Captain Blood HTML version

22. Hostilities
In the great harbour of Port Royal, spacious enough to have given moorings to all the
ships of all the navies of the world, the Arabella rode at anchor. Almost she had the air
of a prisoner, for a quarter of a mile ahead, to starboard, rose the lofty, massive single
round tower of the fort, whilst a couple of cables'-length astern, and to larboard, rode the
six men-of-war that composed the Jamaica squadron.
Abeam with the Arabella, across the harbour, were the flat-fronted white buildings of
that imposing city that came down to the very water's edge. Behind these the red roofs
rose like terraces, marking the gentle slope upon which the city was built, dominated
here by a turret, there by a spire, and behind these again a range of green hills with for
ultimate background a sky that was like a dome of polished steel.
On a cane day-bed that had been set for him on the quarter-deck, sheltered from the
dazzling, blistering sunshine by an improvised awning of brown sailcloth, lounged Peter
Blood, a calf-bound, well-thumbed copy of Horace's Odes neglected in his hands.
From immediately below him came the swish of mops and the gurgle of water in the
scuppers, for it was still early morning, and under the directions of Hayton, the bo'sun,
the swabbers were at work in the waist and forecastle. Despite the heat and the
stagnant air, one of the toilers found breath to croak a ribald buccaneering ditty:
"For we laid her board and board,
And we put her to the sword,
And we sank her in the deep blue sea.
So It's heigh-ho, and heave-a-ho!
Who'll sail for the Main with me?"
Blood fetched a sigh, and the ghost of a smile played over his lean, sun-tanned face.
Then the black brows came together above the vivid blue eyes, and thought swiftly
closed the door upon his immediate surroundings.
Things had not sped at all well with him in the past fortnight since his acceptance of the
King's commission. There had been trouble with Bishop from the moment of landing. As
Blood and Lord Julian had stepped ashore together, they had been met by a man who
took no pains to dissemble his chagrin at the turn of events and his determination to
change it. He awaited them on the mole, supported by a group of officers.
"You are Lord Julian Wade, I understand," was his truculent greeting. For Blood at the
moment he had nothing beyond a malignant glance.
Lord Julian bowed. "I take it I have the honour to address Colonel Bishop, Deputy-
Governor of Jamaica." It was almost as if his lordship were giving the Colonel a lesson