Martin Conisby (Chapter 7, page 1 of 5)


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Chapter 7

I found this Spanish gentleman very patient in his sickness and ever of a grave and chivalrous courtesy, insomuch that as our fellowship lengthened so grew my regard for him. He was, beside, a man of deep learning and excellent judgment and his conversation and conduct a growing delight to me.

And indeed to such poor wretch as I that had been forced by my bitter wrongs to company with all manner of rogues and fellows of the baser sort, this Don Federigo (and all unknowing) served but to show me how very far I had sunk from what I might have been. And knowing myself thus degenerate I grieved mightily therefore and determined henceforth to meet Fortune's buffets more as became my condition, with a steadfast and patient serenity, even as this gentleman of Spain.

It was at this time he recounted, in his courtly English, something of the woes he and his had suffered these many years at the hands of these roving adventurers, these buccaneers and pirates whose names were a terror all along the Main. He told of the horrid cruelties of Lollonois, of the bloody Montbars called the "Exterminator," of the cold, merciless ferocity of Black Bartlemy and of such lesser rouges as Morgan, Tressady, Belvedere and others of whom I had never heard.

"There was my son, young sir," said he in his calm, dispassionate voice, "scarce eighteen turned, and my daughter--both taken by this pirate Belvedere when he captured the Margarita carrack scarce three years since. My son they tortured to death because he was my son, and my daughter, my sweet Dolores--well, she is dead also, I pray the Mother of Mercies. Truly I have suffered very much, yet there be others, alas! I might tell you of our goodly towns burned or held to extortionate ransom, of our women ravished, our children butchered, our men tormented, our defenceless merchant ships destroyed and their crews with them, but my list is long, young sir, and would outlast your kind patience."

"And what o' vengeance?" I demanded, marvelling at the calm serenity of his look.

"Vengeance, young sir? Nay, surely, 'tis an empty thing. For may vengeance bring back the beloved dead? Can it rebuild our desolate towns, or cure any of a broken heart?"

"Yet you hang these same rogues?"

"Truly, SeƱor, as speedily as may be, as I would crush a snake. Yet who would seek vengeance on a worm?"

"Yet do I seek vengeance!" cried I, upstarting to my feet. "Vengeance for my wasted years, vengeance on him hath been the ruin of my house, on him that, forcing me to endure anguish of mind and shame of body, hath made of me the poor, outcast wretch I am. Ha--'tis vengeance I do live for!"

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