8. The Rebels-Convict
There were, when the purple gloom of the tropical night descended upon the Caribbean,
not more than ten men on guard aboard the Cinco Llagas, so confident - and with good
reason - were the Spaniards of the complete subjection of the islanders. And when I say
that there were ten men on guard, I state rather the purpose for which they were left
aboard than the duty which they fulfilled. As a matter of fact, whilst the main body of the
Spaniards feasted and rioted ashore, the Spanish gunner and his crew - who had so
nobly done their duty and ensured the easy victory of the day - were feasting on the
gun-deck upon the wine and the fresh meats fetched out to them from shore. Above,
two sentinels only kept vigil, at stem and stern. Nor were they as vigilant as they should
have been, or else they must have observed the two wherries that under cover of the
darkness came gliding from the wharf, with well-greased rowlocks, to bring up in silence
under the great ship's quarter.
From the gallery aft still hung the ladder by which Don Diego had descended to the boat
that had taken him ashore. The sentry on guard in the stern, coming presently round
this gallery, was suddenly confronted by the black shadow of a man standing before him
at the head of the ladder.
"Who's there?" he asked, but without alarm, supposing it one of his fellows.
"It is I," softly answered Peter Blood in the fluent Castillan of which he was master.
"Is it you, Pedro?" The Spaniard came a step nearer.
"Peter is my name; but I doubt I'll not be the Peter you're expecting."
"How?" quoth the sentry, checking.
"This way," said Mr. Blood.
The wooden taffrail was a low one, and the Spaniard was taken completely by surprise.
Save for the splash he made as he struck the water, narrowly missing one of the
crowded boats that waited under the counter, not a sound announced his misadventure.
Armed as he was with corselet, cuissarts, and headpiece, he sank to trouble them no
"Whist!" hissed Mr. Blood to his waiting rebels-convict. "Come on, now, and without
Within five minutes they had swarmed aboard, the entire twenty of them overflowing
from that narrow gallery and crouching on the quarter-deck itself. Lights showed ahead.
Under the great lantern in the prow they saw the black figure of the other sentry, pacing