The mutinous dog could have caused uproar. The captain barely had control over his crew. Tensions lit up the air. You could breathe in the frizzle of enmity. The crew were a powder-keg .. about to blow.
All it would take .. a spark. Then this dumb marine leaps into attack. Recklessly brandishing his sword. If the others had followed his lead … a bloodbath.
“Take him down. To the brig. I’ll discipline the mutinous dog later.”
The captain’s voice was harsh and bitter. Mitchell felt the grip on the bunched hard-muscle of his upper arms tighten. His shipmates willing to obey orders.
“Might I remind you, captain …..?”
The pirate hadn’t moved. But his voice was full of menace. His eyes unwavering on Mitchell’s face. Eyes afire with his anger. The tip of his sword still pricking into the skin on Mitchell’s throat.
“This man is no longer your sailor …..”
The hold on Mitchell’s knotted muscle did not let up. But the sailors were not tugging him away either. Stopped by the authority in the pirate’s tone.
“This pig is my slave.”
Mitchell felt a shiver go down his back. He knew the facts .. what the Barbary pirates did with men they took prisoner. But since the heat of the fight that thought hadn’t seeped in. Now it chilled.
“They are ALL my slaves.”
Now Mitchell felt the cold shiver in the hands gripping his biceps. A ship-ful of sailors .. even the ones who had obeyed the captain’s command and seized him .. all of them had been surrendered to the Barbary pirate by their own captain .. condemned to be sold into slavery. Reality kicked them in the gut.
Mitchell felt his anger rise. Not at this pirate. Still held by his sword nicking at Mitchell’s throat. Mitchell was furious with their cowardly captain. He had given up the fight so easily. It had been that anger that had had Mitchell leaping at the pirate brandishing his sword. Pure impulse .. reckless, perhaps. Mitchell had shot forward, drawn his weapon and gone for the corsair. No thought for anything but frustrated rage. Anger at his captain for giving in before they were beaten.
Even imprisoned at the end of the corsair’s sword, the tip nicking his skin, Mitchell seethed. The crew was being sold down the river .. short-changed by their own captain. Sold down the river, sold into slavery. Condemned to degradation, loss of freedom. Even awaiting death by this sword at his neck, Mitchell was furious at their damned captain. They, free Americans, were condemned to slavery. By contrast to his loyal crew .. their precious captain would reside in relative comfort until someone rich paid his ransom.
“And THIS one ……”
The pirate still had Mitchell trapped in his cruel glare. Looking down his sword, the tip pressed to his attacker’s throat. Slowly he slid the sharp point up Mitchell’s throat. Evil creased his pirate mouth as Mitchell was forced to lift his chin. Exposing his throat for the fatal thrust.
“THIS face ……”
He flicked the sword upwards. The tip lightly cut the skin. A trickle of blood seeped down.
“This is a face I will not forget.”