The Demonstration (Review)

The Demonstration (Review)

his shortie comes from The Fortunes of Captain Blood, one of the collections of short stores that 1930’s megastar Rafael Sabatini wrote about his break out character, Captain Blood, a pirate in the golden age of piracy. In this short tale, Monsieur de Saintonges, on a sort of inspection tour of the French possessions in the Caribbean for his masters in Paris, has been successful in that he has married a very rich woman who owns most of Martinique. In completing his circuit and before heading home to enjoy his wife’s fortunes in his homeland, he calls upon Tortuga, a port technically French but essentially the main base for pirate operations in this end of the world. Of course, being a prissy little rules-follower, he demands that the Governor kick the pirates out. And the Governor, being pragmatic, points out that these pirates are the only thing keeping the Spanish at bay from running all over, pillaging every settlement that isn’t Spanish. But his protests fall on deaf ears (and provoke sneering lips to hurtle back insults that nearly provoke a duel). But de Saintonges makes his demands and leaves, looking for one more stop and then home. And right after he leaves, Captain Blood sails into port with a number of Spanish prizes and a heap of treasure.

Upon hearing that this officious Parisian meddler his willing to blindly upset this weird apple cart of state and private enterprise, he makes his own plans as to how to “convince”  Monsieur de Saintonges of his error. And only a direct argument will do.

Captain Blood, always courtly and urbane, charming with his Irish wit and ability to drag victory from the jaws of defeat, is clearly the buccaneer for the job. The Demonstration is filled with tension and sea-battles and clever turns of plot. Oh, I won’t lie to you – you can rather see the plan for what it is. But the important thing is that Monsieur de Saintonges doesn’t and a letter is quickly dispatched to the Governor of Tortuga, rescinding his prior command. Of course Blood would win. He always does.

A fantastic shorty from the father of the pirate story, Rafael Sabatini. If you haven’t read Captain Blood, you should start there. And if you really enjoy it, you’ll find a couple of collections of short stories (like this one) to wet your bosun’s whistle.