The Pirate Woman (Chapter 25, page 1 of 8)

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Chapter 25

Venner's order to heave the treasure-chests overboard was not given without a pang of regret. It was scarcely obeyed without threats; for the sailing master had been bitten by the treasure fever before his owner and guest came on board. Had they not appeared when they did, the schooner had gone without them, and Peters had already seen a golden vista ahead of him. He hesitated now, and Venner left the wheel vacant to urge him.

"Over with it, I say! At once! Here, Pearse, lend a hand here, man, before that witch's great eyes mesmerize us again. See, she smiles yet, and comes nearer."

Reluctantly the seamen raised one iron-bound chest to the rail and poised it there. From the water astern rang Dolores's throaty laugh, even and full breathing, as if she had not swam a fraction of the half-mile she had covered.

"Foolish Rupert!" she cried, never relaxing her stroke. "Why waste the fruits of thy pains? Hast looked inside then? Nay, take me on board, and let us look together. Thou wilt not see Dolores drown, I swear. Then look once more into my eyes, my Rupert!"

She laughed again mockingly, alluringly, and Pearse turned away with a shudder, not daring to cast a glance in the direction of Venner.

"Throw the stuff over, I say!" cried Venner hoarsely, and gave the chest a push that sent it into the rippling sea with a thunderous splash. And again that mocking laugh rang out astern; it was nearer, and Dolores's beautiful face was turned up to them with triumph in every feature. She had seen the struggle going on in her two intended victims; if she could but gain to within whispering distance of either of them, surely she would never let them escape her.

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