Corsairs of the Sea of Forgetfulness

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Release me and promise to spare my life, and I'll take you to the spot where the silver is hidden. Show us the hiding-place. Scudamore, finding his hands at liberty, tried to shake hands with each one of the pirates in turn, but they angrily pushed him back.

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The pirates soon returned, exultingly bearing the chests of silver on their shoulders. Barthelemy ordered them to be placed on board their own vessel, while Scudamore showed the utmost zeal in helping the men, calling each, meanwhile, his dear, kind friend, a compliment which they repaid with all sorts of abusive epithets and the command not to touch their property. The last to come on deck was Asphlant, who said with great satisfaction: "We shall leave nothing here, captain!

The ship is entirely empty. Shall we bore a hole in her bottom? Or will it be better to hang these fellows in a row on the mainyard, and let the vessel drift where she likes? The sailors gave no sign of emotion, while Scudamore tried to lock arms with one after another of the pirates, constantly asserting that he had nothing to do with the other party.

That might do for miserable Spanish privateers, pitiful Tunisian cut-throats, but not for us, Englishmen and Frenchmen. Are we to make ourselves ashamed of the name of pirate, admit that it has nothing in common with the word honor? Were not the first inhabitants of Rome also corsairs? Our mission is to place the name of fillibuster in a new light. Captain Rolls, you and your whole ship's company are free to go wherever you desire. A fierce uproar arose among the robbers.

You are acting against all the customs of pirates and, if you don't take back your order, I'll scuttle the ship myself. The pirates shrank back, startled. Moody was the oldest of the band, whom no captain had ever ventured to punish. Barthelemy again motioned to Skyrme, and the latter, rushing upon the chief mate, bound him, in spite of his struggles, to the [Pg 36] mainmast, so that he clasped it with both arms, his back turned to the crew; but, while pouring forth a continuous torrent of oaths, he still kept his pipe in his mouth.

A suppressed murmur ran through the ranks of the pirates, but no one raised his voice distinctly. Barthelemy now turned to Captain Rolls and, taking from his pocket a piece of paper and a pencil he said:. I hope you will reach London with your ship in safety. It is true that you will return her to her owners empty, but that is no fault of yours, in proof of which I will give you the following certificate for your justification at home.

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We, free knights of fortune, bear witness in the presence of all whom it concerns, that Rolls, captain of the brigantine Neptune, [Pg 37] was attacked by us on the Pacific Ocean, and, having just lost his guns and part of his rigging in a gale, defended himself against us in the bravest manner for an hour and a half, and did not yield until, after losing nine of our best men and our captain, we completely overwhelmed him and thereby alone obtained the silver entrusted to his care.

What shall I say to you? He is a horrible villain. When you set the commander of the brigantine free, let him take this fellow with him; what a fine lot of talk there will be when they call him to account at home for the service he has rendered us. Brave men! It amuses you to drive me to desperation in this way, but you will not really ruin me. I am a physician; you need one, take me with you.

I will be just such a man, such a devil as all the rest, I'll be no disgrace to your band. You will never repent having made my acquaintance. I beseech, I implore you to say a good word to the captain for me.

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Oh, you good, brave man, you leader with the face of a hero, give me your hand, that I may kiss it. A living human saw? A poisoner, who won't let a man die in peace?

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I've no use for him. Throw him out of the ship, or I'll kill him. You manage the ropes and sails, but you need not trouble yourself about anything else. And when Scudamore approached near enough for him to reach him with his foot, he gave him such a kick that he nearly fell over backward. Give this man thirty blows on the back. Whoever disobeys me must suffer for it. The nine-lashed scourge was instantly brought.

Barthelemy coolly awaited the end of the punishment, and then called Scudamore to write his name in the list of pirates. Scudamore seized the pen with eager joy, and wrote his signature with such horrible glee that even the robbers were startled, and then, turning to Captain Rolls, exclaimed scornfully:.

Skyrme laid his huge hand on his shoulder and muttered between his teeth: "You scoundrel, you'll make a first-class devil. From that moment, Scudamore felt perfectly at home in his new sphere, looking at the list with his name enrolled as if it were some diabolical patent of nobility, and eyeing Captain Rolls with the air of a newly appointed official surveying his former comrades.

But that we may not leave our mate here in exchange for your doctor, loose Moody from the mast. Two pirates obeyed the command, avoiding the feet of the chief mate, who was trying to deal them a severe kick. When he found his hands free, his first act was to give the nearest liberator a heavy blow, and the second to pick up his short pipe and put it between his lips. I am ready to give you any satisfaction and, if you desire, will fight with you. Moody did not utter a syllable in reply, but hastily threw off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, loosed his collar and, with sparkling eyes, eagerly looked about for a weapon.

Excuse our fighting in your ship, Captain Rolls, but satisfaction must be given in the presence of those who witnessed the offence. Well, Moody, are you ready? Give a signal, when you are ready. Barthelemy seemed to be merely toying with him.

He scarcely moved his arm to parry the strokes which his adversary's fury did not suffer him to calculate. Look, I am not standing where you are aiming. Don't strike at me so fiercely, I shall think you want to kill me.

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It was a true robber-fray; for the rage of one adversary, the jests of the other, the [Pg 45] rude laughter of the bystanders, the jeering, irritating remarks do not occur in duels between gentlemen. The loud laughter of the pirates enraged the chief mate still more, and he grew fairly frantic when, glancing aside, he saw among them Dr. Scudamore, who had spread out his surgical instruments on his knees, and was gazing at him with a look of diabolical pleasure in his green eyes.

Turning from the captain he rushed directly at the surgeon. Barthelemy avoided the blow and pierced his right arm. The chief mate instantly picked up his sword with his left hand; the foes again confronted each other, breast to breast. Then Barthelemy, with a clever trick of fence, struck his antagonist's sword from [Pg 46] his grasp and, setting his foot upon it, seized him by the throat and flung him among his companions. The chief mate would not allow his injuries to be bandaged, but though bleeding profusely, struggled with his companions till they bound one arm to a beam; and continued to strike about him with the injured one till that too, was bound, after which he kicked violently and when his feet were also tied, bit like a mad dog.

They were obliged even to gag him before the doctor could bandage his wounds, and stanch the blood. Moody could make no reply to this hideous threat except a roar like a wild beast's, and could not even bite the hand which the doctor passed over him. Meanwhile Barthelemy had had the brigantine's crew released and told them that they would find all their weapons in the mate's cabin, whose key he would give them when he left the Neptune.

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With these words he approached Rolls, bowed courteously, and held out his hand. After a short pause the latter clasped it, saying:. A presentiment tells me that some day I shall kill you in a victorious battle, Captain Rolls. By the way, you have only one keg of biscuits and a cask of water—that will not supply you until you reach London. May I offer you some of my store of provisions? I would willingly lend you a few cannons, that you may not be captured on the way.