Captain Blood HTML version

16. The Trap
That affair of Mademoiselle d'Ogeron bore as its natural fruit an improvement in the
already cordial relations between Captain Blood and the Governor of Tortuga. At the
fine stone house, with its green-jalousied windows, which M. d'Ogeron had built himself
in a spacious and luxuriant garden to the east of Cayona, the Captain became a very
welcome guest. M. d'Ogeron was in the Captain's debt for more than the twenty
thousand pieces of eight which he had provided for mademoiselle's ransom; and
shrewd, hard bargain-driver though he might be, the Frenchman could be generous and
understood the sentiment of gratitude. This he now proved in every possible way, and
under his powerful protection the credit of Captain Blood among the buccaneers very
rapidly reached its zenith.
So when it came to fitting out his fleet for that enterprise against Maracaybo, which had
originally been Levasseur's project, he did not want for either ships or men to follow him.
He recruited five hundred adventurers in all, and he might have had as many thousands
if he could have offered them accommodation. Similarly without difficulty he might have
increased his fleet to twice its strength of ships but that he preferred to keep it what it
was. The three vessels to which he confined it were the Arabella, the La Foudre, which
Cahusac now commanded with a contingent of some sixscore Frenchmen, and the
Santiago, which had been refitted and rechristened the Elizabeth, after that Queen of
England whose seamen had humbled Spain as Captain Blood now hoped to humble it
again. Hagthorpe, in virtue of his service in the navy, was appointed by Blood to
command her, and the appointment was confirmed by the men.
It was some months after the rescue of Mademoiselle d'Ogeron - in August of that year
1687 - that this little fleet, after some minor adventures which I pass over in silence,
sailed into the great lake of Maracaybo and effected its raid upon that opulent city of the
The affair did not proceed exactly as was hoped, and Blood's force came to find itself in
a precarious position. This is best explained in the words employed by Cahusac - which
Pitt has carefully recorded - in the course of an altercation that broke out on the steps
of the Church of Nuestra Senora del Carmen, which Captain Blood had impiously
appropriated for the purpose of a corps-de-garde. I have said already that he was a
papist only when it suited him.
The dispute was being conducted by Hagthorpe, Wolverstone, and Pitt on the one side,
and Cahusac, out of whose uneasiness it all arose, on the other. Behind them in the
sun-scorched, dusty square, sparsely fringed by palms, whose fronds drooped listlessly
in the quivering heat, surged a couple of hundred wild fellows belonging to both parties,
their own excitement momentarily quelled so that they might listen to what passed
among their leaders.