Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/271

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Captain Scarfield

with yellow fever. There was no defender of his actions to tell how he and his crew of pirates had sailed the pest-stricken vessel almost into the rescuing waters of Kingston harbor. Eleazer confessed that he could not deny that when Scarfield had tied the skipper of the Baltimore Belle naked to the foremast of his own brig he had permitted his crew of cutthroats (who were drunk at the time) to throw bottles at the helpless captive, who died that night of the wounds he had received. For this he was doubtless very justly condemned, but who was there to praise him when he had, at the risk of his life and in the face of the authorities, carried a cargo of provisions which he himself had purchased at Tampa Bay to the Island of Bella Vista after the great hurricane of 1818? In this notable adventure he had barely escaped, after a two days’ chase, the British frigate Ceres, whose captain, had a capture been effected, would instantly have hung the unfortunate man to the yardarm in spite of the beneficent mission he was in the act of conducting.

In all this Eleazer had the air of conducting the case for the defendant. As he talked he became more and more animated and voluble. The light went out in his tobacco pipe, and a hectic spot appeared in either thin and sallow cheek. Mainwaring sat wondering to hear the severely peaceful Quaker preacher defending so notoriously bloody and cruel a cutthroat pirate as Capt. Jack Scarfield. The warm and innocent surroundings, the old brick house looking down upon them, the odor of apple blossoms and the hum of bees seemed to make it all the more incongruous. And still the elderly Quaker skipper talked on and on with hardly an interruption, till the warm sun slanted to the west and the day began to decline.

That evening Mainwaring stayed to tea and when he parted from Lucinda Fairbanks it was after nightfall, with a clear, round moon shining in the milky sky and a radiance pallid and unreal enveloping the old house, the blooming apple trees, the sloping