Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/279

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Captain Scarfield

Friend, “and I will be entirely frank with thee. These men of blood are, after all, but human beings, and as human beings they need food. I have at present upon this vessel upward of two hundred and fifty barrels of flour which will bring a higher price here than anywhere else in the West Indies. To be entirely frank with thee, I will tell thee that I was engaged in making a bargain for the sale of the greater part of my merchandise when the news of thy approach drove away my best customer.”

Mainwaring sat for a while in smoking silence. What the other had told him explained many things he had not before understood. It explained why Captain Cooper got almost as much for his flour and corn meal now that peace had been declared as he had obtained when the war and the blockade were in full swing. It explained why he had been so strong a defender of Captain Scarfield and the pirates that afternoon in the garden. Meantime, what was to be done? Eleazer confessed openly that he dealt with the pirates. What now was his—Mainwaring’s—duty in the case? Was the cargo of the Eliza Cooper contraband and subject to confiscation? And then another question framed itself in his mind: Who was this customer whom his approach had driven away?

As though he had formulated the inquiry into speech the other began directly to speak of it. “I know,” he said, “that in a moment thee will ask me who was this customer of whom I have just now spoken. I have no desire to conceal his name from thee. It was the man who is known as Captain Jack or Captain John Scarfield.”

Mainwaring fairly started from his seat. “The devil you say!” he cried. “And how long has it been,” he asked, “since he left you?”

The Quaker skipper carefully refilled his pipe, which he had by now smoked out. “I would judge,” he said, “that it is a matter of four or five hours since news was brought overland by means of swift runners of thy approach. Immediately the man of wicked-