Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Maroon: A Romance of the Carib. >> Page 241

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Page 241

Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
the face of his tyrant. He made a step toward him. The uplifted hand
of Velasquez arrested his approach.
"Lopez de Levya, were I to have thee drawn up by the neck to
yon spar, as the heretic English do those whom they would destroy,
it were no more than thou deservest. But I am of a more merciful
temper —I have taken the chains from thy limbs "
A lively gratitude overspread the features of the person addressed
but he still trembled with a natural anxiety and doubt. He knew his
"I mean to set thee free ! "
"Thanks ! thanks ! "
"Nay, I will do more for thee than this. I will elevate thee to rare
dignities. I will make thee a chief, a prince, a sovereign of land and
sea. Thou shalt be able to stand up in thine empire, and none will
say thee nay."
A pause! The culprit looked wildly at this language. It was some-
thing more than apprehension that shone in his face. There was no
mistaking the hideous malice of the speaker; there was no doubting
the ironical grin upon the lips of Juan; and the experience of the
ship had seldom found mercy, or forgiveness, or generosity, in either.
The eye of the woman was now fixed fully upon that of Velasquez;
her intense interest in what she had to hear, making her somewhat
relax in the stubborn vigilance of thought which had impressed itself
upon all her features. Velasquez resumed:
"The quiet of this part of the Caribbean Sea, as thou well knowest,
is seldom broken by the prows of Europeans. The savage steers his
bark in other courses, dreading its wild currents and fearful whirl-
pools. Here, he who shall make his abode will be a sovereign beyond
dispute. It may be ages before he will see upon his horizon, driven
by hostile tempests, the white sails of a Christian vessel. No empire
could be more secure from challenge no state more certainly beyond
the danger of overthrow."
Another pause, and a conviction of what was intended, at once
passed into the soul of the woman. Her hands were griped convul-
sively together, and the paleness of her cheek increased. The culprit
to whom Velasquez addressed himself simply appeared bewildered.
Chains, confinement, terror, and probably want of food and sleep,