The Sea-Hawk HTML version

Homeward Bound
In the cabin of the captured Spaniard, Jasper Leigh found himself that evening face to
face with Sakr-el-Bahr, haled thither by the corsair's gigantic Nubians.
Sakr-el-Bahr had not yet pronounced his intentions concerning the piratical little skipper,
and Master Leigh, full conscious that he was a villain, feared the worst, and had spent
some miserable hours in the fore-castle awaiting a doom which he accounted foregone.
"Our positions have changed, Master Leigh, since last we talked in a ship's cabin," was
the renegade's inscrutable greeting.
"Indeed," Master Leigh agreed. "But I hope ye'll remember that on that occasion I was
your friend."
"At a price," Sakr-el-Bahr reminded him. "And at a price you may find me your friend to-
The rascally skipper's heart leapt with hope.
"Name it, Sir Oliver," he answered eagerly. "And so that it ties within my wretched
power I swear I'll never boggle at it. I've had enough of slavery," he ran on in a plaintive
whine. "Five years of it, and four of them spent aboard the galleys of Spain, and no day in
all of them but that I prayed for death. Did you but know what I ha' suffered."
"Never was suffering more merited, never punishment more fitting, never justice more
poetic," said Sakr-el-Bahr in a voice that made the skipper's blood run cold. "You would
have sold me, a man who did you no hurt, indeed a man who once befriended you--you
would have sold me into slavery for a matter of two hundred pounds...."
"Nay, nay," cried the other fearfully, "as God's my witness, 'twas never part of my intent.
Ye'll never ha' forgot the words I spoke to you, the offer that I made to carry you back
home again."
"Ay, at a price, 'tis true," Sakr-el-Bahr repeated. "And it is fortunate for you that you are
to-day in a position to pay a price that should postpone your dirty neck's acquaintance
with a rope. I need a navigator," he added in explanation, "and what five years ago you
would have done for two hundred pounds, you shall do to-day for your life. How say you:
will you navigate this ship for me?"
"Sir," cried Jasper Leigh, who could scarce believe that this was all that was required of
him, "I'll sail it to hell at your bidding."