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Title: Prisoners of Hope - A Tale of Colonial Virginia
Author: Johnston, Mary, 1870-1936
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Prisoners of Hope - A Tale of Colonial Virginia" ***

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[Illustration: "WHY ARE YOU SO EAGER?" (Page 2)]

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PRISONERS OF HOPE

A Tale of Colonial Virginia

BY

MARY JOHNSTON

AUTHOR OF "TO HAVE AND TO HOLD," "AUDREY," ETC.

NEW YORK

GROSSET & DUNLAP

PUBLISHERS

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COPYRIGHT, 1898, BY MARY JOHNSTON

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY NINTH THOUSAND

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TO MY FATHER

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CONTENTS

CHAPTER                                      PAGE

     I. A SLOOP COMES IN                        1
    II. ITS CARGO                              15
   III. A COLONIAL DINNER PARTY                27
    IV. THE BREAKING HEART                     40
     V. IN THE THREE-MILE FIELD                50
    VI. THE HUT ON THE MARSH                   60
   VII. A MENDER OF NETS                       71
  VIII. THE NEW SECRETARY                      86
    IX. AN INTERRUPTED WOOING                  91
     X. LANDLESS PAYS THE PIPER               100
    XI. LANDLESS BECOMES A CONSPIRATOR        108
   XII. A DARK DEED                           117
  XIII. IN THE TOBACCO HOUSE                  129
   XIV. A MIDNIGHT EXPEDITION                 137
    XV. THE WATERS OF CHESAPEAKE              150
   XVI. THE FACE IN THE DARK                  162
  XVII. LANDLESS AND PATRICIA                 173
 XVIII. A CAPTURE                             185
   XIX. THE LIBRARY OF THE SURVEYOR-GENERAL   193
    XX. WHEREIN THE PEACE PIPE IS SMOKED      205
   XXI. THE DUEL                              219
  XXII. THE TOBACCO HOUSE AGAIN               226
 XXIII. THE QUESTION                          239
  XXIV. A MESSAGE                             247
   XXV. THE ROAD TO PARADISE                  252
  XXVI. NIGHT                                 267
 XXVII. MORNING                               273
XXVIII. BREAD CAST UPON THE WATERS            282
  XXIX. THE BRIDGE OF ROCK                    295
   XXX. THE BACKWARD TRACK                    306
  XXXI. THE HUT IN THE CLEARING               315
 XXXII. ATTACK                                326
XXXIII. THE FALL OF THE LEAF                  335
 XXXIV. AN ACCIDENT                           343
  XXXV. THE BOAT THAT WAS NOT                 349
 XXXVI. THE LAST FIGHT                        357
XXXVII. VALE                                  369

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PRISONERS OF HOPE

CHAPTER I

A SLOOP COMES IN


"She will reach the wharf in half an hour."

The speaker shaded her eyes with a great fan of carved ivory and painted
silk. They were beautiful eyes; large, brown, perfect in shape and
expression, and set in a lovely, imperious, laughing face. The divinity
to whom they belonged was clad in a gown of green dimity, flowered with
pink roses, and trimmed about the neck and half sleeves with a fall of
yellow lace. The gown was made according to the latest Paris mode, as
described in a year-old letter from the court of Charles the Second, and
its wearer gazed from under her fan towards the waters of the great bay
of Chesapeake, in his Majesty's most loyal and well beloved dominion of
Virginia.

The object of her attention was a large sloop that had left the bay and
was sailing up a wide inlet or creek that pierced the land, cork-screw
fashion, until it vanished from sight amidst innumerable green marshes.
The channel, indicated by a deeper blue in the midst of an expanse of
shoal water, was narrow, and wound like a gleaming snake in and out
among the interminable succession of marsh islets. The vessel, following
its curves, tacked continually, its great sail intensely white against
the blue of inlet, bay and sky, and the shadeless green of the marshes,
zigzagging from side to side with provoking leisureliness. The girl who
had spoken watched it eagerly, a color in her cheeks, and one little
foot in its square-toed, rosetted shoe tapping impatiently upon the
floor of the wide porch in which she stood.

Her companion, lounging upon the wooden steps, with his back to a
pillar, looked up with an amused light in his blue eyes.

"Why are you so eager, cousin?" he drawled. "You cannot be pining for
your father when 'tis scarce five days since he went to Jamestown. Do
the Virginia ladies watch for the arrival of a new batch of slaves with
such impatience?"

"The slaves! No, indeed! But, sir, in that boat there are three cases
from England."

"Ah, that accounts for it! And what may these wonderful cases contain?"

"One contains the dress in which I shall dance with you at the party at
Green Spring which the governor is to give in your honor--if you ask me,
sir. Oh, I take it for granted that you will, so spare us your
protestations. 'Tis to have a petticoat of blue tabby and an overdress
of white satin trimmed with yards and yards of Venice point. The
stockings are blue silk, and come from the French house in Covent
Garden, as doth the scarf of striped gauze and the shoes, gallooned with
silver. Then there are my combs, gloves, a laced waistcoat, a red satin
bodice, a scarlet taffetas mantle, a plumed hat, a pair of clasped
garters, a riding mask, a string of pearls, and the latest romances."

"A pretty list! Is that all?"

"There are things for aunt Lettice, petticoats and ribbons, a gilt
stomacher and a China monster, and for my father, lace ruffles and
bands, a pair of French laced boots, a periwig, a new scabbard for his
rapier, and so on."

The young man laughed. "'Tis a curious life you Virginians lead," he
said. "The embroidered suits and ruffles, the cosmetics and perfumes of
Whitehall in the midst of oyster beds and tobacco fields, savage Indians
and negro slaves."

The girl put on a charming look of mock offense. "We _are_ a little bit
of England set down here in the wilderness. Why should we not clothe
ourselves like gentlefolk as well as our kindred and friends at home?
And sure both England and Virginia have had enough of sad colored
raiment. Better go like a peacock than like a horrid Roundhead."

Her companion laughed musically and sang a stave of a cavalier love
song. He was a slender, well-made man, dressed in the extreme of the
mode of the year of grace sixteen hundred and sixty-three, in a richly
laced suit of camlet with points of blue ribbon, and the great scented
periwig then newly come into fashion. The close curled rings of hair
descending far over his cravat of finest Holland framed a handsome,
lazily insolent face, with large steel-blue eyes and beautifully cut,
mocking lips. A rapier with a jeweled hilt hung at his side, and one
white hand, half buried in snowy ruffles, held a beribboned cane with
which, as he talked, he ruthlessly decapitated the pink and white
morning-glories with which the porch was trellised.

The house to which the porch belonged was long and low, built of wood,
with many small windows, and at either end a great brick chimney. From
the porch to the water, a hundred yards away, stretched a walk of
crushed shells bisecting an expanse of green turf dotted with noble
trees--the cedar and the cypress predominating. Diverging from this
central walk were two narrower paths which, winding in and out in
eccentric figures, led, on the one hand, to a rustic summer-house
overgrown with honeysuckle and trumpet-vine, and on the other to a tiny
grotto constructed of shells and set in a tangle of periwinkle. Along
one side of the house, and protected by a stout locust paling overrun
with grape-vines, lay the garden, where flowers and vegetables
flourished contentedly side by side, the hollyhocks and tall white
lilies, the hundred-leaved roses and scarlet poppies showing like gilded
officers amidst the rank and file of sober esculents. Behind the house
were clustered various offices, then came an orchard where the June
apples and the great red cherries were ripening in the hot sunshine,
then on the shore of a second and narrower creek rose the quarters for
the plantation servants, white and black--a long double row of cabins,
dominated by the overseer's house and shaded by ragged yellow pines.
Along one shore of this inlet was planted the Indian corn prescribed by
law, and from the other gleamed the soft yellow of ripening wheat, but
beyond the water and away to the westward stretched acre after acre of
tobacco, a sea of vivid green, broken only by an occasional shed or
drying house, and merging at last into the darker hue of the forest.
Over all the fair scene, the flashing water, the velvet marshes, the
smiling fields, the fringe of dark and mysterious woodland, hung a
Virginia heaven, a cloudless blue, soft, pure, intense. The air was
full of subdued sound--the distant hum of voices from the fields of
maize and tobacco, the faint clink of iron from the smithy, the wash and
lap of the water, the drone of bees from the hives beneath the eaves of
the house. Great bronze butterflies fluttered in the sunshine, brilliant
humming-birds plunged deep into the long trumpet-flowers; from the
topmost bough of a locust, heavy with bloom, came the liquid trill of a
mock-bird.

It was a fair domain, and a wealthy. The Englishman thought of certain
appalling sums lost to Sedley and Roscommon, and there flitted through
his brain a swift little calculation as to the number of hogsheads of
Orenoko or sweet-scented it would take to wipe off the score. And the
girl beside him was beautiful enough to take Whitehall by storm, to be
berhymed by Waller, and to give to Lely a subject above all flattery. He
set his lips with the air of a man who has made up his mind, and turned
to his companion, who was absorbed in watching the white sail grow
slowly larger.

"How long, now, cousin?"

"But a few minutes unless the wind should fail."

"And then you will have your treasures. But, madam, when you have
assumed all the panoply your sex relies on to increase its charms 'twill
be but to 'gild refined gold or paint the lily.' The Aphrodite of this
western ocean needs no adornment."

The girl looked at him with laughter in her eyes. "You make me too many
pretty speeches, cousin," she said demurely. "We know the value of the
fine things you court gallants are perpetually saying."

"Upon my soul, madam, I swear--"

"Do you know the amount of the fine for swearing, Sir Charles? See how
large the sail has grown! When the boat rounds the long marsh she will
come more quickly. We will soon be able to see my father wave his
handkerchief."

The young man bit his lip. "You are pleased to be cruel to-day, madam,
but I am your slave and I obey. We will look together for Colonel
Verney's handkerchief. How many black slaves does he bring you?"

She laughed. "But half a dozen blacks, but there will be several
redemptioners if you prefer to be numbered with them."

"Redemptioners! Ah, yes! the English servants who are sold for their
passage money. I thank you, madam, but _my_ servitude is for life."

"The men my father will bring may not be the ordinary servants who come
here to better their condition. He may have obtained them from a batch
of felons from Newgate who have been kept in gaol in Jamestown until
word could be got to the planters around. I am sure I wish the ship
captains and the traders would stop bringing in the wretches. It is
different with the negroes: we can make allowance for the poor silly
things that are scarce more than animals, and they grow attached to us
and we to them, and the simple indented servants are well enough too.
There are among them many honest and intelligent men. But these gaol
birds are dreadful. It sickens me to look at them. Thieves and murderers
every one!"

"I should not think the colony served by their importation."

"It is not indeed, and we have hopes that it will cease. I beg my father
not to buy them, but he says that one man cannot stop an abuse--that as
long as his fellow-planters use them he might as well do so too."

Sir Charles Carew delicately smothered a yawn. "The ship that brought me
over a fortnight ago," he said lazily, "had a consignment of such
rascals. It was amusing to watch their antics, crowded together as they
were in the hold. There were two wild Irishmen whom we used to have on
deck to dance for us. Gad! what figures they cut! The captain and I had
a standing wager of five of the new guineas as to which of the rascals
could hold out longest, promising a measure of rum to the victorious
votary of Terpsichore. When I had lost a score of guineas I found that
the captain was in the habit of priming his man before he came upon
deck. Naturally, being filled with Dutch courage, he won."

"Poor Sir Charles! What did you do?"

"Sent the captain a cartel and fought him on his own deck. There was one
man in the villainous company whom, I protest, I almost pitied, though
of course the rogue had but his deserts."

"What was he?"

"A man of about thirty. A fellow with a handsome face and a lithe
well-made figure which he managed with some grace. He had the air of one
who had seen better days. I remember, one day when the captain was
bestowing upon him some especially choice oaths, seeing him clap his
hand to his side as though he expected to touch a rapier hilt. He was
cleanly too; kept his rags of clothing as decent as circumstances
allowed, and looked less like a wild beast in a litter of foul straw
than did his fellows. But he was an ill-conditioned dog. We had some
passages together, he and I. He took it upon himself to defend what he
was pleased to call the honor of one of his precious company. It was
vastly amusing.... After that I fell into the habit of watching him
through the open hatches. A little thing provides entertainment at sea,
Mistress Patricia. He would sit or stand for hours looking past me with
a perfectly still face. The other wretches were quick to crowd up,
whining to me to pitch them half pence or tobacco, but try as I would, I
could not get word or look from him. Sink me! if he didn't have the
impudence to resent my being there!"

"It was cruel to stare at misery."

"Lard, madam! such vermin are used to being stared at. In London,
Newgate and Bridewell are theatres as well as the Cockpit or the King's
House, and the world of _mode_ flock to the one spectacle as often as to
the other. But see! the sloop has passed the marsh and has a clean sweep
of water between her and the wharf."

"Yes, she is coming fast now."

"What is coming?" asked a voice from the doorway.

"The Flying Patty, Aunt Lettice," the girl answered over her shoulder.
"Get your hood and come with us to the wharf."

Mistress Lettice Verney emerged from the hall, two red spots burning in
her withered cheeks, and her tall thin figure quivering with excitement.

"I am all ready, child," she quavered. "But, mark my words, Patricia,
there will be something wrong with my paduasoy petticoat, or Charette
will not have sent the proper tale of green stockings or Holland smocks.
Did you not hear the screech owl last night?"

"No, Aunt Lettice."

"It remained beneath my window the entire night. I did not sleep a wink.
And this morning Chloe upset the salt cellar, and the salt fell towards
me." Mistress Lettice rolled her eyes heavenward and sighed
lugubriously. Patricia laughed.

"I dreamed of flowers last night, Aunt Lettice; miles and miles of them,
waxen and cold and sweet, like those they strew over the dead."

Mistress Lettice groaned. "'Tis a dreadful sign. Captain Norton's wife
(she that was Polly Wilson) dreamed of flowers the night before the
massacre of 'forty-four. The only thing the poor soul said when the
war-whoop wakened them in the dead of the night and the door came
crashing in, was, 'I told you so.' They were her last words. Then Martha
Westall dreamed of flowers, and two days later her son James stepped on
a stingray over at Dale's Gift. And I myself dreamed of roses the week
before those horrid Roundhead commissioners with the rebel Claiborne at
their head and a whole fleet at their back, compelled us to surrender to
their odious Commonwealth."

"At least that evil is past," said the girl with a gay laugh. "And ill
fortune will never come to me aboard the Flying Patty, so I shall go
down to the wharf to see her in. Darkeih! my scarf!"

A negress appeared in the doorway with a veil of tissue in her hand. Sir
Charles took it from her and flung it over Patricia's golden head, then
offered his arm to Mistress Lettice.

The wharf was but a stone's throw from the wooden gates, and they were
soon treading the long stretch of gray, weather-beaten boards. Others
were before them, for the news that the sloop was coming in had drawn a
small crowd to the wharf to welcome the master.

The dozen or so of boatmen, white and black, who had been tinkering
about in the various barges, shallops and canoes tied to the mossy
piles, left their employments and scrambled up upon the platform, and a
trio of youthful darkies, fishing for crabs with a string and a piece of
salt pork, allowed their lines to fall slack and their intended victims
to walk coolly off with the meat, so intense was their interest in the
oncoming sail. A knot of negro women had left the great house kitchen
and stood, hands on hips, chatting volubly with a contingent from the
quarters, their red and yellow turbans nodding up and down like
grotesque Dutch tulips. The company was made up by an overseer with a
broadleafed palmetto hat pulled down over his eyes and a clay pipe stuck
between his teeth, a pale young man who acted as secretary to the master
of the plantation, and by three or four small land-owners and tenants
for whom Colonel Verney had graciously undertaken various commissions in
Jamestown, and who were on hand to make their acknowledgments to the
great man.

They all made deferential way for the two ladies and Sir Charles Carew.
Mistress Lettice commenced a condescending conversation with one of the
tenants, Darkeih added a white tulip to the red and yellow ones, and
Patricia, followed by Sir Charles, walked to the edge of the wharf, and
leaning upon the rude railing looked down the glassy reaches of the
water to the approaching boat.

The wind had sunk into a fitful breeze and the white sail moved very
slowly. The tide was in, and the water lapped with a cooling sound
against the dark green piles. In the distance the blue of the bay
melted into the blue of the sky, while the nearer waters mirrored every
passing gull, the masts of the fishing boats, the tall marsh grass, the
dead twigs marking oyster beds--each object had its double. On a point
of marshy ground stood a line of cranes, motionless as soldiers on
parade, until, taking fright as the great sail glided past, they whirred
off, uttering discordant cries and with their legs sticking out like
tail feathers. Slowly, and keeping to the middle of the channel, the
boat came on. Upon the long low deck men were preparing to lower the
sail, and a portly gentleman standing in the bow was vigorously waving
his handkerchief. The sail came down with a rush, the anchor swung
overboard, and half a dozen canoes and dugouts shot from under the
shadow of the wharf and across the strip of water between it and the
sloop. The gentleman with the handkerchief, followed by a man plainly
dressed in brown, sprang into the foremost; the others waited for their
lading of merchandise.

Before the boat had touched the steps the master of the plantation began
to call out greetings to his expectant family.

"Patricia, my darling, are you in health? Charles, I am happy to see you
again! Sister Lettice, Mr. Frederick Jones sends you his humble
services."

"La, brother! and how is the dear man?" screamed Mistress Lettice.

"As well as 'tis in nature to be, with his heart at Verney Manor and his
body at Flowerdieu Hundred."

The boat jarred against the piles and the planter stepped out, grasping
Sir Charles's extended hand.

"Again, I am happy to see you, Charles," he cried in a round and jovial
voice. "I have been telling my up-river good friends that I have the
most topping fellow in all London for my guest, and you will have
company enough anon."

Sir Charles smiled and bowed. "I hope, sir, that you were successful in
the business that took you to Jamestown?"

"Fairly so, fairly so. Haines here," with a wave of the hand towards the
man in brown, "had a lot picked out for me to choose from. I have six
negroes and three of those blackguards from Newgate--mighty poor policy
to shoulder ourselves with such gaol sweepings. I doubt we'll repent it
some day. The blacks come by way of Boston, which means that they will
have to be cockered up considerably before they are fit for work. Is
that you, Woodson? How have things gone on?"

The overseer took his pipe from between his teeth and made an awkward
bow.

"Glad to see your Honor back," he said deferentially. "Everything's all
right, sir. The last rain helped the corn amazingly, and the tobacco's
prime. The lightning struck a shed, but we got the flames out before
they reached the hogsheads. The Nancy got caught in a squall; lost both
masts and ran aground on Gull Marsh. The tide will take her off at the
full of the moon. Sambo 's been playing 'possum again. Said he'd cut his
foot with his hoe so badly that he couldn't stand upon it. Said I could
see that by the blood on the rag that tied it up. I made him take off
the rag and wash the foot, and there wa'n't no cut there. The blood was
puccoon. If he'd waited a bit he could 'a' had all he wanted to paint
with, for I gave him the rope's end, lively, until Mistress Patricia
heard him yelling and made me stop."

"All right, Woodson. I reckon the plantation knows by this time that
what Mistress Patricia says is law. Here come the boats with the boxes.
Tell the men to be careful how they handle them."

After a hearty word or two to tenants and land owners the worthy Colonel
joined his daughter and sister; and together with Sir Charles Carew they
watched the precious boxes conveyed up the slippery steps, the overseer
shouting directions, plentifully sprinkled with selected, unfinable
oaths to the panting boatmen. When all were safely piled upon the wharf
ready to be wheeled to the great house, the empty boats swung off to
make room for others, laden with the colonel's Jamestown purchases.

One by one the articles climbed the stairs, each as it reached the level
being claimed by the overseer and told off into a lengthening line. Six
were negroes, gaunt and hollow-eyed, but smiling widely. They gazed
around them, at the heap of clams and oysters piled upon the wharf, at
the marshes, alive with wild fowl, at the distant green of waving corn,
the flower-embowered great house, the white quarters from which arose
many little spirals of savory smoke, and a bland and childlike content
took possession of their souls. With eager and obsequious "Yes, Mas'rs"
they obeyed the overseer's objurgatory indications as to their
disposition.

There next arose above the landing the head of a white man--a
countenance of sullen ferocity, with a great scar running across it, and
framed in elf locks of staring red. The body belonging to this
prepossessing face was swollen and unshapely, and its owner moved with
a limp and a muttered curse towards the place assigned him. He was
followed by a sallow-faced, long-nosed man, with black oily hair and an
affected smirk which twitched the corners of his thin lips. Singling out
his master's family with a furtive glance from a pair of sinister
greenish eyes, he made a low bow and stepped jauntily into line.

The third man rose above the landing. Sir Charles, standing by Patricia,
laughed.

"This world is a place of fantastic meetings, cousin," he said, airily.
"Now who would suppose that I would ever again see that chipping from a
London gaol I told you of--my shipmate of cleanly habit and unsocial
nature. Yet there he is."



CHAPTER II

ITS CARGO


The afternoon sunshine lay hot upon the house and garden of Verney
Manor--the leaves drooped motionless, the glare of the white paths hurt
the eye, the flowers seemed all to be red. The odor of rose and
honeysuckle was drowned in the heavy cloying sweetness of the pendant
masses of locust bloom. Down in the garden the bees droned in the vines,
and on the steps the flies buzzed undisturbed about the sleeping hounds.
Above the long, deserted wharf and the green velvet of the marshes
quivered the heated air, while to look upon the water was like gazing
too closely at blue flame. From the tobacco fields floated the notes of
a monotonous many-versed chant, and a soft, uninterrupted cooing came
from the dove cot. Heat and fragrance and drowsy sound combined to give
a pleasant somnolence to the wide sunny scene.

Deep in the cavernous shade of the porch lounged the master of the
plantation, his body in one chair, his legs in another, and a silver
tankard of sack standing upon a third, over the back of which had been
flung his great peruke and his riding coat of green cloth, discarded
because of the heat. Thin, blue clouds curled up from his long pipe, and
obscured his ruddy countenance.

His shrewd gray eyes under their tufts of grizzled hair were half
closed in a lazy contentment, born of the hour, the pipe, and the drink.
The world went very well just then in Colonel Verney's estimation. His
crop of the preceding year had been a large and profitable one; this
year it bid fair to be still more satisfactory. During the past few
months he had acquired a number of servants and slaves, and his head
rights would add a goodly number of acres to his already enormous
holdings; land, land, always more land! being the ambition and the
necessity of the seventeenth century Virginia planter. Trader, planter,
magistrate, member of the council of state, soldier, author on occasion,
and fine gentleman all rolled into one, after the fashion of the times;
Cavalier of the Cavaliers, hand in glove with Governor Berkeley, and
possessed of a beautiful daughter, for whose favor one half of the young
gentlemen of the counties of York and Gloucester were ready to draw
rapier on the other half,--Colonel Verney's world was a fair and
stirring one, and gave him plentiful food for meditation on a fine
afternoon.

Opposite him sat his kinsman and guest, Sir Charles Carew. He was
similarly equipped with pipe and sack, but there the resemblance to his
host ended, Sir Charles Carew being a man who made it a point of honor
to be clad like the lilies of the field on every possible occasion in
life, from the carrying a breach to the ogling a milkmaid. The sultry
afternoon had no power to affect the scrupulous elegance of his attire,
or to alter the careful repose of his manner. In his hand he held a
volume of "Hudibras," but his thoughts were not upon the book, wandering
instead, with those of his kinsman, over the fertile fields of Verney
Manor.

"You have a princely estate, sir, in this fair, new world," he said at
last, in a sweetly languid voice.

The planter roused himself from considering at what point of his newly
acquired land he should begin the attack upon the forest. "It's a fair
enough home for a man to end his days in," he said with complacence.

"We of the court have very erroneous ideas as to Virginia. I confess
that my expectation of finding a courteous and loving kinsman," a
gracious smile and inclination of the head towards the older man, "is
the only one in which I have not been disappointed. I thought to see a
rude wilderness, and I find, to borrow the language of our Roundhead
friends, a very land of Beulah."

"Ay, ay. D' ye remember what old Drayton sings?

                        'Virginia!
                        Earth's only paradise!'

And a paradise it is, with mighty few drawbacks, now that the King has
come to his own again, if you except these d--d canting Quakers and
Anabaptists, and those yelling red devils on the frontier, and the
danger of a servant insurrection, and the fact that his Majesty (God
bless him!) and the Privy Council fleece us more mercilessly than did
old Noll himself. I verily think they believe our tobacco plants made of
gold like those they say Pizarro saw in Peru. But 'tis a sweet land!
Why, look around you!" he cried, warming to his subject. "The waters
swarm with fish, the marshes with wild fowl. In the winter the air rings
with the _cohonk!_ _cohonk!_ of the wild geese. They darken the air when
they come and go. There in the forest stand the deer, waiting for your
bullet; badgers and foxes, bears, wolves, and catamounts are more
plentiful than are hares in England. You taste pleasure indeed when you
ride full tilt through the frosty moonlight, down the ringing glades of
the forest, and hear the hounds in full cry, and see before you, black
against the silver snow, a pack of yelling wolves. Then in summer the
woods are full of singing birds and of such flowers as you in England
only dream of. Strawberries make the ground red, and there are wild
melons and grapes and mulberries, and more nuts than squirrels, which is
saying much for the nuts. Everything grows here. 'Tis the garden of the
world. And what is there fairer than the green of the tobacco and the
golden corn tassels? And the noble rivers, whose head waters no man has
ever found, hidden by the Lord in the Blue Mountains near to the South
Sea! Sir, Virginia is God's country!"

"You in these lowlands have no trouble with the Indians?"

"None to speak of since 'forty-four, when Opechancanough came down upon
us. The brush with the Ricahecrians seven years ago was nothing. They
are utterly broken, both here and in Accomac. Further up the rivers the
devil still holds his own, we hearing doleful tales of the butchery of
pioneers with their wives and children; and above the falls of the far
west, in the Monacan country, and towards the Blue Mountains, is his
stronghold and capitol; but here in the lowlands all's safe enough.
There is no fear of the savages. Would we could say as much of the
servants!"

"Why, what do you fear from them?"

"It's hard to say; but an uneasy feeling has prevailed for a year or
more. It's this d--d Oliverian element among them. You see, ever since
his Majesty's blessed restoration, gang after gang of rebels have been
sent us--Independents, Muggletonians, Fifth Monarchy men, dour Scotch
Whigamores--dangerous fanatics all! Many are Naseby or Worcester rogues,
Ironsides who worship the memory of that devil's lieutenant, Oliver. All
have the gift of the gab. We disperse them as much as possible, not
allowing above five or six to any one plantation, we of the Council
realizing that they form a dangerous leaven. Should there be trouble,
which heaven forbid! they would be the instigators, restless
mischief-makers and overturners of the established order of things that
they are! Then there are their fellow criminals, the highwaymen,
forgers, cutpurses and bullies of whom we relieve his Majesty's
government. They are few in number, but each is a very plague spot,
infecting honester men. The slaves, always excepting the Portuguese and
Spanish mulattoes from the Indies, who are devils incarnate, have not
brain enough to conspire. But in the actual event of a rising they would
be fiends unchained."

"A pleasant state of affairs!"

"Oh, it is not so serious! We who govern the Colony have to take all
possibilities, however unpleasant, into consideration. I myself do not
think the danger imminent, and many in the Council and among the
Burgesses, and well-nigh all outside will not allow that there is danger
at all. We passed more stringent servant laws last year, and we depend
upon them, and upon the great body of indented servants, who are, for
the most part, honest and amenable and know upon which side their bread
is buttered, to repress the unruly element."

"What will you do with the convicts you brought with you this morning?"

"Use them in the tobacco fields just now when all hands are needed to
weed and sucker the plants, and afterwards put them to hewing down the
forest. I told Woodson to bring them around to me this afternoon when
they had been decently clothed. I always give the scoundrels a piece of
my mind to begin with. It saves trouble."

"Do they give you much trouble?"

"Not on this plantation. Woodson and Haines are excellent overseers."

The planter refilled his pipe, struck a light with his flint and steel,
and leaning back amidst the fragrant clouds, allowed his eyelids to
droop and his mind to wander over a pleasant sunshiny tract of nothing
in particular.

Sir Charles tasted his sack, adjusted his ruffles, and resumed his
reading. But even the delectable adventures of the Presbyterian knight,
over whom all London was laughing, palled on such an afternoon, and the
young gentleman, after listlessly turning a page or two, laid the book
across his knee, and with closed eyes commenced the construction of an
air castle of his own.

He was roused by the sound of approaching footsteps upon the shell path
leading to the back of the house, and by the harsh voice of the
overseer.

"Here come your hopeful purchases, sir," he said lazily.

The overseer turned the corner of the house and came forward with the
three convicts at his heels. He doffed his hat to the two gentlemen,
then turned to his charges. "Fall into line, you dogs, and salute his
Honor!"

The first man, he of the long nose and the twitching lip, smiled
sweetly, and bent so low that his fell of greasy hair well-nigh swept
the steps; the second, with a brow like a thunder cloud, gave a vicious
nod; the third, with as impassive a countenance as Sir Charles's own,
bowed gravely, and stood with folded arms and a quietly attentive mien.

The planter gathered himself up from his chair and came forward to the
top of the steps, his tall, corpulent figure towering above the men
below much as his fortunes towered above theirs.

"Now, men," he said, speaking sternly and with slow emphasis. "I have
just one word to say to you. Listen well to it. I am your master; you
are my servants. I reckon myself a good master, it not being my way to
treat those belonging to me, whether white or black, like dumb beasts.
Give me obedience and the faithful work of your hands, and you shall
find me kind. But if you are stubborn or rebellious, by the Lord, you
will rue the day you left Newgate! Whipping-post and branding-irons are
at hand, and death is something closer to a felon in Virginia than in
England. Be careful! Now, Woodson, what have you put these men to?"

"They'll go into the three-mile field to-morrow morning, your honor,
unless you wish other disposition made of them."

"No, that will do. Take them away."

The overseer faced about and was marching off with the recruits for the
three-mile field when his master's voice arrested him.

"Take those two in front on with you, Woodson, and send me back the
brown-haired one."

The "brown-haired one" turned as his companions disappeared around a
hedge of privet and came slowly back to the steps.

"You wished to speak to me, sir?" he said quietly.

"Yes. You are the man who was tolerably helpful in the squall last
night?"

"I was so fortunate as to be of some small service, sir."

"You understand the handling of a boat?"

"Yes, sir."

"Hum. I will tell Woodson to try you with a sloop when the press of work
in the fields is past. What is your name?"

"Godfrey Landless."

"Chevalier d'Industrie and frequenter of the Newgate Ordinary," put in
Sir Charles lazily. "Of the Roundhead persuasion too, if I mistake
not,--from robbery in the large, descended to thievery in the small;
from the murder of a King to knives and a black alley mouth. Commend me
to these grave rogues for real knaves! Pray inform us to what little
mishap we owe the honor of your company. Did you mercifully incline to
relieve weary travelers over Hounslow Heath by disburdening them of
their heavy purses? Or did you mistake your own handwriting for that of
some one else? Or did you woo a mercer's wife a thought too roughly? Or
perhaps--"

The man shot a fiery upward glance at the slim, elegant figure and
mocking lips of his tormentor, but kept silence. Colonel Verney, who had
returned to his pipe, interposed. "What is all this, Charles? What are
you saying to the man?"

"Oh, nothing, sir! This gentleman and I were shipmates, and I did but
ask after his health since the voyage."

"Sir Charles Carew is very good," the man said proudly. "I assure him
that the object of his solicitude is well, and only desires an
opportunity to repay, with interest, those little attentions shown him
by his courteous fellow voyager."

The planter looked puzzled; Sir Charles laughed.

"Our liking is mutual, I see," he said coolly. "I--but what is this,
Colonel Verney! Venus descending from Olympus?"

Out of the doorway fluttered a brilliant vision, all blue and white like
the great butterflies hovering over the clove pinks. Behind it appeared
the faded countenance of Mrs. Lettice, and a group of turbaned heads
peered, grinning, from out the cool darkness of the hall.

"Papa!" cried the vision. "I want to show you my new dress! Cousin
Charles, you are to tell me if it is all as it should be!"

Sir Charles bowed, with his hand upon his heart. "Alas, madam! I could
as soon play critic to the choir of angels. My eyes are dazzled."

"Stand out, child," said her father gazing at her with eyes of love and
pride, "and let us see your finery. D' ye know what the extravagant minx
has upon her back, Charles? Just five hogsheads of prime tobacco!"

Mistress Lettice struck in: "Well, I'm sure, brother, 'tis much the
prettiest use to put tobacco to, to turn it into lace and brocade and
jewels,--much better, say I, than to be forever using it to accumulate
filthy slaves."

Patricia floated to the centre of the porch and stood sunning herself
in a stray shaft of light, like a very bird of paradise. The
"tempestuous petticoat," sky-blue and laced with silver, swelled proudly
outwards, the gleaming satin bodice slipped low over the snowy shoulders
and the heaving bosom, and the sleeves, trimmed with magnificent lace
and looped with pearls, showed the rounded arms to perfection. Around
the slender throat was wound a double row of pearls, and the golden
ringlets were partially confined by a snood of blue velvet. She unfurled
a wonderful fan, and lifted her skirts to show the tiny white and silver
shoes and the silken silver-clocked ankles. Her eyes shone like stars,
faint wild roses bloomed in her cheeks, charming half smiles chased each
other across her dainty mouth. Such a picture of radiant youth and
loveliness did she present that the Englishman's pulses quickened, and
he swore under his breath. "Surely," he muttered, "this is the most
beautiful woman in the world, and my lucky stars have sent me to this No
Man's Land to win her."

"How do you like me?" she cried gayly. "Is 't not worth the five
hogsheads?"

Her father drew her to him and kissed the smooth forehead.

"You look just as your mother did, child, the day that we were
betrothed. I could not give you higher praise than that, sweetheart."

"And does it really lack nothing, cousin?" she cried anxiously. "Is it
in truth such a dress as they wear at Court?"

"Not at Whitehall, madam, nor at Brussels, nor even at St. Germains have
I seen anything more point device than the dress,--nor as beautiful as
the wearer," he added in a lower voice and with a killing look.

The girl's face dimpled with pleasure and innocent, gratified vanity.
She swept him a magnificent courtesy, and he bent low over the slender
fingers she gave him. Suddenly he felt them stiffen in his clasp, and
looking up, saw a curious expression of fear and aversion pass like a
shadow across her face. She spoke abruptly. "That man! I did not see
him! What does he here?"

Sir Charles wheeled. The convict, forgotten by the two gentlemen, had
been left standing at the foot of the steps, and his sombre eyes were
now fixed upon the girl in a look so strange and intent as fully to
explain her perturbation. Through his parted lips the breath came
hurriedly, in his eyes was a mournful exaltation as of one who looks
from a desert into Paradise. He stood absorbed, unconscious of aught
save the splendid vision above him. For a moment she stared at him in
return, her eyes, held by his, slowly widening and the color quite gone
from her face. With a slow, involuntary movement one white arm rose, and
stiffened before her in a gesture of repulsion. The fan fell from her
hand upon the floor with a click of breaking tortoise shell. The sound
broke the spell, and with a strong shudder she turned her eyes away.
"Make him go," she said in a trembling voice. "He frightens me."

Sir Charles sprang forward with an oath. "Curse you, you dog! Take your
ill-omened eyes from the lady! Colonel Verney, do you not see that the
fellow is annoying your daughter?"

The planter had fallen into a reverie born of recollections of the
Patricia of his youth, long laid in her grave, but he roused himself at
the words of his guest.

"What's that?" he cried. "Annoying Patricia!" He walked to the head of
the steps and raised his cane threateningly.

"Hark ye, sirrah! The servants of Verney Manor, white or black, felon or
indented, need all their eyesight for their work. They have none to
waste in idle gazing at their betters. Begone to your mates!"

The man who, at Sir Charles's intervention, had started as from a dream,
colored deeply and compressed his lips, then glanced from one to the
other of the group above him. There was pain, humiliation, almost
supplication in the look which he directed to the girl who had brought
this rating upon him. He glanced at his master with a countenance
studiously devoid of expression, at Mistress Lettice with indifference,
at Sir Charles Carew with chill defiance. Then, with a grave inclination
of his head, he turned, and a moment later had disappeared behind the
hedge.



CHAPTER III

A COLONIAL DINNER PARTY


Three days later the master of Verney Manor gave a dinner party.

At Jamestown, twenty miles away, the Assembly had just adjourned after a
busy session. A law debarring that "turbulent people" the Quakers from
further admittance into the colony, and providing cold comfort for those
already within its doors, was passed with acclamation, as was another
against Anabaptists, and a third concerning the hue and cry for
absconding servants and slaves. The selling rates for wines and strong
waters were fixed, a proper penalty attached to the planting of tobacco
contrary to the statute, a regulation for the mending of the highways
adopted, a fine imposed for non-attendance at church, the Navigation Act
formally protested against, the trainbands strengthened, an
appropriation made for the erection of new whipping-posts and pillories,
a cruel mistress deprived of the slave she had mistreated, a harborer of
schismatics publicly reproved, and a conciliatory message and present
sent to the up-river Indians--when the Assembly adjourned with the
consciousness of having nobly done its duty. The only measure upon which
there was not unanimity of opinion was one proposing the erection of
school-houses at convenient cross-roads, and the Governor's weight being
thrown into the balance against it, it was promptly quashed.

The burgesses from the fourteen counties filled the twenty houses that
constituted the town to suffocation. Up-river planters, too, had come
in, choosing the time the Assembly was in session to attend to their
interests in the "city." Several ships were in harbor, and their
captains, professing themselves tired of salt water, threw themselves
upon the hospitality of their friends ashore. The crowded population
overflowed into the houses of the neighboring planters, who, after the
manner of their kind, entertained profusely, giving jovial welcome and
good liquor to all comers. There was a constant jingling of reins along
the bridle paths, a constant passing of white-sailed sloops upon the
river, as gentlemen in riding coats and jack boots, or in laced coats
and silk stockings, fared to and fro between plantation and town. In the
intervals of business the worthy burgesses and their fellow planters
made merry. They were good times--for king's men--and it behooved every
loyal subject to follow (at a respectful distance) his Majesty's
example, and get all possible enjoyment from a laughing world. So there
were horse-races and cock-fights and bear-baitings, as well as dinners
and suppers, at which much sack and aqua vitæ was drunk to king, church,
and reigning beauties. And if a quarrel sprung, full armed, from the
heated brains of young gallants, crossed rapiers did but add a piquancy,
a dash of cayenne, to life.

Popular with the elder gentlemen because of his excellent Madeira, quick
wit, jovial soul, and friendship with the Governor, and with the younger
by virtue of being father to Mistress Patricia Verney, Colonel Richard
Verney had no difficulty in securing a score of guests for a day's
entertainment at Verney Manor.

About ten in the morning of the appointed day the guests began to
arrive, some by water, some on horseback, Colonel Verney meeting each
arrival with a stately bow and a high-flown speech of welcome, and
handing him on to the hall where stood Sir Charles Carew and the ladies
of the household.

Upon a pillion behind her father, Major Miles Carrington,
Surveyor-General to the Colony, came Mistress Betty Carrington, bosom
friend to Mistress Patricia Verney. Her sweetly serious face, pensive
eyes, and smooth, dark hair, with her dress of sober silk and kerchief
of finest lawn, demurely crossed over her bosom, contrasted finely with
Patricia's radiant beauty, decked in shimmering satin and rich lace, and
heightened by a tinge of vermilion upon the smooth cheek, and a long
black patch beneath the left temple. The two met like friends whom weary
years have parted, and indeed they had not seen each other for nearly a
week.

All the guests, save one, had arrived. Colonel Verney fidgeted, sent a
servant wench to look at the kitchen clock, and dispatched his secretary
to an upstairs window, whence was visible a long stretch of what
courtesy called the highroad.

The secretary returned and whispered his master. "God be thanked!"
exclaimed the latter. "I feared that his machine had mired in the
Two-Mile Swamp, or had toppled into a gully coming through the Devil's
Strip. Gentlemen, the Governor's coach is in sight. Shall we adjourn to
the porch and there await his Excellency?"

A mighty straining, jingling and lumbering came with the breeze down the
road and proceeded from a pillar of dust which was approaching the house
with reasonable rapidity. Presently the road changed from a trough of
dust into a ribbon of greensward. The cloud dissipated itself, streaming
away like the tail of a comet, and a ponderous and much begilt coach,
drawn by six horses, their manes and tails tied with red ribbons, and
outriders in gorgeous livery at the heads of each pair, rolled, or
rather bumped into sight. With a seasick motion it undulated over the
green acclivities of the road, and finally drew up beside the great
horse-block at the gate.

Two lackeys sprang from their perch behind the vehicle, flung open the
door, and lowered a short flight of steps. A very stately gentleman,
richly dressed, with a handkerchief of point in one hand and a jeweled
snuff-box in the other, descended the steps, placing one shapely leg in
its maroon-colored stocking before the other with the mannered grace of
the leader of a Coranto.

Colonel Verney met him with a low bow and smiling face, after which the
two embraced, for they were old friends.

"My dear Governor!"

"My dear Colonel!"

"I am charmed to welcome your Excellency to my poor house."

"My dear Colonel, I am charmed to be here. Gad! the possession of the
only chariot in the Colony is a burdensome honor! I thought dinner would
be over, and the stirrup cup in order while I was creeping, like a snail
with his house on his back, over these 'fair and pleasant roads'--as I
call them in my book, eh, Dick! But you have a goodly company, I see;
Ludwell, Fitzhugh, Carey, Anthony Nash, mine ancient enemy Lawrence,
Wormeley, Carrington our Puritan convert and his pretty daughter, young
Peyton, and that pretty fellow, your nephew or cousin, is he? Odzooks!
he is much what I was at his age, begotten of Delilah and Lucifer, hand
of iron in glove of velvet, eh, Dick! I hear he is hail-fellow-well-met
with the King and with Buckingham and Killigrew and their wild set. Ah,
boys will be boys! 'We have heard the chimes at midnight,' eh, Dick?"

And the Governor in high good humor skipped up the steps with the
agility of youth, bent low with sugared compliments over the hands of
his hostesses and of Mistress Betty Carrington, and gave courteous
greeting to the assembled gentlemen, after which the company flowed back
into the grateful twilight of hall and "great room," where the weather,
the state of the crops, and the last horse-race engaged them until the
announcement of dinner.

With a flourish of his costly handkerchief, the Governor offered his arm
to the young mistress of the house, and led the way to the dining-room,
where old Humfrey, the butler, marshaled the guests to their seats.
Mistress Betty Carrington had for her cavalier Sir Charles Carew, to
whose honeyed words she listened with a species of awe, wondering in her
innocent soul if all the wild tales they told of this very fine,
smooth-tongued, handsome gentleman could be true.

Doctor Anthony Nash made a long and fluent grace wherein much latinity
was aired, a neat allusion made to the _jus divinum_, and an anathema
hurled against those "who break down the carved work of the sanctuary."
Then was uncovered the mighty saddle of mutton, reposing in the dish of
honor, the roast pig, the haunch of venison, the sirloin of beef, the
breast of veal, the powdered goose, the noble dish of sheepshead and
bluefish, and the pasty in which was entombed a whole flock of pigeons.
These _pièces de resistance_ were flanked by bowls of oysters, by rows
of wild fowl skewered together, by mince pies and a grand salad, while
upon the outskirts of the damask plain were stationed trenchers piled
with wheat bread, platters of pease and smoking potatoes, cauliflower
and asparagus, and a concoction of rice and prunes, seasoned with mace
and cinnamon and a pinch of assafoetida. A great silver salt-cellar
stood in the centre of the table, and smaller receptacles of the same
metal held pepper and spices. Silver flagons of cider and ale were
placed at intervals, the Madeira, Fayal and Rhenish awaiting upon the
sideboard the moment when, the cloth drawn and the ladies gone, a
gentlemanly carousal should be inaugurated.

The company drew their Russian leather chairs closer to the table,
spread over their silken knees the fringed damask napkins, and for a
space little was to be heard but the sound of knife and spoon (forks
there were none), for the morning ride had sharpened appetites. The
servants passed from chair to chair; the master, seconded by his
daughter and sister, pricked his guests on to fresh attacks, pressing a
third slice of mutton on one, a fresh helping of capon upon another,
protesting that a third ate as though it were a fast day, and that a
fourth drank as though the October were sea-water.

When the cloth was drawn and the banquet put on, tongues were loosened.
The Governor quoted passages from his "Lost Lady" to Patricia, lifting
her lovely flushed face from the carving of a tart with wonderfully
constructed towering walls. Behind a second turreted marvel of pastry,
Mistress Lettice and Mr. Frederick Jones sighed and ogled with antique
grace. Sir Charles Carew, fingering his cherries, told a piquant little
court anecdote to Mistress Betty Carrington, and was lazily amused at
the blush and veiled eyelids with which the young lady received it.
Young Mr. Peyton, on her other side, looked very black.

The wine was put on and the toast to King and Church drunk standing,
after which the ladies dipped their white fingers into the basin of
perfumed water, dried them on the silver-fringed napkin, and sailed to
the door, through which, after the profoundest of courtesies on the one
side and the lowest of bows upon the other, they vanished, leaving the
gentlemen to wine and wassail.

Colonel Verney drank to the Governor; the Governor to Colonel Verney;
Sir Charles to the author of the "Lost Lady" and the "Discourse and View
of Virginia," so tickling the Governor's vanity thereby that he became
altogether charming. Mr. Peyton toasted Mistress Betty Carrington, and
Mr. Frederick Jones, Mistress Lettice Verney, "fairest and most discreet
of ladies." They drank to Captain Laramore's next voyage, to Mr.
Wormeley's success in vine planting, to Major Carrington's conversion.
They drank confusion to Quakers, Independents, Baptists and infidels, to
the heathen on the frontier and the Papists in Maryland, the Dutch on
the Hudson and the French on the St. Lawrence,--"Quebec in exchange for
Dunkirk!" In short, there were few things in heaven or earth but
justified draughts of Madeira.

The room filled with a blue and fragrant mist proceeding from twenty
pipe-bowls. Mr. Peyton sang a pretty song of his own composing. The
company applauded. Sir Charles Carew, in a richly plaintive tenor voice,
sang a lyric of Rochester's. Several of the gentlemen looked askance
(the clergyman had left the room with the ladies), but on the Governor's
crying out "Excellent!" they considered themselves over-squeamish, and
clapped loudly.

Sir Charles, being dry after his song, drank to Hospitality,--"A duty,"
he said, smiling, "that you gentlemen make so paramount that you must
wonder at the omission of 'Thou shalt be hospitable' from the
Decalogue."

"Faith, sir!" cried Mr. Peyton, "God is too good a Virginian not to
consider such a commandment superfluous."

The Governor commenced a story which all present, but one, had heard a
dozen times. It mattered the less, as it was a good one. Sir Charles
capped it with a better. The Governor told a weird tale of Lunsford's
men, the "babe-eating" regiment. Sir Charles recounted a little
adventure of His Grace of Buckingham with a quack astrologer, a Court
lady, and an orange girl, which made the company die of laughter.

"Rat me! but you tell a story well, sir!" said the Governor, wiping his
eyes.

"I serve King Charles the Second, your Excellency."

"And so have to live by your wit, eh, sir?"

"Precisely, your Excellency."

"Emigrate to Virginia, man! to the land of good eating, good drinking,
good fighting, stout men, and pretty women--who make angelic wives." And
the Governor, who loved his own wife with chivalric devotion, kissed a
locket which he wore at his neck. "Come to Virginia where we need loyal
men and true. Lord! we all thought the millennium was come with the
king, but damme! if it doesn't seem as far off as ever! Not that his
Majesty is to blame," he added quickly, as though fearing that his words
might be taken as an aspersion upon Charles's ability to conduct the
millennium single-handed. "The naughty spirit of the age sets itself
against the Lord's Anointed. The Puritan snake is but scotched, not
killed. It's the old prate of freedom of conscience, government by the
people, and the like disgusting stuff (no offense to you, Major
Carrington) that makes the trouble of the times both here and at home. I
sigh for the good old days when, for eleven sweet years, no Parliament
sat to meddle in affairs of state, when Wentworth kept down faction and
the saintly Laud built up the Church which he adorned." And the Governor
buried his woes in the Rhenish.

"Sir William Berkeley's loyalty is proverbial," said Sir Charles
suavely. "The King knows that while he is at the helm in Virginia, the
colony is on the high road to that era of peace and prosperity which his
majesty so ardently desires--for his tax-paying people. And I have
thought more than once of late that I might do worse than to dispose of
my majority in the 'Blues,' bid the Court adieu, and obtaining from his
Majesty a grant of land, retire here to Virginia to pass my days on my
own land and amid a little court of my own, in the patriarchal fashion
you gentlemen affect. Under certain circumstances it is a course I might
possibly pursue." He glanced at his kinsman, whose countenance showed
high approval of a plan which dovetailed nicely with one of his own
making.

"Can you guess the 'certain circumstances' which are to give us the
pleasure of his confounded company?" whispered Mr. Peyton to Mr. Carey.

"An easy riddle, Jack. Damn the insolent, smooth-spoken knave of hearts,
and confound the women! They all drop to a court card."

"Not Mistress Betty Carrington. _She_ looks below the surface."

"Humph! What does she see below thine? An empty gourd with a few
madrigals and sonnets, and fine images, conned from the 'Grand Cyrus,'
rattling about like dried seeds?"

"Hush, thou green persimmon! the Governor is speaking."

The governor rose with care to his feet. His wig was awry, his cravat of
fine mechlin under one ear. Benevolent smiles played like summer
lightning across his flushed face. He raised his tankard slowly and with
attentive steadiness. "Gentlemen," he said in a high voice, "we have
eaten and we have drunken. Dick Verney's wine is as old as the hills and
as mellow as sunlight. It groweth late, gentlemen, and some of you have
miles to travel, and it takes cool heads to ride the 'planter's pace.'
For William Berkeley, gentlemen, Governor of Virginia by the grace of
God and his Majesty, King Charles the Second, it takes more than Dick
Verney's wine to fluster him. I call a final toast. I drink again to our
loving friend and host, the worshipful Colonel Richard Verney, to his
beauteous daughter and sister, to his man-servant and his maid-servant,
his ox and his ass, and the stranger which is within his gates." He
smiled benignly at a reflection of Sir Charles in a distant mirror.
"Gentlemen, the devil, you see, can quote scripture. Let the cup go
roun', go roun', go roun'."

The toast was drunk with fervor, and the party broke up.

The Governor, with Colonel Ludlow and Captain Laramore, was to sleep at
Verney Manor, and Mistress Betty Carrington was left by her father to
bear Patricia company for a day or two. One by one the remainder of the
company rode or sailed away, those who had an even keel beneath them
being in much better case than their brethren on horseback.

When the last sail showed a white speck in the distance, Patricia and
Betty came out upon the porch and sat them down, one on either side of
the Governor, with whom they were great favorites. Colonel Ludlow and
Captain Laramore were at dice at a table within the hall, and Colonel
Verney had excused himself in order to hear the evening report from his
overseers. Sir Charles Carew, very idle and purposeless-looking, lounged
in a great chair, and studied the miniature upon his snuff-box. The
Governor, whom the wine had mellowed into a genial softness, a kind of
sunset glow, alternately puffed wide rings of smoke into the air, and
paid compliments to the young ladies. The evening breeze had sprung up,
rustling the leaves of the trees, and bringing with it the sound of the
water. In the western sky crimson islets forever shifted shapes in a sea
of gold. A rosy light suffused the earth. In it the water turned to the
pink of a shell, the marshes became ethereal and far away, earth and sky
seemed one. The flashing wings of gull and curlew were like fairy sails
faring to and fro.

"If I had wings," said Patricia dreamily, her hands clasped over her
knees, "I would fly straight to that highest island of cloud. The one,
Betty, that looks like a field of daffodils, with those beautiful peaks
rising from it, and the violet light in the hollows. I would set up my
standard there, Sir William, and the island should be mine, and I would
rule the fairies that must inhabit it, with a rod of iron--as you rule
Virginia," she ended with a laugh.

The Governor laughed with her. "You would have no such stiff-necked folk
to deal with, my love, as have I."

"No, they should all be good Cavaliers and Churchmen--no Roundheads, no
servants--and if Indians on neighboring isles threatened we would pray
for a wind and sail away from them, around and around the bright blue
sky."

"And when you are gone to take possession of your castle in the air what
will poor Virginia do?" gallantly demanded the governor.

"Oh, she would still exist! But I am not going to-night. The princess of
the castle in the air is engaged to his Excellency the Governor of
Virginia for a game of chess. In the mean time here comes my father, who
shall entertain your Excellency while Betty and I go for a walk. Come,
Lady-bird."

The two graceful figures twined arms and moved off down the walk. Sir
Charles looked after them a moment, then, with a "Permit me, sir," to
the Governor, he snapped the lid of his snuff-box and started down the
steps. The Governor laughed. "We will excuse you, sir," he said
graciously. "Dick," to Colonel Verney, as the young gentleman hastened
after the ladies, "that fine spark is to be your son-in-law, eh?"

"It is the wish of my heart, William."

"Humph!"

"He has birth and breeding. His father was my good friend and kinsman,
and as loyal a Cavalier as ever gave life and lands for the blessed
Martyr. He died in my arms at Marston Moor, and with his last breath
commended his son to me. My dear wife was then expecting the birth of
our child, of Patricia. I can see him now as he smiled up at me (he was
ever gay) and said, 'If it's a girl, Dick, marry her to my boy.' Well!
he died, and his brother took the boy, and my wife and I came over seas,
and I never saw the lad from that day to this, when he comes at my
invitation to visit us."

"Well, he is a very pretty fellow! And what does Patricia say to him?"

"Patricia is a good daughter," said the Colonel sedately, "and is
possessed of sense beyond the average of womenkind. She knows the
advantages this match offers. Sir Charles Carew can give her a title,
and a name that's as old as her own. He is a man of parts and
distinction, has served the King, is familiar with the courts of Europe.
I do not pin my faith to the tales that are told of him. His father was
a gallant gentleman, and I am not the man to believe ill of his son.
Moreover, if, as he hath half promised, he will come to Virginia, he
will throw off here the vices of the Court, the faults of youth, and
become an honest Virginia gentleman, God-fearing, law-abiding,
reverencing the King, but not copying him too closely--such an one as
thou or I, William. The king should give him large grants of land, and
so, with what Patricia will have when I am gone, there will be laid the
foundation of a great and noble estate, which, please God, will belong
in the fair future of this fair land to a great and noble family sprung
from the union of Verney and Carew. Patricia, trust me, sees all this
with my eyes."

"Humph!" said the Governor again.



CHAPTER IV

THE BREAKING HEART


Sir Charles was up with the two girls before they reached the garden;
and they passed together through the gate and into the spicy wilderness.
The dew was falling, and as they sauntered through the narrow paths,
Betty held back her skirts that the damp leaves of sage and marjoram
might not brush them; but Patricia, gathering larkspur and
sweet-william, was heedless of her finery. At the further end of the
garden was a wicket leading into a grove of mulberries. The three walked
on beneath the spreading branches and the broad, heart-shaped leaves,
until they came to a tree of extraordinary height and girth whose roots
bulged out into great, smooth excrescences like inverted bowls. Patricia
stopped. "Betty is tired," she said kindly, "and she shall sit here and
rest. Betty is a windflower, Sir Charles, a little tender timid flower,
frail and sweet--are you not, Betty?" She sat down upon one of the
bowls, and pulled her friend down beside her. Sir Charles leaned against
the trunk of the tree. "Betty is a little Puritan," continued Patricia;
"she would not wear the set of ribbons I had for her; and that hurt me
very much."

"O Patricia!" cried Betty, with tears in her eyes. "If I thought you
really cared! But even then I could not wear them!"

"No, you little martyr," said the other, with a kiss. "You would go to
the stake any day for what you call your 'principles.' And I honor you
for it, you know I do. Cousin Charles, do you know that Betty thinks it
wrong to hold slaves?"

Sir Charles laughed, and Betty's delicate face flushed.

"O Patricia!" she cried. "I did not say that! I only said that we would
not like it ourselves."

"'Pon my soul, I don't suppose we would," said Sir Charles coolly. "But,
Mistress Betty, the negroes have neither thin skins nor nice feelings."

"I know that," said Betty bravely; "and I know that our divines and
learned men cannot yet decide whether or not they have souls. And, of
course, if they have not, they are as well treated as other animals; but
all the same I am sorry for them, and I am sorry for the servants too."

"For the servants!" cried Patricia, arching her brows.

"Yes," said Betty, standing to her guns. "I am sorry for the servants,
for those who must work seven years for another before they can do aught
for themselves. And often when their time is out they are bowed and
broken; and those whom they love at home, and would bring over, are
dead; and often before the seven years have passed they die themselves.
And I am sorry for those whom you call rebels, for the Oliverians; and
for the convicts, despised and outcast. And for the Indians about us,
dispossessed and broken, and--yes, I am sorry for the Quakers."

"I waste no pity on the under dog," said Sir Charles. "Keep him
down--and with a heavy hand--or he will fly at your throat."

"Hark!" said Patricia.

Some one in the distance was singing:--

                        "Gentle herdsman, tell to me
                          Of courtesy I thee pray,
                        Unto the town of Walsingham,
                          Which is the right and ready way?

                        "Unto the town of Walsingham
                          The way is hard for to be gone,
                        And very crooked are those paths
                          For you to find out all alone."

The notes were wild and plaintive, and sounded sadly through the
gathering dusk. A figure flitted towards them between the shadowy tree
trunks.

"It is Mad Margery," said Patricia.

"And who is Mad Margery?" asked Sir Charles.

"No one knows, cousin. She does not know herself. Ten years ago a ship
came in with servants, and she was on it. She was mad then. The captain
could give no account of her, save that when, the day after sailing, he
came to count the servants, he found one more than there should have
been, and that one a woman, stupid from drugs. She had been spirited on
board the ship, that was all he could say. It's a common occurrence, as
you know. She never came to herself,--has always been what she is now.
She was sold to a small planter, and cruelly treated by him. After a
time my father heard her story and bought her from her master. She has
been with us ever since. Her term of service is long out; but there is
nothing that could drive her from this plantation. She wanders about as
she pleases, and has a cabin in the woods yonder; for she will not live
in the quarters. They say that she is a white witch; and the Indians,
who reverence the mad, lay maize and venison at her door."

The voice, shrill and sweet, rang out close at hand.

                "Thy years are young, thy face is fair,
                  Thy wits are weak, thy thoughts are green,
                Time hath not given thee leave as yet,
                  For to commit so great a sin."

"Margery!" called Patricia softly.

The woman came towards them with a peculiar gliding step, swift and
stealthy. Within a pace or two of them she stopped, and asked, "Who
called me?" in a voice that seemed to come from far away. She was not
old, and might once have been beautiful.

"I called you, Margery," said Patricia gently. "Sit down beside us, and
tell us what you have been doing."

The woman came and sat herself down at Patricia's feet. She carried a
stick, or light pole, wound with thick strings of wild hops, which she
laid on the ground. Taking one of the wreaths from around it, she
dropped the pale green mass into Patricia's lap.

"Take it," she said. "They are flowers I gathered in Paradise, long ago.
They wither in this air; but if you fan them with your sighs, and water
them with your tears, they will revive.... Paradise is a long way from
here. I have been seeking the road all day; but I have not found it yet.
I think it must lie near Bristol Town, Bristol Town, Bristol Town."

Her voice died away in a long sigh, and she sat plucking at the fragrant
blooms.

Patricia said softly, "She talks much of Bristol Town, and she is always
seeking the road to Paradise. I think that once some one must have said
to her, 'We will meet in Paradise.'"

"I know little of Paradise, Margery," said Sir Charles, good-naturedly;
"but Bristol Town is many leagues from here, across the great ocean."

"Yes, I know. It lieth in the rising of the sun. I have never seen it
except in my dreams. But it is a beautiful place--not like this world of
trees. The church bells are ever ringing there, ... and the children
sing in the streets. It is all fair, and smiling and beautiful, all but
one spot, one black, black, black spot. I will tell you." She sunk her
voice to a whisper and looked fearfully around. "The mouth of the Pit is
there, the Bottomless Pit that the Preacher tells about. It is a small
room, dark, dark, ... and there is a heavy smell in the air, ... and
there are fiends with black cloth over their faces. They hold a draught
of hell to your mouth, and they make you drink it; ... it burns, burns.
And then you go down, down, down, into everlasting blackness." She broke
off, and shuddered violently, then burst into eldritch laughter.

"Shall I tell you what I found just now while I was looking for
Paradise?"

"Yes," said Patricia.

"A breaking heart."

"A breaking heart!"

Margery nodded. "Yes," she said. "I thought it would surprise you. I
find many things, looking for Paradise. The other day I found a brown
pixie sitting beneath a mushroom, and he told me curious things. But a
breaking heart is different. I know all about it, for once upon a time
my heart broke; but mine was soft and easy to break. It was as soft and
weak as a baby's wrist, a little, tender, helpless thing, you know, that
melts under your kisses. But this heart that I found will take a long
time to break. Proud anger will strengthen it at first; but one string
will snap, and then another, and another, until, at last--" she swept
her arms abroad with a wild and desolate gesture.

"What does she mean?" asked Sir Charles.

"I do not know," answered Patricia.

Margery rose and took up her leafy staff.

"Come," she said. "Come and see the breaking heart."

"O Patricia!" cried Betty, "do not go with her!"

"Why not?" asked Patricia resolutely. "Come, cousin, let us find out
what she means. We will go with you, Margery; but you must not take us
far. It grows late."

Margery laughed weirdly. "It is never late for Margery. There is a star
far up in heaven that is sorry for Margery, and it shines for her,
bright, bright, all night long, that she may not miss the road to
Paradise."

She glided in front of them, and moved rapidly down the dim alley of
trees, her feet seeming scarce to touch the short grass, and the long
green wreaths, stirred by the wind, coiling and uncoiling around her
staff like serpents. Patricia, with Betty and Sir Charles, followed her
closely. She led them out of the mulberry grove, through a small
vineyard, and into a patch of corn, beyond which could be seen the gleam
of water, faintly pink from the faded sunset.

"She is taking us towards the quarters!" exclaimed Patricia. "Margery!
Margery!"

But Margery held on, moving swiftly through the waist-deep corn. Betty
looked down with a little sigh at her dainty shoes, which were suffering
by their contact with the dew-laden leaves of pumpkins and macocks. Sir
Charles put aside the long corn blades with his cane, and so made a way
for the girls. He felt mildly curious and somewhat bored.

Suddenly they emerged upon the banks of the inlet, within a hundred
yards of the quarters. Patricia would have spoken, but Margery put her
finger to her lips and flitted on towards the row of cabins.

Before them stretched a long, narrow lane, sandy and barren, with a
pine-tree rising here and there. Rude cabins, windowless and with mud
chimneys, faced each other across the lane. Half way down was an open
space, or small square, in the centre of which stood a dead tree with a
board nailed across its trunk at about a man's height from the ground.
In either end of the board was cut a round hole big enough for a man's
hand to be squeezed through, and above hung a heavy stick with leathern
thongs tied to it, the whole forming a pillory and whipping-post, rude,
but satisfactory.

It was almost dark. The larger stars had come out, and the fireflies
began to sparkle restlessly. The wind sighed in the pines, and a strong
salt smell came from the sea. Overhead a whip-poor-will uttered its
mournful cry.

The long day's work, from sunrise to sunset, was over, and the
population of the quarter had drifted in from the fields of tobacco and
maize, the boats, the carpenter's shop, the forge, the mill, the
stables, and barns. Hard-earned rest was theirs, and they were prepared
to enjoy it. It was supper-time. In the square a great fire of
brush-wood had been kindled, and around it squatted a ring of negroes,
busy with bowls of loblolly and great chunks of corn bread. They
chattered like monkeys, and one who had finished his mess raised a chant
in which one note was a yell of triumph, the next a long-drawn
plaintive wail. The rich barbaric voice filled the night. A figure,
rising, tossed aside an empty bowl, and began to dance in the red
firelight.

The white men ate at their cabin doors, sitting upon logs of wood, or in
groups of three or four messed at tables made by stretching planks from
one tree-stump to another. It was meat-day; and they, too, made merry.
From the women's cabins also came shrill laughter. Snatches of song
arose, altercations that suddenly began and as suddenly ceased, a babel
of voices in many fashions of speech. Broad Yorkshire contended with the
thin nasal tones of the cockney; the man from the banks of the Tweed
thrust cautious sarcasms at the man from Galway. A mulatto, the color of
pale amber, spoke sonorous Spanish to an olive-hued piece of drift-wood
from Florida. An Indian indulged in a monologue in a tongue of a faraway
tribe of the Blue Mountains.

The glare from the fire and from flaring pine-knots played fitfully over
the motley throng, now bringing out in strong relief some one face or
figure, then plunging it into profoundest shadow. It burnished the high
forehead and scalp lock of the Indian, and made to gleam intensely the
gold earring in the ear of the mulatto. The scarlet cloth wound about
the head of a Turk seemed to turn to actual flame. Under the baleful
light vacant faces of dully honest English rustics became malignant,
while the negro, dancing with long, outstretched arms and uncouth
swayings to and fro, appeared a mirthful fiend.

The three gentlefolk and their mad conductress gazed from out the shadow
and at a safe distance. Sir Charles Carew, a man of taste, felt strong
artistic pleasure in the Rembrandtesque scene before him--the leaping
light, the weird shadows, resolving themselves into figures posed with
savage freedom, the dancing satyr, the sombre pines above, and, beyond
the pines, the stillness of the stars. Betty drew a little shuddering
breath, and her hand went to clasp Patricia's. The latter was looking
steadily upward at the slender crescent moon.

"Do not look, Betty," she said quietly. "I do not. It is a horror to
me--a horror. I am going back," she said, turning.

But she had reckoned without Margery, who caught her by the arm. "Come,"
she said imperiously. "Come and see the breaking heart!" Patricia
hesitated, then yielded to curiosity and the insistent pressure of the
skeleton fingers.

The cabins nearest them were deserted, their occupants having joined
themselves to the groups further down the lane where the firelight beat
strongest and the torches were more numerous. With no more sound than a
moth would make, flitting through the dusk, the mad woman led them to
the outermost of these cabins. Within five paces of the door she stopped
and pointed a long forefinger.

"The breaking heart!" she said in a triumphant whisper.

A man lay, face downwards, in the coarse and scanty grass. One arm was
bent beneath his forehead, the other was outstretched, the hand
clenched. It was the attitude of one who has flung himself down in dumb,
despairing misery. As they looked, he gave a long gasping sob that shook
his whole frame, then lay quiet.

A burst of revelry came down the lane. The man raised his head
impatiently, then let it drop again upon his arm.

Patricia turned and walked quickly back the way they had come. Betty and
Sir Charles followed her; Margery, her whim gratified, had vanished into
the darkness of the pines.

No one spoke until they were again amidst the wet and rustling corn.
Then said Betty with tears in her voice, "O Patricia, darling! there is
so much misery in the world, fair and peaceful as it looks to-night.
That poor man!"

"That 'poor man,' Betty," answered Patricia in a hard voice, "is a
criminal, a felon, guilty of some dreadful, sordid thing, a gaol-bird
reclaimed from the gallows and sent here to pollute the air we breathe."

"It was the convict, Landless, was it not?" asked Sir Charles.

"Yes."

"But, Patricia," said the gentle Betty, "whatever he may have done, he
is wretched now."

"He has sowed the wind; let him reap the whirlwind," said Patricia
steadily.

They went on to the house and into the great room where the myrtle
candles were burning softly, the dimity curtains shutting out the night.
Mrs. Lettice was at the spinet, with Captain Laramore to turn the leaves
of her song book, and the Governor, with the chess table out and the
pieces in battle array, awaited (he said) the arrival of the Princess of
the Castle in the Air.



CHAPTER V

IN THE THREE-MILE FIELD


In a far corner of the Three-mile Field Landless bent over tobacco plant
after tobacco plant, patiently removing the little green shoots or
"suckers" from the parent stem.

His back and limbs ached from the unaccustomed stooping, the fierce
sunshine beat upon his head, the blood pounded behind his temples, his
tongue clave to the roof of his mouth,--and the noontide rest was still
two hours away. As, with a gasp of weariness, he straightened himself,
the endless plain of green rose and fell to his dazzled eyes in misty
billows. The most robust rustic required several months of seasoning
before he and the Virginia climate became friends, and this man was
still weak from privation and confinement in prison and in the noisome
hold of the ship.

He turned his weary eyes from the vivid gold green of the fields to the
shadows of the forest. It lay within a few yards of him, just on the
other side of a little stream and a rail fence that zigzagged in gray
lines hung with creepers. At the moment he defined happiness as a plunge
into the cool, perfumed darkness, a luxurious flinging of a tired body
upon the carpet of pine needles, a shutting out, forever, of the
sunshine.

Suddenly he felt that eyes were upon him, and his glance traveled from
the fringe of trees to meet that of an Indian seated upon a log in an
angle of the fence.

He was a man of gigantic stature, dressed in coarse canvas breeches, and
with a handkerchief of gaudy dye twisted about his head. His bold
features wore the usual Indian expression of saturnine imperturbability,
and he half sat, half reclined upon the log as motionless as a piece of
carven bronze, staring at Landless with large, inscrutable eyes.

Landless, staring in return, saw something else. The rank growth of
weeds in which the log was sunk moved ever so slightly. There was a
flash as of a swiftly drawn rapier, and something long and mottled hung
for an instant upon the shoulder of the Indian, and then dropped into
its lair again.

With a sudden lithe twist of his body, the savage flung himself upon it,
and holding it down with one hand, with the other beat the life out with
a heavy stick. The creature was killed by the first stroke, but he
continued to rain vindictive blows upon it until it was mashed to a
pulp. Then, with a serenely impassive mien, he resumed his seat upon the
log.

Landless sprang across the stream, and went up to him.

"You are bitten! Is there aught I can do?"

The Indian shook his head. With one hand he pulled the shoulder forward,
trying, as Landless saw, to meet the wound with his lips; but finding
that it could not be done, he desisted and sat silent, and to all
appearance, unconcerned.

Landless cried out impatiently, "It will kill you, man! Do you know no
remedy?"

The Indian grunted. "Snake root grow deep in the forest, a long way off.
Besides, an Iroquois does not die for a little thing like a pale face
or a dog of an Algonquin."

"Why did you try to reach the sting with your mouth?"

"To suck out the evil."

"Is that a cure?"

The Indian nodded. Landless knelt down and examined the shoulder. "Now,"
he said, "tell me if I set about it in the right way," and applied his
lips to the swollen, blue-black spot.

The Indian gave a grunt of surprise, and his white teeth flashed in a
smile; then he sat silent under the ministrations of the white man who
sucked at the wound, spitting the venom upon the ground, until the dark
skin was drawn and wrinkled like the hand of a washerwoman.

"Good!" then said the Indian, and pointed to the stream. Landless went
to it, rinsed his mouth, and brought back water in his cap with which he
laved the shoulder of his new acquaintance, ending by binding it up with
the handkerchief from the man's head.

A guttural sound from the Indian made him look up. At the same instant
the whip of the overseer, descending, cut him sharply across the
shoulders. He sprang to his feet, the veins in his forehead swollen, his
frame tense with impotent anger. The overseer, having gained his
attention, thrust the whip back into his belt.

"If you don't want to get what will hurt as bad as a snake bite," he
said grimly, "you had best tend to your tobacco and let vagrom Indians
alone. That row is to be suckered before dinner-time or your pork and
beans will go begging. As for you," turning to the Indian, "what are you
doing on this plantation? Where's your pass?"

The Indian took from his waistband a slip of paper which he handed to
the overseer, who looked at it and gave it back with a grudging--"It's
all right this time, but you'd better be careful. It's my opinion that
Major Carrington lets his servants run about a deal more than's good for
them. Anyhow, you've no business in this field. Clear out!"

The Indian arose and went his way. But as he passed Landless, suckering
a plant with angry energy, he touched him, as if by accident, with his
sinewy hand.

"Monakatocka never forgives an enemy," came in a sibilant whisper too
low to be heard by the watchful overseer. "Monakatocka never forgets a
friend. Some day he will repay."

The red-brown body slipped away through the tall weeds and clumps of
alder, like the larger edition of the thing that had hung upon its
shoulder. The overseer strode off down the field, sending keen glances
to right and left. He was a conscientious man, and earned every pound of
his wages.

Landless, left alone, worked steadily on, for he had no mind to lose his
midday meal, uninviting as he knew it would prove to be. Moreover, he
was one who did with his might what his hand found to do. His body was
weary, and his heart sick within him, but the green shoots fell thick
and fast.

"Yon was a kindly thing you did. Pity 'twas in no better cause than the
saving of a worthless natural."

The speaker, who was at work on the next row of plants, had caught up
with Landless from behind, and now moved his nimble fingers more slowly,
so as to keep pace with the less expert new hand.

Landless, raising his head, stared at a figure of positively terrifying
aspect. Upon a skeleton body of extraordinary height was set a head bare
of any hair. Scalp, forehead and cheeks were of one dull, ivory hue like
an eastern carving. Upon the smooth, dead surface of the right cheek
sprawled a great red R, branded into the flesh, and through each large
protruding ear went a ragged hole. For the rest, the lips were of iron,
and the small, deep-set eyes were so bright and burning that they gave
the impression that they were red like the great letter. It might have
been the face of a man of sixty years, though it would have been hard to
tell wherein lay the semblance of age, so smooth was the skin and so
brilliant the eyes.

"The Indian needed help. Why should I not have given it him?" said
Landless.

"Because it is written, 'Cursed are the heathen who inhabit the land.'"

Landless smiled. "So you would not help an Indian in extremity. What if
it had been a negro?"

"Cursed are the negroes! 'Ye Ethiopians also, ye shall be slain by the
sword.'"

"A Quaker?"

"Cursed are the Quakers! 'Silly doves that have no heart.'"

Landless laughed. "You have cursed pretty well all the oppressed of the
land. I suppose you reserve your blessings for the powers that be."

"The powers that be! May the plagues of Egypt light upon them, and the
seven vials rain down their contents upon them! Cursed be they all, from
the young man, Charles Stuart, to that prelatical, tyrannical, noxious
Malignant, William Berkeley! May their names become a hissing and an
abomination! Roaring lions are their princes, ravening wolves are their
judges, their priests have polluted the sanctuary! May their flesh
consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes consume
away in their holes, and their tongues consume away in their mouths, and
may there be mourning among them, even as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in
the valley of Megiddon!"

"You are a Muggletonian?"

"Yea, verily am I! a follower of the saintly Ludovick Muggleton, and of
the saintlier John Reeve, of whom Ludovick is but the mouthpiece, even
as Aaron was of Moses. They are the two witnesses of the Apocalypse.
They are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks. To them and to
their followers it is given to curse and to spare not, to prophesy
against the peoples and kindred and nations and tongues whereon is set
the seal of the beast. Wherefore I, Win-Grace Porringer, testify against
the people of this land; against Prelatists and Papists, Presbyterians
and Independents, Baptists, Quakers and heathen; against princes,
governors, and men in high places; against them that call themselves
planters and trample the vineyard of the Lord; against their sons and
their daughters who are haughty, and walk with stretched-forth neck and
wanton eyes, walking and mincing and making a tinkling with their feet.
Cursed be they all! Surely they shall be as Sodom and Gomorrah, even the
breeding of salt-pits and a perpetual desolation!"

"Your curses seem not to have availed, friend," said Landless. "Curses
are apt to come home to roost. I should judge that yours have returned
to you in the shape of branding-irons."

The man raised a skeleton hand and stroked the red letter.

"This," he said coolly, "was given me when I ran away the second time.
The first time I was merely whipped. The third time I was shaven and
this shackle put upon my leg." He raised his foot and pointed to an iron
ring encircling the ankle. "The fourth time I was nailed by the ears to
the pillory, whence come these pretty scars."

Landless burst into grim laughter. "And after your fifth attempt, what
then?"

The man gave him a sidelong look. "I have not made my fifth attempt," he
said quietly.

They worked in silence for a few minutes. Then said Master Win-Grace
Porringer:--

"I was sent to the plantations, because, in defiance of the Act of
Uniformity (cursed be it, and the authors thereof), I attended a meeting
of the persecuted and broken remnant of the Lord's people. What was your
offense, friend, for I reckon that you come not here of your free will,
being neither a rustic nor a fool?"

"I came from Newgate," said Landless, after a pause. "I am a convict."

The man's hand stopped in the act of pulling off a shoot. He gave a slow
upward look at the figure beside him, let his eyes rest upon the face,
and looked slowly down again with a shake of the head.

"Humph!" he said. "The society in Newgate must be improved since my
time."

They worked without speaking until they had nearly reached the end of
the long double row, when said the Muggletonian:--

"You are too young, I take it, to have seen service in the wars?"

"I fought at Worcester."

"Upon which side?"

"The Commonwealth's."

"I thought as much. Humph! You were all, Parliament and Presbytery,
Puritan and Independent, Hampden and Vane and Oliver, in the gall of
bitterness and the bond of iniquity, very far from the pure light in
which walk the followers of the blessed Ludovick. At the last the two
witnesses will speak against you also. But in the mean time it were
easier for the children of light to walk under the rule of the Puritan
than under that of the lascivious house of Jeroboam which now afflicts
England for her sins. But the Lord hath a controversy with them! An east
wind shall come up, the wind of the Lord shall come up from the
wilderness! They shall be moved from their places! They shall lick the
dust like serpents, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the
earth, and be utterly destroyed! Think you not as I do, friend?" he
asked, turning suddenly upon Landless.

"I think," said Landless, "that you are talking that which, if
overheard, might give you a deeper scar than any you bear."

"But who is to hear? the tobacco, the Lord in heaven, and you. The
senseless plant will keep counsel, the Lord is not like to betray his
servant, and as for you, friend,--" he looked long and searchingly at
Landless. "Despite the place you come from, I do not think you one to
bring a man into trouble for being bold enough to say what you dare only
think."

Landless returned the look. "No," he said quietly. "You need have no
fear of me."

"I fear no one," said the other proudly.

Presently he craned his long body across the plant between them until
his lips almost touched the ear of the younger man.

"Shall you try to escape?" he whispered.

A smile curled Landless's lip. "Very probably I shall," he said dryly.
He looked down the long lines of broad green leaves at the toiling
figures, black and white, dull peasants at best, scoundrels at worst;
and beyond to the huddled cabins of the quarter, and to the great house,
rising fair and white from orchard and garden; seeing, as in a dream, a
man, young in years but old in sorrow, disgraced, outcast, friendless,
alone, creeping down a vista of weary years, day after day of
soul-deadening toil, of association with the mean and the vile, of
shameful submission to whip and finger. Escape! The word had beaten
through brain and heart so long and so persistently, that at times he
feared lest he should cry it aloud.

Win-Grace Porringer shook his head.

"It's not an easy thing to escape from a Virginia plantation. With dogs
and with horses they hunt you down, yea, with torches and boats. They
band themselves together against the fleeing sparrow. They call in the
heathen to their aid. And it is a fearful land, for great rivers bar
your way, and forests push you back, and deep quagmires clutch you and
hold you until the men of blood come up. And when you are taken they
cruelly maltreat you, and your term of service is doubled."

"And yet men have gotten away," said Landless.

"Yes, but not many. And those that get away are seldom heard of more.
The forest swallows them up, and after a while their skulls roll about
the hills, playthings for wolves, or the deep waters flow over their
bones, or they lie in a little heap of ashes at the foot of some Indian
torture stake."

"Why did you try to escape?" asked Landless.

The man gave him another sidelong look.

"I tried because I was a fool. I am no longer a fool. I know a better
way."

"A better way!"

"Hush!" The man looked over his shoulder and then whispered, "Will you
go with me to-night?"

"Go with you! Where?"

"To a man I know--a man who gives good advice."

"Many can do that, friend."

"Ay, but not show the way to profit by it as doth this man."

"Who is he?"

"A servant even as we are servants,--a learned and godly man, albeit not
a follower of the blessed Ludovick. Listen! About the rising of the moon
to-night, slip from your cabin and come to the blasted pine on the shore
of the inlet. There will be a boat there and I will be in it. We will go
to the cabin of the man of whom I speak. He is a cripple, and knowing
that he cannot run away, the godless and roistering Malignant who calls
himself our master hath given him a hut among the marshes, where he
mendeth nets. Come! I may not say more than that it will be worth your
while."

"If we are caught--"

"Our skins pay for us. But the Lord will shut the eyes of the overseers
that they see not, and their ears that they hear not, and we will be
safely back before the dawn. You will come?"

"Yes," said Landless. "I will come."



CHAPTER VI

THE HUT ON THE MARSH


It was shortly after midnight when the two servants slipped along the
inlet, silently and warily, and keeping their boat well under the shore.
It was a crazy affair, barely large enough for two, and requiring
constant bailing. When they had made half a mile from the quarters, the
Muggletonian, who rowed, turned the boat's head across the inlet, and
ran into a very narrow creek that wound in mazy doubles through the
marshes. They entered it, made the first turn, and the broad bosom of
the inlet, lit by a low, crimson moon, was as if it had never been. On
every side high marsh grass soughed in the night wind,--plains of
blackness with the red moon rising from them. The tide was low. So close
were the banks of wet, black earth, that they heard the crabs scuttling
down them, and Porringer made a jab with his pole at a great sheepshead
lying _perdu_ alongside. The water broke before them into spangles,
glittering phosphorescent ripples. A school of small fish, disturbed by
the oars, rushed past them, leaping from the water with silver flashes.
A turtle plunged sullenly. From the grass above came the sleepy cry of
marsh hens, and once a great white heron rose like a ghost across their
path. It flapped its wings and sailed away with a scream of wrath.

The boat had wound its tortuous way for many minutes before Porringer
said in a low voice: "We can speak safely now. There is nothing human
moving on these flats unless the witch, Margery, is abroad. Cursed may
she be, and cursed those who give her shelter and food and raiment and
lay offerings at her door, for surely it is written, 'Thou shalt not
suffer a witch to live.'"

"Is there anything a Muggletonian will not curse?" asked Landless.

"Yea," answered the other complacently. "There are ourselves, the salt
of the earth. There are a thousand or more of us."

"And the remainder of the inhabitants of the earth are reprobate and
doomed?"

"Yea, verily, they shall be as the burning of lime, as thorns cut up
will they be burned in the fire."

"Then why have you to do with me, and with the man to whom we are
going?"

"Because it is written: 'Make ye friends of the mammon of
unrighteousness;' and moreover there be degrees even in hell fire. I do
not place you, who have some inkling of the truth, nor the Independents
and Fifth Monarchy men (as for the Quakers they shall be utterly damned)
in the furnace seven times heated which is reserved for the bigoted and
bloody Prelatists who rule the land, swearing strange oaths, foining
with the sword, and delighting in vain apparel; keeping their feast days
and their new moons and their solemn festivals. They are the rejoicing
city that dwells carelessly, that says in her heart, 'I am, and there is
none beside me.' The day cometh when they shall be broken as the
breaking of a potter's vessel, yea, they shall be violently tossed like
a ball into a far country."

Here they struck a snag, well-nigh capsizing the boat. When she righted,
and Landless had bailed her out with a gourd, they proceeded in silence.
Landless was in no mood for speech. He did not know where they were
going, nor for what purpose, nor did he greatly care. He meant to
escape, and that as soon as his strength should be recovered and he
could obtain some knowledge of the country, and he meant to take no one
into his counsel, not the Muggletonian, whose own attempts had ended so
disastrously, nor the 'man who gave good advice.' As to this midnight
expedition he was largely indifferent. But it was something to escape
from the stifling atmosphere of the cabin where he had tossed from side
to side, listening to the heavy breathing of the convict Turk and
peasant lad with whom he was quartered, to the silver peace of
moon-flooded marsh and lapping water.

They made another turn, and in front of them shone out a light, gleaming
dully like a will-of-the-wisp. It looked close at hand, but the creek
turned upon itself, coiled and writhed through the marsh, and trebled
the distance.

The Muggletonian rested on his oar, and turned to Landless.

"Yonder is our bourne," he said gravely. "But I have a word to say to
you, friend, before we reach it. If, to curry favor with the
uncircumcised Philistines who set themselves over us, thou speakest of
aught thou mayest see or hear there to-night, may the Lord wither thy
tongue within thy mouth, may he smite thee with blindness, may he bring
thee quick into the pit! And if not the Lord, then will I, Win-Grace
Porringer, rise and smite thee!"

"You may spare your invectives," said Landless coldly. "I am no
traitor."

"Nay, friend," said the other in a milder tone. "I thought it not of
thee, or I had not brought thee thither."

He shoved the nose of the boat into the shore, and caught at a stake,
rising, water-soaked and rotten, from below the bank. Landless threw him
the looped end of a rope, and together they made the boat fast, then
scrambled up the three feet of fat, sliding earth to the level above
where the ground was dry, none but the highest of tides ever reaching
it. Fifty yards away rose a low hut. It stood close to another bend in
the creek, and before it were several boats, tied to stakes, and softly
rubbing their sides together. The hut had no window, but there were
interstices between the logs through which the light gleamed redly.

When the two men had reached it, the Muggletonian knocked upon the heavy
door, after a peculiar fashion, striking it four times in all. There was
a shuffling sound within, and (Landless thought) two voices ceased
speaking. Then some one said in a low voice and close to the door: "Who
is it?"

"The sword of the Lord and of Gideon," answered the Muggletonian.

A bar fell from the door, and it swung slowly inwards.

"Enter, friends," said a quiet voice. Landless, stooping his head,
crossed the threshold, and found himself in the presence of a man with a
high, white forehead and a grave, sweet face, who, leaning on a stick,
and dragging one foot behind him, limped back to the settle from which
he had risen, and fell to work upon a broken net as calmly as if he were
alone. Besides themselves he was the only inmate of the room.

A pine torch, stuck into a cleft in the table, cast a red and
flickering light over a rude interior, furnished with the table, the
settle, a chest and a straw pallet. From the walls and rafters hung
nets, torn or mended. In one corner was a great heap of dingy sail, in
another a sheaf of oars, and a third was wholly in darkness. Lying about
the earthen floor were several small casks to which the man motioned as
seats.

Leaving Landless near the door, Win-Grace Porringer dragged a keg to the
side of the settle, and sitting down upon it, approached his death mask
of a face close to the face of the mender of nets, and commenced a
whispered conversation. To Landless, awaiting rather listlessly the
outcome of this nocturnal adventure, came now and then a broken
sentence. "He hath not the look of a criminal, but--" "Of Puritan
breeding, sayest thou?" "We need young blood." Then after prolonged
whispering, "No traitor, at least."

At length the Muggletonian arose and came towards Landless. "My friend
would speak with you alone," he said, "I will stand guard outside." He
went out, closing the door behind him.

The mender of nets beckoned Landless. "Will you come nearer?" he asked
in a quiet refined voice that was not without a ring of power. "As you
see, I am lame, and I cannot move without pain."

Landless came and sat down beside the table, resting his elbow upon the
wood, and his chin upon his hand. The mender of nets put down his work,
and the two measured each other in silence.

Landless saw a man of middle age who looked like a scholar, but who
might have been a soldier; a man with a certain strong, bright sweetness
of look in a spare, worn face, and underlying the sweetness a still and
deadly determination. The mender of nets saw, in his turn, a figure
lithe and straight as an Indian's, a well-poised head, and a handsome
face set in one fixed expression of proud endurance. A determined face,
too, with dark, resolute eyes and strong mouth, the face of a man who
has done and suffered much, and who knows that he will both do and
suffer more.

"I am told," said the mender of nets, "that you are newly come to the
plantations."

"I was brought by the ship God-Speed a month ago."

"You did not come as an indented servant?"

Landless reddened. "No."

"Nor as a martyr to principle, a victim of that most iniquitous and
tyrannical Act of Uniformity?"

"No."

"Nor as one of those whom they call Oliverians?"

"No."

The mender of nets tapped softly against the table with his thin, white
fingers. Landless said coldly:--

"These are idle questions. The man who brought me here hath told you
that I am a convict."

The other looked at him keenly. "I have heard convicts talk before this.
Why do you not assert your innocence?"

"Who would believe me if I did?"

There was a silence. Landless, raising his eyes, met those of the mender
of nets, large, luminous, gravely tender, and reading him like a book.

"I will believe you," said the mender of nets.

"Then, as God is above us," said the other solemnly, "I did not do the
thing! And He knows that I thank you, sir, for your trust. I have not
found another--"

"I know, lad, I know! How was it?"

"I was a Commonwealth's man. My father was dead, my kindred attainted,
and I had a powerful enemy. I was caught in a net of circumstance. And
Morton was my judge."

"Humph! the marvel is that you ever got nearer to the plantations than
Tyburn. Your name is--"

"Godfrey Landless."

"Landless! Once I knew--and loved--a Warham Landless--a brave soldier, a
gallant gentleman, a true Christian. He fell at Worcester."

"He was my father."

The mender of nets covered his eyes with his hand. "O Lord! how
wonderful are thy ways!" he said beneath his breath, then aloud, "Lad,
lad, I cannot wholly sorrow to see you here. Wise in counsel, bold in
action, patient, farseeing, brave, was thy father, and I think thou hast
his spirit. Thou hast his eyes, now that I look at thee more closely. I
have prayed for such a man."

"I am glad you knew my father," said Landless simply.

After a long silence, in which the minds of both had gone back to other
days, the mender of nets spoke gravely.

"You have no cause to love the present government?"

"No," said Landless grimly.

"You were heart and hand for the Commonwealth?"

"Yes."

"You mean to escape from this bondage?"

"Yes."

The mender of nets took from his bosom a little worn book. "Will you
swear upon this that you will never reveal what I am about to say to
you, save to such persons as I shall designate? For myself I would take
your simple word, for we are both gentlemen, but other lives than mine
hang in the balance."

Landless touched the book with his lips. "I swear," he said.

The man brought his serene, white face nearer.

"What would you have given," he asked solemnly, "for the cause for which
your father died?"

"My life," said Landless.

"Would you give it still?"

"A worthless gift," said Landless bitterly. "Yea, I would give it, but
the cause is dead."

The other shook his head. "The cause of the just man dieth not."

There was a pause broken by the mender of nets.

"Thou art no willing slave, I trow. The thought of escape is ever with
thee."

"I shall escape," said Landless deliberately. "And if they track me they
shall not take me alive."

The mender of nets gave a melancholy smile. "They would track you, never
fear!" He leaned forward and touched Landless with his hand. "What if I
show you a better way?" he asked in a whisper.

"What way?"

"A way to recover your liberty, and with it, the liberty of downtrodden
brethren. A way to raise the banner of the Commonwealth and to put down
the Stuart."

Landless stared. "A miserable hut," he said, "in the midst of a desolate
Virginia marsh, and within it, a brace of slaves, the one a cripple, the
other a convict,--and Charles Stuart on his throne in Whitehall!
Friend, this dismal place hath turned your wits!"

The other smiled. "My wits are sound," he said, "as sound as they were
upon that day when I gave my voice for the death (a sad necessity!) of
this young man's father. And I do not think to shake England,--I speak
of Virginia."

"Of Virginia!"

"Yea, of this goodly land, a garden spot, a new earth where should be
planted the seeds of a mighty nation, strong in justice and simple
right, wise, temperate, brave; an enlightened people, serving God in
spirit and in truth, not with the slavish observance of prelatist and
papist, nor with the indecent familiarity of the Independent; loyal to
their governors, but exercising the God-given right of choosing those
who are to rule over them; a people amongst whom liberty shall walk
unveiled, and to whom Astræa shall come again; a people as free as the
eagle I watched this morning, soaring higher and ever higher, strongly
and proudly, rejoicing in its progress heavenward."

"In other words, a republic," said Landless dryly.

"Why not?" answered the other with shining, unseeing eyes. "It is a
dream we dreamed ten years ago, I and Vane and Sidney and Marten and
many others,--but Oliver rudely wakened us. Then it was by the banks of
the Thames, and it was for England. Now, on the shores of Chesapeake I
dream again, and it is for Virginia. You smile!"

"Have you considered, sir,--I do not know your name."

"Robert Godwyn is my name."

"Have you considered, Master Godwyn, that the Virginians do not want a
republic, that they are more royalist and prelatical than are their
brethren at home; that they out-Herod Herod in their fantastic loyalty?"

"That is true of the class with whom you have come into contact,--of the
masters. But there is much disaffection among the people at large. And
there are the Nonconformists, the Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists,
even the Quakers, though they say they fight not. To them all, Charles
Stuart is the Pharaoh whose heart the Lord hardened, and William
Berkeley is his task-master."

"Any one else?"

"There are those of the gentry who were Commonwealth's men, and who
chafe sorely under the loss of office and disfavor into which they have
fallen."

"And these all desire a republic?"

"They desire the downfall of the royalists with William Berkeley at
their head. The republic would follow."

"And when a handful of Puritan gentlemen, a few hundred Nonconformists,
and the rabble of the colony shall have executed this project, have
usurped the government, dethroning the king, or his governor, which is
the same thing,--then will come in from the mouth of Thames a couple of
royal frigates and blow your infant republic into space."

"I do not think so. The frigates would come undoubtedly, but I am of
another opinion as to the result of their coming. They would not take us
unprepared as those of the Commonwealth took William Berkeley in
fifty-two. And with a plentiful lack of money and a Dutch war
threatening, Charles Stuart could not send unlimited frigates. Moreover,
if Virginia revolted, Puritan New England would follow her example, and
she would find allies in the Dutch of New Amsterdam."

"You spin large fancies," said Landless, with some scorn. "I suppose you
are plotting with these gentlemen you speak of?"

"No," said the man, with a scarcely perceptible hesitation. "No, they
are few in number and scattered. Moreover, they might plot amongst
themselves but never with--a servant."

"Then you are concerned with the Nonconformists?"

"The Nonconformists are timid, and dream not that the day of deliverance
is at hand."

Landless began to laugh. "Do you mean to say," he demanded, "that you
and I, for I suppose you count on my assistance, are to enact a kind of
Pride's Purge of our own? That we are to drive from the land the King's
Governor, Council, Burgesses and trainbands; sweep into the bay Sir
William Berkeley and Colonel Verney, and all those gold-laced planters
who dined with him the other day? That we are to take possession of the
colony as picaroons do of a vessel, and hoisting our flag,--a crutch
surmounted by a ball and chain on a ground sable,--proclaim a republic?"

"Not we alone."

"Oh, ay! I forgot the worthy Muggletonian."

"He is but one of many," said the mender of nets.

Landless leaned forward, a light growing in his eyes. "Speak out!" he
said. "What is it that will break this chain?"

The mender of nets, too, bent forward from his settle until his breath
mingled with the breath of the younger man.

"A slave insurrection," he said.



CHAPTER VII

A MENDER OF NETS


"A slave insurrection!"

Landless, recoiling, struck with his shoulder the torch, which fell to
the floor. The flame went out, leaving only a red gleaming end. "I will
get another," said the mender of nets, and limped to the corner where
the shadow had been thickest. Landless, left in darkness, heard a faint
muttering as though Master Robert Godwyn were talking to himself. It
took some time to find the torch; but at length Godwyn returned with one
in his hand, and kindled it at the expiring light.

Landless rose from his seat, and strode to and fro through the hut. His
pulses beat to bursting; there was a tingling at his finger-tips; to his
startled senses the hut seemed to expand, to become a cavern,
interminable and unfathomable, wide as the vaulted earth, filled with
awful, shadowy places and strange, lurid lights. The mender of nets
became a far-off sphinx-like figure.

Godwyn watched him in silence. He had a large knowledge of human nature,
and he saw into the mind and heart of the restless figure. He himself
was a philosopher, and wore his chains lightly, but he guessed that the
iron had entered deeply into the soul of the man before him. The sturdy
peasants, indented servants with but a few short years to serve, better
fed and better clad than their fellows at home, found life on a Virginia
plantation no sweet or easy thing; the political and ecclesiastical
offenders enjoyed it still less, while the small criminal class found
their punishment quite sufficiently severe. To this man the life must be
a slow _peine forte et dure_, breaking his body with toil, crushing his
soul with a hopeless degradation. The thought of escape must be ever
present with him. But escape in the conventional manner, through
pathless forests and over broad streams, was a thing rarely attained to.
Ninety-nine out of a hundred failed; and the last state of the man who
failed was worse than his first.

Landless strode over to the table, and leaned his weight upon it.

"Listen!" he said. "God knows I am a desperate man! My attempt to escape
failing, there is naught but His word between me and the deepest pool of
these waters. I am no saint. I hate my enemies. Restore to me my sword,
pit me against them one by one, and I will fight my way to freedom or
die.... A fair fight, too, a rising of the people against oppression; a
challenge to the oppressor to do his worst; a gallant leading of a
forlorn hope.... But a slave insurrection! a midnight butchery! There
was one who used to tell me tales of such risings in the Indies. Murder
and rapine, fire rising through the night, planters cut down at their
very thresholds, shrieking women tortured, children flung into the
flames,--a carnival of blood and horror!"

"We are not in the Indies," said the other quietly. "There will be no
such devil's work here. Sit down and listen while I put the thing before
you as it is. There are, most iniquitously held as slaves in this
Virginia, some four hundred Commonwealth's men, each one of whom, at
home and in his own station, was a man of mark. Many were Ironsides. And
each one is a force in himself,--cool, determined, intrepid,--and wholly
desperate. With them are many victims of the Act of Uniformity, godly
men, eaten up with zeal. For their freedom they would dare much; for
their faith they would spill every drop of their blood."

"They are like our friend, the Muggletonian, fanatics all, I suppose,"
said Landless.

"Possibly. Your fanatic is the best fighting machine yet invented. Do
you not see that these two classes form a regiment against which no
trainbands, no force which these planters could raise, would stand?"

"But they are scattered, dispersed through the colony!"

"Ay, but they can be brought together! And to that end, seeing how few
there are upon any one plantation, upon the day when they rise, they
must raise with them servants and slaves. Then will they overpower
masters and overseers, and gathering to one point, form there a force
which will beat down all opposition. It is simple enough. We will but do
that which it was proposed to do ten years ago. You know the
instructions given by the Parliament to the four commissioners?"

"They were to summon the colony to surrender to the Commonwealth. If it
did so, well and good; if not, war was to be declared, and the servants
invited to rise against their masters and so purchase their freedom."

"Precisely. Berkeley submitted, and there was no rising. This time there
will be no summons, but a rising, and a very great one. It will be,
primarily, a rising of four hundred Oliverians, strong to avenge many
and grievous wrongs; but with them will rise servants and slaves, and to
the banner of the Commonwealth, beneath which they will march, will
flock every Nonconformist in the land, and, when success is assured,
then will come in and give us weight and respectability those (and they
are not a few) of the better classes who long in their hearts for the
good days of the Commonwealth, and yet dare not lift a finger to bring
them back."

"And the royalists?"

"If they resist, their blood be upon them! But there shall be no
carnage, no butchery. And if they submit they shall be unmolested, even
as they were ten years ago. There is land enough for all."

"The servants and slaves?"

"They that join with us, of whatever class, shall be freed."

"This insurrection is actually in train?"

"Let us call it a revolution. Yes, it is in train as far as regards the
Oliverians. We have but begun to sound servants and slaves."

"And you?"

"I am, for lack of a better, General to the Oliverians."

"And you believe yourself able to control these motley forces,--men
wronged and revengeful, fanatics, peasants, brutal negroes, mulattoes
(whom they say are devils), convicts,--to say to them, 'Thus far must
you go, and no farther.' You invoke a fiend that may turn and rend you!"

Godwyn shaded his eyes with his hand. "Yes," he said at last, speaking
with energy. "I do believe it! I know it is a desperate game; but the
stake! I believe in myself. And I have four hundred able adjutants, men
who are to me what his Ironsides were to Oliver, but none--" he
stretched out his hand, thin, white, and delicate as a woman's, and laid
it upon the brown one resting upon the table. "Lad," he said in a
gravely tender voice, "I have none upon this plantation in whom I can
put absolute trust. There are few Oliverians here, and they are like
Win-Grace Porringer, in whom zeal hath eaten up discretion. Lad, I need
a helper! I have spoken to you freely; I have laid my heart before you;
and why? Because I, who was and am a gentleman, see in you a gentleman,
because I would take your word before all the oaths of all the peasant
servants in Virginia, because you have spirit and judgment; because,--in
short, because I could love you as I loved your father before you. You
have great wrongs. We will right them together. Be my lieutenant, my
confidant, my helper! Come! put your hand in mine and say, 'I am with
you, Robert Godwyn, heart and soul.'"

Landless sprang to his feet. "It were easy to say that," he said
hoarsely, "for, in all the two years I lay rotting in prison, and in
these weeks of sordid misery here in Virginia, yours is the only face
that has looked kindly upon me, yours the only voice that has told me I
was believed.... But it is a fearful thing you propose! If all go as you
say it will,--why WELL! but if not, Hell will be in the land. I must
have time to think, to judge for myself, to decide--"

The door swung stealthily inward, and in the opening appeared the dead
white face, with the great letter sprawling over it, of Master Win-Grace
Porringer.

"There are boats on the creek," he said. "Two coming up, one coming
down."

Godwyn nodded. "I hold conference to-night with men from this and the
two neighboring plantations. You will stay where you are and see and
hear them. Only you must be silent; for they must not know that you are
not entirely one with us, as I am well assured you will be."

"They are Oliverians?"

"All but two or three."

"I secured the mulatto," interrupted the Muggletonian.

"Ay," said Godwyn, "I thought it well to have one slave representative
here to-night. These mulattoes are devils; but they can plot, and they
can keep a still tongue. But I shall not trust him or his kind too far."

The peculiar knock--four strokes in all--sounded upon the door, and
Porringer went to it. "Who is there?" passed on the one side, and "The
sword of the Lord and of Gideon" on the other. The door swung open, and
there entered two men of a grave and determined cast of countenance.
Both had iron-gray hair, and one was branded upon the forehead with the
letter that appeared upon the cheek of the Muggletonian. Again the knock
sounded, the countersign was given, and the door opened to admit a pale,
ascetic-looking youth, with glittering eyes and a crimson spot on each
cheek, who stooped heavily and coughed often. He was followed by another
stern-faced Commonwealth's man, and he in turn by a brace of
broad-visaged rustics and a smug-faced man, who looked like a small
shopkeeper. After an interval came two more Oliverians, grim of eye,
and composed in manner.

Last of all came the mulatto of the pale amber color and the gold
ear-rings; and with him came the long-nosed, twitching-lipped convict in
whose company Landless had crossed the Atlantic. His name was Trail; and
Landless, knowing him for a villainous rogue, started at finding him
amongst the company.

His presence there was evidently unexpected. Godwyn frowned and turned
sharply upon the mulatto. "Who gave you leave to bring this man?" he
demanded sternly.

The mulatto was at no loss. "Worthy Señors all," he said smoothly,
addressing himself to the company in general. "This Señor Trail is a
good man, as I have reason to know. Once we were together in San
Domingo, slave to a villainous cavalier from Seville. With the help of
St. Jago and the Mother of God, we killed him and made our escape. Now,
after many years, we meet here in a like situation. I answer for my
friend as I answer for myself, myself, Luiz Sebastian, the humble and
altogether-devoted servant of you all, worshipful Señors."

The man with the branded forehead muttered something in which the only
distinguishable words were, "Scarlet woman," and "Papist half-breed,"
and the smug-faced man cried out, "Trail is a forger and thief! I
remember his trial at the Bailey, a week before I signed as storekeeper
to Major Carrington."

This speech of the smug-faced man created something of a commotion, and
one or two started to their feet. The mulatto looked about him with an
evil eye.

"My friend has been in trouble, it is true," he said, still very
smoothly. "He will not make the worse conspirator for that. And why,
worthy Señors, should you make a difference between him and one other I
see in company? Mother of God! they are both in the same boat!" He fixed
his large eyes on Landless as he spoke, and his thick lips curled into a
tigerish smile.

Landless half rose, but Godwyn laid a detaining hand upon his arm. "Be
still," he said in a low voice, "and let me manage this matter."

Landless obeyed, and the mender of nets turned to the assembly, who by
this time were looking very black.

"Friends," he said with quiet impressiveness, "I think you know me,
Robert Godwyn, well enough to know that I make no move in these great
matters without good and sufficient reason. I have good and sufficient
reason for wishing to associate with us this young man,--yea, even to
make him a leader among us. He is one of us--he fought at Worcester. And
that he is an innocent man, falsely accused, falsely imprisoned,
wrongfully sent to the plantations, I well believe,--for I will believe
no wrong of the son of Warham Landless."

There was a loud murmur of surprise through the room, and one of the
Oliverians sprung to his feet, crying out, "Warham Landless was my
colonel! I will follow his son were he ten times a convict!"

Godwyn waited for the buzz of voices to cease and then calmly proceeded,
"As to this man whom Luiz Sebastian hath brought with him, I know
nothing. But it matters little. Sooner or later we must engage his
class,--as well commence with him as with another. He will be faithful
for his own sake."

The dark faces of his audience cleared gradually. Only the youth with
the hectic cheeks cried out, "I have hated the congregation of evil
doers, and I will not sit with the wicked!" and rose as if to make for
the door. Win-Grace Porringer pulled him down with a muttered, "Curse
you for a fool! Shall not the Lord shave with a hired razor? When these
men have done their work, then shall they be cut down and cast into
outer darkness, until when, hold thy peace!"

The company now applied itself to the transaction of business. Trail was
duly sworn in, not without a deal of oily glibness and unnecessary
protestation on his part. The man who held the little, worn Bible now
turned to Landless, but upon Godwyn's saying quietly, "I have already
sworn him," the book was returned to the bosom of its owner.

Each conspirator had his report to make. Landless listened with grave
attention and growing wonder to long lists of plantations and the
servant and slave force thereon; to news from the up-river estates, and
from the outlying settlements upon the Rappahannock and the Pamunkey,
and from across the bay in Accomac; to accounts of secret arsenals
slowly filling with rude weapons; to allusions to the well-affected
sailors on board those ships that were likely to be in harbor during the
next two months;--to the details of a formidable and far-reaching
conspiracy.

The Oliverians spoke of the hour in which this mine should be sprung as
the great and appointed day of the Lord, the day when the Lord was to
stretch forth his hand and smite the malignants, the day when Israel
should be delivered out of the hand of Pharaoh. The branded man
apostrophized Godwyn as Moses. Their stern and rigid features relaxed,
their eyes glistened, their breath came short and thick. Once the youth
who had wished to avoid the company of the wicked broke into hysterical
sobbing. The two rustics spoke little, but possibly thought the more. To
them the day of the Lord translated itself the day of their obtaining a
freehold. The smug-faced shopkeeper put in his oar now and again, but
only to be swept aside by the torrent of Biblical quotation. The newly
admitted Trail kept a discreet silence, but used his furtive greenish
eyes to good purpose. Luiz Sebastian sat with the stillness of a great,
yellow, crouching tiger cat.

Godwyn heard all in silence. Not till the last man had had his say did
he begin to speak, approving, suggesting, directing, moulding in his
facile hands the incongruous and disjointed mass of information and
opinion into a rounded whole. The men, listening to him with breathless
attention, gave grim nods of approval. At one point of his discourse the
branded man cried out:--

"If the Puritan gentry you talk of would gird themselves like men, and
come forth to the battle, how quickly would the Lord's work be done!
They are the drones within the hive! They expect the honey, but do not
the work."

"It is so," said Godwyn, "but they have lands and goods and fame to
lose. We have naught to lose--can be no worse off than we are now."

"If the Laodicean, Carrington,"--began the branded man.

Godwyn interrupted him. "This is beside the matter. Major Carrington is
a godly man who hath, though in secret, done many kindnesses to us poor
prisoners of the Lord. Let us be content with that."

A moment later he said, "It waxeth late, friends, and loath would I be
for one of you to be discovered. Come to me again a week from to-night.
The word will be, 'The valley of Jehoshaphat.'"

The conspirators dropped away, in twos and threes, gliding silently off
in their stolen boats between the walls of waving grass. When, last of
all save Landless and the Muggletonian, Trail and Luiz Sebastian
approached the door, Godwyn stopped them with a gesture.

"Stay a moment," he said. "I have a word to say to you. We may as well
be frank with you. I distrust you, of course. It is natural that I
should. And you distrust me as much. It is natural that you should. I
would do without the aid of you and the class you represent if I could,
but I cannot. You would do without my aid if you could, but you cannot.
Betray me, and whatever blood money you get, it will not be that freedom
which you want. We are obliged to work together, unequal yoke-fellows as
we are. Do I make myself understood?"

"To a marvel, Señor," said Luiz Sebastian.

"Damn my soul, but you're a sharp one!" said Trail.

Godwyn smiled. "That is enough, we understand one another. Good-night."

The two glided off in their turn, and Godwyn said to the Muggletonian,
"Friend Porringer, that mended sail must be bestowed in the large boat
before the hut against Haines' coming for it in the morning. Will you
take it to the boat for me? And if you will wait there this young man
shall join you shortly."

The Muggletonian nodded, piled the heap of dingy sail upon his head and
strode off. The mender of nets turned to Landless.

"Well," he said. "What do you think?"

"I think," said Landless, raising his voice, "that the gentleman in the
dark corner must be tired of standing."

There was a dead silence. Then a piece of shadow detached itself from
the other heavy shadows in the dark corner and came forward into the
torch light, where it resolved itself into a handsome figure of a man,
apparently in the prime of life, and wearing a riding cloak of green
cloth and a black riding mask. Not content with the concealment afforded
by the mask, he had pulled his beaver low over his eyes and with one
hand held the folds of the cloak about the lower part of his face. He
rested the other ungloved hand upon the table and stared fixedly at
Landless. "You have good eyes," he said at last, in a voice as muffled
as his countenance.

"It is a warm night," said Landless with a smile. "If Major Carrington
would drop that heavy cloak, he would find it more comfortable."

The man recoiled. "You know me!" he cried incredulously.

"I know the Carrington arms and motto. _Tenax et Fidelis_, is it not?
You should not wear your signet ring when you go a-plotting."

The Surveyor-General of the Colony dropped his cloak, and springing
forward seized Landless by the shoulders.

"You dog!" he hissed between his teeth, "if you dare betray me, I'll
have every drop of your blood lashed out of your body!"

Landless wrenched himself free. "I am no traitor," he said coldly.

Carrington recovered himself. "Well, well," he said, still breathing
hastily, "I believe you. I heard all that passed to-night, and I
believe you. You have been a gentleman."

"Had I my sword, I should be happy to give Major Carrington proof," said
Landless sternly.

The other smiled. "There, there, I was hasty, but by Heaven! you gave me
a start! I ask your pardon."

Landless bowed, and the mender of nets struck in. "I was sorry to keep
you so long, Major Carrington, in such an uncomfortable position. But
the arrival of the Muggletonian before he was due, together with your
desire for secrecy, left me no alternative."

"I surmise, friend Godwyn, that you would not have been sorry had this
young man proclaimed his discovery in full conclave," said Carrington
with a keen glance.

Godwyn's thin cheek flushed, but he answered composedly, "It is
certainly true that I would like to see Major Carrington committed
beyond withdrawal to this undertaking. But he will do me the justice to
believe that if, by raising my finger, I could so commit him, I would
not do so without his permission."

"Faith, it is so!" said the other, then turned to Landless with a stern
smile. "You will understand, young man, that Miles Carrington never
attended, nor will attend, a meeting wherein the peace of the realm is
conspired against by servants. If Miles Carrington ever visits Robert
Godwyn, servant to Colonel Verney, 'tis simply to employ him (with his
master's consent) in the mending of nets, or to pass an idle hour
reading Plato, Robert Godwyn having been a scholar of note at home."

"Certainly," said Landless, answering the smile. "Major Carrington and
Master Godwyn are at present much interested in the philosopher's
pretty but idle conception of a Republic, wherein philosophers shall
rule, and warriors be the bulwark of the state, and no Greek shall
enslave a fellow Greek, but only outer barbarians--all of which is
vastly pretty on paper--but they agree that it would turn the world
upside down were it put into practice."

"Precisely," said Carrington with a smile.

"You had best be off, lad," put in Godwyn. "Woodson is an early riser,
and he must not catch you gadding.... You will think on what you have
heard to-night, and will come to me again as soon as you can make
opportunity?"

"Yes," said Landless slowly. "I will come, but I make no promises."

He found Porringer seated in their boat, patiently awaiting him. They
cast off and rowed back the way they had come through the stillness of
the hour before dawn. The tide being full, the black banks had
disappeared, and the grass, sighing and whispering, waved on a level
with their boat. When they slid at last into the broader waters of the
inlet, the stars were paling, and in the east there gleamed a faint rose
tint, the ghost of a color. A silver mist lay upon land and water, and
through it they stole undetected to their several cabins.

Meanwhile the two men, left alone in the hut on the marsh, looked one
another in the face.

"Are you sure that he can be trusted?" demanded Carrington.

"I would answer for his father's son with my life."

"What of these scruples of his? Faith! an unusual conjunction--a convict
and scruples! Will you manage to dispose of them?"

Godwyn smiled with wise, sad eyes. "Time will dispose of them," he said
quietly. "He is new to the life. Let him taste its full bitterness. It
will plead powerfully against his--scruples. He has as yet no special
and private grievance. Wait until he gets into trouble with Woodson or
his master. When he has done that and has taken the consequences, he
will be ours. We can bide our time."



CHAPTER VIII

THE NEW SECRETARY


                "Tell me not, sweet, I am unkind,
                  That from the nunnery
                Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind,
                  To war and arms I flee....

                "Yet this inconstancy is such
                  As you too shall adore.
                I could not love thee, dear, so much,
                  Loved I not honor more."

The rich notes rang higher and higher, filling the languid air, and
drowning the trill of the mockingbirds. Patricia, filling her apron with
midsummer flowers, sang with a careless passion, her mind far away in
the midst of a Whitehall pageant, described to her the night before by
that silver-tongued courtier, Sir Charles Carew.

Still singing, she went up the steps of the porch and into the cool wide
hall. In her face there was a languorous beauty born of the sunshine
outside; a soft color glowed in her cheeks, her eyes were large and
dreamy, little damp tendrils of gold strayed about her temples. She
threw down her hat, and loosened the kerchief of delicate lawn from
about her warm young throat; then, with the flowers still in her arms,
she raised the latch of the door of a room held sacred to Colonel
Verney, and entered, to find herself face to face with the convict,
Godfrey Landless, who sat at a table covered with papers, busily
writing.

She started violently, and the mass of flowers fell to the floor,
shattering the petals from the roses and poppies. Landless came forward,
knelt down, and, picking them up, restored them to her without a word.

"I thank you," she said coldly. "I thought my father was here."

"Colonel Verney is in the next room, madam."

She moved to the door leading into the great room with the gait of a
princess, and Landless went back to his work.

Colonel Verney, on his knees before the richly carven chest containing
his library, looked up from the two score volumes to behold a mass of
brilliant blooms transferred from two white arms to the ground outside
the open window.

"Well, sweetheart," he said. "What is it?"

"Papa," she said, coming to his side, and looking down upon him with a
vexed face; "you promised me that you would employ no more convicts in
the house."

"Why, so I did, my dear," answered her father, comfortably seating
himself upon "Purchas: His Pilgrimmes." "And I meant to keep my word,
but this is the way of it. The day after you went to Rosemead with Betty
Carrington, down comes young Shaw with the fever, and has to be sent
home to his mother. His illness came at a precious inconvenient season,
for the gout was in my fingers again, and I was bent on disappointing
William Berkeley, who hath wagered a thousand pounds of sweet scented
that my 'Statement of the Evil Wrought by the Navigation Laws to His
Majesty's Colony of Virginia' won't be finished in time for the sailing
of the God-Speed. So I told Woodson to find me some one among the men
who knew how to write. He brought me this fellow, and I vow he is an
improvement on young Shaw. He doesn't ask questions, and he is a very
pretty Latinist. The paper will be finished to-day. I was but searching
for a neat quotation to close with. Then the fellow will go back to the
tobacco, and you will be no longer annoyed by his presence in the house.
Now kiss me, sweet chuck, and begone, for I am busied upon affairs of
state."

Left alone, Colonel Verney pored over his books until he found what he
wanted, when, after rearranging his library in the carved chest, he rose
stiffly to his feet, and went into the next room and up to the
writing-table. Landless rose from his seat, and, resigning it to his
master, stood gravely by while the Colonel looked over the manuscript
upon which he had been employed.

"Ha!" said the Colonel. "A very fair copy! You have numbered and headed
the pages, I observe. Let me see, let me see, let me see," and he ran
them over between his fingers. "Oppressive Nature of the Act.--Grave
Dissatisfaction.--It advantageth No One save Small Traders at
Home.--Increase of Revenue to His Majesty if 't were repealed.--Dutch
Bottoms.--Trade with Russia.--His Majesty's Poor Planters Throw
Themselves upon His Majesty's Mercy. Very good, very good!"

"It is nigh finished, sir," said Landless.

"Ay, ay! By the Lord Harry, William Berkeley will repent his wager! A
pretty paper it is, and containeth many excellent points and much good
Latin, and you have copied it fairly and cleanly. It is a pity, my man,"
he added not unkindly, "that you should have lived so evilly as to
bring yourself to this pass, for you have in you the making of an
excellent secretary."

"Is it your will, sir, that I finish the copy now?"

"Yes, but take it to the small table within the window there. I myself
will sit here and jot down some ideas for my dedication which you can
afterwards amplify."

The worthy colonel pulled the big Turkey worked chair closer to the
table, turned back his ruffles and fell to work. Landless retired to the
table within the window, and for a while naught was heard in the quiet
room but the scratching of quills, as master and man drove them across
the whitey-brown sheets.

At length the master pushed his chair back and stretched himself with a
prodigious yawn. "The Lord be thanked!" he said, addressing the air.
"That's done! And it is time to see to the dressing of that sore upon
Prince Rupert's shoulder; and I remember Haines said that one of the
hounds had been gored by Carrington's bull. Haines can't dress a wound.
Haines is a bungler. But, by the Lord Harry! Richard Verney is as good a
veterinary as he is a statesman."

He lifted his burly figure from the depths of the chair, and going over
to Landless, dropped upon the table before him a page of hieroglyphics
for him to decipher at his leisure. Then with another word of
commendation for the beauty of the copy, he walked heavily from the
room. A moment later Landless heard him whistle to his dogs, and then
break into a stave of a cavalier drinking song, sung at the top of a
full manly voice, and dying away in the direction of the stables.

Landless' hand moved to and fro across the paper with a tireless
patience. He did not go back to the central table, for the light was
better in the window, and a vagrant breath of air strayed in now and
then. The window was a deep one, and heavy drugget curtains hung between
it and the rest of the room.

The door opened and a man's voice said: "This room is darkened into
delicious coolness. Shall we try it, cousin?"

Patricia entered like a sunbeam, and after her sauntered Sir Charles
Carew, languid, debonair, and perfectly appareled.

Landless, seeing them plainly, did not realize that in the shadow of the
heavy curtains he was himself unseen. He had grown so accustomed to the
quiet insolence that overlooks the presence of an inferior as it does
that of any other article of furniture, that he did not doubt that the
fine lady and gentleman before him were perfectly aware of the presence
in the room of the slave whom his master's caprice had raised for the
moment to the post of secretary. It was some few minutes before he began
to consider within himself that he might be mistaken.



CHAPTER IX

AN INTERRUPTED WOOING


Sir Charles pushed forward the big chair for Patricia, and himself
dropped upon a stool at her feet. Taking her fan from her, he began to
play with it, lightly commenting on the picture of the Rape of Europa
with which it was adorned. Suddenly he closed it, tossed it aside, and
leaning forward, possessed himself of her hand.

"Madam, sweet cousin, divinest Patricia," he exclaimed in a carefully
impassioned tone; "do you not know that I am your slave, the captive of
your bow and spear, that I adore you? I adore you! and you,
flinty-hearted goddess, give no word of encouragement to your prostrate
worshiper. You trample upon the offering of sighs and tears which he
lays at your feet; you will not listen when he would pour into your ear
his aspirations towards a sweeter and richer life than he has ever
known. Will it be ever thus? Will not the goddess stoop from her throne
to make him the happiest of mortals, to win his eternal gratitude, to
become herself forever the object of the most respectful, the most
ardent, the most devoted love?"

He flung himself upon his knee and pressed her hand to his heart with
passion not all affected. He had come to consider it a piece of
monstrous good luck, that, since he must make a wealthy match,
Providence (or whatever as a Hobbist he put in place of Providence),
had, in pointing him the fortune, pointed also to Patricia Verney. But
the night before, in the privacy of his chamber, he had suddenly sat up
between the Holland sheets with a startled and amused expression upon
his handsome face, swathed around with a wonderful silken night-cap, and
had exclaimed to the carven heads surmounting the bed-posts, "May the
Lard sink me! but I'm in love!" and had lain down again with an
astonished laugh. While sipping his morning draught he made up his mind
to secure the prize that very day, in pursuance of which determination
he made a careful toilet, assuming a suit that was eminently becoming to
his blonde beauty. Also his valet slightly darkened the lower lids of
his eyes, thereby giving him a larger, more languishing and melancholy
aspect.

Patricia, from the depths of the Turkey worked chair, gazed with calm
amusement upon her kneeling suitor.

"You talk beautifully, cousin," she said at length. "'Tis as good as a
page from 'Artemène.'"

Sir Charles bit his lip. "It is a page from my heart, madam; nay, it is
my heart itself that I show you."

"And would you forsake all those beautiful ladies who are so madly in
love with you?--I vow, sir, you told me so yourself! Let me see, there
was Lady Mary and Lady Betty, Mistress Winifred, the Countess of ---- and
Madame la Duchesse de ----. Will Corydon leave all the nymphs lamenting
to run after a little salvage wench who does not want him?"

"'S death, madam! you mock me!" cried the baronet, starting to his
feet.

"Sure, I meant no harm, cousin; I but put in a good word for the poor
ladies at Whitehall. I fear that you are but a recreant wooer."

"Will you marry me, madam?" demanded Sir Charles, standing before her
with folded arms.

She slowly shook her head. "I do not love you, cousin."

"I will teach you to do so."

"I do not think you can," she said demurely. "Though I am sure I do not
know why I do not. You are a very fine gentleman, a soldier and a
courtier, witty, brave and handsome--and this match"--a sigh--"is my
father's dearest wish. But I do not love you, sir, and I shall not marry
you until I do."

"Ah!" cried Sir Charles, and sunk again upon his knee. "You give me
hope! I will teach you to love me! I will exhibit towards you such
absolute fidelity, such patient devotion, such uncomplaining submission
to your cruel probation, that you will perforce pity me, and pity will
grow by soft degrees into blessed love. I do not despair, madam!" He
pressed her hand to his lips and cast his fine eyes upward in a killing
look.

Patricia gave a charming laugh. "As you please, Sir Charles. In the mean
time let us be once more simply good friends and loving cousins. Tell me
as much as you please of Lady Mary's charms, but leave Patricia Verney's
alone."

Sir Charles rose from his knees, smarting under an amazed sense of
failure, and very angry with the girl who had discarded him, Charles
Carew, as smilingly as if he had been one of the very provincial youths
whom he awed into awkward silence every time they came to Verney Manor.
Without doubt she deserved the condign punishment which it was in his
power to inflict by sailing away upon the next ship which should leave
for England. But he was now obstinately bent upon winning her. If not
to-day, to-morrow; and if not to-morrow, the next day; and if not that,
the day after. He was of the school of Buckingham and Rochester. He
could devote to the capture of a woman all the tireless energy, the
strategic skill, the will, the patience, the daring, of a great general.
He could mine and countermine, could plan an ambuscade here, and lead a
forlorn hope there, could take one intrenchment by storm, and another by
treachery. And victory seldom forsook her perch upon his banners.

Life in Virginia was pleasant enough, and he could afford to devote
several months to this siege. As to how it would terminate he had not
the slightest doubt. But just now it was the course of wisdom to retreat
upon the position held yesterday, and that as quickly as possible. So he
smoothed his face into a fine calm, modulated his voice into its usual
tone of languor, and said with quiet melancholy:--

"You are pleased to be cruel, madam. I submit. I will bide my time until
that thrice happy day when you will have learnt the lesson I would
teach, when Love, tyrannous Love, shall compel your allegiance as he
does mine."

"A far day!" said Patricia with soft laughter. "You had best return to
Lady Mary. I do not think that I shall ever love."

She lifted her white arms, and clasping them behind her head, gazed at
him with soft, bright, untroubled eyes and smiling lips. The sunlight,
filtering through the darkened windows in long bright stripes, laid a
shaft of gold athwart her shoulder and lit her hair into a glory. From
out the distance came the colonel's voice:--

        "In his train see sweet Peace, fairest Queen of the sky,
        Ev'ry bliss in her look, ev'ry charm in her eye.
        Whilst oppression, corruption, vile slav'ry and fear
        At his wished for return never more shall appear.
          Your glasses charge high, 'tis in great Charles' praise,
          In praise, in praise, 'tis in great Charles' praise."

Some one outside the door coughed, and then rattled the latch
vigorously. These precautions taken, the door was opened and there
appeared Mistress Lettice, gorgeously attired, and with an extra row of
ringlets sweeping her withered neck, and a deeper tinge of vermilion
upon her cheeks,--for she had waked that morning with a presentiment
that Mr. Frederick Jones would ride over in the course of the day. Sir
Charles rose to hand her to a chair, but she waved him back with a thin,
beringed hand.

"I thank you, Sir Charles; but I will not trouble you. I am going down
to the summer-house by the road, as I think the air there will cure my
migraine. Patricia, love, I am looking for my 'Clelie,'--the fourth
volume. Have you seen it?"

"No, Aunt Lettice."

"It is very strange," said Mrs. Lettice plaintively. "I am sure that I
left it in this room. 'Tis that careless slut of a Chloe who deserves a
whipping. She hides things away like a magpie."

"Look in the window; you may have left it there," said Patricia.

Mrs. Lettice approached the window, laid a hand upon the curtain, and
started back with a scream.

"What is it, madam?" cried the baronet.

"'Tis a man! a horrid, horrid man hiding there, waiting to cut all our
throats in the dead of night as the Redemptioner did to the family at
Martin-Brandon! Oh! Oh! Oh!" and Mrs. Lettice threw her apron over her
head, and sank into the nearest chair.

Patricia started up. Sir Charles, striding hastily towards the window,
his hand upon his sword, was met by the emerging figure of Landless.

The two gazed at each other, Sir Charles' first haughty surprise fast
deepening into passion as he remembered that the man before him had
assisted at the scene of a while before, had witnessed his discomfiture,
had seen him upon his knees, baffled, repulsed, even laughed at!

He was the first to speak. "Well, sirrah," he said between his teeth,
"what have you to say for yourself?"

"That I ask your pardon," said Landless steadily. "I should have made
known my presence in the room. But at first I thought you aware of it;
and when I discovered that you were not, I ... it seemed best to remain
silent. I was wrong. I should have made some sign even then. Again, I
beg your pardon." He turned to Patricia, who stood, tall, straight, and
coldly indignant, beside the chair from which she had risen. "Madam," he
said in a voice that faltered, despite himself, "I crave your
forgiveness."

She bit her coral under lip, and looked at him from under veiled
eyelids. It was a cruel look, very expressive of scorn, abhorrence, and
perhaps of fear.

"My father hath many unmannerly servants," she said coldly and clearly,
"who often provoke me. But I pardon them because they know no better. It
seems that like allowance cannot be made for you. However," she smiled
icily, "I shall not complain of you to my father, which assurance will
doubtless content you."

Landless turned from burning red to deadly white. His eyes, fixed upon
the floor, caught the rich shimmer of her skirts as she moved towards
the door; a moment and she was gone, leaving the two men facing each
other.

Between them there existed a subtle but strong antagonism. Sir Charles
Carew, courtier in a coarse and shameless court masquerading under a
glittering show of outward graces, had taken lazy delight in heaping
quiet insults upon the man who could not resent them. This amusement had
beguiled the tedium of the Virginia voyage; and when chance threw them
together upon a Virginia plantation, where life flowed on in one long,
placid lack of variety, the sport became doubly prized. It had to be
pursued at longer intervals, but pursued it was. Heretofore the
amusement had been all upon one side; now, Sir Charles felt a chagrined
suspicion that it was he who had afforded the entertainment.
Simultaneously with arriving at this conclusion he arrived at a point
where he was coldly furious.

Landless returned his look coolly and boldly. He considered that he had
made quite sufficient apology for an offense which was largely
involuntary, and he was in no mood for further abasement.

"You are an insolent rascal," said the baronet smoothly.

Landless smiled. "Sir Charles Carew should be a good judge of
insolence."

Sir Charles took a leisurely pinch of snuff, shook the fallen grains
from his ruffles, snapped the lid of the box, looked languishingly at
the miniature that adorned it, replaced the box in his pocket, and
remarked, "Well, I am waiting!"

"And for what?"

"To hear your petition that I forbear to bring this matter to the notice
of your master. The lady mercifully gave you her promise. I suppose I
must follow so fair an example."

"Sir Charles Carew may wait till doomsday to hear that or any other
request made by me to him or to the lady--who does not seem always
mercifully inclined--" he broke off with a slight and expressive smile.

Sir Charles took another pinch of snuff. "May the Lard blast me," he
drawled, "if they do not teach repartee at Newgate! But I forget that
the tongue is the only weapon of women and slaves."

"Some day I hope to teach you otherwise."

The other laughed. "So the slave thinks he can use a sword? Where did he
learn? In Newgate, from some broken captain, as payment for imparting
the trick of stealing by the Book?"

Landless forced himself to stand quiet, his arms folded, his fingers
tightly clenching the sleeves of his coarse shirt. "Shall I tell Sir
Charles Carew where I first used my sword with good effect?" he said in
an ominously quiet voice. "At Worcester I was but a stripling, but I
fought by the side of my father. I remember that, young as I was, I
disabled a very pretty perfumed and ringleted Cavalier. I think he was
afterwards sold to the Barbadoes. And my father praised my sword play."

"Your father," said the other, bringing his strong white teeth together
with a click. "Like father, like son. The latter a detected rogue,
gaol-bird, and slave; the former a d--d canting, sniveling Roundhead
hypocrite and traitor, with a text ever at hand to excuse parricide and
sacrilege."

Landless sprang forward and struck him in the face.

He staggered beneath the weight of the blow; then, recovering himself,
he whipped out his rapier, but presently slapped it home again. "I am a
gentleman," he said, with an airy laugh. "I cannot fight you." And
stood, slightly smiling, and pressing his laced handkerchief to his
cheek whence had started a few drops of blood.

Mrs. Lettice, whom curiosity or the search for the fourth volume of
"Clelie" had detained in the room, screamed loudly as the blow fell; and
Colonel Verney, appearing at the door, stopped short, and stared from
one to the other of the two men.



CHAPTER X

LANDLESS PAYS THE PIPER


The hut of the mender of nets stood upon a narrow isthmus connecting two
large tracts of marsh. That to the eastward was partially submerged at
high tide; that to the west, being higher ground, waved its long grass
triumphantly above the reaching waters. Upon this side the marsh was
separated from the mainland of forest and field by a creek so narrow
that the great pines upon one margin cast their shadows across to the
other, and one fallen giant quite spanned the sluggish waters.

The grass of this marsh was annually cut for hay; for though the great
herds of cattle belonging to the different plantations roamed at large
through all seasons of the year, seeking their sustenance from forest or
marsh, the more provident of the planters were accustomed to make some
slight provision against the winter, which might prove a severe one with
snow and ice.

It was late afternoon, and the hay was cut. The half dozen mowers threw
themselves down upon the stubble, stretching out tired limbs and
pillowing heated foreheads upon their arms. They had been given until
sunset to do the work. Having no task-master over them, and being hid
from the tobacco-fields by a convenient coppice of pine and cedar, they
had set to work in a fury of diligence, had cut and stacked the grass
in a race with time, and now found themselves possessed of a precious
hour in which to dawdle, and swap opinions and tobacco before the sunset
horn should call them to quarters.

Three were indented servants, lumbering, honest-visaged youths whose
aims in life were simple and well defined. Their creed had but four
articles: "Do as little as you can consistently with keeping out of the
overseer's black books; get your full share of loblolly and bacon, and
some one else's if you are clever enough; embrace every opportunity for
reasonable mischief that is offered you; honor Church and King, or say
you do, and Colonel Verney will overlook most pranks." Of the others,
one was the Muggletonian, one the mulatto, Luiz Sebastian, and one a
convict, not Trail, but the red-haired, pock-marked, sullen wretch who
had come to the plantation with Trail and Landless, and whose name was
Roach.

One of the rustics, who seemed more intelligent than his fellows, and
who had a good-humored deviltry in his young face and big blue eyes,
began an excellent imitation of Dr. Nash's exhortation to submission and
obedience delivered upon the last instruction day for servants, and soon
had his audience of two guffawing with laughter. The mulatto and the
convict edged by imperceptible degrees farther and farther away from the
others, until, within the shadow of a stack of grass, they lay side by
side and commenced a muttered conversation. The countenance of the white
man, atrocious villainy written large in every lineament, became
horribly intent as his amber-hued companion talked in fluent low tones,
emphasizing what he had to say by a restless, peculiar, and sinister
motion of his long, yellow fingers. At a little distance lay the
Muggletonian, his elbows on the ground, his ghastly face in his hands,
and his eyes riveted upon the Geneva Bible which he had drawn from his
bosom.

When he had brought his entertainment to a finish, the blue-eyed youth
rolled himself over and over the stubble to where the Muggletonian lay,
intent upon a chapter of invective. The youth covered the page with one
enormous paw and playfully attempted to insert the little finger of the
other into the hole in Porringer's ear. "What now, old Runaway," he
said, lazily, "hunting up fresh curses to pour on our unfort'net heads?"

"Cursed be he who makes a mock of age," said the Muggletonian, grimly.
"May he be even as the wicked children who cried to the prophet, 'Go up,
thou baldhead!'"

The boy laughed. "Tell me when you see brown bear a-coming," quoth he.
"Losh! a bear steak would taste mighty good after eternal bacon!"

Porringer closed his book and restored it to his bosom. "Tell me," he
said, abruptly, "have you seen aught of the young man called Landless?"

"'The young man called Landless,'" answered the other, petulantly, "has
a d--d easy berth of it! Yesterday evening I carried water from the
spring to the great house to water Mistress Patricia's posies, and every
time I passes the window of the master's room I see that fellow
a-sitting at his ease in a fine chair before a fine table, writing away
as big as all out of doors. And every time I says to him, says I, 'I
reckon you think yourself as fine as the Lord Mayor of London? A pretty
sec'tary you make!'"

"Have you seen him to-day?"

"No, I haven't seen him to-day,--but I see someone else. Mates," he
exclaimed, "Witch Margery's coming down t' other side of creek. I'll call
her over."

Scrambling to his feet he gave a low halloo through his hands, "Margery!
Margery! Come and find the road to Paradise!"

Margery waved her hand to signify that she heard and understood, and
presently stepped upon the fallen tree that spanned the stream. It was a
narrow and a slippery bridge, but she flitted across it with the secure
grace of some woodland thing, and, staff in hand, advanced towards the
men. Between them and the western sun she stood still, a dark figure
against a halo of gold light, and threw an intent and searching glance
over the unbroken green of the marsh and the blue of the waters beyond.
Then with a wild laugh she came up to them and cast her staff wreathed
with dark ivy upon the ground.

"The road is not here," she cried. "Here is all green grass, and beyond
is the weary, weary, weary sea! There is no long, bright, shining road
to Paradise." She sat down beside her staff, and taking her chin into
her hand, stared fixedly at the ground.

The men gathered around her, with the exception of the Muggletonian,
who, after audibly comparing her to the Witch of Endor, turned on his
side and drew his cap over his eyes as if to shut out the hated sight.
The convict took up the staff and began to pull from it the strings of
ivy.

"Put it down!" she said quickly.

The man continued to strip it of its leafy mantle.

"Put it down, can't you?" said the youth. "She never lets any one touch
it. She says an angel gave it to her to help her on her way."

With a snarling laugh the convict threw it from him with all his force.
Whirling through the air it struck the water midway from shore to shore.
Margery sprang to her feet with a loud cry. The boy rose also.

"D--n you!" he said, wrathfully. "I'd like to break it over your
misshapen back! Here, Margery, don't fret. I'll get it for you."

He ran to the bank, dived into the water, and in three minutes was back
with the dripping mass in his arms. He gave it into Margery's hands,
saying kindly while he shook himself like a large spaniel; "There! it
isn't hurt a mite!"

With a cry of delight Margery seized the "angel's gift" and kissed the
hand that restored it. Then she turned upon the convict.

"When I go back to my cabin in the woods," she said, solemnly, and with
her finger up, "I shall whistle all the fairy folk into a ring, all the
elves and the pixies, and the little brown gnomes who burrow in the
leaves and look for all the world like pine cones, and I shall tell them
what you did, and to-night they will come to your cabin, and will pinch
you black and blue, and stick thorns into you, and rub you with the
poison leaf until you are blotched and swelled like the great bull frog
that croaks, croaks, in these marshes."

There was an uneasy ring in the convict's laugh, full of bravado as he
meant it to be. Margery continued with an ominously extended forefinger.
"And then they will fly to the great house where the master lies
sleeping, and they will whisper to him that you took away the angel's
gift from poor, lost Margery, and he will be angry, for he is good to
Margery, and to-morrow he will make Woodson do to you what he did to-day
to the Breaking Heart."

"To the Breaking Heart!" exclaimed her auditors.

Margery nodded. "Yes, the Breaking Heart. You call him Landless."

The Muggletonian sat up. "What dost thou mean, wretched woman! fit
descendant of the mother of all evil?"

Margery, offended by his tone, only pursed up her lips and looked wise.

"What did the master have done to Landless, Margery?" asked the youth.

Margery threw her worn figure into a singular posture. Standing
perfectly straight, she raised her arms from her sides and spread them
stiffly out, the hands turned inward in a peculiar fashion. Then, still
with extended arms, she swayed slightly forward until she appeared to
lean against, or to be fastened to, some support. Next she threw her
head back and to one side, so that her face might be seen in three
quarter over her shoulder. Her mobile features wreathed themselves in an
expression of pain and rage. Her brows drew downward, her thin lips
curled themselves away from the gleaming teeth, and, at intervals of
half a minute or more, her eyelids quivered, she shuddered, and her
whole frame appeared to shrink together.

The pantomime was too expressive to be misunderstood by men each of whom
had probably his own reasons for recognizing some one or all of its
features. The convict broke into a yelling laugh, in which he was
joined, though in a subdued and sinister fashion, by Luiz Sebastian. The
rustics looked at each other with slow grins of comprehension, and the
blue-eyed youth uttered a long shrill whistle. The great letter upon the
cheek of the Muggletonian turned a deeper red, and his eyes burned. The
youth was curious.

"Tell us all about it, Margery," he said, coaxingly, "and when the
millons are ripe, I'll steal you one every night."

Margery was nothing loth. She had attained the reputation of an
accomplished _raconteuse_, and she was proud of it. Her crazed
imagination peopled the forest with weird uncanny things, and fearful
tales she told of fays and bugaboos, of spectres and awful voices
speaking from out the dank stillness of twilight hollows. Often she sent
quaking to their pallets men who would have heard the war-whoop with
scarcely quickened pulses. And she could tell of every-day domestic
happenings as well as of the doings of the powers of darkness.

Her audience listened greedily to the instance of plantation economy
which she proceeded to relate.

"When was this, woman?" demanded the Muggletonian, when she had
finished.

Margery pointed to the declining sun and then upwards to a spot a little
past the zenith.

"Just after the nooning," said the Muggletonian, and began to curse.

Margery stood up, her staff in her hand, and said airily, "Margery must
be going. The sun is growing large and red, and when he has slipped away
behind the woods, the voices will begin to call to Margery from the
hollow where the brook falls into the black pool. She must be there to
answer them." She moved away with a rapid and gliding step, flitted
across the fallen tree, and was lost to sight in the shadow of the pines
beyond.

As the last flutter of her light robe vanished, a figure appeared,
walking rapidly along the opposite margin of the creek. The youth's
sight was keen. He sent a piercing glance across the intervening
distance and broke into an astonished laugh. "Lord in Heaven! it's the
man himself!" he cried in an awed tone. "Ecod! he must be made of iron!"

Landless crossed the bridge and came towards the staring group. His face
was white and set, and there were dark circles beneath his eyes, which
had the wide unseeing stare of a sleep-walker. He walked lightly and
quickly, with a free, lithe swing of his body. The men looked at one
another in rough wonder, knowing what was hidden by the coarse shirt. He
passed them without a word, apparently without knowing that they were
there, and went on towards the hut of the mender of nets. Presently they
saw him enter and shut the door.

The rustics and the convict, after one long stare of amazement at the
distant hut, began to comment freely and with much recondite blasphemy
upon the transaction recorded by Margery. Luiz Sebastian only smiled
amiably, like a lazy and well-disposed catamount, and the boy whistled
long and thoughtfully. But the countenance of Master Win-Grace Porringer
wore an expression of secret satisfaction.



CHAPTER XI

LANDLESS BECOMES A CONSPIRATOR


As Landless entered the hut Godwyn looked up with a pleased smile from
the net he was mending. The two men had not seen each other since the
night upon which Landless had been brought to the hut by the
Muggletonian. Twice had Landless laid his plans for a second visit, only
to be circumvented each time by the watchfulness of the overseer.

The smile died from Godwyn's face as he observed his visitor more
closely.

"What is it?" he asked quickly.

Landless came up to him and held out his hand. "I am with you, Robert
Godwyn, heart and soul," he said steadily.

The mender of nets grasped the hand. "I knew you would come," he said,
drawing a long breath. "I have needed you sorely, lad."

"I could not come before."

"I know: Porringer told me you were prevented. I--" He still held
Landless' hand in both his own, and as he spoke his slender fingers
encircled the young man's wrist.

"What is the matter with your pulse?" he demanded. "And your eyes! They
are glazing! Sit down!"

"It is nothing," said Landless, speaking with effort.

"I have been a physician, young man," retorted the other. "Sit down, or
you will fall."

He forced him down upon a settle from which he had himself risen, and
stood looking at him, his hand upon his shoulder. Presently his glance
fell to the shoulder, and he saw upon the white cloth where his hand
pressed it against the flesh, a faint red stain grow and spread.

The face of the mender of nets grew very dark. "So!" he said beneath his
breath.

He limped across the hut and drew from some secret receptacle above the
fireplace a flask, from which he poured a crimson liquid into an earthen
cup; then hobbled back to Landless, sitting with closed eyes and head
bowed upon the table.

"Drink, lad," he said with grave tenderness. "'Tis a cordial of mine own
invention, and in the strength it gave me I fled from Cropredy Bridge
though woefully hacked and spent. Drink!"

He held the cup to the young man's lips. Landless drained it and felt
the blood gush back to his heart and the ringing in his ears to cease.
Presently he raised his head. "Thank you," he said. "I am a man again."

"How is it that you are here?"

Landless smiled grimly. "I imagine it's because Woodson thinks me
effectually laid by the heels. When he goes the rounds at supper time he
will be surprised to find my pallet empty."

"You must be in quarters before then. You must not get into further
trouble."

"Very well," was the indifferent reply.

They were silent for a few moments, and then Landless spoke.

"I am come to tell you, Master Godwyn, that I will join in any plan,
however desperate, that may bring me release from an intolerable and
degrading slavery. You may use me as you please. I will work for you
with hands and head, ay, and with my heart also, for you have been kind
to me, and I am grateful."

The mender of nets touched him softly upon the hand. "Lad," he said, "I
once had a son who was my pride and my hope. In his young manhood he
fell at the storming of Tredah. But the other night when I talked with
you, I seemed to see him again, and my heart yearned over him."

Landless held out his hand. "I have no father," he said simply.

"Now," at length said Godwyn, "to business! I must not keep you now, but
come to me to-morrow night if you can manage it. You may speak to
Win-Grace Porringer, and he will help you. I will then tell you all my
arrangements, give you figures and names, possess you, in short, with
all that I, and I alone, know of this matter. And my heart is glad
within me, for though my broken body is tied to my bench here, I shall
now have a lieutenant indeed. I have conceived; you shall execute. The
son of Warham Landless, if he have a tithe of his father's powers, will
do much, very much. For more than a year I have longed for such an one."

"Tell me but one thing," said Landless, "and I am content. You have so
planned this business that there shall be no wanton bloodshed? You
intend no harm, for instance, to the family yonder?" with a motion of
his head towards the great house.

"God forbid!" said the other quickly. "I tell you that not one woman or
innocent soul shall suffer. Nor do I wish harm to the master of this
plantation, who is, after the lights of a Malignant, a true and kindly
man, and a gentleman. This is what will happen. Upon an appointed day
the servants, Oliverian, indented and convict, upon all the plantations
seated upon the bay, the creeks, the three rivers, and over in Accomac,
will rise. They will overpower their overseers and those of their
fellows who may remain faithful to the masters, will call upon the
slaves to follow them, and will march (the force of each plantation
under a captain or captains appointed by me), to an appointed place in
this county. All going well, there should be mustered at that place
within the space of a day and a night a force of some two thousand
men--such an army as this colony hath never seen, an army composed in
large measure of honest folk, and officered by four hundred men who,
bold and experienced, and strong in righteous wrath, should in
themselves be sufficient to utterly deject the adversary. We will make
of that force, motley as it is, a second New Model, as well disciplined
and as irresistible as the first; and who should be its general but the
son of that Warham Landless whom Cromwell loved, and whose old regiment
is well represented here? Then will we fight in honest daylight with
those who come against us--and conquer. And we will not stain our
victory. Your nightmare vision of midnight butchery is naught. There
will be no such thing."

Through the quiet of the evening came to them the clear, sweet, and
distant winding of a horn.

"'Tis the call to quarters," said Godwyn. "You must go, lad."

Landless rose. "I will come to-morrow night if I can. Till then,
farewell,--father." He ended with a smile on his dark, stern face that
turned it into a boy's again.

"May the Lord bless thee, my son," said the other in his gravely tender
voice. "May he cause His face to shine upon thee, and bring thee out of
all thy troubles."

As Landless turned to leave the hut the mender of nets had a sudden
thought. "Come hither," he said, "and let me show you my treasure house.
Should aught happen to me, it were well that you should know of it."

He took up the precious flask from the table, and followed by Landless,
limped across the hut to the fireplace. The logs above it appeared as
solid, gnarled and stained by time as any of the others constituting the
walls of the hut, but upon the pressure of Godwyn's finger upon some
secret spring, a section of the wood fell outwards like the lid of a
box, disclosing a hollow within.

From this hollow came the dull gleam of gold, and by the side of the
little heap of coin lay several folded papers and a pair of handsomely
mounted pistols.

Godwyn touched the papers. "The names or the signs of the Oliverians are
here," he said, "together with those of the leaders of the indented
servants concerned with us. It is our solemn League and Covenant--and
our death warrant if discovered. The gold I had with me, hidden upon my
person, when I was brought to Virginia. The pistols were the gift of a
friend. Both may be useful some day."

"Hide them! Quick!" said Landless in a low voice, and wheeled to face a
man who stood in the doorway, blinking into the semi-darkness of the
room.

The lid of the hollow swung to with a click, the log assumed its wonted
appearance, and the mender of nets, too, turned upon the intruder.

It was the convict Roach who had pushed the door open and now stood with
his swollen body and bestial face darkening the glory of the sunset
without. There was no added expression of greed or of awakened curiosity
upon his sullenly ferocious countenance. He might have seen or he might
not. They could not tell.

"What do you want?" asked Landless sternly.

"Thought as you might not have heard the horn, comrade, and so might get
into more trouble. So I thought I'd come over and warn you." All this in
a low, hoarse and dogged voice.

"Don't call me comrade. Yes: I heard the horn. You had best hasten or
you may get into trouble yourself."

The man received this intimation with a malevolent grin. "Talking big
eases the smart, don't it?" and he broke into his yelling laugh.

"Get out of this," said Landless, a dangerous light in his eyes.

The man stopped laughing and began to curse. But he went his way, and
Landless, too, after waiting to give him a start, left the hut and
turned his steps towards the quarters.

Upon the other side of the creek, sitting beneath a big sweet gum, and
whittling away at a piece of stick weed, he found the boy who, the day
before, had accused him of feeling as fine as the Lord Mayor of London.
He sprang to his feet as Landless approached, and cheerfully remarking
that their paths were the same, strode on side by side with him.

"I say," he said presently with ingenuous frankness, "I asks your pardon
for what I said to you yesterday. I dessay you make a very good
Sec'tary, and Losh! the Lord Mayor himself mightn't have dared to strike
that d--d fine Court spark. They say he has fought twenty duels."

"You have my full forgiveness," said Landless, smiling.

"That's right!" cried the other, relieved. "I hates for a man to bear
malice."

"I have seen you before yesterday. I forget how they call you."

"Dick Whittington."

"Dick Whittington!"

"Ay. Leastways the parish over yonder," a jerk of his thumb towards
England, "called me Dick, and I names myself Whittington. And why?
Because like that other Dick I runs away to make my fortune. Because
like him I've little besides empty pockets and a hopeful heart. And
because I means to go back some fine day, jingling money, and wearing
gold lace, and become the mayor of Banbury. Or maybe I'll stop in
Virginia, and become a trader and Burgess. I could send for Joyce
Whitbread, and marry her here as well as in Banbury."

Landless laughed. "So you ran away?"

"Yes; some four years ago, just after I came to man's estate." (He was
about nineteen.) "Stowed myself away on board the Mary Hart at Plymouth.
Made the Virginny voyage for my health, and on landing was sold by the
captain for my passage money. Time's out in three years, but I may begin
to make my fortune before then, for--" He stopped speaking to give
Landless a sidelong glance from out his blue eyes, and then went on.

"A voice speaks through the land, from the Potomac to the James, and
from the falls of the Far West to the great bay. What says the voice?"

Landless answered, "The voice saith, 'Comfort ye, my people, for the
hour of deliverance is at hand.'"

"It's all right!" cried the boy gleefully. "I thought you was one of us.
We are all in the fun together!"

"We are in for a desperate enterprise that may hang every man of us,"
said Landless sternly. "I do not see the 'fun,' and I think you talk
something loudly for a conspirator."

The boy was nothing abashed. "There's none to hear us," he said. "I can
be as mum as t' other Dick's cat when there are ears around. As for fun,
Losh! what better fun than fighting!"

"You seem to have a pretty good time as it is."

"Lord, yes! Life's jolly enough, but you see there's mighty little
variety in it."

"I have found variety enough," said Landless.

"Oh, you've been here only a few weeks. Wait until you've spent years,
and have gone through your experience of to-day half a dozen times, and
you will find it tame enough."

"I shall not wait to see."

"Then a man gets tired of working for another man, and hankers for the
time when he can set up for himself, especially if there's a pretty girl
waiting for him." A tremendous sigh. "And then there's the fun of the
rising. Losh! a man must break loose now and then!"

"For all of which good reasons you have become a conspirator?"

"Ay, it doesn't pay to run away. You are hunted to death in the first
place, and well nigh whipped to death if you are caught, as you always
are. And then they double your time. This promises better."

"If it succeeds."

"Oh, it will succeed! Why shouldn't it with old Godwyn, who is more
cunning than a red fox or a Nansemond medicine-man, at its head?
Besides, if it fails, hanging is the worst that can happen, and we will
have had the fun of the rising."

"You are a philosopher."

"What's that?"

"A wise man. Tell me: If this plot remains undiscovered, and the rising
actually takes place, there will be upon each plantation before we can
get away an interval of confusion and perhaps violence. 'Tis then that
the greatest danger will threaten the planters and their families. You
yourself have no ill feeling towards your master or his family? You
would do them no unprovoked mischief?"

The boy opened his big blue eyes, and shook his head in a vehement
negative.

"Lord bless your soul, no!" he cried. "I wouldn't hurt a hair of
Mistress Patricia's pretty head, nor of Mistress Lettice's wig, neither.
As for the master, if he lets us go peaceably, we'll go with three
cheers for him! Bless you! they're safe enough!"

The sanguine youth next announced that he smelt bacon frying, and that
his stomach cried "Trencher!" and started off in a lope for the
quarters, now only a few yards distant. Landless followed more sedately,
and reached his cabin without being observed by the overseer.



CHAPTER XII

A DARK DEED


Three weeks passed, weeks in which Landless saw the mender of nets some
eight times in all, making each visit at night, stealthily and under
constant danger of detection. Thrice he had assisted at conferences of
the Oliverians from the neighboring plantations, who now, by virtue of
his descent, his intimacy with Godwyn, and his very apparent powers,
accepted him as a leader. Upon the first of these occasions he had set
his case before them in a few plain, straightforward words, and they
believed him as Godwyn had done, and he became in their eyes, not a
convict, but, as he in truth was, an Oliverian like themselves, and a
sufferer for the same cause. The remaining interviews had been between
him and Godwyn alone. In the lonely hut on the marsh, beneath starlight
or moonlight, the two had held much converse, and had grown to love each
other. The mender of nets, though possessed of a calm and high serenity
of nature that defied trials beneath which a weaker soul had sunk, was a
man of many sorrows; he had the wisdom, too, of years and experience,
and he sympathized with, soothed, and counseled his younger yoke-fellow
with a parental tenderness that was very grateful to the other's more
ardent, undisciplined, and deeply wounded spirit.

Upon the night of their eighth meeting they held a long and serious
consultation. Affairs were in such train that little remained to be
done, but to set the day for the rising, and to send notice by many
devious and underground ways to the Oliverian captains scattered
throughout the Colony. Landless counseled immediate action, the firing
of the fuse at once by starting the secret intelligence which would
spread like wildfire from plantation to plantation. Then would the mine
be sprung within the week. There was nothing so dangerous as delay, when
any hour, any moment might bring discovery and ruin.

Godwyn was of a different opinion. It was then August, the busiest and
most unhealthy season of the year, when the servants and slaves,
weakened by unremitting toil, were succumbing by scores to the fever. It
was the time when the masters looked for disaffection, when the
overseers were most alert, when a general watchfulness pervaded the
Colony. The planters stayed at home and attended to their business, the
trainbands were vigilant, the servant and slave laws were construed with
a harshness unknown at other seasons of the year. There were few ships
in harbor compared with the number which would assemble for their fall
lading a month later, and Godwyn counted largely upon the seizure of the
ships. In a month's time the tobacco would be largely in,--a weighty
consideration, for tobacco was money, and the infant republic must have
funds. The ships would be in harbor, and their sailors ready for
anything that would rid them of their captains; the heat and sickness of
the summer would be abated; the work slackened, and discipline relaxed.
The danger of discovery was no greater now than it had been all along,
and the good to be won by biding their time might be inestimable. The
danger was there, but they would face it, and wait,--say until the
second week in September.

Landless acquiesced, scarcely convinced, but willing to believe that the
other knew whereof he spoke, and conscious, too, that his own impatience
of the yoke which galled his spirit almost past endurance might incline
him to a reckless and disastrous haste.

It was past midnight when he rose to leave the hut on the marsh. Godwyn
took up his stick. "I will walk with you to the banks of the creek," he
said. "'Tis a feverish night, and I have an aching head. The air will do
me good, and I will then sleep."

The young man gave him his arm with a quiet, protecting tenderness that
was very dear to the mender of nets, and leaning upon it, he limped
through the fifty feet of long grass to the border of the creek.

"Shall I not wait to help you back?" asked Landless.

"No," said the other, with his peculiarly sweet and touching smile. "I
will sit here awhile beneath the stars and say my hymn of praise to the
Creator of Night. You need not fear for me; my trusty stick will carry
me safely back. Go, lad, thou lookest weary enough thyself, and should
be sleeping after thy long day of toil."

"I am loth to leave you to-night," said Landless.

Godwyn smiled. "And I am always loth to see you go, but it were selfish
to keep you listening to a garrulous, wakeful old man, when your young
frame is in sore need of rest. Good-night, dear lad."

Landless gave him his hands. "Good-night," he said.

He stood below the other at the foot of the low bank to which was
moored his stolen boat. Godwyn stooped and kissed him upon the forehead.
"My heart is tender to-night, lad," he said. "I see in thee my Robert.
Last night I dreamed of him and of his mother, my dearly loved and
long-lost Eunice, and ah! I sorrowed to awake!"

Landless pressed his hand in silence, and in a moment the water widened
between them as Landless bent to his oars and the crazy little bark shot
out into the middle of the stream. At the entrance of the first
labyrinthine winding he turned and looked back to see Godwyn standing
upon the bank, the moonlight silvering his thin hair and high serene
brow. In the mystic white light, against the expanse of solemn heaven,
he looked a vision, a seer or prophet risen from beneath the sighing
grass. He waved his hand to Landless, saying in his quiet voice, "Until
to-morrow!" The boat made the turn, and the lonely figure and the hut
beyond it vanished, leaving only the moonlight, the wash and lap of
water, and the desolate sighing of the marsh grass.

There were many little channels and threadlike streams debouching from
the main creek, and separated from it by clumps and lines of partially
submerged grass, growing in places to the height of reeds. While passing
one of these clumps it occurred to Landless that the grass quivered and
rustled in an unusual fashion. He rested upon his oars and gazed at it
curiously, then stood up, and parting the reeds, looked through into the
tiny channel upon the other side. There was nothing to be seen, and the
rustling had ceased. "A heron has its nest there, or a turtle plunged,
shaking the reeds," said Landless to himself, and went his way.

Some three hours later he was roused from the heavy sleep of utter
fatigue by the voice of the overseer. Bewildered, he raised himself upon
his elbow to stare at Woodson's grim face, framed in the doorway and lit
by the torch held by Win-Grace Porringer, who stood behind him. "You
there, you Landless!" cried the overseer, impatiently. "You sleep like
the dead. Tumble out! You and Porringer are to go to Godwyn's after that
new sail for the Nancy. Sir Charles Carew has taken it into his head to
run over to Accomac, and he's got to have a spick and span white rag to
sail under. Hurry up, now! He wants to start by sun up, and I clean
forgot to send for it last night. You're to be back within the hour,
d' ye hear? Take the four-oared shallop. There's the key," and the
overseer strode away, muttering something about patched sails being good
enough for Accomac folk.

Landless and the Muggletonian stumbled through the darkness to the wharf
behind the quarters, where they loosed the shallop, and in it shot
across the inlet towards the mouth of the creek.

"I will row," said the Muggletonian with grim kindness; "you look worn
out. I suppose you were out last night?"

Landless nodded, and the other bent to the oars with a will that sent
them rapidly across the sheet of water. A cold and uncertain light began
to stream from the ashen east, and the air was dank and heavy with the
thick mist that wrapped earth and water like a shroud. It swallowed up
the land behind them, and through it the nearer marshes gloomed
indistinctly, dark patches upon the gray surface of the water. The
narrow creek was hard to find amidst the universal dimness. The
Muggletonian rowed slowly, peering about him with small, keen eyes. At
length with a grunt of satisfaction he pointed to a pale streak dividing
two masses of gray, and had turned the boat's head towards it, when
through the stillness they caught the sound of oars. The next moment a
boat glided from the creek and began to skirt the shores of the inlet,
hugging the banks and moving slowly and stealthily. It was still so dark
that they could tell nothing more than that it held one man.

"Now, who is that?" said the Muggletonian. "And what has he been doing
up that creek?"

"Hail him," Landless replied.

Porringer sent a low halloo across the water, but if the man heard he
made no sign. The boat, one of the crazy dugouts of which every
plantation had store, held on its stealthy way, but being over close to
the bank presently ran upon a sand bar. Its occupant was forced to rise
to his feet in order to shove it off. He stood upright but a moment, but
in that moment, and despite the partial darkness, Landless recognized
the misshapen figure.

"It is the convict, Roach!" he exclaimed.

"Ay," said the Muggletonian, "and an ill-omened night bird he is! May he
be cursed from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head! May there
be no soundness in him! May--What are you about, friend?" he cried,
interrupting himself. "There's no need of two pair of oars. We have
plenty of time."

Landless bent to the second pair of oars. "He came down the creek," he
said in a voice that sounded strained and unnatural.

The other stared at him. "What do you mean?" he demanded.

"Nothing: but let us hasten."

Porringer stared, but fell in with the humor of his companion, and the
shallop, impelled by strong arms, shot into the creek and along its mazy
windings with the swiftness of a bird.

Landless rowed with compressed lips and stony face, a great fear tugging
at his heart. Porringer too was silent. The vapor hung so heavily upon
the plains of marsh level with their heads that they seemed to be
piercing a dense, low cloud. The light was growing stronger, but the
earth still lay like a corpse, livid, dumb, cold and still. There was a
chill stagnant smell in the air.

Arriving at the stake in the bank below the hut, they fastened the boat
to it, and stepping out, moved through the dense mist to where the hut
loomed indistinctly before them, looking in the blank and awful
stillness like a forlorn wreck drifting upon an infinite sea of
soundless foam.

"The door is open," said Landless.

"Ay, I see," answered Porringer. "Does he wish to die before his time of
the fever, that he lets this graveyard mist and stench creep in upon him
in his sleep?"

They spoke in low tones as though they feared to waken the sleeper whom
they had come to waken. When they reached the hut, they knocked upon the
lintel of the door and called Godwyn by name, once, twice, thrice. There
was no answer.

"Come on!" said Landless hoarsely, and entered the hut, followed by the
other. The cold twilight, filtering through the low and narrow doorway,
was powerless to dispel the darkness within. Landless groped his way to
the pallet and stooped down.

"He is not here," he said.

The Muggletonian stumbled over a sheaf of oars, sending them to the
floor with a noise that in the utter stillness, and to their strained
ears, sounded appalling.

"It's the darkness of Tophet," muttered Porringer. "If I could find his
flint and steel; there are pine knots, I know, in the corner--God in
Heaven!"

"What is it? What is the matter?" cried Landless, as he staggered
against him.

"It's his face!" gasped the other. "There upon the table! I put my hand
upon it. It's cold!"

Landless rushed to the fireplace where he knew the tinder-box to be
kept, and then groped for and found the heap of pine knots. A moment
more and the fat wood was burning brightly, casting its red light
throughout the hut, and choking back the pale daylight.

The familiar room with its familiar furnishing of chest and settle and
pallet, of hanging nets and piles of dingy sail, sprung into sight, but
with it sprung into sight something unfamiliar, strange, and dreadful.

It was the body of the mender of nets, flung face upwards across the
rude table, the head hanging over the edge, and the face, which but a
few short hours before had looked upon Landless with such a bright and
patient serenity, blackened and distorted. Upon the throat were dark
marks, the print of ten murderous fingers.

With a bitter cry Landless fell upon his knees beside the table, and
pressed his face against the cold hand flung backwards over the head of
the murdered man. Porringer began to curse. With white lips and burning
eyes he hurled anathemas at the murderer. He cursed him by the powers
of light and darkness, by the earth, the sea, and the air; by all the
plagues of the two Testaments. Landless broke the torrent of his
maledictions.

"Silence!" he said sternly. "_He_ would have forgiven." Presently he
rose from the ground, and taking the body in his arms, placed it upon
the pallet, and reverently composed the limbs. Then he turned to the
fireplace. It was easy to see that the hiding place had been visited.
The spring was broken, and the lid had been struck and jammed into place
by a powerful and hasty hand. Landless wrenched it off. Before him lay
the pistols; but the gold and papers were gone. He turned to the
Muggletonian, standing beside him with staring eyes.

"Listen!" he said. "There was gold here. The wretch whom we passed but
now knew of it--never mind how--and for it he has murdered the only
friend I had on earth. There will come a day when I will avenge him.
There were papers here, lists with the signatures of Oliverians,
Redemptioners, sailors,--of all classes concerned in this undertaking,
save only the slaves and the convicts. There were letters from Maryland
and New England, and a correspondence which would provide whipping-post
and pillory for other Nonconformists than the Quakers. All these, the actual
proofs of this conspiracy, are in his--that murderer's--hands,--where they
must not stay."

"What wilt thou do, friend?" said the Muggletonian eagerly. "Wilt thou
take the murderer aside in the gate to speak with him quietly, and smite
him under the fifth rib, as did Joab to Abner the son of Ner, who slew
his brother Asahel?"

"God forbid," said Landless. "But I will take them from him before he
knows their contents. One moment, and we will go."

He crossed to the pallet and stood beside it, looking down on the shell
that lay upon it with a stern and quiet grief. One of the cold white
hands was clenched upon something. He stooped, and with difficulty
unclasped the rigid fingers. The something was a ragged lock of coarse
red hair.

"You see," he said.

"Ay," said the Muggletonian grimly. "It's evidence enough. There's but
one man in this county with hair like that. Leave that lock where it is,
and that dead man holds the rope that will hang his murderer."

"It shall be left where it is," said Landless, and reclosed the fingers
upon it.

He took a piece of sail-cloth from the floor, and with it covered the
dead man from sight. Next he turned to the hollow above the fireplace,
and took from it the pistols, concealing them in his bosom. "I may need
them," he said. "Come."

They left the hut and its dead guardian, and rowed back through the
summer dawn. The sky was barred with crimson and gold, the fiery rim of
the sun just lifting above the eastern waters, the mist, a bridal veil
of silver and pearl drawn across the face of a virgin earth.

They rowed in silence until they neared the wharf, when Porringer said,
"You are leader now."

The other raised his haggard eyes. "It is a trust. I will go through
with it, God helping me. But I would I were lying dead beside him in
yonder hut."

They left the boat at the wharf, and went towards the quarters. Meeting
one of the blowzed and slatternly female servants, Landless asked where
they might find the overseer. He had gone to the three-mile field half
an hour ago, after bestowing upon the two dilatory servants a hearty
cursing, and promising to reckon with them at dinner-time. "Where was
the master?" He had gone to the mouth of the inlet with Sir Charles
Carew, who had grown impatient, and had sailed away under the Nancy's
patched sail. The under overseer was in the far corn-field, two miles
off.

"Are all the men in the fields, Barb?" asked Landless.

Barb informed him that they were, "as he might very well know, seeing
that the sun was half an hour high."

"Have you seen the man called Roach?"

No: Barb had not seen him; but she had heard the overseer tell Luiz
Sebastian to take two men and go to the strip of Orenoko between the
inlet and the third tobacco house, and Luiz Sebastian had been calling
for Roach and Trail.

Landless thanked her, and moved away without offering to bestow upon her
that which Barb probably thought her information merited.

"Do you find Woodson," he said to the Muggletonian, "and report this
murder, saying nothing, however, of what we know. I myself will go to
the tobacco house."

"Had I not best come with thee to hold up thy hands?" said Porringer. "I
would take up my text from the thirty-fifth of Numbers, and from
Revelation, twenty-second, thirteen, and deal mightily with the
murderer."

"No," answered Landless. "Woodson must be seen at once, or we ourselves
will fall under suspicion. And, friend, ask that thou and I may be the
ones to bury _him_."



CHAPTER XIII

IN THE TOBACCO HOUSE


The third tobacco house was built upon a point of land jutting into the
larger inlet, and screened off from the wide expanse of fields by a belt
of cedars. It was a lonely, retired spot, and the high, dark, windowless
structure with its heavy, low-browed door had a menacing aspect.
Landless expected to find the men within the building, instead of
outside attending to their work, and he was not disappointed. As he
walked through the doorway into the pungent gloom, the three started up
from the debris of casks, sticks, and pegs, amidst which they had been
squatting, with their heads ominously close together.

Landless strode up to Roach. "You murderer!" he said.

The convict recoiled; then with a bestial sound, half snarl, half bellow
of rage, he gathered himself for a rush. Landless awaited him with bent
body and sinewy, outstretched arms; but the mulatto interposed. Laying
his long, beautifully shaped, yellow hands upon Roach, he forced him
back against a cask, and, pinning him there, whispered in his ear. The
face of the wretch gradually resumed its usual expression of low
brutality, though an ugly sweat broke out upon it, and the mouth opened
and shut as though he had been running. He turned upon Landless with a
half threatening, half cringing air.

"So you've found out what I was about last night, eh, pardner? But
you'll keep a still tongue. You're not one to peach on your comrade as
was in hell or Newgate with you, and as crossed the ocean with you to
this d--d Virginia, and as has always liked you, and has the same spite
as you have against the man what bought us. You say naught, comrade, and
you'll not stand to lose by it."

"I go from here to give you up to Colonel Verney," said Landless.

The wretch gave a snarl of rage and fear. Luiz Sebastian laid a soothing
hand upon his shoulder.

"If I thought that," snarled the convict, "you'd never live to reach
that door."

"I shall live to see you hanged," said the other coolly.

Here the mulatto slipped something into Roach's hand. "So you'll give me
up?" said the latter in a peculiar voice.

"I have said so."

"Then, by the Lord! I'll be even with you!" Roach cried with savage
triumph. "Do you see this, and this, and this?" fluttering a mass of
folded papers before the other's eyes. "Ah! I was wise, I was, when I
couldn't hide everything about me, to take the papers, and leave the
weapons. I've got you now. Here's the lists that the old fool who is
dead and gone to hell had hidden behind the gold! Here's enough to hang
you and your d--d Cromwellians higher than Haman. There will be more
than one giving up, I'm thinking! I've got you under my thumb, and I'll
squeeze you!"

"You cannot read; you do not know what those papers contain," said
Landless steadily.

"But I can," put in Trail smoothly. "I was but just running them over to
our friend whose education has been so sadly neglected, when you came
in."

Landless drew a pistol from his bosom, cocked it, and leveled it at the
murderer. "You see," he said with an ominously quiet eye and voice, "you
were not altogether wise to leave the weapons. Now, give me those
lists."

"Damnation!" cried the convict, and Luiz Sebastian glided towards the
door.

Landless, quick of eye and active of body, saw the movement, and sprang
backwards to the opening before the other could reach it. He covered the
three with his pistol.

"I will shoot the first of you that stirs," he said sternly. "You,
Roach, lay those papers upon that bit of board, and push them towards me
with your foot."

"I'll go to hell first," was the sullen reply.

"As you please. I will give you until I count twenty. If those papers
are not in my hands, then I will shoot you like the dog you are."

The murderer uttered a dreadful curse. Landless began to count. Roach
made an irresolute motion of the hand that held the lists. Landless
counted on, "fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen--" With another oath
and a grin of rage Roach dropped the papers upon the board at his feet.
"Now push it towards me," said Landless.

With a brow like midnight the other did as he was bid. Still covering
his men, Landless stooped quickly, and took up the precious papers,
assured himself that they were all there, and placed them in his bosom.

"Now," he said, leaning his back against the doorpost, and regarding
the three baffled rogues with a grim eye, "I have a few words to say to
you. I speak first to you, Trail, and to you, Luiz Sebastian. These
papers have told you little that you did not know before. It was not the
information that you gained from them that made them so valuable; it was
the possession of them, the possession of actual proofs of this
conspiracy which you might hold over our heads, or, if the notion took
you, might sell to Colonel Verney?"

"Señor Landless sees the thing as it is," said Luiz Sebastian.

"Well, you no longer possess these proofs, and are therefore just where
you were yesterday."

"Listen, Señor Landless," said Luiz Sebastian gloomily. "This plot does
not please us. It is too much in the hands of those who call themselves
soldiers and martyrs, whom our master calls fanatic Oliverians, and whom
I, Luiz Sebastian, call accursed heretics. The servants have no say in
the matter; they are to follow like sheep where these others lead. The
slaves are not even to know of it until the last moment. A handful of us
who have white blood in our veins are let into the secret, that we may
incite the blacks when the time is come; but are we consulted? Are our
opinions asked, our wishes deferred to? I, Luiz Sebastian, who have been
through three insurrections in the Indies, and who know how such things
should be managed; has my advice been craved as to this or that? You
make us promises. Mother of God! how do we know that those promises will
be kept? By St. Jago! the insurrection may arrive, and the planters be
put down, and next year may find us slaves still, with but a change of
masters!"

"It is too late now for such questions," said Landless steadily. "You
must accept the conspiracy as it is. In liberating themselves, these men
will of necessity free you even as they will free me, who am not, as you
know, of their class. I shall take my chance, as I think you will take
yours."

The mulatto played with a tobacco peg, striking it against his great,
white teeth. At length he said slowly and with a sinister upward glance
at the figure by the door, "Certainly, Señor Landless, it seems our
best, our only chance, for freedom."

And with this Landless had perforce to be content. He turned to the
murderer, saying sternly, "Now for my word with you. I hold your life in
my hands, for I heard you last night in the marsh, and Porringer and I
saw you stealing from the creek this morning, and I can swear that you
knew of the gold hidden in the hut. You have it on you at this moment. I
could hold you here with this pistol until the overseer should come and
search you. But I let you go, choosing rather your safety than the
endangerment of that which was dearer than life to the man you murdered.
The unsupported assertion of a murderer as to the contents of papers
which he had not got to show, might not go for much, but I prefer that
you should not make it. I have warned you;--you had best make your
escape at once."

"If you hold your tongue, there's no reason why I should run."

"Oh, yes, there is! There is a reason in the hut on the marsh."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that clasped in the hand of the man you murdered is the missing
half of that torn lock upon your forehead."

With a yell Roach sprang to the door only to be confronted by the muzzle
of Landless' pistol.

"Wait a moment," he said composedly. "Oh, you need not be afraid! I
intend to let you go. But you don't leave this tobacco house until after
I have left it myself."

"Curse you!" cried the other, foaming at the lips.

"You are ungrateful. I not only promise not to witness against you, but
I aid you to escape."

"For reasons of your own," suggested Trail.

"Precisely; for reasons of my own. If you are taken, I will hold my
tongue just so long as you hold yours. If you escape now, I will pray
that my day of reckoning will yet come. And it will be a heavy
reckoning."

"Ay, that it will!" cried the murderer with brutal fury. "You've got the
upper hand now; but wait! Every dog has his day, and I'll have mine! and
when it comes, I'll do for you! I'll smash your beauty! I'll draw more
blood from you than ever the whip of the overseer did! I'll use you
worse than I used that old man last night, who writhed and struggled,
and tried to pray! I'll--"

With white lips and blazing eyes Landless sprang forward, and clapped
the mouth of the pistol to the ruffian's temple. Roach recoiled, then
sunk upon his knees with an abject whine for mercy.

Landless let his hand drop, and moved slowly back to the door. "You had
need to cry for mercy," he said in a low, distinct voice, "for you were
never so near to death before. I let you go now, but one day I shall
kill you. Until which day--take care of yourself!" Still with his face
upon them he passed out of the door, then turned and walked away with a
steady step, but with a heart bleeding for the loss of his friend, and
heavy with forebodings for the future.

In the tobacco house the murderer, the forger, and the mulatto sat
stricken into silence until the last crisp footfall had died away. Then
amidst a torrent of curses Roach made for the door. Trail plucked him
back. "Where are you going?" he cried.

"I don't know! To the devil!"

"The bloodhounds will be upon your trail before noon."

The wretch cried out and struck his hand against the wall with a force
that laid the knuckles bare and bleeding.

"There is a way," said Luiz Sebastian slowly, "a way that only I know.
You must take to the inlet here, and swim up it until you come to the
mouth of the brook yonder in the forest. You must wade up that brook
until you come to a second, and up that until you come to a third. When
you have gone a mile up that one, leave it, and strike through the
woods, going towards the north. Another mile will bring you to a village
of the Chickahominies upon the Pamunkey.[1] They are at odds with
Governor and Council, and they will hide you. Moreover, I once did their
sachem a service, and they are my friends."

"I'm off," said Roach, breaking from the detaining grasp.

"Wait," said Luiz Sebastian. "There is time enough. Woodson will not
come for a long while. When he does, he shall find Señor Trail and
myself busily at work there outside, and we will say that you left us,
and went down the inlet a long time before. But now we want to talk to
you."

"Be quick then," growled the other, "I've no mind to swing for this
job."

Luiz Sebastian brought his handsomely malevolent face close to the
other's hideous countenance.

"Would you not like to ruin that devil who but now robbed you of your
hard-earned property?"

"Would I not?" cried the murderer with a tremendous oath. "I'd give
everything but life and gold to do it, as that cunning devil well knew.
I'd give my soul!"

"Would you like to be shown how to get more gold than old Godwyn's
store, twenty times told? To get your freedom? To have some black, sweet
hours in which to work your will on them at the house yonder? To plunge
your arms to the elbow in the master's money chest; to become drunken
with his wine; to strike him down, and that smiling imp his cousin, and
that other devil, Woodson; to hear the women cry for mercy--and cry in
vain? You would like all this?"

"Show me the way!" cried the brute with a ferocious light in his
bloodshot eyes. "Show me the way to do it safely, and I'll--" He broke
off and threatened the air with malignant fists.

"Go to the village on the Pamunkey," said Luiz Sebastian with his most
feline expression. "I will come to you there the first night I can slip
away, I and our friend, the Señor Trail. There we will have our little
conference. Mother of God! Señor Landless may find that others can plot
as well as he and his accursed heretics."

[Footnote 1: The modern York.]



CHAPTER XIV

A MIDNIGHT EXPEDITION


Four nights later, the hour before midnight found Landless walking
steadily through the forest, bound upon a mission which he had had in
his mind since the night after the murder of Godwyn. This was the first
night since that event upon which he had deemed it advisable to leave
the quarters, having no mind to be captured as a runaway by one of the
many search parties which were scouring the peninsula between the two
great rivers for the murderer of Robert Godwyn. But the search was now
trending northward towards Maryland, to which colony runaways usually
turned their steps, and he felt that he might venture.

There was little undergrowth in the primeval forest, and the rows of
vast and stately trees were as easy to thread as the pillared aisles of
a cathedral. When he came to one of the innumerable streamlets that
caught the land in a net of silver, he removed his coarse shoes and
stockings, and waded it. The great branches overhead shut in a night
that was breathlessly hot and still. He could see the stars only when he
crossed the streams or emerged into one of the many little open glades.
He walked warily, making no sound, and now and then stopping to listen
for the distant halloo, or bark of a dog, which might denote that he was
followed, or that there was a search party abroad, but he heard nothing
save the usual forest sounds,--the dropping of acorns, the sighing
leaves, the cry of some night bird,--sounds that seemed to make the
night more still than silence.

He was nearing his destination when from out a shadowy clump of alders,
standing upon the bank of the stream which he had just crossed, there
shot a long arm, and the next moment he was wrestling with a dark and
powerful figure whose naked body slipped from his hold as though it had
been greased. But Landless, too, was strong and determined, and the two
swayed and strained backwards and forwards through the darkness, wary
and resolute, neither giving his antagonist advantage. The hand of the
unknown writhed itself from the other's clasp and stole downwards
towards his waist. Landless felt the motion and intercepted it. Then the
figure, with an angry guttural sound, began to put forth its full
strength. The arms encircled Landless with a slowly tightening iron
band; the great dark shoulder came forward with the force of a
battering-ram; the limbs twined like boa-constrictors around the limbs
of the other. Locked together, the two reeled into a little fairy glade,
where the short grass, pearled with dew, lay open to the moon. Here,
borne backwards by the overwhelming force of his assailant, Landless
fell heavily to the ground. The figure falling with him, pinned him to
the earth with its knee upon his breast. In the moonlight he saw the
gleam of the lifted knife.

He had had but time for a half-uttered, half-thought prayer when the
pressure upon his breast relaxed; the knife fell, indeed, but harmlessly
upon the grass, and the figure rose to its height with an astonished
"Ugh!"

Landless, rising also, began to think that he recognized the gigantic
form towering through the pale moonlight.

"Ugh!" said the figure again. "The great Spirit threw us into the light
in time. Monakatocka had been forever shamed had his knife drunk the
life of his friend."

"Why did you set upon me?" demanded Landless, still breathless from the
struggle, while the Indian was as calmly composed as upon the day of
their first meeting.

"Monakatocka took you for the man for whom they hunt with dogs through
the forest, scaring the deer from the licks and the partridge from the
fern. Two nights ago Major Carrington said to Monakatocka, 'Find me that
man and kill him, and to the twenty arms' length of roanoke which the
county will pay to Monakatocka, I will add a gun with store of powder,
and with a bullet for every stag between Werowocomico and Machot.' When
he heard you a long way off, moving over the leaves, trying to make no
sound, Monakatocka thought he held the gun of the paleface Major in his
hand. But now--" he waved his hand with a gesture eloquent of
resignation.

"I am sorry to disappoint you," said Landless, amused at his air of calm
regret.

"I am glad to have proved the strength of my brother," was the
sententious reply. "Where goes my brother through the woods, which are
full of danger to him to-night? Or has he a pass?"

"I have business at Rosemead," answered Landless. "I am close to the
house, I think?"

The Indian pointed through the trees. "It lies twelve bowshots before
you. The overseer with the dogs has gone to the great swamp to look for
the man with the red hair."

"Thanks for the information, friend," said Landless. "I ask you,
moreover, to say nothing of this encounter. I have no pass."

"I have but one friend," answered the Indian. "His secret is my secret."

"Are you, too, then, so lonely?" asked Landless, touched by his tone.

"Listen," said the Indian, leaning his back against a great oak. "I will
tell my brother who I am.... Many years ago the Conestogas, they whom
the palefaces call the Susquehannocks, came down the great bay and
fought with the palefaces. Monakatocka was then but a lad on his first
warpath. Agreskoi was angry: he hid his face behind a cloud. With their
guns the palefaces beat the Conestogas like fleeing women back to their
village on the banks of a great river, and themselves returned in
triumph to their board wigwams, bearing with them many captives.
Monakatocka, son to a great chief, was one. The palefaces made him to
work like a squaw in their fields of tobacco and maize. When he ran away
they put forth a long arm and plucked him back and beat him. Agreskoi
was angry, for Monakatocka had not any offering to make him. One by one
his fellow captives have dropped away like the leaves that fall in the
moon of Taquetock, until, behold! he is left alone. The palefaces are
his enemies. He thinks of the village beside the pleasant stream, and he
hates them. A warrior of the long house takes no friend from the wigwam
of an Algonquin. Monakatocka is alone."

He spoke with a wild pathos, his high, stern features working in the
moonlight, and his bold glance softened into an exquisite melancholy.

"I too am friendless," said Landless, "and bound to a far more degrading
captivity than that you suffer. Our fate is the same."

The Indian took his hand in his, and raising it, pressed the forefinger
against a certain spot upon his shoulder. "You have a friend," he said.

"You make too much of a very slight service," said Landless. "But I
embrace your offer of friendship--there's my hand upon it. And now I
must be going upon my way. Good-night!"

The Indian gave a guttural "Good-night," and Landless strode on through
the thinning woods. Shortly he emerged from the forest and saw before
him tobacco fields and a house, and beyond the house the vast sheet of
the Chesapeake slumbering beneath the moon. There was a beaten path
leading to the house. Landless struck into it and followed it until it
led him beneath a window which (having been once sent with a message to
the Surveyor-General), he knew to belong to the sleeping-chamber of
Major Carrington. Stopping beneath this window he listened for any sound
that might warn him of aught stirring within or without the
mansion,--all was silent, the house and its inmates locked in slumber.

He took a handful of pebbles from the path and threw them, one by one,
against the wooden shutter, the thud of the last pebble being answered
by a slight noise from within the room. Presently the shutter was opened
and an authoritative voice demanded:--

"Who is it? What do you want?"

Landless came closer beneath the window. "Major Carrington," he said in
a low voice, "It is I, Godfrey Landless. I must have speech with you."

There was a moment's silence, and then the other said coldly, "'Must' is
a word that becomes neither your lips nor my ears. I know no reason why
Miles Carrington _must_ speak with the servant of Colonel Verney."

"As you please: Godfrey Landless craves the honor of a word with Major
Carrington."

"And what if Major Carrington refuses?" said the other sharply.

"I do not think he will do so."

The Surveyor-General hesitated a moment, then said:--

"Go to the great door. I will open to you in a moment. But make no
noise."

Landless nodded, and proceeded to follow his directions. Presently the
door swung noiselessly inward, and Carrington, appearing in the opening,
beckoned Landless within, and led the way, still in profound silence,
across the hall to the great room. Here, after softly closing the door,
he lighted candles, saw to it that the heavy wooden shutters were
securely drawn across the windows, and turned to face his visitor in a
somewhat different guise than the riding suit and jack boots, the mask
and broad flapping beaver, in which he had appeared in their encounter
in the hut on the marsh. His stately figure was now wrapped in a
night-gown of dark velvet, his bare feet were thrust into velvet
slippers, and a silken night-cap, half on and half off, imparted a rakish
air to his gravely handsome countenance. He threw himself into a great
armchair and tapped impatiently upon the table.

"Well!" he said dryly.

Landless standing before him began to speak with dignity and to the
point. Godwyn, the head of a great conspiracy, was dead, leaving him,
Landless, in some sort his successor. In a conference of the leading
conspirators held but a few nights before the murder, Godwyn had
announced that not only had he given to the son of Warham Landless his
complete confidence, but that in case aught should happen to himself
before the time for action, he would wish the young man to succeed him
in the leadership of the revolt. There had been some demur, but Godwyn's
influence was boundless, and on his advancing reason after reason for
his preference, the Oliverians had acquiesced in his judgment and had
given their solemn promise to respect his wishes. Three nights later,
Godwyn was murdered. Since that dreadful blow, Landless had seen only
such of the conspirators as were in his immediate neighborhood.
Confounded at the turn affairs had taken, and utterly at a loss, they
had turned eagerly to him as to one having authority. For his own
freedom, for the sake of his promise to the dead man, he would do his
utmost. He had come to-night to discover, if possible, Major
Carrington's intentions--

Carrington, who had listened thus far with grave attention, frowned
heavily.

"If my memory serves me, sirrah, I told you once before that Miles
Carrington stirs not hand or foot in this matter. I may wish you well,
but that is all."

"'Tis a poor friend that cries 'Godspeed!' to one who struggles in a
bog, and gives not his hand to help him out."

"Your figure does not hold," said the other, dryly. "I have not cried
'Godspeed!' I have said nothing at all, either good or bad. I have
nothing to do with this conspiracy. You are the only man now living
that knows that I am aware that such a thing exists. And I hope, sir,
that you will remember how you gained that knowledge."

"I am in no danger of forgetting."

"Very well. Your journey here to-night was a useless as well as a
dangerous one. I have nothing to say to you."

"Will you tell me one thing?" said Landless, patiently. "What will Major
Carrington have to say to me upon the day when I speak to him as a free
man with free men behind me?"

"Upon that day," said the other, composedly, "Miles Carrington will
submit to the inevitable with a good grace, having been, as is well
known, a friend to the Commonwealth, and having always, even when there
was danger in so doing, spoken against the cruel and iniquitous
enslavement of men whose only offense was non-conformity, or the having
served under the banners of Cromwell."

"If he should be offered Cromwell's position in the new Commonwealth,
what then?"

"Pshaw! no such offer will be made."

"We must have weight and respectability, must identify ourselves with
that Virginia in which we are strangers, if we are to endure," said
Landless, with a smile. "A fact that we perfectly recognize--as does
Major Carrington. He probably knows who is of, and yet head and
shoulders above, that party in the state upon whose support we must
ultimately rely, who alone could lead that party; who alone might
reconcile Royalist and Puritan;--and to whom alone the offer I speak of
will be made."

Carrington smiled despite himself. "Well, then, if the offer is made, I
will accept it. In short, when your man is out of the bog I will lend
my aid to cleanse him of the stains incurred in the transit. But he must
pull himself out of the mire. I am safe upon the bank, I will not be
drawn with him into a bottomless ruin. Do I make myself plain?"

"Perfectly," said Landless, dryly.

The other flushed beneath the tone. "You think perhaps that I play but a
craven part in this game. I do not. God knows I run a tremendous risk as
it is, without madly pledging life and honor to this desperate
enterprise!"

"I fail to see the risk," said Landless, coldly.

The other struck his hand against the table. "I risk a slave
insurrection!" he said.

A noise outside the door made them start like guilty things. The door
opened softly and a charming vision appeared, to wit, Mistress Betty
Carrington, rosy from sleep and hastily clad in a dressing-gown of
sombre silk. Her little white feet were bare, and her dark hair had
escaped from its prim, white night coif. She started when she saw a
visitor, and her feet drew demurely back under the hem of her gown,
while her hands went up to her disheveled hair; but a second glance
showing her his quality, she recovered her composure and spoke to her
father in her soft, serious voice.

"I heard a noise, my father, and looking into your room, found it empty,
so I came down to see what made you wakeful to-night."

"'Tis but a message from Verney Manor, child," said her father. "Get
back to bed."

"From Verney Manor!" exclaimed Betty. "Then I can send back to-night the
song book and book of plays lent me by Sir Charles Carew, and which,
after reading the first page, I e'en restored to their wrappings and
laid aside with a good book a-top to put me in better thoughts if ever I
was tempted to touch them again. I will get them, good fellow, and you
shall carry them back to their owner with my thanks, if it so be that I
can find words that are both courteous and truthful."

"Stop, child!" said her father as she turned to leave the room. "The
volumes, which you were very right not to read, may rest awhile beneath
the good book. This is a secret mission upon which this young man has
come. It is about a--a matter of state upon which his master and I have
been engaged. No one here or at Verney Manor must know that he has been
at Rosemead."

"Very well, my father," said Betty, meekly, "the books can wait some
other opportunity."

"And," with some sternness, "you will be careful to hold your tongue as
to this man's presence here to-night."

"Very well, father."

"You are not to speak of it to Mistress Patricia or to any one."

"I will be silent, my father."

"Very well," said the Major. "You are not like the majority of women. I
know that your word is as good as an oath. Now run away to bed,
sweetheart, and forget that you have seen this messenger."

"I am going now, father," said Betty, obediently. "Is Mistress Patricia
well, good fellow?"

"Quite well, I believe, madam."

"She spake of crossing to Accomac with Mistress Lettice and Sir Charles
Carew, when the latter should go to visit Colonel Scarborough. Know you
if she went?"

"I think not, madam. I think that Sir Charles Carew went alone."

"Ah! They have fallen out then," said Betty, half to herself, and with a
demure satisfaction in her wild flower face. "I am glad of it, for I
like him not. Thanks, good fellow, for your answering my idle
questions."

Landless bowed gravely. Betty bent her pretty head, and with a hasty, "I
am going, father!" in answer to an impatient movement on the part of the
Major, vanished from the room.

Carrington waited until the last light footfall had died away, and then
said, "Our interview is over. Are you satisfied?"

"At least, I understand your position."

"Yes," said Carrington, thoughtfully, "it is as well that you should
understand it. It is simple. I wish you well. I am in heart a
Commonwealth's man. I love not the Stuarts. I would fain see this fair
land freed from their rule and returned to the good days of the
Commonwealth. And I may as well acknowledge, since you have found it out
for yourself,"--a haughty smile,--"that I have my ambitions. What man
has not?" He rose and began to pace the room, his hands clasped behind
him, his handsome head bent, his rich robe trailing upon the ground
behind him.

"I could rule this land more acceptably to the people than can William
Berkeley with his parrot phrases, 'divine right,' and 'passive
obedience.' I know the people and am popular with them, with Royalist
and Churchman as well as with Nonconformist and Oliverian. I know the
needs of the colony--home rule, self taxation, free trade, a more
liberal encouragement to emigrants, religious tolerance, a rod of iron
for the Indians, the establishment of a direct slave trade with Africa
and the Indies. I could so rule this colony that in a twelvemonth's
time, Richard Verney or Stephen Ludlow, hot Royalists though they be,
would be forced to acknowledge that never, since the day Smith sailed up
the James, had Virginia enjoyed a tithe of her present prosperity."

"'Tis a consummation devoutly to be desired,'" said Landless, dryly. "In
the mean time, like the cat i' the adage--"

"You are insolent, sirrah!"

"When a stripling I served under one who took the bitter with the sweet,
the danger as well as the reward, who led the soldiers from whom he took
his throne."

"Cromwell, sirrah," said Carrington sternly, "led soldiers. You would
require Miles Carrington to lead servants, to place himself, a gentleman
and a master, at the head of a rebellion which, if it failed, would
plunge him into a depth of ignominy and ruin proportionate to the height
from which he fell. He declines the position. When you have won your
freedom he will treat with you. Not before."

"Then," said Landless slowly, "upon the day on which the flag of the
Commonwealth floats over the Assembly hall at Jamestown, then--"

"Then I will join myself to you as I have said, and I will bring with me
those without whom your revolution would be but short-lived--the Puritan
and Nonconformist element in the colony, gentle and simple."

"That is sufficiently explicit," said Landless, "and I thank you."

"I have trusted you fully, young man," said the other, stopping before
him, "not only because you cannot betray me if you would, seeing that
not one scrap of writing exists to inculpate me in this matter, and that
your word would scarce be taken before mine, but because I believe you
to be trustworthy. I believe also"--graciously--"that Robert Godwyn
(whose death I sincerely mourn) showed his usual wisdom and knowledge of
mankind when he chose you as his confidant and co-worker. I wish you
well through with a dangerous and delicate piece of work and in
enjoyment of your reward, namely, your freedom, and the esteem of the
Commonwealth of Virginia. I will myself see to it that any past offenses
which you are supposed to have committed (for myself, I believe you to
have been harshly used), shall not stand in your light."

"Major Carrington is very good," said Landless, calmly. "I shall study
to deserve his commendation."

The other took a restless turn or two through the room, stopping at
length before the younger man.

"You may tell me one thing," he said in a voice scarcely above a
whisper, and with his eyes bent watchfully upon the other's composed
face. "Had Godwyn set the day?"

"Yes."

"And you will adhere to it?"

"Yes."

"What day?"

"The thirteenth of September."

"Humph! Two weeks off! Well, my tobacco will be largely in, and I shall
send my daughter upon a visit to her Huguenot kindred upon the Potomac.
Good night."

"Good night," answered Landless.



CHAPTER XV

THE WATERS OF CHESAPEAKE


Patricia was ennuyée to the last degree. That morning Sir Charles had
ridden to Green Spring with her father; Mistress Lettice was in the
still room decocting a face wash from rose leaves, dew and honey; young
Shaw on his knees in the master's room, disconsolately poring over piles
of musty papers in search of a misplaced deed which the colonel had
ordered him to find against his return. It was a hot and listless
afternoon. Patricia read a page of "The Rival Ladies," tried her spinet,
had a languid romp with her spaniels, and finally sauntered into the
porch, and leaning her white arms upon the railing, looked towards the
dazzling blue waters of the Chesapeake. Presently an idea came to her.
She went swiftly into the hall, and called for Darkeih. When that
handmaiden appeared:--

"Darkeih, go down to the quarters, and tell the first man you meet to
find Woodson, and send him to me."

Darkeih departed, and in half an hour's time the overseer appeared at
the foot of the porch steps, red and heated from his rapid walk from the
Three-Mile field.

"What's wrong, Mistress Patricia?" he asked quickly.

Patricia opened her lovely eyes. "Nothing is wrong, Woodson. What
should be? I sent for you, because I want to go to Rosemead."

"To Rosemead!" exclaimed the overseer.

"Yes, to Rosemead, and I want a couple of men to take me."

The overseer gave a short, vexed laugh. "I can't spare the men, Mistress
Patricia. You ought to have known that every man jack on the plantation
is busy cutting. If I had a known this was all that was wanted! Fegs! I
thought something dreadful was the matter."

"Something dreadful is the matter," said the young lady calmly. "I am
bored to death."

"Sorry for ye, missy, but I can't spare the men."

"Oh, yes, you can!" said Patricia with unruffled composure.

The overseer, knowing his lady, began to weaken.

"Anyhow, you wouldn't want two men. You might go on a pillion behind old
Abraham. I could spare _him_."

"I shall not go a-horseback. 'Tis too hot and dusty. I shall go in one
of the sail-boats--the Bluebird, I think."

"Now, in the name of all that's contrary, what do you want to do that
for, Mistress Patricia?" cried the harassed overseer. "It's twice as far
by water."

"I'll reach Rosemead before dark. The men can bring the boat back
to-night, and Major Carrington will send me home on a pillion
to-morrow."

"Have you forgotten that to-morrow is Sunday?" said the overseer
severely, and with a new-born anxiety for the proper observance of the
holy day. "Will you have the Colonel pay a fine for you?"

"I will go to service with the Carringtons then, and come home on
Monday," said the lady serenely.

"There's a squall coming up this afternoon."

"There isn't a cloud in the sky," said his mistress with calm
conviction, looking straight before her at a low, tumbled line of creamy
peaks along the horizon.

"If the Colonel were here--"

"He would say, 'Woodson, do exactly as Mistress Patricia tells you.'"
This with great sweetness.

The overseer gave it up. "I reckon he would, missy," he said with a
grin. "You wind him and all of us around your finger."

"'Tis all for your good, Woodson," with a soft, bright laugh. Then,
coaxingly, "Am I to have the Bluebird?"

"I reckon so, Mistress Patricia, seeing that you have set your heart
upon it," said the still reluctant overseer.

"That's a good Woodson. I want Regulus to be one of the boatmen. You can
send any other you choose. I shall take Darkeih with me."

"You can't have Regulus, Mistress Patricia," answered the overseer
positively. "He's worth any two men in the field. I can't let him go."

"Let him be at the wharf in half an hour. I will be ready by then."

"You can't have him, Missy."

Patricia stamped her pretty foot. "Am I mistress of this plantation, or
am I not, Woodson?"

"Lord knows you are!" groaned the overseer.

"Then when I say I want Regulus, I will have Regulus and no other."

The overseer sighed resignedly. "Very well, Mistress Patricia, I'll send
for him."

Patricia danced away, and the overseer strode down the path, viciously
crunching the pebbles and bits of shell beneath his feet. At the wharf
he found a detachment of the infant population of the quarters busily
crabbing; all of whom, save two little Indians who fished stoically on,
scrambled to their feet, and pulled a forelock. The overseer touched one
urchin upon the shoulder with the butt end of his whip.

"You, Piccaninny, run as fast as your legs will carry you to the field
by the swamp, and tell Regulus to leave his work, and come to the big
wharf. Mistress Patricia wants to go a pleasuring."

Piccaninny's black shanks and pink heels flew up and out, and he was
away like a flash. The overseer kept on to the end of the wharf, where
were clustered the boats, some tied to the piles, some anchored a little
way out. "Haines was to send a man to caulk a seam in the Nancy," he
muttered. "Whoever he is, he'll have to go in the Bluebird. I'm not
going to take another man from the tobacco. What fools women are! But
they get their way,--the pretty ones at least." He leaned over the
railing, and called,--

"You there, in the Nancy!"

Godfrey Landless looked up from his work. "What is it?"

The overseer chuckled grimly. "It's that fellow Landless who angered her
once before," he said to himself with a malicious grin. "Well, 't isn't
my business to know which of all the servants on this plantation she
most dislikes to come near her. She'll have to put up with him to-day.
There isn't a better boatman on the place anyhow."

To Landless he said, "Bring the Bluebird up to the wharf, and see that
she is sweet and clean inside. Mistress Patricia starts for Rosemead in
half an hour, and you and Regulus are to take her. You'll bring the
boat back to-night. Step lively now!"

Landless brought the Bluebird, a sixteen-foot open boat, up to the
wharf, made the inside, and especially the seat in the stern, spotlessly
clean, put up the sail, and sat down to wait. Presently Regulus appeared
above him, and swung himself down into the boat with a grin of delight,
for he much preferred sailing with "'lil missy" to cutting tobacco. He
had a great burly form and a broad, ebony face, and he was the devoted
slave of Patricia, and of Patricia's maid, Darkeih. Moreover, he enjoyed
the distinction of being the first negro born in the Colony, his parents
having been landed from the Dutch privateer which in 1619 introduced the
slave into Virginia. Viewed through a vista of nigh three hundred years,
he appears a portent, a tremendous omen, a sign from the Eumenides. Upon
that tranquil summer afternoon in the Virginia of long ago he was simply
a good-humored, docile, happy-go-lucky, harmless animal.

"'Lil Missy's comin'," he remarked, with bonhommie, to his fellow
boatman.

Darkeih, laden with cushions, appeared at the edge of the wharf.
Landless, standing in the bow below her, relieved her of her burdens,
and taking her by the hands, swung her down into the boat. She thanked
him with a smile that showed every tooth in her comely brown
countenance, and tripped aft, where, with the assistance of Regulus, she
proceeded to arrange a cushioned seat for her mistress.

Landless waited for the lady of the manor to come forward. In the act of
extending her hands to the boatman, she glanced at him, crimsoned, and
drew back. Landless, interpreting color and action aright, buckled his
armor of studied quiet more closely over a hurt and angry heart.

"I was ordered to attend you, madam," he said proudly. "But if you so
desire, I will find the overseer and tell him that you wish for some one
else in my place."

"There is not time," was the cold reply. "And as well you as any other.
Let us be going."

Landless held out his arms again. She measured with her eyes the
distance between her and the boat. "I do not need any help," she said.
"If you will stand aside, I can spring from here to the prow."

"And strike the water instead, madam," said Landless, grimly, "when I
would have to touch more than your hand in order to pull you out."

She colored angrily, but held out her hands. Landless lifted her down
and steadied her to her seat in the stern. She thanked him coldly, and
began at once to talk to Regulus with the playful familiarity of a
child. Regulus grinned delight; he had been "'lil Missy's" slave from
her childhood. Landless untied the boat from the piles and pushed her
off; Regulus, who was to steer, pulled the tiller towards him, and the
little Bluebird glided from the wharf, made a wide and graceful sweep,
and proceeded leisurely down the inlet towards the waters of the great
bay.

Landless seated himself in the bow, and turned his face away from the
group in the stern. Patricia leaned back amidst her cushions, and opened
a book; Darkeih, upon the other side of the rudder, held a whispered
flirtation with Regulus, squatting at her feet, the tiller in his hand.
There was but little wind, but what there was came from the land, and
the Bluebird moved steadily though listlessly down the inlet, between
the velvet marshes. The water broke against the sides of the boat with a
languid murmur. It was very hot, and the sky above was of a steely,
unclouded blue that hurt the eyes. Only in the southwest the line of
cloud hills was erecting itself into an Alpine range. The glare of the
sun upon the white pages of her book dazzled Patricia's eyes; the heat
and the lazy swaying motion made her drowsy. With a sigh of oppression
she closed her book, and taking her fan from Darkeih, laid it across her
face, and curled herself among her cushions.

"I will sleep awhile," she said to her handmaiden, and serenely glided
into slumberland.

She was in a balcony with Sir Charles Carew, looking down upon a
fantastic procession that wound endlessly on, with flaunting banners,
and to the sound of kettle-drums and trumpets, when she was aroused by
Landless' voice. She opened her eyes and looked up from her nest of
cushions to see him standing above her.

"What is it?" she asked frigidly.

"I grieve to waken you, madam, but there is a heavy squall coming up."

She sat up and looked about her. The Bluebird had left the inlet and was
rising and falling with the long oily swell of the vast sheet of water
that stretched before them to a horizon of vivid blue. North and east
the water met the sky; a mile to the westward was the low wooded shore
which they were skirting.

"The sun is shining," said Patricia, bewildered. "The sky is blue."

"Look behind you."

She turned and uttered an exclamation. The Alpine range had vanished,
and a monstrous pall of gray-black cloud was being slowly drawn upward
and across the smiling heaven. Even as she looked, it blotted out the
sun.

"We had better make for the shore at once," said Landless. "We can reach
it before the storm breaks and can find shelter for you until it is
over."

Patricia exclaimed: "Why, we cannot be more than three miles from
Rosemead! Surely we can reach it before that cloud overtakes us!"

"I think not, madam."

"Regulus!" cried his mistress imperiously. "We can reach Rosemead before
that storm breaks, can we not?"

Among other amiable qualities, Regulus numbered a happy willingness to
please, even at the expense of truth.

"Sho-ly, 'lil Missy," he said with emphasis.

"And it will not be much of a squall, besides, will it, Regulus?"

"No, 'lil Missy, not much ob squall," answered the obliging Regulus.

"There is much wind in it," said Landless. "Look at those white clouds
scudding across the black; and these squalls strike with suddenness and
fury. I may put the boat about, madam?"

"Certainly not. Regulus, who must know the Chesapeake and its squalls
much better than you possibly can, says there is no danger. I have no
mind to be set ashore in these woods with night coming on and Indians or
wolves prowling around."

"I beg that you will be advised by me, madam."

She looked at him as she had done that day in the master's room. "Is it
that you are _afraid_ of a Virginia squall? If so, you will have to
conquer your tremor. Regulus, keep the boat as it is."

Landless went back to his seat in the bow, with tightened lips. The wind
freshened, coming in hot little puffs, and the Bluebird slid more
swiftly over the low hills. The water turned to a livid green and the
air slowly darkened. Across the black pall, looming higher and higher,
shot a jagged streak of fierce gold, followed by a low rumble of
thunder. A mass of gray-white, fantastically piled clouds whirled up
from the eastern horizon to meet the vast blank sullen sheet overhead.
There came a more vivid flash and a louder roll of thunder.

Landless walked aft and took the tiller from Regulus' hand, motioning
him forward to the place he had himself occupied. The negro stared, but
went with his accustomed docility. Patricia sat upright in indignant
surprise.

"What are you doing?"

"I am about to head the boat for the shore," suiting the action to the
word.

Her eyes blazed. "Did you not hear me say that I wished to proceed to
Rosemead?"

"Yes, madam, I did."

"I order you, sir--"

"And I choose to disobey."

"I shall report you to Colonel Verney."

"As you please, madam."

From the prow, where he had been taking observations, Regulus cried in a
startled voice: "De win 's comin'! De win 's comin' mighty quick!"

Landless thrust the tiller into Patricia's hands. "Keep it there, just
where it is, for your life!" he cried authoritatively, and bounded
forward to where Regulus was already struggling with the sail. They got
it in and lashed to the mast just in time, for, with the shriek of a
thousand demons, the squall whirled itself upon them. In an instant they
were enveloped in a blinding horror of furious wind and rain, glare of
lightning and incessant, ear-splitting thunder. A leaden darkness,
illuminated only by the lightning, settled around them, and the air grew
suddenly cold. Beneath the whip of the wind the Chesapeake woke from
slumber, stirred, and rose in fury. The Bluebird danced dizzily upon
white crests or swooped into black and yawning chasms. Steadying himself
by the thwarts, Landless went back to Patricia, sitting pale and with
clasped hands, but making no sound. Darkeih, with a moan of fear, had
thrown herself down at her mistress' feet, and was hiding her face in
her skirts. Landless took a scarf from among the pile of cushions, and
wrapped it around Patricia. "'Tis a poor protection against wet and
cold," he said, "but it is better than nothing."

"Thank you," she said then, with an effort. "Do you think this squall
will last long?"

"I cannot tell, madam. It is rather a hurricane than a squall. But we
must do the best we can."

As he spoke there came a fresh access of wind with a glare of
intolerable light. The mast bent like a reed, snapped off clear to the
foot and fell inward, the loosened beam striking Regulus upon the head,
and bearing him down with it. The boat careened violently, and half
filled with water. Darkeih screamed, and Patricia sprang to her feet,
but sat down again at Landless' stern command, "Sit still! She will
right in a moment."

He lifted and flung overboard the mass of splintered wood and flapping
cloth, then fell to bailing with all his might, for the danger of
swamping was imminent. Presently Patricia touched him upon the arm. "I
will bail if you will see to Regulus," she said, in a low, strained
voice. "I think he is dead."

Landless resigned the pail into her hands and lifted the negro's head
and shoulders from the water in which he was lying, pillowing them upon
the stern seat. He was unconscious, and bleeding from a cut on the
forehead.

"He is not dead nor like to die," Landless said. "He will revive before
long."

The girl gave a long, quivering sigh of relief. Landless finished the
bailing and sat down at her feet.

Some time later she asked faintly: "Do you not think the worst is over
now?"

"I am afraid not," he answered gently. "There is a lull now, but I am
afraid the storm is but gathering its forces. But we will hope for the
best--"

Another flash and crash cut him short. It was followed by rain that
fell, not in drops, but in sheets. The wind, which had been blowing a
heavy gale, rose suddenly into a tornado. With it rose the sea. The
masses of water, hissing and smoking under the furious pelting of the
rain, flung themselves upon the hapless Bluebird, laboring heavily in
the trough of the waves, or staggering over their summits. A constant
glare lit the heaving, tossing world of waters, and the air became one
roar of wind, rain, and thunder.

Darkeih crouched moaning at her mistress' feet. Regulus lay unconscious,
breathing heavily. Suddenly, with a quick intake of his breath,
Landless seized Patricia, pulled her down into the bottom of the boat,
and held her there.

"I see," she said in a low, awed voice. "It is Death!"

Through the glare a long green wall bore down upon them. The Bluebird
leaped to meet it. It lifted her up, up to meet the lightning, then
hurled her into black depths, and passed on, leaving her staggering in
the trough, water-logged and helpless.



CHAPTER XVI

THE FACE IN THE DARK


Patricia lifted her white face from her hands. "We rode that dreadful
wave?" she cried incredulously.

"By God's mercy, yes," said Landless gravely.

"Is there any hope for us?"

Landless hesitated. "Tell me the truth," she said imperiously.

"We are in desperate case, madam. The boat is half filled with water.
Another such sea will sink us."

"Why do you not bail the boat?"

"The bucket is gone; the tiller also."

She shivered, and Darkeih began to wail aloud. Landless laid a heavy
hand upon the latter's shoulder. "Silence!" he said sternly. "Here! I
shall lay Regulus' head in your lap, and you are to watch over him and
not to think of yourself. There's a brave wench!"

Darkeih's lamentations subsided into a low sobbing, and Landless turned
to her mistress.

"Try to keep up your courage, madam," he said. "Our peril is great; but
while there is life there is hope."

"I am not afraid," she said. "I--" The pitching of the boat threw her
against Landless, and he put his arm about her. "You must let me hold
you, madam," he said quietly. She shrank away from his touch, saying
breathlessly, "No, oh no! See! I can hold quite well by the gunwale." He
acquiesced in silence, only lifting her into a more secure position. "I
thank you," she said humbly.

The storm continued to rage with unabated fury. Flash and detonation
succeeded flash and detonation; the rain poured in torrents; and the
wind whooped on the angry sea like a demon of destruction. The Bluebird
pitched and tossed at the mercy of the great waves that combed above
her. Time passed, and to the darkness of the storm was added the
darkness of the night. The occupants of the boat, drenched by the rain
and the seas she had shipped, shivered with cold. Regulus began to stir
and mutter. "He is coming to himself," Landless cried to Darkeih. "When
you see that he is conscious, make him lie still. He must not move
about."

"Do you know where we are?" asked Patricia.

"No, madam; but I fear that the wind is driving us out into the bay."

"Ah!"

She said it with a sob, for a sudden vision of home flashed across the
cold and darkness; and presently Landless could hear that she was
weeping.

The sound went to his heart. "I would God I could help you, madam," he
said gently. "Take comfort! You are in the hands of One who holds the
sea in the hollow of His hand."

In a little while she was quiet. There passed another long interval of
silent endurance, broken by Patricia's saying piteously, "My hands are
so numbed with cold that I cannot hold to the side of the boat. And my
arms are bruised with striking against it."

Without a word Landless put his arm around her, and held her steady
amidst the tossings of the boat. "You are shivering with cold!" he said.
"If I had but something to wrap you in!"

She drooped against him, and the lightning showed him her face, still
and white, with parted lips, and long lashes sweeping her marble cheek.

"Madam, madam!" he cried roughly. "You must not swoon! You must not!"

With a strong effort she rallied. "I will try to be brave," she said
plaintively. "I am not frightened,--not very much. But oh! I am cold and
tired!"

He drew her head down upon his knee. "Let it lie there," he said,
speaking as to a tired child. "I will hold you quite steady. Now shut
your eyes and try to sleep. The storm is no worse than it was; and since
the boat has lived this long in this sea, she may live through the
night. And with morning may come many chances of safety. Try to rest in
that hope."

Faint and exhausted from cold and terror, she submitted like a child,
and lay with closed eyes in a sort of stupor within his arms.

There was less lightning now, and the thunder sounded in long booming
peals, instead of short, sharp cannon cracks. The rain, too, had ceased;
but the wind blew furiously, and the sea ran in tremendous waves.
Regulus stirred, groaned, and struggled into a sitting posture. "Lie
down again!" ordered Darkeih. "We 's all on de way to Heaben, but if
nigger shake de boat, we'll get dere befo' de Lawd ready for us. Lie
down!" Regulus, muttering to himself, looked stupidly about him, then
dropped his head back into her lap. In three minutes he was snoring.
Darkeih's whimpering died away, and her turbaned head sank lower and
lower, until it rested upon that of Regulus, and she, too, slept.

Landless sat very still, holding his burden lightly and tenderly, and
staring into the darkness. Against the steep slope of the sea, a picture
framed itself, melted away, and was followed by others in long
procession. He saw a ruinous, ivy-grown hall, and an old, grave, formal
garden, where, between long box hedges broken by fantastic yews, there
walked a boy, book in hand. A man with a stately figure and a stern,
careworn face met the boy, and they leaned upon a broken dial, and the
father reasoned with the son of Right and Truth and Liberty, and
something touched upon the Tyrannicides of old. The yew trees drooped
their sombre boughs about the figures, and they were gone, and in their
place roared and swelled the Chesapeake.... The sound of the storm
became the sound of a battle-cry. He saw a clanging fight where sword
clashed upon armor, and artillery belched fire and thunder, and horse
and man went down in the melée, and were trampled under foot amidst
shrieks and oaths and stern prayers. The boy who had leaned upon the
dial fought coolly, desperately, drunk with the joy of battle, stung to
fierce effort by his father's eyes. The great banner, blazoned with the
Cross of Saint George, streamed in crimson and azure between the battle
and the lonely watcher in the storm-tossed boat, and the vision was
gone.... The spires of a great city, where men walked with long faces
and church bells made the only music, rose through the gloom, and he saw
a dingy chamber in a dingy stack of buildings, and within it, bending
over great tomes of law, a man, impoverished and orphaned, but young,
strong, and full of hope,--a man well spoken of and allowed to be on the
road to high preferment. The chamber wavered into darkness; but the city
spires flashed light, and the slow ringing changed to mad peals from joy
bells. Some one had been restored--to drop balm upon the bleeding heart
of a nation, to bring light to them that sit in darkness,--so said the
joy bells.... He saw a loathsome prison, and the man who had sat in the
dingy chamber lying therein under accusation of a crime which he had not
committed. He saw him pining there, week after week, month after month,
untried, forgotten, at the mercy of an enemy to his house whose day had
come with the Restored One.... The prison vanished, and the waves that
tossed around him were the waves of the Atlantic. A ship ploughed her
way through them. He saw into her hold,--a horrible place of stench and
filth and darkness,--a place where hounds would not have kenneled. Men
and women were there who cursed and fought for the scanty, worm-eaten
food that was thrown them. Some wore gyves: they were heavy upon the
wrists and ankles of the man of his vision. He saw a face looking down
upon this man, a handsome supercilious face, with insolent amusement in
the languid eyes and in the curves of the lips. The hatches were
battened down upon the cargo of misery, and the ship with its brutal
captain and its handful of gold-laced, dicing, swearing passengers
vanished.... He saw a sandy, grass-grown street, and a row of mean
houses, and a low, brick building with barred windows. There was a crowd
before this building, and a man standing upon the platform of a pillory
was selling human flesh and blood. He saw the boy who had stood beneath
the yews of the old Hall, who had fought at Worcester beneath his
father's eye; the man who had lain in prison and in the noisome hold of
the ship, put up and sold to the highest bidder. He saw him carried away
with other merchandise to the home of his purchaser. He saw a Virginia
plantation lying fair and serene beneath a Virginia heaven; and a wide
porch, and standing therein an angelic vision, all grace and beauty,
vivid youth and splendor.

The picture vanished into the night that raved about him, and with a
long shaken sigh he let his eyes fall from the watery steeps to the face
of the woman who lay within his arms. He had not looked at her before,
conceiving that she might be awake and feel his glance upon her. Now he
could tell from her breathing that she slept. He gazed upon the pure
pale face with the golden hair falling about it, in a passion of pity
and tenderness. She moaned now and then in her sleep, or turned uneasily
in his arms. Once she spoke a few words, and he bent eagerly to catch
them, thinking that she had awakened and was speaking to him. They
were:--

"Ah, your Excellency! where I reign there shall be only good Churchmen
and loyal Cavaliers--no Roundheads, no rebel or convict servants!" and
she laughed in her sleep.

Landless shrank as from a mortal blow, then broke into a bitter laugh,
and said to himself, "Thou art a fool, Godfrey Landless. It were but too
easy to forget to-night what thou art and what thou must seem to her.
Thou art answered according to thy folly." He sighed impatiently, and
withdrawing his gaze from the sleeping face, fell into a sombre reverie.

He was roused to active consciousness by a sudden and death-like pause
in the gale. The lightning showed the pall of cloud hanging low, black,
and unbroken; but the wind had sunk into an ominous calm. He looked
anxiously around him, then softly disengaging himself from Patricia,
leaned across her, and shook Regulus awake. The negro started up, stupid
from sleep and from his wound.

"What is it, massa?" he queried. "Wake mighty early at Rosemead.... Lawd
hab mercy! we 's still on de Chesapeake!"

"We will be in the Chesapeake in a moment," said Landless sternly, "if
you stagger about in that way. Sit down and pull your wits together. You
are like to need them all directly." He touched Darkeih and said, as her
eyes, wide with alarm, opened upon him, "Listen, my wench! Whatever
happens, you are to trust yourself to Regulus. He is a strong swimmer
and he will take care of you. You hear, Regulus!"

"What is it?" exclaimed Patricia, as he bent over her. "Why have you
waked Regulus? And oh! has not that dreadful wind died away?"

"It has stopped, madam, stopped suddenly and utterly," he said gravely.
"But it will come upon us from another quarter, and it will bring the
sea with it." He raised her, and held her with his arm. "Trust yourself
to me when it comes," he said gently. "If I can save you, I will."

There was no time for more. Above them broke a new and more terrible
storm. A ball of fire shot from the cloud into the sea; it was followed
by a crash that seemed to shake the earth. A cataract of rain descended.
From the northeast there swooped upon them a wind to which the gale of
an hour before seemed a zephyr. It drove the boat before it as if she
had been the bird from which she took her name. It piled wave on wave
until the sea ran in mountains. Athwart the storm came a dull booming
roar, and above the great hills of water appeared a long ridge crested
with white.

"It is coming," said Landless.

Patricia looked up at him with great, despairing, courageous eyes. "I
have caused your death," she said. "Forgive me."

There came a vivid flash, and a loud scream from Darkeih. "De lan'! de
bressed, bressed, lan'!"

Landless wheeled. Silhouetted against the lit sky he saw a fringe of
pines, and below it a low, shelving shore where the waves were breaking
in foam and thunder. The Bluebird, driven by the wind, was hurrying
towards it in mad bounds. The great wave overtook her, bore her onward
with it, and sunk her within fifty feet of the shore.

Ten minutes later Landless, breathless and exhausted, staggered from out
the hell of pounding waves and blinding, stinging spray on to the shore.
Unlocking Patricia's arms from about his neck, he laid her gently down
upon the sand and turned to look for the other occupants of the hapless
Bluebird. They were close behind him. In a few minutes the two men,
battling against wind and rain, had borne the women out of reach of the
waves, and had placed them in the shelter of a low bank of sand. As
Landless set his burden down he said reverently, "I thank God, madam."

"And I thank God," she answered, in the same tone.

He tried to shield her from the wind with his body. "It is frightful,"
he said, "that you should be exposed to such a night. I pray God that
you take no harm."

"Would it not be more sheltered higher up the shore, under those trees?"

"Perhaps, but I fear to risk you there with the lightning so near.
Later, when the storm subsides, we will try it."

He seated himself so as to screen her as much as possible from wind and
rain, and a silence fell upon the party so suddenly snatched from death.
Regulus stretched himself upon the sand and pulled Darkeih down beside
him. Within a few minutes they were both asleep. The white man and woman
sat side by side without speaking, watching the storm.

By degrees it raved itself out. The rain fell in less and less volume,
the lightning became infrequent, the thunder pealed less loudly, and the
wind died from a hurricane into a breeze. In two hours' time from the
swamping of the boat the booming of the sea, and a ragged mass of cloud,
lit by an occasional flash and slowly falling away from a pale and
watery moon, were the only evidences of the tornado which had raged so
lately.

"The storm is over," said Patricia, breaking a long silence.

"Yes," said Landless. "You have nothing to fear now. Would you not like
to walk a little? You must be sadly chilled and weary with long
sitting."

"Yes, I would," she answered, with a sigh of relief. "Let us walk
towards those trees, and see if forest or water be beyond them."

He helped her to her feet, and they left the slaves sleeping upon the
ground, and moved slowly, for she was numbed with cold, towards the
fringe of pines.

Landless walked beside her without speaking. A while ago she had been
simply a woman in danger of death--something for him to protect and to
save. He had well nigh forgotten: he knew that she had quite forgotten.
She was safe now, and was become once more the lady of the manor to
whose soil he was fettered. He had remembered, and she was beginning to
remember, for presently she said timidly and sweetly, but with
condescension in her voice;--

"I am not ungrateful for all that you have done for me to-night, for
saving my life. And, trust me, you will not find your mas--my father,
ungrateful either. We will find some way to reward--"

"I neither merit nor desire reward, madam," said Landless, proudly and
sadly, "for doing but my duty as a man and as your servant."

"But--" she began kindly, when he interrupted her with sudden passion.

"Unless you wish to cut me to the heart, to bitterly humiliate me, you
will not speak of payment for any service I may have done you. I have
been a gentleman, madam. For this one night treat me as such."

"I beg your pardon," she said at once.

They reached the belt of trees and entered it. Outside, the broken
clouds had permitted an occasional gleam of watery moonshine; within the
shadow of the trees it was gross darkness. Above them the wet branches,
moved by the wind which still blew strongly, clashed together with a
harsh and mournful sound, showering them with heavy raindrops. Their
feet sank deeply in cushions of soaked moss and rotting leaves.

"There is nothing to be done here," said Landless. "It is better beneath
the open sky."

There came a last, vivid flash of lightning that for a moment lit the
wood, showing long colonnades of glistening tree trunks, with here and
there a blasted and fallen monster. It showed something more, for within
ten feet of them, from out a tangle of dripping, rain-beaten vines
looked the face of the murderer of Robert Godwyn.



CHAPTER XVII

LANDLESS AND PATRICIA


For one moment the parties to this midnight encounter stared at each
other with starting eyeballs; the next, down came the curtain of
darkness between them.

With a cry of terror Patricia seized and clung to Landless's arm,
trembling violently, and with her breath coming in long, gasping sobs.
Exhausted by the previous terrors of the night, this last experience
completely unnerved her--she seemed upon the point of swooning. Divining
what would soonest calm her, Landless hurried her out of the wood and
down the shore to the bank, beneath which lay the sleeping slaves. Here
she sank upon the sand, her frame quivering like an aspen. "That
dreadful face!" she said in a low, shaken voice. "It is burned upon my
eyeballs. How came it there? Was it--dead?"

"No, no, madam," Landless said soothingly. "'Tis simple enough. The
murderer is in hiding within these woods, and we stumbled upon his
lair."

She gazed fearfully around her. "I see it everywhere. And may he not
follow us down here? Oh, horrible!"

"He is not likely to do that," said Landless, with a smile. "You may
rest assured that he is far from this by now."

She drew a long breath of relief. "Oh! I hope he is!" she cried
fervently. "It was dreadful! No storm could frighten me as did that
face!" and she shuddered again.

"Try not to think of it," he said. "It is gone now; try to forget it."

"I will try," she said doubtfully.

Landless did not answer, and the two sat in silence, watching out the
dreary night. But not for long, for presently Patricia said humbly:--

"Will you talk to me? I am frightened. It is so still, and I cannot see
you, nor the slaves, only that horrid, horrid face. I see it
everywhere."

Landless came nearer to her, and laid one hand upon the skirt of her wet
robe. "I am here, close to you, madam," he said; "there can nothing harm
you."

He began to speak quietly and naturally of this and that, of what they
should do when the day broke, of Regulus's wound, of the storm, of the
great sea and its perils. He told her something of these latter, for he
knew the sea; piteous tales of forlorn wrecks, brave tales of dangers
faced and overcome, of heroic endurance and heroic rescue. He told her
tales of a wild, rockbound Devonshire coast with its scattered fisher
villages; of a hidden cave, the resort of a band of desperadoes, half
smugglers, half pirates, wholly villains; of how this cave had been long
and vainly searched for by the authorities; of how, one night, a boy
climbed down a great precipice, scaring the seafowl from their nests,
and lighted upon this cavern with the smugglers in it, and in their
midst a defenseless prisoner whom they were about to murder. How he had
shouted and made wailing, outlandish noises, and had sent rocks hurtling
down the cliffs, until the wretches thought that all the goblins of
land and sea were upon them, and rushed from the cavern, leaving their
work undone. Whereupon, the boy reclimbed the cliff, and hastening to
the nearest village, roused the inhabitants, who hurried to their boats,
and descending upon the long-sought-for cave, surprised the smugglers,
cut them down to a man, and rescued the prisoner.

The man who told these things told them well. The wild tales ran like a
strain of sombre music through the night. His audience of one forgot her
terror and weariness, and listened with eager interest.

"Well--" she said, as he paused.

"That is all. The ruffians were all killed and the prisoner rescued."

"And the boy?"

"Oh, the boy! He went back to his books."

"Did you know him?"

"Yes, I knew him. See, madam, it has quite cleared. How the moon whitens
those leaping waves!"

"Yes, it is beautiful. I am glad the prisoner escaped. Was he a
fisherman?"

"No; an officer of the Excise--a gallant man, with a wife and many
children. Yes, I suppose he prized life."

"And I am glad that the smugglers were all killed."

Landless smiled. "Life to them was sweet, too, perhaps."

"I do not care. They were wicked men who deserved to die. They had
murdered and robbed. They were criminals--"

She stopped short, and her face turned from white to red and then to
white again, and her eyes sought the ground.

"I had forgotten," she muttered.

The hot color rose to Landless's cheek, but he said quietly:--

"You had forgotten what, madam?"

She flashed a look upon him. "You know," she said icily.

"Yes, I know," he answered. "I know that the perils of this night had
driven from your mind several things. For a little while you have
thought of, and treated me, as an equal, have you not? You could not
have been more gracious to,--let us say, to Sir Charles Carew. But now
you have remembered what I am, a man degraded and enslaved, a felon,--in
short, the criminal who, as you very justly say, should not be let to
live."

She made no answer, and he rose to his feet.

"It is almost day, and the moon is shining brightly. You no longer fear
the face in the dark? I will first waken the slaves, and then will push
along the shore, and strive to discover where we are."

She looked at him with tears in her eyes. "Wait," she said, putting out
a trembling hand. "I have hurt you. I am sorry. Who am I to judge you?
And whatever you may have done, however wicked you may have been,
to-night you have borne yourself towards a defenseless maiden as truly
and as courteously as could have done the best gentleman in the land.
And she begs you to forget her thoughtless words."

Landless fell upon his knee before her. "Madam!" he cried, "I have
thought you the fairest piece of work in God's creation, but harder than
marble towards suffering such as may you never understand! But now you
are a pitying angel! If I swear to you by the honor of a gentleman, by
the God above us, that I am no criminal, that I did not do the thing for
which I suffer, will you believe me?"

"You mean that you are an innocent man?" she said breathlessly.

"As God lives, yes, madam."

"Then why are you here?"

"I am here, madam," he said bitterly, "because Justice is not blind. She
is only painted so. Led by the gleam of gold she can see well enough--in
one direction. I could not prove my innocence. I shall never be able to
do so. And any one--Sir William Berkeley, your father, your
kinsman--would tell you that you are now listening to one who differs
from the rest of the Newgate contingent, from the coiners and cheats,
the cut-throats and highway robbers in whose company he is numbered,
only in being hypocrite as well as knave. And yet I ask you to believe
me. I am innocent of that wrong."

The moonlight struck full upon his face as he knelt before her. She
looked at him long and intently, with large, calm eyes, then said softly
and sweetly:--

"I believe you, and pity you, sir. You have suffered much."

He bowed his head, and pressed the hem of her skirt to his lips.

"I thank you," he said brokenly.

"Is there nothing?" she said after a pause, "nothing that I can do?"

He shook his head. "Nothing, madam. You have given me your belief and
your divine compassion. It is all that I ask, more than I dared dream of
asking an hour ago. You cannot help me. I must dree my weird. I would
even ask of your goodness that you say nothing of what I have told you
to Colonel Verney or to any one."

"Yes," she said thoughtfully. "If I cannot help you, it were wiser not
to speak. I might but make your hard lot harder."

"Again I thank you." He kissed the hem of her robe once more, and rose
to his feet with a heart that sat lightly on its throne.

The day began to break. With the first faint flush Landless woke the
slaves, who at length yawned and shivered themselves into consciousness
of their surroundings. "What are we to do now?" demanded Patricia.

"We had best strike through that belt of woods until we come to some
house, whence we may get conveyance for you to Verney Manor."

"Very well. But oh! do not let us enter the forest here where we saw
that fearful face. Let us walk along the shore until the light grows
stronger. It is still night within the woods."

Landless acquiesced with a smile, and the four--he and Patricia in
front, the negroes straying in the rear--set out along the shore. The
air was chill and heavy, but there was no wind, and the unclouded sky
gave promise of a hot day. In the east the rosy flush spread and
deepened, and a pink path stretched itself across the fast subsiding
waters. The wet sand dragged at their feet, and made walking difficult;
moreover Patricia was chilled and weary, so their progress was slow.
There were dark circles beneath her eyes, and her lips had a weary,
downward curve; her golden hair, broken from its fastenings, hung in
damp, rich masses against her white throat and blue-veined temples, and
amidst the enshrouding glory her perfect face looked very small and
white and childlike. The magnificent eyes carried in their clear, brown
depths an expression new to Landless. Heretofore he had seen in them
scorn and dislike; now they looked at him with a grave and wondering
pity.

As the sun rose, the shipwrecked party left the shore, and entered the
forest. A purple light filled its vast aisles. Far overhead bits of
azure gleamed through the rifts in the foliage, but around them was the
constant patter and splash of rain drops, falling slow and heavy from
every leaf and twig. There was a dank, rich smell of wet mould and
rotting leaves, and rain-bruised fern. The denizens of the woodland were
all astir. Birds sang, squirrels chattered, the insect world whirred
around the yellow autumn blooms and the purpling clusters of the wild
grape; from out the distance came the barking of a fox. The sunlight
began to fall in shafts of pale gold through openings in the green and
leafy world, and to warm the chilled bodies of the wayfarers.

"It is like a bad dream," said Patricia gayly, as Landless held back a
great, wet branch of cedar from her path. "All the storm and darkness,
and the great hungry waves and the danger of death! Ah! how happy we are
to have waked!"

Her glance fell upon Landless's face, and there came to her a sudden
realization that there were those in the world, to whom life was not one
sweet, bright gala day. She gazed at him with troubled eyes.

"I hope you care to live," she said. "Death is very dreadful."

"I do not think so," he answered. "At least it would be forgetfulness."

She shuddered. "Ah! but to leave the world, the warm, bright, beautiful
world! To die on your bed, when you are old--that is different. But to
go young! to go in storm and terror, or in horror and struggling as did
that man who was murdered! Oh, horrible!"

The thought of the murdered man brought another thought into her mind.

"Do you think," she said, "that we had better tell that we saw the
murderer at the first house to which we come, or had we best wait until
we reach Verney Manor?"

Landless gave a great start. "You will tell Colonel Verney that?"

She opened her eyes widely. "Why, of course! What else should we do? Is
not the country being scoured for him? My father is most anxious that he
should be captured. Justice and the weal of the State demand that such a
wretch should be punished." She paused and looked at him gravely as he
walked beside her with a clouded face. "You say nothing! This man is
guilty, guilty of a dreadful crime. Surely you do not wish to shield
him, to let him escape?"

"Not so, madam," said Landless in desperation. "But--but--"

"But what?" she asked as he stopped in confusion.

He recovered himself. "Nothing, madam. You are right, of course. But I
would not speak before reaching Verney Manor."

"Very well."

Landless walked on, bitterly perplexed and chagrined. The strife and
danger of the night, the intoxicating sweetness of the morning hours
when he knew himself believed in and pitied by the woman beside him,
had driven certain things into oblivion. He had been dreaming, and now
he had been plucked from a fool's paradise, and dashed rudely to the
ground. Yesterday and the life and thoughts of yesterday, which had but
now seemed so far away, pressed upon him remorselessly. And to-morrow!
He did not want Roach to be taken. Always there would have been danger
to himself and his associates in the capture of the murderer, but now
when the vindictive wretch would assuredly attribute his disaster to the
man to whom the lightning flash had revealed his presence on the shores
of the bay, the danger was trebled. And it was imminent. He had little
doubt that another night would see Roach in custody, and he had no doubt
at all that the scoundrel would make a desperate effort to save his neck
by betraying what he knew of the conspiracy--and thanks to Godwyn's
lists he knew a great deal--to Governor and Council.

Patricia began to speak again. "It imports much that men should see that
there is no weakness in the arm the law stretches out to seize and
punish offenders. My father and the Governor and Colonel Ludlow believe
that there is afoot an Oliverian plot-- What is the matter?"

"Nothing, madam."

"You stood still and caught your breath. Are you ill, faint?"

"It is nothing, madam, believe me? You were saying?"

"Oh! the Oliverians! Nothing definite has been discovered as yet, but
there is thunder in the air, my father says, and I know that he and the
Governor and the rest of the council are very watchful just now. But
yesterday my father said that those few hundred men form a greater
menace to the Colony than do all the Indians between this and the South
Sea."

They walked on in silence for a few moments, and then she broke out.
"They are horrible, those grim, frowning men! They are rebels and
traitors, one and all, and yet they stand by and shake curses on the
heads of true men. They slew the best man, the most gracious sovereign;
they trampled the Church under foot, they made the blood of the noble
and the good to flow like water, and now when they receive a portion of
their deserts, they call themselves martyrs! They, martyrs! Roundhead
traitors!"

"Madam," interrupted Landless with a curious smile upon his lips, "did
you not know that I was, that I am, what you call a Roundhead?"

"No," she said, "I did not know," and stood perfectly still, looking
straight before her down the long vista of trees. He saw her face change
and harden into the old expression of aversion. The slaves came up to
them, and Regulus asked if 'lil Missy wanted anything. "No, nothing at
all," she answered, and walked quietly onward.

Landless, an angry pain tugging at his heart, kept beside her, for they
were passing through a deep hollow in the wood where the gnarled and
protruding roots of cypress and juniper made walking difficult, and
where a strong hand was needed to push aside the wet and pendent masses
of vine. Regulus, fifty yards behind them, began to sing a familiar
broadside ballad, torturing the words out of all resemblance to English.
The rich notes rang sweetly through the forest. Down from the far summit
of a pine flashed a cardinal bird, piercing the gloom of the hollow like
a fire ball thrown into a cavern. Landless held aside a curtain of
glistening leaves that, mingled with purple clusters of fruit, hung
across their path. Patricia passed him, then turned impulsively. "You
think me hard!" she said. "Many people think me so, but I am not so,
indeed.... And there are good Puritans. Major Carrington, they say, is
Puritan at heart, and he is a good man and a gentleman.... And you saved
my life.... At least you are not like those men of whom I spoke. You
would not plot against the good peace which we enjoy! You would not try
to array servant against master?"

It was a direct question asked with large, straightforward eyes fixed
upon his. He tried to evade it, but she asked again with insistence, and
with a faint doubt lurking in her eyes, "If these men are plotting,
which God forbid! you know nothing of it? You have great wrongs, but you
would take no such dastard way to right them?"

Landless's soul writhed within him, but he told the inevitable lie that
was none the less a lie that it was also the truth. He said in a low
voice, "I trust, madam, that I will do naught that may misbecome a
gentleman."

She was quite satisfied. He saw that he had regained the ground lost by
his avowal of a few minutes before, and he cursed himself and cursed his
fate.

Soon afterwards they emerged from the forest upon a tobacco patch, from
the midst of which rose a rude cabin, in whose doorway stood a woman
serving out bowls of loblolly to half a dozen tow-headed children.

Half an hour later, Patricia, rested and refreshed, took her seat behind
the oxen, which the owner of the cabin had harnessed up, with much
protestation of his eagerness to serve the daughter of Colonel Verney,
emptied her purse in the midst of the open-mouthed children, and bade
kindly adieu to the good wife. Darkeih curled herself up in the bottom
of the cart, and Landless and Regulus walked beside it.

In two hours' time they were at Verney Manor, where they found none but
women to greet them, Rendered uneasy by the storm, Woodson had
despatched a messenger to Rosemead, who had returned with the tidings
that no boat from Verney Manor had reached that plantation. The overseer
had ill news with which to greet the Colonel and Sir Charles when at
midnight they arrived unexpectedly from Green Spring. Since then every
able-bodied man had deserted the plantation. There were no boats at the
wharf, no horses in the stables. The master and Sir Charles were gone in
the Nancy, the two overseers on horseback. A Sabbath stillness brooded
over the plantation, until a negro woman recognized the occupants of the
ox-cart lumbering up the road. Then there was noise enough of an
exclamatory, feminine kind. The shrill sounds penetrated to the great
room, where, behind drawn curtains, surrounded by essences, and an odor
of burnt feathers, with Chloe to fan her, and Mr. Frederick Jones to
murmur consolation, reclined Mistress Lettice. As Patricia stepped upon
the porch, Betty Carrington flew down the stairs and through the hall,
and the two met with a little inarticulate burst of cries and kisses.
Mistress Lettice in the great room went into hysterics for the fifth
time that morning.



CHAPTER XVIII

A CAPTURE


At noon the next day returned the search party, dispatched by the
Colonel on receipt of his daughter's information, and headed by Woodson
and Sir Charles Carew. In their midst, bound with ropes, and seated
behind one of the mounted men, was Roach. His clothing hung from him in
tatters, and witnessed, moreover, to the quagmires and mantled pools
through which he had struggled; his arm had been injured, and was tied
with a bloody rag; blood was caked upon his villainous face, scratched
and torn in his breathless bursting through thickets; his red hair fell
over his eyes in matted elf-locks; his lips were drawn back in a snarl
over discolored fangs; he panted like a dog, his thick red tongue
hanging out. He looked hardly human. The man behind whom he rode was
Luiz Sebastian.

The party dismounted in the small square, in the midst of the quarters.
It being the noon rest, the entire servant population was on hand, and
leaving its cabins and smoking messes of bacon and succotash, it
hastened to a man to the square, where, beneath the dead tree and its
sinister appendage, stood the master, listening to Woodson's account of
the capture, and to Sir Charles's airy interpolations. Roach, dragged
from the horse by a dozen officious hands, staggered with exhaustion.
Luiz Sebastian caught him by the arm and so held him during the ensuing
interview.

When the unusual bustle, the neighing of the horses, and the excited
voices of the crowd brought the news of the capture to Landless,
sitting, sunk in anxious thought, within his cabin, he rose and began to
pace to and fro in the narrow room. Past his door hurried men, women,
and children on their way to the square. One or two beckoned him to
follow, but he shook his head. "If he betray me," he thought, "my fate
will come to me soon enough. I will not go to meet it."

In his restless pacing to and fro, he stopped before a shelf where,
beside some coarse eating utensils and the heap of tobacco pegs, the
cutting of which occupied his spare moments, lay a little worn book. It
had been Godwyn's. He opened it at random, and read a few verses. With a
heavy sigh he laid his arm along the shelf and rested his burning
forehead upon it. "'Let not your heart be troubled,'" he said beneath
his breath; and again, "'Let not your heart be troubled.'" He
recommenced his pacing up and down the room. "'Peace I leave with you,
My peace I give unto you.'" Going to the doorway, he leaned against it
and looked out into a world of sunshine, and up to where the topmost
branches of a pine slept against the blue. "There may be peace beyond,"
he said. "I have not found it here."

Down the lane came a murmur of voices; then the overseer's harsh tones;
then a light and mocking laugh. Seized by an uncontrollable impulse he
left the cabin and directed his steps towards the square. As he passed a
cabin some doors from his own, a gaunt figure arose from the doorstep
and joined itself to him.

"The murderer is here," said the sepulchral voice of Master Win-Grace
Porringer. "Verily the blood hath been taken out of his mouth, and his
abominations from between his teeth. Cursed be the shedder of innocent
blood!"

"Amen," said Landless; then, "This capture is like to be our ruin. This
wretch will not keep silence."

"But he has no proofs. Since you destroyed those lists there exists not
a scrap of writing about this affair. And we have covered our tracks as
carefully as if we were the cursed heathen of the land upon the
warpath. Let him say what he will. The Malignants, besotted fools! will
think he lies to save his neck."

"A week ago they might have thought so," said Landless. "But not now.
Something has gotten abroad. Already Governor and Council think they
smell a plot."

The Muggletonian caught his breath. "How do you know this?"

"No matter how: I know it."

Porringer raised his scarred face to heaven. "God," he said, "we are thy
people! Save us! Let destruction come upon them unawares; let them go
down a dark and slippery way to death; make them to be as blind and deaf
adders that see not the foot of the destroyer! Yea, shake thy hand upon
these Malignants and make them a spoil to their servants!" He turned his
ghastly face and burning eyes upon Landless. "Curse them with me!" he
cried.

Landless shook his head. "Thou, and I look not alike at things, friend,"
he said.

"Thou art a Laodicean!" cried the other wildly. "Thou hast not an eye
single to the Lord's work as had thy father before thee. Thou wouldst
not smite the Amalekites hip and thigh, root and branch! One damsel
would thou save alive, and for her sake thy heart is soft towards the
whole accursed brood! Look to it lest the Lord spew thee out of His
mouth! Woe, woe, to him that putteth his hand to the plough and looketh
back!" He laughed wildly and tossed out his arms.

"I think thou hast eaten of the Jamestown weed!" said Landless fiercely.
"Collect thy senses, man! And speak something less loudly, or Roach's
betrayal will be superfluous. As to myself, if I curse not, I act; and
as for my motives for what you call luke-warmness, and I call common
humanity, you will please to let them alone!"

The excitement faded from the fanatic's face, and he said more quietly,
"You are right, friend. I was mad for a moment, mad to see that freedom
which is so near us so imperiled. I meant not to quarrel with you who
have shown in the conduct of this work the discernment of a young
Daniel, yea, who have so borne yourself, that I have grown to care for
you as I never thought to care again for human being. I have prayed much
that you should be brought from the twilight of Calvinism into the pure
light wherein walk the disciples of the blessed Ludovick."

They reached the square and mingled with the motly crowd that lined its
sides, leaving the centre occupied only by the murderer, his captors,
and the master. Followed by the Muggletonian, Landless made his way to
where the yellow locks of young Dick Whittington towered above the
crowd. The boy saw him coming, and edging past a knot of blacks, met
him in a little open space, whose only occupants were two or three
women, and an Indian squatting upon the ground. Leaning against a pine,
and fixing his gaze and, to all appearance, his attention upon the
central group where the overseer was just finishing a circumstantial
account of the chase, Landless said quietly:--

"You were of the party that took him?"

"That I was!" answered the boy gleefully. "Losh! but it was fun!" His
blue eyes danced with impish delight; a noiseless laugh showed all his
strong white teeth. "We went straight to the spot where you and Mistress
Patricia saw him by the lightning. There the dogs struck his trail and
the fun commenced. Over streams and fallen trees, and chinquepin ridges;
through bogs and myrtle thickets and miles of grape vines--swounds! but
it was hot work! Just look at the scratches on my face and hands! Joyce
Whitbread wouldn't know me! The Court spark, he wore a mask and saved
his beauty. He's a well-plucked one, though, took the lead and kept it,
and when it was over, treated us to usquebaugh at Luckey Doughty's
store. Well, we run the fox to earth in a Chickahominy village. Lord!
I'm sorry for the half king of the Chickahominies! He'll have to answer
to Governor and Council for letting red fox burrow in his village. Found
him squatted in a sassafras patch. Snarled and fought and tried to bite
like the beast he is. Woodson and the Court spark took him."

"Do you know what will be done with him now?"

"He'll be taken on to the gaol at the court-house."

"That is five miles from here," said Landless.

"Yes, near to the village where we took him. He'll be kept there until
they can try him. And they'll make short work of him. He'll be food for
crows directly."

The throng pressed upon them, forcing them nearer to the group beneath
the dead tree. The overseer had finished his account, and the master was
clearing his throat to speak. Landless found himself upon the inner
verge of the mass of spectators, directly opposite the murderer, and
confronted by him with a look so dark, wild and malignant, that he could
not doubt the intention that lay behind those scowling eyes. Luiz
Sebastian, still with the murderer's arm in his grasp, gave him a
peculiar look which he could not translate. In the background he saw
Trail's sinister face peering over the shoulder of an Indian.

"You dog!" said the planter, addressing himself directly to Roach. "What
have you to say for yourself?"

The murderer made an uncertain sound with his dry lips, and his
bloodshot eyes roamed around the circle from one staring face to
another, until they returned to rest upon the watchful, amber-hued
countenance beside him.

"Speak!" said his master sternly.

"I'll say nothing," was the dogged reply, "until I stands my trial. I
demands a fair trial."

"Remember that this is your last chance to speak to me, to speak to any
one in authority before you are tried. Of course you will hang for this.
Have you anything to say? Do you wish to speak to me in private?"

The murderer raised his head, and shaking the tangled hair from about
his face, cast at Landless, standing ten paces beyond the planter, such
a look of deadly and blasting hatred, that for a moment the blood ran
cold in the young man's veins. He set his teeth and braced himself to
meet the blow at plans and hopes and life that should follow such a
look.

To his astonishment the blow did not fall. Roach changed the basilisk
gaze with which he had regarded him to a vacant stare.

"I've naught to say," he whined, "except that I hopes your honor will
see that I has a fair trial--no d--d Tyburn or Newgate hocus-pocussing."

The master beckoned to the overseer. "Take him away," he said. "Take two
or three men and carry him on to the gaol."

He turned on his heel and walked to where Sir Charles Carew leaned
against a tree, idly flicking the mud from his boots with his riding
cane. Landless standing near and listening with strained ears heard the
master say in answer to the other's lifted brows:--

"Nothing to be learnt in that quarter. If there's rebellion brewing, he
knows nothing of it."

Fresh horses were brought from the stables. "You, Luiz Sebastian,
Taylor, and Mathew," said the overseer, swinging himself into the
saddle. The men designated mounted, and Roach, bound and scowling, was
hoisted to his former seat behind Luiz Sebastian. The cavalcade started.
As the horse that bore the double load passed Landless, the murderer
twisted himself about in his seat, and, with a venomous look, spat at
him. Luiz Sebastian smiled evilly.

The shaven head and fleshless face of Win-Grace Porringer protruded
themselves over Landless's shoulder.

"What does it mean?" he muttered.

"God knows," answered the other. "Come to the trysting place to-night.
We must act, and act quickly."

That night ten men met in the deserted hut on the marsh, having stolen
with the caution of Indians from their respective plantations. Five were
men who had fought at Edgehill and Naseby and Worcester, or had followed
Cromwell through the breach at Drogheda. Four were victims of the Act of
Uniformity; darker, sterner, more determined if possible, than the
veterans of the New Model. The tenth man was Landless. When, late at
night, he and Porringer crept stealthily back to the quarters, it was
with the conviction that this was the last time they should so steal
through the darkness. The date of the rising had been fixed for the
thirteenth of September; this night, by Landless's advice, it was
brought forward to the tenth--and it was now the sixth.

Groping his way past the slumbering forms of the three other occupants
of his cabin, Landless threw himself down upon his pallet with a heavy
sigh.

"Liberty!" he said beneath his breath. "Goddess, whom I and mine have
sought through long years, whom once we thought we held, and waked to
find thee gone,--once I thought thee fairer than aught beside; thought
no price too great to pay for thee. But now!"

He hid his face in his hands with a stifled groan. When at length he
fell into a troubled sleep, it was to see again a storm-tossed boat, and
a woman's face, set like a star against the blackness of the night.



CHAPTER XIX

THE LIBRARY OF THE SURVEYOR-GENERAL


At a long, low table stood Mistress Betty Carrington, her slender figure
enveloped in an apron of blue dowlas, her sleeves of fine holland rolled
above her elbows, and her white and rounded arms plunged deep into a
great bowl filled with the purple globes of the wild grape. A row of
children knelt on the brick floor at her feet, busily stripping the
fruit from the stems, and negresses, hard by, strained with sinewy hands
the crimson juice from the pulpy mass into jars of earthenware. To this
group suddenly entered a breathless urchin.

"Ohé, mistis! de Gov'nor an' Massa Peyton comin' up de road!"

Betty suspended her operations with a little cry. "The Governor!" she
exclaimed in dismay. "And my father is gone a-processioning;--and my
gown is not seemly;--and he cannot be kept waiting!" She threw off her
apron, dipped her hands into the water the slaves poured for her, and
was at the hall door in time to courtesy to the Governor, as, followed
by a groom, and attended by Mr. Peyton, he rode up to the house.

With the agility of youth his Excellency sprung from his horse, threw
the reins to the groom, and advanced to greet the lady. A richly laced
riding-suit became his still slight and elegant figure to a marvel; his
gilt-spurred, Spanish leather boots were of the newest, most approved
cut; his periwig was fresh curled, and framed with distinction a
handsome, if somewhat withered, countenance. He doffed his Spanish hat
with a bow and flourish: Betty courtesied profoundly.

"Welcome to Rosemead, your Excellency."

"I greet you well, pretty Mistress Betty," said the Governor, and took a
governor's privilege. Mr. Peyton looked as though he would have liked to
follow his Excellency's example, but was fain to content himself with
the lady's hand, resigned to the respectful pressure of his lips with a
charming blush and a dropping of long-fringed eyelids.

"Where is your father, sweetheart?" demanded the Governor.

"Ah! your Excellency, he is unfortunate. The vestry hath appointed this
day for the examination of boundaries in this parish, and as his
Majesty's Surveyor-General he leads the procession. But will not your
Excellency await his return? He will be here anon, and with him Colonel
Verney."

"Then will I wait, pretty one; for I have weighty matters to discuss
both with him and with Dick Verney."

Betty ushered them into the great room, cool, dark, and fragrant of
roses.

"If your Excellency will permit me to withdraw, I will order some
refreshment for you after your long ride."

The Governor sank into an armchair, and smiled graciously.

"Faith! a bit of pasty comes not amiss after a morning canter. And
prithee see to the sack thyself, Mistress Betty. And a dish of pippins
and cheese," continued the Governor, meditatively, "and a rasher of
bacon."

"There was a fine comb taken from the hive this morning. Will your
Excellency choose a bit? And there are dates, sent my father by the
captain of the Barbary vessel, and a quince tart--"

"We will taste of it all," said his Excellency, graciously, "and
afterwards a pipe and a saucer of sweet scented, and your company, my
love. Mr. Peyton, the lady may find the honeycomb too heavy for her
lifting. We will excuse you to her assistance."

"I am your Excellency's most obedient servant," quoth Mr. Peyton with
due submission, and hastened after his blushing mistress.

The Governor, left alone, strolled to the window and looked out upon the
Chesapeake, lying blue and unruffled beneath the dazzling sunshine; to
the mantel-piece, and smelt of the roses in the blue china bowl; to the
spinet, and picked out "Here's to Royal Charles" with one finger;--and
finally brought up before a corner cupboard, found the key in the door,
turned it, and came upon the Surveyor-General's library.

"H'm, what has he here?" soliloquized his Excellency. "'Purchas; His
Pilgrimes,' of course; 'General History of Virginia, New England and the
Summer Isles,' well and good; 'Good News from Virginia,' humph! that
must have been before my time; 'Public Good without Private Interest,'
humph! What's this? 'Areopagitica,' John Milton! John Hypocrite and
Parricide! A pretty author, and a pretty cause he advocates,--I thank
God there are no schools and no printing presses in this colony, nor
are like to be,--and a courageous Surveyor-General to keep by him such
pestilent stuff in the present year of grace. 'Abuses Stript and Whipt,'
'Anglia Rediva,' 'Diary of Nehemiah Wallington,' 'Bastwick's Litany!'
Miles Carrington, Miles Carrington! I have my eye on thee! Thou hadst
need to walk warily! 'Zion's Plea against Prelacy,' damnation! 'Speech
of Mr. Hampden,' death and hell! 'Eikonoklastes,' may the foul fiend fly
away with my soul!"

And the Governor closed the cupboard door with a bang, and, with a very
red and frowning face, went back to his seat, and there sank into a
reverie, which lasted until the entrance of Mistress Betty and Mr.
Peyton, followed by two slaves bearing an ample repast.

An hour later came home the Surveyor-General, bringing with him Colonel
Verney, Sir Charles Carew, and Captain Laramore.

The Surveyor-General made stately apologies to his Excellency for his
unavoidable absence: his Excellency, holding himself very erect, heard
him out, and then said coldly, "Major Carrington may rest at ease. I was
sufficiently amused."

"Truly the county knows Mr. Peyton's powers of entertainment," said the
Surveyor-General with a bow and smile for that young gentleman.

"Mr. Peyton had other occupation," said the Governor dryly. "And I fear
that his is too cavalier a wit, and that his sonnets and madrigals savor
too much of loyalty to the Anointed of the Lord and to His Church to
have proved acceptable to the worshipful company with whom I have been
engaged. I have to congratulate his Majesty's Surveyor-General on the
possession of such a library as, I dare swear, is to be found in no
other house in this, his Majesty's _loyal_ dominion of Virginia."

Carrington glanced towards the cupboard, and bit his lip.

"I am pleased," he said stiffly, "that your Excellency hath found
wherewithal to pass an idle hour."

"It is, indeed, a choice collection," said the Governor, with a smooth
tongue, but with an angry light in his eyes. "May I ask by whom it was
chosen; who it was that so carefully culled nightshade and poison oak?"

"_I_ choose my own reading," said Carrington haughtily. "And I see not
why Sir William Berkeley should concern himself--"

"This passes!" exclaimed the Governor, giving rein to his fury and
striking his hand against the table. "It doth concern me much, Major
Carrington, both as a true man, and as the Governor of this Colony, the
representative of his blessed Majesty, King Charles the Second, may all
whose enemies, private and open, be confounded! that a gentleman who
holds a high office in this Colony should have in his possession--ay!
and read, too, for 'tis a well-thumbed copy--that foul emanation from a
fouler mind, that malicious, outrageous, damnable, proscribed book,
called 'Eikonoklastes!'"

"If Sir William Berkeley doubts my loyalty--" began Carrington fiercely.

"Major Carrington, you are too popular a man!" broke in the Governor as
fiercely. "When, upon that black day, ten years ago, the usurper's
frigates entered the Chesapeake, and taking us unprepared, compelled
(God forgive me!) my submission, who but Miles Carrington welcomed and
entertained the four commissioners (commissioners from a Roundhead
Parliament to a King's Governor!)? Who but Miles Carrington was hand in
glove with the shopkeeper Bennett and the renegade Matthews? Oh! they
used their power mildly, I deny it not! They were gracious and
long-suffering; they left to the loyal gentlemen, their sometime
friends, life and lands; they contented themselves with banishing a
loyal Governor to his own manor-house, and not, as they might have done,
to the wilderness, to perish amongst the savages. O, they were exemplary
despots! What, when a turn of Fortune's wheel brought them up, could
grateful, loyal gentlemen, could a grateful King's Governor do, but
follow the example set them and be civil to the officers of the late
Commonwealth, and something more than civil to the gentleman who so
gracefully avowed that he had but bowed to the times, and that the
restored sovereign had no more faithful subject than he? When his
Majesty was graciously pleased to continue that gentleman (at the
solicitation of his loyal kindred at home) in the office of
Surveyor-General to this colony, sure, we all rejoiced. It is not with
the past of Major Carrington that I quarrel; it is with the present. In
his case, that which should speak loudest for his recovered loyalty is
wanting. Others there are who have that witness. Let Mr. Digges ride
abroad, and from his cabin-door some prick-eared cur cried out,
'Renegade!' (Pardon me, the word is not mine.) The Oliverian and
schismatic servants spit at him. Is it so with Major Carrington? By
G--d, no! These people uncover to him as though he were the arch rebel
himself. Speak of his Majesty's Surveyor-General before an Oliverian,
and the fellow pricks up his ears like a charger that scents the battle.
Nay, I am told that in their conventicles the schismatics pray for him,
that he may be brought back into the fold, and may become a second
Moses, and lead them out of Egypt! Even the Quakers have a good word for
him. Major Carrington asks me if I question his loyalty. I answer that I
know not, but I do know that the discontented and mutinous of the land
do look upon him with too favorable a regard. And his loyalty is of that
tender age that it may well be susceptible to the influence of the evil
eye." The Governor, who was now in a white heat of passion, stopped for
breath.

"Sir William Berkeley, you shall answer to me for this!" said the
Surveyor-General, with white lips.

"With all the pleasure in life," said the Governor, clapping his hand to
his rapier.

Carrington folded his arms. "Not now," he said, with stern courtesy. "I
believe your Excellency sleeps at Verney Manor? I, too, am invited
thither. There, and it please you, we will adjust our little difference.
For the present, you are my guest."

The Governor choked down his passion, though with difficulty. "Till
to-night then--" he began, when Colonel Verney interposed.

"Neither to-night, nor at any other time," he said sturdily. "Gadzooks!
have not his Majesty's servants enough on hand without employing their
time in pinking one another? Here are the Chickahominies restive, and
those plaguy Ricahecrians amongst us, and the Nansemond Independents
prophesying the end of the world, and the witches' trial coming on, and
the Quakers to be routed out, and on top of it all this story that
Ludlow brings of a redemptioner's assertion that there is afoot an
Oliverian plot. And his Majesty's Governor, and his Majesty's
Surveyor-General with drawn rapiers! For shame, gentlemen! Major
Carrington, my good friend and neighbor, for whose loyalty to our
present gracious sovereign I would answer for as I would for my own,
forget the hasty words which I am sure Sir William Berkeley already
regrets. Come, Sir William, acknowledge that you were over-choleric."

"I'll be d--d if I do!" cried the Governor.

"We meet to-night," said the Surveyor-General.

The Colonel turned to Sir Charles Carew, who had been a highly amused
spectator of this little scene.

"Charles," he said impressively, "report hath it that you have figured
in more affairs of honor than any man of your age at court. You should
be a nice judge of such gear. Join me in assuring these gentlemen that
they may be reconciled, and their honor receive not the least taint; and
so avert a duel which would be a scandal to the community, and a menace
to the state."

Sir Charles glanced from the pacific Colonel to the sternly collected
Surveyor-General, and thence to the fiery Governor, whose white, jeweled
fingers twitched with impatience.

"Certainly, sir," he said lazily, "you are welcome to my poor opinion,
which is that, considering the nature of the provocation, and the
standing of the parties, there is one way out of the affair with honor."

"Exactly!" said the Colonel eagerly.

Sir Charles locked his hands behind his head. "There's a very pretty
piece of ground behind your orchard, sir," he said, dreamily regarding
the ceiling. "I noticed it the other day, and sink me! if I did not
wish for Harry Bellasses with whom I have fought three times. 'Tis ever
a word and a blow with Harry! The light just at sunset is excellent,
though your twilight cometh over soon. May I venture to suggest to your
Excellency that your _riposte_ is more brilliant than safe? Major
Carrington, your parade is somewhat out of fashion. I could teach you
the newest French mode in five minutes."

"I am obliged for your offer, sir," said the Surveyor-General dryly.
"The other has served my turn, and must do so again."

"Sir Charles Carew will do me the honor to be my second?" asked the
Governor of that gentleman, who answered with a low bow, and a "The
honor is mine."

"Captain Laramore?" said the Surveyor-General.

"At your service, Major," cried the Captain, a dashing, black-a-vised
personage, with large gold rings in his ears, a plume a yard long in his
castor, and a general Drawcansir air.

"Will Captain Laramore fight?" inquired Sir Charles. "I have had the
honor of changing the date for sailing for several gentlemen of his
profession."

"Even so accomplished a swordsman as Sir Charles Carew is allowed to be,
hath yet a lesson to learn," said the doughty captain.

"And that is--"

"Pride shall have a fall--to-night."

Sir Charles smiled politely. "The ship that is anchored off yonder point
is yours, is it not? Would you not like to take a last look at her? Or
to leave instructions for your lieutenant and successor? There is time
for you to gallop to the point and back."

"Am I to have the honor of crossing swords with you, Colonel Verney?"
asked Mr. Peyton.

"No, sir!" exclaimed the vexed Colonel. "You are not! I wash my hands of
this foolish fray. William Berkeley, I have never scrupled to tell thee
when I thought thee in the wrong. I think so now. Charles, thou art an
impudent fellow! I have it in my mind to wish that the Captain may give
thee the lesson he talks of."

"Thank you, sir," drawled the gentleman addressed. "Mr. Peyton looks
quite disconsolate. Sink me! if it's not a shame to leave him out in the
cold. If he will wait his turn I will be happy to oblige him when I have
disposed of the Captain."

"You will do no such thing!" retorted his kinsman. "Mr. Peyton, take
your hand off your sword! At least there shall be two sane men at this
meeting. I suppose, gentlemen, you agree with me that this affair cannot
be kept too private? To that end you had best ride with me to Verney
Manor, and there have it out on this plot of ground Charles talks of. It
is at least retired."

"'Tis a most sweet spot," said Sir Charles.

"Good!" quoth the Governor. "And now that this little matter is settled,
I am once more, and for the present, sir, simply your obliged guest and
servant," and he bowed to the Surveyor-General.

Carrington returned the bow. "We will drink to our better acquaintance
to-night. Pompey! the sack and the aqua vitæ. And, Pompey! a handful of
mint."

The company fell to drinking, and then to tobacco. The Governor, whose
fits of passion were as short as they were violent, arrived by rapid
degrees at a pitch of high good humor. The company listened gravely for
the fiftieth time to stories of the court of the first James; of
Buckingham's amours, of the beauty of Henrietta Maria, of a visit to
Paris, an interview with Richelieu, a duel with a captain of
Mousquetaires, a kiss imprinted upon the fair hand of Anne of Austria.
The charmed stream of the old courtier's reminiscences flowed on--he
stopped for breath, and Sir Charles took the word and proceeded to
unfold before their dazzled eyes a gorgeous phantasmagoria. The King,
the Duke, Sedley and Buckingham, Mesdames Castlemaine, Stuart and
Gwynne, Dryden and Waller and Lely, the King's house, the Queen's
chapel, the Queen's duennas, the Tityre Tus, Paul's Walk, the Russian
Ambassador, astrologers, orange girls, balls, masques, pageants, duels,
the court of Louis le Grand, the King's hunting parties, Madame
d'Orleans, Olympe di Mancini.

The Governor listened with dilating nostrils and sparkling eyes; Colonel
Yerney's vexed countenance smoothed itself; Captain Laramore, sitting
with outstretched legs, and head hidden in clouds of tobacco smoke,
rumbled from out that obscurity laughter and strange oaths. Even Mr.
Peyton, after vainly trying to fix his attention upon the construction
of a sonnet to his mistress's eyebrow, succumbed to the enchantment, and
sat with parted lips, drinking in wonders; but the Surveyor-General,
though he listened courteously, listened with forced smiles and with an
attention which was hard to preserve from wandering.

In the midst of a brilliant account of the nuptials of the Chevalier de
Grammont came an interruption.

"De horses am fed an' brought roun', massa."

The Governor started up. "Rat me, if good sack and good stories make
not a man forget all else beside! Colonel Verney, I wish you, as
lieutenant of this shire, to ride with me to this Chickahominy village
where I have promised an audience to the half king of the tribe. Plague
on the unreasonable vermin! Why can they not give way peaceably? If the
colony needs and takes their lands, it leaves them a plenty elsewhere.
Let them fall back towards the South Sea. Sir Charles, I grieve for the
necessity, but we must leave the court and come back to the wilderness.
Gentlemen, will you ride with Verney and me, or shall we part now to
meet at sunset in his orchard?"

"We had best ride with your Excellency," said Carrington gravely. "I
like not the temper of the Chickahominies, who ever mean most when they
say least. And these roving Ricahecrians, their guests, are of a strange
and fierce aspect. It is as well to go in force."

"Those vagrants from the Blue Mountains have been here overlong," said
the Governor. "I shall send them packing! Well, gentlemen, since we are
to have the pleasure of your company, boot and saddle is the word!"



CHAPTER XX

WHEREIN THE PEACE PIPE IS SMOKED


The sun had some time passed the meridian when the party saw through the
widening glades of the forest the gleam of a great river, and upon its
bank an Indian village of perhaps fifty wigwams, set in fields of maize
and tobacco, groves of mulberries, and tangles of wild grape. The
titanic laughter of Laramore and the drinking catch which Sir Charles
trolled forth at the top of a high, sweet voice had announced their
approach long before they pushed their horses into the open; and the
population of the village was come forth to meet them with song and
dance and in gala attire. The soft and musical voices of the young women
raised a kind of recitative wherein was lauded to the skies the virtue,
wisdom and power of the white father who had come from the banks of the
Powhatan to those of the Pamunkey to visit his faithful Chickahominies,
bringing (beyond doubt) justice in his hand. The deeper tones of the men
chimed in, and the mob of naked children, bringing up the rear of the
procession, added their shrill voices to the clamor, which, upon the
booming in of a drum and the furious shaking of the conjurer's rattle,
became deafening.

The chant came to an end, but the orchestra persevered. Ten girls left
the throng, formed themselves into line, and advancing one after the
other with a slow and measured motion, laid at the feet of the Governor
(who had dismounted) platters of parched maize, beans and chinquepins,
with thin maize cakes. They were succeeded by two stalwart youths
bearing, slung upon a pole between them, a large buck which they
deposited upon the ground before the white men. There came a tremendous
crash from the drum, and a discordant scream from a long pipe made of a
reed. The crowd opened, and from out their midst stalked a venerable
Indian.

"My fathers are welcome," he said gravely.

"Where is the half king?" demanded the Governor sharply. "I have no time
for these fooleries. Make them stop that infernal racket, and lead us to
your chiefs at once."

The Indian frowned at this cavalier reception of the village civilities,
but he waved his arm for the music to cease, and proceeded to conduct
the visitors through a lane made by two rows of dusky bodies and staring
faces, to a large wigwam in the centre of the village. Before this hut
stood a mulberry tree of enormous size, and seated upon billets of wood
in the shade of its spreading branches were the half king of the tribe
and the principal men of the village.

Their faces and the upper portions of their bodies were painted red--the
color of peace. They wore mantles of otter skins, and from their ears
depended strings of pearl and bits of copper. To the earring of the half
king were attached two small, green snakes that twisted and writhed
about his neck; his body had been oiled and then plastered with small
feathers of a brilliant blue, and upon his head was fastened a stuffed
hawk with extended wings.

To one side of this group stood a band of Indians, two score or more in
number, who differed in appearance and attire from the Chickahominies.
The iron had entered the soul of the latter; they had the bearing of a
subject race. Not so with the former. They were men of great size and
strength, with keen, fierce faces; their clothing was of the scantiest
possible description; ornaments they had, but of a peculiar
kind--necklaces and armlets of human bones, belts in which long tufts of
silk grass were interwoven with a more sinister fibre. They leaned on
great bows, and each sternly motionless figure looked a bronze Murder.

The chief of the Chickahominies raised his eyes from the ground as the
Governor and his party entered the circle. "My white fathers are
welcome," he said. "Let them be seated," and looked at the ground again.
The "white fathers" took possession of half a dozen billets, and waited
in silence the next move of the game. After a while, the half king
lifted from the log beside him a pipe with a stem a yard long and a bowl
in which an orange might have rested. An Indian, rising, went to where a
fire burned beneath a tripod, and returning with a live coal between his
fingers, calmly and leisurely lighted the pipe. The half king, still in
dead silence, lifted it to his lips, smoked for five minutes, and handed
it to the Indian, who bore it to the Governor. The Governor drew two or
three tremendous whiffs and passed it on to Colonel Verney, who in his
turn transferred it to the Surveyor-General. When the monster pipe had
been smoked by each of the white men, it went the round of the savages.
An Indian summer haze began to settle around the company. Through it the
patient gazing throng on the outskirts of the circle became shadowy,
impalpable; the face of the half king, now hidden in shifting smoke
wreaths, now darkly visible, like that of an eastern idol before whom
incense is burned. There was no sound save the wash of the waters below
them, the sighing of the wind, the drone of the cicadas in the trees.
The Indians sat like statues, but the white men were more restive. The
elders managed to restrain their impatience, but Laramore began to
whistle, and when checked by a look from the Governor, turned to Sir
Charles with a comically disconsolate face and a shrug of the shoulders.
Whereupon the latter drew from his pocket, dice and a handful of gold
pieces. Laramore's face brightened, and the two, screened from
observation by the Colonel's shoulders, which were of the broadest, fell
to playing noiselessly, cursing beneath their breath. Mr. Peyton leaned
his elbow on his knee, and his chin upon his hand, and allowed the
dreamy beauty of the afternoon to overflow a poetic soul.

At length, and when the patience of the whites was well-nigh exhausted,
the pipe came back to where the half king sat with lowered eyes and
impassive face. He laid it down beside him and rose to his feet,
gathering his mantle around him.

"My white fathers are welcome," he said in a sonorous voice. "Very
welcome to the Chickahominies is the face of the white father, who rules
in the place of the great white father across the sea. Their corn feast
is not yet, and yet my people rejoice. Our hearts were glad when my
father sent word that he would this day visit his faithful
Chickahominies. Our ears are open: let my father speak."

"I thank Harquip and his people for their welcome," said the Governor
coldly. "I have ever found them full of words. They profess loyalty to
the great white father beyond the seas, but they forget his good laws
and disobey his officers. I am weary of their words."

"Tell me," said Harquip, with a sombre face, "are they good laws which
drive us from our hunting grounds? Are they good laws which take from us
our maize fields? Does the great white father love to hear our women cry
for food? or is his heart Indian and longs for the sound of the war
whoop?"

"That is a threat," the Governor said sternly.

The Indian waved his hands. "Have we not smoked the peace pipe?" he said
coldly.

"Humph!" said the Governor then, "I am not come to listen to idle
complaints. Your grievances as to the land shall be laid before the next
Assembly, and it will pass judgment upon them--justly and righteously,
of course."

"Ugh!" said the Indian.

"I am here," continued the Governor, "to ask certain questions of the
Chickahominies, and to lay certain commands upon them which they will do
well to obey."

"Let my father speak," said the Indian calmly.

"Why did you shelter in your village the man with the red hair? Word was
sent to all the tribes, to the Nansemonds, the Wyanokes, the Cheskiacks,
the Paspaheghs, the Pamunkeys, the Chickahominies, that he should be
delivered up if they found him among them. Why did the Chickahominies
hide him?"

"In the night time, the red fox came to the village of the
Chickahominies and burrowed there. The eyes of my people were closed:
they saw him not."

"Humph! Why did you not carry your guns to the Court House when the
tribes were ordered to do so, a fortnight ago, and leave them there,
taking in exchange roanoke and fire-water?"

"My fathers asked much," said the half king gloomily. "My young men love
their sticks-that-speak. They love to see the deer go down before them
like maize before the hail storm. My fathers asked much."

"How many guns has your village?"

"Five," was the prompt reply.

"Humph! To-morrow you will deliver ten guns to the captain of the
trainband at the court-house. When do these men," pointing to the
stranger band, "return to their tribe?"

"They are our friends. They wait to dance the corn dance with us. Then
will they return to the Blue Mountains, and will tell the Ricahecrians
of the great things they have seen, and of the wisdom and power of my
white fathers."

"When is your corn feast?"

"Seven suns hence."

"They must be gone to-morrow."

The face of the half king darkened, and there was a slight, instantly
repressed movement among the circle of braves.

"My father asks very much," said the half king with emphasis.

"Not more than I can, and will, enforce," said the Governor sternly, and
getting to his feet as he spoke. "You, Harquip, shall be answerable to
me and to the Council for these men's departure to-morrow. If by sunrise
of the next morning their canoes are far up the river, headed for the
Blue Mountains, if by the same hour the guns which you have retained in
defiance of the express decree of the Assembly, be given up to those at
the Court House, then will I overlook your hiding the man with the red
hair, and the Assembly will listen to your complaints as to your hunting
grounds. Disobey, and my warriors shall come, each with a
stick-that-speaks in his hand. I have spoken," and the Governor beckoned
to the servants who held the horses.

The half king rose also. "My white father shall be obeyed," he said with
gloomy dignity. "He is stronger than we. Otee has been angry with the
red men for many years. He is gone over to the palefaces and helps their
god against the red men. My young men shall take their guns back to the
palefaces to-morrow, and shall bring back fire-water, and we will drink,
and forget that the days of Powhatan are past and that Otee fights
against us. Also when the Pamunkey is red with to-morrow's sunset, my
brothers from the Blue Mountains shall turn their faces homewards. My
father is content?"

"I am content," said the Governor.

"There is a thing which my brothers have to say to my white fathers,"
continued the half king. "Will they hear the great chief, Black Wolf?"

The Governor pulled out a great watch, glanced at it, and sighed
resignedly. "Gentlemen, have patience a moment longer. Harquip, I will
listen to the Ricahecrian until the shadow of that tree reaches the
fire. What says he?"

The half king spoke to the strangers in their own tongue--their ranks
broke, and an Indian stalked forward to the centre of the circle. His
tall, powerful, nearly nude figure was thickly tatooed with
representations of birds and beasts; he wore an armlet of a dull,
yellow metal ("Gold! by the Eternal!" ejaculated the Governor to Colonel
Verney); over his naked, deeply scarred breast hung three strings of
hideous mementoes of torture stakes; the belt that held tomahawk and
scalping knife was fringed with human hair; beside his streaming
scalplock was stuck the dried hand of an enemy. The face beneath was
cunning, relentless, formidable. He spoke in his own language, and the
half king translated.

"Black Wolf is a great chief. In his village in the Blue Mountains are
fifty wigwams--the largest is his. There are a hundred braves--he leads
the war parties. The Monacans run like deer, the hearts of the
Tuscaroras become soft, they hide behind their squaws! Black Wolf is a
great chief. Seven moons of cohonks have passed since the Ricahecrians
sharpened their hatchets and came down from the mountains to where the
waters of Powhatan fall over many rocks. There they met the palefaces.
The One above all was angry with his Ricahecrians. They saw for the
first time the guns of the palefaces. They thought they were gods who
spat fire at them and slew them with thunder. Their hearts became soft,
and they fled before the strange gods. Some the palefaces slew, and some
they took prisoner. Black Wolf saw his brother, the great chief Grey
Wolf, fall. The Ricahecrians went back to the Blue Mountains, and their
women raised the death chant for those whom they left stretched out on
the bank of the great river.... Seven times had the maize ripened, when
Black Wolf led a war party against a tribe that dwelt on the banks of
the Pamunkey where a fallen pine might span it. The waters ran red with
blood. When there were no more Monacans to kill, when the fires had
burnt low, Black Wolf looked down the waters of the Pamunkey. He had
heard that it ran into a great water that was salt, whose further bank a
man could not see. He had heard that the palefaces rode in canoes that
had wings, great and white. He thought he would like to know if these
things were true, or if they were but tales of the singing birds. To
find out, Black Wolf and his young men dipped their oars into the water
of the Pamunkey, and rowed towards the moonrise. In the morning they met
twenty men of the Pamunkeys in three canoes. The Pamunkeys lie deep in
the slime of the river; the eels eat them; their scalps shall hang
before the wigwams of Black Wolf and his young men. In the afternoon,
they drove their canoes into the reeds and went into the forest to find
meat. Black Wolf's arrow brought down a buck and they feasted.
Afterwards they caught a hunter who saw only the deer he was chasing.
They tied him to a tree and made merry with him. When he was dead, they
drew their boats from out the reeds, and rowed on down the broadening
river. The next day, at the time of the full sun-power, they came to
this village. Many years before the palefaces came, the Chickahominies
were a great nation, reaching to the foot of the Blue Mountains, and
then were they and the Ricahecrians friends and allies. When Black Wolf
showed them the totem of his tribe upon his breast, they welcomed him
and his young men. That was ten suns ago. Black Wolf and his young men
have seen many things. When they go back to the Blue Mountains, the
Ricahecrians will think they listen to singing birds. They will tell of
the great salt water, of the boats with wings, of the palefaces, of
their fields of maize and tobacco, of the black men who serve them, of
their temples, werowances and women. They will tell of the great white
father who rules, of his power, his wisdom, his open hand--"

"I thought it would come at last," quoth the Governor. "What does he
want, Harquip?"

"The Ricahecrian starts for his wigwam in the Blue Mountains to-morrow
as my father commands. He says: 'Shall I not return to my people with a
gift from the great white father in my hand?'"

The Governor laughed. "Let one of your young men go to the court-house.
I will give him an order for beads, for a piece of red cloth, and yes,
rat me! he shall have a mirror! I hope he is satisfied!"

The half king's eyes gleamed covetously. "My father gives large gifts.
He has indeed an open hand. But the Ricahecrian desires another thing.
He says: 'Seven years ago, at the falls of the Powhatan, Black Wolf saw
his brother fall before the stick-that-speaks of the palefaces. Grey
Wolf was a great chief. The village in the Blue Mountains mourned very
much. Nicotee, his squaw, went wailing into the land of shadows. His son
hath seen but seven moons of corn, but he dreams of the day when he
shall sharpen the hatchet against the slayers of his father.... The
Chickahominies have told Black Wolf that his brother was wounded and not
slain by the palefaces. They brought him captive to their great board
wigwams. There they tied him not to the torture stake; they knew that a
Ricahecrian laughs at the pine splinters. They tortured his spirit. They
made him a woman. The great chief of the Ricahecrians no longer throws
the tomahawk--the guns of the palefaces are about him. He dances the
corn dance no more--his back is bowed with burdens. His arrow brings
not down the fleeing deer, he tracks not the bear to his den--he toils
like a squaw in the fields of the palefaces. Black Wolf says to the
white father: "Give back the Sagamore to the Ricahecrians, to his son,
to the village by the falling stream in the Blue Mountains. Then will
the Ricahecrians be friends with the palefaces forever." To-morrow Black
Wolf and his young men row towards the sunset; let the captive chief be
in their midst. This is the gift which Black Wolf asks of his white
fathers. He has spoken.'"

In the midst of a dead silence the half king took his seat and studied
the ground. The Chickahominies, squatted round the circle, stirred not a
finger, and the outer row of spectators, motionless against a background
of interlacing branches patched with vivid blue, seemed a procession in
tapestry. The Ricahecrians and their formidable chief maintained a stony
gloom. Whatever interest they felt in the fate of their captive chief
was carefully concealed. The sun, now hanging, broad and red, low in the
heavens might have been the Gorgon's head and the whole village staring
at it.

The Governor began to laugh. Sir Charles chimed in musically and
Laramore followed suit. The Surveyor-General frowned, but the Colonel,
after one or two attempts at sobriety of demeanor, succumbed, and the
trio became a quartette. The glades of the forest rang to the jovial
sound--it was as though there were enchantment in the golden afternoon,
or in the ring of dark and frowning countenances before them, for they
laughed as though they would never stop. Even the servants at the
horses' heads were infected, and laughed at they knew not what.

The Surveyor-General lost patience. "I think the Jamestown weed groweth
in these woods," he said dryly.

The Governor pulled himself together. "Faith! I believe you are right!"
he said airily. "But rat me! if the impudence of the varlets be not the
most amusing thing since the Quaker's plea for toleration!"

"The amusement seems to be on our side," said the Surveyor-General.

The Governor cast a careless glance in the direction indicated by the
other. "Pshaw! a fit of the sulks! They will get over it. Is this
precious captive the giant whom I have seen at Rosemead, Major
Carrington?"

"Not so, your Excellency. My man is a Susquehannock."

"I believe I may lay claim to the fellow, Sir William," said the
Colonel, wiping his eyes.

"Is he the Indian who was whipt the other day?" asked Sir Charles,
taking snuff.

"For stealing fire-water--yes."

The Governor began to laugh again. "Of course you will release the
rascal, Colonel? The Blue Mountains threaten war if you do not. Fling
yourself into the breach, and so prevent a 'scandal to the community and
a menace to the State,' to quote your words of this morning. Consistency
is a jewel, Dick the Peacemaker. Wherefore let the savage go."

"I'll be d--d if I do!" cried the Colonel.

The Governor, shaking with laughter, got to his feet. At a signal his
groom brought up his horse and held the stirrup for him to mount. His
Excellency swung himself into the saddle and gathered the reins into his
gauntleted hands; the remainder of the company, too, got to horse. The
Governor's steed, a fiery, coal black Arabian, danced with impatience.

"Selim scents a fray!" cried his Excellency. "Come on, gentlemen! 'T
will be sunset before we reach that sweet piece of earth behind Verney's
orchard."

The half king rose from his seat, took three measured strides, and stood
side by side with the Ricahecrian chief.

"My white father will give to the Ricahecrian the gift he asks?"

A gust of passion took the Governor. "No!" he thundered, turning in his
saddle. "The Ricahecrian may go to the devil and the Blue Mountains
alone!" He struck spurs into his horse's sides. "Gentlemen, we waste
time!"

The Arabian dashed down one of the winding glades of the forest; the
remainder of the party spurred their horses into the mad gallop known as
the "planter's pace," and in an instant the whole cavalcade had whirled
out of sight. A burst of laughter, made elfin by distance, came back to
the village on the banks of the Pamunkey, then all was quiet again. The
gold-laced, audacious company had vanished like a troop of powerful
enchanters, leaving behind them a sullen throng of native genii, kept
down by a Solomon's Seal which is _not_ always unbreakable.

Something stirred in the midst of the great mulberry tree, a tree so
vast and leafy that it might have hidden many things. A man swung
himself down with a lithe grace from limb to limb, and finally dropped
into the circle of Indians who stood or sat in a sombre stillness which
might mean much or little. Only on the outskirts the crowd of women,
children and youths, had commenced a low, monotonous, undefined noise
which had in it something sinister, ominous. It was like the sound, dull
and heavy, of the ground swell that precedes the storm. The man who
dropped from the tree was Luiz Sebastian, and his appearance seemed in
no degree to surprise the Indians. There followed a short and
sententious conversation between the mulatto, the half king and the
Ricahecrian chief. Beside the half king lay the still smoking peace
pipe. When the colloquy was ended, he raised it. At a signal an Indian
brought water in a gourd, and into it the half king plunged the glowing
bowl. The fire went out in a cloud of hissing steam. The sound of the
ground swell became louder and more threatening.



CHAPTER XXI

THE DUEL


The trees of the orchard stood out black against a crimson sky. "Faith!
it is a color we shall see more of presently," said Laramore, divesting
himself of his doublet.

His antagonist, passing a laced handkerchief along a gleaming blade,
smiled politely. "A pretty tint. Wine, the lips of women, Captain
Laramore's blood--Lard! 'tis a color I adore!"

"Gentlemen!" cried Colonel Verney. "Once more I beg of you to forego
this foolish quarrel. William Berkeley, for the first time in your life,
be reasonable!"

The Governor turned sharply, his chest, beneath his shirt of finest
holland, swelling, each closely cropped hair upon his head, bared for
action, stiff with injured dignity.

"Colonel Richard Verney forgets himself," he began angrily; then,
"Confound you, Dick! keep your hands out of this. I don't want to fight
you too! I say not that this gentleman is disloyal, but I do say, and I
will maintain it with the last drop of my blood, that he strives to draw
to himself a party in the State, with what intent he best knows. If he
choose to pocket that assertion and withdraw, I am content."

"On guard, sir," said Carrington, raising his sword.

The Colonel shrugged his shoulders, and returned to his post beside Mr.
Peyton.

"Very well, gentlemen, since you will not be ruled. Are you ready?"

The rapiers clashed together, and the game began.

The Governor fenced brilliantly, if a trifle wildly; his antagonist with
a cool steadiness of manner and an iron wrist. Laramore fought with
bull-like ferocity, striving to beat down his opponent's guard, making
mad lunges, stamping, and keeping up a continuous rumble of oaths. Sir
Charles, always smiling, and with an air as if his thoughts were
anywhere but at that particular spot, put aside his thrusts with the
ease with which the toreador avoids the bull.

Mr. Peyton was moved to reluctant admiration. "When I was in London,
sir," he said in an excited whisper to the Colonel, "I did see Mathews
fight with Westwicke, and thought I had seen fencing indeed, but your
cousin--ah!"

Laramore's sword described a curve in the air, and lodged in the boughs
of an apple-tree, while its owner staggered forward and fell heavily to
the ground. At the same instant Carrington wounded the Governor in the
wrist. Colonel Verney struck up the weapons. "By the Lord, gentlemen!
you shall go no further! Jack Laramore's down, run through the shoulder!
Major Carrington, you have drawn blood--it is enough."

"If Sir William Berkeley is content," began Carrington, bowing to his
antagonist.

"Rat me! I've no choice," said the Governor ruefully. "You've disabled
my sword arm, and the gout has the other."

"I shall be happy to wait until the wound shall have healed," said the
Surveyor-General, with another bow.

"No, no," said his Excellency, with a laugh. "We'll cry quits. And rat
me! if now that we have had it out, I do not love thee better, Miles
Carrington, than ever I did before. In the morning when thou goest home,
burn thy library, burn Milton and Bastwick, and Withers, and the rest of
the rogues, forswear such rascally company forever, and rat me! if I
will not maintain that thou art the honestest, as well as the
longest-headed, man in the colony. There's my hand on it, and to-night
we'll have a rouse such as would make old Noll turn in his grave if he
had one."

Carrington took the proffered hand courteously, if coldly. "I thank your
Excellency for your advice. Your Excellency should have your wound
attended to at once. You are losing a deal of blood."

"Tut, a trifle!" said the Governor, airily, winding a handkerchief about
the bleeding member.

"Is there ever a chirurgeon upon the place?" asked Sir Charles in his
most dulcet tones. "If not, I fear that Captain Laramore will very
shortly make his last voyage."

"Egad! that will never do!" cried the Colonel, dropping upon his knees
beside the wounded man. "A bad thrust! Charles, thou art the very
devil!"

"Shall I ride for the doctor?" cried Mr. Peyton.

"No. Anthony Nash is at the house. Run, lad, and fetch him. He is
surgeon as well as divine."

Mr. Peyton disappeared; and presently there stood in the midst of the
group gathered about the unconscious captain, a man clad in a clerical
dress and of a very dignified and scholarly demeanor.

"Ha, gentlemen!" he said gravely, looking with bright, dark eyes from
one to the other. "This is a sorry business. Shirts, drawn rapiers,
trampled turf, Sir William bleeding, Captain Laramore senseless upon the
ground! His Excellency the Governor; Major Carrington, the
Surveyor-General; Colonel Verney, the lieutenant of the
shire;--scandalous, gentlemen!"

"And Anthony Nash who would give his chance of a mitre to have been one
of us," cried the Governor. "Ha! Anthony! dost remember the fight behind
Paul's, three to one,--and the baggage that brought it about?"

The divine, on his knees beside Laramore, looked up with a twinkle in
his eye from his work of tying laced handkerchiefs into bandages. "That
was in the dark ages, your Excellency. My memory goeth not back so far.
Ha! that is better! He is coming to himself. It is not so bad after
all."

Laramore groaned, opened his eyes, and struggled into a sitting posture.

"Blast me! but I am properly spitted. Sir Charles Carew, my compliments
to you. You are a man after my own heart. Ha, your Excellency! I find
myself in good company. Dr. Anthony Nash, I shall have you out! You have
torn the handkerchief Mistress Lettice Verney gave me."

The Doctor laughed. "You must be got to the house at once, and to bed,
where Mistress Lettice, who is as skillful in healing as in making
wounds, shall help me to properly dress this one."

Laramore staggered to his feet. "Give me an arm, Doctor; and Peyton,
clap my periwig upon my head, will you? and fetch me my sword from where
I see it, adorning yonder bough. Sir Charles Carew, I am your humble
servant. Damme! it's no disgrace to be worsted by the best sword at
Whitehall." And the gallant captain, supported by the clergyman and Mr.
Peyton, reeled off the ground; the remainder of the party waiting only
to assume doublets and wigs before following him to the house.

Two hours later Sir Charles Carew rose from the supper-table, and
leaving the gentlemen at wine, passed into the great room, and came
softly up to Patricia, sitting at the spinet.

"My heart was not there," he said, answering her smile and lifted brows.
"I am come in search of it."

She laughed, fingering the keys. "Did you leave it on the field of
honor? Fie, sir, for shame! Doctor Nash says that Captain Laramore will
not use his arm for a fortnight."

"What--" said Sir Charles, dropping his voice and leaning over
her--"what if I had been the wounded one?"

"I would have made your gruel with great pleasure, cousin."

She laughed again, and looked at him half tenderly, half mockingly.
There were silver candlesticks upon the spinet and the light from the
tall wax tapers fell with a white radiance over the slender figure in
brocade and lace, the gleaming shoulders, the beautiful face, and the
shining hair. Her eyes were brilliant, her mouth all elusive, mocking,
exquisite curves.

He raised a wandering lock of gold to his lips. "The King hath written,
commanding me home to England," he said abruptly.

"Yes, my father told me. He says the King loves you much."

Sir Charles left her side, twice walked the length of the room, and
came back to her. "Am I to go as I came--alone?" he asked, standing
before her with folded arms.

"If you so desire, sir?"

"Will you go with me?"

"Yes."

He caught her in his arms; but she cried out and freed herself.

"No, no, not yet!" she said breathlessly. "Listen to me."

She moved backwards a step or two, and stood facing him, her hand at her
bosom, a color in her cheek, her eyes like stars. "I do not know that I
love you, Sir Charles Carew. At times I have thought that I did; at
times, not. There is an unrest here," touching her heart, "which has
come to me lately. I do not know--it may be the beginning of love. Last
night my father had much talk with me. It is his dearest wish that you
and I should wed. He has been my very good father always. If you will
take me as I am, not loving you yet, but with a heart free to learn,
why--" Her voice broke.

Sir Charles flung himself at her feet, and, taking possession of her
hands, covered them with kisses. A voice passed the window, singing
through the night:--

                "Martinmas wind, when wilt thou blow,
                  And shake the green leaves from the tree;
                O gentle death, when wilt thou come?
                  For of my life I am weary."

"Margery again?" said Sir Charles, rising.

"Yes," said Patricia, with a troubled voice.

The voice began the stanza again:--

                "Martinmas wind, when wilt thou blow,
                  And shake the green leaves from the tree?"

"What is the matter?" cried Sir Charles in alarm.

Patricia stared at him with wide, unseeing eyes. "Martinmas wind," she
said in a low, clear, even voice. "Martinmas wind! The leaves drift in
clouds, yellow and red, red like blood. Look at the river flowing in the
sunshine! And the tall gray crags! Ah!" and she put her hands before her
face.

"What is it?" cried her suitor. "What is the matter? You are ill!"

She dropped her hands. "I am well now," she said tremulously. "I do not
know what it was. I had a vision--" she broke into wild laughter.

"I am fey, I think," she cried. "Let me go to my room; I am better
there."

He held the door open, and she passed him quickly with lowered eyes. He
watched her run up the stairs, and then threw himself into a chair and
stared thoughtfully at the floor.



CHAPTER XXII

THE TOBACCO HOUSE AGAIN


The master of Verney Manor and his guests slept late, for the carouse of
the night before had been deep and prolonged. The master's daughter rose
with the sun, and went down into the garden, and thence through the
wicket into the mulberry grove, where she found Margery sitting on the
ground, tying golden-rod to her staff. "Come and walk with me, Margery,"
she said.

Margery rose with alacrity. "Where shall we go?" she asked in a whisper.
"To the forest? There were eyes in the forest last night, not the great,
still, solemn eyes that stare at Margery every night, but eyes that
glowed like coals, and moved from bush to bush. Margery was afraid, and
she left the forest, and sat by the water side all night, listening to
what it had to say. A star shot, and Margery knew that a soul was on its
way to Paradise, where she would fain go if only she could find the
way.... There are purple flowers growing by the creek between the cedar
wood and the marsh. Let us go gather them, and trim Margery's staff very
bravely."

"I care not where we go," said her mistress. "There as well as
elsewhere."

"Come, then," said Margery, and took the lead.

When they had entered the strip of cedars which lay between the wide
fields and the point of land on which stood the third tobacco house,
Patricia stopped beneath a great tree. "We will go no further, Margery,"
she said.

Margery objected. "The purple flowers grow by the water side."

"Do you go and gather them then," said Patricia wearily. "I will wait
for you here."

Margery glided away, and her mistress sat down upon the dark-red earth
at the foot of the tree. There was a cold and sombre stillness in the
wood. The air smelt chill and dank, and the light came through the low,
closely woven roof of foliage, as though it were filtered through crape,
but at the end of the vista of trees shone a glory of sea and sky and
gold-green marsh. Patricia gazed with dreamy eyes. "It is all fair," she
said. "What was it that Dr. Nash read? 'My lines are fallen in pleasant
places.' Riches and honor, and, they say, beauty, and many to love
me.--O Lord God! I wish for happiness!" She laid her cheek against the
cool earth, and the splendor before her wavered into a mist of rose and
azure. "Why should I weep," she said, "that my lines are laid in
pleasant places?"

Margery with her arms filled with flowers appeared at her side. "Here
are the purple flowers," she said. "Here is farewell-summer for me and a
passion-flower for you." She threw the blooms upon the ground, and
sitting down at her mistress's feet, began to weave them into garlands.
Presently she took up the passion-flower. "This grew beside the tobacco
house, close to the wall. Margery saw it, and ran to pluck it. The door
of the tobacco house was closed, but above the passion-flower was a
great crack between the logs." She began to laugh. "Margery heard a
strange thing, while she was plucking the passion-flower. Shall she tell
it to you?"

"If you like, Margery," said Patricia indifferently.

Margery leaned forward, and laid a cold, thin hand upon her mistress'
arm.

"There were seven men in the tobacco house. One said, 'When the
Malignants are put down, what then?' and another answered, 'Surely we
will possess their lands and their houses, their silver and their gold,
for is it not written, "The Lord hath given them a spoil unto their
servants."' Then the first said, 'Shall we not kill the Malignant,
Verney?' Margery heard no more. She came away."

Patricia rose to her feet, pale, with brilliant eyes.

"You heard no more?"

"No."

"Margery, show me the place where you listened."

Margery took up her staff, and led the way to the outskirts of the wood.
"There," she said, pointing with her staff. "There, where the elder
grows."

Patricia laid her hand on the mad woman's shoulder. "Listen to me,
Margery," she said in a low, distinct voice. "Listen very carefully. Go
quickly to the great house, and to my father, or to Woodson, or to Sir
Charles Carew give the message I am about to give you. Do you
understand, Margery?"

Margery nodding emphatically, Patricia gave the message, and watched her
flit away through the gloom of the cedars into the sunlight beyond; then
turned and went swiftly and noiselessly across the strip of field to the
tall, dark, windowless tobacco house. As she neared it, there came to
her a low and undistinguishable murmur of voices which rose into
distinctness as she entered the clump of alders.

Within the tobacco house were assembled the Muggletonian, the man
branded upon the forehead, the youth with the hectic cheek (who acted as
Secretary to the Surveyor-General), two newly purchased servants of
Colonel Verney, Trail and Godfrey Landless. In the uncertain light which
streamed from above through rents in the roof and crevices between the
upper logs the interior of the tobacco house looked mysterious,
sinister, threatening. Here and there tobacco still hung from the poles
which crossed from wall to wall, and in the partial light the long,
dusky masses looked wonderfully like other hanging things. The great
casks beneath had the appearance of shadowy scaffolds, and the men,
sitting or standing against them, looked larger than life. All was dusk,
subdued, save where a stray sunbeam, sifting through a crack in the
opposite wall, lit the ghastly face and shaven crown of the
Muggletonian.

Landless, leaning against a cask, addressed a man of a grave and
resolute bearing--one of the newly acquired servants of Verney Manor.

"Major Havisham, you are a wise and a brave man. I will gladly listen to
any counsel you may have to give anent this matter."

Havisham shook his head. "I have nothing to say. The spirit of the
father lives in the son. Skillful in planning, bold in action was Warham
Landless!"

"I am but the tool of Robert Godwyn," said Landless. "You approve, then,
of our arrangements?"

"Entirely. It is a daring enterprise, but if it succeeds--" he drew a
long breath.

"And if it fails," said Landless, "there is freedom yet."

The other nodded. "Yes, death hath few terrors for us."

"What is death?" cried the hectic youth. "A short, dim passage from
darkness into light; the antechamber of the white court of God; the
curtain that we lift; the veil that we tear--and SEE! My soul longeth
for death, yea, even fainteth for the courts of God! But He will not
call His servants until His work is done. Wherefore let us haste to rise
up and slay, to work the Lord's work, and go from hence!"

"Yea!" cried the Muggletonian. "I fear not death! I fear not the Throne
and the Judgment seat. The Two Witnesses will speak for me! But Death is
not upon us; he passeth by the weak, and seizeth upon the strong. The
Malignants shall die, for the word of the Lord has gone out against
them. 'Thy foot shall be dipped in the blood of thy enemies, and the
tongue of thy dogs into the same! They shall fall by the sword, they
shall be a portion for foxes; as smoke is drawn away so shall they
vanish, as wax melteth before the fire so shall they perish! He that
sitteth in the heavens shall have them in derision. And the righteous
shall rejoice in His vengeance!'"

"Amen," drawled Trail through his nose. "Verily, we will fatten on the
good things of the land, we will spend our days in ease and
pleasantness! The Malignants shall work for us. They shall toil in our
tobacco fields, their women shall be our handmaidens, we will drink
their wines, and wear their rich clothing, and our pockets shall be
filled with their gold and silver--"

"Silence!" cried Landless fiercely. "Once more I tell you, mad dreamers
that you are, that there shall be no such devil's work! Major Havisham,
there are not among us many of this ilk. Two thirds of our number are
men of the stamp of Robert Godwyn and yourself. These men rave."

"I heed them not," said Havisham with a slighting gesture of the hand;
then, "Let us recapitulate. Upon this appointed day we whom they call
Oliverians, and the great majority of the redemptioners, are to rise
throughout the colony. We--"

"Are to do no damage to property nor offer any unnecessary violence to
masters and overseers," said Landless firmly.

"We are simply to arm ourselves, seize horses or boats, and resort to
this appointed place."

"Yes."

"Calling upon the slaves to follow us?"

"Which they will do. Yes."

"And when all are assembled, to oppose any force sent against us?"

"Yes."

"And if we conquer, then--"

"Then the Republic,--Commonwealth,--anything you choose--at any rate,
freedom."

"It is a desperate plan."

"We are desperate men."

"Yes," Havisham said thoughtfully; "it is the best chance for that
escape of which we all dream, and which two of our number, I see, have
attempted in vain. I had set to-morrow night for my own attempt. This
promises better."

"Yea," said Porringer, "the stars in their courses fight against the
refugee! Four times have I tried, to be retaken, and handled, as you
see. Twice has this man tried and failed. And the murderer of Robert
Godwyn failed."

"That remains to be seen," said Trail. "Roach has broken gaol."

The Muggletonian exclaimed, and Landless turned upon the forger. "How
do you know?" he asked sternly.

"I heard," was the smooth reply.

"I am sorry for it," said Landless grimly, and stood with a sternly
thoughtful countenance.

There was a silence in the tobacco house broken by Havisham.

"And now--for time passes and the overseer may come and find us not at
our tasks--tell me the day upon which we are to rise, and the place to
which all are to resort."

"Both are close at hand," said Landless slowly. "The day is--" he broke
off and leaned forward, staring through the dusk.

"What is it?" cried Havisham.

"My eyes met other eyes. There, behind that great crack between the
logs!"

The Muggletonian rushed to the door, flung it open, and vanished; the
branded man followed. The remaining occupants of the tobacco house
started to their feet, and Havisham picked from the floor a pole and
broke from it a stout cudgel. Godfrey Landless strode forward into the
broad shaft of sunshine that entered through the opened door and met the
eavesdropper face to face, as, with either arm in the rude grasp of the
fanatics, she crossed the threshold.

The conspirators, recognizing the lady of the manor, were stricken dumb.
In the three minutes of dead silence which ensued they saw their plans
defeated, their hopes ruined, their cause vanquished, their lives lost.
The graceful figure with white scorn in the beautiful face was death
come upon them. The shadow fell heavy and cold upon their souls, the
very air seemed to darken and grow chill around them The figure of the
woman in their midst gathered up the sunshine, became ethereal,
transplendent, a triumphant white and gold Spirit of Evil.

Landless was the first to speak. "Unhand her!" he said in a suppressed
voice.

The men obeyed, but the Muggletonian placed himself between his prisoner
and the door. She saw the movement and said scornfully, "You need not
fear; I shall not run away." Upon her bare, white arms, where they had
been clasped too rudely, were fast darkening marks. She glanced from
them to the scarred face of the Muggletonian. "_They_ will wear out,"
she said.

"Madam," said Landless hoarsely, "how long were you in that place?"

She flashed upon him a look that was like a blow. "Liar! be silent!" she
said, then turned to the row of faces that frowned upon her from out the
shadow. "To you others I address myself. Traitors, rebellious servants,
base plotters! I hold your lives in my hand."

"And your own?" said Trail.

"Cursed daughter of the mother of evil!" cried the Muggletonian, a
baleful light burning in his eyes. "Scarlet woman, whose vain apparel,
whose uncovered hair and bared bosom, whose light songs and laughter
have long been an offense and a stumbling-block to the righteous--thy
cup of iniquity is full, thy life is forfeit, thy hour is come!" He drew
a knife from his bosom and with an unearthly cry flourished it above his
head, then rushed upon her, to be met by Landless, who hurled himself
upon the would-be murderer with a force that sent them both staggering
against the wall. A struggle ensued, which ended in Landless securing
the knife. With it in his hand he sprang to the side of the girl, who
stood unflinching, a pride that was superb in her still white face and
steadfast eyes.

"Who touches her dies," he said between his teeth.

Havisham came to his aid. "Men, are you mad? You cannot murder a
defenseless woman! Moreover such a deed would prove our utter ruin."

"If her body were found, yes!" cried the hectic youth. "But the water is
near, and who is to know that the devil sent her hither?"

"It is her death or ours," cried the branded man.

The Muggletonian tossed his arms into the air.

"The cause! the cause! Cursed be he that putteth his hand to the plough
and finisheth not the furrow! Ride on! Ride on! though it were over the
bodies of a thousand painted Jezebels such as this!"

"Time presses!" cried the branded man. "Woodson may come!"

They closed in upon the three who stood at bay. In their dark faces were
a passion and an exaltation--they saw in the woman fallen into their
hands, a sacrifice bound to the altar. Trail alone looked uneasy and
held back, muttering between his teeth.

Landless stepped in front of Patricia and faced them with a still and
deadly eye, and with the hand that held the knife drawn back against his
breast. Knowing them, he saw no use in any appeal; also he saw that it
was indeed her life or theirs. On the one hand, the downfall of all
their hopes, the death or perpetual enslavement of many, and for himself
surely the gibbet and the rope; on the other--

He made a gesture of command. "Thou shalt do no murder!" he cried.

"It is not murder; it is sacrifice."

"There must be another way!" cried Havisham.

"Find it!"

Havisham turned to the prisoner. "Madam, will you swear to be silent
concerning what you have heard?"

The Muggletonian laughed wildly. "Who trusts a woman's oath!"

"You shall have no need," said the lady of the manor calmly. She paused
and her eyes went to the door in an intent and listening gaze, then came
back to the faces about her with a strange light in their depths. "Rebel
servants," she said in a clear, low voice, "I defy you! And you, false
slave, stand from before me. I need not your hateful aid." In the moment
of ominous silence that followed, she swayed towards the door, her hand
at her throat, her soul in her eyes. Suddenly she cried out, "My father!
Charles! help!"

From without came an answering cry, followed by a rush of men through
the door, and in an instant the room was filled with struggling forms as
the two parties threw themselves upon each other. The newcomers were
half a dozen blacks, the two overseers and Sir Charles Carew. The
overseers had pistols and Sir Charles his sword. With it he met the rush
of the youth with the hectic cheek, who came towards him in long,
hound-like leaps, brandishing a piece of wood above his head, and drove
the blade deep into the chest of the fanatic. The wretched man staggered
and fell, then rose to his knees. Flinging his arms above his head, he
turned his worn face towards the flood of sunshine pouring in through
the door, and cried in a loud voice, "I see!" A stream of blood gushed
from his lips, his arms dropped, and without a groan he fell back, dead.

Landless, wrestling with the slave Regulus, at length succeeded in
hurling the powerful figure to the ground, where it lay stunned, and
turned to find himself confronted by Woodson's pistol and the point of
Sir Charles's rapier. A glance showed him the remaining conspirators,
overpowered, and in the act of being bound with the ropes that had lain,
coiled for use in packing, in the corners of the tobacco house. The
hectic youth lay, a ghastly spectacle, in a pool of blood across the
doorway. At his feet was the branded man, a bullet through his brain,
and near him the groaning figure of Havisham's mortally wounded
companion. The woman who had brought all this to pass stood unharmed,
white, with tragic, exultant eyes.

Sir Charles, serene and debonair, lowered his point. "Your hand is
played," he said with a fine smile. Landless's stern, despairing gaze
passed him and went on to the overseer. "I surrender to you," he said
briefly.

Woodson chuckled grimly and stuck his pistol in his belt. He was in high
good humor, visions of reward and thanks from the Assembly dancing
before his eyes. "I've had my eye on you for some time, young man," he
said almost genially. "I've suspected that you were up to something, but
Lord! to think that a woman's wit should have trapped you at last!
Haines, bring that rope over here."

Sir Charles went over to Patricia and offered her his arm. "Dearest and
bravest of women!" he said in a caressing whisper. "Come with me from
this place, which must be dreadful to you."

She did not answer him at once, but stood looking past him at the
picture of laughing water and waving forest framed in the doorway.

"I thought I should never see the sunshine again," she said dreamily.
"Did Margery give _you_ the message?"

"Yes, she met me under the mulberries. I would not wait to rouse your
father, but calling the overseers and the blacks from the fields, came
at once."

"I owe you my life," she said. "You and--"

Her eyes left the summer outside and came back to the shadowy forms
within the tobacco house. "I will go with you directly, cousin," she
said quietly, "but first I wish to speak to that man."

He shot a swift glance at her face, but drew back with a bow, and she
walked with a steady step up to Landless. "Fall back a little," she said
with an imperious wave of her hand to the men about him. They obeyed
her. Landless, left standing before her, his arms bound to his sides,
raised his head and looked her in the face. She met his eyes. "You lied
to me," she said in a low, even voice.

"Once, madam, and to save others," he said proudly,

"Not once, but twice. Do you think that now I believe that tale you told
me that night, that fairy tale of persecuted innocence? When I think
that I ever believed it I hate myself."

"Nevertheless, it is true, madam."

"It is false! Yesterday I thought of you as a gallant gentleman, greatly
wronged ... and I pitied you. To-day I am wiser."

He held her eyes with his own for a moment, then let them go. "Some day
you will know," he said.

She turned from him and held out her hands to Sir Charles. He hurried
to her and she clung to him. "Take me away," she said in a whisper.
"Take me home."

He put his arm about her. "You are faint," he said tenderly. "Come! the
air will revive you."

Supporting her on his arm, he guided her from the house. As they passed
the body stretched across the threshold, the skirt of her robe touched
the blood in which it was lying. She saw it and shuddered.

"Blood is upon me!" she said. "It is an omen!"

"A good one, then," said her companion coolly, "for it is the blood of a
fanatic traitor. Think not of it." He turned at the threshold and cast a
careless glance back into the tobacco house. "Woodson, get rid of this
carrion, and bring these men quietly to the great house, where your
master will deal with them."



CHAPTER XXIII

THE QUESTION


"We know all but two things, but those are the most important of all,"
said the Governor, tapping his jeweled fingers against the table.

"It is much to be regretted," said the Surveyor-General, "that the
presence of the young lady was so soon discovered. Otherwise--"

"Otherwise we might have had further information on more than one
subject," said the Governor dryly.

"We must make the best of what we have," continued Carrington calmly.
"After all, it is enough."

The Governor rose and began to pace the floor, his head thoughtfully
bent, his unwounded hand tugging at the curls of his periwig. "It is not
enough," he said at length, pausing before the great table around which
the company were seated. "Thanks to the gallant daughter of the gallant
Verneys,"--a bow and smile to Patricia, sitting enthroned in the great
chair in their midst,--"we know much, but it is not enough. These rogues
have set a day upon which to rise; they have appointed a place to which
they are to resort. That day may be to-morrow, that place any point in
any one of a dozen counties."

"I apprehend that the cockatrice was to be hatched near by," said Sir
Charles.

"It is the likeliest thing," answered the Governor, "seeing that their
ringleader belongs to this plantation. But we do not know. And there
may not be time to reach the planters, to give them warning, to arrest
these d--d traitors, scattered as they are from the James to
Rappahannock, and from Henricus to the Chesapeake. It might be best to
assemble the trainbands at this cursed spot if it can be found, and to
await their coming in force. But to know neither time nor place--to
start a hue and cry and have the storm burst before it reaches ten
plantations--to guard one point and see fire rise at another a dozen
leagues away--impossible! Gentlemen, we must come at the heart of this
matter!"

"It is most advisable," said Colonel Verney gravely. "Examine the
prisoners again," suggested Sir Charles.

"One of them is no wiser than we. You are certain as to this, Mistress
Patricia?"

"Yes, your Excellency."

"Humph! one does not know; three are dead; there remain, then, that
shaven and branded runaway and the two convicts."

"You will learn naught from the runaway, your Excellency!" called out
the overseer from where he stood at a respectful distance from the
company. "He's one of them crazy fanatics that wild horses couldn't draw
truth from. No Indian torture stake could make him speak if he didn't
want to,--nor keep him from it if he did."

"I know that kind," said the Governor, with a short laugh, "and we will
not waste time upon him, but will try if the convict--he who seems to
have been their leader--be not more amenable. Bring him in, Woodson."

When the overseer had gone, a silence fell upon the company gathered in
the master's room. The Governor paced to and fro, perplexity in his
face; the Colonel knit his grizzled brows and studied the floor; Dr.
Anthony Nash brought the writing materials displayed upon the table,
closer to him, and held a quill ready poised for dipping into the ink
horn, while the Surveyor-General with a carefully composed countenance
toyed with a pink which he took from the bowl of flowers before him. Sir
Charles leaned back in his seat and looked at Patricia who, seated
between him and her father, stared before her with hard, bright eyes.
Her lips were like a scarlet flower against the absolute pallor of her
face; her hair was a crown of pale gold. In the great chair, her white
arms resting upon the dark wood, her feet upon a carved footstool, she
looked a queen, and the knot of brilliantly dressed gentlemen her
attendant council.

The door opened and the two overseers appeared with Landless, who
advanced and stood, silent and collected, before the ring of hostile
faces.

"What is your name, sirrah?" said the Governor, throwing himself into
his chair and frowning heavily.

"Godfrey Landless."

"I am told that you are son to one Warham Landless, a so-called colonel
in the rebel army and hand in glove with the usurper himself."

"I am the son of Colonel Warham Landless of the forces of the
Commonwealth, and friend to his Highness the Lord Protector."

"Humph! And did you fight in these same forces yourself?"

"At Worcester, yes."

"Humph! the son of a traitor and rebel--traitor and rebel yourself--and
convict to boot! A pretty record! On what day was this rising to
occur?"

No answer. The Governor repeated the question. "On what day was this
precious mine to be sprung? And to what place were you to resort?"

Landless remaining silent, the Governor's face began to flush and the
veins in his forehead to swell. "Have you lost your tongue?" he said
fiercely. "If so, we will find a way to recover it."

"I shall not answer those questions," said Landless firmly.

"It is your one chance for life," said the Governor sternly. "Answer me
truly, and you may escape the gallows. Refuse, and you hang, so surely
as I sit here."

"I shall not answer them."

"Sink me if I ever knew a Roundhead so careless of his own interests,"
drawled Sir Charles. The Governor whispered to the master of the
plantation, then turned again to the prisoner.

"I give you one more chance," he said harshly. "When is this day? Where
is this place?"

"I shall not tell you."

"We will see about that," said his Excellency with compressed lips.
"Verney, send your daughter from the room. Woodson, you understand this
gear, having been in the Indies. This man is to tell us all that he
knows of this business. Call in a trustworthy slave or two to help you."

Patricia uttered a low cry, and the Surveyor-General crushed the flower
between his fingers and turned upon the Governor. "Your Excellency! I
protest! This that you would do is not lawful! Surely such harsh
measures are not needed."

The Governor's fury exploded. "Not needful!" he exclaimed in a high
voice. "Not needful, when upon these questions hang the fortunes of the
Colony! when if we fail, to-morrow may usher in a blacker forty-four!
And not lawful! I am the law in this. State, Major Carrington; I am the
King's representative, and this is my prerogative! and I say that by
fair means or foul this information must be gained. This is no time to
prate of humanity. We are to show humanity to ourselves; we are to stamp
out this lit fuse. Or does Major Carrington wish it to burn on?"

"No," said Carrington coldly. "I spoke hastily. You are right, of
course, and I will interfere no further."

An hour later Patricia stood before the hall window looking out upon the
dazzling water and the green velvet of the marshes with wide, unseeing
eyes. Her hands were clenched at her sides and upon each cheek burned a
crimson spot. Beside her crouched Betty Carrington who, upon the first
rumor of trouble at Verney Manor, had ridden over from Rosemead. Their
strained ears caught no sound from the room opposite other than the
occasional sound of the Governor's voice, raised in interrogation. There
came no answering voice. Patricia stood motionless, with eyes that never
wandered from the rich scene without, and with lips pressed together,
but Betty hid her face in the other's skirts and shivered. The door of
the master's room opened and both started violently. The overseer strode
down the hall and had laid his hand upon the latch of the door leading
to the offices, when his mistress called him to her. "Do they know? Has
the man told?" she asked with an effort.

Woodson shook his head. "He's as dumb as an oyster. Might as well try to
get anything from an Indian. They're going to try t' other--Trail."

He left the hall, but was back in five minutes' time with the forger.
They entered the master's room, and Patricia, seized by a sudden
impulse, followed them, leaving Betty trembling in the window seat.

Unnoted by all but one of the company, she slipt to a seat in the shadow
of her father's burly shoulders. He was leaning forward, talking to the
Governor, who sat very erect, his features fixed in an expression of
dogged determination. The Surveyor-General sat well behind the table,
and upon the polished wood before him lay a little heap of torn petals
and broken stems. At the far end of the room and leaning heavily against
the wall was the prisoner whose examination was just finished.

Sir Charles had seen the entrance of the lady of the manor, and he now
rose from his seat and came to her. "Not a syllable," he whispered in
answer to the question in her eyes. "Roundhead obstinacy! But I think
that this fellow will prove more malleable."

His prediction was verified. Ten minutes later the Governor rose to his
feet triumphant. "So!" he said, drawing a long breath. "We are, I think,
gentlemen, at the very core at last. The time, day after to-morrow; the
place, Poplar Spring in this county. And now to work! Those of these
d--d Oliverians whom we can reach must be arrested at once. Swift
messengers must be sent to all plantations far and near. The trainbands
must be called out. Time presses, gentlemen!"

"And these men?" said the Colonel.

"Must go to Jamestown gaol, where the one shall hang as surely as my
name is William Berkeley. For the other--"

"Your Excellency has promised me my life," said Trail cringingly, but
with an inscrutable something that was not fear in his sinister green
eyes.

"An escort must be gotten together," said the Colonel, "and the day is
far advanced. I advise keeping them here until the morning."

"See that you keep them straitly then," said the Governor.

"Trust me for that, your Excellency," said the overseer grimly.

"Then to work, gentlemen," cried the Governor, "for there is much to do
and but little time to do it in. Major Carrington, you with Mr. Peyton
will ride with me to Jamestown. Colonel Verney, you will know what
measures to take for the safety of your shire. Woodson, have the horses
brought around at once."

The Council broke up in haste and confusion, and its members, talking
eagerly, streamed into the hall. Carrington was the last in line, and he
paused before Landless. The under overseer and the slave Regulus were at
a little distance replacing the cords about Trail's arms. The
Surveyor-General cast a quick glance towards the door, saw that the last
retreating figure was that of Mr. Peyton, and approached his lips close
to Landless's ear.

"You are a brave man," he said in a low and troubled voice. "From my
soul I honor you! I would have saved you, would save you now if I could.
But I am cruelly placed."

"I have no hope for this life--and no fear," said Landless calmly.

Carrington paused irresolute, and a flush rose to his face. "I would
like to hear you say that you do not blame me," he said at last with an
effort.

"I do not blame you," said Landless.

Woodson appeared in the doorway. "The Governor is waiting, Major
Carrington."

"If I can do ought to help you, I will," said Carrington hastily, and
left the room. A moment later came the jingling of reins and the sound
of rapid hoofs quickening into the planter's pace as the Governor and
the Surveyor-General whirled away.



CHAPTER XXIV

A MESSAGE


In an unused attic room of the great house lay Godfrey Landless, cords
about his ankles, and his arms bound to his sides by cords and by a
thick rope, one end of which was fastened to a beam on the wall. He was
alone, for the Muggletonian, Havisham and Trail were confined in the
overseer's house. Opposite him was a small window framing a square of
sky. He had watched light clouds drift across it, and the sun pass
slowly and majestically down it, and the sunset turn the clouds into
floating blood-red plumes. He had been there since noon. Thick walls
kept from him all sound in the house below--it might have been a house
of the dead. Through the closed window came the low, incessant hum of
the summer world without, but no unusual noise. He had heard the sunset
horn, and the song of the slaves coming from the fields, and as dusk
began to fall, the cry of a whip-poor-will.

When the door had closed upon the retreating figures of the men who
brought him there, he had thrown himself upon the floor where he lay,
faint from physical anguish, in a stupor of misery, conscious only of a
sick longing for death. This mood had passed and he was himself again.

As he lay with his eyes following the fiery, shifting feathers of cloud,
he remembered that the gaol at Jamestown faced the south, and he
thought, "This is the last sunset I shall ever see." He had the strong
abiding faith of his time and party, and he looked beyond the clouds
with an awe and a light in his eyes. Verses learnt at his mother's knee
came back to him; he said them over to himself, and the tender, solemn,
beneficent words fell like balm upon his troubled heart. He thought of
his mother who had died young, and then of scenes and occurrences of his
childhood. All earthly hope was past, there could be no more struggling;
in a little while he would be dead. Dying, his mind reverted, not to the
sordid misery from which death would set him free, but to the long past,
to the child at the mother's knee, to the boy who had climbed down great
cliffs in search of a smuggler's cave. The unearthly light that rests
upon that time so far behind us shone strong for him--he saw every twig
in the rooks' nests in the lofty elms, every ivy leaf about a ruined
oriel, black against a gold sky; the cool, dark smell of the box alleys
filled his nostrils; the sound of the sea came to him; he heard his
mother singing on the terrace. He bowed his face with a sudden rain of
tender, not sorrowful, tears.

Something crashed in at the window, splintering the coarse glass and
falling upon the floor at a little distance from him. It was a large
pebble, to which was tied a piece of paper. He started up and made for
it, to be brought up within two feet of it by the tug of the rope which
bound him to the wall. He thought a moment, then lay down upon the floor
and found that he could touch the end of the string that tied the paper
to the pebble. He took it between his teeth and slowly drew it towards
him, then, rising to his knees, he strained with all his might at the
cords that bound his arms. They were tightly drawn, but when at length
he desisted, panting, he had so loosened them that he could move one
hand a very little way. With it and with his teeth he disengaged the
paper from the pebble and spread it upon his knee. There was just light
enough to read the sprawling schoolboy hand with which it was covered.
It ran thus:--

"I don't know as this will ever reach you. I am doing all I can. Luiz
Sebastian has not let me get at arm's length from him since I overheard
him and the Turk, and a sailor from Captain Laramore's ship and _Roach_
at the hut on the marsh, two hours ago. They would have killed me there,
but I ran, and he did not catch me until I was almost to the quarters.
He will kill me though in a little while, I know; he has a knife and he
is sitting on the doorstep, and the Turk is with him, and I can not
pass them. He held his hand over my mouth and the knife to my heart when
Woodson went the rounds, and I couldn't make no sound--Lord have mercy
upon me! I write this with my blood, on a leaf from your Bible, while he
sits there whispering to the Turk. He goes to his own cabin directly and
he will take me with him and kill me there, I know he will. He goes to
the stables first and I must go with him. If we pass close enough, and
if I can do it without his seeing me I will throw this in at the window
of the room where I know you are, if not--the Lord help us all!...
Landless, for God's sake! before moonrise to-night the Chickahominies
and the Ricahecrians from the Blue Mountains will come down on the
plantation. With them are leagued Luiz Sebastian, the Turk, Trail,
Roach, and most of the slaves.... When all is over, the Indians will
take the scalps and Grey Wolf and will make for the Blue Mountains; Luiz
Sebastian and the others will seize the boats and put off for the ship
at the Point. Her crew will give her up and they will all turn pirate
together. The women go with them if they can keep them from the Indians;
the men are all to be killed.... I have told you all I heard. For God's
sake, save them if you can,--and remember poor Dick Whittington."

Dropping the paper, Landless strained with all his might, first at the
cords which bound his arms, and then at the rope which fastened him to
the wall. Again and again he put forth the strength of despair--his
muscles cracked, great beads stood upon his forehead--but the ropes
held. As well as he could with his shackled feet he stamped upon the
floor; he called aloud, but there came no answering voice or sound from
below. He was at the end of the house over unused chambers, and the
walls and flooring were very thick. He clenched his teeth and began
again the battle with the cords which held him. All in vain. He shouted
until he was hoarse--it was crying aloud in a desert. With a groan he
leaned against the wall, gathering strength for another effort. It was
dark now and the moon rose at eleven.... There was a piece of glass upon
the floor, one of the splinters from the shattered window. He remembered
noticing it--a long narrow piece like the blade of a knife. Sinking to
his knees he felt for it, and after a long time found it. He now had a
knife, but he could not move the hand that held it six inches from his
side. Stooping, he took the splinter between his teeth, and making the
rope taut, drew the sharp edge of the glass across it. Again and again
he drew it across, and at length he perceived that a strand was
severed. With a thrill of joy he settled to the slow, laborious and
painful task. Time passed, a long, long time, and yet the rope was but
half severed. As he worked he counted the moments with feverish dread,
his heart throbbed one passionate prayer: "Lord, let me save her!" Now
and then he glanced at the blackness of the night outside with a
terrible fear--though he knew it could not be yet--that he should see it
waver into moonlight. Another interval of toil, and he stood erect,
gathered his forces, made one supreme effort--and was free! There was
not time for the cords about his arms, but he must get rid of those
which fettered his ankles. An endless task it seemed, but hand and
friendly splinter accomplished it at last; and he sprang to the door. It
was locked. He dashed himself against it, once, twice, thrice, and it
crashed outwards, precipitating him into a large, bare room. He crossed
this, managed to open its unlocked door with his free hand, descended a
winding stair and came into the upper hall. It was in darkness, but up
the wide staircase streamed the perfumed light of many myrtle candles,
and with it laughter, and the sound of a man's voice singing to a lute.



CHAPTER XXV

THE ROAD TO PARADISE


The family and guests of Verney Manor were assembled in the great room.
The day had been one of confusion, haste and anxiety; but it was past,
and the stillness and forced inaction of the night was upon them. With
the readiness of those to whom danger is no novelty they seized the hour
and made the most of it. Sufficient unto the morrow was the evil
thereof.

The Colonel, weary from hard riding, but well satisfied with his
afternoon's work, had sunk into a great chair and challenged Dr. Anthony
Nash to a game of chess. "Everything is in train," he told them, "and
all quiet upon the plantations in this shire at least. I believe the
danger past. God be thanked!" Upon a settle piled with cushions lay
Captain Laramore, with a bandaged shoulder, a long pipe between his
teeth, and at his elbow a tankard of sack and an elderly Hebe in the
person of Mistress Lettice Verney. Patricia, sumptuously clad and
beautiful as a dream, sat in the great window with Betty and Sir
Charles. Her eyes shone with a feverish brilliancy, her white hands were
never still, she laughed and jested with her lover, touching this or
that with light wit. Once or twice she broke into song, rich,
passionate, throbbing through the night. The gentle Betty looked at her
in wonder, but Sir Charles was enchanted.

Steps sounded on the stairs and in the hall. "Who is that?" cried the
master, taking his hand from his rook.

"The overseer, probably," said Dr. Nash. "Check to your king."

A loud scream from Mistress Lettice. The master leaped to his feet,
knocking over the chess-table and sending the pieces rattling into
corners. Sir Charles, drawing his rapier, sprang to his side, the
wounded Captain started up from amidst his pillows and the divine
snatched a brass andiron from the fireplace.

Framed in the doorway, looking larger than life against the blackness of
the space behind him, stood the arch plotter, the Roundhead, the
convict, the rebellious servant whom the Governor had sworn to hang.
Blood dropped from his face, cut by the glass with which he had severed
the rope, to meet the blood upon his arms and chest, lacerated by his
savage straining at his bonds. For a moment he stood, blinded by the
light, then advanced into the room. His master seized him. "Still
bound!" he cried with an oath. "He is alone then! How did you get here?
What are you doing here? Speak, scoundrel!"

"I bring you this paper, sir," said Landless hoarsely. "Will you take it
from me. I cannot raise my hands."

The Colonel snatched the paper, glanced at it, read it with a face from
which all the ruddy color had fled, and held it out to Sir Charles with
a shaking hand. "Read it," he gasped. "Read it aloud," and sank into his
chair breathing heavily.

Sir Charles read. "Damnation!" he cried, crushing the paper in his hand.
Laramore started up with a roar of "My ship!" and then broke into a
torrent of oaths. Mistress Lettice's screams filled the room until her
brother roughly silenced her by clapping his hand over her mouth. "By
the Lord Harry, Lettice, I will throw you out to them if you do not
hush! Gentlemen, in God's name, what are we to do?"

"Barricade door and window and hold the house against them," said the
baronet.

"Send for help to Rosemead and to Fitzhugh and Ludwell!" cried the
divine.

"Five men and three women to hold this house against a hundred Indians
and negroes! And no help could come for hours and it is now nearly ten!
Moreover, the messenger would have to pass through the savages lying in
the woods,--he would never reach Rosemead with his scalp on!"

"I will be your messenger," said Nash rising, "and as every moment is
more precious than rubies, I had best start at once."

"You, Anthony! God forbid!" cried the Colonel "You would go to certain
death."

"I would stay to certain death, would I not?" retorted the other. "But
my mare, Pixie, and I can shew clean heels to the red villains, were
they as thick as chinquepins. Give me the stable-key, Verney. I know the
way to the jade's stall, and she will follow her master through fire and
water without a whinny. I don't want a light. Not a soul on the place
must know that I have left Verney Manor."

"Anthony, Anthony, I am loth to see you go, old friend!" cried the
Colonel.

"Tut, tut, as well leave my scalp in the woods as in Dick Verney's
parlor! but I shall do neither. Hold the house as long as you can, and
look for Carrington, and Fitzhugh, and Ludwell, and myself with a
hundred men at our heels before the dawn. Until then _vale_."

He was gone. "And now the doors and windows," said Sir Charles.

"The windows, save those in this room, are secured as they always are at
night. The shutters are heavy and strongly barred, and we have but to
draw the chains across the doors. They will find it hard work to fire
the house, for the logs are wet from this morning's shower. There is
ammunition enough, and the shutters are loopholed. If we were in force,
we might hold out, but, my God! what can we do? Even with the overseers
whom we must manage to call to us, if we can do so without arousing
suspicion, we are not enough to defend one face of the house."

"Are there no honest servants?"

"How can I tell the true men from the knaves? To rouse the quarters
would be to show that we know, and to ourselves spring the mine which is
to destroy us. And if we brought men into the house, who are leagued
with the fiends outside, then would their work be done for them. There
are a very few whom I know to be faithful, but how to secure them
without giving the alarm--my God! how helpless we are!"

"Perhaps I can help you, Colonel Verney," said Landless.

In the midst of a dead silence the eyes of each occupant of the
room,--the master, the courtier, the wounded captain, the women,
trembling in each other's arms,--were turned upon the speaker who stood
before them, haggard, torn and bleeding, but with a quiet power in his
dark face and steadfast eyes.

"You?" said the master sternly, "What can you do?"

"I will tell you," said Landless, "but I must be freed from these bonds
first."

Another pause, and then Sir Charles, responding to a nod from his
kinsman, walked over to Landless, and with his rapier cut the ropes
which bound him.

"Now speak!" said the Colonel.

       *       *       *       *       *       *

The quarters lay, to all appearance, wrapt in the profoundest
slumber--no movement in the low-browed cabins, or in the lane or square;
no sound other than the croak of the frogs in the marshes, the wail of
the whip-poor-wills, and the sighing of the night wind in the pines. All
was dark save in the east, where the low stars were beginning to pale.
Below them glowed a dull red spark, shining dimly across a long expanse
of black marsh and water, and coming from Captain Laramore's ship,
anchored off the Point.

One moment it seemed the only light in the wide landscape of darkness;
the next the flame of a torch, streaming sidewise in the wind, cast an
orange glare upon the dead tree in the centre of the square and upon the
windowless fronts of the cabins surrounding it. The torch was in the
hand of the overseer, who went the rounds, striking upon each door, and
summoning the inmates of the cabin to the square. "The master wants a
word with you," was all the answer he vouchsafed to startled, sullen, or
suspicious inquiries. In five minutes the square was thronged. White and
black, servant and slave, rustic, convict, Jew, Turk, Indian, mulatto,
quadroon, coal black, untamed African--the motley crowd pressed and
jostled towards that end of the square at which stood the master, his
kinsman, the overseer, and Godfrey Landless. Behind them on the steps of
the overseer's house were the Muggletonian, Havisham, and Trail. They
had been unbound. In the Muggletonian's scarred face was stolid
indifference, but Trail looked furtively about until he spied Luiz
Sebastian, when he signaled "What is it?" with his eyes. The mulatto
shook his head, and continued to shoulder his way through the press
until he stood in the front row, face to face with the party from the
great house. On one side of him was the Turk, on the other an Indian.

The master stepped a pace or two in front of his companions, and held up
his hand for silence. When the excited muttering had sunk into a
breathless hush, he beckoned to Landless, and the young man stepped to
his side. There were many streaming lights by now, and men saw each
other, now clearly, now darkly, as the fitful glare rose and fell.

"Now, my man," said the master in a loud, slow voice, "you will point
out to me, as you have agreed to do, every man concerned in the plot
discovered this morning. And you whom he designates, I command you, in
the name of the King, to surrender peaceably. Your hope of pardon
depends upon your doing so. Now, Landless!"

"John Havisham," said Landless.

"Taken redhanded," quoth the master. "Place him here, Woodson, in front
of us. When all are in line, I shall have a word to say to them."

Havisham advanced with quiet dignity, passing Landless as if unaware of
his presence. "I surrender," he said, raising his voice, "because I have
no choice. And I advise those of our number here present to do the same.
Our plans known, our friends taken, betrayed and deserted by the man in
whom we trusted most, whom we called our leader, we have, indeed, no
choice."

"Win-Grace Porringer," said Landless.

The Muggletonian threw up his arms. "Iscariot!" he cried wildly. "Woe,
woe to him by whom offenses come! Well for thee, son of Warham Landless,
hadst thou never been born! By the power given to the Two Witnesses and
to their followers I curse thee! Thou shalt be anathema maranatha!
Famine, thirst, and a violent death be thy portion in this life, and in
the world to come mayest thou burn forever, howling! Amen and amen!"
With a wild laugh he stalked to the side of Havisham, leaving Trail
standing alone upon the doorstep. The eyes of the forger met the eyes of
Luiz Sebastian in another puzzled inquiry, but the latter shook his head
with a frown. Not doubting that his name would be the next called, Trail
had already taken a step forward, but Landless's eyes passed him over,
and rested upon the face of a man standing near Luiz Sebastian.

"John Robert!" he cried.

The man, a Baptist preacher suffering under the Act of Uniformity,
turned a gentle, reproachful face upon him, and stepping from the crowd,
joined himself to Havisham and the Muggletonian.

"James Holt!" said Landless.

A rustic, standing behind Luiz Sebastian, uttered a dreadful
imprecation. "You may hang me and welcome, your Honor," he cried as he
took his place, "if you'll just let me see this d--d Judas hung
first!"

Luiz Sebastian fixed his great eyes upon Landless. "If he calls my
name," said the wicked brain behind the blandly smiling face, "shall I,
or shall I not--? It is many minutes to moonrise yet."

But Landless did not call him. He passed him by as he had passed Trail,
and named another rustic at some little distance from the mulatto, then
a Fifth Monarchy man, then a veteran of Cromwell's, then the plantation
miller and the carpenter, then two more Oliverians, then more peasants.
Each man, as his name was called, stepped forward into the lengthening
line that faced the master and his party, standing with pistols leveled
and cocked; and each man bestowed upon Godfrey Landless a curse, or a
look that was bitterer than a curse.

"Humfrey Elder!" called Landless.

The old butler shot from out the crowd, as though impelled from a
catapult. "Your Honor!" he screamed, "the man as says _I_ plot against a
Verney, lies! I that fought with your Honor at Naseby! I that you
brought from home with you when Mistress Patricia was a baby, and that
has poured your wine from that day to this! I plot with these
rapscallions and Roundheads! Your Honor, he lies in his throat!"

"Fall into line, Humfrey," said his master quietly; "I will hear you out
later, but now, obey me."

The watchful eyes of Luiz Sebastian were growing very watchful indeed.

"Regulus!" cried Landless.

Under cover of a burst of protestation from Regulus, the Turk whispered
to the mulatto, "By Allah! this is the slave you would not approach! You
said he would die for his master."

"He is not of them," returned the other. "St. Jago! if I understand it!
But what can it matter? The moon will rise in less than an hour."

"Dick Whittington!" cried Landless.

There was a moment's silence, broken by the mulatto, who had stepped out
of line, and now stood facing the party from the great house. "I grieve
to say, señors," he said in his silkiest tone, "that the poor Dick was
but now taken with the fever, and lies in a stupor within his cabin.
To-morrow, perhaps, he will be better, and will answer when you call."

"That is your cabin, just beyond you there, is it not?" demanded
Landless.

"Assuredly," with a quick glance. "And what then?"

Landless raised his voice to a shout. "Dick Whittngton!"

"Mother of God! what do you mean?" exclaimed the mulatto. "Your voice
cannot reach him, deaf and dumb from the fever, lying in his cabin at
the far end of the lane."

"Dick Whittington!" again loudly called Landless.

A cry arose from the crowd behind the mulatto and between him and his
cabin. The next instant there broke through them the figure, bound and
gagged, of young Dick Whittington. As he rushed past the mulatto, the
latter, with a snarl of fury, grappled with him, but animated with the
strength of despair, the boy, bound as he was, broke from him and rushed
to Landless, at whose feet he dropped in a dead faint. Upon the crowd
fell a silence so intense that nature herself seemed to have ceased to
breathe. Luiz Sebastian, darting glances here, there, and everywhere,
from eyes in which doubt was last growing into certainty, came upon
something which told its own tale. The women's cabins were at some
distance from the square, and nearer to the great house, and from the
one to the other was passing a hurried line of women and children with
the under overseer at their head.

With the sight vanished the last remnant of doubt from the mind of the
mulatto.... Landless saw that he saw; saw the intention with which he
slipped out of range of the pistols; saw the wicked light in his face;
saw him beckon to the Indian and point to the forest; saw the glistening
and rolling eyeballs and the working lips of the throng of slaves who
had by imperceptible degrees separated from the whites, and were now
massing together at one side of the square; saw the Turk with a knife in
his hand; saw Trail edging away from the group before the overseer's
cabin--and sprang forward, his powerful figure instinct with
determination, the set calm of the face with which he had met Havisham's
quiet disdain and the imprecations of the other conspirators, broken up
into fire and passion, high and resolved. Blood was upon it still, and
upon his arms and half naked breast; his eyes burned; and as he threw up
his arm in a gesture of command, he looked the very genius of war, and
he seized and held every eye and ear.

"Men!" he cried, addressing himself to the line he had called into
being. "Havisham, Arnold, Allen, Braxton! we fought in the same cause
once, fought for God and the Commonwealth! To-night we will fight again,
and together; fight for our lives and for the honor of women! Comrades,
I am no traitor! I have not sold you! You have cursed me without cause.
Listen! Colonel Verney, will you repeat the oath you swore to me an hour
ago?"

The master stepped to his side. "I swear," he cried, in his loud, manly
voice, "by the faith of a Christian, by the honor of a gentleman, that
not one of you whose names have been given by this man, shall in any
way suffer by having been privy to this plot. I will so work with the
Governor and Council that your bodies shall not be touched, nor your
time of service increased. Bygones shall be bygones between us. This
applies to all save this man, the head and front of the conspiracy. Him
I cannot save. He must pay the penalty, but he shall be the scapegoat
for the rest of you. You have my promise, the promise of a man who never
breaks his word for good or evil."

"In the woods yonder are Indians," cried Landless. "They wait but for
moonrise, for the appointed hour, to fall upon the plantation. You
called me traitor! It is Luiz Sebastian and Trail who are the traitors,
the betrayers! They are leagued with the Indians and with the slaves.
Look at them, and see that I speak truth!"

The look was sufficient. The dusky mass of slaves had swayed forward
with one low, deep, bestial growl. Crouched for the spring, they were
yet held in leash by the menace of the pistols, leveled upon them and
gleaming in the torchlight, and by the restraining gesture and voice of
Luiz Sebastian. In the crowd of servants, now quite separated from the
slaves, was noise and confusion, and behind the Turk, standing midway
between the parties, was forming a phalanx of villainous white
faces--the dissolute, the convict, the refuse of the plantation,--and at
his side, suddenly as though sprung from the earth, appeared the evil
face and red hair of the murderer of Robert Godwyn.

The silence of the Oliverians, stricken dumb by this new turn of
affairs, was broken by Havisham's crying to Landless,--

"What are we to do, friend?"

"Make for the house and defend it and our lives," answered Landless,
"but first I call upon all true men among you yonder to leave those
murderers and join yourselves to us."

"In the name of the King!" cried the Colonel.

"In the name of God!" said Landless.

Some seven or eight broke from the opposite throng and with lowered
heads ran to them across the open space. Landless stooped, and lifting
the senseless figure at his feet swung it over his shoulder.

"We are ready, Colonel Verney. Steady, men! Follow me!" He turned to the
great house, rising vast and dark, two hundred yards away.

A gigantic, coal black Ashantee chief broke from the throng opposite
and, uttering his war cry, bounded across the space between them.
Another instant and he would have been upon them, and close after him a
yelling pack of hell hounds--the overseer's pistol cracked, and the
black giant fell dead. A yell arose from the crowd, but they stood
irresolute. For firearms, so strictly kept from servants and slaves, so
preeminently pertaining to the dominant class, they had a superstitious
dread. Four pistols meant four lives picked from the foremost to
advance.

"Let them go," cried the mulatto, with a taunting laugh. "Let them go!
Let them go cage themselves in wooden walls where we will take them all
together--rats in a trap. We will wait for the Chickahominies who have
guns, señors, and for the Ricahecrians whose scalping knives are very
bright. Until moonrise, señors from the great house, and you others who
go with them! Mother of God! look well upon it, for it is the last you
will ever see!"

Fifteen minutes later saw the house of Verney Manor garrisoned by some
thirty desperate men. They had entered to find a scene of confusion--the
hall and lower rooms filled with frightened women and crying children.
Patricia with white cheeks and brilliant eyes had come forward to meet
her father, carrying a three days' child in her arms. Beyond her was
Betty, bending her sweet, pale face over the mother, caught up from her
pallet and carried to the house in the arms of the under overseer.
Mistress Lettice was alternately wailing that they were all undone and
murdered, and wringing her hands over the obstinacy of Captain Laramore
who, rapier in left hand, would stand guard at the door, instead of
keeping quiet as the Doctor had said he must. The master's stern command
for silence reduced the clamor of women and children to an undertone of
lamentation. "We must to work at once," he said, "and apportion our
forces. There are about thirty men, are there not, Woodson? I shall take
the front with ten; Charles, thou shalt have one side, Woodson the
other, and Haines the back. Laramore, thou must let us fight for thee,
man, though I know thou findest it a bitter pill. Do you marshal the
men, Woodson, and divide them into four parties, one for each face, and
tell the women to leave off their whimpering and prepare to load the
muskets. Haines, have the arms taken down from the racks and distribute
them. Men and women, one and all, you are to remember that you are
fighting for your lives and for more than your lives. You know what you
have to expect if you are taken."

Sir Charles, followed by Landless, the Muggletonian and some three or
four others, entered the great room, which, with the master's room,
occupied that side of the house allotted to the baronet. The wax
candles still burned upon the spinet, and upon the high mantel, and in
the middle of the floor lay the overturned chess table. Three of the
four windows were closely shuttered, but the fourth was open, and before
it stood a graceful figure, looking out into the darkness.

Sir Charles strode hurriedly over to it. "Cousin! this is madness! You
know not to what danger you may be exposing yourself. Come away!"

"I am watching for the moonrise," she said dreamily. "It is very near
now. Look at the white glow above the water, and how pale the stars are!
How beautiful it is, and how cool the wind upon your forehead! Listen!
that was the cry of a jay, surely! and yet why should we hear it at
night?"

"It is the cry of a jay, sure enough," said the overseer, pausing in his
hurried passage through the room, "but it was made by Indian lips."

"Come away, for God's sake!" cried the baronet.

"Look! there is the moon!" she answered.

Above the level of marsh and water appeared a thin line of silver. It
thickened, rounded, became a glorious orb. The marshes blanched from
black to gray, and across the water, from the dim land to the great
silver globe, stretched a long, bright, shimmering path.

A knot of women appeared in the doorway, laden with powder-flasks and
platters filled with bullets. One, with only a stick wound with faded
flowers in her hand, left them and glided to the open window.

"Margery!" said Patricia softly.

The mad woman, pressing in front of her mistress, looked out into the
night and saw the white shining road cutting through the darkness and
stretching endlessly away. She threw up her arms with a cry of rapture.

"The road to Paradise! the road to Paradise!"

An arrow whistled through the window and struck into her bosom--into her
heart--the staff dropped from her hand, and she swayed forward and fell
at her mistress's feet.

The night, so placid, still and beautiful, was rent and in an instant
made hideous by a sound so long, loud, and dreadful, that it might have
been the shriek of a legion of exultant fiends. It rose to the stars,
sunk to the earth and rose again, unearthly, menacing, curdling the
blood and turning the heart to stone.

"The war-whoop," said Woodson. "Close the window, quick."



CHAPTER XXVI

NIGHT


That terrible cadence preluded pandemonium, the hush of horror that
followed it being broken by one deep and awful roar of voices as the
insurgents, red, white, and black, joined forces and swept down upon the
devoted house.

"They will try the front first," quoth the master from his loophole.
"Steady, men, until I give the word! Now, let them have it with a
wannion!"

The muskets cracked and a louder yell arose from without.

"Two," said the master composedly, receiving a fresh musket from his
daughter's hand.

"They will try to dash in the door, your Honor!" cried the overseer from
his post of observation. "They have the trunk of a pine with them."

"Let them come," said his master grimly. "They will find a warm
welcome."

A double line of savages raised the great trunk from the ground and
advanced with it at a run, yelling as they came. They had reached the
steps leading up into the porch when from the loopholed door and window
within there poured a deadly fire. Three fell, but the battering-ram
came on and struck against the door with tremendous force. The door
held, and but twelve of the twenty who had entered the porch returned to
their fellows.

"They won't try that again," said the master with a short laugh.

"They are dividing," cried the overseer. "They will surround the house.
Every man to his post!"

Around the corner of the house to the moonlit sward beneath the great
room windows swept a tide of Indians and negroes with Luiz Sebastian and
the two Ricahecrian brothers at their head. A few of the Indians had
guns; the slaves were armed with axes, scythes, knives--the plunder of
the tool house--or with jagged pieces of old iron, or with oars taken
from the boats and broken into dreadful clubs. They came on with a din
that was terrific, the savages from the eastern hemisphere howling like
the beasts within their native forests, those from the western uttering
at intervals their sterner, more appalling cry.

Within the great room Sir Charles, languidly graceful as ever, stood
beside the small square opening in the door that led down into the
garden, and fired again and again into the mob without. He fought with
an air as became the fine gentleman of the period, but underneath the
elaborate carelessness of demeanor was a cool precision of action. The
hand that so nonchalantly brushed away the grains of powder from his
white ruffles, was steady enough at the trigger; the eye that turned
from the red death without to cast languishing glances at his mistress
where she stood directing the women, was quick to note the minutest
change in savage tactics. He jested as he fought--once he drew a
tremulous wail of laughter from Mistress Lettice's lips.

A bullet sung through the aperture and grazed his arm. "The first
blood," he said, with a laugh.

"There's a man killed in the master's room and two in the hall!" cried
young Whittington, from his post at the far window.

"And Margery," said Patricia, coming forward with the kerchief from her
neck in her hand. "Let me bind up your wound, cousin."

He held out his arm with a smile and a few low, caressing words, and she
wound the lawn that was not whiter than her face about it; then moved
back to where the women worked, loading and passing the muskets to the
men who kept up an incessant fire upon the assailants.

The whole house filled with smoke through which the figures of the
besieged loomed large and indistinct, and the noise--the crack of the
muskets, the loud commands and oaths, the scream of a frightened woman
or child, the groans of the wounded, of whom there were now many--became
deafening. The attack was now general, and the men on each face had
their hands full. Without was horrible clamor, oaths, shots, yells,
crashing blows against door and window; within was noise and confusion,
and fear, stern and controlled, but blanching the lip of the men and
showing in the agony of the women's eyes.

Sir Charles, turning for a fresh musket, after a highly successful shot
as the yell outside had testified, found Patricia at his elbow. "There
are very few bullets left, cousin, and this is all the powder."

The baronet drew in his breath. "Peste! we are unfortunate! One of you
men go beg, borrow, or steal from the others."

Landless left his loophole in charge of the Muggletonian and went
swiftly into the hall, where he found the master, his wig off, his shirt
torn, his face and hands blackened with powder, now firing with his own
hand, now shouting encouragement to the panting men.

"Powder and shot!" he cried. "God help us! are you out? Not a grain or a
bullet can we spare, for if we keep them not from the great door we are
dead men!"

Landless went to the overseer. "Two more rounds and _we_ are out," said
Woodson coolly, firing as he spoke.

"There is no sign that they have had enough," said Landless, as the
clamor outside redoubled, and a man fell heavily back from his loophole
with a bullet through his brain.

"Enough! Damn them, no!" said the overseer. "When they've had our lives
they will have had enough--not before! They're paying dearly for their
fun though."

Landless went back to the great room with empty hands.

"They are all in like case," he said, in answer to Sir Charles's lifted
eyebrows.

The other shrugged his shoulders. "What will be, will be. If we could
have saved our fire--but we had to keep them from the door! Get to your
post, and we will hold them back as long as may be. Then a short passage
to eternal nothingness!"

"A short passage!" muttered the Muggletonian at Landless's ear. "Well
for those who find that at the hands of the uncircumcised heathen.
Eternal nothingness! The fool hath said in his heart There is no
God--and he is being dashed headlong upon the judgment bar of the God
who saith, I will repay. Cursed be the Atheist! May he find the passage,
fiery though it be, as nothing to the flames of the avenging God; may
he go to his appointed place where the worm dieth not and the fire is
not quenched; may--"

The trunk of a tree was dashed against the door with a force that shook
the room. "Dey're comin'!" shouted Regulus, who stood behind Sir
Charles, and raised the axe with which he was armed above his head.
Another crash and the wood splintered. Through the ragged opening was
thrust a red hand--the axe, wielded by Regulus's powerful arms, flashed
downwards, and the hand, severed at the wrist, fell with a dull thud
upon the floor. A yell from without, and another blow, widening the
opening. Landless fired his last bullet into the crowd, and clubbing his
musket sprang to the door, in front of which were now massed all the
defenders of that side of the house. Sir Charles threw down his useless
musket and drew his sword. "Cousin," he said over his shoulder to
Patricia, standing white and erect in the midst of the cowering women,
"you had best betake yourselves to the hall, and that quickly. This will
be no ladies' bower presently."

"Come," said Patricia to the women, and led the way towards the door
leading into the hall. As she passed Sir Charles she put out her hand,
and he caught it, sunk to his knee, and pressed his lips upon it.

"I am going to my father," she said steadily, "and I shall pray him as
he loves me to pass his sword through my heart when they break into the
hall. So it is farewell, cousin."

She drew her hand away and moved towards the door, passing Landless so
closely that her rich skirts brushed him, but without a change in the
white calm of her face. The terrified women had pressed before her into
the hall, only Betty Carrington keeping by her side. Her foot was upon
the threshold, when with loud screams they surged back into the great
room. A thundering crash in the hall was followed by a babel of oaths,
screams, triumphant yells. The voice of the master made itself heard
above all the hubbub, "Charles, Woodson, Haines, they are upon us!
Defend the women to the last, as you are men, all of you!"

The splintered plank between them in the great room and the murderers
without was dashed inwards. An Indian, naked, horribly painted,
brandishing a tomahawk, sprang through the opening, and Sir Charles ran
him through with his sword. A second followed, and Landless dashed his
brains out with the butt of his musket. A third, and the Muggletonian
struck at him through the wildly flaring light and the drifting smoke
wreaths, and missed his aim. The knife of the savage gleamed high in
air, then, descending, stuck quivering in the breast of the fanatic. He
sunk to his knees, flung up his skeleton arms, and raised his scarred
face, into which a light that was not of earth had come, then cried in a
loud voice, "Turn ye, turn ye to the Stronghold, ye prisoners of Hope!"
His eyes closed and he fell forward upon his face, his blood making the
ground slippery about the feet of the others.

Landless closed with the Indian, finally slew him, and turned to behold
a stream, impetuous, not to be withstood, of Indians and negroes pouring
through the doorway. From the hall came the clash of weapons and a most
terrific din, and presently there burst into the great room the Colonel,
Laramore, Woodson, and Haines, followed by some fifteen men--making,
with the five in the great room, all that were left of the defenders of
Verney Manor.



CHAPTER XXVII

MORNING


The women crouched in a far corner of the room behind a barricade of
chairs and tables; the men stood between them and the thirsters for
blood, and fought coolly, desperately, with such effect that, fearful as
were the odds, a glimmering of hope came to them. The ammunition on both
sides was exhausted, and it had become a hand to hand struggle in which
the advantage of position and weapons was with the assailed.

"Damme, but we will beat them yet!" cried Laramore, panting, and leaning
heavily upon his rapier. "They're drawing off; we've tired them out!"

"They'll never tire while that hellhound of an Indian whoops them on and
that yellow devil, Luiz Sebastian, backs him up," said the overseer.

"They are gathering for a rush," said Landless.

The assailants had fallen back to the opposite wall, leaving a space,
cumbered with the dead and slippery with blood, between them and the
defenders of the house. In this space now appeared the lithe figure, and
the watchful, large-eyed, amber countenance of Luiz Sebastian.

"Ohè!" he cried, "slaves, all of you! Ashantees, Popoes, Angolans,
Fidas, Malimbe, Ambrice! you who are all black! think of the jungle and
the village; think of the wives and the children! think of the slaver
and the slave ship! You from the Indies, you who are like me, Luiz
Sebastian, think of the blood which is the white man's blood and yet the
blood of a slave--and hate the white man as I, Luiz Sebastian, hate him!
Kill them and take the women!"

The swollen figure and dreadful face of Roach appeared at his side.
"Ay!" cried the murderer, with a tremendous oath. "Kill them! Smash
them, batter them, hear them scream! In the old man's pocket is the key
of his money chest. It is filled with bright yellow gold. Kill him and
get the money, and away to turn pirate and get more!"

"It grows late!" cried Trail. "We must up sail, and away before the
dawn!"

The gigantic, horribly painted form of the Ricahecrian chief stalked
into the open space and commenced a harangue in his own tongue. It was
short, but effective.

"God!" said the Colonel, under his breath, and grasped his bloodstained
sword more closely.

With one shrill and horrible cry Indians, negroes, mulattoes, and
villainous whites were upon them, breaking their line, forcing them
apart into knots of two and three away from the frail barrier, behind
which cowered the screaming women, striking with knife and tomahawk, axe
and club. Two of the Colonel's men fell, one under the knife of the
seven-year-captive Ricahecrian, the other beaten down by the jagged and
knotted club with which Roach, foaming at the mouth, and swearing
horribly, struck madly to left and right. The Ricahecrian, drawing the
knife from the heart of his victim, rushed on to where Landless and Sir
Charles still maintained, by dint of desperate fighting, their position
before the women, but Luiz Sebastian with Roach and half a dozen negroes
swept between him and his prey. He swerved aside, and, bounding into the
midst of the women, seized the one who chanced to be in his path,--a
young and beautiful girl, newly come over from Plymouth, and a favorite
with the ladies of Verney Manor. The despairing scream which the poor
child uttered rang out above all the tumult. Landless turned, saw, and
darted to her aid--but too late. With one hand the savage gathered up
the loosened hair, with the other he passed the scalping knife around
the young head--when Landless reached them, she who so short time before
had been so fair to see, lay a shocking spectacle, writhing in her death
agony. With white lips and burning eyes Landless swung his gun above his
head, and brought it down upon the shaven crown of Grey Wolf. It cracked
like an egg shell, and the Indian dropped across the body of his victim.

Landless, springing back to the post he had quitted, found Sir Charles
in desperate case, but as coolly composed as ever, and with the air of
the Court still about him despite his bared head and torn and
bloodstained clothing, treating those who came against him to an
exhibition of swordsmanship such as the New World had probably rarely
witnessed. Landless, striking down a cutpurse from Tyburn, saw him run
the Turk through, and saw behind him the nightmare visage and the raised
club of Roach. He uttered a warning cry, but the club descended, and the
handsome, careless face fell backwards, and the slender debonair figure
swayed and fell. Landless caught him, saw that he was but stunned, and
letting him drop to the floor at his feet, wrenched the sword from his
hand, and stood over him, facing Roach with a stern smile.

The murderer raised his club again.

"We've met at last!" he cried with a taunting laugh. "Do you remember
the tobacco house, and what I said? I says: 'Every dog has its day, and
I'll have mine.' It's my day now!"

"And I said," rejoined Landless, "'I let you go now, but one day I will
kill you.' And _that_ day has come."

With an oath Roach brought down the club. Landless swerved, and the blow
fell harmlessly; before the arm could be again raised, he caught it,
held it with a grasp of steel, and shortened his sword. The miscreant
saw his death, and screamed for mercy. "Remember Robert Godwyn!" said
Landless, and drove the blade home.

The sword was a more effective weapon than the gun, and with it he kept
the enemy at bay, while he glanced despairingly around. There were as
many dead as living within the room by this. The floor was piled with
the slain; they made traps for the living who in the wild surging to and
fro stumbled over them, and fell, and were slain before they could rise.
Three fourths of the dead belonged to the insurgents, but the attacked
had suffered severely. Of the thirty men with whom the defense had
commenced there now remained but twelve, and of that number several were
wounded. The Colonel was bleeding from a cut on the head, the under
overseer had a ball through his arm, Sir Charles still lay without
movement at Landless's feet.

Forced, together with almost all of his party, by the mad rush of the
assailants to the further end of the room, the master had seen with
agony the women left well-nigh defenseless. Followed by Woodson,
Havisham, Regulus, and young Whittington, he had all but cut his way
back to them, when a fresh influx from the hall of slaves and whites who
had been engaged in plundering the house, drove them apart again.

The newcomers came fresh to the work, maddened, moreover, by the
master's wines. They advanced upon the Colonel and his party with
drunken shouts, some brandishing rude weapons, others silver salvers and
tankards, the spoil of the plate chest. The voice of Luiz Sebastian rang
through the room. "Quick work of them, friends; I smell the morning!"
With a laugh and a scrap of Spanish song upon his lips he came at
Landless with a knife, but a turn of the white man's wrist sent the
weapon hurling through the air.

"Curse you!" cried the mulatto, springing out of reach of the deadly
point, and holding his arm from which the blood was flowing. "Mother of
God! but I will have you yet!" and bounded towards his weapon. Landless,
steadily watchful, and pointing that fatal sword this way or that
against all comers, cleared for himself and the still senseless man at
his feet a circle into which few cared to intrude, for the fame of that
blade had gone through the room. "Leave him until we have dealt with the
others," said the mulatto between his teeth. "Then will we give him
reason to wish that he had never been born."

A touch upon his arm, and Landless turned to find Patricia standing
beside him. "Go back," he cried. "Go back!"

"They are murdering them all over there," she said steadily. "My father
is dead. I saw him fall."

"Not so, madam. He did but stumble over the dead. See, Woodson fights
them back from him. For God's sake, get back behind the barricade!"

She shook her head. "He is dead. They will all be dead directly, my
cousin and all. My father cannot help me, and he who lies here cannot
help me. I will not be taken alive by these devils, and I have no knife.
Will you kill me?"

"My God!"

"Quick!" she said in the same low, steady tones. "They are coming; they
will beat us down in a moment. Kill me!"

For answer Landless raised his voice until it rang high above the
uproar, and arrested the attention of the combatants on both sides.
"Fight with a will, men," he cried, "for help is at hand! Do you not
hear the hoofs of the horses?"

"By God! you are right!" cried the Colonel, suddenly struggling to his
feet. "Hold out, men! Anthony Nash reached Rosemead, and has brought us
aid!"

"The dog priest!" the mulatto cried fiercely to Trail. "Was he here?
Then they have sent for help, and Mother of God! it is here!"

"And coming at the planter's pace," answered Trail. "They will be upon
us before we reach the boats."

The mulatto glanced at the friend with whom he had fled the Indies with
a sinister smile. "Ay," he muttered to himself. "They will be upon us
indeed, before we reach the boats, wherefore Luiz Sebastian goes not to
turn pirate this time. He throws in his lot with the Ricahecrians whose
canoes are close at hand in the inlet that winds into the Pamunkey.
They are very swift, and in the Blue Mountains there is safety. But one
thing first."

He gave a shrill and peculiar whistle which brought to him half a dozen
Indians. He pointed to the body of Grey Wolf and then to Landless. A
yell burst from the lips of the savages, and they rushed upon the
latter. He met them, ran his sword through the heart of the first, of
the second: Sir Charles moaned, stirred, and struggled to his knees. A
third raised his knife; it would have descended, but Landless darted
between the savage and the half-dazed, utterly helpless man at whom the
blow was aimed, struck up the arm, and plunged his sword into the dark
breast. A broken oar, snatched from the floor by the mulatto, descended
upon his head, and with a woman's scream sounding in his ear, he fell
heavily to the floor, and lay as one dead.

When he came to himself, it was to find the great room still crowded
with men, and filled with noise and confusion, but the thronging figures
and the excited voices were those of friends--of servants from the
neighboring plantations, of small planters and tenants of Colonels
Ludwell and Fitzhugh, the Surveyor-General, and Dr. Anthony Nash. He saw
the master, panting, bleeding, but exultant, seize Dr. Nash's hands in
his own. He saw Sir Charles smile and extend his box of richly scented
snuff to Colonel Ludwell, and the women leaving their corner of refuge
with hysterical laughter and tears; saw Betty Carrington in her father's
arms, and Mistress Lettice being helped across a heap of dead by Captain
Laramore. Indians, negroes, mulatto, scoundrel whites, were gone.

"They got off clear--the d--d villains," said Dick Whittington,
appearing beside him, "just before the horses came up. But Woodson has
gone after the slaves and the convicts with a party of Carrington's men.
He'll catch them, I'm thinking, and they'll come to a pirate's
end--that's all the pirating they'll get. The Indians will get clean
away; they're most to the Pamunkey by now, I reckon."

Landless staggered to his feet, and put his hand to his head, which was
bleeding. "The women are all safe?" he demanded.

"All but poor Annis," said the boy. "When I saw the poor maid fall, I
thanked the Lord that Joyce Whitbread was safe in her mother's cottage
at Banbury. But none of the others were hurt. There is Mistress Lettice
and Mistress Betty Carrington--I do not see Mistress Patricia."

The master of Verney Manor, pouring forth a rapid account of the late
affair to the gentlemen who crowded around him, was brought to a dead
stop by the appearance of a man who had burst through the throng, and
now stood before him, half naked, bleeding, with white, drawn face and
wild eyes.

"What is it? Speak!" cried the master, terror of he knew not what
growing in his eyes.

"Your daughter, Colonel Verney!" cried Landless. "She is not here. The
Ricahecrians have carried her off."

With a sound between a groan and a scream the Colonel staggered, and
would have fallen had not Carrington caught him. "Gone! Impossible!"
cried Sir Charles vehemently, all his studied insouciance thrown to the
winds. "She was with the women behind the barrier that we made. She is
here."

He began to call her by name, loudly, appealingly, but there came no
answering voice.

"She will not answer," said Landless hoarsely. "She is not here. She was
with the women until just before the last. She saw her father fall, and
thought him dead, and you dead, too, Sir Charles Carew, and she came to
me, and prayed me to kill her. Then we heard the sound of the horses,
and six Indians--Ricahecrians--with Luiz Sebastian, came against me. She
stood at my side while I killed three. Then I was struck down, and I
heard her scream as I fell."

The master freed himself from Carrington's supporting arm, and raised
from his hands a face that had suddenly become that of an old man. But
the voice was steady with which he said quietly,--

"Let them search the room thoroughly, for the child may be laying in a
faint beneath these dead, though my soul doth tell me that it is as this
man says, and that she is gone. But we will after them at once, and,
please God, we will have her back, safe and sound. They have but an
hour's start."

"Ay," muttered young Whittington to Havisham. "Only an hour. But the
Chickahominies build the swiftest canoes in this corner of the world,
and I have heard that the canoes of the Ricahecrians are to the canoes
of the Chickahominies as swallows are to cranes."



CHAPTER XXVIII

BREAD CAST UPON THE WATERS


Great trees, drooping from the banks of the Pamunkey, shadowed into inky
blackness the water below them; but between the lines of darkness slept
a charmed sheet, glassy, fiery red from the sunken sun. Three boats
moved silently and swiftly up the crimson stream, until, rounding a low
point, they came upon an Indian village, nestling amidst vines and
mulberries, and girt with a green ribbon of late maize, when they swung
round from the middle stream and made for the bank. They were rowed by
stalwart servants, and in the foremost sat the master of Verney Manor
and Sir Charles Carew. In the second boat was the Surveyor-General and
Dr. Anthony Nash, and in the third the overseer, and among the rowers of
this last was Godfrey Landless.

As they neared the bank their occupants saw that the usual sleepy
evening stillness was not upon the village above them. A shrill sound of
wailing from women and children rose and fell through the gathering
dusk, and in the open space round which the bark wigwams were built,
dark figures moved to and fro in a kind of measured dance, slow and
solemn, and marked at intervals by dismal cries. As the boats touched
the shore and the white men sprang out, a boy, stationed as scarecrow
upon the usual scaffold in the midst of the maize fields, raised a
shrill whoop of warning which brought the lamentation of the women and
the dance of the men to a dead stop. The latter rushed down to the river
side, brandishing their weapons, and yelling; but there seemed little
strength in the arms that flourished the tomahawk; the voices sounded
cracked and shrill, and the weak fury and noise died away when a nearer
approach showed the newcomers to be white. A very aged man, with a face
all wrinkles and a chest all scars, stepped from out the throng which
was now augmented by the women and children.

"My white fathers are far from the salt water. Seldom do the Pamunkeys
see their faces coming up the narrowing stream or through the forest.
They are welcome. Let my fathers tarry and my women shall bring them
chinquepin cakes and tuckahoe, pohickory and succotash, and my young
men--"

He paused, and a low wailing murmur like the sound of the wind in the
forest rose from the women.

"Where are your young men, your braves?" demanded the Surveyor-General.
"Here are only the very old and the very young--they who have not seen a
Huskanawing."

The Indian pointed to the crimson flood below. "There are my young men;
there are my braves. Among them were a werowance and a sagamore. They
two have strings of pearl thicker than the stem of the grape vine; they
are painted with puccoon, and the feathers of the bluebird and the
red-bird are upon them. They have hills of hatchets and of arrow heads,
sharp and clean, and very much tobacco, and they sing and dance in the
great wigwam of Okee, in the home of Kiwassa, in the land beyond the
setting sun. But the rest--they lie deep in the slime of the river; it
is red with their blood; their wives wail for them; their village is
left desolate.... When the time of the full sun power was past the
smoking of three pipes, came up the Pamunkey, swift as the swallow that
skims its waters, the Ricahecrian dogs who, passing down towards the
salt water twelve suns ago, slew the young men of a village that lieth
below us. My young men went out against them, but a cloud came up and
Kiwassa hid his face behind it. They came not back, their boats were
sunk, the Ricahecrians laughed and went their way, swift as swallows."

"Ask him," said the Colonel huskily.

"Had they a captive with them--a woman, a paleface woman?" demanded
Carrington.

"With hair like the sunshine and a white robe. And a man, the color of
the falling sycamore leaf, one of those who work in the fields of the
white fathers. The arms of the woman were bound, but his were not--he
fought with the Ricahecrian dogs."

"Luiz Sebastian!" said the overseer with a muttered oath. "I thought as
much when we found that he was not with the drunken scoundrels whom we
took before they reached the Point. And we had better have killed him
than all the rest put together, for he is the devil incarnate."

"Let us get on!" Sir Charles cried impatiently. "We waste time when
every moment is precious."

The Colonel, who had been speaking to the Surveyor-General, came over to
him. All the jovial life and fire was gone from his face, his eyes were
haggard and bloodshot, he stooped like an old man, but the voice with
which he spoke was steady and authoritative as ever.

"Ay," he said. "We must on at once, but not all of us. Richard Verney
must not forget the danger of the state, in the danger of his child, nor
let his private quarrel take precedence. I had hoped when we left the
Manor at dawn to have been up with the villains ere now, but it was not
to be. This will be a long chase and a stern one, and how it will end
God only knows. We go into a wilderness from which we may never return.
Behind us in the settlement is turmoil and danger, a conspiracy to be
put down, the Chickahominies to be subdued, the strong hand needed
everywhere. Every man should be at his post, and Richard Verney,
Lieutenant of his shire, and Colonel of the trainbands, is many leagues
from the danger which threatens the colony, and with his face to the
west. He must on, but Major Carrington must go back to do his duty to
the King, and Anthony Nash must not desert his flock. And you, Woodson,
I send back to the Manor to do what you can to repair the havoc there,
and to protect Mistress Lettice. My kinsman will go on with me; is it
not so, Charles?"

"Assuredly, sir," said the baronet quietly.

"I'd a sight rather go with your Honor," growled the overseer, "but I'll
do my best both by the plantation and by Mistress Lettice, and I look
for your Honor and Mistress Patricia back in no time at all. We are to
take the small boat, I reckon?"

"Yes, with four men to row you. We will press a boat and a crew from the
next Pamunkey village. Pick out your men, and let us be gone."

"Humph! There's one that I reckon had best go back with us. Does your
Honor know that you've got with you the head of all this d--d
Oliverian business, the man that Trail swore was their general--that
they all obeyed as though he were Oliver himself?"

"No! How came he here?" cried the master, staring at Landless, who stood
at some distance from them with folded arms and compressed lips, gazing
steadily up the glowing reaches of the river.

"Found him in the boat when I stepped into it myself. I didn't say
anything then, for we were in a mortal hurry and he's a good rower. But
I reckon your Honor will send him back with me? He'll give you the slip
the first chance he gets."

"Of course he must go back," the master said peremptorily. "He should
never have been brought thus far. A dozen or so of these Oliverians must
swing as an example to the rest, and he, their leader, and a felon to
boot, at their head. The service he did us last night can not help
him--he fought for his own life. The Governor has sworn to hang him, and
I am accountable for his safe delivery at Jamestown. Bind him and take
him back with you, and send him at once to Jamestown under a strong
escort." He turned from the overseer to the two gentlemen who were to go
down the river. "Carrington, Anthony Nash, old friends, farewell--it may
be forever. Anthony, pray that I may find my child safe and spotless."

They embraced, and he wrung their hands, and, stepping hastily into the
boat, sank down and covered his face with his cloak. The
Surveyor-General stood with a pale and troubled face, and Dr. Anthony
Nash prayed aloud. The rowers took their places and the boat shot out
into the middle stream.

Landless, seeing the second boat filling, and supposing that the third
would receive its load in a moment, stepped towards it. As he passed the
overseer, standing a little to one side with two servants belonging to
Colonel Fitzhugh, a tenant of Colonel Verney, and an Indian from
Rosemead, Woodson put forth an arm and stopped him.

"No, no, my man," he said with a grim smile but with a watchful eye, and
nodding to the men to close in around them. "Your way's down, not up."

"What do you mean?" cried Landless, recoiling.

"I mean that the Doctor and the Major and I and these men go back to the
settlements to look after things there, and that you are going to renew
your acquaintance with Jamestown gaol."

For a moment Landless stood, turned to stone, within the other's grasp,
then with a cry he broke from him and rushed to the water's edge. The
boat containing the master had turned her head up stream and was beyond
call; in the second boat the men held the oars poised while Sir Charles,
with one foot upon the gunwale, gave a gravely courteous farewell to the
Surveyor-General and the divine.

"Sir Charles Carew!" cried Landless. "I pray you to take me with you!"

Without moving, Sir Charles looked at him coldly, a peculiar smile just
curling his lip.

"I remember a day," he said, "when you said that I might wait until
doomsday and not hear favor asked of me by you."

"You are not generous," Landless said slowly, "but I ask the favor. I
ask it on my knees. Let me go with you."

Sir Charles stepped into the boat and took the seat reserved for him. "I
regret," he said politely, "that it comports not with my duty as a
gentleman and an officer of the King to assist you in your very natural
endeavors to escape the gibbet. Push off, men."

The boat shot from the shore and up the darkening stream, hastening to
overtake its consort. Sir Charles raised his Spanish hat and fluttered a
lace handkerchief. "To a happier meeting, gentlemen!" The
Surveyor-General and the divine returned the salute, and stood in
silence watching the canoe with its brawny rowers and the slender,
elegant figure in the stern. It caught up with the Colonel's boat and
the two grew smaller and smaller, until they became mere black dots and
the dusk swallowed them up.

Landless watched them too with a face set like a stone. The overseer,
backed by two of the servants, approached him with caution, but there
was no need,--he submitted to be bound without a word, or struggle, or
change in the expression of his face. He turned mechanically towards the
boat, but the overseer plucked him back. "Not yet," he said. "We are all
dead beat, and we have not the need to hurry that have those who are
gone on. The Major's commander now, and he says sleep here a few hours.
I'll fasten you so that you can't get away, I promise ye! Fegs! it's a
pity that a man who can fight as you fought last night should have to
die a dog's death after all! But you've only yourself to thank for it."

The red glow died from the river like the scarlet from cooling iron, and
it lay dark and silent, dimly reflecting a myriad of stars. The sloping
bank, the maize fields, tobacco patch and mulberry grove, the plateau
upon which were ranged the wigwams of the Indians, the dark and endless
forest--all the wide, sombre earth--had their stars also--myriads on
myriads of fireflies, restlessly sparkling lanterns swung by legions of
fairies. There was no wind; the cataracts of wild grape descending from
the tops of the tallest trees stirred not a leaf; the pines were
soundless. But the whip-poor-wills wailed on, and once a catamount
screamed, and the deer, coming to a lick close by, made a trampling over
the fern.

Landless, tightly bound to a great bay tree with thongs of deerskin,
watched the night grow old with hard, despairing eyes. The stars paled
and the moon rose softly above the tree-tops, silvering the world
beneath. By her light he saw the little glade of which the tree to which
he was bound marked the centre, and the recumbent forms of those who
were to return to the settlements stretched on Indian mats laid upon the
short grass. Worn out with the toil of the day and the storm and stress
of the night before, they slumbered heavily. The watcher in their midst
thought, "If I could sleep!" and resolutely closed his eyes, but the
vision of a flying canoe and a brightness of golden hair, which had
vexed him, passing up the reaches of the river over and over and over
again, was with him still, and he opened them and raised them to the
stars, thinking, "She may be above them now."

How still it was! no air, no breath, no sound--the thongs, that, wound
many times around his body, bound him to the tree, fell at his feet, a
figure slipped from behind the trunk, laid a hand, in which was a knife
that gleamed in the moonlight, upon his arm, and whispering, "Follow,"
glided over the grass, past the sleepers and into the forest.

Swiftly but cautiously Landless went after it. The overseer lay within
ten feet of him; he passed him, passed the unconscious servants,
crossed a strip of moonlight, entered the shadow of a locust, and all
but stumbled over a man lying asleep beneath it. He recoiled, and a twig
snapped beneath his foot. The sleeper stirred, turned upon his side, and
opened his eyes. The moon, now high in the heavens, shone so brightly
that there was soft light even beneath the heavy branches of the trees,
and by this light his Majesty's Surveyor-General and his Majesty's
rebellious, convicted, and condemned servant recognized each other. For
one long minute they stared each at the other, then, without a word or
sign to denote that he was aware that aught stood between him and the
moonlight, Carrington lay down again, pillowed his head upon his arm and
closed his eyes. Landless was passing on with a light and steady step
and the ghost of a smile upon his lips when the apparently slumbering
figure put forth an arm and laid something long and dark across his
pathway. He glanced quickly around, but the Surveyor-General lay
motionless, with closed eyes. Stooping, he took up the object, which
proved to be a richly inlaid musket with flask and pouch. He paused
again, but no sign coming from the quietly breathing form on the grass
he lightly and silently left it and the tiny encampment and entered the
forest, where he found a dark figure leaning against a tree, waiting for
him. Without a word it moved forward into the dense shadow of the
forest, and in the same silence he followed it. They were now in thick
woods, moving beneath interlocking branches and a vast canopy of wild
grape that, stretching from the summit of one lofty tree to that of
another, formed a green and undulating roof upon which beat the
moonbeams that could not penetrate the close darkness of the world
below. They came to a small and sluggish stream, flowing without noise
between the towering trees, and stepping into the water, walked up it
for a long while with giant blacknesses on either hand and above them
the moon.

All this time the figure had stalked along before Landless without
speaking or turning its head, but now, the trees thinning, and they
coming upon a field of wild flax that lay fair and white beneath the
moon, it quitted the lazy stream, and turning upon Landless as he too
stepped upon the bank, showed him the bronze countenance and the
gigantic form of the Susquehannock to whom he had once done a kindness,
and with whom he had fought on such a night as this, in such a moonlight
space.

"Monakatocka, I thought it had been you," said Landless quietly.

With the never failing "Ugh!" the Indian took Landless's hand and with
it touched his own dark shoulder.

"I too am grateful, and with far more reason," said Landless smiling. "I
will be yet more so if you will bring me out upon the bank of the river
at some distance above yonder encampment."

"What will my brother do then?"

"I will go up the river."

"After the canoes in which sit the palefaces from whom my brother
flees?"

"After the canoe which those canoes pursue."

"If my brother wishes to take the warpath against the Algonquin dogs,"
said the Indian quietly, "he must not follow the Pamunkey, but the
Powhatan."

"They passed this village yesterday, going up the Pamunkey!" cried
Landless.

"A false trail. Let my brother come a little further and I will show
him."

He stepped in front of the white man, and moving rapidly across the
field of flax, dived into the forest again. Following the stream in its
windings they came to where it debouched into a wide and muddy creek,
which, in its turn, flowed into an expanse of water that lay like molten
silver beyond the fringe of trees.

"The Pamunkey!" exclaimed Landless.

The Indian nodded and led the way to a thicket of dwarf willow and alder
that grew upon the very brink of the creek.

"While the palefaces slept, Monakatocka was busy. Look!" he said,
parting the bushes and pointing.

Within the thicket, drawn up upon the sloping mud, were two large
canoes, quite empty save for a debris of broken oars.

Landless gasped. "How do you know them to be the same?"

The Indian stooped and pointed to dark stains. "Blood. They had wounded
among them. And this." He put something into the other's hand. Landless
looked at it, then thrust it into his bosom. "You are right. It is a
ribbon which the lady wore. But why have they left their boats, and
where are they?"

The Indian pointed to the side of the larger canoe. "The hatchets of the
Pamunkeys were sharp. They fought like real men. This canoe could go no
further. See, it is wet within--they had to ply the gourd very fast to
keep afloat so far. One canoe would not hold them all, so they hid both
here. They knew the palefaces would follow up the river, so they cared
not to stay upon its banks; the Pamunkeys, too, are their enemies. They
have gone through the forest towards the Powhatan. My brother cannot see
their trail, for the eyes of the palefaces are clouded, but Monakatocka
sees it."

Landless turned upon him. "Will Monakatocka go with me against the
Ricahecrians?"

"Monakatocka has dreamt of the village on the pleasant river where he
was born. The arm of the white men cannot reach him here, in these
woods, far from their wigwams and warriors and guns; it cannot pluck him
back to be beaten. He toils no more in their fields. He is a real man
again, a warrior of the long house, a chief of the Conestogas. Let my
white brother go with him, across the great rivers, through the forest,
until they come to the Susquehanna and the village of the Conestogas.
There will the maidens and the young men welcome Monakatocka with song
and dance, and my brother shall be welcome also and shall become a great
chief and shall take the warpath against the Algonquin and against the
paleface at the side of Monakatocka. In the Blue Mountains is Death. Let
us go to the pleasant river, to the hunting grounds of the Conestogas."

Landless shook his head. "My thanks and good wishes go with you, friend,
but my path lies towards the Blue Mountains. Farewell."

He put out his hand, but the Indian did not touch it. Instead, he
stooped and examined the ground about him with attention, then,
beckoning the other to follow, he moved rapidly and silently along the
border of the creek. Landless overtook him and laid his hand upon his
arm. "This is my path, but yours lies across the river, to the north."

"If my brother will not go with me, I will go with my brother," said the
Conestoga.



CHAPTER XXIX

THE BRIDGE OF ROCK


For twenty days they had followed the Ricahecrians. At times the trail
lay before them so plain that even Landless's unaccustomed eyes could
read it; at times he saw nothing but untrodden ways--no sign to show
that man had been in that wilderness since the beginning of the
world--but the Susquehannock saw and went steadily onward; at times they
lost it altogether, to find it hours, days afterwards.... It had led
them westward, then south to the banks of the Powhatan, then westward
again. At first they had to avoid an occasional clearing with the cabin
of a pioneer rising from it, or some frontier post, or the village of
one of the Powhatan tribes, but that time had long past. The world of
the white man was far behind them, so far that it might have been
another planet for all it threatened them; the Indian villages were few
and far between and inhabited by tribes whose tongue the Susquehannock
did not know. For the most part they gave these villages a wide berth,
but sometimes in the quiet of the evening they entered one, and were met
by the eldest man and conducted to the stranger's lodging, where slim
brown maidens came to them with platters of maize cakes and nuts and
broiled fish, and the warriors and old men gathered around, marveling at
the color of the one and conversing with the other in stately gesture.
Sometimes, crouched in a tangle of vines or behind the giant bole of
some fallen tree they watched a war party file past, noiseless, like
shadows, disappearing in the blue haze that filled the distant aisles of
the forest. Once a band of five attacked them, coming upon them in their
sleep. Three they killed and the others fled. They dipped into the next
stream that crossed their path and swam up it a long distance, then
emerged and went their way, tolerably confident that they had covered
their trail. Sometimes they struggled for hours through coverts of wild
grape, thick with fruit; sometimes they walked for miles down endless
colonnades of pine trees, where the needle-strewn ground was like ice
for slipperiness, and the blue sky gleamed faintly through the far away
tree tops. The wind in the pines rose and fell in long, measured
cadences. It made the only sound there, for the birds forgot to sing and
the insect world kept silence in those vast and sombre cathedrals.

On the afternoon of the twentieth day they came to a halt upon the bank
of a small stream that fell purling over a long, smooth slide of
limestone into the river. Mountains had loomed into existence in the
last few days. In the distance they made a vast blue rampart which
seemed to prop the western skies. When the sun sank behind them it was
as though a mighty warrior had entered his fortress. Nearer at hand they
fell into lofty hills, over which the forest undulated in unbroken
green. In front the river made a sudden turn and was lost to sight,
disappearing through a frowning gateway of gray cliffs as completely as
though it had plunged into the bowels of the earth.... Landless sat down
on the bank of the stream above the fall and, chin in hand, gazed at
the mountain-piled horizon. The Indian, leaning against a great sycamore
whose branches trailed in the water, watched him attentively.

"My brother is tired," he said at last.

Landless shook his head. The Susquehannock paused, still with his eyes
upon the other's face, and then went on, "We have searched and have
found nothing. There have been five suns since the great rains blotted
out the trail. My brother has done very much. Let him say so and we will
go back to the falls of the far west and thence to the northward, to the
pleasant river, to Monakatocka's people, to the graves of his fathers.
And my brother will be welcome to the Conestogas, and he shall be made
one of them, and become a great warrior, and both he and Monakatocka
will forget the evil days when they were slaves--until they meet a
paleface from the great water. My brother has but to speak."

"If these hills in front of us," said Landless with gloomy emphasis,
"were higher than the Alps, I would climb them. If behind them there
were another range, and then another, and another, if we looked upon the
nearest wave of an ocean of mountains, I would climb them all. If they
are before us, sooner or later I shall find them. But not to know that
they are before us! To know that they may be to the north of us, may be
to the south of us! that we may even have passed them! it is maddening!"

"We have not passed them," said his companion slowly, "for--" he stopped
abruptly, broke off a bough from a sumach bush beside him, and falling
on his knees, leaned far out over the stream. There were many tiny
cascades in the brook with little eddies below them where sticks and
leaves circled gaily around before they were drawn on to the next
miniature fall, and into one of these eddies the Indian plunged the
bough. The next moment he drew it carefully towards him, something white
clinging to one of its twigs. It proved to be a fragment of lace--not
more than an inch or two--and it might have been torn from a woman's
kerchief. Landless's hand closed over it convulsively.

"It came down the stream!" he cried.

The other nodded. "Monakatocka saw it slip over that fall. It has not
been in the water long."

"Then--my God!--they are close at hand! They are up this stream!"

The Indian nodded again with a look of satisfaction upon his bronze
features. Landless raised his eyes to the cloudless blue, and his lips
moved. Then, without a word he turned his face up the mountain stream,
and the Indian followed him.

For an hour they crept warily onward, following the stream in its
capricious wanderings. A broken trailer of grapevine, a pine cone that
had been crushed under foot, the print of a moccasin on a bit of muddy
ground told them that they had indeed recovered the long lost trail.
They moved silently, sometimes creeping on hands and knees through the
long grass where the bank was barren of bushes, sometimes gliding
swiftly through a friendly covert of alder or sumach. The hills closed
in upon them, and became more precipitous. The stream made another bend,
and they were in a ravine where the water flowed over a rocky bed
between banks too steep to afford them secure foothold. The
Susquehannock swung himself down into the shallow water, and motioned to
his companion to do likewise. "Monakatocka smells fire," he whispered.

A moment later they rounded an overhanging, fern-clad rock, and came
full upon that at which Landless stared with a sharp intake of his
breath, and which even his impassive guide greeted with a long-drawn
"Ugh!" of amazement.

Towards them brawled the impetuous stream through a wonderful gorge. The
precipitous hillsides, clothed with a stately growth of oak and
chestnut, changed suddenly into a sheer and awful mass of rock. On
either side of the stream towered up the mighty walls until, two hundred
feet above the water, they swept together, spanning the chasm with a
majestic arch. Great trees crowned it; trailers of grape and clematis
made the span one emerald; below, through the vast opening, shone the
evening sky with little, rosy clouds floating across it. A bird,
flashing downwards from the far-off trees, showed black against the
carnation of the heavens.

The Indian uttered another "Ugh!" then stole forward a pace or two,
stood still, and waited for the other to come up. "My brother sees," he
said simply.

From a covert of arbor-vitae they looked directly up the creek and
through the archway. Beneath it, and for a few yards on the hither side,
the water flowed in a narrower channel, leaving a little strip of
boulder-strewn shore. With a leap of his heart Landless saw, rising
from this shore, the blue smoke of a newly kindled fire, and squatting
about it, or flitting from place to place, a dozen or more dark figures.
At a little distance from the fire, close against the wall of rock, had
been hastily constructed a rude shed or arbor. As he gazed at this
frail shelter, he saw the flutter of a white gown pass the opening which
served as door.

"Night soon," said Monakatocka at his ear. "Then will my brother see one
Iroquois cheat all these Algonquin dogs."

They drew further back into the dense shade of the overhanging boughs. A
large flat boulder afforded them a secure resting-place, and drawing
their feet from the stream, the two curled themselves up side by side
upon its friendly surface. The Indian took some slices of venison from
his wallet, and they made a slender meal, then set themselves patiently
to await the night and the time for action. The tiny encampment was
hidden from them by the thick boughs, but through the screen of
delicate, aromatic leaves they could see the bridge of rock. Around them
was the stir and murmur of the summer afternoon--the wind in the trees,
the whir of insects, the song of birds, the babble of the water--but far
above, where the great arch cut the sky, the world seemed asleep. The
trees dreamed, resting against the crimson and gold of the heavens. The
Indian's appreciation of the wonders of nature was limited--with a
grunted, "All safe: wake before moonrise," he turned upon his side, and
was asleep.

His Anglo-Saxon neighbor watched the pensive beauty of the evening with
a softened heart. The glory behind the tremendous rock faded, giving
place to tender tints of pearl and amethyst. Above the distant tree tops
swam the evening star. In the half light the shadowy forest on either
hand blended with the great bridge carved by some mysterious force from
the everlasting hills. Together they made a mountain of darkness
pierced by a titanic gateway through which one looked into heavenly
spaces. The chant of the wind swelled louder. It was like the moan of
distant breakers. The night fell, and the stars came out one by one
until the blue vault was thickly studded. Up and down the sides of the
ravine flickered millions of fireflies. Their restless glimmer wearied
the eyes. Landless raised his to the one star, large, calm and
beautiful, and prayed, then thought of all that star shone upon that
night--most of the white town of his boyhood, lying fair and still like
a dream town, above a measureless, slumberous sea. A great calm was upon
him. Toil and danger were past; passionate hope and settled despair were
past. That he would do what he had come this journey to do, he now had
no doubt,--would not have doubted had there been encamped between him
and the frail shed built against the rock all the Indians this side of
the South Sea.

The stars that shone through the great archway slowly paled, the stream
became dull silver, and down the towering darkness on either hand fell a
soft and tremulous light like a veil of white gauze. Landless put out
his hand to waken the sleeping Indian, and touched bare rock. A moment
later the branches before him parted. He had heard no sound, but there,
within three feet of him, were the high features and the bold eyes of
the Susquehannock.

"Monakatocka has been to the great rock," he said in a guttural whisper.
"The Algonquin dogs sleep sound, for they do not know that a Conestoga
is on their trail. They have camped beneath the rock three days, and
they will move on the morrow. They have built a shed for the maiden
against the rock. About it lie the Ricahecrians, the moccasins of one
touching the scalp lock of another. They keep no watch, but they have
scattered dried twigs over all the ground. Tread on them, and the god of
the Algonquins will make them speak very loud. But a Conestoga is
cunning. Monakatocka has found a way."

"Then let us go," said Landless, rising.

As they crept from out their leafy covert, the moon appeared over the
tree-tops far above them, flooding the glen with light, and making a
restless shimmer of diamonds of the rushing brook. The two men moved
warily up the stream, setting their feet with care upon the slippery
stones. Once Landless stumbled, but caught at a huge boulder, and saved
himself from falling, sending, however, a stone splashing down into the
water. They drew themselves up within the shadow of the rock, and
listened with straining ears, but there came no answering sound save the
cry of a whip-poor-will, and they went on their way. When they were
within a hundred feet of the encampment, the Indian left the stream,
crossed the strip of earth between it and the cliff, and pointed to a
broken and uneven line that ran at a height of some five feet from the
ground along the face of the cliff. Landless looked and saw a very
narrow ledge, a mere projection here and there of jagged and broken
rock, a pathway perilous and difficult as might well be imagined. So
narrow and insignificant it looked, such a mere seam along the vast
wall, that a white man passing through the ravine might never have
noticed it.

"It is our path," said the Susquehannock. "It leads above the heads of
these dogs and their crackling twigs, straight to where lies the
maiden."

Without a word Landless caught at the stem of a cedar projecting from a
fissure in the rock, and swung himself up to the cleft. The Indian
followed, and with silence and caution they commenced their dangerous
journey. Landless was no novice at such work. When a boy, he had often
rounded the face of frowning white cliffs with the sea breaking in
thunder a hundred feet below. Then a bird's nest had been the prize of
high daring, death the penalty of dizziness or a misstep. Now, although
not two yards below him was the solid earth, a misstep would send him
crashing down to a more fearful doom--but the prize! A light was in his
eyes as he crept nearer and nearer to the shed built against the rock.

They passed the smouldering embers of a large fire, and came full upon
the circle of sleeping Indians. They lay in the moonlight like fallen
statues, their bronze limbs motionless, their high, stern features
impassive as death. From their belts came the glint of tomahawk and
scalping knife, and beside each warrior lay his bow and quiver of
arrows. Only one man had a gun. It lay in the hollow of his arm, its
barrel making a gleaming line against his dark skin. The skin was not so
dark as was that of the other recumbent figures, and the face, flung
back and pillowed on the arm, was not the face of an Indian. It was Luiz
Sebastian. He lay somewhat nearer to the shed than did the Ricahecrians,
and directly in front of the doorway; as Landless paused above him, he
turned and laughed in his sleep.

Slowly and cautiously Landless swung himself down from the ledge, his
moccasined feet touching ground that was clear of pebbles and beyond the
line of twigs. He glanced back to see the gigantic figure of the
Susquehannock, standing upright against the rock, knife in hand, and
watchful eyes roving from one to the other of the sleeping warriors,
then stepped lightly across the body of the mulatto, and entered the
hut.

Within it the darkness was gross. Pausing a moment to accustom his eyes
to the blackness, there came to him from without the hoot of an owl. It
was the signal agreed upon between him and his companion, and he wheeled
to face the danger it announced.

The lithe, yellow figure that had lain in front of the doorway had
waked. As Landless gazed, it rose to its knees, then with a quick,
cat-like grace to its feet, stretched itself, cast a listening look
around the sleeping circle, and laid its gun softly down, then with a
noiseless step and a smile upon its evil face, it too entered the hut.

Landless waited until the mulatto was well across the threshold, and
then sprang upon him, dragging him to the ground, where he held him with
his knee against his chest. He writhed and struggled, but the white man
was the stronger, and held him down; he tried to cry out, but the
other's hands were at his throat choking the life from him. Putting all
his strength into one hand, Landless felt with the other for his knife.
The movement brought his face forward into the shaft of moonlight that
trembled through the opening. "You!" said the eyes of the mulatto, and
his clutching hands tore at the hand about his throat. The hand pressed
closer, and with the other Landless struck the knife into the yellow
bosom. When the writhing form was quite still, he rose from his knees,
and looked down upon the evil face flung back to meet the moonlight. The
struggle had lasted but a minute, and had been without sound--not a
sleeping savage had stirred. But he now heard frightened breathing
within the hut. By this time his eyes were accustomed to the darkness,
and he made out something white niched into the corner opposite. As he
advanced towards it, it started away, and would have brushed past him,
but he seized it. "Madam!" he whispered. "Do not scream. It is I,
Godfrey Landless."

In the darkness he felt the rigor of terror leave the form which he
held. It swayed against him, and the head fell back across his arm. He
raised the fainting figure, and stepping across the body of the mulatto
issued from the shed, to find Monakatocka standing beside the entrance,
knife in hand, and watchfully regardful of the sleeping Ricahecrians.



CHAPTER XXX

THE BACKWARD TRACK


Landless turned to the pathway by which they had come, but the Indian
shook his head, and pointing to the stream which, making a sudden turn,
brawled along at their very feet, stepped noiselessly down into the
water, first, however, possessing himself of Luiz Sebastian's gun, which
lay upon the ground beside the hut. Landless, following him in silence,
would have turned his face towards the river, but again the
Susquehannock shook his head and began to make his way slowly and warily
up stream.

The other knew how to obey. Holding with one arm the unconscious form of
the woman he had come so many leagues to seek, and with the other
steadying himself by boulder and projecting cliff, he followed his
companion past the sleeping Ricahecrians, out of the shadow of the great
arch, into the splendor of the moonlight beyond. It was not until they
had gone a long distance, past vast, scarred cliffs, through close,
dark, scented tunnels formed by the overarching boughs of great
arbor-vitæs, up smooth slides where the water came down upon them in
long, unbroken, glassy green slopes, that Landless said, in a low voice:

"Why do we go up this stream instead of back to the river? It is their
road we are traveling."

The faint, reluctant smile of the Indian crossed the Susquehannock's
face. "The white man is very wise except when he is in the woods. Then
he is as if every brook ran fire-water and he had drunk of them all. A
pappoose could trick him. When these Algonquin dogs wake and find the
fawn fled and the yellow slave killed, they will cast about for our
trail, and they will find that we came up from the river. Then, when
they find no backward track, but only that we entered the water there,
before the maiden's hut, they will think that we have gone down the
stream, back to the river. They will go down to the river themselves,
but when they have reached it they will not know what to do. They will
think, 'They who come after the Ricahecrians into the Blue Mountains
must be many, with great hearts and with guns.' They will think, 'They
came in boats, and one of their braves and one Iroquois, stealing up
this stream, came upon the Ricahecrians when Kiwassa had closed their
eyes and their ears, and stole away the fawn that the Ricahecrians had
taken, and killed the man who fled with them from the palefaces.' And it
will take a long time for them to find that there were no boats and that
but two men have followed them into the Blue Mountains, for I covered
our trail where this stream runs into the river very carefully. After a
while they will find it, and after another while they will find that the
chief of the Conestogas and his white brother and the maiden have gone
up the stream, and they will come after us. But that will not be until
after the full sun power, and by then we must be far from here."

"It is good," said Landless briefly. "Monakatocka has the wisdom of the
woods."

"Monakatocka is a great chief," was the sententious reply.

"Do you think they will follow us when they find how greatly we have the
start of them?"

"They will be upon our track, sun after sun, keen-eyed as the hawk,
tireless as the wild horses, hungry as the wolf, until we reach the
tribes that are friendly to the palefaces. And that will be many suns
from now. I told my brother that we followed Death into the Blue
Mountains. Now Death is upon our trail."

They came to a rivulet that emptied itself into the larger stream, and
the Susquehannock led the way up its bed. Presently they reached a
gently sloping mass of bare stone, a low hill running some distance back
from the margin of the stream.

"Good," grunted the Susquehannock. "The moccasin will make no mark here
that the sun will not wipe out."

They clambered out upon the rock and stood looking down the ravine
through which they had come. "My brother is tired," said the Indian.
"Monakatocka will carry the maiden."

"I am not tired," Landless answered.

The Indian looked at the face, thrown back upon the other's shoulder.
"She is fair, and whiter than the flowers the maidens pluck from the
bosom of the pleasant river."

"She is coming to herself," said Landless, and laid her gently down upon
the rock.

Presently she opened her eyes quietly upon him as he knelt beside her.
"You came," she said dreamily. "I dreamt that you would. Where are my
father and my cousin?"

"Seeking you still, madam, I doubt not, though I have not seen them
since the day after you were taken. They went up the Pamunkey and so
missed you. Thanks to this Susquehannock, I am more fortunate."

She lay and looked at him calmly, no surprise, but only a great peace in
her face. "The mulatto," she said, "I feared him more than all the rest.
When I saw him enter the hut I prayed for death. Did you kill him?"

"I trust so," said Landless, "but I am not certain, I was in too great
haste to make sure."

"I do not care," she said. "You will not let him hurt me--if he
lives--nor let the Indians take me again?"

"No, madam," Landless said.

She smiled like a child and closed her eyes. In the moonlight which
blanched her streaming robe and her loosened hair that, falling to her
knees, wrapped her in a mantle of spun gold, she looked a wraith, a
creature woven of the mist of the stream below, a Lörelei sleeping upon
her rock. Landless, still upon his knee beside her, watched her with a
beating heart, while the Susquehannock, leaning upon his gun, bent his
darkly impassive looks upon them both. At length the latter said, "We
must be far from here before the dogs behind us awake, and the Gold Hair
cannot travel swiftly. Let us be going."

"Madam," said Landless.

She opened her eyes and he helped her to her feet. "We must hasten on,"
he said gently. "They will follow us and we must put as many leagues as
possible between us before they find our trail."

"I did not think of that!" she said, with dilating eyes. "I thought it
was all past--the terror--the horror! Let us go, let us hasten! I am
quite strong; I have learned how to walk through the woods. Come!"

The Indian glided before them and led the way over the friendly rocks.
They left them and found themselves upon a carpet of pine needles, and
then in a dell where the fern grew rankly and the rich black earth gave
like a sponge beneath their feet. Here the Indian made Landless carry
Patricia, and himself came last, walking backwards in the footprints of
the other, and pausing after each step to do all that Indian cunning
could suggest to cover their trail. They came to more rocky ledges and
walked along them for a long distance, then found and went up a wide and
shallow stream. Slowly the pale light of dawn diffused itself through
the forest. In the branches overhead myriads of birds began to flutter
and chirp, the squirrels commenced their ceaseless chattering, and
through the white mist, at bends of the stream, they saw deer coming
from the fern of the forest to drink. A great hill rose before them,
bare of trees, covered only with a coarse growth of grass and short blue
thistles in which already buzzed a world of bees; they climbed it and
from the summit watched a ball of fire rise into the cloudless blue. The
morning wind, blowing over that illimitable forest, fanned their brows,
and a tide of woodland sound and incense swept up to them from the world
below. Around them were the Blue Mountains--gigantic masses, cloudy
peaks, vast ramparts rising from a sea of mist--mysterious fastnesses,
scarcely believed in and never seen by the settlers of the level land--a
magic country in which they placed much gold and the wandering colonists
of Roanoke, the South Sea, and long-gowned Eastern peoples.

"Oh, the mountains!" said Patricia. "The dreadful, frowning mountains!
When will we be quit of them? When will we reach the level land and the
blue water?"

"Before many days, I trust," said Landless. "See, our faces are set to
the east--towards home."

She stood in silence for a moment, her face lifted, the color slowly
coming back to her cheeks and the light to her eyes, then said
suddenly:--

"Did my father send you after me?"

"No, madam."

"Then how are you here?"

He looked at her with a smile. "I broke gaol--and came."

A shadow crossed her face, but it was gone in a moment. "I am very
grateful," she said. "You have saved me from worse than death."

"It is I that am thankful," he answered.

They descended the hill in silence and found the Susquehannock, who had
preceded them, squatted before a fire which he had kindled upon a flat
rock beside one of the innumerable streamlets that wound here and there
over the land.

"The dogs yonder will need Iroquois eyes to spy out this trail," he said
with grim satisfaction, as they came up to him. "Let my brother and the
Gold Hair rest by the fire, and Monakatocka will go into the forest and
get them something to eat."

He was gone, his gigantic figure looking larger than life as he moved
through the mist which still filled the hollow between the hills, and
Landless and Patricia sat themselves down beside the fire. Landless
piled upon it the dead wood with which the ground was strewn, and the
flames leaped and crackled, sending up thin blue smoke against the
hillside and reddening the bosom of the placid stream. When he had
finished his task and taken his seat, there fell a silence and
constraint upon the man and woman, brought through so many strange and
wayward paths, through lives so widely differing, to this companionship
in the heart of a waste and savage world. They sat opposite each other
in the ruddy light of the fire, and each, looking into the dark or
glowing hollows, saw there the same thing--the tobacco house and what
had there passed.

"I wish to believe in you," said Patricia at last, lifting appealing
eyes to the opposite face. "But how can I? You lied to me!"

Landless raised his head proudly. "Madam, will you listen to me--to my
defense if you will? You are a Royalist: I am a Commonwealth man. Can
you not see, that as ten years ago, in the estimation of you and yours,
it was all that was just and heroic for a Cavalier to plot the downfall
of the Government which then was, both here and at home, so they of the
Commonwealth saw no disgrace in laboring for their cause, a cause as
real and as high and as holy to them, madam, as was that of the Stuart
and the Church to the Cavalier.... And will not the slave fight for his
liberty? Is it of choice, do you think, that men lie rotting in prison,
in the noisome holds of ships, are bought and sold like oxen, are
chained to the oar, to the tobacco field, are herded with the refuse of
the earth, are obedient to the finger, to the whip? We--they who are
known as Oliverians, and they who are felons, and I who am, if you
choose, of both parties, were haled here with ropes. What allegiance did
we owe to them who had cast us out, or to them who bought us as they buy
dumb beasts? As God lives, none! We were no longer regarded as men, we
were chattels, animals, slaves, caged, and chained. And as the caged
beast will break his bars if he can, so we strove to break ours. You
have been a captive, madam. Is not freedom sweet to you? We also longed
for it. We staked our lives upon the throw--and lost. That dream is
over,--let it go!... There is honor among rebels, madam, as among
thieves. That morning after the storm, I had the choice of lying to you
or of becoming a traitor indeed.... But as to what I had before asked
you to believe, that was the truth, is the truth. I know that in your
eyes I am still the rebel to the King, well deserving the doom which
awaits me, but if, after what I say to you, by the faith of a gentleman,
before the God who is above the stillness of these hills, you still
believe me criminal in aught else, you wrong me much, you wrong
yourself!"

He ceased abruptly, and rising, began to heap more wood upon the fire.
The figure of the Indian, with something dark upon its shoulder, emerged
from the spectral forest, and came towards them through the mist.

"Monakatocka has found our breakfast," said Landless, forcing himself to
speak with indifference, and without looking at his companion. "I am
glad of it, for you must be faint from hunger."

"I am very thirsty," she said in a low voice.

"If you will come to the water's edge, that at least can be quickly
remedied."

She rose from the rock upon which she had been seated and followed him
down to the brink of the little stream. "I would I had a cup of gold,"
he said, "and here is not even a great leaf. Will you drink from my
hands, madam?"

"Yes," she said; then deliberately, after a pause, "for I well believe
them to be clean hands."

Her own hand touched his as she spoke, and he put it to his lips in
silence. Kneeling upon the turf by the stream, he raised the water in
his hands and she stooped and drank from them, and then they went back
to the fire and sat beside it without speaking until the arrival of
Monakatocka, laden with a wild turkey. An hour later the Susquehannock
carefully extinguished the fire, raked all the embers and ashes into the
stream, hid beneath great rocks the debris of their morning meal,
obliterated all moccasin prints, and having made the little hollow
between the hills to all appearance precisely as it was a few hours
before, when the foot of man had probably never entered it, stepped into
the stream and announced that they were ready to pursue their journey.
Before midday, the stream winding to the south, they left it, and
plunging into the dark heart of the forest pushed rapidly on with their
faces to the east.



CHAPTER XXXI

THE HUT IN THE CLEARING


Five days later saw the wayfarers some thirty leagues to the eastward of
the hollow in the hills. They had traveled swiftly, sleeping but a few
hours of each night and in the daytime pausing for rest only when
Landless, quietly watchful, saw the weariness growing in the eyes of the
woman beside him, or noted her lagging footsteps. They had left the
higher mountains behind them, but still moved through what seemed an
uninhabited territory. No Indian village crowned the hills above the
streams; they encountered no roving bands; no solitary hunter met them;
nowhere was there sign of human life. If their enemies were upon their
track, they knew it not--perfect peace, perfect solitude seemed to
encompass them. Still the Indian was vigilant; covering their trail with
unimaginable ingenuity, taking advantage of every running stream, every
stony hillside, building a fire only in some hidden hollow or fold of
the hills, using his bow and arrow to bring down the deer or wild fowl
which furnished them food--he stalked behind them, or sat bolt upright
against the tree or rock beneath which they had made their resting
place, tireless, watchful, the breathing image of caution. If he slept,
it was a sleep from which the sound of a falling acorn, the sleepy stir
of a partridge in the fern was sufficient to awaken him. Sometimes they
rested by fires, for they heard the wolves through the darkness; upon
the nights when this was necessary the Susquehannock sat with his gun
across his knees, piercing the darkness in every direction with keen and
restless eyes. Nothing worse than the wolves--cowardly as yet, for
though drawing swiftly nearer, winter and famine were still
distant--threatened them; no sound other than the forest sounds
disturbed them; through the scant undergrowth or over the moss and
partridge berry brushed nothing more appalling than bear or badger. But
the Indian watched on.

Day after day Landless and Patricia walked side by side through the
reddening forest. His hands steadied her over crags or down ravines, or
broke a way for her through vast beds of sassafras or mile-long tangles
of wild grape, and when their way lay along the bed of streams he
carried her. She had no need to complain of fatigue, for he saw when she
was weary, and called a halt. At their rustic meals he waited upon her
with grave courtesy, and when they halted for the night he made her
couch of fallen leaves and wove for it a screen of branches. They spoke
but little and only of the needs of the hour. She bore herself towards
him kindly and gently, thanking him with voice and smile for all that he
did for her, and there was no mistrust in her eyes; but he saw, or
fancied he saw, a shadow in their depths, and thinking, "She does not
forget, and neither must I," he set a watch upon himself, and bounds,
across which he was not to step.

Upon the afternoon of the sixth day they were passing through a deep and
narrow ravine--a mere crack between two precipitous, heavily wooded
mountains--when the Indian stopped short in his tracks and uttered a
warning "Ugh!" then bent forward in a listening attitude.

"What is it?" asked Landless in a low voice. "I hear nothing."

"It is a sound," said the other in the same tone. "I do not know what
yet, for it is far off. But it is in front of us."

"Shall we go on?" demanded Landless, and the Indian nodded.

It was late afternoon, and the hills which closed in behind them as the
gorge writhed to left and right hid the sun. Great trees, too, pine and
chestnut, walnut and oak, leaned towards each other from the opposing
banks, and together with the overhanging rocks, mantled with fern, made
a twilight of the pass beneath. Here and there the silver stem of a
birch stood up tall and straight, and looked a ghostly sentinel. "Do you
hear it still?" demanded Landless when they had gone some distance in
dead silence.

"Yes."

"And still in front of us?"

"Yes."

"Ah, what can it be?" cried Patricia, turning her white face upon
Landless.

A cold wind, blowing from open spaces beyond, rushed up the ravine. "I
hear a very faint sound," said Landless, "like the tapping of a
woodpecker in the heart of the forest."

"It is the sound of the axe of the white man," said the Indian. "Some
one is cutting down a tree."

"There can be no ranger or pioneer within many leagues of us!" exclaimed
Landless. "No white man hath ever come so far. It must be an Indian!"

The Susquehannock shook his head. "Why should an Indian cut down a tree?
We kill them and let them stand until they are bare and white like the
bones of a man when the wolves have finished with him, and they fall of
themselves."

"If my father still searches for me," said Patricia in a low voice, "may
it not be his party that we hear? There may be a stream there. They may
make canoes."

"With all my heart I pray that it be so, madam," said Landless. "But we
will soon know. See, Monakatocka has gone on ahead."

She did not answer, and they walked on through the gloom of the defile.
Presently their path became rough and broken, blocked with large stones
and heavily shadowed by cedars projecting from the rocks above and
draped with vines. He held out his hands and she took them, and he
helped her across the rough places. He felt her hands tremble in his,
and he thought it was with the ecstasy of the hope which inspired her.

"If it is indeed so," she said once in a voice so low that he had to
bend to catch the words, "if it is indeed my father, then this is the
last time you will help me thus."

"Yes," he answered steadily. "The last time."

They passed the rocks and came to where the ravine widened. The sound
that had perplexed them was now plainly audible; there was no mistaking
the quick, ringing strokes of the axe. They rounded a jutting cliff and
abruptly emerged from the chill darkness of the gorge upon a noble
landscape of hill and valley, autumn woods and flowing water, all bathed
in the golden light of the sinking sun and inestimably bright and
precious of aspect after the gloom through which they had been
traveling. But it was not the beauty of the scene which drew an
exclamation from them both. At a little distance rose a knoll, covered
with short grass and fading golden-rod, and with its base laved by a
crystal stream of some width, and upon the knoll, shaded by a couple of
magnificent maples, and covered with the pale and feathery bloom of the
wild clematis, stood a small, rude hut. Smoke rose from its crazy
chimney, and upon the strip of greensward before the door rolled a
little, half-naked child--a white child. As the travelers stared in
amazement, a woman's voice rang out, freshly and sweetly, in an English
ballad. The trees had been cleared away from around the knoll, and in
their place rose the yellowing stalks of Indian corn. The little mound,
feathered with the gold of the golden-rod and girt with the gold of the
maize, rose like a fairy isle from the limitless sea of forest, and the
apparition of a troop of veritable elves would have astonished the
wanderers less than did the tiny cabin, the romping child, and the clear
song of the woman.

The Indian glided to their side from behind the trunk of an oak. "Ugh,"
he said with emphasis. "He is mad and so he has his scalp still." As he
spoke he pointed to where, at a little distance, a man, with his back
turned to the forest, was busily felling a tree.

"He dares much," said Landless. "We did not think to see the face of a
white man--pioneer, ranger, trapper or trader--for many a league yet. He
has built his house in the jaws of the wolf."

Patricia gazed at the hut with wistful eyes. "There is a woman there,"
she said, and Landless heard her voice tremble for the first time in
their long, toilsome and painful journey. "There is no need to pass them
by, is there? It looks very fair and peaceful. May we not rest here for
this one night?"

"Yes," said Landless gently, reading, as he read all her fancies and
desires, her longing for the companionship of a woman, though for so
short a time. The Indian, too, nodded assent. "Good! but Monakatocka
will watch to-night."

They moved through the checkered light and shade towards the man who
worked at the foot of the knoll. They were quite near him when the
woman, whose voice they had heard, came to the door of the cabin, shaded
her eyes with her hand, looked towards the ravine, and saw the three
figures emerging from it. With a loud cry she snatched up the child at
her feet and rushed down the knoll towards the man, who at the sound of
her voice dropped his axe, caught up a musket which leaned against a
stump beside him, and wheeling, presented the gun at the newcomers.

"Give me your kerchief, madam," said Landless, and advanced with the
white lawn in his hand.

"Halt!" cried the man with the gun.

"We are friends," called Landless. "This lady and I are from the
Settlements. This Indian is not Algonquin, but Iroquois--a
Susquehannock, as you may tell by his size. You need have no fear. We
are quite alone."

The man slowly lowered his gun. "What, in the name of all the fiends, do
you here?" he said, wiping away with the back of his hand the cold sweat
that had sprung to his forehead. He was a tall man with a sinewy frame
and a dare-devil face, tanned to well-nigh the hue of the Indian.

"I might ask the same question of you," said Landless, coming up to him
with a smile. "This lady was captured and carried off by a band of
roving Ricahecrians who bore her into the Blue Mountains. We ask your
hospitality for to-night. The lady is very weary, and she has not seen
the face of a woman for many weeks. Your good wife will entreat her
kindly, I know."

The woman, who now stood beside the man, smiled, but doubtfully; the
man's face too was clouded, and there was an uneasy light in his eyes.
Landless, looking steadily at him, saw upon his forehead a mark which
served to explain his evident perturbation.

"You need not fear me," he said quietly. "'Tis none of our business how
you come to be here in this wilderness, so far from what has been
counted the furthest outpost."

The man, feeling his gaze upon him, raised his hand with an involuntary
motion to his forehead, then dropped it, awkwardly enough.

"I see," said Landless. "I understand. I have been--I am--a servant. A
runaway, too, if you like. I have been in trouble. I would not betray
you if I could: that I cannot, goes without saying. Now, will you
shelter us for this night?"

"Yes," said the man, his face clearing. "As you say, you couldn't do us
harm if you would, seeing that masters, and d--d overseers, and
bloodhounds are at the world's end for us. We are beyond their reach.
Bring up the lady. Joan, here, will see to her."

An hour later the woman and Patricia sat side by side upon the doorstep
in the long mountain twilight. At their feet the little child crowed and
clapped its hands, and plucked at the golden-rod growing about the
door. Below them, beside the placid stream, the owner of the hut and
Godfrey Landless paced slowly up and down, now disappearing into the
shadow of the trees, now dimly seen in the open spaces, while the Indian
lay at full length beneath the maples, with his eye upon the blackness
of the ravine down which they had come.

"It is fair to look upon, and peaceful," Patricia said dreamily, "but
Danger lives in these dreadful mountains. Why did you come here?"

"We came because we loved," the woman said simply.

"But why into the very land of the savages, so far from safety, so far
from the Settlements?"

The woman turned her eyes upon the beautiful face beside her and studied
it in silence.

"I will tell you," she said at last, "for I believe you are as good as
you are beautiful, and you are as beautiful as an angel. And, though I
can see that you are a lady, yet you are woman too, as I am, and you
have suffered much, as I have, and have loved too, I think, as I have
loved."

"I have never loved," said Patricia.

The woman smiled, and shook her head. "There is a look in the eyes that
only comes with that. I know it." She gathered the child to her, and
beating its little hand against her bosom, began her story:--

"It is four years since I signed to come to the Plantations, to become
the servant of an up-river planter--and to better myself. It was a hard
life, my lady, a hard life--you cannot guess how hard.... One day a
neighboring planter sent a message to my master, and I (for I served in
the house) took it from the messenger. The messenger was one that I had
known in the village at home, in England. He had left home to make his
fortune, and I had not heard of him for a long time. They used to call
me his sweetheart. When I saw him I cried out, and he caught my hands in
his.... After that we met whenever we could, on Sundays, on Instruction
days, whenever chance offered. He had tried to run away twice before we
met, but he never tried afterwards. His master was a hard man--mine was
worse.... After a while we began to meet in secret--at night.... You are
a lady--that is different--you cannot understand; but I loved him, loved
him as well as any lady in the land could love; better, maybe.... There
came a night when I was followed, and taken, and he with me." She broke
off to smell at the scentless spear of golden-rod which the child held
up, and to say, "Yes, my darling, pretty, pretty, pretty," then went on
with her eyes following the figures walking up and down beside the
stream. "The next night found us in the sheriff's hands, in the gaol at
the court-house. Oh that blank, dreadful, heavy night! I felt the lash
already--I did not mind that--but I saw the platform and the post, and
the gaping crowd beneath. I thought of him, and my heart was sick; I
thought of my mother, and my tears fell like rain.... There was a noise
at the window, and I stood upon my stool to see what it was. It was he!
He had a knife and he worked and wrenched at the bars until he had
wrenched them away, then dragged me through the window and we stood
together beneath the stars--free! Another moment and we were down at the
water side and into a boat which was fastened there. We loosed it and
rowed with all our speed up the river. He had killed the gaoler and
gotten away, bringing with him a musket and an axe. All that night we
rowed, and when morning broke we were well-nigh past the settlements,
for we had been far up river to begin with. That day we hid in the
reeds, but when night came we sped up the stream. We came to the falls
of the far west and left our boat there. For many days we walked through
the woods, hurrying on, day after day, for when we lay down at night, I
saw in my dreams the flash of the torches and heard the baying of the
hounds. After a long while we came to an Indian village not many leagues
from here, and there we found the mercies of the savage kinder than the
mercies of the white man. They may have thought us mad--I do not
know--but they did not harm us. There we dwelt for a time, in the
stranger's wigwam, and there the child was born." She pressed the little
hand which she held, and which she had never ceased to beat against her
bosom, to her lips. "He would have stayed in the village, but in sleep I
still heard the bloodhounds, and we left the friendly Indians and
pressed on. We came upon this knoll on just such an evening as this--the
light in the west, and the stream very still, with a large white star
shining down upon it. We lay down beside it, and that night I slept
without a dream.... We have been here ever since, and here we shall stay
until we die."

"It is fair now," said Patricia, "but in a little while it will be
winter and very cold."

"Bitterly cold," said the woman. "The snow lies long in these hills, and
the wind howls down the ravine."

"And the wolves are bold in winter."

"Very bold. This scar upon my arm is from the teeth of one which I
fought here, on the very threshold."

"The Indians threaten always, summer or winter."

"Ay, sooner or later they will come against us. We shall die that way at
last. But what does it matter--so that we die together?"

The lady of the manor turned her pure, pale face upon the other with
wonder, and yet with comprehension, written upon it.

"You are happy!" she said, almost in a whisper.

"Yes, I am happy," the woman answered, a light that was not from the
faintly crimson west upon her face.



CHAPTER XXXII

ATTACK


About midnight, Landless, lying upon the dirt floor of the lean-to
attached to the one room of the cabin, felt a hand upon his shoulder and
opened his eyes upon a shadowy figure, blocking up the starlight that
came faintly in at the open door.

"Hist!" said the figure. "Ricahecrians!"

Landless sprang to his feet. "My God! You are sure?"

"They are coming out of the ravine. You will hear the whoop directly."

The owner of the hut, stirred by the Susquehannock's foot, started up.
Such an alarm being about the least surprising thing that could happen,
he kept his wits, and after the first intake of the breath and
exclamation of, "Indians!" he went about his preparations coolly enough.
Rushing into the cabin where Landless had already waked the women, he
groped for his tinder box, and with a steady hand struck a light and
fired a pine knot which he stuck into a block of wood pierced to receive
it; then jerked from the wall his musket and powder horn.

"You both have guns," he said coolly. "Good! We'll die fighting." The
woman had flown to the door, had seen that the heavy wooden bars were
drawn across it, and now stood beside him with a resolute face, and an
axe in her hands.

A moment of silence, and then the quiet night was cleft by the war
whoop--dreadful sound, forerunner of death and torture, concentrating in
its savage cadence all ideas of terror! A moment more, and there came
the sound of many moccasined feet and the hurling of many bodies against
the door. The door held, and the man put the muzzle of his gun in one of
the cracks between the logs and fired. The explosion was followed by a
yell. Shot and cry preluded pandemonium. Without were demoniacal cries,
quick crashing blows against the door, stealthy feet, clambering forms;
within were smoke and the noise of the muskets, the crying of the child,
and a red and flickering light which now brought out each detail of the
rude interior, now plunged all into shadow.

"We are making it hot for them," cried the owner of the hut, reloading
his musket. "There's some shall go to hell before we do. Joan, my
girl--"

An arrow, whistling through a crack, pierced his brain and he fell to
the ground with a crash. The shriek that the woman set up was answered
from without by a triumphant yell, and then one voice was heard
speaking.

"It is the mulatto!" cried Patricia, clasping her hands.

"Yes," answered Landless grimly. "I thought I had done for that devil,
but it seems not. May I have better luck this time!"

"Ugh!" said the Indian, and pointed to the roof, which was low and
thatched with dried grass and moss.

"I see," said Landless. "The cabin is on fire. We must leave it in five
minutes, come what may."

"We will never leave it alive," the Indian said calmly. "The dogs have
us fast. The Chief of the Conestogas will die in a strange land; his
bones will be a plaything for the wolves of the mountains; his scalp
will hang before the wigwam of an Algonquin dog. He will never see the
village and the pleasant river, never will he smoke the peace pipe, he
and his braves, with the Wyandots and the Lenni Lenape, sitting beneath
the mulberries in front of the lodge. He will never see the cornfeast.
He will never dance the war dance again, nor will he lead the war party.
The sagamore dies, and who will tell his tribe? He falls like a leaf in
the forest, like a pebble that is cast into the water. The leaf is not
seen: the stream closes above the pebble--it is gone!" His voice rose
into a chant, stern and mournful, and his vast form appeared to expand,
to become taller. He threw down his gun and drew his long, bright knife.

"They are upon us!" cried Landless, and thrust Patricia behind him.

The rude door, constructed of the trunks of saplings, bound together
with withes, crashed inwards, coming to the floor with a tremendous
noise, and a dozen savages precipitated themselves into the cabin.
Landless fired, bringing one to his knee; then clubbed his musket and
swung it over his shoulder. Between him and the Susquehannock, standing
beside him with bent body and knife drawn back against his breast, and
the invaders, was a space some few feet in width, and in this space
something dreadful now happened.

On one side lay the body of the man with the woman crouched above it, on
the other a pile of skins upon which lay the little child. It had
sobbed itself into exhaustion and quiet, but terrified afresh by the
savage forms pouring through the doorway, the increased and awful
clamor, the flames which had now seized upon the walls, and the choking
smoke which filled the hut, it now scrambled from the pallet, and with a
weak cry started across the space towards its mother. It crossed the
path of the Ricahecrian chief--he glanced downwards, saw the tiny
tottering figure with its outstretched arms, caught it up, and holding
it by its feet, dashed its head against the ground. The cry which the
child uttered as he raised it reached the until then deaf ears of the
mother. She started up with a shriek that rang high above the yelling of
the savages, and darted forward, only to receive at her very feet the
mangled form of the baby she had sung to sleep but a few hours before.
She caught it to her breast and with another dreadful cry rushed upon
the savage. He met her, seized her free arm, raised it, and plunged his
knife into her bosom. Still clasping the child to her bosom, she fell
without a groan, while the Indian bounded on towards the three who yet
remained alive.

The Susquehannock met him. "A chief for a chief," he said with a cold
smile, and the two locked together in a deadly embrace. When the
Ricahecrian was dead, the Susquehannock turned to find Landless--one
Indian dead before him, another writhing away like a wounded
snake--confronting across the body at his feet the graceful figure and
the amber-hued, evil, smiling face of Luiz Sebastian. So strong were the
flames by now, and so dense and stifling the smoke, that of the score or
more who had broken into the cabin but few remained within its walls,
which were fast becoming those of a furnace, the majority retreating to
the fresh air outside, whence they whooped on to their devil's work the
bolder spirits within.

These now bore down _en masse_ upon the devoted three. One threw his
tomahawk; it whistled within half an inch of Landless's head, and stuck
into the wall behind him. Another struck at him with his knife, but he
beat him down with his musket, and turned again to the mulatto, who,
knife in hand, watched his chance to run in upon him.

"Look to the yellow slave, my brother," cried the Susquehannock, "I will
care for these dogs," and hurled his gigantic form upon them. One went
down before his knife; he broke the back of another, bending him like a
reed across his knee; a third fell, cleft to the brain by his
tomahawk--there was a fresh influx from without, and he was borne down
and knives thrust into him. Struggling to his feet, with one last
superhuman exertion of his vast strength, he shook them off as a stag
shakes off the dogs, and stretching out his arm, cried to Landless,
dimly seen through the ever thickening smoke;--

"My brother, farewell! I said we should find Death in the Blue
Mountains.... The Iroquois laughs at the Algonquin dogs, laughs at
Death--dies laughing."

He broke into wild, unearthly, choking laughter, his figure swaying to
and fro like a pine in a storm. The laughter, an indescribable and most
dreadful sound, became low, choked, a mere rattle in the throat, died
into silence, and the laugher crashed to the ground like a pine for
which the storm has been too much.

Landless drew a breath that was like a moan, but kept his eyes upon the
yellow menace before him.

"The Ricahecrians are my good friends," said Luiz Sebastian. "They
promise me a wigwam in their village in the Blue Mountains. I shall lead
to it a bride, and she shall be no Indian girl."

Landless struck at him over the dead body between them, but the mulatto,
springing back, avoided the blow.

"It is my hour," he said, still with a smile.

A portion of the roof fell in, making a barrier of flame between them. A
volume of smoke arose, and through it Landless and Patricia dimly saw
Indians and mulatto making for the doorway, driven forth by the
intolerable heat and the imminent danger of the burning walls and the
remainder of the roof caving in upon them. Beyond Landless was the
square opening leading into the tiny shed in which he had been sleeping
when this midnight visitation came upon them. Raising Patricia in his
arms, he made for it, and they presently found themselves in temporary
security. It was but for a moment, he knew, for the flames were already
taking hold upon the shed, but as he set his burden down he whispered
encouraging words.

"I know," she answered. "We are in God's hands. I would rather die than
to come into that man's power. But the door to the shed is open and the
way seems clear. Could we not escape even now?"

"Alas! madam, the flames make it as light as day around the cabin. They
would certainly see us. And yet if we stay, we burn. When the fire
reaches this straw above our heads we will try it."

"I would rather stay here," said Patricia.

Behind them the flames roared and crackled, the cabin burning like a
torch, and with the flames rose and fell the triumphant cries of the
savages, who, unaware of the existence of the tiny shed, so covered
with the vines that draped the cabin that it seemed one with it,
congregated in front of the gap in the wall where had been the door, and
waited for their still living victims to emerge from it.

"Look!" breathed Patricia, grasping Landless's arm.

They stood facing the open door of the shed, and gazing through it down
the lit slope of the knoll. Into the light, out of the darkness at the
foot of the hill, now glided a man, naked save for the loin cloth, and
painted with horrible devices; in the figure, noiseless and bent
forward, savage cunning; in the eyes, the lust for blood. In his
footsteps came his double, then a third, in all points exactly similar,
then a fourth, a fifth--a long line, creeping as silently as shadows--a
nightmare procession--up through the lurid light.

Landless drew Patricia further into the shadow.

"Wait," he said. "They may prove our deliverance."

The stealthy line reached the summit of the knoll, then broadened into a
disc, and swept past the frail shelter in which stood the fugitives. A
moment, and the war whoop rang out, to be answered by a burst of yells
from the Ricahecrians, and then by prolonged and awful clamor.

"Now is our time," said Landless.

Hand in hand they ran from the shed that was now in a light flame, and
down the slope up which had come the band of unconscious Samaritans.

"The stream!" said Landless. "There is a small raft upon it if they have
not destroyed it."

They made for the water, found the raft hidden in a clump of reeds and
uninjured, and stepped upon it. In ten minutes' time from the appearance
of the new factor in the sum they were moving steadily, if slowly, down
a stream so wide that in Europe it would have been called a river. The
glare from the burning cabin faded, the flaming mass itself shrunk until
it looked a burning bush, then dwindled to a star. The noise of the
struggle upon the mount was with them longer, but at length it, too,
died away.

"Which will conquer?" said Patricia at last, from where she crouched at
the feet of Landless, who stood erect, poling.

"The Ricahecrians were the stronger," he answered. "But they may be so
handled that they will not come at us again. That must be our hope."

There followed a long silence, broken by Patricia.

"The baby," she said in a quivering voice, "the poor, pretty, innocent
little thing!"

"It is well with it," said Landless. "It is spared all toil and
suffering. It is better as it is."

"The man and woman went together," said Patricia, still with the sob in
her voice. "They would have chosen it so, I think. But the poor
Indian--"

"He was my friend," said Landless slowly, "and I brought him death."

"It is I that brought him death!" cried Patricia, tossing up her arms.
"I that shall bring you death!"

Her voice rose into a cry that echoed drearily from the hills about
them, and she beat her hands against the raft with a sudden passion.

"You would bring me no unwelcome gift," said Landless steadily,
"provided only that the time when I could serve you with my life were
past."

She did not answer, and they floated on in silence down the little
river, between banks lined with dwarf willows and sighing reeds. With
the dawn they came to rapids through which they could not pilot their
frail craft. Leaving the water, they turned their faces towards the
rising sun, and pursued their journey through the forest that seemed to
stretch to the end of the world.



CHAPTER XXXIII

THE FALL OF THE LEAF


Days passed, and the forest put on a beauty, austere, yet fantastic,
bizarre. Above it hung a pale blue sky; within it, a perpetual, pale
blue haze, through which blazed the scarlet and gold of the trees--great
bonfires which did not warm, flaming pyres which were never consumed.
Morning and evening a shroud of chill, white mist fell upon them, or
they would have mocked the sunrise and the sunset. Along the summit of
low hills ran a comb of fire--the scarlet of the sumach, leaf and berry;
underfoot were crimson vines like trails and splashes of blood; into the
streams from which the wanderers stooped to drink, fell the gold of the
sycamore. From the hills they looked down upon a red and yellow world, a
gorgeous bourgeoning and blossoming that put the spring to shame, a sea
of splendor with here and there a dark-green isle of cedar or of pine.
Day after day saw the same calm blue sky, the same blue haze, the same
slow drifting of crimson and gold to earth. The winds did not blow, and
the murmur of the forest was hushed. All sound seemed muffled and
remote. The deer passed noiseless down the long aisles, the beaver and
the otter slipped noiseless into the stream, the bear rolled its
shambling bulk away from human neighborhood like a shapeless shadow. At
times vast flocks of wild pigeons darkened the air, but they passed like
a cloud. The singing birds were gone. Only at night did sound awake,
for then the wolves howled, and the infrequent scream of the panther
chilled the blood, and the fires which the wanderers must needs build
roared and crackled through the darkness. In the daytime beauty, vast
and melancholy; in the night, shadows and mysteries, the voice of wild
beasts and the stillness of the stars; at all times an enemy, they knew
not how far away or how near at hand, behind them.

Through this world which seemed more a phantasm than a reality, Landless
and Patricia fared, and were happy. All passion, all fear, all mistrust
and anger slept in that enchanted calm. They never spoke of the past,
they had well-nigh ceased to think of it. When they knelt upon the turf
beside some crystal brook, and drank of the water which seemed red wine
or molten gold according to the nature of the trees above it, it might
have been the water of Lethe.

In the illimitable forest, too, in the monotony of sunshine and shade,
of glade and dell, of crystal streams and tiny valleys, each the
counterpart of the other, in dense woods and grassy savannahs; in the
yesterday so like to-day, and the to-day so like to-morrow, there was no
hint of the future. It was enchanted ground, where to-morrow must always
be like to-day. They kept their faces to the east, and they walked each
day as many leagues as her strength would permit, and Landless,
imitating as best he could the dead Susquehannock, took all precautions
to cover their trail; but that done all was done, and they put care
behind them. Landless, walking in a dream, knew that it was a dream, and
said to himself, "I must awaken, but not yet. I will dream and be happy
yet a little while." But Patricia dreamt and knew it not. She kept her
wonted state, or, rather, with a quiet insistence he kept it for her. He
never addressed her save as "Madam," and he cared for her comfort, and
in all things bore himself towards her with the formal courtesy he would
have shown a queen. He said to himself, "Godfrey Landless, Godfrey
Landless, thou mayst forget much, perhaps, for a little while; but not
this! If thou dost, thou art no honorable man."

Master of himself, he walked beside her, cared for her, tended her,
guarded her, served her as if he had been a knight-errant out of a
romance, and she a distressed princess. And she rewarded him with a
delicate kindliness, and a perfectly trustful, childlike dependence upon
his strength, wisdom, and resource. All her bearing towards him was
marked by an inexpressible charm, half-playful, wholly gracious and
womanly. The lady of the manor was gone, and in her place moved the
Patricia Verney of the enchanted forest--a very different creature.

Thus they fared through the dying summer, and were happy in the present
of soft sunshine, tender haze, fantastic beauty. Sometimes they walked
in silence, too truly companions to feel the need of words; at other
times they talked, and the hours flew past, for they both had wit,
intelligence, quick fancy, high imagination. Sometimes their laughter
rang through the glades of the forest, and set the squirrels in the oaks
to chattering; sometimes in the melancholy grace of the evening when the
purple twilight sank through the trees, and the large stars came out one
by one, they spoke of grave things, of the mysteries of life and death,
of the soul and its hereafter. She had early noticed that he never lay
down at night without having first silently prayed. There had been a
time when she would have laughed at this as Puritan hypocrisy, but now,
one dark night, when the noises of the forest were loud about them, and
the wind rushed through the trees, she came close to him and knelt
beside him. Thenceforward each night, before they lay down beside their
fire, and when from out the darkness came all weird and mournful sounds,
when the owl hooted, and the catamount screamed, and the long howl of
the wolf was answered by its fellow, he stood with bared head, and in a
few short, simple words commended them both to God. "I will both lay me
down in peace and sleep, for Thou, Lord, only makest me to dwell in
safety."

There came a day when they sat down to rest upon the dark, smooth ground
in a belt of pines, and looked between rows of stately columns to where,
in the distance, the arcade was closed by a broken and confused glory of
crimson oak and yellow maple. Landless told her that it was like gazing
at a rose window down the long nave of a cathedral.

"I have never seen a cathedral," she said; "I have dreamed of them,
though, of your Milton's 'dim religious light,' and of the rolling
music."

"I have seen many," he answered. "But none of them are to me what the
abbey at Westminster is. If you should ever see it--"

Something in her face stopped him; there was a silence, and then he said
quietly:--

"When you shall see it, is perhaps better, madam?"

"Yes," she answered, gazing before her with wide fixed eyes.

He did not finish his sentence, and neither spoke again until they had
left the pines and were forcing their way through the tall grass and
reeds of a wide savannah. They came to a small, clear stream, dotted
with wild fowl and mirroring the pale blue sky, and he lifted her in his
arms as was his wont and bore her through the shallow water. As he set
her gently down upon the other side, she said in a low voice, "I thought
you knew. Had it not been for that night, that night which sets us here,
you and me,--I should be now in London, at Whitehall, at some masque or
pageant perhaps. I should be all clad in brocade and jewels, not like
this--" She touched her ragged gown as she spoke, then burst into
strange laughter. "But God disposes! And you--"

"I should be in a place which is never mentioned at Court, madam," said
Landless grimly. "The grave, to wit. Unless indeed his Excellency
proposed hanging me in chains."

She cried out as though she had been struck. "Don't!" she said
passionately. "Don't speak to me so! I will not bear it!" and ran past
him into the woods beyond the savannah.

When he came up with her he found her lying on a mossy bank with her
face hidden.

"Madam," he said, kneeling beside her, "forgive me."

She lifted a colorless face from her hands. "How far are we from the
Settlements?" she demanded.

"I do not know, madam. Some twenty leagues, probably, from the frontier
posts."

"How far from the friendly tribes?"

"Something less than that distance."

"Then when we reach them, sir," she said imperiously, "you are to leave
me with them at one of the villages above the falls."

"To leave you there!"

"Yes. You will tell them that I am the daughter of one of the paleface
chiefs, of one whom the great white chief calls 'brother,' and then they
will not dare to harm me or to detain me. They will send me down the
river to the nearest post, and the men there will bring me on to
Jamestown, and so home."

"And why may not I bring you on to Jamestown--and so home?" demanded
Landless with a smile.

"Because--because--you _know_ that you are lost if you return to the
Settlements."

"And nevertheless I shall return," he said with another smile.

She struck her hands together. "You will be mad--mad! If you had not
been their leader!--but as it is, there is no hope. Leave me with the
friendly Indians, then go yourself to the northward. Make for New
Amsterdam. God will carry you through the Indians as he has done so far.
I will pray to him that he do so. Ah, promise me that you will go!"

Landless took her hand and kissed it. "Were you in absolute safety,
madam," he said gently, "and if it were not for one other thing, I would
go, because you wish it, and because I would save you any pang, however
slight, that you might feel for the fate of one who was, who is, your
servant--your slave. I would go from you, and because it else might
grieve you, I would strive to keep my life through the forest, through
the winter--"

"Ah, the winter!" she cried. "I had forgotten that winter will come."

"But to do that which you propose," he continued, "to leave you to the
mercy of fierce and treacherous Indians, but half subdued, friends to
the whites only because they must--it is out of the question. To leave
you at a frontier post among rude trappers and traders, or at some half
savage pioneer's, is equally impossible. What tale would you have to
tell Colonel Verney? 'The Ricahecrians carried me into the Blue
Mountains. There your servant Landless found me and brought me a long
distance towards my home. But at the last, to save his own neck, forfeit
to the State, he left me, still in the wilderness and in danger, and
went his way.' My honor, madam, is my own, and I choose not so to stain
it. Again: I must be the witness to your story. You have wandered for
many weeks in a wilderness, far beyond the ken of your friends. To your
world, madam, I am a rebel, traitor and convict, a wretch capable of any
baseness, of any crime. If I go back with you, throwing myself into the
power of Governor and Council, at least I shall be credited with having
so borne myself towards my master's daughter as to fear nothing from
their hands on that score. The idle and censorious cannot choose but
believe when you say, 'I am come scatheless through weeks of daily and
hourly companionship with this man. Rebel and traitor and gaol-bird
though he be, he never injured me in word, thought, or deed....' For all
these reasons, madam, we must be companions still."

She had covered her face while he was speaking, and she kept it hidden
when he had finished. The slowly lengthening shadows of the trees had
barred the little glade with black when he spoke again. It was only to
ask in his usual voice if she were rested and ready to continue their
journey.

She raised her head and looked at him with swimming eyes, then held out
two trembling hands. He took them, helped her to her feet, and before
releasing them, bent and touched them with his lips. Then side by side
and in silence they traveled on through the halcyon calm of the world
around them.



CHAPTER XXXIV

AN ACCIDENT


It was early morning, and the mist lay heavy upon the forest and on the
bosom of the James. Landless and Patricia raked together the dying
embers of their fire and heaped fresh wood upon them. The flames leaped
up, warming their chilled bodies and filling the hollow that had been
their camping place with a cheerful light, in which the moisture that
clothed tree bole and fallen log and withered fern glistened like
diamonds. Their breakfast of deer meat and broiled fish, nuts and a few
late clusters of grape, with coldest water from a spring hard by, was
eaten amidst laughter and pleasant talk. When they had lingered through
it and when Landless had carefully extinguished their fire and had seen
to the priming of his gun, they addressed themselves to their journey.

A bowshot away was the river, and Patricia willed that they walk along
its banks that they might see the white mist lift, and the silver flash
of fish rising from the water, and the swoop of the kingfisher. Landless
agreeing, they went down to the river, and standing upon a rocky spit of
ground which ran far out into the stream, they looked down the misty
expanse, then turned involuntarily and looked up. At that moment the fog
lifted.

"Ah!" cried Patricia, and shrunk back, cowering almost to the ground.

Landless seized her in his arms and ran with her across the shingle and
up the bank. Plunging into the woods he made for the little stream which
flowed past their camping place, and entering the water, walked rapidly
up it.

"Did they see us?" Patricia asked in a low, strained voice.

"I am afraid so."

"They turned their boats towards the land. They are in the forest by
now."

"Yes."

"And there is no doubt that they are the same. I saw the scarlet
handkerchief upon the head of the mulatto."

"Yes, they are the same."

"They were such a little way from us. Oh, they may be upon us at any
moment!"

"We are in great danger," he answered gravely, "but it is not so
imminent as that. They were nearly a mile above us, and they have to
land, to hide their boats and to find our trail, all of which will take
time. We may count on having an hour's start of them, and we will do all
in our power to increase it by breaking our trail as we are doing now.
Then we cannot be many leagues from the falls, and the post below them,
or we may stumble at any moment upon some Monacan village which will not
need our urging to fly out against the Ricahecrians. Please God, we will
win through them yet."

Somewhat comforted, she lay within his arms without speaking until they
left the stream, when he set her down, and giving her his hand, ran with
her over the fallen leaves down the long aisles of the forest.

Red gold showers fell upon them; fiery vines clutched at their feet, or,
swinging from the trees, struck at their faces with vicious tendrils;
the pines made the ground beneath like ice; rotting logs covered with
gorgeous fungi barred their way; dark and poisonous swamps appeared
before them, and had to be skirted--the forest leagued itself with its
children and did them yeoman service.

The two aliens hastened breathlessly on. The sun climbed above the tree
tops and looked down upon them through the half denuded branches. Midday
came, and the short bright afternoon, and still they went fast through
the woods, and still they heard no other sound than the rustle and sough
of the leaves and the beating of their own hearts. They came to rising
ground, and mounting it, found themselves upon a chinquepin ridge, and
before them an abrupt descent of rain-washed, boulder-strewn earth. It
was so nearly a precipice that Patricia shrunk back with an exclamation
of dismay.

"I will go first," said Landless. "Give me your hands. So!"

Half way down, the earth began to slip. Patricia, looking up and over
her shoulder, uttered a cry. A great boulder, imbedded in the earth
directly above them, was dislodging itself, was falling! At her cry
Landless raised his eyes, saw the threatening mass, caught her around
the waist, and with one supreme effort swung her out of the path of the
avalanche which descended the next moment, bearing him with it to the
ground beneath.

He was recalled to consciousness by the dash of water against his face,
and opened his eyes to behold Patricia bending over him, very white,
with tragic eyes, and lips pressed closely together. She had run to the
river, flowing through the sunshine a hundred yards away, for water,
which she had brought back in his cap, and she had taken the kerchief
from her neck, wet it, and laid it upon his forehead. Her hands were
torn and bleeding. He saw them and uttered an exclamation. "It is
nothing," she said; "I had to move the rock." Scarcely fully conscious
as yet, his eyes glanced from her to the great rock which lay upon one
side, and upon which there were bloodstains. "I have had a bad fall," he
said unsteadily, but with an attempt to speak lightly because of the
trouble in her eyes, "but it is over. Come! we must hurry on. We have no
time to lose."

As he spoke he strove to rise, but with the effort came a pang of
anguish, and he sank back, faint and sick, upon the ground.

"Ah! you cannot!" cried Patricia with a great sob in her voice. "It is
your foot. The rock fell upon it."

After a moment of lying with closed eyes, he sat up and with his knife
began to cut away the moccasin from the wounded limb. Presently he
looked up. "Yes, it is badly crushed. There is no doing anything with
it."

For many moments they gazed at each other in a despairing silence,
broken by Patricia's low, "What are we to do now?"

"We must go on," answered Landless. "It is death to stay here."

Holding by the bank against which he had leaned, he dragged himself up
and stood for an instant with eyes dark with pain; then, setting his
lips, took a step forward. The bronze of his face paled, and beads of
anguish stood upon his brow, but he took another step. Patricia, the
tears running down her cheeks, came to him and put his arm around her
shoulder. "I will be your crutch," she said, striving to smile. "I will
carry the gun, too."

Before them was a steeply sloping, grass-grown ascent rising to a broken
line of cliffs, scarred and gray, crowned with cedars and hung here and
there with crimson creepers, and with a chance medley of huge gray
boulders scattered about their base. Up this ascent they labored, so
slowly that the crags seemed like the mountain in the Arabian tale, ever
receding as they advanced. Twice Landless staggered and fell to his
knee, but when, after what seemed an eternity of pain and distress, they
reached the summit and Patricia would have had him rest, he shook his
head and motioned with his hand towards the narrow, boulder-strewn
plateau at the foot of the crags.

With her accustomed unquestioning obedience she turned towards the
rocks, and after another interval of painful toil they found themselves
in a sort of rocky chamber, a natural blockhouse, of which the sheer
cliff formed one wall and boulders of varying height and shape the
others.

Above them gleamed the blue sky; through the gaps between the rocks they
looked down upon the shining river and the parti-colored woods, and
behind them towered the cliffs. A strong wind was blowing and it sent
red leaves from the vines that draped the rock whirling down upon them.

"The tall gray crags," said Patricia in a strange voice, "and the
Martinmas wind. The river flowing in the sunshine too."

Landless sank upon the rocky floor. "I can go no further," he said. "God
help me!"

"I do not think another man could have come so far," she answered. "What
are we to do now?"

"You must go on without me."

She cried out angrily, "What do you mean? I don't understand you."

"Listen," he said earnestly, dragging himself closer to her. "We can be
but a very few leagues from the falls, still fewer from the Indian
villages above them. Reach one of those villages and you are safe from
these devils at least. We have kept the start of them. They may not
reach this spot for several hours, and when they come, I will keep them
here, God helping me, for more hours than one. This place is a natural
fortress, and they have no guns. They will not take me until my
ammunition is exhausted, and you know there is store of bullets and
powder. They will think that you are with me, hidden behind the rocks--"

"And I shall be with you!" she cried vehemently.

"No, no. You must go through this pass in the cliff to the right of us,
and thence down the river with all your speed. Please God, to-morrow
will find you in safety. It is the only way. To stay here is to fall
into their hands. And you must not delay. You must go at once."

"And you--" she said in a whisper.

"What does it matter if I lose my life to-day instead of a few weeks
hence? I grieve for this," with a glance at his foot, "because it keeps
me from being with you, from guarding you into perfect safety. Otherwise
it does not matter. You lose time, madam."

She stood with heaving bosom and foot tapping the ground, an expression
that he could not read in her wonderful eyes. "I am not going," she said
at last.



CHAPTER XXXV

THE BOAT THAT WAS NOT


"You will not go?" cried Landless.

"No, I will not!" she answered passionately. "Why should you think such
a thing of me? See! we have been together, you and I, for long weeks!
You have been my faithful guide, my faithful protector. Over and over
again you have saved my life. And now, now when you are the helpless
one, when it is through me that you lie there helpless, when it is
through me that you are in this dreadful forest at all, you tell me to
go! to leave you to the fate I have brought upon you! to save myself! I
will not save myself! But the other day it was dishonor in you to leave
me below the falls--almost in safety. Mine the dishonor if I do what you
bid me do!"

"Madam, madam, it is not with women as with men!"

"I care not for women! I care for myself. Never, never, will I leave,
helpless and wounded, the man who dies for me!"

"Upon my knees I implore you!" Landless cried in desperation. "You
cannot save me, you cannot help me. It is you that would make the
bitterness of my fate. Let me die believing that you have escaped these
fiends, and then, do what they will to me, I shall die happy, blessing
with my last breath the generous woman who lets me give--how proudly and
gladly she will never know--my worthless life in exchange for hers, so
young, bright, innocent. Go, go, before it is too late!"

He dragged himself a foot nearer, and grasping the hem of her dress,
pressed it to his lips. "Good-bye," he said with a faint smile. "Keep
behind the rocks for some distance, then follow the river. Think kindly
of me. Good-bye."

"It is too late," she said. "I can see the river through this crack
between the rocks. One of those two canoes has just passed, going down
the river. In it were seven Ricahecrians and the mulatto. I saw him
quite plainly, for they row close to the bank with their faces turned to
the woods. They will land at some point below this and search for our
trail. When they do not find it, they will know that we are between them
and the rest of the band, and they will come upon us from behind. If I
go now, it will be to meet them. Shall I go?"

"No, no," groaned Landless. "It is too late. God help you! I cannot."

The large tears gathered in her eyes and fell over her white cheeks.
"Oh, why," she said plaintively, "why did He let you hurt yourself just
now?" She turned her face to the rock against which she was standing,
and hiding it in her arm, broke into a low sobbing. It went to the heart
of the man at her feet to hear her.

Presently the weeping ceased. She drew a long tremulous sigh, and dashed
the tears from her eyes. Her hands went up to her disheveled hair in a
little involuntary, feminine gesture, and she looked at him with a wan
smile.

"I did not mean to be so cowardly," she said simply. "I will be brave
now."

"You are the bravest woman in the world," he answered.

Below them waved the painted forest flaunting triumphant banners of
crimson and gold. A strong south wind was blowing, and it brought to
them a sound as of the whispering of many voices. The shining river,
too, murmured to its reeds and pebbles, and in the air was the dull
whirr of wings as the vast flocks of wild fowl rose like dark smoke from
the water, or, skimming along its surface, broke it into myriad diamond
sprays. Around the horizon towered heaped-up masses of cloud--Ossa piled
on Pelion--fantastic Jack-and-the-Beanstalk castles, built high above
the world, with rampart and turret and bastion of pearl and coral. Above
rose the sky intensely blue and calm.

All the wealth, the warmth and loveliness of the world they were about
to leave flowed over the souls of the doomed pair. In their hearts they
each said farewell to it forever. Patricia stood with uplifted face and
clear eyes, looking deep into the azure heaven. "I am trying to think,"
she said, "that death is not so bitter after all. To-day is
beautiful--but ours will be a fairer morrow! After to-day we will never
be tired, or fear, or be in danger any more. I am not afraid to die; but
ah! if it could only come to us now, swiftly, silently, out of the blue
yonder; if we could go without the blood--the horror--" she broke off
shuddering. Her eyes closed and she rested her head against the rock.
Landless watched the beautiful, pale face, the quivering eyelids, the
coral underlip drawn between the pearly teeth, in a passion of pity and
despair. Horrid visions of torture flashed through his brain; he saw the
delicate limbs writhing, heard the agonized screams.... If he killed
the mulatto, it might come to that; if the mulatto lived, he knew that
she would kill herself. He had given her the knife that had been
Monakatocka's, and she had it now, hidden in her bosom.... The glory of
the autumn day darkened and went out, the bitter waters of affliction
surged over him, an immeasurable sea; it seemed to him that until then
he had never suffered. A cold sweat broke out upon him, and with an
inarticulate cry of rage and despair he struck at his wounded foot as at
a deadly foe. The girl cried out at the sound of the blow.

"Oh, don't, don't! What are you doing? You have loosened the bandage,
and it is bleeding afresh."

Despite his effort to prevent her she readjusted the kerchief which she
had wound about the torn and crushed foot, very carefully and tenderly.
"It must hurt you very much," she said pityingly.

He took the little ministering hands in his and kissed them. "Oh, madam,
madam!" he groaned. "God knows I would shed every drop of my blood a
thousand times to save you. Death to me is nothing, nor life so fair
that I should care to keep it. The grave is a less dreadful prison than
those on earth, and I think to find in God a more merciful Judge. But
you--so young and beautiful, with friends, love--"

She stopped him with a gesture full of dignity and sweetness. "That life
is gone forever,--it is thousands of miles and ages on ages away. It is
a world more distant than the stars, and we are nearer to Heaven than to
it.... It is strange to think how we have drifted, you and I, to this
rock. A year ago we had never seen each other's faces, had never heard
each other's names, and yet you were coming to this rock from prison and
over seas, and I was coming to meet you.... And it is our death place,
and we will die together, and to-morrow maybe the little birds will
cover us with leaves as they did the children in the story. They were
brother and sister.... When our time comes I will not be afraid, for I
will be with you ... my brother."

Landless covered his face with his hands.

The shadows grew longer and the cloud castles began to flush rosily,
though the sun still rode above the tree tops. A purple light filled the
aisles of the forest, through which a herd of deer, making for some
accustomed lick, passed like a phantom troop. They vanished, and from
out the stillness of the glades came the sudden, startled barking of a
fox. A shadow darted across a sunlit alley from gloom to gloom, paused
on the outskirts of the wood below the crags while one might count ten,
then turned and flitted back into the darkness from whence it came. They
beneath the crags did not see it.

Suddenly Landless raised his head. Upon his face was the look of one who
has come through much doubt and anguish of spirit to an immutable
resolve. He looked to the priming of his gun and laid it upon the rock
beside him, together with his powderhorn and pouch of bullets. Raising
himself to his knees he gazed long and intently into the forest below.
There was no sign of danger. On the checkered ground beneath two mighty
oaks squirrels were playing together like frolicsome kittens, and
through the clear air came the tapping of a woodpecker. The forest was
silent as to the shadow that had flitted through it. It can keep a
secret very well.

Landless sank back against the rock. He had lost much blood, and that
and the pain of his mangled foot turned him faint and sick for minutes
at a time. He clenched his teeth and forced back the deadly faintness,
then turned to the woman who stood beside him, her hands clasped before
her, her eyes following the declining sun, her lips sometimes set in
mournful curves, sometimes murmuring broken and inaudible words of
prayer. He called her twice before she answered, turning to him with
eyes of feverish splendor which saw and yet saw not. "What is it?" she
asked dreamily.

"Come back to earth, madam," he said. "There is that that I wish to say
to you. Listen to me kindly and pitifully, as to a dying man."

"I am listening," she answered. "What is it?"

"It is this, madam: I love you. For God's sake don't turn away! Oh, I
know that I should have been strong to the end, that I should not vex
you thus! It is the coward's part I play, perhaps, but I must speak! I
cannot die without. I love you, I love you, I love you!"

His voice rose into a cry; in it rang long repressed passion, hopeless
adoration, fierce joy in having broken the bonds of silence. He spoke
rapidly, thickly, with a stammering tongue, now throwing out his hands
in passionate appeal, now crushing between his fingers the dried moss
and twigs with which the ground was strewn. "I loved you the day I first
saw you. I have loved you ever since. I love you now. My God! how I love
you! Die for you? I would die for you ten thousand times! I would _live_
for you! Oh, the day I first saw you! I was in hell and I looked at you
as lost Dives might have looked at the angel on the other side of the
gulf.... I never thought to tell you this. I know that never, never,
never.... But this is the day of our death. In a few hours we shall be
gone. Do not leave the world in anger with me. Say that you pity,
understand, forgive.... Speak to me, madam!"

The sun sank lower and the shadows lengthened and deepened, and still
Patricia stood silent with uplifted and averted face, and fingers
tightly locked together. With a moan of mortal weakness Landless dragged
himself nearer until he touched with his forehead the low pedestal of
rock upon which she stood. "I understand," he said quietly. "After all,
there is nothing to be said, is there? Try to forget my--madness. Think
of it, if you will, as the raving of one at death's door. Let it be as
it was between us."

Patricia turned--her beautiful face transfigured. Roses bloomed in her
cheeks, her eyes were fathomless wells of splendor, an exquisite smile
played about her lips; with her nimbus of golden hair she looked a rapt
mediæval saint. Her slender figure swayed towards Landless, and when she
spoke her voice was like the tone of a violin, soft, rich, caressing,
tremulous.

"There was no boat," she said.

"No boat!" he cried. "What do you mean?"

"The canoe going down the river. I told you that it held seven Indians
and the mulatto. I lied to you. There were no Indians, no mulatto, no
canoe. The shadows of the clouds have been upon the river, and the wild
fowl, and once a fish-hawk plunged. I have seen nothing else."

Landless gazed at her with staring eyeballs. "You have thrown away your
life," he said at last in a voice that did not seem his own.

"Yes, I have thrown away my life."

"But why--why--"

The rich color surged over her face and neck. She swayed towards him
with the grace of a wind-bowed lily, her breath fanning his forehead,
and her hand touching his, softly, flutteringly, like a young bird.

"Can you not guess why?" she said with an enchanting smile.

All the anguish of a little while back, all the terror of the fate that
hung over her, all the white calm of despair was gone. The horror that
moved nearer and nearer, moment by moment, through the painted forest,
was forgotten. She looked at him shyly from under her long lashes and
with another wonderful blush.

Landless gazed at her, comprehension slowly dawning in his eyes. For
five minutes there was a silence as of the dead beneath the crags. Then
with a great cry he caught her hands in his and drew her towards him.
"Is it?" he cried.

"Yes," she answered with laughter trembling on her lips. "Death hath
enfranchised us, you and me. Give me my betrothal kiss, my only love."

For them one moment of Paradise, of bliss ineffable and supreme. The
next, the crags behind them rang to the sound of the war whoop.



CHAPTER XXXVI

THE LAST FIGHT


Out from the forest rushed the remnant of that band which had smoked the
peace pipe with the Governor one sunny afternoon on the banks of the
Pamunkey. Tall and large of limb, painted with all fantastic and ghastly
devices, and decorated with hideous mementoes of nameless deeds; with
the lust of blood written large in every fierce lineament and dark and
rolling eye; with raised hands grasping knife and tomahawk, and lips
uttering cries that seemed not of earth--a more appalling vision could
not have issued from out the beautiful, treacherous forest, a more
crashing discord have come into the music of the golden evening.

For the two in their rocky fortress beneath the crags the apparition had
no terrors. All the pain, the anguish, the hopelessness of the world was
passing from them--the cry that swelled through the forest was its
knell. They smiled to hear it, and with raised faces looked beyond the
many-tinted evening skies into clear spaces where Love was all. The
intoxication of the moment when hidden and despairing love became love
triumphant and acknowledged abode with them. In the very grasp of death
ineffable bliss possessed them. Their countenances changed; the lines of
care and pain, the marks of tears, were all gone and the beauty of the
happy soul shone out. For that brief space of time transcendent youth
and loveliness was theirs. About them, as about the sun now sinking
behind the low hills, there breathed a glory, a dying splendor as bright
as it was fleeting. They felt, too, a lightness and gaiety of
spirit--they had drunk of the nectar of the gods, and no leaden weight
of care, no heavy sorrow, could ever touch them, ever drag them down
again to the sad earth.

"You are beautiful," said Landless, gazing at her, even in the act of
raising his gun to his shoulder; "as beautiful as you were the day I
first saw you. I hear the drone of the bees in the vines at Verney
Manor. I smell the roses. I look up and see the Rose of the World. My
eyes were dazzled then, are dazzled now, my Rose of the World."

"That day I wore brocade and lace, and there were pearls around my
throat," she said with a laugh of pure delight. "There was rouge upon my
cheeks, too, sir, and my eyes were darkened. To-day I go a beggar maid,
in rags, burnt by the sun--"

"The nut-brown maid," he said.

"Ay," she answered, "the nut-brown maid--'For in my mind of all
mankind'--you may e'en finish it yourself, sir."

The Ricahecrians had paused at the foot of the ascent to hold a council.
It was soon over. With another burst of cries they rushed up the steep
and upon the rocks, behind which were hidden their victims. Landless,
kneeling to one side of the gap between the boulders by which he and
Patricia had entered, fired, and the foremost of the savages threw up
his arms, uttered a dreadful cry, and fell across the path of his
fellows. For one moment the rush was checked, the next on they came,
yelling furiously and brandishing their weapons. Landless fired and
missed, fired again and pierced the thigh of a gigantic warrior,
bringing him crashing to the ground. The line wavered, paused, then
turning, swept to one side and so passed out of sight.

"They have found this pass too formidable," said Landless. "They will
try now to force an entrance from the side. Do you watch the front, my
queen, while I face them, coming over the rocks."

"I looked only at the mulatto," she said. "The others are shadows to
me."

"His time is come," said Landless. "Do not fear him, sweetheart."

"I fear not," she answered. "I have the perfect love."

Along the top of a tall boulder to their right appeared a dark red
line--the arm of a savage, with clutching fingers. Above it, very slowly
and cautiously, there rose first an eagle's feather, then a coarse black
scalp lock, then a high forehead and fierce eyes. The echo of Landless's
shot reverberated through the cliffs, and when the smoke cleared only
the bare gray boulder faced him. But from behind it came a derisive
yell.

"Thou wilt think me a poor marksman, my dear," he said, smiling, as he
reloaded his musket. "I have missed again."

"It is because you are wounded," she said. "I would I had thy wounds."

"I had a wounded heart, but you have healed it," he said, and looked at
her with shining eyes.

The sun sank and the long twilight of the hills set in. The evening star
was brightening through the pale amethyst of the sky when Landless said
quietly: "The last charge," and emptied it into an arm which for one
incautious moment had waved above the rocks.

"It is the end, then," said Patricia.

"Yes, it is the end. We have beaten them back for the moment, but
presently they will find that all we could do we have done, and then--"

She left her post beside the gap in the front, and came and knelt beside
him, and he took her in his arms.

"It is not Death before us, but Life," she said in a low voice.

"It is God and Love, naught else," he answered. "But the river between
will be bitter for you to cross, sweetheart."

"We cross it together," she said, "and so--" She raised her head that he
might see her radiant smile, and their lips met.

"Hark!" she said directly with her hand on his. "What is that sound?"

He shook his head. "The wind has risen, and the forest rustles and
sighs. There is nothing more."

"It is far off," she answered, "but it is like the dip of oars. Ah!"

Over against them, framed in the narrow opening between the rocks, his
lithe, half-nude figure dark against the crimson west, and with a smile
upon his evil lips and in his evil eyes, stood Luiz Sebastian. In the
dead silence that succeeded he looked with a smiling; countenance from
the musket, now useless and thrown aside, to his enemy, wounded and
unarmed save for a knife, and to the woman in that enemy's arms; then,
without turning, he said a few words in an Indian tongue. From the dusky
mass behind him came one short, wild cry of savage triumph, followed by
another dead silence.

Still holding Patricia in one arm, Landless rose from his knee, and
stood confronting him.

"We are met again, Señor Landless," said Luiz Sebastian smoothly.
Receiving no answer, he spoke again with a tigerish expansion of his
thick lips. "You have had an accident, I see. Mother of God! that foot
must pain you! But you will forget it presently in the pleasure of the
pine splinters."

"I will forget it in the pleasure of this," said Landless, releasing
Patricia, and springing upon the mulatto with a suddenness and violence
that sent them both staggering through the opening between the rocks,
out upon the narrow plateau and into the ring of Ricahecrians. Luiz
Sebastian was strong, with the easy masked strength of the panther, but
Landless had the strength of despair. The mulatto, thrown heavily to the
ground, and pinned there by his adversary's knee, saw the gleam of the
lifted knife, and would have seen nothing more in this life, but that a
woman's cry rang out and saved him. Landless heard, turned, saw Patricia
dragged from the shelter of the rocks, leaped to his feet, leaving his
work undone, and rushed upon the knot of savages with whom she was
struggling. A moment saw him beside her with the Indian who had held her
dead at his feet. Behind them was the great boulder which had formed the
front wall of their chamber of defense. He put his arm around her, and
drew her back with him until they stood against this rock, then faced
the advancing savages with uplifted knife.

So determined was his attitude, so terribly had they proved his power,
so certain it was that before he should be taken one at least of their
number would taste that knife, that the Ricahecrians paused, swaying to
and fro, yelling, working themselves into a fury that should send them
on like maddened brutes, blind and deaf to all things but their lust for
blood.

"I hear a sound of footsteps over the leaves," said Patricia.

"The wind rustles in them, or the deer pass," answered Landless. "Oh, my
life! are you content?"

She answered with a low, clear laugh. "I hold happiness fast," she said.
"It cannot escape us now."

"They are coming," he said. "The last kiss, heart of my heart."

Their lips met, and their eyes with a smile in them met, and then he put
her gently behind him, and turned to again face Luiz Sebastian.

With his eyes fixed upon the yellow face, he had raised his hand to
strike at the yellow breast, spotted and barred with the black of the
war paint, when an Indian, gliding between, struck up his arm, and sent
the knife tinkling down upon the rocks. With a yell of triumph the
savage snatched up the weapon, and brandished it, showing it to his
fellows, who, seeing their work accomplished, and the two whom they had
tracked so far actually in their hands, made the forest ring with their
exultant shouts. A few closed in around the devoted pair, directing at
them fiendish cries and no less fiendish laughter, and menacing them
with knife and tomahawk, but the majority streamed down the steep and
into the forest at its base.

"They go to gather wood," said the still smiling Luiz Sebastian. "By and
by we are to have a bonfire. Señor Landless has often carried wood, I
think, in those old times when he was a slave, and when the pretty
mistress behind him there treated him as such--unless she gave him
favors in secret. But, Mother of God! now that she has made him master,
we must carry the wood for him!"

Landless, standing with folded arms, looked at him with quiet scorn. "It
is the nature of the viper to use his venom," he said calmly. "Such a
thing cannot anger me."

"At the same time it is as well to crush the viper," said a voice at his
elbow.

The speaker, who was Sir Charles Carew, had come from behind the
boulders which ran in a straggling line down the hillside toward the
river. He had his drawn sword in his hand, and as he spoke, he ran the
mulatto through the body. The wretch, his oath of rage and astonishment
still upon his lips, fell to the ground without a groan, writhed there a
moment or two, and then lay still forever.

From the forest below rose a loud confusion of shouts and cries,
followed by a volley of musketry. At the sound the half dozen savages
upon the plateau turned and plunged down the hillside, to be met before
they reached the bottom by the upward rush of a portion of the rescuing
party. For a short while the twilight glades, low hills and frowning
crags rang to the sound of a miniature battle, to the quick crack of
muskets, the clear shouts of the whites, and the whoops of the savages.
But by degrees these latter became fainter, further between, died
away--a short ten minutes, and there were no warriors left to return to
the village in the Blue Mountains. Fierce shedders of blood, they were
paid in their own coin.

On the hilltop Sir Charles shot his rapier into its scabbard, and
strode over to Patricia, standing white and still against the rock. "I
was in time," he said. "Thank God!"

She made no motion to meet his extended hands, but stood looking past
him at Landless. Her face was like marble, her eyes one dumb question.
Landless met their gaze, and in his own she read despair, renunciation,
strong resolve--and a long farewell.

"You are come in time, Sir Charles Carew," he said. "A little more, and
we should have been beyond your reach. You will find the lady safe and
well, though shaken, as you see, by this last alarm. She will speak for
me, I trust, will tell you that I have used her with all respect, that I
have done for her all that I could do.... Madam, all danger is past.
Will you not collect yourself and speak to your kinsman and savior?"

He spoke with a certain calm stateliness of voice and manner, as of one
who has passed beyond all emotion, whether of hope or fear, and in his
eyes which he kept fixed upon her there was a command.

"Speak to me, my cousin; tell me that I am welcome," said Sir Charles,
flinging himself upon his knee before her.

With a strong shudder she looked away from the still, white, and sternly
composed face opposite to the darkening river and the evening star
shining calmly down upon a waste world.

At length she spoke. "I was all but beyond this world, cousin, so pardon
me if I seem to come back to it somewhat tardily. You have my thanks, of
course--my dear thanks--for saving my life--my life which is so precious
to me."

She gave him her hand with a strange smile, and he pressed his lips
upon it. "Your father is below, dearest cousin. Shall we descend to meet
him? As to this--gentleman," turning with a smile that was like a frown
to Landless, "I regret that circumstances combine to prevent our
rewarding him as the guardian (a trusty one, I am sure) of so precious a
jewel should be rewarded. But Colonel Verney will do--I will do--all
that is possible. In the mean time I observe with regret that he is
wounded. If he will allow me, I will send him my valet, who is below,
and is the best barber surgeon in the three kingdoms. Come, dearest
madam."

He bowed low and ceremoniously to Landless, who returned the salute with
grave courtesy, and gave his hand to Patricia. For one moment she looked
at Landless with wide, dark eyes, then, her spirit obedient to his
spirit, she turned and went from him without one word or backward look.

The color had quite faded from the west, and the stars were thickening
when Landless became conscious that the overseer was standing beside
him. "You are the hardest one to hold that ever I saw," said that worthy
grimly, and yet with a certain appreciation of the qualities that made
the man at his feet hard to hold showing in his tone, "but I fancy we've
got you at last. You've gone and put yourself in bilboes."

Landless smiled. "This time you may keep me. I shall not interfere. But
tell me how you come here. You were sent back to the Plantations."

"Ay," said the other, "and there was the devil to pay, I can tell you,
when I had to report you missing to Sir William. But Major Carrington
stood my friend, and I got off with a tongue-drubbing. Well, after about
three weeks or so, during which time the dogs and the searchers brought
back most all of the runaway niggers, and Mistress Lettice had hysterics
every day, back comes the Colonel and Sir Charles with ten of the twenty
men who had rowed them up the Pamunkey. The rest had fallen in a brush
with the Monacans. They hadn't come up with the Ricahecrians, hadn't
seen hair nor hide of them, had but one report from the Indian villages
along the river, and that was that no Ricahecrians had passed that way.
So after a while they were forced to believe that they were upon a false
scent, and back they comes post haste to the Plantations to get more
men, and go up the Rappahannock. Well, they went up the Rappahannock,
and found nothing to their purpose, so back they came again to try the
James and the country above the Falls. This time they found the
Settlements, which had been before like an overturned hive, pretty
quiet, the ringleaders of your precious plot having all been strung up,
and the rest made as mild as sheep with branding and whipping and
doubling of times. So, the tobacco being in and the plantation quiet,
things were left to Haines, and I came along with the Colonel. Major
Carrington, too, who they say is in the Governor's black books, though
Lord knows he was active enough in stamping out this insurrection, asked
to be allowed to join in the search for his old friend's daughter, and
so he's down in the woods yonder. And Mr. Cary is there, and Mr. Peyton
(Mistress Betty Carrington made _him_ come) and Mr. Jaclyn Carter. Fegs!
half the young gentry in the colony pressed their services on the
Colonel. It got to be the fashion to volunteer to run their heads into
the wolf's mouth for Mistress Patricia. But Sir Charles choked most of
them off. 'Gentlemen,' he says, says he, 'despite the saying that there
cannot be too much of a good thing, I beg to remind you that the
disastrous fortunes of those who first struggled with the forest and the
Indians in this western paradise are attributed to the fact that they
were two thirds gentlemen. Wherefore let us shun the rock upon which
they split'--"

"How many of my fellow conspirators were put to death?" interrupted
Landless.

"All the principal ones--them that Trail denounced as leaders. The rest
we pardoned after giving them a lesson they won't soon forget. We let
bygones be bygones with the redemptioners and slaves--all but those
devils who got away that night at Verney Manor, and with Trail at their
head, made for Captain Laramore's ship which was going to turn pirate.
Well, they got to the boats, and one lot got off safe to the ship which
hoisted the black flag, and sailed away to the Indies, and is sailing
there, murdering and ruining, to this day, I reckon. But the other boat
was over full, and the steersman was drunken, and she capsized before
she got to the middle of the channel. Some were drowned, and those that
got ashore we hung next morning. But Trail was in the first boat."

"When do you--do we--start down the river?"

"At midnight. And it's the Colonel's orders that until then you stay
here among the rocks and not show yourself to the men below. He'll see
you before we start. In the mean time I'll keep you company." And the
overseer took out his pipe and tobacco pouch, filled the former, lighted
it, and leaning back against the rock fell to smoking in contented
silence.

Landless too sat in silence, with his head thrown back against the rock
and his face uplifted to the growing splendor of the skies. The night
wind, blowing mournfully around the bare hill and the broken crag,
struck upon his brow with a hint of winter in its touch. With it came
the tide of forest sounds--the sough of the leaves, the dull creaking of
branch against branch, the wash of the water in the reeds, the whirr of
wings, the cries of night birds--all the low and stealthy notes of the
earth chant which had become to him as old and tenderly familiar as the
lullabies of his childhood. Below him, at the foot of the hill, a square
of dark and stately pines was irradiated by a great fire which burnt
redly, casting flickering shadows far across the smooth brown earth, and
around which sat or moved many figures. Laughter and jest, oaths and
scraps of song floated up to the lonely watcher upon the hilltop. He
heeded them not--he was above that world--and no sound came from that
other and smaller fire blazing at some distance from the first--and the
tree trunks between were so many and so thick that he could see naught
but the light.



CHAPTER XXXVII

VALE


The overseer knocked the ashes from his pipe and stuck it in his belt.
"The master," he said curtly, getting to his feet as three cloaked
figures, followed by a negro bearing a torch, came up the hillside and
into the waste of stones beneath the crags. Advancing to meet them, he
took the torch from Regulus's hand and fired a mass of dead and leafless
vine depending from the cliff. In the bright light which sprang up,
filling the rocky chamber and burnishing the face of the crags into the
semblance of a cataract of fire, the parties to the interview gazed at
one another in silence.

Colonel Verney was the first to speak. "I am sorry to see that you are
wounded," he said gravely.

"I thank you, sir,--it is nothing."

The Colonel walked the length of the plateau twice, then came back to
his prisoner's side. "My daughter has told me all," he said somewhat
huskily. "That you and the Susquehannock sought for her and found her;
that you fought for her bravely more than once; that after the Indian
was slain you guided and protected her through the forest; that you have
in all things borne yourself towards her faithfully and reverently, not
injuring her by word, thought or deed. My daughter is very dear to
me--dearer than life, I am not ungrateful. I thank you very heartily."

"Mistress Patricia Verney is dear to me also," said Sir Charles, coming
forward to stand beside his kinsman. "I too thank the man who restores
her to her friends--to her lover."

"And I would to God," said the third figure, advancing, "that we could
save the brave man to whom so much is owed. If I were Governor of
Virginia--"

"You could do naught, Carrington," broke in the Colonel impatiently.
"The man is convict--outside the pale! A convict, and the head of an
Oliverian plot! Scarce the King himself could pardon him! And if he did,
how long d' ye think the walls of the gaol at Jamestown would keep him
from the rabble--and the nearest tree? No, no, William Berkeley does but
his duty. And yet--and yet--"

He began to pace the rocks again, frowning heavily, and pulling at the
curls of his periwig. "You are a brave man," he said at last, stopping
before Landless and speaking with energy, "and from my soul I wish I
could save you. I would gladly overlook all that is over and done with,
would gladly free you, aid you, help you, so far as might be, to
retrieve your past--but I cannot. My hands are tied; it is
impossible--you must see for yourself that it is impossible."

"None can see that so clearly as myself, Colonel Verney," Landless said
steadily. "I thank you for the will none the less."

"To take you back with me," the other continued, beginning to stride up
and down again, "is to take you back, bound, to certain death. And there
is but one alternative--to leave you here in the wilderness. Your
presence here is known only to those upon whose discretion I can depend.
They would hold their tongues, and none need ever be the wiser. But the
Settlements will be barred to you forever, and hundreds of leagues
stretch between this spot and the Dutch or the New Englanders. Moreover,
your description hath been sent to the authorities of each colony. And
you are wounded, and winter is at hand. It may be but a choice of
deaths! I would to God there were some other way--but there is none! You
must choose."

In the dead silence that ensued the Colonel moved back to the side of
the Surveyor-General, and the two stood, thoughtfully regardant of the
prisoner. The light from the partially consumed vines beginning to wane,
the overseer motioned to Regulus to collect and apply his torch to a
quantity of the fagots with which the ground was strewn. The negro
obeyed, and stood behind the light flame and curling smoke which he had
evoked, like the genie of an Arabian tale. Sir Charles, left standing in
the centre of the rocky chamber, hesitated a moment, then walked with
his usual languid grace over to where Landless leaned against a boulder,
his eyes, shaded by his hand, fixed upon the ground.

"Whichever you choose--Scylla or Charybdis--" said Sir Charles in his
most dulcet tones, "this is probably the last time you and I will ever
speak together. There have been passages between us in the past, which,
in the light of after event, I cannot but regret. You have just rendered
me an inestimable service. I have learnt, too, that you saved my life
the night of the storming of the Manor House. I beg to apologize to you,
sir, for any offense I may have given you by word or deed." And he held
out his hand with his most courtly smile.

"It becomes a dying man to be in charity with the world he leaves," said
Landless, somewhat coldly, but with a smile too, "and so I do that which
I never thought to do," and he touched the other's fingers with his own.

Sir Charles looked at him curiously. "You make a good enemy," he said
lightly. "Had it not been predestined that we were to hate each other, I
could find it in my heart to desire you for a friend. You remain in the
forest, I dare swear?"

"Yes," answered Landless, with his eyes upon the light in the glade
below. "I choose the easier fate."

"The easier for all concerned," said the other with a peculiar
intonation.

Landless glanced at him keenly, but the courtier face and the
inscrutable smile told nothing. "The easier for myself, whom alone it
concerneth," said Landless sternly.

Dragging himself up by the rock behind him, he turned to the two elder
men. "I have decided, Colonel Verney," he said slowly, "I will stay
here, an it please you."

"You shall have all that we can leave you," said the Colonel eagerly and
with some emotion. "Ammunition in plenty, food, blankets, an axe--it's
little enough I can do, God knows, but I do that little most willingly."

"Again I thank you," said Landless wearily.

Sir Charles caught the inflection. "You stand in need of rest," he said
courteously, "and, this matter settled, our farther intrusion upon you
is as unnecessary as it must be unwelcome. Had we not best descend,
gentlemen?"

"Ay," said the Colonel. "We have done all we could." Then, to Landless,
"With the moonrise we drop down the river--from out your sight forever.
I have told you frankly there is no hope for you amongst your kind in
the world to which we return. I believe there to be none. But have you
thought of what we must needs leave you to? Humanly speaking, it is
death, and death alone, in the winter forest."

"I have thought," said Landless.

"From my soul I wish that some miracle may occur to save you yet!"

"An ill wish!" said the other, smiling, "with but little chance,
however, of its fulfillment."

"I fear not," said the Colonel with something like a groan, "but I wish
it, nevertheless. Here is my hand, and with it my heartfelt thanks for
your service to my daughter. And I wish you to believe that I deeply
deplore your fate, and that I would have saved you if I could."

"I believe it," Landless said simply.

The Colonel took and wrung his hand, then turned sharply away, and
beckoning the overseer to follow, strode out of the circle of rocks.

Sir Charles raised his feathered hat. "We have been foes," he said, "but
the strife is over--and when all is said, we are both Englishmen. I
trust we bear each other no ill will."

"I bear none," said Landless.

Sir Charles, his eyes still fixed upon the pale quiet of the other's
face, passed out of the opening between the rocks, and his place was
taken by the Surveyor-General.

"I would have saved you if I could," he said in a low and troubled
voice. "I bow to a brave man and a gallant gentleman," and he too was
gone.

In the glade below, the movement, the laughter and the song sank
gradually into silence as the gentlemen adventurers, the rangers, Indian
guides, and servants composing the rescuing party threw themselves down,
one by one, beside the blazing fires for a short rest before moonrise
and the long pull down the river.

Among the crags, high above the twinkling watch-fires and the wash of
the dark river, there was the stillness of the stars, of the white frost
and the bare cliffs. In the northern heavens played a soft light, and
now and then a star shot. The man who marked its trail across the
studded skies thought of himself as of one as far withdrawn as it from
the world of lower lights in the forest at his feet. Already he felt a
prescience of the loneliness of the morrow, and the morrow, and the
morrow, of the slow drift of the days in the waning forest, the hopeless
nights, the terror of that great solitude--and felt, too, a feverish
desire to hasten that approach, to embrace that which was to be
henceforth bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. He wished for the
dash of oars in the dark stream below and for the rise of the moon which
was to shine coldly down upon him, companionless, immured in that vast
fortress from which he might never hope to escape.

The sound of cautious footsteps among the rocks brought his sick and
wandering fancy back to the present. Raising himself upon his elbow and
peering intently into the darkness, he made out two figures, one tall
and large, the other much slighter, advancing towards him. Presently the
larger figure stopped short, and, seating itself upon a flat rock at the
brink of the hill, turned its face towards the fires in the woods below.
The other came on lightly and hurriedly--another moment, and rising to
his knees, he clasped her in his arms and laid his head upon her bosom.

"I never thought to see you again," he said at last.

"I made Regulus bring me," she answered. "The others do not know--they
think me asleep."

She spoke in a low, even, monotonous voice, and the hand which she laid
upon his forehead was like marble. "My heart is dead, I think," she
said. "I wish my body were so too."

He drew her closer to him and covered her face and hands with kisses.
"My love, my lady," he said. "My white rose, my woodland dove!"

She clung to him, trembling. "Down there I was going mad," she
whispered. "But now--now--I feel as though I could weep." He felt her
tears upon his face, but in a moment she was calm again. "Do you
remember the bird we found the other day, all numbed with cold?" she
said. "It had been gay and free and light of heart, but it had not
strength to flutter when I took it in my hands and tried to warm it--and
could not. I am like that bird. The world is very gray and cold, and my
heart--it will never be warm again."

"God comfort you," he said brokenly.

"They have told me that at moonrise we leave this place--and you. They
say that it is all they can do for you--to leave you here. All!--Oh, my
God!"

"They have done what they could," he said gravely. "I recognize that.
And I wish you to do so too, sweetheart."

She looked at him wildly. "I have been silent," she said, pressing her
clasped hands against her bosom. "I have not told them. I have obeyed
what I read in your eyes. But was it well? Oh, my dear, let me speak!"

He took her hands from her breast and laid them against his own. "No,"
he said with a smile, "I love you too well for that."

From the woods across the river came the crying of wolves, then a
silence as of the grave; then a whisper arose in the long dry grass and
the leafless vines, and a cold breeze lifted the hair from their
foreheads. The whisper grew into a murmur, prolonged and deep, a sound
as of a distant cataract, or of the dash of surf upon a far away
shore--the voice of the wind in the world of trees. A star shot, leaving
a stream of white fire to fade out of the dark blue sky. From the forest
came again the cry of the wolves. In the camp below there seemed some
stir, and the figure seated on the rock turned its head towards them and
lifted a warning hand.

"You must go," said Landless. "It was madness for you to venture here.
See, the light is growing in the east."

With a low, desolate moaning sound she wrung the hands he released and
raised her face to his. He kissed her upon the brow, the eyes and the
mouth. "Good-by, my life, my love, my heart," he said. "We were happy
for an hour. Good-by!"

"I will be brave," she answered. "I will live my life out. I will pray
to God. And, Godfrey, I will be ever true to you. I shall never see you
again, my dear, never hear of you more, never know till my latest day
whether you are of this world still, or whether you have waited for me a
long time, up there beyond those lights. If it--if death--should come
Boon, wait for me--beyond--in perfect trust, my dear, for I will come
to you--I will come to you as I am, Godfrey."

He bowed his face upon her hands.

The breeze freshened, and the sound of the surf became the sound of
breakers. In the east the pale light strengthened. The figure below them
stood up and beckoned.

"The moon is coming," said Patricia. "Once before I watched for it--in
terror, with pride and anger in my heart. Then, when I thought of you, I
hated you. It is strange to think of that now. Kiss me good-by."

"I too will be strong," he said. "I will await the pleasure of the Lord.
Until His good time, my bride!"

Rising to his feet he held her in his arms, then kissed her upon the
lips and put her gently from him. For a moment she stood like a statue,
then with a lifted face and hands clasped at her bosom, she turned, and
slowly, but without a backward look, left the circle of rocks. Through
the opening he saw the slave come up to her, and saw her motion to him
to fall behind--another moment, and both dark figures had sunk below the
brow of the hill.

Stronger and stronger blew the wind, louder and louder swelled the voice
of the forest. Below, the wash of the river in its reeds, the dull
groaning of branch grating against branch, the fall of leaf and acorn,
the loud sighing of the pines, the cries of the owl, the panther, and
the wolf--above, the vast dome of the heavens and the fading stars. An
effulgence in the east; a silver crest, like the white rim of a giant
wave, upon the eastern hills; a pale splendor mounting slowly and calmly
upward--a dead world,--all her passion, all her pain, all toil and
strife over and done with,--shining down upon a sadder earth.

From beneath the shadowy banks there shot out into the middle of the
broad moonlit stream a long canoe, followed by a second and a third, and
turning, went swiftly down that long, bright, shimmering, rippling path.

In the last and smallest of the three boats a man rose from his seat in
the stern, and with his eyes upon the line of moon-whitened cliffs above
him, raised his plumed hat with a courteous gesture, then bent and spoke
to a cloaked and hooded figure sitting, still and silent, between him
and a burlier form. This canoe was rowed by negroes, and as they rowed
they sang. The wild chant--half dirge, half frenzy--that they raised was
suited to that waste which they were leaving.

The black lines upon the silver flood became mere dots, and the wailing
notes came up the stream faintly and more faintly still. For a while the
echoes rolled among the folded hills and the tall gray crags, but at
length they died away forever.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

[Transcriber's note: added omitted word "time" in "By this time his eyes"
on line 9427, original page 304, of this text.]





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