to buy the pomade.

'I know a couple of Spanish necks I'd like to screw,' said the Dorset
man.

'Pipe down!' said Bartholomew as the boat grounded and the men leaped
ashore.

They humped three empty casks on to the beach and rolled them up to the
pools of fresh water in the gully. A youth dropped a small toy dog on
to the sand and began to play with it. He had brought a ball, and he
would throw it and then rush after it, accompanied by the dog, and they
would roll together in the sand, each madder than the other with joy of
living. The camp watched this pastime with mild contempt.

'Call that a dog!' said the mulatto, and went back to the fire where
the two hunting dogs were standing in unwilling bondage to their
training, whimpering with excitement and quivering all over. He soothed
them and made them lie down with whispered promises and reassuring
caresses, and then came back to watch what was happening below.

The Spaniards had discovered the longboat and had resolved themselves
into a small doubtful cluster, looking up at the unrevealing density of
the forest. One of them called something, and was hushed for his pains.
They apparently decided that, whatever the longboat might be drawn up
there for, it had no immediate significance. But they did not linger,
as they had patently been prepared to do before finding the boat. The
holiday air disappeared, and they worked quietly at filling their casks
and gathering driftwood. The silly little dog, unprepared for the
change in the atmosphere, got in their way and was cursed.

'Call that a dog!' said the mulatto again.

'See that there fellow with the black ringlets,' whispered the Dorset
man. 'He were one of the crew of the _Santa Marta_ that time I were
aboard her after they sunk the _Marie Galante_ off the Mosquito coast.
Fresh water, indeed!' He watched the shining water being shot into the
casks. 'No water at all they gave us, and no food neither, the
bastards.'

Henry, lying silent, noticed that there was no further suggestion of
trade. Even the dissenter was no longer vocal. They watched the ship's
crew roll the barrels down the beach and up the planks into the boat,
and made no motion either to stop them or to go down and do business
with them. Indeed, their only personal reaction to the Spaniards'
departure was to criticise their boat-work.

'What a lot of lubbers!' they said, watching the Spaniards' way with an
oar. 'What a lot of tailors!'

When the boat had reached the ship's side and the water was being
hauled on board they lost interest and remembered that there was still
some rum. They drifted one by one back to the fire.

'If their nostrils hadn't been so bunged up with salt they'd have smelt
us for sure,' Bluey said, sniffing the smoke from the boucan-drying as
he turned away from the clean sea air.

Henry said nothing, waiting for his idea to ferment in their minds of
its own accord. They discussed the ship in general terms at first: her
tonnage, her rig, her probable cargo. Wood, they thought. Fine woods
from the wet South American forests.

'Why couldn't Chakka just rope the man in the stern?' Tugnet said.
'Just rope him and pull his throat shut?'

'Too risky,' said Chris. 'If he failed we'd have them all on us.'

And with this contribution from Chris the subject passed from the
academic to the practical. The proposition that they take the ship had
been accepted.

'It'll have to be in the first watch, if we try it,' Bartholomew said.
'The moon comes up after midnight, and they'd spot us as soon as we
left the shore.'

They lay round the fire as dusk closed in, discussing ways and means,
and every now and then referring to Henry about a point. 'What do you
think, Brains?' 'How does that look to you, Brains?' It had been his
idea, and they were playing fair by him. He was no longer a cipher in
the camp; he was, on the contrary, a potential leader. Bluey went down
to the longboat and came back with a small grapnel, and the Indian
gathered moss to pad it. They slung a canvas on the coast side of the
fire so that no hint of a hostile presence should move the Spaniards to
double a guard that night. Watching the faces as they bent to admire
the Indian's handiwork on the grapnel, Henry considered his allies.
They were not what he would have chosen, perhaps, but if the faces were
unintelligent, in some cases stupid, in some cases callous, at least
none of them was mean. There was a lack of calculation about them that
saved them from being evil, or even bad. That same lack of calculation
made them what they were, of course; hand-to-mouth spenders of all they
made, world's vagabonds and permanent tramps. Only Bartholomew, of them
all, had a kind of dignity. And he now knew why. He knew, too, why he
was looked up to in this gathering of odds and ends. Bartholomew was a
sail-maker. Bartholomew had a trade; he was an expert in one particular
line; able to make a living and take his place anywhere. It was because
of that fact that, even in the presence of a more probable leader like
the man Chris, they deferred to Bartholomew Kindness.

When the dark came they pulled the longboat carefully down over the
sand and floated her. An hour before midnight the tide would turn, and
they would let the tide float them out to the ship as far as it served
them. Then they came back to the camp and cleaned and primed their
weapons until it was time.

'Brains has no pistol, Bart,' someone said. And there was a long
discussion as to whose pistol he should take. Not because any one of
them grudged parting with his own, but because they were determined
that he should have the best.

'It doesn't matter much,' Henry said. 'I'm not planning to kill
anyone.'

'If I had my way we'd kill the whole boiling of them,' Timsy said.

'Anyone can kill a man,' Henry said contemptuously. 'It needs only a
little piece of lead and a thumb in working order.'

'Brains doesn't need to kill,' Chris said. 'He gets his own way
without.'

'And the ransom besides,' Henry added.

'Ransom?' they said.

'For the men I've kept alive,' he said; and so cancelled the effect of
Chris's half-sneer.

They went down to the beach when the time came with the idea firmly in
their minds that there were cleverer ways to their ends than by
killing. Which--as Brains had shown--was simple, and satisfying, but
extravagant.

As they pushed off into the quiet water, Henry pulled off his shoes and
left them in the bottom of the boat. He sat in the bows ready, and
beside him was the Indian, Chakka, with the grapnel. They had tried the
effect of the padding on a floor of planks collected from various parts
of the camp, and had laughed to see how their cleverness was rewarded.
The grapnel fell always head down, of course, and they padded the head
with moss until it was resilient as a 'baby's wool ball', as Henry had
promised.

The night hung round them like velvet, and the black water bore them
gently out towards the invisible ship. She had swung with the tide and
lay bows to shore, so that to reach her stern they had to pass her
broadside on. She had no riding-lights, but when they came nearer they
saw that a dim glow came up from an open hatch on deck, and a lantern
hung at the entrance to the fo'c'sle. When they came so close that her
bulk was silhouetted against the sky they could see that the guards the
Spaniards had set at dusk were still there. One in the bows, one at the
stern, and one at the ladder in the waist.

This was the crucial moment. One cough or sneeze, one incautious
movement, and any one or all of these men would give tongue, and up
from her bowels would come men by the dozen and the water would be
jumping all round them in a hail of bullets.

But the slow, breathless moments passed, and now they were safe under
her counter, and fending themselves off her rudder with their hands.
One by one in the darkness they let out the pent breath that had
suffocated them and relaxed. They sat there listening to the movements
of the man above, and to the subdued sound of talk in the cabin
somewhere. Forward of the cabin it was quiet, and it seemed that, glad
of the knowledge that they would, for this night at least, not be
disturbed in their rest to work ship, the fo'c'sle was asleep.

Henry stood up on his stocking soles in the bows, and pushed off until
he was standing directly below the ship's rail, the Indian ready behind
him.

'Now!' he whispered to Chris, and Chris flung the stone.

It dropped into the sea on the port quarter, and the man above moved
away from his post to investigate. While the noise of his boots was
still loud in the stillness, Chakka flung the grapnel. It fell on deck
with a thud that stopped their hearts. To their heated imaginations it
sounded like a meteor landing. But Henry had no time to consider the
consequences. Chakka drew tight the rope, and the hook slid quietly
from the deck and caught sweetly and silently in the rail. And Henry
was swarming up the rope and stepping over the broad wooden rail before
he had time to think. He crouched there in the darkness.

The man took a long time over his inspection. He walked forward and
talked to the man in the waist, glad perhaps of an excuse to break the
monotony of his watch. But presently he came back, humming to himself,
and, still humming, came to stand a couple of yards from the waiting
Henry. Henry could see him distinctly against the lightening sky. He
was standing with his back to him.

His right hand with the kerchief wrapped round it went over the man's
mouth and his left with the knife in it pressed into the man's back.

'Be quiet!' he said.

He felt his knife go through the man's leather coat, and a mad longing
filled him to kill the man. Excitement boiled in him and sought an
outlet; a climax.

It was something older than either law or Christianity that stopped
him. Superstition. There must be no blood on this setting-out of his.

The man stopped his instinctive struggle as soon as he felt the
knife-point against his skin. Henry dragged him back a step or two to
the rail and tugged the rope where it hung from the grapnel; and in a
moment Chris and Bluey joined him, materialising over the rail as
darker shadows in the darkness. They bound and gagged the man that
Henry was holding, and passed him to the custody of the next man up.

Henry walked boldly forward to the man at the waist, and cut short the
man's greeting to a supposed comrade with a pistol shoved into his
stomach. The man cried out instinctively, but it was a small bitten-off
cry, and they bound and gagged him without hindrance.

The bored guard in the bows came strolling aft to find what had
interested his comrade. Henry pushed the others into the darkness and
waited alongside the silent and helpless Spaniard. As the newcomer
stopped to gossip, Bluey, not waiting for Henry, flung an iron arm
round the man's throat so that not even a bitten-off cry escaped from
his outraged gullet. Henry shoved a rag into his gaping mouth, and
Bluey drew his arms behind him and tied his hands to his ankles. The
two captives were left in charge of the Dorset man, and Henry moved aft
to that glow of light from the cabin.

The poop dropped to the deck in two shallow descents, and in the middle
of the small half-deck was a partly-open hatch. As Henry bent his head
to look down into the interior he felt a small sudden chill on the back
of his neck, and thought at first that it was the result of his
excitement. Then he realised that it was the first breath of an
off-shore wind.

In the cabin five men were sitting round the table playing cards, and
two more watched from seats at their side. A man in the forward corner
was stringing a fiddle, and two were asleep in bunks. There might be
more men asleep on bunks on the side that he could not see. The captain
was a podgy man, and he played bad-temperedly. On his right sat a man
of the same age, but elegant in dress and figure. He had the air of a
guest; a passenger. On the passenger's right, lying on a velvet
cushion, was a small bundle of silk that Henry recognised as the toy
dog. Its head was buried under its paws and its nose in the cushion.
All the prowlers in the world might be gathering within a few feet of
it without disturbing by a heart-beat its silken slumbers. As the
mulatto had remarked: 'Call that a dog!'

Judging by the volume of excited breathing behind him that the majority
of his following were now on board, Henry pressed a hand on Chris's
shoulder to make him stay where he was, and moved round to the cabin
entrance, which was on the forward side and led down a few steps from
the main deck. So rapt were the men in the cabin on their game, and so
unsuspicious of this quiet midnight on a deserted coast, that Henry
stood for a moment on the last step considering them at his leisure,
before the captain, who was facing him, looked up and saw him.

The captain's eyes bulged.

'Keep still,' said Henry, standing with his pistol levelled. 'My
friends above are watching you with interest.'

The captain understood him because he shot an agonised glance up at the
faces in the reflected glow.

'Don't shoot, don't shoot!' he said in French. 'No one will move. Don't
shoot!' his choice of tongue being an instinctive tribute to the
French, who had made their island of Tortuga the headquarters of piracy
in the Caribbean.

But his passenger was of different stuff. With a sideways glance at the
shaking captain, he bowed to Henry and said: 'You have come too late
for supper, but the madeira is good, monsieur Sansouliers.'

Even a conqueror does not feel at his best in his stocking soles; and
Henry was a very young and new conqueror, and a Celt to boot. The flick
stung him.

'You are no more effective than your dog, Señor,' he said in his island
Spanish. The animal was now standing up on its cushion and uttering
small shrill yelps, and it looked self-important and silly. And then,
raising his voice a little, he said: 'Bluey! Come down here,' and Bluey
detached himself from the gathering above and appeared beside him on
the steps.

'This gentleman is going to lend me his shoes,' Henry said. 'Will you
assist him to remove them?'

Bluey was delighted.

'With your honour's permission,' he said, bowing with a flourish, and
having removed the shoes, brought them to Henry and held them for him
with a burlesque of servitude.

'There you are, Harry boy!' he said. 'And the nicest pieces of
shoe-leather I ever did see. Might as well have a pair for myself while
I'm about it. What about yours, Cap'n?'

'Presently, presently,' said Henry. 'You can line them up in a row and
choose at your ease when the ship's ours. Is Timsy there? Timsy, you
stay with me and Bluey. Bart, you take the rest for'ard and deal with
the crew.'

He had chosen Timsy to stay with him because if anyone in the gathering
was likely to start a massacre it was Timsy.

Intoxicated at having the after-guard in their hands so easily, they
discarded caution with a whoop. Bart snatched the lantern from where it
hung and they went roaring into the fo'c'sle like a tidal wave.

'Rise and shine, my hearties, rise and shine!' shouted Chris, as if he
were routing out his own crew; and tore along the narrow alley-way of
the noisome catacomb, slapping rumps, tweaking toes, and pulling hair.

Some of the men packed in tiered layers on the filthy shelves were
drunk; more were sodden with sleep and half-poisoned by their own
exhalations. Only three were alert enough to combat an enemy on the
threshold of waking. Two reached under their canvas-bag pillows for
pistols; but one pistol misfired and the other disappeared under a
one-man avalanche which was Tugnet. The third man to be quick-minded
was the boy who had played with the dog on the beach. He came at Bart
with a knife.

'No, son, no,' said Bart in his kind-uncle tones, hitting the boy's
raised arm across the biceps with the side of his open palm. This is an
exceedingly painful thing to have happen to one. The boy yelled, and
the knife flew from his hand and grazed the mulatto's forehead. The
mulatto dropped the club he was carrying and came at the boy with his
open hands. The man whose pistol had misfired used the butt of it on
the mulatto's head. And in another second the fo'c'sle was a writhing
mass of fighting humanity.

Bart lost the lantern in the mêlée, and when he had recovered it and
held it aloft to survey the result he found the boy sitting on the
mulatto's head.

'Well, well,' he said, 'so you can take care of yourself, after all,
son!' and he looked round to see how the others had fared. No one was
dead, it seemed; not even one of the Spaniards, although several were
looking the worse for wear. In the recovered light the invaders drew
off and stood covering their captives.

'Tie them up, boys,' Bart said. 'And you,' he added to the boy, 'you
get off that brown man. He's the best man with dogs this side of Cape
Verde.'

'Dogs?' said the boy, getting up and looking with interest at the
bleeding mulatto. 'Ah, pardon, pardon.'

'Speaks English like a native,' mocked Tugnet.

'Pretty smart altogether for a Spaniard,' Bart said, mopping the
mulatto's head.

'I Portuguese,' said the boy.

'Well now! Practically an ally!' they laughed.

'I Manuelo Sequerra.'

'Maybe, Manny; but you're going to be tied up like the rest,' they
said.

He submitted with good humour to their binding, and apologised to the
mulatto for the 'accident' to his forehead.

'It was this gentleman that I try to kill,' he said, indicating Bart in
explanation.

There were fewer men in the fo'c'sle than they had expected, and they
were bound in matter-of-fact fashion in the persuasive presence of half
a dozen pistols. Once trouble seemed to be on the point of breaking out
again when one of the drunk Spaniards spat in the face of the man who
was tying him up. But the man merely hit him across the face with the
back of his hand and went on with his knots. Their triumph was so great
that their good humour was invincible.

'She's ours!' exulted Bluey, as they met in the cabin again. 'She's
ours!'

The ship's officers, together with their passenger, had been shut into
the tiny after-cabin. This led out of the cabin proper, and was an
ideal prison, in that its only windows were two small ones high up,
overlooking the half-deck.

'Now we see what she is carrying,' they said, but Henry said no; first
they must tidy up ashore. Fetch the fresh meat and the dogs. The
off-shore wind would take them out now, without waiting for dawn.

There was some argument as to who should go, but they were still large
with delight, and the impartial dice did the rest. They accepted
Henry's ruling about using the wind. They had stopped calling him
Brains from the moment when he had climbed that rope to the ship's
stern.

Those who were left explored the ship as children rejoice in a new toy.
They found that she was Dutch built; a fact which explained much that
had puzzled them when they had discussed her round the fire. More
especially her light, low poop, almost level with the waist, and her
lack of burdening ornament. She had been built by a people whose
harbours were small and shallow; and she had been built for trade, and
therefore for speed in a competitive business. That she was Dutch built
explained, too, the comparative smallness of her crew. The Dutch
designed ships that could be sailed satisfactorily with two-thirds of
the normal crew for the tonnage.

Whatever her original name had been, she was at the moment the
_Gloria_, but Henry planned to change that at the earliest possible
moment.

'Tomorrow we'll sling a man over the side, and we'll call
her--_Fortune_.'

Gradually a new, less welcome, thought seeped into their exuberance.
They had inspected her cargo (wood, as they had anticipated) and
admired her armoury. They had even routed down below the water-line to
reckon what gunpowder stores she had. But so far they had come on no
strong-room. They mentioned the lack to each other, casually at first,
and then urgently. When the longboat came back they were still
searching for it.

'Bring the captain here,' Henry said, when they had ransacked the cabin
without result.

They unlocked the after-cabin and dragged the captain out. But the
captain had either been coached by his passenger or had recovered his
nerve. He pretended not to know what they said.

Chris produced a knife and opened it with a flick of his wrist. He
thrust it within an inch or two of the captain's throat, and moved it
in half-turns so that the light from the hanging lantern glinted on it.

'I'll teach him English,' he said.

'You and your knives!' Henry said, contemptuously. 'Bluey, fetch the
steward here. I never knew a steward yet that didn't know more about
his master's business than the master knew himself.'

Bluey came back to say that the steward wasn't one of the men in the
fo'c'sle. He slept in the galley, it seemed. But they had all seen the
galley and there was no one there. When a terrified and half-suffocated
steward was at last dragged from the flour-bin in the galley they
greeted him with appreciative laughter and treated him as a hero. Who
would have thought, they said, that the man to beat them would be a
steward?

The unhappy wretch, finally unnerved by laughter that he did not
understand, made no bones about telling them where the strong-room was.
It was in the little dark after-cabin that the prisoners were
occupying. He showed them where it was, and told them were the captain
kept the key. And they all gathered round to learn what their fortune
was.

There was neither gold nor silver. But there were pearls.

Rivers of pearls. Cascades of them.

The iron box was opened on the cabin table when the key had been turned
again on the prisoners, and the share-out began. And went on, and on.
Round and round went Bart's hand, dropping pearls one by one on the
twelve small heaps; and the twelve small heaps ceased to be very small,
and grew to be heaps of a size that made their eyes first shining and
then blank with sheer incredulity.

'Eight odd,' said Bartholomew at last. 'Four of you's going to be
unlucky.'

'Unlucky!' Bluey said, staring at his heap. 'What's an odd pearl! Give
it to Chakka.'

'Throw mine overboard,' Tugnet said, running his fingers through his
heap.

'If you're all satisfied,' Henry said, 'we'll free the middle watch and
put them to the business of taking her out to sea.'

That led to a discussion as to where they should sail.

And by the time they had actually sailed it had led to something like
open warfare. Henry wanted to sail the ship straight to port and have
her declared a prize by an English Admiralty Court.

'Have her disallowed, you mean,' they said. 'And all of us flung into
jail, as likely as not!'

'Even if they allow it,' they said, 'they'll want their percentage. By
the time they've passed all their quirks and pretences on you, what is
there for a poor seaman?'

Their distrust of the law was all-pervading.

This dismayed Henry; but what shook him to the soles of his new Spanish
shoes was their plan for the future of the ship. They planned to sell
her, if that proved easy; and if not, to sink her.

'Sink her!' said Henry, hardly believing his ears. 'But with a ship
like this our fortune is made. We are set up for life.'

'What would we do with her?' they asked.

'Get letters-of-marque, and use her as a privateer. Or, failing that,
trade with her. There are cargoes for the asking all over the
Caribbean, and fortunes for the taking.'

'What! Work a ship in all weathers when we could be living like lords
in Port Royal!' they said.

'Fortune! What's a fortune to us!' they said. 'We've _got_ a fortune.'

'We're only living for the day when we can be done with ships!' they
said. 'What would _we_ want with a ship?'

And from that nothing Henry said could move them.

So at last he said: 'Very well. I'll trade you my share of the pearls
for the ship.'

At first they thought he was joking. Then they thought he was mad. Then
they remembered that he had once been called Brains, and began to
wonder how they were being cheated.

'It's too big a share, the ship,' they grumbled, with a fine
inconsequence.

Henry pointed out that they had been planning to sink her.

'No,' they said. 'We were going to sell her.'

'Very well. I'm offering you a fortune in pearls for her. Try to sell
her--in Tortuga, I suppose--and you may find no bidders. There's my
bid, there on the table.'

He emptied the little leather sack of pearls on to the table under
their eyes; and, watching their faces, knew that he had a ship and was
penniless.

But his heart was filled with glory.

He went on deck, and left them to their celebration. In less than an
hour they were all roaring drunk.

Sometime before dawn, prowling round the deck and listening to the riot
below, he came on Bartholomew sitting all alone on the fo'c'sle head
polishing a pistol.

'Bartholomew! Can it be that someone is sober?'

'Ay, I'm sober.'

'I congratulate you.'

'You needn't. I'd like to be drunk as well as the next man, but my
stomach won't let me. A real trial my stomach is to me.' And then, with
sudden venom: 'And the way that bastard is handling the wheel takes my
appetite away.'

'Can you sail her?'

'I would sail her between Silla and Caribbees and not as much as scrape
her paint.'

'Get aft, then, and take the wheel.'

Henry stayed there for a little, listening to the rush and creak of a
ship dipping to the sea and thinking of his future, but presently he
went aft to join Bartholomew, and they stayed there together in
unspoken communion above the rioting ship.

'Whose ears are you going to hang your pearls in, Bart?' he asked.

'Nobody's ears. I'd as soon push them down their throats. All the
trouble in this world started when women came into it--bar my old
woman, of course.' It was clear that Bartholomew was out of temper.

'For a man who has just come into a fortune, you would seem to have a
jaundiced outlook on life,' Henry said, wondering whether that cottage
in the Mendips was looking suddenly less desirable now that it was
possible of realisation. 'Does nothing give you pleasure tonight?'

Yes,' said Bartholomew, indicating the spread of canvas above them in
the night. 'That does.'

After a pause, Henry said: 'Will you sail with me, Bart?'

'I'll sail with you--Cap'n.'




Chapter 3


A man may own a ship, but unless he is captain of a crew he goes where
the ship goes. And not one of the men from that camp in the forest
would go anywhere near a British possession as long as they had
anything to do with the ship they had taken. They would go to Tortuga,
they said. From that bleak and wind-swept little island off the north
coast of Hispaniola they could get passage anywhere. It was a sort of
clearing-house for the whole Caribbean; and, for those who needed it,
an unfailing source of employment, lawful and otherwise. To the
sheltering wing of the French and the gratifying tolerance of Tortuga
they would go; far from Admiralty courts and the stinking English
conscience and the curiosity of the official mind.

So north away from Barbados sailed the _Fortune_, beating up through
the islands into the north-east trade, day after blue-green day. Her
Spanish crew worked the ship, and the victors lay about the deck in
attitudes of ostentatious idleness. They ate, slept, and gambled; and
were monumentally bored. The stores of pearls changed hands
continuously. By early afternoon they were drunk. By night they were
either moribund or quarrelsome.

It was Chris, that man with the face of an unfrocked priest, who kept
them in order; and that was because Chris could drink immense
quantities of neat rum without succumbing and because they were afraid
of him. Even Timsy, who when drunk was a maniac, kept in some recess of
his crazy mind a recognition of the lethal quality in Chris, and would
stop in his tracks and whimper as the long, thin man got to his feet to
correct him. When at last peace reigned because everyone else was
insensible, Chris would pour a final mugful for himself and would fall
asleep only one degree short of flash point.

Only one man on board the _Fortune_ had a harder head than Chris. And
that was Henry Morgan.

'You do not drink, Señor?' Don Christoval de Rasperu asked him, as the
'passenger' was having his daily outing and they were walking round the
deck together.

Henry said that, on the contrary, he drank a great deal. But it went
missing somewhere between his throat and his stomach. Which was a sad
thing for more reasons than the obvious one. It snared one into
drinking more than was good for one in the tropics.

'It is sad,' said Don Christoval, looking at the large, slack form of
Tugnet lying unconscious in the evening shadow below the break of the
poop, 'it is sad to be given this precious gift of life and to find
nothing better to do with it than seek ever for temporary death. Life
embarrasses them, it would seem. They run away from it. They do their
best to give it back.'

Don Christoval de Rasperu had been sent from Spain to inspect and
report upon the colonies on the South American seaboard, and Henry
regarded him with the tender interest of a man for his latest
investment. Spain might or might not be willing to ransom the crew of
the _Gloria_, but for the excellent Don Christoval de Rasperu they
would pay willingly and high. It was important that Don Christoval stay
whole and healthy. Don Christoval therefore got the choice times of the
day for his enlargement from the after-cabin, and if sometimes he
forgot to go back when his appointed time was up, no one was officious
enough to call his attention to the lapse. Unless it was the captain.
Who, having got over his initial fright, and being now fairly certain
that neither death nor torture lay in the offing, lived in a state of
fret and fume that was melting the flesh from his bones even more
effectively than the heat of the after-cabin. To be a prisoner on his
own ship was bitter, but to take second place to a passenger was gall
and wormwood. The only person who did his best to make Don Christoval's
life a misery on board the _Fortune_ was his fellow-captive and
countryman, the late captain of the _Gloria_.

The Spaniard with the dark ringlets was kicked daily by the Dorset man
for his bad taste in having once made one of the _Santa Marta's_ crew;
but that little matter of principle having been attended to, he was
left in peace. Indeed, he sometimes fell heir to the dregs in the
Dorset man's mug because they shared an experience that was not common
to anyone else on board.

The mate of the _Gloria_ was freed altogether, so that he might run the
crew and attend to the navigation; and Henry became his pupil in the
matter of chart and compass. Don Christoval, who was a mathematician,
would make a third at these sessions; and he and the mate would compare
and argue this still new science, Don Christoval full of theories and
the mate stubborn with practice; and Henry listened and learned.

This was his first real voyaging among the islands that he came to know
so well--the magic, small, anonymous islands of the Caribbean. In
endless permutations of innocence they stood about the empty seas
fresh, it seemed, from creation's dawn. The little bays with sand so
white, so virgin, that it was one with the breaking wave; the reefs
with their single rank of crazy palms, like some divine awkward squad.
To a practical sailor-mind they represented shelter or a lee shore, as
the case might be; fresh water, food, and refreshment of body; landfall
or bearing. But long after they were commonplace he would pause in the
ploy of the moment to stand astare, mazed with their beauty.

And the _Fortune_ was their equal in the mind of every man who sailed
in her. She had been careened in America, and she handled like a
dinghy. She would come about 'like a lady going back for her
prayer-book', as Bartholomew said. And her speed in a following wind
was such that her victors, used all their lives to the sheer dead
weight that crusted the products of English and Spanish slips, could
hardly believe it. It took only a week for boredom to drive the
conquerors to the ship's service, and they polished, spliced, caulked,
cleaned, and painted with a proprietary pride; half-surreptitiously at
first, as if it were beneath their new dignity as millionaires, then
openly when no one remarked on their activities. Bart contrived a Union
flag out of the store in her sail locker, and it was under the proper
colours that she sailed into the roads at Tortuga.

She came nosing her way through the reefs round Tortuga on a day when
the wind was blowing the tops off the cobalt seas, so that the whole
dark-blue ocean was shot with rainbow as the sunlight caught the
spindrift. On the innermost reef, cruelly bright and clear in the
pitiless light, was the remains of a ship, and they crowded to the side
to look as the _Fortune_ picked up her skirts and sidled past.

'That looks to me like Jack Morris's ship,' Bluey said, watching the
waves spout up from her broken bows. 'I mind them dolphins as I mind my
girl's eyes.'

'Your girl got eyes?' they mocked, Bluey being no beauty.

'The _Dolphin_, she was called, cause of them there dolphins at her
bows. Or t'other way about. But that's Jack Morris's ship. Take my oath
on that.'

They looked at her with the slight embarrassment of sailors in the
presence of a wreck. Bart, standing by Morgan, said: 'She looks sort of
ashamed, don't she? As if she was naked and we shouldn't be looking.'

But they kept on looking, fascinated.

'She can't have been long there, or they'd have broken her up,' Chris
said. The seas, he meant. The seas combed over her tilted stem and
rocketed into the air.

'Well, praise be to Christ and all His angels, I don't never have to go
to sea again,' Tugnet said, turning away. And that was the verdict of
them all. They went below for their little handkerchief bundles and
their fortunes of pearls, and when the _Fortune_ anchored off the port
they rowed themselves ashore. They did not want any of the
problematical ransom for the Spaniards, they said. They had more riches
now than they would ever spend if they had nine lives, and they wanted
no more.

'I'll miss Bluey's jew's-harp,' Bart said, leaning over the side,
watching the boat pull away. Their farewell to him had been of the
briefest; not because he had chosen to stay behind (in the weeks at sea
it had become obvious that Bart was Morgan's ally, and they had
accepted the fact without remark and without rancour) but because
casualness was their way.

Henry wanted to say: 'How long do you think it will be before they are
penniless?' but he did not know how much Bart himself had left of that
heap of pearls. Bart had gambled like the rest, and it was understood
that he had been unlucky; but to what extent Henry did not know. It
warmed his heart, and would warm it as long as he lived, that Bart,
with his fortune intact in his pocket, had elected nevertheless to sail
with him.

'Well, what now?' asked Bart, at last; having watched the _Fortune's_
boat pull ashore, and having reviewed the ships in harbour.

The Spaniards, with the exception of the mate, who was standing at
their elbow, were locked up below. They were alone with their captives
and the ship.

'There will be a bumboat along presently, trying to sell us stuff, I
don't doubt. I'll go ashore with it and see if I can muster a skeleton
crew to take us as far as Jamaica. It can't be more than two hundred
miles from here, and the "trade" behind us all the way.'

But the day wore on to noon, and then to afternoon, and no boat came
out to greet them or to hawk their wares. They freed the cook and set
him to cooking dinner for all on board, and dinner was almost ready
before a sail came shooting over the water in their direction.

'Too small and fast for a bumboat,' Bart said, watching the light craft
come. 'Perhaps they're going to arrest us.'

The same thought had crossed Morgan's mind, and he was therefore very
scornful of Bart's silly idea. What would they arrest a ship flying an
English flag for?

'Yes, mighty fast and official-looking to be just paying a social
call,' Bart said, glowering at the approaching boat.

The boat lowered her sail and swept round to the ladder on the lee side
with an effortless piece of timing that spoke louder of seamanship than
of pen-and-ink.

'_Not_ so official,' Bart said, in a more hopeful tone.

There were three men in the boat, and they came up the ladder with no
sign that any one of them had ever held a pen in his life. The first
over the side was not very much older than Morgan; a spare,
self-contained young man in good clothes that looked as if they had
been made for him but were nevertheless not the clothes he habitually
wore. Seaman ashore, said the clothes.

The man looked from Bart to Henry and then said to Henry: 'Captain
Morgan?'

And with the magic word 'Captain', Henry's belief in his luck came back
full and strong. He never forgot that Jack Morris was the first man to
give him the title.

'My name is John Morris. Old John Morris's son, if you ever knew my
father.'

'It's your ship----' Henry began involuntarily.

'Yes, it's my ship out on the reef yonder. And several good men
besides. I don't beat about with words, Captain Morgan, so I'll tell
you straight out that I heard you were looking for a crew. The
_Dolphin's_ crew are looking for a passage out of this hell-hole, and
we'd be very glad to sail with you if you're bound for a British
possession. Or anywhere, for that matter of it. This is my mate,
Bernard Speirdyck, and his nephew, Cornelius Carstens.'

The stocky, blond man bowed in a jerky continental fashion, and the boy
with the thatch of taffy-coloured hair smiled.

Henry, aware that his clothes were the best he could do with judicious
confiscations from the Spaniards' wardrobes and that he had never in
his life commanded as much as a yawl at sea, was a little overcome. He
wanted to blurt out: 'You mean you'd sail under the command of a tyro
like me?' But his unfailing vanity shook him to rights. 'You're not
only captain of this vessel, you're the owner,' his vanity reminded
him. 'You're the owner of one of the fastest craft of her size anywhere
in the world today, with a clean bottom and well found, and you're a
very desirable person to be acquainted with.'

So to John Morris he said that dinner was ready and they were about to
sit down and they would be honoured if Captain Morris and his friends
would join them. It would be sea fare, since they had not yet
replenished, and not as good as Captain Morris would get ashore, but if
he did not mind salt pork they would be glad of his company.

'Mind!' said Jack Morris. 'You don't seem to understand, Captain. We
are on our beam-ends. We are on the rocks even more hopelessly than the
poor _Dolphin_ out there.'

And Henry, who if the positions had been reversed would never have
confessed to any such state, loved him for his frankness. As they went
below it occurred to him that dolphins brought him luck. A Dolphin in
Bridgetown brought him the _Fortune_, and now a Dolphin in Tortuga was
providing him with a crew. He must remember dolphins when he was in
need of luck.

Over the enormous meal of meat and strong drink that they thought
suitable for a tropic afternoon, Henry explained that he was looking
for an English authority to take custody of his prisoners and
eventually accept ransom for them on his behalf. Where was the nearest
English official? Jamaica, presumably?

'Here,' said Morris, and began to laugh.

'In Tortuga!'

'He must meet our Elias, mustn't he, Barney!'

'But Tortuga's French!'

'Not just at the moment. The Spaniards threw them out not long ago. But
when we took Jamaica from the Spaniards they fled out of Tortuga in a
panic to defend San Domingo against becoming a second Jamaica. And in
walked Elias Watts with wife and family. He's living up at the castle;
with his wife and brats and a battery of four guns, one of them
workable. Making a success of it, too. Very popular, our Elias is. The
French will be back in no time, of course, but until then Elias is the
official governor.'

Elias Watts, however typical a piece of English colonial history, did
not seem to Henry a very safe deposit for his prisoners. He still
wanted to go to Jamaica, where he would find English officials of a
more permanent type; officials who would not only accept his prisoners
and give him his due share of their subsequent ransom, but would also
supply him with letters of marque as a privateer.

'They are not very fond of privateers in Yamaica yoost now,' Speirdyck
said. 'Every time a privateer slap Spain in the face, Spain come and
slap Yamaica. The planters they do not like that.'

'Ay,' said Morris. 'They yell for help and say the Spaniards are
treating the seas like their own, and then when we do account for a few
Spanish privateers they yell because Spain is offended and comes and
burns a village or two. They can't have it both ways.'

'These planters,' the Cornelius boy said, pausing in his swift, silent
consumption of food to speak for the first time, 'they care for nothing
but their crops. They do not care what Spain does to poor sailors or
how many innocent men are rotting in Spanish prisons. For them it has
never been a holy war.'

'I know someone who would think it a holy war,' Morgan said suddenly.
And then, a little dashed: 'But he is away off in Barbados.'

'What's Barbados!' said Morris, whose world was the sea. 'Just a
biscuit toss. I could find my way there blindfold, any time out of the
hurricane season. If it's letters of marque you want, let's go to
Barbados and get them. Who is your man in Barbados? Goodson?'

'Is that the Governor? No, there's a man who is just going to be
Governor. A good Cromwell man,' said Henry, trying to keep his lip from
curling. 'The great under-propper of the Roman Babylon, Cromwell says
Spain is. I think Sir Thomas Modyford will be prepared to fight the
Lord's battles to the extent of letters of marque. His estates in
Barbados are not as handy to Spain as the Jamaican ones are, so he can
serve the Lord, and Cromwell, and himself at the same time. There's
just one thing. The _Fortune_ will have to be victualled to take us
back there, and I haven't a penny until I get the ransom for the
prisoners.'

Bart looked up from his plate and said: 'If five pearls are any good to
you, Harry, they're yours.'

'Five!' said Henry, involuntarily.

'Yes,' Bart said, shamefaced. 'That's all.'

'Bart, I'm ashamed of you. Who was the lucky one?'

'Not any one of them specially,' Bart said. 'They just went little by
little. I'm still better off than I was before,' he added; and then,
looking up at Henry: 'Much better off.'

Because Henry for once had no words ready, Morris said: 'Five pearls
wouldn't get us far, but you can turn your prisoners over to Elias and
get credit in the town for them. I hear you have an important one. On
security like that Tortuga with supply you with anything you like to
ask for.'

'I see my late colleagues have been talking.'

'Fluently.'

'I think when we have dined, Captain Morris, you and I had better go
ashore and have a talk with your Elias.'

And so it came about that Don Christoval de Rasperu found himself being
welcomed on the most infamous and disreputable of all the Caribbean
islands by a worthy British matron of the most domestic type: a kind
little woman who fussed over him, wiped her son's running nose, and
lamented the shortage of gunpowder all in the same breath. Her husband
accepted the custody of the crew on condition that he might put them to
'honourable employment' until such time as ransom was forthcoming for
them. Tortuga swarmed with men of all nationalities, but not one of
them would do what his lady called 'a hand's turn' on the island. They
were prepared to be blown up, drowned, maimed, starved, and overworked
at sea, but at the sight of a spade or a hoe they blenched. As long as
the Spaniards were prepared to work for their keep, Elias was prepared
to be responsible for them. For their health, that was. For any escapes
from the island he could by no means hold himself responsible. He had
no space to imprison nearly forty men, even if any of the Castle locks
had keys. And with the sea at their doors escape was an ever-present
possibility. But he would try to make their stay so pleasant that a
normal return to Spain in due course would appear to them more
desirable than turning themselves adrift on an unfriendly ocean.

The two sea-captains shared family dinner at the Castle, which was
enlivened by the sneezes of one child and the proud recitation of the
nine-times by another, admired Elias's highly ornamental battery, took
a friendly farewell of an amused Don Christoval, and went down to the
port to profit from the unbridled boastings of Chris, Tugnet, Bluey,
and company.

And so next day, the third since the _Fortune's_ arrival at Tortuga, a
two-way traffic was being conducted over the ship's side. Boats brought
stores in quantity and took away prisoners in batches. The prisoners
shook hands all round before they left. They had had a wonderful time,
they inferred. Short of a permanent pension, give them a cruise as
prisoners of the English any day.

Only two made a scene. One was the boy who had played with the dog on
the beach at Barbados, and the other was the ship's cook. The boy said
that he, Manuel Sequerra, was a Portuguese, that he had done nothing
against the English, and that in any case he wanted to sail with the
Captain Morgan, who was his _beau ideal_ of what a commanding officer
should be. Toni, the cook, said that he was a Neapolitan, and as such
had nothing to do with these insane wars that everyone was always
indulging in; a stove, he inferred, was of all things the most
international; it was inconceivable that he, Antonio Toscanelli, a
Neapolitan and an artist, should be left to rot on Tortuga.

Since they were still short-handed on the _Fortune_, and since one of
the men drowned on the reef had been the _Dolphin's_ cook, neither
Manuel's tears nor Toni's dramatics were necessary. Henry was very glad
to have them. Toni was a very bad cook, but he was cleaner than most,
and drank hardly at all.

On the night before they sailed, very late in the evening, the mulatto
arrived at the bottom of the ladder, having spent his last poor coins
in hiring a boat to take him out. Indeed, he had not had quite enough,
and the boatman was loud in his demands for the balance from the
_Fortune_; the mulatto had promised that the few odd pence would be
paid when he arrived at the ship, he said. The mulatto was in tears.
They had sold the dogs to a man who was going to Cuba, and the man had
no need of him. He was lost without the dogs. He had also lost every
pearl that he had ever possessed, but that seemed hardly to concern
him. He could think of nothing but the parting with the dogs that had
been his life. If Captain Morgan also had no use for him, then indeed
his life was at an end.

'Manuel!' shouted Morgan.

'Captain! Sir! I come! I come!' Manuel came plummeting to the deck with
a swoop that gave the unnautical Henry heart-failure.

'Kringle here has lost his friends the dogs, Manuel. He is----'

'Amigo!' said Manuel, throwing his arm round the mulatto and not
waiting for further explanation. 'And your heart is torn open and you
are as if you had no skin. Come! I know. Come, and we will talk!' And
he led the weeping man away forward without a backward glance.

'We didn't need that mulatto,' Bart said, watching them go.

'I wouldn't turn a dog away tonight,' Morgan said.

So the _Fortune_ when she sailed with the tide in the morning, for the
first time under her new name, was a happy ship. She had no pressed men
on board and no prisoners. She was, on the contrary, the symbol of
fortune and freedom to all on board. To Henry, who had taken her, and
who had preferred her to riches. To Jack Morris, and his crew, whom she
rescued from the beach. To Bart, who was Mr Kindness again and a person
of importance in the world of the sea. To Toni, who was back in his own
galley. To Manuel, who was sailing with his hero. And to a greatly
comforted mulatto, who had strong hopes of taming a rat before they
reached Barbados.

Bernard Speirdyck, being a Hollander, took personal credit for the
_Fortune's_ good points, and at each evidence of adaptability would
say: 'Ah, yoost look at her, yoost look at her! A Hollander down to her
bilges.' He called them 'biltches'. And Cornelius, when reproved by his
uncle for some shortcoming, would retire to the fo'c'sle and imitate
him. 'Ah, yoost look at him, yoost look at him! A Hollander down to the
biltches!'

Jack Morris made good his boast of being able to sail to Barbados
blindfold, and the _Fortune_ dropped anchor outside Bridgetown long
before the mulatto had tamed his rat. Indeed, it was a little too soon
for Henry, who had secret qualms about the coming interview with
Modyford. He kept remembering the elegant clothes and cool, expensive
air of the man who had dined that day at the Dolphin, and wondering
what such a man would think of his borrowed Spanish finery. Which,
since he had no ready money, were all the clothes he still possessed.
He longed to borrow that very fine bottle-green suit of Jack's, but
could not bring himself to suggest it. He would have to go ashore in
his Spanish things.

Bridgetown looked very neat and civilised in its green setting after
Tortuga; and its familiarity after so many strange scenes made it seem
oddly like home. And Henry, being rowed ashore, took comfort in the
thought that Spanish clothes, however outlandish and open to
misconstruction, were an undoubted improvement on denim breeches and a
frieze coat. It was a thing to marvel at that only the other day he had
trudged into this town carrying a kerchief bundle that might have
belonged to Bluey or Tugnet. His affection for Bridgetown increased
every time he remembered it. When Elias Watts had asked him where, in
this new unstable world, a letter would find him, he had said: 'The
Dolphin at Bridgetown will always find me.' The Dolphin had seen the
beginning of his luck; it should witness the progress of it. Every now
and then he would come back and trail his latest successes through the
dark, cool room on the harbour front where he had spun his first gold
piece.

'Meet me at the Dolphin,' he said now to Jack Morris, who had come
ashore with him, 'and we'll drink to the letter-of-marque.'

Morris had come ashore entrusted with one of Bart's five pearls and
instructions that he should buy drink for the whole crew with it. The
crew had been promised time ashore as soon as the _Fortune_ was proved
acceptable to the authorities, but they had said: 'Pad round Bridgetown
with nothing in our pockets! Not us!' And when the third mate had said
couldn't Mr Kindness treat them to the pearl's worth just as well on
shore, Bart had said dryly: 'It's drink I'm treating them to.'

It amused Morgan to find that the same loafer was still leaning at the
door of the Dolphin and still picking his teeth with a fish-bone. He
stopped and said: 'Well, is he Governor yet?'

'Who?' asked the man.

'Sir Thomas.'

'Modyford? Oh, aye, he's Governor. What made you ask?'

'You prophesied that he would be very soon.'

'Prophesied to who?'

'To me.'

'Never saw you before in my life,' said the man.

Upon which Henry laughed and said: 'See how easy it is to leave denim
behind, Jack!' and walked away, still laughing, to call on the
Governor.

Henry had imagined himself walking into a room and talking man to man
across a table with the man who had sat across the room from him that
afternoon at the Dolphin. But it turned out to be not at all like that.
At the official residence of the Governor a secretary interviewed him
and asked him to state his business, informed him that the Governor's
day was nearly over and that in half an hour or so he would be leaving
for his home in the country, and that the press of affairs was very
great.

Henry said that he, Henry Morgan, was one of those affairs, and the
secretary left him to wait in a little hot room, where his heart grew
less joyful and his head less confident. When at last the pen-and-ink
man came back and said: 'Captain Morgan, please,' irritation, plain
itching irritation, had taken the place of that fine flourish with
which he had parted from Jack Morris.

And irritation was no quantity to take to an interview with Thomas
Modyford.

Sir Thomas was very polite, and apologised for keeping his visitor
waiting. He looked tired but not unfriendly. The apology did something
to soothe Henry's ruffled vanity, and he in turn had the grace to
regret in suitable words his belated arrival; and then, the amenities
having been observed, he stated his errand.

'The _Fortune_?' said Sir Thomas. 'That is the newcomer, out in the
roads.'

They were right about this man, Henry thought. Bart was right in his
face-reading: you would have to start very early to get the better of
Sir Thomas, or he would make you feel unpunctual. The ship had been
there not more than an hour and the Governor had had 'press of affairs'
all the afternoon, but he knew about the arrival.

He also knew what the arrival looked like. It looked, he said, very
like a ship called the _Gloria_ that the Spaniards were much worried
about. The _Gloria_ had disappeared off the coast of Barbados, and
pressing inquiries had been addressed to the authorities about her.

'She _is_ the _Gloria_,' Henry said. 'We took her, up the coast a
little from here.'

'Unprovoked?' asked Modyford.

'No,' said Henry; 'they provoked us past bearing.'

'What had they done?'

'There wasn't a man of them who hadn't been born in Spain.'

'So you took her on principle. Or was it that you perhaps wanted a
better ship than your own? What, by the way, did you take her in?'

'Our stocking soles.'

'What!' said Sir Thomas, startled out of his urbanity.

'Our stocking soles, I said, sir.'

'Yes, but with what ship?'

'We did not have a ship. We were hunting boar in the forest, and the
ship put in for water. We liked the look of her and we didn't like the
flag she was wearing, so we went out in our longboat after dark and
seized her.'

'We?' said the Governor faintly. 'How many?'

'Ten white men, one mulatto, and one Indian.'

Sir Thomas sat digesting this for a little. 'Would it be indiscreet of
me to inquire what became of the Spanish crew?' he asked at last.

'It would be very natural, sir. They are on Tortuga, waiting to be
ransomed.'

'All of them?'

'When we sailed from Tortuga they were all there. I don't know how many
are there now. The castle has no keys, and Mr Elias Watts has plans for
them that I don't think they are going to like.'

'Plans?'

'Spade-and-hoe plans, sir.'

'Ah. Torture. That will be another black mark against us in Spanish
archives. Am I to understand, then, that there were no--casualties?'

'Only some blood-letting.'

'And this Señor de Rasperu? This Don Christoval?'

'I victualled the ship with him.'

'What!' said the Governor for the second time.

'I exchanged him for some meal and salt beef.'

'You mean that he is safe on Tortuga.'

'I'll take my oath that he is, sir. The dealers are not going to let
him out of their sight until they have their hands on that ransom.'

'Is he in prison there?'

'No, sir, oh no. He is teaching little Oliver his eleven-times.'

'Oliver?'

'Oliver Watts.'

A shadow of suspicion was perceptible in Sir Thomas's grey eye. But he
said smoothly: 'I am glad to hear that the gentleman is living
comfortably _en famille_ with the Governor.'

'Well--_en famille_,' said Henry; and the shadow in Sir Thomas's grey
eye deepened almost to a smile.

'So you want me to give you a letter-of-marque?' He paused and looked
benevolently at Henry. 'I think, do you know, that as an example of
impudence that defeats even your taking of the _Gloria_.' And as Henry
looked startled: 'You must be aware, young man, that letters-of-marque
are given only to men of reputation; to masters of vessels who are well
known to us and answerable for their actions. An English commission is
not merely handed out to anyone who asks for it.'

'I am not "anyone!"' Henry wanted to say. But instead he said: 'I have
taken a ship from my country's enemies without the loss of a life, and
I have handed over my prisoners for ransom. What more do you want?'

'I should want, in the first instance, to know more about _you_. How
did you come to be hunting boar in Barbados, for instance?'

Now if I tell him I'm a freed bondsman, thought Henry, he'll never
accept me. 'Is there anything of ill-repute in hunting boar?'

'No. But a great many ill-reputed persons do so. I never saw you before
this afternoon----'

'But----' began Henry, and stopped. Then, after all, he had been for
Sir Thomas only a blank space: a place on which to rest his glance.

'But?'

'Nothing, sir.'

'I had never seen you before and know nothing about you. I have,
indeed, only your word for it that Don Christoval is instructing the
young in the mysteries of the multiplication table and not being
digested by sharks. You must have some background, my friend, before I
could be responsible for giving you a commission.'

'I thought the war against Spain was a holy war!'

'It has been so far,' Modyford said with a dryness that was lost on the
angry Morgan.

'How immaculate must one be to take part in a holy war? I have never
heard that the Crusaders were asked for testimonials or guarantees
before they went to fight in Palestine.'

'No,' Modyford said with a half-smile. 'The Crusades might have proved
a greater success if they had. I admire your exploit, young man, and I
would give you official recognition if it were within my power. But I
have a great responsibility vested in me, and I cannot abuse it. If I
can help you unofficially, of course, I shall be glad to do so. You
want to dispose of the cargo, perhaps. What is it, by the way?'

'Wood,' said Henry, almost unable to get the monosyllable out.

'Wood for dyeing? Logwood?'

'No. If it had been logwood I could have sold it in Tortuga. Wood for
building.'

'Oh. Not so good. But perhaps I could find a purchaser for you.'

'I should not dream of putting Your Excellency to that inconvenience.'

'I am not planning to confiscate the ship when you bring her in, if
that is what is in your mind.'

'That is very generous of Your Excellency,' said Henry through his
teeth.

Modyford cast him a glance that was almost pitying, but Henry did not
see it. Even if he had been aware of it, it is doubtful if he would
have pleaded where he had requested and been refused. He was sick with
disappointment and aching with hurt pride.

'I am sorry not to be able to be of official help to you,' Sir Thomas
said.

'And I am sorry to have taken up Your Excellency's valuable time,' said
Henry with a sarcasm he was too young and too angry to make light
enough to be effective.

He went out in a blind anger, and stood in the dusty road until the
mist cleared from in front of his eyes and his breath came more easily.
Then he walked slowly back to the Dolphin. The Dolphin that had been
going to witness all those progressive triumphs of his.

Jack Morris was sitting where Bartholomew had sat on that afternoon a
few weeks ago, and Henry slumped into the seat by his side without
looking at him, and reached for the mug on the table. He finished what
was in the mug and called on the serving-man for more.

'No?' said Morris, into the silence that followed.

'I made a mistake,' Henry said.

'What kind of mistake?'

'I did not go to school with his son.'

The equable Morris let this pass in silence and waited until Henry had
had the drink he had sent for.

Then he said: 'So _that_ was his excuse.'

'That was his _reason_.'

'Oh, no, it wasn't.'

'What do you know about it!'

'I don't know what his excuse was--except what I can guess--but about
his reason for saying no I know a great deal, and believe me, Harry
Morgan, it had nothing whatever to do with you. The excellent Governor
is teetering on the edge of a chasm, and he isn't going to take any
step that may overbalance him. Was he civil, by the way?'

Henry tried to think back beyond the blackness of his defeat, and
confessed that yes, he supposed Modyford had been civil.

'Well, that is something to his credit.'

'What chasm?'

'You said you came to Modyford because he was a good Cromwell man and
would consider war against Spain a holy war.'

'Yes.'

'Well, it isn't going to do him any good any more to be a good Cromwell
man.'

'Why?'

'Because Cromwell's dead. He's been dead for months.'

'No!' said Henry, all his personal failure and fury vanishing in the
wonder of this news.

'The town's got over their excitement because they've known for a week,
but they're waiting with their breath held for the next news. The
gossip is all that young Charles will be king. And the person who is
holding his breath tightest is your friend the Governor. The holy war
is at an end, and he doesn't want to take any part in anything that has
become unfashionable. He wouldn't give his best friend a
letter-of-marque against Spain this week.'

'So _that_ was it!' Henry's shrivelled 'conceit of himself' swelled and
unfolded into healthy bloom again. 'It wasn't----'

He began to bask. And then, looking back at Modyford from his recovered
security: 'The damned sail-trimmer!' he said.




Chapter 4


Now that he was no longer a snubbed nobody, and could look down with
cheerful superiority on a sail-trimming Governor, the world was once
more Henry's. But if it was still a world full of opportunity, the
opportunities were hardly as insistent as they had been.

What were they to do now?

'There's always trade, I suppose,' Henry said, a little dashed at this
unexciting way to fortune.

'Not in this part of the world,' Morris pointed out. 'The Spaniards
don't allow it. They don't even allow us the freedom of watering our
ships, God blast them. The trade's all Spain's. Unless you were
planning a ferry service between Barbados and Jamaica.'

Henry did not bother to answer that.

'You could sail her home, of course.'

'I'm not ready to go home,' said Henry shortly.

'You could sell her there for a good sum. They're short of ships,' said
Morris, who had long ago come privately to the conclusion that Henry,
who was so obviously neither criminal nor born pauper, had run away
from England to avoid a debtor's prison.

'I'm not ready to go home.' Henry looked in some surprise at him and
said: 'Would you and the crew go home in her?'

'No. My life is here.'

'So is mine,' said Henry, 'so let's hear no more of England. You don't
think,' he added, the mention of England reminding him, 'that they're
going to make peace with Spain at home, do you?'

'I think it's highly likely.'

'But they can't!' said Henry.

'Why worry?' said Morris, amused at Morgan's heat. 'It means only some
ink on a paper; and perhaps more comfortable sleep for the gentlemen at
home. They can't change Spanish habits with a scrape of the pen. It
will make no difference to us.'

'It will make no difference to what they do to us, you mean. It will
make a very big difference to what we can do to them.'

'For a little. It won't last, you know. The Spaniards always overdo
things. In no time at all they'll do something that even the gentlemen
at home can't overlook, and then it will be once more legitimate to
what Barney calls "slap Spanish faces."'

'There are times when I could throttle you, Jack. You talk as if you
were going to live for four hundred years and time was nothing to you.'

'Things always turn up,' Morris said, with a sailor's easy philosophy,
and looked at the descendant of soldiers with something like affection.
'Drink up, and look on the bright side.' He summoned the serving-man.
'We have a ship, and that's something. I know a great many good men
knocking about the Caribbean who'd give their right arm for that.'

'We also have a cargo,' said Henry, not too happily.

'Did your Governor show any signs of wanting to confiscate it?'

'No. He offered to help us get a buyer.'

'He did! That was vastly obliging of him, upon my word.'

'I would dump the whole lot in the sea sooner than let him get a
percentage of it.' What he really meant was 'sooner than let him help
me'.

'Perhaps he didn't want a percentage.'

'I never came across an official yet that didn't.'

'You didn't discuss it with him, then.'

'No,' said Henry. 'He was too busy explaining to me what an undesirable
piece of flotsam I was. Did you buy the rum for Bart?'

'Yes. They've sent it down to the ferry steps, and we'll take it out
with us. About the cargo: I know a little man here that used to be a
carpenter in the Navy. Was chips on a frigate, and lost both his legs
when a gun blew up. He makes furniture for all those new people coming
out. Planters and what not. Perhaps he would take some of the wood off
our hands.'

So they went to look for Mr Boobyer, and found him on the farthest edge
of the town on the inland side, out of sight and sound of the sea, and
half buried in exotic greenery. They followed the sound of a saw and
the smell of cut wood up a little alley, and there was the ex-Navy man,
looking oddly like a piece of Plymouth dropped down in the tropics.

'Well, well. Jack Morris!' he said, laying the saw carefully down and
sweeping the sawdust off a bench with a fine hospitable gesture. 'You
fetched up on a lee shore again?'

Not exactly,' Morris said, and presented Henry.

'Captain!' commented Mr Boobyer. 'You haven't been wasting time, young
man. Is it true what I hear about the _Dolphin_, Jack?'

'Yes. She's on the reefs outside Tortuga.'

'Too bad. Too bad. Fog, was it?'

'No. Hurricane.'

'Ah, a man's mad to go to sea when he could stay on shore. Look at me.
Nothing to do all day but work with the sweet wood. Can't even smell
the sea from here. Cosy as a weevil in a biscuit.'

Henry complimented him on the chair that he was making.

'Ah,' agreed Mr Boobyer. 'Nice, that is. That's for the Governor. A set
of six it is. Governor's a Devon man, like me. Knows a good bit of work
when he sees it.'

'What will happen if they string him up?' Morris asked.

'What for?' asked Mr Boobyer, startled.

'Treason. Or even regicide, perhaps. The Royalists are coming back, it
seems.'

'Ah, Governor's a Devon man. He'll come out on top. _You_ see. Any
come, it has nothing to do with me. Anyone in the island will be glad
to get this set of chairs. You don't get wood like that every day. No,
nor workmanship, neither.'

'Find it difficult to get wood?' Morris asked, and broached their
proposition.

At first Mr Boobyer was not interested. What would he do with a whole
ship-load of wood?

'Not a whole load,' Henry said. 'We'll keep some as ballast.'

'Ah,' agreed Mr Boobyer. 'At least it won't sink you.'

But it was not until he had heard the tale of the _Fortune_ that he
really considered the deal. When Henry and Jack Morris between them had
made clear to him how the _Gloria_ became the _Fortune_ and how the
_Fortune_ by being crewless had rescued the marooned crew of the
_Dolphin_ from boredom and semi-starvation on Tortuga, he began to
wheeze, then he began to heave, then he sat down on the bench beside
him and mopped his eyes, and it was clear that Mr Boobyer was laughing.

'Well!' he said, when speech was possible to him. 'If that don't beat
cock-fighting!'

Then, when he had heaved and wheezed and mopped his eyes a little more,
he said: 'Now about this wood.'

And it seemed that although he would need only a small amount himself,
he would undertake to sell the rest for shipbuilding. He would pay them
for his share now, and pay them the rest as he sold the wood.

'And I know what's troubling you, so you needn't tell me,' he said,
with a sly glance at their faces. 'You're afraid to bring the _Fortune_
in. Afraid they'll disallow and confiscate her. Ain't you? Well, you
don't have to bring her in a fathom. You drop the logs overside and let
the tide bring them in, and my boys'll rope and chain them on the beach
till I want them. How's that?'

'Mr Boobyer, you put away your saw and come down to the Dolphin with
us,' Henry said.

'I don't have to stump as far as the Dolphin for good liquor,' Mr
Boobyer said, and produced a bottle. Then he climbed into the loft
above his workroom as neatly as if he had a pair of feet instead of two
wooden pegs, and brought down the price of the wood in good English
currency. Henry could have embraced him.

'If they get rid of Modyford,' he said, as they went back to the
harbour, 'they could do worse than appoint your Mr Boobyer as Governor.
He doesn't waste any energy balancing himself on a fence.'

They felt very rich as they walked into the hot town again, and Henry
lingered in front of the shops as he had lingered on that other visit,
planning wardrobes for himself. But where on that previous occasion it
had been an academic delight, it was now a very present form of
torture. He need not wear his Spanish clothes any longer; he had money
in his pocket, and he could walk in and buy the best the island had to
offer. But the _Fortune_ needed the money. He was poorer personally in
the matter of money today than he had been that day weeks ago with a
gold coin in his pocket.

But in all other ways infinitely richer, he reminded himself. So what
did it matter that he must wear his Spanish clothes a little longer?

He would be at sea tomorrow, and there would be no cool grey eyes there
to look him over and judge him by his garments.

'Anyhow,' he said aloud, 'they would take too long to make them.'

And Jack Morris, who had understood every unspoken word of this
self-communion, and who had known all his life what it was to have the
ship come first, finally rendered his allegiance.

Henry's method of compensation was to over-pay the ferryman who took
them out to the _Fortune_. In what way this should comfort him for not
being able to buy himself clothes, he could not have said. If he could
not be elegant, he could be large.

The crew were gathered round the ladder watching them come, and it
endeared them to Henry that their interest seemed to be first for the
future of the _Fortune_, and only secondly for the barrel.

'What did they say, Captain?' they shouted, hanging over the side.

'Are we privateers?'

'What luck, sir?'

'Did they make you a knight. Captain?'

When they heard that they had no official standing, there was a loud
groan, frank opinion of the Governor, and franker suggestion of what
they would do to him and what he could do to himself.

'He may not be Governor much longer,' Henry said; and found that the
news about the changes at home, after the erratic manner of rumour,
had, even in harbour, passed them by.

The news of Cromwell's death shattered their unanimity.

'Well,' said a man named Wish, in a Sussex drawl, 'the old bastard'll
be havin' a deal of explainin' to do at this moment.'

'Oliver Cromwell was the greatest man who ever lived!' a Lincolnshire
man called Benrose said.

'He was a damned murderer and a king-killer,' said a third.

'Oh, go roll your barrel,' said Morris.

And they rolled the cask away for'ard, the fight growing louder and
wordier at every step.

'There will be murder,' said Morgan, 'if that is how they feel about it
sober.'

'Oh, no,' Morris said comfortably; 'there's seven Royalists to every
Cromwell man.'

'I've never asked you how you feel about it, Jack?'

'About them beheading the King? I suppose I was too young to care much,
and too much out of England for it to concern me very close.' And as
they went down to the cabin he added amiably: 'But I hate their damned
Puritan faces.'

Toni put a meal in front of them, and hastened away to make sure of his
share of the barrel. They ate largely, but in silence.

'There's always piracy,' Morris said at last.

Henry did not even bother to smile.

After another silence Henry said: 'Perhaps if I had played my cards
better he might have listened. If I had been cooler. He might have
given you the letter-of-marque, if I had only thought of it.'

'He wouldn't give his own brother a letter-of-marque today.'

'He might have risked it for a Morris. Someone of reputation in the
islands.'

'He isn't going to put his name to any commission against Spain only to
find that a treaty with Spain was signed a month ago. You never had a
hope with Modyford.'

Henry scraped his plate and pushed it away from him. He sat back in his
chair, pushed his long legs out under the table, and lay there glooming
down his nose at the debris.

'Of course,' he said suddenly in the quiet tones of one to whom a great
revelation is being vouchsafed, 'there is nothing to hinder me from
defending myself.'

Morris thought this over, and smiled.

'Trailing your coat, is that it?'

'Yes. Trailing my coat. You don't need any commissions and
letters-of-marque to resist capture.'

'No, but you need a deal of luck.'

'I have all the luck in the world. And brains besides. And a whole
stock of ball and powder that was loaded for the voyage from America to
Spain and has never been touched. How many of your men were gunners?'

'Twelve. And three more could probably serve them at a pinch.'

'And we have the fastest ship in the Caribbean and the handiest. You
can turn her on a groat. I can't think why I ever bothered to ask the
damned Governor for his piddling commission.'

'It does make things easier afterwards,' Morris said, amused. 'They
don't always believe you when you explain how you came to sink a ship.'

'I'm not planning to sink one just yet. We'll look them over till we
find a good new ship for you, first of all.'

At this Morris sat back and laughed.

'What amuses you?' asked Henry.

'The breadth of your ideas. It isn't every man who designs to go
"eenie, meenie, minie, moe" round the Caribbean till he finds the ship
he wants to appropriate.'

'Laugh as much as you please. But I promise you that one month from now
we shall have a ship for you. And not any old scow, either. Something
you will be proud to sail.'

But as it turned out it was more than three months before Jack Morris
took over the _City of Seville_. This was not because Henry had failed
to make good his boast, but because the first ship they took was so
badly mauled by a final and redundant _feu-de-joie_ fired by that
admirer of zeal, Walter Benrose from Lincolnshire, that she sank before
they could board her; and all the _Fortune_ got out of the engagement
was the necessity of feeding thirty-seven rescued survivors for five
days until they could be dumped ashore on an island. In the two months
that separated this episode from the meeting with the _City of Seville_
the life of Mr Penrose was hardly worth living. And his political
friends among the crew, pinning on to the Puritans their referred
resentment of Walter, went over _en bloc_ with a fine flourish of
illogicality to the Royalist cause.

The hunting-ground for privateers was, of course, off the mainland of
America; and it was there the _Fortune_ headed as soon as she had rid
herself of her wooden burden and taken on board what stores were
urgently needed. She proceeded to saunter up and down from Cartagena to
Campeche and back again, but except for the vessel sunk by the
too-zealous Walter, the only ships she met were either English
privateers, with whom she paused to exchange news, or Spanish
men-of-war carrying tiers of guns and a crew the size of a town's
population, to whom they showed a clean pair of heels. And then one
day, watering near an Indian village on the coast of Mexico, they were
told by the inhabitants, to whom any enemy of Spain was automatically a
friend, that a small Spanish warship was lying at Vera Cruz and was due
to sail home before the beginning of the hurricane season. Any time in
the next fortnight, they thought, she would be sailing.

She came up over the horizon on a thundery morning five days later: a
brigantine carrying eighteen guns. The _Fortune_ loitered under half
her sail across the empty sea, and watched her hopefully. The Spaniard
changed course like a terrier sighting a rabbit and came bearing down
on her. The _Fortune_ waited until she was sure that the English flag
was plain and visible to them, and then, crowding on sail with every
sign of panic, she fled before them. Towing, incidentally, a quarter
ton of sea-anchor, to prevent her from falling over the farther horizon
before the Spaniard caught up with her. As they began to close the
distance she picked up her sea-anchor and with her recovered speed
crossed to the windward side of the Spaniard's bows, so that the
_Seville_ had to come up on her port side and the _Fortune_ had the
wind.

'What do you make the range?' asked Henry of Morris, watching the
_Seville_ draw level with them. 'Are we inside it?'

'Good God, we could shake hands with them!' said Morris. 'Draw off a
little or she'll blow us out of the water at that range.'

'She has to be tempted,' said Henry.

'She can be tempted just as well just inside extreme range; which was
what we planned,' Morris said, watching in agony.

In action their positions were strangely reversed: Henry being as
detached as if he were not personally concerned at all, Morris in a
fever of foreboding.

'Do you think they are not even going to challenge us?' Henry asked
with interest. 'And we an innocent English ship with our gun-ports
closed and our minds on our business.'

'All that matters to those bastards over there is that we are English
and defenceless and there are no witnesses.'

'We ought to sink them,' Henry said virtuously. 'Do you really want
this ship. Jack?'

'Here it comes,' Morris said, his eyes on the nine gun-mouths studding
the _Seville's_ starboard side. 'Dear Christ, I wish I had lived a
better life.'

The broadside rocked their eardrums and reverberated on the heavy air.
One ball carried away part of the rail on the port quarter, one sent a
shower of splinters down on to the main deck from the mast, one tore a
hole in the fore-sail, one went through the shrouds of the fore-mast
and left them fluttering like a hoist of signal flags, and the rest
sang over the heads of the crew and fell into the water beyond.

They had not only been inside range: they had been so well within range
that the Spaniard had overshot them.

Their plan had been to close in immediately they had cajoled the
Spaniards into emptying their guns on that side, but the _Fortune's_
lightness and speed frustrated them. She swept ahead of the _Seville_,
leaving her own broadside undelivered.

'Let her go,' Henry said, 'and bring her about. We have twenty minutes
before they are ready again.'

'But she'll be turning yoost now to fire the side that is still
unused,' Bernard said.

'Yes, but we'll be back before she's round. She has never seen the
_Fortune_ turning on a groat.'

And back came the _Fortune_ with her gun-ports open and swept at
point-blank range down the helpless starboard side of the _Seville_.
She had only five guns a-side, and instead of firing them as a
broadside, she fired them individually, each at a target arranged
beforehand. The five targets were gun-ports, and she hit four out of
the five. The men on deck, at easy musket-shot, picked off the few men
not engaged below with the guns. And then, as she bore away a little,
willy-nilly, from the turning ship the _Fortune_ witnessed an amazing
sight. On to the deck from both forward and after-hatches poured the
men from the _Seville's_ gun-deck.

'What is it?' asked the _Fortune's_ crew anxiously. 'Is she going to
blow up?' They were much too close for that to be a pleasant prospect.

'No,' Henry said. 'It can't be that, or they would be throwing
themselves into the water. They seem to be holding a protest meeting.'

'Always great talkers, the Spaniards,' said Bart, sucking a splinter
wound.

'Well, let's use our other broadside before they recover,' Morris
suggested.

But as they came up with her again they saw that the crew had overrun
the poop and were waving bits of cloth in sign of surrender.

'It's a mutiny,' they said on the _Fortune_.

And while they watched, wondering, the Spaniard's colours crept down
from the masthead.

'What _is_ this?' asked the _Fortune's_ crew, suspicious of this easy
victory.

'Do you want a boat, Captain?' asked Kinnell, the bo'sun.

'No; all things considered, we'll lay her alongside.'

So in the long oily swell and the subsiding wash of their contending
the ships came together, and Henry, leaving Bernard in charge, stepped
with Morris over the _Seville's_ rail to take possession; and to have
the mystery of their behaviour explained to him.

They had a runaway gun.

One of the _Fortune's_ shots through the gunports had broken the
retaining cable. This would have been bad enough in the regular swell
of a sea, but in the broken water of their combined wakes the
unpredictability of the free gun's maniac chargings about the gun-deck
had broken their nerve. No gunnery could, in any case, take place while
the blind hippopotamus plungings went on. They had seen one of their
number killed and one crushed by the runaway, and they had fled to
safety and to surrender before the _Fortune_ should begin to batter
them at her own sweet will.

'Why didn't you sail her away?' asked Henry.

'Away from that?' they said, with hand-wavings at the _Fortune_. 'One
might as well try to run away from a wasp.'

But Henry, looking at the unmaimed ship, still marvelled; and Jack
Morris said: 'God save me from ever being at the mercy of a crew like
that.'

Their precipitancy was a little explained when it was made clear that
three of the four men killed by musket-shot on the deck had been
officers. The crew had come pouring up from the nightmare below to find
no directing mind waiting for them. They had come from a small
particular chaos to a larger, more general one, and their panic had
swelled in sympathy.

'Well?' called Bernard Speirdyck, from his temporary command on the
_Fortune's_ quarter-deck. 'What frightens them?'

'They have a runaway gun. My congratulations to the _Fortune's_
gunners.'

'Send us over the captain of her, Captain,' shouted Cornelius, 'the
crew want to hang him.'

'They can't. They've already killed him. My congratulations to the
_Fortune's_ musketeers.'

They cheered at this, but someone called: 'Send him over anyway. We'll
hang him as he is.'

On board the _Seville_ the only dead apart from the three officers were
the man killed by the gun and a man who had been pierced through the
throat by a wood splinter. The man hurt by the runaway was now having
his leg amputated by the surgeon. He had been dragged up on deck by one
of the more self-possessed of his fleeing colleagues and was lying by
the main hatch, where the surgeon, with that indifference to his
surroundings which has come to be a characteristic of his profession,
was laying out his knives and saws and needle-and-thread on a napkin.
Henry, who had witnessed death in many forms on his voyage out from
home--from fever, from accident, from delirium due to alcohol--had not
so far seen any surgery performed, and he went down to the main deck to
look.

The leg had been crushed to pulp above the ankle and was a mere oozing
mess, but the man did not appear to be in any pain. He looked dazed and
indifferent. A friend was engaged in filling him up with rum as an
anaesthetic, and Henry could not tell whether his dazed condition was
the result of anaesthesia or of his injury.

'He's about ready,' the colleague said in his own tongue to the
surgeon; whereupon his friends held him while the surgeon sawed briskly
through tibia and fibula and expertly sewed up the flaps of flesh. The
man made no movement of protest, and the surgeon might have been trying
a sock on him for all the effect it seemed to have on him. Henry, on
the other hand, was acutely conscious of the sultry air that pressed
all round him; air so heavy that the sweet sickly blood smell hung on
it and lingered in his nostrils. What was worst was the sight of the
foot in its green shoe lying discarded on deck. One of the bystanders
was also fascinated by this detached part of his comrade. He picked up
the shoe, shook the bloody piece of meat from it, and walked away with
the shoe.

This finished the more squeamish Englishman. He went to the side and
was very sick.

The whole of the _Seville's_ crew had been summoned on deck, and Henry
addressed them from the break of the poop in his island Spanish.

'You have surrendered without conditions after an unprovoked attack on
an unoffending ship. You did not give us a chance to surrender; you
proceeded to murder and sink us without so much as challenging us. It
would be no more than justice to drop you over the side and leave you
to the sharks. But England does not make war that way. Your three
remaining senior officers will come with us to answer for their conduct
before a British court. My mate here will choose from among you a crew
to work the ship to port. The rest of you will be turned loose in your
own boats with the necessary sails and oars and you will, I have no
doubt, make the coast without difficulty.'

Morris, whose Spanish was much more fluent than Henry's, took
consultation with the Spanish bos'n, who had confidently expected to be
either tortured or killed outright, and was therefore in his first
flush of gratitude and relief; and with his help picked out from the
crew the most valuable and dependable members.

In less than an hour the sheep had been separated from the goats, and
the rest were put over the side together with provisions, water, and
the invalid. The invalid had passed from his coma-like indifference to
something that looked like plain fighting drunk. He had discovered that
his shoe had been filched, and was filled with fury and indignation. To
pacify him search had been instituted, the enterprising one found, and
restitution made; and the invalid went over the side clasping the
useless shoe in triumph to his breast.

Morris took over the _Seville_ with young Cornelius Carstens as mate,
leaving the experienced Bernard to be mate of the _Fortune_ and general
sea-adviser to Henry; and the two ships made for shelter and
provisioning among the South Cays of Cuba. In their search for a ship
they had left this run for shelter much too late, and there were
moments when it seemed that they would never see those delectable
islands, those 'gardens of the Queen', at all. The sullen late-July
days would break suddenly into shrieking tempest, in the black heart of
which they would struggle with halliards that seemed to have an evil
and furious life of their own; or they would be beaten to the deck by a
solid weight of rain that was like the emptying of buckets. It was not
rain at all, as the term is understood. The skies just turned to water
and fell down. And wringing the wet out of their clothes in the sodden
fo'c'sle, or going aloft to bend a new sail in place of the few sad
ribbons that a hurricane had left on the yard, or eating cold tack
because the galley fires had been drowned, they did not fail to point
out to their master gunner that but for his zeal they would at this
moment be snugly at ease in the south of Cuba.

But to the delectable islands they came in the end, considerably
battered and much poorer in canvas, and in that gossip-shop of the
Caribbean met their kind and exchanged news. Charles was indeed king,
it seemed; and it was very pleasant, as one privateer's captain told
Henry, to be able to drink that toast again. No man could be expected
to drink with any emotion to something called a Protector, could they?
he said. What grown man wanted a Protector! But there was also much
talk of how soon they might be out of work. Would Charles be all for
peace with Spain? And would he understand that, whatever they arranged
in Europe, there was 'no peace beyond the Line'?

'I put my faith in the City of London,' laughed an old captain they met
at Isle of Pines. 'The new king--God bless him--may want this or that,
but in the end he depends on the City of London. And the City of London
is devoted to the English cause in the West Indies. The City of
London--God save it--will not desert us.'

It was now, viewing for the first time at close quarters his brethren
in 'the sweet trade of privateering', that Henry realised how lucky he
had been in falling heir to a crew like Jack Morris's. Morris, being a
seaman bred and the son of his father, had his pick of the seafaring
fraternity. He had no need for pressed men or jailbirds to get his ship
to sea; indeed, seamen had been known to offer bribes to men sailing on
a Morris ship in an endeavour to take their place and be sure of a
well-found ship and a good master.

Very few masters of ships in the Caribbean were so fortunate. Even Joe
Bradley, who brought his ship into Isle of Pines a few days after the
_Fortune_ had reached shelter, reported that a man had been blown from
the topsail-yard, and added: 'A runaway plantation hand. No manner of
use at sea. A deported London pickpocket.'

Morris recruited a second crew to sail the _Seville_, and the original
crew stayed with Morgan. And during those months in the South Cays
while they patched and hammered, and provisioned themselves from the
ample game ashore, Henry came to know his crew very well, and they in
their turn became proprietary about Henry Morgan. The tale of the
_Gloria_ and her sea-change into the _Fortune_ had gone round the
privateers' rendezvous at Pine Island, and men made excuses to call on
the _Fortune_ so as to meet this brilliant recruit to the trade. They
were a mixed lot, sheltering there till it was sailing weather again:
French, Dutch, English and Portuguese. At any moment a war at home
might make it possible for them to take out letters-of-marque against
each other, and if that happened they would sink each other
conscientiously but without rancour. The only rancour they had was for
Spain: elegant, civilised, eternally barbaric Spain.

Here and there among the ships there was one that was looked on
askance; whose crew was coldly received ashore. These were the
cannibals: the men who ate their own kind: the men who had stepped over
the borders between privateering and piracy. As a rule they were shabby
in appearance and bearing, for piracy was a hand-to-mouth affair,
dependent on an uncertain market. A successful privateer brought his
prize proudly into port, had the ship condemned and its cargo valued,
and having paid his dues, pocketed the proceeds. But the pirate was in
the position of the thief who must depend on the generosity of a fence.
His ill-gotten riches had to be turned into a suit of sails or tubs of
salt beef in some disreputable backwater, and the ship-chandler with
whom he dealt had all a fence's power.

So the privateers drew the ample skirts of their coats away from those
sad and seamy brethren of theirs, and made good company with their own
kind. When there was no ship to visit, the crew busied themselves each
according to his kind. Bart spent his days among his cloths, so that
the _Fortune_ should be both beautiful and strong when she went to sea
again. The mulatto went on shore and came back with a dog; an
odd-looking hound which he called Goodbye; no one knew why. Manuel went
hunting, and continually brought trophies of the chase to lay
metaphorically at Henry's feet, so that the little after-cabin where he
lived became horrible with horns, tail-feathers, teeth, wings, tusks,
and tails, which the soft-hearted Henry was too long-suffering to throw
overboard. Bernard Speirdyck went native and had the _Fortune_ scrubbed
with sand and soda from end to end ('You damned housewife, it smells
like a laundry!' said Morgan) and in his off-time went prospecting on
other ships to see if he might like to buy them. Bernard was a merchant
at heart, and war with him was only a means to an end. Someday, when he
had had his share of a big prize, he was going to buy a ship, settle
down in Jamaica (which according to Bernard was the coming metropolis
of the New World), and run cargoes between that and the other British
possessions in the Indies.

But in all the months they were in the South Cays no word came to them
as to the future of privateering. It was the Navy who told them that
all privateers had been recalled; six months later, down off the
Mexican coast again, when they ran into some of Admiral Mings'
squadron.

'This will not be of any interest to you, of course,' said the Navy,
'since you are without doubt a scientific expedition studying the
incidence, habitat, and breeding habits of mermaids.'

'How did you know?' they said.

'We meet so many of you,' said the Navy.

Incidentally, they said, they had heard that Jamaica was a good place
to take prizes to for condemning. They had a new Governor and the place
was booming. The Governor was fresh out from home. A man called Morgan.
Colonel Morgan, as far as they remembered.

'Colonel _what_ Morgan?' asked Henry.

Edward, they thought. Yes, almost certainly Edward.

And they sailed away about their lawful occasions leaving Henry dazed
by his luck.

'My _uncle_!' he said to Morris. 'Just consider what it means, Jack! We
don't have to sit in a hot little waiting-room with our hat in our
hands any more. We walk straight in. I'm the Governor's nephew. Good
old Uncle Edward! I've never liked him so well!'

'Did you like him, then?' Jack asked, taking this piece of luck as
equably as he took most turns of the wheel.

'He was the one I did like: the Royalist one. The other was one of
Cromwell's best generals, God rot him; with a face like a fiddle and a
voice like a corncrake. Uncle Edward was quite different; a kind little
man, always amused. He fought for the King, and when it was all over he
went back to the Continent. He had soldiered for years on the Continent
and married a German woman. And now, I suppose, he has come back with
the new King, and been rewarded with Jamaica. Dear, good, kind,
laughing, little Uncle Edward. How good it will be to see him again!'

'Do we go now?'

'Oh, not yet, not yet. We are not going to hear the news about the
privateers' recall for some months yet. We'll take home a Spaniard for
Uncle Edward.'




Chapter 5


The harbour at Port Royal lay like a great round mirror under the
benevolent sky, and on its surface a score of ships turned with a lazy
acquiescence to greet the incoming tide. The town on its spit of land
was repeated in the still water, candy-pink and mint-green, like a
sweetmeat. Port Royal in Jamaica had the reputation of being the most
riotous town in the islands, with a drinking-den for every five of its
inhabitants, but in the limpid light it looked fresh and innocent and
pretty. The inhabitants, in any case, did not largely frequent the
much-quoted drinking-dens; the inhabitants were enlisted merely for
statistics' sake. The pleasures of the town were for sailors ashore,
and when no ships lay in the wide lagoon between the town and the
mainland, Port Royal lay quiet and parochial under the sun, almost as
innocent as it looked.

In the comparative coolness of the cabin in his ship _Endeavour_
Captain Mansfield sat drinking madeira and being gloomy about his
prospects.

'I am getting old, Exmeling, that's what it is,' he said, slumping his
square body farther down in his chair. He cocked an eye at the younger
man and waited for the expected denial.

'You are as young as ever you were. Captain,' Exmeling said. 'The times
are inauspicious, that is all. One cannot control the conjunction of
the planets.' He had a voice like honey running from a jar, and a
curious trick of lingering on his consonants so that the drawl
irritated like a bone stuck in one's throat.

'The planets don't alter my powers of persuasion, do they? No, either
I'm getting old, Exmeling, or the English are losing their grip. Five
separate times I have talked to that donkey of a Governor. "Look," I
said, "it is a gift for England. Two or three ships, a handful of men,
and the place is yours." But he is nothing but a lace cravat and a
piece of ribbon, that Governor. "It is not a constitutional
proceeding," says he. What is a colonial Governor for if not to shut
his weather eye to the constitution! As beautiful a plan as anyone had
since Noah made the Ark, and no one with the guts to help me to carry
it out.'

'You'll do it yet, Captain,' Exmeling comforted, and raised his glass.
'Your good fortune, Captain!'

'Always drink to your host with your glass two-thirds empty,' the old
man said.

'Why so?'

'He notices how low it is.' He shot a glance at Exmeling to observe how
discomfited he might be, and said: 'Well, well, I have no doubt it will
be wasted on you, but if you give me that bottle that's standing on the
board below the port there, I'll give you something that tastes like
sunshine in your throat.' He watched the square of sunlight steal from
the floor to the table as the ship swung. 'Mansfield may be getting
stiff in the joints, but he has never spoilt his palate with the luck
of the barrel. Always I knew what I was drinking--even when I was
drunk.'

The silence arrested him, and he lifted his head to look across at
Exmeling, who was standing by the board with the bottle in his hand.

'Well?' he said.

Exmeling did not stir or answer. He was standing looking out on the
harbour, staring.

'Exmeling!'

'I know I'm not drunk,' Exmeling said, to himself rather than to
Mansfield. 'Two glasses. That is all I had.'

Between exasperation and curiosity, Mansfield got up to see what was
holding Exmeling's interest.

'Holy Saint Michael!' he said, after a moment.

'Do you see it too?'

'Three prizes! _Three_ of them.'

He turned and with marvellous agility ran up the ladder to the deck.
Clustered at the side and in the ratlines were some of his crew,
chattering like monkeys as they watched the ships come in.

'Who is that?' demanded Mansfield. 'Who is that with three prizes?'

'I saw that low-pooped ketch when I was in the South Cay with Bradley.
It's Captain Morgan's ship.'

'Captain Morgan?' said Mansfield. 'Who is he?'

'New to the business, they say.'

'New! With three Spaniards in tow?'

'They say he catches them with a fishing-rod,' someone said.

'No, he whistles and they come,' said another.

'He whistled a bit too lively for Number Three,' someone pointed out.
Number Three had her fore-topmast shot away.

'I don't think Two liked the tune much either,' the first man said.

Mansfield precipitated himself down the ladder to the cabin again,
calling for his servant. 'Jacob! Jacob! Jacob, I say; where are you!
Blast your black hide, can't you hear me!' and seeing that Jacob was
there: 'My best coat, Jacob. And a clean shirt. And the red silk sash.
Exmeling! Order a boat alongside in half an hour. I am going calling on
Captain Morgan.'

The _Fortune_ was not prepared for visitors so early, and Morgan
himself was busy with the choosing of an anchorage for his little
fleet, so scant notice was taken of the boats that came out from the
shore to satisfy their curiosity. Mansfield's boat was at the bottom of
the ladder before any notice was taken of it. The man at the top,
impressed by the visitor's clothes, made no attempt to dissuade him,
and Mansfield scrambled up the ship's side like a ten-year-old and
arrived, a little breathless, but able to say: 'Captain Mansfield to
see Captain Morgan.'

'He's there. Captain,' said the impressed _Fortune_ man: Mansfield was
a name to be reverenced from the Bahamas to the American mainland; and
he tilted his head to the group on the main deck, aft. The group was a
scattered one, still in their working clothes and not prepared for
social demands; and Morgan was standing behind the nearer men, still in
his old Spanish coat, faded now to a mud colour and not over clean.

Mansfield walked towards the group, who had turned to watch him come;
looking at them in turn and then looking on to the next. He walked
straight past the nearer men and went on to Morgan.

'Captain Morgan,' he said, and bowed.

'How did you know that I was Morgan?'

'But of course you are he. It needs only to look. Have I not commanded
men all my days? My name is Mansfield.'

'The Mansfield who went to Campeche?' exclaimed Henry, wishing
immediately that he had on his new coat.

'Yes,' said Mansfield, laughing a little. 'And I tell you this for your
good, young man. Keep away from Campeche. I came home without a real.
But who am I,' he added with a wave of his hand at the prizes dropping
anchor beyond, 'to advise such as you?'

'I am greatly honoured and touched by your visit, Captain Mansfield.
Will you come below and have a drink with me? Speirdyck here, my mate,
can take over on deck.'

'Speirdyck?' said Mansfield, looking at the mate. 'A Hollander?
Good-day to you, Mr Speirdyck. My wife was a Hollander, and they tell
me that I still speak better Dutch than English. Which reminds me that
my wife's cousin, Exmeling, is sitting in the boat at the bottom of
your ladder and he will assuredly die of curiosity before we have
finished all we have to say to each other unless he is rescued. You
have a little drink to spare for him too?'

'He has one of those long, thin noses, Exmeling,' Mansfield went on, as
Speirdyck went to summon Exmeling and Morgan led him below. 'The kind
of nose that is always poking into others' affairs and--and----'

'And not liking what it sees there,' finished Morgan, and Mansfield
laughed.

'And not, as you put it, liking what it sees there. But he is a very
good surgeon, Henrik. His real name is Smeeks, by the way. He enjoys
surgery.'

He saw Henry shudder, and laughed again.

'Why Exmeling, then?' asked Morgan.

'He aspires to be an author, if you can believe it. Yes. He is for ever
busy with pen and ink writing down imaginary horrors of the sea. It
would seem that the horrors under his knife are not sufficient for him.
And Smeeks, it appears, is not a very good name to be famous with. He
is not altogether bad, little Henrik. He was for a time with the Dutch
East India Company and has been to Batavia. I do not believe one little
tenth of all he says happened to him there in gales and open boats--he
is not very good in a boat--but he is not without experience. He came
out to Tortuga with the "French West India," but they went ffft! and so
he had to be bondsman to a physician.'

'A great many good men have been bondsmen,' Morgan said.

The old man's quick ears heard the undertone, and without looking at
Morgan he said easily: 'Yes, oh, yes. It is not to little Henrik's
discredit that he has had to serve his time. Any apprentice does as
much.'

And he presented 'little Henrik', when he arrived, with due courtesy.
Henrik was dark for a Hollander, black-haired and red-cheeked, with
shiny eyes and--as his cousin by marriage had pointed out--a very sharp
nose. The soft, drawling voice was oddly inappropriate. It had a
ventriloquial quality; as if one were watching a wooden image going
through the motions of speech while the voice was supplied from some
other and greatly different source.

When wine was set before them, Mansfield said: 'I have come to see you,
Captain Morgan, for my soul's good.'

'I am no shriver, sir.'

'I have come to be comforted, not shriven. It does my soul good to meet
someone young and English----'

'Welsh, Captain.'

'So! Young and Welsh, who has the root of the matter in him. Tell me,
my young Captain, how did you attach those three prizes to your not
very war-like ship?'

'The bleating of the kid excites the tiger, sir.'

'Hah! Tempted to their undoing, hah?'

'Manoeuvred into an unhappy position, let us say.'

'Ah, my dear young Captain, how I wish that I was young again. What you
and I could have done together. We could have taken the whole of
America for England. And now what is there to do? Nothing! Nothing but
be good boys and sit on the beach making collections of sea-shells for
real sailormen to take home to their women. They suggest that I lead an
expedition against Curacao, but----'

'Curacao!' said Morgan, astounded.

'Oh, yes. They have gone to war with Holland at home. Had you not
heard? They are all bubbling over with fury at each other, it seems.
But what has that to do with us out here? Out here the Hollanders are
our friends. We fight Spain together. We speak alike. We think alike.
We feel alike about ships. We do not torture prisoners when we take
them; no, we give them something hot from the galley, God help us. We
are almost one people, the Dutch and the English (and may I speak for
the Welsh too, perhaps?), and it is manifestly absurd to expect us to
care about their little war at home. And supremely absurd for the
Governor, who ought to know better, to ask me to attack Curacao.'

'The Governor!'

'Yes, the Governor. And I had such a nice little plan for him.
Something that needs to be done and would be of enormous advantage to
England, and would cost very little money and practically no lives at
all, and what does he do? Nothing! He rebukes me. He will not listen to
me.'

'Perhaps he will listen to me,' said Henry.

'To you?'

'He happens to be my uncle.'

'_Your uncle!_ Holy Saint Michael! is not that a miracle? And you are
going ashore to see him now? And you will put my little plan to
him--after due interval for rejoicing and rememberings and what not, of
course--you will put my little plan to him?'

'If you tell me what the little plan is, Captain.'

Mansfield's eye swept round the cabin for the chart-rack. He got up,
and after a little search brought a map to the table. He spread it out
with his short, square hands and patted it as a man lingers over a
favourite possession. Then his stubby forefinger came to rest in the
middle of the wide expanse of blue that was the unoccupied ocean. Here,
among the cartographer's decoration of curling dolphins, was a small,
lonely island, the only considerable piece of earth between the great
half-circle of the Islands and the American mainland.

'Here,' he said, presenting it as one responsible for its existence,
'is Santa Catalina. It is a nice little island, quite fertile and good
to be lived on. And it was the English who made it like that. It was
the English who cleared the trees and planted the fields. Planted the
corn and the sweet potatoes and the tobacco. The first white men in all
the world to come to the island to live there were the English. And
they called it Providence. Puritans, they were; very full of conscience
and hard work. But of course the Spaniards did not like that at all.
The Spaniards came and flung them out, and it is now a fortified place.
A garrison.' He patted the map again, lovingly. 'But it is not so
fortified as all that. With five hundred men it could be taken--and
garrisoned with a hundred. And this time it would not be a few Puritans
growing corn. The island, I mean. It would be a pistol pointed at the
heart of the Spanish mainland. There it sits, my nice little island, on
all the routes across the Caribbean; on all the routes from Central
America to Spain. It would be a very great nuisance to Spain not to own
my nice little island any longer.'

'And this is the plan you put to my uncle, sir?'

This is the plan. Captain Morgan, my dear young taker-of-prizes!'

'And he would not entertain the idea?'

'He would have none of it. And you know, strictly between you and me
and the backstay, I understand why he says no. He is very new in his
great office. He does not want to offend the little men who sit at
desks at home in England and make policy and write out orders. But when
you go ashore and have seen him and made your greetings and talked over
old times, then perhaps you will remember about the nice little island
that could be such a very great nuisance to Spain, 'm?'

Henry said that indeed he would remember. And the Captain must not
judge the Governor by this sole incident. The Governor was no mere
pen-and-ink man. He had done many brave things in his time.

'He fought for King Charles until the last hope was gone.'

'So I have heard, so I have heard,' agreed Mansfield. 'He is a very
fine man, and I am apt to be hasty. I admit it. At my age one does not
dawdle when there is much to do. I have lived a long life in the
Islands--I know them the way a woman knows the carrot and parsley rows
of her kitchen garden--and I have seen Spain make a bloody nonsense of
all honest dealing in the Islands. And I would be very happy to see
Spain put in her place before I die. Do you know Maracaibo? On the
mainland? Maracaibo! Now there is a place where we could hurt them. It
is the port of El Dorado, it is----' He stopped abruptly and cast them
an embarrassed sidelong smile, like a child who has been too forward
and indiscreet about his own affairs. 'There I am,' he said, 'talking.
I have so many schemes that it itches me with annoyance every day of my
life that I cannot live for five hundred years.'

Since this was an echo of Henry's own attitude to life, he looked on
the old man with affection and replenished his glass.

'You have a follower, sir,' he said.

'I am gratified. Captain Morgan,' Mansfield said, lifting his glass. 'I
am gratified.'

He drank, and then said: 'You have much to do, Captain, and you will be
anxious to go ashore. I am grateful to you for sparing the time to
entertain me and for listening to an old man so patiently.'

He waited while Morgan supplied the expected disclaimers as to his
decrepitude, and then, collecting Exmeling as one collects an inanimate
object, he made his way to the deck and to his boat with the alert
vigour that belied his years. When Henry came to know Exmeling better
he was to learn that this was the normal reaction of everyone to the
existence of little Henrik. Unless someone wanted a wound dressed or a
horoscope plotted, no one ever noticed that Exmeling was there. And if
anyone had suggested that it would be advisable to pay court now and
then to this long-nosed little scribbler who was 'not very good in a
boat', Henry would have laughed aloud.

Now, when he had seen Mansfield off to his own ship, he went below to
indulge in the delicious business of getting ready to call on Uncle
Edward. He was still short of ready cash, and would be until his prizes
had been sold after having passed the Court of Admiralty, but he had no
less than three suits of clothes to choose from. All made by a London
tailor, moreover. The London tailor was very badly wanted by the Law
for arson, having, in the heightened exasperation of drink, set fire
one night to a rival's shop. In the sober morning he had fled aboard a
sloop and gone down-river with the tide to a new life altogether. He
was now sail-maker on the _Seville_, having been recruited by Jack
Morris with the rest of the fresh crew in the South Cays. And so
Henry's new clothes, made out of cloth from the second of his prizes,
were fashioned with art by a man in love with his job; a man delighted
to be using a fine pair of scissors and delicate thread again.

Henry tried all the three coats on yet once more before finally
deciding on the brocade. He felt in his bones that it was more
suitable, perhaps, for an evening party, for an 'occasion', than for
making a midday call, but he looked so well in it, and it was such
beautiful stuff, and so obviously rich, that he could not pass it by
for either the snuff-brown cloth or the dark-blue cord. He was debating
whether it would be a little showy to wear a jewel in his hat as well
as in his scarf, when the Port authorities arrived, and the debate went
on in three-quarters of his mind while he dealt with the harbour people
in the remaining quarter. The important thing was not what the harbour
people thought of his arrival, but what Uncle Edward would think of
this Morgan nephew of his; though he did notice in a gratified
detachment that the Port people were very polite and respectful.

In the end practically the whole ship was called in to decide this
matter of decoration, including Jack Morris, who had come over from the
_Seville_ to talk to Morgan before he went ashore. For it was typical
of Henry, who in any matter involving action was so confident that he
took no one's advice and never thought of asking it, that he should
swither like a woman over a social detail. In the end he took Jack
Morris's advice and went without any jewel at all, although it almost
broke his heart.

'Spanish trinkets!' Jack said. 'What would a good English sailor-man
want with that sort of thing?'

So he was rowed ashore, in the dull-green brocade, with his hair
freshly curled and scented, and a dashing felt hat with a feather but
no jewel. And he was pleasantly conscious of the interest occasioned by
his arrival at the steps and of the glances that followed him as he
crossed the wharf to the town. The trollops of the port leaned out of
their upper windows and greeted him with open approval.

'Ah there, beautiful señor with the green coat!' they said. 'Whither
away, _carissimo_? Come up and rest in the cool, _chéri_.'

And as he went on without a glance, as befitted a Governor's nephew:
'Drop in on your way back, sweetheart,' they said.

He asked a loafer where he could find the Governor, and was told 'at
Kingshouse'. It was no distance at all, but Henry had sighted a notice
which said: 'Equipages For Hire', and had decided on the instant that
to arrive on foot would be unbefitting his new dignity, so he went to
inspect the equipages. There were three of them in the little
back-yard: a light chaise affair that was too frivolous and feminine
for the occasion, a country conveyance with wooden benches, and a
coach. The proprietor removed the protecting layers of old sail-cloth
from this relic as one exhibiting a piece of the True Cross. From what
vanished glories it had come to this distant island, this dusty little
Caribbean back-yard, one could not tell; but it was, in spite of the
scratched and faded paint and its worn green velvet lining, indubitably
a coach. Henry engaged it. The proprietor, impressed by the brocade
coat and by the indolence of a gentleman who would not walk or ride as
far as the Governor's house, hurried himself into coachman's clothes,
harnessed a pair of surprised-looking horses, and drove Henry out of
the back-yard in style. The loafers of the town touched their hats
automatically to the coach, and Henry felt that this was as it should
be.

At Kingshouse a negro ran down the steps to open the coach door, and
Henry noticed his fine livery with approval. It was no mean
establishment that was kept by the Governor of Jamaica, it seemed.

'I have come to see the Governor,' he said.

It would soon be dinner-time, and he saw the man look doubtful.

'I am Colonel Morgan's nephew,' he said. 'Captain Morgan.'

A smile split the black worried face. 'Ah, welcome, suh, welcome. The
Governor will be delighted. Come in, suh, come in. You wait here one
moment, suh, and I will tell his Excellency. Just one little moment,
suh. The Governor, he will be so happy.'

Henry waited in the gloom of the hall, forgetful, now that he was on
the threshold, of his fine green coat and his stylish arrival, and
aware only that after bitter years he was going to see one of his
family again; here at the other side of the world.

'Come, please,' said the negro's voice at his elbow. 'His Excellency so
very pleased.'

The Uncle Edward he had known would have run out to embrace him, he
thought; but reminded himself that the King's representative in Jamaica
could hardly do that.

The servant opened the door of a long, cool room and said: 'Captain
Morgan, your Excellency.'

Henry walked forward in a strange sudden turmoil, half eager, half
afraid. How did one greet an uncle who was also the King's proxy?

But the elegant back of the man who was busy at a wall table had no
resemblance to the solid rear of stocky, plump Uncle Edward. No
resemblance at all.

The man was pouring wine, but now he turned and came down the room to
meet Henry.

It was Modyford.

'Captain Morgan,' he said, putting out his hand and taking Henry's in a
warm clasp, 'I am delighted to see you. Delighted. I had no idea
that----' He paused, and then said in a concerned way: 'Are you ill,
Captain Morgan?'

'No. No, I----. No, thank you, I am not ill.'

'Perhaps it is that you have only now learned of your uncle's death?'

'Yes. Yes, only now.'

'Come. Come and sit down. I have poured some wine for you. I understand
very well how you feel. I have loved few men in my time as much as I
loved your uncle. And he did such good work as my deputy----'

'Your deputy?'

'He was Lieutenant-Governor of the island, you know. We worked in such
harmony that I cannot face the immediate prospect of having to deal
with anyone less sympathetic, and have asked the Government to let the
appointment lie vacant for a little. It is not a very necessary
appointment, in any case; but that, of course, would not prevent
someone from making themselves a highly unnecessary nuisance in it.
Have we met before somewhere?'

'I came to you in Barbados to ask for a letter-of-marque against the
Spaniards.'

'You are _that_ boy?' Modyford rose and took a step sideways so that he
could see Henry in a better light. 'But you look much older.'

'I am much older.'

'But why did you not tell me that you were the nephew of your uncle! Of
your two uncles, indeed. If you did not think the Royalist one would
interest me, there was always Thomas, wasn't there? Why did you not use
that darling of the Commonwealth to enlist my benevolence?'

'I am not very proud of my Uncle Thomas,' Henry said. 'Besides, your
Excellency had no more proof that I was a Morgan of Llanrhymny than
that my prisoners were safe on Tortuga with Elias Watts.'

'Ah, yes. Very true. Your Elias, by the way, is continuing the
education of his family in New England.'

'New England will suit Elias very well.'

'Tortuga, it seems, missed the domesticity of his régime. When the
French took over, the buccaneers complained so bitterly of the lack of
any softening society that d'Ogéron sent for a boatload of women from
the houses in France, and housekeeping is now general on the island, I
understand.'

'Did my uncle have his family here in Jamaica?'

'Indeed, yes. He had meant to settle here for life. He might be alive
now if I had not let him lead the expedition against the Dutch in St
Eustatia. But he was so very anxious to go. Soldiering was his _métier_
and his passion. He died of a stroke during the landing, poor kind old
man.'

'And his family?'

'He had bought an estate on the island, and they live out there. His
widow and the children. The eldest daughter has married a neighbouring
estate-owner. A very charming and talented young man, who is a member
of the Assembly and commandant, besides, of Fort Charles. Robert
Byndloss is his name. The two boys are still young: Charles is at
school in England, and little Rupert lives with his mother and the two
remaining girls. There were other children, as I suppose you know, but
they died of fever during the voyage out. I am afraid that the family
have been left in somewhat straitened circumstances, but when Charles
comes out from England we shall find him a local appointment, and the
girls will no doubt make good marriages. Charming women are scarce in
the islands.'

With the half of his mind that was not engaged with this information
Henry was thinking: 'Uncle Edward spent years in exile on the
Continent, and lost his fortune, for King Charles; and he gets a deputy
governorship. This man makes a good thing of the Commonwealth, and now
lives secure and wealthy as Governor of Jamaica!'

He became aware that the pleasant voice had ceased and that Sir Thomas
was looking at him with a half-quizzical sympathy, and he pulled
himself together and got to his feet.

'It was very kind of your Excellency to receive me,' he said, 'and to
give me the information I wanted about my family. I will not detain you
longer.'

'But you will stay and dine with me, of course.'

'Thank you, but I am anxious to see my cousins.'

'You will have too much to do to go out there today.'

'Much to do?'

'A man who brings three prizes into port has a multitude of things to
see to.'

Is there anything that this man does not know? wondered Henry.

'Nevertheless----' he began.

'You will not find it in your heart to be less generous than your King,
I hope, Captain Morgan.'

'Generous?'

'In that little matter of "oblivion". You have heard of the Act that
makes an honest man of me? Indemnity and oblivion are the words.
Gratifyingly comprehensive--but not always capable of being put into
practice. One can offer a person indemnity, but oblivion sticks its
toes in and refuses the fence.' The cool grey eyes considered him. 'If
I were in your place I don't know which would stick more uncomfortably
in my throat: my refusal of the letter-of-marque, or my present
position. Nothing I can say about the letter-of-marque would serve to
endear me to you, I am afraid. But it may perhaps please you to know
that I am Governor of Jamaica not because anyone at home has any great
love for me, but because I know more about the islands than any man
alive. Because I made a success of Barbados, and can make the same
success of Jamaica. They don't like the tool in their hands, but it is
a very good tool.'

'I think "tool" is an inappropriate term, your Excellency.'

'Dinner is served, your Excellency,' said the servant's voice behind
them.

'I said that oblivion came hard,' Modyford said, smiling a little. 'But
unless you utterly refuse to eat my salt--we will not count the wine,
since you were so obviously in need of it--unless you refuse point
blank to break bread with me, I hope that you will stay and dine. I am
alone these days, because my wife has not yet come back from England. I
sent my eldest son, John, for her; but unfortunately he sailed in the
_Griffin_. And so there is further delay.'

And suddenly the hot, hard lump that had been in Henry's chest melted
and something like awe took its place. He felt small and inadequate. He
remembered Modyford's face as he had looked at his son that first day
at the Dolphin. His face had softened, had been almost illuminated, in
his son's company. And now he could say: 'And so there is further
delay.' As if it were a matter of a lost rudder. The _Griffin_ had been
lost in the Florida channel on her way home. She had disappeared
without trace, but it was freely rumoured in the islands that the
Spaniards had sunk her. Indeed, Henry had met men who professed to know
all the details of her battered end. And 'my eldest son John' had gone
into oblivion with her, and Modyford dined alone because there was
'further delay'.

'Thank you,' said Henry, 'I shall be pleased to dine with your
Excellency.'

'Good,' said Modyford quietly. 'Good.'

And he led the way into dinner, talking serenely in that dispassionate
voice of his.

And presently a new thought seeped into the awe that held Henry in
thrall. If the Spaniards had indeed killed Modyford's much-loved son,
then the ingredient that had been lacking in Modyford's attitude to
Spain was now supplied: the personal element. That might alter a great
many things. Tack and sail-trim as he might, a man carried his heart
about with him.

They talked for a little about the prizes, and how soon they could be
sold and the proceeds divided among the needy crews. In the effort to
put an end to privateering against Spain, privateers were welcomed into
port and no questions were being asked. Communication being slow, it
was acknowledged by both sides that a clearing-up could not be the work
of a moment, and Henry was to benefit by the general amnesty.

'And your Excellency believes that the Spaniard will suffer a change of
heart once our privateers are out of the way?'

'I believe that there is no prosperity for Jamaica as long as this
intermittent private war goes on. The Spaniards have done horrible
things, but they have been urged to them by a bitter trade rivalry.'

'There is a bitter trade rivalry with the Dutch, I understand; but they
don't murder our men in cold blood, land on unprotected coasts and burn
farms, or use innocent prisoners as slave labour on their
fortifications until they die in their tracks. Nor do we. What is your
Excellency planning to do, for instance, with all the Spanish prisoners
that the privateers in harbour have brought in?'

'I am sending them to Cartagena. No, of course we do not do that. We do
not even consider an alternative and then choose the kinder course. It
quite simply does not occur to us to behave like that. It is a matter
of temperament. Spain has lived too long in the sun. Actually and
metaphorically. But I think the metaphorical sun is about to desert
her.'

'You mean is about to be taken from her. The Spaniards will not give up
one cocoa bean of their own accord. Have they offered to give back
Santa Catalina to us in return for peace?'

Modyford paused with his glass at his lips and eyed Henry over the rim
of it. 'My old friend Captain Mansfield has not been wasting time,' he
observed. And Henry relaxed to a smile. It was little use to fight this
man; he was always there before one.

'He came aboard the _Fortune_ to welcome me when I came in this
morning,' he said.

'And he said: "That idiot of a Governor will not listen to me, and I
have got such a perfect plan, you just wait until I tell you about the
beautiful plan for my nice little island!" The old rogue. When I
offered him His Majesty's commission against the Dutch he called me a
hired assassin and said that it was wonderful what some men would do
for money.'

'It is a very good plan, nevertheless,' Henry said. 'No one could say
that we have no right to the island of Providence.'

'No,' agreed the Governor. 'Our claim to Santa Catalina is uniquely
immaculate. But it is also uniquely important to Spain to hold the
island.'

'But if Spain happened by mischance to lose it, I take it that your
Excellency would not be averse to presenting His Majesty with a piece
of recovered territory?'

'Mischance?' said Modyford gently.

'Misunderstanding, perhaps.'

'There had better be no misunderstanding,' Modyford said, less gently.

'But you would accept the _fait accompli_ if it did not involve the
Government in Jamaica?'

'_I_ should not, but I expect that his Excellency might.'

'What admirable wine your Excellency drinks,' said Henry.




Chapter 6


The widow of Edward Morgan stood in the shade of the upper veranda and
watched Barley Sugar come up the drive with a letter. Barley Sugar's
proper name, as witnessed to by the estate books, was Richard William
Baker, but the children, fascinated by his particular shade of brown
skin, had long ago changed all that, so that even his mistress, a
fanatical pursuer of the proprieties, never referred to him or
addressed him as anything but Barley Sugar. Barley Sugar had been sent
into Port Royal at the crack of dawn with embroidery silk for matching,
but it was conceivable, nay possible, nay probable, that he had come
back with something else altogether. Anna Petronilla watched his
meandering approach with irritation. Barley Sugar's method of
progression was so haphazard, so vague, so butterfly-like that one was
continually surprised that he did arrive at last at any given point.

A tear of mingled exasperation and self-pity shone in her round blue
eye. It was unfair of Edward, poor Edward, to bring her out to this
barbaric island and leave her in this ramshackle house in a half-made
plantation among a crowd of black slaves away from her friends and her
family, with no proper society for the children nor matches for the
girls nor education for Rupert nor anything that could be of interest
to a well-bred woman and a von Pollnitz. Edward, poor Edward, should
have stayed at home and looked after his family, instead of dashing off
on military expeditions at his age. How was Rupert to grow up a credit
to the Pollnitz side of the family if he had no male control? This
morning he had failed to turn up to the lesson about Julius Caesar she
had prepared for him, and she was very much afraid that he had run away
to be a pirate, having been excited thereto by the slaves' gossip that
a nephew of Edward's had turned up at Port Royal with ten prizes and
had come ashore dripping with jewels, pistols, doubloons,
pieces-of-eight, and similar proceeds of piracy. She hoped that it
would occur to him before he went too far that the best way of meeting
a pirate was to stay at home and wait for this Morgan nephew of
Edward's to call. It was so like Edward, poor Edward, to have a pirate
for a nephew.

'Couba,' she said, to the shadows behind her, 'go down and tell Barley
Sugar to hurry up.'

But there was no answer. The moment her back was turned that girl was
down below chattering with the other slaves and shrieking with that
maniac negro laughter.

And then the final exasperation was presented to her. Into the distant
bright picture that was framed for her by the pillars of the veranda
came her daughter Elizabeth on horseback, and neither the distance nor
Elizabeth's voluminous skirts could disguise the fact that she was
riding astride. She was indeed riding without any saddle at all, her
small feet dangling comfortably in rhythm with the mare's walk. She
was, even more heinous offence, riding without a hat. Out in the full
sunlight, ruining her complexion and her chances. What, oh what, had
she, Anna Petronilla von Pollnitz, done to deserve a family like this?
Why could they not all be like her dear Anna, her eldest, her own
second image, her kind blond calm Anna, who had married so well and so
early and had a fine estate like Byndloss Place? What estate would come
to Elizabeth, who behaved like a stable-boy, or to Johanna Wilhelmina,
who spent all her time in front of a mirror being someone out of some
play by William Shakespeare? It was unfair of Edward, poor Edward, to
leave her with such problems.

Elizabeth came riding over the grass of the clearing, humming to
herself, and went away round to the stables without glancing at the
house. So she thinks that I am safe on my bed having my siesta, does
she? thought Anna Petronilla.

'Couba,' she said, as the girl came in with the note that Barley Sugar
had delivered, 'tell Miss Elizabeth that I wish to speak to her
immediately.'

But by the time Elizabeth had presented herself a more immediate
interest held her mind. The pirate nephew was coming to call that very
afternoon. A most correct letter, it was, on admirable paper. The
penmanship a little stiff, she considered, but the sentiment
irreproachable. And all the part about Edward, poor Edward, so moving
and so full of genuine emotion. Quite unpiratical and a little
surprising.

'Elizabeth,' she said, 'your cousin Henry, your dear father's nephew,
is coming to pay his respects this afternoon. Please go and put on your
green with the violet ribbons, and do your hair again, and rub some
cream into your hands and arms, and put a cool cloth on that
unbecomingly flushed face. Why were you out without a hat, Elizabeth?'

'It flaps.'

'You will have freckles if you do not take care, and have a face like a
bird's egg. That fair skin that goes with auburn hair always freckles
at the least touch of sun. And _Elizabeth_, you were riding with a leg
on either side like a man. Elizabeth, how could you be so indecent!'

'I don't see anything indecent about it. All women used to ride that
way until some silly woman thought of sitting sideways. I expect she
could not stay on the other way, if the truth were known. It is very
ugly to sit sideways. The Greek women rode astride their horses.'

'It is what I should expect of them,' said Anna Petronilla. 'I
absolutely forbid you to go riding again without a proper side-saddle,
and I forbid you absolutely to go out without a hat in future. I hope
that is clear. Now you will go and make yourself presentable to help me
to entertain this cousin of yours. And do not forget the cool cloth on
the face.'

'I have not yet had my siesta.'

'If you go riding in the noontime heat you must do without your
siesta.'

'And I don't want to marry a pirate.'

'Marry?  Who talks of marry?'

'You do, of course. You hardly ever talk of anything else. There is
nothing I do from morning till night, but I must not because it will
spoil my chances of marriage. Well, I do not _want_ to get married! I
leave marriage to blobs of melted butter like Anna. And I do _not_ like
pirates and I do _not_ want to meet my cousin Henry!'

And with a flounce of her wide skirts Elizabeth ran away to her own
room at the other end of the house. The room was all her own at the
moment because Johanna was staying with Anna, and she flung herself on
her bed and tried to be righteous about the siesta that her mother
wanted to deny her, but, being an honest creature by nature, she found
this difficult. She had protested too often against the need for siesta
to claim an interest in it now. And then she remembered that she had
called kind Anna a blob of butter and she laughed a little into her
pillow and was sorry. It was not Anna's fault that her mother was so
maddening. But she continued to feel angry and ill-used and
antagonistic.

Then from far away, through the wide-open shutters, came the sound of
Rupert's high treble and a deeper, man's voice answering his questions.
And presently the sound of a horse's hoofs came up through the
afternoon stillness. The aspiring pirate had, it seemed, met a real one
and was escorting him home.

Elizabeth, being in all respects a normal woman, got up instantly from
her bed and peeped from behind the shutter. But she was still, of
course, unrelievedly antagonistic.

'What a spectacle!' she said, looking down at her cousin. 'Wasn't there
anything else he could hang on himself! What a sight!' And she went
resolutely back to her couch.

'But do you think that Julius Caesar is much of a help to a sailor?'
Rupert said, as they walked up to the front steps.

'Is that what you ran away from?' Henry asked.

'Yes. I don't think, you know, that Mother understands Caesar very well.
Perhaps if I was to take your horse round to the stables you would go
in first and--and make my peace with Mother?'

'I don't know that that would be a very good idea.'

'It wouldn't? Oh.'

'Not very grown-up.'

'Oh. What--what would be a grown-up thing to do?'

'I think it might be courteous to go in and apologise to your mother
for running away from Julius Caesar.'

'Oh.'

'And meanwhile I shall get a servant to take my horse round. And when I
come in you will be friends again, and you can present me to your
mother.'

'Yes, of course; I can present you! I was the first to know you of us
all, wasn't I?'

It would be difficult to say which surprised Anna Petronilla more: the
elegance of her younger son's apology to her, or the elegance of her
piratical nephew by marriage. It was a somewhat over-dressed elegance,
she noted, but she had herself a liking for richness and excess, and
was not repelled, as her more austere daughter had been, by a
suggestion of flamboyance.

And nothing could exceed the correctness of his manners, nor the
sensitivity of his remembrances of Edward, poor Edward. Anna dabbed her
eyes and felt that, however doubtful the credentials of this Morgan
might be, it was very comforting to have a male relation in the house
again. Moreover, he seemed very knowledgeable about sugar-canes: a crop
which Anna Petronilla continued to find exotic and forbidding.
Altogether a very intelligent young man. And handsome enough in a dark
Celt fashion. She sent Couba to find Elizabeth.

'My little Johanna Wilhelmina is not here at the moment. She is over at
Byndloss Place with her sister Anna. But my little Elizabeth is here,
and will be anxious to meet her cousin.'

'_No_!' said little Elizabeth, banging her fist into the pillow and
glaring at the brown girl. '_No_, I say! Tell my mother that I am
having my siesta.'

'But, Miss Liz, how will she believe me! Never have you been known to
have a siesta!'

'Go away! Go away and leave me in peace. Tell her that I have measles,
tell her that I have jaundice, tell her that I am dead, but go away and
tell her that I am not coming to be exhibited!'

'Are you staying long in Port Royal?' Anna Petronilla was asking her
visitor.

'Some time, I expect. We are preparing an expedition against the Dutch
in Curacao.'

'The Dutch,' Anna said vaguely. 'They cut their ham very thin.' She
noted a surprised look in Morgan's eye, and added, as if it explained
everything: 'In Lippstadt we cut it thick, in good juicy slices.'

Couba came in to say that Miss Liz was having her siesta.

The serene brow of Anna Petronilla blackened.

'You tell Miss Liz to come here this instant.'

'Ah, no,' said Henry, 'let the child have her sleep out. I can meet her
later.'

'She has slept a sufficiency,' Anna said, very grim. 'Go and tell her
so, Couba.' And, ignoring the girl's irresolute departure: 'You have
met the Governor, perhaps? Ah, yes. He was very correct in the matter
of poor Edward, very helpful. He is a fine Christian man and very well
connected. He is a relation of the Duke of Albemarle. It is a very new
creation, of course--the Duke is merely old George Monck--but of good
standing and influential. He is a very good friend to have in this
barbaric country.'

'Miss Liz,' said Couba, sidling into the bedroom, 'she say you got to
come. She say this instant.'

Elizabeth sprang from the bed with such vigour that Couba involuntarily
retreated a step as if about to be attacked. But it was to the little
washstand that Elizabeth ran. She seized the jug, poured its contents
into the basin, snatched the ribbon from her hair and shook it free,
and plunged her whole head into the basin of water.

'_Now_ go and tell her,' she said, standing erect with the dripping
locks hanging round her. 'Tell her that I am washing my hair.'

'Oh, Miss Liz. But I say before that you are having siesta. How----'

'You have told a little lie, now you can tell a great truth,' Elizabeth
said, and began to laugh.

When Couba came to say that she had not liked to say so before, but
that Miss Liz was actually washing her hair, Henry, bored with Anna
Petronilla, sprang to his feet and said heartily: 'Washing her hair, is
she? Then suppose her cousin goes along and helps the child to dry it?'

And before Anna Petronilla could recover from her surprise sufficiently
to utter a protest, he had swept Couba out in front of him and was
harrying her towards the bedrooms.

'But, sir. But, mister! But, your lordship!'

'Go along, Couba. I want to see Rupert's little sister, wet hair or no
wet hair. It is a long time since I have been domestic.'

He strode into the bedroom, past a Couba who was making a belated
attempt to warn her young mistress, and stopped short.

Elizabeth was standing in her petticoat, having stripped off the dress
that had suffered from the streams of water from her wet hair. She was
binding a towel round her head, and she was looking a little cat-like
and smug.

She glanced up at the astounded Morgan, and ceased on the instant to be
smug. She blazed. She coruscated. Lightnings flashed about her and
danced from her lips. This, she supposed, was pirate manners. This, she
supposed, was part of the vanity that walked about at midday hung about
with brocade like a woman's bedstead.

'But----'

This, she supposed, was what was to be expected of a corrupter of
youth, a cadger of family favours, a half-educated sailor hung about
with ill-gotten gains, a Welshman of deplorable habits who probably
could not even talk English except on a see-saw, an enjoyer of women
who had forgotten that all women were not playthings whose privacy
could be invaded as he pleased.

When she at last paused momentarily to draw breath he broke the
fragment of silence with one word.

'Elizabeth,' he said, in wonder. As one making a discovery. Almost as
one recognising someone unexpectedly.

He turned on his heel without another word and walked away, leaving
Elizabeth with her mouth open and her second wind unexpended.

He presented himself before Anna Petronilla again, and interrupted her
renewed doubts about piracy and her confused recollections of the
Sabine women to say:

'Madam, I have the honour to ask you for your daughter's hand in
marriage.'

Anna Patronilla gaped even more deplorably than her daughter and
wondered if he had been drinking and she not had noticed it until now.
He certainly had an intoxicated look, now that she examined him
properly; a dazed look about the eyes. Unfocused; like Edward, poor
Edward, when he had fallen off his horse that day.

'She does not want to get married,' she said, because that was what
happened to come to her lips.

'I think that I might be able to change her mind,' Morgan said.

'Well, well,' said Anna Petronilla, deciding to get Henry Archbould
over at the very earliest moment, Henry being her standby in everything
from rebellious slaves to insects in the woodwork. 'We can discuss that
later, at more leisure. You will stay and dine with us, yes?'

Henry not only stayed to dine, he stayed the night.

And although he continued to look like someone who has fallen from his
horse, and to talk much less than was customary for Henry Morgan, he
was entirely orthodox in his behaviour. He made his apologies to his
cousin and explained that he had taken it for granted that she was of
Rupert's generation; and he continued to meet her stormy eyes across
the haze of flies round the dinner-table candles with equanimity.

Henry Archbould, summoned in haste, was there at dinner, and found
nothing alarming about the young man. Indeed, Tom Modyford was said to
think very highly of him, and to have plans to use him in the
development of the colony. At which Anna Petronilla took heart.

And Henry, on his next visit to Kingshouse, delighted the Governor by
inquiring, in a detached and academic way of course, about the method
of taking up land in Jamaica.

And since an expedition against a rival colony, more especially against
a colony held by those stubborn fighters the Dutch, was a matter of
long and careful preparation, there was time for all the members of the
_Fortune's_ crew to indulge in personal and private business according
to their taste.

There was time for Henry to ride about this fertile island with which
the Spaniards had done so little, to explore the virgin valleys and the
sun-drenched savanna; time to know the planters a little and the Morgan
family very well.

There was time for Bernard Speirdyck to send to Curacao for his wife
and to find a house in Port Royal. Mary Speirdyck arrived with two
large chests, a cupboard, and a hundred bulbs; half of them lilies and
half of them onions. The cupboard was painted all over with little
flowers and had come out from Holland with her mother, and Mary would
as soon have travelled without her petticoats as have left the cupboard
behind. Mary was blond and self-contained and there was a bloom on her
like a grape. She went in and out of the little dark rooms of the port,
stirring the dirt with a plump, contemptuous hand and shaking the sandy
grit from her shoes. She was not very happy about leaving Dutch
territory, but if Bernard said it was a good thing to do, then it was
without doubt a good thing. And there was no doubt that Jamaica was
green and lovely and kind after Curacao, and perhaps now she would have
a child to take the place of the two who had died on that bleak and
distant island. She would also see to it that Cornelius got himself
married to a respectable girl with presentable antecedents and if
possible a bit of dowry. She did not know which she disapproved of
more: the exorbitant rents in Port Royal or the extent of Cornelius's
following.

For there was time for the maidens of Port Royal to be beglamoured by
that ripe-corn hair of Cornelius's, that looked so strange against his
sunburnt face. More mammas became acquainted with the waterside during
the _Fortune's_ weeks in port than in all the previous history of Port
Royal, and the usual walk to Fort Charles and back was quite deserted.

There was time, too, for Manuel to sample every brothel from Fort
Charles to Fort Rupert, and because of his childlike charm and his
eyelashes to be awarded cut rates in every one of them.

There was time for Jack Morris to take over the second of the two
prizes and fit her out to his heart's liking. The _Seville_ was too
slow and cumbersome for his taste, so he let it go in favour of the
_Felipe_, which had some of the _Fortune's_ handiness but greater
gun-power, and which he renamed the _Dolphin_.

Henry was glad to have another Dolphin in the family, and spent a large
part of his time teasing stores out of Authority for her. He took Jack
Morris out to the Morgan place, where Jack sat with his knees pressed
together and made polite conversation with Anna Petronilla, and was
very bored. The land had no attractions for Jack; it was an alien
element, and he was ill at ease in domestic surroundings. He did not,
it is true, follow Manuel in his progress through the upper stories of
the port. It was his habit to find a girl who suited him and live with
her as long as he was ashore. But he had forgotten her before the
anchor had come dripping out of the water and been made fast. The sea
was his home.

The expedition being recruited against Curacao was composed of as
motley a crew as ever sailed the Caribbean: French, Genoese, Greeks,
Levantines, Portuguese, Indians, Englishmen and negroes. Everything in
fact but Dutch. But when neighbours said, in that ageless neighbourly
way, to Mary Speirdyck that it was odd that her husband should be
prepared to war against his countrymen, Mary merely looked placid and
friendly and assured them that Bernard without doubt knew what he was
about. Joe Bradley brought his _May Flower_ in with a prize in tow
while they were in harbour, and was invited to join, but refused when
he heard where they were bound.

'My crowd would mutiny if I asked them to fight the Dutch,' he said.
'They fight too well and there is practically no plunder.'

But at the word mutiny both Morgan and Jack Morris had dissolved into
fits of insane laughter, and had taken Bradley aside and talked with
him. And after that Bradley was an enthusiast for the project.

The most unexpected recruit was picked up by Henry one evening as he
was leaving the harbour on his way to dinner at Kingshouse. Someone
came running after him and a voice said: 'Harry! Harry Morgan!'

And there was Bluey.

Bluey's stockings hung in folds from his tattered breeches, and showed
through the holes large areas of dirty calf. His toes twiddled
self-consciously in the gaps of his shoes.

'Captain Morgan, sir,' he said, amending his instinctive form of
address. And then, reading Morgan's glance at his clothes, he fumbled
in a pocket and produced something which he exhibited on his palm. 'I
still got my jew's-harp,' he said with a grin.

'Bluey!' said Henry. 'What became of that fine fortune of yours?'

'Oh, I had a wonderful time with it, but I woke up one morning and
found it wasn't there any more. Money's like that, ain't it? Here one
day, gone tomorrow. You want men, Captain? You want a man?'

Henry did not particularly want Bluey, and he did not need a man. But
to turn away anyone who helped him take the _Gloria_ was unthinkable.
He handed out money for clothes, the amount being deftly calculated to
provide margin for only a couple of drinks, and told him to report to
Bernard Speirdyck. Bernard would not be over-pleased, but Bluey was a
good enough seaman to get by.

The only other recruit who was not altogether welcome was Exmeling, who
was coming as surgeon; and he was unwelcome only in the eyes of one
member of the outfit: Bartholomew Kindness. The others accepted little
Henrik with the usual indifference, but to Bart he was anathema. He
scowled at the very mention of his name, he avoided his shadow, and he
would not sit in the same room with him.

'His eyes are far too close together,' he would say when someone took
him to task for his unreasonableness. 'A bad lot that, mark my words. A
bad lot.' And then: 'Bile!' he would mutter darkly. 'Bile!'

Bart's share of prize-money had been more than enough to buy that
cottage in the Mendips, but there was no word about his going back to
England, and once more Henry forbore to remark. Bart was for ever in
and out of the gambling-dens on the water-front, and it was to be
supposed that his luck was no better than it normally was.

Certainly he made no secret of his pleasure at the thought of going
back to sea, but he was not unique in that. There was hardly a man of
the four ships and the two French sloops which were going with them who
was not either penniless or weary of the land. When on a blue April
morning they said good-bye to Port Royal their mournful capstan song
belied the lifting of their hearts. And although they waved with hearty
gestures and ribald yells to the little group crowded on the
fortifications at the point to watch them pass, their minds were
already playing dolphin-like in the open sea.

Henry was one of the few men who looked back when the island was behind
them, and this was the first time he had ever looked back at a place he
was leaving. For among those green mountains, growing blue now and flat
and sinking to the horizon, was a piece of land that was his very own.
He had bought one of those virgin valleys. Bernard Speirdyck was not
the only one to believe that 'Yamaica' was an island with a future.

'Aah, Jamaica!' Mansfield had said with scorn when Morgan had expressed
his delight in it. 'I make you a present of it! The earth quakes and
the place is full of husbandry. The sea is the place for a man.'

But Henry was no sailor bred. The land he had run away from was in his
marrow; something fundamental in him wanted a permanence. He had spent
what was left of his prize-money, after the _Fortune_ had had her
share, neither on gaming, although he was fond of it, nor on women,
although he liked them. He had bought land. And moreover Elizabeth had
ridden out with him one day to see it; accompanied in the cause of
respectability by Barley Sugar, Anna Petronilla being of the opinion
that a cousin might come within the prescribed degrees of chaperonage,
but a cousin who had proposed marriage did not. Elizabeth had ridden
out to the valley with the object of telling him in what way it was
entirely the wrong place to buy, but she had ended in helping him
choose the place for the 'big house', and where the slaves' quarters
should be, and where the sugar-factory when there were canes to supply
it. Barley Sugar had gone to sleep under a cottonwood tree, and they
had walked to and fro about the quiet valley talking as friends with a
common interest, so that when the moment came to awaken Barley Sugar
they seemed to have known each other a long time, and they rode home in
unspoken companionship. So Henry for once looked back at a place he was
leaving.

Cornelius, too, looked back now and then as the land sank astern, for
Mary had done her duty, and Cornelius was betrothed. Properly, with
exchange of rings and exchange of meals, and dowry settlement, and all.
He was going to marry the daughter of Charles Hadsell, who had been
master of the _Prosperous_ of London until she was taken by a Spanish
man-of-war. Captain Hadsell had spent nearly two years in Spanish
prisons before he had escaped from the last one in Havana, and he had
seen his friends' heads carried in triumph through the streets by their
murderers. But he had hopes of five thousand pounds from the Court of
Admiralty as compensation for the loss of his ship. His daughter Jane
was pretty and sweet and had a wonderful hand with pastry, and
Cornelius was very happy.

His future father-in-law was acting as mate to Jack Morris for the
trip, and Jack was not quite so happy about that. It is never very
comfortable to have in one's crew a man who has owned and commanded his
own ship, and Hadsell was not the man to make such a position easy. But
in the first flush of satisfaction at being free of the land they were
all brothers together, fo'c'sle or quarter-deck. They sang continually,
they quarrelled not at all, even in the cramped quarters forward, and
even those whose friends had been rich enough to send them aboard drunk
permitted themselves to be soused by their mates with resigned
good-humour.

They bore south-east for Curacao, and the seas were kind and the winds
accommodating, and the new sails looked very fine in the sun, and no
one ever remembered that they had been cold, and wet, and tired, and
sick, and maimed at sea. They were happy.

They were still happy and singing when, at four bells precisely in the
forenoon watch some days later, all six captains received a polite
deputation from their crews. The deputations, with remarkable accord
and strangely identical phrasing, announced that they were unanimously
against any attack on a Dutch colony and refused point-blank to go on
with the expedition. They had no quarrel with the Dutch, and the Dutch
had nothing worth plundering anyhow. They held that it would be more
sensible and more to their liking to attempt the island of Santa
Catalina, which was English by right and was moreover very handily at a
point due W.SW. from where they were at the moment, so that the 'trade'
would blow them there without any undue effort on their part.

The captains, on their several quarter-decks but united in sentiment,
pointed out that Santa Catalina could provide no plunder at all, and it
would be much wiser to obey the instructions of their commission and go
on to Curacao. Whereat the crews professed themselves indifferent to
plunder while the honour of their country was at stake, and retired to
the fo'c'sle to laugh themselves silly while the watch on deck changed
course for Santa Catalina, a lonely little island four hundred miles
away.

The island was more than lonely, it was forbidding, and they watched it
rise from the ocean with proprietary criticism.

'Why do we want this place back?' they said. 'Let the Dons have it!'

'I've seen better spots in Iceland,' they said.

'A damned dreary lump of rock,' they said. 'Let's sink it.'

But they were amused and eager about it all. To slap Spain's face was
worth the lack of some plunder.

'She's calved!' said Bluey suddenly from his place in the rigging, and
they laughed.

There was indeed a 'calf' by her side. Another 'damned dreary lump of
rock' stood alongside the main island on the north side.

One of the French sloops circled the place and came back to report that
there were no ships there nor anywhere in sight. The excitement on land
was tremendous, they said. Much galloping backwards and forwards and
letting off of alarm signals and what not. But no craft in the
harbours.

Whereupon Mansfield led the English ships through the reefs that
separated them from the island.

'I hope the old man knows what he is doing,' Jack Morris said, bringing
the _Dolphin_ in Mansfield's wake.

'I am the only Englishman alive who knows the channel through the reefs
of Santa Catalina,' Mansfield had boasted when they had discussed their
plan of campaign in Port Royal. And they knew that it was probably
true: Mansfield was famous as a coaster. It was said that he could
smell his way through reefs.

But Jack Morris, with a good new ship under him and that crazy wake in
front of him, had his heart in his mouth. Blind faith was not a quality
of Jack's at any time.

Through the clear water overside he could see the reefs, a few feet
down, and inside spitting distance, and he remembered Tortuga and the
stem of his first ship with the seas breaking over her as she lay
submerged on the reef.

But their progress through that twisting channel, a fairway wide enough
for only one ship, and that a handy one, went on without incident.
Morgan followed Jack Morris, with Bernard standing stocky and placid by
his side to do the sailing, and Joe Bradley came after Morgan, with the
two French sloops bringing up the rear. _Endeavour_, _Dolphin_,
_Fortune_ and _May Flower_, they nosed their way through that seemingly
endless passage between the reefs, disaster only a stone's-throw on
either side. Nearly a whole circuit of the island the channel took them
before they came at last into the wide, safe waters of the harbour--one
of the best harbours in the Caribbean, where a navy could lie at anchor
secure from enemy and weather.

'I've crossed myself so much me arm's paralytic,' Bluey said, looking
at the calm expanse of water as the anchor fell away from the bows and
the canvas came off her.

'You'll need your other arm to get us out of here,' they said,
unsympathetic.

'Now Goodbye can go ashore,' said the mulatto, because that was all it
meant to him.

It was early afternoon when they anchored, and for the rest of the day
they occupied themselves in getting the boats overside and in smacking
their lips over the sensation they were causing ashore.

'I wager we're the sweetest sight the Dons have seen in five years,'
they said, mocking. 'Something to rest their eyes on, after so much
sea.'

When the boats were safely in the water they sat about with their
muskets and their pistols, cleaning them and swapping lies about their
respective merits. Toni, encouraged by the stillness of his galley,
gave them a meal that they voted 'shore food', which was the highest
compliment in their vocabulary. If they had a grumble at all it was
about the size of their rum allowance, but they had the sense to know
that they would need their wits presently even more than they needed
drink just now.

The dusk fell, the ships' bells sounded lazy and irrelevant in the
quiet; and then the desultory sounds ceased and there was the silence
of purposeful movement. One by one they slid down the ropes into the
boats, dropping with that neatness that sailors share with cats into
their places on the thwarts. The boats pushed off and the adventure was
begun.

But Mansfield was not with them.

Mansfield was lying on his bunk in the _Endeavour_ with two hot bricks
in the small of his back and no words that were any use. He had
lumbago. In the final half-hour, during the last keying-up instruction
to his officers, he had bent to pick up a chart that had fallen to the
deck and had stayed bent. They had put him to bed still bent, and still
bent he lay there with his bricks and his dearth of words.

It was Morgan who took the attacking party ashore.

They had expected to be met with a volley as their boats grounded, but
there was no sound. They waited until all were ashore and Morris and
Bradley had joined Morgan.

'There isn't anything Modyford doesn't know,' Morgan said to Jack.

'What's Modyford got to do with this?' asked the surprised Morris.

'He said once that Spain's sun is about to desert her.'

'If you think because we're ashore whole and safe it's all over, you're
not the man I took you for. The fort is bristling with guns.'

'I'm not thinking of the fort. If I were in command at Santa Catalina I
would have had those fort guns down here before now and made matchwood
of our masts. All the Spaniards can think of is shutting themselves up
in the fort. That is no way to keep an empire.'

But the Spaniards had had even better ideas of defence.

When they had felt their way through the night to the fort at the north
of the island, they challenged it.

'Quarter and a free passage to Spain to everyone who surrenders,'
Morgan called.

There was no reply, but the guns on the landward side fired in concert
and the air was suddenly thick with whining scraps of metal that struck
sparks from rock as they hit and ricocheted away on a new note, or
dropped with a soft, sucking sound into the earth.

'I always did hate bees,' Bluey said, his cheek on the ground.

'Anyone hurt?' asked Morgan; and when the question had been passed to
the farther end of the line and back again it seemed that no one had
been hurt.

'Very well. We stay here, Jack, and attack when it is light enough to
see. Pass the word along to stand easy. They can sleep in turns if they
want to. Let them choose their own sentries.'

But the nervous occupants of the fort continued to spray them at
intervals with assorted metals during their three hours' wait, and they
were all too busy finding small shelters to sleep.

'Another mistake,' Morgan remarked. 'There should not be any unevenness
in the ground inside gun range. Don't they ever think one move ahead?'

In the half-light of dawn he challenged again, hoping to avoid the
certain casualties of frontal attack. Frontal attack was against all
his instincts, but in the final resort no method other than frontal
attack would take the fort on Santa Catalina.

This time there was no answer to his challenge; neither verbal nor
ballistic. A great silence hung over the fort. They watched it grow
clear in the half-light and strained their ears to listen to that eerie
silence.

A trick, they said, it's a trick.

'Well, trick or no trick,' Morgan said at length, 'we have to assault,
so let us to it.'

They rose from their burrows and bankings and came at the fort with a
concerted yell. But no guns spoke and no soldier moved on the ramparts;
so that their loud defiance tailed away into doubt and their pace
slackened as they came up to the walls. What trap was this?

Then Manuel, always at his best when other men were still rubbing the
sleep from their eyes and wishing it were yet night, walked up to the
gate and said with a fine flourish of mockery: 'In the name of his
Majesty King Charles the Second of England and in the name of every
single Portuguese I command you to surrender.' And he slapped the gate
with a contemptuous hand.

And the gate swung ajar at the impact and creaked gently shut again.

While they were still thunderstruck, Manuel kicked the gate open and
walked into the fort. They came pounding after him to rescue him, but
there was no need for rescue. The fort was deserted.

'The bastards are still using our guns,' they said, pointing to the
royal arms on the cannon.

'But where are they?' asked Bradley.

'Over there,' said Morgan, pointing over the battlements at Bluey's
'calf'. Across the tiny strait was the second island, so sheer as to be
impregnable; and above it floated the flag of Spain.

'We'll blow them out of it,' Morgan said.

'We can't,' Morris pointed out. 'They're out of range.'

'Let them stay!' said Bradley. 'It will do them good to look at the
English flag every morning.'

'Leave Spain on our doorstep? No! We'll give them a nearer view of the
flag. Cornelius, take a message to the ships for me. Tell them----'

'The channel is too shallow for even a small ship, if that's what you
intend,' Bernard said. 'You cannot use ships to bombard.'

'I don't want the ships to bombard. I am going to blow them out of
there with their own guns. Tell Mansfield that I want wood. All the
wood he can send me. No, wait. I'll write a letter. We have all the
time in the world.'

He sat down at the commanding officer's very fine table and wrote a
junior officer's report to his senior. It was thanks to Mansfield and
Mansfield alone that the island was theirs, and all his Celt tact was
devoted to making the old man feel that, although he had been absent at
the last, he was the author of their victory. He explained, as a
suggestion for Mansfield's approval, what he intended to do and
inferred that he was doing only what Mansfield would have done if he
had been there.

When the letter had been sent off he sat for a few moments looking
round the dark little room, so safe and so comfortable.

'All night they had,' he said. 'All night. And they didn't even blow
the place up behind them.'

'There's a man here with a basket of yams, Captain,' said that admirer
of zeal, Mr Benrose, master gunner, appearing at his elbow. 'What shall
we do with him?'

'Buy the yams, of course.'

'_Buy_ them. Captain?'

'Yes, certainly. Here is the money. And tell him that we can use
anything else they care to bring us.'

'Isn't that, if you'll excuse me, Captain, a bit unnecessary? Paying, I
mean. We can just take them, surely.'

'Surely we can. And in half an hour every portable delicacy in the
island would be well hidden; and they would have to be beaten half dead
before they would tell us where. Tell him we'll buy their produce at
the usual rates.' And as the disapproving Benrose was going: 'Oh,
Benrose. The usual rate will be a third less than he asks, if I know
the Spaniard.'

When he was alone again his thoughts went back to the Spaniards.

'They could have blown us all up,' he thought. 'It needed only one man
with courage. A slow-burning train.'

And it occurred to him for the first time that their entry to the fort
had been much too casual and trusting. They should at least have
searched for the train that was not there. He must remember that next
time.




Chapter 7


Morgan's edict about paying for food was, of course, a counsel of
perfection. It did not prevent men from taking produce as it pleased
them in their comings and goings about the island.

'Who made this farm, anyhow?' they would say virtuously if the owner
dared to protest. 'Us English.' Although the only crop that any of them
had ever taken a personal interest in was chickweed for a cage-bird.

But few remonstrated. The civilian inhabitants who farmed the hot
little valleys were too thankful to be alive and free to be critical of
their conquerors. All they did was to see to it that as much as
possible of what they had went to the fort, where it would be paid for,
before it was stolen by passers-by. So every morning a long line of
slaves trailed through the gate of the fort bearing on their heads the
best the island had to offer, and the difficult matter of provisioning
was taken care of.

'You will take us with you when you go?' the slaves would say
hopefully; for it was a popular belief among the slaves of all the
Spanish dominions that life as a slave in an English colony was a bed
of roses. Negro or Indian, the dream of their life was to be captured
by the English.

'Don't worry, we'll take you!' the English said. 'You're the only thing
of value on the island.' And Wish, the Sussex man, seeing a negro bent
almost double under a load, relieved him of part of it, saying: 'Don't
strain yourself, black boy. I've got a share in you.'

Never again was Morgan to experience the family-party air of their stay
on Santa Catalina. This picnic air was due partly to the fact that the
captains of the four ships were friends and understood each other,
partly to the lack of booty to quarrel over, partly to the amiability
of the climate, partly to the fact that their only casualties had been
five wounded, partly to the lack of drink and the absence of towns, but
mostly it was due to the fact that they were too busy to be invaded by
grievances or jealousies.

For the first few days they collected and transported timber to make
the bridge of boats that Morgan needed to span the narrow strait;
cutting and hewing fresh stuff when it was found that there would not
be enough. Then they manhandled the guns from the fort down the slope
and across the dipping bridge. The guns alternately balked and made mad
rushes, after the manner of heavy, inanimate objects, and the men
sweated and laughed and cursed and coaxed them with endless
good-humour. They had nicknames for all the guns, after the immemorial
habit of the English. 'Whoa, Bess!' they would say, 'take your time,
lass!' or 'Come up, Bow-legs, you bitch!'

And as Morgan watched them his normally sombre eyes were bright with
amusement.

'Damn you, Tenerife, haul!' he shouted at the huge, indolent sailor.
'It's not a stay-lace you're pulling!' And under cover of the laughter,
to Jack Morris, who was standing beside him: 'I wonder when it will
occur to them that the slaves might be doing this!'

'Why _don't_ you mobilise the slaves for it?' Jack asked.

'And have nearly two hundred idle seamen on my hands!'

It was not until the last gun had reached sea-level and was being
dragged on to the bridge that it did occur to any of them that their
toil was gratuitous, and then it was to Tenerife that enlightenment
came. He straightened himself in the act of laying hold and said: 'Why
are we doing all this?' and his mates stopped to consider what he might
mean. Then the sheer absurdity of the thing struck Tenerife in full
force. He slapped the butt of the gun with his open palm and roared
with laughter. He looked up the slope to where Morgan was standing, and
something in Morgan's face caught his attention.

'You fooled us, Harry Morgan!' he yelled.

It was the first time that his crew had ever dropped the 'captain' in
favour of the affectionate familiar, and it was by way of being the
accolade.

Morgan looked down at the upturned faces, half doubtful, not yet either
amused or angry.

'I was merely taking thought for your property.'

'Property?' they said.

'You want the slaves in good fat condition for the auctioneer, don't
you? No one will pay less for your carcases because they are a little
underweight.'

'Aah!' they shouted, in one eloquent syllable announcing their
perception of the sophistry, their appreciation of it, and their
refusal of it. And one of them resolved the situation by calling:
'They're your slaves too, Harry. Come on and haul.'

And Morgan came down through the patting hands and the jests as if he
were the hero of a victory, instead of the man who had made them labour
like slaves for the last five days, and took his place among them, and
together they hauled the last gun over to the island.

But the sight of that gun was too much for Don Esteban del Campo, safe
but a little hungry on Bluey's 'calf'. He had watched the incredible
English make their bridge and dismantle the fort, with a dreary envy of
their persistence and their ingenuity. And now, when there was nothing
in front of him but the prospect of sitting still and submitting to
bombardment, he made his last retreat. He sent a messenger down to the
bridge to say that if the conditions still included a return to Spain
for all, then he would surrender; and presently the flag on the island
was hauled down, and the prisoners began to file across the little
strait.

'Jesus!' said the sailors, watching the endless stream of men from the
tiny island, some of them farm-owners who had taken refuge in the fort,
but most of them soldiers. 'Crowds and crowds of them. Crowds and
crowds. And all they could do was sit on their bottoms on a rock and
hold each other's hands!'

When Morgan said as much, in more diplomatic terms, to the commandant
of the military detachment, the soldier, a bright young man who did not
look as though defence would be his natural choice, said: 'Señor
Captain, in the Spanish dominions we suffer from cousins. Sometimes it
is nephews or uncles, but most often it is cousins. The English are new
in America--if you will forgive the crude expression of a truth--and,
with you, who captures also keeps. But Spain is already old in this new
world, and the men who keep are not the ones who captured, but the
cousin of someone at home who has the appointment in his gift. It will
happen to England too, in time, that someone's cousin keeps the land
men died to win.'

'I understand.'

You must not blame Don Esteban. He is a charming man; much interested
in horticulture and in the various species of moths. He admired very
much the way the English had planted the island, more especially your
fruit trees. The English have a genius for the growing of fruit trees.
Perhaps it is that your sun is kindly, or perhaps it is that in your
island no enemy comes every few years to cut them down.'

It was Mansfield, once more upright, who took surrender of the island,
and he was gracious enough to hand back to Don Esteban the sword the
Governor proffered. That, he remarked afterwards, was as far as he
would go in obliging a Spaniard. The prisoners were locked up in the
fort and fed on the weevily biscuits that the ships' crews, gorged on
island goodness, had not needed.

'Just look at that harbour!' Mansfield gloated that evening as he stood
with Morgan looking down at the lagoon. 'What a base to work from! Do
you see that harbour filled with fat prizes dripping emeralds out of
every port?'

'Yes, but out there,' Morgan nodded towards the horizon, 'a month or
two from now I see the whole Spanish navy.'

'Yes, yes. It is time we got back. Time we arranged for a proper
garrison. I thought we should have a quarrel about who is to stay, but
it seems that Captain Hadsell is not very happy in his subordinate
position and would be glad to have a command again, even the temporary
command of Santa Catalina. And the wounded must stay until they can
come home in comfort on the ship that brings the garrison. Forty men
should be enough to keep my little island until the garrison arrives.
It will be a long time before the news reaches Panama, and longer still
before the Spanish organise themselves into doing anything about it.'

Morgan agreed about Spanish dilatoriness, and wished to himself that he
did not have to leave Bart behind. Bart had had the back of his heel
shaved off by a fragment of Spanish metal, and it was proving a bad
wound to heal. It would be absurd to submit him to the unnecessary
discomfort of the long and intolerably crowded voyage home, when he
could come after them with his wound healed and in good condition a few
weeks later. But he hated to sail without Bart. He had found a friend
in Jack Morris, and a patron in Modyford, but the place Bartholomew
Kindness held in his heart was all his own.

'How long will it be before that wound is healed?' he asked Exmeling.

'Who knows? Who knows?' said little Henrik. 'It is the wrong time of
the moon for wounds to heal.'

So Harry resigned himself to parting with Bart until some favourable
moon would reunite them. Bart himself made no fuss about being left,
and seemed quite happy carving toy wooden animals.

And Morgan was glad in the event that he had not tried to take Bart
with them. It was a much longer voyage home; a long, weary tack against
a wind like a brick wall. And, between the captive slaves and the
Spanish prisoners, the ships were overcrowded to an intolerable degree.
Anti-climax set in and tempers frayed. No one sang any longer. Even
Bluey's jew's-harp was silent. It was hell.

But there was a sharp return to good humour and expectancy when at last
the outline of Jamaica was clear on the horizon. And when they filed in
stately procession--_Endeavour_, _Fortune_, _Dolphin_ and _May
Flower_--past the crowd on the battlements of Fort Charles, the
enthusiasm of that crowd restored to the crews their island mood of
achievement and well-being. The two French sloops had arrived nearly a
fortnight before, and the whole of Port Royal had been waiting for this
return. The waves of cheering that came over the water to them would
have restored even the half-dead.

Yet something was to please Henry even more than the cheers. When he
joined Mansfield on the _Endeavour_ to accompany him ashore, he found
the Captain surrounded by congratulatory citizens, and while he waited
by Mansfield's side an old man plucked his sleeve and said: 'My
cherry-trees, sir: are they still there? I have wondered very often
about my cherry-trees.'

'Were you one of the settlers on Santa Catalina?' Morgan asked, taken
by surprise.

'On Providence, sir. On Providence. Oh, yes; yes. I had a very
pleasant, well-watered little place there. There are several of us here
in Jamaica, settlers from Providence. I have wondered very often about
my cherry-trees.'

You will be able to go back and see for yourself now,' Morgan assured
him; and savoured this new, impersonal satisfaction.

'Now, my little taker of prizes, we go to meet the lightnings,'
Mansfield said, when the crowd had lessened. 'And you will come with me
and hold my hand. I am not very happy in the presence of that uncle of
yours who is not your uncle.'

But the lightnings, when the culprits came within range of them, proved
to be of the 'sheet' variety: a mere token illumination. It is not
every colonial Governor who finds himself in a position to present a
new piece of territory to his royal master. And when the Governor is
also in the position of working his passage home, politically speaking,
the opportunity is not one to be cast aside. Captain Mansfield was
reprimanded for exceeding his commission, for giving offence to a
nominally friendly Power, and for using Government stores and
endangering English lives in an expedition of his own devising.

'We took the place without the loss of a life, English or Spanish,'
Mansfield said proudly.

'The English took Jamaica without the loss of a life,' the Governor
reminded him smoothly.

'And they've been worried by the danger of losing it ever since. They
will have less to worry about now,' Mansfield said, indestructibly
complacent. 'It needs only a hundred to garrison my little island, and
the Spaniards will have no base in the middle of the Caribbean any
more.'

But it seemed that nothing like a hundred men were available at the
moment. The military had been disbanded in view of the coming peace and
had taken, more or less willingly, to planting. A proper garrison for
the island would have to come from England. Meanwhile, however, a ship
bound for the coast of Nicaragua to load logwood would drop off Major
Smith and a small detachment to reinforce the forty men left on Santa
Catalina.

'Major Smith is a very able person, and will govern the island until
such time as His Majesty appoints someone to the post.'

'I don't think Charlie Hadsell will take very kindly to being
subordinate to a Major,' Mansfield said to Morgan as the Governor
turned away to pour out wine for them.

But Henry was wishing that he could have seen that letter of Modyford's
to the Government at home. How much had Sir Thomas identified himself
with the capture of Santa Catalina?

It seemed that he must have identified himself pretty considerably with
the affair, for he not only attended the auction of the slaves the
following morning, but was himself a purchaser. The hundred slaves from
Santa Catalina, having attained their life's lowly ambition, were
upstanding, confident and smiling, and were sold for fabulous prices.
Not only did they lack the bewildered air, the animal helplessness, of
the boat-loads fresh from Africa; they spoke fluent Spanish and were
used to a planting life. Many of them were second-generation slaves,
born in captivity, and all of them had lived a healthy life in a good
climate.

Sir Thomas's purchase consisted of a woman and her four children: boys
between the ages of five and thirteen, and while he was making
arrangements with his steward for their journey to Morant, a man
dressed in the dreary garments of the self-consciously righteous tapped
him on the arm and said:

'Friend, have you bought the father of these children too?'

Modyford did not like being called friend, and he disliked even more to
be hammered very hard on his forearm by the rigid middle finger of a
total stranger, but his good manners were fool-proof.

'No, sir, I have not,' he said.

'And do you consider that it is God's will that this woman should be
parted from the dear partner of her joys and sorrows? From the man to
whom, by God's grace, she has borne so many pledges of affection?'

The Governor turned to the woman and spoke to her in Spanish, and as
she listened her brown face became irradiated with delight. She replied
in a torrent of Spanish that was punctuated every now and then with a
catch of laughter as her amusement welled up to choke her words. And as
she finished she put her head back and opened her wide, magnificent
mouth and let the laughter have full sway.

'What does she say?' asked the authority on God's will.

'She says that all the boys had different fathers, and that she has
never been able with any certainty to state who was the father of any
one of the four.'

'Deplorable, deplorable,' said the stranger, casting the woman a look
of loathing and taking himself away from her polluted neighbourhood
with all the speed the crowded place would allow.

'The worst of reformers,' said Sir Thomas, 'is that they make so many
mistakes in the particular that they get no credit for the general.'

'Did your Excellency really need these slaves?' asked Morgan, who had
himself bought his first three field-hands for Morgan's Valley. 'Gossip
says you have far more than you need and that they eat you out of house
and estates.'

'I could not resist that family: they gave me such pleasure to look
upon. It is true, of course, that I have more than I have work for, and
that being so I have taken a great liberty while you were away. I have
sent some of the idle ones over to clear the land in Morgan's Valley so
that it should be ready for you. They have also transported the
materials for the house, and cut up wood for fencing. I hope very much
that you do not think I have been interfering or officious. It seemed a
pity to let my fellows grow fat and lazy when there was something
useful to do on the island.'

Morgan could find no words. What Modyford had done represented almost a
year's work with the few slaves he could afford.

Sir Thomas cast him a quizzical glance and said: 'I hope I have not
deprived you of pleasure that you were saving up for yourself? The
clearing of your own land?'

'You have done me a great kindness, sir. I do not know how to thank
you.'

'I can tell you how. Come out to Morant with me this evening and spend
Sunday with us. My daughter Mary keeps house for me until my wife
arrives, and there will be no one there but George Nedham, the young
man she is going to marry.'

Even if Morgan's heart had not been overflowing with gratitude, an
invitation from the King's Representative is not to be greeted with
some such phrase as: 'Forgive me, but I want to see my cousin.' So
Morgan rode out to Morant that evening to spend the week-end with the
Governor.

But there proved to be company, after all, on Sunday.

'Dear me!' said the Governor, eyeing the two approaching riders over
his eleven-o'clock glass of madeira, 'I had quite forgotten that
Elizabeth was coming over today to choose the black boy I promised
her.' And he put down the glass and led the slightly suspicious Morgan
down the steps to meet his cousin, who was being convoyed by Barley
Sugar. Henry was enormously gratified to see the rush of colour to
Elizabeth's face as she caught sight of him, and no wise dashed to see
the look of fury that succeeded it. No woman could suffer that physical
betrayal and not be furious. But she greeted him in cousinly fashion
and complimented him on the achievement of Santa Catalina, and seemed
to bear him no malice for that momentary tide of colour. It appeared
that she knew all about the progress at Morgan's Valley, and they
discussed it together, she and Henry and the Governor, as they walked
down to the steward's house to see the slaves before they were branded;
and as once on that previous occasion, when they had explored the
virgin valley, there was a sense of companionship between them, so that
it seemed as if she and Henry had known each other since childhood.

The boys, gathered in the steward's office for Elizabeth to choose
among them, consisted of the four young brothers from Santa Catalina
and two Indian children who had been found starving after the Spaniards
had laid waste their village near Cape Gallinas. Elizabeth considered
them at her leisure, delighting in the choosing as a child might with
dolls.

'Which would you have, Harry?' she asked, a little to his surprise.

'The one like Chakka,' he said, indicating the younger of the two
Indian children.

'Who is Chakka?'

'A Campeche Indian who did me a good turn once.'

'Then I'll take the one like Chakka,' she said. 'It would be a pity to
take one of the brothers, anyhow, wouldn't it? They make such a nice
set!'

Arrangements were made for the boy to ride on Barley Sugar's saddle
when they went home in the evening, and they left the steward to his
little silver instrument and his spirits of wine. But a child's yell
brought them back, and there was the remaining Indian boy in a panic.
He had never seen a branding-iron before, and to his terror of being
hurt was added the superstitious fear of magic. The almost invisible
flame and the thin little silver rod were more terrifying than any
known horror, and the eyes were starting out of his head.

Before anyone could do anything about it, the eldest negro boy capered
forward, pushed him scornfully to one side, and bared his chest with a
swagger. The other three negro children were making wild fun of the
Wretched craven, roaring with laughter and imitating his terror in
unkind caricature. They had seen this process often, and knew that it
did not hurt; and they had all the scorn of cosmopolitans for a country
cousin.

The steward rubbed the boy's skin with sweet oil, heated the brand in
the spirit-flame, and touched the boy with it, and there was the T.M.
of the Governor's ownership on his chest. The boy regarded it proudly,
as the retainer of a great noble might his badge, and the other negro
children fought for the honour of being next.

And suddenly Henry said: 'If your Excellency does not particularly want
the Indian boy, perhaps you would let me buy him from you.'

'No, I don't want him; but are you sure that you do? I bought him only
so as not to separate him from the boy from his village.'

It was on the tip of Henry's tongue to say: 'That is why I want to buy
him too,' but he remembered in time that Elizabeth was still only his
cousin.

'I really should like very much to have him,' he said. 'How much do you
want for him?'

'One English rose from Morgan's Valley to be delivered to Morant on the
first day of May every year.' He cocked an eye at Henry, and added: 'If
Jamaica is going to be English, the establishment of a few traditions
is greatly desirable.'

He took the boy by the shoulder and moved him forward to face Henry. 'I
give you to this man,' he said slowly to the boy.

The boy did not understand the words, but he understood the gesture. He
looked for a long, searching moment at Morgan, and then the panic left
his eyes. There was silence in the crowded little room while they
watched him. They had half expected him to accept his new ownership
with some sort of obeisance, slave-wise. But he accepted it in a
fashion much more moving. He walked over and stood close beside Henry,
side by side with him and a little in the rear; as one taking shelter
under a tree. And Henry, unexpectedly touched, dropped his hand in a
rallying gesture on the black straight hair.

'Well,' Modyford said, 'now that we have settled that, let us go and
eat dinner.'

Dinner was the long, leisurely, enormous meal that the English
considered necessary for life in the tropics; and the talk was the
immemorial talk of the colonial English: how Charles was doing at
school and how soon he would be coming 'out' to take his place in the
making of Jamaica; how little 'they' understood the needs of the new
colony; how irreconcilable were the two main cliques in English
Jamaica, and how odd it was that the original Commonwealth settlers
should, when released from their strictness, be so much more debauched
than any of their Royalist successors. Henry sat in the shadows and
watched Elizabeth, and planned for the day when she should sit at the
other end of his own table. He liked her fire and her directness, her
almost boy-like frankness, her inability to trade on her own
femininity, and he compared her unfavourably with Mary Modyford, who
was all a soft glow in her lover's presence. Women had glowed for him,
too, but he had not wanted to marry them; to spend his life with them;
to have them as mother of his children. His cousin Elizabeth gave him
not only excitement but the companionship that was dearer and much more
rare. She was not woman, she was one person and unique. She was, quite
simply, Elizabeth. Irreplaceable. And he must marry her at the earliest
possible moment.

He noticed that she was a great favourite with the Governor, and
wondered again whether Modyford had remembered quite well that
Elizabeth was coming over to Modyford this Sunday, and whether his
invitation was merely a way of furthering his suit. This suspicion was
almost confirmed when Sir Thomas said: 'I had looked forward to riding
back to Port Royal with you tomorrow morning, Harry, but if you go
tonight instead, you could escort your cousin part of the way home,
since your roads lie together so far.'

So Henry and Elizabeth rode side by side under the trees in the cool of
the evening, not hurrying, and greatly content in each other's company.
And Barley Sugar rode behind and instructed the Indian boy in the
English names of things.

'Dat a tree,' said Barley Sugar.

'Dattatree,' noted the boy obediently.

'I suppose dattas must be a cross between dates and bananas,' Elizabeth
commented. 'The poor little wretch must be very confused.'

'What are you going to call him?'

'I hadn't thought about it. What are you going to call yours?'

'Let us call them by two related names. You know. Castor and Pollux.
Hengist and Horsa. Flotsam and Jetsam.'

'Romulus and Remus. Let us call them Romulus and Remus. I'll have Remus
and save myself a syllable. Who was Chakka, Harry?'

'An Indian who could throw a rope over a given mark.'

There was silence for a moment, and then Elizabeth burst out:

'I _wish_ men would not _put off_ women when they ask questions! If I
had been a man you would have told me all about Chakka!'

'But, Bet,' he said, using her little name for the first time, 'I would
have told you if I had thought that you would be interested!'

'_Yes_,' she said, flaring. 'That is just what I am pointing out. "A
man who could throw ropes, little girl; you wouldn't be interested."
What am I supposed to be interested in? Still-room concoctions and
poultices and betrothals and calvings, and embroidery and hair-washing
and----'

The mention of hair-washing, which her subconscious had thrown up for
her tongue to use, suddenly reminded her. She stopped in full flight,
and then, being Elizabeth, began to laugh. She laughed so that she
rocked in the saddle, alight with self-mockery and the sheer absurdity
of things.

Henry had a wild longing to reach over and pick her from the saddle and
hold her in his arms while the laughter sobbed up from her mouth as he
kissed her. Instead he put his hand on her rein, lightly, and said:
'Bet, my dearest dear, there is no one in the world I would sooner tell
my stories to than you.'

'Then tell me about Chakka.'

So he told her about the Indian whose throwing of the grapnel had
helped him to take the _Fortune_, and decided that when he went over to
see Anna Petronilla he would once more make suit for Elizabeth; less
surprisingly this time, and with more to recommend him as a suitor.
Anna Petronilla would not be insensible to the added prestige that came
from the retaking of Santa Catalina, nor to the practical fact of
Morgan's Valley and the house that was being built there.




Chapter 8


Henry married his cousin three months later; and to mark the last day
of his bachelor life the Governor gave a dinner for him at Kingshouse.
The dinner began at four o'clock, and by seven was well under way. It
was the most magnificent feast that Kingshouse had witnessed since the
occupation, and the guests noticed and noted. It was so, was it, that
Modyford rated his young friend Morgan; the rarest dishes and the best
plate? They considered the guest of honour, and wondered whether he was
going to settle down as a planter or stick to the sea. There was no
antagonism in their regard, for it was an exclusive and friendly party.
The only unrejoicing member was Colonel Thomas Lynch, who had been
Modyford's predecessor in the Governorship; and Henry, watching Lynch's
efforts at conviviality, could not make up his mind whether Modyford's
inclusion of him was due to policy or to Modyford's own brand of gentle
malice.

By eight o'clock they had finished eating and had begun the serious
business of drinking. Rob Byndloss, the husband of kind, blob-of-butter
Anna, was already a little drunk, and announced at intervals to anyone
who would listen: 'No one in the world, sir, will ever make me wear a
wig. Never, sir.' It having lately become known in Jamaica that it had
become the fashion 'at home' to supplement one's own curls with
artificial hair.

Henry Archbould, Anna Petronilla's adviser and stand-by, sat somnolent
and owl-like, staring at the reflection of the candles in his wine. His
only contribution to the conversation in the last hour had been to say
that if it was true that women's skirts were to be worn shorter, then
it was a deplorable thing. It would deprive man of one of the most
delightful moments of his every-day life: the moment when a woman
lifted her skirt and one saw her ankle. No marriage bed, opined Henry,
nor any drab's couch afforded so exquisite a moment as that afforded by
the glimpse of a forbidden ankle.

The guest of honour listened to the talk with half his mind, and with
the other half thought of tomorrow, when he would marry Elizabeth in
the only church on the island. St Katherine's at St Yago de la Vega had
been the Spanish cathedral, and had now been restored in some measure
from the ruin that the Commonwealth troops had made of it in their
anti-Popish zeal. It was appropriate that they should be married in
Spanish Town, and not at Port Royal, for the Morgans' first home had
been there, and Edward in his will had left their little house there to
be a parsonage for the new church. Indeed, kind Mr Hauser, who was
going to marry them tomorrow, had relet the upper floor of the house to
them so that they might have a town dwelling as well as the rather
primitive delights of Morgan's Valley.

Henry found Spanish Town and its inland airs static and dead after the
dancing air of the Port, always full of the sea's reflection. It was so
like the Spaniards, he thought, to have an inland capital. No
Englishman would think of a capital city divorced from the sea. Was
defence always in their minds? Was defence a natural, instinctive thing
with them, and not a sign of their degeneracy at all? Were they losing
their place in the sun _because_ of this innate leaning to defence, and
not being defensive because they were losing their place?

That made him think again of Santa Catalina, and of Mansfield. He did
not like to think of Mansfield. The old man had gone away sorrowful
because the Spaniards still had great possessions and Henry would not
come with him to relieve them of some more. When Henry pointed out that
any captain would be proud to sail under his command, that he had his
choice of captains, Mansfield had said: 'Aah, they are all mere
herrings in a barrel! They can sail and they can fight, but can they
think? No! They can not! But you and I, Harry, you and I. Between us we
could take America from the Spaniards. Take all America from them.'

But for the moment Henry's mind was on shore. He had not been able to
think of sea business while Elizabeth was still not his. The island
swarmed with single men looking for wives, and Henry, though vain, was
not conceited. He rated himself no higher as a suitor than any one of
the well-to-do young planters who came out to risk their future in the
new colony. He had to make sure of Elizabeth before he went to sea
again.

In which his reaction was curiously like his bride's.

'Do you love him. Bet?' Johanna had asked, lolling on their mutual bed
and watching her sister try on a new bodice.

'I don't know whether it is love or not,' Elizabeth said, soberly. 'I
do not want very much to get married, but I cannot bear the thought of
his being married to anyone else. So I do not have much choice.'

Her reaction to his formal proposal had been to say: 'You know, Harry,
I do not want to be married to anyone, but I like Morgan's Valley very
much, and I think it is worth being married for.'

When he ventured to hope that she liked him, too, in some measure, she
said: 'Oh, _yes_; of course I do!' and added: 'I like to watch you.'

With which cryptic utterance he had to be content.

But now that he had made sure of Elizabeth, and tomorrow they were
being married, he had leisure to think of Mansfield, and to be sorry
that he had not been more patient with the old man's babblings about
Maracaibo. For three solid weeks, in season and out, Mansfield had
talked Maracaibo to him. When Henry, trying to head him off, had
pointed out that the French had sacked the place already, he had said:
'Aah, who ever heard of the French tidying up a job properly! And in
Maracaibo there is no end to it, anyhow. The gold runs out of a man's
boots there.' And later, faced with the blank wall of Henry's
determination to remain on shore, he said: 'You are not thinking of
turning planter, are you, Harry?'

'Not until Morgan's Valley is safe from Spain,' Henry had said, dryly.

And Mansfield had looked suddenly happier. His parting words had been:
'I shall come back for you, Harry, my little taker of prizes; and you
will be sick of the dust in your nostrils, and you will come with me
once more to strike at Spain where it hurts.'

He had sailed away on business of his own to the South Cays of Cuba.
Joe Bradley, not caring whether he had a commission or not, had
departed for the Bay of Mexico to see what he could pick up. So the
only sailor at this party in Morgan's honour was Jack Morris; who was
getting drunk in the same fashion as he did everything else: with a
sort of neat circumspection.

It was stifling in the room. The night hung against the open windows
like a curtain, velvet and opaque. The heavy air was so still that the
candle-flames stood up like bright lances in their surrounding haze of
insects. When, about half-past nine, a small white object sailed in a
high curve through the window and dropped through the mist of flies to
land with a plop on the table, only two men were sober enough to react
normally to the phenomenon.

Modyford reached forward and took the paper from the table, unrolling
it from the weighting stone. But Morgan, even after five hours' eating
and drinking, still thought faster than the Governor. Even before
Modyford's hand had gone out for the thing, Henry had pushed back his
chair and made for the garden. There was a cry in the dark, and the
sound of physical contest, and Henry reappeared frog-marching a scared
maroon.

'Here is your serenader,' he said. 'What does the love-note say, or is
it personal?'

Modyford looked up with an odd reluctance from the paper he was
reading, as if as long as his eyes were on the paper he could postpone
the evil ahead.

'It is personal,' he said. 'It is from Major Smith.'

'Smith! Oh. From Santa Catalina. Then why all this coyness?' Henry
shook the man he was holding.

'The man is a runaway slave from Puerto Bello.'

'Oh.' Henry's grip slackened. 'And what was he doing in Santa
Catalina?'

'He was never in Santa Catalina. The Spaniards took Santa Catalina nine
weeks ago. The survivors are in prison in Puerto Bello.' He read from
the paper. '"We fought until there was not a scrape of powder left.
When the shot ran out we broke up the organ in the church and fired
away sixty of the pipes at one shot. When there was nothing left to
fire we surrendered on the same conditions as we had given them. But it
proved to be 'a Spanish promise'. Those of us who survive are doing
blacks' work on the fortifications here. Please reward the slave if you
get this."'

There was a long silence.

Henry felt for the back of his chair and sat down.

'How did you come by this?' the Governor asked the slave.

A white man working on the castle of San Jeronimo at Puerto Bello had
given it to him, he said.

'And why did you not wait to be rewarded?'

He did not know what might be in the letter, he said. He supposed that
it would tell about the white prisoner of the Spaniards, but it might
also tell that he was a runaway slave.

Henry took out a gold piece and gave it to him, saying: 'Stay in Port
Royal where we can find you.'

'If you give him that,' Modyford said, 'he'll be in jail five minutes
after he presents it.'

'Yes, of course,' said Henry, taking back the gold piece and giving the
man its value in silver. Only Modyford, he thought, would be able to
consider a detail like that at a moment so shattering.

The maroon melted into the night, and everyone suddenly began to talk
at once. But it was Jack Morris's voice that overtopped them.

'We are going back to Santa Catalina, aren't we, Harry!'

'No,' said Morgan. He looked very white in the candle-light, as if he
might be going to be sick. 'No. We are going to Puerto Bello.'

There was silence again at this, while they considered it.

'Even Drake failed there,' Modyford reminded him.

'Put it out of your mind, Morgan,' Henry Archbould said. 'If Frankie
couldn't do it, you can't. No one could.'

Rob Byndloss laughed a high, drunken laugh and said: 'Tell you one
thing our Harry's done no man ever did before! He's made Spain hurry!
Terribly shocked over Santa Catalina they must have been to come
running so fast to its rescue, all through the nasty steep seas and the
hurricanes. Shook Spain's liver, our Harry has!'

'How many of them were there?' Henry asked Modyford.

'Half a navy,' Modyford said, pushing the paper over to him.

While he read it, the Governor watched him with sympathy and some
anxiety. The colour had not come back to Henry's face. The high
cheek-bones stood out sharply, as if he had been wasted by fever, and
the wide mouth had lost its curves and straightened into a line. He
looked a man of forty; and an ill man at that.

The hubbub had broken out again, but Henry took no notice of it.

'It will take more ships than Santa Catalina, of course,' he said at
length. 'Nine at least.'

'Put it out of your mind, Harry,' Modyford said. 'The place is
notoriously impregnable. We can effect an exchange of prisoners.'

'Can we?' Morgan said. 'When we make Spain a present of all we take?'

'In any case,' a cold voice said, 'we cannot very well take action when
Spain has right on her side in the present instance, can we?'

This brought even tipsy conversation to a pause.

Everyone had forgotten the presence of the Opposition in the person of
Lynch.

In another second Rob Byndloss would have launched himself on the
Colonel, but Morgan held him while the Governor said smoothly: 'We have
all had too much spirit to think to the letter, Colonel.'

'No doubt, no doubt,' said Lynch. 'It is with regret that I must leave
so delightful a meeting, but I have a long way to go, and the roads are
deplorable.'

It was so like Lynch, Henry thought, to add that flick about the roads
at such a time.

Archbould and two others went with him, not because they loved Lynch,
but because their ways lay together and no one rode alone at night
along the roads of Jamaica if they could help it.

'Do you think we could do it, Harry?' Jack asked under the confusion of
leave-takings. Not doubtfully, but in hope.

'Do you know that the narrows at Puerto Bello are fortified all the
way, so that any ship entering harbour is subject to crossfire at
point-blank range?' someone said.

'And when you are in there is a third castle to welcome you with a
broadside,' another said.

'I can think of something more daunting even than that,' Modyford said,
returned from speeding his guests.

'The mosquitoes?' they asked.

'No. The cost of such an expedition. No obliging Government is going to
finance it for us, obviously. Then how otherwise could it be done? The
victualling alone of such a fleet would cost a fortune.'

'It is possible that we might be able to save the Exchequer any anxiety
on that score,' Henry said, drawling.

Modyford looked across at him, and was relieved to see that the colour
had come back to his face. His mouth had recovered its curves.

'When you look demure, Harry,' he said, 'my very soul faints within
me.' And being rewarded by the shadow of a smile in Morgan's eyes:
'Well? What is your idea of a larder?'

'There are very fine herds in Cuba, I understand.'

'In the interior of Cuba.'

'I walk better than I swim.'

'If you think that I am going to give you a commission for the invasion
of Cuba you are not as intelligent as I thought.'

'No, I am going to give your Excellency evidence, gathered in Cuba, of
plans and enlistments for the invasion of Jamaica. _Honest_ evidence.'

'Oh, Harry, Harry! Only you would have thought of undertaking one
expedition to victual yourself for another. If you don't get us both
hanged, you may be Governor of America one day.'

'Only I will hang,' Henry assured him. 'You will be honourably
executed. Your cousin Albemarle will see to that.'

'Well, put our wretched countrymen out of your mind for a day or two at
least. Tomorrow is your wedding day.'

But at the mention of the prisoners, the bleakness came back to
Morgan's face.

And next day, in the dimness of the church at Spanish Town, Elizabeth
looked at him once or twice, doubtfully; wondering if the mere being
married to a woman could make a man's face so suddenly grim, could so
steal the youth from it.

She did not hear what had happened until they were alone in the little
upper room at Mr Hauser's. When he told her, she flung her arms round
him in the first caress she had ever given him and hugged him to her in
pity and regret. 'Oh, Harry, poor Harry!' she said, as she might to a
child who had fallen downstairs.

He had expected her to say: 'But you're not going to leave me and go
away off there so soon after we are married!'; not because it was
particularly true to the Elizabeth he supposed she was, but because it
was what he expected a woman to say. Her instant identification of
herself with him moved him almost to tears.

'Bart is there,' he blurted, saying the thing he had not said even to
Jack Morris.

'Poor Harry! Never mind. You'll get him back,' she said into his ear,
and kissed him.

But in the morning she was brisk and practical. If Henry was going to
be busy organising an expedition, these rooms in Spanish Town were not
going to be of much use to them. They must find something at the Port.

'There is nothing but standing-room at Port Royal.'

'Mary Speirdyck might find us something. You will be going to see
Bernard about--about Santa Catalina, won't you?  Ask Mary if she could
find us a couple of rooms somewhere.'

He had waited, in the cold anti-climactic light of morning, for her to
revert to femininity and bring up the subject of Morgan's Valley, and
the desirability of his remaining on shore to develop it. But nothing
like that had happened. Her only mention of their future life together
was this suggestion of finding rooms near the Port. She took his going
to be the obvious and accepted thing, as a male comrade might. He
looked across at her in wonder and delight, and promised to give Mary
her message.

But when he had climbed the steep, cobbled alley to Mary's house and
stood looking into her cool, bare living-room, he nearly forgot. For
sitting at the table eating a meal was Charles Hadsell, late commandant
of Santa Catalina.

'Hadsell!' he said. 'How did you get here?'

'Came in this morning in the _Alice_ from Nicaragua. How are you,
Captain? Married, I hear. My congratulations. Perhaps you'll do us the
honour to come to my daughter's marriage? She and Cornelius here are
planning to get hitched in about three weeks' time.'

'You mean you went on to Nicaragua with the ship that brought the
reinforcements to the island?'

'I certainly did. I didn't fancy being junior to a soldier boy with the
down still on his cheeks. Had a fine voyage. Bought myself a share of
the cargo, too. Add a bit to Jane's dowry. Eh, Cornelius?'

Mary replenished his plate from the stove, and Bernard came in from the
street and greeted Morgan with surprise and welcome.

'You are early abroad for a bridegroom, Captain,' he said, and set
glasses for himself and Morgan on the table.

'Yes,' said Henry. 'A skeleton came to my marriage feast.'

'A skeleton?' Bernard said into the startled pause.

'Skeleton of what?' asked Hadsell.

'Santa Catalina.'

'Santa Catalina!' repeated Hadsell. 'You mean something has gone wrong
on the island?'

'The Spaniards took Santa Catalina nine weeks ago, and our men are in
prison in Puerto Bello.'

'No!' cried Cornelius.

His uncle let loose a flood of his native tongue and was reproved
half-heartedly by Mary.

'How do you know?' asked Hadsell.

Henry told them.

Hadsell put down his knife and fork as if his appetite had of a sudden
deserted him. There was the same dismayed silence in the little room as
had fallen over the Governor's board the night before.

It was the boy who broke it. 'What do we do, Captain? Take the island
again?'

'No,' said Henry. 'We won't have to take it back. Someday it will drop
into our laps like a ripe cherry because the Spaniards will be too busy
defending the mainland to have spare men and energy for an island.'

'You mean we are going to win back Santa Catalina on the mainland of
America?' Cornelius said, his face alight.

'Yes.'

'Where?' asked Bernard, beginning to pour brandy.

'Puerto Bello for a start.'

Bernard's hand stopped its pouring for a moment and then went on. But
Hadsell supplied the inevitable comment.

'Have you forgotten Drake?'

'No.'

'And they have fortified the place beyond recognition since Drake went
there.'

'Perhaps Drake did not have any men who were prisoners on shore.'

'I knew that soldier boy should not have been given charge of an
island,' Hadsell said, virtuously. Which roused Morgan.

'Major Smith defended the island very gallantly and very efficiently,'
he said, in his quarter-deck voice. 'They scraped the last grains of
powder from the magazine floor before they surrendered. They left the
fort only after defending it to the last possible moment.'

Hadsell recognised both the snub and the comment on his own conduct,
and subsided.

'Does anyone know where Joe Bradley is? We must prepare a rendezvous as
soon as the gale season is over. And Mansfield. And anyone else who is
not too careful of his skin. But no one but ourselves must know where
we plan to sail to.'

'Don't worry,' Hadsell said. 'No one would believe it anyhow.' And his
tone was not complimentary.

But Bernard had news of Joe Bradley, and Cornelius suggested new names,
and so, in Mary's cool, bare room in a blazing August Jamaican noon,
the first tentative ripple began of a wave that would roar across the
world and come flooding up the Chancellory steps of Europe. And in the
succeeding weeks, through the damp hot days and the flickering storm, a
centre of calm purpose sent its radiation through the welter that
Nature made of the islands. Men riding out the bad days in the Gardens
of the Queen, in the sheltering cays, men in bars and taverns and bawdy
houses up and down the islands, told each other that at the end of the
year Harry Morgan was sailing again. Harry Morgan was taking the
_Fortune_ out on some new ploy when it was sailing weather once more.
He would be at Pine Island in November with the _Fortune_ freshly
careened, and he was looking for ships and men.

Mary found not two rooms but three in the dripping huddle of Port
Royal, and Elizabeth arrived drenched on the ferry from Passage, with
Couba as maid and Remus to carry her unused finery in its little
leather trunk. The rooms were small and dark and the roof leaked, and
the house was loud with the noise of the wind and the sea, but it was
there, only a few steps for Harry to walk at the end of the crowded
days, and it was there, close to the sea, for the men from the sea who
had business with him. Hardly a day passed but Couba opened the door to
some man standing on the threshold with his cap in his hand and an
identical phrase for utterance: Captain Morgan wanted men, they said;
Captain Morgan wanted men.

Henry's own original crew began to trickle back from their various
destitutions. And some, indeed, from prosperities of their own. That
admirer of zeal, Walter Benrose, master gunner from Lincolnshire, had
bought himself a dinghy and was doing quite well as a water-man. The
two dog-lovers, Manuel and the mulatto, were found to be running a very
profitable little business called LOST DOGS FOUND, in which the mulatto
enticed away the dog and Manuel, all eyelashes and innocent charm,
returned it and claimed the reward. The mulatto had lately blotted his
copybook by enticing the same dog twice in five days, and a faint
breath of suspicion was beginning to mar their relations with Port
Royal. They were glad to be going to sea again. Next time, Manuel said,
they would think of something else. Fighting cocks. Or find a very fast
dog and offer to course it against all comers.

Even Exmeling turned up, a little vague as to what he had been doing
lately. Henry was glad to have him, and remembered with a pang that
there would be no Bartholomew this time to object to his presence in
the ship. When asked why he had not sailed with his relative by
marriage, Captain Mansfield, he said that Mansfield had told him that
he was going to the South Cays merely to careen his ship, and to refit
afterwards at Tortuga, perhaps, and had no need for a surgeon. He had
no news of Mansfield, and neither had anyone else.

Henry invited Exmeling to drink brandy with him and presented him to
Elizabeth. And it seemed that Bartholomew was not unique in his dislike
of little Henrik. Elizabeth did not like him either.

'But why?' asked Henry, genuinely puzzled. 'He is a harmless creature,
surely. No one ever notices that he is there.'

'You don't notice that a snake is there either,' Elizabeth pointed out.
'Do you have to take him with you?'

'I am glad to. He is a good surgeon, considering that he has had no
professional training.' He remembered what Mansfield had said, and
added: 'He enjoys surgery.'

'Yes,' said Elizabeth. 'I expect he does.'

Several times they rode out to Morgan's Valley to spend a night in the
half-finished house and to arrange what should be done during Henry's
absence. Henry had tried to persuade Jack Morris to buy a piece of land
near them for 'the day when he would want to settle down'.

'For _what_?' said Jack, and laughed.

But it was Elizabeth's triumph that he did come very often to the
cramped little rooms in Port Royal and seemed at home there. The
constraint that normally overcame him in the presence of good women was
not apparent in his relation with his friend's wife. Indeed, he came to
treat her as something between a sister and a sister-in-law. He would
sit at ease with them of an evening and talk quietly about ways and
means, or be silent over his wine. For this, too, Henry was grateful to
Elizabeth, and for this, too, he loved her.

When the time came that the _Fortune_ and the _Dolphin_ rode ready and
waiting in harbour for their voyage to Isle of Pines, Jack took
Elizabeth out to show her over his ship, that being the kind of
courtesy that he would have offered a fellow-captain whom he respected
and admired. And Elizabeth, visiting her husband's ship later to say
good-bye, did not fail to point out that on board the _Fortune_ she was
merely a poor female creature on sufferance saying farewell to her
lord, while on the _Dolphin_ she had been an honoured guest.

Her farewell to Henry was to say: 'I wish that I was coming with you,
Harry!'

Don't forget me, come back to me, come back safe, come back soon, women
were saying all over the town. But Elizabeth's only spoken wish was
that she might go with him. And watching the small, upright figure
being borne away across the water in the stem of the boat, Henry found
himself wishing that it might indeed have been possible to take her.
She had mettle enough for two men. Even with the pressure of her arms
still alive on the back of his neck, he had a suspicion that her wish
was at least as much for the adventure as for his companionship. She
would make a wonderful lieutenant in a ploy.

'At least I shall not have to worry about the state of your clothes
while you are away,' she had said when she was packing his sea-chest
for him. 'Romulus will see to that.'

For the Indian boy, who took no interest at all in sea matters, was
enchanted by clothes and all that pertained to them. Romulus patted a
piece of cloth with exactly the same gesture that Mansfield used when
he patted a map. And this minor passion of his, allied to his major
passion for Henry, was like to make Henry the best-groomed Captain in
the Caribbean. A rent, a spot, a frayed lace, and Romulus was there
with needle or sponge to make all perfect immediately. If there were no
repairs to be done, Romulus was still there, of course; sitting in
Henry's shadow, silent and still. Henry was the reason for his
existence. He had submitted without a quiver to being branded at
Henry's hands, at the same time as the new slaves for Morgan's Valley,
and had won Morgan's heart by taking the terrifying moment with his
eyes wide open and fixed in fathomless trust on his master's face.

It was the New Year before the _Fortune_ was ready to sail, and by that
time almost two-thirds of her old crew had rejoined. The remaining
third was made up not of seamen but of old-soldiers, Royalist and
Commonwealth, who found planting life too hard or too dull, and were
glad to give their services in return for adventure and their victuals.
Bernard Speirdyck, seaman to his marrow, looked askance at these, but
Henry had plans for them. Bernard was, of course, sailing as mate; and
Cornelius, very sedate, as befitted a Benedict, as second. And Jack
Morris had not this time to put up with any disgruntled master as mate,
for Charles Hadsell had fallen heir to a prize by way of temporary
compensation for his own lost ship, and was now master of the frigate
_Maria_. The _Maria_ followed the _Fortune_ and the _Dolphin_ out past
Fort Charles in the cool grey of a Spring dawn, bound for the South
Cays, and early as it was the Point was gay with women's dresses and
vivid with kerchiefs waving them a farewell.

'I had no idea we were so popular,' said Henry, much gratified.

'That is not for us,' said Cornelius, who had spent the night ashore
and had left his bride in bed.

'No? For whom, then?'

'For Manuel, I suspect.'

'Manuel!' Henry took a longer look at the gay fluttering on the point
and realised that the colours were a little too bright to be altogether
respectable. Cornelius seemed to be right. Every trollop in the port
had come out to wave good-bye to Manuel.




Chapter 9


For a fortnight the three ships clawed their way up-wind, glad if they
gained a mile in the hour; and the crews had time to settle down with
each other, and Henry had time to wonder how he was going to deal with
any Frenchmen who might be waiting for him at Isle of Pines. At home,
so it was understood, the French had come to the assistance of the
Dutch, and were actively fighting England. How much would this weigh
with the French in the Caribbean, the French who had been so long an
ally against the pretensions of Spain?

When he expressed his doubts to Bernard, the Hollander's normally
wooden face melted into curves. 'Yoost look at me. Captain, yoost look
at me! At home your people sink my people like it was the best fun in
the world. All over the North Sea they sink them. But does it make any
difference to my appetite for salt pork and yams? Does it make any
difference to the fact that we like each other, you and I, Captain, and
we do not like the Spaniard? No! And the French they do not like the
Spaniard either. It will not matter one little piece to the French what
anyone does at home. You will see.'

But Henry still thought that it might be much less easy to handle the
French than it had been up to the present.

They picked up Isle of Pines on a morning of tumbled seas and glancing
light, but it was late afternoon before they came on their last tack
into the quiet water in the lee of the island, and saw the ships
sheltering in the wide lagoon.

'Yoost look at them,' said Bernard. 'A navy, by Gar! That is John
Ansell there, with the broken figurehead. And that over there with the
long sprit is Tom Clarke. And that tub with the foremast stepped too
far for'ard is Tom Roger's _Gift_. She is a cow to sail, the _Gift_.
And there----'

But Morgan was looking for the stubby masts that would tell him that
the _Endeavour_ was there. All the way north he had looked forward to
seeing Mansfield; to putting his plan in the old man's lap and seeing
him laugh with pleasure at its impudence and its reasonableness. Looked
forward to hearing him say: 'Ah, my little taker of prizes, you have
come of age, it seems. You plan like a veteran. Like Mansfield
himself.'

But there was no sign of the _Endeavour_.

The only familiar sight was the _May Flower_, lying well under the lee
of the land as if she had been there for some time.

Well, at least Bradley was here. Bradley might have news of Mansfield.

He found his old colleague of the Santa Catalina expedition in the
ramshackle village ashore. He was sitting on the veranda of Charley's
as if he had been sitting there for months and had got embedded.

'You've been a damned long time, Harry Morgan,' he said. 'I'd nearly
given you up,' he said. But he said it without feeling, and he looked
pleased to see Morgan.  'Has Jack Morris still got the _Dolphin_?'

'Yes. That's him coming ashore in the boat now.'

'And who's your frigate friend?'

'Charlie Hadsell.'

'Oh,' said Joe, without enthusiasm.

'She's the _Maria_. A prize. Where is Mansfield?'

'Not here. And that's all I know. I thought _you_ would give _me_ news
of him.'

'Has _no one_ news of him, then?'

'Not a soul, as far as I know.'

'That's odd,' Morgan said, troubled.

'There's nothing odd about it. Mansfield always plays a lone hand. He's
probably nosing round the coast of the mainland making charts for his
future purposes. He has a passion for coasting.'

Neither of them mentioned Santa Catalina. The loss of the place had
been the chief talking topic of the Islands for the last six months,
and there was nothing to say about it. They watched Jack's boat come to
shore and his neat, spare figure come up the beach to them, and Bradley
gave a running commentary on the ships in the bay for Henry's benefit.
Several were 'untouchables', pirates on their own secret and unlovely
business; here to refit or careen. One or two were legitimate prizes on
their way to surrender to a reputable authority. A few more were birds
of passage, bound out after they had obtained fresh food, wood and
water. But a considerable number were privateers, or ex-privateers,
looking for business.

'I see Tom Rogers is here,' Jack said, coming up and greeting Joe
Bradley with pleasure. 'I never know how he manages to make that thing
sail at all, but sail her he does. He can make her go two forward and
one back like a lady dancing at a party. He'd be a good man to have
with us.'

'What are your plans?' Bradley asked.

'I'll tell you after supper,' Henry said.

'Oh, God! do I have to stay sober?' said Joe.

The sky flared suddenly into sunset, and Charley, looking at the
crowded condition of his crazy veranda, built a fire of driftwood on
the beach below and carried his huge cauldron of peppery fish stew out
from his kitchen to keep hot on it. His customers followed the
appetising reek and were served while they sat about the blaze. As each
newcomer arrived he was introduced to Morgan by either Bradley or Jack
Morris, and as the swift twilight fell and the shifting light of the
fire grew brighter, Morgan considered the faces of these strangers,
speculating and comparing. Was this one too vain to accept orders, was
that one too reckless to be trusted to carry them out, was the next one
too cautious to take a legitimate risk?

Rogers he was sure of at once. Rogers was a little dark man with
eyebrows so thick and so black that they looked like smudges. He was
talkative and quick-tempered and volatile, but there was nothing
pinchbeck about him. Rogers was the genuine article: courageous,
imaginative, and dependable. Another dependable-appearing creature was
the big fair man on the other side of the fire; a man with a rough-hewn
square face that was ruddier than ever in the light. 'The cherry trees
will be white soon, in Kent,' he was saying. 'I'm going to give up the
sea, so help me I am, now that England's a country fit for gentlemen to
live in again. I'm going to get me a bit of land and an orchard and
I'll never eat another fish stew as long as I live.' The Celt in Henry
recognised the Saxon salt-of-the-earth and paid tribute to it. He
wanted to have the Kent man with him.

When they were gorged on turtle and shell-fish they lay around drinking
and swapping stories while the moon climbed into a bland sky and stared
at them. Morgan was well aware that a great interest and curiosity
settled on him, but that their innate good manners prevented them from
open question. They knew that if he wanted to tell them of his plans he
would, and that if he wanted to keep those plans to himself, question
was both unmannerly and useless. He watched the weaker brethren grow a
little drunk, and removed them from his consideration: not because they
were drunk, but because if they had allowed themselves to become drunk,
then they were not vitally interested in any plan that he might have in
mind. For the same reason he dismissed those who eventually left the
fire to gamble in the back room of the little eating-house. The drunken
ones went back to the house when the rum gave out, to replenish the
jugs, and stayed there, so that presently those round the fire were the
survivors of a natural process of selection of which they were unaware.
But they were aware of a mental unbuttoning, a lessened need for
discretion, now that the company was less general.

It was Tom Rogers, just a little flown, who gave expression to this
growing relaxation.

'You don't by any chance happen to have a use for the _Gift_, do you,
Captain Morgan? I know she's the joke of the Caribbean, but I can lay
her alongside as neat as a dove's tail in the time you'd take to make
up juice for a second spit.'

Morgan savoured the quickened attention of the sprawled figures round
the fire, and lengthened the moment for his own enjoyment.

'I don't need ships at the moment,' he said. 'I am going into the
cattle business.'

'Cattle!' they said, shocked. 'Where?'

'Cuba,' said Henry, demure; and nearly laughed aloud as the lounging
figures sat up as one man.

'_Cuba!_'

'Yes. It's a very fine cattle-country, I understand.'

Oh,' they said, relaxing. 'You are going to land a poaching party to
victual the _Fortune_.'

'Oh, no. It is all quite open and above-board. I am taking a thousand
head of beef out of Cuba in the next few weeks.'

They sat up once more and considered this unlikely statement.

'And how will you manage to run off a thousand head under the
Spaniards' noses?'

'Oh, I shall have permission, of course.'

'Permission? Whose permission!'

'The Spaniards, naturally.'

'The Spaniards! You think they will give you permission?'

'For a consideration, they will.'

'You're mad, Henry Morgan,' they said. 'Not for any money will the
Spaniards oblige an Englishman to the extent of a thousand head of
cattle. You can save your breath and your money.'

'I had not thought of money.'

'No? Then what was your "consideration?"'

'I think the Spaniards will give me the beef as the price of not
sacking Puerto Principe.'

There was complete silence at that. A staggered silence.

'But Puerto Principe is in the very heart of Cuba,' they said. 'Thirty
miles at least from the coast.'

'That is why I think it would be a good bargaining counter.'

'Why?'

'It has no defences worth mentioning.'

'Perhaps,' they said. 'But the rest of Cuba has plenty. The place
bristles with fortifications.'

'Only at the Havana end. They take it for granted that Puerto Principe
doesn't need any. No one, they think, would come into the heart of the
country to attack it.'

'And I don't blame them,' said little Rogers in a burst. 'By God, it is
so daft that it is very nearly sensible.'

'There is a further reason that makes Puerto Principe a handy thing to
dicker with. The plains round the town are black with cattle. The best
beef in Cuba.'

'And what will the Spaniards be doing while we are coming openly across
the plain?' asked the Kent man.

'We, Captain Ansell?' said Morgan, and his heart lifted.

'If you're going to hold up a town in the centre of Cuba, you're not
going to do it with a ship's crew. Captain Morgan. And if you're
planning to take over a thousand head of cattle, then you're planning
to victual more ships than the _Fortune_.  I want to be part of
whatever is forward.'

'I shall be very pleased to have your help, Captain Ansell. And as to
your question, we shall do the thirty miles over the hills between a
dawn and a dawn, so that we come down into the plain while the world is
still asleep. We shall be in the town before they are aware of us.'

'Have you anyone who knows the interior of Cuba?' Rogers asked.

'Yes. Captain Hadsell here escaped from Havana across country, and lay
in hiding on that coast for some time.'

'And how many men do you plan to use?' Ansell said.

'About four hundred if I can get them. But it can be done with less.'

The blazing logs slipped one by one, in sudden cascades of sparks, to
scattered embers while they discussed the affair; and when at last, in
the bright calm of midnight, they got stiffly to their feet and went
their several ways to the boats, the verdict was the one that Tom
Rogers had so impulsively given at first hearing: It was so daft that
it was very nearly sensible.

'What about the French?' Morgan asked Rogers and Ansell as they walked
down the beach together. 'There are three of them in the lagoon. Are
they to be trusted these days?'

'Why not?' said Ansell. 'My family have been marrying back and forth
across the Channel for hundreds of years, and I never found a war with
France make any difference to our mutual plans.'

'Let them make the offer--don't you go courting them. Captain--and then
they'll stay by you,' said Rogers, who was a Celt like Morgan, and
therefore more devious-minded than the Kent man.

And Morgan took this to be good advice.

He held it to be even better advice next morning, when he saw a boat
from the _Galliardena_ being rowed across to the _Fortune_, and a tall,
thin, chestnut-coloured man--chestnut hair, chestnut eyes, and chestnut
skin--came on board and introduced himself as Captain Pierre Gascoone.
Henry made him welcome, and as soon as sea etiquette was
satisfied--that is, as soon as he had accepted a second drink and
thereby paid tribute to the quality of the first--he broached the
business he had come on. He and his two fellow-captains had heard much
of Captain Morgan's prowess against Spain, and it was freely rumoured
in the Islands that Captain Morgan was planning a new adventure in that
direction. He had no wish to force any confidence, but he would like
Captain Morgan to know that if he was looking for assistance, he,
Pierre Gascoone, and his two colleagues, Captain Tribetor and Captain
Linaux, would be glad to join any expedition that Captain Morgan might
have in mind. All three of them had suffered at Spain's hands; and all
three crews were very short of back-pay. Two cogent reasons for an
early foray among the shipping of Spain.

'Or into Spanish territory?' Morgan said.

'Or into Spanish territory,' agreed Captain Gascoone, not batting an
eyelid. 'The mainland, perhaps?'

'Presently. But the ships will have to be victualled first. And that
can be done successfully only by disciplined crews. Crews that can be
held in when excited.' How much, he wanted to know, could the Frenchmen
depend on their crew's coming to heel when wanted?

'Like little dogs, they are,' said the Frenchman. 'I whistle, they
come. I put up my hand, they lie down.'

So Morgan told him of their plan for victualling. And the
chestnut-coloured eyes in the brown face danced and laughed.

'Captain Morgan,' said the Frenchman, standing by the ladder as he was
taking his leave, 'always I have liked the English, but never do I like
them as well as today. They have a panache that makes even my
countrymen seem as flat as a yesterday's lettuce. I am delighted to
have made your acquaintance, Captain Morgan, and will be delighted to
be a partner in your impudences.'

So the plan was accepted, and preparations went forward. And every
morning when he went on deck Henry looked round the bay to see if
Mansfield had come in during the night; and every evening as the light
failed his last glance was to the horizon in the hope of seeing the
_Endeavour_ coming up. It was unthinkable that this first step towards
the avenging of Santa Catalina should be taken without the old man's
presence and blessing.

But the days went by, and the plan grew tighter and neater, and still
no ship brought Mansfield into shelter at Isle of Pines. Nor did any
ship that put in have news of him. And in the end they sailed without
him; sailed east, through the endless small islands, to the Gardens of
the Queen. To port lay the great bulk of Cuba, five times the size of
Jamaica, well settled, well fortified, and solidly Spanish. But the
islands along its south coast were anyone's ground; an adventurer's
paradise. And it was among those islands, close under the lee of Cuba,
that they hid their ships before they took to the boats for their
inspired impertinence.

The landing was done at night, on deserted beaches, so that it should
be unheralded and so that the forced march over the hills could be done
for the most part in daylight, and therefore at the necessary speed to
bring them down to the plain before the following dawn.

Henry had left nothing to chance, and his crew made merry over the
detailed arrangements ('Is it you I give my hand to when we meet in the
Grand Chain?' said Bluey to his companion on the thwart as they pulled
away from the _Fortune_), but his care was justified, and one by one
the boats slid up the dark sand in the appointed order at the appointed
time, and the men went to cover in the order in which they would set
out on the march as soon as it was light. Charlie Hadsell, being the
authority on the country, led the advance party, and the rest followed
on his heels; each man carrying his own ammunition and enough food for
two meals. The soldiers in the _Fortune's_ crew had suffered much
during their weeks as seamen, both from unaccustomed tasks and too
accustomed comment, but now they came into their own. The seamen,
improvident as always, ate their food when the pangs of hunger
prompted, and arrived at the midday halt destitute. They also arrived
footsore. And the still limber soldiers laughed at them as they ate
their dutifully conserved rations.

Early in the afternoon, in a small sudden valley, they came on a shack
where a man and his wife were living with two children: a baby and a
boy of seven. And it was here that they made their first mistake. They
took the man with them for safety's sake, but left the boy.

It was Hadsell who made the second and more serious mistake. He lost
his way; and, being Hadsell, refused to admit it. By the time that the
error was so patent that even Hadsell could no longer support an
appearance of libelled virtue, the damage had been done and they were
two hours late on schedule. The dawn overtook them still struggling
along bridle paths and through unexpected streams, sweating and
cursing, blistered and chafed. And when they cleared the last ridge and
looked down on the town it was nearly eight o'clock.

Very clear and neat and bright-coloured lay the town, all gay tiles and
dazzling wash, like a child's toy. And very active indeed was the town
that they were to have taken by a surprise attack in the dawn. Trumpets
sang and horsemen galloped and fugitives ran from the cattle-black
plains into the shelter of the city; and from the other side of the
city a trickle of laden mules showed how the rich and the provident
were already sending their treasure to hiding in the farther hills.

The privateers, English and French, gathered on the slope and stared.
Bluey took the boots from round his neck, and hobbled to a rock. 'We
wasn't expecting a reception committee,' he said, 'but if there's a
pair of cloth slippers in that town ten thousand Dons won't keep me out
of it.'

A whine came through the still morning air and something fell with a
brisk crash through the trees below them. Then three more whines and
crashes in quick succession.

'Cannon!' said Bluey. 'God love us, a battery. And me with nothing but
a pair of bleeding feet and a musket.'

But Henry was looking at the smoke of the discharged cannon where it
floated up from an orange-grove between them and the town.

'He's a fool, whoever he is,' he said. 'He should never have taken
those guns out of the town.'

'Who is responsible for this?' the French wanted to know.

'It is too early for inquests,' Morgan said.

'But someone must be punished for the blunder.'

'The blunder, gentlemen, was to under-estimate the heart of a
seven-year-old.'

'Seven-year-old what?'

'Boy.'

'You mean a child reported our coming?'

'If you doubt it, look at his father's face,' Henry said, nodding to
where the Spanish settler was standing, still a prisoner. The man's
face shone with glory.

'If it had been my luck to get a son like that,' Henry said, 'that is
how I should look too.'

'So; and now?'

'I suggest that we send a party round behind that battery to deprive
that silly fellow of his cannon and leave the road clear for us. After
that, we shall send a message into the town to make an offer: we will
refrain from a siege if they surrender their cattle.'

But while the battery was being tendered harmless, it became evident
that siege was not in the Spaniards' minds. They believed in
counter-attack. As the privateers came down _en masse_ towards the town
two troops of cavalry came trotting out, formed into line, broke into a
canter, and came charging at the astonished invaders. The sailors,
taken aback, hesitated and made as if to run for cover. But to the
soldiers this was an old story, and they reacted automatically to the
stimulus. They dropped to their knees, primed and loaded their clumsy
muskets with unhurrying fingers, propped them with an artist's care,
took a leisurely aim, and fired. The charging line wavered and broke,
and fled away to either side like a river meeting a rock. The soldiers
took down their muskets and began to reload while the cavalry circled
backwards to reform. The sailors, heartened by this demonstration,
recovered their presence of mind and imitated the soldiers. And the
cavalry, coming back, were greeted with something that was to become
famous as a destroyer of far finer formations than the gallant
defenders of Puerto Principe: the withering blast of steady English
musketry. It was too much for them, and they did not attempt a third
charge. They fled for the shelter of the town.

And on their heels came the once more confident invaders. Not as a mob,
but in formation, with colours and drum. They had come to demand the
surrender of a town, and they would do it decently and in due form. But
the town did not wait for parley. The town began firing as soon as they
were within range.

'The hasty, excitable bastards,' said the English. 'Can't they be still
for a minute and listen?'

So they drew off a little, and Morgan sent in a messenger. Let the
Spaniards give them two things: free entry into the town, and a
guarantee that they could drive off all the cattle they needed without
interference, and no harm would come to the life or private property of
any of the inhabitants.

The Spaniards' answer, translated into the vernacular, proved to be: 'A
likely story!' So the English, hungry and exasperated, began to fight
their way into the town, street by street; snatching food from the
empty houses as they went. A bedridden old man in a room on the
outskirts told them that the Alcalde had been killed leading the
cavalry charge, and the Bishop had taken over the volunteer infantry he
had raised--seven hundred of them, according to the invalid--and was in
charge of the town. He had sent all women and children to safety in the
church.

Morgan blessed the Bishop for his common-sense, and discounted the
seven hundred. From the size of the place, at least half of that number
must be slaves and coloured men. They would be into the heart of the
town by noon.

But it was nearly evening before they debouched into the main square
and found the Bishop, very magnificent, waiting on the steps of the
church to make formal surrender, and by that time a great many of their
number were lying dead or wounded in the shadow of the silent streets.
The Spanish method of house-building--the tiny grilled windows, the
back-of-the-house-to-the-street--was ideal for defence, as the invaders
had found. Exmeling and his assistants were busy.

Morgan, very angry at being made to fight for something he had not
particularly wanted, was stiff with the Bishop. His terms, he said, had
been honest ones; but his price now was, of course, higher. As well as
the beef, and the salt to pickle it, he would demand a money ransom as
the price of not sacking Puerto Principe.

Alas, said the Bishop, there was no money in the town.

'No,' said Morgan, 'it went out by the mule-load this morning. You will
get it back by noon tomorrow. If there is not enough to make up the
sum, the balance will be contributed from the private property of the
citizens. Meanwhile you will order your men to provide a meal for three
hundred and fifty within an hour from now, here in the main square; and
you will send out food for another fifty to the French who are
picketing the approaches to the town. And now, direct me to the
Alcalde's house.'

The house, which stood on the square, bore evidences of a hasty
gathering together of valuables, all of which were now either in church
with the Alcalde's women-folk, or safe in the farther hills. But it was
not for valuables that Morgan had come. It was neither silver nor
jewels that he planned to take out of Puerto Principe. He found what he
had come for in the Alcalde's office, a neat, cool room at the end of
the courtyard. In the Alcalde's desk he found it: a list of seventy
names. Above the list was the heading: Enlistments For The Projected
Expedition Against Jamaica: The Puerto Principe Contingent. That this
contingent of seventy had not been bubbling over with desire to go in
arms against the English in Jamaica was witnessed to by the tidy-minded
Alcalde, who had added after each man's name, for his own private
information, the reason why the man had consented to be pressed.

This was satisfying enough, but when Henry turned over the paper and
found what was attached to it, he nearly laughed aloud. The attached
document was a letter from Havana, from the Governor of Cuba. The
Governor congratulated the Alcalde on his success in the recruiting
business, specified the numbers contributed by the other districts of
the island, and detailed the plan for eventual concentration before
attack. Contingents from the mainland, said the Governor, would arrive
in the next few months. Those from Vera Cruz and Campeche would
rendezvous at Havana, those from Puerto Bello and Cartagena at St Jago.

As Henry's eye lighted on the word Puerto Bello, the breath came out of
him in a silent laugh that was praise and prayer and amusement and
satisfaction all rolled into one. The road to Puerto Bello was open.

Henry slept that night in the bed of the dead Alcalde; and the only
ghost that haunted his slumbers was the image of Bartholomew Kindness,
working his heart out as a slave on the fortifications of Puerto Bello.
In the morning he was brusque with the delaying tactics of the Bishop,
who was patently hoping for rescue from the capital.

'Havana is three hundred miles away,' said Henry, 'and I have enough
men to hold the roads from there for weeks.'

So the Bishop gave up, and the mules began to file back into the town,
and herders were mobilised to drive the cattle down to the coast, and
salt was weighed and loaded on to the mules that had brought back the
treasure. But about one thing the Bishop stuck his toes in. He would
not produce the boy who had brought the message warning the town of
their arrival; and the never very shockable Henry was shocked to his
soul when he discovered that the Bishop's refusal was due to the
Bishop's belief (which he apparently shared with all his flock) that it
was their intention to torture the child.

'Great God, what minds!' said Henry. And to the Bishop, who was once
more reporting his inability to find the boy: 'I wanted to meet the boy
because I admire him. Is that too much for a Spanish understanding?
Because if I had a son I should like him to be just like that.'

The Bishop looked first surprised, then doubtful, and ultimately
relieved, and the boy was at last produced. Morgan was dining with his
fellow Captains at the Alcalde's house when the child was brought to
the house by his father. It was the fourth and last night of their stay
in Puerto Principe, and the meal had an air of celebration. Tomorrow
they would bundle and go, following the cattle-drive down to the sea,
and they were mellow with achievement and good-fellowship. They
received the astonished child with acclamation, piled cushions on a
chair until they reached a convenient height, and set him among them at
table.

'Do you know why we have sent for you?' Morgan asked him, in Spanish.

'My father says that it is to do me honour,' said the child. 'But that
does not seem to me likely. I have been a thorn in your foot when you
were in a hurry. Why should you want to do me honour?'

'Because you had courage and resource, and the English admire all who
have courage and resource.'

'In _that_ case,' said the child, 'may I have some of the honey-cake?'

They plied him with dainties, and toasted him in English, Welsh, and
Spanish; in rum, wine and brandy; and he sat eating composedly and
watched the laughing, unaccountable English making their
incomprehensible gestures. By the time their mellowness had grown
blurred and a little fuddled, he had fallen asleep where he sat. And
Morgan, still sober, picked him up and carried him outside to his
waiting father. For a moment, as he saw the limp body in the
Englishman's arms, the man's eyes widened with dread.

'I am afraid he is going to be very sick tomorrow,' Morgan said. 'We
have allowed him to eat everything in sight.'

And the man let his breath out again, and smiled.

'You are a good man, señor,' he said.

No one, so far, had ever called Morgan that. He handed over the child
half-amused, half-embarrassed.

'Good-night,' he said. 'I envy you your son.'

And went back to spend the rest of the night at table. For they were
leaving at dawn and it was not worth while to go to bed.

Before the birds wakened, the silent half-light was filled with the
beat of drums summoning the men to muster in the square, and before the
sun was far enough up to clear the surrounding hills they were marching
out.

'I'd like to have seen what those señoras in the church looked like,'
Bluey said as they left the town behind them. 'But at least I got me
slippers.'

He had two pairs. The ones he was wearing, of soft Spanish leather; and
a jewel-trimmed satin pair which he had filched for a girl in Port
Royal.

They did the thirty miles to the sea on wings; and even the hard work
waiting them on the beach was not sufficient to damp their spirits.
Indeed, they faced the slaughter and dismemberment of a thousand head
of cattle in a spirit of saturnalia, and for days the beach was a riot
of carnage. Sweating and bloodstained they laboured, under the canopy
of screaming birds: flaying, eviscerating, jointing. Jack Morris had
brought up the ships at the appointed time from their hiding-place in
the Cays, and they stood around waiting to be loaded. The barrels were
floated ashore from them empty, and filled with the salted flesh.
Higher up the beach were the slow fires where the choice bits, cut into
strips, were being smoked into boucan. The wounded, who had been sent
out to the ships in advance of the cattle-drive, made miraculous
recoveries and found excuses for trips to the beach so that they might
purloin the coveted marrow-bones.

It was in the matter of marrow-bones that the first break in good
temper showed among the labouring crews. Marrow-bones were perquisites,
more prized than meat or offal, and the rage of the man who found his
hard-won delicacy snatched from under his nose was in direct proportion
to his growing weariness and the blue haze of flies in which he worked.
The wounded were harried back to the ships, but tempers did not sweeten
perceptibly with their disappearance. It was the fifth day of their
orgy, and the beach stank in the sun, a mile of slaughter-house, when,
with the suddenness of an explosion, uncertain temper flared into riot.
'_Salaud! Salaud!_' screamed a high French voice above the shrieking
birds, and one part of the long beach became immediately black with
men, as ants swarm to a point of interest.

Morgan, who had been standing in the shade of the first trees, testing
the samples of boucan brought to him, shouted: 'Stay where you are! Not
a man moves a step!' and the sound of his voice stayed the men below
him from their instinctive rush to the centre of trouble. They stood
looking doubtfully from Morgan to the distant clamour, their butcher's
knives in their hands, their ears still hearing that French challenge.

Morgan, who wanted to go at once to the scene of the fight, was held
there by the necessity of controlling them; if he moved, then they
would move with him. But he was saved from having to resolve the
situation, for the centre of trouble was moving rapidly towards him
along the shore. Indeed, it seemed that the whole east end of the
beach, the French end, was advancing _en masse_. In the heart of the
human mass was a small swirl which proved as they came nearer to be a
man struggling in the grip of his fellows. He was fighting like a
maniac, in spite of the fact that a moment's consideration would have
shown him that with odds several hundreds to one against him it might
be as well to go quietly.

They dragged this whirling piece of human protest up to Morgan, and
yelled: 'This creature of yours has killed one of our men! He must be
executed! He must be executed immediately!'

'I have no power to execute anyone,' Morgan said coolly. 'But an
inquiry will be held. Whose man is he?'

He was one of the _Gift's_ crew, they said. And he had stabbed a
Frenchman in the back with a knife. He must be executed forthwith.

Morgan looked at the unlovely object of their animosity, and was
troubled by a vague sense of familiarity. The man was caked to the eyes
with dried blood but none of it seemed to be his; he had just not
bothered to wash lately. From the brown-streaked face the silly, pale
eyes, distended and shallow, stared with an animal fury. Surely,
thought Henry, he knew those eyes?

'Why did you take a knife to the Frenchman?' he asked.

'He stole my marrow-bones! He stole the whole of my first lot, and I
found him making off with the ones I had saved today! Killing's too
good for him. He ought to be carved up bit by bit, like a bullock, only
alive!'

Yes, the voice went with the eyes. But whose voice, and whose eyes?

The French clamour had broken out again. The man must be strung up. The
sun could not be allowed to go down on a comrade unavenged, on an
insult unpaid for.

'Your comrade was a thief, it appears.'

A torrent of contradictory information and comment greeted this.

But Morgan was suddenly very still. A trail of smoke from the boucan
fires had provided the stimulus he needed. For a moment he was back in
that camp in Barbados, with the wild pig roasting, and the boucan
drying, and Bart doling out his day's purchases. And he knew now who
the man was.

It was Timsy.

Timsy, who had helped him to capture the _Gloria_. Timsy, the born
killer with a child's passion for candy. Timsy, who had gone overside
at Tortuga with a fortune in pearls in his pocket.

'If the man has committed murder,' he said, 'he will be put in irons
and sent back to stand his trial in Port Royal.'

'Aaah!' they yelled. 'You want to save him. You are cheating us. When
he is back in Port Royal you will let him go.'

'On the contrary, he will almost certainly hang.'

'Then hang him now! Let us see him hanged.'

'You can go to Port Royal and see him hanged. The Law does not concern
itself with the ordinary citizen's convenience.'

'Law!' they yelled. 'We want justice, not law!'

'You will get both, I hope. What you are asking at the moment is
neither one nor the other. There is law in the islands, and if a man
does wrong he will stand trial for it before a properly constituted
court. You are all at liberty to be present at the trial and to provide
witnesses against the man.' He saw out of the tail of his eye that Tom
Rogers had materialised at his side. 'I am handing over the man to the
custody of his own Captain, and he will be sent back in the sloop that
is sailing for Port Royal the day after tomorrow. I shall ask Captain
Gascoone, as the senior Captain among you, to arrange for witnesses to
be sent at the same time to state your case.'

'And you think an English court will condemn their own man!'

'Certainly. Would not a French one do as much?' As this gave them
pause, he added: 'We come of civilised races, the French and the
English. Let us not descend to Spanish ideas of justice.'

Their rage had sunk to grumbling by the time Pierre Gascoone arrived,
and they allowed Timsy to be pried from their clutches and handed over
to his Captain, who sent him under escort to the _Gift_.

'I won't waste any tears over Timothy Hare,' Tom Rogers said, Watching
him go. 'He was always more trouble than he was worth. Half crazy, I
think.'

But Morgan was miserable.

He sat late, that night, by the dead fire in front of his tent ashore,
unable to sleep. And presently there was a stirring in the bushes and
Bluey's voice said: 'Beg pardon, Captain, but can I speak to you for a
moment, sir?'

'What is it, Bluey?'

'You're going to let him go, aren't you, Captain?'

'No, Bluey, I am not.'

'But Captain, it's Timsy!'

'Yes, I know. He must stand his trial, just like anyone else.'

'But they'll hang him, Captain. They'll hang him, sure's death.'

'Yes, I am afraid they will. His victim was innocent.'

'But he doesn't have to get to the Port, Captain. He could just
disappear quietly over the side some night. There's plenty of islands
where----'

'No, Bluey. He is going to Port Royal. He is going to be tried in
public, to show all the French, and all the Islands, that English
justice is what it represents itself to be.'

There was silence for a little, while Bluey was apparently trying to
understand his Captain's point of view. In this he failed, it would
seem.

'I suppose I just don't see it your way. Captain.' And then he added
unhappily: 'He thinks you're going to let him go. Captain. He won't
understand. Couldn't you just talk to him and--and--well, explain
things somehow to him?'

'What good would that do?'

'He wouldn't think then that you did it without caring. I mean, if you
explain to him why it has to be, he won't think we've just let him die
without it mattering to us one way or the other.'

'I see. I'll think about it, Bluey.'

And having thought about it, he went next evening to see Timsy, sitting
in irons in the _Gift's_ fo'c'sle.

'You're going to let me go, aren't you, Harry?' he said, his wide,
unadult eyes searching Morgan's.

'No, Timsy; I am not.'

'But, Harry; but, Captain----'

'I came to see you for that very reason: to tell you why I can't let
you go. You believe I would if it was in my power, don't you?'

'But you can. Captain. You can.'

It was hopeless from the start, of course. It was no more possible to
make poor Timsy understand than it had been to make Bluey see some
reason in the course he was taking. He went away from the _Gift_ with
Timsy's agonised cries in his ears.  'Harry! you can't! You can't! If
you send me to Port Royal they'll hang me! Harry, you don't have to.
You _don't have to_!'

And when the sloop sailed with the dispatches for Modyford, the
dispatches he was so proud of--the evidence that he had promised to
obtain about the proposed invasion of Jamaica, and his account of the
taking of Puerto Principe--it carried also one prisoner in irons on his
way to trial at Port Royal.

And Henry watched it go, soberly, his schoolboy elation about Puerto
Principe almost dead within him. He could not hope that his own men
would understand any better than Bluey the abstractions of equity. They
would believe only that he had sacrificed a fellow-countryman in order
to placate the French. So he watched the little ship bear away his
triumphant dispatches, and was conscious only of a bleak feeling under
his ribs.

He was growing up.




Chapter 10


'It's a good thing we're five hundred miles from Port Royal,' Jack
said, watching the pay-queue snake along the beach at Isle of Pines,
'or we'd never get a man of them to the mainland of America.'

The ransom from Puerto Principe had worked out at fifteen pounds a
head, and to men whose only coin for months was either a luck-piece or
a dud this was riches. Balked of the opportunity for immediate
spending, they fell back on their second love, and gambled from morning
till night. If they won they celebrated, if they lost they drowned
their sorrows; and there was not one of the nine captains who did not
breathe a sigh of relief when at last the anchors came up and the ships
filed out on their long journey to the mainland.

Eight well-found ships followed the _Fortune_ out of the roads at Isle
of Pines, but the _Endeavour_ was not one of them. Mansfield was still
unaccounted for. And of the nine captains only three knew their
destination: Morgan, Jack Morris, and Charlie Hadsell. There was to be
no gossip, blown seed-like on the wind, to warn Puerto Bello behind its
smug fortifications. So it was not until weeks later, down off the
American coast, that Morgan faced his colleagues with the proposition
that they take Puerto Bello.

It was almost summer by that time, and the ships, loitering at the
rendezvous, creaked and sweltered. Canvas flapped irresolute in the hot
air, and men pursued a piece of shade across the deck with an ardour
they had never brought to the pursuit of women. One by one the ship's
boats ferried the various captains to the conference on board the
_Fortune_, and Henry set before them the best meal that Toni's galley
could produce; feeling, rightly, that to stomach Puerto Bello would
require some preliminary cushioning.

But, as it turned out, two-thirds of them took the dose with every sign
of pleasure, with laughter and admiring oaths; only the French gagged.
The French would have none of it.

'It is insane,' said the French. 'The place is notorious. It is the
boast of Spain, the fortifications there. No one would survive such a
foolhardy expedition.'

'But I have told you: I have no intention of trying to force the place.
We take it from inland.'

'A hundred miles in small boats, and then nothing but pistols and
cutlasses against a town with three fortresses!' said the French. 'No!
No, indeed; we thank you, but no!'

And from that nothing would move them; not even Henry at his most
persuasive. Not even the dazzling pictures he painted of the wealth of
Puerto Bello, the port of the Isthmus, the funnel through which drained
all the riches that Panama, the capital, had gathered from the Pacific
coast of Central America, moved the practical French to any noticeable
degree. It was an insane project, and they would have none of it.

And that evening he watched a third of his fleet crowd on sail to catch
the heavy airs and float gracefully into the darkness and out of his
ken.

'Let them go,' said Jack. 'I feel more comfortable when I don't have to
watch the ground in case I tread on someone's toes.'

But Henry was hurt.

'After Cuba, they might have trusted me,' he said, sulky and injured.
And then, recovering, he flung an arm round his friend and said with
sudden relish: 'But ah, how sorry they are going to be that they did
not come with us.'

And sorry they were. Very sorry indeed.

The English took two hundred and fifty thousand pieces-of-eight out of
Puerto Bello; together with treasure worth half as much again. For that
they paid in blisters, bites, sweat, sunburn, wounds and heat-stroke;
but only eighteen of them with their lives. And in after years they
were accustomed to refer to 'that time at Puerto Bello' as a kind of
paradise; a whole month of ease and fat living. Indeed, the only part
of the exploit that left any permanent mark on them was the boat trip.
A hundred miles in open rowing-boats under a tropical sun is no
pleasure jaunt, and there was not one of the four hundred who did not
wince in remembering it.

Henry would have brought the ships fifty miles nearer if he could have
chosen, but there was no wind to sail them. And to hang about the coast
waiting for a wind was to put the mainland on its guard, and so deprive
them of their trump card. So they toiled the whole hundred miles in the
boats, watching the green, secret coast slip by with a maddening
slowness; setting a rag of sail hopefully when the air stirred, only to
take it down a few minutes later and take to the oars again. Every hour
the oars weighed more, moved more clumsily in the rowlocks, and came
more reluctantly out of the water. It was like rowing through treacle
with a piece of mast. The colourless light, constant and pitiless, beat
off the sea in their faces; and the blazing heat, constant and
pitiless, beat down from the sky on their defenceless bodies. At noon,
for two hours, they put in to the shore and lay like dead men;
indifferent to the million stinging insects as long as they were for a
little in the shade and it was not their turn to man an oar. Evening
came like a pardon; and night was a haven that taught them the meaning
of salvation.

It was on a still midnight, half-lit by a rising new moon, that they
came to shore for the last time, and left their boats behind them. In
front of them was the wet green forest, and beyond the forest was the
Beautiful Port of their ambition. And to lead them through the swampy
woods to their goal they had the ideal guide: the maroon who had
brought the message from Major Smith. The maroon nowadays led an
uncertain existence as assistant to Toni (whose temperament had all the
violence of the would-be artist), but there was nothing uncertain in
his knowledge of the forests through which he had escaped; nor anything
uncertain about his joy in being the means of retribution. He had a
long account chalked up against the Spaniard.

At three o'clock in the morning, the maroon led them into a clearing
and said that this was as far as they could go. They were now behind
the town; and less than five hundred yards in front of them, through
the screen of trees, was the inland one of the three forts: San
Jeronimo. It stood by itself on a small promontory jutting into the
bay, and commanded the town as the two other forts, on either side of
the harbour entrance, commanded the mouth of the bay. It was a
quadrangular redoubt of stone with a great wooden door on the land
side. In front of the door was a flat paved terrace where a sentry was
always on duty.

Morgan wanted that sentry, and the maroon offered to bring him in if a
volunteer would go with him. Out of an immediate press of volunteers
Morgan chose the one whose guile, grace, impudence, courage and
complete ruthlessness made it likely that he would not only be able to
approach the sentry without announcing his presence, but that he would
bring back the man as expected. So Manuel went with the maroon, the two
slim, dark figures melting into the forest without a sound; and the
others, with the sailor's infinite capacity for casual slumber, curled
themselves up on the hot, damp ground and relaxed. They roused
themselves half an hour later to inspect the gibbering captive who
stood propped between an amused Manuel and a grim maroon. Manuel had
used the same technique as a very young Henry Morgan had used to
silence the watchman on the _Gloria_: the padded hand over the mouth
and the knife in the small of the back. The suddenness of it all had
been too much for the wretched Spaniard, and only the solid grip of his
captors kept him erect at all. He babbled all he knew at the first
asking. The fort was undermanned: only a hundred and thirty men all
told. There was ample powder and ammunition. All the guns were trained
out to sea. He was due to be relieved at dawn.

They gave the shuddering creature a drink--much to his surprise--gagged
him, and set his face towards the fort again; and with him went the
attacking party: two hundred men who planned to take San Jeronimo with
sword and pistol. With sword and pistol, and one other weapon. Henry
had never forgotten the _Gloria_, and tonight he planned to repeat on a
larger scale the technique that had proved so successful in capturing a
ship. Round the shoulders of each member of the advance party,
therefore, was coiled a rope, and to the end of each rope was bent a
grapnel.

Silently, in the last of the darkness, the men moved to their appointed
places: Manuel and the maroon to the sentry-walk in front of the door,
the rest to surround the fort close under the walls. Then Manuel took
the gag from the sentry's mouth and whispered: 'Now then, little
frightened one, shout as you were told!'

It was a poor, feeble sound that came from the sentry's throat, but it
was sufficient in the silence of the coming dawn to attract attention
from the fort. What was biting Diego? the fort wanted to know.

Diego summoned some alto to give body to his first treble effort, and
told them. An army of Englishmen were here in front of the fort and
demanding admittance. They offered terms if there was no resistance.

This, as Henry had reckoned, had one immediate result. Every man who
was awake in the fort, and all those roused from sleep by the scurry,
ran to the battlements on the land side to look over at the suspectedly
mad sentry. And as soon as this had happened, twenty grapnels whirled
round the heads of the advance party and twenty ropes went snaking out
and up to fall over the deserted battlements. As the hooks settled home
the first men went swarming up, and stepped over the wall unmolested.
So did the next lot, and the next; the whole garrison being still
engaged in hurrying to the point of sensation above the main gate. In
less than ten minutes there were fifty Englishmen inside the fort with
no more damage to their persons than some skinned knuckles. When
another thirty had joined them they left twenty to guard the tops of
the rope ladders and see that the rest arrived safely, and moved in on
the occupants of the fort. They moved without care, sure that they
would be mistaken by the Spaniards for colleagues. Not in their wildest
nightmares would the Spaniards imagine that the English would drop into
their impregnable fortress like flies alighting on a cake. So the
invaders moved in on the garrison like fishers with a drag-net: mopping
up the stragglers as they cornered them and advancing in force to hem
in the men by the parapet above the gate. These last felt, unbelieving
and dazed as the poor sentry had been, the press of a knife or pistol
in their backs and remained transfixed, broken prayers trickling out of
their slack lips. The completely unbelievable was happening, and they
had no resources to deal with it.

The grey light came as they submitted to being disarmed, and the sudden
tropic dawn saw the great wooden gate being opened to receive the
invaders' main force. Henry, who had gone over the wall with the
assault party, received his fellow captains with an air of doing host
that Charlie Hadsell for one found intolerable. But the rest were too
elated to care, and too grateful to Morgan to be critical. And Henry
himself had no thought to spare for Hadsell's ill-humour; he had not
yet achieved the thing he had come fifteen hundred miles for.

Where, said Henry, to the still stunned Commandant, were the English
prisoners?

The Commandant had never heard of any English prisoners.

'No?' said Morgan. 'Let me refresh your memory. Men from the garrison
of Santa Catalina--Englishmen--were put to work on your fortifications
here, against all civilised practice. Where, I ask, are these men
kept?'

If there were such prisoners, said the Commandant, it must have been on
one of the other fortifications that they had been employed. He knew
nothing of them.

'The water defences were finished years ago. It is on San Jeronimo that
the work has been done. Where are the men?'

The Commandant was a small, fat man with an expressionless face, but a
twitch in the flesh of his sallow cheek betrayed the agitated clenching
of his teeth. The Commandant was very frightened indeed. He was also
lying.

'Very well,' said Henry. 'We shall search.'

'The cellars are pestilent,' said the Commandant quickly. 'It is as
well not to go near them. We had slaves there who died of plague, and
we have--have closed the place up.'

The cellars proved to be cool and sweet and filled with the heady smell
of wine-impregnated wood. But below the cellars, deep in the heart of
the ground, were dungeons; and the reek of the dungeons came up the
slippery stone stairway with a force that made even their hardened
stomachs heave. Into this noisome catacomb they descended by the flare
of torches, picking their way gingerly down the treacherous steps that
were slimed with moisture from the trickling walls. As they went down
the smell of the place almost stopped the breath in their throats, and
when at last they stood in front of a barred door and savoured the
stench that poured out through the grille even Bluey mopped his
forehead and looked sick. It was too sudden a change from the fresh
greenery of the forest.

There was an animal stirring beyond the door, but no sound of human
voices.

'Is anyone there?' Henry called.

There was silence for a moment on both sides of the door: a silence so
complete that even the drops that fell from the roof to the floor
sounded loud and petulant.

Then beyond the door a voice cried: 'English! English!'

It sounded like the voice of a man seeing heaven opened.

Morgan flung back the bars and pushed the door open. The smell of damp
straw--straw made damp by unnameable exudations and trodden into pulp
with age--was suffocating, but from this obscene bed human forms were
struggling up into the light of the torches. So ragged and
insubstantial they were that it seemed that they wavered in the
wavering light; as if they were part of the shadows.

'Bart,' said Henry, suddenly afraid. 'Bart! Are you here?'

'I'm here, Harry boy,' said Bart's mild voice a yard from his right
foot. 'But don't touch me. I'm crawling.'

'Bart!' said Henry, on his knees in the filth, a great rush of relief
and thankfulness pouring through him. 'Bart!'

'I knew you'd come sooner or later, Captain,' said Bart, his sunken
eyes bright in the light of the flare. 'That couldn't be Bluey you've
got with you, could it?'

Bluey was crying openly. 'Here!' he said, shoving his torch at the man
nearest him. 'Hold that.'

He bent and picked Bart from the straw as if he were a child, and
carried him up the stairs to the light and the air, the man following
with the torch.

Two others had to be helped, but the remaining eight walked out of
their prison like jaunty skeletons, macabre in their rags. These were
all that was left of the Santa Catalina garrison. Eleven men.

'They took Major Smith and his second to Panama a year ago,' they said.
'We don't know what happened to them.'

They had no nails, most of them; or what was left of the nail was
invisible in the broken finger-ends. They had been carrying stone with
their bare hands. The skin of their bodies, blistered in the first
unaccustomed heat, had flayed into open sores that had had no chance to
heal. Their bones stuck through the polluted flesh. They were crusted
with dirt.

Bart was a little heap of limp bones held together by his spirit.

'The good thing about having no flesh left on your bones,' he said, as
Bluey laid him down in the clean early-morning air, 'is that the
mosquitoes leave you alone.'

The crews were breakfasting in the courtyard of the castle when the
survivors filed up into the light, and they rose to their feet and
cheered. But the cheer died away uncertainly as they took in the state
of their countrymen, and though they hurried to the prisoners with
question and reassurance and succour, an odd silence fell on the bulk
of the men. They made no more motion to eat, and their eyes went from
the filthy and tattered skeletons to the well-fed Spaniards herded
weaponless at the far end of the courtyard.

Morgan, coming up from the dungeon, walked into this odd silence; and
recognised it. Once, long ago, he had heard it in a crowded tavern; and
he still remembered what those three bodies looked like, torn apart by
the bare hands of a crowd that had gone berserk.

He walked through the men as they sat about on the ground, their
half-finished victuals before them, and found no reassurance. They were
so far beyond the moment that they did not even make way for him; they
looked at him without seeing him.

He did not need, in any case, to have their state of mind translated to
him. There was murder in his heart too.

It needed only a pistol-shot to explode that charged silence into
action, and he would have on his hands, on his head, and on his
reputation a massacre of unarmed men.

Before he could consult with his captains, or suggest that they draw
off some of their men as soon as might be, a voice said loudly:

'Eleven men! _Eleven!_'

It was a voice high with hysteria, and it stirred the motionless crowd
like a wind. In another second they would be on their feet.

'Give the Spaniards back their swords!' shouted Henry; and that gave
them pause.

They waited to see what this might mean.

'They didn't give our men a chance, Captain,' a voice said. 'We'll take
them as they are.'

'Not while you are under my command.'

But the most heart-felt protest came from the Spaniards; they did not
want their swords back. They were prisoners, unhurt, and doing very
nicely. It was monstrous to make them fight now. The crews looked at
their plump faces, and kicked the food-plates out of their way as they
got to their feet.

'But you are three to our one!' said the Spaniards, the swords hanging
limp from their palsied arms.

'Mercifully,' was all Morgan said.

So the English took their price for the skeletons who had died on the
fortifications of San Jeronimo. And this was one of the things that
they did not talk about afterwards.

'The Garrison consisted of one hundred and thirty men, of whom
seventy-four, including the Commandant, were killed,' said Morgan's
official report.

His report of the taking of the great fort at the narrows was no more
expansive, although that was an orthodox exercise of war. When they had
marched through the panic-stricken town--women fleeing to the convent,
men fleeing to the forest, and five hundred militia making themselves
scarce in the direction of Panama--they were faced with the reduction
of Fort Triana, and that they accomplished by a combined operation. The
sailors swarmed up their scaling-ladders while the ex-soldiers
exhibited once more their prowess in musketry and picked off the
defenders as they swabbed their guns or tried to repel the climbing
sailors. Before they had finally proved the irresistibility of this
combination, the officer commanding the fort decided to salvage at
least his dignity from what was like to be the wreck of his command,
and offered to surrender on condition that he might march out his
garrison with their colours flying.

This did not please either troops or sailors, but it pleased Morgan. He
had never any liking for frontal assault. Life was always a wonderful
thing to him; sparkling with possibilities; and to throw this unique
and irreplaceable thing away offended his very soul. To die on the
glacis of a barricade was never any ambition of Harry Morgan's.

By afternoon, therefore, they had two of the three fortresses in their
hands; and they decided to leave the Gloria, the fort on the far side
of the narrows, until tomorrow. For the rest of the day they would take
over the town. Morgan sent Cornelius, in a sloop, to tell Jack Morris
that by the day after tomorrow the narrows would be open and he could
then bring up the ships from where they were lying at Bogota.

'I hope they won't blow the boy out of the water; but I think she's too
small and too fast to be hit by gun-fire,' he said, watching the tiny
craft growing small in the direction of the open sea; and forgot all
about the unreduced fort until two hours later, when raised voices and
pointing hands and marvelling exclamations called his attention to the
opposite headland.

Above the grim bulk of the Gloria was floating the English flag.

'They've surrendered!' they said, gaping. 'They've surrendered of their
own accord!'

'I hardly think,' said Morgan, 'that they had an English flag waiting
to be run up. Someone has been persuading them, it seems.'

The someone proved to be Cornelius. 'We did it on the spur of the
moment,' he explained afterwards. 'We moved in close and said that Fort
Triana had been given honourable terms, and we were prepared to receive
their surrender on the same conditions.'

So Fort Gloria surrendered to five Englishmen and a Hollander. And
Puerto Bello, the impregnable, the pride of Spain, was in English
hands.

Presently, of course, an attempt at rescue would come across the
Isthmus from Panama, but Morgan did not wait for that to arrive. He
sent out some of his best marksmen to camp themselves as comfortably as
possible on either side of the first suitable defile they came to on
the Panama road; and to wait there until such times as they could give
the advancing rescue party a suitable reception. When that elegant
gentleman, magnificent personage, and ardent devotee of Our Lady of the
Immaculate Conception, Don Juan Perez de Guzman, Governor of the
Province of Panama, arrived hot-foot with a small army to avenge the
insult and drive the infidel back into the sea that had spawned them,
an irreverent rain of infidel bullets halted him in his tracks and
cooled his ardour to the point where he began to entertain the thought
of ransom. Repugnant though the idea of ransom might be, it did mean
that the English would go. That they had not come as the advance-guard
of an invasion. That he, Don Juan Perez de Guzman, might go on living
magnificent and unmolested as Governor of the Province of Panama,
without having his peace, his security, and his prosperity sullied by a
war. He made a camp on the farther side of the infidel-haunted defile,
and began to negotiate. When he heard what the English wanted by way of
ransom he thought for a moment that war could not be much worse. He
refused to consider it. If he was firm the English would reduce their
demands.

But it was not the English he was dealing with: it was a Welshman. And
the answer that came back from Puerto Bello, deprived of its formality
and official phrasing, said: 'Just as you like, señor. We like Puerto
Bello and have thoughts of staying here for good. It is the best base
on the Atlantic coast.' So Don Juan sent word to the city of Panama to
collect the required sum as soon as might be, that the fair soil of
Spanish America should be rid of the English pestilence.

And the English settled down in the Beautiful Port to wait.

The ships came sailing in through the narrows, their crews looking with
amazement at the great forts with their silent guns, and Jack, stepping
ashore, said: 'I think I hear Drake laughing.'

The recovered prisoners were housed in the very fine Spanish hospital
and fed and cosseted and spoiled; not least by the Spanish ladies. They
had had no idea, said the Spanish ladies, that any English prisoners
were being tortured in Puerto Bello, and they were horrified that their
countrymen should have been guilty of such reprehensible practices, and
here is some fine fresh fruit for you, poor man.

It was Morgan's boast, and one of his pet vanities, that no 'lady of
quality', in which term he included that lesser class known as
'respectable females', ever suffered insult from any man of his. And it
pleased him that when he offered both the ladies of quality and the
respectable females safe-conduct to the Governor's camp on the other
side of the pass they refused it and elected to stay in the town.
Captain Morgan had very little experience of Spanish soldiery, they
inferred, or he would not have suggested it.

'Besides,' said a dowager, shaking her diamond earrings at him, 'if I
left my home you would loot it even more thoroughly than you have
already.'

'Come, madam,' he said. 'We have levied, not looted.'

'What is the difference?' she said, tart.'

'The difference is that you still have your earrings, señora.'

When they were not loading the ships with merchandise from the great
store-houses where it was waiting for transport to Spain, the
victorious English amused themselves after the immemorial habit of
invaders: they drank, wenched, stole, made friends with the children,
learned the local songs, imitated their partners in the local dances,
and were initiated by their victims into the niceties of the local
game. The criminal tenth indulged their propensities to the limit of
their power in the first two days, and by the end of the first week
were all in jail. So that an odd kind of peace settled on the captured
town, a holiday air. The seventy dead in San Jeronimo were strangers to
the place--merely some of the Spanish soldiery to whom the Puerto Bello
ladies had referred in such contemptuous terms--and no one wept for
them. The town, with its cool arcades, its blazing fruit-stalls, its
fountains playing in the sun, was a paradise, and both inhabitants and
invaders settled back to enjoy it: the former because they were
accustomed to it, and the latter because they were not.

At the end of three weeks the ransom arrived from Panama, and with it
came a letter from Don Juan Perez de Guzman. When the English left
Puerto Bello, said the Governor, would they leave behind a pattern of
the arms with which they had taken the town, so that Spain might have a
chance of meeting them on equal terms next time?

Morgan sent him a pistol and half a dozen bullets. 'These are the
weapons. Excellency,' he wrote. 'I am delighted to lend this sample to
you until such time as I come to Panama to reclaim it.'

He was pleased with this leave-taking, but it was Don Juan who, after
all, had the final word. A messenger came back four days later and
asked to see Morgan. 'My master asks me to say that it would be waste
of Captain Morgan's time to come to Panama,' he said, 'for this is all
that Captain Morgan will ever take out of it.'

'This' proved to be a gold ring set with a large emerald.

'Some day,' said Henry, contemplating the ring after the messenger had
gone, 'I really must think seriously of going to Panama. If he can
afford something like this merely by way of a gesture, what would he
not disgorge under a little pressure?'

He put the ring on his finger, and looked with delight on it.

The parting delight of the men, on the other hand, was to spend a hot
and happy morning dismantling the forts at the narrows and tumbling the
guns into the sea. They did it with laughter, and mocking farewell
shouts as the unwieldy objects splashed like fat women, wallowing, into
the crystal water. But San Jeronimo they did not dismantle. They blew
up San Jeronimo; business-like and without laughter.




Chapter 11


On the mere practical plane Henry was glad to be leaving Puerto Bello.
It was now late July, with the hurricane season imminent; and Port
Royal was eight hundred miles away up-wind. To lose a ship was at any
time a hard thing; but to lose a ship loaded to the hatches with silks,
linen, velvet, silver plate, carpets, swords, and jewelled baubles was
unthinkable. So Henry watched his conquest grow small across the
widening strip of water and had nothing in his heart but thankfulness.
Even the men, calling ribald farewells, turned to the sea again with
pleasure in their vagabond hearts. They had reached the stage when the
lazy life in the sun-drenched _patios_ had begun to pall, and their
incurable English restlessness pricked them.

'It is good we go,' said Bernard, looking back at the dream-like
loveliness. 'And it is good that the Spaniards should keep the
Americas.'

'Good!' said Morgan.

'Men grow soft and weak there,' said Bernard. 'It is too much effort to
think quickly, it is too much effort to stir oneself. So every day they
grow more like animals. Without pride and without foresight. It is no
place for white men, the Americas. It is as well to let the Spaniards
keep it.'

But Henry had other ideas about that.

Bernard, of course, took an entirely personal view of the existing
situation in the Caribbean, his interest being in trade and not in
conquest. And now that he was about to be rich enough to buy that
long-desired ship, he was willing to make a present of the rest of the
world to anyone who wanted it. That Spain, unchallenged in the
Americas, might object to his simple trading ambitions, was something
that he did not, in his present liberal frame of mind, pause to
consider.

It was Bart who had the surer instinct about the American Spanish. He
sat about on deck, criticising the hang of the sails ('a fair disgrace
the way that new cloth was put into that fore-sail there!') and
snuffing the sea air as if it were perfume.

'They're rotten. Captain, the Spaniards,' he said. 'They've gone bad.
They don't want to fight for what they have, but they want to kill
anyone that takes it from them. They run up a surrender flag if you're
armed, and they make a slave of you if you're not. They're bad,
Captain; bad.'

And Henry, looking at the rescued prisoners, found it in his heart to
regret their recovered lustiness. He would have liked to show them to
Port Royal as they had been; in the full extremity of their
humiliation. That was something that Port Royal would never be able to
visualise for themselves.

But perhaps they would be impressed by the plain arithmetic of the
thing. By the fact that the number of survivors out of a garrison of
nearly a hundred was eleven men.

When they did at last reach Port Royal, however, on a day of wild
squalls and stinging rain, they found that the Port's arithmetic was
entirely devoted to their own exploit, and that the wonder of the
conquest of Puerto Bello by less than four hundred men armed with
pistols and swords had sent the whole place a little mad. Port Royal
was not unused to the heroic: it had welcomed Captain Freemen after his
taking of Tobasco, and Jackman home from his capture of San Francisco
de Campeche, and many others from raids as daring. But none of these
exploits had possessed the startling, the almost fabulous quality of
the taking of Puerto Bello. The town was delirious.

'My Governorship is in the most precarious condition,' Modyford said to
Henry, with his small, dry smile.

'But have you not told them about the levies? Have you not sent them
the papers from Puerto Principe?'

'I was not referring to the Government. I was referring to the
populace. With the smallest encouragement they would make you Governor
tomorrow.'

'And kick me out the day afterwards,' said Morgan, who had vision as
well as vanity. 'They don't love us so much when we are penniless on
the beach,' he added; and then, with a transition of thought: 'I see
you hanged the man I sent you from Cuba.'

'Yes. The jury had no alternative. It was a knife-in-the-back affair.'
He looked at Henry's withdrawn expression for a moment, and then added:
'He was a poor type: not quite human; not, perhaps, altogether sane;
but he achieved more in the manner of his death than he could ever be
expected to in his life.'

'You mean he died well?'

'No. Although, as it happens, he did die well. I meant that his trial
and condemnation in open court by his countrymen has done more for
England's reputation in the Islands than anything else in our history.'

'It didn't keep the French with us at Puerto Bello,' Henry said
nastily.

This time Modyford smiled quite broadly. 'That does not surprise me,'
he said; and added wickedly: 'Did you miss them?'

'No,' said Henry. 'It was perfect. A family party. Just the right size,
and no strangers. There was only one thing wrong with it. Mansfield was
not there. Where is he, do you know?'

The Governor made a little movement with his head that Henry took to be
negation.

'Have you no news of him?' he asked.

But the movement had been one of regret.

'He's dead, Harry.'

Henry put down the glass he was drinking from, and sat without words.

'How?' he asked presently.

'He had gone to the South Cays to refit, and was attacked by a Spanish
warship. The _Endeavour_ was sunk.'

'You mean he went down with her?'

'No.'

'Well? Let us have it! What?'

'They took him to Havana. With the survivors of his crew.'

'And?'

'Put him to death.'

'By shooting?'

'No. They hanged him. And fifteen of his crew.'

'On what charge!'

'Piracy, I understand.'

'_Piracy_!  On what evidence?'

'Oh, no evidence. I don't think that there was any question of evidence
being required.'

'No? Why not?'

'Evidence is one of those tiresome conventions demanded only by a
properly constituted court.'

'You mean they just strung him up?'

'I don't know. But Davila boasts that he has executed more than three
hundred pirates in the last two years; and even in the Caribbean he
would find it difficult to achieve such numbers if he were hampered by
a small thing like evidence.' He glanced at Harry and added: 'I loved
the old man; and I think that you loved him too.'

'Yes.' He wanted to say: He was the kind of father I should like to
have had; but it sounded childish and a little absurd.

'I wish it were not now that you had to hear about it: on your first
day home and in the middle of so much rejoicing. But life is like that.
It is never unspotted glory.'

No, it was never unspotted glory. He went away from Kingshouse with
Mansfield's voice in his ears: 'I shall come back for you, Harry, my
little taker of prizes, and you will come with me once more to strike
at Spain where it hurts.' He was glad that he had bitten back the words
he had nearly shouted at the Governor: 'And are you still sending
Spanish prisoners home safe and sound?' For of course the Governor was
right. It was no answer to meet the Spaniard on that level. The answer
was to meet him with a fleet; to teach him manners with an army.

So Henry went soberly back to the town, only half aware of the people
who stopped him, the salutes and the curtseys and the blessings, hoping
that Elizabeth might by now have arrived from Morgan's Valley and that
in her warmth and companionship this small personal desolation that was
marring his public triumph might be dissolved. But Elizabeth was not
there. Half the island was in Port Royal, being rowed round the fleet
or toasting the returned heroes in the taverns, but Elizabeth was not
there. And a more immediate emotion woke in Henry. All Spain was of no
more consequence than a rotten apple if anything had happened to
Elizabeth. The ships had been hull-up at dawn, and the news must have
gone to every comer of the island before they had beaten their way into
harbour. Now they had been nearly a whole day in port, and the town
swarmed with planters and countrymen, but there was no Elizabeth.
Foreboding fell like a blight on him. She was ill, she was dead, she
was lost. Something had happened to her between Morgan's Valley and the
Port.

He went down the stairs from the emptiness of the little apartment with
panic on his heels, commandeered the horse of a man who was dismounting
opposite the Brown Duck, and rode away into the sunlit afternoon that
stretched hot and quiet beyond the noisy town. His borrowed mount,
shocked by a change of routine, shied at the shadow of every moving
frond, and he dug his heels in and cursed it. The world was all of a
sudden black and frightful. A life without Elizabeth would be
unthinkable.

He met her coming riding down the forest path, at a walking pace
because of the bad going. She was riding decently side-saddle, and she
was wearing a broad-brimmed straw hat tied with ribbons under her chin.
That it was a slave's hat, made of coarse straw, detracted a little
from its allure; but it was evident that allurement had not been in her
mind.

'Harry!' she called. 'Oh, Harry! I was over at St Ann's Bay, and so I
did not hear until--Oh, Harry!'

He had forgotten that she was so small and light.

'You haven't remarked on my hat,' she said presently. On the lips of
any other woman this would mean 'on the hat I am wearing'. With
Elizabeth it meant 'on the fact that I am wearing a hat'. 'I am wearing
it for you,' she said, 'so that my skin shall not be freckled.'

'It seems to have been an afterthought,' he said, and kissed her
sunburned nose. Only Elizabeth, he thought, could manage to look
delightful with a skinned patch on the bridge of her nose.

Her eyes went on towards the horse he had been riding, and she said:
'You haven't _bought_ that, have you?'

This piece of practicality at so heart-full a moment was so much
Elizabeth that he began to laugh, and being a little silly with relief
and over-wrought after the emotions of the day, he went on laughing, so
that he must needs sit down by the forest path and drag Elizabeth down
with him; and they sat there laughing helplessly together because they
were glad.

But as he was aiding her to remount she said: 'Did you find him,
Harry?'

'Who?' said Henry; who had come a long way from his wedding night.

'Bartholomew Kindness.'

'Yes,' he said shortly; and then remembered her strictures about men
'putting off' women when they asked questions.

So as they rode back to Port Royal he told her about the dungeons of
San Jeronimo, as he would have told another man, sparing her nothing.
And she listened in silence, looking straight in front of her between
her horse's ears.

Their entry into the town proved, unintentionally, to be in the nature
of a triumphal procession. Port Royal, having eaten and drunk all the
afternoon, had poured itself, no longer very sober, into the open air
to enjoy the evening; and through the press of people rode the hero of
the hour with his wife.

'The Captain's lady!' yelled the _Fortune's_ crew, and converged as one
man on this new subject for a toast. They had drunk to each other, to
their ships, to the King, to the Duke of York, to the landlord's
daughter, to the landlord's wife, to absent friends, to sweethearts and
wives, to a short life and a merry one, and of course to Harry Morgan;
and their invention was failing. Here, like a gift from heaven, was the
Captain's wife; as pretty and suitable a Captain's lady as ever wore
shoe-leather. They swarmed round her, clutching at her bridle and
urging that she should dismount and come and be drunk to. It was Jack
who saved the moment from embarrassment and turned it into a
procession. He appeared at her horse's head in the unobtrusive way in
which he did everything, took the bridle from the huge sailor who was
hanging his weight on it, and led the frightened horse through the
crowd; who closed in happily on either side and escorted their Captain
and his lady to their lodgings.

'Dear Jack,' said the lady. 'How nice it is to see you again; safe and
well.'

It was Jack, too, who got rid of the crowd when they arrived at the
apartment. When Henry had obliged, very readily, with a speech, and the
crowd began to require a speech also from the lady, Jack demanded to
know if they had no bowels. Had none of them ever had a wife, and had
none of them ever been parted from her for more than six months, and
had they in such circumstances ever wanted to stand gossiping on the
bottom step of a flight of stairs?

As the crowd let them go, with sympathetic laughter and frank
felicitation, Elizabeth said: 'But _you_ are coming up. Jack, aren't
you? Just for a little!'

But Jack would not come up. 'I'm a lot drunker than you'd think,' he
said. 'I think I'll just go and complete the process. But thank you all
the same.'

So they went up alone, on this night of rejoicing, to the cramped
little rooms to which they had first come after their wedding nearly a
year ago, and though the shouts of the town came up through the open
window, they sounded distant and irrelevant.

'What is that, Harry?' Elizabeth asked, noticing for the first time the
emerald on the hand that was unbuttoning her bodice; and she caught the
hand away from her to look at the ring. 'What is that?'

'An invitation to Panama,' he said; and stopped her mouth from further
questioning.

But Elizabeth lay awake that night looking at the great emerald where
it rested below her shoulder. And she decided that she would not
mention Panama again, even to find out about the ring; so that he might
not be reminded even for a moment of that invitation. He was home;
here, safe beside her; unharmed and triumphant. And not even by the
utterance of a word would she remind him that there were still other
worlds to conquer.

Which was an excellent resolution if the word that haunted Henry had
been Panama. But it was not Panama. The word that haunted Henry in the
weeks to come was Maracaibo.

'Maracaibo,' said his horse's hoofs as he rode round the growing estate
at Morgan's Valley and admired what Elizabeth had done in his absence.
'Maracaibo,' said the rain dripping from the eaves at night.
'Maracaibo,' said the long surf on the beaches. 'Maracaibo,' said the
palm leaves clattering in the wind. 'Maracaibo,' said the racket of
pails in the stable, the tinkle of hammer on anvil, the chatter of
spoon against plate. Maracaibo, Maracaibo, Maracaibo.

When his mind was idle for a moment he would hear Mansfield's voice
saying it. As he had said it through those weeks before his marriage
when he would not listen to him.

With his conscious mind he repulsed the word; repudiated it. What had
Maracaibo to do with him? He was a planter, a married man, and he was
rich. He had done what he set out to do: he had avenged Santa Catalina
and brought home his men; what more had he to do with a world outside
Jamaica? Let the English Navy teach Spain manners henceforth; that is
what the Navy was for. It was the business of Henry Morgan to stay on
his new plantation and found a family. More especially to found a
family. As Anna Petronilla bluntly pointed out when he went to pay his
respects to her.

'A year!' she said, her wide, china-blue eyes indignant. 'And not a
sign! She must embroider more, she must embroider.' And, before he
could remark on this odd recipe for conception: 'How can she expect to
have a child if she is for ever running hither and thither? She is out
every day, in all weathers, riding round the estate like an overseer.
You have no money for a factor?'

Oh, yes, Henry said; he had ample means to pay a factor now; it was
just that Elizabeth happened to be interested in estate matters and
found it boring to sit at home.

'A set of chairs,' said Anna Petronilla. 'Put her to a set of chairs.
That is very absorbing; practically a life's work.'

They laughed together over the set of chairs, Henry and Elizabeth, and
it became a catch phrase with them. 'When I begin my set of chairs.'
'The kind of woman who embroiders a set of chairs.' Henry did not mind
that she had no child yet; she was still very young, and they had all
their lives in front of them. Some day, of course, he would have a son:
a child like that Cuban boy, upstanding and independent. But meanwhile
he had Elizabeth.

He had Elizabeth and Morgan's Valley and an unassailable standing in
the land of his adoption, and with all that for his pleasure it was
absurd that an outlandish name should toll at the back of his mind like
a bell, like a summons.

He refused to be seduced by the tolling name, and busied himself with
the affairs of the island and with the colossal task of assessing and
sharing out the treasure from Puerto Bello. The courts did the
assessing, of course, and sharing out was a matter of strict privateer
agreement and precedent. One fifteenth of all went to the King; one
tenth of all to the Duke of York as Lord High Admiral; and so on down
the scale to the carpenter who got an allowance for the use of his
tools, and the surgeon who was paid so much for the upkeep of his
medicine chest. All these admitted of no argument. But besides these
unvarying percentages, there was a long list of compensations to be
awarded, and a list almost as long of rewards for special bravery. It
was in these lesser matters that Morgan's advice was continually being
sought. Privateer custom decreed that for the loss of a leg a man was
entitled to four hundred pieces-of-eight, but if Dick Buttonshaw had
lost his leg by getting drunk and falling between the ship and the
wharf, how much compensation, if any, was he entitled to? And if Ted
Budge, Jeremy Willett and Ben Twizel all claimed to be the man who
hauled down the Spanish flag on Fort Triana, to which of the three
should go the recognised amount of fifty pieces?

If he was not being summoned to give his advice, he was being summoned
to have Government dispatches read to him. This happened almost every
time a ship put in, for if Port Royal had been stirred by the affair at
Puerto Bello, its effect on the chancellories of Europe had been
cataclysmic. The authorities in Madrid were still short of breath from
the body-blow of Puerto Principe, when they were rocked back on their
heels by the upper-cut of Puerto Bello. Their rage knew no bounds; and
neither did their eloquence. The Spanish ambassador to the Court of St
James's was kept busy. Why, asked the grieved and furious Spaniards,
when their one wish was for friendship and peace, did the English make
both peace and friendship impossible by acts of barbarism for which
there was no precedent, excuse, nor adequate description?

The Court of St James's deplored the hot-headedness of privateer
captains who exceeded instructions; and directed its ambassador in
Madrid to ask for the release of Captain Robert Delander and his crew,
who had been in prison in Seville for the last nine months, having been
deported there from Havana after their ship was confiscated and sold by
the Cuban authorities. It was not, said the Court of St James's gently,
notably conducive to either peace or friendship to grant the captain of
a dismasted ship the courtesy of a harbour, and then to confiscate the
ship and send both captain and crew to prison half across the world.

Meanwhile the dispatches being hurled out with such speed and in such
numbers to Port Royal said (at least in their private enclosures): 'My
God, Thomas, what _have_ you been up to? How do you think we are going
to get you out of this? How are we going to get out of it ourselves?
For the love of Heaven send us some ammunition!'

So Modyford, week and by week, sent them ammunition.

One week it would be the case of Rocky Garretson, who had just come
into port in his tiny three-gun ketch, bringing with him as prize a
Spanish warship of twelve guns. This great bully, said Rocky, had left
a fleet of fourteen sail to harry him and to say that if he did not
surrender they would 'hoist him in'. However, they were what Rocky
called with delightful euphemism 'much deceived', and on examination
after capture the ship proved to be His Majesty's ship _Griffin_, which
had disappeared with all her crew on the way to England two years ago.

Another week it would be the affair of Captain Edward Beckford, who,
hailing a friendly ship off the South Cays, was met by a volley and the
sight of Spanish colours being run up. On this occasion, too, the
assailants had been 'much deceived,' and the ship, which was now at
Port Royal, proved to be the property of Alexander Soares, who had
sailed in it from New England eighteen months ago, since when there had
been no word of either ship or company.

'They may say that papers found in Puerto Principe are forgeries, my
dear James,' wrote the Governor to his brother, 'but even the English
cannot forge ships. Tell your Spanish correspondents that they may come
here--as our guests--and inspect the ships at their leisure. They may
also, you had better assure them, depart at their leisure when it seems
good to them. We have no dungeons at Port Royal.'

And to his cousin Albemarle: 'There will be no sure future for Jamaica
without peace, but there will be no peace while Spain sits like a great
jealous hen over every egg in the Americas. I understand that the
treaty you propose to ratify makes no mention of the West Indies. I
take it that that means that Spain reserves the right to apply it to
the West Indies or not as it may suit her. If we attack her, the treaty
applies; if they attack us, the treaty will be held to apply only to
European waters. It seems a puny mouse to have been brought forth with
such mountainous labour. Meanwhile I reprimand the privateer captains
daily, and nightly give thanks for them.'

So Morgan drank the Governor's good brandy while he was having
dispatches read to him, and from his fertile mind produced more
'ammunition' for Modyford's replies.

And when he was tired of both planting and Government business, he
would go down to the harbour and help Bernard Speirdyck to admire the
_Mary and Jane_.

For Bernard had bought his ship.

She had been the _Isabella_: another Spanish ship which had indulged in
aggression and been 'much deceived'. The Spaniards had used her for
trade, and she was light and fast and roomy, and altogether the ship of
his dreams. So Bernard had not only spent his last penny of
privateering gains on her, but had mortgaged his future for some years
ahead in his desire to be master of her. Cornelius was his partner in
the enterprise, having one share to Bernard's two; and they had renamed
her the _Mary and Jane_: Mary for Bernard's wife, and Jane for
Cornelius's bride. They were spending the bad-weather months in
re-fitting her, and when it was sailing weather again she would be
ready to go out on her peaceful trading life as trim and well-found as
two Hollanders bred to the sea could make her.

'Mary says if the child were coming sooner she would sail with us,'
Bernard said, 'but I think better she stay and be something to come
home to. A man who lives by the sea wants always something to come home
to.'

'Where do you plan to trade?' Morgan asked, hanging with Bernard over
the rail and admiring the line of her bows to the bowsprit.

'With the Indians on the coast to begin with. Hides, shell and
log-wood.'

'I shall miss you, Barney; how I shall miss you!'

'But I shall see you often,' Bernard said, a faint surprise in his
voice. 'You will come in when I am in port.'

'In? In from where?'

'From Morgan's Valley.'

And it was in that moment that Morgan knew that he was not going to
stay in Jamaica. For his involuntary expression of regret at losing
Barney had been made, now that he looked at it, not from the point of
view of a man parting with a comrade, but with the regret of a captain
parting with a good mate. 'I shall miss you, Barney,' he had said; and
what he had meant was: 'I shall miss you on board the _Fortune_.'

He looked at the _Fortune_, turning to the tides far out in the bay;
the ship he had taken from Spain on that calm night on the coast of
Barbados; and it seemed that she curtseyed to him. And for the first
time since he had heard of Mansfield's death he went home and slept
with no outlandish name tolling in his mind.

Not that he gave up without a struggle. The sober, sensible,
land-owning side of him was still strong. Indeed, in the next few weeks
he worked so hard at being the complete planter that Modyford cocked an
eye at him and said: 'You remind me, Harry, of nothing so much as a cat
that wants to get out of a room and can't find an opening.'

And at that Henry gave up.

He gave what sounded like a laugh under his breath, and said: 'When I
first had the felicity of meeting your Excellency in Barbados I came to
the conclusion that you knew everything, and I have never had any
reason to revise my opinion.'

'Well?' said Modyford. 'What is it that you want to do?'

Henry looked out at the harbour, where five of the nine ships that had
taken Puerto Bello were still anchored. 'I want to take that fleet out
again before it is scattered beyond recall.'

'Out? Out where?'

'Cruising,' said Henry, very bland.

'And what is to be the excuse this time?'

'The reason,' amended Henry. 'The reason is the long series of
unprovoked attacks on peaceful English traders pursuing their lawful
occasions in West Indian waters, and the lamentable lack of any
apparent willingness on Spain's part either to put an end to such
depredations or to provide compensation for lost or confiscated ships
or for the widows they have made.'

The Governor received this suggested piece of dispatch in silence.

'You have the fleet,' he said after a little, 'but would you get the
crews? Judging entirely from the state of the town last night, the men
are not yet penniless.'

'Judging entirely from the state of the town last night,' Henry said
dryly, 'it will not be long before they are.' And added with a spurt of
vanity: 'In any case, the crews would come to sea with me, even with
money in their pockets.'

'Would you go without a commission?'

'No,' said Henry at once. 'I have no intention of being hanged as a
pirate.'

'If I give you a commission I may be hanged as a sacrifice to Spain.'

'Executed,' Henry reminded him. 'But in what a magnificent cause, your
Excellency!'

At which Modyford laughed.

'Well,' he said, mock contemplative. 'I don't deny that it would be
very pleasant to get the crews out of town. Port Royal is really a very
charming little place when not in season.'

And Henry, taking this as capitulation, forebore to press his immediate
advantage. But Morgan's Valley became in the succeeding days a sort of
week-end home for unemployed captains; and Elizabeth creamed her
freckled arms, and put on her best dresses for them, and arranged
meals, and made no remark. In his more nearly idle moments Henry had
the grace to worry about the thing he was proposing to do to her, and
to speculate a little unhappily on her possible reception of the news
when he broke it to her.

But again she surprised him.

'If we are going to take in that field on the north side, Harry,' she
said one evening, looking out at the virgin forest of Jamaica that
bounded the clearing of Morgan's Valley, 'we shall need four more
slaves at least. You had better see to buying them before you go,
hadn't you?'

'Go?' he said. 'Before I go where?'

'Wherever it is that you are going.'

He found this acceptance of his intended departure admirable but
disconcerting. No woman had any right, he felt, to be so Spartan. There
was a decent mean in such things; a due appropriateness.

When he blurted something about her not being angry, then, that he
should leave her, she said: 'I have always thought it very unbecoming
wear for a man.'

'What is?' he said, at a loss.

'Apron-strings,' she said.

And, being Henry, it did not occur to him that this detachment had been
achieved at the price of secret tears; nor could he know that the
'apron-strings' remark was a quotation borrowed from Johanna.

'What am I to do, Jo?' she had said. 'I have tried him with sugar-cane;
and horses; and good food; and standing for the Council; and even in
bed. But not one of them is any use. I know that he is planning to go
to sea again.'

'But that's why you married him, Bet,' Johanna had said.

'Because he would go to sea!'

'No, goose. Because he is that kind of man. That kind of man would be
no use to me at all. I like to be cherished. I want to be an old man's
darling. Indeed, I am seriously thinking of marrying Henry Archbould.'

'_Mother's_ beau!'

'Yes. He would be just as handy for Mother to ask advice from if he
were her son-in-law. And he is just the kind of adoring man I want to
have round the house. I want everything to revolve round _me_ when I
get married. I don't want him to have another thought in his head but
me--and poor Henry has not very many thoughts altogether, so that would
not be difficult to achieve. But you would not like that, Bet. You
would hate a man with apron-strings tied to him.'

Elizabeth had recognised the truth of this, but it had not made the
situation any easier to bear.

'I had no idea when I married,' she said miserably, 'that it would have
this dreadful softening effect on one's inside.' And the tears rose in
her eyes again.

Upon which Jo had hugged her and said: 'Never mind, Bet darling.
Presently you will have children to love, and it will not matter one
little bit to you that the silly creature must needs be off after his
guns and his glory. You will grow happy and placid, like a turnip; like
Anna.'

'A blob of melted butter,' Elizabeth said, remembering; and began to
smile. 'That was the day that Harry first came to see us.'

She knew that Johanna was right. She would not have him any other way.
And the price she must pay to have him as he was would be the parting
with him whenever his daemon drove him to action.

So she was calm with Henry, and Spartan. And Henry found it admirable
but disconcerting. Was it conceivable that so much equanimity could
exist in alliance with love? Was it possible that she did not care
about his coming absence?

He had no time to brood on this problem, even if he was minded to, for
he was faced with a greater one. He had boasted that the crews would
come to sea with him in whatever condition they happened to be; and
that was indeed true. But it seemed that not all the captains were
willing to sail with him. It had never pleased Charlie Hadsell to serve
under the command of a man almost young enough to be his son, and now
he was filled with the notion that what Morgan could do he, Charles
Hadsell, could do also. When next he went privateering he planned to be
in command, and he had already detached two of the smaller ships from
their allegiance to their late commander.

The captains of these ships were both older men who, if they lacked
Hadsell's jealousy, were nevertheless not sorry to take orders from one
of their own generation and upbringing. Neither of them had been of any
great consequence, but they had what was to Henry the supreme virtue:
they were trustworthy. They had fitted into the general scheme
efficiently and unobtrusively; doing their part without question and
without faltering. Now he would have to fill the gap they left, and he
would have to do it with untried men. There would be no leisurely
review and election, as there had been before Puerto Principe. He would
have to fill the gap with the best available.

He sailed, in the end, feeling that he had not done too badly. His
brace of substitutes were at least well salted. Nick Gaytor had sailed
for years as a privateer with a commission from the French, and his
crew was still partly French. And Johnny Toplass--One-eye Johnny--had
sailed for years as a privateer without bothering overmuch about a
commission from anyone. Both were first-class seamen.

'I am signing this commission, Harry,' the Governor said when it came
to the moment, 'on the clear understanding that if the treaty with
Spain is ratified you will bring your ships into port without delay and
without waiting for any summons from me.'

'Is there anything in the treaty about recognising the English
occupation of Jamaica?'

'Not so far as I am aware.'

'Then they will hardly be such fools at home as to ratify it.'

'The degree of folly to which the fools at home are prone is
incalculable. I want your promise that you will offer no provocation,
not even so much as trailing your coat, once the treaty is ratified.'

And Henry promised.

He had no intention of being anywhere near English sources of
information for the next three months at least; and by that time
Maracaibo would be behind him.




Chapter 12


Maracaibo lies on the north east of South America, at the coast end of
a great inland sea. The inland sea is large and square, a hundred miles
across; but the entrance to all this wealth of water is a narrow strait
a mile or two wide and much given to silting.

To command this unwelcoming entrance, and to add the perils of gun-fire
to the terrors of navigation, the Spaniards had of course built a fort.
And being confronted on a blue spring day with the astonishing sight of
no less than seven English ships coming boldly out of nowhere, English
ships so unabashed and unaware of their enormity that every one of them
was openly flying the English flag, the fort replied with such a panic
cannonade that the ships, having one by one trailed their coats under
the fort's batteries and learned the position and range of every gun in
the fort, drew away out of sight down the coast, leaving the fort
chattering and aghast.

Out of sight beyond the green headlands, Henry arranged for attack. And
since he was Henry, the attack was to be an oblique one. He had no
intention of engaging the fort while trying to navigate his ships
through the narrows. It was to be Puerto Bello over again, therefore;
except that this time the journey in boats was to be made through the
narrows, past the fort. By night.

Over the side went the boats as soon as it was dark. There would be no
moon until an hour after midnight, and by that time they would be
ashore beyond the fort. It was a calm night for the time of year; and
more than once, feeling the soft air and smelling the green
forest-smell in the blackness, Henry was reminded of the night they
took the Gloria. He had come a long way from that exquisite piece of
petty larceny.

They let the tide bear them in, as once on the Barbados coast they had
let the tide bear them out, with only a dipped oar for guidance; so
that no rhythmic warning should mount to the no-doubt nervous ears on
the battlements. One by one the boats drew level with the fort; visible
now only as a dark bulk against the sky; and one by one passed safely
and without being challenged. The navigation through the narrows was
done by a Frenchman of Nick Gaytor's crew, who had been at Maracaibo
with l'Olonois, and he did it so successfully that they made landfall
at the exact spot on which they had agreed: where the beach shelved on
the inland side of the fort. One by one the boats came to rest with
their bows in the sand, and the men scrambled out of them and went up
the beach to cover until the moon should come to light them to the
fort.

It was to be Puerto Bello over again: the scaling-ropes, the challenge
at the main gate to provide diversion, and the swarm over the walls. If
this San Jeronimo technique failed for any reason, then Henry had
decided to wait until daylight and substitute the method that had
proved so successful with Fort Triana: the attack by seamen covered by
the excellent musketry of Civil War veterans.

But it was not to be at all like that. Not at all like either of them.

The moon came, surprised and brightly curious, from behind the black
trees on the headland, and the world turned silver and naked-looking.
They picked up their weapons and moved from shadow to shadow until they
were standing under the walls, the angular shadows of the fort flung
across them like a cloak. The night was so still that their breathing
sounded loud in the silence. They strained their ears to listen for a
sentry's step on the ramparts, for a voice, for the clink of metal as a
man changed position in his vigil. But the silence was absolute. The
silence pressed down on their ear-drums like a tight cloth, so that it
seemed to them as if they had suddenly grown deaf, and they were seized
with a mad longing to make a noise that they might be reassured that
they could still hear.

Then, loud and shocking, came their own challenge.

And then the silence again.

The empty silence.

Once more Morgan's voice rang out across the moonlit space, demanding
the presence of the Commandant to parley.

But the fort stood silver and naked and quiet in the night; irrelevant,
somehow; like an apparition.

And then Jack's voice came out of the shadows on the far side.

'Harry! Have you noticed what is odd about the place?'

'It's all odd,' said Morgan.

'No. I mean their flag. Look!'

And they looked, and saw that there was no flag there.

'They've cleared out,' they said. 'By God, they've cleared out!' And
they moved away from the walls to gape.

But still they suspected a trap. And it was not until they had pushed
open the great gate and taken in the empty spaces of the courtyard, and
savoured the panic-mess of hasty departure in the barrack rooms and the
kitchen, and appreciated the great store of undestroyed weapons, that
they gave way to the realisation that the place was theirs, and fell to
rejoicing. They lighted every lamp in the fort, and torches beside, as
if to compensate themselves for the chill doubt of those moments in the
moonlight outside, and they fell on the food that had been laid out on
the long tables for a garrison that had not waited to eat it.

But something in that waiting meal puzzled Henry and worried him. It
was too untouched, too prepared. Surely, if it had been made ready for
men who were in too much of a hurry to eat it, at least one of them
would have swung a disgruntled arm as he passed and swept some of it to
the floor. Something was wrong with the picture.

Poison?

No, surely not. It would take all the poison in the Americas to make
any impression on a company so large.

Then what?

They had been meant to eat that meal; to fall on it exactly as they
were falling on it now; eager and triumphant and oblivious and----

And suddenly Henry was back on Santa Catalina.

Back in that other deserted fort, that the Spaniards had so
reprehensibly left undamaged for their use, when they might have----

'Search!' yelled Morgan above the din. 'Search!'

The terrible urgency in his voice stopped the movement and clatter on
the instant.

'For what?' they said, looking stupidly at him. 'Treasure?'

'No! A match! A powder train! Search, damn you! Every God-damned one of
you! _Search_!'

And he made for the stairs, snatching a torch as he went.

It would be somewhere in the cellars.

As he flung himself down the circular stone funnel he tried to think
how long it was in minutes since they had first come into the fort and
found it empty. Six minutes? Ten? Five? How long a fuse would it be?
Not less than a ten-minute one, surely. The man who lit it hoped to I
get away with his life, if he could. It would not be less than ten. Had
I they been as much as nine minutes in the fort?

The torch hit the curving side of the stairway and faded to a mere
glow. He cried aloud in his desperation, and thought quite distinctly
how unfair, how inappropriate, it was that he, Henry Morgan, should die
so ignominiously; should end without trace, in a great flash of
gunpowder on a distant and barbarous coast. He, who had Morgan's Valley
to go back to. He, who had so much in store.

All his passionate joy in living rose in him and curdled into one great
concentration of fear and protest as he stumbled and fumbled his way
into the cellar.

What if it was not here? What if it was here and he could not find it
in time?

It was only afterwards that he was to realise that the quenching of his
torch, which had seemed to him at the moment the mockery of unfeeling
gods, was in fact his salvation.

In the full light of the torch he would not have seen the small blue
light at the farther end of the cellar. Now he saw it; that small,
secret, gloating light.

Another half-minute, he reckoned, looking down at the dead fuse under
his foot. Another half-minute, not more.

He sat down on the floor and wiped the sweat from his face with shaking
hands. His torch went out altogether, and he sat there in the dark;
limp as a rag doll, all virtue gone out of him.

It was Jack, coming clattering down the stairs in search of him, who
roused him from his stupor of relief.

Jack paused on the threshold of the dark cellar, questing with his
torch.

'Harry!' he said, his voice sharp with anxiety.

'I'm here,' said Henry from the floor.

'What is it?' Jack said, coming to him. 'Are you hurt?'

'No. My stomach doesn't feel very good,' said Henry. 'I've just trodden
on a snake.' And he pushed his foot towards the dead fuse.

Jack lowered the torch to look, and then lifted it to see what the
cellar contained. 'Mother of God!' said Jack. And then, as the stacked
tiers of gunpowder kegs drew his eye upwards:' Sweet Mother of God! It
would have blown us to Port Royal.'

'There's one comfort,' Henry said. 'There is so much, that this must be
the only fuse. There can't be more powder than this in the fort.'

'There can't be more in the world,' said Jack.

'No,' agreed Henry, beginning to take a proprietary interest, now that
feeling was coming back to him. 'It's a nice little nest-egg, isn't it?
And a whole arsenal upstairs to prime with it. They have no moderation,
the Dons, have they? A very wholesale race.'

He got to his feet and propped himself up on his still-shaking legs. 'I
feel as if I were out of bed for the first time after a long illness,'
he said.

'Well,' said Jack, 'you'll certainly never be nearer death's door. Let
us go and eat. That is a very fine meal your wholesale Spaniards left
us.'

And Henry found, as everyone does after escaped peril, that he was
ravenously hungry. His body, in its reaction from imminent death,
craved food, and love-making, and sleep. And since he could have
neither the sleep nor the love-making, he made do with food. Food and
drink.

But he saw to it that the barrels in the wine-store were not broached
that night. And he set sentries and arranged for their relief every
hour. Somewhere in those black forests under the fading moon were the
Spanish garrison, waiting for their destruction. And when that great
blaze of annihilation did not come, the Spaniards would, if they were
not utter poltroons, try other methods of discomfiture.

But day came, and there was no sign from the forest. The sun rose into
a clear, ardent morning with an on-shore wind that whipped the channel
into scarves of white where the shoals streaked it. They ran up the
Union flag as soon as the light came, and presently the ships came in,
floating in calm procession past the fort and dipping their colours in
salute to the flag on the fort. And for the rest of the day all seven
crews were busy transferring the great store of powder, muskets, swords
and ammunition from the fort to the ships. On the following morning,
still without hindrance, they transferred everything else that was
useful to them; more especially the contents of the larder and the
wine-store.

'Do themselves well, don't they?' said Bluey, looking at the sugared
fruits, and the delicately cured meat, and the kegs of brandy. 'No salt
pork for the Dons!'

When the fort was stripped of all but its fixtures, they spiked the
guns, took down their flag, and left the place as silent as they had
found it.

'Where do you think that garrison are, Captain?' asked Kinnell, the
one-time bos'n, who was now mate in Bernard's place, as they set sail
for Maracaibo.

'Waiting for us at Maracaibo, I expect,' Henry said.

Although he would never say so to Kinnell, he was not very happy about
the prospect. And he was even less happy an hour later, when the
_Fortune_ grounded gently but firmly in mid-channel. They got her off
by hauling, and the smaller _Gift_ scraped by her to try the channel in
her stead. But even the _Gift_ touched the bottom, and it became
apparent that of the seven ships only the two smallest--open-decked
schooners--could make the passage and come to anchor opposite
Maracaibo.

'The channel does not stay the same for six months together,' said the
Frenchman who had been with l'Olonois, dismayed by this set-back to his
piloting; and Henry could not blame him; the Frenchman had been of
incalculable help to them already.

He looked at the virgin country ashore, his mind searching it for the
means of oblique attack. But he would have no guide to that country, as
he had had to the backwoods of Puerto Bello, as he had had to the sea
approaches of Maracaibo. He would go into it blind, pathless. He could
do it with a chosen fifty, but what hope was there that the ships'
crews as a whole would follow him in so toilsome and risky a ploy? They
liked their risk without toil. They liked to go roaring in to attack in
full face of the enemy, taking the chance they had counted on. To hack
their way through primitive country for days on end, perhaps, just to
lessen the risk, when they could sail comfortably to the scene of
battle in their own boats, would seem to them the wildest absurdity. It
would have to be the boats, and frontal attack for once.

But he would see to it that the attack was as little frontal as he
could make it.

Through the channel they came in their boats, therefore, and out into
the great spaces of the Lake of Maracaibo, a burnished glory under the
midday sun; and the wind took them down to the town.

It lay by the water's edge, its neat wharves reflected in the sea, but
behind it stretched a wide half-moon of huddled suburb, infinitely more
squalid than the slave suburbs of Puerto Bello had been; and Henry,
looking at that barrier between the town proper and the forest, was
comforted for his lost hopes of attack from the rear. If they had come
that way they would have had to fight their way through that mess of
housing; and he remembered too clearly what the street-fighting in
Puerto Principe had been like to want any more of it.

He had expected the garrison from the fort at the channel to be snugly
settled down in the castle at Maracaibo, and as they drew in, he looked
up at the redoubt with its bristling gun-mouths and waited for the
reception. But the strip of water between the town and the boats went
on narrowing, and still no volley greeted them. That the water-front
should be empty of people was understandable, but that the fort should
let them come so far unchallenged was very strange. Had they mined the
beaches, and grudged the ammunition for even a token defiance?

Then Manuel's caressing voice just behind him said: 'I think it is that
even Spain grows ashamed of the Spanish flag.' And Henry, whose whole
attention had been concentrated on those waiting gun-mouths, lifted his
glance to the tower, and saw that the staff was bare. The fort was
deserted.

'Well,' said Henry, 'it can blow up at its leisure. We are not being
entertained with any powder-trains today.'

He had chosen to land on the beaches rather than in the harbour, partly
because the reception would be hottest at the centre of the town and
partly because the beaches gave him a wider front for simultaneous
disembarking. But now that the opposition was not to come from the
orthodox direction--from the castle--every man dropping over the bows
to shore felt his steps weighted with question. Where was the booby
trap in all this?

But they advanced up the beach, wary and step-picking, and arrived
safely on the road level, and there they took heart again. If it was
merely that the Spaniards were waiting in the town for them, that was
nothing. They had dealt with Spaniards in towns before now. They began
to sing. And singing they marched into the town.

Into a silent and deserted town.

One by one they ceased to sing, defeated by the silence. Until
presently the only sound was the tap of their drum as it kept time to
their marching feet. Their eyes slid sideways at the blank windows,
alert for ambush. But the windows stayed blank. The closed doors
frowned on them, and nothing moved in the shadows. A chicken pecking in
the dust looked so alive, so natural, that it was a relief. They called
each other's attention to it, and laughed at it as they passed. But
that was the only living thing that met them in all their march from
the beaches to the harbour front. They came out into the wide paved
space and the unbroken sunlight and stopped breathing short. No one
could ambush them here. But even here the silence lay thick and eerie.
A shutter slatted back and forth in the wind, and a curtain bellied out
and sank back again. No human being but themselves moved in all the
dead town.

Here and there were the signs of flight: a child's shoe in the roadway,
a stable door left open, a burst bag of flour left to spill itself on
the street. It was panic that had emptied the town, not ambush. And
some of the atmosphere of that panic still hung in the silence and
inhabited the deserted houses so that a man's skin crept at his neck.

'Well,' said Henry to his crew, 'it seems that we have the choice of
dwellings for our stay.' And in the bustle of choosing their billets
some of the strangeness was exorcised. They went in and out of the
empty houses with the curiosity of children; marvelling at this,
debating the use of that, mocking at something else. Any privateer
found to be keeping loot on his own behalf invariably lost his share of
the general loot (any other arrangement would have meant chaos and
would make privateering unprofitable for both captains and men), but a
great variety of articles of no value found their way into English and
French pockets before night. A dress for a doxy, a toy for a child, a
crucifix for a shrine.

Henry decided to make the Mayor's house on the harbour-front his
headquarters, and since it was a large place and fine, he suggested
that the others should share it with him; that they should make a
captain's mess of it. Bradley, Rogers and Ansell were pleased and
agreed. But Nick Gaytor, the newcomer, took a long look at the pillared
coolness of the Mayor's rooms, the carpets, the silk curtains, the
flowers in the stone tubs in the courtyard, and said: 'Much too fine
for a plain sailor-man. I'll leave you to play gentleman, friends, and
stay with my men in the priest's house.' He spat loudly on the tiles in
the patio and went away; and it seemed that he took the other newcomer
with him, for One-eye Johnny Toplass was found next day to be also
occupying the priest's house by the church.

Henry regretted this break in their unity, but had no time to worry
about it. And in any case, as Ansell pointed out with Kentish good
sense, it might be a pity to be separated, but it would be worse to
have Gaytor with them. What worried Henry was the bareness of the town.
It had been stripped clean of all that was valuable, from the Mayor's
plate to the trinkets of the Madonna in the church. Even the warehouses
were empty--the warehouses of which he had hoped so much. This was El
Dorado: the place where the gold stuck to the soles of a man's shoes;
fabulous El Dorado. And all he had for his pains was an empty little
town with the shutters flapping in the wind and the warehouses gaping
and void.

That there had been organised evacuation of goods was obvious: only the
domestic flight had been hurried and individual. And that being so
there must be a hiding-place; probably one single hiding-place. A cave
somewhere? A building in the forest?

But there was no one to tell him.

At the earliest possible moment he must get back some of the missing
population.

'Why the wholesale flight?' he said to Jack in the morning, picking up
the child's shoe from where it was still lying in the dust.

'You said they were wholesale,' Jack reminded him.

'Yes, but why not wait and hear our terms?'

'I expect they remember l'Olonois,' Jack said dryly.

So patrols of twenties and thirties were sent out to find some
inhabitants and persuade them that this was not invasion à l'Olonois.
And presently embarrassed sailors began to herd weeping women from
their inadequate retreat in the forest. Their children hung howling to
their skirts, and neither mothers nor children were coherent on any
subject. When asked where their husbands were, the women with one
accord said that they had no husbands.

'Even l'Olonois couldn't be responsible for nearly fifty widows,' Henry
said when he had reached the forty-eighth widow in two hours. And he
waited hopefully for what the wider sweep might bring in.

By nightfall thirty-four of the 'widows' had been reunited with their
husbands, and the husbands had been relieved of the various valuables
that they had been found guarding in their various caches. But real
progress came only when the slaves began to trickle back. The slaves
needed no persuasion to talk. They owed no loyalty to Spain and no love
for their masters; and being slaves, with little interest outside the
household that numbered them as a unit, there was nothing about their
masters' business that they did not know. Negro or Indian, they talked;
and talked with pleasure. Here were the English: the fabled English who
had walked into the heart of Cuba and walked out again unhurt, who had
taken Puerto Bello and lived in it for a month; the English who hated
the Spaniard as they themselves hated him; here were the wonderful
English in Maracaibo, and the slaves, negro or Indian, were glad. What
did the English want to know? They had only to ask.

From the most intelligent of these--a tall, middle-aged Indian--Morgan
learned all he wanted to know. The Governor, who lived in the castle,
had organised the evacuation of valuables. In this he had used only the
troops under his command, and no one in town knew just what he had done
with the stuff. But he and his men had sailed in a ship to the fort of
Gibraltar at the other end of the lake, so the townsfolk had taken it
for granted that the goods were in the hold of the ship. He had taken
with him such of the important men of the town as were his friends, and
had left the leading 'opposition' citizens to their fate.

The Indian gave a list of those deserted rich ones, and told where they
might be found, and they were duly gathered in for ransom.

And that being done, Henry prepared to go after the Governor.

The ships, stalled below the bar, were brought up to Maracaibo by the
proper channel, and provisioned, and a week later he set sail for
Gibraltar, nearly a hundred miles away. With him went Ansell, Bradley
and Rogers, but Jack he left behind with the two newcomers. When Jack
protested ('I always get the baggage-train job! I did at Puerto
Principe, and again at Puerto Bello!'), Henry pointed out that he must
have someone he could trust in command of the captured town.

'You can trust Joe Bradley!'

'Not as I trust you.'

And with that Jack had to be content.

And away sailed Henry in search of a ship that held, crammed into its
one hold, enough wealth to buy a kingdom. But when he came to
Gibraltar, there was no ship there. There was a fort, certainly; a very
superior and impressive-looking fort; and this time it was occupied, if
they were to judge by the Spanish colours tumbling in a brisk breeze
round and round the mast. But in the harbour there were only
fishing-boats, and in the roads only a small ketch.

What had happened to the ship? Had they unloaded the stuff into the
safety of the fort, and then sunk her?

And was it to Gibraltar that the garrison of the sea fort had fled,
since it was not to Maracaibo? If so, then this fine fort with the
rollicking flag was now packed with troops as well as with hypothetical
treasure.

So Henry settled down to parley.

Ten gentlemen of Maracaibo, said Henry, at present living as his
guests, were anxious that they should be ransomed by their friends at
the earliest possible moment. Failing the ransom, he would be obliged
to take them back with him to Jamaica, where they would of course live
in comfort until the ransom was paid. In addition to this quite
personal bargain, there was the further matter of the ransom for the
town of Maracaibo. For a sufficient sum he would evacuate it on a given
day, leaving it in all respects as he had found it.

Two days passed in this verbal give and take, conducted on the English
side by a sad member of the Maracaibo town council, and on the Spanish
side by the Commandant of the fort.

'Why not the Governor?' asked Henry, when the hostage was reporting the
fifth failure of his eloquence.

The Governor was not there, the hostage said.

'_Not in the fort_?'

Almost certainly not, said the hostage. It was common gossip among the
troops that he was not there.

At that Henry stopped setting to partners and decided to take the fort
without further delay. He would make a feint attack in force from in
front, and take the place in the rear.

But the worst of an individual technique is that sooner or later one's
enemy becomes acquainted with it, and anticipates it. 'Harry Morgan's
way' had become a byword in the Islands; the impudent plan and the
oblique attack. And every last detail of the taking of Puerto Bello had
been studied with a passionate interest by the still undisturbed
Spaniards along the whole coast of two continents; not least by the
Commandant of Gibraltar. The Commandant did not wait for the English
troops to cut off his rear; he used his rear for retreat as long as he
had a rear to retreat to. So the English came into the fort from the
land side to find it occupied only by a battery of gunners who were
blazing away at their colleagues of the feint attack in front. The
gunners desisted with the unemotional air of actors interrupted during
rehearsal, and fell to polishing their pieces with a detached
nonchalance. It was not necessary to search the fort to know that they
were defending nothing; that their performance was a ritual, a mere
taking part in a play.

Henry went back to the _Fortune_ disgruntled. Another empty conquest!

But if the fort was deserted, the water-front was busy. The Indians had
come to trade; and the sea round the ships was gay with boats bearing
fruit and vegetables, skins, hides and leather goods. On board the
_Fortune_ Henry, missing the waiting figure of Romulus at the top of
the ladder, looked round for him, and saw that he was looking on at the
trafficking between crew and vendors. But it was not the actual
bargaining that interested him and caused that unwonted animation in
his brown, carved face. His attention was on the boats lying idle while
they waited their turn to come to the ship's side; he was listening to
the chatter of the waiting Indians in the further boats, and his face
was the secret delighted face of a child creeping up on an adult.

Henry moved over to him and said: 'Do you understand what they say,
Romulus?'

But Romulus, fascinated by the talk and forgetful for the moment, now
that he was in his own country, that he was a slave, made a slight,
imperious gesture with his hand for silence without even turning his
head to look at his adored master. This amused the master, and he
waited patiently, like a snubbed child, until his small slave might be
ready to talk to him.

'They are my aunts,' Romulus said at length; his English being still as
prentice as his way with clothes was expert.

'Uncles,' suggested Henry.

But it seemed that what Romulus really meant was something like
cousins. The men were, in fact, from a tribe that had been neighbours
of his own at Cape Gallinas.

'They laugh because you know not where is the ship,' said Romulus.

'The ship!' said Henry. 'And do _they_ know?'

'Oh, yes. Indian know everything.'

'What have they done with the ship, the Spaniards?'

'They have taken it into the forest.'

Henry's heart sank. Some Indian chatter; half meaningless, half magic.

'How could they sail it into the forest?' he said, to please the boy.

'They sail it up the Tacuyo creek.'

'What!'

'Twenty-two mile they sail it to where is a little'--he paused for a
word and then tried one--'pool?'

'Lake?'

'Little lake in the mountains.'

'Is that where the garrison have gone? The men from the fort?' He leant
his head to the fort on shore.

'Oh, no. Soldiers go to Merida, to new fort. Sit in crow's-nest, like
Governor.'

'Is the Governor not with the ship?'

'No, no. Governor sit in crow's-nest and spit.'

No one was more patient than Henry when he wanted information out of
friend or foe, and in the end it was unravelled.

The Governor had retired with his own personal fortune to a hunting
lodge which he had built in the mountains. The lodge was situated in a
tiny valley--a valley so small as to be almost a crevice in the rock,
and it was impregnable. The path to it, narrow and almost sheer,
admitted only one man at a time, and the owner of the lodge could sit
on his veranda and pick off undesired visitors at his leisure. The
place had been built and provisioned not against a possible English
invasion, which was one of the last events that the Governor
anticipated, but against an Indian rising; a matter which in any
Spanish settlement was a constant source of speculation. His insurance
against Indian massacre was now proving a godsend against English
invasion. He had food and ammunition for months, he had his fortune
intact, and he could sit there comfortably until the English went. Sit,
as Romulus said, in his crow's-nest and spit down on them.

The ship, on the other hand, was there for the taking; lying snugly up
one of the creeks, and guarded only by her crew--who were no doubt busy
at this moment unloading the most precious stuff and bearing it to even
surer hiding in the woods.

Of the two prizes, the Governor and the treasure-ship, the ship was out
of all computing the more important. But the ship represented only
riches; the Governor was challenge. So Henry sent Joe Bradley to take
the treasure, and he himself set out to test the story of the
Governor's invulnerability.

A large proportion of the two hundred who went with him had also done
that journey in rowing-boats along the coast at Puerto Bello, and in
after years they were wont to argue when they met as to which was
worse: the open boats in the sun, or the mountains of Maracaibo in the
rain.

For it rained.

It rained all the way into the interior: solid, perpendicular rain;
constant, leaden rain that fell with a loud single note like the
buzzing of insects. The steady monotone got on their nerves, and their
need to keep powder dry irked and fretted them. The rocks they climbed
were slippery with moss, and their fear of breaking a leg and being
helpless in this wild claustrophobic country damped their spirits and
infected them with a caution foreign to their natures.

And when at last they arrived at the Governor's retreat and looked up
at his eyrie, they found that rumour for once was true. The place was
impregnable.

By that time they had been three days without hot food, and they sat
down to contrive a fire while Henry sent an ambassador to the Governor.
But a man holding a straight flush does not need to draw any cards. The
ambassador--another member of that unhappy town council of
Maracaibo--proved _non persona grata_. Indeed, the Governor had not
recognised his diplomatic status at all, and he came back with two
bullet-holes in his soaking hat and another in his breeches. Nor would
the meagre fires that the men contrived under overhanging rocks stay
alight for more than a few minutes. Nothing would burn in this great
sodden wilderness.

Reluctant, Henry wrote off the Governor as a dead loss, and turned for
home. At least he had verified the reports.

But the way back had altered in the most frightening fashion in
forty-eight hours. Streams that had been purling brooks dimpled by the
rain were now wild torrents of angry water in which a man, even at the
end of a rope, was whirled away and dashed against the rocks
downstream. They tied up their broken ribs and spent depressed hours
searching up and down the muddy banks of every little gully for a
possible fording place. When they had achieved the long, difficult
business of getting every man safely over, they were faced with a
tangled wading of flooded and often indistinguishable paths before
reaching the next torrent-filled gully and beginning the business all
over again.

Their powder was no longer dry, and they were as helpless against the
enemy as they were against the elements. Indeed, it was from this fact
that Henry, typically, plucked comfort from a comfortless situation.

'Now I _know_ that Spain's sun is setting,' he said, as he stood on the
brink of a torrent on their fourth day of homeward travail, waiting for
his turn to cross. They were still two days away from civilisation, and
their clothes weighed them down like armour. The rain ran down Henry's
black, uncurled hair and shot in separate streams from the end of each
lock to his rain-black tunic. But his eyes were bright and amused.
'Fifty men with pikes could have made an end of us any time in the last
seven days.'

'There is still time,' Kinnell said dryly.

But Henry went on looking superior and amused. And Henry was right.
They came back into Gibraltar, into an ironically sunny afternoon that
showed up their draggled state in a tactless clarity (which annoyed
Henry very much more than the Governor or the floods), and in all the
days of their struggling impotence not one Spanish musket had barked
even a token defiance.

Joe Bradley had come back that morning with a procession of boats laden
with treasure from the ship in the creek, and the sight of it banished
the last regret for the Governor from Henry's mind. It was almost
worthy of El Dorado.

'If you don't plan to take Merida too,' Joe said, with just a hint of
criticism, 'it is time we were getting back to Maracaibo.'

So they set sail; but it took them another two days, beating up against
the wind on that great inland sea, to reach Maracaibo. They came into
the roads late on a thundery evening, with the sunset lighting the
heavy sky to a sullen glow, and dropped anchor with a feeling of
achievement. As his boat lowered sail and lost way under the
breakwater, Henry looked up and saw Jack waiting for him.

'We got the ship, treasure and all!' he called.

But Jack made no answer, even by a sign. And Henry wondered whether it
was that he had not heard what he said, or whether Jack, the normally
imperturbable, was still hurt and sulky at being relegated to guard
duties.

Puzzled, he came up the breakwater steps and prepared to greet his
friend. But before he could move the few steps towards him a woman
flung herself on him, clawing at his face with her nails and shrieking
unintelligibly. Her weight and the suddenness of her attack pushed him
back to the wharf edge, and but for Jack he would have gone over. Jack
pulled him to safety, and then, turning on the woman, struck her thrice
in the face with all his force. This astounded Henry far more than the
woman's attack. Not only had he never seen Jack hit a woman, but he had
never seen him out of control before. Now he looked half-crazy; furious
and ashamed at the same time.

'Jack!' he said. 'What is the matter?'

The woman had sunk to her knees on the wharf, crying and blaspheming,
and a woman from the little knot of spectators came up, timidly, as if
she too might be struck, and took her away.

Henry stared from the screaming, dishevelled woman to his friend,
standing in angry embarrassment looking after her.

'Did you have to hit her so hard, Jack? She is only a poor demented
creature with a grudge.'

'She must learn to confine her grudge to the proper quarter. It was no
fault of yours.'

'What was no fault of mine?'

'That her daughter is dead.'

'Her daughter? Is it someone's fault that the girl is dead, then?'

'Yes. Nick Gaytor's men.'

'How?'

'Rape.'

'Jack! I trusted you!'

'You didn't tell me what I was to do with two hundred men mad drunk on
brandy.'

'What brandy?'

'The Governor's wine-store.'

'But there were guards on that.'

'Yes. One-eye came and said why were the castle guards always _Dolphin_
men; didn't we trust them? I said you had arranged it that way; but
they made an issue of it, and rather than have bad blood, I agreed to
alternate the guard. Everything went normally till last night, when
Nick Gaytor's men were on duty.' He paused a moment as if he found it
difficult to go on. 'In the Mayor's house down in the harbour you don't
hear much of the town noises. It was only in the small hours of the
morning, when Wat, my bos'n, came to fetch me, that I knew what was
going on. By that time the town was a roaring hell. They had dragged
people from their beds and were "persuading" them to tell where they
had hidden jewellery. Most of the poor wretches weren't well off enough
to have any jewellery, but they were too drunk to think of a small
thing like that. Some were good-natured enough and were dancing, but
the drunker ones were sheer maniacs. One or two were tumbling women in
the open street.'

'_Dolphins_?'

'No!' said Jack hotly. 'My men were like me, down by the harbour and
asleep. I went down for them, and Wat, Ted, and I went back with a
picket of thirty each and cleaned up the place. It took us three hours,
and two of Nick Gaytor's men are dead.' He paused again. 'But of course
there was no way of undoing----'

'Where was Gaytor?'

'Getting drunk with One-eye in the priest's house.'

'Is--the girl--the only----?'

'No. An old man they tortured died of fright. And a man whose hair they
burned off is in bad shape.'

There was a long silence.

'No unspotted glory,' said Henry at length, and turned to walk up the
wharf as if his feet were weighted.

Nick Gaytor was still lying drunk on the priest's bed when Henry
dragged him into a sitting position and flung the contents of the
water-jug over him.

'Are you sober enough to understand what is said to you?' he asked, as
Gaytor's wandering eye managed to focus itself on his face.

'Harry, my friend! Welcome back, welcome back, Harry my friend!'

'Captain Morgan to you, you unmentionable scum.'

'Oh, now, Harry, is that friendly! Is that----'

'Keep your mouth shut and listen to me, or, so help me God, I'll pistol
you where you sit and take my chance about it. You will collect your
men as soon as they are sober enough to stand, and you will take them
and yourself and your ship out of Maracaibo as fast as a wind will take
you.'

'Oh, it's that way, is it? Don't think you can play the Admiral with
me, Harry Morgan. I'm a partner in this exped----'

'If your ship is still here at noon tomorrow I'll blow the masts out of
her and leave you to get home any way you can. You're a disgrace to
your country, to your profession, and to the mother that bore you, and
it would give me the greatest pleasure to hang you from the yard-arm.
The best I can do is to see that the rest of the fleet are free of you
and your jailbird crew.'

'Aah, you make me vomit! You and your discipline and your rules and
your guards and your piddling dole of drink once a day! What do you
think my men came to Spanish territory for? A couple of trinkets and
kiss-me-hand through a window? No! They came for the fun they couldn't
get in----'

Gaytor's shirt-band gave with a loud tearing sound as Henry twisted his
collar and dragged him to his feet.

'I took you on this expedition because you had the reputation of a good
seaman, but all you have done is to blacken the reputation of the men
unfortunate enough to sail in your company. You would turn the stomach
of a Spaniard, Nick Gaytor, and it makes me sick to think that you were
ever a man of mine, and sick to the soul to know that you are English,
and mud for the Spaniards to fling back at us! You are to be out of
here by noon tomorrow, and every last man of yours with you.'

'If you think that I am going without my share of----'

'Listen,' said Morgan through his teeth. 'I meant what I said about
wanting to kill you. I've only once before wanted to kill a man, and I
stopped that time because I was superstitious. There isn't anything
stopping me at this moment but my common sense, and my common sense is
running out very fast. You be out of Maracaibo at noon tomorrow,
Gaytor.'

He released his grip from Gaytor's throat and let him drop back on to
the bed.

'Come on, Jack,' he said to Morris, who had been standing in the
doorway, a silent witness of the colloquy.

'My men may have their own views about that,' Gaytor said, rubbing his
neck and trying an attitude.  'If they refuse to go, who is going to
make them?'

'The _Fortune_, the _Dolphin_, the _May Flower_, the _Pearl_, and the
_Gift_,' said Morgan, and banged the door.

But by noon the following day no ships at all could sail from
Maracaibo. No English ships, that is. For the Spanish navy that had
been searching for Harry Morgan for the last six months had at last
found him; and in the straits were those mighty and Royal ships, the
_Magdalena_, the _San Luis_ and the _Marquesa_; forty-eight guns,
thirty-six guns and twenty-four guns respectively.

And lest these were not sufficient to bottle him up, the fort at the
narrows was once more occupied, its spiked guns replaced, and its
ammunition stores replenished.

They were trapped.




Chapter 13


Henry's reaction to this apparent _impasse_ was characteristic. He sent
a letter to the Spanish naval commander suggesting that he might pay
the ransom for Maracaibo.

'Do you expect him to!' said Jack.

'No. But the notion will entertain him for a day or two,' said Henry,
and sent to Gibraltar for the empty treasure-ship.

'One more ship isn't going to make any difference against three
floating forts and a land one,' Joe Bradley said.

'One spare ship is going to make all the difference,' Henry said. And
when the treasure-ship arrived at Maracaibo, he looked at her lovingly
and said: 'Now we are going to make this sad little tub into a proud
ship of war.'

'Her gun-deck won't bear more than four guns,' said Kinnell, who had
sailed her from Gibraltar. 'And if it's those heavy cannon from the
castle you're thinking of, sir, the deck won't bear them at all. Not to
fire them, it won't.'

'Seven guns a side, I think,' said Henry; 'and a couple of light ones
on the quarter-deck. And now go and tell the men to collect all the
pitch, tar, brimstone and other inflammable stuff that they can find in
the town. Dried palm leaves, thatch--anything.'

'Inflammable!' said Kinnell, and his face lighted. 'Yes, of course!
Yes, certainly. Captain; at once.'

Never had troops or crews enjoyed themselves as the English at
Maracaibo did for the next few days. They not only made Henry's 'sad
little tub' into a ship of war, they gave her a crew. They not only
broke open gun-ports and provided her with 'guns' made from the long
native Indian drums, but they made dummy figures to man her, complete
with hats, swords and bandoliers. And Henry was amused to notice that
at least one of these effigies was meant to be a portrait. He was
greatly pleased by the sardonic leer they had imparted to his mouth,
and the rakish tilt of his hat. Never had a fire-ship sailed under a
more dashing commander.

When the thing was finished, there was the matter of a suicide crew to
man her; and in view of the wholesale nature of the volunteering, it
was decided to draw lots for it. Two men to go from each of the six
ships. Nick Gaytor's men, being still in disgrace, were held to be
unworthy of the honour of suicide for a cause.

When the lots had been cast and the twelve heroes chosen, Henry
addressed the men who crowded the market square and read them the
letter he had received from the Spanish naval commander. The letter was
in Spanish, but that all might understand he read it first in English
and then in French.

'I have put into commission again that fort which you took from a
parcel of cowards,' wrote Don Alonso del Campo y Espinosa, 'and I am
here to dispute your passage out of the lake. Nevertheless, if you
surrender all that you have taken--treasure, slaves and prisoners for
ransom--I shall grant you free passage and let you go back safely to
your own country. If you decide to resist, I shall give no quarter to
any man of you, but will make an end of you entirely.'

'Well?' said Henry, into the silence that succeeded the reading. 'It is
for you to decide. Privateering is a partnership, and it is for you to
say. What shall I tell the Spanish commodore?'

'Tell him----' yelled a voice from the back.

And a great storm of laughter drowned the sentence before it was
finished.

When Henry came down the wharf next morning, he found that they had put
the finishing touch to the ship. They had given her a flag.

'Not the Union flag,' Bart explained, 'because we didn't like the idea
of burning it. So we made her a flag of her own. Pretty, ain't it?'

The gay bit of nonsense flipped and wriggled above the lethal mass
below, as if trying to be free of the mast before it was too late; but
Bart looked at it proudly and the men with satisfaction. It was their
answer to Spain.

They had loaded her from the still great store of powder that they had
taken from the sea-fort, and, with their tireless ingenuity, had
devised fire-crackers in place of musketry. She was a floating menace,
and they loved her.

On the last day of April, with the slaves (willing and unwilling) in
one ship, the prisoners for ransom (all unwilling) in another, and the
treasure in a third, they weighed anchor and set their bows towards the
sea. The three great warships were at anchor across the straits,
directly below the fort; but as they saw the English fleet coming they
up-anchored and hoisted sail so as to be able to manoeuvre.

Breathless, the men in the following ships watched as the fire-ship
closed the _Magdalena_. If those twelve men failed to keep the
_Magdalena_ stern-on they would be at the mercy of her soaring tiers of
guns; and all their labour and hopes of the last week, and the lives of
twelve brave men besides, would be lost in an instant. But the ship,
with her light load and her handiness, followed the slowly turning
warship, lessening all the while the distance between them until she
was within musket shot. The puzzled Spaniards met her with a crackle of
light arms, but the next moment she was alongside and grappling, and
they saw her at last for what she was. Frantically they tried to fend
her off with boat-hooks and pikes, but it was too late. She burst into
a rose of flame, and the men on one side of her moved back from the
blaze while twelve men on the other side dropped from her deck to the
water. Thirty seconds later she blew apart in a great fountain of
burning fragments that soared to the great ship's topmost rigging and
stuck there and burned. The _Magdalena_ became outlined in flame, her
yards dropped from their burning ropes and canvas to burn on the
already burning deck. Panic-stricken, her crew came scrambling up from
below and followed the original twelve to the safety of salt water. Her
mainmast fell and listed her port side almost into the water. And just
as the foremast was breaking out of the deck her magazine blew up. She
settled slowly and disappeared altogether.

The _San Luis's_ crew, watching in horror this destruction of the
flag-ship, found the _Fortune_ bearing down on them, and took it to be
another fire-ship. Without waiting to take a second look, they beached
their ship under the guns of the fort and set fire to her. If she was
going to burn, then they would do the burning, and they would do it
where they could step on shore first.

But the _Marquesa's_ crew was made of better stuff. The _Marquesa_ took
on the _Fortune_, the _Gift_ and the _Dolphin_, and kept them busy for
nearly an hour before striking her flag to them, and when she had
surrendered they filed one after another past her battered bulk and
cheered her.

Then they lowered their boats to join the boats from the ships bearing
the treasure and the prisoners, which had been lowered as soon as the
_Magdalena_ had blown up. But it seemed that the drowning Spaniards did
not want to be rescued; indeed, they resisted it with fury. And the
puzzled English, dragging struggling men into the boats, said to each
other: 'What is it? Do they think we keep thumb-screws on board?' They
learned afterwards that it was not fear of torture that made the
Spaniards prefer death to rescue, but that they had all sworn an oath
not to surrender on any conditions. At the time their seeming
perversity merely exasperated their rescuers.

'Aah, you silly bastard,' said Bluey, hitting a man over the head with
a piece of broken thwart and hoisting the stunned creature over the
gunwale with no tender hand, 'if you must go to Heaven, do it in your
own time, not mine.'

It was not the Spanish dislike for safety that made them desist in the
end, but the fort on shore; which, now that there was no danger of
crippling a Spanish ship, began to fire with a fine impartiality on
rescued and rescuers alike. So the English ships left those who still
remained in the water to swim to shore or cling to wreckage in the hope
that their own countrymen would rescue them, and drew back a little
into the lake again. They had still, somehow, to navigate those straits
in front of the fort; and since the fort had now been strengthened by
the complete crew of the beached _San Luis_, it was unlikely that they
could solve the problem by taking the fort.

But there were other methods.

All next day the Spaniards in the fort watched boat-loads of English
being rowed ashore to the beach behind the point. Boat after boat,
heavy with men, wallowed from the distant ships to the shore and came
back empty; until the Spaniards marvelled that seven small ships could
carry such an army.

What they could not see at that distance was that the 'empty' boats
going back to the ships were carrying a full load of men lying hidden
in the bottom. That no one at all was being left on shore.

'Little did I ever think I'd row _you_ as a passenger,' said Bluey to
the large Tenerife, lying relaxed between his feet.

Up at the fort there were no 'passengers'. Everyone spent the day
dragging the guns from the sea side to cover the land approaches, in
piling ammunition, and in levelling various inequalities in the ground
outside the fort so as to deprive the attack when it came of any
possible cover.

They reckoned that the attack would come in the half-light after
sunset.

But after sunset came the turn of the tide; and on the ebb came the
English ships, floating past the fort in the half-light, silent and
ghostly. For the first time since he went adventuring, the little
_Fortune_ did not carry Henry into action or lead her consorts to their
work. The English ships were led out to sea by the twenty-four-gun
_Marquesa_, Spanish ship of war, with Morgan on her quarter-deck.

And it was the _Marquesa's_ guns that gave the fort the mocking
seven-gun salute in return for the belated and out-of-range cannonading
that was all the sweating and outwitted Spaniards could manage by way
of protest.

And it was in the _Marquesa_ that he came back to Port Royal.

'You're not deserting the _Fortune_ altogether, are you?' asked Jack,
after he had been conducted round all five decks of the _Marquesa_ in
Port Royal harbour and they were coming ashore in the very elegant
little cockle-shell that had been her Captain's private property.
'Twenty-four guns isn't everything.'

'I'm tired of that poky little cabin in the _Fortune_,' said Henry, who
had vastly enjoyed the luxury of the _Marquesa's_ living quarters.
'Besides,' he said, catching Jack's sideways glance at him, 'I love a
ship that fought well.'

'She'd have fought a deal better,' said the unimpressed Morris, 'if she
was a bit handier. That hulk of guns and wood-carving couldn't get out
of the way of a piece of driftwood. I wouldn't have her as a gift.'

'You're not being offered her,' Henry said, good-humoured; and then,
with a sudden descent to gloom: 'Anyhow, she will have to be sold.'

'That shouldn't worry you,' Jack said. 'You're a planter from now on,
aren't you?'

'If I'm not arrested,' Henry said, still gloomier; and went away to
Kingshouse to take his medicine.

And this time it was no jam-coated purge.

'Maracaibo!' said Sir Thomas, pacing up and down the room with a quite
unwonted vigour. 'Merciful Heaven, Harry, what madness moved you to an
adventure like that! When the news first came in, a matter of ten days
ago, I refused to believe it. He is rash, I said; he is even mad; but
so far it has been a very methodical madness. He would never institute
an attack for which he could find no vestige of excuse! _Have_ you an
excuse, Henry Morgan?'

'Not one that would satisfy their lordships, I'm afraid. But does it
matter?'

'_Matter?_'

'When we do have an excuse, and offer them evidence in the enemy's own
handwriting, the Spaniards merely say we are forging. We went to Puerto
Bello "to anticipate the planned attack on Jamaica". Let us say that I
went to Maracaibo as reprisal for one ship's captain and fifteen men
hanged without trial in Havana.'

'That would hardly be an appropriate excuse at this moment,' Modyford
said.

'It is an appropriate excuse at any time, if the men are English,'
Morgan said, with a bite in his tone.

'You misunderstand me. It is inappropriate at this moment to remember
the misdeeds of Havana, because I have been busy patching up a local
peace with the Governor. If one cannot have peace from the top down,
then our only hope is to begin from the bottom up, and make our little
local peace and hope that it may spread.'

'And your Excellency thinks that the Governor of Cuba will respond?'
Henry asked, still dry.

'His Excellency is of that opinion,' Modyford said, still drier. 'I am
expecting Bernard Speirdyck back any day now, with the Governor's
answer.'

'Why Bernard?'

'When he took the _Mary and Jane_ in cargo to Cuba, I gave him all the
Spanish prisoners we had here, for repatriation, and a letter to the
Governor. And now, God help me, I have a Spanish warship captive in the
harbour, and more prisoners than we have ever had before.'

'And thirty thousand pounds,' said Henry, making an entry on the credit
side.

'Which we shall no doubt have to pay in compensation,' Modyford said,
refusing the bait.

'Not if the Lord High Admiral smells it first,' said Henry,
unrepentant. 'The Navy is so hard up, I understand, that they have to
pawn the rudder to buy rope.'

'Oh, go home to Elizabeth, you unprincipled disturber of the peace----'

'_What_ peace?'

'--and don't let me see you again until I can look at you without my
choler rising.'

'When will that be, does your Excellency reckon?'

'You might try coming to dinner the day after tomorrow.'

The chastened Henry went away feeling that, considering the enormity of
his crime, he had got off lightly; and two days later he presented
himself at Kingshouse prepared to help the Governor in the concoction
of dispatches for home consumption. He had come by invitation, and to
dinner; and he was surprised when the Governor kept him waiting. Was it
possible that Sir Thomas was seriously angry? Was he being put in his
place?

When at last he was shown into the long library that the Governor
habitually used as a living-room, he had the impression that someone
had just been pushed out of sight into the little parlour off it; and
this surprised him even more. Lady Modyford had come back from England
and was living out at Morant; which left Sir Thomas ample scope for
intrigue if he had wanted it; but even at his loneliest the Governor
had always had a reputation for austere self-sufficiency, and it was
hardly likely that he was entertaining a surreptitious petticoat.

Morgan watched him as he poured wine for his visitor; and thought that
he had never seen that fine, cool face so distracted by private
emotion. What could be moving Modyford to that extent?

The Governor asked for Elizabeth, and inquired about progress at
Morgan's Valley, without giving the impression of being really aware of
what he was saying. He even inquired about Henry's health when he was
in South America.

'You escaped the fever?'

'Yes. Four of my men died of it, and some have brought it back with
them. But I have escaped so far.'

'That is good.'

He had never seen Modyford like this before.

A small sound came from the farther room, and the Governor winced as
though it had been a thunder-clap.

Because he was sorry for him and anxious to relieve the unacknowledged
tension, Henry broached the obvious subject for conversation: the
matter of his own misdeeds. Since the commission given to him by the
Governor had been granted at the request of the Council of Jamaica, he
said, would it not be possible for the Council to take the beating? A
council had a broad back and no individual feelings whatever--especially
when they unanimously approved both of the Maracaibo expedition and of
the thirty thousand pounds that were going to be spent largely in
Jamaica. The Council would not mind being whipping-boy in such a good
cause, surely?

'We shall not need a whipping-boy,' Modyford said.

'Not need one? Why?'

'Because we have been reprieved. And I wish with all my heart that it
were not so.'

'Who has reprieved us?' Henry asked, watching the Governor get up and
walk to that inner door.

'One Manoel Rivera Pardal,' the Governor said.

Since this meant nothing to Henry, he was still at a loss.

'You had better hear the story for yourself,' Modyford said, opening
the door and revealing the figure that was waiting there.

It was Cornelius.

The boy's thatch of blond hair hung limp and lustreless, and his eyes
were sunk in his head. He looked old and tired; at the end of his
tether. He was clutching a woollen cap between his hands and twisting
it in an odd, childish, not quite sane fashion.

'Come in, Cornelius,' Modyford said gently. 'Captain Morgan is here
now.'

The boy came into the room, still wringing the cap, and sat down on the
edge of a chair without taking his eyes from Morgan's for a moment.

'Cornelius came to me first,' Modyford said, 'because he could not find
you. I told him that you were out at Morgan's Valley but that you would
be here to dinner in a very short time.'

'They must pay for it, Captain,' the boy said. 'They must pay for it.'

'For what, Cornelius?'

'For the _Mary and Jane_. For Bernard. And the others.'

Henry looked up at Modyford as the significance of this came home to
him.

'Is _this_ our reprieve?'

'Yes.'

'Merciful God!'

Since the boy was without words, Modyford went on:

'They were quite well received in Cuba, and allowed to trade their
cargo. And Bernard was given a receipt for his prisoners and a letter
of thanks from the Governor for me. Then two days out on the voyage
back to Jamaica they met a ship flying the English colours and sent two
men in a boat to her for news. As soon as the two men were on board,
the stranger fired a broadside that crippled the _Mary and Jane_, so
that she had to stay and fight. They fought for three hours. By that
time she was on fire fore and aft.'

'Did she sink?'

'No,' Cornelius said, although the question had been asked of Modyford.
'They boarded us and put the fires out. We could not put them out
ourselves because by that time we were too few.'

'How many?'

'Nine.'

The _Mary and Jane_ had had a crew of eighteen.

'Was Bernard one of the nine?'

'No.'

'How was it, Cornelius?'

'A splinter in the throat. A big splinter. As thick as my wrist.'

'And this ship. Who was she?'

'The _San Pedro y La Fama_, Captain Pardal.'

'What size?'

'Ninety-six men and twenty guns.'

'_And_ a commission to wage war,' said Modyford.

'_What!_'

'To be exact, two commissions.'

'From whom?'

'One from the Queen Regent of Spain, "for five years through the whole
West Indies as reprisal for Puerto Bello". And one from the Governor of
Cartagena; which seems to be the _San Pedro's_ home port.'

'What have they done with the _Mary and Jane_?'

'They turned the nine of us loose in our longboat, and took the _Mary
and Jane_ to Cartagena,' Cornelius said, still with those unwavering
eyes on Morgan's. 'They have to pay for it, Captain. They have to pay
for it.'

'Never fear, Cornelius. They'll pay.'

'And you'll take me with you to the paying?'

'I'll take you with me.'

His thoughts went to Mary Speirdyck as he had seen her two days ago,
sitting in her spotless little room above the harbour, playing with her
baby son.

'He is so like Bernard,' she had said, laughing. 'So like Bernard when
Bernard is wakening up after a nap.' And she had added, soberly: 'This
one will live. It is a green, kindly country, Yamaica; good to be
little in. Not like Curacao.'

How would Mary take this? This cutting in two of her life? This
catastrophe on the threshold of happiness.

And who would tell her?

In the end it was Morgan who told her. And she neither wept nor
blasphemed. She looked at her child in its cot, and said: 'By the time
he grows up men will have found how to live without fighting.'

And Morgan went away envying her this small fragment of the future to
which she could cling for salvation. For him there was only the
present; and anger tore him night and day like a mortal disease.

He took the _Marquesa_ as his share of the Maracaibo prize-money, and
repaired and refitted her with money that should have gone to the
improvement of Morgan's Valley; and when Modyford asked what he planned
to do with her, Henry said: 'I have an invitation to Panama.'

And Modyford for once made neither criticism nor protest.

On the contrary, he was lavish with Government stores; and more
resigned than usual to the good-natured barbarities of the
privateers-men who swarmed in Port Royal. (Their favourite ploy was to
broach a barrel of wine in the street and make all who passed drink to
the current toast.) It was almost as if he saw an end coming, and
wanted, before that final line, whatever it might be, was drawn, to
have done with half-measures, and compensations, and balances, and
fence-sitting.

His only comment was made when he learned the size of the fleet that
Henry proposed to take out with him.

'You won't forget that peace treaty that they are still playing with in
Europe, will you, Harry? If they ratify it, you will not be able to
take any fleet out.'

'Don't worry,' Henry said.  'The fleet will be ready before the
ratification.'

But, as it turned out, it was a near thing.

When Henry went to say good-bye to the Governor before sailing for his
rendezvous in the Cays, he knew that letters had come by the ship which
had touched at Port Royal that morning, and he cast an anxious look at
the papers that littered the Governor's desk. Modyford saw the glance
and smiled.

'Not yet, Harry. But any day now. I have had private letters. Spain has
been moved to concessions.'

'What moved her?' said Henry. 'Puerto Bello?'

'Oddly enough, yes. Or so I think. They have been hit so often and so
dangerously that it begins to dawn on them that they can no longer
consider themselves sole proprietors of the West. There seems to have
been one good event to our mutual villainy.'

But Henry was staring at the table.

'What interests you?'

'My name.'

'You read upside-down?'

'Oh, with ease. Would it be graceless of me to ask what your
correspondent says of me?'

'It is not a letter, Harry. It is a notice that was found stuck on a
tree near St Ann's Bay.'

He handed over the paper, and Henry read it aloud; with some
difficulty, because the ink had run and the script was foreign.

'"This, from Captain Manoel Rivera Pardal, is to the chief of
privateers in Jamaica. I am he who took Captain Speirdyck and carried
the prize to Cartagena, and I am now arrived on this coast and have
burnt it----" _Burnt_?'

'Yes. Five of the little farms between St Ann's Bay and Dry Harbour.'

'Just the buildings?'

'No, they devastated the place. Set fire to the plantations, and took
away both slaves and whites as prisoners. Old Cary and his daughter are
both dead; and so are the two Lawton brothers, and Phil Burstall and
his wife.'

There was a silence. Henry's glance went back to the paper, and he read
slowly: '"I am come to seek Admiral Morgan, with two ships of war of
twenty guns each, and I challenge him to come out and meet me that he
may see the valour of Spain."'

He stood a long moment looking at the paper.

'The valour of Spain,' he said. He folded the paper and put it in his
pocket. 'Since the communication is addressed to me you will not object
to my keeping it. You were not going to tell me about this?'

'No.'

'Why?'

'You were leaving today. It seemed a useless--exacerbation.'

'Don't tell me about that ratification either. That would be a far
worse exacerbation.'

'I shall have to send it to you in the Cays if it comes in time,
Harry.'

'Then mark it: "Not to be opened."'

'I can hardly do that.'

'Then frank it: "The valour of Spain,"' Henry said savagely, 'and I
shall keep it to read to Don Juan Perez de Guzman in Panama.'

And he went away with a hot heart and a cold mind to meet the fleet he
had summoned to the rendezvous.

It was a very pretty sight, the fleet, if a little lacking in
homogeneity--the smallest volunteer being a ten-ton sloop--and this
time he had seen to it that his commission made him not only leader but
master of it. Never again would he be helpless against the
irresponsibility of the baser sort as he had been at Maracaibo. He was
by his commission sole commander of those who chose to sail with him;
and his fleet accepted that condition with a readiness that was
flattering. Most of them had the wit to know that the strict discipline
for which Harry Morgan was notorious had had no small share in the
successes which had made him famous. And all of them would have served
anyhow, with no conditions at all, under a man who had taken his first
ship with eleven men in their stocking soles and Puerto Bello with a
handful of men and some muskets.

Even the French came back, in the person of a tall, thin
chestnut-coloured man who came on board and said, with his
chestnut-coloured eyes twinkling: 'I was right about the panache,
Admiral. We should have trusted your flair, and followed you to Puerto
Bello. Now that our peoples are friends again at home, may we perhaps
follow you to Cuba?'

'And if it happened not to be the rumoured invasion of Cuba, Captain
Gascoone?'

'We will follow you anywhere, Admiral. A man like you is born only once
in a century.'

So the French came back; four fine frigates, a ketch and three sloops;
and the seas in the lee of the Cays were thick with sail. Sometimes,
looking across the anchorage at the little _Fortune_, Henry was filled
with a regret that was one part sentimentalism and one part
superstition. He had given the command of her to that Robert Delander
for whom the English ambassador had spoken in Madrid and who had been
turned loose, penniless and without compensation, in Spain; and he felt
that no more appropriate transfer could have been found for her. But
the regretful feeling, half love, half doubt, shot through him each
time he caught sight of her, riding so lightly on the still water, so
intimate, so familiar, so feminine; and the feeling annoyed him very
much. How could he, Admiral of a fleet, sail in the _Fortune_, or
receive visitors in that humble little cabin that Manuel had once made
hideous with trophies of the chase? It was absurd even to think of it.
Her name was mere chance; just something that he had thought up
himself. He might as easily have called her the _Prosperous_ or the
_Queen_ or a score of other names. It meant nothing that her name was
_Fortune_ and that he had deserted her. Nothing whatever.

They spent the bad weather months making ready, and adding to their
provisions from the game on shore. But by November they were ready to
sail, and Jack Morris had still not turned up at the rendezvous. And
Henry was torn with anxiety. Not Jack, his mind said. Anyone but Jack.

But Jack came up over the horizon one morning in his usual leisurely,
effortless fashion, in company with a twenty-gun frigate.

'Who is your recruit?' asked Henry, when he came on board.

'That bastard' said Jack 'had the impudence to try to pot me like a
sitting bird when I was watering at Two Mile Cay.'

'Is she _Spanish_?'

'She was,' said Jack. 'She came prancing in and fired a whole broadside
at us without so much as a hail.'

'What is her name?'

'She's the _San Pedro y La Fama_.'

There was a moment's silence.

Then Morgan said: 'Send me over the Captain of her.'

'Pardal?' said Jack. 'I can't. He's dead.'




Chapter 14


Don Juan Perez de Guzman, far away in the safe and lovely city of
Panama, had not even remembered that gift of an emerald ring except as
a story to tell sometimes over dinner. The elegance of the gesture had
pleased him, and it had pleased him even more that he should have had
the final word. For of course the affair was finished. Spain had
suffered a disgrace at Puerto Bello, but he had by a fine gesture taken
some of the blackness from her shame; and so he could sit back and feel
at peace again. Over on the Atlantic coast the jealous mendicants who
clung to the rich petticoats of Spain would no doubt continue to raid
the settlements if opportunity offered; but here, on the other side of
the continent, on the calm Pacific coast, there was only Spain. Nothing
but Spain along the whole sweep of two continents. Spain unchallenged;
rich, and settled, and secure.

So Don Juan heard the news of Maracaibo without being markedly
discommoded. He noted that the hero of it was that Morgan creature
again, and in a passing thought regretted that the creature was not
Spanish. There was no doubt that Spain could do with an infusion of the
ferocious energy and willingness to take risks which characterised the
Islanders. He turned over his collection of gems, and decided to give
the second-best string of pearls to the Virgin in the Cathedral, by way
of averting the evil eye.

When his friend, the Governor of Cartagena, wrote to say that a great
fleet of mixed English and French ships was at sea and making southward
to the Isthmus, he was still undisturbed. But he did go and have a look
at the little pistol and its six bullets. And he gave the Virgin the
ruby bracelet that he had intended for his mistress.

The news that the fleet was actually approaching the Atlantic coast of
Panama roused him to send reinforcements to Puerto Bello. And as a
further insurance he presented the Virgin with one of his most prized
relics: a toe-bone of St Peter.

And having done all that mortal man and faithful believer could in the
matter, he left the Atlantic Coast to take care of itself. He propped
his bad leg on its silk cushions, and prepared to go on enjoying his
sunlit peace as much as his erysipelas would let him. Around him was
all the best of two worlds: the elegances of the Old, and the beauty
and fabulous wealth of the New. And he could enjoy it with no one to
disturb or hinder.

When a messenger came to say that the English had made a landing on the
Atlantic coast, he said: 'Well, well. They have landed before. The road
from Puerto Bello to Panama can be held by a handful of men: as we
found to our cost when we wanted to go the other way.'

'But they have not landed at Puerto Bello,' said the messenger. 'They
have landed at Chagres.'

'That is unusually stupid of them,' said Don Juan. 'There is nothing at
Chagres but a quite impregnable fort on a precipice, and a quite
impenetrable forest behind it.'

'It is no doubt monumentally stupid of them, as your Excellency
suggests, but it has been to a certain degree successful.'

'To what degree, may one ask?'

'They have taken the fort at Chagres.'

'Nonsense,' said Don Juan.

'Yes, your Excellency,' said the messenger, submissive.

'By what mortal agency could a fort on the top of a precipice be
taken?' And as the snubbed messenger did not reply: 'Well?'

'Hand-grenades and determination, your Excellency,' said the messenger,
goaded by the snubbing.

'And what are the egregious English doing now that they have the
harbour at Chagres?' said the Governor, tacitly admitting the
possibility.

'They are coming up the river in boats.'

'They will not get very far,' Don Juan said. 'Neither hand-grenades nor
determination will provide them with water to float their boats after
the recent drought.'

And this was the one thing that Don Juan was right about in all the
story of the Panama campaign.

The thing he was most wrong about was the supposition that a lack of
water in the river would stop the English. Even while the messenger was
talking to him on the terrace above the blue Pacific, the 'egregious
English' were transferring light arms, food and ammunition from the
last of their lightest-draught boats to their own backs. If the river
had failed them, then they would reach Panama by foot through the
forest.

It was Joe Bradley who had taken the fort at Chagres, and he had died
in doing it, and thirty of his men besides. It was the most spectacular
achievement on the part of the English in all the story of the
Americas, and it had been accomplished in the face of a Spanish
resistance that was heroic beyond praise.

'Tell Harry when he comes that we opened the way for him,' Joe said
when he was dying.

And Morgan, when he came into Chagres, felt that a bit of him had died
with Bradley.

Morgan had stayed behind to collect Santa Catalina. If this was, as it
seemed, to be his last voyaging, then it was time to see to it that
Santa Catalina should be Old Providence again, and a place for
Englishmen and their cherry-trees once more. He came into the harbour
at Chagres thinking how pleased Mansfield would have been that his
little island was English again ('There it sits, my nice little island,
on all the routes across the Caribbean'), only to learn that he had
lost Bradley.

'Was there _nothing_ you could have done to save him!' he said to
Exmeling.

'Nothing, Captain,' Exmeling said with that oracular condescension that
is so maddening to the layman.

But Morgan, too moved to be tactful, still looked doubtful; and
Exmeling's too thin skin was chafed. Not for the first time.

The English were dog-tired long before they reached the point where
they had to abandon their boats. Their progress up the river had not
been either a lazy water-borne journey or a steady pull. It had been an
endless series of portages; of transferring equipment to shore and
hauling the boats through the rapids and then wearily reloading. It had
been sometimes, in the later stages, a matter of lugging the boats
themselves overland to the next possible navigable water. So that it
was with a sense of relief that the men, soldier and sailor alike, said
good-bye to the river altogether and took to the forest 'light'; with
nothing but what they carried on their own backs.

It was with this equipment that they proposed to take Panama, and
already the weaker spirits were vocal.

The hot, damp forest depressed them. The inability to see more than a
few yards ahead. The steaming, oven atmosphere. The physical effort of
shouldering loads over the pathless uneven ground. The million biting
insects. The snakes. The creepers that felt like snakes. The rotten
branches that looked like snakes.

And presently, worst of all, the glimpse of half-seen naked brown
bodies through the leaves, and the knowledge that they were not alone
in the forest. That they were being escorted every step of the way by
Spanish Indians.

Not all that marching file of nearly twelve hundred men were easily
impressed, by either the forest or the invisible enemy. Tom Rogers'
crew, to whom had been given the honour and ardours of advance guard,
hacked their way hour by hour through the virgin forest; and when their
turn to be relieved came refused to give up their place. And directly
behind these came surely the strangest sight ever to have been
witnessed by a Central American jungle: two hundred men in the red
coats of the Commonwealth army. Nothing at all--snakes, Indians,
mosquitoes, creepers or steaming heat--dismayed these veterans. When
every sailor in the column had discarded everything but shirt and
breeches, the old New Model men were still wearing their red coats; of
which they were inordinately proud. And when every sailor in the column
had consumed his last crumb of food, the red coats still had their
rations almost intact.

It was in this matter of food that the rot became first apparent.
Morgan had expected to provision his men from the country; from the
small stockaded settlements that studded the river at intervals. But as
they came out into each clearing by the waterside, they found the same
deserted village and the same still-smoking ruins. The Spaniards had
cleared out and had left nothing consumable behind them. The buildings
had all been wood-built and thatched with palm, and they had burned
with a satisfying ease and completeness. The hungry men prowled among
the charred wreck for something that might still be eatable, and
quarrelled bitterly over a handful of cindery corn or some brittle
beans.

Then fever came to add its vapours to their misery. And men marched
through an unreal world in which not texture, distance nor sound had
any validity. On feet that felt like pillows, or on feet that seemed to
have no existence at all.

The seriously ill were left in the deserted river clearings, to be
fetched by canoe and taken back to Chagres, and the others who could
still walk and keep direction stumbled on with the aid of their
stronger fellows.

On the evening of their second day without food, they came on a cave
with two sacks of meal, a few bunches of plantains, and two jars of
wine; and Morgan stood over the food with a pistol while it was divided
among the sick and exhausted. This saved a few more from having to be
sent back by canoe, but even the fact that he had no mouthful of it
himself did not endear him to the men who had discovered the cache.

'Cheer up,' said Morgan. 'Tomorrow we shall reach Venta de Cruz, and
there we can eat our fill. At Venta de Cruz the forest ends and the
road to Panama is open.'

But between them and Venta de Cruz lay a new hazard and a new terror.
The dim light of the forest grew darker and the country closed round
them, soaring above them to unseen heights; and it was apparent that
their only advance must be through a gorge in front of them. This was
unnerving enough to men exhausted and half-starving, but it was now
that the half-seen enemy who had tagged them so long chose to attack
them. A soft flight of arrows fell on the first men to enter the gorge.
By sheer luck the volley had been dispatched too soon, so that the
arrows fell harmlessly in front of them, and with this warning they
covered with continuous musket-fire each party to go through the
defile. But even so, only the hope of food, and the sheer impossibility
of retracing their steps to find any, hounded them through the pass. By
now the soldiers were chewing their leather belts, and the crews were
eating leaves.

They came out into the light, still attended by their invisible foes,
and made their way down to Venta de Cruz like homing horses; all of a
sudden confident and good-tempered. The Indians, kept by the covering
fire too far away for accurate aim, fell back on mocking shouts in
Spanish, and the men replied in kind. Presently they would eat. Venta
de Cruz was the place where goods coming by road up from Panama were
loaded on to boats for passage down the river to Chagres. At Venta de
Cruz would be storehouses full of food. At Venta de Cruz would be an
end both to their hunger and to the struggle through virgin forest.
They were jubilant.

At Venta de Cruz, in fact, were one sack of bread, and fifteen jars of
Peruvian wine.

Nothing was alive in the burnt-out village and the empty warehouses but
a few stray dogs.

Those lucky enough to catch the dogs killed and ate them.

The first to reach the wine drank it down on their unprepared stomachs
and dropped in their tracks insensible. The unlucky dropped in their
tracks anyhow, and lay there; too far beyond emotion for either cursing
or tears.

In the morning they got gingerly on to their swollen feet and began
their march over the cobbles of the road to Panama. It was their eighth
day out from Chagres, and all that they had left was their muskets,
their ammunition and the spirit that kept them going. It was fantastic
that this column of dazed and unshaven scarecrows proposed to take a
city.

Although they no longer had to hack their way, the forest was still
round them as they hobbled over the rough mule-path, and the attendant
Indians were still there. Every now and then the soft, bird's-wing
sound of a chance arrow would startle a man out of his coma, or a
mocking yell from the bush would set the column cursing.

They came in the evening to open country at last; the blue haze of
stinging flies grew less as the wind rose, and the Indians, deprived of
cover, left them alone. They bivouacked for the night in open savanna,
where three stone-built shepherd's huts, empty but unburned, offered
shelter for the sick. And there their final wretchedness came upon
them.

It rained.

It rained as it can rain only in the tropics with the wind behind it.
Like whips, like rods, like cats-o'-nine-tails. They lay on the wet
earth, without cover, without hope, and almost without caring. Nothing
more could happen to them.

Morgan, lying on the sodden grass and enduring his first bout of fever,
was conscious only that he had been saved from disaster by the presence
of those stone huts. For in the huts, along with the sickest men, was
the ammunition. Whatever else had happened to them, their powder was
still dry. They were still an army.

In the morning he was still light-headed enough to be full of secret
plans for making the three little stone huts into a great church, as a
thank-offering for his deliverance; and he had difficulty in collecting
his thoughts when he addressed the men. The words would not come out of
his mouth in the right order without the most careful marshalling. But
the men were more interested in the matter than the style, and the
matter pleased them. Today, he told them, on this ninth day of their
march from the sea, they would reach the top of the slope from which
they could look down on Panama. That was the ridge, in front of them,
and they would reach it before noon.

They listened to him in attentive silence, their wet clothes steaming
in the sun; and Bluey put into words the feeling of every man in the
crowd when he said: 'Panama's the richest town in the world, they say,
and all I want out of it is a beef-steak!'

Their minds were so filled with the anticipation of food that they
failed to anticipate the sight of the sea. It took them unawares, and
with the most surprising result. What not the thought of their
survival, of the riches of Panama, nor of the food to come had done,
the sight of the sea achieved. Their dead minds wakened into wild
glory; wave after wave of mad cheering rolled to and fro along the
ridge; and when their empty bodies would no longer cheer they stood
there laughing like maniacs because there was the sea.

It was a blue and smiling sea, if distant; studded with small islands
and flecked with sails. The town lay at its edge, bright and shining
and washed after the storm, very clear in the morning air, like the
little landscape that Italian painters liked to put by the left ear of
some Madonna. In the plain between the slope and the city the light
splintered on the helmets of manoeuvring cavalry, but the English had
no eyes for the troops. Just below them on the green plain were droves
of cattle, placidly grazing. Fine fat cattle. Beautiful cattle.
Magnificent cattle.

They went down the slope singing, built their fires, and for the first
time for seven days sat down to a meal. The half-raw steaks, still warm
from the slaughter, slid down their throats without benefit of teeth.
The fires looked gay and home-like--as the sea had looked. Their
strung-up bodies relaxed, and one by one they lay back and slept;
gorged and at peace.

Only Morgan did not sleep. He lay in the meagre shade and tried to keep
his thoughts clear. Presently he would have to face all the
appurtenances of war: artillery, cavalry and foot. He looked round at
the recumbent bodies: shabby, half-naked, untidy and worn; and reckoned
as far as his unruly mind would let him. Reckoned their spirit against
the power of Panama. Affection rose in him as he looked at them. They
had cursed him, these last few days; cursed him for bringing them on a
fool's errand; there were times in the forest when some of them would
have liked to kill him. But even in their sleep, he noticed, there was
no supineness of spirit. Each man slept with his arms about his musket,
and his ammunition to hand. Bart had even spread his coat over his as
an insurance against a repetition of last night's deluge before he
wakened.

Morgan's eye lingered on Bart, and a more personal worry swam up out of
the whirling ends of thought that filled his head. Bart had aged
greatly since his servitude on the fortifications of San Jeronimo, and
Morgan had wanted him to stay behind at Chagres, but Bart would have
none of it. Indeed, he had been so hurt at the suggestion that Henry
had wished that he had not made it. Now, looking at Bart asleep, he
wished that he had insisted. This was no work for a man who must be
nearly sixty. Bart should be back on the ship, sitting in the shade
with his scissors and his measuring tape and his sail-cloth.

He propped himself on his elbow and leaned over to draw the edge of the
old man's coat forward so that it made a shade for his face; and as he
did it the light caught the emerald on his finger, and the direction of
his thoughts changed. He lay back and smiled. Worried he might be, and
uncertain with fever, but he had a notion that the state of Don Juan
Perez de Guzman must at this moment be a great deal more feverish than
his was ever likely to be.

And in that he was right.

When the fugitives from the stockades on the river arrived in Panama
with the news that the incredible English, baffled by the shallow
river, were now advancing through the forest, Don Juan sent out Indian
irregulars to keep the English in the forest and had himself carried to
the Cathedral, where he presented the Virgin with a diamond ring worth
four thousand pieces and swore an oath to die in her defence.

When the Indians came back to say that the English caught their arrows
in mid-air and shot them back (with muskets, presumably) and were now
through the forest and out on the savanna, and feasting on stolen
cattle, Don Juan ordered that the Virgin should be taken out of the
church and carried in procession round the town, attended by the
complete fraternity of St Francis, the nuns of Our Lady of Rosario, of
San Domingo and of the Mercedes, and all the images of the saints and
patrons belonging to all these bodies. He was once more going through
his collection of jewels with a view to further insurance (with
side-glances now and then at the little pistol with its six bullets)
when his cavalry commander, Don Francisco de Haro, came to say that if
the English were feasting on meat after their ardours in the forest
they would tonight be so dead asleep that they could be surprised and
butchered where they lay, and the whole matter would be ended in an
hour.

Don Juan considered this a wonderful idea; and was very much
disappointed next morning when his cavalry commander came back to
report that Morgan had had the same idea.

'He had his men roused at two o'clock in the morning,' reported Don
Francisco, frustrated but admiring. 'An Englishman who thinks is a very
dangerous animal, Excellency.'

This was the final, insupportable straw. Don Juan made a complete sweep
of all that he valued ('all my jewels and relics collected in my
pilgrimages', as he reported sorrowfully to Madrid) and divided them
between all the other images in town. ('Hedging his bets', as Jack said
later, comparing the dazzling Virgin of Don Juan's devotion with the
after-thought-upon saints and madonnas.)

And then, denuded of all but faith, he prepared to honour his oath to
die in defence of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception at Panama, by
taking the field at the head of his troops.

When Morgan saw the troops he could hardly believe his eyes. It was
like a child's game on some nursery floor. All laid out, neat and
bright and orthodox and static. Cannon in front, infantry behind, and
cavalry on either flank. He had lived so long in a guerilla world that
he had forgotten that war could still be waged like this.

'Ain't they pretty?' said Bluey, sucking his teeth.

And truly they were pretty. Their clothes were bright-coloured, their
metal glittered, their guns gleamed, their horses shone, their banners
flowered in the sun.

There was only one thing lacking in this brilliant array; as Don Juan
did not fail to report to Madrid. It was the thing in which the
sad-coloured thousand facing them were so rich: heart. More than
fifteen hundred of them, said Don Juan, were arrant cowards and not
Spanish at all; and the Spanish, on the other hand, had no faith in the
arms they had to fight with. A carbine, they felt, was no match for a
musket, even at odds of six to one; and anyhow they had not fired
anything at all for years except some fowling-pieces in their off-time.
The gunners were in even worse shape; they were frankly terrified of
the temperamental monsters they were required to fire. The heretical
English seemed almost friendly compared with a mass of metal that might
blow up in their faces.

The heretical English were at that moment hearing their own version of
the Mass, and commending their souls to their Maker. As firmly as they
believed in nothing in this world they believed in the next. So they
knelt on the soft savanna grass and recited their prayers, demure and
trusting as children.

'I gave strict command that none should move without my order,' wrote
Don Juan to Madrid; but even trained troops will not stand to be fired
on from the scrub on their flank. The Spaniards had considered that
scrub to be impenetrable; but the English, who had bested a dry river
and a virgin forest, were in no mood to be defeated by some scrub. Jack
Morris's crew sat comfortably in the dense cover of the little hill and
picked off the troops below them at their leisure. This was entirely
contrary to the book of the rules, and Don Juan was dismayed. But Don
Francisco came to his help.

'I told you the animal thinks, Excellency. We must not give him further
time to think. Let me charge him with my cavalry. He has no cannon, and
we shall not give him time to reload his muskets after the first
volley. We can mow his troops down.'

And once again Spanish cavalry came charging to their lesson on English
musketry. It was not one volley that met them. As the front rank fired,
the second rank took their place; cool and deliberate, as if they were
shooting for a prize. And when the second volley had been fired, the
third rank had their turn. The thundering line of horse which a moment
before had seemed a wave of destruction that nothing could stop broke,
and withered, and died along the whole front of the English line as the
surf dies against a rock.

Don Francisco, looking at his shattered squadrons as they cantered back
to safety, decided that orthodox methods were too expensive. He came to
Don Juan with a new suggestion.

'A herd of cattle!' said Don Juan, shocked to the soul. 'But that is a
most--a most _ungentlemanly_ method.'

'It is a question of living as plain men or dying as gentlemen,' said
Don Francisco, tart from his lesson in musketry. 'It is for your
Excellency to say.'

His Excellency decided, therefore, to abandon the book of rules and
overwhelm his enemy by some effective barbarism. To wit: the
close-packed and irresistible mass of a bolting herd of wild cattle.

'One must sacrifice the graces of life when necessity drives,' said Don
Juan, feeling smirched by this lowly stratagem. 'At least we have the
comfort of knowing that our sacrifice will be decisive. No man born of
woman can stand still in front of a charging herd of cattle.'

The old New Model could.

And did.

Cavalry, snakes, Indian arrows, starvation or charging cattle, it was
all one to them. They knelt and fired into the brute mass as
methodically as they would meet any other attack. By numbers. On the
spot.

As the front row of cattle succumbed to the volley, the beasts behind
fell over them, and their combined bodies made a natural barricade that
dammed the full weight of the charge. Those animals who were forced, by
panic or by the impulse from behind, to surmount the struggling mass
were daunted by the bright-coloured barrier that waited for them and
fled along the line in search of escape. So that a black thundering
river flowed harmless along the waiting English line, and the redcoats
poured volleys in at their leisure. They would need meat anyhow.

This seeming miracle was too much for the Spanish army. The rear ranks
began to melt away.

And in the silence that succeeded the drumming roar of the stampeding
herd, Jack's fore-top-ahoy voice yelled from the scrub on the Spanish
flank: 'Come on, Harry! They're breaking!'

As the English came on, 'the retreat' as Morgan said, also reporting to
his superiors 'became plain running'.

'They left me there with one negro and one servant,' wrote Don Juan to
Madrid, 'but I went forward alone to meet the enemy so as to comply
with my promise to the Virgin to die in her defence. But my chaplain
protested that this was not Christian. Twice I rebuked him, but on his
protesting a third time I retired, it being a miracle of the Virgin to
bring me off safe among so many thousand bullets.'

The English, sore about that herd of cattle, pursued the flying
Spaniards _con amore_, but Don Juan Perez de Guzman was not one of
their victims. Don Juan got away to the hills, bad leg and all, and sat
there writing letters to Spain.




Chapter 15


That night the city of Panama burned.

The proud Spaniards said that they had fired it to prevent its falling
into English hands.

The unimpressed English pointed out that the panic-stricken Spaniards
were in such haste to blow up the main fort that they not only killed
forty of their own men, but scattered burning fragments for a mile all
round, and that it was this rain of burning brands from the explosion
that set the roofs on fire.

What is certain is that the English, who had looked forward to the
delights of food and sleep, spent the hot, windy night in frantic
efforts to put out the flames. No one would pay ransom for a burned-out
town. But the wind blew, and the flames roared; and the ransom went
down-wind and up with the flames. When dawn came there remained only
the stone heart of the town: the courts, churches, convents, hospitals,
stores, and the more palatial houses. The elegant little cedar-wood
houses had perished along with the palm-thatched wattle of the slaves'
quarters.

The stone-built part of the town, oddly Moorish in this far Pacific
setting, was intact; and when Henry installed himself among the mirrors
and damasks of the Governor's house, he found the staff still there,
and openly philosophical about this change of owners. The Governor,
said Domenico, the black major-domo, had promised that 'no harm would
come to them because he had given the house into the Virgin's charge'.

'If no harm comes to you,' said Henry, tired and caustic, 'it will be
because the English are civilised.'

He looked at the great bed in the Governor's room, piled high with soft
pillows and hung with thick silk that would shut out a disappointing
and importunate world, and every bone in him ached to lie down on that
softness and sleep; and sleep, and sleep. Making himself walk away from
it and downstairs again had the quality of a physical tearing, as
burned flesh sticks to the thing that has mastered it. There could be
no sleep yet for a man with a city in his hands. Even before he had
chosen an office from the ground-floor rooms, the stream of callers
began. Senior officers complaining, junior officers wanting advice, men
wanting instructions. The long tale of incident; of the unforeseen and
the unallowed-for. The incipient quarrels, the arbitrations. Burial
parties, pickets, guards, deputations. Billets, commissariat,
reconnaissance, medical supplies, lines of communication. It went on
all through the long, hot morning, and far into the afternoon.

The most urgent business was to get into commission again the one ship
left in the harbour--grounded by the Spaniards--and with her help bring
back the ship which had taken all the rich inhabitants out of Panama
with all their portable treasure. This gratifying job (they had not
expected to find any ship at all for their use) kept the seamen busy
and out of mischief for the next two days, and they sweated so
heroically in this good cause (as much to spite the Spaniard as to
recover the treasure) that on the third day Ansell took the ship to
sea.

Henry had just grown used to the thought that there would be no ransom
for Panama, when Ansell came back to say that there was no hope of
finding the escaped grandees or their treasure, since the ship bearing
them had stood straight out to sea bound for Peru. He had, however,
brought in three other refugee ships which he had found at the small
islands off the coast, together with the refugees themselves, who had
settled down to a normal luxurious existence in supposed safety on
Tobago and the other islands in the vicinity.

'Are your prisoners still on board?' asked Morgan.

'The men were on one ship, and I've unloaded them into the
customs-house on the quay. They're quite resigned to being prisoners.
But the women want to go back to their homes now that they are here in
Panama again. They say that you can ransom them just as easily from
there.'

'Of course they can't go home,' Morgan said, impatient. 'They must go
to a convent. The Rosario is half empty; they can go there.'

'I wish you'd tell them that,' Ansell said, shamefaced. 'I don't mind
admitting they put the fear of God in me. I'd as soon have a mutinous
crew in a ship on fire in a hurricane, as sail with that crowd of
peacocks. You tell them yourself, Admiral, will you?'

'I'll tell them,' said Morgan, very grim. 'You send the men up to the
Franciscans and ask the brothers to billet them in the chapel if they
have no spare cells; and then bring the women ashore to the
customs-house. I'll see them there when I've inspected your captured
ships.'

The three captured ships, added to the one they already had, made a
small fleet, and the possibilities in this so interested Henry that he
had to be reminded of the existence of the women. He went to the
customs-house with swift, impatient steps, prepared to be short with
female preferences. The last week had sucked him almost dry: dry of
vitality, of humour, and of joy in living. He had taken twelve hundred
cursing and half-dead men across the Isthmus. He had fought a battle
with them, and won it. He had wrestled with a burning city, and now he
was saddled with the administration of a province. And he was sucked
dry. His sick blood played traitor to his will, and every day or two he
found himself having to deal with the world through a haze of unreality
that was worse than pain. Intangible spider-web bonds that were strong
as chains would hold him where he sat, so that getting up was like the
tearing of cables. His thoughts stuck, or floated away beyond his
control, so that the effort of forcing them into order sickened and
exasperated him. Nor was night a respite. He lay in the soft cushions
of the great bed, sleepless and weary, watching the hours pass. At dawn
he would slip into an exhausted insensibility, and two hours later
would be on his feet again to face another day of self-driving.

He strode into the customs-house in no tolerant mood, and addressed
Ansell's 'peacocks' with bite and precision. This was one of his lucid
days, and he made the most of it: it was luxury to have the words come
neat and appropriate from his tongue without having first to arrange
them in his mind. It was absurd, he told them, to suggest that they
should be scattered over the town as it seemed good to them. They were
there to be ransomed, and until they were ransomed they would stay
where they could be found.

But we can be found in our homes, they protested.

He doubted it, said Henry. He very much doubted it. The town was open
to the countryside, without barricade or fortification, as it had
always been. The temptation to depart would be very great. And if they
thought that he had men to spare for a separate guard on each of them,
then they were wrong. It was ridiculous, he said----

And stopped there.

He heard the silence that flooded in on his broken sentence.

What had happened? Had his fever come back? What had stopped his
thoughts?

He struggled with the silence, but had no power to break it.

In a dumb panic he sought for the source of his distraction, and found
it. It was the Madonna by the doorway to the quay.

It was a living Madonna, for all her stillness and repose. Warm and
alive, for all her calm gaze and her folded hands.

He took his eyes away and tried to think what he had been saying.
Something about a guard. A guard for someone. A guard. A guard. A
guard. She must be alive, because the lace on her bosom had been
moving. Something about a guard. A guard for whom? It might be just the
air from the quay that stirred the lace. No living woman could look
like that. What was it that he had been saying?

The silence dwindled into small sound as the crowd began their chatter
and their protests again.

'You will be escorted to the convent of the nuns of Rosario this
evening, and food will be sent to you there,' he said. And turned on
his heel and went out by the opposite door, without looking again in
her direction.

He had been on the way home to dinner with his officers, but this
failure in control so dismayed him that he punished himself by thinking
up a new duty, and went to see Bart in hospital. Bart was very ill with
fever, and was every day looking more and more as he had looked when
Bluey had carried him up the steps of San Jeronimo to the daylight. He
had also begun to talk again about that cottage in the Mendips: a
subject on which he had not touched for a long time. The visit did
nothing to strengthen or comfort Henry.

Nor did the succeeding days bring release. The need to see the woman
again was paramount whatever he was doing. Her face came between him
and the papers on his desk, and hung between him and the dim ceiling in
the small hours. Her face was inside his closed eyelids and inside his
mind.

It was easy to see her again. Interviewing prisoners held for ransom
was a normal proceeding, and he had only to wait. He could have placed
her first on the list, but that would have been to acknowledge to
himself that an unknown woman could have the power to dictate his
actions, and that was unthinkable. So he forced himself to wait until
the moment when his door opened and the Franciscan friar who was acting
as his secretary said that the wife of Don Vincente de Alcandete was
here.

She stood as she had stood by the doorway to the quay, quiet and still.
And again he was at a loss for words. It was a very young Madonna;
ageless and innocent. Not woman at all. Mere essential beauty.
Loveliness incarnate. Perfection made manifest.

'Your husband owns the big house on the other side of the square,' he
heard himself say. 'Where is your husband?' And he waited with his
breath held to hear her speak.

Her husband had gone to Peru on business, she said; and it was music.

'Since your home is in the centre of the town and surrounded on all
sides by our own headquarters, it might be possible, I think, for you
to live there if you cared to.'

That would be very gracious of him, said the music.

Unconsciously, Henry had expected her to say that she could not take
privileges that were denied to her friends. But of course one could
hardly expect a Madonna to be greatly concerned with, nor aware of,
human relationships.

'Have you servants to look after you if you go home?'

Yes, she had servants.

'Then I shall give instructions that from now on you may live in your
own house.'

She bowed her head a little, with no change of expression, and went
away.

And in the evening of the following day he went to call on her.

She received him without surprise, and he sat for half an hour
absorbing and marvelling at that serene perfection. She did not
volunteer any remark, and he sat like a tongue-tied schoolboy, but the
silences that fell between his questions had the same serenity as her
beauty. He felt drugged, and happy for the first time for weeks.

But there was no happiness for him once he had left her. Only a
feverish waiting until it would be evening again and he could go and
see her.

And that became the pattern of his life in Panama.

The crowded days were full of business; decision, arbitration,
contrivance. But the long, full day was merely a tunnel down which he
must pass to the thing that mattered; to his hour with the wife of Don
Vincente de Alcandete. To that longed-for, waited-for, satisfying,
unsatisfying hour with beauty.

'What do you want of her?' he would ask himself in moments of sanity,
and found no answer. He could take her at any time, but to bed with her
seemed to him as shocking as it would be to bed with a saint; as
unthinkable as that Bet--sleeping alone among the slaves at Morgan's
Valley with a pistol on her pillow--should be forced by some stranger.

'Why are you not afraid of me?' he blurted one evening, resentful of
the serenity that snared him.

She looked at him with the wide, unchanging grey eyes that had the
lavender shade of the sea in a calm dawn. Of what should she be afraid?
she asked. The Admiral was a great man, and gently born. He would not
make war on women.

Defeated, he looked round the room, and saw the travelling-chest that
he so much admired. 'I am nevertheless planning at this very moment to
rob you,' he said; absurdly glad to find even this trivial way of
asserting his hold over her. 'I want that chest to carry some of the
loot I am taking out of your country.'

He was welcome to the chest, she said. It was one of a pair. She had
brought her trousseau in them when she came from Tobago to be married.

And at the mention of her marriage he was straightway disorientated
again. What was stopping him? She was a married woman, wasn't she? A
human creature, feminine and desirable.

But her serenity hung between them like some unspoken tabu. And he went
away, as always, half-satisfied, half-frustrated; and by now wholly
miserable.

'Why the consideration for Don Vincente's wife?' Jack had asked one
day.

'She is delicate,' said Henry; and hated all the world. He was being
ridiculous, and the realisation added the last ounce to his suffering.
If the normally tolerant and silent Morris was moved to speech, then
the affair was matter for common gossip.

For nine days thereafter he spent his spare hours with Don Juan's
reigning mistress, a complaisant lady of extensive talents, hoping
thereby to exorcise from his mind the image that haunted it. Perhaps in
satiation he would find ease for his torture. He left her in a rage on
the ninth evening because she had said, indifferently, between two
bites of a fig, as if it were a matter of no great moment, that the
wife of Don Vincente de Alcandete was the stupidest woman in the two
Americas. 'She is so stupid,' she said, her interest on the fruit in
her hand, 'that her nullity is positively dazzling.' And he had thrown
down his table-napkin and flung out of the room and out of her house;
unhealed and unassuaged.

'I am sick, that is what it is,' he would assure himself. 'It is part
of my fever. It is just an illness that will pass.'

But the illness rose to a climax as the day for departure from Panama
drew near, and he was forced to the knowledge that in a matter of hours
he would be seeing her for the last time. He clutched at the fact that
her ransom had not yet been paid, and that he might for that reason
legitimately take her with him.

Take her where? said the cool Henry somewhere at the back of his sick
mind. Home to Elizabeth?

No, of course he could not do that. But just to keep her with him a few
days longer. To put off the moment when she would not be there any
more; nor ever again.

She apologised in her gentle musical Spanish for the inconvenience that
the late payment of her ransom was causing him. It would mean an extra
mule in the pack-train to carry her as far as Venta de Cruz, but it
would not be farther, she promised him. The ransom would catch up with
her at river-head.

Three more days, perhaps four, he reckoned; like a beggar snatching
small coins spilled in the street. And he rode behind her all the way
across the plain and up the cobbled track into the hills, rode behind
her all the way to the Chagres river, so that his eyes should not be
cheated of those minutes, so fast running out, when they could still
see her.

More than a mile long that pack-train was. A hundred and seventy-five
mules, loaded to the limit. For even without the lost ransom for the
city and without the personal wealth of the escaped grandees, the
treasure of Panama was fabulous; greater than that of Puerto Bello and
Maracaibo put together. The number of men who had to share it was also,
of course, more than doubled, so the final dole might not be so
princely; but no one could take from them the credit of their
achievement, and that would be theirs long after the last coin had been
rung on a tavern table and they were once more penniless.

At Venta de Cruz they camped for ten days while the pack-loads were
shipped into canoes for carriage down the now swollen river. And on the
eighth day two friars came into camp bearing the ransom for Don
Vincente de Alcandete's wife. They brought it in silver, in the second
of her trousseau chests; and since it was late afternoon, they waited
until morning to begin the journey back. And that night Henry lay
awake, staring up at the low-hung stars that looked as if they could be
picked out of the sky by any man energetic enough to put up a hand, and
saying to himself: 'There are a million million suns, strung through
space unimaginable. Suns. With worlds spinning round them. What does
the beauty of one woman matter?'

But nothing could ease the constriction of loss and grieving in his
breast; the desolation.

He took a public farewell of her next morning, and watched her ride
away with her empty trousseau chest and her two attendant friars for
just so long as the regulation few moments that politeness enjoined
from a host; and then turned away to take up his life again.

He went down to Chagres with the sick, for the sake of being with Bart;
leaving Jack to escort the treasure. Bart looked better, and was
radiant at the thought of seeing the Atlantic again. 'None of these
foreign seas for me,' he said. 'The old Caribbean's good enough.' And
Henry laughed, and found comfort in the fact that Bart would, after
all, sit in the shade on deck again with his scissors and his measuring
tape and his sail-cloth.

But on their first night back in Chagres, Exmeling sent for him after
midnight, when the victorious captains were still sitting round their
supper-table celebrating; and he got up from the hot, hilarious,
wine-fumed candle-light and walked through the salt darkness to the
hospital tents on the shore. Exmeling met him at the entrance, where
the lantern hung, and Morgan was puzzled by the odd mixture of
apprehension and smugness in his expression. Long years afterwards he
would see Exmeling's face as it was that night, in the lantern light,
and try to analyse it. That mixture of secret satisfaction and overt
fright.

'What is it?' Morgan asked. 'Is he bad again?'

'He's dying.'

'He can't be. He was getting better. You must do something.'

'There is nothing that anyone can do--Admiral. Not even you.'

'What did you say?' Morgan said sharply, thinking he had not heard the
last words correctly.

'Not even Henry Morgan can do anything about what is happening in
there,' Exmeling said, very smooth.

Morgan pushed past him and bent over Bart.

He looked now as he had looked that morning in Puerto Bello: a little
heap of limp bones kept together by his spirit. His eyes were closed
and he seemed to be asleep. But as Morgan watched, the eyes opened and
recognised him.

'I looked in to say good-night, Bart,' he said.

But Bart was not deceived.

'We've 'ad some good times, Harry boy--Captain, sir.'

'We have indeed, Bart.'

Bart thought over the good times.

'Will you tell me something if I was to ask you?' he said.

'Surely.'

'_Was_ it a gold piece?'

Morgan had come so far from Barbados that it took him an appreciable
time to identify the reference, and to remember that dark room in which
he had found Bart sitting by his side--and Modyford eating dinner
beyond the archway. On that first day of his freedom; when Bart had
saved him from being cheated by the serving-man and had taken him in
charge and put his feet on the road to fortune. On the road to
Maracaibo and Panama.

'Of course it was a gold piece!' he said, surprised. 'Didn't you _know_
that it was?'

'No,' said Bart. 'I just didn't like his face.'

This apparently referred to the serving-man. He thought over the
serving-man for a little, and then said: 'But I liked yours, Harry boy.
I liked yours the minute I saw you.' And after a moment: 'She was
right, wasn't she? She was right.'

'Who?'

'That mad woman. She said you'd write your name in water for all the
world to read.... And I was right, too, wasn't I? About you 'aving the
right kind of nose for getting on in the world. Ah, you can't fool me
about faces.'

His glance went over Morgan's shoulder to someone in the background,
and he said: 'Send him away.'

Morgan looked back at Exmeling, and made a dismissing movement with his
head.

'But----' began little Henrik.

'Go away,' said Morgan; and he went.

'I never liked that little bastard,' Bart said in his breath of a
voice, 'and I'm not going to have him watch me go to Heaven.'

'But, Bart! That's nonsense, you know.'

'It's not. He has the wrong kind of nose.'

'I mean about your leaving us. What would I do without you, for one
thing?'

Bart looked at him with such a wealth of affection and pride that
Morgan's heart turned over.

'I think you'll be all right on your own from here on,' he said, as one
setting down a child to walk alone.

'But there's that cottage of yours in the Mendips, Bart. You can retire
now, and live like a lord in that cottage of yours.'

Bart's eyes had closed, but a small smile--a tolerant smile, as for the
frailty of human nature--lighted his worn face.

'Well, it was nice to think about, anyhow,' he said.

And did not speak again.

Morgan sat by him till he died, an hour later. And he went on sitting
there for a long time afterwards, the slow tears running down his
cheek. In all the long road from Barbados to Panama he had wept neither
for himself nor for another. But now he wept for Bart.

He went to bed in the dawn, and after sleepless weeks fell instantly
into unfathomable slumber.

He was wakened in full daylight by Jack shaking him.

'Wake up, Harry, for God's sake, or do I have to throw a jug of water
over you? Mother of God, Harry, I thought for a moment you were dead.
Have you managed to get drunk at last?'

'No, I just went to bed late.'

'Are you awake enough to take bad news?'

'If it's about Bart, I know.'

'No. What's wrong with Bart, anyhow?'

'He's dead.'

'Oh,' said Jack indifferently; and seeing Henry's face: 'I'm sorry, of
course, Harry; but just now I can't think of anything but the trouble
we're in.'

Morgan sat up. If it was worse trouble than Bart's death----

'What trouble?'

'You know that chest that we packed most of the good pieces in: the
Virgin's jewels?'

'Certainly I do. What about it?'

'That chest had a bit of leather missing where it had been scraped
against a pannier edge or galled by a rope.'

'Well, what of it?'

'This is the day of the share-out, and I was looking through the things
the treasure-party brought down-river, to get them in some kind of
order. And that chest in the storehouse on the quay, Harry, is not the
chest we packed the things into in Panama.'

'_Jack_! You're mad!'

'I am, very nearly,' Jack said. 'The very thought of what we may be
going to see when we open that chest makes my mind reel. You get on
your clothes and come down to the storehouse with me, before I'm stark
raving with terror.'

He waited while Henry dressed, and in the air between them hung a
further question. Something for which there were no words at all.

'It _couldn't_ be!' Henry blurted, as they went down to the quay. This
was the total sum of their conversation on the way; and Jack did not
bother to make any reply to it.

The two sentries outside the storehouse saluted them and then resumed
their chat.

'I'm away for two years, and she asks me to believe----' one was
saying; and the homely tale had the poignancy of a safe, familiar
country seen from a storm-tossed sea. Drowning, Henry clung to his sole
rock: the hope that Jack somehow was mistaken.

They opened the chest with the only known key to it: the one in Henry's
possession; and it opened easily. The contents, as far as Henry's
stricken senses could perceive, seemed to be small pieces of rock
wrapped in scraps of cloth.

Jack wasted no time in contemplation. He began to collect the fragments
of stone and cloth and hand them to Henry. 'Put these in your pockets,'
he said. 'And sit down. If you're going to faint, put it off till we're
safely out of this store.'

Having emptied the chest, he began to unlash the nearer bundles.

'What are you doing?' Henry asked, wiping the cold sweat from his face
with a child's unco-ordinated movements.

'That chest has to be filled with something,' Jack said, taking a
handful here and a handful there of the better stuff that remained:
gold-inlaid pistols, jewelled sword-hilts, crosses decked with
semi-precious stones. 'Thank God there's a second lot of trinkets.' He
opened the iron-banded box and seasoned his collection with a liberal
sprinkling of necklaces, bracelets and brooches. 'That looks not so
bad. I hope to God no one has set his heart on that ruby bracelet of
the Virgin's. They'll never believe that we haven't pocketed it.'

In twelve minutes from the time they had entered the place the
substitution was complete; and Henry walked away again bowed down by
more than the weight of the stones in his pockets.

'Those scraps of cloth,' said Jack. 'Did they remind you of anything?'

'Yes,' said Morgan.

They were the brown frieze of which Franciscan habits were made.

'I thought at the time they were a very worldly looking couple for
friars,' Jack said.

And that was the only remark that he ever made on the subject.

For, after all, there was nothing that could profitably be said; and
Jack was never a man to waste speech. In the minds of both of them was
the picture of the little cavalcade riding away that morning at Venta
de Cruz: the madonna, her two attendant friars, and the chest swaying
and dipping on the back of the pack-mule.

It had been Jack's men on guard that night, Henry remembered; but it
made no difference. Bribery was inconceivable. Even had the fierce
pride of being 'Morris's men' not sufficed, no man would give up his
share of such prodigious wealth for a bribe; nor could any man of the
guard hope to survive the rage of his fellows when the substitution was
discovered. However it had been worked, it was not by suborning. And
that was the one small scrap of comfort in an intolerable situation.

They had used her to fool him.

Had she known? Had she planned it?

But no; she was too----

He had almost said it: the unutterable word that had been used so
lightly by Don Juan's mistress. He pushed the word away, and thought up
a more presentable one.

She had no guile. Her lovely simplicity was without sin.

She had carried back a king's ransom on her pack-mule to Panama, but
she had not known about it. Most certainly she had not known.

'I shall have to stand the loss out of my share,' he said to Jack, as
they walked up the harbour.

'Yes,' said Jack, accepting it. Without the philandering with Don
Vincente's wife there would have been no duplicate chest for
substitution. The thing must have been planned as soon as it was known
that loot was to be taken out of the country in that chest.

At ten o'clock the assessors began their work, and it went on for three
days. And for every moment of those three days Henry waited for someone
to remember some particular trinket and make application for it. But no
one did. The habit of accepting the 'lot' was so ingrained in
privateering souls that choice did not normally interest them. All they
cared about was the total.

Henry sat late on that first dreadful night, facing his humiliation. On
the second night he sat late reckoning what each man's share would have
come to had the chest been still in their possession, and calculating
what he must now add to bring each share to its proper total. Sick with
shame and penitence, he calculated generously; so that it cost him
nearly everything he had.

And it was the final touch of wormwood in the gall when, at the
distribution on the fourth day, the men broke into open protest at the
smallness of their reward.

'It is less than we got for Maracaibo!' they said. 'Less than for
Puerto Bello!'

'There were only five ships at Puerto Bello, and seven at Maracaibo,'
he reminded them. 'Today we have more than thirty.'

But they were in no mood to calculate coldly. 'It is not enough!' they
insisted.

'Every man entitled to either compensation or special award has had the
full amount,' Morgan said. 'That is a first charge on both officers and
men. After that what is left is shared out in the recognised
proportions; according to the scale under which you signed on. Every
man of the fleet has had his due share of the total; no more and no
less. Do you want the widows' share too?'

'He's right,' said the saner ones. 'Thirty-odd ships makes a deal of
difference, come to think of it.'

But the others nursed their grievance and preserved it in rum; and by
evening, when they were drunk, they congregated in a noisy shifting
gang under the balcony of their Admiral's lodging and made open
accusations. The officers had lined their pockets at their expense,
they said. The officers had filched the best stuff.

The final irony was supplied by the fact that a good third of the said
officers were thinking the same thing of Morgan. Morgan had skimmed the
cream, they said. Even divided among more than thirty ships' crews,
surely the wealth of Panama should have produced more than a wretched
ninety pounds a-piece.

'Let me tell them that you haven't a penny piece,' Jack said, moved by
this injustice. 'Let me tell them about the loss of the chest.'

'And have them mock me for a fool! No! Let them think me knave if they
want to.'

So only a handful of captains came to the parting supper that Morgan
gave that night; and these were men who knew him personally and who had
served with him before.

In the small hours of the morning, Cornelius, still playing cards in a
wine-shop on the harbour front because sleep did not come easy to him
these days, felt a small tug on his sleeve and looked round to find
Romulus standing there.

'Captain not come home,' he said.

'I expect he's making a night of it,' Cornelius said. 'I don't blame
him.'

'Better in bed. You come help.'

'You don't imagine he'd listen to me, do you?' said Cornelius, going on
with his game.

But the boy plucked his sleeve again, and said: 'You come help.'

Since it was never any use trying to get a coherent story out of
Romulus, Cornelius good-naturedly gave up his game and accompanied him
to see what he wanted. When he stood outside the door of the
dining-room and the boy motioned him in, he said: 'What _is_ this? I
can't go in there! They're at supper still. I can hear them talking.'

But the boy threw the door open and led him in.

Supper, it seemed, was over, after all. Of the entire party, the only
ones who were not under the table were Ansell, Jack Morris and Morgan.
It was Ansell who was talking. He was seeing how far he could count. At
the moment he had got to five thousand four hundred and eighty-two, and
was making heavy weather of it. Jack was neatly asleep in his chair.
Morgan was sprawled over the table in an attitude of utter abandon and
defeat.

At long last Harry Morgan had managed to drink himself into
insensibility.

With the help of Romulus, Cornelius hoisted the limp bulk on to his
shoulder and carried it to bed. He prepared to help Romulus with the
undressing, but Romulus pushed him out and shut the door on him. The
dressing or undressing of Henry Morgan was his sole affair.

'I must try this again,' Henry said when he wakened in the morning and
found himself in bed. 'It has always irked me to walk home after a
party.'

But his hard head continued to intervene, and in the month that
remained of his stay in Chagres he walked to bed on twenty-two nights
out of the thirty.




Chapter 16


The fleet began dispersing the morning after the final share-out, and a
new disgruntlement sullied that parting. The peace treaty with Spain
had been ratified.

'Ah, well,' said the more philosophical, 'the logwood trade is very
profitable, they say. And who knows how long this peace will last,
anyhow?'

The others told each other that there were still eight months before
the treaty would become operative, and they might as well make the most
of those months. So the ships faded away over the horizon, by twos or
threes, or singly, leaving Morgan with his friends. And in that more
intimate atmosphere some of the family-party air that had characterised
their early adventuring came back; but what would never come back was
the light-heartedness.

Soberly they sailed at last away from Chagres and the Spanish mainland;
away from their unbelievable achievement. And it was in no
twenty-four-gun frigate that Morgan sailed home to Port Royal; for his
fine flagship was lying hopelessly aground in the Chagres river. He
came home in the little _Fortune_; and it was in the familiar little
stuffy cabin that he spent the long, fever-ridden days at sea. He would
watch the figures as they came and went, never quite sure if they were
real or not. Don Christoval de Rasperu came often, to sit at the table
with his little toy dog a silken bundle on the cushion beside him, and
talk about navigation and the deplorable thirst for oblivion that
afflicted mankind so that they must get drunk.

'But a man wants respite from life,' Henry told him. 'A respite from
thought and feeling.'

And Don Christoval would wag his elegant head and say: 'It is too
precious a gift, life, to waste even a moment of it.'

Mansfield was there quite often, drinking wine, with little Henrik in
the background. Henry knew that little Henrik was not real, because
little Henrik had departed to England on the very morrow of getting his
pay. He was going home to Holland, he had said; so he could not be in
the cabin. But Bart was; and he was sure that Bart was real. He had had
a dream about taking a sloop out from somewhere and burying Bart three
miles out at sea where he would be comfortable and at home. But that
was all nonsense, thank Heaven. Bart was here, alive and well. Poor
Bart! with only five pearls left.

Kinnell and Cornelius sailed the _Fortune_ home between them, and
worried endlessly about the man lying in the cabin. On his good days
Morgan would come on deck and be his lucid and caustic self. But in no
time he would be lying in the cabin again, watching unseen creatures
come and go, and occasionally conversing with them.

Kinnell grew so worried that during one of his Captain's spells below
he closed the _Dolphin_ and asked Morris to come over. Jack came and
looked and was dismayed, but had no remedy to suggest. His very
individual reaction was to think that Elizabeth must not be allowed to
meet him like that without being prepared. So Jack was first back to
Port Royal.

But nothing in Jack's deliberately casual account prepared Elizabeth
for the reality; for the slow-moving, thin man with the sallow skin and
the eyes sunk deep in the haggard face.

'Harry! My _darling_!' she said; and ordered him to bed at once.

And to her dismay he went.

'I should have gone to see the Governor,' he said, lying flat and
still, with his strong hands spread out nerveless on the counterpane.
'To report. But I shall feel better tomorrow, and he will understand.'

'There is no haste,' she said. 'It is not to Sir Thomas that you will
be reporting; and Colonel Lynch can wait.'

'Lynch!' he said.

'Yes. Drink this.'

'_Lynch!_'

'Yes, but don't get into a fever about it. It hasn't quickened the
Modyford pulse at all, so it needn't quicken yours.'

'Dear Bet,' he said, a smile in his eyes; and drank what she gave him.
'So the chickens are coming home?'

'They're home and roosting,' she said. 'And the only really worried
person is poor Colonel Lynch, who, as far as Jamaica is concerned, is
in a minority of one.'

'The damned psalm-singing Puritan,' Henry said, and fell asleep.

In the sitting-room she found Jack waiting.

'Did you tell him?' he asked.

'Not yet.'

'I ought to take the _Dolphin's_ crew up to Kingshouse and beat the
liver and lights out of that--that----'

'That damned psalm-singing Puritan,' supplied Elizabeth.

'Yes. It's a Spaniard's trick to invite a man on board ship and then
arrest him when he's your guest. An Englishman should be ashamed even
to think of a method like that.'

'He was afraid,' said Elizabeth. 'He's a poor thing, and he was afraid.
Afraid that--that someone would take a ship's crew and stop him.'

There was a moment of silence, and then Jack said, in a gentler tone:

'You do know, don't you, that it is only a matter of time
before--before _his_ turn comes?' He leaned his head towards the inner
room.

'Yes,' she said. 'I think he knows it himself. He said that the
chickens were coming home to roost. But he is too tired to care.' She
waited a moment, as if debating with herself whether or not to put
something into words; and then said: 'Is it only the fever, Jack, that
has--has so sucked him dry?'

'Yes, of course,' said Jack, too hastily. And then, realising his slip,
added: 'That and the heavy burden. The responsibility. They'll tell you
that Panama was taken by thirty-two ships and fifteen hundred men. But
that's only a manner of speaking. It was taken by Harry Morgan.'

'Dear Jack,' she said.

'At least I didn't have to tell him about the canes,' she said. 'I was
so afraid he would ask.'

'Is it very bad?'

'It couldn't be worse.'

'Cocoa too?'

'Yes, everything. Dead and brittle with the drought.'

But in the morning, when Henry heard that Modyford was a prisoner on
board the navy frigate in the harbour, bound for England, that he was
not even to be allowed to come ashore and say good-bye to his wife, he
got up and dressed himself in the best garments that the little Port
Royal apartment could produce, and went to Kingshouse. It was one of
his good days, with his thoughts coming pat off his tongue in the most
appropriate form; and the delighted servants, clustering round the
library door and fighting for the best eavesdropping places, reported
that never had the normal phrases of polite conversation managed to be
so blistering.

When Colonel Lynch ventured to ask what the reward of his adventure was
likely to bring to the Admiral personally, the Admiral was heard to
say:

'Nothing like fifty-thousand-pounds-worth.'

Which was the sum that Lynch was understood to have lent the King in
return for his Governorship.

And when the new Governor ventured to hope that the usages of
civilisation had been employed towards the prisoners in Panama, the
Admiral said Oh yes; that the prisoners had been openly arrested, not
kidnapped, and had never been held incommunicado.

Somewhere about the ninth round, when the new Governor was almost out
on his feet, Henry asked that he might be allowed to visit his friend
Sir Thomas Modyford on board the frigate before she sailed. But Colonel
Lynch could still think. To a man who had crossed Panama and taken a
capital city with a handful of men, spiriting a man off a ship would be
child's play. So Henry was not given permission to see his friend.

But Sir Thomas was allowed to send letters ashore.

'My dear Harry,' he wrote, 'Spain is demanding my head, but I hear that
my countrymen are going to let me off with an eye-tooth. I am hoping
that this token sacrifice will be held to be a general absolution and
that you will be left in peace to tend your cabbages. You are young,
and you are at the beginning of things still, and you have Elizabeth.
But if not, I shall look forward to seeing you in London. No time is
all loss that is spent in London with a friend.

'You have rocked Spain to the foundations by the taking of Panama, and
if, as I hear, it has cost you something in health, it has saved
England from a long war with Spain. Or so I think. The realisation that
even their Pacific coast is vulnerable will do more than anything to
bring Spain to the point of compromise over the Americas. Panama has
been for them the writing on the wall.

'Your writing, Harry, my friend.'

'God bless and keep you till we meet again.'

It was a long time before they met again. Partly because the order for
Admiral Morgan's arrest was delayed, and partly because once it had
come none of the new clique at Kingshouse dared to hurry the Admiral in
the small matter of giving himself up. So Henry pottered round his
place at Morgan's Valley; put the _Fortune_ into the logwood trade with
Cornelius as master, in the hope of being able to recover the loss on
his wasted fields; and was dosed with noxious fluids by every doctor in
the island--for he was an impatient creature and a chronic
doctor-hopper--in an effort to cure his intermittent fever. When he had
spun out nearly a year of this pastoral life, Captain Keene came into
harbour in his ship H.M.S. _Welcome_, and Henry decided that if he must
travel to England under arrest, he might as well do it with Keene, whom
he liked.

Only the fact that Harry Morgan was going voluntarily kept the island
from open revolt; and Lynch found himself in the odd situation of being
grateful to him. Lynch had spent the last months trying, out of his
great wealth, to buy himself into the island's good graces. But the
island was still flooded with privateering money and impervious to
bribery. Colonel Lynch's only recruit from the waterside proved to be
Captain Charles Hadsell, who had turned out to be a sadly unsuccessful
privateer. His attack with six ships on the town of Cumana, on the
Venezuela coast, was notorious as the only failure in all the history
of Jamaican privateering; and 'Cumana!' had become a Spanish taunt
whenever English ears were within hearing distance. So Hadsell, who had
spurned the Morgan flag in his prosperous days, was glad to creep into
the opposition fold now that he was an object of scorn in his old
haunts.

The whole town turned out to see the _Welcome_ sail, with bands, and
singing, and waving kerchiefs, and cheers. And Henry dragged himself up
from the cabin so that he could stand on her quarter-deck as she sailed
past the battery on the Point, and acknowledge the island's farewell to
him. After that he went back to his bunk, and let Romulus pile the
blankets on him and dose him with rum till his mind and senses grew
blurred and he could stop either thinking or feeling.

The _Welcome_ was three months at sea, in one of the worst voyages she
had ever experienced, and when at last she came into calm water at
Spithead, Captain Keene looked doubtfully at his passenger and wondered
whether he should report on the health of the prisoner before they took
him into custody.

But it seemed that there was to be no handing-over to a guard. Admiral
Morgan, said instructions, was to make his own way to London, and there
hold himself at His Majesty's convenience.

'The damned penny-pinching housekeepers!' said the Admiral. 'They want
me to pay for my own cell.'

He had also to pay for his transport to London, but it proved to be one
of the most rewarding expenditures that Harry Morgan had ever made. It
was summer time; the beginning of July. And before his eyes as the
coach made its slow way up to London was trailed the green, wild-rose
loveliness of England. He had never seen it before: this ultimate
loveliness of Nature; and he sat enchanted. 'Home' to him had meant
Llanrhymny; Llanrhymny with its soft West air. But when Englishmen said
'home' this was what they meant; this incredible perfection.

He tried to think of something that might challenge its
incomparability: the liquid light of Caribbean seas, the flaming
blossoms in the dust, the savanna grass, the jungle prodigality. But
all these were lovely details in a picture; here the whole picture was
composed of lovely detail; fresh and jewelled as an illuminated letter.
He sat and watched it, hour after hour. England. This was what men
meant when they said England.

If England put a cool hand on his fevered senses, then the English
supplied the first balm to his galled vanity. He had been a personality
in Jamaica long enough to take that distinction for granted, but it had
not occurred to him that his fame might have gone in front of him to
the extent of making his name as much of a household word in this
unknown England as it had been in the islands of his adoption. It was
therefore sweet oil on his self-love, still raw from the personal
failure of Panama, to hear inn-servants tell each other: 'It's Harry
Morgan in the coach! Harry Morgan home from the Caribbean.'

Home, he said in his mind. And liked the sound of it, prison or no
prison.

He distributed largesse to the small boys who thronged round the
coach-door at his morning departures to ask how many Spaniards he had
killed altogether, and pretended not to notice Romulus's jealousy of
this intrusion. Romulus had exhibited a mounting distrust of this
strange country and all its works--a distrust that reached a climax
when they made their entry into London. They came into London on a
sunny evening when the rose and buff and sepia city lay warm and
beautiful beside its pale blue river, and Morgan forgot that he had
ever shivered or sweated, and expanded almost visibly into well-being.
He had been recommended to the Blue Boar in the Strand, but he found
that he could have rooms at the Dolphin; very expensive rooms indeed,
but dolphins brought him luck, so why carp at an extra guinea or two?

'We go home tomorrow?' said Romulus hopefully, as soon as they were
alone together in the first-floor room overlooking the street.

'Don't you like London, Romulus?'

'We go home,' suggested Romulus firmly; and from that attitude he never
wavered.

But London opened its arms to Henry before he was well awake next
morning. He had spent a broken night listening to the incredible racket
that was night in London: the thunder of iron-shod wheels on cobbles as
late coaches bore revellers home and early carts brought produce from
the country, the fights, the singing (did Englishmen never go to bed?),
the intrusion of watchmen calling the hour and reporting on the weather
(Merciful heaven, could the English not smell tomorrow's weather the
evening before like any good seaman?), and he had wakened tired and
short-tempered and apt to remember that he was a prisoner who was being
required to pay the expenses of his prison. But with the arrival of the
breakfast he had sent for, there arrived, too, an elegant stripling who
followed the chambermaid into the room and said gaily:

'Is your levee public, Admiral?' And as Henry turned from the window to
face him: 'My cousin said that I should find you here!'

'Your cousin?' said Morgan, at a loss.

'Sir Thomas.'

'_Modyford?_ Is Modyford free, then!'

'Oh, no; he is in the Tower.'

'Then how could he know that I was here?'

'He said: "If the _Welcome_ arrived at Spithead four days ago, then
Harry Morgan must be in London by now. And if he is in London he will
be staying at the Dolphin, since he is a wildly superstitious creature
with no money sense."'

The tall boy said this in Sir Thomas's own dry drawl, and Morgan looked
at him with appreciation. At first sight one saw only the remarkable
good looks and the fashionable clothes; but presently one noticed that
the eyes in the reckless face were hazel-brown and kind.

'Then you must be----'

'Yes. I'm Albemarle. "Old George Monck's son." I expect I shall go to
my grave as "old George Monck's son."'

'I doubt it,' said Morgan, considering him.

'Really?' said the boy, delighted. 'Admiral, I am your servant! I had
heard that you had courage, and ingenuity, and doggedness, and
generosity, and most of the other virtues. But now I perceive that you
also have perspicacity. Are you going to invite me to breakfast with
you?'

Morgan was about to give instructions for another cover when he noticed
that a second cover had already been provided. 'I perceive that your
grace is gifted with forethought. A valuable quality,' he said, and
laughed a little.

'I learned from "old George Monck" to anticipate events,' the boy said,
dragging up a chair. 'That is how he became Albemarle.'

'Is Sir Thomas allowed to have visitors, then?' Morgan asked as they
settled down to their steak and ale.

'Oh, yes. He is living in the greatest comfort. He instructed me to ask
you to call upon him as soon as you found it convenient.'

'Does one just go and knock?'

'It is customary to say that one has come to see a prisoner on matters
concerning his defence. As if anyone could advise that very shrewd
lawyer my cousin on any matter whatever! He admires you very greatly,
Admiral. I confess that it puzzled me that Tom Modyford should so
reverence a buccaneer----'

'A privateer,' put in Henry, smoothly.

'I beg your pardon. A privateer. But now that I have met you I am no
longer at a loss.'

Henry was used to hero-worship, but not to seeing it in the eyes of a
young Court gallant. He was warmed and a little confused by it.

'When you have seen my cousin, and attended to any pressing business,'
said the boy, 'it would give me great pleasure and make me very proud
if you would be my guest at supper. I promised Carlisle and Johnny
Vaughan that they should meet you.' He paused and looked up from his
steak with a smile in those unexpectedly gentle eyes. 'They are going
to get a shock, Edward and Johnny. They think you eat babies for
breakfast.'

'I _could_ roughen up my manners, if it would be any obligement to
you,' Henry said, a shade dry.

'Oh, pray don't. I long to see their faces when they find out what a
bucc--a privateer really looks like.'

'At any moment now,' Modyford said when Henry saw him that afternoon,
'Christopher will "go for a pirate." The King will never forgive you if
you seduce the boy. He is the reigning favourite.'

'I don't know that he would be much good as a privateer,' Morgan said,
'but I think that he might make a very good Governor one day.'

'So?' said Modyford, raising his eyebrows; and having considered it:
'So!' he said. And the two men whose horizons stretched to the curve of
the earth sat for a space in the little dark room on Thames-side
planning how to shape this material in their hands. Then Sir Thomas
said:

'I hear that they have failed to find any criminal charge against you,
so there will be no case to go to the courts.'

'What then?'

'They are passing the affair to the Trade and Plantations people, I
understand.'

'To a Government department! What qualifications have they to try
anyone!'

'It is not to be a trial. It is to be an inquiry.'

'Inquiry! I suppose that means that I stand on the mat while a pack of
clerks who would not know a stay-sail from a woman's kerchief lecture
me on my misdeeds!'

'It means that you will be able to state your case in public and that
it will be written down. That is something. Indeed, it is an
opportunity to be valued. Something that you have great need of.'

'Need?' said Morgan, puzzled by the change in Modyford's voice; the
sudden--gravity, was it?

But Modyford evidently decided to shelve it, whatever it was.

'It is a gossip-ridden town, London,' he said, lightly. 'Worse than any
village. And much more ill-natured. It is as well to have the truth
written down. Their lordships the Commissioners for Trade and
Plantations will at least do you that service.'

Morgan damned their lordships, and dismissed them from his mind; he was
beginning to enjoy London. And it was not until very late that night
that he discovered what Modyford had been talking about.

The supper at young Albemarle's was a success, except for his
disappointment about Lord Vaughan. He had, quite unconsciously, looked
forward to meeting another Welshman in this still-strange town, looked
forward to getting into the mental undress which one wears in the
society of a compatriot. He was also a little flattered, even now,
after all his personal achievements, to be meeting someone of so much
Welsh importance as Carberry's heir. But he had disliked Johnny Vaughan
at sight. He hated his prim mouth, and his intellectual pretensions,
and the suggestion of the spurious that hung about everything he said
or did. That this belief in his synthetic quality did not have its
roots in personal prejudice seemed to be proved by a thoughtless remark
of Albemarle's. When they had sat over their wine for some time, the
boy said: 'Let us go and visit Mother Temple.'

'No,' amended young Carlisle. 'Madam Bennet. Her girls are much
prettier.'

Henry said that he was too old for brothels.

'It is a sad and boring way of spending an evening, anyhow,' Vaughan
said.

At which Albemarle laughed and said lightly: 'Johnny will sneak there
by himself when we are all in bed.'

So Henry deplored the Welsh blood in Vaughan and disliked him with all
the heartiness of a fellow Celt. But he liked Carlisle, an amiable
young cynic, and he went willingly with the three of them to a
fashionable party; which was the alternative, it seemed, to Mother
Temple's. He enjoyed the party less than the supper, since it seemed to
him to have some of the same spurious quality that characterised his
fellow-countryman. Everyone seemed bent on being a little larger than
life: whether in wit, rudeness or style.

'What do you want for him?' asked a man, indicating the Indian boy who,
since 'black boys' were beginning to be the rage, was allowed to walk
at Morgan's heel.

'He is not for sale,' Henry said, snubbing.

'_Everything_ in this town is for sale.'

'Not now.'

'Now?'

'Not since half-past six yesterday evening,' Henry said.

'Half-past six? What happened then?'

'I arrived in town.'

'I see why you conquered Panama, Admiral,' said the man, and bowed
himself away.

They moved on into the inner room where the gaming-tables were.

'Let us not waste time on Madame Chance tonight,' Albemarle said.
'There are too many other charming women waiting the pleasure of your
acquaintance.'

'I never pass the tables without throwing Madame Chance a guinea,'
Carlisle said. 'She likes the little attention.'

So they paused to risk a guinea each.

While they waited the result of their gesture, Morgan examined the
faces of the crowd round the table, thinking how little they differed
in their mixture of the dissolute and the daring from his own ship's
crew gambling round any barrel-top in Port Royal. His glance came to
rest on a young man directly opposite, and he forgot about the crowd.
He forgot about London, and Albemarle, and Carlisle, and Johnny
Vaughan, and the fact that he was Admiral Henry Morgan. He was standing
by a jacaranda tree in the dancing wind and the light, and before him
was another crowd: a dark-skinned, gay-coloured crowd that moved like a
field of flowers in the sun.

'Who is that?' he asked.

'Who is who?' Carlisle said, and followed his glance. 'Oh! Poor little
Tim Driffield. For ever trying to make enough to get married on.' He
laughed a little. 'His _inamorata_ would marry him tomorrow and live on
his pay, but she has a dragon of a mother. The result is that he loses
his pay continually, and so has neither the pay nor the girl.'

Morgan picked up the little heap of gold that Madame Chance had
returned for his guinea, and moved round the table. The crowd were
already busy with the next decision of luck, but the young man had not
moved. His pockets were evidently as drained of money as his face was
of hope.

'If you will permit me, sir,' Morgan said; and set the neat,
cylindrical, small tower of gold by his elbow.

The young man (and he was not so young, after all, Morgan noticed, now
that he could see the lines) looked first startled, then unbelieving,
and then indignant. His face flushed.

'Sir,' he said, very low and between his teeth, 'I do not understand by
what pretension you feel free to offer me money----'

'By the obligation of a debtor,' said Henry, cutting him short.

'A debtor?' said the young-old Mr Driffield, no wise mollified. 'If you
think, sir, that by so transparent a ruse, you may, even in the way of
kindness----'

'You lent me a guinea, Mr Driffield. One day in Barbados. I promised to
repay you at the usual rate of interest. I hope that the interest may
bring you as much luck as the original guinea brought me. We will waive
the formality of a receipt. It was a gentlemen's agreement from the
beginning.'

And, very pleased with this further gesture, he allowed himself to be
led away to meet the loveliest women present.

He was presented to a great many beautifully dressed females who all
seemed to have the same well-supported pair of breasts and the same
rolling eyes. They all said how enchanted they were to meet so
distinguished a sailor, but he had the feeling that not one of them
really knew who he was. The men did, though. The men knew all about
him, as he could tell by the turning heads, and it was because he had
begun to sun himself in the warmth of their interest that he was
unprepared for the blow that was coming to him. He was back on his
heels. Wide open.

He had lost the other two for the moment, and was standing by the
gaming-table with Lord Vaughan, watching the play, when a middle-aged
man stopped to talk to his companion. Henry liked his face, and waited
happily to be introduced. And presently Vaughan said:

'Let me present my fellow-countryman, Admiral Morgan, home from
Jamaica.'

The man's face lost its friendly animation on the instant. He bowed his
head the fraction of an inch, nodded to Vaughan, and turned away
without another word.

'Don't let that worry you,' Vaughan said. 'He is an ardent Roman
Catholic.'

'A Roman Catholic? What could that possibly have to do with me?'

'I expect he can't forget those nuns.'

'_Nuns_? What nuns?'

'The ones you used as a screen for your men at Puerto Bello,' Vaughan
said.

'What!'

Morgan's voice, at its full hurricane pitch, startled the chattering
room.

'Come out of here,' said Vaughan, hastily; and drew the furious Morgan
into the garden.

'Now let us hear about this nonsense,' said Henry. 'What am I supposed
to have done at Puerto Bello?'

'I can't tell you if you are going to roar at me again.'

'You'll tell me any way I want you to, my lord, and without loss of
time. What am I supposed to have done at Puerto Bello?'

'The tale is--of course I do not believe it, please do me the credit
of----'

'_Will you stick to the matter in hand!_'

'The tale is that when you were unable to take the fort----'

'Which fort?'

'I don't know. Was there more than one?' asked Vaughan, giving Morgan
his first acquaintance with the home-front mind.

'Never mind. Go on.'

'The tale is that when you failed to take the fort you sent nuns and
priests up the scaling-ladders in front of your men, as a shield. Of
course you did not expect that the Spaniards would fire on them, we
quite understand that--I mean, that is understood.'

'And did the Spaniards fire?' asked Morgan, suddenly silky.

'Oh, yes. There was a--there was supposed to be a massacre. That is why
Sir William was--was cross with you just now.'

'Cross,' said Henry, savouring the word. 'And you are not cross?'

'I have said: I do not credit wild tales. Everyone knows that
barbarities are committed in the heat of battle----'

'Such as ordering nuns up scaling-ladders.'

'No, of course, that is an extreme case.'

'It is an extreme case of invention,' Morgan said. 'The only fort that
was taken by scaling-ladders at Puerto Bello was taken by seamen under
cover of army musketry, and you will do me the kindness to say so next
time you hear this ridiculous story repeated. Where did you first hear
this absurdity?'

'It is one of the stories in the book, of course.'

'_Book_? What book?'

'The Dutchman's book.'

'What Dutchman?'

'Eskmellin, or whatever he calls himself.'

'Exmeling!'

'Something like that.'

'You mean that Exmeling has written a book! A book about me, about the
Caribbean?'

'But I thought that you would certainly know, Admiral,' Vaughan said,
uncomfortable. 'It is the rage of the town.'

'Is it, by God! You mean that all those people in there'--he waved his
arm towards the lighted room behind them with its high screaming
voices--'have read this--this enormity and believe it and did not throw
me out into the street?'

'But why should they? Your exploits are the pride of England----'

'Including the exploit of using nuns as a battering-ram, it appears.
You will excuse me, Lord Vaughan, if I leave you now. I have been
troubled by marsh fever caught in the Isthmus, and late hours----'

'But, Admiral, you must not take to heart a----'

'Allow me to bid you good-night. Perhaps you will be kind enough to
give my thanks to the Duke of Albemarle for a delightful evening----'

But the boy intercepted him as he came into the hall.

'Admiral! You are not leaving us so early!'

Morgan swung round on a heel to face him.

'Does your grace possess a copy of this obscenity, by any chance?'

'Obscenity?' said Albemarle, startled and at a loss.

'This book that my surgeon has written.'

'Oh; the Exmeling thing. Yes.' He looked faintly embarrassed. 'Yes, I
do. I----'

'Would it be presumptuous of me to ask for a loan of it? I think that
it is time that I found out what I really did in Puerto Bello and
Panama.'

'Admiral, I know that the book must be very displeasing to you, but do
not blame the town too much for their acceptance of it. They had a
picture in their minds--as I had--of the buccaneer as they imagined
him----'

'_I have never been a buccaneer!_'

'No, sir, I know. But the town does not make nice distinctions. And
they picture to themselves a pirate--knife between the teeth and
pistols in either hand--and have no knowledge of the reality. Most of
them have never seen a ship bigger than a vegetable hoy from the Surrey
shore. Now that they have the opportunity of meeting you they will----'

'Would it be possible for me to have that book tonight?'

'Of course, of course,' said the boy, abashed. 'If you wish it.
Admiral. I shall send it round to your lodgings as soon as I reach
home. I am sorry from my heart that you had to learn about the book in
this uncivil fashion--I had thought that you would have known about
it--and if there is anything that I can do to contradict its influence,
please believe that I shall be very glad to do it.'

'Good-night,' said Morgan, and went out into the night.

Into a night blacker than any he had yet experienced.

He had thought that the ultimate in suffering had been reached that
night in Chagres, on that hot, damp night when he had at last managed
to drink himself insensible. But even that night in Chagres had been
nothing like this: this absolute in misery.

He went up to his room at the Dolphin and sat staring at the opposite
wall, while Romulus moved about preparing him for bed. When a footman
came with the book he said: 'Go to sleep, child. I shall not need you
again tonight.' But Romulus sat down in a corner, prepared to watch
with his god.

It was worse, far worse, than he had expected. There was no silliness
too great for Exmeling to set down; no atrocity too hideous for
Exmeling to invent. It was a monumental absurdity: a 'pirate tale' such
as seamen spin for illiterates over a tavern table in return for a
drink; but it was also extremely readable, and it had the fascination
of the frightful. One turned the page to find what new horror might be
in store on the next. Little Henrik had found the perfect formula for
selling a book.

Morgan learned something that night at the Dolphin. He learned that
helpless anger is by far the most destructive of human emotions. It
mauled and tore him. It consumed him like a furnace. It shook him in
its clutches as a cat shakes its prey.

He did not know which he longed the more to kill: the creature who had
smeared him with this filth, or the fools who had believed him.

Had they no minds? No critical faculties? Did they think that the
achievements of Puerto Bello, and Maracaibo and Panama were possible to
an undisciplined rabble?

Could they not see the absurdity that lurked in every invention? He had
burned Panama, it seemed. Did they not even pause to consider whether a
man would burn the city he had crossed a continent to capture?

Did the relish with which the tortures were described not waken doubt
in their presumably educated minds?

If their minds were not capable even of this simple analysis, then
surely the sub-title was a sufficient guide to the credibility of
anything that the book might contain. 'The Englishman Is Devil Rather
Than Human,' said the sub-title, addressing itself to the Hollanders at
the end of a bitter war with the English.

And yet this revolting, this loathsome piece of ordure-throwing was
'the rage of the town'.

He sat with the book on the table in front of him, and watched the
candle burn down. Sat and writhed.

He was still sitting there when the dawn came, staring at the cold
guttered wax that had borne so fine a flame.




Chapter 17


'You cannot reach the wretched Exmeling,' Modyford said to him, 'but
you can extort very substantial damages from the English publisher.
After recent sales, I do not doubt Mr William Crooke's ability to pay.'
He looked across at Morgan's exhausted face and was moved to further
speech. 'Shall I tell you what interested me most in the Dutchman's
work? His admiration for you.'

'Admiration!' said Morgan, very bitter.

'Yes. He fights desperately against it, but it overcomes him
continually. He is a poor little nobody, Exmeling; the kind of man whom
no one notices in a room; but he passionately wants to be a Henry
Morgan. He hates you because you are all he would like to be and never
will; but the admiration for what you are is stronger than he is. It
seeps through his tale in spite of himself. I found it extraordinarily
interesting.'

'I am glad that your Excellency was entertained.'

'Poor Harry! You feel defiled, don't you?'

'I am defiled.'

'Yes. But at least there will be vindication.'

'Did you ever know a vindication that overtook a vilification?' Morgan
asked.

And Modyford had no answer. Nor had Henry expected one.

The damage to his reputation was irreparable, and they were both too
intelligent not to recognise that fact.

'When do you see the Commissioners?' Modyford asked.

'On Monday afternoon.'

'I hope you have ammunition for the contest.'

'I have three out-size pieces of artillery.'

'I am glad to hear it. What are they?'

'The Queen of Spain's commission to Manoel Rivera Pardal to wage war
against the English for five years; found in Pardal's cabin in the _San
Pedro y La Fama_. A commission from the Governor of Cartagena to the
same effect, from the same source. And the dispatches of Don Juan Perez
de Guzman, Governor of Panama, to the authorities in Madrid.'

'Don Juan's dispatches!'

'Yes. We intercepted them.'

'Will they prove useful?'

'Well, he boasts about how clever he was in burning Panama before we
could get to it. That will interest their lordships, I hope.'

It interested their lordships very greatly, as it proved.

Quite the most bitter reproaches that Spain hurled at the Court of St
James's were reserved for the barbarism of the pirates who burned
Panama, and the touching pride of Don Juan in this same destruction was
a matter of sober delight to their lordships.

But they were inquisitive on other matters, and intolerably
long-winded.

Had Henry received Sir Thomas Modyford's dispatches announcing the
ratification of the treaty with Spain before he left his fleet
rendezvous en route to Panama?

No, Henry had not.

Did the word Commander-in-Chief, in his commission from the Council of
Jamaica, refer to his fleet, or was it a military commission permitting
him to make war on land?

And so on.

And so on, through many summer afternoons; with the river light
wavering on the ceiling and the Spanish ambassador sitting in an
attitude of polite unexpectancy at the end of the table.

The cherry-leaves in the gardens were red before their lordships
decided that there was nothing they could profitably or legally do to
Henry Morgan. The Spanish ambassador would have to be disappointed.

The direct result of this whitewashing was an intimation that Admiral
Morgan might now present himself at the Whitehall levee, and for eight
successive mornings Morgan, dressed in his best, stood among the
waiting crowd in the ante-room while the King moved down the line
talking to a chosen few before disappearing to the outer world and his
day's occupation. On the ninth day, bored by this vain repetition, he
was late, and had just reached the outer door as the King began his
progress down the line. And this time Charles's black eyes did not skim
over him in passing. Charles stopped in the doorway.

'Admiral Morgan,' he said. 'I hear that you have been waging peace in
the Caribbean.'

Not sure whether this was reproof or jest, Morgan bowed and was silent.

'I understand that sailors hate walking, but if a short walk in the
park would not bore you unbearably, I should be glad of your company.'

So Harry Morgan went out to walk with his King in the park. And it was
very soon apparent that this was no affair of a moment's impulse.
Charles wanted to know about Jamaica. Poor Sir Thomas Lynch was very
gloomy, he said, because they could not spare ships from the navy for
the defence of Jamaica, and now he had no privateers for its defence.
The privateers refused to come anywhere near Jamaica, because he
confiscated their ships and set them to planting; they had all gone to
Tortuga in the hope of commissions from the French.

'Sooner or later privateering must come to an end, Admiral. How are we
to settle the men on the land and at the same time defend the island
against possible attack?'

Henry said that that was simple. Make no attempt to settle the men on
the land. Let them be free to go into the logwood trade, using Port
Royal without let or hindrance, and they would be there for use as a
fleet whenever they might be needed.

'Sir Thomas is not very happy in his Governorship, he tells me. And yet
he is a worthy man.'

Morgan said that Jamaica needed more than worthiness in a Governor. It
needed someone above faction.

'Someone from England, you mean.'

Yes, Morgan meant just that.

'And whom do you suggest?'

But Morgan was not to be caught in that snare. He had been so little
time in England, he said, that he might be excused from answering that.

And Charles looked amused. 'You fence as expertly as you fight,
Admiral,' he said; and asked if the Admiral proposed to go back to
Jamaica in the near future.

Morgan said that the choice was not his, since he was unfortunate
enough to have a law-suit on his hands.

'Ah, yes,' said Charles, contemplative. 'The malice of small persons.
So much more destructive than war. I wish you well, Admiral.' And he
went back to talking of Jamaica; its crops, its climate, its
possibilities.

So Morgan, having achieved the rehabilitation for which he had come to
England, had now, on his own behalf, to struggle for a far more vital
rehabilitation. The autumn mists hung about the trees and lay in the
ditches, and his fever came back. That green and daisy-pied England
that he had seen from a coach window seemed more compact of fantasy
than any figment of his present fever. He had planned, during the hours
of that summer journey, to take a coach once more across this jewelled
perfection, to take a coach all the way to Wales, so that he might see
Llanrhymny again. Now the roads of England were mire, and Llanrhymny
merely a far place with a familiar name, and he yearned daily for the
hot sun and the transparent seas and the wild fecund land of his
adoption. He watched Romulus grow daily more wraith-like and if
possible more silent, and by the end of November the boy's daily
question had the sound of a knell.

'We go home tomorrow?' Romulus would ask, day after day.

'Not tomorrow, but soon,' Morgan would say. 'Very soon, Romulus.'

And he would watch the child with foreboding. If they did not go very
soon he might have to go alone.

But out of this unhappiness there flowered unexpectedly two
gratifications to be a solace to him. One was the lasting friendship of
the boy Albemarle. ('I had never suspected Christopher of the crusading
spirit!' Charles said, surprised by the boy's ardent partisanship.) The
other was the fact that his sturdiest and most instant defence came
from men who had no cause to love him. Indeed, two of the captains who
had been most bitter about the division of the Panama spoils wrote, one
from Bristol and one from Portsmouth, to refute the charges against
Morgan totally and absolutely. And there were other, even more unlikely
defences.

From the court of France, to Louise Kéroualle, came a letter from a
young Spanish woman married to a Frenchman, who said that she had read
in a Spanish translation a book purporting to give an account of the
deeds of the English Admiral Morgan in Puerto Bello, and in view of the
nature of this account she thought it right to send dear Louise a
letter written by her mother during the occupation of Puerto Bello by
Captain Morgan's men; in the hope that it might help to save a brave
man from being traduced.

'We live very peaceably and comfortably, in spite of the English
occupation,' wrote the dowager to her daughter in Spain. 'Indeed, to
tell the truth, the last contingent of troops from home proved much
more upsetting than Captain Morgan's men--except that they did not hold
us to ransom. The good sisters are very peeved because their fine
altar-plate has been scheduled as part of the levy, but I still have my
diamond earrings--as the wretch did not fail to point out.'

But the most unexpected defence of all was forwarded from the Trade and
Plantation offices. It had apparently been written to the writer's
specification by some clerk, and the faultless copper-plate contrasted
oddly with the sense of what was written.

    To Whom It May Concern (said the communication)

    Seeing that a damned Dutchman seeks to asperse an Englishman whose
    boots he isn't fit to lick, even if he is a bit too big for them,
    the Englishman, meaning the boots, this is to state that Captain
    Morgan is the damnedest scourge as to hard discipline that ever
    disgraced the sea with soldier notions. A man has more chance of
    raising hell round Portsmouth of a Saturday night than he ever has
    with Harry Morgan in the Indies, and if the writer ever meets the
    said damned Dutchman he will, so help him God, do things to him
    that Harry Morgan never thought of. He will do things to him that
    the Dutchman never thought of.

Underneath the beautiful copperplate of this, in a large, painstaking,
pen-and-ink scrawl, was the signature: Nick Gaytor.

Morgan had builded better than he knew when he had in the end decided
to let Nick Gaytor's crew have their share of Maracaibo.

This document had been addressed to the Commissioners of Trade and
Plantations, and having gone round the Colonial Office and provided
amusement for all the civil servants, it went on to Morgan, and thence
to his solicitor, John Greene; who filed it away against that case in
the King's Bench at Westminster.

But the case was, after all, settled by consent. Mr William Crooke had
no leg to stand on, and had the wit to know it. He agreed to publish
the next edition prefaced by a full retraction and apology, to fork out
substantial damages, and to pay the costs of the man he had injured.

'I ought to have taken him for all he had,' Morgan said to Modyford,
reporting the result. 'I ought to have stopped the sale of the book.'

'You have,' said Modyford. 'Don't you know anything about human nature?
No one will buy a book to read about horrors if it is prefaced by the
announcement that there is not a word of truth in any of them. They
like to think that the horrors really happened. Do you think Lord
Carlisle would be a good person to keep our Jamaican Governorship warm
until Christopher is grown-up enough for it?'

'Carlisle! Yes. Yes, indeed. Would he think of it?'

'I understand that he is not too averse to the idea. There is a lady
from whom he would be glad to be separated by the width of a sea or
two, it seems.'

'Excellency, is there _anything_ in this world that you do not know?'

'Go away and talk Jamaica enticingly to Edward Howard.'

But alack, someone else had been talking enticingly to Lord Carlisle.

'Oh, that!' Carlisle said, when Morgan broached the subject. 'Yes, I
did think of it, but Johnny wants to go.'

'Johnny?'

'Johnny Vaughan. He aches, it seems, to be a Governor. And Tilda has
got herself a new protector, so my need to fly the town is less urgent
than it was.' He caught Morgan's expression, and said: 'Don't you want
Johnny?'

That was putting it inadequately, Morgan was appalled by the thought of
Vaughan in Jamaica. But he could hardly say so to Carlisle.

'He's very biddable, you know,' Carlisle went on. 'He's so afraid of
being in the wrong that he will do anything to avoid it. You'll find
him quite easy. Anyhow, the King has agreed, so there is nothing much
one can do about it now.'

But it seemed that Charles himself thought that there was something
that might be done about it.

Admiral Morgan was summoned once more to Whitehall, and this time it
was not to a levee, but to an audience.

'You will no doubt have heard, Admiral Morgan, that Lord Vaughan is
going out to replace Sir Thomas Lynch as Governor of Jamaica,' Charles
said; and cast a glance of secret amusement at the stony countenance of
his most famous sailor.

Morgan managed a bow.

'Lord Vaughan is inexperienced in the duties of Governorship and
ignorant of Jamaican affairs. I think it would be advisable to give him
the assistance of a Lieutenant-Governor who is experienced in
administration and has some acquaintance with the island.'

It would indeed be advisable, said the unrelenting Morgan.

'I know that with a young plantation on your hands your time must be
very fully occupied, Admiral; but do you think that you might find
sufficient spare time to undertake the duties of Lieutenant-Governor?'
asked the King, toying with the sword that was lying across the papers
on his desk.

Morgan stared at the sword, fascinated.

'Your Majesty----' he managed at last; and stuck.

Into the silence Charles said: 'You'll have your work cut out with
Johnny. He'll slip through your fingers like water.' And he lifted the
sword from the desk.

Morgan had still no words.

'It is customary,' Charles said, 'to knight a man when he is appointed
to a Governor's place. I understand that you have been suffering sadly
from rheumatism in our damp river airs, Admiral, but I shall not keep
you kneeling for more than a moment.'

Morgan knelt.

'And that, Sir Harry, is an end of your privateering,' Charles said,
putting out a hand to help Morgan to rise.

'Is that why Your Majesty did it?' asked Morgan, finding his tongue.

'No,' laughed Charles, 'though I should have liked to say that it was.
I am sending you out to administer Jamaica because you have all the
qualities. Jamaica is your own parish, and you are knowledgeable about
it, but your horizons are too wide to allow you to become parochial
about it. You are wonderfully popular, but you have the moral courage
to risk that popularity if need be. You hate Spain, but you have the
vision to compromise if it is to the larger advantage. And as an old
privateersman, you seem to me the ideal person to deal with those
back-sliders who may find the logwood trade dull. _Bon voyage_,
Admiral. I would give much to be slipping down the river with you; out
to those coloured islands that I shall never see. Spare a thought for
me as you pass.'

Morgan spared more than a thought. His eyes lingered a long time on the
misty grey palaces of the north bank as his boat dropped downstream to
join the ship that was waiting for him in the Downs. It was a clammy
January morning, and he was shivering; but his heart glowed. With that
sword-tap on his shoulder the King had completed his rehabilitation.

They had been prepared to offer him up as a sacrifice to Spain, the
jacks-in-office, the party men. And they had been not only defeated,
they had been disowned. That tap on the shoulder had been England's
answer to Spain.

There remained now only 'the malice of small persons', and about that
he could do nothing. Wherever there was achievement, there was that:
the rats nibbling at reputation. The lying stories would go from mouth
to mouth, on into the years, smirching his name; but the truth would be
there still for those who wanted it. And there always, beyond argument
and denigration, would be the fact that his King had knighted him and
found him worthy to administer a province.

He watched London stream past and away from him, grey and magnificent
and misty, and remembering the 'coloured islands' that waited him knew
that he would never come back. He would never see Llanrhymny now. It
would stay small and clear and far-away, like something in the wrong
end of a telescope. His future was in the islands; the islands across
which he had written his name.

Presently Modyford, too, would be back in Jamaica, and life would be
sunlit again.

As they left Greenwich behind a pale English sun, doing its best, shot
a gleam across the water like a blessing.

But Morgan did not see it.

He was planning how he could give Vaughan's transport the slip in the
Channel and outsail her to Jamaica, so as to have the Council nicely in
his pocket before his outmanoeuvred countryman arrived.



AUTHOR'S NOTE


To write fiction about historic fact is very nearly impermissible.

It is permissible only on two conditions:

(_a_) That neither the inevitable simplification of plot nor the
invention of detail shall be allowed to falsify the general picture;

(_b_) That the writer shall state where the facts may be found, so that
the reader may, if he cares, compare the invention with the truth.

The definitive biography of Henry Morgan is by Brigadier-General E. A.
Cruikshank: _The Life of Henry Morgan_; which can be obtained from any
public library. It is dispassionate, exhaustive, and accurate, and will
prove an excellent corrective to both fictional biographies and
biographical fictions.

It is, further, advisable when writing fiction about a period now
'historic' that no distortion should take place owing to the use of
'period' dialogue. If the characters in the story did not sound quaint
to each other, then they have no right to sound quaint to us. What a
young man may actually have said to his patron may be: 'I am vastly
gratified by your condescension, sir, and very sensible of my
obligation to you,' but that is not how the words sounded to his
benefactor. What his benefactor understood him to say was: 'Thank you
very much, sir. That is very kind of you.'



THE END




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