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relieved of him by that atrocious murder. I sat looking at both of them.
Saved! By that lunatic? I suddenly appreciated the agony of mind that alone could have brought O'Brien, the cautious, the all-seeing, into this place—to ask me a question that for him was answered now. Answered for him more than for me.
Where was Seraphina? Where? How should I come to her? O'Brien was dead. And I. ... Could I walk out of this place and go to her? O'Brien was dead. But I . . .
I suddenly realized that now I was the pirate Nikola el Escoces —that now he was no more there, nothing could save me from being handed over to the admiral. Nothing.
Salazar outside the door began to call boastfully towards the sound of approaching footsteps.
"Aha! Aha! Come all of you! See what I have done! Come, Senor Alcayde! Come, brave soldiers . . ."
In that way died this man whose passion had for so long hung over my life like a shadow. Looking at the matter now, I am, perhaps, glad that he fell neither by my hand nor in my quarrel. I assuredly had injured him the first; I had come upon his ground; I had thwarted him; I had been a heavy weight at a time when his fortunes had been failing. Failing they undoubtedly were. He had run his course too far.
And, if his death removed him out of my path, the legacy of his intrigue caused me suffering enough. Had he lived, there is no knowing what he might have done. He was bound to deliver someone to the British—either myself or Nichols. Perhaps, at the last moment, he would have kept me in Havana. There is no saying.
Undoubtedly he had not wished to deliver Nichols; either because he really knew too much, or because he had scruples. Nichols had certainly been faithful to him. And, with his fine irony, it was certainly delightful to him to think that I should die a felon's death in England. For those reasons he had identified me with Nikola el Escoces, intending to give up whichever suited him at the last moment.
Now that was settled for him and for me. The delivery was to take place at dawn, and O'Brien not being to be found, the old Judge of the First Instance had been sent to identify the prisoner. He selected me, whom, of course, he recognized. There was no question of Nichols, who had been imprisoned on a charge of theft trumped up by O'Brien.
Salazar, whether he would have gone to the Captain-General or not, was now entirely useless. He was retained to answer the charge of murder. And to any protestations I could make, the old Juez was entirely deaf.
"The senor must make representations to his own authorities," he said. "I have warrant for what I have done."
It was impossible to expose O'Brien to him. The soldiers of the escort, in the dawn before the prison gates, simply laughed at me.
They marched me down through the gray mists, to the water's edge. Two soldiers held my arms; O'Brien's blood was drying on my face and on my clothes. I was, even to myself, a miserable object. Among the negresses on the slimy boat-steps a thick, short man was asking questions. He opened amazed eyes at the sight of me. It was Williams—the Lion was not yet gone then. If he spoke to me, or gave token of connection with Seraphina, the Spaniards would understand. They would take her from him certainly; perhaps immure her in a convent. And now that I was bound irrevocably for England, she must go, too. He was shouldering his way towards my guards.
"Silence!" I shouted, without looking at him. "Go away, make sail. . . . Tell Sebright. . . ."
My guards seemed to think I had gone mad; they laid hands upon me. I didn't struggle, and we passed down towards the landing steps, brushing Williams aside. He stood perturbedly gazing after me; then I saw him asking questions of a civil guard A man-of-war's boat, the ensign trailing in the glassy water, the glazed hats of the seamen bobbing like clockwork, was flying towards us. Here was England! Here was home! I should have to clear myself of felony, to strain every nerve and cheat the gallows. If only Williams understood, if only he did not make a fool of himself. I couldn't see him any more; a jabbering crowd all round us was being kept at a distance by the muskets of the soldiers. My only chance was Sebright's intelligence. He might prevent Williams making a fool of himself. The commander of the guard said to the lieutenant from the flagship, who had landed, attended by the master-at-arms:
"I have the honor to deliver to your worship's custody the prisoner promised to his excellency the English admiral. Here are the papers disclosing his crimes to the justice. I beg for a receipt."
A shabby escrivano from the prison advanced bowing, with an inkhorn, shaking a wet goose-quill. A guardia civil offered his back. The lieutenant signed a paper hastily, then looking hard at me, gave the order:
"Master-at-arms, handcuff one of the prisoner's hands to your own wrist. He is a desperate character."