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Captain Blood

19. The Meeting
As the door slammed after the departing Admiral, Lord Julian turned to Arabella, and
actually smiled. He felt that he was doing better, and gathered from it an almost childish
satisfaction - childish in all the circumstances. "Decidedly I think I had the last word
there," he said, with a toss of his golden ringlets.
Miss Bishop, seated at the cabin-table, looked at him steadily, without returning his
smile. "Does it matter, then, so much, having the last word? I am thinking of those poor
fellows on the Royal Mary. Many of them have had their last word, indeed. And for
what? A fine ship sunk, a score of lives lost, thrice that number now in jeopardy, and all
for what?"
"You are overwrought, ma'am. I...."
"Overwrought!" She uttered a single sharp note of laughter. "I assure you I am calm. I
am asking you a question, Lord Julian. Why has this Spaniard done all this? To what
purpose?"
"You heard him." Lord Julian shrugged angrily. "Blood-lust," he explained shortly.
"Blood-lust?" she asked. She was amazed. "Does such a thing exist, then? It is insane,
monstrous."
"Fiendish," his lordship agreed. "Devil's work."
"I don't understand. At Bridgetown three years ago there was a Spanish raid, and things
were done that should have been impossible to men, horrible, revolting things which
strain belief, which seem, when I think of them now, like the illusions of some evil
dream. Are men just beasts?"
"Men?" said Lord Julian, staring. "Say Spaniards, and I'll agree." He was an Englishman
speaking of hereditary foes. And yet there was a measure of truth in what he said. "This
is the Spanish way in the New World. Faith, almost it justifies such men as Blood of
what they do."
She shivered, as if cold, and setting her elbows on the table, she took her chin in her
hands, and sat staring before her.
Observing her, his lordship noticed how drawn and white her face had grown. There
was reason enough for that, and for worse. Not any other woman of his acquaintance
would have preserved her self-control in such an ordeal; and of fear, at least, at no time
had Miss Bishop shown any sign. It is impossible that he did not find her admirable.
 
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