The Pirate Woman (Chapter 11, page 1 of 8)

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Chapter 11

Milo and Pascherette stood outside the rock portals of the great chamber after their dismissal by Dolores, and the giant's face wore a look of perplexity which was not reflected in the little octoroon. If her task was difficult, Pascherette seemed not in the least disturbed; rather in her sharp eyes lurked something of bravado at having escaped her mistress's anger so easily. And this expression perplexed Milo.

"Art sure of thyself, Pascherette?" asked the giant, ill at ease for his little companion.

"Why not?" she laughed, peering up at his troubled face impudently. "Thinkest thou Pascherette is a fool?"

"No, thou art not a fool," replied Milo slowly. He laid a heavy hand on her shoulder, turned her around to face the faint light remaining, and gazed hard into her bright eyes. "Thou art not a fool, little one. But Sancho--is it so simple to find him?"

"Big, childish Milo!" she cried with a laugh that had no joy in it. "Dost think I feared that verdict of Dolores? No. I fear her whip only. My flesh creeps even now at thought of my poor shoulders hadst thou not appeared in time. Sancho? Pah! I can find him easily enough."

"Then, child, was there nothing in thy traffic with him save what I heard from thy lips?"

Pascherette looked down, tapping the sand with her tiny foot, and her breast fluttered in agitation. Then she slipped her hand into his, looked up shyly yet ardently into his eyes, and replied swift and low: "Milo, my love for thee must be my defense. I did have traffic with Sancho, to the end that we--thee and me--might use him to our advantage. Wait!" she cried, when he would have spoken, "hear me. Canst not see Dolores's cunning intention? She goes from here, carrying her treasure; what will she do with thee, once safely away? Will she carry thee always with her, to be marked because of thy great stature? No, Milo, thy life will pay for her desertion of her people, and she will laugh at thy passing. And why should it be? Here, thou and I can rule these cattle as she never could. With Sancho's deserters, and Rufe's followers, I can give thee a band that will force the treasure from her greedy grasp, and make of her what she has made of thee and me--a slave!"

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