Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVIII / The Story of Blackbeard >> Page 454

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Page 454

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 454 SOUTHWARD HO !
The pirate-chief addressed the captain of the Frenchman
with words of blood and thunder. The latter answered with
words of weakness and submission. The former without scruple
declared the only alternative to death which he allowed.
Are you prepared to join us against the world ? We are
free men of the seas. We are of no nation. We own no laws
except those of our own making. Swear to obey our laws, join
our crews, sail under the black flag and the bloody head, and
take your share with us, of the cargo of your ship !'"A dead silence answered him.
Swear !' and the black flag was waved before their faces.
"'Will my lord pardon us?' answered the captain for the
rest. ' Will my lord take what we have and suffer us to go in
peace? I only plead that our lives may be spared.''Your lives are our deaths, unless you join with us. You
have five minutes for deliberation. Swear, by the black flag,
kiss the bloody head, and, on your knees, take the oath, or you
walk the plank every mother's son of you.'"A dead silence again followed. Meanwhile, the creole wife,
crouching in the rear of her husband, who stood immediately
behind the captain, involuntarily took from her bosom the cross
of black ebony, and, sinking silently upon her knees, pressed it
to her lips, while they parted, in unuttered prayers to Heaven.
The movement did not escape the ruffian. He was now re-
minded of the woman whom he had sent up from below. In the
dim light of the cabin, he had not distinguished her features. A
single glance now sufficed to show him their loveliness.
"'Ha!' he exclaimed � ' who have we here ?' and passing
rapidly through the group of captives he seized her where she
knelt. With a shriek she held up the cross. He tore it from
her hand, looked at it but an instant, then dashed it to the
deck, and crushed it under his feet � accompanying the profane
act with a horrid oath. The captain of the Frenchman groaned
aloud. The pirate-chief still held his grasp upon the lady. She
struggled to free herself, and cried out : tit Save me, husband !'" The appeal was irresistible. Desperate as was the attempt,
the young French merchant, drawing forth a pistol concealed in
his bosom, levelled it at the head of the pirate and drew the