The Fortunes of Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini

The Fortunes of Captain Blood


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subjects: Action & Adventure

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A magnificent romantic saga in which the dauntless Captain Blood leads his men in daring treachery, foils the insidious Lady Court, and rescues the beautiful Doña Isabel from a deadly honeymoon. The swashbuckling tale of pirate-turned-naval commander develops as Blood boards the ship of his attackers in an attempt to commandeer the ship and enlist it in the services of the Royal Navy.

257 pages, with a reading time of ~4.0 hours (64,471 words), and first published in 1936. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, .

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  • This is the greatest pirate book I've ever read. I have to laugh at intervals at Bloods trickery.


She was a beautiful ship, in the frigate class, fashioned, not merely in her lines, but in her details, with an extreme of that loving care that Spanish builders not infrequently bestowed. She had been named, as if to blend piety with loyalty, the San Felipe, and she had been equipped with a fastidiousness to match the beauty of her lines.

The great cabin, flooded with sunlight from the tall stern windows of horn, which now stood open above the creaming wake, had been made luxurious by richly carved furnishings, by hangings of green damask and by the gilded scrollwork of the bulkheads. Here Peter Blood, her present owner, bending over the Spaniard who reclined on a day bed by the stern locker, was reverting for the moment to his original trade of surgery. His hands, as strong as they were shapely, and by deftness rendered as delicate of touch as a woman’s, had renewed the dressing of the Spaniard’s thigh, where the fractured bone had pierced the flesh. He made now a final adjustment of the strappings that held the splint in place, stood up, and by a nod dismissed the negro steward who had been his acolyte.

‘It is very well, Don Ilario.’ He spoke quietly in a Spanish that was fluent and even graceful. ‘I can now give you my word that you will walk on your two legs again.’

A wan smile dispelled some of the shadows from the hollows which suffering had dug in the patient’s patrician countenance. ‘For that,’ he said, ‘the thanks to God and you. A miracle.’

‘No miracle at all. Just surgery.’

‘Ah! But the surgeon, then? That is the miracle. Will men believe me when I say I was made whole again by Captain Blood?’

The Captain, tall and lithe, was in the act of rolling down the sleeves of his fine cambric shirt. Eyes startlingly blue under black eyebrows, in a hawk-face tanned to the colour of mahogany, gravely considered the Spaniard.

‘Once a surgeon, always a surgeon,’ he said, as if by way of explanation. ‘And I was a surgeon once, as you may have heard.’

‘As I have discovered for myself, to my profit. But by what queer alchemy of Fate does a surgeon become a buccaneer?’

Captain Blood smiled reflectively. ‘My troubles came upon me from considering only–as in your case–a surgeon’s duty; from beholding in a wounded man a patient, without concern for how he came by his wounds. He was a poor rebel who had been out with the Duke of Monmouth. Who comforts a rebel is himself a rebel. So runs the law among Christian men. I was taken red-handed in the abominable act of dressing his wounds, and for that I was sentenced to death. The penalty was commuted, not from mercy. Slaves were needed in the plantations. With a shipload of other wretches, I was carried overseas to be sold in Barbados. I escaped, and I think I must have died at somewhere about the time that Captain Blood came to life. But the ghost of the surgeon still walks in the body of the buccaneer, as you have found, Don Ilario.’

‘To my great profit and deep gratitude. And the ghost still practises the dangerous charity that slew the surgeon?’

‘Ah!’ The vivid eyes flashed him a searching look, observed the flush on the Spaniard’s pallid cheekbones, the queer expression of his glance.

‘You are not afraid that history may repeat itself?’

‘I do not care to be afraid of anything,’ said Captain Blood, and he reached for his coat. He settled to his shoulders the black satin garment rich with silver lace, adjusted before a mirror the costly Mechlin at his throat, shook out the curls of his black periwig, and stood forth, an elegant incarnation of virility, more proper to the ante-chambers of the Escurial than to the quarter- deck of a buccaneer ship.

‘You must rest now and endeavour to sleep until eight bells is made. You show no sign of fever. But tranquillity is still my prescription for you. At eight bells I will return.’

The patient, however, showed no disposition to be tranquil.

‘Don Pedro… Before you go… Wait. This situation puts me to shame. I cannot lie so under this great obligation to you. I sail under false colours.’

Blood’s shaven lips had an ironic twist. ‘I have, myself, found it convenient at times.’

‘Ah, but how different! My honour revolts.’ Abruptly, his dark eyes steadily meeting the Captain’s, he continued: ‘You know me only as one of four shipwrecked Spaniards you rescued from that rock of the St Vincent Keys and have generously undertaken to land at San Domingo. Honour insists that you should know more.’

Blood seemed mildly amused. ‘I doubt if you could add much to my knowledge. You are Don Ilario de Saavedra, the King of Spain’s new Governor of Hispaniola. Before the gale that wrecked you, your ship formed part of the squadron of the Marquis of Riconete, who is to co-operate with you in the Caribbean in the extermination of that endemonized pirate and buccaneer, that enemy of God and Spain, whose name is Peter Blood.’