As the Spaniard checked in anger and surprise, he caught in the dusk the livid gleam of that sword which Mr. Blood had quickly unsheathed.
"Ah, perro ingles!" he shouted, and flung forward to his death.
"It's hoping I am ye're in a fit state to meet your Maker," said Mr. Blood, and ran him through the body. He did the thing skilfully: with the combined skill of swordsman and surgeon. The man sank in a hideous heap without so much as a groan.
Mr. Blood swung to the girl, who leaned panting and sobbing against a wall. He caught her by the wrist.
"Come!" he said.
But she hung back, resisting him by her weight. "Who are you?" she demanded wildly.
"Will ye wait to see my credentials?" he snapped. Steps were clattering towards them from beyond the corner round which she had fled from that Spanish ruffian. "Come," he urged again. And this time, reassured perhaps by his clear English speech, she went without further questions.
They sped down an alley and then up another, by great good fortune meeting no one, for already they were on the outskirts of the town. They won out of it, and white-faced, physically sick, Mr. Blood dragged her almost at a run up the hill towards Colonel Bishop's house. He told her briefly who and what he was, and thereafter there was no conversation between them until they reached the big white house. It was all in darkness, which at least was reassuring. If the Spaniards had reached it, there would be lights. He knocked, but had to knock again and yet again before he was answered. Then it was by a voice from a window above.
"Who is there?" The voice was Miss Bishop's, a little tremulous, but unmistakably her own.
Mr. Blood almost fainted in relief. He had been imagining the unimaginable. He had pictured her down in that hell out of which he had just come. He had conceived that she might have followed her uncle into Bridgetown, or committed some other imprudence, and he turned cold from head to foot at the mere thought of what might have happened to her.
"It is I - Peter Blood," he gasped.
"What do you want?"
It is doubtful whether she would have come down to open. For at such a time as this it was no more than likely that the wretched plantation slaves might be in revolt and prove as great a danger as the Spaniards. But at the sound of her voice, the girl Mr. Blood had rescued peered up through the gloom.
"Arabella!" she called. "It is I, Mary Traill."
"Mary!" The voice ceased above on that exclamation, the head was withdrawn. After a brief pause the door gaped wide. Beyond it in the wide hall stood Miss Arabella, a slim, virginal figure in white, mysteriously revealed in the gleam of a single candle which she carried.
Mr. Blood strode in followed by his distraught companion, who, falling upon Arabella's slender bosom, surrendered herself to a passion of tears. But he wasted no time.
"Whom have you here with you? What servants?" he demanded sharply.
The only male was James, an old negro groom.
"The very man," said Blood. "Bid him get out horses. Then away with you to Speightstown, or even farther north, where you will be safe. Here you are in danger - in dreadful danger."
"But I thought the fighting was over..." she was beginning, pale and startled.
"So it is. But the deviltry's only beginning. Miss Traill will tell you as you go. In God's name, madam, take my word for it, and do as I bid you."
"He... he saved me," sobbed Miss Traill.
"Saved you?" Miss Bishop was aghast. "Saved you from what, Mary?"
"Let that wait," snapped Mr. Blood almost angrily. "You've all the night for chattering when you're out of this, and away beyond their reach. Will you please call James, and do as I say - and at once!"
"You are very peremptory...."
"Oh, my God! I am peremptory! Speak, Miss Trail!, tell her whether I've cause to be peremptory."
"Yes, yes," the girl cried, shuddering." Do as he says - Oh, for pity's sake, Arabella."
Miss Bishop went off, leaving Mr. Blood and Miss Traill alone again.
"I... I shall never forget what you did, sir," said she, through her diminishing tears. She was a slight wisp of a girl, a child, no more.
"I've done better things in my time. That's why I'm here," said Mr. Blood, whose mood seemed to be snappy.
She didn't pretend to understand him, and she didn't make the attempt.
"Did you... did you kill him?" she asked, fearfully.
He stared at her in the flickering candlelight. "I hope so. It is very probable, and it doesn't matter at all," he said. "What matters is that this fellow James should fetch the horses." And he was stamping off to accelerate these preparations for departure, when her voice arrested him.
"Don't leave me! Don't leave me here alone!" she cried in terror.
He paused. He turned and came slowly back. Standing above her he smiled upon her.
"There, there! You've no cause for alarm. It's all over now. You'll be away soon - away to Speightstown, where you'll be quite safe."
The horses came at last - four of them, for in addition to James who was to act as her guide, Miss Bishop had her woman, who was not to be left behind.
Mr. Blood lifted the slight weight of Mary Traill to her horse, then turned to say good-bye to Miss Bishop, who was already mounted. He said it, and seemed to have something to add. But whatever it was, it remained unspoken. The horses started, and receded into the sapphire starlit night, leaving him standing there before Colonel Bishop's door. The last he heard of them was Mary Traill's childlike voice calling back on a quavering note -
"I shall never forget what you did, Mr. Blood. I shall never forget."
But as it was not the voice he desired to hear, the assurance brought him little satisfaction. He stood there in the dark watching the fireflies amid the rhododendrons, till the hoofbeats had faded. Then he sighed and roused himself. He had much to do. His journey into the town had not been one of idle curiosity to see how the Spaniards conducted themselves in victory. It had been inspired by a very different purpose, and he had gained in the course of it all the information he desired. He had an extremely busy night before him, and must be moving.
He went off briskly in the direction of the stockade, where his fellow-slaves awaited him in deep anxiety and some hope.
Captain Blood -by- Rafael Sabatini