“Two hundred pounds!” Lizzie said with great venom. “You mountebank! You captain queernabs! You were going to sell us into white slavery!”
Bellamy groaned, grasping his side. “It’s not like that, miss. I pwomise you!”
Alice became indignant as well, spurred by the passion of her cousin’s harsh words. “You horror, you...you...dangler!” She very nearly swooned quite away at the daring she felt using such rough language on such a pointed occasion. What would father say, Alice thought, her breast heaving with the exertion of uttering such a word. All at once she remembered that her father was quite dead and he would never again rail at his incorrigible daughter.
Perhaps it was the excitement of the moment, perhaps it was the realization that that audience would never again be able to express its disapproval in no uncertain terms, but all at once Alice felt a strange sensation in her heart.
“This must be grief,” she said, more to herself than anyone else -- not that anyone else would have heard her low utterance. Alas, she was again wrong, for it was not the unaccustomed feeling of grief that she was experiencing but a heretofore unexpected bout of nausea. This time it was unrelated to sea-sickness, for Alice had at last found her sea legs (albeit somewhat late and in a rather unlikely moment). It is possible that it was the sight of blood, for blood was pouring copiously from Captain Bellamy which, after their initial expressions of scorn and derision, began to have a softening effect on the two soft-hearted cousins.
Black Ethel, however, was unmoved by the all too common sight of a foe’s blood. Indeed she laughed loudly and exclaimed, “Mon dieu! Who knew there was red blood left in you, eh, Bellamy? I thought it had all turned to black like your heart!”
“Black Ethel, you wascally villain! You have slain me, no doubt. Kill me now and save me the suffewing death by thiwst when you abandon me on this ship.” Bellamy sank even lower upon the deck, the sounds of the other fights gradually sinking into the background as their attention focused upon him.
“You will live to fight another day, mon cher!” Black Ethel crowed. “I care nothing for your life. I wish only to take your wealth.” With that she put her fingers to her lips and blew three loud whistles. All at once the fighting on the deck ceased and all the men turned their eyes to the dread pirate queen.
“Your captain is defeated! If you continue to fight, I will throw him to le requin, le ange de mer and burn this ship under your feet. If you wish, however, to save the life of your master, lay down your weapons and help my men haul away your goods. What do you say, messieurs?”
The men looked back and forth between themselves. Lizzie looked in vain for the strange bosun, figuring the men might look to him for advice, but the skull-like visage was not to be seen. Alice had a strange pang at the thought that he might be among those killed in the battle. Despite his frightening appearance and strangely quiet ways, he had been so kind to her at the start of this difficult sea voyage.
As if agreeing, the captain’s men dropped their weapons and began to shuffle forward to the hold. Two of the crew grabbed Bellamy’s moaning body and carried him to what was left of his cabin.
“And now, mademoiselles, you must come with me!”
Alice and Lizzie exchanged a fearful look. What was to become of them on the pirate queen’s ship?