Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Southward Ho! A Spell of Sunshine >> Chapter XVIII / The Story of Blackbeard >> Page 456

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 456

Novel (Romance) | Redfield | 1854
Transcription 456 SOUTHWARD HO !
Meanwhile, the miserable captives stood silent, incapable, paralyzed with their own terrors at the dreadful tragedy which had been so suddenly conceived, and so rapidly hurried to its catastrophe. The French captain shrugged his shoulders and pre-pared for his own fate.
You have seen !' said Blackbeard addressing him and the rest. ' Trample on these colors' pointing to the flag of the Lily ; which had been torn down and thrown upon the deck ;
spit upon that cross !'�that of poor Pauline Chastaign, which lay half crushed before them ; �' and swear on the bloody bead obedience to the laws of the ' Brothers of the Coast !'�such was the name which the pirate fraternity bore among themselves ;
or you share the fate of that young fool, and find the sharks their supper this very night. Speak ! You !'� addressing the captain of the Frenchman.
The days of Rousseau, Voltaire, and Robespierre, had not yet
dawned. The Frenchman had not yet prepared to spit on
Christ, and substitute himself for God ! Our captain knew his
fate, and was prepared for it. He took the broken cross rever-
ently, and kissed it, then, with a faint smile, he politely bowed
to the pirate-chief�in these gestures according his only answer.
To the plank with him !' was the command of Blackbeard
in a voice of thunder. A dozen unscrupulous ruffians seized
upon the Frenchman to hurry him to his doom. Then, for the
first time, the rest of the crew seemed to awaken to a sense of
desperation, as by a common instinct. With a wild cry they
rushed upon the pirates, striking right and left with muscular
arms, and all the reckless violence of despairing nature ! Un-
happily, the timid policy of their captain had denied them weap-
ons. They had nothing upon which to rely but their own
sinews ; nevertheless, so sudden, so unlooked for was the as-
sault, that the pirates bearing the captain, were overborne ; he
rescued ; and, with a cheer, they all together darted again upon
the foe, picking up knife or cutlass where they might. Alas !
the brave effort but shortened the pang of dying. A new flood
of ruffians from the pirate vessel poured in upon them, and fin-
ished the struggle in a few moments ; but Blackbeard himself,
meanwhile, had been wounded with a knife, and his smart ren-
dered him less than ever disposed to mercy. Maimed, slain, or