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Title: The Bondman - A New Saga
Author: Caine, Hall, Sir, 1853-1931
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "The Bondman - A New Saga" ***

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THE BONDMAN.

A New Saga.

by

HALL CAINE,

Author of "The Deemster," etc., etc.


"Vengeance is mine, I will repay."



New York:
A. L. Burt, Publisher.



 TO MY SON
 "LITTLE SUNLOCKS."



NOTE.


The central date of this story (a Saga in the only sense accepted
among Icelanders) is 1800, when Iceland, in the same year as Ireland,
lost the last visible sign of her ancient independence as a nation.
But, lest the historical incidents that stand as a background to
simple human passions should seem to clash at some points, I hasten
to say that I have not thought it wise to bind myself to the strict
chronology of history, Manx or Icelandic, for some years before and
after. I am partly conscious that the Iceland I have described is the
Iceland of an earlier era; but Icelanders will not object to my
having tried to bring within my too narrow limits much of what is
beautiful and noble and firing to enthusiasm in their old habits,
customs and laws. To the foolish revolt which occurred at Reykjavik
early in this century I have tried to give the dignity of a serious
revolution such as, I truly think, Icelanders may yet make in order
to become masters in their own house. For a great deal of my data
towards this sort of secondary interest I am indebted to many books,
Icelandic and English; and for some personal help I owe my thanks to
Herra Jon A. Hjaltalin of Modruvellir, who is not, however, to be
charged with my mistakes--too numerous I have no doubt. For my
descriptions of Icelandic scenes and character I can claim no
authority but that of my own observation.

                                                        H. C.

  HAWTHORNS,
    KESWICK.



THE BONDMAN.

"VENGEANCE IS MINE--I WILL REPAY."



PROEM.


There is a beautiful Northern legend of a man who loved a good fairy,
and wooed her and won her for his wife, and then found that she was
no more than a woman after all. Grown weary, he turned his back upon
her and wandered away over the mountains; and there, on the other
side of a ravine from where he was, he saw, as he thought, another
fairy, who was lovely to look upon and played sweet music and sang a
sweet song. Then his heart was filled with joy and bitterness, and he
cried, "Oh, that the gods had given me this one to wife and not the
other." At that, with mighty effort and in great peril, he crossed
the ravine and made towards the fairy, and she fled from him; but he
ran and followed her and overtook her, and captured her and turned
her face to his face that he might kiss her, and lo! _she was his
wife!_

This old folk-tale is half my story--the play of emotions as sweet
and light as the footsteps of the shadows that flit over a field of
corn.

There is another Northern legend of a man who thought he was pursued
by a troll. His ricks were fired, his barns unroofed, his cattle
destroyed, his lands blasted, and his firstborn slain. So he lay in
wait for the monster where it lived in the chasms near his house, and
in the darkness of night he saw it. With a cry he rushed upon it, and
gripped it about the waist, and it turned upon him and held him by
the shoulder. Long he wrestled with it, reeling, staggering, falling
and rising again; but at length a flood of strength came to him and
he overthrew it, and stood over it, covering it, conquering it, with
his back across his thigh and his right hand set hard at its throat.
Then he drew his knife to kill it, and the moon shot through a rack
of cloud, opening an alley of light about it, and he saw its face,
and lo! _the face of the troll was his own!_

This is the other half of my story--the crash of passions as bracing
as a black thunderstorm.



CHAPTER I.

STEPHEN ORRY, SEAMAN, OF STAPPEN.


In the latter years of last century, H. Jorgen Jorgensen was
Governor-General of Iceland. He was a Dane, born in Copenhagen,
apprenticed to the sea on board an English trader, afterwards
employed as a petty officer in the British navy, and some time in the
command of a Danish privateer in an Alliance of Denmark and France
against England. A rover, a schemer, a shrewd man of affairs, who was
honest by way of interest, just by policy, generous by strategy, and
who never suffered his conscience, which was not a good one, to get
the better of him.

In one of his adventures he had sailed a Welsh brig from Liverpool to
Reykjavik. This had been his introduction to the Icelandic capital,
then a little, hungry, creeping settlement, with its face towards
America and its wooden feet in the sea. It had also been his
introduction to the household of the Welsh merchant, who had a wharf
by the old Canning basin at Liverpool, a counting-house behind his
residence in Wolstenholme Square, and a daughter of five and twenty.
Jorgen, by his own proposal, was to barter English produce for
Icelandic tallow. On his first voyage he took out a hundred tons of
salt, and brought back a heavy cargo of lava for ballast. On his
second voyage he took out the Welshman's daughter as his wife, and
did not again trouble to send home an empty ship.

He had learned that mischief was once more brewing between England
and Denmark, had violated his English letters of marque and run
into Copenhagen, induced the authorities there, on the strength
of his knowledge of English affairs, to appoint him to the
Governor-Generalship of Iceland (then vacant) at a salary of four
hundred pounds a year, and landed at Reykjavik with the Icelandic
flag, of the white falcon on the blue ground--the banner of the
Vikings--at the masthead of his father-in-law's Welsh brig.

Jorgen Jorgensen was then in his early manhood, and the strong heart
of the good man did not decline with years, but rode it out with him
through life and death. He had always intended to have a son and
build up a family. It was the sole failure of his career that he had
only a daughter. That had been a disaster for which he was not
accountable, but he prepared himself to make a good end of a bad
beginning. With God's assistance and his own extreme labor he meant
to marry his daughter to Count Trollop, the Danish minister for
Iceland, a functionary with five hundred a year, a house at
Reykjavik, and another at the Danish capital.

This person was five-and-forty, tall, wrinkled, powdered, oiled, and
devoted to gallantry. Jorgen's daughter, resembling her Welsh mother,
was patient in suffering, passionate in love, and fierce in hatred.
Her name was Rachel. At the advent of Count Trollop she was twenty,
and her mother had then been some years dead.

The Count perceived Jorgen's drift, smiled at it, silently acquiesced
in it, took even a languid interest in it, arising partly out of the
Governor's position and the wealth the honest man was supposed to
have amassed in the rigorous exercise of a place of power, and partly
out of the daughter's own comeliness, which was not to be despised.
At first the girl, on her part, neither assisted her father's designs
nor resisted them, but showed complete indifference to the weighty
questions of whom she should marry, when she should marry, and how
she should marry; and this mood of mind contented her down to the
last week in June that followed the anniversary of her twenty-first
birthday.

That was the month of Althing, the national holiday of fourteen days,
when the people's law-givers--the Governor, the Bishop, the Speaker,
and the Sheriffs--met the people's delegates and some portion of the
people themselves at the ancient Mount of Laws in the valley of
Thingvellir, for the reading of the old statutes and the promulgation
of the new ones, for the trial of felons and the settlement of
claims, for the making of love and the making of quarrels, for
wrestling and horse-fighting, for the practice of arms and the
breaking of heads. Count Trollop was in Iceland at this celebration
of the ancient festival, and he was induced by Jorgen to give it
the light of his countenance. The Governor's company set out on
half-a-hundred of the native ponies, and his daughter rode between
himself and the Count. During that ride of six or seven long Danish
miles Jorgen settled the terms of the intended transfer to his own
complete contentment. The Count acquiesced and the daughter did not
rebel.

The lonely valley was reached, the tents were pitched, the Bishop
hallowed the assembly with solemn ceremonies, and the business of
Althing began. Three days the work went on, and Rachel wearied of it;
but on the fourth the wrestling was started, and her father sent for
her to sit with him on the Mount and to present at the end of the
contest the silver-buckled belt to the champion of all Iceland. She
obeyed the summons with indifference, and took a seat beside the
Judge, with the Count standing at her side. In the space below there
was a crowd of men and boys, women and children, gathered about the
ring. One wrestler was throwing everyone that came before him. His
name was Patricksen, and he was supposed to be descended from the
Irish, who settled, ages ago, on the Westmann Islands. His success
became monotonous; at every fresh bout his self-confidence grew more
insufferable, and the girl's eyes wandered from the spectacle to the
spectators. From that instant her indifference fell away.

By the outskirts of the crowd, on one of the lower mounds of the
Mount of Laws, a man sat with his head in his hand, with elbow on
his knee. His head was bare, and from his hairy breast his woolen
shirt was thrown back by reason of the heat. He was a magnificent
creature--young, stalwart, fair-haired, broad-chested, with limbs
like the beech tree, and muscles like its great gnarled round heads.
His coat, a sort of sailor's jacket, was coarse and torn; his
stockings, reaching to his knees, were cut and brown. He did not seem
to heed the wrestling, and there rested upon him the idle air of the
lusty Icelander--the languor of the big, tired animal. Only, when at
the close of a bout a cheer rose and a way was made through the crowd
for the exit of the vanquished man, did he lift up his great slow
eyes--gray as those of a seal, and as calm and lustreless.

The wrestling came to an end. Patricksen justified his Irish blood,
was proclaimed the winner, and stepped up to the foot of the Mount
that the daughter of the Governor might buckle about him his
champion's belt. The girl went through her function listlessly, her
eyes wandering to where the fair-haired giant sat apart. Then the
Westmann islander called for drink that he might treat the losing
men, and having drunk himself, he began to swagger afresh, saying
that they might find him the strongest and lustiest man that day at
Thingvellir, and he would bargain to throw him over his back. As he
spoke he strutted by the bottom of the Mount, and the man who sat
there lifted his head and looked at him. Something in the glance
arrested Patricksen and he stopped.

"This seems to be a lump of a lad," he said. "Let us see what we can
do with him."

And at that he threw his long arms about the stalwart fellow, squared
his broad hips before him, thrust down his head into his breast until
his red neck was as thick as a bullock's, and threw all the strength
of his body into his arms that he might lift the man out of his seat.
But he moved him not an inch. With feet that held the earth like the
hoofs of an ox, the young man sat unmoved.

Then those who had followed at the islander's heels for the liquor he
was spending first stared in wonderment at his failure, and next
laughed in derision of his bragging, and shouted to know why, before
it was too late, the young man had not taken a bout at the wrestling,
for that he who could hold his seat so must be the strongest-limbed
man between the fells and the sea. Hearing this Patricksen tossed his
head in anger, and said it was not yet too late, that if he took home
the champion's belt it should be no rude bargain to master or man
from sea to sea, and buckled though it was, it should be his who
could take it from its place.

At that word the young fellow rose, and then it was seen that his
right arm was useless, being broken between the elbow and the wrist,
and bound with a kerchief above the wound. Nothing loth for this
infirmity, he threw his other arm about the waist of the islander,
and the two men closed for a fall. Patricksen had the first grip, and
he swung to it, thinking straightway to lay his adversary by the
heels; but the young man held his feet, and then, pushing one leg
between the legs of the islander, planting the other knee into the
islander's stomach, thrusting his head beneath the islander's chin,
he knuckled his left hand under the islander's rib, pulled towards
him, pushed from him, threw the weight of his body forward, and like
a green withe Patricksen doubled backwards with a groan. Then at a
rush of the islander's kinsmen, and a cry that his back would be
broken, young man loosed his grip, and Patricksen rolled from him to
the earth, as a clod rolls from the ploughshare.

All this time Jorgen's daughter had craned her neck to see over the
heads of the people, and when the tussle was at an end, her face,
which had been strained to the point of anguish, relaxed to smiles,
and she turned to her father and asked if the champion's belt should
not be his who had overcome the champion. But Jorgen answered
no--that the contest was done, and judgment made, and he who would
take the champion's belt must come to the next Althing and earn it.
Then the girl unlocked her necklace of coral and silver spangles,
beckoned the young man to her, bound the necklace about his broken
arm close up by the shoulder, and asked him his name.

"Stephen," he answered.

"Whose son?" said she.

"Orrysen--but they call me Stephen Orry."

"Of what craft?"

"Seaman, of Stappen, under Snaefell."

The Westmann islander had rolled to his legs by this time, and now he
came shambling up, with the belt in his hand and his sullen eyes on
the ground.

"Keep it," he said, and flung the belt at the girl's feet, between
her and his adversary. Then he strode away through the people, with
curses on his white lips and the veins of his squat forehead large
and dark.

It was midnight before the crowds had broken up and straggled away to
their tents, but the sun of this northern land was still half over
the horizon, and its dull red glow was on the waters of the lake that
lay to the west of the valley. In the dim light of an hour later,
when the hills of Thingvellir slept under the cloud shadow that was
their only night, Stephen Orry stood with the Governor's daughter by
the door of the Thingvellir parsonage, for Jorgen's company were the
parson's guests. He held out the champion's belt to her and said,
"Take it back, for if I keep it the man and his kinsmen will follow
me all the days of my life."

She answered him that it was his, for he had won it, and until it was
taken from him he must hold it, and if he stood in peril from the
kinsmen of any man let him remember that it was she, daughter of the
Governor himself, who had given it. The air was hushed in that still
hour, not a twig or a blade rustling over the serried face of that
desolate land as far as the wooded rifts that stood under the snowy
dome of the Armann fells. As she spoke there was a sharp noise near
at hand, and he started; but she rallied him on his fears, and
laughed that one who had felled the blustering champion of that day
should tremble at a noise in the night.

There was a wild outcry in Thingvellir the next morning, Patricksen,
the Westmann islander, had been murdered. There was a rush of the
people to the place where his body had been found. It lay like a rag
across the dyke that ran between the parsonage and the church. On the
dead man's face was the look that all had seen there when last night
he flung down the belt between his adversary and the Governor's
daughter, crying, "keep it." But his sullen eyes were glazed, and
stared up without the quivering of a lid through the rosy sunlight;
the dark veins on his brow were now purple, and when they lifted him
they saw that his back was broken.

Then there was a gathering at the foot of the Mount, with the parson
for judge, and nine men of those who had slept in the tents nearest
to the body for witnesses and jury. Nothing was discovered. No one
had heard a sound throughout the night. There was no charge to put
before the law-givers at Althing. The kinsmen of the dead man cast
dark looks at Stephen Orry, but he gave never a sign. Next day the
strong man was laid under the shallow turf of the Church garth. His
little life's swaggering was swaggered out; he must sleep on to the
resurrection without one brag more.

The Governor's daughter did not leave the guest room of the parsonage
from the night of the wrestling onwards to the last morning of the
Althing holiday, and then, the last ceremonies done, the tents struck
and the ponies saddled, she took her place between Jorgen and the
Count for the return journey home. Twenty paces behind her the
fair-haired Stephen Orry rode on his shaggy pony, gaunt and peaky and
bearded as a goat, and five paces behind him rode the brother of the
dead man Patricksen. Amid five hundred men and women, and eight
hundred horses saddled for riding or packed with burdens, these three
had set their faces towards the little wooden capital.

July passed into August, and the day was near that had been appointed
by Jorgen Jorgensen for the marriage of his daughter to the Count
Trollop. At the girl's request the marriage was postponed. The second
day came nigh; again the girl excused herself, and again the marriage
was put off. A third time the appointed day approached, and a third
time the girl asked for delay. But Jorgen's iron will was to be
tampered with no longer. The time was near when the Minister must
return to Copenhagen, and that was reason enough why the thing in
hand should be despatched. The marriage must be delayed no longer.

But then the Count betrayed reluctance. Rumor had pestered him
with reports that vexed his pride. He dropped hints of them to the
Governor. "Strange," said he, "that a woman should prefer the
stink of the fulmar fish to the perfumes of civilization." Jorgen
fired up at the sneer. His daughter was his daughter, and he was
Governor-General of the island. What lowborn churl would dare to lift
his eyes to the child of Jorgen Jorgensen?

The Count had his answer pat. He had made inquiries. The man's name
was Stephen Orry. He came from Stappen under Snaefell, and was known
there for a wastrel. On the poor glory of his village voyage as an
athlete, he idled his days in bed and his nights at the tavern. His
father, an honest thrall, was dead; his mother lived by splitting and
drying the stock-fish for English traders. He was the foolish old
woman's pride, and she kept him. Such was the man whom the daughter
of the Governor had chosen before the Minister for Iceland.

At that Jorgen's hard face grew livid and white by turns. They were
sitting at supper in Government House, and, with an oath, the
Governor brought his fist down on the table. It was a lie; his
daughter knew no more of the man than he did. The Count shrugged his
shoulders and asked where she was then, that she was not with them.
Jorgen answered, with an absent look, that she was forced to keep her
room.

At that moment a message came for the Count. It was urgent and could
not wait. The Count went to the door, and, returning presently, asked
if Jorgen was sure that his daughter was in the house. Certain of it
he was, for she was ill, and the days were deepening to winter. But
for all his assurance, Jorgen sprang up from his seat and made for
his daughter's chamber. She was not there, and the room was empty.
The Count met him in the corridor. "Follow me," he whispered, and
Jorgen followed, his proud, stern head bent low.

In the rear of the Government House at Reykjavik there is a small
meadow. That night it was inches deep in the year's first fall of
snow, but two persons stood together there, close locked in each
other's arms--Stephen Orry and the daughter of Jorgen Jorgensen. With
the tread of a cat a man crept up behind them. It was the brother of
Patricksen. At his back came the Count and the Governor. The snow
cloud lifted, and a white gush of moonlight showed all. With the cry
of a wild beast Jorgen flung himself between his daughter and her
lover, leapt at Stephen and struck him hard on the breast, and then,
as the girl dropped to her knees at his feet, he cursed her.

"Bastard," he shrieked, "there's no blood of mine in your body. Go to
your filthy offal, and may the devil damn you both."

She stopped her ears to shut out the torrent of a father's curse,
but before the flood of it was spent she fell backward cold and
senseless, and her upturned face was whiter than the snow. Then her
giant lover lifted her in his arms as if she had been a child, and
strode away in silence.



CHAPTER II.

THE MOTHER OF A MAN.


The daughter of the Governor-General and the seaman of Stappen were
made man and wife. The little Lutheran priest, who married them,
Sigfus Thomson, a worthy man and a good Christian, had reason to
remember the ceremony. Within a week he was removed from his
chaplaincy at the capital to the rectory of Grimsey, the smallest
cure of the Icelandic Church, on an island separated from the
mainland by seven Danish miles of sea.

The days that followed brought Rachel no cheer of life. She had
thought that her husband would take her away to his home under
Snaefell, and so remove her from the scene of her humiliation. He
excused himself, saying that Stappen was but a poor place, where the
great ships never put in to trade, and that there was more chance of
livelihood at Reykjavik. Rachel crushed down her shame, and they took
a mean little house in the fishing quarter. But Stephen did no work.
Once he went out four days with a company of Englishmen as guide to
the geysers, and on his return he idled four weeks on the wharves,
looking at the foreign seamen as they arrived by the boats. The fame
of his exploit at Thingvellir had brought him a troop of admirers,
and what he wanted for his pleasure he never lacked. But necessity
began to touch him at home, and then he hinted to Rachel that her
father was rich. She had borne his indifference to her degradation,
she had not murmured at the idleness that pinched them, but at that
word something in her heart seemed to break. She bent her head and
said nothing. He went on to hint that she should go to her father,
who seeing her need would surely forgive her. Then her proud spirit
could brook no more. "Rather than darken my father's doors again,"
she said, "I will starve on a crust of bread and a drop of water."

Things did not mend, and Stephen began to cast down his eyes in shame
when Rachel looked at him. Never a word of blame she spoke, but he
reproached himself and talked of his old mother at Stappen. She was
the only one who could do any good with him. She knew him and did not
spare him. When she was near he worked sometimes, and did not drink
too much. He must send for her.

Rachel raised no obstacle, and one day the old mother came, perched
upon a bony, ragged-eared pony, and with all her belongings on the
pack behind her. She was a little, hard featured woman; and at the
first sight of her seamed and blotted face Rachel's spirit sank.

The old woman was active and restless. Two days after her arrival she
was at work at her old trade of splitting and drying the stock-fish.
All the difference that the change had made for her was that she was
working on the beach at Reykjavik instead of the beach at Stappen,
and living with her son and her son's wife instead of alone.

Her coming did not better the condition of Rachel. She had measured
her new daughter-in-law from head to foot at their first meeting, and
neither smiled nor kissed her. She was devoted to her son, and no
woman was too good for him. Her son had loved her, and Rachel had
come between them. The old woman made up her mind to hate the girl,
because her fine manners and comely face were a daily rebuke to her
own coarse habits and homely looks, and an hourly contrast always
present to Stephen's eyes.

Stephen was as idle as ever, and less ashamed of his sloth now that
there was someone to keep the wolf from the door. His mother accepted
with cheerfulness the duty of bread-winner to her son, but Rachel's
helplessness chafed her. For all her fine fingering the girl could
finger nothing that would fill the pot. "A pretty wife you've brought
me home to keep," she muttered morning and night.

But Rachel's abasement was not even yet at its worst. "Oh," she
thought, "if I could but get back my husband to myself alone, he
would see my humiliation and save me from it." She went a woman's way
to work to have the old mother sent home to Stappen. But the trick
that woman's wit can devise woman's wit can baulk, and the old mother
held her ground. Then the girl bethought her of her old shame at
living in a hovel close to her father's house, and asked to be taken
away. Anywhere, anywhere, let it be to the world's end, and she would
follow. Stephen answered that one place was like another in Iceland,
where the people were few and all knew their history; and, as for
foreign parts, though a seaman he was not a seagoing man, farther
than the whale-fishing lay about their coasts, and that, go where
they might to better their condition, yet other poor men were there
already. At that, Rachel's heart sank, for she saw that the great
body of her husband must cover a pigmy soul. Bound she was for all
her weary days to the place of her disgrace, doomed she was to live
to the last with the woman who hated her, and to eat that woman's
bitter bread. She was heavy with child at this time, and her spirit
was broken. So she sat herself down with her feet to the hearth, and
wept.

There the old mother saw her as often as she bustled in and out of
the house from the beach, and many a gibe she flung her way. But
Stephen sat beside her one day with a shame-faced look, and cursed
his luck, and said if he only had an open boat of his own what he
would do for both of them. She asked how much a boat would cost him,
and he answered sixty kroner; that a Scotch captain then in the
harbor had such a one to sell at that price, and that it was a better
boat than the fishermen of those parts ever owned, for it was of
English build. Now it chanced that sitting alone that very day in her
hopelessness, Rachel had overheard a group of noisy young girls in
the street tell of a certain Jew, named Bernard Frank, who stood on
the jetty by the stores buying hair of the young maidens who would
sell to him, and of the great money he had paid to some of them, such
as they had never handled before.

And now, at this mention of the boat, and at the flash of hope that
came with it, Rachel remembered that she herself had a plentiful head
of hair, and how often it had been commended for its color and
texture, and length and abundance, in the days (now gone forever)
when all things were good and beautiful that belonged to the daughter
of the Governor. So, making some excuse to Stephen, she rose up, put
off her little house cap with the tassel, put on her large linen
head-dress, hurried out, and made for the wharf.

There in truth the Jew was standing with a group of girls about him.
And some of these would sell outright to him, and then go straightway
to the stores to buy filigree jewelry and rings, or bright-hued
shawls, with the price of their golden locks shorn off. And some
would hover about him between desire of so much artificial adornment
and dread of so much natural disfigurement, until, like moths, they
would fall before the light of the Jew's bright silver.

Rachel had reached the place at the first impulse of her thought, but
being there her heart misgave her, and she paused on the outskirts of
the crowd. To go in among these girls and sell her hair to the Jew
was to make herself one with the lowest and meanest of the town, but
that was not the fear that held her back. Suddenly the thought had
come to her that what she had intended to do was meant to win her
husband back to her, yet that she could not say what it was that had
won him for her at the first. And seeing how sadly the girls were
changed after the shears had passed over their heads, she could not
help but ask herself what it would profit her, though she got the
boat for her husband, if she lost him for herself? And thinking in
this fashion she was turning away with a faltering step, when the
Jew, seeing her, called to her, saying what lovely fair hair she had,
and asking would she part with it. There was no going back on her
purpose then, so facing it out as bravely as she could, she removed
her head-dress, dropped her hair out of the plaits, until it fell in
its sunny wavelets to her waist, and asked how much he would give for
it. The Jew answered, "Fifty kroner."

"Make it sixty," she said, "and it is yours."

The Jew protested that he would lose by the transaction, but he paid
the money into Rachel's hands, and she, lest she should repent of her
bargain, prayed him to take her hair off instantly. He was nothing
loth to do so, and the beautiful flaxen locks, cut close to the
crown, fell in long tresses to his big shears. Rachel put back her
linen head-dress, and, holding tightly the sixty silver pieces in
her palm, hurried home.

Her cheeks were crimson, her eyes were wet, and her heart was beating
high when she returned to her poor home in the fishing quarter. There
in a shrill, tremulous voice of joy and fear, she told Stephen all,
and counted out the glistening coins to the last of the sixty into
his great hand.

"And now you can buy the English boat," she said, "and we shall be
beholden to no one."

He answered her wild words with few of his own, and showed little
pleasure; yet he closed his hand on the money, and, getting up, he
went out of the house, saying he must see the Scotch captain there
and then. Hardly had he gone when the old mother came in from her
work on the beach, and, Rachel's hopes being high, she could not but
share them with her, and so she told her all, little as was the
commerce that passed between them. The mother only grunted as she
listened and went on with her food.

Rachel longed for Stephen to return with the good news that all was
settled and done, but the minutes passed and he did not come. The old
woman sat by the hearth and smoked. Rachel waited with fear at her
heart, but the hours went by and still Stephen did not appear. The
old woman dozed before the fire and snored. At length, when the night
had worn on towards midnight, an unsteady step came to the door, and
Stephen reeled into the house drunk. The old woman awoke and laughed.

Rachel grew faint and sank to a seat. Stephen dropped to his knees on
the ground before her, and in a maudling cry went on to tell of how
he had thought to make one hundred kroner of her sixty by a wager,
how he had lost fifty, and then in a fit of despair had spent the
other ten.

"Then all is gone--all," cried Rachel. And thereupon the old woman
shuffled to her feet and said bitterly, "And a good thing, too. I
know you--trust me for seeing through your sly ways, my lady. You
expected to take my son from me with the price of your ginger hair,
you ugly baldpate."

Rachel's head grew light, and with the cry of a bated creature she
turned upon the old mother in a torrent of hot words. "You low, mean,
selfish soul," she cried, "I despise you more than the dirt under my
feet."

Worse than this she said, and the old woman called on Stephen to
hearken to her, for that was the wife he had brought home to revile
his mother.

The old witch shed some crocodile tears, and Stephen lunged in
between the women and with the back of his hand struck his wife
across the face.

At that blow Rachel was silent for a moment, trembling like an
affrighted beast, and then she turned upon her husband. "And so you
have struck me--me--me," she cried. "Have you forgotten the death of
Patricksen?"

The blow of her words was harder than the blow of her husband's hand.
The man reeled before it, turned white, gasped for breath, then
caught up his cap and fled out into the night.



CHAPTER III.

THE LAD JASON.


Of Rachel in her dishonor there is now not much to tell, but the
little that is left is the kernel of this history.

That night, amid the strain of strong emotions, she was brought to
bed before her time was yet full. Her labor was hard, and long she
lay between life and death, for the angel of hope did not pull with
her. But as the sun shot its first yellow rays through the little
skin-covered windows, a child was born to Rachel, and it was a boy.
Little joy she found in it, and remembering its father's inhumanity,
she turned her face from it to the wall, trying thereby to conquer
the yearning that answered to its cry.

It was then for the first time since her lying-in that the old mother
came to her. She had been out searching for Stephen, and had just
come upon news of him.

"He has gone in an English ship," she cried. "He sailed last night,
and I have lost him forever."

And at that she leaned her quivering white face over the bed, and
raised her clenched hand over Rachel's face.

"Son for son," she cried again. "May you lose your son, even as you
have made me to lose mine."

The child seemed likely to answer to the impious prayer, for its
little strength waned visibly. And in those first hours of her
shameful widowhood the evil thought came to Rachel to do with it as
the baser sort among her people were allowed to do with the children
they did not wish to rear--expose it to its death before it had yet
touched food. But in the throes, as she thought, of its extremity,
the love of the mother prevailed over the hate of the wife, and with
a gush of tears she plucked the babe to her breast. Then the
neighbor, who out of pity and charity had nursed her in her dark
hour, ran for the priest, that with the blessing of baptism the child
might die a Christian soul.

The good man came, and took the little, sleep-bound body from
Rachel's arms, and asked her the name. She did not answer, and he
asked again. Once more, having no reply, he turned to the neighbor to
know what the father's name had been.

"Stephen Orry," said the good woman.

"Then Stephen Stephensen," he began, dipping his fingers into the
water; but at the sound of that name Rachel cried, "No, no, no."

"He has not done well by her, poor soul," whispered the woman; "call
it after her own father."

"Then Jorgen Jorgensen," the priest began again; and again Rachel
cried, "No, no, no," and raised herself upon her arm.

"It has no father," she said, "and I have none. If it is to die, let
it go to God's throne with the badge of no man's cruelty; and if it
is to live, let it be known by no man's name save its own. Call it
Jason--Jason only."

And in the name of Jason the child was baptised, and so it was that
Rachel, little knowing what she was doing in her blind passion and
pain, severed her son from kith and kin. But in what she did out of
the bitterness of her heart God himself had his own great purposes.

From that hour the child increased in strength, and soon waxed
strong, and three days after, as the babe lay cooing at Rachel's
breast, and she in her own despite was tasting the first sweet joys
of motherhood, the old mother of Stephen came to her again.

"This is my house," she said, "and I will keep shelter over your head
no longer. You must pack and away--you and your brat, both of you."

That night the Bishop of the island--Bishop Petersen, once a
friend of Rachel's mother, now much in fear of the Governor, her
father--came to her in secret to say that there was a house for her
at the extreme west of the fishing quarter, where a fisherman had
lately died, leaving the little that he had to the Church. There she
betook herself with her child as soon as the days of her lying-in
were over. It was a little oblong shed, of lava blocks laid with peat
for mortar, resembling on the outside two ancient seamen shoving
shoulders together against the weather, and on the inside two tiny
bird cages.

And having no one now to stand to her, or seem to stand, in the place
of bread-winner, she set herself to such poor work as she could do
and earn a scanty living by. This was cleaning the down of the eider
duck, by passing it through a sieve made of yarn stretched over a
hoop. By a deft hand, with extreme labor, something equal to sixpence
a day could be made in this way from the English traders. With such
earnings Rachel lived in content, and if Jorgen Jorgensen had any
knowledge of his daughter's necessities he made no effort to relieve
them.

Her child lived--a happy, sprightly, joyous bird in its little
cage--and her broken heart danced to its delicious accents. It
sweetened her labors, it softened her misfortunes, it made life more
dear and death more dreadful; it was the strength of her arms and the
courage of her soul, her summons to labor and her desire for rest.
Call her wretched no longer, for now she had her child to love. Happy
little dingy cabin in the fishing quarter, amid the vats for sharks'
oil and the heaps of dried cod! It was filled with heaven's own
light, that came not from above but radiated from the little cradle
where her life, her hope, her joy, her solace lay swathed in the
coverlet of all her love.

And as she worked through the long summer days on the beach, with the
child playing among the pebbles at her feet, many a dream danced
before her of the days to come, when her boy would sail in the ships
that came to their coast, and perhaps take her with him to that
island of the sea that had been her mother's English home, where men
were good to women and women were true to men. Until then she must
live where she was, a prisoner chained to a cruel rock; but she would
not repine, she could wait, for the time of her deliverance was near.
Her liberator was coming. He was at her feet; he was her child, her
boy, her darling; and when he slumbered she saw him wax and grow, and
when he awoke she saw her fetters break. Thus on the bridge of hope's
own rainbow she spanned her little world of shame and pain.

The years went by, and Jason grew to be a strong-limbed, straight,
stalwart lad, red-haired and passionate-hearted, reckless and
improvident as far as improvidence was possible amid the conditions
of his bringing up. He was a human waterfowl, and all his days were
spent on the sea. Such work as was also play he was eager to do. He
would clamber up the rocks of the island of Engy outside the harbor,
to take the eggs of the eider duck from the steep places where she
built her nest; and from the beginning of May to the end of June he
found his mother in the eider down that she cleaned for the English
traders. People whispered to Rachel that he favored his father, both
in stature and character, but she turned a deaf ear to their gloomy
forebodings. Her son was as fair as the day to look upon, and if he
had his lazy humors, he had also one quality which overtopped them
all--he loved his mother. People whispered again that in this regard
also he resembled his father, who amid many vices had the same sole
virtue.

Partly to shut him off from the scandal of the gossips, who might
tell him too soon the story of his mother's wrecked and broken life,
and partly out of the bitterness and selfishness of her bruised
spirit, Rachel had brought up her boy to speak the tongue of her
mother--the English tongue. Her purpose failed her, for Jason learned
Icelandic on the beach as fast as English in the house; he heard the
story of his mother's shame and of his father's baseness, and brought
it back to her in the colors of a thrice-told tale. Vain effort of
fear and pride! It was nevertheless to prepare the lad for the future
that was before him.

And through all the days of her worse than widowhood, amid dark
memories of the past and thoughts of the future wherein many passions
struggled together, the hope lay low down in Rachel's mind that
Stephen would return to her. Could he continue to stand in dread of
the threat of his own wife? No, no, no. It had been only the hot word
of a moment of anger, and it was gone. Stephen was staying away in
fear of the brother of Patricksen. When that man was dead, or out of
the way, he would return. Then he would see their boy, and remember
his duty towards him, and if the lad ever again spoke bitterly of one
whom he had never yet seen, she on her part would chide him, and the
light of revenge that had sometimes flashed in his brilliant blue
eyes would fade away and in uplooking and affection he would walk as
a son with his father's hand.

Thus in the riot of her woman's heart hope fought with fear and
love with hate. And at last the brother of Patricksen did indeed
disappear. Rumor whispered that he had returned to the Westmann
Islands, there to settle for the rest of his days and travel the
sea no more.

"Now _he_ will come," thought Rachel. "Wherever he is, he will learn
that there is no longer anything to fear, and he will return."

And she waited with as firm a hope that the winds would carry the
word as Noah waited for the settling of the waters after the dove had
found the dry land.

But time went on and Stephen did not appear, and at length under the
turmoil of a heart that fought with itself, Rachel's health began to
sink.

Then Patricksen returned. He had a message for her. He knew where her
husband was. Stephen Orry was on the little Island of Man, far away
south, in the Irish Sea. He had married again, and he had another
child. His wife was dead, but his son was living.

Rachel in her weakness went to bed and rose from it no more. The
broad dazzle of the sun that had been so soon to rise on her wasted
life was shot over with an inky pall of cloud. Not for her was to be
the voyage to England. Her boy must go alone.

It was the winter season in that stern land of the north, when night
and day so closely commingle that the darkness seems never to lift.
And in the silence of that long night Rachel lay in her little hut,
sinking rapidly and much alone. Jason came to her from time to time,
in his great sea stockings and big gloves and with the odor of
the brine in his long red hair. By her bedside he would stand
half-an-hour in silence, with eyes full of wonderment; for life like
that of an untamed colt was in his own warm limbs, and death was very
strange to him. A sudden hemorrhage brought the end, and one day
darker than the rest, when Jason hastened home from the boats, the
pain and panting of death were there before him. His mother's pallid
face lay on her arm, her great dark eyes were glazed already, she was
breathing hard and every breath was a spasm. Jason ran for the
priest--the same that had named him in his baptism. The good old man
came hobbling along, book in hand, and seeing how life flickered he
would have sent for the Governor, but Rachel forbade him. He read to
her, he sang for her in his crazy cracked voice, he shrived her, and
then all being over, as far as human efforts could avail, he sat
himself down on a chest, spread his print handkerchief over his knee,
took out his snuffbox and waited.

Jason stood with his back to the glow of the peat fire, and his hard
set face in the gloom. Never a word came from him, never a sign,
never a tear. Only with the strange light in his wild eyes he looked
on and listened.

Rachel stirred, and called to him.

"Are you there, Jason?" she said, feebly, and he stepped to her side.

"Closer," she whispered; and he took her cold hand in both his hands,
and then her dim eyes knew where to look for his face.

"Good-bye, my brave lad," she said. "I do not fear to leave you. You
are strong, you are brave, and the world is kind to them that can
fight it. Only to the weak it is cruel--only to the weak and the
timid--only to women--only to helpless women sold into the slavery of
heartless men."

And then she told him everything--her love, her loyalty, her life. In
twenty little words she told the story.

"I gave him all--all. I took a father's curse for him. He
struck me--he left me--he forgot me with another woman.
Listen--listen--closer still--still closer," she whispered, eagerly,
and then she spoke the words that lie at the heart of this history.

"You will be a sailor, and sail to many lands. If you should ever
meet your father, remember what your mother has borne from him. If
you should never meet him, but should meet his son, remember what
your mother has suffered at the hands of his father. Can you hear me?
Is my speech too thick? Have you understood me?"

Jason's parched throat was choking, and he did not answer.

"My brave boy, farewell," she said. "Good-bye," she murmured again,
more faintly, and after that there was a lull, a pause, a sigh, a
long-drawn breath, another sigh, and then over his big brown hands
her pallid face fell forward, and the end was come.

For some minutes Jason stood there still in the same impassive
silence. Never a tear yet in his great eyes, now wilder than they
were; never a cry from his dry throat, now surging hot and athirst;
never a sound in his ears, save a dull hum of words like the plash of
a breaker that was coming--coming--coming from afar. She was gone
who had been everything to him. She had sunk like a wave, and the
waves of the ocean were pressing on behind her. She was lost, and the
tides of life were flowing as before.

The old pastor shuffled to his feet, mopping his moist eyes with his
red handkerchief. "Come away, my son," he said, and tapped Jason on
the shoulder.

"Not yet," the lad answered hoarsely. And then he turned with a dazed
look and said, like one who speaks in his sleep, "My father has
killed my mother."

"No, no, don't say that," said the priest.

"Yes, yes," said the lad more loudly; "not in a day, or an hour, or a
moment, but in twenty long years."

"Hush, hush, my son," the old priest murmured.

But Jason did not hear him. "Now listen," he cried, "and hear my
vow." And still he held the cold hand in his hands, and still the
ashy face rested on them.

"I will hunt the world over until I find that man, and when I have
found him I will slay him."

"What are you saying?" cried the priest.

But Jason went on with an awful solemnity. "If he should die, and we
should never meet, I will hunt the world over until I find his son,
and when I have found him I will kill him for his father's sake."

"Silence, silence," cried the priest.

"So help me God!" said Jason.

"My son, my son, Vengeance is His. What are we that we should presume
to it?"

Jason heard nothing, but the frost of life's first winter that had
bound up his heart, deafening him, blinding him, choking him, seemed
all at once to break. He pushed the cold face gently back on to the
pillow, and fell over it with sobs that shook the bed.

They buried the daughter of the Governor in the acre allotted to the
dead poor in the yard of the Cathedral of Reykjavik. The bells were
ringing a choral peal between matins and morning service. Happy
little girls in bright new gowns, with primroses on their breasts
yellowing their round chins, went skipping in at the wide west
doorway, chattering as they went like linnets in spring. It was
Easter Day, nineteen years after Stephen Orry had fled from Iceland.

Next morning Jason signed articles on the wharf to sail as seaman
before the mast on an Irish schooner homeward bound for Belfast,
with liberty to call at Whitehaven in Cumberland, and Ramsey in the
Isle of Man.



CHAPTER IV.

AN ANGEL IN HOMESPUN.


The little island in the middle of the Irish Sea has through many
centuries had its own language and laws, and its own judges and
governors. Very, very long ago, it had also its own kings; and one of
the greatest of them was the Icelandic seadog who bought it with
blood in 1077. More recently it has had its own reigning lords, and
one of the least of them was the Scottish nobleman who sold it for
gold in 1765. After that act of truck and trade the English crown
held the right of appointing the Governor-General. It chose the son
of the Scottish nobleman. This was John, fourth Duke of Athol, and he
held his office fifty-five bad years. In his day the island was not a
scene of overmuch gaiety. If the memory of old men can be trusted, he
contrived to keep a swashbuckler court there, but its festivities,
like his own dignities, must have been maimed and lame. He did not
care to see too much of it, and that he might be free to go where he
would he appointed a deputy governor.

Now when he looked about him for this deputy he found just six and
twenty persons ready to fall at his feet. He might have had either of
the Deemsters, but he selected neither; he might have had any of the
twenty-four Keys, but he selected none. It was then that he heard of
a plain farmer in the north of the island, who was honored for his
uprightness, beloved for his simplicity, and revered for his piety.
"The very man for me," thought the lord of the swashbucklers, and he
straightway set off to see him.

He found him living like a patriarch among his people, surrounded by
his sons, and proud of them that they were many and strong. His name
was Adam Fairbrother. In his youth he had run away to sea, been taken
prisoner by the Algerines, kept twenty-eight months a slave in
Barbary, had escaped and returned home captain of a Guineaman. This
had been all his education and all his history. He had left the
island a wild, headstrong, passionate lad; he had returned to it a
sober, patient, gentle-hearted man.

Adam's house was Lague, a loose, straggling, featureless and
irresolute old fabric, on five hundred hungry acres of the rocky
headland of Maughold. When the Duke rode up to it Adam himself was
ringing the bell above the door lintel that summoned his people to
dinner. He was then in middle life, stout, yet flaccid and slack,
with eyes and forehead of sweetest benevolence, mouth of softest
tenderness, and hair already whitening over his ears and temples.

"The face of an angel in homespun," thought the Duke.

Adam received his visitor with the easy courtesy of an equal, first
offering his hand. The Duke shook hands with him. He held the stirrup
while the Duke alighted, took the horse to the stable, slackened its
girths, and gave it a feed of oats, talking all the time. The Duke
stepped after him and listened. Then he led the way to the house. The
Duke followed. They went into the living room--an oblong kitchen with
an oak table down the middle, and two rows of benches from end to
end. The farming people were trooping in, bringing with them the odor
of fresh peat and soil. Bowls of barley broth were being set in front
of the big chair at the table end. Adam sat in this seat and motioned
the Duke to the bench at his right. The Duke sat down. Then six words
of grace and all were in their places--Adam himself, his wife, a
shrewd-faced body, his six sons, big and shambling, his men,
bare-armed and quiet, his maids, with skirts tucked up, plump and
noisy, and the swashbuckler Duke, amused and silent, glancing down
the long lines of the strangest company with whom he had ever yet
been asked to sit at dinner. Suet pudding followed the broth, sheep's
head and potatoes followed the pudding, then six words of thanks and
all rose and trooped away except the Duke and Adam. That good man had
not altered the habit of his life by so much as a plate of cheese for
the fact that the "Lord of Mann" had sat at meat with him. "The
manners of a prince," thought the Duke.

They took the armchairs at opposite sides of the ingle.

"You look cosy in your retreat, Mr. Fairbrother," said the Duke; "but
since your days in Guinea have you never dreamt of a position of more
power, and perhaps of more profit?"

"As for power," answered Adam, "I have observed that the name and the
reality rarely go together."

"The experience of a statesman," thought the Duke.

"As for profit," he continued, "I have reflected that money has
never yet since the world began tempted a happy man."

"The wisdom of a judge," thought the Duke.

"And as for myself I am a completely happy one."

"With more than a judge's integrity," thought the Duke.

At that the Duke told the purpose of his visit.

"And now," he said, with uplifted hands, "don't say I've gone far to
fare worse. The post I offer requires but one qualification in the
man who fills it, yet no one about me possesses the simple gift. It
needs an honest man, and all the better if he's not a fool. Will you
take it?"

"No," said Adam, short and blunt.

"The very man," thought the Duke.

Six months later the Duke had his way. Adam Fairbrother, of
Lague, was made Governor of Mann (under the Duke himself as
Governor-General) at a salary of five hundred pounds a year.

On the night of Midsummer Day, 1793, the town of Ramsey held high
festival. The _Royal George_ had dropped anchor in the bay, and the
Prince of Wales, attended by the Duke of Athol, Captain Murray and
Captain Cook, had come ashore to set the foot of an English Prince
for the first time on Manx soil. Before dusk, the Royal ship had
weighed anchor again, but when night fell in the festivities had only
begun. Guns were fired, bands of music passed through the town, and
bonfires were lighted on the top of the Sky Hill. The kitchens of the
inns were crowded, and the streets were thronged with country people
enveloped in dust. In the market place the girls were romping, the
young men drinking, the children shouting at the top of their voices,
the peddlers edging their barrows through the crowd and crying their
wares. Over all the tumult of exuberant voices, the shouting,
the laughter, the merry shrieks, the gay banter, the barking of
sheep-dogs, the snarling of mongrel setters, the streaming and
smoking of hawkers' torches across a thousand faces, there was the
steady peal of the bell of Ballure.

In the midst of it all a strange man passed through the town. He was
of colossal stature--stalwart, straight, and flaxen-haired, wearing a
goatskin cap without brim, a gray woollen shirt open at the neck and
belted with a leathern strap, breeches of untanned leather, long
thick stockings, a second pair up to his ankles, and no shoes on his
feet. His face was pale, his cheek bones stood high, and his eyes
were like the eyes of a cormorant. The pretty girls stopped their
chatter to look after him, but he strode on with long steps, and the
people fell aside for him.

At the door of the Saddle Inn he stood a moment, but voices came from
within and he passed on. Going by the Court House he came to the
Plough Tavern, and there he stopped again, paused a moment, and then
stepped in. After a time the children who had followed at his heels
separated, and the girls who had looked after him began to dance with
arms akimbo and skirts held up over their white ankles. He was
forgotten.

An hour later, four men, armed with cutlasses, and carrying ship's
irons, came hurrying from the harbor. They were blue-jackets from the
revenue cutter lying in the bay, and they were in pursuit of a seaman
who had escaped from the English brig at anchor outside. The runaway
was a giant and a foreigner, and could not speak a word of English or
Manx. Had anyone seen him? Yes, everyone. He had gone into the
Plough. To the Plough the blue-jackets made their way. The good woman
who kept it, Mother Beatty, had certainly seen such a man. "Aw, yes,
the poor craythur, he came, so he did," but never a word could he
speak to her, and never a word could she speak to him, so she gave
him a bit of barley cake, and maybe a drop of something, and that
as all. He was not in the house then? "Och, let them look for
themselves." The blue-jackets searched the house, and came out as
they had entered. Then they passed through every street, looked down
every alley, peered into every archway, and went back to their ship
empty-handed.

When they were gone Mother Beatty came to the door and looked out. At
the next instant the big-limbed stranger stepped from behind her.

"That way," she whispered, and pointed to a dark alley opposite.

The man watched the direction of her finger in the darkness, doffed
his cap, and strode away.

The alley led him by many a turn to the foot of a hill. It was
Ballure. Behind him lay the town, with the throngs, the voices, and
the bands of music. To his left was the fort, belching smoke and the
roar of cannon. To his right were the bonfires on the hilltop, with
little dark figures passing before them, and a glow above them
embracing a third of the sky. In front of him was the gloom and
silence of the country. He walked on; a fresh coolness came to him
out of the darkness, and over him a dull murmur hovered in the air.
He was going towards Kirk Maughold.

He passed two or three little houses by the wayside, but most of them
were dark. He came by a tavern, but the door was shut, and no one
answered when he knocked. At length, by the turn of a byroad, he saw
a light through the trees, and making towards it he found a long
shambling house under a clump of elms. He was at Lague.

The light he saw was from one window only, and he stepped up to it. A
man was sitting alone by the hearth, with the glow of a gentle fire
on his face--a beautiful face, soft and sweet and tender. It was Adam
Fairbrother.

The stranger stood a moment in the darkness, looking into the quiet
room. Then he tapped on the windowpane.

On this evening Governor Fairbrother was worn with toil and
excitement. It had been Tynwald Day, and while sitting at St. John's
he had been summoned to Ramsey to receive the Prince of Wales and the
Duke of Athol. The royal party had already landed when he arrived,
but not a word of apology had he offered for the delayed reception.
He had taken the Prince to the top of the Sky Hill, talking as he
went, answering many questions and asking not a few, naming the
mountains, running through the island's history, explaining the three
legs of its coat of arms, glancing at its ancient customs and giving
a taste of its language. He had been simple, sincere, and natural
from first to last, and when the time had come for the Prince to
return to his ship he had presented his six sons to him with the
quiet dignity of a patriarch, saying these were his gifts to his king
that was to be. Then on the quay he had offered the Prince his hand,
hoping he might see him again before long; for he was a great lover
of a happy face, and the Prince, it was plain to see, was, like
himself, a man of a cheerful spirit.

But when the _Royal George_ had sailed out of the bay at the top of
the tide, and the great folk who had held their breath in awe of so
much majesty were preparing to celebrate the visit with the blazing
of cannon and the beating of drums, Adam Fairbrother had silently
slipped away. He lived at Government House, but had left his three
elder boys at Lague, and thought this a happy chance of spending a
night at home. Only his sons' housekeeper, a spinster aunt of his
own, was there, and when she had given him a bite of supper he had
sent her after the others to look at the sights of Ramsey. Then he
had drawn up his chair before the fire, charged his long pipe, purred
a song to himself, begun to smoke, to doze, and to dream.

His dreams that night had been woven with vision of his bad days in
the slave factory at Barbary--of his wreck and capture, of his cruel
tortures before his neck was yet bowed to the yoke of bondage, of the
whip, before he knew the language of his masters to obey it quickly,
of the fetters on his hands, the weights on his legs, the collar
about his neck, of the raw flesh where the iron had torn the skin;
and then of the dark wild night of his escape when he and three
others, as luckless and as miserable, had run a raft into the sea,
stripped off their shirts for a sail, and thrust their naked bodies
together to keep them warm.

Such was the gray silt that came up to him that night from the
deposits of his memory. The Tynwald, the Prince, the Duke, the guns,
the music, the bonfires, were gone; bit by bit he pieced together the
life he had lived in his youth, and at the thought of it, and that it
was now over, he threw back his head and gave thanks where they were
due.

At that moment he heard a tap at the windowpane, and turning about he
saw a man's haggard face peering in at him from the darkness. Then he
rose instantly, and threw open the door of the porch.

"Come in," he called.

The man entered.

He took one step into the house and stopped, seemed for a moment
puzzled, dazed, sleepless, and then by a sudden impulse stepped
quietly forward, pulled up the sleeve of his shirt and held out his
arm. Around his wrist there was a circular abrasure where the loop of
a fetter had worn away the skin, leaving the naked flesh raw and red.

He had been in irons.

With a word of welcome the Governor motioned the man to a seat. Some
inarticulate sounds the man made and waved his hand.

He was a foreigner. What was his craft?

A tiny model of a full-rigged ship stood on the top of a corner
cupboard. Adam pointed to it, and the man gave a quick nod of assent.

He was a seaman. Of what country?

"Shetlands?" asked the Governor.

The man shook his head.

"Sweden? Norway?--"

"Issland," said the man.

He was an Icelander.

Two rude portraits hung on the walls, one of a fair boy, the other of
a woman in the early bloom of womanhood--Adam's young wife and first
child. The Governor pointed to the boy, and the man shook his head.

He had no family.

The Governor pointed to the woman, and the man hesitated, seemed
about to assent, and then, with the look of one who tries to banish
an unwelcome thought, shook his head again.

He had no wife. What was his name?

The Governor took down from a shelf a Bible covered in green cloth,
and opened at the writing on the fly-leaf between the Old and
New Testaments. The writing ran:--"Adam Fairbrother, son of Jo:
Fairbrother, and Mar: his wife, was born August the 11th, 1753, about
5 o'clock in the morning, half flood, wind at southwest, and
christened August 18th." To this he pointed, then to himself, and
finally to the stranger. An abrupt change came over the man's manner.
He grew sullen and gave no sign. But his eyes wandered with a fierce
eagerness to the table, where the remains of the Governor's supper
were still lying.

Adam drew up a chair and motioned the stranger to sit and eat. The
man ate with frightful voracity, the perspiration breaking out in
beads over his face. Having eaten, he grew drowsy, fell to nodding
where he sat, and in a moment of recovered consciousness pointed to
the stuffed head of a horse that hung over the door. He wished to
sleep in the stable.

The Governor lit a lantern and led the way to the stable loft. There
the man stretched himself on the straw, and soon his long and
measured breathing told that he slept.

Hardly had the Governor got back to the house when his boys, his men,
and the maids returned from Ramsey. Very full they all were of the
doings of the day, and Adam, who never asked that son or servant of
his should abridge the flow of talk for his presence, sat with his
face to the fire and smoked, dozed, dreamt or thought, and left his
people to gossip on. What chance had brought the poor man to his door
that night? An Icelander, dumb for all uses of speech, who had lain
in the chains of some tyrant captain--a lone man, a seaman without
wife or child in his own country, and a fugitive, a runaway, a
hunted dog in this one! What angel of pleading had that very night
been busy in his own memory with the story of his similar sufferings?

All at once his ear was arrested by what was being said behind him.
The talk was of a sailor who had passed through the town, and of the
blue-jackets who were in pursuit of him. He had stolen something. No,
he had murdered somebody. Anyway there was a warrant for his arrest,
for the High Bailiff had drawn it. An ill-looking fellow, but he
would be caught yet, thank goodness, in God's good time.

The Governor twisted about, and asked what the sailor was like, and
his boys answered him that he was a foreigneering sort of a man in
a skin cap and long stockings, and bigger by half a head than
Billy-by-Nite.

Just then there was the tramp of feet on the gravel outside and a
loud rap at the door. Four men entered. They were the blue-jackets.
The foreign seaman that they were in search of had been seen creeping
up Ballure, and turning down towards Lague. Had he been there?

At that one of the boys, saying that his father had been at home all
evening, turned to the Governor and repeated the question. But the
good Adam had twisted back to the fire, and with the shank of his
pipe hanging loosely from his lips, was now snoring heavily.

"His Excellency is asleep," said the blue-jacket.

No, no; that could not be, for he had been talking as they entered.
"Father," cried the lad, and pushed him.

Then the Governor opened his eyes, and yawned heavily. The
blue-jacket, cap in hand, told his story again, and the good Adam
seemed to struggle hard in the effort to grasp it through the mists
of sleep. At length he said, "What has the man done?"

"Deserted his ship, your Excellency."

"Nothing else--no crime?"

"Nothing else, your Excellency. Has he been here?"

"No;" said the Governor.

And at that the weary man shut his eyes again and began to breathe
most audibly. But when the blue-jackets, taking counsel together,
concluded that somewhere thereabouts the man must surely be, and
decided to sleep the night in the stable loft, that they might scour
the country in the morning, the Governor awoke suddenly, saying he
had no beds to offer them, but they might sleep on the benches of the
kitchen.

An hour later, when all Lague was asleep, Adam rose from his bed,
took a dark lantern and went back to the stable loft, aroused the
Icelander and motioned him to follow. They crossed the paved
courtyard and came in front of the window. Adam pointed, and the man
looked in. The four blue-jackets were lying on the benches drawn
round the fire, and the dull glow of the slumbering peat was on their
faces. They were asleep. At that sight the man's eyes flashed, his
mouth set hard, the muscles of his cheeks contracted, and with a
hoarse cry in his throat, he fumbled the haft of the seaman's knife
that hung in his belt and made one step forward.

But Adam, laying hold of his arm, looked into his eyes steadfastly,
and in the light of the lantern their wild glance fell before him. At
the next instant the man was gone.

The night was now far spent. In the town the forts were silent, the
streets quiet, the market place vacant, and on the hilltops the fires
had smouldered down. By daybreak next morning the blue-jackets had
gone back empty to Ramsey, and by sunrise the English brig had sailed
out of the bay.

Two beautiful creeks lie to the south of Ramsey and north of Maughold
Head. One is called Lague, the other Port-y-Vullin. On the shore of
Port-y-Vullin there is a hut built of peat and thatched with
broom--dark, damp, boggy and ruinous, a ditch where the tenant is
allowed to sit rent free. The sun stood high when a woman, coming out
of this place, found a man sleeping in a broken-ribbed boat that lay
side down on the beach. She awakened him, and asked him into her hut.
He rose to his feet and followed her. Last night he had been turned
out of the best house in the island; this morning he was about to be
received into the worst.

The woman was Liza Killey--the slut, the trollop, the trull, the
slattern and drab of the island.

The man was Stephen Orry.



CHAPTER V.

LITTLE SUNLOCKS.


One month only had then passed since the night of Stephen Orry's
flight from Iceland, and the story of his fortunes in the meantime is
quickly told. In shame of his brutal blow, as well as fear of his
wife's threat, he had stowed away in the hold of an English ship that
sailed the same night. Two days later famine had brought him out of
his hiding place, and he had been compelled to work before the mast.
In ten more days he had signed articles as able seaman at the first
English port of call. Then had followed punishments for sloth,
punishments for ignorance, and punishments for not knowing the
high-flavored language of his boatswain. After that had come
bickerings, threats, scowls, oaths, and open ruptures with this chief
of petty tyrants, ending with the blow of a marlin-spike over the big
Icelander's crown, and the little boatswain rolling headlong
overboard. Then had followed twenty-eight days spent in irons,
rivetted to the ship's side on the under deck, with bread and water
diet every second day and nothing between. Finally, by the secret
good fellowship of a shipmate with some bowels of compassion, escape
had come after starvation, as starvation had come after slavery, and
Stephen had swum ashore while his ship lay at anchor in Ramsey Bay.

What occurred thereafter at the house whereto he had drifted no one
could rightly tell. He continued to live there with the trull who
kept it. She had been the illegitimate child of an insolvent English
debtor and the daughter of a neighboring vicar, had been ignored by
her father, put out to nurse by her mother, bred in ignorance, reared
in impurity, and had grown into a buxom hussy. By what arts, what
hints, what appeals, what allurements, this trollop got possession of
Stephen Orry it is not hard to guess. First, he was a hunted man, and
only one who dare do anything dare open doors to him. Next, he was a
foreigner, dumb for speech, and deaf for scandal, and therefore
unable to learn more than his eyes could tell him of the woman who
had given him shelter. Then the big Icelander was a handsome fellow;
and the veriest drab that ever trailed a petticoat knows how to hide
her slatternly habits while she is hankering after a fine-grown man.
So the end of many conspiring circumstances was that after much
gossip in corners, many jeers, and some tossings of female heads, the
vicar of the parish, Parson Gell, called one day at the hut in
Port-y-Vullin, and on the following Sunday morning, at church, little
Robbie Christian, the clerk and sexton, read out the askings for the
marriage of Liza Killey, spinster, of the parish of Maughold, and
Stephen Orry, bachelor, out of Iceland.

What a wedding it was that came three weeks later! Liza wore a gay
new gown that had been lent her by a neighbor, Bella Coobragh, a girl
who had meant to be married in it herself the year before, but had
not fully carried out her moral intention and had since borne a
child. Wearing such borrowed plumes and a brazen smile of defiance,
Liza strutted up to the Communion rail, looking impudently into the
men's faces, and saucily into the women's--for the church was
thronged with an odorous mob that kept up the jabbering of frogs at
spawn--and Stephen Orry slouched after her in his blowzy garments
with a downward, shame-faced, nervous look that his hulky manners
could not conceal. Then what a wedding feast it was that followed!
The little cabin in Port-y-Vullin reeked and smoked with men and
women, and ran out on to the sand and pebbles of the beach, for the
time of year was spring and the day was clear and warm. Liza's old
lovers were there in troops. With a keg of rum over his shoulder Nary
Crowe, the innkeeper, had come down from the "Hibernian" to give her
joy, and Cleave Kinley, the butcher, had brought her up half a lamb
from Ballaglass, and Matt Mylechreest, the net maker--a venal old
skinflint--had charged his big snuff horn to the brim for the many
noses of the guests. On the table, the form, the three-legged stool,
the bed and the hearth, they sat together cheek by jowl their hats
hung on the roof rafters, their plates perched on their knees.

And loud was their laughter and dubious their talk. Old Thurstan
Coobragh led off on the advantages of marriage, saying it was
middlin' plain that the gels nowadays must be wedded when they were
babies in arms, for bye-childers were common, and a gel's father
didn't care in a general way to look like a fool; but Nary Crowe saw
no harm in a bit of sweetheartin', and Cleave Kinley said no, of
course, not if a man wasn't puttin' notions into a gel's head, and
Matt Mylechreest, for his part, thought the gels were amazin' like
the ghosts, for they got into every skeleton closet about the house.

"But then," said Matt, "I'm an ould bachelor, as the sayin' is, and
don't know nothin'."

"Ha, ha, ha! of course not," laughed the others; and then there was a
taste of a toast to Liza's future in Nary's rum.

"Drop it," said Liza, as Nary, lifting his cup, leaned over to
whisper.

"So I will, but it'll be into your ear, woman," said Nary. "So here's
to the king that's comin'."

By this time Stephen had slipped out of the noisome place, and was
rambling on the quiet shore alone, with head bent, cheeks ashy pale,
eyes fixed, and his brawny hands thrust deep into his pockets. At
last, through the dense fumes within the house, Bella Coobragh noted
Stephen's absence, and "Where's your man?" she said to Liza, with a
tantalizing light in her eyes.

"Maybe where yours is, Bella," said Liza, with a toss of the head;
"near enough, perhaps, but not visible to the naked eye."

The effects of going to church on Liza Killey were what they often
are of a woman of base nature. With a man to work for her she became
more idle than before, and with nothing to fear from scandal more
reckless and sluttish. Having hidden her nakedness in the gown of
marriage, she lost the last rag of womanly shame.

The effects on Stephen Orry were the deepening of his sloth, his
gloom and his helplessness. What purpose in life he ever had was
paralyzed. On his first coming to the island he had sailed to the
mackerel fishing in the boats of Kane Wade--a shrewd Manxman, who
found the big, dumb Icelander a skilful fisherman. Now he neglected
his work, lost self-reliance, and lay about for hours, neither
thinking nor feeling, but with a look of sheer stupidity. And so the
two sat together in their ditch, sinking day by day deeper and yet
deeper into the mire of idleness, moroseness, and mutual loathing.
Nevertheless, they had their cheerful hours together.

The "king" of Nary's toast soon came. A child was born--a bonny,
sunny boy as ever yet drew breath; but Liza looked on it as a check
to her freedom, a drain on her energy, something helpless and looking
to her for succor. So the unnatural mother neglected it, and Stephen,
who was reminded by its coming that Rachel had been about to give
birth to a child, turned his heart from it and ignored it.

Thus three spirit-breaking years dragged on, and Stephen Orry grew
woe-begone and stone-eyed. Of old he had been slothful and spiritless
indeed, but not a base man. Now his whole nature was all but gone to
the gutter. He had once been a truth-teller, but living with a woman
who assumed that he must be a liar, he had ended by becoming one. He
had no company save her company, for his slow wit had found it hard
to learn the English tongue, and she alone could rightly follow him;
he had no desires save the petty ones of daily food and drink; he had
no purpose save the degrading purpose of defeating the nightly
wanderings of his drunken wife. Thus without any human eye upon him
in the dark way he was going, Stephen Orry had grown coarse and base.

But the end was not yet, of all this than was to be and know. One
night, after spending the day on the sea with the lines for cod, the
year deepening to winter, the air muggy and cold, he went away home,
hungry, and wet and cold, leaving his mates at the door of the
"Plough," where there was good company within and the cheer of a busy
fire! Home! On reaching Port-y-Vullin he found the door open, the
hearth cold, the floor in a puddle from the driving rain, not a bite
or sup in the cupboard, and his wife lying drunk across the bed, with
the child in its grimy blueness creeping and crying about her head.

It was the beginning of the end. Once again he fumbled the haft of
his seaman's knife, and then by a quick impulse he plucked up the
child in his arms.

"Now God be praised for your poor face," he said, and while he dried
the child's pitiful eyes, the hot drops started to his own.

He lit the fire, he cooked a cod he had brought home with him, he ate
himself and fed the little one. Then he sat before the hearth with
the child at his breast, as any mother might do, for at length it had
come to him to know that, if it was not to be lost and worse than
orphaned, he must henceforth be father and mother both to it.

And when the little eyes, wet no longer, but laughing like sunshine
into the big seared face above them struggled in vain with sleep, he
wrapped the child in his ragged guernsey and put it to lie like a
bundle where the fire could warm it. Then all being done he sat
again, and leaning his elbows on his knees covered his ears with his
hands, so that they might shut out the sound of the woman's heavy
breathing.

It was on that night, for the first time since he fled from Iceland,
that he saw the full depth of his offence. Offence? Crime it was, and
that of the blackest; and in the terror of his loneliness he trembled
at the thought that some day his horrible dumb secret would become
known, that something would happen to tell it--that he was married
already when he married the woman who lay behind him.

At that he saw how low he had fallen--from her who once had been so
pure and true beside him, and had loved him and given up father, and
home, and fame for him; to this trull, who now dragged him through
the slush, and trod on him and hated him. Then the bitter thought
came that what she had suffered for him who had given him everything,
he could never repay by one kind word or look. Lost she was to him
forever and ever, and parted from him by a yet wider gulf than eight
hundred miles of sea. Such was the agony of his shame, and through it
all the snore of the sleeping woman went like iron through his head,
so that at last he wrapped his arms about it and sobbed out to the
dead fire at his feet, "Rachel! Rachel! Rachel!"

All at once he became conscious that the heavy breathing had ceased,
that the house was silent, that something had touched him on the
shoulder, and that a gaunt shadow stood beside him. It was the woman,
who at the sound of his voice had arisen from her drunken sleep, and
now gasped,

"Who is Rachel?"

At that word his blood ran cold, and shivering in his clothes, he
crouched lower at the hearth, neither answering her nor looking up.

Then with eyes of hate she cried again,

"Who is Rachel?"

But the only voice that answered her was the voice that rang within
him--"I'm a lost man, God help me."

"Who is Rachel?" the woman cried once more, and the sound of that
name from her lips, hardening it, brutalizing it, befouling it, was
the most awful thing by which his soul had yet been shaken out of its
stupor.

"Who is she, I say? Answer me," she cried in a raging voice; but he
crouched there still, with his haggard face and misty eyes turned
down.

Then she laid her hand on his shoulder and shook him, and cried
bitterly.

"Who is she, this light o' love--this baggage?"

At that he stiffened himself up, shuddered from head to foot, flung
her from him and answered in a terrible voice.

"Woman, she is my wife."

That word, like a thunderbolt, left a heavy silence behind it. Liza
stood looking in terror at Stephen's face, unable to utter a cry.

But next day she went to Parson Gell and told him all. She got small
comfort. Parson Gell had himself had two wives; the first had
deserted him, and after an interval of six years, in which he had not
heard from her, he had married the second. So to Liza he said,

"He may have sinned against the law, but what proof have you? None."

Then she went to the Deemster at Ramsey. It was Deemster Lace--a
bachelor much given to secret gallantries.

She got as little cheer from this source, but yet she came away with
one drop of solace fermenting in the bitterness of her heart.

"Tut, woman, it's more common than you think for. And where's the
harm? Och! it's happened to some of the best that's going. Now, if
he'd beaten you, or struck you"--and the good man raised both hands
and shook his head.

Then the thought leapt to her mind that she herself could punish
Stephen a hundredfold worse than any law of bishop or deemster. If
she could she would not now put him away. He should live on with her,
husband or no husband, and she with him, wife or no wife.

On her way home she called at the house of Kane Wade, sat down with
old Bridget, shed some crocodile tears, vowed she daren't have tould
it on no occount to no other morthal sowl, but would the heart of
woman belave it? her man had a wife in his own counthry!

Bridget, who had herself had four husbands, lifted her hands in
horror, and next day when Stephen Orry went down to the boats Kane
Wade, who had newly turned Methodist, was there already, and told
him--whittling a stick as he spoke--that the fishing was wonderful
lean living gettin', and if he didn't shorten hands it would be goin'
begging on the houses they'd all be, sarten sure.

Stephen took the hint in silence, and went off home. Liza saw him
coming, watched him from the door, and studied his hard set face with
a grim smile on her own.

Next day Stephen went off to Matt Mylechreest, the net maker, but
Matt shook his head, saying the Manxmen had struck against foreign
men all over the island, and would not work with them. The day after
that Stephen tried Nary Crowe, the innkeeper, but Nary said of course
it wasn't himself that was partic'lar, only his customers were
gettin' nice extraordinary about a man's moral character.

As a last hope Stephen went up to Cleave Kinley, who had land, and
asked for a croft of five acres that ran down to the beach of
Port-y-Vullin.

"Nothing easier," said Kinley, "but I must have six pounds for it,
beginning half-quarter day."

The rent was high, but Stephen agreed to it, and promised to go again
the following day to seal his bargain. Stephen was prompt to his
engagement, but Kinley had gone on the mountains after some sheep.
Stephen waited, and four hours later Kinley returned, looking abashed
but dogged and saying he must have good security or a year's rent
down.

Stephen went back home with his head deep in his breast. Again the
woman saw him coming, again she studied his face, and again she
laughed in her heart.

"He will lift his hand to me," she thought, "and then we shall see."

But he seemed to read her purpose, and determined to defeat it. She
might starve him, herself, and their child, but the revenge she had
set her mind upon she should not have.

Yet to live with her and to contain himself at every brutal act or
bestial word was more than he could trust himself to do, and he
determined to fly away. Let it be anywhere--anywhere, if only out of
the torture of her presence. One place was like another in Man, for
go where he would to any corner of the island, there she would surely
follow him.

Old Thurston Coobragh, of Ballacreggan, gave him work at draining a
flooded meadow. It was slavery that no other Christian man would do,
but for a month Stephen Orry worked up to his waist in water, and
lived on barley bread and porridge. At the end of his job he had six
and thirty shillings saved, and with this money in his pocket, and
the child in his arms, he hurried down to the harbor at Ramsey, where
an Irish packet lay ready to sail.

Could he have a passage to Ireland? Certainly he could, but where was
his license?

Stephen Orry had never heard until then that before a man could leave
the Isle of Man he must hold a license permitting him to do so.

"Go to the High Bailiff," said the captain of the packet; and to the
High Bailiff Stephen Orry went.

"I come for a license to go away into Ireland," he said.

"Very good. But where is your wife?" said the High Bailiff. "Are you
leaving her behind you to be a burden on the parish?"

At that Stephen's heart sank, for he saw that his toil had been
wasted, and that his savings were worthless. Doomed he was for all
his weary days to live with the woman who hated him. He was bound to
her, he was leashed to her, and he must go begrimed and bedraggled to
the dregs of life with her. So he went back home, and hid his money
in a hole in the thatch of the roof, that the touch of it might vex
his memory no more.

And then it flashed upon him that what he was now suffering from this
woman was after all no more than the complement and counterpart of
what Rachel had suffered from him in the years behind them. It was
just--yes, it Was just--and because he was a man and Rachel a woman,
it was less than he deserved. So thinking, he sat himself down in his
misery with resignation if not content, vowing never to lift his hand
to the woman, however tormented, and never to leave her, however
tempted. And when one night after a storm an open boat came ashore,
he took it and used it to fish with, and thus he lived, and thus he
wore away his wretched days.

And yet he could never have borne his punishment but for the sweet
solace of the child. It was the flower in his dungeon; the bird at
its bars. Since that bad night, when his secret had burst from him,
he had nursed it and cherished it, and done for it its many tender
offices. Every day he had softened its oatcake in his broth; and
lifted the barley out of his own bowl into the child's basin. In
summer he had stripped off shoes and stockings to bathe the little
one in the bay, and in winter he had wrapped the child in his jacket
and gone bare-armed. It was now four years old and went everywhere
with Stephen, astride on his broad back or perched on his high
shoulders. He had christened it Michael, but because its long wavy
hair grew to be of the color of the sun he called it, after the
manner of his people, Sunlocks. And like the sun it was, in that hut
in Port-y-Vullin, for when it awoke there was a glint of rosy light,
and when it slept all was gloom.

He taught it to speak his native Icelandic tongue, and the woman, who
found everything evil that Stephen did, found this a barrier between
her and the child. It was only in his ignorance that he did it. But
oh, strange destiny! that out of the father's ignorance was to shape
the child's wisdom in the days that were to come!

And little Sunlocks was eyes and ears to Stephen, and hope to his
crushed spirit and intelligence to his slow mind. At sight of the
child the vacant look would die away from Stephen's face; at play
with him Stephen's great hulking legs would run hither and thither in
ready willingness; and at hearing his strange questions, his wondrous
answers, his pretty clever sayings, Stephen's dense wit would seem to
stand agape.

Oh, little Sunlocks--little Sunlocks--floating like the day-dawn into
this lone man's prison house, how soon was your glad light to be
overcast! For all at once it smote Stephen like a blow on the brain
that though it was right that he should live with the woman, yet it
was an awful thing that the child should continue to do so. Growing
up in such an atmosphere, with such an example always present to his
eyes, what would the child become? Soured, saddened, perhaps cunning,
perhaps malicious; at least adopting himself, as his father had done
before him, to the air he had to breathe. And thinking that little
Sunlocks, now so sweet, so sunny, so artless, so innocent, must come
to this, all the gall of Stephen Orry's fate rose to his throat
again.

What could he do? Take little Sunlocks away? That was impossible, for
he could not take himself away. Why had the child been born? Why had
it not died? Would not the good God take it back to Himself even now,
in all the sweetness of his childhood? No, no, no, not that either;
and yet yes, yes, yes!

Stephen's poor slow brain struggled long with this thought, and at
length a strange and solemn idea took hold of it: little Sunlocks
must die, and he must kill him.

Stephen Orry did not wriggle with his conscience, or if he cozened it
at all he made himself believe that it would not be sin but sacrifice
to part with the thing he held dearest in all the world. Little
Sunlocks was his life, but little Sunlocks must die! Better, better,
better so!

And having thus determined, he went cautiously, and even cunningly,
to work. When the little one had disappeared, he himself would never
be suspected, for all the island would say he loved it too tenderly
to do it a wrong, and he would tell everybody that he had taken it to
some old body in the south who had wished to adopt a child. So, with
Sunlocks laughing and crowing astride his shoulder, he called at Kane
Wade's house on Ballure one day, and told Bridget how he should miss
the little chap, for Sunlocks was going down to the Calf very soon,
and would not come home again for a long time, perhaps not for many a
year, perhaps not until he was a big slip of a lad, and, maybe--who
can tell?--he would never come back at all.

Thus he laid his plans, but even when they were complete he could not
bring himself to carry them through, until one day, going up from the
beach to sell a basket of crabs and eels, he found Liza drinking at
the "Hibernian."

How she came by the money was at first his surprise, for Nary Crowe
had long abandoned her; and having bitter knowledge of the way she
had once spent his earnings, he himself gave her nothing now. But
suddenly a dark thought came, and he hurried home, thrust his hand
into the thatch where he had hidden his savings, and found the place
empty.

That was the day to do it, he thought; and he took little Sunlocks
and washed his chubby face and combed his yellow hair, curling it
over his own great undeft fingers, and put his best clothes on
him--the white cotton pinafore and the red worsted cap, and the blue
stockings freshly darned.

This he did that he might comfort the child for the last time, and
also that he might remember him at his best.

And little Sunlocks, in high glee at such busy preparations, laughed
much and chattered long, asking many questions.

"Where are we going, father? Out? Eh? Where?"

"We'll see, little Sunlocks; we'll see."

"But where? Church? What day is this?"

"The last, little Sunlocks; the last."

"Oh, I know--Sunday."

When all was ready, Stephen lifted the child to the old perch across
his shoulders, and made for the shore. His boat was lying aground
there; he pushed it adrift, lifted the child into it, and leapt after
him. Then taking the oars, he pulled out for Maughold Head.

Little Sunlocks had never been out in the boat before, and everything
was a wonder and delight to him.

"You said you would take me on the water some day. Didn't you,
father?"

"Yes, little Sunlocks, yes."

It was evening, and the sun was sinking behind the land, very large
and red in its setting.

"Do the sun fall down eve'y day, father?"

"It sets, little Sunlocks, it sets."

"What is sets?"

"Dies."

"Oh."

The waters lay asleep under the soft red glow, and over them the
seafowl were sailing.

"Why are the white birds sc'eaming?"

"Maybe they're calling their young, little Sunlocks."

It was late spring, and on the headland the sheep were bleating.

"Look at the baby one--away, away up yonder. What's it doing there by
itself on the 'ock, and c'ying, and c'ying, and c'ying?"

"Maybe it's lost, little Sunlocks."

"Then why doesn't somebody go and tell its father?"

And the innocent face was full of trouble.

The sun went down and the twilight deepened, the air grew chill, the
waters black, and Stephen was still pulling round the head.

"Father, where does the night go when we are asleep?"

"To the other world, little Sunlocks."

"Oh, I know--heaven."

Stephen stripped off his guernsey and wrapped it about the child. His
eyes shone brightly, his mouth was parched, but he did not flinch.
All thoughts, save one thought, had faded from his view.

As he came by Port Mooar the moon rose, and about the same time the
light appeared on Point of Ayre. A little later he saw the twinkle of
lesser lights to the south. They were the lights of Laxey, where many
happy children gladdened many happy firesides. He looked around.
There was not a sail in sight, and not a sound came to his ears over
the low murmur of the sea's gentle swell. "Now is the time," he
thought. He put in his oars and the boat began to drift.

But no, he could not look into the child's eyes and do it. The little
one would sleep soon and then it would be easier done. So he took him
in his arms and wrapped him in a piece of sail-cloth.

"Shut your eyes and sleep, little Sunlocks."

"I'm not sleepy, I'm not."

Yet soon the little lids fell, opened again and fell once more, and
then suddenly the child started up.

"But I haven't said my p'ayers."

"Say them now, little Sunlocks."

"Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, Look upon a little child, Guard me
while in sleep I lie, Take me to Thy home on--on--"

"Would you like to go to heaven, little Sunlocks?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"I want to keep with--with--my fath----"

The little eyes were closed by this time, and the child was asleep on
Stephen's knees. Now was the time--now--now. But no, it was harder
now than ever.

The little face--so silent, so peaceful--how formidable it was! The
little soft hand in his own big hard palm--how strong and terrible!

Stephen looked down at the child and his bowels yearned over it. It
cost him a struggle not to kiss it; but no, that would only make the
task harder.

Suddenly a new thought smote him. What had this child done that he
should take its life? Who was he that he should rob it of what he
could never give it again? By what right did he dare to come between
this living soul and heaven? When did the Almighty God tell _him_
what the after life of this babe was to be? Stephen trembled at the
thought. It was like a voice from the skies calling on him to stop,
and a hand reaching out of them to snatch the child from his grasp.

What he had intended to do was not to be! Heaven had set its face
against it! Little Sunlocks was not to die! Little Sunlocks was to
live! Thank God! Oh! Thank God!

But late that night a group of people standing at their doors on the
beach at Port Lague saw a tall man in his shirt sleeves go by in the
darkness, with a sleeping child in his arms. The man was Stephen
Orry, and he was sobbing like a woman whose heart is broken. The
child was little Sunlocks, and he was being carried back to his
mother's home.

The people hailed Stephen and told him that a foreigner from a ship
in the bay had been asking for him that evening. They had sent the
man along to Port-y-Vullin.

Stephen hurried home with fear in his heart. In five minutes he was
there, and then his life's blood ran cold. He found the house empty,
except for his wife, and she lay outstretched on the floor. She was
cold--she was dead; and in clay on the wall above her head, these
words were written in the Icelandic tongue, "So is Patricksen
avenged--_signed S. Patricksen_."

Avenged! Oh, powers of Heaven, that drive the petty passions of men
like dust before you!



CHAPTER VI.

THE LITTLE WORLD OF BOY AND GIRL.


Three days later the bad lottery of Liza Killey's life and death was
played out and done. On the morning of the fourth day, some time
before the dawn, though the mists were rolling in front of it,
Stephen Orry rose in his silent hut in Port-y-Vullin, lit a fire,
cooked a hasty meal, wakened, washed, dressed and fed little
Sunlocks, then nailed up the door from the outside, lifted the child
to his shoulders, and turned his face towards the south. When he
passed through Laxey the sun stood high, and the dust of the roads
was being driven in their faces. It was long past noon when he came
to Douglas, and at a little shop by the harbor-bridge he bought a
penny worth of barley cake, gave half to Sunlocks, put the other half
into his pocket, and pushed on with longer strides. The twilight was
deepening when he reached Castletown, and there he inquired for the
house of the Governor. It was pointed out to him, and through heavy
iron gates, up a winding carriage-way lined with elms and bordered
with daffodils, he made towards the only door he saw.

It was the main entrance to Government House, a low broad porch, with
a bench on either side and a cross-barred door of knotted oak.
Stephen Orry paused before it, looked nervously around, and then
knocked with his knuckles. He had walked six and twenty miles,
carrying the child all the way. He was weary, footsore, hungry, and
covered with dust. The child on his shoulder was begrimed and dirty,
his little face smeared in streaks, his wavy hair loaded and unkempt.
A footman in red and buff, powdered, starched, gartered and dainty,
opened the door. Stephen Orry asked for the Governor. The footman
looked out with surprise at the bedraggled man with the child, and
asked who he was. Stephen told his name. The footman asked where he
came from. Stephen answered. The footman asked what he came for.
Stephen did not reply. Was it for meal? Stephen shook his head. Or
money? Stephen said no. With another glance of surprise the footman
shut the door, saying the Governor was at dinner.

Stephen Orry lowered the little one from his shoulder, sat on the
bench in the porch, placed the child on his knee, and gave him the
remainder of the barley cake. All the weary journey through he had
been patient and cheerful, the brave little man, never once crying
aloud at the pains of his long ride, never once whimpering at the
dust that blinded him, or the heat that made him thirsty. Holding on
at his father's cap, he had laughed and sung even with the channels
still wet on his cheeks where the big drops had rolled from his eyes
to his chin.

Little Sunlocks munched at his barley cake in silence, and in the
gathering darkness Stephen watched him as he ate. All at once a
silvery peal of child's laughter came from within the house, and
little Sunlocks dropped the barley cake from his mouth to listen.
Again it came; and the grimy face of little Sunlocks lightened to a
smile, and that of Stephen Orry lowered and fell.

"Wouldn't you like to live in a house like this, little Sunlocks?"

"Yes--with my father."

Just then the dark door opened again, and the footman, with a taper
in his hand, came out to light the lamp in the porch.

"What? Here still?" he said.

"I am; been waiting to see the Governor," Stephen Orry answered.

Then the footman went in, and told the Governor that a big man and a
child were sitting in the porch, talking some foreign lingo together,
and refusing to go away without seeing His Excellency.

"Bring them in," said the Governor.

Adam Fairbrother was at the dinner table, enveloped in tobacco
clouds. His wife, Ruth, had drawn her chair aside that she might
knit. Stephen Orry entered slowly with little Sunlocks by the hand.

"This is the person, your Excellency," said the footman.

"Come in, Stephen Orry," said the Governor.

Stephen Orry's face softened at that word of welcome. The footman's
dropped and he disappeared.

Then Stephen told his errand. "I shall come to have give you
something," he said, trying to speak in English.

Adam's wife raised her eyes and glanced over him. Adam himself laid
down his pipe and held out his hand towards Sunlocks. But Stephen
held the child back a moment and spoke again.

"It's all I shall have got to give," he said.

"What is it?" said Adam.

"The child," said Stephen, and passed little Sunlocks to Adam's
outstretched hand.

At that Adam's wife dropped her knitting to her lap, but Stephen,
seeing nothing of the amazement written in her face, went on in his
broken words to tell them all--of his wife's life, her death, his own
sore temptation, and the voice out of heaven that had called to him.
And then with a moistened eye and a glance at Sunlocks, and in a
lowered tone as if fearing the child might hear, he spoke of what
he meant to do now--of how he would go back to the herrings, and
maybe to sea, or perhaps down into the mines, but never again to
Port-y-Vullin. And, because a lone man was no company for a child,
and could not take a little one with him if he would, he had come to
it at last that he must needs part with little Sunlocks, lending him,
or maybe giving him, to someone he could trust.

"And so," he said, huskily, "I shall say to me often and often, 'The
Governor is a good man and kind to me long, long ago, and I shall
give little Sunlocks to him.'"

He had dropped his head into his breast as he spoke, and being now
finished he stood fumbling his scraggy goatskin cap.

Then Adam's wife, who had listened in mute surprise, drew herself up,
took a long breath, looked first at Stephen, then at Adam, then back
at Stephen, and said in a bated whisper--

"Well! Did any living soul ever hear the like in this island before?"

Not rightly understanding what this might mean, poor Stephen looked
back at her, in his weak, dazed way, but made her no answer.

"Children might be scarce," she said, and gave a little angry toss of
her head.

Still the meaning of what she said had not worked its way through
Stephen's slow wit, and he mumbled in his poor blundering fashion:

"He is all I have, ma'am."

"Lord-a-massy, man," she cried, sharply, "but we might have every
child in the parish at your price."

Stephen's fingers now clutched at his cap, his parted lips quivered,
and again he floundered out, stammering like an idiot:

"But I love him, ma'am, more nor all the world."

"Then I'll thank you to keep him," she answered, hotly; and after
that there was dead silence for a moment.

In all Stephen's reckoning never once had he counted on this--that
after he had brought himself to that sore pass, at which he could
part with Sunlocks and turn his back on him, never more to be cheered
by his sunny face and merry tongue, never again to be wakened by him
in the morning, never to listen for his gentle breathing in the
night, never to feed him and wash him, never to carry him shoulder
high, any human creature could say no to him from thought of the
little food he would eat or the little trouble he would ask.

Stephen stood a moment, with his poor, bewildered, stupefied face
hung down and the great lumps surging hot in his throat, and then,
without a word more, he stretched out his hand towards the child.

But all this time Adam had looked on with swimming eyes, and now he
drew little Sunlocks yet closer between his knees, and said, quietly:

"Ruth, we are going to keep the little one. Two faggots will burn
better than one, and this sweet boy will be company for our little
Greeba."

"Adam," she cried, "haven't you children enough of your own, but you
must needs take other folks'?"

"Ruth," he answered, "I have six sons, and if they had been twelve,
perhaps, I should have been better pleased, so they had all been as
strong and hearty; and I have one daughter, and if there had been two
it would have suited me as well."

Now the rumor of Stephen Orry's former marriage, which Liza had so
zealously set afoot, had reached Government House by way of Lague,
and while Stephen had spoken Adam had remembered the story, and
thinking of it he had smoothed the head of little Sunlocks with a yet
tenderer hand. But Adam's wife, recalling it now, said warmly:

"Maybe you think it wise to bring up your daughter with the
merry-begot of any ragabash that comes prowling along from goodness
knows where."

"Ruth," said Adam, as quietly as before, "we are going to keep the
little one," and at that his wife rose and walked out of the room.

The look of bewilderment had not yet been driven from Stephen Orry's
face by the expression of joy that had followed it, and now he stood
glancing from Adam to the door and from the door to Adam, as much as
to say that if his coming had brought strife he was ready to go. But
the Governor waved his hand, as though following his thought and
dismissing it. Then lifting the child to his knee, he asked his name,
whereupon the little man himself answered promptly that his name was
Sunlocks.

"Michael," said Stephen Orry; "but I call him Sunlocks."

"Michael Sunlocks--a good name too. And what is his age?"

"Four years."

"Just the age of my own darling," said the Governor; and setting the
child on his feet he rang the bell and said, "Bring little Greeba
here."

A minute later a little brown-haired lassie with ruddy cheeks and
laughing lips and sparkling brown eyes, came racing into the room.
She was in her nightgown, ready for bed, her feet were bare, and
under one arm she carried a doll.

"Come here, Greeba veg," said the Governor, and he brought the
children face to face, and then stood aside to watch them.

They regarded each other for a moment with the solemn aloofness that
only children know, twisting and curling aside, eyeing one another
furtively, neither of them seeming so much as to see the other, yet
neither seeing anything or anybody else. This little freak of child
manners ran its course, and then Sunlocks, never heeding his dusty
pinafore, or the little maiden's white nightgown, but glancing down
at her bare feet, and seeming to remember that when his own were
shoeless someone carried him, stepped up to her, put his arms about
her, and with lordly, masculine superiority of strength proceeded to
lift her bodily in his arms. The attempt was a disastrous failure,
and in another moment the two were rolling over each other on the
floor; a result that provoked the little maiden's direst wrath and
the blank astonishment of little Sunlocks.

But before the tear-drop of vexation was yet dry on Greeba's face, or
the silent bewilderment had gone from the face of Sunlocks, she was
holding out her doll in a sidelong way in his direction, as much as
to say he might look at it if he liked, only he must not think that
she was asking him; and he, nothing loth for her fierce reception of
his gallant tender, was devouring the strange sight with eyes full of
awe.

Then followed some short inarticulate chirps, and the doll was passed
to Sunlocks, who turned the strange thing--such as eyes of his had
never beheld--over and over and over, while the little woman brought
out from dark corners of the room, and from curious recesses unknown
save to her own hands and knees, a slate with a pencil and sponge
tied to it by a string, a picture-book whereof the binding hung
loose, some bits of ribbon, red and blue, and finally three tiny cups
and saucers with all the accompanying wonder of cream jug and teapot.
In three minutes more two little bodies were sitting on their
haunches, two little tongues were cackling and gobbling, the room was
rippling over with a merry twitter, the strange serious air was gone
from the little faces, the little man and the little maid were far
away already in the little world of childhood, and all the universe
beside was gone, and lost, and forgotten.

Stephen Orry had looked down from his great height at the encounter
on the floor, and his dull, slow eyes had filled, for in some way
that he could not follow there had come to him at that sweet sight
the same deep yearning that had pained him in the boat. And seeing
how little Sunlocks was rapt, Stephen struggled hard with himself and
said, turning to the Governor:

"Now's the time for me to slip away."

Then they left the room, unnoticed of the busy people on the floor.

Two hours later, after little Sunlocks, having first missed his
father, his life's friend and only companion, had cried a little, and
soon ceased to cry out of joy of his new comradeship, and had then
nestled down his sunny head on the pillow where little Greeba's curly
poll also lay, with the doll between him and her, and some marbles in
his hand to comfort his heart, Stephen Orry, unable to drag himself
away, was tramping the dark roads about the house. He went off at
length, and was seen no more at Castletown for many years thereafter.

Now this adoption of Little Sunlocks into the family of the Governor
was an incident that produced many effects, and the first of them was
the serious estrangement of Adam and his wife. Never had two persons
of temperaments so opposed lived so long in outward harmony. Her
face, like some mountain country, revealed its before and after. Its
spring must have been keen and eager, its summer was overcast, and
its winter would be cold and frozen. She was not a Manxwoman, but
came of a family of French refugees, settled as advocates on the
north of the island. Always vain of show, she had married in her
early womanhood, when Adam Fairbrother was newly returned from
Barbary, and his adventures abroad were the common gossip and
speculation. But Adam had disappointed her ambition at the outset by
dropping into the ruts of a homely life. Only once had she lifted
him out of them, and that was after twenty years, when the whim
and wisdom of the Duke had led him to visit Lague; and then her
impatience, her importunity, her fuss and flurry, and appeals in the
name of their children, had made him Governor. Meantime, she had
borne him six sons in rapid succession during the first ten years of
marriage, and after an interval of ten other years she had borne a
daughter. Four and twenty years the good man had lived at peace with
her, drained of his serenity by her restlessness, and of his
unselfishness by her self-seeking. With a wise contempt of trifles,
he had kept peace over little things, and the island had long amused
itself about his pliant disposition, but now that for the first time
he proved unyielding, the island said he was wrong. To adopt a child
against the wish of his wife, to take into his family the waif of a
drunken woman and an idle foreigner, was an act of stubborn injustice
and folly. But Adam held to his purpose, and Michael Sunlocks
remained at Government House.

A year passed, and Sunlocks was transformed. No one would have
recognized him. The day his father brought him he had been pale under
the dust that covered him; he had been timid and had trembled, and
his eyes had looked startled, as though he had already been beaten
and cuffed and scolded. A child, like a flower, takes the color of
the air it breathes, and Sunlocks had not been too young to feel the
grimy cold of the atmosphere in which he had been born. But now he
had opened like a rose to the sun, and his cheeks were ruddy and his
eyes were bright. He had become plump and round and sturdy, and his
hair had curled around his head and grown yet warmer of hue, like the
plumes of a bird in the love season. And, like a bird, he chirruped
the long day through, skipping and tripping and laughing and singing
all over the house, idolized by some, beloved by many, caressed by
all, even winning upon Mrs. Fairbrother herself, who, whatever her
objection to his presence, had not yet steeled herself against his
sweetness.

Another year passed, and the children grew together--Sunlocks and
Greeba, boy and girl, brother and sister--in the innocent communion
of healthy childhood, with their little whims, their little ways,
their little tiffs, and with the little sorrows that overcast
existence. And Sunlocks picked up his English words as fast as he
picked shells on the beach, gathering them on his tongue as he
gathered the shells into his pinafore, dropping them and picking them
up again.

Yet another year went by, and then over the luminous innocence of the
children there crept the strange trail of sex, revealing already
their little differences of character, and showing what they were to
be in days to come--the little maid, quick, urgent, impulsive and
vain; the little man, quiet, unselfish and patient, but liable to
outbursts of temper.

A fourth year passed, and then the little people were parted. The
Duchess came from London, where her nights had no repose and her days
no freshness, to get back a little of the color of the sun into her
pallid cheeks, and driving one day from Mount Murray to Government
House she lit on Greeba in the road outside Castletown. It was
summer, and the little maid of eight, bright as the sunlight that
glistened on her head, her cheeks all pink and white, her eyes
sparkling under her dark lashes, her brown hair rippling behind her,
her frock tucked up in fishwife fashion, her legs bare, and her white
linen sunbonnet swinging in her hand, was chasing a butterfly amid
the yellow-tipped gorse that grew by the roadside. That vision of
beauty and health awakened a memory of less charm and freshness. The
Duchess remembered a little maiden of her own who was also eight
years old, dainty and pretty, but pale and sickly, peaked up in a
chill stone house in London, playing alone with bows and ribbons,
talking to herself, and having no companion except a fidgety French
governess, who was wrinkled and had lost some of her teeth.

A few days later the Duchess came again to Government House, bought a
gay new hat for Greeba, and proposed that the little maid should go
home with her as playfellow for her only child. Adam promptly said
"No" to her proposal, with what emphasis his courtesy would permit,
urging that Greeba, being so much younger than her brothers, was like
an only child in the family, and that she was in any case an only
daughter. But Adam's wife, thinking she saw her opportunity, found
many reasons why Greeba should be allowed to go. For would it be
right to cross the wish of so great a lady?--and one, too, who was in
a sense their mistress also. And then who could say what the Duchess
might do for the child some day?--and in any event wasn't it a chance
for which any body else in the island would give both his ears to
have his daughter brought up in London, and at the great house of the
Duke of Athol?

The end of it was that Adam yielded to his wife now, as he had often
yielded before. "But I'll sadly miss my little lassie," he said, "and
I much misdoubt but I'll repent me of letting her go."

Yet, while Adam shook his head and looked troubled, the little maid
herself was in an ecstasy of delight.

"And would you really like to go to London, Greeba ven?"

"But should I see the carriages, and the ladies on horseback, and the
shops, and the little girls in velvet--should I, eh?"

"Maybe so, my ven, maybe so."

"Oh!"

The little maid gave one glance at the infinite splendor of her new
bow and feather, and her dark eyes sparkled, while the eyes of her
father filled.

"But not Michael Sunlocks, you know, Greeba ven; no, nor mother, nor
father."

At that word there was a pretty downward curve of the little lip; but
life had no real sorrow for one with such a hat and such a prospect,
and the next instant the bright eyes leapt again to the leaping
heart.

"Then run away, Greeba ven--run."

The little maiden took her father at his word, though it was but
sadly spoken, and bounded off in chase of Michael Sunlocks, that she
might tell him the great news. She found him by the old wooden bridge
of the Silver Burn near the Malew Church.

Michael Sunlocks had lately struck up a fast friendship with the
carrier, old crazy Chalse A'Killey, who sometimes lent him his donkey
for a ride. Bareheaded, barefooted, with breeches rolled up above the
knees, his shoes and stockings swung about his neck, and his wavy
yellow hair rough and tangled, Michael Sunlocks was now seated
bareback on this donkey, tugging the rope that served it for curb and
snaffle, and persuading it, by help of a blackthorn stick, to cross
the river to the meadow opposite. And it was just when the donkey, a
creature of becoming meekness and most venerable age, was reflecting
on these arguments, and contemplating the water at his shoes with a
pensive eye, that Greeba, radiant in the happiness of her marvellous
hat, came skipping on to the bridge.

In a moment she blurted out her news between many gusts of breath,
and Michael Sunlocks, pausing from his labors, sat on his docile
beast and looked up at her with great wonder in his wide blue eyes.

"And I shall see the carriages, and the ladies on horseback, and the
ships, and the waxworks, and the wild beasts."

The eyes of Sunlocks grew hazy and wet, but the little maiden rattled
on, cocking her eye down as she spoke at her reflection in the smooth
river, for it took a world of glances to grow familiar with the
marvel that sat on her head.

"And I shall wear velvet frocks, and have new hats often and lots of
goodies and things; and--and didn't I always say a good fairy would
come for me some day?"

"What are you talking of, you silly?" said Michael Sunlocks.

"I'm not a silly, and I'm going away, and you are not; and I'll have
girls to play with now, not boys--there!"

Michael Sunlocks could bear no more. His eyes overflowed, but his
cheeks reddened, and he said--

"What do I care, you stupid? You can go if you like," and then down
came his stick with a sounding thwack on the donkey's flank.

Now startled out of all composure by such sudden and summary address,
the beast threw up his hinder legs and ducked down his head, and
tumbled his rider into the water. Michael Sunlocks scrambled to his
feet, all dripping wet, but with eyes aflame and his little lips set
hard, and then laid hold of the rope bridle and tugged with one hand,
while with the stick in the other he cudgelled the donkey until he
had forced it to cross the river.

While this tough work was going forward, Greeba, who had shrieked at
Michael's fall, stood trembling with clasped hands on the bridge,
and, when all was over, the little man turned to her with high
disdain, and said, after a mighty toss of his glistening wet head:

"Did you think I was drowned, you silly? Why don't you go, if you're
going?"

Not all the splendor of bow and feather could help the little maiden
to withstand indifference like this, so her lip fell, and she said:

"Well, you needn't say so, if you _are_ glad I'm going."

And Sunlocks answered, "Who says I'm glad? Not that I say I'm not,
neither," he added quickly, leaping astride his beast again.

Whereupon Greeba said, "If _you_ had been going away _I_ should have
cried," and then, to save herself from bursting out in his very face,
she turned about quickly and fled.

"But I'm not such a silly, I'm not," Michael Sunlocks shouted after
her, and down came another thwack on the donkey, and away he sped
across the meadow. But before he had ridden far he drew rein and
twisted about, and now his blue eyes were swimming once more.

"Greeba," he called, and his little voice broke, but no answer came
back to him.

"Greeba," he called again, more loudly, but Greeba did not stop.

"Greeba!" he shouted with all his strength. "Greeba! Greeba!"

But the little maid had gone, and there was no response. The bees
were humming in the gold of the gorse, and the fireflies were buzzing
about the donkey's ears, while the mountains were fading away into a
dim wet haze.

Half an hour later the carriage of the Duchess drove out through the
iron gates of Government House, and the little maiden seated in it by
the side of the stately lady, was crying in a voice of childlike
grief--

"Sunlocks! Sunlocks! Little Sunlocks!"

The advantage which the Governor's wife proposed to herself in
parting with her daughter she never gained, and one of the secret
ends of her life was thereby not only disappointed but defeated; for
while the Duchess did nothing for Greeba, the girl's absence from
home led Adam to do the more for Michael Sunlocks. Deprived of his
immediate object of affection, his own little maiden, Adam lavished
his love on the stranger whom chance had brought to his door; being
first prompted thereto by the thought, which came only when it was
too late, that in sending Greeba away to be company to some other
child he had left poor little Sunlocks at home to be sole company to
himself.

But Michael Sunlocks soon won for himself the caresses that were once
due merely to pity of his loneliness, and Adam's heart went out to
him with the strong affection of a father. He throve, he grew--a
tall, lithe, round-limbed lad, with a smack of the man in his speech
and ways, and all the strong beauty of a vigorous woman in his face.
Year followed year, his school days came and went, he became more and
yet more the Governor's quick right hand, his pen and his memory,
even his judgment, and the staff he leaned on. It was "Michael
Sunlocks" here, and "Michael Sunlocks" there, and "Michael Sunlocks
will see to that," and "You may safely leave it to Michael Sunlocks;"
and meantime the comely and winsome lad, with man's sturdy
independence of spirit, but a woman's yearning for love, having long
found where this account lay in the house of Governor Fairbrother,
clung to that good man with more than the affection, because less
than the confidence, of a son, and like a son he stood to him.

Now, for one who found this relation sweet and beautiful, there were
many who found it false and unjust, implying an unnatural preference
of a father for a stranger before his own children; and foremost
among those who took this unfavorable view were Mrs. Fairbrother and
her sons. She blamed her husband, and they blamed Michael Sunlocks.

The six sons of Adam Fairbrother had grown into six rude men, all
big, lusty fellows, rough and hungry, seared and scarred like the
land they lived on, but differing much at many points. Asher, the
eldest, three-and-thirty when Sunlocks was fifteen, was fair, with
gray eyes, flabby face, and no chin to speak of, good-hearted, but
unstable as water. He was for letting the old man and the lad alone.
"Aisy, man, aisy, what's the odds?" he would say, in his drawling way
of speaking. But Ross, the second son, and Stean, the third, both
cruel and hot-blooded men, reproached Asher with not objecting from
the first, for "Och," they would say, "one of these fine days the
ship will be wrecked and scuttled before yer very eyes, and not a
pound of cargo left at her; and all along of that cursed young imp
that's after sniffin' and sniffin' abaft of the ould man,"--a figure
of speech which meant that Adam would will his belongings to Michael
Sunlocks. And at that conjecture, Thurstan, the fourth son, a
black-bearded fellow in top boots, always red-eyed with much
drinking, but strong of will and the ruler of his brethren, would
say, "Aw, well, let the little beachcomber keep his weather eye
liftin';" and Jacob, the fifth son, sandy as a fox, and as sly and
watchful, and John, the youngest, known as Gentleman Johnny, out of
tribute to his love of dress, would shake their heads together, and
hint that they would yet find a way to cook the goose of any
smooth-faced hypocrite shamming Abraham.

Many a device they tried to get Michael Sunlocks turned away. They
brought bad stories of his father, Stephen Orry, now a name of terror
to good people from north to south of the island, a secret trader
running between the revenue cutters in the ports and the smugglers
outside, perhaps a wrecker haunting the rough channels of the Calf,
an outlaw growing rich by crime, and, maybe, by blood. The evil
rumors made no impression on old Adam, but they produced a powerful
effect where no effect had been expected. Bit by it, as his heart
went out to the Governor, there grew upon Michael Sunlocks a deep
loathing of the very name and thought of his father. The memory of
his father was now a thing of the mind, not the affections; and the
chain of the two emotions, love for his foster father and dread of
his natural one, slowly but surely tightened about him, so that his
strongest hope was that he might never again set eyes on Stephen
Orry. By this weakness he fell at length into the hands of the six
Fairbrothers, and led the way to a total rupture of old Adam's
family.

One day when Michael Sunlocks was eighteen years old a man came to
him from Kirk Maughold with an air of wondrous mystery. It was Nary
Crowe, the innkeeper, now bald, bottled-nosed, and in a bad state of
preservation. His story, intended for Michael's ear alone, was that
Stephen Orry, flying from the officers of the revenue cutters, was on
the point of leaving the island forever, and must see his son before
going. If the son would not go to the father, then the father must
come to the son. The meeting place proposed was a schooner lying
outside the Calf Sound, and the hour midnight of the day following.

It was as base a plot as the heart of an enemy ever concocted, for
the schooner was a smuggler, and the men of the revenue cutter were
in hiding under the Black Head to watch her movements. The lad, in
fear of his father, fell into the trap, and was taken prisoner on
suspicion in a gig making for the ship. He confessed all to the
Governor, and Nary Crowe was arrested. To save his own carcase Nary
gave up his employers. They were Ross and Stean Fairbrother, and Ross
and Stean being questioned pointed to their brothers Jacob and
Gentleman Johnny as the instigators of the scheme.

When the revelation was complete, and the Governor saw that all but
his whole family was implicated, and that the stain on his house was
so black that the island would ever remember it against him, his
placid spirit forsook him and his wrath knew no bounds. But the evil
was not ended there, for Mrs. Fairbrother took sides with her sons,
and straightway vowed to live no longer under the same roof with an
unnatural father, who found water thicker than blood.

At that Adam was shaken to his depths. The taunt passed him by, but
the threat touched him sorely.

"It would be but a poor business," he said, "to part now after so
many years of life together, with seven children that should be as
bonds between us, in our age and looking to a longer parting."

But Mrs. Fairbrother was resolved to go with her sons, and never
again to darken her husband's doors.

"You have been a true wife to me and led a good life," said Adam,
"and have holpen me through many troubles, and we have had cheerful
hours together despite some crosses."

But Mrs. Fairbrother was not to be pacified.

"Then let us not part in anger," said Adam, "and though I will not do
your bidding, and send away the lad--no, nor let him go of himself,
now that for sake of peace he asks it--yet to show you that I mean no
wrong by my own flesh and blood, this is what I will do: I have my
few hundreds for my office, but all I hold that I can call my own is
Lague. Take it--it shall be yours for your lifetime, and our sons'
and their sister's after you."

At these terms the bad bargain was concluded, and Mrs. Fairbrother
went away to Lague, leaving Adam with Michael Sunlocks at Government
House.

And the old man, being now alone with the lad, though his heart
never wavered or rued the price he had paid for him, often turned
yearningly towards thoughts of his daughter Greeba, so that at length
he said, speaking of her as the child he had parted from, "I can live
no longer without my little lass, and will go and fetch her."

Then he wrote to the Duchess at her house in London, and a few days
afterwards he followed his letter.

He had been a week gone when Michael Sunlocks, having now the
Governor's routine work to do, was sent for out of the north of the
island to see to the light on the Point of Ayre, where there was then
no lighthouse, but only a flase stuck out from a pole at the end of a
sandstone jetty, a poor proxy, involving much risk to ships. Two days
he was away, and returning home he slept a night at Douglas, rising
at sunrise to make the last stage of his journey to Castletown. He
was riding Goldie, the Governor's little roan; the season was spring,
and the morning, fresh from its long draught of dew, was sweet and
beautiful. But Michael Sunlocks rode heavily along, for he was
troubled by many misgivings. He was asking himself for the hundredth
time whether it was right of him, and a true man's part, to suffer
himself to stand between Adam Fairbrother and his family. The sad
breach being made, all that he could do to heal it was to take
himself away, whether Adam favored that course or not. And he had
concluded that, painful as the remedy would be, yet he must needs
take it, and that very speedily, when he came up to the gate of
Government House, and turned Goldie down the path to the left that
led to the stables.

He had not gone far when over the lowing of the cattle in the byres,
and the steady munching of the sheep on the other side of the hedge,
and through the smell of the early grass there came to him the
sweetest sounds he had ever heard, and some of the queerest and
craziest. Without knowing what he did, or why he did it, but taking
himself at his first impulse, he drew rein, and Goldie came to a
stand on the mossgrown pathway. Then he knew that two were talking
together a little in front of him, but partly hidden by a turn of the
path and the thick trammon that bordered it. Rising in his stirrups
he could see one of them, and it was his old friend, Chalse A'Killey,
the carrier, a shambling figure in a guernsey and blue seaman's cap,
with tousled hair and a simple vacant face, and lagging lower lip,
but eyes of a strange brightness.

And "Aw, yes," Chalse was saying, "he's a big lump of a boy grown,
and no pride at all, at all, and a fine English tongue at him, and
clever extraordinary. Him and me's same as brothers, and he was
mortal fond to ride my ould donkey when he was a slip of a lad. Aw,
yes, him and me's middlin' well acquent."

Then some linnets that were hiding in the trammon began to twitter,
and what was said next Michael Sunlocks did not catch, but only heard
the voice that answered old Chalse, and that seemed to make the music
of the birds sound harsh.

"'What like is he?' Is it like it is?" old Chalse said again. "Aw,
straight as the backbone of a herrin' and tall and strong; and as for
a face, maybe there's not a man in the island to hold a candle to
him. Och, no, nor a woman neither--saving yourself, maybe. And aw,
now, the sweet and tidy ye're looking this morning, anyway: as fresh
as the dewdrop, my chree."

Goldie grew restless, began to paw the path, and twist his round
flanks into the leaves of the trammon, and at the next instant
Michael Sunlocks was aware that there was a flutter in front of him,
and a soft tread on the silent moss, and before he could catch back
the lost consciousness of that moment, a light and slender figure
shot out with a rhythm of gentle movement, and stood in all its grace
and lovely sweetness two paces beyond the head of his horse.

"Greeba!" thought Michael Sunlocks; and sure enough it was she, in
the first bloom of her womanhood, with gleams of her child face
haunting her still and making her woman's face luminous, with the
dark eyes softened and the dimpled cheeks smoothed out. She was
bareheaded, and the dark fall of her hair was broken over her ears by
eddies of wavy curls. Her dress was very light and loose, and it left
the proud lift of her throat bare, as well as the tower of her round
neck, and a hint of the full swell of her bosom.

In a moment Michael Sunlocks dropped from the saddle, and held out
his hand to Greeba, afraid to look into her face as yet, and she put
out her hand to him and blushed: both frightened more than glad. He
tried to speak, but never a word would come, and he felt his cheeks
burn red. But her eyes were shy of his, and nothing she saw but the
shadow of Michael's tall form above her and a glint of the uncovered
shower of fair hair that had made him Sunlocks. She turned her eyes
aside a moment, then quickly recovered herself and laughed a little,
partly to hide her own confusion and partly in joy at the sight of
his, and all this time he held her hand, arrested by a sudden
gladness, such as comes with the first sunshine of spring and the
scent of the year's first violet.

There was then the harsh scrape on the path of old Chalse A'Killey's
heavy feet going off, and, the spell being broken, Greeba was the
first to speak.

"You were glad when I went away--are you sorry that I have come back
again?"

But his breath was gone and he could not answer, so he only laughed,
and pulled the reins of the horse over its head and walked before it
by Greeba's side as she turned towards the stable. In the cowhouse
the kine were lowing, over the half-door a calf held out his red and
white head and munched and munched, on the wall a peacock was
strutting, and across the paved yard the two walked together, Greeba
and Michael Sunlocks, softly, without words, with quick glances and
quicker blushes.

Adam Fairbrother saw them from a window of the house, and he said
within himself, "Now God grant that this may be the end of all
partings between them and me." That chanced to be the day before Good
Friday, and it was only three days afterwards that Adam sent for
Michael Sunlocks to see him in his room.

Sunlocks obeyed, and found a strange man with the Governor. The
stranger was of more than middle age, rough of dress, bearded,
tanned, of long flaxen hair, an ungainly but colossal creature. When
they came face to face, the face of Michael Sunlocks fell, and that
of the man lightened visibly.

"This is your son, Stephen Orry," said old Adam, in a voice that
trembled and broke. "And this is your father, Michael Sunlocks."

Then Stephen Orry, with a depth of languor in his slow gray eyes,
made one step towards Michael Sunlocks, and half opened his arms as
if to embrace him. But a pitiful look of shame crossed his face at
that moment, and his arms fell again. At the same instant Michael
Sunlocks, growing very pale and dizzy, drew slightly back, and they
stood apart, with Adam between them.

"He has come for you to go away into his own country," Adam said,
falteringly.

It was Easter Day, nineteen years after Stephen Orry had fled from
Iceland.



CHAPTER VII.

THE VOW OF STEPHEN ORRY.


Stephen Orry's story was soon told. He desired that his son, being
now of an age that suited it, should go to the Latin school at
Reykjavik, to study there under old Bishop Petersen, a good man whom
all Icelanders venerated, and he himself had known from his childhood
up. He could bear the expense of it, and saying so he hung his head a
little. An Irish brig, hailing from Belfast, and bound for Reykjavik,
was to put in at Ramsey on the Saturday following. By that brig he
wished his son to sail. He should be back at the little house in
Port-y-Vullin between this and then, and he desired to see his son
there, having something of consequence to say to him. That was all.
Fumbling his cap, the great creature shambled out, and was gone
before the others were aware.

Then Michael Sunlocks declared stoutly that come what might he would
not go. Why should he? Who was this man that he should command his
obedience? His father? Then what, as a father, had he done for him?
Abandoned him to the charity of others. What was he? One whom he had
thought of with shame, hoping never to set eyes on his face. And now,
this man, this father, this thing of shame, would have him sacrifice
all that was near and dear to him, and leave behind the only one who
had been, indeed, his father, and the only place that had been, in
truth, his home. But no, that base thing he should not do. And,
saying this, Michael Sunlocks tossed his head proudly, though there
was a great gulp in his throat and his shrill voice had risen to a
cry.

And to all this rush of protest old Adam, who had first stared out at
the window with a look of sheer bewilderment, and then sat before the
fire to smoke, trying to smile though his mouth would not bend, and
to say something more though there seemed nothing to say, answered
only in a thick under-breath, "He is your father, my lad, he is your
father."

Hearing this again and again repeated, even after he had fenced it
with many answers, Michael Sunlocks suddenly bethought himself of all
that had so lately occurred, and the idea came to him in the whirl of
his stunned senses that perhaps the Governor wished him to go, now
that they could part without offence or reproach on either side. At
that bad thought his face fell, and though little given to woman's
ways he had almost flung himself at old Adam's feet to pray of him
not to send him away whatever happened, when all at once he
remembered his vow of the morning. What had come over him since he
made that vow, that he was trying to draw back now? He thought of
Greeba, of the Governor, and again of Greeba. Had the coming of
Greeba altered all? Was it because Greeba was back home that he
wished to stay? Was it for that the Governor wished him to go,
needing him now no more? He did not know, he could not think; only
the hot flames rose to his cheeks and the hot tears to his eyes, and
he tossed his head again mighty proudly, and said as stoutly as ever,
"Very well--very well--I'll go--since you wish it."

Now old Adam saw but too plainly what mad strife was in the lad's
heart to be wroth with him for all the ingratitude of his thought,
so, his wrinkled face working hard with many passions--sorrow and
tenderness, yearning for the lad and desire to keep him, pity for the
father robbed of the love of his son, who felt an open shame of
him--the good man twisted about from the fire and said, "Listen, and
you shall hear what your father has done for you."

And then, with a brave show of composure, though many a time his
old face twitched and his voice faltered, and under his bleared
spectacles his eyes blinked, he told Michael Sunlocks the story of
his infancy--how his father, a rude man, little used to ways of
tenderness, had nursed him when his mother, being drunken and without
natural feelings, had neglected him; how his father had tried to
carry him away and failed for want of the license allowing them to
go; how at length, in dread of what might come to the child, yet
loving him fondly, he had concluded to kill him, and had taken him
out to sea in the boat to do it, but could not compass it from terror
of the voice that seemed to speak within him, and from pity of the
child's own artless prattle; and, last of all, how his father had
brought him there to that house, not abandoning him to the charity of
others, but yielding him up reluctantly, and as one who gave away in
solemn trust the sole thing he held dear in all the world.

And pleading in this way for Stephen Orry, poor old Adam was tearing
at his own heart woefully, little wishing that his words would
prevail, yet urging them the more for the secret hope that, in spite
of all, Michael Sunlocks, like the brave lad he was, would after all
refuse to go. But Michael, who had listened impatiently at first,
tramping the room to and fro, paused presently, and his eyes began to
fill and his hands to tremble. So that when Adam, having ended, said,
"Now, will you not go to Iceland?" thinking in his heart that the lad
would fling his arms about him and cry, "No, no, never, never," and
he himself would then answer, "My boy, my boy, you shall stay here,
you shall stay here," Michael Sunlocks, his heart swelling and his
eyes glistening with a great new pride and tenderness, said softly,
"Yes, yes--for a father like that I would cross the world."

Adam Fairbrother said not a word more. He blew out the candle that
shone on his face, sat down before the fire, and through three hours
thereafter smoked in silence.

The next day, being Monday, Greeba was sent on to Lague, that her
mother and brothers might see her after her long absence from the
island. She was to stay there until the Monday following, that she
might be at Ramsey to bid good-bye to Michael Sunlocks on the eve of
his departure for Iceland.

Three days more Michael spent at Government House, and on the
morning of Friday, being fully ready and his leather trunk gone on
before in care of Chalse A'Killey, who would suffer no one else to
carry it, he was mounted for his journey on the little roan Goldie
when up came the Governor astride his cob.

"I'll just set you as far as Ballasalla," he said, jauntily, and they
rode away together.

All the week through since their sad talk on Easter Day old Adam had
affected a wondrous cheerfulness, and now he laughed mightily as they
rode along, and winked his gray eyes knowingly like a happy child's,
until sometimes from one cause or other the big drops came into them.
The morning was fresh and sweet, with the earth full of gladness and
the air of song, though Michael Sunlocks was little touched by its
beauty and thought it the heaviest he had yet seen. But Adam told how
the spring was toward, and the lambs in fold, and the heifers
thriving, and how the April rain would bring potatoes down to
sixpence a kishen, and fetch up the grass in such a crop that the old
island would rise--why not? ha, ha, ha!--to the opulence and position
of a State.

But, rattle on as he would, he could neither banish the heavy looks
of Michael Sunlocks nor make light the weary heart he bore himself.
So he began to rally the lad, and say how little he would have
thought of a trip to Iceland in his old days at Guinea; that it was
only a hop, skip and a jump after all, and, bless his old soul, if
he wouldn't cut across some day to see him between Tynwald and
Midsummer--and many a true word was said in jest.

Soon they came by Rushen Abbey at Ballasalla, and then old Adam could
hold back no longer what he had come to say.

"You'll see your father before you sail," he said, "and I'm thinking
he'll give you a better reason for going than he has given to me;
but, if not, and Bishop Petersen and the Latin School is all his end
and intention, remember our good Manx saying that 'learning is fine
clothes to the rich man, and riches to the poor one.' And that minds
me," he said, plunging deep into his pocket, "of another good Manx
saying, that 'there are just two bad pays--pay beforehand and no pay
at all;' so to save you from both, who have earned yourself neither,
put you this old paper into your fob--and God bless ye!"

So saying, he thrust into the lad's hand a roll of fifty Manx pound
notes, and then seemed about to whip away. But Michel Sunlocks had
him by the sleeve before he could turn his horse's head.

"Bless me yourself," the lad said.

And then Adam Fairbrother, with all his poor bankrupt whimseys gone
from his upturned face, now streaming wet, and with his white hair
gently lifted by the soft morning breeze, rose in the saddle and laid
his hand on Michael's drooping head and blessed him. And so they
parted, not soon to meet again, or until many a strange chance had
befallen both.

It was on the morning of the day following that Michael Sunlocks rode
into Port-y-Vullin. If he could have remembered how he had left it,
as an infant in his father's arms, perhaps the task he had set
himself would have been an easier one. He was trying to crush down
his shame, and it was very hard to do. He was thinking that go where
he would he must henceforth bear his father's name.

Stephen Orry was waiting for him, having been there three days, not
living in the little hut, but washing it, cleaning it, drying it,
airing it, and kindling fires in it, that by such close labor of half
a week it might be worthy that his son should cross its threshold for
half an hour. He had never slept in it since he had nailed up the
door after the death of Liza Killey, and as an unblessed place it had
been safe from the intrusion of others.

He saw Michael Sunlocks riding up, and raised his cap to him as he
alighted, saying, "Sir" to him, and bowing as he did so. There were
deep scars on his face and head, his hands were scratched and
discolored, his cheeks were furrowed with wrinkles, and about his
whole person there was a strong odor as of tobacco, tar, and bilge
water.

"I shall not have ought to ask you here, sir," he said, in his broken
English.

"Call me Michael," the lad answered, and then they went into the hut.

The place was not much more cheerful than of old, but still dark,
damp and ruinous; and Michael Sunlocks, at the thought that he
himself had been born there, and that his mother had lived her
shameful life and died her dishonored death there, found the gall
again in his throat.

"I have something that I shall have to say to you," said Stephen
Orry, "but I cannot well speak English. Not all the years through I
never shall have learn it." And then, as if by a sudden thought, he
spoke six words in his native Icelandic, and glanced quickly into the
face of Michael Sunlocks.

At the next instant the great rude fellow was crying like a child. He
had seen that Michael understood him. And Michael, on his part,
seemed at the sound of those words to find something melt at his
heart, something fall from his eyes, something rise to his throat.

"Call me Michael," he said once more. "I am your son;" and then they
talked together, Stephen Orry in the Icelandic, Michael Sunlocks in
English.

"I've not been a good father to you, Michael, never coming to see you
all these years. But I wanted you to grow up a better man than your
father before you. A man may be bad, but he doesn't like his son to
feel ashamed of him. And I was afraid to see it in your face,
Michael. That's why I stayed away. But many a time I felt hungry
after my little lad, that I loved so dear and nursed so long, like
any mother might. And hearing of him sometimes, and how well he
looked, and how tall he grew, maybe I didn't think the less about him
for not coming down upon him to shame him."

"Stop, father, stop," said Michael Sunlocks.

"My son," said Stephen Orry, "you are going back to your father's
country. It's nineteen years since he left it, and he hadn't lived a
good life there. You'll meet many a one your father knew, and, maybe,
some your father did wrong by. He can't undo the bad work now.
There's a sort of wrong-doing there's no mending once it's done, and
that's the sort his was. It was against a woman. Some people seem to
be sent into this world to be punished for the sins of others. Women
are mostly that way, though there are those that are not; but she was
one of them. It'll be made up to them in the other world; and if she
has gone there she has taken some of my sins along with her own--if
she had any, and I never heard tell of any. But if she is in this
world still, perhaps it can be partly made up to her here. Only it is
not for me to do it, seeing what has happened since. Michael, that's
why you are going to my country now."

"Tell me everything," said Michael.

Then Stephen Orry, his deep voice breaking and his gray eyes burning
with the slow fire that had lain nineteen years asleep at the bottom
of them, told his son the story of his life--of Rachel and of her
father and her father's curse, of what she had given up and suffered
for him, and of how he had repaid her with neglect, with his mother's
contempt, and with his own blow. Then of her threat and his flight
and his coming to that island; of his meeting with Liza, of his base
marriage with the woman and the evil days they spent together; of
their child's birth and his own awful resolve in his wretchedness and
despair; and then of the woman's death, wherein the Almighty God had
surely turned to mercy what was meant for vengeance. All this he told
and more than this, sparing himself not at all. And Michael listened
with a bewildered sense of fear and shame, and love and sorrow, that
may not be described, growing hot and cold by turns, rising from his
seat and sinking back again, looking about the walls with a chill
terror, as the scenes they had witnessed seemed to come back to them
before his eyes, feeling at one moment a great horror of the man
before him, and at the next a great pity, and then clutching his
father's huge hands in his own nervous fingers.

"Now you know all," said Stephen Orry, "and why it is not for me to
go back to her. There is another woman between us, God forgive me,
and dead though she is, that woman will be there forever. But she,
who is yonder, in my own country, if she is living, is my wife. And
heaven pity her, she is where I left her--down, down, down among the
dregs of life. She has no one to protect and none to help her. She is
deserted for her father's sake, and despised for mine. Michael, will
you go to her?"

The sudden question recalled the lad from a painful reverie. He had
been thinking of his own position, and that even his father's name,
which an hour ago he had been ashamed to bear, was not his own to
claim. But Stephen Orry had never once thought of this, or that the
dead woman who stood between him and Rachel also stood between Rachel
and her son.

"Promise me, promise me," he cried, seeing one thing only--that
Michael was his son, that his son was as himself, and that the woman
who was dead had been as a curse to both of them.

But Michael Sunlocks made him no answer.

"I've gone from bad to worse--I know that, Michael. I've done in cold
blood what I'd have trembled at when she was by me. Maybe I was
thinking sometimes of my boy even then, and saying to myself how
some day he'd go back for me to my own country, when I had made the
money to send him."

Michael trembled visibly.

"And how he'd look for her, and find her, and save her, if she was
alive. And if she wasn't--if she was dead, poor girl, with all her
troubles over, how he'd look for the child that was to come when I
left her--my child, and hers--and find it where it would surely be,
in want and dirt and misery, and then save it for its mother's sake
and mine. Michael, will you go?"

But still Michael Sunlocks made him no answer.

"It's fourteen years since God spared your life to me; just fourteen
years to-night, Michael. I remembered it, and that's why we are here
now. When I brought you back in my arms _she_ was there at my feet,
lying dead, who had been my rod and punishment. Then I vowed, as I
should answer to the Lord at the last day, that if _I_ could not go
back, _you_ should."

Michael covered his face with hands.

"My son, my son--Michael, my little Sunlocks, I want to keep my vow.
Will you go?"

"Yes, yes," cried Michael, rising suddenly. His doubt and pride and
shame were gone. He felt only a great tenderness now for the big rude
man, who had sinned deeply and suffered much and found that all he
could do alone would avail him nothing.

"Father, where is she?"

"I left her at Reykjavik, but I don't know where she is now."

"No matter, I will hunt the world over until I find her, and when I
have found her I will be as a son to her, and she shall be as a
mother to me."

"My boy, my boy," cried Stephen.

"If she should die, and we should never meet, I will hunt the world
over until I find her child, and when I have found it I will be as a
brother to it for my father's sake."

"My son, my son," cried Stephen. And in the exultation of that
moment, when he tried to speak but no words would come, and only his
rugged cheeks glistened and his red eyes shone, it seemed to Stephen
Orry that the burden of twenty heavy years had been lifted away.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE GOING OF SUNLOCKS.


It was then past noon. The Irish brig was in the harbor taking in
Manx cloth and potatoes, a few cattle and a drove of sheep. At the
flow of the tide it was to go out into the bay and anchor there,
waiting for the mails, and at nine o'clock it was to sail. In the
meantime Michael was to arrange for his passage, and at half-past
eight he was to meet his father on the quay.

But he had also to see Greeba, and that was not easy to do. The
family at Lague had heard the great news of his going, and had
secretly rejoiced at it, but they refused to see him there, even for
the shortest leave-taking at the longest parting. And at the bare
mention of the bargain that Greeba had made with him, to bid him
farewell on the eve of his departure, all the Fairbrothers were up in
arms. So he had been sorely put to it to devise a means of meeting
Greeba, if he could do so without drawing suspicion down on her; for
come what might of risk or danger to himself he meant to see her
again before ever he set foot on the ship. The expedient he could not
hit on did not long elude a woman's wit, and Greeba found the way by
which they were to meet.

A few of last year's heifers were grazing on Barrule and at nightfall
somebody went up for them and brought them home. She would go that
night, and return by the glen, so that at the bridge by the turn of
the river and the low road to Lague, where it was quiet enough
sometimes, she could meet anybody about dusk and nobody be the wiser.
She contrived a means to tell Michael of this, and he was prompt to
her appointment.

The day had been fair but close, with a sky that hung low, and with
not a breath of wind, and in the evening when the mist came down from
the mountain a fog came up from the sea, so that the air was empty
and every noise went through it as if it had been a speaking-trumpet.
Standing alone on the bridge under the quiet elms, Michael could
hear the rattle of chains and the whistling of horns, and by that he
knew that the brig had dropped anchor in the bay. But he strained his
ears for other sounds, and they came at last; the thud of the many
feet of the heifers, the flapping of their tails, the cattle-call in
a girl's clear voice, and the swish of a twig that she carried in her
hand.

Greeba came along behind the cattle, swinging her body to a jaunty
gait, her whole person radiant with health and happiness, her long
gown, close at the back and loose over her bosom, showing well her
tall lithe form and firm bearing. She wore no bonnet, but a white
silk handkerchief was tied about her head, half covering her mouth,
and leaving visible in the twilight only the tip of her nose, a curl
of her hair, and her bright dark eyes, with their long bright lashes.
She was singing to herself as she came up to the bridge, with an
unconcerned and unconscious air. At sight of Michael she made a start
and a little nervous cry, so that he thought, poor lad, not knowing
the ways of women, that for all the pains she had been at to fetch
him she had somehow not expected him to be there.

She looked him over from head to foot, and her eyes gleamed from the
white kerchief.

"So you are going, after all," she said, and her voice seemed to him
the sweetest music he had ever heard. "I never believed you would,"
she added.

"Why not?" he asked.

"Oh, I don't know," she said, and laughed a little. "But I suppose
there are girls enough in Iceland," and then she laughed outright.
"Only they can't be of much account up there."

"But I've heard they are very fine girls," he answered; "and it's a
fine country, too."

She tossed her head and laughed and swung her switch.

"Fine country! The idea! Fine company, fine people and a good time.
That's what a girl wants if she's worth anything."

"Then I suppose you will go back to London some day," he said.

"That doesn't follow," she answered. "There's father, you see; and,
oh, what a pity he can't live at Lague!"

"Do you like it so much?" he said.

"Like it?" she said, her eyes full of laughter. "Six big hungry
brothers coming home three times a day and eating up everything in
the house--it's delightful!"

She seemed to him magnificently beautiful.

"I dare say they'll spoil you before I come back," he said, "or
somebody else will."

She gave him a deliberate glance from her dark eyes, and then threw
back her head and laughed. He could see the heaving of her breast.
She laughed again--a fresh, merry laugh--and then he tried to laugh
too, thinking of the foolish thing he had said.

"But if there are plenty of girls up there," she said, slyly glancing
under her long lashes, "and they're so very wonderful, maybe you'll
be getting married before you come home again?"

"Maybe so," he said quietly, and looked vacantly aside.

There was a pause. Then a sharp snap or two broke the silence and
recalled him to the maiden by his side. She was only breaking up the
twig she had carried.

There was another pause, in which he could hear the rippling of the
river and the leaping of a fish. The heifers were munching the grass
by the roadside a little ahead.

"I must go now," she said, coldly, "or they'll be out seeking me."

"I'll walk with you as far as Lague--it's dark," he said.

"No, no, you must not!" she cried, and fumbling the loose fold about
her throat she turned to go.

But he laid hold of her arm.

"Why not?" he asked.

"Only think of my brothers. Your very life would be in danger."

"If all six of them were ranged across the other end of this bridge,
and you had to walk the rest of the road alone, I would go through
them," he said.

She saw the high lift of his neck and she smiled proudly. Then they
walked on some distance. He was gazing at her in silence. There was a
conscious delight of her beauty in the swing of her step and the
untamed glance of her eyes.

"Since the country is so fine I suppose you'll stay a long while
there?" she said in her sweetest tone.

"No longer than I must," he answered.

"Why not?"

"I don't know."

"But why not?" she said again, looking at him sideways with a gleam
of a smile.

He did not answer, and she laughed merrily.

"What a girl you are for laughing," he said. "It may be very
laughable to you that I'm going away----"

"But isn't it to you? Eh?" she said, as fast as a flash of
quicksilver.

He had no answer, so he tried to laugh also, and to take her hand at
the same time. She was too quick for him, and swung half a pace
aside. They were then at the gate of Lague, where long years before
Stephen Orry first saw the light through the elms. A late rook was
still cawing overhead; the heifers had gone on towards the courtyard.

"You must go now, so good-bye," she said, softly.

"Greeba," he said.

"Well? Only speak lower," she whispered, coming closer. He could feel
the warm glow of her body.

"Do you think, now, if I should be a long time away--years it may be,
perhaps many years--we should ever forget each other, we two?"

"Forget? No, not to say forget, you know," she answered.

"But should we remember?"

"Remember? You silly, silly boy, if we should not forget how ever
could we fail to remember?"

"Don't laugh at me, Greeba; and promise me one thing," and then he
whispered in her ear.

She sprang away and laughed once more, and started to run down the
path. But in three strides he had her again.

"That will not do for me, Greeba," he said breathing fast. "Promise
me that you will wait for me."

"Well," she said softly, her dark eyes full of merriment, "I'll
promise that while you are away no one else shall spoil me. There!
Good-bye!"

She was tearing herself out of his hands.

"First give me a token," he said.

Daffodils lined the path, though in the dusk he could not see them.
But she knew they were there, and stopped and plucked two, blew upon
both, gave one to him, and put the other into the folds at her bosom.

"Good-bye! Good-bye!" she said in an under-breath.

"Good-bye!" he answered.

She ran a few steps, but he could not let her go yet, and in an
instant he sprang abreast of her. He threw one arm about her waist
and the other about her neck, tipped up her chin, and kissed her on
the lips. A gurgling laugh came up to him.

"Remember!" he whispered over the upturned face in the white
kerchief.

At the next instant he was gone. Then, standing under the dark elms
alone, she heard the porch door opening, a heavy foot treading on the
gravel, and a deep voice saying: "Here are the heifers home, but
where's the little lass?"

It was her eldest brother, Asher, and she walked up to him and said
quite calmly:--

"Oh! what a bad hasp that gate has--it takes such a time to open and
close."

       *       *       *       *       *

Michael Sunlocks reached the harbor at the time appointed. As he
crossed the quay some fishermen were lounging there with pipes
between their teeth. A few of them came up to him to bid him Godspeed
in their queer way.

Stephen Orry was standing apart by the head of the harbor steps, and
at the bottom of them his boat, a yawl, was lying moored. They got
into it and Stephen sculled out of the harbor. It was still very
thick over the town, but they could see the lights of the Irish brig
in the bay. Outside the pier the air was fresher, and there was
something of a swell on the water.

"The fog is lifting," said Stephen Orry. "There'll be a taste of a
breeze before long."

He seemed as if he had something to say but did not know how to
begin. His eye caught the light on Point of Ayre.

"When are they to build the lighthouse?" he asked.

"After the spring tides," said Michael.

They were about midway between the pier and the brig when Stephen
rested his scull under his arm and drew something from one of his
pockets.

"This is the money," he said, and he held out a bag towards Michael
Sunlocks.

"No," said Michael, and he drew quickly back.

There was a moment's silence, and then Michael added, more softly:--

"I mean, father, that I have enough already. Mr. Fairbrother gave me
some. It was fifty pounds."

Stephen Orry turned his head aside and looked over the dark water.
Then he said:--

"I suppose that was so that you wouldn't need to touch money same as
mine."

Michael's heart smote him. "Father," he said, "how much is it?"

"A matter of two hundred pounds," said Stephen.

"How long has it taken you to earn--to get it?"

"Fourteen years."

"And have you been saving it up for me?"

"Ay."

"To take me to Iceland?"

"Ay."

"How much more have you?"

"Not a great deal."

"But how much?"

"I don't know--scarcely."

"Have you any more?"

Stephen made no answer.

"Have you any more, father?"

"No."

Michael Sunlocks felt his face flush deep in the darkness.

"Father," he said, and his voice broke, "we are parting, you and I,
and we may not meet again soon; indeed, we may never meet again. I
have made you a solemn promise. Will you not make me one?"

"What is it, sir?"

"That you will never, never try to get more by the same means."

"There'll be no occasion now."

"But will you promise me?"

"Ay."

"Then give me the money."

Stephen handed the bag to Michael.

"It's fourteen years of your life, is it not?"

"So to say."

"And now it's mine, isn't it, to do as I like with it?"

"No, sir, but to do as you ought with it."

"Then I ought to give it back to you. Come, take it. But wait!
Remember your promise, father. Don't forget--I've bought every hour
of your life that's left."

Father and son parted at the ship's side in silence, with throats too
full for speech. Many small boats, pulled by men and boys, were lying
about the ladder, and there was a good deal of shouting and swearing
and noisy laughter there. Some of the boatmen recognized Michael
Sunlocks and bellowed their farewells to him. "_Dy banne Jee oo?_"

"God bless you! God bless you!" they said, and then among themselves
they seemed to discuss the reason of his going. "Well, what's it
saying?" said one; "the crab that lies always in its hole is never
fat."

The air had freshened, the swell of the sea had risen, and a sharp
breeze was coming up from the east. Stephen Orry stepped to his mast,
hoisted mainsail and mizzen, and stood out to sea. He had scarcely
got clear away when he heard the brig weigh its anchor and beat down
behind him. They were making towards the Point of Ayre, and when they
came by the light Stephen Orry slackened off, and watched the ship go
by him in the darkness.

He felt as if that were the last he was ever to see of his son in
this world. And he loved him with all the strength of his great
broken, bleeding heart. At that thought the outcast man laid his head
in his hands, where he sat crouching at the tiller, and sobbed. There
were none to hear him there; he was alone; and the low moan of the
sea came up through the night from where his son was sailing away.

How long he sat there he did not know; he was thinking of his past,
of his bad life in Iceland, and his long expiation in the Isle of
Man. In the multitude of his sensations it seemed impossible to his
dazed mind to know which of these two had been the worst, or the most
foolish. Together they had left him a wreck. In the one he had thrown
away the wife who loved him, in the other he had given up the son
whom he loved. What was left to him? Nothing. He was a waif, despised
and downtrodden. He thought of what might have happened to him if the
chances of life had been different, and in that first hour of his
last bereavement all the softening influences of nineteen years, the
uplooking and upworking, and the struggle towards atonement, were as
much gone from him as if they had never been. Then he thought of the
money, and told himself that it was not now that he lost his son for
the first time; he had lost him fourteen years ago, when he parted
with him to the Governor. Since then their relations had been
reversed. His little Sunlocks was his little Sunlocks no longer. He
felt humiliated, he felt hardened, and by a strange impulse, whereof
he understood but little, he cursed in his heart his sufferings more
than his sins. They had been useless, they had been wasted, and he
had been a fool not to live for himself. But in that moment, when the
devil seemed to make havoc of good and evil together, God himself was
not doing nothing.

Stephen Orry was drifting with the tide, when all at once he became
conscious of the lapping of the water on stones near at hand, and of
a bright light shed over the sea. Then he saw that he had drifted
close to low ground off the Point of Ayre. He bore hard aport and
beat out to sea again. Very soon the white water way was behind him;
nothing was visible save the dark hull of the vessel going off
towards the north, and nothing audible save the cry of a few gulls
that were fishing by the light of the flare. It had been the work of
three minutes only, but in that time one vivid impression had fixed
itself on Stephen's preoccupied mind. The end of the old sandstone
pier had been battered down by a recent storm; the box that once held
the light had gone down with it, a pole had been thrust out at an
angle from the overthrown stones, and from the end of this pole the
light swung by a rope. No idea connected itself with this impression,
which lay low down behind other thoughts.

The fog had lifted, but the night was still very dark. Not a star was
shining and no moon appeared. Yet Stephen's eye--the eye of a sailor
accustomed to the darkness of the sea at night--could descry
something that lay to the north. The Irish brig had disappeared. Yes,
her sails were now gone. But out at sea--far out, half a league
away--what black thing was there? Oh, it must be a cloud, that was
all; and no doubt a storm was brewing. Yet no, it was looming larger
and larger, and coming nearer and nearer. It was a sail. Stephen
could see it plainly enough now against the leaden sky. It was a
schooner; he could make out its two masts, with fore and aft sails.
It was an Irish schooner; he could recognize its heavy hull and
hollowed cutwater. It was tacking against wind and tide from the
northeast; it was a Dublin schooner and was homeward bound from
Iceland, having called at Whitehaven and now putting in at Ramsey.

Stephen Orry had been in the act of putting about when this object
caught his eye, but now a strange thing occurred. All at once his
late troubles lay back in his mind, and by a sort of unconscious
mechanical habit of intellect he began to put familiar ideas
together. This schooner that was coming from Iceland would be heavy
laden; it would have whalebone, and eider down, and tallow. If it ran
ashore and was wrecked some of this cargo might be taken by some one
and sold for something to a French smuggler that lay outside the
Chicken Rocks. That flare on the Point of Ayre was the only sea-light
on this north coast of the island, and it hung by a rope from a pole.
The land lay low about it, there was not a house on that sandy
headland for miles on miles, and the night was very dark. All this
came up to Stephen Orry's mind by no effort of will; he looked out of
his dull eyes on the dull stretch of sea and sky, and the thoughts
were there of themselves.

What power outside himself was at work with him? Did anything tell
him that this was the great moment of his life--that his destiny hung
on it--that the ordeal he had just gone through was as nothing to the
ordeal that was yet before him? As he sat in his boat, peering into
the darkness at the black shadow on the horizon, did any voice
whisper in his ear:--"Stephen Orry, on the ship that is yonder there
is one who hates you and has sworn to slay you? He is coming, he is
coming, and he is flesh of your flesh? He is your own son, and
Rachel's!"

Stephen Orry fetched his boat away to leeward, and in two minutes
more he had run down the light on the Point of Ayre. The light fell
into the water, and then all was dark. Stephen Orry steered on over
the freshening sea, and then slackened off to wait and watch. All
this time he had been sitting at the tiller, never having risen from
it since he stepped his mast by the side of the brig. Now he got on
his feet to shorten sail, for the wind was rising and he meant to
drift by the mizzen. As he rose something fell with a clank to the
boat's bottom from his lap or his pocket. It was the bag of money,
which Michael Sunlocks had returned to him.

Stephen Orry stooped down to pick it up; and having it in his hand he
dropped back like a man who has been dealt a blow. Then, indeed, a
voice rang in his ears; he could hear it over the wind that was
rising, the plash of the white breakers on the beach, and the low
boom of the deep sea outside. "Remember your promise, father. I have
bought every hour of your life that's left."

His heart seemed to stand still. He looked around in the dull agony
of a fear that was new to him, turning his eyes first to the headland
that showed faintly against the heavy sky, then to the pier where no
light now shone, and then to the black cloud of sail that grew larger
every instant. One minute passed--two--three. Meantime the black
cloud of sail was drawing closer. There were living men aboard of
that ship, and they were running on to their death. Yes, they were
men, living men--men with wives who loved them, and children who
climbed to their knees. But perhaps they had seen the light when it
went down. Merciful heaven, let it be so--let it be so!

The soul of Stephen Orry was awake at length. Another minute he
waited, another and another, and the black shadow came yet nearer. At
her next tack the ship would run on the land, and already Stephen
seemed to hear the grating of her keel over the rocks below the
beach. He could bear the suspense no longer, and hoisted sail to bear
down on the schooner and warn her. But the wind was strong by this
time, driving hard off the sea and the tide ran faster than before.

Stephen Orry was now some thirty fathoms space to the north of the
broken pier, and at that point the current from across Maughold Head
meets the current going across the Mull of Galloway. Laboring in the
heavy sea he could barely fetch about, but when at last he got head
out to sea he began to drive down on the schooner at a furious speed.
He tried to run close along by her on the weather side, but before he
came within a hundred fathoms he saw that he was in the full race of
the north current, and strong seaman though he was, he could not get
near. Then he shouted, but the wind carried away his voice. He
shouted again, but the schooner gave no sign. In the darkness the
dark vessel scudded past him.

He was now like a man possessed. Fetching about he ran in before the
wind, thinking to pass the schooner on her tack. He passed her
indeed: he was shot far beyond her, shouting as he went, but again
his voice was drowned in the roar of the sea. He was almost atop of
the breakers now, yet he fetched about once more, and shouted again
and again and again. But the ship came on and on, and no one heard
the wild voice, that rang out between the dark sea and sky like the
cry of a strong swimmer in his last agony.



CHAPTER IX.

THE COMING OF JASON.


The schooner was the Peveril, homeward bound from Reykjavik to
Dublin, with a hundred tons of tallow, fifty bales of eider down, and
fifty casks of cods' and sharks' oil. Leaving the Icelandic capital
on the morning after Easter Day, with a fair wind, for the outer
Hebrides, she had run through the North Channel by the middle of the
week, and put into Whitehaven on the Friday. Next day she had stood
out over the Irish Sea for the Isle of Man, intending to lie off at
Ramsey for contraband rum. Her skipper and mate were both Englishmen,
and her crew were all Irish, except two, a Manxman and an Icelander.

The Manxman was a grizzled old sea dog, who had followed the Manx
fisheries twenty years and smuggling twenty other years, and then
turned seaman before the mast. His name was Davy Kerruish, and when
folks asked if the Methodists had got hold of him that he had
turned honest in his old age, he closed one rheumy yellow eye very
knowingly, tipped one black thumb over his shoulder to where the
Government cutters lay anchored outside, and said in a touching
voice, "Aw, well, boy, I'm thinking Castle Rushen isn't no place for
a poor man when he's gettin' anyways ould."

The Icelander was a brawny young fellow of about twenty, of great
height and big muscles, and with long red hair. He had shipped at
Reykjavik, in the room of an Irishman, who had died on the outward
trip and been buried at sea off the Engy Island. He was not a
favorite among the crew; he spoke English well, but was no good at a
yarn in the forecastle; he was silent, gloomy, not too fond of work,
and often the butt of his mates in many a lumbering jest that he did
not seem to see. He had signed on the wharf on the morning the
schooner sailed, and the only kit he had brought aboard was a rush
cage with a canary. He hung the bird in the darkness above his bunk,
and it was all but his sole companion. Now and again he spoke to old
Kerruish, but hardly ever to the other men.

"Och, sollum and quiet lek," old Davy would say at the galley fire,
"but none so simple at all. Aw no, no, no; and wonderful cur'ous
about my own bit of an island yander."

The Icelander was Jason, son of Rachel and Stephen Orry.

There is not a more treacherous channel around the British Isles than
that which lies between St. Bee's Head, the Mull of Galloway, and the
Point of Ayre, for four strong currents meet and fight in that neck
of the Irish Sea. With a stiff breeze on the port quarter, the
Peveril had been driven due west from Whitehaven on the heavy current
from the Solway Frith, until she had met the current from the North
Channel and then she had tacked down towards the Isle of Man. It was
dark by that time, and the skipper had leaned over the starboard
gangway until he had sighted the light on the Point of Ayre. Even
then he had been puzzled, for the light was feebler than he
remembered it.

"Can you make it out, Davy?" he had said to old Kerruish.

"Aw, yes, though, and plain as plain," said Davy; and then the
skipper had gone below.

The Manxman had been at the helm, and Jason, who was on the same
watch, had sidled up to him at intervals and held a conversation with
him in snatches, of which this is the sum and substance.

"Is it the Isle of Man on the starboard bow, Davy?"

"I darn' say no, boy."

"Lived there long, Davy?"

"Aw, thirty years afore you were born, maybe."

"Ever known any of my countrymen on the island?"

"Just one, boy; just one."

"What was he?"

"A big chap, six feet six, if an inch, and ter'ble strong; and a fist
at him like a sledge; and a rough enough divil, too, and ye darn'
spit afore him; but quiet for all--aw, yes, wonderful quiet."

"Who was he, Davy?"

"A widda man these teens of years."

"But what was his name?"

"Paul?--no! Peter?--no! Chut, bless ye, it's clane gone at me; but
it's one of the lot in the ould Book, any way."

"Was it Stephen?"

"By gough, yes, and a middlin' good guess too."

"Stephen what?"

"Stephen--shoo! it's gone at me again! What's that they're callin'
the ould King that's going buryin' down Laxey way?"

"Orry?"

"Stephen Orry it is, for sure. Then it's like you knew him, boy?"

"No--that is--no, no."

"No relations?"

"No. But is he still alive?"

"Aw, yes, though. It's unknownced to me that he's dead, anyway."

"Where is he living now?"

"Down Port Erin way, by the Sound, some place."

"Davy, do we put into the harbor at Ramsey?"

"Aw, divil a chance of that, boy, with sperrits comin' over the side
quiet-like in the night, you know, eighteen-pence a gallon, and as
much as you can drink for nothin'."

"How far do we lie outside?"

"Maybe a biscuit throw or two. We never useder lie farther, boy."

"That's nothing, Davy."

After that the watch had been changed, and then a strange thing had
happened. The day had been heavy and cold, with a sky that hung low
over the sea, and a mist that reduced the visible globe to a circle
of fifty fathoms wide. As the night had closed in the mist had
lifted, and the wind had risen and some sheets of water had come
combing over the weather quarter. The men had been turned up to stow
the yards and bring the schooner to the wind, and when they had gone
below they had been wet and miserable, chewing doggedly at the
tobacco in their cheeks, and growling at the darkness of the
forecastle, for the slush-lamp had not yet been lighted. And just
then, above the muttered curses, the tramping of heavy boots and the
swish of oilskins that were being shaken to drain them, there arose
the sweet song of a bird. It was Jason's canary, singing in the dark
corner of his bunk a foot above his head, for on coming below the lad
had thrown himself down in his wet clothes. The growling came to an
end, the shuffling of feet stopped, and the men paused a moment to
listen, and then burst into peals of laughter. But the bird gave no
heed either to their silence or their noise, but sang on with a full
throat. And the men listened, and then laughed again, and then
suddenly ceased to laugh. A match was struck and the slush-lamp began
to gleam out over mahogany faces that looked at each other with eyes
of awe. The men shook out their coats and hung them over the
stanchions. Still the bird sang on. It was uncanny, this strange
singing in the darkness. The men charged their cuddies, fired up, and
crouched together as they smoked. Still the bird sang on.

"Och, it's the divil in the craythur," said one; "you go bail there's
a storm brewin'. It's just ould Harry hisself rej'icing."

"Then, by St. Patrick, I'll screw the neck of him," said another.

"Aisy, man, aisy," said old Davy; "it's the lad's."

"The lad be----" said the other, and up he jumped. Jason saw the man
coming towards his bunk, and laid hold of the wrist of the arm that
he stretched over it.

"Stop that," said Jason; but the lad was on his back, and in an
instant the man had thrown his body on top of him, leaned over him
and wrenched open the door of the cage. The song stopped; there was a
short rustle of wings, a slight chirp-chirp, and then a moment's
silence, followed by the man's light laugh as he drew back with the
little yellow bird dangling by the neck from his black thumb and
forefinger.

But before the great hulking fellow had twisted about to where his
mates sat and smoked under the lamp, Jason had leapt from his bunk,
stuck his fist into the ruffian's throat and pinned him against a
beam.

"---- you," he cried, thrusting his face into the man's face, "shall
I kill you after it?"

"Help! My God, help!" the man gurgled out, with Jason's knuckles
ground hard into his windpipe.

The others were in no hurry to interfere, but they shambled up at
length, and amid shouts and growls of "Let go," "Let go the hoult,"
and "God's sake, slack the grip," the two were parted. Then the man
who had killed the bird went off, puffing and cursing between his
chattering teeth, and his mates began to laugh at the big words that
came from his weak stomach, while old Davy Kerruish went over to
Jason to comfort him.

"Sarve him right, the craythur," said Davy. "He's half dead, but
that's just half too much life in him yet, though. It's what I've
tould them times on times. 'Lave him alone,' says I; 'the lad's
quiet, but he'll be coorse enough if he's bothered. And my gough,
boy, what a face at ye yander, when you were twissin' the handkercher
at him! Aw, thinks I, he's the spittin picsher of the big widda man
Orry--Stephen Orry--brimstone and vinegar, and gunpowder atop of a
slow fire."

And it was just at that moment, as old Davy was laughing through his
yellow eyes and broken teeth at young Jason, and the other men were
laughing at Jason's adversary, and the dim forecastle under its
spluttering slush-lamp echoed and rang with the uproar, that a wild
voice came down from the deck--"Below there! All hands up! Breakers
ahead!"

Now the moment when the watch had been changed had been the very
moment when Stephen Orry had run down the lamp, so that neither by
the Manxman who gave up the helm nor by the Irishman who took it had
the light been missed when it fell into the sea. And the moment when
Stephen Orry shouted to the schooner to warn it had been the moment
when the muffled peals of laughter at the bird's strange song had
come up from the watch below in the forecastle. The wind had whistled
among the sheets, and the flying spray had smitten the men's faces,
but though the mist had lifted, the sky had still hung low and dark,
showing neither moon nor stars, nor any hint of the land that lay
ahead. But straight for the land the vessel had been driving in the
darkness, under the power of wind and tide. After a time the helmsman
had sighted a solitary light close in on the lee bow. "Point of
Ayre," he thought, and luffed off a little, intending to beat down
the middle of the bay. It had been the light on the jetty at Ramsey;
and the little town behind it, with its back to the sea, lay dark and
asleep, for the night was then well worn towards midnight. After that
the helmsman had sighted two stronger lights beyond. "Ramsey," he
thought, and put his helm aport. But suddenly the man on the lookout
had shouted, "Breakers ahead," and the cry had been sent down the
forecastle.

In an instant all hands were on deck, amid the distraction and
uproar, the shouting and blind groping of the cruel darkness. Against
the dark sky the yet darker land could now be plainly seen, and a
strong tide was driving the vessel on to it. The helm was put hard to
starboard, and the schooner's head began to pay off towards the wind.
Then all at once it was seen that right under the vessel's bow some
black thing lay just above the level of the sea, with a fringe of
white foam around it.

"Davy, what do you make of it?" shouted the skipper.

"Lord-a-massy, it's the Carick," screamed Davy.

"Let go the anchor," roared the skipper.

But it was too late even for that last refuge. At the next moment the
schooner struck heavily; she was on the reef in Ramsey Bay, and
pitching miserably with every heave of the sea.

The two bright lights that led the vessel to her ruin came from
the two little bays that lie under Maughold Head. The light in
Port-y-Vullin was in the hut of Stephen Orry, who had lit his lamp
and placed it in the window when he went out to bid farewell to
Michael Sunlocks, thinking no evil thereby to any man but only that
it would guide him home again when he should return in the boat. The
light in Port Lague was from the cottage of three old net weavers,
who had lived there without woman or girl, or chick or child, through
more than forty years. Two or three were brothers, Danny and Jemmy
Kewley, both over seventy years old, and their housemate, who was
ninety, and had been a companion of their father, was known as Juan
McLady. Danny and Jemmy still worked at the looms year in and year
out, every working hour of the day and night, and Juan, long past
other labor, cooked and sewed and cleaned for them. All three had
grown dim of sight, and now groped about like three old earthworms.
Every year for five years past they had needed an extra candle to
work by, so that eight tallow dips, made in their own iron mould,
swung from the open roof rafters over the meshes on that night when
the Peveril struck on the Carick.

It was supper-time, though old Danny and old Jemmy were still at the
looms. Old Juan had washed out a bowl of potatoes, filled the pot
with them, hung them on the chimney hook and stirred the peats. Then
to make them boil the quicker he had gone out with the tongs to the
side of the house for some dry gorse from the gorse heap. While there
he had peered through the darkness of the bay for the light on the
Point of Ayre, and had missed it, and on going back he had said:

"It's out again. That's the third time inside a month. I'll go bail
something will happen yet."

He had got no answer, and so sat down on the three-legged stool to
feed the fire with gorse lifted on the tongs. When the potatoes had
boiled he had carried them to the door to drain them, and then, with
the click-clack of the levers behind him, he had thought he heard,
over the deep boom and plash of the sea in front, a voice like a
cry. Going indoors he had said, "Plague on the water-bailiff and
commissioners and kays and councils. I'll go bail there's smuggling
going on under their very noses. I'd have the law on the lot of them,
so I would."

Old Danny and old Jemmy knew the temper of their housemate--that he
was never happy save when he had somebody to higgle with--so they
paid no heed to his mutterings. But when Juan, having set the
potatoes to steam with a rag spread over them, went out for the salt
herrings, to where they hung to dry on a stick against the sunny side
of the porch, he was sure that above the click of the levers, the
boom and plash of the sea and the whistle of the wind, he could hear
a clamorous shout of many voices, like a wild cry of distress. Then
he hobbled back with a wizzened face of deadly pallor and told what
he had heard, and the shuttles were stopped, and there was silence in
the little house.

"It went by me same as the wind," said old Juan.

"Maybe it was the nightman," said old Danny.

At that old Jemmy nodded his head very gravely, and old Juan held on
to the lever handles; and through those precious minutes when the
crew of the schooner were fighting in the grip of death in the
darkness, these three old men, their nearest fellow creatures, half
dead, half blind, were held in the grip of superstitious fears.

"There again," cried old Juan; and through the door that he had left
open the cry came in above roar of wind and sea.

"It's men that's yander," said old Jemmy.

"Ay," said old Danny.

"Maybe it's a ship on the Carick," said old Juan.

"Let's away and look," said old Jemmy.

And then the three helpless old men, trembling and affrighted,
straining their dim eyes to see and their deaf ears to hear, and
clinging to each other's hands like little children, groped their
slow way to the beach. Down there the cries were louder than they had
been on the brows above.

"Mercy me, let's away to Lague for the boys," said old Juan; and
leaving behind them the voices that cried for help, the old men
trudged and stumbled through the dark lanes.

Lague was asleep, but the old men knocked, and the windows were
opened and night-capped heads thrust through. Very soon the house and
courtyard echoed with many footsteps, and the bell over the porch
rang out through the night, to call up the neighbors far and near.

Ross and Stean and Thurstan were the first to reach the shore, and
there they found the crew of the Peveril landed--every man safe and
sound, but drenching wet with the water they had passed through to
save their lives. The schooner was still on the Carick, much injured
already, plunging with every hurling sea on to the sharp teeth of the
shoal beneath her, and going to pieces fast. And now that help seemed
to be no more needed the people came flocking down in crowds--the
Fairbrothers, with Greeba, and all their men and maids, Kane Wade the
Methodist, with Chalse A'Killey, who had been sleeping the night at
his house, Nary Crowe, and Matt Mylechreest and old Coobragh. And
while Davy Kerruish shook the salt water from his sou'wester, and
growled out to them with an oath that they had been a plaguy long
time coming, and the skipper bemoaned the loss of his ship, and the
men of their kits, Chalse was down on his knees on the beach, lifting
up his crazy, cracked voice in loud thanksgiving. At that the
growling ended, and then Asher Fairbrother, who had been the last to
come, invited the ship-broken men to Lague, and all together they
turned to follow him.

Just at that moment a cry was heard above the tumult of the sea. It
was a wild shriek that seemed to echo in the lowering dome of the
sky. Greeba was the first to hear it.

"There was some one left on the ship!" she cried.

The men stopped and looked into each other's faces one by one.

"No," said the skipper, "we're all here."

The cry was heard once more; it was a voice of fearful agony.

"That's from Port-y-Vullin," said Asher Fairbrother: and to
Port-y-Vullin they all hastened off, following the way of the beach.
There it was easy to see from whence the cries had come. An open
fishing boat was laboring in the heavy sea, her stern half prancing
like an unbroken horse, and her forepart jammed between two horns of
the rock that forks out into the sea from Maughold Head. She had
clearly been making for the little bay, when she had fallen foul of
the shoal that lies to the north of it. Dark as the night was, the
sea and sky were lighter than the black headland, and the figure of a
man in the boat could be seen very plainly. He was trying to unship
the mast, that he might lighten the little craft and ease her off the
horns that held her like a vice, but every fresh wave drove her head
deeper into the cleft, and at each vain effort he shouted again and
again in rage and fear.

A boat was lying high and dry on the shore. Two of the Fairbrothers,
Stean and Thurstan, ran it into the water, jumped into it, and pushed
off. But the tide was still making, the sea was running high, a low
ground swell was scooping up the shingle and flinging it through the
air like sleet, and in an instant the boat was cast back on the
shore. "No use, man," shouted many voices.

But Greeba cried, "Help, help, help!" She seemed to be beside herself
with suspense. Some vague fear, beyond the thought of a man's life in
peril, seemed to possess her. Did she know what it was? She did not.
She dared not fix her mind upon it. She was afraid of her own fear.
But, low down within her, and ready at any moment to leap to her
throat, was the dim ghost of a dread that he who was in the boat, and
in danger of his life on the rock, might be very near and dear to
her. With her hood fallen back from her head to her shoulders, she
ran to and fro among the men on the beach, crying, "He will be lost.
Will no one save him?"

But the other women clung to the men, and the men shook their heads
and answered, "He's past saving," and "We've got wives and childers
lookin' to us, miss--and what's the use of throwing your life away?"

Still the girl cried "Help," and then a young fellow pushed through
to where she stood, and said, "He's too near for us to stand here and
see him die."

"Oh, God bless and keep you forever and ever," cried Greeba; and,
lifted completely out of all self-control, she threw her arms about
the young man and kissed him fervently on the cheek. It was Jason. He
had found a rope and coiled one end of it about his waist, and held
the other end in his hand. The touch of Greeba's quivering lips had
been as fire to him. "Lay hold," he cried, and threw the loose end
of the rope to Thurstan Fairbrother. At the next moment he was
breast-high in the sea. The man must have seen him coming, for the
loud clamor ceased.

"Brave lad!" said Greeba, in a deep whisper.

"Brave, is it? It's mad, I'm calling it," said old Davy.

"Who is it?" said the skipper.

"The young Icelander," said Davy.

"Not the lad Jason?"----

"Aw, yes, though--Jason--the gawk, as they're saying. Poor lad
_there's_ a heart at him."

The people held their breath. Greeba covered her eyes with her hands,
and felt an impulse to scream. Wading with strong strides, and
swimming with yet stronger strokes, Jason reached the boat. A few
minutes afterwards he was back on the shore, dragging the man after
him.

The man lay insensible in Jason's arms, bleeding from a wound in the
head. Greeba stooped quickly to peer into his face in the darkness,
and then rose up and turned away with a sigh that was like a sigh of
relief.

"He's done for," said Jason, putting him down.

"Who is he?" cried a score of voices.

"God knows; fetch a lantern," said Jason.

"See, there's a light in old Orry's hut yonder. Let's away there with
him. It will be the nearest place," said Kane Wade.

Then shoulder-high they raised the insensible man and carried him to
Stephen Orry's hut.

"What a weight he is!" said Kane Wade. "Slip along, somebody, and get
the door opened."

Chalse A'Killey ran on ahead.

"Where's Stephen, to-night, that he's not out with us at work same as
this?" said Matt Mylechreest.

"He's been down here all week," puffed Nary Crowe.

In another minute Chalse was knocking at the door, and calling loudly
as he knocked:

"Stephen! Stephen! Stephen Orry!"

There came no answer, and he knocked again and called yet louder:

"Stephen, let us in. There's a man here dying."

But no one stirred within the house. "He's asleep," said one.

"Stephen--Stephen Orry--Stephen Orry--wake up, man--can't you hear
us? Have you no bowels, that you'd keep the man out?"

"He's not at home--force the door," Kane Wade shouted.

One blow was enough. The door was fastened only by a hemp rope wound
around a hasp on the outside, and it fell open with a crash. Then
the men with the burden staggered into the house. They laid the
insensible man on the floor, and there the light of the lamp that
burned in the window fell upon his face.

"Lord-a-massy!" they cried, "it's Stephen Orry hisself."



CHAPTER X.

THE END OF ORRY.


When the tumult was over, and all lives appeared to be saved, and
nothing seemed lost save the two vessels--the schooner and the yawl,
which still rose and fell on the Carick and the forked reef of the
head--and the people separated, and the three old net weavers
straggled back to their home, the crew of the Peveril went off with
the Fairbrothers to Lague. Great preparations were already afoot
there, for Asher had sent on a message ahead of them, and the maids
were bustling about, the fire was rekindled in the kitchen, and the
kettle was singing merrily. And first there was a mouthful of grog,
steaming hot, for every drenched and dripping seaman, with a taste of
toast to sweeten it. Then there was getting all the men into a change
of dry clothes in order that they might wait for a bite of supper,
and until beds were shuffled about and shakedowns fetched out. And
high was the sport and great the laughter at the queer shifts the
house was put to that it might find clean rigging for so many, on
even so short a cruise. When the six Fairbrothers had lent all the
change they had of breeches and shirts, the maids had to fish out
from their trunks a few petticoats and some gowns, for the sailors
still unfurnished. But the full kit was furnished out at length, and
when the ship's company mustered down in the kitchen from the rooms
above, all in their motley colors and queer mixture of garments, with
their grizzled faces wiped dry, but their hair still wet and lank and
glistening, no one could have guessed, from the loud laughter
wherewith they looked each other over, that only an hour before
Death itself had so nearly tricked them. Like noisy children let out
of school they all were, now that they were snugly housed; for a
seagoing man, however he may be kicked about on the sea, is not used
to be downhearted on the land. And if two or three of the company
continued to complain of their misfortunes, their growlings but lent
zest to the merriment of the rest. So that they laughed loud when old
Davy, cutting a most ridiculous figure in a linsey-wolsey petticoat
and a linen bodice that would not meet over his hairy chest, began to
grumble that he had followed the sea forty years and never been
wrecked before, as if that were the best of all reasons why he should
not come by such rough harm now, and a base advantage taken of him by
Providence in his old age.

And louder still they laughed at the skipper himself when still
sorely troubled by his evil luck, he wanted to know what all their
thanking God was for, since his good ship lay a rotten hulk on a
cruel reef; and if it was so very good of Providence to let them off
that rock, it would have been better far not to let them on to it.
And loudest of all they laughed, and laughed again, when an Irish
sailor told them, with all his wealth of brogue, of a prayer that he
had overheard old Davy pray while they hung helpless on the rock,
thinking never to escape from it. "Oh, Lord, only save my life this
once, and I'll smuggle no more," the Manxman had cried; "and it's not
for myself but ould Betty I ax it, for Thou knowest she's ten years
dead in Maughold churchyard with twenty rolls of good Scotch cloth in
the grave atop of her. But I had nowhere else to put it, and, good
Lord, only remember the last day, and save my life till I dig it up
from off of her chest, for she was never a powerful woman."

And the danger being over, neither Davy nor the skipper took it ill
that the men should make sport of their groanings, for they laughed
with the rest, and together they waked a most reckless uproar.

All this while, though Mrs. Fairbrother had not left her bedroom, the
girls' feet had been jigging about merrily over the white holy-stoned
floor to get some supper spread, and Greeba, having tapped Jason, on
the shoulder, had carried him off quietly to the door of the parlor,
and pushed him in there while she ran to get a light, for the room
was dark. It was also cool, with crocks of milk standing for cream,
and basins of eggs and baskets of new-made cheese. And when she
returned with the candle in one hand, shaded by the luminous fingers
of the other, and its bright light on her comely face, she would have
loaded him with every good thing the house contained--collared head,
and beef, and binjeen and Manx jough, and the back of the day's
pudding. Nothing he would have, however, save one thing, and that
made great sport between them: for it was an egg, and he ate it raw,
shell included, crunching it like an apple. At that sight she made
pretence to shudder. And then she laughed like a bell, saying he was
a wild man indeed, and she had thought so when she first set eyes on
him on the shore, and already she was more than half afraid of him.

Then they laughed again, she very slyly, he very bashfully, and while
her bright eyes shone upon him she told him how like he was, now that
she saw him in the light, to some one else she knew of. He asked her
who that was, and she answered warily, with something between a smile
and a blush, that it was one who had left the island that very night.

By this time the clatter of dishes mingled with the laughter and
merry voices that came from the other side of the hall, and the two
went back to the kitchen.

Asher Fairbrother, who had been dozing like a sheep dog in the ingle,
was then rising to his feet, and saying, "And now for supper; and let
it be country fashion, girls, at this early hour of the morning."

Country fashion indeed it was, with the long oak table scrubbed white
like a butcher's board, and three pyramids of potatoes, boiled in
their jackets, tossed out at its head and foot and middle, three huge
blocks of salt, each with its wooden spoon, laid down at the same
spaces, and a plate with a boiled herring and a basin of last night's
milk before every guest. And the seamen shambled into their places,
any man anywhere, all growling or laughing, or both; and the maids
flipped about very lightly, rueing nothing, amid so many fresh men's
faces, of the strange chance that had fetched them out of their beds
for work at double tides.

And seeing the two coming back together from the parlor, the banter
of the seamen took another turn, leaving old Davy for young Jason,
who was reminded of the kiss he had earned on the beach, and asked if
ever before a sailor lad had got the like from a lady without look or
longing. Such was the flow of their banter until Greeba, being
abashed, and too hard set to control the rich color that mounted to
her cheeks, fled laughing from the room to hide her confusion.

But no rudeness was intended by the rude sea dogs, and no offence was
taken; for in that first hour, after they had all been face to face
with death, the barrier of manners stood for nothing to master or man
or mistress or maid.

But when the rough jest seemed to have gone far enough, and Jason,
who had laughed at first, had begun to hang his head--sitting just
where Stephen Orry had sat when, long years before, he took refuge in
that house from the four blue-jackets in pursuit of him--Old Davy
Kerruish got up and pulled his grizzled forelock, and shouted to him
above the tumult of the rest:

"Never mind the loblolly-boys, lad," he cried, "it's just jealous
they are, being so long out of practice; and there's one thing you
can say, anyway, and that's this--the first thing you did on setting
foot in the Isle of Man was to save the life of a Manxman."

"Then here's to his right good health," cried Asher Fairbrother, with
his mouth in a basin of milk; and in that brave liquor, with three
times three and the thud and thung of twenty hard fists on the table,
the rough toast was called round.

And in the midst of it, when Greeba, having conquered her maiden
shame, had crept back to the kitchen, and Mrs. Fairbrother, aroused
at length by the lightsome hubbub, had come down to put an end to it,
the door of the porch opened, and crazy old Chalse A'Killey stood
upon the threshold, very pale, panting for breath, and with a ghastly
light in his sunken eyes, and cried, "He's dying. Where's the young
man that fetched him ashore? He's crying out for him, and I'm to
fetch him along with me straight away."

Jason rose instantly. "I'll go," he said, and he snatched up a cap.

"And I'll go with you," said Greeba, and she caught up a shawl.

Not a word more was said, and at the next instant, before the others
had recovered from their surprise, or the laughter and shouting were
yet quite gone from their lips, the door had closed again and the
three were gone.

Chalse, in his eagerness to be back, strode on some paces ahead in
the darkness, and Jason and Greeba walked together.

"Who is it?" said Jason. "Do you know?"

"No," said Greeba. "Chalse!" she cried, but the old man, with his
face down, trudged along as one who heard nothing. She tripped up to
him, and Jason walking behind heard the sound of muttered words
between them, but caught nothing of what passed. Dropping back to
Jason's side, the girl said: "It's a man whom nobody holds of much
account, poor soul."

"What is he?" said Jason.

"A smuggler, people say, or perhaps worse. His wife has been long
years dead, and he has lived alone ever since, shunned by most folks,
and by his own son among others. It was his son who sailed to Iceland
to-night."

"Iceland? Did you say Iceland?"

"Yes, Iceland. It is your own country, is it not? But he hadn't lived
with his father since he was a child. He was brought up by my own
dear father. It was he who seemed to be so like to you."

Jason stopped suddenly in the dark lane.

"What's the name?" he asked, hoarsely.

"The son's name? Michael."

"Michael what?"

"Michael Sunlocks."

Jason drew a long breath, and strode on without a word more. Very
soon they were outside the little house in Port-y-Vullin.

Chalse was there before them, and he stood with the door ajar.

"Whist!" the old man whispered. "He's ebbing fast. He's going out
with the tide. Listen!"

They crept in on tiptoe, but there was small need for quiet. The
place was a scene of direful uproar and most gruesome spectacle. It
was all but as thronged of people as it had been nineteen years
before, on the day of Liza Killey's wedding. On the table, the form,
the three-legged stool, and in the chimney corner, they sat together
cheek-by-jowl, with eyes full of awe, most of them silent or speaking
low behind their hands. On the bed the injured man lay and tossed in
a strong delirium. The wet clothes wherein he had passed through the
sea had been torn off, his body wrapped in a gray blanket, and the
wound on his head bandaged with a cloth. His lips were discolored,
his cheeks were white, and his hair was damp with the sweat that ran
in big drops to his face and neck. At his feet Nary Crowe stood,
holding a horn cup of brandy, and by his head knelt Kane Wade, the
Methodist, praying in a loud voice.

"God bring him to Thy repentance," cried Kane Wade; "restore him to
the joy of Thy salvation. The pains of hell have gotten hold of him.
Hark how the devil is tearing him. He is like to the man with the
unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs. The devil is
gotten into him. But out wi' thee, Satan, and no more two words about
it! Thanks be unto God, we can wrestle with thee in prayer. Gloom at
us, Satan, but never will we rise from our knees until God hath given
us the victory over thee, lest our brother fall into the jaws of
hell, and our own souls be not free from blood-guiltiness."

In this strain he prayed, shouting at the full pitch of the vast
bellows of his lungs, and loudest of all when the delirium of the
sick man was strongest, until his voice failed him from sheer
exhaustion, and then his lips still moved, and he mumbled hoarsely
beneath his breath.

Jason stood in the middle of the floor and looked on in his great
stature over the heads of the people about him, while Greeba, with
quiet grace and gentle manners, thinned the little hut of some of the
many with whom the dense air smoked and reeked. After that she lifted
the poor restless, tumbling, wet head from its hard pillow, and put
it to rest on her own soft arm, with her cool palm to the throbbing
brow, and then she damped the lips with the brandy from Nary Crowe's
cup. This she did, and more than this, seeming to cast away from her
in a moment all her lightness, her playfulness, her bounding happy
spirits, and in the hour of need to find such tender offices come to
her, as to all true women, like another sense.

And presently the delirium abated, the weary head lay still, the
bleared eyes opened, the discolored lips parted, and the dying man
tried to speak. But before ever a word could come, the change was
seen by Kane Wade, who cried, "Thank God, he has found peace. Thank
the Lord, who has given us the victory. Satan is driven out of him.
Mercy there is for the vilest of sinners." And on the top of that
wild shout old Chalse struck up, without warning, and in the craziest
screech that ever came from human throat, a rugged hymn of triumph,
wherein all the lines were one line and all the notes one note, but
telling how the Lord was King over death and hell and all the
devils.

Again and again he sang a verse of it, going faster at every
repetition, and the others joined him, struggling to keep pace with
him: and all but Greeba, who tried by vain motions to stop the
tumult, and Jason, who looked down at the strange scene with eyes
full of wonder. At last the mad chorus of praise came to an end, and
the sick man said, casting his weak eyes into the faces about him,
"Has he come?"

"He is here," whispered Greeba, and she motioned to Jason.

The lad pushed through to the bedside, and then for the first time he
came face to face with Stephen Orry.

Did any voice, unheard of the others, cry in his ear at that moment,
"Jason, Jason, this is he whom you have crossed the seas to slay, and
he has sent for you to bless you, for the last sands of his life are
running out?"

"Leave us alone together," said Stephen Orry; and Greeba, after
beating out his pillow and settling his head on it, was about to move
away, when he whispered, "Not you," and held her back.

Then with one accord the others called on to him not to tarry over
carnal thoughts, for his soul was passing through dark waters, and he
should never take rest until he had cast anchor after a troublous
voyage.

"Get religion," cried Kane Wade. "Lay hoult of a free salvation,"
cried old Chalse. "All flesh is as grass," cried Matt Mylechreest.
"Pray without ceasing," they all cried together, with much besides in
the same wild strain.

"I cannot pray," the sick man muttered.

"Then we'll pray for you, mate," shouted Kane Wade.

"Ah, pray, pray, pray," mumbled Stephen Orry, "but it's no good; it's
too late, too late."

"Now is the 'pointed time," shouted Kane Wade. "The Lord can save to
the uttermost the worst sinner of us all."

"If I'm a sinner, let me not be a coward in my sins," said Stephen
Orry. "Have pity on me and leave me."

But Kane Wade went on to tell the story of his own conversion:--It
was on a Saturday night of the mackerel season down at Kinsale. The
conviction had been borne in upon him that if he did not hear the
pardoning voice before the clock struck twelve, he would be damned to
all eternity. When the clock began to warn for midnight the hair of
his flesh stood up, for he was still unsaved. But before it had
finished striking the Saviour was his, and he was rejoicing in a
blessed salvation.

"How can you torture a poor dying man?" muttered Stephen Orry.

"Call on the Lord, mate," shouted Kane Wade, "'Lord, I belave, help
Thou my unbelafe.'"

"I've something to do, and the pains of death have hold of me,"
muttered Stephen Orry.

"He parthoned the thafe on the cross," cried old Chalse, "and he's
gotten parthon left for you."

"Cruel, cruel! Have you no pity for a wretched dying man?" mumbled
Stephen Orry.

"Ye've not lived a right life, brother," cried Kane Wade, "and ye've
been ever wake in yer intellects, so never take rest till ye've read
your title clear."

"You would scarce think they could have the heart, these people--you
would scarce think it, would you?" said Stephen Orry, lifting his
poor glassy eyes to Greeba's face.

Then with the same quiet grace as before, the girl got up, and gently
pushed the men out of the house one by one. "Come back in an hour,"
she whispered.

It was a gruesome spectacle--the rude Methodists, with their loud
voices and hot faces and eyes of flame, trying to do their duty by
the soul of their fellow creature; the poor tortured sinner, who knew
he had lived an evil life and saw no hope of pardon, and would not be
so much a coward as to cry for mercy in his last hours; the young
Icelander looking on in silence and surprise: and the girl moving
hither and thither among them all, like a soft-voiced dove in a cage
of hoarse jackdaws.

But when the little house was clear, and the Methodists, who started
a hymn on the beach outside, had gone at last, and their singing had
faded away, and there was only the low wail of the ebbing tide where
there had been so loud a Babel of many tongues, Stephen Orry raised
himself feebly on his elbow and asked for his coat. Jason found it on
the hearth and lifted it up, still damp and stiff, from the puddle of
water that lay under it. Then Stephen Orry told him to put his hand
in the breast pocket and take out what he would find there. Jason did
as he was bidden and drew forth the bag of money. "Here it is," he
said; "what shall I do with it?"

"It is yours," said Stephen Orry.

"Mine?" said Jason.

"I meant it for my son," said Stephen Orry. He spoke in his broken
English, but let us take the words out of his mouth. "It's yours now,
my lad. Fourteen years I've been gathering it, meaning it for my son.
Little I thought to part with it to a stranger, but it's yours, for
you've earned it."

"No, no," said Jason. "I've earned nothing."

"You tried to save my life," said Stephen Orry.

"I couldn't help doing that," said Jason, "and I want no pay."

"But it's two hundred pounds, my lad."

"No matter."

"Then how much have you got?"

"Nothing."

"Has the wreck taken all?"

"Yes--no--that is, I never had anything."

"Take the money; for God's sake take it, and do what you like with
it, or I'll die in torture," cried Stephen Orry, and with a groan he
threw himself backward on the bed.

"I'll keep it for your son," said Jason. "His name is Michael
Sunlocks, isn't it? And he has sailed for Iceland, hasn't he? That's
my country, and I may meet him some day."

Then in a broken voice Stephen Orry said, "If you have a father he
must be proud of you, my lad. Who is he?"

And Jason answered moodily, "I have no father--none I ever knew."

"Did he die in your childhood?"

"No."

"Before you were born?"

"No."

"Is he alive?"

"Ay, for aught I know."

Stephen Orry struggled to his elbow again. "Then he had wronged your
mother?" he said with his breath coming quick.

"Ay, maybe so."

"The villain! Yet who am I to rail at him? Is your mother still
alive?"

"No."

"Where is your father?"

"Don't speak of him," said Jason in an under-breath.

"But what's your name, my lad?"

"Jason."

With a long sigh of relief Stephen Orry dropped back and muttered to
himself, "To think that such a father should never have known he had
such a son."

The power of life ebbed fast in him, but after a pause he said,

"My lad."

"Well?" said Jason.

"I've done you a great wrong."

"When did you do me a wrong?"

"To-night."

"How?"

"No matter. There's no undoing it now; God forgive me. But let me be
your father, though I'm a dying man, for that will give you the right
to keep my poor savings for yourself."

"But they belong to your son," said Jason.

"He'll never touch them," said Stephen Orry.

"Why not?" said Jason.

"Don't ask me. Leave me alone. For mercy's sake don't torture a dying
man," cried Stephen Orry.

"That's not what I meant to do," said Jason, giving way; "and, if you
wish it, I will keep the money."

"Thank God," said Stephen Orry.

Some moments thereafter he lay quiet, breathing fast and loud, while
Greeba hovered about him. Then in a feebler voice he said, "Do you
think, my lad, you'll ever meet my son?"

"Maybe so," said Jason. "I'll go back when I've done what I came to
do."

"What is that?" Greeba whispered, but he went on without answering
her.

"Though our country is big, our people are few. Where will he be?"

"I scarce can say. He has gone to look for someone. He's a noble boy,
I can tell you that. And it's something for a father to think of when
his time comes, isn't it? He loves his father, too--that is, he did
love me when he was a little chap. You must know he had no mother.
Only think, I did everything for him, though I was a rough fellow.
Yes, I nursed him and comforted him as any woman might. Ay, and the
little man loved me then, for all he doesn't bear his father's name
now."

Jason glanced up inquiringly, first at Stephen Orry and then
at Greeba. Stephen saw nothing. His eyes were dim, but full of
tenderness, and his deep voice was very gentle, and he rambled on
with many a break and between many a groan, for the power of life was
low in him.

"You see I called him Sunlocks. That was because it was kind and
close-like. He used to ride on my shoulder. We played together then,
having no one else, and I was everything to him and he was all the
world to me. Ah, that was long ago, Sunlocks! Little Sunlocks! My
little Sunlocks! My own little----"

At that point he laughed a little, and then seemed to weep like a
child, though no tears came to his eyes, and the next moment, under
the pain of joyful memories and the flow of blood upon the brain, his
mind began to wander. It was very pitiful to look upon. His eyes were
open, but it was clear that they did not see; his utterance grew
thick and his words were confused and foolish; but his face was lit
up with a surprising joy, and you knew that the years had rolled
back, and the great rude fellow was alone with his boy, and doating
on him. Sometimes he would seem to listen as if for the child's
answer, and then he would laugh as if at its artless prattle. Again
he would seem to sing the little one to sleep, crooning very low a
broken stave that ran a bar and then stopped. Again he would say very
slowly what sounded like the words of some baby prayer, and while he
did so his chin would be twisted into his breast and his arms would
struggle to cross it, as though the child itself were once more back
in his bosom.

At all this Greeba cried behind her hands, unable to look or listen
any longer, and Jason, though he shed no tears, said, in a husky
voice, "He cannot be altogether bad who loved his son so."

The delirium grew stronger, the look of joy and the tender words gave
place to glances of fear and some quick beseeching, and then Jason
said in a tremulous whisper, "It must be something to know you have a
father who loves you like that."

But hardly had the words been spoken when he threw back his head and
asked in a firm voice how far it was to Port Erin.

"About thirty miles," said Greeba, looking up at the sudden question.

"Not more?" asked Jason.

"No. _He_ has lived there," she answered, with a motion of her head
downwards towards the bed.

"He?"

"Yes, ever since his wife died. Before that they lived in this place
with Michael Sunlocks. His wife met with a terrible death."

"How?"

"She was murdered by some enemy of her husband. The man escaped, but
left his name behind him. It was Patricksen."

"Patricksen?"

"Yes. That must be fourteen years ago, and since then he has lived
alone at Port Erin. Do you wish to go there?"

"Ay--that is, so I intended."

"Why?"

"To look for someone."

"Who is it?"

"My father."

For a moment Greeba was silent, and then she said with her eyes down:

"Why look for _him_ if he wronged your mother?"

"That's why I meant to do so."

She looked up into his face, and stammered, "But why?"

He did not appear to hear her: his eyes were fixed on the man on the
bed; and hardly had she asked the question when she covered her ears
with her hands as though to shut out his answer.

"Was _that_ why you came?" she asked.

"Yes," he answered. "If we had not been wrecked to-night I should
have dropped overboard and deserted."

"Strange," she said. "It was just what _he_ did, when he came to the
island nineteen years ago."

"Yes, nineteen years ago," Jason repeated.

He spoke like a man in a sleep, and she began to tremble.

"What is the matter?" she said.

Within a few minutes his face had suddenly changed, and it was now
awful to look upon. Not for an instant did he turn his eyes from the
bed.

The delirium of the sick man had deepened by this time; the little,
foolish, baby play-words in the poor broken English came from him no
more, but he seemed to ask eager questions, in a tongue that Greeba
did not understand.

"This man is an Icelander," said Jason.

"Didn't you know that before?" said Greeba.

"What is his name?" said Jason.

"Haven't you heard it yet?"

"What is his name?"

Then for one quick instant he turned his face towards her face, and
she seemed to read his thought.

"Oh God!" she cried, and she staggered back.

Just then there was a sound of footsteps on the shingle outside, and
at the next moment Stean and Thurstan Fairbrother and old Davy
Kerruish pushed open the door. They had come to fetch Greeba.

"The Methodee man tould us," said Davy, standing by Jason's side,
"and, my gough, but it's mortal cur'ous. What's it saying, 'Talk of
the divil, and sure enough it was the big widda man hisself we were
talking of, less nor a half hour afore we struck."

"Come, my lass," said Thurstan.

"No, no, I'll stay here," said Greeba.

"But your mother is fidgeting, and this is no place for a slip of a
girl--come!"

"I'll stay with him alone," said Jason.

"No, no," cried Greeba.

"It's the lad's right, for all," said old Davy. "He fetched the poor
chap out of the water. Come, let's take the road for it."

"Will no one stay instead of me?" said Greeba.

"Where's the use?" said Davy. "He's raelly past help. He's outward
bound, poor chap. Poor Orry! Poor ould Stephen!"

Then they drew Greeba away, and with a look of fear fixed on Jason's
face she passed out at the door.

Jason was now alone with Stephen Orry, and felt like a man who had
stumbled into a hidden grave. He had set out over the seas to search
for his father, and here, at his first setting foot on the land, his
father lay at his feet. So this was Stephen Orry; this was he for
whom his mother had given up all; this was he for whom she had taken
a father's curse; this was he for whom she had endured poverty and
shame; this was he who had neglected her, struck her, forgotten her
with another woman; this was he who had killed her--the poor, loving,
loyal, passionate heart--not in a day, or an hour, or a moment, but
in twenty long years. Jason stood over the bed and looked down.
Surely the Lord God had heard his great vow and delivered the man
into his hands. He would have hunted the world over to find him, but
here at a stride he had him. It was Heaven's own justice, and if he
held back now the curse of his dead mother would follow him from the
grave.

Yet a trembling shook his whole frame, and his heart beat as if it
would break. Why did he wait? He remembered the tenderness that had
crept upon him not many minutes ago, as he listened to the poor baby
babble of the man's delirium, and at that the gall in his throat
seemed to choke him. He hated himself for yielding to it, for now he
knew for whom it had been meant. It had been meant for his own father
doating over the memory of another son. That son had supplanted
himself; that son's mother had supplanted his own mother; and yet he,
in his ignorance, had all but wept for both of them. But no matter,
he was now to be God's own right hand of justice on this evil-doer.

Dawn was breaking, and its woolly light crept lazily in at the little
window, past the lamp that still burned on the window board. The wind
had fallen, and the sea lay gloomy and dark, as if with its own heavy
memories of last night's work. The gray light fell on the sick man's
face, and under Jason's eyes it seemed to light up the poor,
miserable, naked soul within. The delirium had now set in strong, and
many were the wild words and frequent was the cry that rang through
the little house.

"Not while he is like that," thought Jason. "I will wait for the
lull."

He took up a pillow in both hands and stood by the bed and waited,
never lifting his eyes off the face. But the lull did not come. Would
it not come at all? What if the delirium were never to pass away?
Could he still do the thing he intended? No, no, no! But Heaven had
heard his vow and led him there. The delirium would yet pass; then he
would accuse his father, face to face and eye to eye, and then--

The current of Jason's thoughts was suddenly arrested by a cry from
the sick man. It was "Rachel! Rachel! Rachel!" spoken in a voice of
deep entreaty, and there came after it in disjointed words of the
Icelandic tongue a pitiful appeal for forgiveness. At that a great
fear seized upon Jason, and the pillow dropped from his hands to the
ground. "Rachel! Rachel!" It was the old cry of the years that were
gone, but working with how great a difference--then, to stir up evil
passions--now, to break down the spirit of revenge.

"Rachel! Rachel!" came again in the same pitiful voice of
supplication; and at the sound of that name so spoken, the bitterness
of Jason's heart went off like a wail of the wind. It was a cry of
remorse; a cry for pardon; a cry for mercy. There could be no
jugglery. In that hour of the mind's awful vanquishment a human soul
stood naked behind him as before its Maker.

Jason's great resolve was shaken. Had it been only a blind tangle of
passion and pain? If the Almighty had called him to be the instrument
of His vengeance, would He have delivered his enemy into his hands
like this--dying, delirious, with broken brain and broken heart?

Still his mother's name came from his father's lips, and then his
mind went back to the words that had so lately passed between them.
"Let me be your father, though I am a dying man." Ah! sweet,
beautiful, blind fallacy--could he not let it be?

The end was very near; the delirium passed away, and Stephen Orry
opened his eyes. The great creature was as quiet as a child now, and
as soft and gentle as a child's was his deep hoarse voice. He knew
that he had been wandering in his mind, and when he looked into
Jason's face a pale smile crossed his own.

"I thought I had found her," he said, very simply, "my poor young
wife that once was; it was she that I lost so long ago, and did such
wrong by."

Jason's throat was choking him, but he stammered out, "Lie still,
sir, lie still and rest."

But Stephen Orry talked on in the same simple way: "Ah, how silly I
am! I forgot you didn't know."

"Lie still and rest," said Jason again.

"There was someone with her, too. I thought I was her son--her child
and mine, that was to come when I left her. And, only think, I looked
again, and it seemed to be you. Yes, you--for it was the face of him
that fetched me out of the sea. I thought you were my son indeed."

Then Jason could bear up no longer. He flung himself down on his
knees by the bedside, and buried his face in the dying man's breast.

"Father," he sobbed, "I _am_ your son."

But Stephen Orry only smiled, and answered very quietly, "Ah, yes, I
remember--that was part of our bargain, my good lad. Well, God bless
you, my son. God bless and speed you."

And that was the end of Orry.



THE BOOK OF MICHAEL SUNLOCKS.



CHAPTER I.

RED JASON.


Now the facts of this history must stride on some four years, and
come to a great crisis in the lives of Greeba and Jason. Every event
of that time seemed to draw these two together, and the first of the
circumstances that bound them came very close on the death of Stephen
Orry. Only a few minutes after Greeba, at the bidding of her two
brothers, Stean and Thurstan, had left Jason alone with the dying
man, she had parted from them without word or warning, and fled back
to the little hut in Port-y-Vullin. With a wild laboring of heart,
panting for breath and full of dread, she had burst the door open,
fearing to see what she dare not think of; but, instead of the evil
work she looked for, she had found Jason on his knees by the bedside,
sobbing as if his heart would break, and Stephen Orry passing away
with a tender light in his eyes and a word of blessing on his lips.
At that sight she had stood on the threshold like one who is
transfixed, and how long that moment had lasted she never knew. But
the thing she remembered next was that Jason had taken her by the
hand and drawn her up, with all the fire of her spirit gone, to where
the man lay dead before them, and had made her swear to him there and
then never to speak of what she had seen, and to put away from her
mind forever the vague things she had but partly guessed. After that
he had told her, with a world of pain, that Stephen Orry had been his
father; that his father had killed his mother by base neglect and
cruelty; that to wipe out his mother's wrongs he had vowed to slay
his father; and that his father, not knowing him, save in the vision
of his delirium, had died in the act of blessing him. Greeba had
yielded to Jason, because she had been conquered by his stronger
will, and was in fear of the passion which flashed in his face; but
hearing all this, she remembered Michael Sunlocks, and how he must
stand as the son of the other woman; and straightway she found her
own reasons why she should be silent on all that she had that night
seen and heard. This secret was the first of the bonds between them;
and the second, though less obvious, was even more real.

Losing no time, Adam Fairbrother had written a letter to Michael
Sunlocks, by that name, telling him of the death of his father, and
how, so far as the facts were known, the poor man came by it in
making the port in his boat after seeing his son away in the packet.
This he had despatched to the only care known to him, that of the
Lord Bishop Petersen, at his Latin School of Reykjavik; but after a
time the letter had come back, with a note from the Bishop saying
that no such name was known to him, and no such student was under
his charge. Much afraid that the same storm that had led Stephen Orry
to his end had overtaken Michael Sunlocks also, Adam Fairbrother
had then promptly re-addressed his letter to the care of the
Governor-General, who was also the Postmaster, and added a postscript
asking if, after the sad event whereof he had thought it his task in
love and duty to apprise him, there was the same necessity that his
dear boy should remain in Iceland. "But, indite me a few lines
without delay," he wrote, "giving me assurance of your safe arrival,
for what has happened of late days has haunted me with many fears of
mishap."

Then in due course an answer had come from Michael Sunlocks, saying
he had landed safely, but there being no regular mails, he had been
compelled to await the sailing of English ships to carry his letters;
that by some error he had missed the first of these, and was now
writing by the next; that many strange things had happened to him,
and he was lodged in the house of the Governor-General; that his
father's death had touched him very deeply; being brought about by a
mischance that so nearly affected himself; that the sad fact, so far
from leaving him free to return home, seemed to make it the more
necessary that he should remain where he was until he had done what
he had been sent to do: and, finally, that what that work was he
could not tell in a letter, but only by word of mouth, whenever it
pleased God that they should meet again. This, with many words of
affection for Adam himself, in thanks for his fatherly anxiety, and
some mention of Greeba in tender but guarded terms, was the sum of
the only letter that had come from Michael Sunlocks in the four years
after Stephen Orry's death to the first of the events that are now to
be recorded.

And throughout these years Jason had lived at Lague, having been
accepted as housemate by the six Fairbrothers, when the ship-broken
men had gone their own ways on receiving from their Dublin owners the
wages that were due to them. Though his relation to Stephen Orry had
never become known, it had leaked out that he had come into Orry's
money. He had done little work. His chief characteristics had been
love of liberty and laziness. In the summer he had fished on the sea
and in the rivers and he had shot and hunted in the winter. He had
followed these pursuits out of sheer love of an idle life; but if he
had a hobby it was the collecting of birds. Of every species on the
island, of land or seafowl, he had found a specimen. He stuffed his
birds with some skill, and kept them in the little hut in
Port-y-Vullin.

The four years had developed his superb physique, and he had grown to
be a yet more magnificent creature than Stephen Orry himself. He was
rounder, though his youth might have pardoned more angularity;
broader, and more upright, with a proud poise of head, long wavy red
hair, smooth cheeks, solid white teeth, face of broad lines, an
intelligent expression, and a deep voice that made the mountain ring.
His dress suited well his face and figure. He wore a skin cap with a
peak, a red woollen shirt belted about the waist, breeches of
leather, leggings and seaman's boots. The cap was often awry, and a
tuft of red hair tumbled over his bronzed forehead, his shirt was
torn, his breeches were stained, and his leggings tied with rope; but
rough, and even ragged, as his dress was, it sat upon him with a fine
rude grace. With a knife in his sheath, a net or a decoy over his
arm, a pouch for powder slung behind him, a fowling piece across his
shoulder, and a dog at his heels, he would go away into the mountains
as the evening fell. And in the early gleams of sunrise he would
stride down again and into the "Hibernian," scenting up the old
tavern with tobacco smoke, and carrying many dead birds at his belt,
with the blood still dripping from their heads hung down. Folks
called him Red Jason, or sometimes Jason the Red.

He began to visit Government House. Greeba was there, but at first he
seemed not to see her. Simple greetings he exchanged with her, and
that was all the commerce between them. With the Governor, when work
was over, he sat and smoked, telling of his own country and its laws,
and the ways of its people, talking of his hunting and fishing,
calling the mountains Jokulls, and the Tynwald the Löberg, and
giving names of his own to the glens, the Chasm of Ravens for the
Dhoon, and Broad Shield for Ballaglass. And Adam loved to learn how
close was the bond between his own dear isle and the land of the
great sea kings of old time, but most of all he listened to what
Jason said, that he might thereby know what kind of world it was
wherein his dear lad Michael Sunlocks had to live away from him.

"A fine lad," Adam Fairbrother would say to Greeba; "a lad of
fearless courage, and unflinching contempt of death, with a great
horror of lying and treachery, and an inborn sense of justice. Not
tender and gentle with his strength, as my own dear Sunlocks is, but
of a high and serious nature, and having passions that may not be
trifled with." And hearing this, and the more deliberate warning of
her brothers at Lague, Greeba would remember that she had herself the
best reason to know that the passions of Jason could be terrible.

But nothing she recked of it all, for her heart was as light as her
manners in those days, and if she thought twice of her relations with
Jason she remembered that she was the daughter of the Governor, and
he was only a poor sailor lad who had been wrecked off their coast.

Jason was a great favorite with Mrs. Fairbrother, notwithstanding
that he did no work. Rumor had magnified the fortune that Stephen
Orry had left him, and the two hundred pounds stood at two thousand
in her eyes. With a woman's quick instinct she saw how Jason stood
towards Greeba, almost before he had himself become conscious of it,
and she smiled on him and favored him. A whisper of this found its
way from Lague to Government House, and old Adam shook his head. He
had nothing against Jason, except that the lad was not fond of work,
and whether Jason was poor or rich counted for very little, but he
could not forget his boy Sunlocks.

Thus while Greeba remained with her father there was but little
chance that she could wrong the promise she had made to Michael; but
events seemed to force her into the arms of Jason. Her mother had
never been of an unselfish spirit, and since parting from her husband
she had shown a mean penuriousness. This affected her six sons
chiefly, and they realized that when she had taken their side against
their father she had taken the cream of their living also. Lague was
now hers for her lifetime, and only theirs after she was done with
it; and if they asked much more for their work than bed and board she
reminded them of this, and bade them wait. Soon tiring of their
Lenten entertainment, they trooped off, one after one, to their
father, badly as they had dealt by him, and complained loudly of the
great wrong he had done them when he made over the lands of Lague to
their mother. What were they now, though sons of the Governor? No
better than hinds on their mother's farm, expected to work for her
from light to dusk, and getting nothing for their labor but the house
she kept over their heads. Grown men they all were now, and the elder
of them close on their prime, yet none were free to marry, for none
had the right to a penny for the living he earned; and all this came
of their father's unwise generosity.

Old Adam could not gainsay them, and he would not reproach them, so
he did all that remained to him to do, and that was to exercise a
little more of the same unwise generosity, and give them money. And
finding this easy means of getting what they wanted, they came again
and again, all six of them, from Asher to Gentleman Johnny, and as
often as they came they went away satisfied, though old Adam shook
his head when he saw how mean and small was the spirit of his sons.
Greeba also shook her head, but from another cause, for though she
grudged her brothers nothing she knew that her father was fast being
impoverished. Once she hinted as much, but old Adam made light of her
misgivings, saying that if the worst came to the worst he had still
his salary, and what was the good of his money if he might not use
it, and what was the virtue of charity if it must not begin at home?

But the evil was not ended there for the six lumbering men who
objected to work without pay were nothing loth to take pay without
work. Not long after the first of the visits to Government House,
Lague began to be neglected.

Asher lay in the ingle and dozed; Thurstan lay about in the
"Hibernian" and drank; Ross and Stean started a ring of gamecocks,
Jacob formed a nest of private savings, and John developed his taste
for dress and his appetite for gallantries. Mrs. Fairbrother soon
discovered the source of the mischief, and railed at the name of her
husband, who was ruining her boys and bringing herself to beggary.

Thus far had matters gone, during the four years following the death
of Stephen Orry, and then a succession of untoward circumstances
hastened a climax of grave consequence to all the persons concerned
in this history. Two bad seasons had come, one on the end of the
other. The herring fishing had failed, and the potato crop had
suffered a blight. The fisher folk and the poor farming people were
reduced to sore straits. The one class had to throw the meal bag
across their shoulders and go round the houses begging, and the other
class had to compound with their landlords or borrow from their
neighbors.

Where few were rich and many were poor, the places of call for either
class were not numerous. But two houses at least were always open to
those who were in want--Lague and Government House; though their
welcome at the one was very unlike their welcome at the other. Mrs.
Fairbrother relieved their necessities by lending them money on
mortgage on their lands or boats, and her interest was in proportion
to their necessities. They had no choice but accept her terms,
however rigid, and if in due course they could not meet them they had
no resource but to yield up to her their little belongings. In less
than half a year boat after boat, croft after croft, and even farm
after farm had fallen into her hands. She grew rich, and the richer
she grew the more penurious she became. There were no banks in the
north of the island then, and the mistress of Lague was in effect the
farmer's banker.

Government House, in the south of the island, had yet more
applicants; but what the Governor had he gave, and when his money was
gone he served out orders on the millers for meal and the weavers for
cloth. It soon became known that he kept open house to the poor, and
from north and south, east and west, the needy came to him in troops,
and with them came the idle and the dissolute. He knew the one class
from the other, yet railed at both in threatening words, reproaching
their improvidence and predicting his own ruin, but he ended by
giving to all alike. They found out his quarter-day and came in
throngs to meet it, knowing that, bluster as he would, while the good
man had money he was sure to give it to all who asked. The sorry
troop, good and bad, worthy and unworthy, soon left him without a
pound. He fumed at this when Greeba cast up his reckoning, but
comforted himself with the thought that he had still his stipend of
five hundred pounds a year coming in to him, however deeply it might
be condemned beforehand.

At the first pinch of his necessity his footman deserted him and
after the footman went the groom.

"They say the wind is tempered to the shorn sheep, Greeba," said he,
and laughed.

He had always stood somewhat in awe of these great persons, and his
spirits rose visibly at the loss of them, for he had never yet
reconciled himself to the dignity of his state.

"It's wonderful how much a man may do for himself when he's put to
it," he said, as he groomed his own horse next morning. His sons were
not so easily appeased, and muttered hard words at his folly, for
their own supplies had by this time suffered curtailment. He was
ruining himself at a breakneck pace, and if he came to die in the
gutter, who should say that it had not served him right? The man who
threw away his substance with his eyes open deserved to know by
bitter proof that it had gone. Jason heard all this at the fireside
at Lague, and though he could not answer it, he felt his palms itch
sorely, and his fists tighten like ribs of steel, and his whole body
stiffen up and silently measure its weight against that of Thurstan
Fairbrother, the biggest and heaviest and hardest-spoken of the
brothers. Greeba heard it, too, but took it with a gay lightsomeness,
knowing all yet fearing nothing.

"What matter?" she said, and laughed.

But strange and silly enough were some of the shifts that her
father's open-handedness put her to in these bad days of the bitter
need of the island's poor people.

It was the winter season, when things were at their worst, and on
Christmas Eve Greeba had a goose killed for their Christmas dinner.
The bird was hung in one of the out-houses, to drain and cool before
being plucked, and while it was there Greeba went out, leaving her
father at home. Then came three of the many who had never yet been
turned empty from the Governor's door. Adam blustered at all of them,
but he emptied his pockets to one, gave the goose to another, and
smuggled something out of the pantry for the third.

The goose was missed by the maid whose work it was to pluck it, and
its disappearance was made known to Greeba on her return. Guessing at
the way it had gone, she went into the room where her father sat
placidly smoking, and trying to look wondrous, serene and innocent.

"What do you think, father?" she said; "someone has stolen the
goose."

"I'm afraid, my dear," he answered, meekly, "I gave it away to poor
Kinrade, the parish clerk. Would you believe it, he and his good old
wife hadn't a bit or a sup for their Christmas dinner?"

"Well," said Greeba, "you'll have to be content with bread and cheese
for your own, for we have nothing else in the house now."

"I'm afraid, my dear," he stammered, "I gave away the cheese too.
Poor daft Gelling, who lives on the mountains, had nothing to eat but
a loaf of bread, poor fellow."

Now the rapid impoverishment of the Governor was forcing Greeba into
the arms of Jason, though they had yet no idea that this was so; and
when the crisis came that loosened the ties which held Greeba to her
father, it came as a surprise to all three of them.

The one man in the island who had thus far shown a complete
indifference to the sufferings of the poor in their hour of
tribulation was the Bishop of Sodor and Man. This person was a
fashionable ecclesiastic--not a Manxman--a Murray, and a near kinsman
of the Lord of the Island, who had kept the See four years vacant
that the sole place of profit in the island might thereby be retained
for his own family. Many years the Bishop had drawn his stipend,
tithe and glebe rents, which were very large in proportion to the
diocese, and almost equal in amount to the emoluments of the whole
body of the native clergy. He held small commerce with his people,
and the bad seasons troubled him little until he felt the pinch of
them himself. But when he found it hard to gather his tithe he began
to realize that the island was passing through sore straits. Then he
sold his tithe charges by auction in England, and they were knocked
down to a Scotch factor--a hard man, untroubled by sentiment, and not
too proud to get his own by means that might be thought to soil the
cloth of a Bishop.

When news of this transfer reached the island the Manx clergy looked
black, though they dared say nothing; but the poor people grumbled
audibly, for they knew what was coming. It soon came, in the shape of
writs from the Bishop's seneschal, served by the Bishop's sumner.
Then the cry of the poor reached the Governor at Castletown. No
powers had he to stay the seizure of goods and stock, for arrears
that were forfeit to the Church Courts, but he wrote to the Bishop,
asking him to stay execution at such a moment of the island's
necessity. The Bishop answered him curtly that the matter was now
outside his control. At that the Governor inquired into the legality
of the sale, and found good reason to question it. He wrote again to
the Bishop, hinting at his doubts, and then the Bishop told him to
mind his own business. "My business is the welfare of the people,"
the Governor answered, "and be you Bishop or Lord, or both, be sure
that while I am here I will see to it."

"Such is the penalty of setting a beggar on horseback," the Bishop
rejoined.

Meantime the Scotch factor went on with his work, and notices were
served that if arrears of tithe rent were not paid by a given date,
cattle or crop to the value of them would then be seized in the
Bishop's name. When the word came to Government House, the Governor
announced to Greeba his intention to be present at the first seizure.
She tried to restrain him, fearing trouble; but he was fully
resolved. Then she sent word by old Chalse A'Killey to her brothers
at Lague, begging them to go with their father and see him through,
but one and all refused. There was mischief brewing, and if the
Governor had a right to interfere, he had a right to have the civil
forces at the back of him. If he had no right to the help of Castle
Rushen he had no right to stop the execution. In any case, they had
no wish to meddle.

When old Chalse brought back this answer, Red Jason chanced to be at
Castletown. He had been at Government House oftener than usual since
the clouds had begun to hang on it. Coming down from the mountains,
with his pipe in his mouth, his fowling piece over his shoulder, and
his birds hanging from his belt, he would sometimes contrive to get
up into the yard at the back, fling down a brace of pheasants on to
the kitchen floor, and go off again without speaking to anyone.
Greeba had been too smart for him this time, and he was standing
before her with a look of guilt when Chalse came up on his errand.
Then Jason heard all, and straightway offered to go with the
Governor, and never let wit of his intention.

"Oh, thank you, thank you!" said Greeba, and she looked up into his
bronzed face and smiled proudly, and her long lashes blinked over her
beautiful eyes. Her glance seemed to go through him. It seemed to go
through all nature; and fill the whole world with a new, glad light.

The evil day came, and the Governor was as good as his word. He went
away to Peel, where the first seizure was to be made. There a great
crowd had already gathered, and at sight of Adam's face a great shout
went up. The factor heard it, as he came on from Bishop's Court with
a troop of his people about him. "I'll mak' short shrift of a' that,
the noo," he said. When he came up he ordered that a cow house door
should be opened and the cattle brought out for instant sale, for he
had an auctioneer by his side. But the door was found to be locked,
and he shouted to his men to leap on to the roof and strip off the
thatch. Then the Governor cried "Stop," and called on the factor to
desist, for though he might seize the cattle there would be no sale
that day, since no man there present would take the bread out of the
mouths of the poor.

"Then they shall try the milk," said the factor, with a hoarse laugh,
and at the same moment the Bishop's seneschal, a briefless advocate,
stepped out, pushed his hot face into Adam's, and said that, Governor
as he was, if he encouraged the people to resist, the sumner should
there and then summon him to appear before the Church Courts for
contempt.

At that insult the crowd surged around, muttering deep oaths, and
factor and seneschal were both much hustled. In another moment there
was a general struggle; people were shouting, the Governor was on the
ground and in danger of being trodden under foot, the factor had
drawn a pistol, and some of his men were flourishing hangers.

By this time Red Jason had lounged up, as if by chance, to the
outskirts of the crowd, and now he pushed through with great strides,
lifted the Governor to his feet, laid the factor on the broad of his
back, and clapped his pistol hand under one heavy heel. Then the
hangers flashed round Jason's face, and he stretched his arms and
laid out about him. In two minutes he had made a wide circle where
he stood, and in two minutes more the factor and his men, with
seneschal, sumner, auctioneer, and all the riffraff of the Church
Courts, were going off up the road with best foot foremost, and a
troop of the people, like a pack of hounds at full cry, behind.

Then the remnant of the crowd compared notes and bruises.

"Man alive, what a boy to fight," said one.

"Who was it?" said another.

"Och, Jason the Red, of coorse," said a third.

Jason was the only man badly injured. He had a deep cut over the
right brow, and though the wound bled freely he made light of it. But
Adam was much troubled at the sight.

"I much misdoubt me but we'll rue the day," he said.

Jason laughed at that, and they went back to Castletown together.
Greeba saw them coming, and all but fainted at the white bandage that
gleamed across Jason's forehead; but he bade her have no fear, for
his wound was nothing. Nevertheless she must needs dress it afresh,
though her deft fingers trembled woefully, and, seeing how near the
knife had come to the eye, all her heart was in her mouth. But he
only laughed at the bad gash, and thought with what cheer he would
take such another just to have the same tender hands bathe it, and
stitch it, and to see the troubled heaving of the round bosom that
was before him while his head was held down.

"Aren't you very proud of yourself, Jason?" she whispered softly, as
she finished.

"Why proud?" said he.

"It's the second time you have done as I have bidden you, and
suffered for doing so," she said.

He knew not what reply to make, scarcely realizing which way her
question tended. So, feeling very stupid, he said again,

"But why proud?"

"Aren't you, then?" she said. "Because _I_ am proud of you."

They were alone, and he saw her breast heave and her great eyes
gleam, and he felt dizzy. At the next instant their hands touched,
and then his blood boiled, and before he knew what he was doing he
had clasped the beautiful girl in his arms, and kissed her on the
lips and cheek. She sprang away from him, blushing deeply, but he
knew that she was not angry, for she smiled through her deep rich
color, as she fled out of the room on tiptoe. From that hour he
troubled his soul no more with fears that he was unworthy of Greeba's
love, for he looked at his wound in the glass, and remembered her
words, and laughed in his heart.

The Governor was right that there would be no sale for arrears of
tithe charges. After a scene at Bishop's Court the factor went back
to England, and no more was heard of the writs served by the sumner.
But wise folks predicted a storm for Adam Fairbrother, and the great
people were agreed that his conduct had been the maddest folly.

"He'll have to take the horns with the hide," said Deemster Lace.

"He's a fool that doesn't know which side his bread is buttered,"
said Mrs. Fairbrother.

The storm came quickly, but not from the quarter expected.

Since the father of the Duke of Athol had sold his fiscal rights to
the English Crown the son had rued the bargain. All the interest in
the island that remained to him lay in his title, his patronage of
the Bishopric, and his Governor-Generalship. His title counted for
little, for it was unknown at the English Court, and the salary of
his Governor-Generalship counted for less, for, not being resident in
the island, he had to pay a local Governor. The patronage of the
Bishopric was the one tangible item of his interest, and when the
profits of that office were imperilled he determined to part with his
truncated honors. Straightway he sold them bag and baggage to the
Crown, for nearly six times as much as his father had got for the
insular revenues. When this neat act of truck and trade was complete
he needed his deputy no more, and sent Adam Fairbrother an instant
warning, with half-a-year's salary for smart money.

The blow came with a shock on Greeba and her father, but there was no
leisure to sigh over it. Government House and its furniture belonged
to the Government, and the new Governor might take possession of it
at any moment. But the stock on its lands was Adam's and as it was
necessary to dispose of it, he called a swift sale. Half the island
came to it, and many a brave brag came then from many a vain stomach.
Adam was rightly served! What was there to expect when jacks were set
in office? With five hundred a year coming in for twenty years he
was as poor as a church mouse? Aw, money in the hands of some men was
like water in a sieve!

Adam's six sons were there, looking on with sneering lips, as much as
to say, "Let nobody blame us for a mess like this." Red Jason was
there, too, glooming as black as a thundercloud, and itching to do
battle with somebody if only a fit case would offer.

Adam himself did not show his face. He was ashamed--he was
crushed--he was humiliated--but not for the reason attributed to him
by common report. Alone he sat, and smoked and smoked, in the room at
the back, from whence he had seen Greeba and Michael Sunlocks that
day when they walked side by side into the paved yard, and when he
said within himself, "Now, God grant that this may be the end of all
parting between them and me." He was thinking of that day now: that
it was very, very far away. He heard the clatter of feet below, and
the laughter of the bidders and the wondrous jests of the facetious
auctioneer.

When the work was over, and the house felt quiet and so, so empty,
Greeba came in to him, with eyes large and red, and kissed him
without saying a word. Then he became mighty cheerful all at once,
and bade her fetch out her account books, for they had their own
reckoning yet to make, and now was the time to make it. She did as
she was bidden, and counted up her father's debts, with many a tear
dropping over them as if trying to blot them out forever. And
meanwhile he counted up his half-year's smart money, and the pile of
silver and gold that had come of the sale. When all was reckoned,
they found they would be just fifteen pounds to the good, and that
was now their whole fortune.

Next morning there came a great company of the poor, and stood in
silence about the house. They knew that Adam had nothing to give, and
they came for nothing; they on their part had nothing to offer, and
they had nothing to say; but this was their way of showing sympathy
with the good man in his dark hour.

The next morning after that old Adam said to Greeba,

"Come, girl, there is only one place in the island that we have a
right to go to, and that's Lague. Let's away."

And towards Lague they set their faces, afoot, all but empty-handed,
and with no one but crazy old Chalse A'Killey for company.



CHAPTER II.

HOW GREEBA WAS LEFT WITH JASON.


It was early summer, and the day was hot; there had been three weeks
of drought, and the roads were dusty. Adam walked with a stout
blackthorn stick, his flaccid figure sometimes swaying for poise and
balance, and his snow-white hair rising gently in the soft breeze
over his tender old face, now ploughed so deep with labor and sorrow.
Chalse was driving his carrier's cart, whereon lay all that was left
of Adam's belongings, save only what the good man carried in his
purse. And seeing how heavy the road was to one of Adam's years,
though his own were hardly fewer, poor old Chalse, recking nothing of
dignity lost thereby, would have had him to mount the shafts and
perch on the box behind the pony's tail. But Adam, thinking as little
of pride, said No, that every herring should hang by its own gills,
and the pony had its full day's work before it; moreover, that it was
his right to walk at his own expense now, having ridden twenty years
at the expense of the island. So he kept the good blackthorn moving,
and Greeba stepped along nimbly by his side. And when the Castletown
coach overtook and passed them on its way to Douglas, and some of the
farming folk who rode on it leaned over saucily and hailed Adam by
his Christian name, he showed no shame or rancor, until, when the
coach was gone, he caught a glimpse of the hot color that had mounted
to Greeba's cheeks. Then, without a word, he turned his mellow old
face to his feet, and strode along a good half mile in silence.

And meantime, Chalse, thinking to lighten the burden of the way with
cheerful talk, rattled along in his crazy screech on many subjects,
but found that all came round, by some strange twist, to the one
subject that might not be discussed. Thus, looking at his pony, he
told of the donkey he had before it, the same that Michael Sunlocks
rode long years ago; how he himself had fallen sick and could not to
keep it, and so gave it without a penny to a neighbor for feeding
it; and how when he got better he wanted to borrow it, but the
neighbor, in base ingratitude and selfishness, would not lend it
without pay.

"Faith, it's alwis lek that," said Chalse. "Give a man yer shirt, and
ye must cut yer lucky or he'll be after axing ye for yer skin."

When they came by Douglas, Chalse was for skirting round by the
Spring Valley through Braddon, but old Adam, seeing his drift, would
not pretend to be innocent of it, and said that if there were dregs
in his cup he was in the way of draining them without making too many
wry faces about it. And as for the people of the town, if they
thought no shame to stare at him he thought no shame to be stared at,
yet that what was good enough for himself might not be so for one who
had less deserved it, and Greeba could go with Chalse by Braddon, and
they would meet again on Onchan Hill.

To this Greeba would not consent; and as it chanced there was little
need, for when they got into Douglas the town was all astir with many
carriages and great troops of people making for the quay, so that no
one seemed so much as to see the little company of three that came
covered with dust out of the country roads.

"Aw, bad cess, what jeel is this?" said Chalse; and before they had
crossed the little market place by the harbor, where the bells of old
St. Matthew's rang out a merry peal, they learned for certain the
cause of the joyful commotion; for there they were all but run down
by the swaying and surging crowds, that came shouting and cheering by
the side of an open carriage, wherein sat a very old gentleman in the
uniform of a soldier. It was, as Adam had already divined, the new
Governor-General, Colonel Cornelius Smelt, newly arrived that day in
the island as the first direct representative of the English crown in
succession to the Lords of Man. And at that brave sight poor old
Chalse, who jumbled in his distraught brain the idea of Adam's late
position with that of his master the Duke of Athol, and saw nothing
but that this gentleman, in his fine rigging, was come in Adam's
place, and was even now on his way to Castletown to take possession
of Government House, and that the bellowing mob that not a month
before had doffed their caps before Adam's face, now shoved him off
the pavement without seeing him, stamped and raved and shook his fist
over the people, as if he would brain them.

They slept at Onchan that night, and next day they reached Kirk
Maughold. And coming on the straggling old house at Lague, after so
long an absence, Adam was visibly moved, saying he had seen many a
humiliation since the days when he lived in it, and might the Lord
make them profitable to his soul; but only let it please God to grant
him peace and content and daily bread, and there should be no more
going hence in the years that were left to him.

At that Greeba felt a tingling on both sides her heart, for her fears
were many of the welcome that awaited them.

It was nigh upon noon, and the men were out in the fields; but Mrs.
Fairbrother was at home, and she saw the three when they opened the
gate and came down under the elms.

"Now, I thought as much," she said within herself, "and I warrant I
know their errand."

Adam entered the house with what cheer of face he could command,
being hard set to keep back his tears, and hailed his wife in a
jovial tone, although his voice threatened to break, and sat himself
down in his old seat by the chimney corner, with his blackthorn stick
between his knees and his hands resting upon it. But Mrs. Fairbrother
made no answer to his greeting, and only glanced from him to Greeba
who tripped softly behind him, and from Greeba to Chalse, who came
shambling in after them, vacantly scratching his uncovered head.
Then, drawing herself up, and holding back her skirts, she said very
coldly, while her wrinkled face twitched--

"And pray what ill wind blows you here?"

"An ill wind indeed, Ruth," Adam answered, "for it is the wind of
adversity. You must have heard of our misfortune since the whole
island knows of it. Well, it is not for me to complain, for God
shapes our ways, and He knows what is best. But I am an old man now,
Ruth, little able to look to myself, still less to another, and----"

While he spoke, Mrs. Fairbrother tapped her foot impatiently, and
then broke in with--

"Cut it short, sir. What do you want?"

Adam lifted his eyes with a stupefied look, and answered very
quietly, "I want to come home, Ruth."

"Home!" cried Mrs. Fairbrother, sharply. "And what home if you
please?"

Adam sat agape for a moment, and then said, speaking as calmly as
before, "What home, Ruth? Why, what home but this?"

"This, indeed! This is not your home," said Mrs. Fairbrother.

"Not my home!" said Adam, slowly, dropping back in his seat like one
who is dumbfounded.

"Not my home! Did you say that this was not my home?" he said,
suddenly bracing up. "Why, woman, I was born here; so was my father
before me, and my father's father before him. Five generations of my
people have lived and died here, and the very roof rafters over your
head must know us."

"Hoity-toity!" cried Mrs. Fairbrother, "and if you had lived here
much longer not a rafter of them all would have been left to shelter
us. No, sir. I've kept the roof on this house, and it is mine."

"It is yours, indeed," said Adam slowly, "for I gave it you."

"You gave it me!" cried Mrs. Fairbrother. "Say I took it as my right
when all that you had was slipping through your fingers like sand, as
everything does that ever touches them."

At that hard word old Adam drew himself up with a great dignity of
bearing, and said--

"There is one thing that has indeed slipped through my fingers like
sand, and that is the fidelity of the woman who swore before God
forty and odd years ago to love and honor me."

"Crinkleum-crankum!" cried Mrs. Fairbrother. "A pretty thing, truly,
that I should toil and moil at my age to keep house and home together
ready and waiting for you, when your zany doings have shut every
other door against you. Misfortunes, indeed! A fine name for your
mistakes!"

"I may have made mistakes, madam," said Adam; "but true it is, as the
wise man has said, that he who has never made mistakes has never made
anything."

"Tush!" said Mrs. Fairbrother.

"Ruth, do you refuse to take me in?" said Adam.

"This house is mine," said she; "mine by law and deed, as tight as
wax can make it."

"Do you refuse to take me in?" said Adam again, rising to his feet.

"You have brought ruin on yourself by your shilly-shally and vain
folly," said she; "and now you think to pat your nose and say your
prayers by my fireside."

"Ruth," said Adam once more, "do you refuse to take me in?"

"Yes, and that I do," said she. "You would beggar me as you have
beggared yourself, but that I warrant you never shall."

Then there was a grim silence for a moment. Old Adam gripped
convulsively the staff he leaned on, and all but as loud as the
ticking of the clock was the beating of his heart.

"God give me patience," he said. "Yes, I'll bear it meekly. Ruth," he
said, huskily, "I'll not trouble you. Make yourself sure of that.
While there's a horse-wallet to hang on my old shoulders, and a bit
of barley bread to put in it, I'll rove the country round, but I'll
never come on my knees to you and say, 'I am your husband, I gave you
all you had, and you are rich and I'm a beggar, and I am old--give me
for charity my bed and board.'"

But, unable to support any longer the strife for mastery that was
tearing at his heart, he gave way to his wrath, and cried out in a
loud voice, "Out on you, woman! Out on you! God forgive me the evil
day I set eyes on you! God forgive me the damned day I took you to my
breast to rend it."

While this had been going forward Greeba had stood silent at the back
of her father's chair, with eyelashes quivering and the fingers of
both hands clenched together. But now she stepped forward and said,
"Forgive him, mother. Do not be angry with him. He will be sorry for
what he has said: I'm sure he will. But only think, dear mother: he
is in great, great trouble, and he is past work, and if this is not
his home, then he is homeless."

And at the sound of that pleading voice Adam's wrath turned in part
to tenderness, and he dropped back to the chair and began to weep.

"I am ashamed of my tears, child," he said; "but they are not shed
for myself. Nor did I come here for my own sake, though your mother
thinks I did. No, child, no; say no more. I'll repent me of nothing I
have said to her--no, not one word. She is a hard, a cruel woman;
but, thank heaven, I have my sons left to me yet. She is not flesh of
my flesh, though one with me in wedlock; but they are, they will
never see their father turned from the door."

At that instant three of the six Fairbrothers, Asher, Ross and
Thurstan, came in from the stackyard, with the smell of the
furze-rick upon them that they had been trimming for the cattle. And
Adam, without waiting to explain, cried in the fervor of his emotion,
"This is not your will, Asher?" Whereupon Asher, without any
salutation, answered him, "I don't know what you mean, sir," and
turned aside.

"He has damned your mother," said Mrs. Fairbrother, with her morning
apron to her eyes, "and cursed the day he married her."

"But she is turning me out of the house," said Adam. "This house--my
father's house."

"Ask her pardon, sir," Asher muttered, "and she will take you back."

"Her pardon! God in heaven!" Adam cried.

"You are an old man now, sir," said Thurstan.

"So I am; so I am," said Adam.

"And you are poor as well."

"That's true, Thurstan; that's true, though your brother forgets it."

"So you should not hold your head too high."

"What! Are you on her side, also? Asher, Thurstan, Ross, you are my
sons--would you see me turned out of the house?"

The three men hung their heads. "What mother says he must agree to,"
muttered Asher.

"But I gave you all I had," said Adam. "If I am old I am your father,
and if I am poor you know best who made me so."

"We are poor, too, sir; we have nothing, and we do not forget who is
to blame for it," Thurstan growled.

"You gave everything away from us," grumbled Ross; "and, because your
bargain is a rue bargain, you want us now to stand aback of you."

And Stean, and Jacob, and John coming in at that moment, Jacob said,
very slyly, with something like a sneer--

"Ah, yes, and who took the side of a stranger against his own
children? What of your good Michael Sunlocks now, sir? Is he longing
for you? Or have you never had the scribe of a line from him since he
turned his back on you, four years ago?"

Then Greeba's eyes flashed with anger. "For shame," she cried, "for
shame! Oh, you mean, pitiful men, to bait and badger him like this."

Jacob threw up his head and laughed, and Mrs. Fairbrother said,
"Chut, girl, you're waxing apace with your big words, considering
you're a chit that has wasted her days in London and hasn't learned
to muck a byre yet."

Adam did not hear her. He sat like a man who is stunned by a heavy
blow. "Not for myself," he mumbled, "no, not for myself, though they
all think it." Then he turned to his sons and said, "You think I came
to beg for bed and board for myself, but you are wrong. I came to
demand it for the girl. I may have no claim upon you, but she has,
for she is one with you all and can ask for her own. She has no home
with her father now, for it seems that he has none for himself; but
her home is here, and here I mean to leave her."

"Not so fast, sir," said John. "All she can ever claim is what may
one day be hers when we ourselves come into anything. Meantime, like
her brothers, she has nothing but what she works for."

"Works for, you wagtail?" cried Adam; "she is a woman! Do you
hear?--a woman?"

"Woman or man, where's the difference here?" said Gentleman John, and
he snapped his fingers.

"Where's the difference, you jackanapes? Do you ask me where's the
difference here? Here? In grace, in charity, in unselfishness, in
faith in the good; in fidelity to the true, in filial love and duty!
There's the difference, you jackanapes."

"You are too old to quarrel with, sir; I will spare you," said
Gentleman John.

"Spare me, you whipper-snapper! _You_ will spare _me_! But oh, let me
have patience! If I have cursed the day I first saw my wife let me
not also curse the hour when she first bore me children and my heart
was glad. Asher, you are my firstborn, and heaven knows what you were
to me. You will not stand by and listen to this. She is your sister,
my son. Think of it--your only sister."

Asher twisted about, where he sat by the window nook, pretending to
doze, and said, "The girl is nothing to me. She is nothing to any of
us. She has been with you all the days of her life except such as you
made her to spend with strangers. She is no sister of ours."

Then Adam turned to Ross, "And do you say the same?" he asked.

"What can she do here?" said Ross. "Nothing. This is no place for
your great ladies. We work, here, every man and woman of us, from
daylight to dark, in the fields and the dairy. Best send her back to
her fine friends in London."

"Ay," said Jacob, glancing up with a brazen smile into Greeba's
face, "or marry her straight off--that is the shortest way. I heard
a little bird tell of someone who might have her. Don't look
astonished, Miss, for I make no doubt you know who it is. He is away
on the mountains now, but he'll be home before long."

Greeba's eyes glistened, but not a muscle of her countenance changed.
Only she clutched at the back of her father's chair and clung to it.
And Adam, struggling hard to master the emotion that made his whole
body to sway and tremble in his seat, said slowly, "If she is not
your sister, at least she is your mother's daughter, and a mother
knows what that means." Then turning to Mrs. Fairbrother, who still
stood apart with her housewife's apron to her eyes, he said, "Ruth,
the child is your daughter, and by that deed you speak of she is
entitled to her share of all that is here----"

"Yes," said Mrs. Fairbrother, sharply, "but only when I am done with
it."

"Even so," said Adam, "would you see the child want before that, or
drive her into any marriage, no matter what?"

"I will take her," said Mrs. Fairbrother deliberately, "on one
condition."

"What is it, Ruth?" said Adam; "name it, that I may grant it."

"That you shall give up all control of her, and that she shall give
up all thought of you."

"What?"

"That you shall never again expect to see her or hear from her, or
hold commerce of any kind with her."

"But why? Why?"

"Because I may have certain plans for her future welfare that you
might try to spoil."

"Do they concern Michael Sunlocks?"

"No, indeed," said Mrs. Fairbrother, with a toss of the head.

"Then they concern young Jason, the Icelander," said Adam.

"If so, it is _my_ concernment," said Mrs. Fairbrother.

"And that is your condition?"

"Yes."

"And you ask me to part from her forever? Think of it, she is my only
daughter. She has been the light of my eyes. You have never loved her
as I have loved her. You know it is the truth. And you ask me to see
her no more, and never more to hear from her. Now, God punish you for
this, you cold-hearted woman!"

"Take care, sir. Fewer words, or mayhap I will recall my offer. If
you are wise you will be calm for the girl's sake."

"You are right," he said, with his head down. "It is not for me to
take the bread out of my child's mouth. She shall choose for
herself."

Then he twisted about to where Greeba stood in silence behind his
chair. "Greeba," he said, with a world of longing in his eyes, "my
darling, you see how it is. I am old and very poor, and heaven pity
my blind folly, I have no home to offer you, for I have none to
shelter my own head. Don't fear for me, for I have no fear for
myself. I will be looked to in the few days that remain to me, and,
come what may, the sorry race of my foolish life will soon be over.
But you have made no mistakes that merit my misfortunes. So choose,
my child, choose. It is poverty with me or plenty with your mother.
Choose, my child, choose; and let it be quickly, let it be quickly,
for my old heart is bursting."

Then the brave girl drew herself proudly up, her brilliant eyes
aflame, and her whole figure erect and quivering.

"Choose?" she cried, in a piercing voice; "there is no choice. I will
go with my father, and follow him over the world, though we have no
covering but the skies above us."

And then Adam leapt from his chair to his feet, and the infirmity of
his years seemed gone in an instant, and his wet face shone with the
radiance of a great joy. "Do you hear that, you people?" he cried.
"There's grace, and charity, and unselfishness, and love left in the
world still. Thank heaven, I have not yet to curse the day her body
brought forth children. Come, Greeba, we will go our ways, and God's
protection will go with us. 'I have been young and now am old, yet
have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging
bread.'"

He strode across to the door, then stopped and looked back to where
his sons stood together with the looks of whipped dogs.

"And you, you unnatural sons," he cried, "I cast you out of my mind.
I give you up to your laziness and drunkenness and vain pleasures. I
am going to one who is not flesh of my flesh, and yet he is my son
indeed."

Again he made for the door, and stopped on the threshold, and faced
about towards his wife. "As for you, woman, your time will come.
Remember that! Remember that!"

Greeba laid one hand softly on his shoulder and said, "Come, father,
come," but again he looked back at his sons and said, "Farewell, all
of you! Farewell! You will see me no more. May a day like this that
has come to your father never, never come to you."

And then all his brave bearing, his grand strength broke down in a
moment, and as the girl laid hold of his arm, lest he should reel and
fall, he stumbled out at the threshold, sobbing beneath his breath,
"Sunlocks, my boy; Sunlocks, I am coming to you--I am coming to you."

Chalse A'Killey followed them out, muttering in an under-breath some
deep imprecations that no one heeded. "Strange," said he, "the near I
was to crucifying the Lord afresh and swearing a mortal swear, only I
remembered my catechism and the good John Wesley."

At the gate to the road they met Jason, who was coming down from
Barrule with birds at his belt. With bewildered looks Jason stood and
looked at them as they came up, a sorry spectacle, in the brightness
of the midday sun. Old Adam himself strode heavily along, with his
face turned down and his white hair falling over his cheeks. By his
side Greeba walked bearing herself as proudly as she might, with her
head thrown back and her wet eyes trying hard to smile. A pace or two
behind came Chalse with his pony and cart grunting hoarsely in his
husky throat. Not a word of greeting did they give to Jason, and he
asked for no explanation, for he saw it all after a moment: they
being now homeless had drifted back to their old home and had just
been turned away from it. And not a word of pity did he on his part
dare to offer them, but in the true sympathy of silence he stepped up
to Adam and gave him his strong arm to lean upon, and then turned
himself about to go their way.

They took the road to Ramsey, and little was said by any of them
throughout the long two miles of the journey, save only by Chalse,
who never ceased to mutter dark sayings to himself, whereof the chief
were praises to God for delivering them without loss of life or limb
or hand or even out of a den of lions, for, thanks be to the Lord! He
had drawn their teeth.

Now though the world is hard enough on a good man in the hour of his
trouble, there are ever more tender hearts to compassionate his
distresses than bitter ones to triumph over his adversity, and when
Adam Fairbrother came to Ramsey many a door was thrown open to him by
such as were mindful of his former state and found nothing in his
fall to merit their resentment. No hospitality would he accept,
however, but took up his abode with Greeba in a little lodging in the
market place, with its face to the cross and its back towards the
sea. And being safely housed there, he thanked Jason at the door for
the help of his strong arm, and bade him come again at ten o'clock
that night, if so be that he was in the way of doing a last service
for a poor soul who might never again have it in his power to repay.
"I'll come back at ten," said Jason, simply, and so he left them for
the present.

And when he was gone Adam said to Greeba as he turned indoors, "A
fine lad that, and as simple as a child, but woe to the man who
deceives him. Ay, or to the woman either. But you'll never do it,
girl? Eh? Never? Never?"

"Why, father, what can you mean? Are we not going away together?"
said Greeba.

"True, child, true," said Adam; and so without further answer to her
question, twice repeated, he passed with her into the house.

But Adam had his meaning as well as his reason for hiding it. Through
the silent walk from Lague he had revolved their position and come to
a fixed resolution concerning it. In the heat of his emotion it had
lifted up his heart that Greeba had chosen poverty with him before
plenty with her mother and her brothers, but when his passion had
cooled he rebuked himself for permitting her to do so. What right had
he to drag her through the slough of his own necessities! He was for
going away, not knowing the fate that was before him, but on what
plea made to his conscience dare he take her with him? He was old,
his life was behind him, and, save herself, he had no ties. What did
it matter to him how his struggle should end? But she was young, she
was beautiful, she might form new friendships, the world was before
her, the world might yet be at her feet, and life, so sweet and so
sad, and yet so good a thing withal, was ready and waiting for her.

Once he thought of Michael Sunlocks, and that the arms that would be
open to himself in that distant land would not be closed to Greeba.
And once he thought of Jason, and that to leave her behind was to
help the schemes that would bring them together. But put it as he
would, no farther could he get than this, that she must stay, and he
must go away alone.

Yet, knowing the strength of her purpose, he concealed his intention,
and his poor bewildered old head went about its work of preparation
very artfully. It was Friday, and still not far past noon, when they
reached their lodging by the cross. After a hasty meal he set out
into the town, leaving Greeba to rest, for she had walked far since
early morning. At the quay he inquired the date of a vessel that
called there sometimes in summer on its passage from Ireland to
Iceland, and to his surprise he found that she was even then in the
harbor, and would go out with the first tide of the next day, which
would flow at one o'clock in the morning.

Thereupon he engaged his berth, and paid for his passage. It cost six
pounds, besides a daily charge of four shillings for rations. The
trip was calculated to last one month with fair wind and weather,
such as then promised. Adam counted the cost, and saw that with all
present debts discharged, and future ones considered, he might have
somewhat between six and seven pounds in his pocket when he set foot
in Reykjavik. Being satisfied with this prospect, he went to the High
Bailiff for his license to leave the island.

Greeba had heard nothing of this, and as soon as night fell in she
went up to bed at her father's entreaty. Her room was at the back of
the house and looked out over the sea, and there she saw the young
moon rise over the waters as she undressed and laid down to sleep.

Prompt to his hour Jason came, and then Adam told him all.

"I am going away," he said, "far away, indeed into your own country.
I go to-night, though my daughter, who is asleep, knows nothing of my
intention. Will you do me a service?"

"Try me," said Jason.

And then Adam asked him to stay in Ramsey over night, that he might
be there when Greeba came down in the morning, to break the news to
her that her father had gone, and to take her back with him to Lague.

"They will not say no to her, seeing her father is not with her; and
the time is coming when she will hold her right to a share of all
they have, and none of them dare withhold it."

Jason who had been up to Lague, had heard of all that had passed
there, and played his own part too, though he said nothing of that.
He was now visibly agitated. His calm strength had left him. His eyes
were afire, his face twitched, his hands trembled, and he was plainly
struggling to say what his quivering lips refuse to utter.

"Is there no other way?" he asked. "Must she go back to Lague? Is
there no help for it?"

"None," said Adam; "for she is penniless, God forgive me, and beggars
may not be choosers."

At that word Jason was unable to support any longer the wild laboring
of his heart.

"Yes, yes, but there _is_ a way," he cried, "for there is one to whom
she is rich enough though he is poor himself, for he would give his
life's blood if so be that he could buy her. Many a day he has seen
all and stood aside and been silent, because afraid to speak, but he
must speak now, or never."

Hearing this, Adam's face looked troubled, and he answered--

"I will not misdoubt you, my good lad, or question whom you mean."

And Jason's tongue being loosed at last, the hot words came from him
like a flood.

"I have been an idle fellow, sir, I know that; good for nothing in
the world, any more than the beasts of the field, and maybe it's
because I've had nobody but myself to work for; but give me the right
to stand beside her and you shall see what I can do, for no brother
shall return her cold looks for her sweetness, and never again shall
she go back where she will only be despised."

"You are a brave lad, Jason," said Adam, as best he could for the
tears that choked him; "and though I have long had other thoughts
concerning her, yet could I trust her to your love and keeping and go
my ways with content. But no, no, my lad, it is not for me to choose
for her; and neither is for her to choose now."

Pacified by that answer Jason gave his promise freely, faithfully to
do what Adam had asked of him. And the night being now well worn
towards midnight, with the first bell of the vessel rung, and old
Chalse fussing about in busy preparation, the time had come for Adam
to part from Greeba. To bid her farewell was impossible, and to go
away without doing so was well-nigh as hard. All he could do was to
look upon her in her sleep and whisper his farewell in his heart. So
he entered on tiptoe the room where she lay. Softly the moon shone
through the window from across the white sea, and fell upon the bed.
Pausing at the door he listened for her breathing, and at last he
heard it, for the night was very still, and only by the sea's gentle
plash on the beach was the silence broken. Treading softly he
approached the bedside, and there she lay, and the quiet moonlight
lay over her--the dear, dear girl, so brave and happy-hearted. Her
lips seemed to smile; perhaps she was dreaming. He must take his last
look now. Yet no, he must kiss her first. He reached across and
lightly touched her pure forehead with his lips. Then she moved and
moaned in her sleep, and then her peaceful breathing came again.
"Now, peace be with her," Adam murmured, "and the good hand to guard
her of the good Father of all."

So Adam Fairbrother went his way, leaving Greeba behind him, and
early the next morning Jason took her back to Lague.



CHAPTER III.

THE WOOING OF JASON.


Now the one thing that Jason did not tell to Adam Fairbrother was
that, on hearing from Jacob, as spokesman of his brothers, the story
of their treatment of Greeba and their father, he had promised to
break every bone in their six worthless bodies, and vowed never to
darken their door again. His vow he could not keep if he was also to
keep his word with Adam, and he deferred the fulfilment of his
promise; but from that day he left Lague as a home, and pitched his
tent with old Davy Kerruish in Maughold village, at a little cottage
by the Sundial that stood by the gates of the church. Too old for the
sea, and now too saintly for smuggling, Davy pottered about the
churchyard as gravedigger--for Maughold had then no sexton--with a
living of three and sixpence a service, and a marvellously healthy
parish. So the coming of Jason to share bed and board with him was a
wild whirl of the wheel of fortune, and straightway he engaged an
ancient body at ninepence a week to cook and clean for them.

By this time Jason had spent nearly half his money, for he had earned
nothing, but now he promptly laid his idle habits aside. No more did
he go up to the mountains, and no longer out on to the sea. His nets
were thrown over the lath of the ceiling, his decoy was put in a
cage, his fowling piece stood in the corner, and few were the birds
that hung at his belt. He was never seen at the "Hibernian," and he
rarely scented up the house with tobacco smoke. On his first coming
he lay two days and nights in bed without food or sleep, until Davy
thought surely he was sick, and, willy-nilly, was for having his feet
bathed in mustard and hot water, and likewise his stomach in rum and
hot gruel. But he was only settling his plans for the future, and
having hit on a scheme he leaped out of bed like a grayhound, plunged
his head up to the neck in a bucket of cold water, came out of it
with gleaming eyes, red cheeks and a vapor rising from his wet skin,
and drying himself with a whir on a coarse towel, he laid hold with
both hands of a chunk of the last hare he had snared, and munched it
in vast mouthfuls.

"Davy," he cried, with the white teeth still going, "are there many
corn mills this side of the island?"

"Och, no, boy," said Davy; "but scarce as fresh herrings at
Christmas."

"Any mill nearer than old Moore's at Sulby, and Callow's wife's down
at Laxey?"

"Aw, no, boy, the like of them isn't in."

"Any call for them nearer, Davy?"

"Aw 'deed, yes, boy, yes; and the farmer men alwis keen for one in
Maughold, too. Ay, yes, keen, boy, keen; and if a man was after
building one here they'd be thinking diamonds of him."

"Then why hasn't somebody set up a mill before now, Davy?"

"Well, boy, ye see a Manxman is just the cleverest of all the people
goin' at takin' things aisy. Aw, clever at it, boy, clever!"

There is a full stream of water that tumbles into the sea over the
brows of Port-y-Vullin, after singing its way down from the heights
of Barrule. Jason had often marked it as he came and went from the
hut of Stephen Orry that contained his stuffed birds, and told
himself what a fine site it was for anybody that wanted to build a
water mill. He remembered it now with a freshened interest, and
bowling away to Mrs. Fairbrother at Lague for the purchase of a rod
of the land that lay between the road and the beach, to the Bailiff
for the right of water, and to old Coobragh for the hire of a cart to
fetch stones from the screes where the mountains quarried them, he
was soon in the thick of his enterprise.

He set the carpenter to work at his wheel, the smith at his axle, and
the mason at his stones, but for the walls and roof of the mill
itself he had no help but old Davy's. Early and late, from dawn to
dusk, he worked at his delving and walling, and when night fell in he
leaned over the hedge and smoked and measured out with his eye the
work he meant to do next day. When his skill did not keep pace with
his ardor he lay a day in bed thinking hard, and then got up and
worked yet harder. In less than two months he had his first
roof--timbers well and safely pitched, and if he went no farther it
was because the big hope wherewith his simple heart had been buoyed
up came down with a woeful crash.

"Aw, smart and quick, astonishin'," said old Davy of Jason to Mrs.
Fairbrother at Lague. "Aw 'deed, yes, and clever to, and steady
still. The way he works them walls is grand. I'll go bail the farming
men will be thinking diamonds of him when he makes a start."

"And then I wouldn't doubt but he'll be in the way of making a
fortune, too," said Mrs. Fairbrother.

"I wouldn' trust, I wouldn' trust," said Davy.

"And he'll be thinking of marrying, I suppose. Isn't he, Davy?" said
Mrs. Fairbrother.

"Marrying, is it?" said Davy; "aw, divil a marry, ma'am. The boy's
innocent. Aw, yes, innocent as a baby."

Mrs. Fairbrother had her own good reasons for thinking otherwise,
though Jason came to Lague but rarely. So with hint and innuendo she
set herself to see how Greeba stood towards the future she had
planned for her. And Greeba was not slow to see her mother's serious
drift under many a playful speech. She had spent cheerful hours at
Lague since the sad surprise that brought her back. Little loth for
the life of the farm, notwithstanding Ross's judgment, she had seemed
to fall into its ways with content. Her mother's hints touched her
not at all, for she only laughed at them with a little of her old
gayety; but one day within the first weeks she met Jason, and then
she felt troubled. He was very serious, and spoke only of what he was
doing, but before his grave face her gay friendliness broke down in
an instant.

Hurrying home she sat down and wrote a letter to Michael Sunlocks.
Never a word had she heard from him since he left the island four
years ago, so she made excuse of her father's going away to cover her
unmaidenly act, and asked him to let her know if her father had
arrived, and how he was and where, with some particulars of himself
also, and whether he meant to come back to the Isle of Man, or had
quite made his home in Iceland; with many a sly glance, too, at her
own condition, such as her modesty could not forbear, but never a
syllable about Jason, for a double danger held her silent on that
head. This she despatched to him, realizing at length that she loved
him, and that she must hear from him soon, or be lost to him forever.

And waiting for Michael's answer she avoided Jason. If she saw him on
the road she cut across the fields, and if he came to the house she
found something to take her out of the kitchen. He saw her purpose
quickly, and his calm eyes saddened, and his strong face twitched,
but he did not flinch; he went on with his work, steadily, earnestly,
only with something less of heart, something less of cheer. Her
mother saw it, too, and then the playful hints changed to angry
threats.

"What has he done?" said Mrs. Fairbrother.

"Nothing," said Greeba.

"Have you anything against him?"

"No."

"Then why are you driving him from the house?"

Greeba could make no answer.

"Are you thinking of someone else?"

Again Greeba was silent.

"I'll beg of you to mend your manners," cried Mrs. Fairbrother. "It's
full time you were wedded and gone."

"But perhaps I don't wish to leave home," said Greeba.

"Tush!" said Mrs. Fairbrother. "The lad is well enough, and if he
hasn't land he has some money, and is like to have more. I'll give
you a week to think of it, and if he ever comes and speaks for you
I'll ask you to give him his civil answer. You will be three and
twenty come Martinmas, and long before your mother was as old as that
she had a couple of your brothers to fend for."

"Some of my brothers are nearly twice my age, and you don't ask them
to marry," said Greeba.

"That's a different matter," said Mrs. Fairbrother.

It turned out that the week was more than enough to settle the
difference between Greeba and her mother, for in less time than that
Mrs. Fairbrother was stricken down by a mortal illness. It was only a
month since she had turned Adam from her door, but her time was
already at hand, and more than he predicted had come to pass. She had
grown old without knowing a day's illness; her body, like a rocky
headland that gives no sign of the seasons, had only grown harder
every year, with a face more deeply seamed; but when she fell it was
at one blow of life's ocean. Three little days she had lost appetite,
on the morning of the fourth day she had found a fever in a neglected
cattle trough that had drained into the well, and before night she
had taken her death-warrant.

She knew the worst, and faced it, but her terror was abject.
Sixty-five years she had scraped and scratched, but her time was
come. She had thought of nothing save her treasure, and there it lay,
yet it brought her no solace.

Two days she tossed in agony, remembering the past, and the price she
had paid, and made others to pay, for all that she had held so dear
and must leave so soon, for now it was nothing worth. Then she sent
for the parson, Parson Gell, who was still living, but very old. The
good man came, thinking his mission was spiritual comfort, but Mrs.
Fairbrother would hear nothing of that. As she had lived without God
in the world, even so did she intend to die. But some things that had
gone amiss with her in her eager race after riches she was minded to
set right before her time came to go. In lending she had charged too
high an interest; in paying she had withheld too much for money; in
seizing for mortgage she had given too little grace. So she would
repay before it was too late, for Death was opening her hands.

"Send for them all," she cried; "there's Kinvig of Ballagawne, and
Corlett's widow at Ballacreggan, and Quirk of Claughbane, and the
children of Joughan the weaver at Sherragh Vane, and Tubman of Ginger
Hall, and John-Billy-Bob at Cornah Glen, and that hard bargainer, old
Kermode of Port-e-chee. You see, I remember them all, for I never
forget anything. Send for them, and be quick fetching them, or it'll
be waste of time for them to come."

"I'll do it, Mistress Fairbrother," mumbled the old parson through
his toothless gums, "for right is right, and justice justice."

"Chut!" said Mrs. Fairbrother.

But the parson's deaf ears did not hear. "And, ah!" he said, "the
things of this world seem worthless, do they not, when we catch a
glimpse into eternity?"

"Less cry and more wool," said Mrs. Fairbrother, dryly. "I wouldn't
trust but old as you are you'd look with more love on a guinea than
the Gospel calls for."

The people answered the parson's summons quickly enough, and came to
Lague next morning, the men in their rough beavers, the old women in
their long blue cloaks, and they followed the old parson into Mrs.
Fairbrother's room, whispering among themselves, some in a doleful
voice others in an eager one, some with a cringing air, and others
with an arrogant expression. The chamber was darkened by a heavy
curtain over the window, but they could see Mrs. Fairbrother propped
up by pillows, whereon her thin, pinched, faded face showed very
white. She had slept never a moment of the night; and through all the
agony of her body her mind had been busy with its reckonings. These
she had made Greeba to set down in writing, and now with the paper on
the counterpane before her, and a linen bag of money in her hand, she
sat ready to receive her people. When they entered there was deep
silence for a moment, wherein her eyes glanced over them, as they
stood in their strong odors of health around her.

"Where's your brother, Liza Joughan?" she said to a young woman at
the foot of the bed.

"Gone off to 'Meriky ma'am," the girl faltered, "for he couldn't live
after he lost the land."

"Where's Quirk of Claughbane?" asked Mrs. Fairbrother, turning to the
parson.

"The poor man's gone, sister," said the parson, in a low tone. "He
died only the week before last."

Mrs. Fairbrother's face assumed a darker shade, and she handed the
paper to Greeba.

"Come, let's have it over," she said, and then, one by one, Greeba
read out the names.

"Daniel Kinvig, twelve pounds," Greeba read, and thereupon an elderly
man with a square head stepped forward.

"Kinvig," said Mrs. Fairbrother, fumbling the neck of the linen bag,
"you borrowed a hundred pounds for two years, and I charged you
twelve per cent. Six per cent. was enough, and here is the difference
back to your hand."

So saying, she counted twelve pound notes and held them out in her
wrinkled fingers, and the man took them without a word.

"Go on," she cried, sharply.

"Mrs. Corlett, two pounds," read Greeba, and a woman in a widow's cap
and a long cloak came up, wiping her eyes.

"Bella Corlett," said Mrs. Fairbrother, "when I took over
Ballacreggan for my unpaid debt, you begged for the feather bed your
mother died on and the chair that had been your father's. I didn't
give them, though I had enough besides, so here are two pounds to
you, and God forgive me."

The woman took the money and began to cry.

"God reward you," she whimpered. "It's in Heaven you'll be rewarded,
ma'am."

But Mrs. Fairbrother brushed her aside, with an angry word and a
fretful gesture, and called on Greeba for the next name on the list.

"Peter Kermode, twenty-four pounds ten shillings," read Greeba, and a
little old man, with a rough head and a grim, hard, ugly face,
jostled through the people about him.

"Kermode," said Mrs. Fairbrother, "you always tried to cheat me, as
you try to cheat everybody else, and when you sold me those seventy
sheep for six shillings apiece last back end you thought they were
all taking the rot, and you lost thirty pounds by them and brought
yourself to beggary, and serve you right, too. But I sold them safe
and sound for a pound apiece three days after; so here's half of the
difference, and just try to be honest for the rest of your days. And
it won't be a long task, either, for it's plain to see you're not far
from death's door, and it isn't worth while to be a blood-sucker."

At that she paused for breath, and to press her lean hand over the
place of the fire in her chest.

"Ye say true, ma'am, aw, true, true," said the man, in a lamentable
voice. "And in the house of death it must be a great consolation to
do right. Let's sing wi' ye, ma'am. I'm going in the straight way
myself now, and plaze the Lord I'll backslide no more."

And while he counted out the money in his grimy palm, the old
hypocrite was for striking up a Ranter hymn, beginning--

   "Oh, this is the God we adore,
    Our faithful, unchangeable friend."

But Mrs. Fairbrother cried on him to be silent, and then gathering
strength she went on with the others until all were done. And passing
to each his money, as the grasp of Death's own hand relaxed the hard
grip of her tight fingers, she trembled visibly, held it out and drew
it back again, and held it out again, as though she were reluctant to
part with it even yet.

And when all was over she swept the people out of the room with a
wave of her hand, and fell back to the bolster.

Then Greeba, thinking it a favorable moment to plead for her father,
mentioned his name, and eyed her mother anxiously. Mrs. Fairbrother
seemed not to hear at first, and, being pressed, she answered
wrathfully, saying she had no pity for her husband, and that not a
penny of her money should go to him.

But late the same day, after the doctor, who had been sent for from
Douglas, had wagged his head and made a rueful face over her, she
called for her sons, and they came and stood about her, and Greeba,
who had nursed her from the beginning, was also by her side.

"Boys," she said, between fits of pain, "keep the land together, and
don't separate; and mind you bring no women here or you'll fall to
quarrelling, and if any of you must marry let him have his share and
go. Don't forget the heifer that's near to calving, and see that you
fodder her every night. Fetch the geese down from Barrule at
Martinmas, and count the sheep on the mountains once a week, for the
people of Maughold are the worst thieves in the island."

They gave her their promise duly to do and not to do what she had
named, and, being little used to such scenes, they grew uneasy and
began to shamble out.

"And, boys, another thing," she said, faintly, stretching her
wrinkled hand across the counterpane, "give the girl her rights, and
let her marry whom she will."

This, also, they promised her; and then she, thinking her duty done
as an honest woman towards man and the world, but recking nothing of
higher obligations, lay backward with a groan.

Now it did not need that the men should marry in order that they
might quarrel, for hardly was the breath out of their mother's body
when they set to squabbling, without any woman to help them. Asher
grumbled that Thurstan was drunken, Thurstan grumbled that Asher was
lazy, Asher retorted that, being the eldest son, if he had his rights
he would have every foot of the land, and Ross and Stean arose in
fury at the bare thought of either being hands on their brother's
farm or else taking the go-by at his hands. So they quarrelled, until
Jacob said that there was plainly but one way of peace between them,
and that was to apportion the land into equal parts and let every man
take his share, and then the idleness of Asher and the drunkenness of
Thurstan would be to each man his own affair. At that they remembered
that the lands of Lague, then the largest estate on the north of the
island, had once been made up of six separate farms, with a house to
each of them, though five of the six houses had long stood empty. And
seeing that there were just six of themselves it seemed, as Jacob
said, as if Providence had so appointed things to see them out of
their difficulty. But the farms, though of pretty equal acreage, were
of various quality of land, and therein the quarrelling set in
afresh.

"I'll take Ballacraine," said Thurstan.

"No, but I'll take it," said Jacob, "for I've always worked the
meadows."

In the end they cast lots, and then, each man having his farm
assigned to him, all seemed to be settled when Asher cried.

"But what about the girl?"

At that they looked stupidly into each other's faces, for never once
in all their bickering had they given a thought to Greeba. But
Jacob's resource was not yet at an end, for he suggested that Asher
should keep her at Lague, and at harvest the other five should give
her something, and that her keep and their gifts together should be
her share; and if she had all she needed what more could she wish?

They did not consult Greeba on this head, and before she had time to
protest they were in the thick of a fresh dispute among themselves.
The meadow lands of Ballacraine had fallen to Jacob after all, while
Thurstan got the high and stony lands of Ballafayle, at the foot of
Barrule. Thurstan was less than satisfied, and remembering that Jacob
had drawn out the papers for the lottery, he suspected cheating. So
he made himself well and thoroughly drunk at the "Hibernian," and set
off for Ballacraine to argue the question out. He found Jacob in no
mood for words of recrimination, and so he proceeded to thrash him,
and to turn him off the fat lands and settle himself upon them.

Then there was great commotion among the Fairbrothers, and each of
the other four took a side in the dispute. The end of it all was a
trial for ejectment at Deemster's Court at Ramsey, and another for
assault and battery. The ejectment came first and Thurstan was
ousted, and then six men of Maughold got up in the juror's box to try
the charge of assault. There was little proof but a multitude of
witnesses, and before all were heard the Deemster adjourned the court
for lunch and ventilation, for the old courthouse had become
poisonous with the reeking breath of the people that crowded it.

And the jury being free to lunch where they pleased, each of the
parties to the dispute laid hold of his man and walked him off by
himself, to persuade him, also to treat him, and perhaps to bribe
him. Thus Thurstan was at the Saddle Inn with a juryman on either
hand, and Jacob was at the Plough with as many by his side, and Ross
and Stean had one each at the tavern by the Cross. "You're right,"
said the jurymen to Thurstan. "Drink up," said Thurstan to the
jurymen. "I'm your man," said the jurymen to Jacob. "Slip this in
your fob," said Jacob to the jurymen. Then they reeled back to the
courthouse arm-in-arm, and when the six good men of Maughold had
clambered up to their places again, the juror's box contained several
quarts more ale than before.

The jury did not agree on a verdict, and the Deemster dismissed them
with hot reproaches. But some justice to Greeba seemed likely to come
of this wild farce of law, for an advocate, who had learned what her
brothers were doing for her, got up a case against them, for lack of
a better brief, and so far prevailed on her behalf that the Deemster
ordered that each of the six should pay her eight pounds yearly, as
an equivalent for the share of land they had unlawfully withheld.

Now Red Jason had spent that day among the crowd at the courthouse,
and his hot blood had shown as red as his hair through his tanned
cheeks, while he looked on at the doings of Thurstan of the swollen
eyes, and Jacob of the foxy face. He stood up for a time at the back
like a statue of wrath with a dirty mist of blood dancing before it.
Then his loathing and scorn getting the better of him he cursed
beneath his breath in Icelandic and English, and his restless hands
scraped in and out of his pockets as if they itched to fasten on
somebody's throat, or pick up something as a dog picks up a rat. All
he could do was to curl his lip in a terrible grin, like the grin of
a mastiff, until he caught a side-long glimpse of Greeba's face with
the traces of tears upon it, and then, being unable to control any
longer the unsatisfied yearning of his soul to throttle Jacob, and
smash the ribs of Thurstan, and give dandified John a backhanded
facer, he turned tail and slunk out of the place, as if ashamed of
himself that he was so useless. When all was over he stalked off to
Port-y-Vullin, but, too nervous to settle to his work that day, he
went away in the evening in the direction of Lague, not thinking to
call there, yet powerless to keep away.

Greeba had returned from Ramsey alone, being little wishful for
company, so heavy was her heart. She had seen how her brothers had
tried to rob her, and how beggarly was the help the law could give
her, for though the one might order the others might not obey. So she
had sat herself down in her loneliness, thinking that she was indeed
alone in all the world, with no one to look up to any more, and no
strong hand to rest on. It was just then that Jason pushed open the
door of the porch, and stood on the threshold, in all the quiet
strength of his untainted young manhood, and the calm breadth of his
simple manner.

"Greeba, may I come in?" he said, in a low tone.

"Yes," she answered, only just audibly, and then he entered.

She did not raise her eyes, and he did not offer his hand, but as he
stood beside her she grew stronger, and as she sat before him he felt
that a hard lump that had gathered at his heart was melting away.

"Listen to me, Greeba," he said. "I know all your troubles, and I'm
very sorry for them. No, that's not what I meant to say, but I'm at a
loss for words. Greeba!"

"Yes?"

"Doesn't it seem as if Fate meant us to come together--you and I? The
world has dealt very ill with both of us thus far. But you are a
woman and I am a man; and only give me the right to fight for
you----"

As he spoke he saw the tears spring to her eyes, and he paused and
his wandering fingers found the hand that hung by her side.

"Greeba!" he cried again, but she stopped the hot flow of the words
that she saw were coming.

"Leave me now," she said. "Don't speak to me to-day; no, not to-day,
Jason. Go--go!"

He obeyed her without a word, and picking up his cap from where it
had fallen at his feet, he left her sitting there with her face
covered by her hands.

She had suddenly bethought herself of Michael Sunlocks; that she had
pledged her word to wait for him, that she had written to him and
that his answer might come at any time. Next day she went down to the
post-office at Ramsey to inquire for a letter. None had yet come for
her, but a boat from the Shetlands that might fetch mails from
Iceland would arrive within three days. Prompt to that time she went
down to Ramsey again, but though the boat had put into harbor and
discharged its mails there was still no letter for her. The ordinary
Irish trader between Dublin and Reykjavik was expected on its
homeward trip in a week or nine days more, and Greeba's heart lay low
and waited. In due course the trader came, but no letter for her came
with it. Then her hope broke down. Sunlocks had forgotten her;
perhaps he cared for her no longer; it might even be that he loved
some one else. And so with the fall of her hope her womanly pride
arose, and she asked herself very haughtily, but with the great tears
in her big dark eyes, what it mattered to her after all. Only she was
very lonely, and so weary and heart-sick, and with no one to look to
for the cheer of life.

She was still at Lague, where her eldest brother was now sole master,
and he was very cold with her, for he had taken it with mighty high
dudgeon that a sister of his should have used the law against him.
So, feeling how bitter it was to eat the bread of another, she had
even begun to pinch herself of food, and to sit at meals but rarely.

But Jason came again about a fortnight after the trial, and he found
Greeba alone as before. She was sitting by the porch, in the cool of
the summer evening, combing out the plaits of her long brown hair,
and looking up at Barrule, that was heaving out large and black in
the sundown, with a nightcap of silver vapor over its head in the
clouds.

"I can stay away no longer," he said, with his eyes down. "I've tried
to stay away and can't, and the days creep along. So think no ill of
me if I come too soon."

Greeba made him no answer, but thought within herself that if he had
stayed a day longer he must have stayed a day too long.

"It's a weary heart I've borne," he said, "since I saw you last, and
you bade me leave you, and I obeyed, though it cost me dear. But let
that go."

Still she did not speak, and looking up into her face he saw how pale
she was, and weak and ill as he thought.

"Greeba," he cried, "what has happened?"

But she only smiled and gave him a look of kindness, and said that
nothing was amiss with her.

"Yes, by the Lord, but something is amiss," he said, with his blood
in his face in an instant. "What is it?" he cried. "What is it?"

"Only that I have not eaten much to-day," she said, "that's all."

"All!" he cried. "All!"

He seemed to understand everything at a glance, as if the great power
of his love had taught him.

"Now, by God----" he said, and shook his fist at the house in front
of him.

"Hush!" Greeba whispered, "it is my own doing. I am loth to be
beholden to any one, least of all to such as forget me."

The sweet tenderness of her look softened him, and he cast down his
eyes again, and said:

"Greeba, there is one who can never forget you; morning and night you
are with him, for he loves you dearly; ay, Greeba, as never maiden
was loved by any one since the world began. No, there isn't the man
born, Greeba, who loves a woman as he loves you, for he has nothing
else to love in all the wide world."

She looked up at him as he spoke and saw the courage in his eyes, and
that he who loved her stood as a man beside her. At that her heart
swelled and her eyes began to fill, and he saw her tears and knew
that he had won her, and he plucked her to his breast with a wild cry
of joy, and she lay there and wept, while he whispered to her through
her hair.

"My love! my love! love of my life!" he whispered.

"I was so lonely," she murmured.

"You shall be lonely no more," he whispered; "no more, my love, no
more," and his soft words stole over her drooping head.

He stayed an hour longer by her side, laughing much and talking
greatly, and when he went off she heard him break into a song as he
passed out at the gate.

Then, being once more alone, she sat and tried to compose herself,
wondering if she should ever repent what she had done so hastily, and
if she could love this man as he well deserved and would surely wish.
Her meditations were broken by the sound of Jason's voice. He was
coming back with his happy step, and singing as merrily as he went.

"What a blockhead I am," he said, cheerily, popping his head in at
the door. "I forgot to deliver you a letter that the postmaster gave
me when I was at Ramsey this morning. You see it's from Iceland. Good
news from your father, I trust. God bless him!"

So saying he pushed the letter into Greeba's hand and went his way
jauntily, singing as before a gay song of his native country.

The letter was from Michael Sunlocks.



CHAPTER IV.

THE RISE OF MICHAEL SUNLOCKS.


"Dear Greeba," the letter ran, "I am sorely ashamed of my long
silence, which is deeply ungrateful towards your father, and very
ungracious towards you. Though something better than four years have
passed away since I left the little green island, the time has seemed
to fly more swiftly than a weaver's shuttle, and I have been immersed
in many interests and beset by many anxieties. But I well know that
nothing can quite excuse me, and I would wrong the truth if I were to
say that among fresh scenes and fresh faces I have borne about me
day and night the memory of all I left behind. So I shall not pretend
to a loyalty whereof I have given you no assurance, but will just
pray of you to take me for what I truly am--a rather thankless
fellow--who has sometimes found himself in danger of forgetting old
friends in the making of new ones, and been very heartily ashamed of
himself. Nevertheless, the sweetest thoughts of these four years have
been thoughts of the old home, and the dearest hope of my heart has
been to return to it some day. That day has not yet come; but it is
coming, and now I seem to see it very near. So, dear Greeba, forgive
me if you can, or at least bear me no grudge, and let me tell you of
some of the strange things that have befallen me since we parted.

"When I came to Iceland it was not to join the Latin school of the
venerable Bishop Petersen (a worthy man and good Christian, whom it
has become by happiness to call my friend), but on an errand of
mercy, whereof I may yet say much but can tell you little now. The
first of my duties was to find a good woman and true wife who had
suffered deeply by the great fault of another, and, having found her,
to succor her in her distress. It says much for the depth of her
misfortunes that, though she had been the daughter of the
Governor-General, and the inhabitants of the capital of Iceland are
fewer than two thousand in all, I was more than a week in Reykjavik
before I came upon any real news of her. When I found her at last she
was in her grave. The poor soul had died within two months of my
landing on these shores, and the joiner of the cathedral was putting
a little wooden peg, inscribed with the initials of her name, over
her grave in the forgotten quarter of the cemetery where the dead
poor of this place are buried. Such was the close of the first
chapter of my quest.

"But I had still another duty, and, touched by the pathos of that
timeless death, I set about it with new vigor. This was to learn if
the unhappy soul had left a child behind her, and if she had done so
to look for it as I had looked for its mother, and succor it as I
would have succored her. I found that she had left a son, a lad of my
own age or thereabouts, and therefore less than twenty at that time.
Little seemed to be known about him, save that he had been his
mother's sole stay and companion, that they had both lived apart from
their neighbors, and much under the shadow of their distresses. At
her death he had been with her, and he had stood by her grave, but
never afterwards had he been seen by anyone who could make a guess as
to what had become of him. But, whilst I was still in the midst of my
search, the body of a young man came ashore on the island of Engy,
and though the features were no longer to be recognized, yet there
were many in the fishing quarter of this city who could swear, from
evidences of stature and of clothing, to its identity with him I
looked for; and thus the second chapter of my quest seemed to close
at a tomb.

"I cannot say that I was fully satisfied, for nothing that I had
heard of the boy's character seemed to agree with any thought of
suicide, and I noticed that the good old Lutheran priest who had sat
with the poor mother in her last hours shook his head at the mention
of it, though he would give no reasons for his determined unbelief.
But perhaps my zeal was flagging, for my search ceased from that
hour, and as often since as my conscience has reproached me with a
mission unfulfilled I have appeased it with the assurance that mother
and son are both gone, and death itself has been my sure abridgment.

"Some day, dear Greeba, I will tell you who sent me (which you may
partly guess) and who they were to whom I was sent. But it is like
the way of the world itself, that, having set ourselves a task, we
must follow it as regularly as the sun rises and sets, and the day
comes and the night follows, or once letting it slip it will drop
into a chaos. For a thing happened just at that moment of my wavering
which altered the current of my life, so that my time here, which was
to be devoted to an unselfish work, seems to have been given up to
personal ambitions.

"I have mentioned that the good woman had been the daughter of the
Governor-General. His name was Jorgen Jorgensen. He had turned her
adrift because of her marriage, which was in defiance of his wish,
and through all the years of her poverty he had either abandoned her
to her necessities, or her pride had hidden them from his knowledge.
But he had heard of her death when it came to pass, and by that time
his stubborn spirit had begun to feel the lonesomeness of his years,
and that life was slipping past him without the love and tenderness
of a child to sweeten it. So partly out of remorse, but mainly out of
selfishness, he had set out to find the son whom his daughter had
left behind her, thinking to give the boy the rightful place of a
grandson by his side. It was then that on the same search our paths
converged, and Jorgen Jorgensen met with me, and I with Jorgen
Jorgensen. And when the news reached Reykjavik of the body that had
come out of the sea at Engy, the Governor was among the first to give
credence to the rumor that the son of his daughter was dead. But
meantime he had found something in me to interest him, and now he
asked who I was, and what, and why I was come. His questions I
answered plainly, without concealment or any disguise, and when he
heard that I was the son of Stephen Orry, though he knew too well
what my father had been to him and to his daughter (all of which,
dear Greeba, you shall yet learn at length), he asked me to take that
place in his house that he had intended for his daughter's son.

"How I came to agree to this while I distrusted him and almost feared
him would take too long to tell. Only remember that I was in a
country foreign to me, though it was my father's home, that I was
trifling with my errand there, and had no solid business of life
beside. Enough for the present that I did so agree, and that I became
the housemate and daily companion of Jorgen Jorgensen. His treatment
of me varied with his moods, which were many. Sometimes it was harsh,
sometimes almost genial, and always selfish. I think I worked for him
as a loyal servant should, taking no account of his promises, and
never shutting my eyes to my true position or his real aims in having
me. And often and again when I remembered all that we both knew of
what had gone before, I thought the Fates themselves must shriek at
the turn of fortune's wheel that had thrown this man and me together
so.

"I say he was selfish; and truly he did all he could in the years I
was with him to drain me of my best strength of heart and brain,
but some of his selfish ends seemed to lie in the way of my own
advancement. Thus he had set his mind on my succeeding him in the
governorship, or at least becoming Speaker, and to that end he had me
elected to Althing, a legislative body very like to the House of
Keys. Violating thereby more than one regulation touching my age,
nationality and period of residence in Iceland. There he made his
first great error in our relations, for while I was a servant in his
house and office my mind and will were his, but when I became a
delegate they became my own, in charge for the people who elected me.

"It would be a long story to tell you of all that occurred in the
three years thereafter; how I saw many a doubtful scheme hatched
under my eyes without having the power or right to protest while I
kept the shelter of the Governor's roof; how I left his house and
separated from him; how I pursued my way apart from him, supported by
good men who gathered about me; how he slandered and maligned and
injured me through my father, whom all had known, and my mother, of
whom I myself had told him; how in the end he prompted the Danish
Government to propose to Althing a new constitution for Iceland,
curtailing her ancient liberties and violating her time-honored
customs, and how I led the opposition to this unworthy project and
defeated it. The end of all is that within these two months Iceland
has risen against the rule of Denmark as administered by Jorgen
Jorgensen, driving him away, and that I, who little thought to sit in
his place even in the days when he himself was plotting to put me
there, and would have fled from the danger of pushing from his stool
the man whose bread I had eaten, am at this moment president of a new
Icelandic republic.

"It will seem to you a strange climax that I am where I am after so
short a life here, coming as a youth and a stranger only four years
ago, without a livelihood and with little money (though more I might
perhaps have had), on a vague errand, scarcely able to speak the
language of the people, and understanding it merely from the
uncertain memories of childhood. And if above the pleasures of a true
patriotism--for I am an Icelander, too, proud of the old country and
its all but thousand years--there is a secret joy in my cup of
fortune, the sweetest part of it is that there are those--there is
one--in dear little Ellan Vannin who will, I truly think, rejoice
with me and be glad. But I am too closely beset by the anxieties that
have come with my success to give much thought to its vanities. Thus
in this first lull after the storm of our revolution, I have to be
busy with many active preparations. Jorgen Jorgensen has gone to
Copenhagen, where he will surely incite the Danish Government to
reprisals, though a powerful State might well afford to leave to its
freedom the ancient little nation that lives on a great rock of the
frozen seas. In view of this certainty, I have to organize some
native forces of defence, both on land and sea. One small colony of
Danish colonists who took the side of the Danish powers has had to be
put down by force, and I have removed the political prisoners from
the jail of Reykjavik, where they did no good, to the sulphur mines
at Krisuvik, where they are opening an industry that should enrich
the State. So you see that my hands are full of anxious labor, and
that my presence here seems necessary now. But if, as sanguine minds
predict, all comes out well in the end, and Denmark leaves us to
ourselves, or the powers of Europe rise against Denmark, and Iceland
remains a free nation, I will not forget that my true home is in the
dear island of the Irish Sea, and that good souls are there who
remember me and would welcome me, and that one of them was my dear
little playfellow long ago.

"And now, dear Greeba, you know what has happened to me since we
parted on that sweet night at the gate of Lague, but I know nothing
of all that has occurred to you. My neglect has been well punished by
my ignorance and my many fears.

"How is your father? Is the dear man well, and happy and prosperous?
He must be so, or surely there is no Providence dispensing justice in
this world.

"Are you well? To me the years have sent a tawny beard and a woeful
lantern jaw. Have they changed you greatly? Yet how can you answer
such a question? Only say that you are well, and have been always
well, and I will know the rest, dear Greeba--that the four years past
have only done what the preceding eight years did, in ripening the
bloom of the sweetest womanhood, in softening the dark light of the
most glorious eyes, and in smoothing the dimples of the loveliest
face that ever the sun of heaven shone upon.

"But, thinking of this, and trying to summon up a vision of you as
you must be now, it serves me right that I am tortured by fears I
dare not utter. What have you been doing all this time? Have you made
any new friends? I have made many, yet none that seem to have got as
close to me as the old ones are. One old friend, the oldest I can
remember, though young enough yet for beauty and sweet grace, is
still the closest to my heart. Do you know whom I mean? Greeba, do
you remember your promise? You could hardly speak to make it. I had
forgotten my manners so that I had left you little breath. Have you
forgotten? To me it is a delicious memory, and if it is not a painful
one to you, then all is well with both of us. But, oh, for the time
to come, when many a similar promise, and many a like breach of
manners, will wipe away the thought of this one! I am almost in love
with myself to think it was I who stood with you by the bridge at
Lague, and could find it in my heart, if it were only in my power, to
kiss the lips that kissed you. I'll do better than that some day.
What say you? But say nothing, for that's best, dearest. Ah,
Greeba--"

       *       *       *       *       *

At this point there was a break in the letter, and what came after
was in a larger, looser, and more rapid handwriting.

"Your letter has this moment reached me. I am overwhelmed by the bad
news you send me. Your father has not yet come. Did his ship sail for
Reykjavik? Or was it for Hafnafiord? Certainly it may have put in at
the Orkneys, or the Faroes. But if it sailed a fortnight before you
wrote, it ought to be here now. I will make inquiries forthwith.

"I interrupted my letter to send a boat down the fiord to look. It is
gone. I can see it now skirting the Smoky Harbor on its way to the
Smoky Point. If your father comes back with it, he shall have a
thousand, thousand welcomes. The dear good man--how well I remember
that on the day I parted from him he rallied me on my fears, and
said he would yet come here to see me! Little did he think to come
like this. And the worst of his misfortunes have followed on his
generosities! Such bighearted men should have a store like the
widow's curse to draw from, that would grow no less, however often
they dipped into it. God keep him till we meet again and I hold once
more that hand of charity and blessing, or have it resting on my
head.

"I am anxious on your account also, dearest Greeba, for I know too
well what your condition must be in your mother's house. My dear
girl, forgive me for what I send you with this letter. The day I left
the island your father lent me fifty pounds, and now I repay it to
his daughter. So it is not a gift, and, if it were, you should still
take it from me, seeing there are no obligations among those who
love.

"The duties that hold me here are now for the first time irksome, for
I am longing for the chance of hastening to your side. But only say
that I may do so with your consent and all that goes with it, and I
will not lose a day more in sending a trustworthy person to you who
shall bring you here to rejoin your father and me. Write by the first
ship that will bring your letter. I shall not rest until I have heard
from you; and having heard in such words as my heart could wish, I
shall not sleep until you are with me, never, never to be parted from
me again as long as life itself shall last. Write, dearest
girl--write--write."

Here there was another break in the letter, and then came this
postscript.

"It is part of the penalty of life in these northern lands that for
nearly one-half of the year we are entirely cut off from intercourse
with the rest of the world, and are at the mercy of wind and sea for
that benefit during the other half. My letter has waited these seven
days for the passing of a storm before the ship that is to carry it
can sail. This interval has seen the return of the sloop that I sent
down the fiord as far as Smoky Point, but no tidings has she brought
back of the vessel your father sailed in, and no certain intelligence
has yet reached me from any other quarter. So let me not alarm you
when I add that a report has come to Reykjavik by a whaler on the
seas under Snaefell that an Irish schooner has lately been wrecked
near the mouth of some basaltic caves by Stappen, all hands being
saved, but the vessel gone to pieces, and crew and passengers trying
to make their way to the capital overland. I am afraid to fear, and
as much afraid to hope, that this may have been the ship that brought
your father; but I am fitting out an expedition to go along the coast
to meet the poor ship-broken company, for whoever they are they can
know little of the perils and privations of a long tramp across this
desolate country. If more and better news should come my way you
shall have it in its turn, but meantime bethink you earnestly whether
it is not now for you to come and to join me, and your father also,
if he should then be here, and, if not, to help me to search for him.
But it is barely just to you to ask so much without making myself
clear, though truly you must have guessed my meaning. Then, dear
Greeba, when I say 'Come,' I mean _Come to be my wife_. It sounds
cold to say it so, and such a plea is not the one my heart has
cherished; for through all these years I have heard myself whisper
that dear word through trembling lips, with a luminous vision of my
own face in your beautiful eyes before me. But that is not to be,
save in an aftermath of love, if you will only let the future bring
it. So, dearest love, my darling--more to me than place and power and
all the world can give--come to me--come--come--come."



CHAPTER V.

STRONG KNOTS OF LOVE.


Now never did a letter bring more contrary feelings to man or maid
than this one of Michael Sunlocks brought to Greeba. It thrilled her
with love, it terrified her with fear; it touched her with delight,
it chilled her with despair; it made her laugh, it made her weep; she
kissed it with quivering lips, she dropped it from trembling fingers.
But in the end it swept her heart and soul away with it, as it must
have swept away the heart and soul of any maiden who ever loved, and
she leaped at the thought that she must go to Sunlocks and to her
father at once, without delay--not waiting to write, or for the
messenger that was to come.

Yet the cooler moment followed, when she remembered Jason. She was
pledged to him; she had given him her promise; and if she broke her
word she would break his heart. But Sunlocks--Sunlocks--Sunlocks! She
could hear his low, passionate voice in the words of his letter.
Jason she had loved for his love of her; but Sunlocks she had loved
of her love alone.

What was she to do? Go to Sunlocks, and thereby break her word and
the heart of Jason, or abide by Jason, and break her own heart and
the hope of Sunlocks? "Oh," she thought, "if the letter had but come
a day earlier--one little day--nay, one hour--one little, little
hour!" Then, in her tortured mind, she reproached Jason for keeping
it back from her by his forgetfulness, and at the next instant she
reproached Sunlocks for his tardy despatch, and last of all she
reproached herself for not waiting for it. "Oh," she thought, "was
ever a girl born to bring such misery to those who love her!"

All the long night thereafter she tossed in restless doubt, never
once closing her eyes in sleep; and at daydawn she rose and dressed,
and threw open her window, and cool waves of morning air floated
down upon her from the mountains, where the bald crown of Barrule was
tipped with rosy light from the sun that was rising over the sea.
Then, in the stillness of the morning, before the cattle in the
meadows had begun to low, or the sheep on the hills to bleat, and
there was yet no noise of work in the rickyard or the shippon, and
all the moorland below lay asleep under its thin coverlet of mist,
there came to her from across the fields the sound of a happy, cheery
voice that was singing. She listened, and knew that it was Jason,
chanting a song of Iceland after a night spent on the mountains; and
she looked and saw that he was coming on towards the house, with his
long, swinging stride and leap, over gorse and cushag and hedge and
ditch.

It was more than she could bear after such night-long torment, to
look upon the happiness she seemed about to wreck, so she turned her
head away and covered her ears with her hands. But, recking nothing
of this, Jason came on, singing in snatches and whistling by turns,
until his firm tread echoed in the paved courtyard in the silence
that was broken by nothing beside, except the wakening of the rooks
in the elms.

"She must be awake, for she lies there, and her window is open," he
thought to himself.

"Whisht!" he cried, tossing up a hand.

And then, without moving from where she stood, with her back resting
against the window shutter, she turned her head about and her eyes
aslant, and saw him beneath her casement. He looked buoyant and
joyous, and full of laughter. A gun was over his shoulder, a fishing
rod was in the other hand, at his belt hung a brace of birds, with
the blood dripping on to his leggings, and across his back swung a
little creel.

"Greeba, whisht!" he called again, in a loud whisper; and a third
time he called her.

Then, though her heart smote her sore, she could not but step
forward; and perhaps her very shame made her the more beautiful at
that moment, for her cheeks were rosy red, and her round neck
drooped, and her eyes were shy of the morning light, and very sweet
she looked to the lad who loved her there.

"Ah!" he said almost inaudibly, and drew a long breath. Then he made
pretence to kiss her, though so far out of reach, and laughed in his
throat. After that he laid his gun against the porch, and untied the
birds and threw them down at the foot of the closed door.

"I thought I would bring you these," he said. "I've just shot them."

"Then you've not been to bed," said Greeba nervously.

"Oh, that's nothing," he said, laughing. "Nothing for me. Besides,
how could I sleep? Sleep? Why I should have been ready to kill myself
this morning if I could have slept last night. Greeba!"

"Well!"

"You could never think what a glorious night it has been for me."

"So you've had good sport?" she said, feeling ashamed.

"Sport!" he cried, and laughed again. "Oh, yes, I've had sport
enough," he said. "But what a night it was! The happiest night of all
my life. Every star that shone seemed to shine for me; every wind
that blew seemed to bring me a message; and every bird that sang, as
the day was dawning, seemed to sing the song of all my happiness. Oh,
it has been a triumphant night, Greeba."

She turned her head away from him, but he did not stop.

"And this morning, coming down from Barrule, everything seemed to
speak to me of one thing, and that was the dearest thing in all the
world. 'Dear little river,' I said, 'how happily you sing your way to
the sea.' And then I remembered that before it got there it would
turn the wheel for us at Port-y-Vullin some day, and so I said 'Dear
little mill, how merrily you'll go when I listen to your plash and
plunge, with her I love beside me."

She did not speak, and after a moment he laughed.

"That's very foolish, isn't it?" he said.

"Oh, no," she said. "Why foolish?"

"Well it sounds so; but, ah, last night the stars around me on the
mountain top seemed like a sanctuary, and this morning the birds
among the gorse were like a choir, and all sang together, and away to
the roof their word rang out--Greeba! Greeba! Greeba!"

He could hear a faint sobbing.

"Greeba!"

"Yes?"

"You are crying."

"Am I? Oh, no! No, Jason, not that."

"I must go. What a fool I am," he muttered, and picked up his gun.

"Oh no; don't say that."

"Greeba!"

"Well, Jason?"

"I'm going now, but----"

"Why?"

"I'm not my own man this morning. I'm talking foolishly."

"Well, and do you think a girl doesn't like foolishness?"

He threw his head back and laughed at the blue sky. "But I'm coming
back for you in the evening. I am to get the last of my rafters on
to-day, and when a building is raised it's a time to make merry."

He laughed again with a joyous lightness, and turned to go, and she
waved her hand to him as he passed out of the gate. Then, one, two,
three, four, his strong rhythmic steps went off behind the elms, and
then he was gone, and the early sun was gone with him, for its
brightness seemed to have died out of the air.

And being alone Greeba knew why she had tried to keep Jason by her
side, for while he was with her the temptation was not strong to
break in upon his happiness, but when he was no longer there, do what
she would, she could not but remember Michael Sunlocks.

"Oh, what have I done that two brave men should love me?" she
thought; but none the less for that her heart clamored for Sunlocks.
Sunlocks, Sunlocks, always Sunlocks--the Sunlocks of her childhood,
her girlhood, her first womanhood--Sunlocks of the bright eyes and
the smile like sunshine.

And thinking again of Jason, and his brave ways, and his simple,
manly bearing, and his plain speech so strangely lifted out of itself
that day into words with wings, she only told herself that she was
about to break his heart, and that to see herself do it it would go
far to break her own. So she decided that she would write to him, and
then slip away as best she could, seeing him no more.

At that resolve she sat and wrote four pages of pleading and prayer
and explanation. But having finished her letter, it smote her
suddenly, as she folded and sealed it, that it would be a selfish
thing to steal away without warning, and leave this poor paper behind
her to crush Jason, for though written in pity for him, in truth it
was fraught with pity only for herself. As mean of soul as that she
could not be, and straightway she threw her letter aside, resolved
to tell her story face to face. Then she remembered the night of
Stephen Orry's death, and the white lips of Jason as he stood above
the dying man--his father whom he had crossed the seas to slay--and,
again, by a quick recoil, she recalled his laughter of that morning,
and she said within herself, "If I tell him, he will kill me."

But that thought decided her, and she concluded that tell him she
must, let happen what would. So partly in the strength of her
resolve, and partly out of its womanly weakness, and the fear that
she might return to her first plan at last, she took up her own
letter to Jason, and locked it in a chest. Then taking from the folds
at her breast the letter of Sunlocks to herself, she read it again,
and yet again, for it was the only love letter she had ever received,
and there was a dear delight in the very touch of it. But the thought
of that sensuous joy smote her conscience when she remembered what
she had still to do, and thinking that she could never speak to Jason
eye to eye, with the letter of Sunlocks lying warm in her bosom, she
took it out, and locked it also in the chest.

Jason came back at sundown to fetch her away that they might make
some innocent sport together because his mill was roofed. Then with
her eyes on her feet she spoke, and he listened in a dull, impassive
silence, while all the laughter died off his face and a look of blank
pallor came over it. And when she had finished, she waited for the
blow of his anger, but it did not come.

"Then all is over between us," he said with an effort.

And looking up, she saw that he was a forlorn man in a moment,
and fell to her knees before him with many pitiful prayers for
forgiveness. But he only raised her and said gently,

"Mistress Greeba, maybe I haven't loved you enough."

"No, no," she cried.

"I'm only a rough and ignorant fellow, a sort of wild beast, I dare
say, not fit to touch the hand of a lady, and maybe a lady could
never stoop to me."

"No, no, there's not a lady in all the world would stoop if she were
to marry you."

"Then maybe I vexed you by finding my own advantage in your hour of
need."

"No, you have behaved bravely with me in my trouble."

"Then, Greeba, tell me what has happened since yesterday."

"Nothing--everything. Jason I have wronged you. It is no fault of
yours, but now I know I do not love you."

He turned his face away from her, and when he spoke again his voice
broke in his throat.

"You could never think how fast and close my love will grow. Let us
wait," he said.

"It would be useless," she answered.

"Stay," he said stiffly, "do you love anyone else?"

But before she had time to speak, he said quickly,

"Wait! I've no right to ask that question, and I will not hear you
answer it."

"You are very noble, Jason," she said.

"I was thinking of myself," he said.

"Jason," she cried, "I meant to ask you to release me, but you have
put me to shame and now I ask you to choose for me. I have promised
myself to you, and if you wish it I will keep my promise."

At that he stood, a sorrowful man, beside her for a moment's space
before he answered her, and only the tones of his voice could tell
how much his answer cost him.

"No--ah, no," he said; "no, Greeba, to keep your promise to me would
be too cruel to you."

"Think of yourself now," she cried.

"There's no need to do that," he said, "for either way I am a broken
man. But you shall not also be broken-hearted, and neither shall the
man who parts us."

Saying this, a ghastly white hand seemed to sweep across his face,
but at the next moment he smiled feebly and said, "God bless you
both."

Then he turned to go, but Greeba caught him by both hands.

"Jason," she murmured, "It is true I cannot love you, but if there
was another name for love that is not--"

He twisted back to her as she spoke, and his face was unutterably
mournful to see. "Don't look at me like that," he said, and drew
away.

She felt her face flush deep, for she was ashamed. Love was her
pole-star. What was Jason's? Only the blankness of despair.

"Oh, my heart will break," she cried. "Jason," she cried again, and
again she grasped his hands, and again their eyes met, and then the
brave girl put her quivering lips to his.

"Ah, no," he said, in a husky voice, and he broke from her embrace.



CHAPTER VI.

ESAU'S BITTER CRY.


Shrinking from every human face, Jason turned in his dumb despair
towards the sea, for the moan of its long dead waves seemed to speak
to him in a voice of comfort if not of cheer. The year had deepened
to autumn, and the chill winds that scattered the salt spray, the
white curves of the breakers, the mists, the dapple-gray clouds, the
scream of the sea fowl, all suited with his mood, for at the
fountains of his own being the great deeps were broken up.

It was Tuesday, and every day thereafter until Saturday he haunted
the shore, the wild headland to seaward, and the lonesome rocks
on the south. There, bit by bit, the strange and solemn idea
of unrequited love was borne in upon him. It was very hard to
understand. For one short day the image of a happy love had stood up
before his mind, but already that day was dead. That he should never
again clasp her hand whom he loved, that all was over between
them--it was painful, it was crushing.

And oh! it was very cruel. His life seemed as much ended as if he had
taken his death-warrant, for life without hope was nothing worth. The
future he had fondly built up for both of them lay broken at his own
feet. Oh, the irony of it all! There were moments when evil passions
arose in his mind and startled him. Standing at the foot of the lone
crags of the sea he would break into wild peals of laughter, or
shriek out in rebellion against his sentence. But he was ashamed of
these impulses, and would sink away from the scene of them, though no
human eye had there been on him like a dog that is disgraced.

Yet he felt that like a man among men he could fight anything but
this relentless doom. Anything, anything--and he would not shrink.
Life and love, life and love--only these, and all would be well. But
no, ah! no, not for him was either; and creeping up in the dead of
night towards Lague, just that his eyes might see, though sorrow
dimmed them, the house where she lay asleep, the strong man would sob
like a woman, and cry out: Greeba! Greeba! Greeba!

But with the coming of day his strength would return, and watching
the big ships outside pass on to north and south, or listening to the
merry song of the seamen who weighed anchor in the bay, he told
himself sadly, but without pain, that his life in the island was
ended, that he could not live where she lived, surrounded by the
traces of her presence, that something called him away, and that he
must go. And having thus concluded his spirits rose, and he decided
to stay until after Sunday, thinking to see her then in church, and
there take his last tender look of her and bid her farewell in
silence, for he could not trust himself to speak.

So he passed what remained of his time until then without bitterness
or gloom, saying within himself as often as he looked with bereaved
eyes towards Lague, where it lay in the sunshine, "Live on, and be
happy, for I wish you no ill. Live on, and the memory of all this
will pass away."

But he did not in the meantime return to his work at the mill, which
stood as he had left it on the Tuesday when the carpenter fixed the
last of its roof timbers. This, with the general rupture of his
habits of life, was the cause of sore worry and perplexity to his
housemate.

"Aw, reglar bruk--bruk complete," old Davy said far and wide. "A
while ago ye couldn' hould him for workin' at the mill, and now he's
never puttin' a sight on it, and good goold waitin' for him; and
showin' no pride--and what he's thinkin' of no one's knowin'."

Davy tried hard to sound the depth of Jason's trouble, but having no
line to fathom it he had recourse to his excellent fancy.

"Aw, bless yer sowls, the thick as a haddick I was," he whispered one
day, "and me wonderin' why, and wonderin' why, and the thing as plain
as plain what's agate of the poor boy. It's divils that's took at
him--divils in the head. Aw, yes, and two of them, for it's aisy to
see there's fightin' goin' on inside of him. Aw, yes, same as they
tell of in Revelations; and I've seen the like when I was sailin'
forrin."

Having so concluded old Davy thought it his duty to consult an old
body that lived in a dark tangle of birchwood at Ballaglass.

"It's fit to make a man cry to see the way he's goin'," said he, "and
a few good words can't do no harm any way."

The old woman agreed with Davy as to the cause of trouble, and said
that Jason must be somebody after all, since what he had was a malady
the quality was much subject to; for to her own knowledge the "Clerk
o' the Rowls" had suffered from it when a little dancing girl from
France had left suddenly for England. Yet she made no question but
she should cure him, if Davy could contrive to hang about his neck
while he slept a piece of red ribbon which she would provide.

It was not easy for Davy to carry out his instructions, so little did
Jason rest, but he succeeded at length, and thought he remarked that
Jason became calmer and better straightway.

"But bless me, I was wrong," said he. "It was four divils the poor
boy had in his head; and two of them are gone, but the other two are
agate of him still."

When Sunday morning came Jason made himself ready for church, and
then lounged at the doorway of old Davy's cottage by the dial, to
watch the people go in at the gate. And many hailed him as they went
by in the sweet sunshine, and some observed among themselves that in
a few days his face had grown thin. In twos and threes they passed,
while Davy rang the bell from the open porch, and though Jason seemed
not to heed any of them, yet he watched them one by one. Matt
Mylechreest he saw, and Nary Crowe, now toothless and saintly, and
Kane Wade, who had trudged down from Ballure, and his wife Bridget,
grown wrinkled and yellow, and some bright young maidens, too, who
gave a side-long look his way, and John Fairbrother--Gentleman
John--who tripped along with silken bows on the toes of his shoes.
But one whom he looked for he did not see, and partly from fear that
she might not come, and partly from dread lest she should pass him so
closely by, he shambled into church with the rest before the bell had
stopped.

He had not often been to church during the four years that he had
lived on the island and the people made way for him as he pushed up
into a dark corner under the gallery. There he sat and watched as
before out of his slow eyes, never shifting their quiet gaze from the
door of the porch. But the bell stopped, and Greeba had not come;
and when Parson Gell hobbled up to the Communion-rail, still Greeba
was not there. Then the service was begun, the door was closed, and
Jason lay back and shut his eyes.

The prayers were said without Jason hearing them, but while the first
lesson was being read, his wandering mind was suddenly arrested. It
was the story of Jacob and Esau; how Isaac, their father, seeing the
day of his death at hand, sent Esau for venison, that he might eat
and bless him before he died; how Jacob under the person of Esau
obtained the blessing, and how Esau vowed to slay his brother Jacob.

"And Isaac, his father, said unto him: Who art thou? And he said, I
am thy son, thy first born Esau.

"And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? Where is he that
hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before
thou camest, and have blessed him, yea, and he shall be blessed?

"And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great
and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me
also, O my father.

               *       *       *

"And Isaac, his father, answered and said unto him, Behold, thy
dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and the dew of heaven
from above;

"And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and
it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou
shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.

"And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father
blessed him. And Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my
father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob."

As Parson Gell at the reading-desk mumbled these words through his
toothless gums, it seemed to Jason as though he were awakening from a
long sleep--a sleep of four years, a sleep full of dreams, both sweet
and sad--and that everything was coming back upon him in a dizzy
whirl. He remembered his mother, her cruel life, her death, and his
own vow, and so vivid did these recollections grow in a moment that
he trembled with excitement.

A woman in a black crape bonnet, who sat next to him in the pew, saw
his emotions, and put a Bible into his hands. He accepted it with a
slight movement of the head, but when he tried to find the place he
turned dizzy and his hands shook. Seeing this the good woman, with a
look of pity and a thought of her runaway son who was far off, took
the Bible back, and after opening it at the chapter in Genesis,
returned it in silence. Even then he did not read, but sat with
wandering eyes, while nervous twitches crossed his face.

He was thinking that he had forgotten his great vow of vengeance,
lulled to sleep by his vain dream of love; he was telling himself
that his vow must yet be fulfilled or his mother who had urged him to
it, would follow him with her curse from her grave. For some minutes
this feeling grew more and more powerful, and more and more his limbs
and whole body quivered. The poor woman in the crape saw that he
trembled, and leaned towards him and asked if he was ill. But he only
shook his head and drew back in silence into the corner of the pew.

"I must be going mad," he thought, and to steady his mind he turned
to the book, thinking to follow the old parson as he lisped along.

It was a reference Bible that the woman had lent him, and as his eyes
rambled over the page, never resting until they alit on the words,
_then will I slay my brother Jacob_, he shuddered and thought "How
hideous!" All at once he marked the word _slay_ in the margin with
many references to it, and hardly knowing what he was doing he turned
up the first of them. From that moment his senses were in a turmoil,
and he knew nothing clearly of all that was being done about him. He
thought he saw that through all ages God had made man the instrument
of his vengeance on the wrongdoer. The stories of Moses, of Saul, of
Samson, came back to him one by one, and as he read a chill terror
filled his whole being.

He put the book down, trying to compose himself, and then he thought,
"How childish? God is King of earth and heaven, and needs the help of
no man." But his nervous fingers could not rest and he took up the
Bible again, while the parson prosed through his short sermon. This
time he turned away from the passages that haunted him, though "Esau,
Esau, Esau," rang in his head. Rolling the leaves in his hand he read
in one place how the Lord visits His vengeance upon the children for
the sins of the fathers, and then in another place how the nearest of
kin to him that is killed shall avenge the blood spilt, and then
again in yet another place how if man keeps not his covenant with the
Lord, the Lord will send a faintness upon him, and a great and woeful
trembling, so that the sound of a shaken leaf shall chase him.

"Am I then afraid?" he asked himself, and shut the book once more.
His head swam with vague thoughts. "I must keep my vow," he thought.
"I am losing my senses," he thought again. "I am an Esau," he thought
once more.

Then he looked around the church, and if he had seen Greeba at that
moment the fire of his heart would have burnt itself out, and all
thought of his vow would have gone from him as it had gone before. He
did not see her, but he remembered her, and his soul dried away.

The service came to an end, and he strode off, turning from every
face; but John Fairbrother tripped after him on the road, touched him
on the arm, looked up at him with a smirk, and said:--

"Then you don't know where she is?"

"Who?" said Jason.

"Then you _don't_ know, eh?" said John, with a meaning look.

"Who d'ye mean?--Greeba?"

"Just so. She's gone, though I warrant it's fetching coals to
Newcastle to tell you so."

Hearing that, Jason pushed Gentleman John out of his way with a lunge
that sent the dandy reeling, and bounded off towards Lague.

"Aw, well," muttered John, "you'd really think he _didn't_ know."

The woman in crape who had followed Jason out of the church, thinking
to speak to him, said: "Lave him alone. It's the spirit of the Lord
that's strivin' with him."

And old Davy, who came up at the moment, said: "Divils ma'am--divils
in the head."

When Jason got to Lague he found the other Fairbrothers assembled
there. Asher had missed Greeba the night before, and on rising late
that morning--Sunday morning--he had so far conquered his laziness as
to walk round to his brothers' houses and inquire for her. All six,
except John, had then trudged back to Lague, thinking in their slow
way to start a search, and they began their quest by ransacking
Greeba's room. There they found two letters in a chest, clearly
forgotten in a hasty leave-taking. One of them was Greeba's
abandoned letter to Red Jason, the other was the letter of Michael
Sunlocks to Greeba. The Fairbrothers read both with grim wonderment,
and Jacob put Greeba's letter in his pocket. They were discussing the
letter of Sunlocks as Jason entered; and they fell back at sight of
his ashy face and the big beads of sweat that dropped from it.

"What's this? Where is she?" he said, and his powerful voice shook.

Without a word they handed him the letter, and he glanced it over and
turned it in his hands, like one who does not see or cannot read.

"Where's she gone?" he said again, lifting his helpless eyes to the
faces about him.

"The devil knows," said Jacob; "but see--read--'Michael Sunlocks,'"
running his finger along the signature.

At that a groan like the growl of a beast came from Jason's throat,
and like a baited dog he looked around, not yet knowing on whom his
wrath should fasten.

"It's very simple. It's plain to see that she has gone to him," said
Jacob.

And then Jason's face was crossed by a ghastly smile.

"Oh, I'm a woman of a man," he muttered, looking stupidly down at the
paper in his hand. "A poor-spirited fool," he muttered again. "I must
be so, God knows." But at the next moment his white face grew
blood-red, and he cried: "My curse upon him," and with that he tossed
back the letter and swung out of the house.

He went on to Port-y-Vullin, mounted the new mill, threw down the
roof rafters, and every wall that they had rested upon, until not one
stone was left above another, and the house, so near completion, was
only a heap of ruins. Then he went into the old hut, took up his
treasures and flung them out to sea.

Meantime, the six Fairbrothers were putting their heads together.

"President!" said Thurstan; "that's as good as Governor-General."

"The deuce!" said John.

"She'll be rich," said Ross. "I always said she was fit for a lady."

"Hum! We've made a mess of it," said Stean.

"Well, you wouldn't take my advice," said Asher. "I was for treating
the girl fair."

"Stay," said Jacob, "it's not yet too late."

"Well, what's to be done?" said the others together.

"Go after her," said Jacob.

"Ah!"

"Hum! Listen! This is what we had better do," said Jacob. "Sell
Ballacraine and take her the money, and tell her we never meant to
keep it from her."

"That's good," said John.

"A Governor-General has pickings, I can tell you," said Jacob.

"But who'll go?" said Asher.

"Go! Hum! What! The deuce! Well I mightn't refuse to go myself," said
Jacob.

"And maybe I wouldn't mind going with you," said John.

And so it was settled. But the other four said to themselves: "What
about the pickings?" And then each, of himself, concluded secretly
that if Jacob and John went to Iceland, Jacob and John would get all
that was to be got by going, and that to prevent such cheating it
would be necessary to go with them.



CHAPTER VII.

THE YOKE OF JACOB.


Jason paid the last of his debts in the Isle of Man, and then set
sail for Iceland with less money in his pocket than Adam Fairbrother
had carried there. He knew nothing of the whereabouts or condition of
the man he was going to seek, except that Michael Sunlocks was at
Reykjavik; for so much, and no more, he had read of the letter that
the Fairbrothers put into his hands at Lague. The ship he first
sailed by was a trader between Copenhagen and the greater ports of
Scotland, and Ireland, and at the Danish capital he secured a passage
in a whaler bound for Reykjavik. His double voyage covered more than
six weeks though there was a strong fair wind from the coast of
Scotland to the coast of Denmark, and again from Denmark to Iceland.
The delay fretted him, for his heart was afire; but there was no help
for it, he had to submit. He did so with no cheer of spirit, or he
might have learned something from the yarns of the seamen. All the
gossip that came his way was a chance remark of the master, a Dane,
who one day stopped in front of him as he lay by the hatches, and
asked if he was an Icelander born. He answered that he was. Was he a
seagoing man? Yes. Ship-broken, maybe, in some foreign country? That
was so. How long had he been away from Iceland? Better than four
years.

"You'll see many changes since that time," said the master, "Old
Iceland is turned topsy-turvy."

Jason understood this to mean some political revolution, and turned a
deaf ear to it, for such things seemed but sorry trifling to one with
work like his before him.

They had then just sighted the Westmann Islands, through a white sea
vapor, and an hour later they lay three miles off a rocky point,
while an open boat came out to them over the rough water from the
island called Home.

It was the post-boat of that desolate rock, fetching letters from the
mainland, and ready to receive them from Denmark. The postman was
little and old, and his name was Patricksen.

"Well, Patricksen, and what's the latest from the old country?" sang
out the master, after two newspapers had been thrown down and one
letter taken up.

"Why, and haven't you heard it?" shouted the postman.

"What's that?" cried the master.

"They've put up the young Manxman," shouted the postman. "I knew his
father," he added, and laughed mockingly, as he bent to the oars and
started back with his newspapers over his three miles of tumbling
sea.

Jason's mind threw off its torpor at the sound of those words. While
the boat lay alongside he leaned over the gunwale and listened
eagerly. When it sheered off he watched it until it had faded into
the fog. Then he turned to the master and was about to ask a
question, but quickly recovered himself and was silent. "Better not,"
he thought. "It would be remembered when all should be over."

Late the same day they came for the first time in full view of the
southeast coast of Iceland. The fog had lifted before a strong breeze
from the west, where the red sun was dipping into the sea. They were
then by the needles of Portland, side on to the vast arch which the
heavy blow of the tides of ten thousand years has beaten out of the
rock. At the sea's edge were a hundred jagged prongs of burnt crag,
flecked with the white wings and echoing with the wild cry of
countless sea birds; behind that was a plain of lava dust for
seabeach; farther back the dome of a volcano, lying asleep under its
coverlet of snow; still farther a gray glacier, glistening with
silver spikes; and beyond all a black jokull, Wilderness-jokull, torn
by many earthquakes, seamed and streaked with the unmelted ice of
centuries and towering over a stony sea of desert, untrodden yet by
the foot of man.

Desolate as the scene was, Jason melted at the sight of it; for this
island, born of fire and frost, stood to him as the only place, in
God's wide world that he could call his home, and little as it had
done for him, less than nothing as he owed to it, yet it was his
native land, and in coming back to its bleak and terrible shores he
looked upon it with a thrill of the heart and saw it through his
tears.

But he had little time and less desire to give way to tender
feelings, and very soon he had small need to steel himself to the
work before him, for everything served to spur him on to it. This was
Iceland. This was the new home of Michael Sunlocks. This was where
his mother had starved.

This was where _she_ had fled to, who had wronged him sorely.

Early the next day they rounded the Smoky Point, leaving the Old Man
crag under its shocks of foam to the right, and the rock called the
Mealsack, under its white cloud of sea gulls, to the left, and began
to beat down the fiord towards Reykjavik. It was not yet six
o'clock--the Icelandic mid-evening--when they cast anchor inside the
little island of Engy; but the year was far worn towards winter, and
the night of the northern land had closed down.

And the time having come to leave the whaler, Jason remembered that
he had been but a moody companion for his shipmates, though they had
passed some perilous days and nights together. So he bade them
good-bye with what cheer he could summon up at last, and the rough
fellows kissed him after the manner of their people, showing no
rancor at all, but only pity, and saying among themselves that it was
plain to see he had known trouble and, though given to strange
outbursts when alone, was as simple and as gentle as a child, and
would never hurt a fly.

He had hailed a passing boat to run him ashore, and it was one of the
light skiffs with the double prow that the boys of Iceland use when
they hunt among the rocks for the eggs and down of the eider duck.
Such, indeed though so late in the season, had that day been the work
of the two lads whose boat he had chanced upon, and having dropped
down to their side from the whaler with his few belongings--his long
coat of Manx homespun over his arm, his seaman's boots across his
shoulders, his English fowling piece in his hand and his pistol in
his belt--he began to talk with them of their calling as one who knew
it.

"Where have you been working, my lads?" said Jason.

"Out on Engy," said the elder of the boys.

"Found much?"

"Not to-day."

"Who cleans it?"

"Mother."

And at that a frown passed over Jason's face in the darkness. The
boys were thinly clad, both were barelegged and barefooted. Plainly
they were brothers, one of them being less than twelve years of age,
and the other as young as nine.

"What's your father?"

"Father's dead," said the lad.

"Where do you live with your mother?"

"Down on the shore yonder, below the silversmith's."

"The little house behind the Missions, in front of the vats?"

"Yes, sir, do you know it?"

"I was born in it, my lad," said Jason sadly, and he thought to
himself, "Then the old mother is dead."

But he also thought of his own mother, and her long years of worse
than widowhood. "All that has yet to be paid for," he told himself
with a cold shudder, and then he remembered that he had just revealed
himself.

"See, my lads," he said, "here is a crown for you, and say nothing of
who gave it you."

The little Icelandic capital twinkled low at the water's edge, and as
they came near to it Jason saw that there was a flare of torchlights
and open fires, with dark figures moving busily before the glow where
he looked for the merchant stores that had faced the sea.

"What's this?" he asked.

"The fort that the new Governor is throwing up," said the boy.

Then through a number of smacks, some schooners, a brig, a coal hulk
and many small boats, they ran in at the little wooden jetty that
forked out over a reef of low rocks. And there some idlers who sat on
casks under the lamp, with their hands in their pockets and their
skin caps squashed down on their foreheads seemed to recognize Jason
as he landed.

"Lord bless me," said one, with a look of terror, "it's the dead come
to life again."

"God a-mercy me," said another, pausing with his snuff at his nose,
"I could have sworn I fetched him a dead man out of the sea."

Jason knew them, but before they had so far regained their
self-command as to hail to him, he had faced about, though eager to
ask many questions, and walked away. "Better not," he thought, and
hurried on.

He took the High Street towards the Inn, and then an irregular alley
that led past the lake to a square in front of the Cathedral, and
ended at a little house of basaltic blocks that nestled at its feet,
for it was there he meant to lodge. It had been the home of a worthy
couple whom he had known in the old days, caretakers of the
Cathedral, and his mother's only friends in her last days. Old and
feeble and very deaf they had both been then, and as he strode along
in the darkness he wondered if he should find them still alive. He
found them as he had left them: not otherwise changed than if the
five years of his absence had been but five hours. The old man was
still at the hearth chopping up some logs of driftwood, and the old
woman was still at the table ironing her linen by the light of a rush
candle. With uplifted hands and cries of wonderment they received
him, and while he supped on the porridge and skyr that they set
before him they talked and questioned.

"And where have you been this many a day?" said the old man.

"In England, Scotland, Denmark--many places," said Jason.

"Well they've buried you these four years and better," said the old
man, with a grimace.

"Lord bless me, yes, love; and a cross over your grave too, and your
name on it," said the old woman, with a look of awe.

"Who did that?" said Jason.

"Jorgen Jorgensen," said the old man, grinning.

"It's next to your mother's, love. He did that, too, for when he
heard that she was gone he repented," said the old woman.

"It's no good folks repenting when their bad work's done and done
with," said the old man.

"That's what I say. There's them above that won't call it repenting.
And see what has come of it," said the old woman.

"What?" said Jason.

"Why, he has gone. Didn't you know, love?" said the old woman.

"How gone?" said Jason. "Dead?"

"Worse--disgraced--driven out of Iceland," said the old man.

Then an ugly smile crossed Jason's face. "It is the beginning," he
thought.

"But the old mother is dead, is she not?" he said aloud.

"Your father's mother? Old Mother Orryson?" said the old woman.

"No such luck," the old man muttered. "Comes to service every
morning, the old sinner."

"But there's another family living in her house," said Jason.

"Oh, that's because she's past her work, and the new Governor keeps
her," said the old man. "No news of your father, though," he added,
with a shrug, and then there was a silence for some minutes.

"Poor Rachel," said the old woman, presently. "Now _there_ was a good
creature. And, bless me, how she was wrapped up in her boy! I was
just like that when I had my poor little Olaf. I never had but one
child neither. Well, my lad," she said, dropping her flat iron and
raising her apron, "you can say you had a good mother anyhow."

Jason finished his supper and went out into the town. All thoughts,
save one thought, had been banished from his mind. Where was this
Michael Sunlocks? What was he? How was he to be met with? "Better not
ask," thought Jason. "Wait and watch." And so he walked on. Dark as
was the night, he knew every step of the way. The streets looked
smaller and meaner than he remembered them, and yet they showed an
unwonted animation. Oil lamps hung over many stalls, the stores were
still open and people passed to and fro in little busy throngs.
Recalling that heavy quiet of that hour of night five years ago,
Jason said to himself, "The town has awakened from a long sleep."

To avoid the glances of prying eyes, he turned down towards the
bridge, passing the Deanery and the Bishop's Palace. There the
streets were all but as quiet as of old, the windows showed few
lights, and the monotonous chime of the sea came up through the
silence from the iron-bound shore. Yet, even there, from two houses,
there were sounds of work. These were the Latin school and the jail.
In the school a company of students was being drilled by a sergeant,
whose words of command rang out in the intervals of shuffling feet.

"What does this mean?" said Jason to a group of young girls, who,
with shawls over their heads, were giggling together in the darkness
by the gate.

"It's the regiment started by the new Governor," said one of the
girls.

"The new Governor again," thought Jason, and turned away.

From the jail there came a noise as of carpenters hammering.

"What are they doing there?" said Jason to a little tailor, who
passed him on the street at that moment with his black bag on his
back.

"Turning the jail into a house for the new Governor," said the
tailor.

"Again the new Governor," said Jason, and he strode on by the
tailor's side. "A stirring fellow, whoever he may be."

"That's true, young as he is," said the tailor.

"Is he then so young?" said Jason, carelessly.

"Four or five and twenty, hardly more," said the tailor, "but with a
headpiece fit for fifty. He has driven those Danish thieves out of
the old country, with all their trick and truck. Why, you couldn't
call your bread your own--no, nor your soul neither. Oh, a Daniel,
sir--a young Daniel. He's to be married soon. She's staying with the
old Bishop now. They say she's a foreigner."

"Who?" said Jason.

"Why, his wife that is to be," said the tailor. "Good-night, sir," he
cried, and turned down an alley.

Then Jason remembered Greeba, and the hot blood tingled in his
cheeks. Never yet for an instant had it come to him to think that
Michael Sunlocks and the new Governor were the same man, and that
Greeba and his bride were one. But, telling himself that she might
even then be in that little town, with nothing but the darkness
hiding him from her sight, he shuddered at the near chance of being
discovered by her, and passed on by the river towards the sea. Yet,
being alone there, with only the wash of the waves for company, he
felt his great resolve begin to pall, as a hundred questions rose to
torment him. Suppose she were here, and they were to meet, dare he
after all do _that_? Though she loved this man, could he still do
_that_? Oh, was it not horrible to think of--that he should cross the
seas for _that_?

So, to put an end to the torture of such questionings, and escape
from himself, he turned back from the shore to where the crowds
looked thickest in the town. He went as he came, by the bank of the
river, and when he was crossing the bridge some one shot past him on
a horse. It was a man, and he drew up sharply at the Bishop's Palace,
threw his reins over the pier of the gate, and bounded into the house
with the light foot that goes with a light heart. "The new Governor,"
thought Jason, though he had seen him only as a shadow. "Who is he, I
wonder?" he thought again, and with a sigh for his own condition
within sight of this man's happiness he pushed heavily along.

Hardly had he got back into the town when he was seen and recognized,
for with a whoop and a spring and a jovial oath a tipsy companion of
former days came sweeping down upon him from the open door of a
drinking-shop.

"What? Jason? Bless my soul! Come in," the fellow cried, embracing
him; and to avoid the curious gaze of the throng that had gathered on
the pavement Jason allowed himself to be led into the house.

"Well, God save us! So you're back! But I heard you had come. Old Jon
Olafsson told us. He was down at the jetty. Boys," the fellow shouted
to a little company of men who sat drinking in the hot parlor, "he's
another Lazarus, come back from the dead."

"Here's to his goot healt, den," said a fat Dutch captain, who sat on
the hearth, strumming a fiddle to tune it.

And while the others laughed and drank, a little deformed dwarf in a
corner with an accordion between his twisted fingers began to play
and sing.

"This is the last thing that should have happened," thought Jason,
and with many excuses he tried to elbow his way out. But the tipsy
comrade held him while he rattled on:

"Been away--foreign, eh? Married since? No? Then the girls of old
Iceland are best, eh? What? Yes? And old Iceland's the fairest land
the sun shines upon, eh? No? But, Lord bless me, what a mess you made
of it by going away just when you did!"

At that Jason, while pushing his way through, turned about with a
look of inquiry.

"Didn't know it? What? That after the mother died old Jorgen went
about looking for you? No? Wanted? Why, to make a man of you, boy.
Make you his son and the like of that, and not too soon either. And
when he couldn't find you he took up with this Michael Sunlocks."

"Michael Sunlocks?" Jason repeated, in a distant sort of voice.

"Just so; this precious new Governor that wants to put down all the
drinking."

"The new Governor?"

"Yes. Put _your_ nose out, boy; for that was the start of his luck."

Jason felt dizzy, and under the hard tan of his skin his face grew
white.

"You should know him, though. No? Well, after old Jorgen had
quarrelled with him, everybody said he was a kind of bastard brother
of yours."

The reeking place had got hotter and hotter. It was now stifling, and
Jason stumbled out into the street.

Michael Sunlocks was the new Governor, and Michael Sunlocks was about
to be married to Greeba. Thrice had this man robbed him of his
blessing, standing in the place that ought to have been his; once
with his father, once with Greeba, and once again with Jorgen
Jorgensen.

He tried to reckon it all up, but do what he would he could not keep
his mind from wandering. The truth had fallen upon him at a blow, and
under his strong emotions his faculties seemed to be slain in a
moment. He felt blind, and deaf, and unable to think. Presently,
without knowing where he was going, but impelled by some blind force,
and staggering along like a drunken man, he found himself approaching
the Bishop's Palace.

"He is there," he thought: "the man who has stood in my place all his
days: the man who has stripped me of every good thing in life. He is
there, in honor, and wealth, and happiness; and I am here, a homeless
outcast in the night. Oh, that I could do it now--now--now!"

But at that he remembered that he had never yet seen Michael
Sunlocks, to know him from another man. "I must wait," he thought. "I
must go to work cautiously. I must see him first, and watch him."

The night was then far spent towards midnight; the streets had grown
quiet, the lights of the town no longer sent a yellow glare over the
grass-clad housetops, and from a quiet sky the moon and stars shone
out.

Jason was turning back towards his lodgings when he heard a voice
that made him stand. It was a woman's voice singing, and it came with
the undertones of some string instrument from the house in front of
him. After a moment he pushed the gate open and walked across the
little grass plat until he came beneath the only window from which a
light still shone. There he stopped and listened, laying his hand on
the sill to steady himself.

Ah! now he knew the voice too well. It was Greeba's. She was there;
she was on the other side of that wall at that instant. And she was
singing. It was a love-song that she sang. Her very heart seemed to
speak in it, for her tones were the tones of love, and _he_ must be
beside her.

"It is for him she has left me," thought Jason, in the whirl of his
dazed brain; "for him and his place, his station, and the pride of
his success."

Then, remembering how his love of this woman had fooled him through
five treacherous years, turning him aside from thoughts of his vow,
giving him his father's money for his mother's wrongs, and how she
who had been so damned dear to him had drawn him on in the days of
her trouble, and cast him off when another beckoned to her, he cried
in his tortured heart, "Oh, God in heaven, give me this man into my
hands."



CHAPTER VIII.

THE SWORD OF ESAU.


Jason went back to his lodging by the Cathedral, found the old
caretaker sitting up for him, made some excuse for returning late,
and turned in to bed. His room was the guest-chamber--a little,
muggy, stifling box, with bed and bedding of eider down sewed into
canvas sacks. He threw off his boots and lay down in his clothes.
Hour followed hour and he did not sleep. He was nevertheless not
wholly awake, but retained a sort of sluggish consciousness which his
dazed brain could not govern. Twelve had chimed from the great clock
of the turret overhead as he lay down, and he heard one, two, three,
and four follow in their turn. By this time he was feeling a dull
pain at the back of his head, and a heavy throbbing in his neck.
Until then he had been ever a man of great bodily strength, with
never an ache or ailment. "I am making myself ill before anything is
done," he thought, "and if I fall sick nothing can come of my
enterprise. That must not be." With an effort of will he composed
himself to sleep. Still for a space he saw the weary night wear on;
but the lapse, the broken thread, and the dazed sense stole over him
at last, and he dropped into a deep slumber. When he awoke the white
light of midday was coming in strong dancing bars through the rents
of the dark blanket that covered the little window, the clock of the
Cathedral was chiming twelve once again, and over the little cobble
causeway of the street in front there was the light patter of many
sealskin shoes. "How could I sleep away my time like this with so
much to do?" he thought, and leapt up instantly.

His old landlady had more than once looked in upon him during the
morning, and watched him with an air of pity. "Poor lad, he looks
ill," she thought; and so left him to sleep on. While he ate his
breakfast, of skyr and skate and coffee, the good soul busied herself
about him, asking what work he had a mind to do now that he had come
back, and where he meant to look for it, with other questions of a
like kind. But he answered her many words with few of his own, merely
saying that he intended to look about him before deciding on
anything, and that he had something in his pocket to go on with in
the meanwhile.

Some inquiries he made of her in his turn, and they were mainly about
the new President, or Governor; what like he was to look upon, and
what his movements were, and if he was much seen in the town. The
good body could tell him very little, being old, very deaf, and
feeble on her feet, and going about hardly at all farther than the
floors of the Cathedral on cleaning days. But her deaf old husband,
hobbling in from the street at that moment, said he had heard
somebody say that a session of Althing was sitting then, and that
under the Republic that had lately been proclaimed, Michael Sunlocks
presided at the parliament-house daily about midday.

Hearing this, Jason rose from his unfinished breakfast, and went out
on some pretended errand; but when he got to the wooden shed where
Althing held its session he found the sitting over and the delegates
dispersed. His only object had been to see Michael Sunlocks that he
might know him, and having lost his first opportunity he returned the
following day, coming earlier, before the sitting had begun or the
delegates had yet gathered. But though he lounged within the door
yard, while the members passed through, jesting and laughing
together, he saw no one young enough to answer to Michael Sunlocks.
He was too much in dread of attracting attention to inquire of the
few idlers who looked on like himself, so he went away and came yet
again the next day after and waited as before. Once more he felt that
the man he looked for had not passed in with the rest, and, between
fear of exciting suspicion and of throwing away further chances, he
questioned the doorkeeper of the Chamber. This person stuttered
before every word, but Jason learned at length that Michael Sunlocks
had not been there for a week, that by the rule of the new
Constitution the Governor presided only at the sittings of the higher
house, the Council, and that the present sittings were those of the
lower house, the Senate.

That was Thursday, and Jason reflected that though four days were
gone nothing was done. Vexed with himself for the caution that had
wasted so much time, he boldly started inquiries on many sides. Then
he learned that it was the daily practice of the Governor to go at
twelve o'clock noon to the embankment in front of the merchant
stores, where his gangs of masons were throwing up the new fort. At
that hour that day Jason was there, but found that the Governor had
already been and gone. Going earlier the next day, Friday, he learned
that the Governor had not yet come, and so he lay about to wait for
him. But the men whom he had questioned began to cast curious glances
in his direction, and to mutter together in groups. Then he
remembered that it was a time of revolution, that he might be
mistaken for a Danish spy, and as such be forthwith seized and
imprisoned. "That would stop everything," he thought, and moved away.

In a tavern of a by-street, a long lean youth, threadbare and tipsy,
formerly a student and latterly expelled from the college for
drunkenness, told him that the new Governor turned in at the Latin
school every evening at dusk, to inspect the drill of the regiment he
had enrolled. So to the Latin school at dusk Jason made his way, but
the place was dark and silent when he came upon it, and from a lad
who was running out at the moment he heard that the drill-sergeant
had fallen ill, and the drill been discontinued.

On the wharf by the jetty the boatman who had recognized him on
landing, old Jon Olafsson, told him that serving whiting and skate to
the Bishop's Palace he found that the new Governor was ever coming
and going there. Now of all houses Jason had most avoided that house,
lest he should be seen of those eyes that would surely read his
mission at a glance. Yet as night fell in, and he might approach the
place with safety, he haunted the ways that led to it. But never
again did he see Michael Sunlocks even in the uncertain darkness, and
thinking how hard it was to set eyes on this man, whom he must know
of a surety before ever his enterprise could be ripe, a secret dread
took hold of him, and he all but renounced his design. "Why is it
that I cannot see him?" he thought. "Why, of all men in the town, is
he the only one whom I can never meet face to face? Why, of all men
here, am I the only one whom he has never seen?" It was as if higher
powers were keeping them apart.

By this time he realized that he was being observed, for in the dusk,
on the Thingvellir road, that led past Government House, three men
overtook him, and went on to talk with easy confidence in signs and
broken words. He saw that they were Danes; that one was old and
white-headed; another was young, sallow, and of a bitter spirit; and
the third, who was elderly, was of a meek and quiet manner.

"How are they going on in the old country? Anything done yet? When
are they coming?" said the young man.

"Ah, don't be afraid," said the old man. "We know you are watching
him," he added, with a side-long motion of the head towards
Government House. "But he will send no more of our sons and brothers
to the sulphur mines, to slave like beasts of burden. His days are
numbered."

Then the young man laughed bitterly.

"They say he is to be married. Let him make merry while he may," he
said with a deep oath.

And at that Jason faced about to them.

"You have been mistaken, sirs," he said. "I am not a spy, and neither
am I an assassin."

He walked away with what composure he could command, but he trembled
like a leaf, for by this encounter three new thoughts possessed him;
first, that when his attempt had been made and his work done, he who
believed himself appointed by God as the instrument of His righteous
retribution, would stand no otherwise before man than as a common
midnight murderer; next, that unless he made haste with his design he
would be forestalled by others with baser motives; and, again, that
if his bearing had so nearly revealed his purpose to the Danes it
might suggest it to others with more interest in defeating it.

In his former rashness he had gone everywhere, even where the throngs
were thickest, and talked with everyone, even the six stalwart
constables who had taken the place of the rheumatic watchmen whom he
knew in earlier days. But from the hour of that meeting with the
Danes he found himself going about as stealthily as a cat, watching
everybody, thinking everybody was watching him, shrinking from every
sight, and quaking at every sound. "They can do what they like with
me after it is over," he thought, "but first let it be done."

He felt afraid, who had never before known the taste of fear; he felt
weary, who had never until then known what it was to be tired. "Oh,
what is this that is coming over me?" he thought. "If I am doing
well, why do I tremble?" For even while he planned his daring attempt
a great feebleness seemed to be in all his members.

Thus it chanced that on the next day thereafter, Saturday, he saw
many busy preparations along the line of the High Street and its
byways, such as the swinging of pulley ropes from house front to
house front and the shaking out of bunting, without asking what
festival they purported. But returning to his lodging in the evening
he found his landlady busy with preparations of a like kind about the
entrance to the yard of the Cathedral, and then he knew too well what
new thing was coming. All the same he asked, and his landlady
answered him:

"Lord bless me," she cried, "and haven't you heard that the young
Governor is to be wedded?"

"When?" said Jason.

"To-morrow," said the old body.

"Where?"

"Why, in the Cathedral, surely. It will be a bonny sight, I promise
you. You would like to see it, I make no doubt. Well, and so you
shall, my son. I'll get you in. Only leave it to me. Only leave it to
me."

Jason had expected this answer; like a horse that quivers under the
lash, while it is yet hissing over his head, he had seen the blow
coming, yet when it came it startled and stunned him. He got up,
touching no food, and staggered back into the street.

It was now dark night. The stores were lit up by their open lamps,
whose noisome smoke streamed out over the pathway, and mingled with
the foul vapors that came from the drinking shops. The little town
was very busy; throngs of people passed to and fro, and there was
much shouting and noisy laughter.

To Jason all this was a mass of confusion, like a dream that is vague
and broken and has no semblance of reality. His knees smote together
as he walked, and his mind was clogged and numbed. At length he was
conscious that some brawlers who were lounging at the door of a
tavern were jeering as he went by them, and that a woman who was
passing at the same moment was rating them roundly.

"Can't you see he's ill?" she was saying, and they were laughing
lustily.

He turned towards the sea, and there, with only the black beach
before his eyes and the monotonous beat of the waves in his ears, his
faculties grew clearer. "Oh God!" he thought, "am I to strike him
down before her face and at the very foot of the altar? It is
terrible. It must be true that I am ill--or perhaps mad--or both."

But he wrestled with his irresolute spirit and overcame it. One by
one he marshalled his reasons and bit by bit he justified himself.
When his anger wavered against the man who had twice supplanted him,
he recalled his vow to execute judgment, and when his vow seemed
horrible he remembered that Greeba herself had wronged him.

Thus he had juggled with himself night after night, and if morning
after morning peace had come with the coming of light, it was gone
forever now. He rehearsed everything in his mind and saw it all as he
meant it to be. To-morrow while the bells were ringing he would go
into the Cathedral. His old landlady, the caretaker, would put him
in the front seat before the altar-rail. The pews would already be
thronged, and there would be whispering behind him, and little light
fits of suppressed laughter. Presently the old Bishop would come,
halting along in his surplice, holding the big book in his trembling
hands. Then the bridegroom would step forward, and he should see him
and mark him and know him. The bride herself would come next in a
dazzling cloud of her bridesmaids, all dressed in white. Then as the
two stood together--he and she, hand in hand, glancing softly at each
other, and with all other eyes upon them, he himself would rise
up--_and do it_. Suddenly there would be a wild cry, and she would
turn towards him, and see him, and understand him, and fall fainting
before him. Then while both lay at his feet he would turn to those
about him and say, very calmly, "Take me. It was I." All being done,
he would not shrink, and when his time came he would meet his fate
without flinching, and in the awful hereafter he would stand before
the white throne and say, "It would have been an evil thing if God's
ways had not been justified before men: so I have executed on earth
His judgment who has said in His Holy Writ that the wrongdoer shall
surely suffer vengeance, even to the third and fourth generation of
his children."

Thinking so, in the mad tangle of his poor, disordered brain, yet
with a great awe upon him as of one laden with a mission from on
high, Jason went back to his lodging, threw himself down, without
undressing, upon the bed, and fell into a heavy sleep.

When he awoke next morning the bells in the turret overhead were
jangling in his ears, and his deaf old landlady was leaning over him
and calling to him.

"Get up, love, get up: it's late, love; you'll miss it all, love;
it's time to go in, love," she was saying; and a little later she led
him by a side door into the Cathedral.

He took a seat where he had decided to take it, in a corner of the
pew before the altar-rail, and all seemed the same as he had
pictured. The throngs of people were behind him, and he could hear
their whispering and light laughter while they waited. There was the
door at which the venerable Bishop would soon enter, carrying his big
book, and there was the path, kept free and strewn with flowers, down
which the bride and her train would pass on to the red form before
him. Ah! the flowers--blood red and purple--how sweetly they trailed
over altar-rail, and pulpit, and the tablet of the ten commandments!
Following them with his eyes, while with his hands he fumbled his
belt for _that_ which he had concluded to carry there, suddenly he
was smitten with an awful dread. One line of the printed words before
him seemed to come floating through the air down to his face in a
vapor of the same blood-red.

_Thou shalt do no murder!_

Jason started to his feet. Why was he there? What had he come to do?
He must go. The place was stifling him. In another moment he was
crushing his way out of the Cathedral. He felt like a man sentenced
to death.

Being in the free air again he regained his self-control. "What
madness! It is no murder," he thought. But he could not get back to
his seat, and so he turned to where the crowd was thickest outside.
That was down the line of the pathway to the wide west entrance. As
he approached this point he saw that the people were in high
commotion. He hurried up to them and inquired the cause. The bridal
party had just passed through. At that moment the full swell of the
organ came out through the open doors. The marriage service had
begun.

After a while Jason had so far recovered his composure as to look
about him. Deep as the year had sunk towards winter, the day was
brilliant. The air was so bright that it seemed to ring. The sea in
front of the town smiled under the sunlight; the broad stretch of
lava behind it glistened, the glaciers in the distance sparkled, and
the black jokulls far beyond showed their snowy domes against the
blue sky. Oh, it was one of God's own mornings, when all His earth
looks glad. And the Cathedral yard--for all it slept so full of dead
men's bones--was that day a bright and busy place. Troops of happy
girls were there in their jackets of gray, braided with gold or
silver, and with belts of filigree; troops of young men, too, in
their knee breeches, with bows of red ribbon, their dark-gray
stockings and sealskin shoes; old men as well in their coats of
homespun; and old women in their long blue cloaks; children in their
plaited kirtles, and here and there a traveller with his leather
wallet for his snuff and money. At the entrance gate there was a
triumphal arch of ribbons and evergreens, and under its shadow there
were six men with horns and guns, ready for a salute when the bride
appeared; and in the street outside there was a stall laden with
food and drink for all who should that day come and ask.

Only to Jason was the happy place a Gethsemane, and standing in the
thick of the crowd, on a grave with a sunken roof, under the shadow
of the Cathedral, he listened with a dull ear to the buzz of talk
between two old gossips behind him. He noticed that they were women
with prominent eyeballs, which produced a dreamy, serious,
half-stupid, half-humorous look, like that of the dogs in the picture
that sit in the judgment-seat.

"She's English," said one. "No, Irish. No, Manx--whatever that means.
Anyway, she's foreign, and can't speak a word that anybody can
understand. So Mother Helda says, and she's a worthy woman, you know,
and cleans the floors at the Palace."

"But they say she's a sweet lady for all that," said the other; and
just then a young student at their back pushed his laughing face
between their shoulders and said,

"Who? Old Mother Helda?"

"Mother Helda be bothered. The lady. And her father has been wrecked
in coming to her wedding, too! Poor old man, what a pity! The
Governor sent my son Oscar with twenty of Loega's men to Stappen to
look for me. That was a fortnight ago. I expect him back soon."

"They might have waited until he came. Why didn't they?"

"Oscar?" said the laughing face between them.

"The father, goose. Poor lady, how lonely she must feel! But then the
old Bishop is so good to everybody."

"Well, he deserves a good wife."

"The old Bishop?" said the student, shaking his sides.

"The young Governor, I'm talking of; and don't be so quick in
snapping folks up, Jon Arnason. He's the best Governor we ever had.
And what a change from the last one. Why, he doesn't mind speaking to
anyone. Just think, only yesterday he stopped me and said, 'Good
morning;' he said, 'your son won't be long away now,' quite humble
and homelike."

"Well, God bless him--and her too, foreign or not--and may they live
long----"

"And have a good dozen," added the laughing voice behind them.

And then all three laughed together.

By this time the organ which had been silent for a little while, had
burst forth afresh, and though its strains were loud and jubilant,
yet to Jason they seemed to tell the story of his sorrow and all the
trouble of his days. He tried not to listen, and to pass the moments
in idly watching the swaying throng, whose heads beneath his own rose
and fell like a broken sea. But his mind _would_ be active, and the
broad swell of the music floated into his soul and consumed it. "Can
it be possible," he thought, "that I intend to smite him down when he
comes through that doorway by her side? And yet I love her--and he is
my brother."

Still the organ rang out over graveyard and people, and only by an
effort of will could Jason hold back his tears. "Man! man!" he cried
in his heart, "call it by its true name--not judgment, but murder.
Yes, murder for jealous love, murder for love despised!"

A new and awful light had then illumined his gloomy mind, and his
face betokened his sufferings, for, though no tears fell down his
hard cheeks, his eyes were bloodshot. In complete self-forgetfulness
he pressed forward, until his way was stopped by a little iron cross
that stood at the head of a grave. "My mother's," he thought. "No,
hers is next."

The organ broke into yet another strain at that moment--a proud,
triumphant peal of song, which in the frenzy of Jason's mind seemed
either to reach up to heaven's gate or to go down to the brink of
hell. There was a movement among the people, a buzz of voices, a
hush, and a whispered cry, "They are coming, they are coming!"

"God bless them," said one.

"Heaven protect them," said another.

And every blessing fell on Jason like a curse. "Murder let it be," he
thought, and turned his eyes where other eyes were looking. Then
passing under the broad arch, stepping out of the blue shadow into
the white sunshine, all radiant in her grace and lovely sweetness,
meek and tender, with tears in her soft brown eyes--it was she, it
was she; it was Greeba--Greeba--Greeba.

Jason felt his strength exhausted. A strange dizziness seized him. He
looked down to avoid the light. His eyes fell on the iron cross
before him, and he read the name graven upon it. _The name was his
own._

Then everything seemed to whirl around him. He remembered no more,
save a shuffling of feet, a dull hum over his head, like the noise
of water in the ears of a drowning man, and a sense of being lifted
and carried.

But another consciousness came to him, and it was very sweet, though
uncertain. He was floating up--up--up to where the mountains were
green, and the sea was tranquil, and the trees made music in the
quiet air. And Greeba was there, and she was laying her cool hand on
his hot forehead, and he was looking at the troubled heaving of her
round bosom. "Aren't you very proud of yourself, Jason?" she was
whispering softly, and then he was clasping the beautiful girl in his
arms and kissing her, and she was springing away, blushing deeply,
and he was holding down his head, and laughing in his heart.

"Lie still, love; lie you still," fell on his ear, and he opened his
eyes. He was in his own room at the little cottage of the caretakers.
The old woman was bending over him, and bathing his forehead with one
hand, while with the other hand she was holding her apron to her
eyes.

"He's coming round nicely, praise the Lord," she said, cheerily.

"I remember," said Jason, in a weak voice. "Did I faint?"

"Faint, love?" said the good soul, putting her deaf ear close to his
lips. "Why, it's fever, love; brain fever."

"What time is it?" said Jason.

"Time, love? Lord help us, what does the boy want with the time? But
it's just the way with all of them. Mid-evening, love."

"What day is it--Sunday?"

"Sunday, love? No, but Tuesday. It was on Sunday you fell senseless,
poor boy."

"Where was that?"

"Where? Why, where but in the Cathedral yard, just at the very minute
the weddiners were coming out at the door."

And hearing this Jason's face broke into a smile like sunshine, and
he uttered a loud cry of relief. "Thank God. Oh, thank God."

But while an angel of hope seemed to bring him good tidings of a
great peril averted, and even as a prayer gushed from his torn heart,
he remembered the vision of his delirium, and knew that he was
forever a bereaved and broken man. At that his face, which had been
red as his hair, grew pale as ashes, and a low cunning came over him,
and he wondered if he had betrayed himself in his unconsciousness.

"Have I been delirious?" he asked.

"Delirious, love? Oh, no, love, no; only distraught a little and
cursing sometimes, the Saints preserve us," said the old landlady in
her shrill treble.

Jason remembered that the old woman was deaf, and gathering that she
alone had nursed him, and that no one else had seen him since his
attack, except her deaf husband and a druggist from the High Street
who had bled him, he smiled and was satisfied.

"Lord bless me, how he mends," said the hearty old woman, and she
gave him the look of an affectionate dog.

"And now, good soul, I am hungry and must make up for all this
fasting," said Jason.

"Ay, ay, and that you must, lad," said the old woman, and off she
went to cook him something to eat.

But his talk of hunger had been no more than a device to get rid of
her, for he knew that the kind creature would try to restrain him
from rising. So when she was gone he stumbled to his feet, feeling
very weak and dazed, and with infinite struggle and sweat tugged on
his clothes--for they had been taken off--and staggered out into the
streets.

It was night, and the clouds hung low as if snow might be coming, but
the town seemed very light, as with bonfires round about it and
rockets shot into the air, and very noisy, too, as with guns fired
and music played, so that Jason's watery eyes felt dazzled, and his
singing ears were stunned. But he walked on, hardly knowing which way
he was going, and hearing only as sounds at sea the voices that
called to him from the doors of the drinking-shops, until he came out
at the bridge to the Thingvellir road. And there, in the sombre
darkness, he was overtaken by the three Danes who had spoken to him
before.

"So your courage failed you at the last moment--I watched you and saw
how it was. Ah, don't be afraid, we are your friends, and you are one
of us. Let us play at hide-and-seek no longer."

"They say he is going down the fiord in search of his wife's father.
Take care he does not slip away. Old Jorgen is coming back.
Good-night."

So saying, without once turning their faces towards Jason's face,
they strode past him with an indifferent air. Then Jason became
conscious that Government House was ablaze with lights, that some of
its windows were half down, that sounds of music and dancing came
from within, and that on the grass plat in front, which was lit by
torches men and women in gay costumes were strolling to and fro, in
pairs.

And turning from the bridge towards the house he saw a man go by on
horseback in the direction of the sea, and remembered in a dull way
that just there and at that hour he had seen Michael Sunlocks ride
past him in the dusk.

What happened thereafter he never rightly knew, only that in a
distempered dream he was standing with others outside the rails about
Government House while the snow began to fall through the darkness,
that he saw the dancers circling across the lighted windows and heard
the music of the flutes and violins above the steady chime of the
sea, that he knew this merry-making to be a festival of her marriage
whom he loved with a love beyond that of his immortal soul, that the
shame of his condition pained him, and the pain of it maddened him,
the madness of it swept away his consciousness, and that when he came
to himself he had forced his way into the house, thinking to meet his
enemy face to face, and was in a room alone with Greeba, who was
cowering before him with a white face of dismay.

"Jason," she was saying, "why are you here?"

"Why are _you_ here?" he asked.

"Why have you followed me?" she cried.

"Why have you followed _him_?"

"What have you come for?"

"Is _this_ what _you_ have come for?"

"Jason," she cried again, "I wronged you, that is true, but you
forgave me. I asked you to choose for me, and if you had said 'stay,'
I should have stayed. But you released me, you know you did. You gave
me up to him, and now he is my husband."

"But this man is Michael Sunlocks," said Jason.

"Didn't you know that before?" said Greeba. "Ah, then, I know what
you have come for. You have recalled your forgiveness, and have come
to punish me for deserting you. But spare me! Oh, spare me! Not for
my own sake, but his; for I am his wife now and he loves me very
dearly. No, no, not that, but only spare me, Jason," she cried, and
crouched at his feet.

"I would not harm a hair of your head, Greeba," he said.

"Then what have you come for?" she said.

"This man is a son of Stephen Orry," he said.

"Then it is for him," she cried, and leaped to her feet. "Ah, now I
understand. I have not forgotten the night in Port-y-Vullin."

"Does _he_ know of that?" said Jason.

"No."

"Does he know I am here?"

"No."

"Does he know we have met?"

"No."

"Let me see him!"

"Why do you ask to see him?"

"Let me see him."

"But why?" she stammered. "Why see him? It is I who have wronged
you."

"That's why I want to see him," said Jason.

She uttered a cry of terror and staggered back. There was an ominous
silence, in which it passed through Greeba's mind that all that was
happening then had happened before. She could hear Jason's labored
breathing and the dull thud of the music through the walls.

"Jason," she cried, "What harm has he ever done you? I alone am
guilty before you. If your vengeance must fall on anyone let it fall
on me."

"Where is he?" said Jason.

"He is gone," said Greeba.

"Gone?"

"Yes, to find my poor father. The dear old man was wrecked in coming
here, and my husband sent men to find him, but they blundered and
came back empty-handed, and not a half an hour ago he went off
himself."

"Was he riding?" said Jason; but without waiting for an answer he
made towards the door.

"Wait! Where are you going?" cried Greeba.

Swift as lightning the thought had flashed though her mind, "What if
he should follow him!"

Now the door to the room was a heavy, double-hung door of antique
build, and at the next instant she had leaped to it and shot the
heavy wooden bar that bolted it.

At that he laid one powerful hand on the bar itself, and wrenched it
outward across the leverage of its iron loops, and it cracked and
broke, and fell to the ground in splinters.

Then her strong excitement lent the brave girl strength, and her fear
for her husband gave her courage, and crying, "Stop, for heaven's
sake stop," she put her back to the door, tore up the sleeve of her
dress, and thrust her bare right arm through the loops where the bar
had been.

"Now," she cried, "you must break my arm after it."

"God forbid," said Jason, and he fell back for a moment at that
sight. But, recovering himself, he said, "Greeba, I would not touch
your beautiful arm to hurt it; no, not for all the wealth of the
world. But I must go, so let me pass."

Still her terror was centred on the thought of Jason's vengeance.

"Jason," she cried, "he is my husband. Only think--my husband."

"Let me pass," said Jason.

"Jason," she cried again, "my husband is everything to me, and I am
all in all to him."

"Let me pass," said Jason.

"You intend to follow him. You are seeking him to kill him."

"Let me pass."

"Deny it."

"Let me pass."

"Never," she cried. "Kill _me_ if you will, but until you have done
so you shall not pass this door. Kill me!"

"Not for my soul's salvation!" said Jason.

"Then give up your wicked purpose. Give it up, give it up."

"Only when _he_ shall have given up his life."

"Then I warn you, I will show you no pity, for you have shown none to
me."

At that she screamed for help, and presently the faint music ceased,
and there was a noise of hurrying feet. Jason stood a moment
listening; then he looked towards the window, and saw that it was of
one frame, and had no sash that opened. At the next instant he had
doubled his arms across his face and dashed through glass and bars.

A minute afterwards the room was full of men and women, and Jason was
brought back into it, pale, sprinkled with snow and blood-stained.

"I charge that man with threatening the life of my husband," Greeba
cried.

Then it seemed as if twenty strong hands laid hold of Jason at once.
But no force was needed, for he stood quiet and silent, and looked
like a man who had walked in his sleep, and been suddenly awakened by
the sound of Greeba's voice. One glance he gave her of great
suffering and proud defiance, and then, guarded on either hand,
passed out of the place like a captured lion.



CHAPTER IX.

THE PEACE OATH.


There was short shrift for Red Jason. He was tried by the court
nearest the spot, and that was the criminal court over which the
Bishop in his civil capacity presided, with nine of his neighbors on
the bench beside him. From this court an appeal was possible to the
Court of the Quarter, and again from the Quarter Court to the High
Court of Althing; but appeal in this case there was none, for there
was no defence. And because Icelandic law did not allow of the
imprisonment of a criminal until after he had been sentenced, an
inquest was called forthwith, lest Jason should escape or compass the
crime he had attempted. So the Court of Inquiry sat the same night in
the wooden shed that served both for Senate and House of Justice.

The snow was now falling heavily, and the hour was late, but the
courthouse was thronged. It was a little place--a plain box, bare,
featureless, and chill, with walls, roof and seats of wood, and floor
of hard earth. Four short benches were raised, step above step,
against the farthest side, and on the highest of these the Bishop
sat, with three of his colleagues on each of the three rows beneath
him. The prisoner stood on a broad stool to the right, and the
witnesses on a like stool to the left. A wooden bar crossed the room
about midway, and in the open space between that and the door the
spectators were crowded together. The place was lighted by candles,
and some were fixed to the walls, others were held by ushers on the
end of long sticks, and a few were hung to the roof rafters by hemp
ropes tied about their middle. The floor ran like a stream, and the
atmosphere was full of the vapor of the snow that was melting on the
people's clothes. Nothing could be ruder than the courthouse, but the
Court that sat there observed a rule of procedure that was almost an
idolatry of form.

The prisoner was called by the name of Jason, son of Stephen Orry,
and having answered in a voice so hollow that it seemed to come out
of the earth beneath him, he rose to his place. His attitude was dull
and impassive, and he seemed hardly to see the restless crowd that
murmured at sight of him. His tall figure stooped, there was a cloud
on his strong brow, and a slow fire in his bloodshot eyes, and his
red hair, long as a woman's, hung in disordered masses down his worn
cheeks to his shoulders. The Bishop, a venerable prelate of great
age, looked at him and thought, "That man's heart is dead within
him."

The spokesman of the Court was a middle-aged man, who was short, had
little piercing eyes, a square brush of iron-gray hair that stood
erect across the top of his corded forehead, and a crisp, clear
utterance, like the crackle of a horse's hoofs on the frost.

Jason was charged with an attempt to take the life of Michael
Sunlocks, first President of the second Republic. He did not plead
and had no defence, and the witnesses against him spoke only in
answer to the leading questions of the judges.

The first of the witnesses was Greeba herself, and her evidence,
given in English, was required to be interpreted. All her brave
strength was now gone. She trembled visibly. Her eyes were down, her
head was bent, her face was half-hidden by the hood of a cloak she
wore, and her tones were barely audible. She had little to say. The
prisoner had forced his way into Government House, and there, to her
own face, had threatened to take the life of her husband. In plain
words he had done so, and then made show of going in pursuit of her
husband that he might carry out his design.

"Wait," said the Bishop, "your husband was not present?"

"No," said Greeba.

"There was, therefore, no direct violence?"

"None."

"And the whole sum of the prisoner's offence, so far as you know of
it, lies in the use of the words that you have repeated?"

"Yes."

Then, turning to the spokesman of the Court, the old Bishop said--

"There has been no overt act. This is not an attempt, but a threat
to take life. And this is not a crime by the law of this, or any
other Christian country."

"Your pardon, my lord," said the little man, in his crisp tones. "I
will show that the prisoner is guilty of the essential part of murder
itself. Murder, my lord," he added, "is not merely to compass the
destruction of a life, for there is homicide, by misadventure, there
is justifiable homicide, and there are the rights, long recognized by
Icelandic law, of the avengers of blood. Murder is to kill in secrecy
and after long-harbored malice, and now my lord, I shall show that
the prisoner has lain in wait to slay the President of the Republic."

At that Greeba stood down, and other witnesses followed her. Nearly
everyone had been summoned with whom Jason had exchanged words since
he landed eight days before. There was the lean student who had told
him of the drill at the Latin school, the little tailor who had
explained the work at the jail, the stuttering doorkeeper at the
senate-house, and one of the masons at the fort. Much was made of the
fainting in the Cathedral yard, on the Sunday morning, and out of the
deaf landlady, the Cathedral caretaker, some startling disclosures
seemed to be drawn.

"Still," said the old Bishop, "I see no overt act."

"Good gracious, my lord," said the little spokesman, "are we to wait
until the knife itself has been reddened?"

"God forbid!" said the old Bishop.

Then came two witnesses to prove motive. The first of them was
the tipsy comrade of former days, who had drawn Jason into the
drinking-shop. He could say of his own knowledge that Jason was
jealous of the new Governor. The two were brothers in a sort of way.
So people said, and so Jason had told him. They had the same father,
but different mothers. Jason's mother had been the daughter of the
old Governor, who turned his back on her at her marriage. At her
death he relented, and tried to find Jason, but could not, and then
took up with Michael Sunlocks. People said that was the beginning of
the new President's fortune. At all events Jason thought he had been
supplanted, was very wroth, and swore he would be revenged.

The second of the two witnesses pointed to a very different motive.
He was one of the three Danes who had twice spoken to Jason--the
elderly man with the meek and quiet manner. Though himself loyal to
the Icelandic Republic he had been much thrown among its enemies.
Jason was one of them; he came here as a spy direct from Copenhagen,
and his constant associates were Thomsen, an old, white-headed man
living in the High Street, and Polvesen, a young and sallow man, who
kept one of the stores facing the sea. With these two Jason had been
heard by him to plan the assassination of the President.

At this evidence there was a deep murmur among the people, and it was
seen that Greeba had risen again to her feet. Her heart burned and
stormed within her. She tried to speak but could not. At the same
moment Jason turned his bloodshot eyes in her direction, and then her
limbs gave way under her, and she sank back with a moan. The Court
misread her emotion, and she was removed. Jason's red eyes followed
her constantly.

"This is a case for the Warning, not for punishment," said the
Bishop. "It is plainly written in our old Law Book that if a man
threaten to slay another man he shall be warned of the gravity of the
crime he contemplates and of the penalty attaching to it."

"Gracious heavens, my lord," cried the little spokesman, "what reason
have we to assume that this prisoner is ignorant of either? With a
life to guard that is prized by friends and precious to the State
shall we let this man go free who had sworn before witnesses to
destroy it?"

"God forefend!" said the Bishop.

It was lawful to question the prisoner, and so he was questioned.

"Is it true that you have been lying in wait to kill the President?"
asked the spokesman.

But Jason made no answer.

"Is it true that you have done so from a desire for personal
vengeance?"

No answer.

"Or from political motives?"

No answer.

"Or both?"

Still no answer.

Then the spokesman turned back to the Court. "The stubborn
persistence of the prisoner is easy to understand," he said, and
smiled.

"Wait," said the old Bishop, and he turned towards Jason.

"Have you any valid plea?"

But Jason gave no sign.

"Listen," said the Bishop. "Though the man who compasses the
destruction of a single life is as though he had destroyed a world,
for the posterity of him who is dead might have filled a world, yet
have all laws of men since the Pentateuch recognized certain
conditions that limit the gravity of the crime. If the man who is
slain has himself slain the near kindred of his slayer, though the
law of Iceland would no longer hold him guiltless, as in the ancient
times when evil for evil was the rule and sentence, neither would it
punish him as a murderer, who must eat the bread and drink the water
of misery all his days. Now what is true of murder must be true of
intent to murder, and though I am loth to believe it possible in this
instance, honoring and loving as we all do that good man whom you are
charged with lying in wait to kill, yet in my duty must I ask you the
question--Has Michael Sunlocks spilled blood of your blood, and is it
as a redeemer of blood that you go about to slay him?"

There was a dead hush in the little crowded courthouse as Jason
lifted his heavy, bloodshot eyes to the Bishop's face and answered,
in a weary voice, "I have nothing to say."

Then an aged Lutheran priest, who had sat within the rail, with a
snuffbox in his hand and a red print handkerchief across his knee,
hobbled up to the witness stool and tendered evidence. He could throw
light on the prisoner's hatred of the President, if it was true that
the President was a son of Stephen Orry. He knew the prisoner, and
had named him in his baptism. He had known the prisoner's mother
also, and had sat with her at her death. It was quite true that she
was a daughter of the late Governor, and had been badly treated by
her father. But she had been yet more badly treated by her husband,
who married again while she was still alive, and had another son by
the other wife. On her deathbed she had heard of this, and told the
prisoner, who then and there, this witness being present, made an
awful vow of vengeance upon his father and his father's son.

The old priest was heard in silence, and his words sent a quiver
through the courthouse. Even Jason, who had shown no interest save
when Greeba was removed, lifted up his bloodshot eyes again and
listened.

And the Bishop, visibly moved, turned to the Court and said, "Let us
put this prisoner back to be tried by the High Court and the
Lagmann."

"What, my lord!" cried the little spokesman, with a lofty look, "and
set him at liberty in the meantime, to carry out the crime he
threatens?"

"Heaven forbid!" said the Bishop.

"Remember, until he has been condemned we have no power to hold him,"
said the spokesman.

The Bishop turned to an usher and said, "Bring me the Statute Book,"
and the great tome was brought. The Bishop opened it and again turned
to the prisoner. "The Almighty," said he, "created one man at the
beginning to teach us that all men are brethren, and the law of our
old country provides that when two have had disputes and pursued each
other on account of hatred, even as brethren they shall make peace
before their neighbors. Now listen to the words I shall read to you,
and be ready to say if you will swear to them."

Then a great silence fell upon the people, while in solemn tones the
old Bishop read the Peace Oath.

"Ye two shall be set at one and live friendly together, at meat and
at drink, in the Althing and at meetings, at kirk prayers and in
King's palace; and in whatever place else men meet together, there
shall ye be so set at one, as if this quarrel had never come between
you. Ye shall share knife and meat together, and all things besides,
as friends and not as enemies."

The Bishop paused and looked over his spectacles at Jason, who stood
as before, with the cloud on his brow and the slow fire in his deep
eyes, but with no sign of feeling or interest.

"Will you promise to swear to this, when he shall have returned who
should swear to it with you?" said the Bishop.

Then all eyes turned towards Jason, and there came across his face at
that moment the look of a bated dog.

"No," he growled.

The spokesman shifted in his seat and the people grew restless.

"Listen again," said the Bishop, and his long white beard shook and
his solemn voice rose to a shrill cry as he twisted back to the book
and read:--

"But if one of you be so mad that he breaks this truce thus made, and
slays after pledges have been made and his blade has reddened, he
shall be an outlaw, accursed and driven away, so far as men drive
wolves farthest away. He shall be banished of God and all good
Christian men, as far as Christian men seek churches, as mothers
bring forth sons, son calls mother, flames blaze up, mankind kindle
fire, earth is green, sun shines, and snow covers the ground; he
shall flee from kirk and Christian men, God's house and mankind, and
from every home save hell."

Then there was a pause and a great hush, and the Bishop lifted his
eyes from the book, and said--

"Will you swear to it?"

Again all eyes turned towards Jason, and again his face, which had
been impassive, took the look of a bated dog.

"No, no, no!" he cried in a loud voice, and then the great silence
was broken by deep murmurs.

"It is useless," said the spokesman. "Warnings and peace oaths,
though still valid, are the machinery of another age. This prisoner
is not ignorant of the gravity of the crime he contemplates, nor yet
of the penalty attaching to it."

There was an audible murmur of assent from the people.

"That's true," said one. "It's the truest word spoken to-night," said
another. "The old man is all for mercy," said a third. "It isn't
safe," said a fourth. And there was other whispering, and much
nodding of heads and shuffling of feet.

Encouraged by these comments the little spokesman added--

"In any other country at this age of the world a man who tacitly
admitted a design to take life would be promptly clapped into
prison."

"Ay, ay," the people muttered, but the Bishop drew himself up and
said, "In any other country a criminal who showed no fear of the
death that hung over him would be straightway consigned to a
madhouse."

"We have no madhouse in this island, my lord," said the little
spokesman, "save the Sulpher Mines, and there he must go."

"Wait," said the Bishop, and once again he turned to the prisoner.
"If this Court should agree to ship you out of Iceland will you
promise never more to return to it?"

For the third time all eyes were turned on Jason, but he did not seem
to hear the Bishop's question.

"Will you promise?" said the Bishop again.

"No," said Jason.

"Dangerous trifling," said the spokesman. "When you seize a mad dog
you strangle it."

"Ay, ay," cried many voices at once, and great excitement prevailed.

The old Bishop drew back with a sigh of relief. He loved Michael
Sunlocks and had been eager to save him. He pitied Greeba, and for
her sake also had been anxious to protect her husband. But from the
moment he saw Jason and thought, "That man's heart is dead within
him," his love had struggled with his sense of duty. As the trial
went on he had remembered Jason and recalled his bitter history, and
seized with a strong sympathy he had strained every nerve to keep
back his punishment. He had done all he could do, he had nothing to
reproach himself with, and full of a deep and secret joy at the
certainty of the safety of Sunlocks, he now fell back that the law
might take its course.

The Court was counted out, and then the Bishop turned for the last
time to Jason, and delivered judgment. "The sentence of this Court,"
he said "is that you be removed from here to the Sulpher Mines, and
be kept there six months certain, and as long thereafter as you
refuse to take the Oath of Peace pledging yourself forever, as long
as you live or the world endures, to be at one with your enemy as
brothers before all men living."

Now Greeba alone knew the truth about Jason. When she had fled from
Mann without word or warning it had not been out of fear of him, but
of her brothers. Her meeting with Michael Sunlocks, her short stay
with the good old Bishop Petersen, her marriage and the festival that
followed, had passed her by like a dream. Then came the first short
parting with Sunlocks when he had said, "I must leave you for a
fortnight, for the men I sent in search of your father have blundered
and returned without him." She had cried a little at that, and he had
kissed her, and made a brave show of his courage, though she could
see the tears in his own big shining eyes. But it was all a dream, a
sweet and happy dream, and only by the coming of Jason had the dream
been broken.

Then followed her terror, her plea, her fear for her husband's life,
her defiance of Jason, and the charge she made against him.

And the first burst of her passion over, she had thought to herself,
"My husband is safe, but Jason will now tell all and I shall be a
lost and ruined woman," for nothing had she yet said to Michael
Sunlocks concerning the man who had wooed and won and released her
during the long years of his silence and her trouble. "He will hear
the story now," she thought, "and not from my lips but from Jason's."

Being then so far immersed she could not but go on, and so she had
allowed herself to be led to the courthouse. No one there had thought
to ask her if she had known anything of Jason before that day, and
she on her part had said nothing of knowing him. But when Jason had
looked at her with eyes of reproach that seemed to go through her
soul, he seemed to be saying, "This is but half the truth. Dare you
not tell the rest?"

Then listening to the lying of other witnesses, and looking up at
Jason's face, so full of pain, and seeing how silent he was under
cruel perjury, she remembered that this man's worst crime had been
his love of her, and so she staggered to her feet to confess
everything.

When she came to herself after that, she was back in her own
home--her new home, the home of her happy dream, her husband's home
and hers, and there her first fear returned to her. "He will tell
all," she thought, "and evil tongues will make it worse, and shame
will fall upon my husband, and I shall be lost, lost, lost."

She waited with feverish impatience for the coming of the Bishop to
tell her the result of the trial, and at length he came.

"What have they done with him?" she cried; and he told her.

"What defence did he make?" she asked.

"None," said the Bishop.

"What did he say?" she asked again.

"Not a word but 'No,'" said the Bishop.

Then she drew a long breath of immense relief, and at the next
instant she reproached herself. How little of soul she had been! And
how great of heart had been Jason! He could have wrecked her life
with a word, but he had held his peace. She had sent him to prison,
and rather than smite he had suffered himself to be smitten. She felt
herself small and mean.

And the Bishop, having, as he thought, banished Greeba's terror,
hobbled to the door, for now the hour was very late, and the snow was
still falling.

"The poor soul will do your good husband no mischief now. Poor lad!
poor lad! After all, he is more fit for a madhouse than for a prison.
Good-night, my child, good-night."

And so the good old man went his way.

It was intended that Jason should start for the Sulphur Mines on the
following day, and he was lodged over night in a little house of
detention that stood on the south of the High Street. But the snow
continued to fall the whole night through, and in the morning the
roads were impassable. Then it was decided to postpone the long
journey until the storm should have passed, the frost set in, and the
desolate white wastes to be crossed become hard and firm. It was now
Wednesday of the second week in October--the Gore-month--and the
people were already settling down to the long rest of the Icelandic
winter. The merchants began to sleep the livelong day in their
deserted stores in the cheapstead, and the bonders, who had come up
with the last of their stock, to drink and doze in the taverns. All
that day the snow fell in fine dust like flour, until, white as it
was, the air grew dark with it. At the late dawn of the next day the
snow was still falling, and a violent gale had then risen. Another
and another and yet another day went by, and still the snow fell and
the gale continued. For two days there was no daylight, and only at
noon through the giddy air a fiery glow burned for an hour along the
southern sky and then went out. Nothing could be seen of fell or
fiord, and nothing could be heard save the baying of the hounds at
night and the roar of the sea at all times, for the wind made no
noise in the soft snow, but drove it along in sheets like silent
ghosts.

Never before had Greeba seen anything so terrible; and still more
fearful than the great snow itself was the anxiety it brought her.
Where was Michael Sunlocks? Where was her father? There was only one
other whose condition troubled her, and she knew too well where he
was--he was lying in the dark cell of the dark house in the High
Street.

While the storm lasted all Reykjavik lay asleep, and Greeba could do
nothing. But one morning when she awoke and turned to the window, as
was her wont, to learn if the weary snow was still falling, she could
see nothing at first for the coating of ice and hoar frost that
covered the glass. But the snow had ceased, the wind had fallen, the
air was clear and the light was coming. The buildings of the town,
from the Cathedral to the hovels of the fishing quarter, looked like
snow mounds in the desert; the black waste of lava was gone; the
black beach was gone; the black jokulls were gone; the black headland
was gone that had stretched like a giant hand of many fingers into
the black fiord; but height above height, and length beyond length,
as far as from sea to sky, and from sea to sea, the world lay
lifeless and silent and white around her.

Then, the town being once more awake, Greeba had news of Jason. It
came through a little English maid, whom Sunlocks had found for her,
from Oscar, the young man who had gone out in search of her father
and returned without him. Jason was ill. Five days he had eaten
nothing, and nothing had he drunk except water. He was in a fever--a
brain fever--and it was now known for certain that he was the man who
had fainted outside the Cathedral on the marriage morning, that he
had been ill ever since then, and that the druggist of the High
Street had bled him.

With these tidings Greeba hurried away to the Bishop.

"The poor man has brain fever," she said. "He was ill when he made
the threat, and when he recovers he will regret it; I am sure he
will--I know he will. Set him at liberty, for mercy's sake," she
cried; and she trembled as she spoke, lest in the fervor of her plea
the Bishop should read her secret.

But he only shook his head and looked tenderly down at her, and said
very gently, though every word went to her heart like a stab--

"Ah, it is like a good woman to plead for one who has injured her.
But no, my child, no; it may not be. Poor lad, no one now can do
anything for him save the President himself; and he is not likely to
liberate a man who lies in wait to kill him."

"He _is_ likely," thought Greeba, and straightway she conceived of a
plan. She would go to Jason in his prison. Yes, she herself would go
to him, and prevail with him to put away all thoughts of vengeance
and be at peace with her husband. Then she would wait for the return
of Michael Sunlocks, and plead with that dear heart that could deny
her nothing, to grant her Jason's pardon. Thus it would come about
that she, who had stood between these two to separate them, would at
length stand between them to bring them together.

So thinking, and crying a little, like a true woman, at the prospect
of so much joy, she waited for Jason's recovery that she might carry
her purpose into effect. Meantime she contrived to send him jellies
and soups, such as might tempt the appetite of a sick man. She
thought she sent them secretly, but with less than a woman's wit she
employed a woman on her errand. This person was the little English
maid, and she handed over the duty to Oscar, who was her sweetheart.
Oscar talked openly of what he was doing, and thus all Reykjavik
knew that the tender-hearted young wife of the Governor held
communications of some sort with the man whom she had sent to jail.

Then one day, on hearing that Jason was better, though neither was he
so well as to travel nor was the snow hard enough to walk upon,
Greeba stole across to the prison in the dark of the afternoon,
saying nothing to anyone of her mission or intention.

The stuttering doorkeeper of the Senate was the jailor, and he
betrayed great concern when Greeba asked to see his prisoner, showing
by his ghastly looks, for his words would not come, that it would be
rash on her part, after helping so much towards Jason's imprisonment,
to trust herself in his presence.

"But what have I to fear?" she thought; and with a brave smile, she
pushed her way through.

She found Jason in a square box built of heavy piles, laid
horizontally both for walls and roof, dark and damp and muggy,
lighted in the day by a hole in the wood not larger than a man's
hand, and in the night by a sputtering candle hung from the rafters.
He sat on a stool; his face was worn, his head was close-cropped to
relieve the heat of his brain, and on the table by his side lay all
his red hair, as long as his mother's was when it fell to the shears
of the Jew on the wharf.

He gave no sign when Greeba entered, though he knew she was there,
but sat with his face down and one hand on the table.

"Jason," she said, "I am ashamed. It is I who have brought you to
this. Forgive me! forgive me! But my husband's life was in danger,
and what was I to do?"

Still he gave no sign.

"Jason," she said again, "you have heaped coals of fire on my head;
for I have done nothing but injure you, and though you might have
done as much for me you never have."

At that the fingers of his hand on the table grasped the edge of it
convulsively.

"But, Jason," she said, "all is not lost yet. No, for I can save you
still. Listen. You shall give me your promise to make peace with my
husband, and when my husband returns he will grant me your pardon.
Oh, yes, I know he will, for he is tender-hearted, and he will
forgive you; yes, he will forgive you----"

"My curse on him and his forgiveness," cried Jason, rising suddenly
and bringing down his fist on the table. "Who is he that he should
forgive me? It has not been for his sake that I have been silent,
with the devil at my side urging me to speak. And for all that _you_
have made me to suffer _he_ shall yet pay double. Let it go on; let
him send me away; let him bury me at his mines. But I shall live to
find him yet. Something tells me that I shall not die until I have
met with that man face to face."

And Greeba went back home with these mad words ringing in her ears.
"It is useless to try," she thought, "I have done all I can. My
husband is before everything. I shall say nothing to him now."

None the less she cried very bitterly, and was still crying when at
bedtime her little English maid came up to her and chattered of the
news of the day. It seemed that some Danish store-keepers on the
cheapstead had lately been arrested as spies, brought to trial, and
condemned.

When Greeba awoke next morning, after a restless night, while the
town still lay asleep, and only the croak of the ravens from the
rocks above the fiord broke the silence of the late dawn, she heard
the hollow tread of many footsteps on the frozen snow of the
Thingvellir road, and peering out through the window, which was
coated with hoar frost, she saw a melancholy procession. Three men,
sparsely clad in thin tunics, snow stockings and skin caps, walked
heavily in file, chained together hand to hand and leg to leg, with
four armed warders, closely muffled to the ears, riding leisurely
beside them. They were prisoners bound for the sulphur mines of
Krisuvik. The first of them was Jason, and he swung along with his
long stride and his shorn head thrown back and his pallid face held
up. The other two were old Thomsen and young Polvesen, the Danish
store-keepers.

It was more than Greeba could bear to look upon that sight, for it
brought back the memory of that other sight on that other morning,
when Jason came leaping down to her from the mountains, over gorse
and cushag and hedge and ditch. So she turned her head away and
covered her eyes with her hands. And then one--two--three--four--the
heavy footsteps went on over the snow.

The next thing she knew was that her English maid was in her bedroom,
saying, "Some strangers in the kitchen are asking for you. They are
Englishmen, and have just come ashore, and they call themselves your
brothers."



CHAPTER X.

THE FAIRBROTHERS.


Now when the Fairbrothers concluded that they could never give rest
to their tender consciences until they had done right by their poor
sister Greeba they set themselves straightway to consider the ways
and means. Ballacraine they must sell in order that its proceeds
might be taken to Greeba as her share and interest; but Ballacraine
belonged to Jacob, and another provision would forthwith need to be
made for him. So after much arguing and some nagging across the
hearth of the kitchen at Lague it was decided that each of Jacob's
five brothers should mortgage his farm to one-sixth its value, and
that the gross sum of their five-sixths should be Jacob's for his
share. This arrangement would have the disadvantage of leaving Jacob
without land, but he showed a magnanimous spirit in that relation.
"Don't trouble about me," said he, "it's sweet and nice to do a
kindness to your own brothers."

And four of his brethren applauded that sentiment, but Thurstan
curled up his red nose and thought, "Aw, yes, of coorse, a powerful
big boiler of brotherly love the little miser keeps going under his
weskit."

And having so decided they further concluded to see the crops off the
ground, and then lose no time in carrying out their design. "Let's
wait for the melya," said Asher, meaning the harvest-home, "and then
off for Marky the Lord." The person who went by this name was one
Mark Skillicorn, an advocate, of Ramsey, who combined the functions
of pettifogger with those of money-lender and auctioneer. Marky the
Lord was old, and plausible and facetious. He was a distant relative
of the Fairbrothers by the side of their mother's French family; and
it was a strange chain of circumstances that no big farmer ever got
into trouble but he became a client of Marky the Lord's, that no
client of Marky the Lord's did not in the end go altogether to the
bad, and that poor Marky the Lord never had a client who did not die
in his debt. Nevertheless Marky the Lord grew richer as his losses
grew heavier, and more facetious as his years increased. Oh, he was a
funny dog, was Marky the Lord; but there was just one dog on the
island a shade or two funnier still, and that was Jacob Fairbrother.
This thrifty soul had for many a year kept a nest of private savings,
and even in the days when he and his brethren went down to make a
poor mouth before their father at Castletown he had money secretly
lent out on the conscientious interest of only three per cent. above
the legal rate.

And thus it chanced that when Ballacraine was advertised in big
letters on every barn door in the north of Mann, Jacob Fairbrother
went down to Marky the Lord, and made a private bargain to buy it in
again. So when the day of the sale came, and Marky the Lord strode
over the fields with some thirty men--farmers, miners, advocates, and
parsons--at his heels, and then drew up on the roadside by the
"Hibernian," and there mounted the till-board of a cart for the final
reckoning, little Jacob was too much moved to be present, though his
brothers were there, all glooming around on the outside of the group,
with their hands in their breeches pockets.

Ballacraine was knocked down cheap to somebody that nobody knew, and
then came the work of the mortgages; so once again Jacob went off to
Marky the Lord, and bargained to be made mortgagor, though no one was
to be a whit the wiser. And ten per cent. he was to get from each of
his five brothers for the use of the money which next day came back
to his own hands.

Thus far all was straight dealing, but with the approach of the time
to go to Iceland the complications grew thick. Jacob had so husbanded
his money that while seeming to spend he still possessed it, and now
he was troubled to know where to lodge that portion of it which he
should not want in Iceland and might find it unsafe to take there.
And while he was in the throes of his uncertainty his brothers--all
save John--were in the travail of their own big conception.

Now Asher, Stean, Ross and Thurstan, having each made up his mind
that he would go to Iceland also, had to consider how to get there,
for their late bargaining had left them all penniless. The proceeds
of the sale of Ballacraine were lodged with Jacob for Greeba, and
Jacob also held as his own what had come to each man from his
mortgage. So thinking that Jacob must have more than he could want,
they approached him one by one, confidentially and slyly. And
wondrous were the lies they told him, for they dare not confess that
their sole need of money was to go to Iceland after him, and watch
him that he did not cheat them when Greeba sent them all their
fortunes in return for their brotherly love of her.

Thus Asher took Jacob aside and whispered, "I'm morthal hard pressed
for a matter of five and thirty pound, boy--just five and thirty, for
draining and fencing. I make bold to think you'll lend me the like of
it, and six per cent. I'll be paying reg'lar."

"Ah, I can't do it, Asher," said Jacob, "for old Marky the Lord has
stripped me."

Then came Stean, plucking a bit of ling and looking careless, and he
said, "I've got a fine thing on now. I can buy a yoke of ploughing
oxen for thirty pound. Only thirty, and a dead bargain. Can you lend
me the brass? But whisht's the word, for Ross is sneaking after
them."

"Very sorry, Stean," said Jacob, "but Ross has been here before you,
and I've just lent him the money."

Ross himself came next, and said, "I borrowed five-and-twenty pound
from Stean a bit back, and he's not above threatening to sell me up
for a dirty little debt like that. Maybe ye'd tide me over the
trouble and say nothing to Stean."

"Make your mind easy, Ross," said Jacob, "Stean told me himself, and
I've paid him all you owe him."

So these two went their ways and thereafter eyed each other
threateningly, but neither dare explode, for both had their secret
fear. And last of all came Thurstan, made well drunk for the better
support of his courage, and he maudled and cried, "What d'ye think?
Poor Ballabeg is dead--him that used to play the fiddle at
church--and the old parson wants me to take Ballabeg's place up in
the gallery-loft. Says I'd be wonderful good at the viol-bass. I
wouldn't mind doing it neither, only it costs such a power of money,
a viol-bass does--twenty pound maybe."

"Well, what of that?" said Jacob, interrupting him, "the parson says
he'll lend you the money. He told me so himself."

With such shrewd answers did Jacob escape from the danger of lending
to his brothers, whom he could not trust. But he lost no time in
going down to Marky the Lord and offering his money to be lent out on
interest with good security. Knowing nothing of this, Asher, Stean,
Ross, and Thurstan each in his turn stole down to Marky the Lord to
borrow the sum he needed. And Marky the Lord kept his own worthy
counsel, and showed no unwise eagerness. First he said to Jacob, "I
can lend out your money on good security."

"Who to?" said Jacob.

"That I've given my word not to tell. What interest do you want?"

"Not less than twelve per cent." said the temperate Jacob.

"I'll get it," said Marky the Lord, and Jacob went away with a sly
smile.

Then said Marky the Lord to each of the borrowers in turn, "I can
find you the money."

"Whose is it?" asked Asher, who came the first.

"That I've sworn not to tell," said Marky the Lord.

"What interest?"

"Only four per cent. to my friend."

"Well, and that's reasonable, and he's a right honest, well-meaning
man, whoever he is," said Asher.

"That he is, friend," said Marky the Lord, "but as he had not got the
money himself he had to borrow it of an acquaintance, and pay ten per
cent. for the convenience."

"So he wants fourteen per cent.!" cried Asher. "Shoo! Lord save us!
Oh, the grasping miser. It's outrageous. I'll not pay it--the
Nightman fly away with me if I do."

"You need be under no uneasiness about that," said Marky the Lord,
"for I've three other borrowers ready to take the money the moment
you say you won't."

"Hand it out," said Asher, and away he went, fuming.

Then Stean, Ross, and Thurstan followed, one by one, and each
behaved as Asher had done before him. When the transaction was
complete, and the time had come to set sail for Iceland, many and
wonderful were the shifts of the four who had formed the secret
design to conceal their busy preparations. But when all was complete,
and berths taken, all six in the same vessel, Jacob and Gentleman
John rode round the farms of Lague to bid a touching farewell to
their brethren.

"Good-bye, Thurstan," said Jacob, sitting on the cross-board of the
cart. "We've had arguments in our time, and fallen on some rough harm
in the course of them, but we'll meet for peace and quietness in
heaven some day."

"We'll meet before that," thought Thurstan.

And when Jacob and John were gone on towards Ramsey, Thurstan mounted
the till-board of his own cart, and followed. Meantime Asher, Stean,
and Ross were on their journey, and because they did not cross on the
road they came face to face for the first time, all six together,
each lugging his kit of clothes behind him, on the deck of the ship
that was to take them to Iceland. Then Jacob's pale face grew livid.

"What does this mean?" he cried.

"It means that we can't trust you," said Thurstan.

"None of you?" said Jacob.

"None of us, seemingly," said Thurstan, glancing round into the
confused faces about him.

"What! Not your own brother?" said Jacob.

"'Near is my shirt, but nearer is my skin,' as the saying is," said
Thurstan, with a sneer.

"'Poor once, poor forever,' as the saying is," mocked Jacob. "Last
week you hadn't twenty pound to buy your viol-bass to play in the
gallery loft."

Stean laughed at that, and Jacob turned hotly upon him. "And _you_
hadn't thirty pound to buy your yoke of oxen that Ross was sneaking
after."

Then Ross made a loud guffaw, and Jacob faced about to him. "And
maybe _you've_ paid back your dirty five-and-twenty pound that Stean
threatened to sell you up for?"

Then Stean glowered hard at Ross, and Ross looked black at Stean, and
Asher almost burst his sides with laughter.

"And you, too, my dear eldest brother," said Jacob, bitterly, "you
have the advantage of me in years but not in wisdom. You thought,
like the rest of them, to get the money out of me, to help you to
follow me and watch me. So that was it, was it? But I was too much
for you, my dear brother, and you had to go elsewhere for your
draining and ditching."

"So I had, bad cess to you," said Asher; "and fourteen per cent. I
had to pay for the shabby loan I got."

At that Stean and Ross and Thurstan pricked up their ears.

"And did _you_ pay fourteen per cent.?" said Stean.

"I did, bad cess to Marky the Lord, and the grasping old miser behind
him, whoever he is."

And now it was Jacob's turn to look amazed.

"Wait," he said; "I don't like the look of you."

"Then shut your eyes," said Thurstan.

"Did Marky the Lord lend you the money?" asked Jacob of Asher.

"Ay, he did," said Asher.

"And _you_, too, said Jacob?" turning stiffly to Stean.

"Ay," said Stean.

"And _you_?" said Jacob, facing towards Ross.

"I darn say no," said Ross.

"And _you_, as well?" said Jacob, confronting Thurstan.

"Why not?" said Thurstan.

"The blockhead!" cried Jacob, "The scoundrel! It was _my_
money--mine--mine, I tell you, and he might as well have pitched it
into the sea."

Then the four men began to double their fists.

"Wait!" said Asher. "Are you the grasping young miser that asked
fourteen per cent.!"

"He is, clear enough," said Stean.

"Well," said Thurstan, "I really think--look you, boys, I really do
think, but I speak under correction--I really think, all things
considered, this Jacob is a damned rascal."

"I may have the advantage of him in years," said Asher, doubling up
his sleeves, "but if I can't----"

"Go to the devil," said Jacob, and he went below, boiling hot with
rage.

It was idle to keep up the quarrel, for very soon all six were out on
the high seas, bound to each other's company at bed and board, and
doomed to pass the better part of a fortnight together. So before
they came to Iceland they were good friends, after their fashion,
though that was perhaps the fashion of cat and mouse, and being
landed at Reykjavik they were once more in their old relations, with
Jacob as purse-bearer and spokesman.

"And now listen," said that thrifty person. "What's it saying? 'A
bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.' We've got our bird in the
hand, haven't we?"

"So we have," said Asher; "six hundred golden pounds that Ballacraine
fetched at the sale."

"Just so," said Jacob; "and before we part with it let us make sure
about the two in the bush."

With that intention they started inquiries, as best they could;
touching the position of Michael Sunlocks, his salary and influence.
And in spite of the difficulties of language they heard and saw
enough to satisfy them. Old Iceland was awakening from a bad dream of
three bad centuries and setting to work with a will to become a power
among the States; the young President, Michael Sunlocks, was the
restorer and protector of her liberties; fame and honor were before
him, and before all who laid a hand to his plough. This was what they
heard in many jargons on every side.

"It's all right," whispered Jacob, "and now for the girl."

They had landed late in the day of Greeba's visit to Red Jason at the
little house of detention, and had heard of her marriage, of its
festivities, and of the attempt on the life of the President. But
though they knew that Jason was no longer in Mann they were too much
immersed in their own vast schemes to put two and two together, until
next morning they came upon the sad procession bound for the Sulphur
Mines, and saw that Jason was one of the prisoners. They were then on
their way to Government House, and Jacob said with a wink, "Boys,
that's worth remembering. When did it do any harm to have two strings
to your bow?"

The others laughed at that, and John nudged Thurstan and said, "Isn't
he a boy!" And Thurstan grunted and trudged on.

When they arrived at the kitchen door of the house they asked for
Greeba by her new name, and after some inarticulate fencing with a
fat Icelandic cook, the little English maid was brought down to them.

"Leave her to me," whispered Jacob, and straightway he tackled her.

Could they see the mistress? What about? Well, it was a bit of a
private matter, but no disrespect to herself, miss. Aw, yes, they
were Englishmen--that's to say a sort of Englishmen--being Manxmen.
Would the mistress know them? Ay, go bail on that. Eh, boys? Ha! ha!
Fact was they were her brothers, miss. Yes, her brothers, all six of
them, and longing mortal to clap eyes again on their sweet little
sister.

And after that Master Jacob addressed himself adroitly to an
important question, and got most gratifying replies. Oh, yes, the
President loved his young wife beyond words; worshipped the very
ground she walked on, as they say. And, oh, yes, she had great, great
influence with him, and he would do anything in the wide world to
please her.

"That'll do," whispered Jacob over his shoulder, as the little maid
tripped away to inform her mistress. "I'll give that girl a shilling
when she comes again," he added.

"And give her another for me," said Stean.

"And me," said Asher.

"Seeing that I've no land at home now I wouldn't mind staying here
when you all go back," said Jacob.

"I'll sell you mine, Jacob," said Thurstan.

The maid returned to ask them to follow, and they went after her,
stroking their lank hair smooth on their foreheads, and studying the
remains of the snow on their boots. When they came to the door of the
room where they were to meet with Greeba, Jacob whispered to the
little maid, "I'll give you a crown when I come out again." Then he
twisted his face over his shoulder and said: "Do as I do; d'ye hear?"

"_Isn't_ he a boy?" chuckled Gentleman John.

Then into the room they passed, one by one, all six in file. Greeba
was standing by a table, erect, quivering, with flashing eyes, and
the old trembling on both sides her heart. Jacob and John instantly
went down on one knee before her, and their four lumbering brethren
behind made shift to do the same.

"So we have found you at last, thank God," said Jacob, in a mighty
burst of fervor.

"Thank God, thank God," the others echoed.

"Ah, Greeba," said Jacob, in a tone of sorrowful reproach, "why ever
did you go way without warning, and leave us all so racked with
suspense? You little knew how you grieved us, seeming to slight our
love and kindness towards you----"

"Stop," said Greeba. "I know too well what your love and kindness
have been to me. Why have you come?"

"Don't say that," said Jacob, sadly, "for see what we have made free
to fetch you--six hundred pound," he added, lugging a bag and a roll
of paper out of his pocket.

"Six hundred golden pounds," repeated the others.

"It's your share of Lague--your full share, Greeba, woman," said
Jacob, deliberately, "and every penny of it is yours. So take it, and
may it bring you a blessing, Greeba. And don't think unkind of us
because we have held it back until now, for we kept it from you for
your own good, seeing plain there was someone harking after you for
sake of what you had, and fearing your good money would thereby fall
into evil hands, and you be made poor and penniless."

"Ay, ay," muttered the others; "that Jason--that Red Jason."

"But he's gone now, and serve him right," said Jacob, "and you're
wedded to the right man, praise God."

So saying he shambled to his feet, and his brothers did likewise.

But Greeba stood without moving, and said through her compressed
lips, "How did you know that I was here?"

"The letter, the letter," Asher blurted out, and Jacob gave him a
side-long look, and then said:

"Ye see, dear, it was this way. When you were gone, and we didn't
know where to look for you, and were sore grieved to think you'd
maybe left us in anger, not rightly seeing our drift towards you, we
could do nothing but sit about and fret for you. And one day we were
turning over some things in a box, just to bring back the memory of
you, when what should we find but a letter writ to you by the good
man himself."

"Ay, Sunlocks--Michael Sunlocks," said Stean.

"And a right good man he is, beyond gainsay; and he knows how to go
through life, and I always said it," said Asher.

And Jacob continued, "So said I; 'Boys,' I said, 'now we know where
she is, and that by this time she must have married the man she
ought, let's do the right by her and sell Ballacraine, and take her
the money and give her joy.'"

"So you did, so you did," said John.

"And we sold it dirt cheap, too," said Jacob, "but you're not the
loser; no, for here is a full seventh of all Lague straight to your
hand."

"Give me the money," said Greeba.

"And there it is, dear," said Jacob, fumbling the notes and the gold
to count them, while his brethren, much gratified by this sign of
Greeba's complacency, began to stretch their legs from the easy
chairs about them.

"Ay, and a pretty penny it has cost us to fetch it," said John.
"We've had to pinch ourselves to do it, I can tell you."

"How much has it cost you?" said Greeba.

"No matter of that," interrupted Jacob, with a lofty sweep of the
hand.

"Let me pay you back what you have spent in coming," said Greeba.

"Not a pound of it," said Jacob. "What's a matter of forty or fifty
pounds to any of us, compared to doing what's right by our own flesh
and blood?"

"Let me pay you," said Greeba, turning to Asher, and Asher was for
holding out his hand, but Jacob, coming behind him, tugged at his
coat, and so he drew back and said,

"Aw, no, child, no; I couldn't touch it for my life."

"Then _you_," said Greeba to Thurstan, and Thurstan looked as hungry
as a hungry gull at the bait that was offered him, but just then
Jacob was coughing most lamentably. So with a wry face, that was all
colors at once, Thurstan answered, "Aw, Greeba, woman, do you really
think a poor man has got no feelings? Don't press it, woman. You'll
hurt me."

Recking nothing of these refusals Greeba tried each of the others in
turn, and getting the same answer from all, she wheeled about,
saying, "Very well, be it so," and quickly locked the money in the
drawer of a cabinet. This done, she said sharply, "Now, you can go."

"Go?" they cried, looking up from their seats in bewilderment.

"Yes," she said, "before my husband returns."

"Before he returns?" said Jacob. "Why, Greeba, we wish to see him."

"You had better not wait," said Greeba. "He might remember what you
appear to forget."

"Why," said Jacob, with every accent of incredulity, "and isn't he
our brother, so to say, brought up in the house of our own father?"

"And he knows what you did for our poor father, who wouldn't lie
shipwrecked now but for your heartless cruelties," said Greeba.

"Greeba, lass, Greeba, lass," Jacob protested, "don't say he wouldn't
take kind to the own brothers of his own wife."

"He also knows what you did for her," said Greeba, "and the sorry
plight you brought her to."

"What!" cried Jacob, "you never mean to say you are going to show an
ungrateful spirit, Greeba, after all we've brought you?"

"Small thanks to you for that, after defrauding me so long," said
Greeba.

"What! Keeping you from marrying that cheating knave?" cried Jacob.

"You kept me from nothing but my just rights," said Greeba. "Now
go--go."

Her words fell on them like swords that smote them hip and thigh, and
like sheep they huddled together with looks of amazement and fear.

"Why, Greeba, you don't mean to turn us out of the house," said
Jacob.

"And if I do," said Greeba, "it is no more than you did for our dear
old father, but less; for that house was his, while this is mine, and
you ought to be ashamed to show your wicked faces inside its doors."

"Oh, the outrageous little atomy," cried Asher.

"This is the thanks you get for crossing the seas to pay people what
there was never no call to give them," said Stean.

"Oh, bad cess to it all," cried Ross, "I'll take what it cost me to
come, and get away straight. Give it me, and I'm off."

"No," said Greeba, "I'll have no half measures. You refused what I
offered you, and now you shall have nothing."

"Och, the sly slut--the crafty young minx," cried Ross, "to get a
hold of the money first."

"Hush, boys, leave it to me," said Jacob. "Greeba," he said, in a
voice of deep sorrow, "I never should have believed it of you--you
that was always so kind and loving to strangers, not to speak of your
own kith and kin----"

"Stop that," cried Greeba, lifting her head proudly, her eyes
flashing, and the woman all over aflame. "Do you think I don't see
through your paltry schemes? You defrauded me when I was poor and at
your mercy, and now when you think I am rich, and could do you a
service, you come to me on your knees. But I spurn you, you mean,
grovelling men, you that impoverished my father and then turned your
backs upon him, you that plotted against my husband and would now
lick the dust under his feet. Get out of my house, and never darken
my doors again. Come here no more, I tell you, or I will disown you.
Go--go!"

And just as sheep they had huddled together, so as sheep she swept
them out before her. They trooped away through the kitchen and past
the little English maid, but their eyes were down and they did not
see her.

"Did ye give her that crown piece?" asked Thurstan, looking into
Jacob's eyes. But Jacob said nothing--he only swore a little.

"The numskull!" muttered Thurstan. "The tomfool! The booby! The
mooncalf! The jobbernowl! I was a fool to join his crackbrained
scheme."

"I always said it would come to nothing," said Asher, "and we've
thrown away five and thirty pound apiece, and fourteen per cent. for
the honor of doing it."

"It's his money, though--the grinding young miser--and may he whistle
till he gets it," said Thurstan.

"Oh, yes, you're a pretty pack of wise asses, you are," said Jacob,
bitterly. "Money thrown away, is it? You've never been so near to
your fortune in your life."

"How is that?" asked the other five at once.

"How is it that Red Jason has gone to prison? For threatening Michael
Sunlocks? Very likely," said Jacob, with a curl of the lip.

"What then?" said John.

"For threatening herself," said Jacob. "She has lied about it."

"And what if she has? Where's our account in that?" said Asher.

"Where? Why, with her husband," said Jacob, and four distinct
whistles answered him.

"You go bail Michael Sunlocks knows less than we know," Jacob added,
"and maybe we might tell him something that would be worth a trifle."

"What's that?" asked John.

"That she loved Red Jason, and ought to have married him," said
Jacob; "but threw him up after they had been sweethearting together,
because he was poor, and then came to Iceland and married Michael
Sunlocks because he was rich."

"Chut! Numskull again! He'd never believe you," said Thurstan.

"Would he not?" said Jacob, "then maybe he would believe his own
eyes. Look there," and he drew a letter out of his pocket.

It was the abandoned letter that Greeba wrote to Jason.

"_Isn't_ he a boy!" chuckled Gentleman John.

Two days longer they stayed at Reykjavik, and rambled idly about the
town, much observed by the Icelanders and Danes for their monkey
jackets of blue Manx cloth, and great sea boots up to their thighs.
Early on the afternoon of the second day they sighted, from the new
embankment where they stood and watched the masons, a ship coming up
the fiord from the Smoky Point. It was a brig, with square sails set,
and as she neared the port she ran up a flag to the masthead. The
flag was the Icelandic flag, the banner of the Vikings, the white
falcon on the blue ground, and the Fairbrothers noticed that at the
next moment it was answered by a like flag on the flag-staff of
Government House.

"He's coming, he's yonder," said Jacob, flapping his hands under his
armpits to warm them.

In a few minutes they saw that there was a flutter over the smooth
surface of the life of the town, and that small groups of people were
trooping down to the jetty. Half an hour later the brig ran into
harbor, dropped anchor below the lava reef, and sent its small boat
ashore. Three men sat in the boat; the two sailors who rowed, and a
gentleman who sat on the seat between them. The gentleman was young,
flaxen-haired, tall, slight, with a strong yet winsome face, and clad
in a squirrel-skin coat and close-fitting squirrel-skin cap. When the
boat grounded by the jetty he leapt ashore with a light spring,
smiled and nodded to the many who touched their hats to him, hailed
others with a hearty word, and then swung into the saddle of a horse
that stood waiting for him, and rode away at an eager trot in the
direction of Government House.

It was Michael Sunlocks.



CHAPTER XI.

THE PARDON.


When the men whom Michael Sunlocks sent into the interior after
Adam Fairbrother and his shipwrecked company returned to him
empty-handed, he perceived that they had gone astray by crossing a
great fiord lying far east of Hekla when they should have followed
the course of it down to the sea. So, counting the time that had been
wasted, he concluded to take ship to a point of the southern coast in
the latitude of the Westmann Islands, thinking to meet old Adam
somewhere by the fiord's mouth. The storm delayed him, and he reached
the fiord too late; but he came upon some good news of Adam there:
that, all well, though sore beset by the hard weather, and enfeebled
by the misfortunes that had befallen them, the little band of
ship-broken men had, three days before his own coming, passed up the
western bank of the fiord on foot, going slowly and heavily laden,
but under the safe charge of a guide from Stappen.

Greatly cheered in heart at these good tidings Michael Sunlocks had
ordered a quick return, for it was unsafe, and perhaps impossible, to
follow up through the narrow chasms of the fiord in a ship under
sail. On getting back to Reykjavik he intended to take ponies across
country in the direction of Thingvellir, hoping to come upon old Adam
and his people before they reached the lake or the great chasm on the
western side of the valley, known as the Chasm of All Men.

And thinking, amid the flutter of joyful emotions, that on the
overland journey he would surely take Greeba with him, for he could
never bear to be so long parted from her again, all his heart went
back to her in sweet visions as his ship sped over the sea. Her
beauty, her gentleness, her boldness, her playful spirits, and all
her simple loving ways came flowing over him wave after wave, and
then in one great swelling flood. And in the night watches, looking
over the dark waters, and hearing nothing but their deep moan, he
could scarce believe his fortune, being so far away from the sight of
her light figure, and from the hearing of her sweet voice, that she
was his--his love, his wife, his darling. A hundred tender names he
would call her then, having no ear to hear him but the melancholy
waves, no tongue to echo him but the wailing wind, and no eye to look
upon him but the eye of night.

And many a time on that homeward voyage, while the sails bellowed out
to the fair breeze that was carrying him to her, he asked himself
however he had been able to live so long without her, and whether he
could live without her now if evil chance plunged his great happiness
into greater grief. Thinking so, he recalled the day of her coming,
and the message he got from the ship in the harbor saying she had
come before her time, and how he had hastened down, and into the
boat, and across the bay, and aboard, with a secret trembling lest
the years might have so changed her as to take something from her
beauty, or her sweetness, or her goodness, or yet the bounding
playfulness that was half the true girl's charm. But, oh, the
delicious undeceiving of that day, when, coming face to face with her
again, he saw the rosy tint in her cheek and the little delicate
dimple sucked into it when she smiled, and the light footstep, and
the grace of motion, and the swelling throat, and the heaving bosom
and the quivering lids over the most glorious eyes that ever shone
upon this earth! So, at least, it had seemed to him then, and still
it seemed so as his ship sailed home.

At Smoky Point they lay off an hour or two to take in letters for the
capital, and there intelligence had come aboard of the arrest, trial,
and condemnation of Jason for his design and attempt upon the life of
the President. Michael Sunlocks had been greatly startled and deeply
moved by the news, and called on the master to weigh the anchor
without more delay than was necessary, because he had now a double
reason for wishing to be back in Reykjavik.

And being at length landed there he galloped up to Government House,
bounded indoors with the thought of his soul speaking out of his
eyes, and found Greeba there and every one of his sweetest visions
realized. All his hundred tender, foolish, delicious names he called
her over again, but with better ears to hear them, while he enfolded
her in his arms, with both her own about his neck, and her beautiful
head nestling close over his heart, and her fluttering breast against
his breast.

"Dearest," he whispered, "my darling, love of my life, however could
I leave you so long?"

"Michael," she whispered back, "if you say any more I shall be
crying."

But the words were half smothered by sobs, for she was crying
already. Seeing this, he sheered off on another tack, telling her of
his mission in search of her father, and that if he had not brought
the good man back, at least he had brought good news of him, and
saying that they were both to start to-morrow for Thingvellir with
the certainty of meeting him and bringing him home with great
rejoicings.

"And now, my love, I have a world of things to attend to before I can
go," said Michael Sunlocks, "and you have to prepare for two days in
the saddle over the snow."

Greeba had been smiling through the big drops that floated in her
eyes, but she grew solemn again, and said--

"Ah, Michael, you cannot think what trouble we have all had while you
have been away."

"I know it--I know all," said Michael Sunlocks, "so say no more about
it, but away to your room, my darling."

With that he rang a hand-bell that stood on the table, and Oscar, his
servant, answered the call.

"Go across to the jail," he said, "and tell Jon that his prisoner is
not to be removed until he has had orders from me."

"What prisoner, your Excellency?" said Oscar.

"The prisoner known as Jason," said Michael Sunlocks.

"He's gone, your Excellency," cried Oscar.

"Gone?"

"I mean to the Sulphur Mines, your Excellency."

"When was he sent?"

"Yesterday morning, at daybreak, your Excellency."

Michael Sunlocks sat at a table and wrote a few lines, and handed
them to his man, saying, "Then take this to the Lagmann, and say I
shall wait here until he comes."

While this was going forward Greeba had been standing by the door
with a troubled look, and when Oscar was gone from the room she
returned to her husband's side, and said, with great gravity,
"Michael, what are you going to do with that man?"

But Michael Sunlocks only waved his hand, and said, "Nay, now,
darling, you shall not trouble about this matter any more. It is my
affair, and it is for me to see to it."

"But he has threatened your life," cried Greeba.

"Now, love, what did I say?" said Michael Sunlocks, with uplifted
finger and a pretence at reproof. "You've fretted over this foolish
thing too long; so think no more about it, and go to your room."

She turned to obey.

"And, darling," he cried in another voice, as she was slowly going,
"that I may seem to have you with me all the same, just sing
something, and I shall hear you while I work. Will you? There!" he
cried, and laughed before she had time to answer. "See what a goose
you have made of me!"

She came back, and for reply she kissed his forehead, and he put his
lips to her lovely hand. Then, with a great lump in her throat, and
the big drops rolling from her eyes to her cheeks, she left him to
the work she sorely feared.

And being alone, and the candles lighted and the blinds drawn down,
for night had now fallen in, he sat at the table to read the mass of
letters that had gathered in his absence. There was no communication
of any kind from the Government at Copenhagen, and satisfying himself
on this point, and thinking for the fiftieth time that surely Denmark
intended, as she ought, to leave the people of world-old Iceland to
govern themselves, he turned with a sigh of relief to the strange,
bewildering, humorous, pathetic hodge-podge of petitions, complaints,
requests, demands and threats that came from every quarter of the
island itself. And while he laughed and looked grave, and muttered,
and made louder exclamations over these, as one by one they passed
under his eye, suddenly the notes of a harpsichord, followed shortly
by the sweeter notes of a sweet voice, came to him from another room,
and with the tip of his pen to his lips, he dropped back in his chair
to listen.

"My own song," he thought, and his eyelids quivered.

   "Drink to me only with thine eyes,
      And I will pledge with mine.
    Oh, leave a kiss within the cup,
      And I'll not ask for wine;
    The thirst that from the soul doth rise
      Doth ask a drink divine;
    But might I of Jove's nectar sup
      I would not change for thine."

It was Greeba singing to him as he had bidden her.

"God bless her," he thought again in the silence that followed.

Ah, little did he think as he listened to her song that the eyes of
the singer were wet, and that her heart was eating itself out with
fears.

"What have I done to deserve such happiness?" he asked himself. But
just as it happens that at the moment when our passionate joy becomes
conscious of itself we find some dark misgivings creep over us of
evil about to befall, so the bounding gladsomeness of Michael
Sunlocks was followed by a chill dread that he tried to put aside
and could not.

It was at that moment that the Lagmann entered the room. He was very
tall and slight, and had a large head that drooped like daffodil. His
dress was poor, he was short-sighted, growing elderly, and silent of
manner. Nothing in his appearance or bearing would have suggested
that he had any pride of his place as Judge of the island. He was a
bookworm, a student, a scholar, and learned in the old sagas and
eddas.

"Lagmann," said Michael Sunlocks, with simple deference. "I have sent
for you on a subject of some moment to myself."

"Name it!" said the Judge.

"During my absence a man has been tried and condemned by the Bishop's
court for threatening my life," said Michael Sunlocks.

"Jason, the son of Stephen Orry and Rachel, daughter of the late
Governor-General Jorgensen," said the Judge.

"That is he, and I want you to give me an opinion respecting him,"
said Michael Sunlocks.

"Gladly," said the Judge.

"He was sent to the Sulphur Mines," said Michael Sunlocks.

"For six months, certain," said the Judge.

"Can we recall him, and have him tried afresh by the Court of the
Quarter or the High Court of Justice?" said Michael Sunlocks.

"Too late for that," said the Judge. "A higher court, if it had
condemned at all, might certainly have given him a longer punishment,
but his sentence of six months is coupled with a condition that he
shall hereafter take an oath of peace towards you. So have no fear of
him."

"I have none at all," said Michael Sunlocks, "as my next question
will show."

"What is it?" said the Judge.

"Can I pardon him?" said Michael Sunlocks.

For a moment the Lagmann was startled out of his placid manner, but
recovering his composure he answered, "Yes, a President has sovereign
powers of pardon."

"Then, Lagmann," said Michael Sunlocks, "will you see the needful
papers drawn for my signature?"

"Surely," said the Judge. "But, first, will you pardon _me_?" he
added, with a shadow of a smile.

"Say what you please, Lagmann," said Michael Sunlocks.

"It is possible that you do not yet know the nature of the evidence
given at the trial," said the Judge.

"I think I do," said Michael Sunlocks.

"That this man claims to be your half-brother?"

"He _is_ my brother."

"That he thinks you have stood in his place?"

"I _have_ stood in his place."

"That he is jealous of you, and in his madness has vowed to slay
you?"

"His jealousy is natural, and his vow I do not dread."

The cold-mannered Lagmann paused a moment, wiped his short-sighted
eyes with his red print handkerchief, and then said in a husky voice,
"This is very noble of you. I'll go at once for the document."

He had only just gone from the room when Greeba returned to it. She
had tried too long to conquer her agitation and could not, and now
with wide eyes and a look of fear in them she hastened back to her
husband the moment the Lagmann had left him.

"Michael," she cried, "what has the Lagmann gone for?"

"For a form of pardon," he answered.

"Pardon for that man?" she asked.

"Even so," he said, "and I have promised to sign it."

"Oh, Michael, my love--my dear, kind Michael!" she cried, in a
pitiful voice of entreaty, "don't do it, don't I pray of you--don't
bring that man back."

"Why, Greeba, what is this?" said Michael Sunlocks. "What is it
troubles my little woman?"

"Dear Michael," she cried once more, "for your own sake think again
before you sign that pardon."

"Ah, I see," said he, "my darling has been all unstrung by this ugly
business. Yes, and now I remember what they told me down at Smoky
Point. It was my love herself that gave the poor lad up to justice.
That was very brave of my darling; for her husband, bless her dear
heart, was before all the world to her. Ah, yes, I know that all her
love is mine, her love is first and last with her as with all warm
natures. But she must not fear for me. No, she must not worry, but go
back, like a dear soul, and leave this matter to me."

"Michael, my dear, noble Michael, I have something to say; will you
not hear me?"

"No, no, no," he answered.

"Not for a moment? I have set my heart on telling you."

"Not for one little moment. But if you have set your heart on
anything else, then, my darling, just think of it double, whatever it
is, and it is yours already."

"But why may I not speak of this pardon?"

"Because, though I have never yet set eyes upon this poor man I know
more about him than my darling can ever know, and because it is
natural that her sweet little heart, that is as brave as a lion for
herself but as timid as a fawn for me, should exaggerate my peril. So
now, no more words about it, but go, go."

She was about to obey when the maid came to say that dinner was
ready. And then with a little shout of joy Michael Sunlocks threw
down his papers, encircled his arm about Greeba's waist, and drew her
along laughing, with her smiles fighting their way through her tears.

During the dinner he talked constantly of the dangers and trials and
amusing mischances of his voyage, laughing at them all now they were
over, and laughing at Greeba, too, for the woeful face with which she
heard of them. And when they rose from the table he called on her for
another song, and she sat at the harpsichord and sang, though
something was swelling in her throat and often her heart was in her
mouth. But he recked nothing of this, and only laughed when her sweet
voice failed her, and filled up the breaks with his own rich tones.

In the midst of the singing the maid came in and said something which
Michael Sunlocks did not catch, for it was drowned to his ear by the
gladsome uproar that he himself was making; but Greeba heard it and
stopped playing, and presently the Lagmann entered the room.

"A good thing is no worse for being done betimes," said the Judge,
"so here is the pardon ready to your hand for signature."

And with that he handed a paper to Michael Sunlocks, who said with
cheer, "You're right, Lagmann, you're right; and my wife will give
you a glass of wine while I write you my name."

"A cup of coffee, if you are taking it," said the Judge, with a bow
to Greeba, who saw nothing of it, for her eyes were following her
husband.

"Michael," she said, "I beseech you not to sign that paper. Only
give way to me this once; I have never asked you before, and I will
never ask you again. I am in earnest, Michael dear, and if you will
not yield to me for your own sake, yield to me for mine."

"How is this? How grave we are!" said Michael Sunlocks, pausing with
pen in hand.

"I know I have no right to meddle in such matters, but, dear Michael,
don't sign that pardon--don't bring that man back. I beseech you, I
beg of you."

"This is very strange," said Michael Sunlocks.

"It is also very simple," said the Judge, bringing his red
handkerchief up to his dim eyes again.

"What!" said Michael Sunlocks. "Greeba, you do not know this
man--this Jason?"

Greeba hesitated a moment, and glanced at the Lagmann.

"You don't know him?" repeated Michael Sunlocks.

She was sorely tempted, and she fell. "For my husband's sake," she
thought, and then with a prayer for pardon she lifted her head and
said falteringly, "No, no--why no, of course not."

Michael Sunlocks was satisfied. "'Why no, of course not,'" he echoed,
laughing a little, and then he dipped his quill in the ink-horn.

"But I beseech you again, do not bring that man back," she cried.

There was a painful pause, and, to cover it, the Lagmann said, "Your
husband is a brave-hearted man, who does not know the name of fear."

And then Michael Sunlocks said, "I will ask your pardon, Lagmann,
while I step into the next room with my wife. I have something to
tell her. Come, Greeba, come. I'll leave the document with you for
the present, Lagmann," he added over his shoulder as he passed out.
Greeba walked beside him with downcast eyes, like a guilty thing
condemned.

"Now, love," he said, when they were alone, "it is sweet and
beautiful of you to think so much of me, but there is something that
you do not know, and I ought to tell you. Maybe I hinted at it in my
letter, but there has never been a chance to explain. Have you heard
that this Jason is my brother?"

"Yes," said Greeba, faintly.

"It is true," said Michael Sunlocks. "And you know that when I first
came to Iceland it was not to join the Latin school, but on an errand
of mercy?"

"Yes," said Greeba.

"Well, the first of my duties was to find Jason's mother, and the
next, was to find Jason himself."

"Jason!" cried Greeba.

"Yes, it was my father who sent me, for they had suffered much
through his great fault, God forgive him! and I was to succor them in
their distress. You know what followed?"

"Yes," said Greeba, softly.

"I came too late for the mother; the good woman was in her grave. I
could not light upon her son, and lent an ear to the idle story that
he was dead also. My search ceased, my zeal flagged, and, putting
aside the solemn promise I made my father, I went on with my own
affairs. But I never believed that he was dead, and I felt I should
live to meet with him yet."

"Oh! oh!" cried Greeba.

"And many a time since my conscience has reproached me with a mission
unfulfilled; and, awakening from many a dream of the hour and the
place wherein I pledged my word to him that died trusting me, loving
me, doting on me--heaven pity him, bad man though he was--as never a
son was loved by a father before, it has not appeased me to say to
myself, 'Michael, while you are here, given up to your ambitions, he
is there amid the perils and hardships of the sea, and he is your
brother, and the only kinsman left to you in the wide world.'"

Greeba was sobbing by this time.

"And now, my darling, you know all, and why I wish to sign this
pardon. Could I ever know a moment's happiness with my brother
slaving like a beast at yonder mines? What if he is jealous of me,
and if his jealousy had driven him to madness! There is a sense in
which he is right. But, whether right or wrong, mad or sane, he shall
not be punished for my sake. So, dearest love, my darling, dry your
beautiful eyes, and let me ease my conscience the only way I may, for
I have no fear, and my wife must have none."

"Sunlocks," said Greeba, "you have made me ashamed. I am no fit wife
for a man like you. I am too little-hearted. Oh, why did I ever come?
Why? Why?" And she wept as if her heart would break. He comforted her
with tender protests, enfolding her in his arms and caressing her
lovely head.

"Tell me," he whispered, "nay, there, hide your face in my breast.
There, there, tell me now--tell me all."

"Sunlocks," she said, drawing back, "I have lied to you."

"Lied?"

"When I told you I had not known Jason I told you what was false."

"Then you have known him?"

"Yes, I knew him in the Isle of Man."

"The Isle of Man?"

"He lived there nearly five years."

"All the time he was away?"

"Yes, he landed the night you sailed. You crossed him on the sea."

"Greeba, why did he go there? Yet how should you know?"

"I do know, Michael--it was to fulfil his vow--his vow that the old
priest spoke of in court--his wicked vow of vengeance."

"On my father?"

"On your father and on you."

"God in heaven!" cried Michael Sunlocks, with great awe. "And that
very night my father was saved from his own son by death."

"It was he who saved your father from the sea."

"Wait," said Michael Sunlocks; "did you know of this vow before you
accused him of an attempt upon me?"

Greeba caught her breath, and answered, "Yes."

"Did you know of it while you were still in the Isle of Man?"

"Yes," she answered again, more faintly.

"Did he tell you?"

"Yes, and he bound me by a promise never to speak of it, but I could
not keep it from my own husband."

"That's strange," said Michael Sunlocks, with a look of pain. "To
share a secret like that with you was very strange," he added.

Greeba was flurried, and said again, too bewildered to see which way
her words were tending, "And he gave me his promise in return to put
aside his sinful purpose."

"That's still stranger," said Michael Sunlocks. "Greeba," he added,
in another tone, "why should you say you did not know Jason?"

"Because the Lagmann was with us."

"But why, my girl? Why?"

"Lest evil rumors might dishonor my husband."

"But where was the dishonor to me in my wife knowing this poor lad,
Greeba?"

At that she hesitated a moment, and then in a tone of gentle reproof
she said, nestling close to him and caressing his sleeve, "Michael,
why do you ask such questions?"

But he did not turn aside for that, but looked searchingly into her
face, and said, "He was nothing to you, was he?"

She hesitated again, and then tried to laugh, "Why, what should he be
to me?" she said.

He did not flinch, but repeated, "He was nothing to you then?"

"Nobody save my husband has ever been anything to me," she said, with
a caress.

"He was nothing to you--no?"

"No," she answered, throwing back her head.

Just then the English maid came to say that the six big Englishmen
who had been there before were in the kitchen again, and asking to
see her master, not her mistress, this time. In an instant Greeba's
little burst of disdain was spent, and she was all humility and
entreaty.

"Don't go to them," she cried. "Don't listen to them."

"Who are they?" he asked.

"My brothers. I have not had time to tell you, but I will tell you
now."

She put her arms about his neck as if to hold him.

"What have they come for?"

"To tell you some falsehood, and so revenge themselves on me. I know
it, I feel it. Ah, a woman's instinct is sure. But, dear Michael, you
will not receive them. Refuse, and I will tell you such a story. And
you will laugh----"

"Let me go, Greeba," he said, unloosing the grip of her tightening
arms, and the next moment he was gone from the room. Then all the
spirit of the woman arose in Greeba, and, throwing aside her vague
fears, she resolved, as only a woman could, in the cruel hour when a
dear heart seemed to be slipping away from her, that, come what
would, she should hold to her husband at all hazards, and that
whatever her brothers might say against her, let it be true or false,
if it threatened to separate her from him, she must deny it. What
matter about the truth? Her love was before everything. And who was
to disprove her word? Jason alone could do so, and his tongue was
sealed forever in a silence as deep as the grave's.

Michael Sunlocks went out of the room like a man in a dream: an ugly
dream, a dream of darkening terrors undefined. He came back to it
like one who has awakened to find that his dream has come true.
Within one hour his face seemed to have grown old. He stooped, he
stumbled on the floor, his limbs shook under him, he was a broken and
sorrowful man. At sight of him Greeba could scarcely restrain an
impulse to scream. She ran to him, and cried, "Michael, husband, what
have they told you?"

At first he looked stupidly into her quivering face, and then
glancing down at a paper he held in one hand he made an effort to
conceal it behind him. She was too quick for him, and cried, "What is
it? Show it me."

"It's nothing," he said; "nothing, love, nothing----"

"What have they told you?" she said again, "tell me--tell me."

"They say that you loved Jason," he answered with a great effort.

"It's a lie," she cried stoutly.

"They say that you were to marry him."

She tried to answer as stoutly as before, "And that's a lie, too,"
but the words stuck in her throat.

"Oh! God," he cried, and turned away from her.

There was a stove in the room, and he stepped up to it, opened the
iron door, and thrust the paper into the crackling fire.

"What is that you are burning?" she cried. And in another moment,
before he knew what she was doing, she had run to the stove, pulled
back with her bare hands the hot door that he was closing with the
tongs, thrust her arm into the fire, and brought out the paper. It
was in flames, and she rolled it in her palms until little but its
charred remains lay in her scorched fingers. But she saw what it had
been--her own abandoned letter to Red Jason. Then, slowly looking up,
she turned back to her husband, pale, a fearful chill creeping over
her, and he had thrown himself down on a chair by the table and
hidden his face in his arms.

It was a pitiful and moving sight. To see that man, so full of hope
and love and simple happy trust a little hour ago, lie there with
bent head and buried eyes, and hands clasped together convulsively,
because the idol he had set up for himself lay broken before him,
because the love wherein he lived lay dead; and to see that woman, so
beautiful, and in heart so true, though dogged by the malice of evil
chance, though weak as a true woman may be, stand over him with
whitening lips and not a word to utter--to see this was to say, "What
devil of hell weaves the web of circumstance in this world of God?"

Then, with a cry of love and pain in one, she flung herself on her
knees beside him, and enfolded him in her arms. "Michael," she said,
"my love, my darling, my dear kind husband, forgive me, and let me
confess everything. It is true that I was to have married Jason, but
it is not true that I loved him. I esteemed him, for he is of a
manly, noble soul, and after the departure of my father and the death
of my mother, and amid the cruelties of my brothers and your own
long, long silence, I thought to reward him for his great fidelity.
But I loved you, you only, only you, dear Michael, and when your
letter reached me at last I asked him to release me that I might come
to you, and he did so, and I came. This is the truth, dear Michael,
as sure as we shall meet before God some day."

Michael Sunlocks lifted his face and said, "Why did you not tell me
this long ago, Greeba, and not now when it is dragged from you?"

She did not answer him, for to be met with such a question after a
plea so abject, stung her to the quick. "Do you not believe I've told
you the truth?" she asked.

"God knows; I know not what to believe," he answered.

"Do you rather trust my brothers, who have deceived you?" she said.

"So, heaven help me! has my wife, whom I have loved so dear."

At that she drew herself up. "Michael," she said, "what lie have
these men told you? Don't keep it from me. What have I done?"

"Married me, while loving him," he answered. "That's enough for me,
God pity me!"

"Do you believe that?" she said.

"Your concealments, your deceptions, your subterfuges all prove it,"
he said. "Oh, it is killing me, for it is the truth."

"So you believe that?" she said.

"If I had not written you would now be Jason's wife," he said. "And
by this light I see his imprisonment. It was you who accused him of a
design upon my life. Why? Because you knew what he had confessed to
you. For your own ends you used his oath against him, knowing he
could not deny it. And what was your purpose? To put him away. Why?
Because he was pursuing you for deserting him. But you made his vow
your excuse, and the brave lad said nothing. No, not a word; and yet
he might have dishonored you before them all. And when I wished to
sign his pardon you tried to prevent me. Was that for my sake? No,
but yours. Was it my life you thought to protect? No, but your own
secret."

Thus, in the agony of his tortured heart, the hot hard words came
from him in a torrent, but before the flood of them was spent, Greeba
stepped up to him with flashing eyes, and all the wrath in her heart
that comes of outraged love, and cried,

"It is false. It is false, I say. Send for him and he himself will
deny it. I can trust him, for he is of a noble soul. Yes, he is a man
indeed. I challenge you to send for him. Let him come here. Bring him
before me, and he shall judge between us."

"No," said Michael Sunlocks, "I will not send for him. For what _you_
have done _he_ shall suffer."

Then there was a knock at the door, and after a pause the Lagmann
entered, with his stoop and uncertain glance. "Excuse me," he said,
"will you sign the pardon now, or leave it until the morning?"

"I will not sign it at all," said Michael Sunlocks. But at the next
moment he cried: "Wait! after all it is not the man's fault, and he
shall not suffer." With that he took the paper out of the law-man's
hand and signed it hurriedly. "Here," he said, "see that the man is
set free immediately."

The Lagmann looked at both of them out of his nearsighted eyes,
coughed slightly, and left the room without a word more.



CHAPTER XII.

THE PRESIDENT OR THE MAN.


I.

When the Fairbrothers left Government House after their dirty work
was done, Jacob was well content with himself, but his brothers were
still grumbling.

"He didn't seem any ways keen to believe it," Thurstan muttered.

"Leave him alone for that," said Jacob. "Did ye see when I gave him
the letter?"

"Shoo! I wouldn't trust but she will persuade him she never writ it,"
said Thurstan.

"He's got it anyways, and we have nothing to show for it," said
Stean.

"And noways powerful grateful either. And where's the fortune that
was coming straight to our hand?" said Ross.

"Chut, man, there's nothing for us in his mighty schame," said
Thurstan.

"I always said so," said Asher; "and five and thirty pounds of good
money thrown into the sea."

"Go on," said Jacob, with a lofty smile, "go on, don't save your
breath for your porridge," and he trudged along ahead of his
brethren. Presently he stopped, faced about to them, and said, "Boys,
you're mighty sure that nothing is coming of this mighty schame,"
with a look of high disdain at Thurstan.

"Sure as death and the taxman," sneered Thurstan.

"Then there's a boat sailing for Dublin at high water, and I'll give
five and thirty pounds apiece to every man of you that likes to go
home with her."

At that there was an uneasy scraping of five pairs of feet, and much
hum-ing and ha-ing and snuffling.

"Quick, which of you is it to be? Speak out, and don't all speak at
once," said Jacob.

Then Asher, with a look of outraged reason, said, "What! and all our
time go for nothing, and the land lying fallow for months, and the
winter cabbage not down, and the men's wages going on?"

"You won't take it?" said Jacob.

"A paltry five and thirty, why, no," said Asher.

"Then let's have no more of your badgering," said Jacob.

"But, Jacob, tell us where's our account in all this jeel with the
girl and the Governor," said Gentleman John.

"Find it out," said Jacob, with a flip of finger and thumb, as he
strode on again before his brothers.

"Aw, lave him alone," said Stean. "He's got his schame."


II.

Next morning, before the light was yet good, and while the warm vapor
was still rising into the chill air from the waters of the fiord,
Michael Sunlocks sat at work in the room that served him for office
and study. His cheeks were pale, his eyes were heavy, and his whole
countenance was haggard. But there was a quiet strength in his slow
glance and languid step that seemed to say that in spite of the tired
look of age about his young face and lissome figure he was a man of
immense energy, power of mind and purpose.

His man Oscar was bustling in and out of the room on many errands.
Oscar was a curly-headed youth of twenty, with a happy upward turn of
the corners of the mouth, and little twinkling eyes full of a bright
fire.

The lad knew that there was something amiss with his master by some
queer twist of nature that gave a fillip to his natural cheerfulness.

Michael Sunlocks would send Oscar across the arg to the house of the
Speaker, and at the next moment forget that he had done so, touch the
bell, walk over to the stove, stir the fire, and when the door opened
behind him deliver his order a second time without turning round. It
would be the maid who had answered the bell, and she would say, "If
you please, your Excellency, Oscar has gone out. You sent him across
to the Speaker." And then Michael Sunlocks would bethink himself and
say, "True, true; you are quite right."

He would write his letters twice, and sometimes fold them without
sealing them; he would read a letter again and again and not grasp
its contents. His coffee and toast that had been brought in on a tray
lay untouched until both were cold, though they had been set to stand
on the top of the stove. He would drop his pen to look vacantly out
at the window, and cross the room without an object, and stand
abruptly and seem to listen.

The twinkling eyes of young Oscar saw something of this, and when
the little English maid stopped the lad in the long passage and
questioned him of his master's doings, he said with a mighty knowing
smirk that the President was showing no more sense and feeling and
gumption that morning than a tortoise within its shell.

Towards noon the Fairbrothers asked for Michael Sunlocks, and were
shown into his room. They entered with many bows and scrapes, and
much stroking of their forelocks. Michael Sunlocks received them
gravely, with an inclination of the head, but no words.

"We make so bold as to come to see you again," said Jacob, "for we've
got lands at us lying fallow--the lot of us, bar myself, maybe--and
we must be getting back and putting a sight on them."

Michael Sunlocks bowed slightly.

"We've lost a good crop by coming," said Jacob, "and made no charge
neither, though it's small thanks you get in this world for doing
what's fair and honest."

"Well?" said Michael Sunlocks.

"She never was good to them that was good to her," said Jacob, "and
we're taking sorrow to see that we're not the only ones that suffer
from her ingratitude."

"Not another word on that head," said Michael Sunlocks. "What do you
want?"

"Want? Well, it isn't so mortal kind to say _want_," said Jacob, with
the look of one whose self-respect had been wounded.

"A man may be poor, but a poor man has got feelings," said Asher.

"Poor or rich, I say again, 'What do you want?'" said Michael
Sunlocks.

"Only to say that we're going to keep this little thing quiet," said
Jacob.

"Aw, quiet, quiet," said the others.

"I must leave that to you," said Michael Sunlocks.

"Aw, and safe, too," said Jacob, "for what for should we be going
disgracing our own sister? It isn't natural, and her the wife of the
President, too."

"Aw, no, no," said the brethren.

"He won't hear a word against her for all," whispered John to Jacob.

"A girl may be a bit wild, and doing sweethearting before she was
married," said Jacob, "but that is no reason why all the world should
be agate of her, poor thing; and what's it saying, 'The first slip is
always forgotten?'"

"Silence," said Michael Sunlocks, sternly. "If this is what you have
come to say, we can cut this meeting short."

"Lord-a-massy," cried Asher. "Is he for showing us the door, too?"

"Who says so?" said Jacob, changing his tone. Then facing about to
Michael Sunlocks, he said, "It wouldn't do to be known that the
President of Iceland had married a bad woman--would it?"

Michael Sunlocks did not reply, and Jacob answered himself: "No, of
course not. So perhaps you'll give me back that letter I lent you
yesterday."

"I haven't got it. It is destroyed," said Michael Sunlocks.

"Destroyed!" cried Jacob.

"Make yourself easy about it," said Michael Sunlocks. "It will do no
more mischief. It's burnt. I burnt it myself."

"Burnt it?" Jacob exclaimed. "Why, do you know, I set great store by
that letter? I wouldn't have lost it for a matter of five hundred
pounds."

Michael Sunlocks could bear no more. In an instant the weary look had
gone from his face. His eyes flashed with anger; he straightened
himself up, and brought his fist down on the table. "Come," he cried,
"let us have done with this fencing. You want me to pay you five
hundred pounds. Is that it?"

"For the letter--that's it," said Jacob.

"And if I refuse to do so you mean to publish it abroad that I have
married a wicked woman?"

"Aw, when did we say so?" said Jacob.

"No matter what you say. You want five hundred pounds?"

"For the letter."

"Answer. You want five hundred pounds?"

"For the letter."

"Then you shall not have one sixpence. Do you think I would pay you
for a thing like that? Listen to me. I would give you all the wealth
of the world, if I had it, never to have heard your evil news."

"That won't pass, master," said Jacob. "It's easy said now the
letter's gone, and no danger left. But five hundred pounds I'll have
or I'll not leave Iceland till Iceland knows something more than she
knows to-day."

"Say what you like, do what you like," cried Michael Sunlocks; "but
if ever you set foot in this house again, I'll clap every man of you
in jail for blackmailing."


III.

Out again in the chilly dusky air, with the hard snow under foot, the
Fairbrothers trudged along. Jacob gloomed as dark as any pitch, and
Thurstan's red eyes, like fire of ice, probed him with a burning
delight.

"I always said so," Asher whimpered; and then over Jacob's stooping
shoulder he whispered, "I'll take half of what you offered me, and
leave you to it."

Hearing that Thurstan laughed fiercely, and repeated his hot
christenings of two days before--"Numskull! tomfool! blatherskite!"
and yet choicer names beside. Jacob bore all and showed no rancor,
but trampled along ahead of the others, crestfallen, crushed, and
dumb. And, left to themselves for conversation and comfort, his
brethren behind compared notes together.

"Strange! He doesn't seem to care what is thought of his wife," said
John.

"Aw, what's disgrace to a craythur same as that? Like mother like
son," said Ross.

"She had better have married the other one," said Asher, "and I
always said so."

"It's self, self, self, with a man like yonder," said Stean.

"Curse him for a selfish brute," said John.

"Aw, an unfeeling monster," said Ross.

And with such heat of anger these generous souls relieved themselves
on the name of Michael Sunlocks.

"Boys," said Thurstan, "maybe he has no feeling for the girl, but
I'll go bail he has some for himself, and I wouldn't trust but he'd
be feeling it mortal keen if he was after getting pulled down from
his berth."

"What d'ye mean?" asked all four at once.

"Leave that to myself," said Thurstan, "and maybe since I set foot
ashore I've heard tell of schames that's going."


IV.

Greeba sat in her room, trying to cheat time of its weary hours by
virtue of much questioning of her little English maid, who from time
to time brought news of Michael Sunlocks. He had risen very early, as
early as mid-morning (six o'clock), and ever since then he had been
writing in his office. Oscar had been running here and there for him,
first to the Senate, then to the Speaker's, and then to the Bishop's.
The tall doorkeeper, stammering Jon, had seen him, being sent for,
and the feckless busybody had told him ever such needless stories of
the jellies and the soups and the mistress's visit to the poor man in
the prison, and however people got wind of things was just puzzling
beyond words.

With such cackle and poor company Greeba passed her time, thinking no
ill of the pert little maid who dressed up her hair and dressed down
her pride as well, for a woman will have any confidante rather than
none, and the sweetest and best of women, being estranged from her
husband, her true stay and support, will lay hold of the very
sorriest staff to lean on. And the strange twist of little natures,
that made Oscar perky while his master was melancholy, made the maid
jubilant while her mistress wept. She was a dark-haired mite with
eyes of the shallow brightness of burnished steel. Her name was
Elizabeth. She meant no harm to anyone.

Towards noon the little woman burst into the room with great
eagerness, and cried, in a hushed whisper, "The Speaker has come. I
am sure that something is going to happen; Oscar says so, too. What
is it? What can it be?"

Greeba listened, and carried herself bravely while the maid was near,
but when the door had closed upon the chatterer she leaned against
the window and cried, hearing nothing but her own weeping and the
grief of the half-frozen river that flowed beneath. Then, drying her
eyes and summoning what remained of her pride, she left her own room
to go to the room of her husband.


V.

In his little silk skullcap and spectacles the Lagmann came back, for
he was Judge and Speaker in one, and found Michael Sunlocks alone. At
a glance he saw that the trouble of the night before had deepened,
and that something of great moment was afoot.

"Lagmann," said Michael Sunlocks, "I wish you to summon both Chambers
to meet at the Senate House to-morrow night."

"It will be inconvenient," said the Speaker, "for the Committee of
Althing has risen, and the members are preparing to go back home."

"That is why I wish them to be summoned at once," said Michael
Sunlocks.

"Is the matter of such pressing importance?" asked the Speaker.

"It is; and it admits of no delay," answered Michael Sunlocks.

"May I mention its purport?" said the Speaker.

"Say only that the President has a message for Althing," said Michael
Sunlocks.

"At what hour to-morrow night?" asked the Speaker.

"At mid-evening," answered Michael Sunlocks, and then, with the sigh
of a weary man, he turned towards the stove.

The Speaker glanced at him with his dim eyes screwed up, pushed back
his little skullcap, and ran his forefinger along his bald crown,
then shook his head gravely and left the room, saying within himself,
"Why this haste? And why the message? Ah, these impetuous souls that
rise so high and so fast sometimes go down headlong to the abyss!"


VI.

Michael Sunlocks was turning round from the stove when Greeba
entered, and for all the womanly courage with which she tried to
carry herself before him, he could see that she looked frightened,
and that her eyes sought his eyes for mercy and cheer.

"Michael," she cried, "what is it that you are about to do? Tell me.
I cannot bear this suspense any longer."

He made her no answer, but sat at his desk and lifted his pen. At
that she stamped her foot and cried again--

"Tell me, tell me. I cannot, and I will not bear it."

But he knew, without lifting his head, that with all her brave
challenge, and the spark of her defiant eyes, behind her dark lashes
a great tear-drop lay somewhere veiled. So he showed no anger, and
neither did he reply to her appeal, but made some show of going on
with his writing.

And being now so far recovered from her first fear as to look upon
his face with eyes that could see it, Greeba realized all that she
had but partly guessed from the chatter of her maid, of the sad havoc
the night had made with him. At that she could bear up no longer, for
before her warm woman's feeling all her little stubborn spirit went
down as with a flood, and she flung herself at his feet and cried,
"Michael, forgive me; I don't know what I am saying."

But getting no answer to her passionate agony any more than her hot
disdain, her pride got the better of her again, and she tried to
defend herself with many a simple plea, saying between a sob and a
burst of wrath that if she had deceived him, and said what was barely
true, it was only from thinking to defend his happiness.

"And why," she cried, "why should I marry you while loving him?"

Then, for the first time, he raised his head and answered her--

"Because of your pride, Greeba--your fatal pride," he said; "your
pride that has been your bane since you were a child and you went to
London and came back the prouder of your time there. I thought it was
gone; but the old leaven works as potently as before, and rises up to
choke me. I ought to have known it, Greeba, that your old lightness
would lead you to some false dealing yet, and I have none but myself
to blame."

Now if he had said this with any heat of anger, or with any rush of
tears, she would have known by the sure instinct of womanhood that he
loved her still, and was only fighting against love in vain. Then she
would have flung herself into his arms with a burst of joy and a cry
of "My darling, you are mine, you are mine." But instead of that he
spoke the hard words calmly, coldly, and without so much as a sigh,
and by that she knew that the heart of his love had been killed
within him, and now lay dead before her. So, stung to the quick, she
said, "You mean that I deserted Jason because he was poor, and came
here to you because you are rich. It is false--cruelly, basely false.
You know it is false; or, if you don't, you ought."

"I am far from rich, Greeba," he said, "although to your pride I may
seem so, seeing that he whom you left for the sake of the poor glory
of my place here was but a friendless sailor lad."

"I tell you it is false," she cried. "I could have loved my husband
if he had never had a roof over his head. And yet you tell me that?
You that should know me so well! How dare you?" she cried, and by the
sudden impulse of her agony, with love struggling against anger, and
fire and tears in her eyes together, she lifted up her hand and
struck him on the breast.

That blow did more than any tearful plea to melt the icy mistrust
that had all night been freezing up his heart, but before he had time
to reply Greeba was on her knees before him, praying of him to
forgive her, because she did not know what she was doing.

"But, Michael," she said again, "it isn't true. Indeed, indeed, it is
not, and it is very, very cruel. Yes, I am proud, very proud, but I
am proudest of all of my husband. Proud of him, proud for him--proud
that he should be the bravest and noblest gentleman in the world.
That is the worst of my pride, Michael--that I want to be proud of
him I love. But if that might not have been, and he had been the
lowliest man on earth, I could have shared his lot though it had been
never so poor and humble, so that I could have had him beside me
always."

As he listened to her passionate words there was a fluttering at his
throat. "Are you sure of that, Greeba?" he said.

"Only let me prove it to you," she cried, with the challenge of
beauty in her beautiful eyes.

"So you shall, Greeba," he said, "for we leave this house to-morrow."

"What?" she cried, rising to her feet.

"Yes," he said, "from to-morrow our condition will be different. So
get yourself ready to go away from here."

Then her courageous challenge sank away in an instant.

"Whatever do you mean?" she cried, in great terror.

"If you have married the President you shall live with the man," he
answered.

"Oh, Michael, Michael, what are you going to do?" she cried. "To
degrade yourself?"

"Even so," he said calmly.

"To punish me?" she cried, "To prove me? To test me?"

"If you can go through with it I shall be happy and content," he
answered.

"Are you then to be nothing in Iceland?" she said.

"And what of that?" he asked. "Think of what you have just been
saying."

"Then I have come into your life to wreck it," she cried. "Yes, I, I!
Michael," she added, more quietly, "I will go away. I would not bring
shame and humiliation upon you for all that the world can give. I
will leave you."

"That you never shall," said Michael Sunlocks. "We are man and wife
now, and as man and wife we shall live together."

"I tell you I will not stay," she cried.

"And I tell you," he replied, "that I am your husband, and you shall
give me a wife's obedience."

"Michael, dear Michael," she said, "it is for your own good that I
want to leave you, so that the great promise of your life may not be
wasted. It is I who am breaking in upon it. And I am nothing. Let me
go."

"It is too late, Greeba. As poor man and poor woman we must pass the
rest of our life together."

At that she burst into sobs again, blaming her brothers, and telling
of their mean mission, and how she resented it, and what revenge of
wicked slander they had wreaked upon her.

"You see it is all an error," she cried: "a cruel, cruel error."

"No, Greeba, it is not all an error," he answered. "It is not an
error that you deceived me--and lied to me."

At that word her tears fell back, and the fire of her heart was in
her eyes in an instant. "You say that, do you?" she cried. "Ah, then,
perhaps there has been yet another error than you think of--the error
of throwing him away for sake of you. He is noble, and simple, and
true. His brave heart is above all suspicion. God pity him, and
forgive me!"

Then for the first time that day since the six Fairbrothers had left
the house, the calmness of Michael Sunlocks forsook him, and in a
stern voice, with a look of fierce passion in his face, he cried,
"Let me never, never meet that man. Five years ago I came here to
save him, but now if we ever come face to face it will be the hour of
his death or mine."



CHAPTER XIII.

THE FALL OF MICHAEL SUNLOCKS.


When the Fairbrothers, in the first days after their coming to
Iceland, started inquiries touching the position and influence of
Michael Sunlocks, thinking thereby to make sure of their birds in the
bush before parting with their bird in the hand, they frequented a
little drinking-shop in the Cheapstead where sailors of many nations
congregated, Danes, Icelanders, Norwegians, English, and Irish.
Hearing there what satisfied their expectations, their pride began to
swell, and as often as Michael Sunlocks was named with honor they
blew up their breasts like bantams and said he was their brother, so
to speak, and had been brought up in the same house with them since
he was a slip of a brat of two or three. And if any who heard them
glanced them over with doubtful eyes they straightway broke into
facetious stories concerning the boyhood of Sunlocks, showing all
their wondrous kindness to him as big brothers towards a little one.

Now these trifling events were of grave consequence to the fortunes
of the Fairbrothers, and the fate of Michael Sunlocks, at two great
moments. The first of the two was when Thurstan broke into open
rebellion against Jacob. Then, with a sense of his wise brother's
pitiable blunderheadedness, the astute Thurstan went off to the same
drinking-shop to console himself with drink, and there he was
addressed, when he was well and comfortably drunk, by a plausible
person who spoke an unknown tongue. The end of that conference was
nevertheless an idea firmly settled in Thurstan's mind that if he
could not get money out of Michael Sunlocks he could at least get
satisfaction.

This was the matter that Thurstan darkly hinted at when Jacob, being
utterly discomfited, had to leave all further schemes to his
brethren. So that day he returned to his rendezvous, met the
plausible person again, and later in the evening sought out his
brothers and said, "Didn't I tell ye to leave to me?"

"What's going doing?" said four voices at once.

"Plucking him down, the upstart, that's what's going doing," said
Thurstan.

Then to five pairs of eager ears it slowly leaked out that a Danish
ship lay in the harbor with a mysterious cargo of great casks,
supposed to contain tallow; that after discharging their contents
these casks were to be filled with shark's oil; that waiting the time
to fill them they were to be stored (as all other warehouses were
full of bonder's stock) in the little cell of detention under the
senate-house; and, finally and most opportunely, that a meeting of
Althing had been summoned on special business for the next night
following, and that Michael Sunlocks was to be present.

The Fairbrothers heard all this with eyes that showed how well they
understood it and keenly gloated over it. And late the same night the
cargo of great casks was unshipped at the jetty, wheeled up to the
senate-house and lodged there, carefully, silently, one by one.
Thurstan helping, a few stragglers looking on, the stammering
doorkeeper, long Jon, not anywhere visible, and no one else in the
little sleepy town a whit the wiser. This being done, Thurstan went
back to his lodging with the content of a soul at ease, saying to
himself, "As I say, if we don't get anything else, we'll get
satisfaction; and if we get what's promised I've a safe place to put
it until the trouble's over and we can clear away, and that's the
little crib under the turret of the cathedral church."

Then the worthy man lay down to sleep.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before Thurstan was awake next morning Reykjavik was all astir.
It had become known that a special sitting of Althing had been
summoned for that night, and because nothing was known much was said
concerning the business afoot. People gathered in groups where the
snow of the heavy drifts had been banked up at the street corners,
and gossiped and guessed. Such little work as the great winter left
to any man was done in haste or not at all, that men might meet in
the stores, the drinking-shops, and on the Cheapstead and ask, "Why?"
"Wherefore?" and "What does it mean?" That some event of great moment
was pending seemed to be the common opinion everywhere, though what
ground it rested on no one knew, for no one knew anything. Only on
one point was the feeling more general, or nearer right; that the
President himself was at the root and centre of whatever was coming.

Before nightfall this vague sentiment, which ever hovers, like a dark
cloud over a nation when a storm is near to breaking upon it, had
filled every house in the capital, so that when the hour was come for
the gathering of Althing the streets were thronged. Tow-headed
children in goatskin caps ran here and there, women stood at the
doors of houses, young girls leaned out of windows in spite of the
cold, sailors and fishermen with pipes between their lips and their
hands deep in their pockets lounged in grave silence outside the
taverns, and old men stood under the open lamps by the street corners
and chewed and snuffed to keep themselves warm.

In the neighborhood of the wooden senate-house on the High Street the
throng was densest, and such of the members as came afoot had to
crush their ways to the door. All the space within that had been
allotted to the public was filled as soon as stammering Jon opened
the side door. When no more room was left the side door was closed
again and locked, and it was afterwards remembered, when people had
time to put their heads together, that long Jon was there and then
seen to pass the key of this side door to one of the six English
strangers who had lately come to the town. That stranger was Thurstan
Fairbrother.

The time of waiting before the proceedings commenced was passed by
those within the Senate House in snuff-taking and sneezing and
coughing, and a low buzz of conversation, full of solemn conjecture.

The members came in twos and threes, and every fresh comer was
quizzed for a hint of the secret of the night. But grave and silent,
when taken together, with the gravity and solemnity of so many oxen,
and some of the oxen's sullen stupidity, were the faces both of
members and spectators. Yet among both were faces that told of amused
unbelief; calculating spirits that seemed to say that all this
excitement was a bubble and would presently burst like one; sapient
souls who, when the world is dead, will believe in no judgment until
they hear the last trump.

There were two parties in the Senate--the Church party, that wanted
religion to be the basis of the reformed government; and the
Levellers, who wished the distinctions of clergy and laity to be
abolished so far as secular power could go. The Church party was led
by the Bishop, who was a member of the higher chamber, the Council,
by virtue of his office; the Levellers were led by the little man
with piercing eyes and the square brush of iron-gray hair who had
acted as spokesman to the Court at the trial of Red Jason. As each of
these arrived there was a faint commotion through the house.

Presently the Speaker came shuffling in, wiping his brow with his red
handkerchief, and at the same moment the thud of a horse's hoofs on
the hard snow outside, followed by a deep buzz as of many voices--not
cheering nor yet groaning--told of the coming of the President.

Then, amid suppressed excitement, Michael Sunlocks entered the
house, looking weary, pale, much older, and stooping slightly under
his flaxen hair, as if conscious of the gaze of many eyes fixed
steadfastly upon him.

After the Speaker had taken his chair, Michael Sunlocks rose in his
place amid dead stillness.

"Sir, and gentlemen," he said in a tense voice, speaking slowly,
calmly and well, "you are met here at my instance to receive a
message of some gravity. It is scarcely more than half a year since
it was declared and enacted by this present Council of Althing that
the people of Iceland were and should be constituted, established and
confirmed to be a Republic or Free State, governed by the Supreme
Authority of the Nation, the people's representatives. You were then
pleased to do me the honor of electing me to be your first President,
and though I well knew that no man had less cause to put himself
forward in the cause of his country than I, being the youngest among
you, the least experienced, and, by birth, an Englishman, yet I
undertook the place I am now in because I had taken a chief hand in
pulling down the old order, and ought, therefore, to lend the best
help I could towards putting up the new. Other reasons influenced me,
such as the desire to keep the nation from falling amid many internal
dissensions into extreme disorder and becoming open to the common
enemy. I will not say that I had no personal motives, no private
aims, no selfish ambitions in stepping in where your confidence
opened the way, but you will bear me witness that in the employment
to which the nation called me, though there may have been passion and
mistakes, I have endeavored to discharge the duty of an honest man."

There was a low murmur of assent, then a pause, then a hush, and then
Michael Sunlocks continued:

"But, gentlemen, I have come to see that I am not able for such a
trust as the burden of this government, and I now beg to be dismissed
of my charge."

Then the silence was broken by many exclamations of surprise. They
fell on the ear of Michael Sunlocks like the ground-swell of a
distant sea. His white face quivered, but his eye was bright, and he
did not flinch.

"It is no doubt your concernment to know what events and what
convictions have so suddenly influenced me, and I can only claim your
indulgence in withholding that part of both that touches the interests
of others. For myself, I can but say that I have made mistakes and
lost self-confidence; that being unable to manage my own affairs I am
unwilling to undertake the affairs of the nation; that I am convinced
I am unfit for the great place I hold; that any name were fitter than
mine for my post, any person fitter than I am for its work; and I say
this from my heart, God knows."

He was listened to in silence but amid a tumult of unheard emotion,
and as he went on his voice, though still low, was so charged with
suppressed feeling that it seemed in that dead stillness to rise to a
cry.

"Gentlemen," he said, "though this may come on you with surprise do
not think it has been lightly resolved upon, or that it is to me a
little thing to renounce the honor with the burden of government; I
will deal plainly and faithfully with you and say that all my heart
was in the work you gave me, and though I held my life in my hand, I
was willing to adventure it in that high place where the judgment of
Althing placed me. So if I beg of you to release me I sacrifice more
by my resignation than you by your dismissal. If I had pride, heaven
has humbled it, and that is a righteous judgment of God. Young and
once hopeful, I am withdrawing from all sight of hope. I am giving up
my cherished ambitions and the chances of success. When I leave this
place you will see me no more. I am to be as nothing henceforward,
for the pole-star of my life is gone out. So not without feeling, not
without pain, I ask you to dismiss me and let me go my ways."

He sat down upon these words amid the stunned stupefaction of those
who heard him, and when he had ceased to speak it seemed as if he
were still speaking. Presently the people recovered their breath and
there was the harsh grating of feet, and a murmur like a low sough of
wind.

Then rose the little man with the brush hair, the leader of the
Levellers, and the chief opponent of Michael Sunlocks in the
Presidency. His name was Grimmsson. Clearing his throat, raspily, he
began to speak in short, jerky sentences. This was indeed a surprise
that moved the house to great astonishment. There was a suspicion of
mock heroics about it that he, for his part, could not shake off, for
they all knew the President for a dreamer of dreams. The President
had said that it was within the concernment of Althing to know how it
stood that he had so suddenly and surprisingly become convinced of
his unfitness. Truly he was right there. Also the President had said
that he had undertaken his post not so much out of hope of doing any
good as out of a desire to prevent mischief and evil. Yet what was he
now doing? Running them headlong into confusion and disorder.

The leader of the Levellers sat down, and a dark-browed fellow from
among his followers rose in his place. What did this hubbub mean? If
the President had been crazy in his health they might have understood
it; but the Lord was pleased to preserve him. Perhaps they had to
look deeper. Whispers were abroad among some who had been near to the
President's person that the time had come to settle the order and
prosperity of Iceland on a new basis. He made no doubt such whispers
implied a Protectorate, perhaps even a Monarchy. Did the President
think to hasten the crisis that would lead to that change? Did he
hope to alter the name of President for Protector, or for something
yet higher? Was he throwing his sprat to catch a mackerel? Let them
look to it.

The dark-browed man sat down, with a grin of triumph, and his place
was taken by a pert little beardless person, with a smirk on his
face. They had all read the parable of how a certain man made a
feast, and did his friends the honor to invite them; but first one
friend for one halting reason, and then another for a reason yet more
lame, excused himself from sitting at the good man's table. Well, one
of these excuses was from a man who had married a wife, and therefore
could not come. Now the President had married a wife----

The little man got no further, for Michael Sunlocks, whose features
had flushed up, leaped to his feet again, against all order and
precedent in that rude chamber so reverent of law.

"I knew," he said, amid the silence of the wide-eyed people, "when I
came to this house to-day, that the censure of Iceland might follow
me when I left it, but its shame shall not pursue me. I also knew
that there were persons not well content with the present order of
things who might show their discontent as they had opportunity; but
before the insinuations of base motives that have just been made I
take you to witness that all that go with them are malicious
figments. My capacity any man may impeach, but my honest name none
shall question without challenge, for the sole pride I shall carry
away with me when I leave this place shall be the pride of an upright
life."

With that he put on his hat where he stood, and the people, thrilled
to their hearts by his ringing voice, and his eyes full of splendid
courage, broke into a great clamor of cheers.

"Peace, peace," cried a deep voice over the tumult. The old Bishop
had risen to speak.

"This is a quarrelsome age," he said, "an age when there seems to be
a strange itching in the spirits of men, when near every man seems to
seek his brother's disquiet all he may, when wretched jealousies and
the spirit of calumny turn everything to gall and wormwood. But can
we not take the President's message for what it claims to be, asking
him for no reasons that concern us not? When has he betrayed us? His
life since his coming here has been marked by strict integrity. When
has pride been his bane? His humility has ever been his praise. He
has been modest with the highest power and shown how little he valued
those distances he was bound to keep up. When has mammon been his
god? If he leaves us now he leaves us a poor man, as Althing may well
assure itself. But let us pray that this may not come to pass. When
he was elected to the employment he holds, being so young a man, many
trembled--and I among them--for the nation that had intrusted its
goods and its lives to his management, but now we know that only in
his merit and virtue can it find its safety and repose. Let me not be
prodigal of praise before his face, but honor and honesty require
this, that we say that so true a man is not to be found this day in
Iceland."

The Bishop's words had quickened the pulse of the people, and cheer
followed cheer again. "It is written," continued the Bishop, "that
whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased, and he that humbleth
himself shall be exalted. Our young President has this day sat down
in the lowest room; and if he must needs leave us, having his own
reasons that are none of ours, may the Lord cause His face to shine
upon him, and comfort him in all his adversities."

Then there was but one voice in that assembly, the voice of a loud
Amen. And Michael Sunlocks had risen again with a white face and dim
eyes, to return his thanks, and say his last word before the vote for
his release should be taken, when there was a sudden commotion, a
sound of hurrying feet, a rush, a startled cry, and at the next
moment a company of soldiers had entered the house from the cell
below, and stood with drawn swords on the floor.

Before anyone had recovered from his surprise one of the soldiers had
spoken. "Gentlemen," he said, "the door is locked--you are prisoners
of the King of Denmark."

"Betrayed!" shouted fifty voices at once, and then there was wild
confusion.

"So this mysterious mummery is over at last," said the leader of the
Levellers, rising up with rigid limbs, and a scared and whitened
face. "Now we know why we have all been brought here to-night.
Betrayed indeed,--and _there_ stands the betrayer."

So saying he pointed scornfully at Michael Sunlocks, who stood where
he had risen, with the look of deep emotion hardly yet banished from
his face by the look of bewilderment that followed it.

"False," Michael Sunlocks cried. "It is false as hell."

But in that quick instant the people looked at him with changed eyes,
and received his words with a groan of rage that silenced him.

That night Jorgen Jorgensen sailed up the fiord, and, landing at
Reykjavik, took possession of it, and the second Republic of Iceland
was at an end.

That night, too, when the Fairbrothers, headed by Thurstan, trudged
through the streets on their way to Government House, looking to
receive the reward that had been promised them, they were elbowed by
a drunken company of the Danes who frequented the drinking-shops on
the Cheapstead.

"Why, here are his brothers," shouted one of the roysterers, pointing
at the Fairbrothers.

"His brothers! His brothers!" shouted twenty more.

Thurstan tried to protest and Jacob to fraternize, but all was
useless. The brethren were attacked for the relation they had claimed
with the traitor who had fallen, and thus the six worthy and
unselfish souls who had come to Iceland for gain and lost everything,
and waited for revenge and only won suspicion, were driven off in
peril of their necks, with a drunken mob at full cry behind them.

They took refuge in a coasting schooner, setting sail for the eastern
fiords. Six days afterwards the schooner was caught in the ice at the
mouth of Seydis fiord, imprisoned there four months, out of reach of
help from land or sea, and every soul aboard died miserably.

Short as had been the shrift of Red Jason, the shrift of Michael
Sunlocks was yet shorter. On the order of Jorgen Jorgensen, the "late
usurper of the Government of Iceland" was sent for the term of his
natural life to the Sulphur Mines that he had himself established as
a penal settlement.

And such was the fall of Michael Sunlocks.



THE BOOK OF RED JASON.



CHAPTER I.

WHAT BEFELL OLD ADAM.


Now it would be a long task to follow closely all that befell the
dear old Adam Fairbrother, from the time when the ship wherein he
sailed for Iceland weighed anchor in Ramsey bay. Yet not to know what
strange risks he ran, and how in the end he overcame all dangers, by
God's grace and his own extreme labor, is not to know this story of
how two good men with a good woman between them pursued each other
over the earth with vows of vengeance, and came together at length in
heaven's good time and way. So not to weary the spirit with much
speaking, yet to leave nothing unsaid that shall carry us onward to
that great hour when Red Jason and Michael Sunlocks stood face to
face, let us begin where Adam's peril began, and hasten forward to
where it ended.

Fourteen days out of Ramsey, in latitude of 64 degrees, distant
about five leagues north of the Faroes, and in the course of west
northwest, hoping to make the western shores of Iceland, Adam with
his shipmates was overtaken by foul weather, with high seas and
strong wind opposing them stoutly from the northwest. Thus they were
driven well into the latitude of sixty-six off the eastern coast of
Iceland, and there, though the seas still ran as high as to the poop,
they were much beset by extraordinary pieces of ice which appeared to
come down from Greenland. Then the wind abated, and an unsearchable
and noisome fog followed; so dense that not an acre of sea could be
seen from the top-mast head, and so foul that the compasses would not
work in it. After that, though they wrought night and day with poles
and spikes, they were beaten among the ice as scarce any ship ever
was before, and so terrible were the blows they suffered that many a
time they thought the planks must be wrenched from the vessel's
sides. Nevertheless they let fall sail, thinking to force their way
through the ice before they were stowed to pieces, and, though the
wind was low, yet the ship felt the canvas and cleared the shoals
that encompassed her. The wind then fell to a calm, but still the fog
hung heavily over the sea, which was black and smelt horribly. And
when they thought to try their soundings, knowing that somewhere
thereabouts the land must surely be, they heard a noise that seemed
at first like the tract of the shore. It was worse than that, for it
was the rut of a great bank of ice, two hundred miles deep, breaking
away from the far shores of Greenland, and coming with its steady
sweep, such as no human power could resist, towards the coasts of
Iceland. Between that vast ice floe and the land they lay, with its
hollow and terrible voice in their ears, and with no power to fly
from it, for their sail hung loose and idle in the dead stillness of
the air.

Oh! it is an awful thing to know that death is swooping down on you
hour by hour; to hear it coming with its hideous thunder, like the
groans of damned souls, and yet to see nothing of your danger for the
day darkness that blinds you. But the shipmaster was a stout-hearted
fellow, and while the fog continued and he was without the help of
wind or compass, he let go a raven that he had aboard to see if it
could discover land. The raven flew to the northeast, and did not
return to the ship, and by that token the master knew that the land
of Iceland lay somewhere near on their starboard bow. So he was for
lowering the long boat, to stand in with the coast and learn what
part of Iceland it was, when suddenly the wind larged again, and
before long it blew with violence.

At this their peril was much increased, for the night before had been
bitterly cold, and the sails had been frozen where they hung
outspread, and some of the cables were as stiff as icicles and half
as thick as a man's body. Thus under wind that in a short space rose
to a great storm, with canvas that could not be reefed, an ocean of
ice coming down behind, and seas beneath of an untouchable depth,
they were driven on and on towards an unknown shore.

From the like danger may God save all Christian men, even as he
saved old Adam and his fellowship, for they had begun to prepare
themselves to make a good end of their hopeless lives, when in the
lift of the fog the master saw an opening in the coast, and got into
it, and his ship rode safely on a quick tide down the fiord called
Seydis fiord.

There the same night they dropped anchor in a good sound, and went
instantly to prayer, to praise God for His delivery of them, and Adam
called the haven where they moored, "The Harbor of Good Providence."
So with cheerful spirits, thinking themselves indifferently safe,
they sought their births, and so ended the first part of their peril
in God's mercy and salvation.

But the storm that had driven them into their place of refuge drove
their dread enemy after them, and in the night, while they lay in the
first sleep of four days, the ice encompassed them and crushed them
against the rocks. The blow struck Adam out of a tranquil rest, and
he thought nothing better than that he was awakening for another
world. All hands were called to the pumps, for the master still
thought the ship was staunch and might be pushed along the coast by
the shoulders with crows of iron, and thus ride out to sea. But
though they worked until the pumps sucked, it was clear that the poor
vessel was stuck fast in the ice, and that she must soon get her
death-wound. So, at break of day, the master and crew, with Adam
Fairbrother, took what they could carry of provisions and clothes,
and clambered ashore, leaving the ship to her fate.

It was a bleak and desolate coast they had landed upon, with never a
house in sight, never a cave that they might shelter in, or a stone
that would cover them against the wind; with nothing around save the
bare face of a broad fell, black and lifeless, strewn over with small
light stones sucked full of holes like the honeycomb, but without
trees, or bush, or grass, or green moss. And there they suffered more
privations than it is needful to tell, waiting for the ice to break,
looking on at its many colors of blue, and purple, and emerald green,
and yellow, and its many strange and wonderful shapes, resembling
churches, and castles, and spires, and turrets, and cities, all
ablaze in the noonday sun.

They built themselves a rude hut of the stones like pumice, and,
expecting the dissolution of the ice, they kept watch on their ship,
which itself looked like an iceberg frozen into a ship's shape. And
meantime some of their company suffered very sorely. Though the year
was not yet far advanced towards winter, some of the men swooned of
the cold that came up from the ice of the fiord; the teeth of others
became loose and the flesh of their gums fell away, and on the soles
of the feet of a few the frost of the nights raised blisters as big
as walnuts.

Partly from these privations and partly from loss of heart when at
last one evil day he saw his good ship crushed to splinters against
the rocks, the master fell sick, and was brought so low that in less
than a week he lay expecting his good hour. And feeling his extremity
he appointed Adam to succeed him as director of the company, to guide
them to safety over the land, since Providence forbade that they
should sail on the seas. Then, all being done, so far as his help
could avail, he stretched himself out for his end, only praying in
his last hours that he might be allowed to drink as much ale as he
liked from the ship's stores that had been saved. This Adam ordered
that he should, and as long as he lived the ale was brought to him in
the hut where he lay, and he drank it until, between draught and
draught, it froze in the jug at his side. After that he died--an
honest, a worthy, and strong-hearted man.

And Adam, being now by choice of the late master and consent of his
crew the leader of the company, began to make a review of all men and
clothes and victuals, and found that there were eleven of them in
all, with little more than they stood up in, and provisions to last
them, with sparing, three weeks at utmost. And seeing that they were
cut off from all hope of a passage by sea, he set himself to count
the chances of a journey by land, and by help of the ship's charts
and much beating of the wings of memory to recover what he had
learned of Iceland in the days when his dear lad Sunlocks had left
him for these shores, he reckoned that by following the sea line
under the feet of the great Vatna-Jokull, they might hope, if they
could hold out so long, to reach Reykjavik at last. Long and weary
the journey must be, with no town and scarce a village to break it,
and no prospect of shelter by the way, save what a few farms might
give them. So Adam ordered the carpenter to recover what he could of
the ship's sails to make a tent, and of its broken timbers to make a
cart to carry victuals, and when this was done they set off along the
fell side on the first stage of their journey.

The same day, towards nightfall, they came upon a little group of
grass-covered houses at the top of the fiord, and saw the people of
Iceland for the first time. They were a little colony cut off by
impassable mountains from their fellows within the island, and having
no ships in which they dare venture to their kind on the seas
without; tall and strong-limbed in their persons, commonly of yellow
hair, but sometimes of red, of which neither sex was ashamed; living
on bread that was scarce eatable, being made of fish that had been
dried and powdered; lazy and unclean; squalid and mean-spirited, and
with the appearance of being depressed and kept under. It was a
cheerless life they lived at the feet of the great ice-bound jokull
and the margin of the frozen sea, so that looking around on the
desolate place and the dumb wilderness of things before and behind,
Adam asked himself why and how any living souls had ever ventured
there.

But for all that the little colony were poor and wretched, the hearts
of the shipwrecked company leapt up at sight of them, and in the
joyful gabble of unintelligible speech between them old Adam found
that he could understand some of the words. And when the islanders
saw that in some sort Adam understood them they singled him out from
the rest of his company, falling on his neck and kissing him after
the way of their nation, and concluding among themselves that he was
one of their own people who had gone away in his youth and never been
heard of after. And Adam, though he looked shy at their musty kisses,
was nothing loth to allow that they might be Manxmen strayed and
lost.

For Adam and his followers two things came of this encounter, and the
one was to forward and the other to retard their journey. The first
was that the islanders sold them twelve ponies, of the small breed
that abound in that latitude, and gave them a guide to lead them the
nearest way to the capital. The ponies cost them forty kroner, or
more than two pounds apiece, and the guide was to stand to them in
two kroner, or two shillings, a day. This took half of all they had
in money, and many were the heavy groans of the men at parting with
it; but Adam argued that their money was of no other value there than
as a help out of their extremity, and that all the gold in the banks,
if he had it, would be less to him then than the little beast he was
bestriding.

The second of the two things that followed on that meeting with the
islanders was that, just as they had started afresh on their way, now
twelve in all, each man on his horse, and a horse in the shafts of
the cart that held the victuals, a woman came running after them with
a child in her arms, and besought them to take her with them. That
anyone could wish to share their outcast state was their first
surprise, but the woman's terrified looks, her tears and passionate
pleadings, seemed to say that to be homeless and houseless on the
face of that trackless land was not so awful a fate but that other
miseries could conquer the fear of it. So, failing to learn more of
her condition, than that she was friendless and alone, Adam ordered
that, with her child, she should be lifted into the cart that was
driven ahead of them.

But within an hour they were overtaken by a man, who came galloping
after them, and said the woman had stolen the child--that it was his
child, and that he had come to carry it back with him. At that Adam
called on the woman to answer through the guide, and she said that
the man was indeed the child's father, but that she was its mother;
that he was a farmer, and had married her only that he might have a
son to leave his farm to; that having given him this child he had
turned her out of doors, and that in love and yearning for her little
one, from whom she had been so cruelly parted, she had stolen into
her old home, plucked up the babe and run away with it. Hearing this
story, which the woman told through her tears, Adam answered the man
that if the law of his country allowed a father to deal so with the
mother of his child it was a base and unnatural law, and merited the
obedience of no man; so he meant to protect the woman against both it
and him, and carry her along with their company. With that answer the
man turned tail, but Adam's victory over him was dearly bought, at
the cost of much vexation afterwards and sore delay on the hard
journey.

And now it would be long to tell of the trials of that passage over
those gaunt solitudes, where there was no fingerpost or mark of other
human travellers. The men bore up bravely, loving most to comfort the
woman and do her any tender office, or carry her child before them on
their saddles. And many a time, at sight of the little one, and at
hearing its simple prattle in a tongue they did not understand, the
poor fellows would burst into tears, as if remembering, with a
double pang, that they were exiles from that country far away, where
other mothers held their own children to their breasts. Two of them
sickened of the cold, and had to be left behind at a farm, where the
people were kind and gentle and promised to nurse them until their
companions could return for them. But the heaviest blow to all that
company was the sickness and death of the child. Tenderly the rude
sailor men nursed the little fellow one by one, and when nothing
availed to keep his sweet face among them they mourned his loss as
the worst disaster that had yet befallen them. The mother herself was
distraught, and in the madness of her agony turned on Adam and
reproached him, saying he had brought her child into this wilderness
to kill it. Adam understood her misery too well to rebuke her
ingratitude, and the same night that her babe was laid in his rest
with a cross of willow wood to mark the place of it, she disappeared
from their company, and where she went or what became of her no one
knew, for she was seen by them no more.

But next morning they were overtaken by a number of men riding hard,
and one of them was the woman's husband, and another the High Sheriff
of the Quarter. These two called on Adam to deliver up the child, and
when he told them that it was dead, and the mother gone, the husband
would have fallen upon him with his knife, but for the Sheriff, who,
keeping the peace, said that, as accessory after the fact of theft,
Adam himself must go to prison.

Now, at this the crew of the ship began to set up a woeful wail, and
to double their fists and measure the strength of nine sturdy British
seamen against that of ten lanky Icelanders. But Adam restrained them
from violence, and indeed there was need for none, for the Sheriff
was in no mood to carry his prisoner away with him. All he did was to
take out his papers, and fill them up with the name and description
that Adam gave him, and then hand them over to Adam himself, saying
they were the warrant for his imprisonment, and that he was to go on
his way until he came to the next district, where there was a house
of detention, which the guide would find for him, and there deliver
up the documents to the Sheriff in charge.

With such instructions, and never doubting but they would be
followed, the good man and his people wheeled about, and returned as
they came.

And being so easily rid of them the sailors began to laugh at their
simpleness, and, with many satisfied grunts, to advise the speedy
destruction of the silly warrant that was the sole witness against
Adam. But Adam himself said, no--that he was touched by the
simplicity of a people that could trust a man to take himself to
prison, and he would not wrong that confidence by any cheating. So he
ordered the guide to lead on where he had been directed.

They reached the prison towards nightfall, and there old Adam bade a
touching farewell of his people, urging them not to wait for him, but
to push on to Reykjavik where alone they could find ships to take
them home to England. And some of the good fellows wept at this
parting, though they all thought it foolish, but one old salt named
Chalse shed no tears, and only looked crazier than ever, and chuckled
within himself from some dark cause.

And indeed there was small reason to weep, because, simple as the
first Sheriff's conduct had been, that of the second Sheriff was yet
simpler, for when Adam presented himself as a prisoner the Sheriff
asked for his papers, and then diving into his pocket to find them,
the good man found that they were gone--lost, dropped by the way or
destroyed by accident--and no search sufficed to recover them. So
failing of his warrant the Sheriff shook his head at Adam's story and
declined to imprison him, and the prisoner had no choice but to go
free. Thus Adam returned to his company, who heard with laughter and
delight of the close of his adventure, all save Chalse, who looked
sheepish and edged away whenever Adam glanced at him. Thus ended in
merriment an incident that threatened many evil consequences, and was
attended by two luckless mischances.

The first of these two was that, by going to the prison, which lay
three Danish miles out of the direct track to the capital, Adam and
his company had missed young Oscar and Zoega's men, whom Michael
Sunlocks had sent out from Reykjavik in search of them. The second
was that their guide had disappeared and left them, within an hour of
bringing them to the door of the Sheriff. His name was Jonas; he had
been an idle and a selfish fellow; he had demanded his wages day by
day; and seeing Adam part from the rest, he had concluded that with
the purse-bearer the purse of the company had gone. But he alone had
known the course, and, worthless as he had been to them in other
ways, the men began to rail at him when they found that he had
abandoned them and left them to struggle on without help.

"The sweep!" "the thief!" "the wastrel!" "the gomerstang!" they
called him, with wilder names beside. But old Adam rebuked them and
said, "Good friends, I would persuade myself that urgent reasons
alone can have induced this poor man to leave us. Were we not
ourselves constrained to forsake two of our number several days back,
though with the full design of returning to them to aid them when it
should lie in our power? Thus I cannot blame the Icelander without
more knowledge of his intent, and so let us push on still and trust
in God to deliver us, as he surely will."

And, sure enough, the next day after they came upon a man who
undertook the place of the guide who had forsaken them. He was a
priest and a very learned man, but poor as the poorest farmer. He
spoke in Latin, and in imperfect Latin Adam made shift to answer him.
His clothes were all but worn to rags, and he was shoeing his horse
in the little garth before his door. His house, which stood alone
save for the wooden church beside it, looked on the outside like a
line of grass cones, hardly higher to their peaks than the head of a
tall man, and in the inside it was low, dark, noisome, and noisy. In
one room to which Chalse and the seamen were taken, three or four
young children were playing, an old woman was spinning, and a younger
woman, the priest's wife, was washing clothes. This was the living
room and sleeping room, the birth room and death room of the whole
family. In another room, to which Adam was led by the priest himself,
the floor was strewn with saddles, nails, hammers, horseshoes, whips,
and spades, and the walls were covered with bookshelves, whereon
stood many precious old black-letter volumes. This was the workshop
and study, wherein the good priest spent his long, dark days of
winter.

And, being once more fully equipped for the journey, Adam ordered
that they should lose no time in setting out afresh, with the priest
on his own pony in front of them. Two days then passed without
misadventure of any kind, and in that time they had come to a
village, at which they should have forsaken the coast line and made
for the interior, in order that they might cross to Reykjavik by way
of Thingvellir, and so cut off the peninsula ending in the Smoky
Point. But a heavy fall of snow coming down suddenly, they were
compelled to seek shelter at a farm, the only one for more than a
hundred miles to east or west of them. There they rested while the
snowstorm lasted, and it was the same weary downfall that kept Greeba
to her house while Red Jason lay in his brain fever in the cell in
the High Street, and Michael Sunlocks was out on the sea in search of
themselves.

And when the snow had ceased to fall, and the frost that followed had
hardened it, and the country, now white instead of black, was again
fit to travel upon, it was found that the priest was unwilling to
start. Then it appeared that downright drinking had been his sole
recreation and his only bane; that the most serious affairs of night
and day had always submitted to this great business; that in the
interval of waiting for the passing of the snow, finding himself with
a few kroner at command, he had begun on his favorite occupation, and
that he now was too deeply immersed therein to be disturbed in less
than a week.

Once again the seamen railed at their guide, as well as at the whole
race of Icelanders, but Adam was all for lenity towards the priest
and hope for themselves.

"My faithful companions," he said, "be not dismayed by any of these
disasters, but let us put our whole trust in God. If it be our
fortune to end our days in this desolate land, we are as near heaven
here as at home. Yet let us use all honest efforts to save our
natural lives, and we are not yet so far past hope of doing so but
that I see a fair way by which we may effect it."

With that they set out again alone, and within an hour they had
fallen on the second mischance of their journey, for failing to find
the pass that would have led them across country through Thingvellir,
they kept close by the sea line in the direction of the Smoky Point.

Now these misadventures, first with the mother and child, next with
the Sheriffs, and then with the guides, though they kept back Adam
and his company from that quick deliverance which they would have
found in meeting with the messengers of Michael Sunlocks or with
Michael Sunlocks himself, yet brought them in the end in the way of
the only persons who are important to this story. For pursuing their
mistaken way by the line of sea they came upon the place called
Krisuvik. It was a grim wilderness of awful things, not cold and dead
and dumb like the rest of that haggard land, but hot and alive with
inhuman fire and clamorous with devilish noises. A wide ashen plain
within a circle of hills whereon little snow could rest for the
furnace that raged beneath the surface; shooting with shrill whistles
its shafts of hot steam from a hundred fumeroles; bubbling up in a
thousand jets of boiling water; hissing from a score of green
cauldrons; grumbling low with mournful sounds underneath like the
voice of subterranean wind, and sending up a noxious stench through
heavy whorls of vapor that rolled in a fetid atmosphere overhead. Oh,
it was a fearsome place, like nothing on God's earth but a mouldering
wreck of human body, vast and shapeless, and pierced deep with
foulest ulcers; a leper spot on earth's face; a seething vat full of
broth of hell's own brewing. And all around was the peaceful snow,
and beyond the lines of the southern hills was the tranquil sea, and
within the northern mountains was a quiet lake of water as green as
the grass of spring.

Coming upon the ghastly place, printed deep with Satan's own features
on the face of it, Adam thought that surely no human footstep was
ever meant by God to echo among bodeful noises. But there he found
two wooden sheds busy with troops of men coming and going about them,
and a third house of the same kind in an early stage of building.
Then asking questions as well as he was able he learned that the
boiling pits were the Sulphur Mines that the new Governor, the
President of the Republic, had lately turned to account as a penal
settlement, that the two completed sheds were the workshops and
sleeping places of the prisoners, and that the unfinished house was
intended for their hospital.

And it so chanced that while with his poor broken company Adam rested
on his horse, to look on at this sight with eyes of wonder and fear,
a gang of four prisoners passed on to their work in charge of as many
warders, and one of the four men was Red Jason. His long red hair was
gone, his face was thin and pale instead of full and tawny, and his
eyes, once so bright, were heavy and slow. He walked in file, and
about his neck was a collar of iron, with a bow coming over his head
and ending on the forehead in a bell that rang as he went along. The
wild vitality of his strong figure seemed lost, he bent forward as he
walked, and looked steadfastly on the ground.

Yet, changed as he was, Adam knew him at a glance, and between
surprise and terror, called on him by his name. But Jason heard
nothing, and strode on like a man who had suddenly become deaf and
blind under the shock of some evil day.

"Jason! Jason!" Adam cried again, and he dropped from the saddle to
run towards him. But the warders raised their hands to warn the old
man off, and Jason went on between them, without ever lifting his
eyes or making sign or signal.

"Now, God save us! what can this mean?" cried Adam; and though with
the lame help of his "old Manx" he questioned as well as he was able
the men who were at work at the building of the hospital, nothing
could he learn but one thing, and that was the strange and wondrous
chance that his own eyes revealed to him: namely, that the last face
he saw as he was leaving Mann, on that bad night when he stole away
from Greeba while she slept, was the first face he had seen to know
it since he set foot on Iceland.

Nor was this surprise the only one that lay waiting for him in that
gaunt place. Pushing on towards Reykjavik, the quicker for this sight
of Red Jason, and with many troubled thoughts of Michael Sunlocks,
Adam came with his company to the foot of the mountain that has to be
crossed before the lava plain is reached which leads to the capital.
And there the narrow pass was blocked to them for half-an-hour of
precious time by a long train of men and ponies coming down the
bridle path. They were Danes, to the number of fifty at least,
mounted on as many horses, and with a score of tired horses driven on
ahead of them. What their work and mission was in that grim waste
Adam could not learn until he saw that the foremost of the troop had
drawn up at one of the two wooden sheds, and then he gathered from
many signs that they were there as warders to take charge of the
settlement in place of the Icelandic officers who had hitherto held
possession of it.

Little time he had, however, to learn the riddle of these strange
doings, or get knowledge of the double rupture of state of affairs
that had caused them, for presently old Chalse came hurrying back to
him from some distance ahead, with a scared face and stammering
tongue, and one nervous hand pointing upwards to where the last of
the men and horses were coming down the bridle path.

"Lord-a-massy, who's this," cried Chalse; and following the direction
of his hand Adam saw what the old fellow pointed at, and the sight
seemed to freeze the blood at his heart.

It was Michael Sunlocks riding between two of the Danish warders as
their prisoner, silent, fettered and bound.

Then Adam felt as if he had somewhere fallen into a long sleep, and
was now awakening to a new life in a new world, where the people were
the same as in the old one but everything about them was strange and
terrible. But he recovered from his terror as Michael Sunlocks came
on, and he called to him, and Sunlocks heard him, and turned towards
him with a look of joy and pain in one quick glance of a moment.

"My son! my boy!" cried Adam.

"Father! Father!" cried Michael Sunlocks.

But in an instant the warders had closed about Sunlocks, and hurried
him on in the midst of them, while their loud shouts drowned all
other voices.

And when the troop had passed him, Adam sat a moment silent on his
little beast, and then he turned to his company and said:

"My good friends and faithful companions, my journey is at an end,
and you must go on without me. I came to this land of Iceland only to
find one who is my son indeed, though not flesh of my flesh, thinking
to rest my old arm on his young shoulder. I have found him now, but
he is in trouble, from some cause that I have yet to learn, and it is
my old shoulder that his young arm must rest upon. And this that you
have witnessed is not the meeting I looked for, and built my hopes
on, and buoyed up my failing spirits with, through all the trouble of
our many weary days. But God's will be done! So go your ways and
leave me where His wisdom has brought me, and may His mercy fetch you
in safety to your native country, and to the good souls waiting for
you there."

But the rough fellows protested that come what might, leave him they
never would, and old Chalse without more ado began to make ready to
pitch their tent on the thin patch of grass where they stood.

And that evening, while Adam wandered over the valley, trying to get
better knowledge of the strange events which he had read as if by
flashes of lightning, and hearing in broken echoes of the rise and
fall of the Republic, of the rise and fall of Michael Sunlocks, of
the fall and return of Jorgen Jorgensen, a more wondrous chance than
any that had yet befallen him was fast coming his way.

For late that night, when he sat in his grief, with his companions
busied about him, comforting him with what tender offices and soft
words their courageous minds could think of, a young Icelander came
to the gap of the tent and asked, in broken English, if they would
give a night's shelter to a lady who could find no other lodging, and
was alone save for himself, who had been her guide from Reykjavik.

At that word Adam's own troubles were gone from him in an instant,
and, though his people would have demurred, he called on the
Icelander to fetch the lady in, and presently she came, and then all
together stood dumbfounded, for the lady was Greeba herself.

It would be hard to tell how at first every other feeling was lost in
one of surprise at the strange meeting of father and daughter, how
surprise gave place to joy, and joy to pain, as bit by bit the
history of their several adventures was unfolded each to the other.
And while Greeba heard of the mischances that had overtaken old Adam,
he, on his part, heard of the death of her mother and her brother's
ill-usage, of the message that came from Michael Sunlocks and her
flight from home, of how she came to Iceland and was married, and of
how Sunlocks went in pursuit of himself, and, returning to the
capital, was betrayed into the hands of his enemies. All the long
story of plot and passion he heard in the wild tangle of her hot and
broken words, save only that part of it which concerned her quarrel
with her husband; but when he mentioned Red Jason, saying that he had
seen him, he heard that sad passage of her story also, told with fear
and many bitter tears.

Adam comforted Greeba with what words of cheer he could command, in
an hour when his own heart was dark and hopeless, and then amid the
turmoil of so many emotions, the night being worn to midnight, they
composed themselves to sleep.

Next morning, rising anxious and unrested, Adam saw the Icelandic
warders, who had been supplanted in their employment by the Danes,
start away from the settlement for their homes, and after them went a
group of the Danish prisoners as free men, who had been imprisoned by
the Republic as spies of the Government of Denmark. By this time Adam
had decided on his course.

"Greeba," he said, "this imprisonment of Michael Sunlocks is unjust,
and I see a way to put an end to it. No governor shall sentence him
without judge or jury. But I will go on to Reykjavik and appeal to
this Jorgen Jorgensen. If he will not hear me, I will appeal to his
master, the King of Denmark. If Denmark will not listen, I will
appeal to England, for Michael Sunlocks is a British subject, and may
claim the rights of an Englishman. And if England turns a deaf ear to
me, I will address my prayer to God, who has never yet failed to
right the wronged, or humble the arrogance of the mighty. Thank
Heaven, that has brought me here. I thought I was coming to end my
days in peace by his side who would shelter my poor foolish gray
head, that had forgotten to protect itself. But strange are the ways
of Providence. God has had his own purposes in bringing me here thus
blindfolded, and, thanks to His mercy! I am not yet so old but I may
yet do something. So come, girl, come, make ready, and we will go on
our great errand together."

But Greeba had her own ends from the first in following Michael
Sunlocks to the place of his imprisonment, and she answered and said,

"No, father, no. You may go on to Reykjavik, and do all this if you
can, but my place is here, at my husband's side. He lost faith in my
affection, and said I had married him for the glory that his place
would bring me; but he shall see what a woman can go through for sake
of the man she loves. I have my own plan of life in this place, and
the power to carry it out. Therefore do not fear to leave me, but go,
and God prosper you!"

"Let it be so," said Adam, and with that, after some words of
explanation with the brave fellows who had followed him from the hour
when, as ship-broken men, they set out on foot from the eastern
fiord, he started on his journey afresh, leaving the tent and the
last of their ship's victuals behind with Greeba, for Reykjavik was
no more than a day's ride from Krisuvik.

When he was gone, Greeba went down to the tents at the mouth of the
mines, and asked for the Captain. A Danish gentleman who did not know
her, and whom she did not know, answered to that title, and then she
said that hearing that a hospital was being built she had come out
from Reykjavik to offer herself as a nurse if a nurse was wanted.

"A nurse _is_ wanted," said the Captain, "and though we had no
thought of a woman you have come in the nick of time."

So Greeba, under some assumed name, unknown to the contingent of
Danish officers fresh from Denmark, who had that day taken the places
of the Icelandic warders, and recognizable in her true character by
two men only in Krisuvik, Michael Sunlocks and Red Jason, if ever
they should see her, took up her employment as hospital nurse to the
sick prisoners of the Sulphur Mines.

But having attained her end, or the first part of it, her heart was
torn by many conflicting feelings. Would she meet with her husband?
Would he come to be in her own charge? Oh, God forbid that it should
ever come to pass. Yet God grant it, too, for that might help him to
a swifter release than her dear old father could compass. Would she
see Red Jason? Would Michael Sunlocks ever see him? Oh! God forbid
that also. And yet, and yet, God grant it, after all.

Such were her hopes and fears, when the hospital shed was finished,
and she took her place within it. And now let us see how heaven
fulfilled them.



CHAPTER II.

THE SULPHUR MINES.


Red Jason and Michael Sunlocks were together at last, within the
narrow stockade of a penal settlement. These two, who had followed
each other from land to land, the one on his errand of vengeance, the
other on his mission of mercy, both now nourishing hatred and lust of
blood, were thrown as prisoners into the Sulphur Mines of Krisuvik.
There they met, they spoke, they lived and worked side by side yet
neither knew the other for the man he had sought so long and never
found. This is the strange and wondrous chance that has now to be
recorded, and only to think of it, whether as accident or God's
ordinance, makes the blood to tingle in every vein. Poor and petty
are the passions of man, and God's hand is over all.

The only work of Michael Sunlocks which Jorgen Jorgensen did not undo
in the swift reprisals which followed on the restoration of his power
was the use of the Sulphur Mines as a convict settlement. All he did
was to substitute Danish for Icelandic guards, but this change was
the beginning and end of the great event that followed. The
Icelandic guards knew Red Jason, and if Michael Sunlocks had been
sent out to them they would have known him also, and thus the two men
must have soon known each other. But the Danish warders knew nothing
of Jason, and when they brought out Michael Sunlocks they sent the
Icelandic guards home. Thus Jason never heard that Michael Sunlocks
was at the Sulphur Mines, and though in the whirl of many vague
impressions, the distant hum of a world far off, there floated into
his mind the news of the fall of the Republic he could never suspect,
and there was no one to tell him, that the man whom he had pursued
and never yet seen, the man he hated and sought to slay, was a
convict like himself, working daily and hourly within sight and sound
of him.

Michael Sunlocks, on his part, knew well that Red Jason had been sent
to the Sulphur Mines; but he also knew that he had signed Jason's
pardon and ordered his release. More than this, he had learned that
Jorgen Jorgensen had liberated all who had been condemned by the
Republic, and so he concluded that Jason had become a free man when
he himself became a prisoner. But there had been a delay in the
despatch of Jason's pardon, and when the Republic had fallen and the
Danish officers had taken the place of the Icelanders, the captain of
the mines had released the political prisoners only, and Jason, as a
felon, had been retained. The other prisoners at the mines, some
fifty in all, knew neither Michael Sunlocks nor Red Jason. They were
old criminals from remote districts, sentenced to the jail at
Reykjavik, during the first rule of Jorgen Jorgensen, and sent out to
Krisuvik in the early days of the Republic.

Thus it chanced from the first that though together within a narrow
space of ground Jason and Sunlocks were cut off from all knowledge of
each other such as might have been gleaned from those about them. And
the discipline of the settlement kept them back from that knowledge
by keeping them for many months apart.

The two houses used as workshops and sleeping places were at opposite
sides of the stockade, one at the north, the other at the south; one
overlooking a broad waste of sea, the other at the margin of a dark
lake of gloomy shore. Red Jason was assigned to the house near the
sea, Michael Sunlocks to the house by the lake. These houses were
built of squared logs with earthen floors, and wooden benches for
beds. The prisoners entered them at eight o'clock in the evening, and
left them at five in the morning, their hours of labor in summer
being from five a. m. to eight p. m. They brought two tin cans, one
tin containing their food, their second meal of the day, a pound of
stock fish, and four ounces of bread; the other tin intended for
their refuse of slops and victuals and dirt of other kinds. Each
house contained some twenty-five men and boys, and so peopled and
used they had quickly become grimy and pestilential, the walls
blotched with vermin stains, the floors encrusted with hard trodden
filth that was wet and slippery to the feet, and the atmosphere damp
and foul to the nostrils from the sickening odors of decayed food.

It had been a regulation from the beginning that the latest comer at
each of these houses should serve three months as housekeeper, with
the duty of cleansing the horrible place every morning after his
housemates had left it for their work. During this time he wore the
collar of iron and the bell over his forehead, for it was his period
of probation and of special degradation. Thus Red Jason served as
housekeeper in the house by the sea, while Michael Sunlocks did the
same duty in the house by the lake. Jason went through his work
listlessly, slowly, hopelessly, but without a murmur. Michael
Sunlocks rebelled against its horrible necessities, for every morning
his gorge rose at the exhalations of five-and-twenty unwashed human
bodies, and the insupportable odor that came of their filthy habits.

This state of things went on for some two months, during which the
two men had never met, and then an accident led to a change in the
condition of both.

The sulphur dug up from the banks of the hot springs was packed in
sacks and strapped upon ponies, one sack at each side of a pony and
one on its back, to be taken to Hafnafiord, the nearest port for
shipment to Denmark. Now the sulphur was heavy, the sacks were large,
the ponies small, and the road down from the solfataras to the valley
was rough with soft clay and great basaltic boulders. And one day as
a line of the ponies so burdened came down the breast of the
mountain, driven on by a carrier who lashed them at every step with
his long whip of leather thongs, one little piebald mare, hardly
bigger than a donkey, stumbled into a deep rut and fell. At that the
inhuman fellow behind it flogged it again, and showered curses on it
at every blow.

"Get up, get up, or I'll skin you alive," he cried, with many a
hideous oath beside.

And at every fresh blow the little piebald struggled to rise but she
could not, while its terrified eyeballs stood out from the sockets
and its wide nostrils quivered.

"Get up, you little lazy devil, get up," cried the brute with the
whip, and still his blows fell like raindrops, first on the mare's
flanks, then on its upturned belly, then on its head, its mouth, and
last of all on its eyes.

But the poor creature's load held it down, and, struggle as it would,
it could not rise. The gang of prisoners on the hillside who had just
before burdened the ponies and sent them off, heard this lashing and
swearing, and stopped their work to look down. But they thought more
of the carrier than of the fallen pony, and laughed aloud at his vain
efforts to bring it to its feet.

"Send him a hand up, Jonas," shouted one of the fellows.

"Pick him up in your arms, old boy," shouted another, and at every
silly sally they all roared together.

The jeering incensed the carrier, and he brought down his whip the
fiercer and quicker at every fresh blow, until the whizzing of the
lash sang in the air, and the hills echoed with the thuds on the
pony's body. Then the little creature made one final, frantic effort,
and plunging with its utmost strength it had half risen to its
forelegs when one of the sacks slid from its place and got under its
hind legs, whereupon the canvas gave way, the sulphur fell out, and
the poor little brute slipped afresh and fell again, flat, full
length, and with awful force and weight, dashing its head against a
stone. At sight of this misadventure the prisoners above laughed once
more, and the carrier leaped from his own saddle and kicked the
fallen piebald in the mouth.

Now this had occurred within the space of a stone's-throw from the
house which Red Jason lived in and cleaned, and hearing the commotion
as he worked within he had come out to learn the cause of it. Seeing
everything in one quick glance, he pushed along as fast as he could
for the leg-fetters that bound him, and came upon the carrier as he
was stamping the life out of the pony with kicks on its palpitating
sides. At the next moment he had laid the fellow on his back, and
then, stepping up to the piebald, he put his arms about it to lift it
to its feet. Meantime the prisoners above had stopped their laughing,
and were looking on with eyes of wonder at Jason's mighty strength.

"God! Is it possible he is trying to lift a horse to its feet?" cried
one.

"What? and three sacks of sulphur as well?" cried another.

"Never," cried a third; and all held their breath.

Jason did not stop to remove the sacks. He wound his great arms first
under the little beast's neck, and raised it to its forefeet, and
then squaring his broad flanks above his legs that held the ground
like the hoofs of an ox, he made one silent, slow, tremendous upward
movement, and in an instant the piebald was on its feet, affrighted,
trembling, with startled eyeballs and panting nostrils, but secure
and safe, and with its load squared and righted on her back.

"Lord bless us!" cried the convicts, "the man has the strength of
Samson."

And at that moment one of the warders came hurrying up to the place.

"What's this?" said the warder, looking at the carrier on the ground,
who was groaning in some little blood that was flowing from the back
of his head.

At that question the carrier only moaned the louder, thinking to
excite the more commiseration, and Jason said not a word. But the
prisoners on the hillside very eagerly shouted an explanation;
whereupon the carrier, a prisoner who had been indulged, straightway
lost his privileges as punishment for his ill use of the property of
the Government; and Jason, as a man whose great muscles were thrown
away on the paltry work of prison-cleaning, was set to delving
sulphur on the banks of the hot springs.

Now this change for the better in the condition of Red Jason led to a
change for the worse in that of Michael Sunlocks, for when Jason was
relieved of his housekeeping and of the iron collar and bell that had
been the badge of it, Sunlocks, as a malcontent, was ordered to clean
Jason's house as well as his own. But so bad a change led to the
great event in the lives of both, the meeting of these men face to
face, and the way of it was this:

One day, the winter being then fully come, the mornings dark, and
some new fallen snow lying deep over the warm ground of the stockade,
Michael Sunlocks had been set to clearing away from the front of the
log house on the south before Jason and his housemates had come out
of it. His bodily strength had failed him greatly by this time, his
face was pale, his large eyes were swollen and bloodshot, and under
the heavy labor of that day his tall, slight figure stooped. But a
warder stood over him leaning on a musket and urging him on with
words that were harder to him than his hard work. His bell rang as he
stooped, and rang again as he rose, and at every thrust of the spade
it rang, so that when Jason and his gang came out of the sickening
house, he heard it. And hearing the bell, he remembered that he
himself had worn it, and, wondering who had succeeded him in the vile
office whereof he had been relieved, he turned to look upon the man
who was clearing the snow.

There are moments when the sense of our destiny is strong upon us,
and this was such a moment to Red Jason. He saw Michael Sunlocks for
the first time, but without knowing him, and yet at that sight every
pulse beat and every nerve quivered. A great sorrow and a great pity
took hold of him. The face he looked upon moved him, the voice he
heard thrilled him, and by an impulse that he could not resist he
stopped and turned to the warder leaning on the musket and said:

"Let me do this man's work. It would be nothing to me. He is ill.
Send him up to the hospital."

"March!" shouted his own warders, and they hustled him along, and at
the next minute he was gone. Then the bell stopped for an instant,
for Michael Sunlocks had raised his head to look upon the man who had
spoken. He did not see Jason's face, but his own face softened at the
words he had heard and his bloodshot eyes grew dim.

"Go on!" cried the warder with the musket, and the bell began again.

All that day the face of Michael Sunlocks haunted the memory of Red
Jason.

"Who was that man?" he asked of the prisoner who worked by his side.

"How should I know?" the other fellow answered sulkily.

In a space of rest Jason leaned on his shovel, wiped his brow, and
said to his warder, "What was that man's name?"

"A 25," the warder answered moodily.

"I asked for his name," said Jason.

"What's that to you?" replied the warder.

A week went by, and the face of Sunlocks still haunted Jason's
memory. It was with him early and late, the last thing that stood up
before his inward eye when he lay down to sleep, the first thing that
came to him when he awoke; sometimes it moved him to strange laughter
when the sun was shining, and sometimes it touched him to tears when
he thought of it in the night. Why was this? He did not know, he
could not think, he did not try to find out. But there it was, a
living face burnt into his memory--a face so strangely new to him,
yet so strangely familiar, so unlike to anything he had ever yet
seen, and yet so like to everything that was near and dear to
himself, that he could have fancied there had never been a time when
he had not had it by his side. When he put the matter to himself so
he laughed and thought "How foolish." But no self-mockery banished
the mystery of the power upon him of the man's face that he saw for a
moment one morning in the snow.

He threw off his former listlessness and began to look keenly about
him. But one week, two weeks, three weeks passed, and he could
nowhere see the same face again. He asked questions but learned
nothing. His fellow-prisoners began to jeer at him. Upon their souls,
the big red fellow had tumbled into love with the young chap with the
long flaxen hair, and maybe he thought it was a woman in disguise.

Jason knocked their chattering heads together and so stopped their
ribald banter, but his warders began to watch him with suspicion, and
he fell back on silence.

A month passed, and then the chain that was slowly drawing the two
men together suddenly tightened. One morning the order came down from
the office of the Captain that the prisoners' straw beds were to be
taken out into the stockyard and burnt. The beds were not old, but
dirty and damp and full of foul odors. The officers of the settlement
said this was due to the filthy habits of the prisoners. The
prisoners on their part said it came of the pestilential hovels they
were compelled to live in, where the ground was a bog, the walls and
roof were a rotten coffin, and the air was heavy and lifeless. Since
the change of warders, there had been a gradual decline in the
humanity with which they had been treated, and to burn up their old
beds without giving them new ones was to deprive them of the last
comfort that separated the condition of human beings from that of
beasts of the field.

But the Captain of the Mines was in no humor to bandy parts with his
prisoners, and in ordering that the beds should be burnt to prevent
an outbreak of disease, he appointed that the prisoner B 25, should
be told off to do the work. Now B 25 was the prison name of Red
Jason, and he was selected by reason of his great bodily strength,
not so much because the beds required it, as from fear of the
rebellion of the poor souls who were to lose them.

So at the point of a musket Red Jason was driven on to his bad work,
and sullenly he went through it, muttering deep oaths from between
his grinding teeth, until he came to the log hut where Michael
Sunlocks slept, and there he saw again the face that had haunted his
memory.

"This bed is dry and sound," said Michael Sunlocks, "and you shall
not take it."

"Away with it," shouted the warder to Jason, who had seemed to
hesitate.

"It is good and wholesome, let him keep it," said Jason.

"Go on with your work," cried the warder, and the lock of his musket
clicked.

"Civilized men give straw to their dogs to lie on," said Michael
Sunlocks.

"It depends what dogs they are," sneered the warder.

"If you take our beds, this place will be worse than an empty
kennel," said Michael Sunlocks.

"Better that than the mange," said the warder. "Get along, I tell
you," he cried again, handling his musket and turning to Jason.

Then, with a glance of loathing, Jason picked up the bed in his
fingers, that itched to pick up the warder by the throat, and swept
out of the place.

"Slave!" cried Michael Sunlocks after him. "Pitiful, miserable,
little-hearted slave!"

Jason heard the hot words that pursued him, and his face grew as red
as his hair, and his head dropped into his breast. He finished his
task in less than half an hour more, working like a demented man at
piling up the dirty mattresses, into a vast heap, and setting light
to the damp straw. And while the huge bonfire burned, and he poked
long poles into it to give it air to blaze by, he made excuse of the
great heat to strip of the long rough overcoat that had been given
him to wear through the hard months of the winter. By this time the
warder had fallen back from the scorching flames, and Jason, watching
his chance, stole away under cover of deep whorls of smoke, and got
back into the log cabin unobserved.

He found the place empty; the man known to him as A 25 was not
anywhere to be seen. But finding his sleeping bunk--a bare slab
resembling a butcher's board--he stretched his coat over it where the
bed had been, and then fled away like a guilty thing.

When the great fire had burned low the warder returned, and said,
"Quick there; put on your coat and let's be off."

At that Jason pretended to look about him in dismay.

"It's gone," he said, in a tone of astonishment.

"Gone? What? Have you burnt it up with the beds?" cried the warder.

"Maybe so," said Jason, meekly.

"Fool," cried the warder; "but it's your loss. Now you'll have to go
in your sheepskin jacket, snow or shine."

With a cold smile about the corners of his mouth, Jason bent his head
and went on ahead of his warder.

If the Captain of the Mines had been left to himself he might have
been a just and even a merciful man, but he was badgered by inhuman
orders from Jorgen Jorgensen at Reykjavik, and one by one the common
privileges of his prisoners were withdrawn. As a result of his
treatment, the prisoners besieged him with petitions as often as he
crossed their path. The loudest to complain and the most rebellious
against petty tyranny was Michael Sunlocks; the humblest, the
meekest, the most silent under cruel persecution was Red Jason. The
one seemed aflame with indignation; the other appeared destitute of
all manly spirit.

"That man might be dangerous to the Government yet," thought the
Captain, after one of his stormy scenes with Michael Sunlocks. "That
man's heart is dead within him," he thought again, as he watched Red
Jason working as he always worked, slowly, listlessly, and as if
tired out and longing for the night.

The Captain's humanity at length prevailed over his Governor's rigor,
and he developed a form of penal servitude among the prisoners which
he called the Free Command. This was a plan whereby the men whose
behavior had been good were allowed the partial liberty of living
outside the stockade in huts which they built for themselves. Ten
hours a day they wrought at the mines, the rest of the day and night
was under their own control; and in return for their labor they were
supplied with rations from the settlement.

Now Red Jason, as a docile prisoner, was almost the first to get
promotion to the Free Command. He did not ask for it, he did not
wish for it, and when it came he looked askance at it.

"Send somebody else," he said to his warders, but they laughed and
turned him adrift.

He began to build his house of the lava stones on the mountain side,
not far from the hospital, and near to a house being built by an
elderly man much disfigured about the cheeks, who had been a priest,
imprisoned long ago by Jorgen Jorgensen out of spite and yet baser
motives. And as he worked at raising the walls of his hut, he
remembered with a pang the mill he built in Port-y-Vullin, and what a
whirlwind of outraged passion brought every stone of it to the ground
again. With this occupation, and occasional gossip with his neighbor,
he passed the evenings of his Free Command. And looking towards the
hospital as often as he saw the little groups of men go up to it that
told of another prisoner injured in the perilous labor of the sulphur
mines, he sometimes saw a woman come out at the door to receive them.

"Who is she?" he asked of the priest.

"The foreign nurse," said the priest. "And a right good woman, too,
as I have reason to say, for she nursed me back to life after that
spurt of hot water had scalded these holes into my face."

That made Jason think of other scenes, and of tender passages in his
broken life that were gone from him forever. He had no wish to recall
them; their pleasure was too painful, their sweets too bitter; they
were lost, and God grant that they could be forgotten. Yet every
night as he worked at his walls he looked longingly across the
shoulder of the hill in the direction of the hospital, half fancying
he knew the sweet grace of the figure he sometimes saw there, and
pretending with himself that he remembered the light rhythm of its
movement. After a while he missed what he looked for, and then he
asked his neighbor if the nurse were ill that he had not seen her
lately.

"Ill? Well, yes," said the old priest. "She has been turned away from
the hospital."

"What!" cried Jason; "you thought her a good nurse."

"She was too good, my lad," said the priest, "and a blackguard warder
who had tried to corrupt her, and could not, announced that somebody
else had done so."

"It's a lie," cried Jason.

"It was plain enough," said the priest, "that she was about to give
birth to a child, and as she would make no explanation she was turned
adrift."

"Where is she now?" asked Jason.

"Lying in at the farmhouse on the edge of the snow yonder," said the
priest. "I saw her last night. She trusted me with her story, and it
was straight and simple. Her husband had been sent out to the mines
by the old scoundrel at Reykjavik. She had followed him, only to be
near him and breathe the air he breathed. Perhaps with some wild hope
of helping his escape she had hidden her true name and character and
taken the place of a menial, being a lady born."

"Then her husband is still at the mines?" said Jason.

"Yes," said the priest.

"Does he know of her disgrace?"

"No."

"What's his name?"

"The poor soul would give me no name, but she knew her husband's
number. It was A 25."

"I know him," said Jason.

Next day, his hut being built and roofed after some fashion, Jason
went down to the office of the Captain of the Mines and said, "I
don't like the Free Command, sir. May I give it up in favor of
another man?"

"And what man, pray?" asked the Captain.

"A 25," said Jason.

"No," said the Captain.

"I've built my house, sir," said Jason, "and if you won't give it to
A 25, let the poor woman from the hospital live in it, and take me
back among the men."

"That won't do, my lad. Go along to your work," said the Captain.

And when Jason was gone the Captain thought within himself, "What
does this mean? Is the lad planning the man's escape? And who is this
English woman that she should be the next thought in his head?"

So the only result of Jason's appeal was that Michael Sunlocks was
watched the closer, worked the harder, persecuted the more by petty
tyrannies, and that an order was sent up to the farmhouse where
Greeba lay in the dear dishonor of her early motherhood, requiring
her to leave the neighborhood of Krisuvik as speedily as her
condition allowed.

This was when the long dark days of winter were beginning to fall
back before the sweet light of spring. And when the snow died off
the mountains, and the cold garment of the jokulls was sucked full of
holes like the honeycomb, and the world that had been white grew
black, and the flowers began to show in the corries, and the sweet
summer was coming, coming, coming, then Jason went down to the
Captain of the Mines again.

"I've come, sir," he said, "to ask you to lock me up."

"Why?" said the Captain, "what have you been doing?"

"Nothing," said Jason, "but if you don't prevent me, I'll run away.
This Free Command was bad enough to fear when the snow cut us off
from all the world. But now that it is gone and the world is free,
and the cuckoo is calling, he seems to be calling me, and I must go
after him."

"Go," said the Captain, "and after you've tramped the deserts and
swam the rivers, and slept on the ground, and starved on roots, we'll
fetch you back, for you can never escape us, and lash you as we have
lashed the others who have done likewise."

"If I go," said Jason, defiantly, "you shall never fetch me back, and
if you catch me you shall never punish me."

"What? Do you threaten me?" cried the Captain.

Something in the prisoner's face terrified him, though he would have
scorned to acknowledge his fear, and he straightway directed that
Jason should be degraded, for insolence and insubordination, from the
Free Command to the gangs.

Now this was exactly what Jason wanted, for his heart had grown sick
with longing for another sight of that face which stood up before his
inward eye in the darkness of the night. But remembering Jason's
appeal on behalf of Michael Sunlocks, and his old suspicion regarding
both, the Captain ordered that the two men should be kept apart.

So with Jason in the house by the sea, and Sunlocks in the house by
the lake, the weeks went by; and the summer that was coming came, and
like a bird of passage the darkness of night fled quite away, and the
sun shone that shines at midnight.

And nothing did Jason see of the face that followed him in visions,
and nothing did he hear of the man known to him as A 25, except
reports of brutal treatment and fierce rebellion. But on a day--a
month after he had returned to the stockade--he was going in his
tired and listless way between warders from one solfatara at the foot
of the hill to another on the breast of it, when he came upon a
horror that made his blood run cold.

It was a man nailed by his right hand to a great socket of iron in a
log of driftwood, with food and drink within sight but out of reach
of him, and a huge knife lying close by his side. The man was A 25.

Jason saw everything and the meaning of everything in an instant,
that to get at the food for which he starved that man must cut off
his own right hand. And there, like a devil, at his left lay the
weapon that was to tempt him.

Nothing so inhuman, so barbarous, so fiendish, so hellish, had Jason
yet seen, and with a cry like the growl of an untamed beast, he broke
from his warders, took the nail in his fingers like a vice, tore it
up out of the bleeding hand, and set Michael Sunlocks free.

At the next instant his wrath was gone, and he had fallen back to his
listless mood. Then the warders hurried up, laid hold of both men,
and hustled them away with a brave show of strength and courage to
the office of the Captain.

Jorgen Jorgensen himself was there, and it was he who had ordered the
ruthless punishment. The warders told their tale, and he listened to
them with a grin on his cruel face.

"Strap them up together," he cried, "leg to leg and arm to arm."

And when this was done he said, bitterly--

"So you two men are fond of one another's company! Well, you shall
have enough of it and to spare. Day after day, week after week, month
after month, like as you are now, you shall live together, until you
abhor and detest and loathe the sight of each other. Now go!"



CHAPTER III.

THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW OF DEATH.


Red Jason and Michael Sunlocks, now lashed together, were driven back
to their work like beasts of the field. They knew well what their
punishment meant to them--that in every hour of life henceforward, in
every act, through every thought, each man should drag a human
carcase by his side. The barbarity of their doom was hideous; but
strangely different were the ways they accepted it. Michael Sunlocks
was aflame with indignation; Jason was crushed with shame. The
upturned face of Sunlocks was pale, his flaxen hair was dishevelled,
his bloodshot eyes were afire. But Jason's eyes, full of confusion,
were bent on the ground, his tanned face trembled visibly, and his
red hair, grown long as of old, fell over his drooping shoulders like
a mantle of blood.

And as they trudged along, side by side, in the first hours of their
unnatural partnership, Sunlocks struggled hard to keep his eyes from
the man with whom he was condemned to live and die, lest the gorge of
his very soul should rise at the sight of him. So he never once
looked at Jason through many hours of that day. And Jason, on his
part, laboring with the thought that it was he who by his rash act
had brought both of them to this sore pass, never once lifted his
eyes to the face of Sunlocks.

Yet each man knew the other's thought before ever a word had passed
between them. Jason felt that Sunlocks already abhorred him, and
Sunlocks knew that Jason was ashamed. This brought them after a time
into sympathy of some sort, and Jason tried to speak and Sunlocks to
listen.

"I did not mean to bring you to this," said Jason, humbly. And
Sunlocks, with head aside, answered as well as he could for the
disgust that choked him, "You did it for the best."

"But you will hate me for it," said Jason.

And once again, with what composure he could command, Sunlocks
answered, "How could I hate you for saving me from such brutal
treatment."

"Then you don't regret it?" said Jason, pleadingly.

"It is for you, not me, to regret it," said Sunlocks.

"Me?" said Jason.

Through all the shameful hours the sense of his own loss had never
yet come to him. From first to last he had thought only of Sunlocks.

"My liberty was gone already," said Sunlocks. "But you were
free--free as anyone can be in this hell on earth. Now you are
bound--you are here like this--and I am the cause of it."

Then Jason's rugged face was suddenly lit up with a surprising joy.
"That's nothing," he said.

"Nothing?" said Sunlocks.

"I mean that I care nothing, if you don't," said Jason.

It was the turn of Sunlocks to feel surprise. He half turned towards
Jason. "Then you don't regret it?" he asked.

"No," said Jason firmly. "And you?"

Sunlocks felt that tears, not disgust, were choking him now.

"No," he answered, shamefacedly, turning his head away.

"March!" shouted the warders, who had been drinking their smuggled
sneps while their prisoners had been talking.

That day, Jorgen Jorgensen went back to Reykjavik, for the time of
Althing was near, and he had to prepare for his fourteen days at
Thingvellir. And the Governor being gone, the Captain of the Mines
made bold so far to relax the inhumanity of his sentence as to order
that the two men who were bound together during the hours of work
should be separated for the hours of sleep. But never forgetting his
own suspicion that Red Jason was an ally of Michael Sunlocks,
planning his escape, he ordered also that no speech should be allowed
to pass between them. To prevent all communion of this kind he
directed that the men should work and sleep apart from the other
prisoners, and that their two warders should attend them night and
day.

But though the rigor of discipline kept them back from free
intercourse, no watchfulness could check the stolen words of comfort
that helped the weary men to bear their degrading lot.

That night, the first of their life together, Michael Sunlocks looked
into Jason's face and said, "I have seen you before somewhere. Where
was it?"

But Jason remembered the hot words that had pursued him on the day of
the burning of the beds, and so he made no answer.

After awhile, Michael Sunlocks looked closely into Jason's face
again, and said, "What is your name?"

"Don't ask it," said Jason.

"Why not," said Sunlocks.

"You might remember it."

"Even so, what then?"

"Then you might also remember what I did, or tried to do, and you
would hate me for it," said Jason.

"Was your crime so inhuman?" said Sunlocks.

"It would seem so," said Jason.

"Who sent you here?"

"The Republic."

"You won't tell me your name?"

"I've got none, so to speak, having had no father to give me one. I'm
alone in the world."

Michael Sunlocks did not sleep much that night, for the wound in his
hand was very painful, and next morning, while Jason dressed it, he
looked into his face once more and said, "You say you are alone in
the world."

"Yes," said Jason.

"What of your mother?"

"She's dead, poor soul."

"Have you no sister?"

"No."

"Nor brother?"

"No--that's to say--no, no."

"No one belonging to you?"

"No."

"Are you quite alone?"

"Ay, quite," said Jason. "No one to think twice what becomes of me.
Nobody to trouble whether I am here or in a better place. Nobody to
care whether I live or die."

He tried to laugh as he said this, but in spite of his brave show of
unconcern his deep voice broke and his strong face quivered.

"But what's your own name?" he said abruptly.

"Call me--brother," said Michael Sunlocks.

"To your work," cried the warders, and they were hustled out.

Their work for the day was delving sulphur from the banks of the
solfataras and loading it on the backs of the ponies. And while their
warders dozed in the heat of the noonday sun, they wiped their brows
and rested.

At that moment Jason's eyes turned towards the hospital on the
opposite side of the hill, and he remembered what he had heard of the
good woman who had been nurse there. This much at least he knew of
her, that she was the wife of his yoke-fellow, and he was about to
speak of her trouble and dishonor when Michael Sunlocks said,

"After all, you are luckiest to be alone in the world. To have ties
of affection is only to be the more unhappy."

"That's true," said Jason.

"Say you love somebody, and all your heart is full of her? You lose
her, and then where are you?"

"But that's not your own case," said Jason. "Your wife is alive, is
she not?"

"Yes."

"Then you have not lost her?"

"There is a worse loss than that of death," said Sunlocks.

Jason glanced quickly into his face, and said tenderly, "I know--I
understand. There was another man?"

"Yes."

"And he robbed you of her love?" said Jason, eagerly.

"Yes."

"And you killed him?" cried Jason, with panting breath.

"No. But God keep that man out of my hands."

"Where is he now?"

"Heaven knows. He was here, but he is gone; for when the Republic
fell I was imprisoned, and two days before that he was liberated."

"Silence!" shouted the warders, awakening suddenly and hearing
voices.

Jason's eyes had begun to fill, and down his rugged cheeks the big
drops were rolling one by one. After that he checked the impulse to
speak of the nurse. The wife of his yoke-fellow must be an evil
woman. The prisoner-priest must have been taken in by her. For once
the warders must have been right.

And late that night, while Jason was dressing the wounded hand of
Michael Sunlocks with wool torn from his own sheepskin jerkin, he
said, with his eyes down,

"I scarce thought there was anything in common between us two. You're
a gentleman, and I'm only a rough fellow. You have been brought up
tenderly, and I have been kicked about the world since I was a lad in
my poor mother's home, God rest her! But my life has been like yours
in one thing."

"What's that?" said Michael Sunlocks.

"That another man has wrecked it," said Jason. "I never had but one
glint of sunshine in my life, and that man wiped it out forever. It
was a woman, and she was all the world to me. But she was proud and I
was poor. And he was rich, and he came between us. He had everything,
and the world was at his feet. I had nothing but that woman's love,
and he took it from me. It was too cruel, and I could not bear
it--God knows I could not."

"Wait," cried Michael Sunlocks. "Is that why you are here! Did
you----you did not----no----"

"No, I know what you mean; but I did not kill him. No, no, I have
never seen him. I could never meet with him, try how I would."

"Where is he now?"

"With her--in happiness and freedom and content, while I am here in
misery and bondage and these ropes. But there will be a reckoning
between us yet. I know there will. I swear there will. As sure as
there is a God in Heaven, that man and I will one day stand together
face to face."

Then Michael Sunlocks took both Jason's hands.

"My brother," he cried fervently. "Brother now more than ever;
brother in suffering, brother in weakness, brother in strength."

"Silence there!" shouted the warders, and the two men were separated
for the night.

The wound in the hand of Michael Sunlocks grew yet more painful, and
he slept even less than before. Next day the power of life was low in
him, and seeing this, Jason said, when the warders stepped up to lash
them together, "He is ill, and not fit to go out. Let me work alone
to-day. I'll do enough for both of us."

But no heed was paid to Jason's warning, and Michael Sunlocks was
driven out by his side. All that day, the third of their life
together, they worked with difficulty, for the wound in the hand of
Sunlocks was not only a trouble to himself but an impediment to Jason
also. Yet Jason gave no hint of that, but kept the good spade going
constantly, with a smile on his face through the sweat that stood on
it, and little stolen words of comfort and cheer. And when the heat
was strongest, and Sunlocks would have stumbled and fallen, Jason
contrived a means to use both their spades together, only requiring
that Sunlocks should stoop when he stooped, that the warders might
think he was still working. But their artifice was discovered, and
all that came of it was that they were watched the closer and driven
the harder during the hours that remained of that day.

Next day, the fourth of their direful punishment, Sunlocks rose weak
and trembling, and scarce able to stand erect. And with what spirit
he could summon up he called upon the warders to look upon him and
see how feeble he was, and say if it was fair to his yoke-fellow that
they should compel him to do the work of two men and drag a human
body after him. But the warders only laughed at his protest, and once
again he was driven out by Jason's side.

Long and heavy were the hours that followed, but Sunlocks, being once
started on his way, bore up under it very bravely, murmuring as
little as he might, out of thought for Jason. And Jason helped along
his stumbling footsteps as well as he could for the arm that was
bound to him. And seeing how well they worked by this double power of
human kindness, the warders laughed again, and made a mock at
Sunlocks for his former cry of weakness. And so, amid tender words
between themselves, and jeers cast in upon them by the warders, they
made shift to cheat time of another weary day.

The fifth day went by like the fourth, with heavy toil and pain to
make it hard, and cruel taunts to make it bitter. And many a time, as
they delved the yellow sulphur bank, a dark chill crossed the hearts
of both, and they thought in their misery how cheerfully they would
dig for death itself, if only it lay in the hot clay beneath them.

That night when they had returned to the hut wherein they slept, or
tried to sleep, they found that some well-meaning stranger had been
there in their absence and nailed up on the grimy walls above their
beds, a card bearing the text, "Come unto Me all ye that labor and
are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." And so ghastly seemed the
irony of those words in that place that Jason muttered an oath
between his teeth as he read them, and Sunlocks threw himself down,
being unbound for the night, with a peal of noisy laughter, and a
soul full of strange bitterness.

The next day after that, the sixth of their life together, rose
darker than any day that had gone before it, for the wounded hand of
Michael Sunlocks was then purple and black, and swollen to the size
of two hands, and his bodily strength was so low that, try as bravely
as he might to stand erect, whenever he struggled to his feet he fell
to the ground again. Thinking nothing of this, the warders were for
strapping him up to Jason as before, but while they were in the act
of doing so he fainted in their hands. Then Jason swept them from
him, and vowed that the first man that touched Sunlocks again should
lie dead at his feet.

"Send for the Captain," he cried, "and if the man has any bowels of
compassion let him come and see what you have done."

The warders took Jason at his word, and sent a message to the office
saying that one of their prisoners was mutinous, and the other
pretending to be ill. After a time the Captain despatched two other
warders to the help of the first two and these words along with them
for his answer: "If one rebels, punish both."

Nothing loth for such exercise, the four warders set themselves to
decide what the punishment should be, and while they laid their heads
together, Jason was bending over Sunlocks, who was now recovered to
consciousness, asking his pardon in advance for the cruel penalty
that his rash act was to bring on both of them.

"Forgive me," he said. "I couldn't help it. I didn't know what I was
doing."

"There is nothing to forgive, brother," whispered Michael Sunlocks.

And thus with stammering tongues they comforted one another, and with
hands clasped together they waited for the punishment that had to
come.

At length the warders concluded that for refusing to work, for
obstinate disobedience, and for threatening, nothing would serve but
that their prisoners should straightway do the most perilous work to
be found that day at the sulphur mines.

Now this was the beginning of the end for Red Jason and Michael
Sunlocks, and if the evil chance had not befallen them, God alone can
say how long they might have lived together at Krisuvik, or how soon
or how late they would have become known to one another by their true
names and characters. But heaven itself had its purposes, even in the
barbarity of base-hearted men, as a means towards the great end that
was near at hand. And this was the way of its coming.

A strange change that no one could rightly understand had lately come
upon the natural condition of the sulphur mines. The steam that rose
from the solfataras had grown less and less week by week and day by
day, until in some places it had altogether subsided. This was a
grave sign, for in the steam lay the essence of the sulphur, and if
it ceased to rise from the pits the sulphur would cease to grow.

Other changes came with this, such as that deep subterranean noises
arose from parts of the plain where no fissures had yet been seen,
and that footsteps on the earth around these places produced a hollow
sound.

From these signs, taken together, the Captain had concluded that the
life of the mines, the great infernal fire that raged beneath the
surface, was changing ground, leaving the valley, where it had lived
for ages, for the mountain heights, where the low grumblings were now
heard to come from beneath the earth's crust of lava and basaltic
rock.

So, taking counsel of his people, he decided to bore the ground in
these new places in the hope of lighting on living solfataras that
would stand to him against the loss of the dead ones. And it chanced
that he was in the midst of many busy preparations for this work when
the report of the warders reached him, and the boring was still
uppermost in his mind when he sent back his answer as he came upon
the flogging and stopped it.

Thus it happened that the first thought that came to the warders was
to send their prisoners to one of the spots that had been marked on
the hillside for the test of bore and spade.

So, in less than half-an-hour more, Jason and Sunlocks, lashed
together, arm to arm and leg to leg, were being driven up the
mountain to the place assigned to them. They found it a hideous and
awesome spot. Within a circle of two yards across, the ground was
white and yellow and scaly, like a scab on evil flesh. It was hot, so
that the hand could not rest upon it, and hollow, so that the foot
made it shake, and from unseen depths beneath it a dull thud came up
at intervals like nothing else but the knocking of a man buried alive
at the sealed door of his tomb.

Beneath this spot the heart of the solfatara was expected to lie, and
Jason and Sunlocks were commanded to open it. Obeying gloomily, they
took the bore first and pierced the scaly surface, and instantly a
sizzling and bubbling sound came up from below. Then they followed
with the spades, but scarcely had they lifted the top crust when
twenty great fissures seemed to open under their feet, and they could
see lurid flames rushing in wild confusion, like rivers of fire in
the bowels of the earth.

It was a sight at which the stoutest heart might have quailed, and
Jason leapt back to the bank and dragged Sunlocks after him.

"This is not safe," he said.

"In with you," shouted the warders from their own safe footing of
four yards away. With a growl from between his clenched teeth, Jason
stepped back into the hole, and Sunlocks followed him. But hardly
had they got down to the fearsome spot again, when a layer of clay
fell in from it, leaving a deep wide gully, and then scarcely a yard
of secure footing remained.

"Let us stop while we are safe," Jason cried.

"Dig away," shouted the warders.

"If we do, we shall be digging our own graves," said Jason.

"Begin," shouted the warders.

"Listen to me," said Jason. "If we are to open this pit of fire and
brimstone, at least let us be free of these ropes. That's but fair,
that each man may have a chance of his life."

"Go on," shouted the warders.

"If we go on like this we shall be burnt and boiled alive," said
Jason.

"Get along," shouted the warders with one voice, and then an awful
light flashed in Jason's eyes, for he saw that out of revenge for
their paltry fines they had resolved to drive two living men to their
death.

"Now, listen again," said Jason, "and mark my words. We will do as
you command us, and work in this pit of hell. I will not die in
it--that I know. But this man beside me is weak and ill, heaven curse
your inhumanity; and if anything happens to him, and I am alive to
see it, as sure as there is strength left in my arms, and blood in my
body, I will tear you limb from limb."

So saying, he plunged his spade into the ground beneath him, with an
oath to drive it, and at the next instant there was a flash of blue
flame, an avalanche of smoke, a hurricane of unearthly noises, a cry
like that of a dying man, and then an awful silence.

When the air had cleared, Jason stood uninjured, but Michael Sunlocks
hung by his side inert and quiet, and blinded by a jet of steam.

What happened to Jason thereafter no tongue of man could tell. All
the fire of his spirit, and all the strength of all his days seemed
to flow back upon him in that great moment. He parted the ropes that
bound him as if they had been green withes that he snapped asunder.
He took Sunlocks in his arms and lifted him up to his shoulder, and
hung him across it, as if he had been a child that he placed there.
He stepped out of the deadly pit, and strode along over the lava
mountain as if he were the sole creature of the everlasting hills.
His glance was terrific, his voice was the voice of a wounded beast.
The warders dropped their muskets and fled before him like affrighted
sheep.



CHAPTER IV.

THROUGH THE CHASM OF ALL MEN.


It was still early morning; a soft gray mist lay over the moorlands,
but the sun that had never set in that northern land was rising
through clouds of pink and white over the bald crown of a mountain to
the northeast. And towards the rising sun Jason made his way,
striding on with the red glow on his own tanned and blackened face,
and its ghastly mockery of the hues of life on the pallid cheeks and
whitened lips of Sunlocks. From his right ankle and right wrist hung
the rings of his broken fetters, and from the left ankle and left
wrist of Sunlocks trailed the ropes that had bound them both. Never a
moment did he pause to breathe or think or question himself. On and
on he went, over lava blocks and lava dust, basaltic rock and heavy
clay, and hot blue earth and scorched and withered moss. And still
Sunlocks lay over his right side and shoulder, motionless and
unconscious, hardly breathing, but alive, with his waist encircled by
Jason's great right arm, and his waist-belt grasped tight as with the
grip of a talon by Jason's hard right hand.

Before long, Sunlocks recovered some partial consciousness and cried
in a faint voice for water. Jason glanced around on the arid plain as
if his eyes would pierce the ground for a spring, but no water could
he see on any side of him, and so without a word of answer he strode
along.

"Water, water," cried Sunlocks again, and just then Jason caught the
side-long glint of a river that ran like a pearl chain down the black
breast of a mountain.

"Water," cried Sunlocks again and yet again, in a voice of pain and
deep pleading, not rightly knowing yet where he was or what bad
chance had befallen him.

"Yes, yes, one moment more, only a moment, there--there--there!"
whispered Jason.

And muttering such words of comfort and cheer, he quickened his pace
towards the river. But when he got near to it he stopped short with a
cry of dismay. The river bubbled and smoked.

"Hot! It is hot," cried Jason. "And the land is accursed."

At that word, Sunlocks uttered a low groan, and his head, which had
been partly lifted, fell heavily backwards, and his hair hung over
Jason's shoulder. He was again unconscious.

Then more than ever like a wild beast ranging the hills with its
prey, Jason strode along. And presently he saw a lake of blue water
far away. He knew it for cold water, blessed, ice-cold water, water
to bathe the hot forehead with, water to drink. With a cry of joy,
which there was no human ear to hear, he turned and made towards it;
but just as he did so, softening as he went, and muttering from his
own parched throat words of hope and comfort to the unconscious man
he carried, a gunshot echoed through the mountains above his head.

He knew what the shot was; it was the signal of his escape. And
looking down to the valley, he saw that the guards of the settlement
were gathering on their ponies in the very line of the plain that he
must traverse to reach the water for which Sunlocks thirsted.

Then "Water, water," came again in the same faint voice as before,
and whether with his actual ear he heard that cry, or in the torment
of his distraught sense it only rang out in his empty heart, no man
shall say. But all the same he answered it from his choking throat,
"Patience, patience."

And then, with another look downward, the look of a human stag, at
the cool water which he might not reach and live, he turned himself
back to the mountains.

What happened to him then, and for many weary hours thereafter, it
would weary the spirit to tell: what plains he crossed, what hills he
climbed, and in what desolate wilderness he walked alone, with no one
for company save the unconscious man across his shoulder, and no eye
to look upon him save the eye of God.

And first he crossed a wide sea of lava dust, black as the ravens
that flew in the air above it, and bounded by hills as dark as the
earth that were themselves vast sand drifts blown up into strange and
terrible shapes by mighty tempests. Then he came upon a plain strewn
over with cinders, having a grim crag frowning upon it, like the bank
of a smelting-house, with its screes of refuse rolling down. By this
time the sun had risen high and grown hot, and the black ground under
his feet began to send up the reflection of the sun's rays into his
face to scorch it.

And still the cry of "water, water," rang in his ears, and his eyes
ranged the desolate land to find it, but never a sign of it could he
see, and his strong heart sank. Once, when he had mounted with great
toil to the top of a hill, where all behind him had been black and
burnt and blistered, he saw a wide valley stretching in front of him
that was as green as the grass of spring. And he thought that where
there was grass there would surely be water, streams of water, rivers
of water, pools of water, sunny stretches of sweet water lying clear
and quiet over amber pebbles and between soft brown banks of turf.

So at this sight his heart was lifted up, and bounding down the
hillside, over the lava blocks, as fast as he could go for his
burden, he began to sing from his cracked throat in his hoarse and
quavery voice. But when he reached the valley his song stopped, and
his heart sank afresh, for it was not grass, but moss that grew
there, and it lay only on big blocks of lava, with never a drop of
moisture or a handful of earth between them.

He was crushed, but he was strong of heart and would not despair. So
he pushed on over this green plain, through a hundred thousand mossy
mounds that looked like the graves of a world of dead men.

But when he came out of it his case seemed yet more forlorn, for
leaving the soft valley behind he had come upon a lava stream, a sea
of stones, not dust or cinders, but a bleached cake of lava rock,
with never a soft place for the foot, and never a green spot for the
eye. Not a leaf to rustle in the breeze, not a blade of grass to
whisper to it, not a bird's sweet voice, or the song of running
water. Nothing lived there but dead silence on earth and in air.
Nothing but that, or in other hours the roar of wind, the rattle of
rain, and the crash of thunder.

All this time Jason had walked on under the sweltering sun, never
resting, never pausing, buoyed up with the hope of water--water for
the fainting man that he might not die. But in the desolation of that
moment he dropped Sunlocks from his shoulder, and threw himself down
beside him.

And sitting there, with the head of his unconscious comrade upon his
knees, he put it himself to say what had been the good of all that
he had done, and if it would not have been better for both of them if
he had submitted to base tyranny and remained at the Mines. Had he
not brought this man out to his death? What else was before him in
this waste wilderness, where there was no drop of water to cool his
hot forehead or moisten his parched tongue? And thinking that his
yoke-fellow might die, and die at his hands, and that he would then
be alone, with the only man's face gone from him that had ever
brightened life for him, his heart began to waver and to say, "Rise
up, Jason, rise up and go back."

But just then he was conscious of the click-clack of horses' hoofs on
the echoing face of the stony sea about him, and he shaded his eyes
and looked around, and saw in the distance a line of men on ponies
coming on in his direction. And though he thought of the guards that
had been signalled to pursue him, he made no effort to escape. He did
not stir or try to hide himself, but sat as before with the head of
his comrade on his knees.

The men on the ponies came up and passed him closely by without
seeing him. But he saw them clearly and heard their talk. They
were not the guard from the settlement, but Thing-men bound for
Thingvellir and the meeting of Althing there. And while they were
going on before him in their laughter and high spirits, Jason could
scarce resist the impulse to cry out on them to stop and take him
along with them as their prisoner, for that he was an outlaw who had
broken his outlawry, and carried away with him this fainting man at
his knees.

But before the words would form themselves, and while his blistering
lips were shaping to speak them, a great thought came to him, and
struck him back to silence.

Why had he torn away from the Sulphur Mines? Only from a gloomy love
of life, life for his comrade, and life for himself. And what life
was there in this trackless waste, this mouldering dumb wilderness?
None, none. Nothing but death lay here; death in these gaunt
solitudes; death in these dry deserts; death amid these ghastly,
haggard wrecks of inhuman things. What chance could there be of
escape from Iceland? None, none, none.

But there was one hope yet. Who were these men that had passed him?
They were Thing-men; they were the lawmakers. Where were they going?
They were going to the Mount of Laws. Why were they going there? To
hold their meeting of Althing. What was Althing? The highest power of
the State; the supreme Court of legislature and law.

What did all this mean? It meant that Jason as an Icelander knew the
laws of his country, and that one great law above all other laws he
remembered at that instant. It concerned outlaws. And what were they
but outlaws, both of them? It ordered that the condemned could appeal
at Althing against the injustice of his sentence. If the ranks of the
judges opened for his escape, then he was saved.

Jason leaped to his feet at the thought of it. That was what he would
do for his comrade and for himself. He would push on to Thingvellir.
It was five and thirty heavy miles away; but no matter for that. The
angel of hope would walk with him. He would reach the Mount of Laws,
carrying his comrade all the way. And when he got there, he would
plead the cause of both of them. Then the judges would rise, and
part, and make way for them, and they would be free men thereafter.

Life, life, life! There was life left for both of them, and very
sweet it seemed after the shadow of death that had so nearly
encompassed them. Only to live! Only to live! They were young yet and
loved one another as brothers.

And while thinking so, in the whirl of his senses as he strode to and
fro over the lava blocks, Jason heard what his ear had hitherto been
too heavy to catch, the thin music of falling water near at hand.
And, looking up, he saw a tiny rivulet like a lock of silken hair
dropping over a round face of rock, and thanking God for it, he ran
to it, and filled both hands with it, and brought it to Sunlocks and
bathed his forehead with it, and his poor blinded eyes, and moistened
his withered lips, whispering meantime words of hope and simple
tender nothings, such as any woman might croon over her sick boy.

"Come, boy, come then, come, boy, come," he whispered, and clapped
his moist hands together over the placid face to call it back to
itself.

And while he did so, sure enough Sunlocks moved, his lips parted,
his cheeks quivered, and he sighed. And seeing these signs of
consciousness, Jason began to cry, for the great rude fellow who had
not flinched before death was touched at the sight of life in that
deep place where the strongest man is as a child.

But just then he heard once more the sound of horses' hoofs on the
lava ground, and, looking up, he saw that there could be no error
this time, and that the guards were surely coming. Ten or twelve of
them there seemed to be, mounted on as many ponies, and they were
driving on at a furious gallop over the stones. There was a dog
racing in front of them, another dog was running at their heels, and
with the barking of the dogs, the loud whoops of the men to urge the
ponies along, and to the clatter of the ponies' hoofs, the plain rang
and echoed.

Jason saw that the guards were coming on in their direction. In three
minutes more they would be upon them. They were taking the line
followed by the Thing-men. Would they pass them by unseen as the
Thing-men had passed them? That was not to be expected, for they were
there to look for them. What was to be done? Jason looked behind him.
Nothing was there but an implacable wall of stone, rising sheer up
into the sky, with never a bough, or tussock of grass to cling to
that a man might climb. He looked around. The ground was covered with
cracked domes like the arches of buried cities, but the caverns that
lay beneath them were guarded by spiked jaws which only a man's foot
could slip through. Not a gap, not a hole to creep into; not a stone
to crouch under; not a bush to hide behind; nothing in sight on any
side but the bare, hard face of the wide sea of stone.

There was not a moment to lose. Jason lifted Sunlocks to his shoulder
and crept along, bent nearly double, as silently and swiftly as he
could go. And still behind him was the whoop of the men, the barking
of the dogs and the clatter of hoofs.

On and on he went, minute after precious minute. The ground became
heavier at every stride with huge stones that tore his stockinged
legs and mangled his feet in his thin skin shoes. But he recked
nothing of this, or rejoiced in it, for the way was as rough for the
guards behind him, and he could hear that the horses had been drawn
up from their gallop to a slow-paced walk. At each step he scoured
the bleak plain for shelter, and at length he saw among piles of
vitreous snags a hummock of great slabs clashed together, with one
side rent open. It was like nothing else on earth but a tomb in an
old burial ground, where the vaults have fallen in and wrecked the
monuments above them. Through the cankered lips of this hummock into
its gaping throat, Jason pushed the unconscious body of Sunlocks, and
crept in after it. And lying there in the gloom he waited for the
guards to come on, and as they came he strained his ear to catch the
sound of the words that passed between them.

"No, no, we're on the right course," said one voice. How hollow and
far away it sounded! "You saw his footmarks on the moss that we've
just crossed over, and you'll see them again on the clay we're coming
to."

"You're wrong," said another voice, "we saw one man's footsteps only,
and we are following two."

"Don't I tell you the red man is carrying the other."

"All these miles? Impossible! Anyhow _that's_ their course, not
_this_."

"Why so?"

"Because they're bound for Hafnafiord."

"Why Hafnafiord?"

"To take ship and clear away."

"Tut, man, they've got bigger game than that. They're going to
Reykjavik."

"What! To run into the lion's mouth?"

"Yes, and to draw his teeth, too. What has the Captain always said?
Why, that the red man has all along been spy for the fair one, and we
know who _he_ is. Let him once set foot in Reykjavik and he'll do
over again what he did before."

Crouching over Sunlocks in the darkness of that grim vault, Jason
heard these words as the guards rode past him in the glare of the hot
sun, and not until they were gone did he draw his breath. But just as
he lay back with a sigh of relief, thinking all danger over, suddenly
he heard a sound that startled him. It was the sniffing of a dog
outside his hiding place, and at the next instant two glittering eyes
looked in upon him from the gap whereby he had entered.

The dog growled, and Jason tried to pacify it. It barked, and then
Jason laid hold of it, and gripped it about the throat to silence it.
It fumed and fought, but Jason held it like a vice, until there came
a whistle and a call, and then it struggled afresh.

"Erik!" shouted a voice without. "Erik, Erik!" and then whistle
followed whistle.

Thinking the creature would now follow its master, Jason was for
releasing it, but before he had yet fully done so the dog growled and
barked again.

"Erik! Erik!" shouted the voice outside, and from the click-clack of
hoofs Jason judged that one of the men was returning.

Then Jason saw that there was nothing left to him but to quiet the
dog, or it would betray them to their death; so, while the brute
writhed in his great hands, struggling to tear the flesh from them,
he laid hold of its gaping jaws and rived them apart and broke them.
In a moment more the dog was dead.

In the silence that followed, a faint voice came from a distance,
crying, "Sigurd, Sigurd, why are you waiting!"

And then another voice shouted back from near at hand--very near, so
near as to seem to be on top of the hummock, "I've lost the dog; and
I could swear I heard him growling somewhere hereabouts not a minute
since."

Jason was holding his breath again, when suddenly a deep sigh came
from Sunlocks; then another, and another, and then some rambling
words that had no meaning, but made a dull hum in that hollow place.
The man outside must have heard something, for he called his dog
again.

At that Jason's heart fell low, and all he could do he did--he
reached over the outstretched form of his comrade, and put his lips
to the lips of Sunlocks, just that he might smother their deadly
babble with noiseless kisses.

This must have served, for when the voice that was far away shouted
again "Sigurd! Sigurd!" the voice that was near at hand answered,
"Coming." And a moment later, Jason heard the sounds of hoofs going
off from him as before.

Then Michael Sunlocks awoke to full consciousness, and realized his
state, and what had befallen him, and where he was, and who was with
him. And first he was overwhelmed by a tempest of agony at feeling
that he was a lost and forlorn man, blind and maimed, as it seemed at
that time, for all the rest of his life to come. After that he cried
for water, saying that his throat was baked and his tongue cracked,
and Jason replied that all the water they had found that day they had
been forced to leave behind them where they could never return to it.
Then he poured out a torrent of hot reproaches, calling on Jason to
say why he had been brought out there to go mad of thirst; and Jason
listened to all and made no answer, but stood with bent head, and
quivering lips, and great tear-drops on his rugged cheeks.

The spasm of agony and anger soon passed, as Jason knew it must, and
then, full of remorse, Sunlocks saw everything in a new light.

"What time of day is it?" he asked.

"Evening," said Jason.

"How many hours since we left Krisuvik?"

"Ten."

"How many miles from there!"

"Twenty."

"Have you carried me all the way?"

"Yes."

There was a moment's pause, then an audible sob, and then Sunlocks
felt for Jason's hand and drew it down to his lips. That kiss was
more than Jason could bear, though he bore the hot words well enough;
so he made a brave show of unconcern, and rattled on with hopeful
talk, saying where they were to go, and what he was to do for both of
them, and how they would be free men to-morrow.

And as he talked of the great task that was before them, his heart
grew strong again, and Sunlocks caught the contagion of his spirit
and cried, "Yes, yes, let us set off. I can walk alone now. Come, let
us go."

At that Jason drew Sunlocks out of the hummock, and helped him to his
feet.

"You are weak still," he said. "Let me carry you again."

"No, no, I am strong. Give me your hand. That's enough," said
Sunlocks.

"Come, then," said Jason, "the guards have gone that way to
Reykjavik. It's this way to Thingvellir--over the hill yonder, and
through the chasm of All Men, and down by the lake to the Mount of
Laws."

Then Jason wound his right arm about the waist of Sunlocks, and
Sunlocks rested his left hand on the shoulder of Jason, and so they
started out again over that gaunt wilderness that was once a sea of
living fire. Bravely they struggled along, with words of courage and
good cheer passing between them, and Sunlocks tried to be strong for
Jason's sake, and Jason tried to be blind for sake of Sunlocks. If
Sunlocks stumbled, Jason pretended not to know it, though his strong
arm bore him up, and when Jason spoke of water and said they would
soon come to a whole lake of it, Sunlocks pretended that he was no
longer thirsty. Thus, like little children playing at make-believe,
they tottered on, side by side, arm through arm, yoked together by a
bond far tighter than ever bound them before, for the love that was
their weakness was God's own strength.

But no power of spirit could take the place of power of body, and
Sunlocks grew faint and very feeble.

"Is the sun still shining?" he asked at one time.

"Yes," said Jason.

Whereupon Sunlocks added, sadly, "And I am blind--blind--blind."

"Courage," whispered Jason, "the lake is yonder. I can see it
plainly. We'll have water soon."

"It's not that," said Sunlocks, "but something else that troubles
me."

"What else?" said Jason.

"That I'm blind, and sick, and have a broken hand, a broken heart,
and a broken brain, and am not worth saving."

"Lean heavier on my shoulder, and wind your arm about my neck,"
whispered Jason.

Sunlocks struggled on a little longer, and then the power of life
fell low in him, and he could walk no farther. "Let me go," he said,
"I will lie down here a while."

And when Jason had dropped him gently to the ground, thinking he
meant to rest a little and then continue his journey, Sunlocks said,
very gently:

"Now, save yourself. I am only a burden to you. Escape, or you will
be captured and taken back."

"What?" cried Jason, "and leave you here to die?"

"That may be my fate in any case," said Sunlocks faintly, "so go,
brother--go--farewell--and God bless you!"

"Courage," whispered Jason again. "I know a farm not far away, and
the good man that keeps it. He will give us milk and bread; and we'll
sleep under his roof to-night, and start afresh in the morning."

But the passionate voice fell on a deaf ear, for Sunlocks was
unconscious before half the words were spoken. Then Jason lifted him
to his shoulder once more, and set out for the third time over the
rocky waste.

It would be a weary task to tell of the adventures that afterwards
befell him. In the fading sunlight of that day he crossed trackless
places, void of any sound or sight of life; silent, save for the
hoarse croak of the raven; without sign of human foregoer, except
some pyramidal heaps of stones, that once served as mournful
sentinels to point the human scapegoat to the cities of refuge.

He came up to the lake and saw that it was poisonous, for the
plovers that flew over it fell dead from its fumes; and when he
reached the farm he found it a ruin, the good farmer gone, and his
hearth cold. He toiled through mud and boggy places, and crossed
narrow bridle paths along perpendicular sides of precipices. The
night came on as he walked, the short night of that northern summer,
where the sun never sets in blessed darkness that weary eyes may
close in sleep, but a blood-red glow burns an hour in the northern
sky at midnight, and then the bright light rises again over the
unrested world. He was faint for bread, and athirst for water, but
still he struggled on--on--on--on--over the dismal chaos.

Sometimes when the pang of thirst was strongest he remembered what he
had heard of the madness that comes of it--that the afflicted man
walks round in a narrow circle, round and round over the self-same
place (as if the devil's bridle bound him like an unbroken horse)
until nature fails and he faints and falls. Yet thinking of himself
so, in that weary spot, with Sunlocks over him, he shuddered, but
took heart of strength and struggled on.

And all this time Sunlocks lay inert and lifeless on his shoulder, in
a deep unconsciousness that was broken by two moments only of
complete sensibility. In the first of these he said:

"I must have been dreaming, for I thought I had found my brother."

"Your brother?" said Jason.

"Yes, my brother; for I have got one, though I have never seen him,"
said Sunlocks. "We were not together in childhood, as other brothers
are, but when we grew to be men I set out in search of him. I thought
I had found him at last--but it was in hell."

"God-a-mercy!" cried Jason.

"And when I looked at him," said Sunlocks, "it seemed to me that he
was you. Yes, you; for he had the face of my yoke-fellow at the
Mines. I thought you were my brother indeed."

"Lie still, brother," whispered Jason; "lie still and rest."

In the second moment of his consciousness Sunlocks said, "Do you
think the judges will listen to us?"

"They must--they shall," said Jason.

"But the Governor himself may be one of them," said Sunlocks.

"What matter?" said Jason.

"He is a hard man--do you know who he is?"

"No," said Jason; but he added, quickly, "Wait! Ah, now I remember.
Will he be there?"

"Yes."

"So much the better."

"Why?" said Sunlocks.

And Jason answered, with heat and flame of voice, "Because I hate and
loathe him."

"Has he wronged you also?" said Sunlocks.

"Yes," said Jason, "and I have waited and watched five years to
requite him."

"Have you never yet met with him?"

"Never! But I'll see him now. And if he denies me this justice,
I'll----"

"What?"

At that he paused, and then said quickly, "No matter."

But Sunlocks understood and said, "God forbid it."

Half an hour later, Red Jason, still carrying Michael Sunlocks, was
passing through the chasm of All Men, a grand, gloomy diabolical
fissure opening into the valley of Thingvellir. It was morning of the
day following his escape from the Sulphur Mines of Krisuvik. The air
was clear, the sun was bright, and a dull sound, such as the sea
makes when far away, came up from the plain below. It was a deep
multitudinous hum of many voices. Jason heard it, and his heavy face
lightened with the vividness of a grim joy.



CHAPTER V.

THE MOUNT OF LAWS.


I.

And now, that we may stride on the faster, we must step back a pace
or two. What happened to Greeba after she parted from her father at
Krisuvik, and took up her employment as nurse to the sick prisoners,
we partly know already from the history of Red Jason and Michael
Sunlocks. Accused of unchastity, she was turned away from the
hospital; and suspected of collusion to effect the escape of some
prisoner unrecognized, she was ordered to leave the neighborhood of
the Sulphur Mines. But where her affections are at stake a woman's
wit is more than a match for a man's cunning, and Greeba contrived to
remain at Krisuvik. For her material needs she still had the larger
part of the money that her brothers, in their scheming selfishness,
had brought her, and she had her child to cheer her solitude. It was
a boy, unchristened as yet, save in the secret place of her heart,
where it bore a name that she dare not speak. And if its life was her
shame in the eyes of the good folk who gave her shelter, it was a
dear and sweet dishonor, for well she knew and loved to remember that
one word from her would turn it to glory and to joy.

"If only I dare tell," she would whisper into her babe's ear again
and again. "If I only dare!"

But its father's name she never uttered, and so with pride for her
secret, and honor for her disgrace, she clung the closer to both,
though they were sometimes hard to bear, and she thought a thousand
times they were a loving and true revenge on him that had doubted her
love and told her she had married him for the poor glory of his
place.

Not daring to let herself be seen within range of the Sulphur Mines,
she sought out the prisoner-priest from time to time, where he lived
in the partial liberty of the Free Command, and learned from him such
tidings of her husband as came his way. The good man knew nothing of
the identity of Michael Sunlocks in that world of bondage where all
identity was lost, save that A 25 was the husband of the woman who
waited without. But that was Greeba's sole secret, and the true soul
kept it.

And so the long winter passed, and the summer came, and Greeba was
content to live by the side of Sunlocks, content to breathe the air
he breathed, to have the same sky above her, to share the same
sunshine and the same rain, only repining when she remembered that
while she was looking for love into the eyes of their child, he was
slaving like a beast of burden; but waiting, waiting, waiting, withal
for the chance--she knew not what--that must release him yet, she
knew not when.

Her great hour came at length, but an awful blow came with it. One
day the prisoner-priest hurried up to the farm where she lived, and
said, "I have sad news for you; forgive me; prisoner A25 has met with
an accident."

She did not stay to hear more, but with her child in her arms she
hurried away to the Mines, and there in the tempest of her trouble
the secret of months went to the winds in an instant.

"Where is he?" she cried. "Let me see him. He is my husband."

"Your husband!" said the warders, and without more ado they laid
hands upon her and carried her off to their Captain.

"This woman," they said, "turns out to be the wife of A25."

"As I suspected," the Captain answered.

"Where is my husband?" Greeba cried. "What accident has befallen him?
Take me to him."

"First tell me why you came to this place," said the Captain.

"To be near my husband," said Greeba.

"Nothing else?"

"Nothing."

"Who is this other man?" asked the Captain.

"What man?" said Greeba.

Then they told her that her husband was gone, having been carried off
by a fellow-prisoner who had effected the escape of both of them.

"Escaped!" cried Greeba, with a look of bewilderment, glancing from
face to face of the men about her. "Then it is not true that he has
met with an accident. Thank God, oh! thank God!" And she clutched her
child closer to her breast, and kissed it.

"We know nothing of that either way," said the Captain. "But tell us
who and what is this other man? His number here was B25. His name is
Jason."

At that, Greeba gazed up again with a terrified look of inquiry.

"Jason?" she cried.

"Yes, who is he?" the Captain asked.

And Greeba answered, after a pause, "His own brother."

"We might have thought as much," said the Captain.

There was another pause, and then Greeba said, "Yes, his own brother,
who has followed him all his life to kill him."

The Captain smiled upon his warders and said, "It didn't look like
it, madam."

"But it is true," said Greeba.

"He has been your husband's best friend," said the Captain.

"He is my husband's worst enemy," said Greeba.

"He has carried him off, I tell you," said the Captain.

"Then it is only that he may have his wicked will of him," said
Greeba. "Ah, sir, you will tell me I don't know what I'm saying. But
I know too well. It was for attempting my husband's life that Jason
was sent to this place. That was before your time; but look and see
if I speak the truth. Now I know it is false that my husband is only
injured. Would he were! Would he were! Yet, what am I saying? Mercy
me, what am I saying? But, only think, he has been carried off to his
death. I know he has--I am sure he has; and better, a thousand
thousand times better, that he should be here, however injured, with
me to nurse him! But what am I saying again? Indeed, I don't know
what I am saying. Oh, sir, forgive me; and heaven forgive me, also.
But send after that man. Send instantly. Don't lose an hour more. Oh,
believe me, sir, trust me, sir, for I am a broken-hearted woman; and
why should I not speak the truth?"

"All this is very strange," said the Captain. "But set your mind at
ease about the man Jason. The guards have already gone in pursuit of
him, and he cannot escape. It is not for me to say your story is not
true, though the facts, as we know them, discredit it. But, true or
not, you shall tell it to the Governor as you have told it to me, so
prepare to leave Krisuvik immediately."

And in less than an hour more Greeba was riding between two of the
guards towards the valley of Thingvellir.


II.

Jorgen Jorgensen had thrice hardened his heart against Michael
Sunlocks: first, when he pushed Sunlocks into Althing, and found his
selfish ends were not thereby in the way of advancement; next, when
he fell from his place and Sunlocks took possession of it; again,
when he regained his stool and Sunlocks was condemned to the Sulphur
Mines. But most of all he hated Sunlocks when old Adam Fairbrother
came to Reykjavik and demanded for him, as an English subject, the
benefit of judge and jury.

"We know of no jury here," said Jorgen; "and English subject or not
English subject, this man has offended against the laws of Denmark."

"Then the laws of Denmark shall condemn him," said Adam, bravely,
"and not the caprice of a tyrant governor."

"Keep a civil tongue in your old head, sir," said Jorgen, "or you may
learn to your cost how far that caprice can go."

"I care nothing for your threats, sir," said Adam, "and I mean to
accuse you before your master."

"Do your worst," said Jorgen, "and take care how you do it."

And at first Adam's worst seemed likely to be little, for hardly had
he set foot in Reykjavik when he was brought front to front with the
material difficulty that the few pounds with which he had set out
were spent. Money was justice, and justice money, on that rock of the
sea, as elsewhere, and on the horns of his dilemma, Adam bethought
him to write to his late master, the Duke of Athol, explaining his
position, and asking for the loan of fifty pounds. A long month
passed before he got back his answer. The old Duke sent forty pounds
as a remonstrance against Adam's improvidence, and stern counsel to
him to return forthwith to the homes of his children. In the meantime
the old Bishop, out of love of Michael Sunlocks and sympathy with
Greeba, had taken Adam into his house at Reykjavik. From there old
Adam had sent petitions to the Minister at Copenhagen, petitions to
the Danish Rigsdag, and finally petitions to the Danish King. His
reward had been small, for no justice, or promise of justice, could
he get.

But Jorgen Jorgensen had sat no easier on his seat for Adam's zealous
efforts. He had been hurried out of his peace by Government
inquiries, and terrified by Government threats. But he had wriggled,
he had lied, he had used subterfuge after subterfuge, and so pushed
on the evil day of final reckoning.

And while his hoary head lay ill at ease because of the troubles that
came from Copenhagen, the gorge of his stomach rose at the bitter
waters he was made to drink at Reykjavik. He heard the name of
Michael Sunlocks on every lip, as a name of honor, a name of
affection, a name to conjure with whenever and wherever men talked of
high talents, justice, honor and truth.

Jorgen perceived that the people of Iceland had recovered from the
first surprise and suspicion that followed on the fall of their
Republic, and no longer saw Michael Sunlocks as their betrayer, but
had begun to regard him as their martyr. They loved him still. If
their hour ever came they would restore him. On the other hand,
Jorgen realized that he himself was hated where he was not despised,
jeered at where he was not feared, and that the men whom he had
counted upon because he had bought them with the places in his gift,
smiled loftily upon him as upon one who had fallen on his second
childhood. And so Jorgen Jorgensen hardened his heart against Michael
Sunlocks, and vowed that the Sulphur Mines of Krisuvik should see the
worst and last of him.

He heard of Jason, too, that he was not dead, as they had supposed,
but alive, and that he had been sent to the Mines for attempting the
life of Sunlocks. That attempt seemed to him to come of a natural
passion, and as often as he spoke of it he warmed up visibly, not out
of any human tenderness towards Jason, but with a sense of wild
triumph over Sunlocks. And the more he thought of Jason, the firmer
grew his resolve to take him out of the Sulphur Mines and place him
by his side, not that his old age needed a stay, not that he was a
lonely old man, and Jason was his daughter's son, but only because
Jason hated Sunlocks and would crush him if by chance he rose again.

With such thoughts uppermost he went down to Krisuvik, and there his
bitter purpose met with a shock. He found Jason the sole ally of
Michael Sunlocks, his friend, his defender and champion against
tyranny. It was then that he ordered the ruthless punishment of
Sunlocks, that he should be nailed by his right hand to a log of
driftwood, with meat and drink within sight but out of reach of him,
and a huge knife by his side. And when Jason had liberated Sunlocks
from this inhuman cruelty, and the two men, dearest foes and
deadliest friends, were brought before him for their punishment, the
gall of Jorgen's fate seemed to suffocate him. "Strap them up
together," he cried, "leg to leg and arm to arm." Thus he thought to
turn their love to hate; but he kept his own counsel, and left the
Sulphur Mines without saying what evil dream had brought him there,
or confessing to his Danish officers the relation wherein this other
prisoner stood to him, for secrecy is the chain-armor of the tyrant.

Back in Reykjavik he comforted himself with the assurance that
Michael Sunlocks must die. "There was death in his face," he thought,
"and he cannot last a month longer. Besides, he will fall to fighting
with the other, and the other will surely kill him. Blind fools, both
of them!"

In this mood he made ready for Thingvellir, and set out with all his
people. Since the revolution, he had kept a bodyguard of five and
twenty men, and with this following he was crossing the slope of the
Basket Hill, behind the capital, when he saw half a score of the
guards from Krisuvik riding at a gallop from the direction of
Hafnafiord. They were the men who had been sent in pursuit of Red
Jason and Michael Sunlocks, the same that had passed them in the
hummock, where the carcase of the dog still lay.

Then Jorgen Jorgensen received news that terrified him.

Michael Sunlocks had escaped, and Red Jason had escaped with him.
They had not been seen at Hafnafiord, and no ship had set sail from
there since yesterday. Never a trace of them had been found on any of
the paths from Krisuvik, and it was certain that they must be in the
interior still. Would his Excellency lend them ten men more to scour
the country?

Such was the message of the guards, and at hearing it Jorgen's anger
and fear overmastered him.

"Fools! Blockheads! Asses!" he cried. "The man is making for
Reykjavik. He knows what he is doing if you do not. Is not this the
time of Althing, and must I not leave Reykjavik for Thingvellir? He
is making for Reykjavik now! Once let him set foot there, and these
damned Icelanders will rise at the sight of him. Then you may scour
the country till you fall dead and turn black, and he will only laugh
at the sight of you. Back, you blockheads, back! Back to Reykjavik,
every man of you! And I am going back with you."

Thus driven by his frantic terror, Jorgen Jorgensen returned to the
capital and searched every house and hovel, every hole and sty, for
the two fugitives; and when he had satisfied himself that they were
not anywhere within range of Reykjavik, his fears remembered
Thingvellir, and what mischief might be going forward in his absence.
So next day he left his body-guard with the guard from Krisuvik to
watch the capital, and set out alone for the Mount of Laws.


III.

The lonely valley of Thingvellir was alive that morning with a great
throng of people. They came from the west by the Chasm of All Men,
from the east by the Chasm of Ravens, and from the south by the lake.
Troop after troop flowed into the vast amphitheatre that lies between
dark hills and great jokulls tipped with snow. They pitched their
tents on the green patch, under the fells to the north, and tying
their ponies together, head to tail, they turned them loose to graze.
Hundreds of tents were there by early morning, gleaming white in the
sunlight, and tens of hundreds of ponies, shaggy and unkempt, grubbed
among the short grass that grew between.

Near the middle of the plain stood the Mount of Laws, a lava island
of oval shape, surrounded by a narrow stream, and bounded by
overhanging walls cut deep with fissures. Around this mount the
people gathered. There friend met friend, foe met foe, rival met
rival, northmen met southmen, the Westmann islander met the Grimsey
islander, and the man from Seydisfiord met the man from Patriksfiord.
And because Althing gathered only every other year, many musty kisses
went round, with snuffboxes after them, among those who had not met
before for two long years.

It was a vast assembly, chiefly of men, in their homespun and
sheepskins and woollen stockings, cross-gartered with hemp from ankle
to knee. Women, too, and young girls and children were there, all
wearing their Sunday best. And in those first minutes of their
meeting, before Althing began, the talk was of crops and stock, of
the weather, and of what sheep had been lost in the last two hard
winters. The day had opened brightly, with clear air and bright
sunshine, but the blue sky had soon become overcast with threatening
clouds, and this lead to stories of strange signs in the heavens, and
unaccustomed noises on the earth and under it.

A man from the south spoke of rain of black dust as having fallen
three nights before until the ground was covered deep with it.
Another man, from the foot of Hekla, told of a shock of earthquake
that had lately been felt there, travelling northeast to southwest. A
third man spoke of grazing his horse on the wild oats of a glen that
he had passed through, with a line of some twenty columns of smoke
burst suddenly upon his view. All this seemed to pass from lip to lip
in the twinkling of an eye, and when young men asked what the signs
might mean, old men lifted both hands and shook their heads, and
prayed that the visitations which their island had seen before might
never come to it again.

Such was the talk, and such the mood of the people when the hour
arrived for the business of Althing to begin, and then all eyes
turned to the little wooden Thing House by the side of the church,
wherein the Thing-men were wont to gather for their procession to the
Mount of Laws. And when the hour passed, and the procession had not
yet appeared, the whisper went around that the Governor had not
arrived, and that the delay was meant to humor him. At that the
people began to mutter among themselves, for the slumbering fire of
their national spirit had been stirred. By his tardy coming the
Governor meant to humiliate them! But, Governor or no Governor, let
Althing begin its sitting. Who was the Governor that Althing should
wait for him? What was Althing that it should submit to the whim or
the will of any Governor?

Within the Thing House, as well as outside of it, such hot protests
must have had sway, for presently the door of the little place was
thrown open and the six and thirty Thing-men came out.

Then followed the solemn ceremonies that had been observed on the
spot for nigh a thousand years. First walked the Chief Judge,
carrying the sword of justice, and behind him walked his magistrates
and Thing-men. They ascended to the Mount by a flight of steps cut
out of its overhanging walls. At the same moment another procession,
that of the old Bishop and his clergy, came out of the church and
ascended to the Mount by a similar flight of steps cut out of the
opposite side of it. The two companies parted, the Thing-men to the
north and the clergy to the south, leaving the line of this natural
causeway open and free, save for the Judge, who stood at the head of
it, with the Bishop to the right of him and the Governor's empty
place to the left.

And first the Bishop offered prayer for the sitting of Althing that
was then to begin.

"Thou Judge of Israel," he prayed, in the terrible words which had
descended to him through centuries, "Thou that sittest upon the
cherubims, come down and help Thy people. O, most mighty God, who
art more pleased with the sacrifice of thanksgiving than with the
burnt offerings of bullocks and goats, keep now our mouths from guile
and deceit, from slander and from obloquy. O Lord God most holy, O
Lord most mighty, endue Thy ministers with righteousness. Give them
wisdom that they may judge wisely. Give them mercy that they may
judge mercifully. Let them judge this nation as Thou wilt judge Thy
people. Let them remember that he who takes the name of justice for
his own profit or hatred or revenge is worse than the vulture that
watches for the carcase. Let them not forget that howsoever high they
stand or proudly they bear themselves, nothing shall they take from
hence but the oak for their coffin. Let them be sure that when Thou
shalt appear with a consuming fire before Thee and a tempest round
about Thee, calling the heaven and the earth together, no portion can
they have in that day like to the portion of thine inheritance."

The fierce prayer came to an end, and then the Judge, holding his
sword erect, read his charge and repeated his oath, to deal justly
between man and man, even as the sword stood upright before him. And
the vast assembly of rude men in sheepskins and in homespun looked on
and listened, all silent and solemn, all worshipful of law and
reverent of its forms.

The oath being taken, the Judge had laid the sword aside and begun to
promulgate the new laws, reading them clause by clause, first in
Icelandic and then in Danish, when there was an uneasy movement at
the outskirts of the crowd to the west of the Mount.

"The Governor," whispered one. "It's himself," muttered another.
"He's here at last," murmured a third, and dark were the faces turned
round to see. It was the Governor, indeed, and he pushed his way
through the closely-packed people, who saw him coming, but stood
together like a wall until riven apart by his pony's feet. At the
causeway he dismounted and stepped up to the top of the Mount. He
looked old and feeble and torn by evil passions; his straight gray
hair hung like a blasted sheaf on to his shoulders, his forehead was
blistered with blue veins, his cheeks were guttered with wrinkles,
his little eyes were cruel, his jaw was broad and heavy, and his
mouth was hard and square.

The Judge made him no obeisance, but went on with his reading. The
Bishop seemed not to see him, but gazed steadfastly forward. The
Thing-men gave no sign.

He stood a moment, and looked around, and the people below could see
his wrath rising like a white hand across his haggard face. Then he
interrupted and said, "Chief Justice, I have something to say."

All heard the words, and the Speaker stopped, and, amid the
breathless silence of the people, he answered quietly, "There will be
a time and a place for that, your Excellency."

"The time is now, and the place is here," cried Jorgen Jorgensen, in
a tense voice, and quivering with anger. "Listen to me. The rebel and
traitor who once usurped the government of this island has escaped."

"Escaped!" cried a hundred voices.

"Michael Sunlocks!" cried as many more.

And a wave of excitement passed over the vast assembly.

"Yes, Michael Sunlocks has escaped," cried Jorgen Jorgensen. "That
scoundrel is at liberty. He is free to do his wicked work again. Men
of Iceland, I call on you to help me. I call on you to help the Crown
of Denmark. The traitor must be taken. I call on you to take him."

A deep murmur ran through the closely-pressed people.

"You've got your guards," shouted a voice from below. "Why do you
come to us?"

"Because," cried Jorgen Jorgensen, "my guards are protecting
Reykjavik, and because they might scour your island a hundred years
and never find what they looked for."

"Thank God!" muttered another voice from below.

"But you know it, every fell and fiord," cried Jorgen Jorgensen, "and
never a toad could skulk under a stone but you would root him out of
it. Chief Justice," he added, sweeping about, "I have a request to
make of you."

"What is it, your Excellency?" said the Judge.

"That you should adjourn this Althing so that every man here present
may go out in search of the traitor."

Then a loud involuntary murmur of dissent rose from the people, and
at the same moment the Judge said in bewilderment, "What can your
Excellency mean?"

"I mean," cried Jorgen Jorgensen, "that if you adjourn this Althing
for three days, the traitor will be taken. If not, he will be at
liberty as many years. Will you do it?"

"Your Excellency," said the Judge, "Althing has lived nigh upon a
thousand years, and every other year for that thousand years it has
met on this ancient ground, but never once since it began has the
thing you ask been done."

"Let it be done now," cried Jorgen Jorgensen. "Will you do it?"

"We will do our duty by your Excellency," said the Judge, "and we
will expect your Excellency to do your duty by us."

"But this man is a traitor," cried Jorgen Jorgensen, "and it is your
duty to help me to capture him. Will you do it?"

"And this day is ours by ancient right and custom," said the Judge,
"and it is your duty to stand aside."

"I am here for the King of Denmark," cried Jorgen Jorgensen, "and I
ask you to adjourn this Althing. Will you do it?"

"And we are here for the people of Iceland," said the Judge, "and we
ask you to step back and let us go on."

Then Jorgen Jorgensen's anger knew no bounds.

"You are subjects of the King of Denmark," he cried.

"Before ever Denmark was, we were," answered the Judge, proudly.

"And in his name I demand that you adjourn. Will you do it now?"
cried Jorgen Jorgensen, with a grin of triumph.

"No," cried the Judge, lifting an undaunted face to the face of
Jorgen Jorgensen.

The people held their breath through this clash of words, but at the
Judge's brave answer a murmur of approval passed over them. Jorgen
Jorgensen heard it, and flinched, but turned back to the Judge and
said,

"Take care. If you do not help me, you hinder me; if you are not with
me, you are against me. Is that man a traitor? Answer me--yes or no."

But the Judge made no answer, and there was dead silence among the
people, for they knew well in what way the cruel question tended.

"Answer me--yes or no," Jorgen Jorgensen cried again.

Then the Bishop broke silence and said,

"Whatever our hearts may be, your Excellency, our tongues must be
silent."

At that, Jorgen Jorgensen faced about to the crowd.

"I put a price on his head," he cried. "Two thousand kroner to
anyone who takes him, alive or dead. Who will earn it?"

"No Icelander earns money with blood," said the Bishop. "If this
thing is our duty, we will do it without pay. If not, no bribe will
tempt us."

"Ay, ay," shouted a hundred voices.

Jorgen Jorgensen flinched again, and his face whitened as he grew
darker within.

"So, I see how it is," he said, looking steadfastly at the Bishop,
the Judge, and the Thing-men. "You are aiding this traitor's escape.
You are his allies, every man of you. And you are seducing and
deceiving the people."

Then he faced about towards the crowd more and more, and cried in a
loud voice:

"Men of Iceland, you know the man who has escaped. You know what he
is, and where he came from; you know he is not one of yourselves, but
a bastard Englishman. Then drive him back home. Listen to me. What
price did I put on his head? Two thousand kroner! I will give ten
thousand! Ten thousand kroner for the man who takes him alive, and
twenty thousand kroner--do you hear me?--twenty thousand for the man
who takes him dead."

"Silence!" cried the Bishop. "Who are you, sir, that you dare tempt
men to murder?"

"Murder!" cried Jorgen Jorgensen. "See how simple are the wise? Men
of Iceland, listen to me again. The traitor is an outlaw. You know
what that means. His blood is on his own head. Any man may shoot him
down. No man may be called to account for doing so. Do you hear me?
It is the law of Iceland, the law of Denmark, the law of the world.
He is an outlaw, and killing him is no murder. Follow him up! Twenty
thousand kroner to the man who lays him at my feet."

He would have said more, for he was heaving with passion, and
his white face had grown purple, but his tongue seemed suddenly
paralyzed, and his wide eyes fixed themselves on something at the
outskirts of the crowd. One thin and wrinkled hand he lifted up and
pointed tremblingly over the heads of the people. "There!" he said in
a smothered cry, and after that he was silent.

The crowd shifted and looked round, amid a deep murmur of surprise
and expectation. Then by one of the involuntary impulses that move
great assemblies, the solid wall of human beings seemed to part of
itself, and make a way for someone.

It was Red Jason, carrying Michael Sunlocks across his breast and
shoulder. His bronzed cheeks were worn, his sunken eyes burned with a
dull fire. He strode on, erect and strong, through the riven way of
men and women. A breathless silence seemed to follow him. When he
came to the foot of the Mount, he stopped, and let Sunlocks drop
gently to the ground. Sunlocks was insensible, and his piteous white
face looked up at the heavy dome of the sky. A sensation of awe held
the vast crowd spellbound. It was as if the Almighty God had heard
the blasphemy of that miserable old man, and given him on the instant
his impious wish.


IV.

Then, in that breathless silence, Jason stood erect and said, in a
firm, clear, sonorous voice, "You know who I am. Some of you hate me.
Some of you fear me. All of you think me a sort of wild beast among
men. That is why you caged me. But I have broken my bars, and brought
this man along with me."

The men on the Mount had not time to breathe under the light and fire
that flashed upon them when Jason lifted his clenched hand and said,
"O, you that dwell in peace; you that go to your beds at night; you
that eat when you are hungry and drink when you are athirst, and rest
when you are weary: would to God you could know by bitter proof what
this poor man has suffered. But _I_ know it, and I can tell you what
it has been. Where is your Michael Sunlocks, that I may tell it to
him? Which is he? Point him out to me."

Then the people drew a deep breath, for they saw in an instant what
had befallen these two men in the dread shaping of their fate.

"Where is he?" cried Jason, again.

And in a voice quivering with emotion, the Judge said:

"Don't you know the man you've brought here?"

"No--yes--yes," cried Jason. "My brother--my brother in suffering--my
brother in misery--that's all I know or care. But where is your
Michael Sunlocks? I have something to say to him. Where is he?"

Jorgen Jorgensen had recovered himself by this time, and pressing
forward, he said with a cruel smile,

"You fool; shall I tell you where he is?"

"Heaven forbid it!" said the Bishop, stepping out and lifting both
hands before the Governor's face. But in that instant Jason had
recognized Jorgen Jorgensen.

"I know this old man," he said. "What is he doing here? Ah, God pity
me, I had forgotten. I saw him at the mines. Then he is back. And,
now I remember, he is Governor again."

Saying this, an agony of bewilderment quivered in his face. He looked
around.

"Then where is Michael Sunlocks?" he cried in a loud voice. "Where is
he? Which is he? Who is he? Will no one tell me? Speak! For the
merciful Christ's sake let some one speak."

There was a moment of silence, in which the vast crowd trembled
as one man with wonder and dismay. The Bishop and Judge stood
motionless. Jorgen Jorgensen smiled bitterly and shook his head, and
Jason raised his right hand to cover his face from the face of the
insensible man at his feet, as if some dark foreshadowing of the
truth had swept over him in an instant.

What happened thereafter Jason never knew, only that there was a
shrill cry and a rustle like a swirl of wind, only that someone was
coming up behind him through the walls of human beings, that still
stood apart like riven rocks, only that in a moment a woman had flung
herself over the prostrate body of his comrade, embracing it, raising
it in her arms, kissing its pale cheeks, and sobbing over it, "My
husband! my husband."

It was Greeba. When the dark mist had cleared away from before his
eyes, Jason saw her and knew her. At the same instant he saw and knew
his destiny, that his yoke-fellow had been Michael Sunlocks, that his
lifelong enemy had been his life's sole friend.

It was a terrible discovery, and Jason reeled under the shock of it
like a beast that is smitten to its death. And while he stood there,
half-blind, half-deaf, swaying to and fro as if the earth rocked
beneath him, across his shoulders, over his cheeks and his mouth and
his eyes fell the lash of the tongue of Jorgen Jorgensen.

"Yes, fool that you are and have been," he cried in his husky voice,
"that's where your Michael Sunlocks is."

"Shame! Shame!" cried the people.

But Jorgen Jorgensen showed no pity or ruth.

"You have brought him here to your confusion," he cried again, "and
it's not the first time you've taken this part to your own loss."

More he would have said in the merciless cruelty of his heart, only
that a deep growl came up from the crowd and silenced him.

But Jason heard nothing, saw nothing, felt nothing, knew nothing,
save that Michael Sunlocks lay at his feet, that Greeba knelt beside
him, and that she was coaxing him, caressing him, and kissing him
back to life.

"Michael," she whispered, "Michael! My poor Michael!" she murmured,
while she moistened his lips and parched tongue with the brenni-vin
from the horn of some good man standing near.

Jason saw this and heard this, though he had eyes and ears for
nothing besides. And thinking, in the wild tumult of his distempered
brain, that such tenderness might have been his, should have been
his, must have been his, but for this man who had robbed him of this
woman, all the bitterness of his poisoned heart rose up to choke him.

He remembered his weary life with this man, his sufferings with him,
his love for him, and he hated himself for it all. What devil of hell
had made sport of him, to give him his enemy for his friend? How
Satan himself must shriek aloud to see it, that he who had been
thrice robbed by this man--robbed of a father, robbed of a mother,
robbed of a wife--should in his blindness tend him, and nurse him,
and carry him with sweat of blood over trackless wastes that he might
save him alive for her who waited to claim him!

Then he remembered what he had come for, and that all was not yet
done. Should he do it after all? Should he give this man back to this
woman? Should he renounce his love and his hate together--his love of
this woman, his hate of this man? Love? Hate? Which was love? Which
was hate? Ah, God! They were one; they were the same. Heaven pity
him, what was he to do?

Thus the powers of good and the powers of evil wrestled together in
Jason's heart for mastery. But the moment of their struggle was
short. One look at the piteous blind face lying on Greeba's bosom,
one glance at the more piteous wet face that hung over it, and love
had conquered hate in that big heart forever and forever.

Jason was recalled to himself by a dull hum of words that seemed to
be spoken from the Mount. Someone was asking why he had come there,
and brought Michael Sunlocks along with him. So he lifted his hand,
partly to call attention, partly to steady himself, and in a broken
voice he said these words:--

"Men and women, if you could only know what it means that you have
just witnessed, I think it would be enough to move any man. You know
what I am--a sort of bastard who has never been a man among men, but
has walked alone all the days of his life. My father killed my
mother, and so I vowed to kill my father. I did not do it, for I
saved him out of the sea, and he died in my arms, as you might
say, doating on the memory of another son. That son's mother had
supplanted my mother and that son himself had supplanted me, so I
vowed to kill him for his father's sake. I did not do that neither. I
had never once set eyes on my enemy, I had done nothing but say what
I meant to do, when you took me and tried me and condemned me.
Perhaps that was injustice, such as could have been met with nowhere
save here in Iceland, yet I thank God for it now. By what chance I do
not know, but in that hell to which you sent me, where all names are
lost and no man may know his yoke-fellow, except by his face if he
has seen it, I met with one who became my friend, my brother, my
second self. I loved him, as one might love a little child. And he
loved me--yes, me,--I could swear it. You had thought me a beast, and
shut me out from the light of day and the company of Christian men.
But he made me a man, and lit up the darkness of my night."

His deep strong voice faltered, and he stopped, and nothing was
audible save the excited breathing of the people. Greeba was looking
up into his haggard face with amazement written upon her own.

"Must I go on," he cried, in a voice rent with agony. "I have brought
him here, and he is Michael Sunlocks. My brother in suffering is my
brother in blood. The man I have vowed to slay is the man I have
tried to save."

Some of the people could not restrain their tears, and the white
faces of the others quivered visibly.

"Why have you brought him here?" asked the Judge.

At that moment Michael Sunlocks began to move and to moan, as if
consciousness were coming back to him. Jorgen Jorgensen saw this, and
the proud composure with which he had looked on and listened while
Sunlocks lay like a man dead left him in an instant.

"Why have you brought Michael Sunlocks here?" said the Judge again.

"Why has he brought him here?" said Jorgen Jorgensen bitterly. "To be
arrested. That's why he has brought him here. See, the man is coming
to. He will do more mischief yet, unless he is prevented. Take him,"
he shouted to two of the guards from Krisuvik, who had come with
Greeba, and now stood behind her.

"Wait!" cried the Judge, lifting his hand.

There was no gainsaying his voice, and the guards who had stepped
forward dropped back.

Then he turned to Jason again and repeated his question, "Why have
you brought Michael Sunlocks here?"

At that, Jorgen Jorgensen lost all self-control and shouted, "Take
him, I say!" And facing about to the Judge he said, "I will have you
know, sir, that I am here for Denmark and must be obeyed."

The guards stepped forward again, but the crowd closed around them
and pushed them back.

Seeing this, Jorgen Jorgensen grew purple with rage, and turning to
the people, he shouted at the full pitch of his voice, "Listen to me.
Some minutes past, I put a price on that man's head. I said I would
give you twenty thousand kroner. I was wrong. I will give you nothing
but your lives and liberty. You know what that means. You have bent
your necks under the yoke already, and you may have to do it again.
Arrest that man--arrest both men!"

"Stop!" cried the Judge.

"Those men are escaped prisoners," said Jorgen Jorgensen.

"And this is the Mount of Laws, and here is Althing," said the Judge;
"and prisoners or no prisoners, if they have anything to say, by the
ancient law of Iceland they may say it now."

"Pshaw! your law of Iceland is nothing to me," said Jorgen Jorgensen,
and turning to the crowd he cried, "In the name of the King of
Denmark I command you to arrest those men."

"And in the name of the King of Kings," said the Judge, turning after
him, "I command you to let them alone."

There was a dead hush for a moment, and then the Judge looked down at
Jason and said once more, "Why have you brought Michael Sunlocks
here! Speak!"

But before Jason could make answer, Jorgen Jorgensen had broken in
again:

"My guards are at Reykjavik," he cried, "and I am here alone. You are
traitors, all of you, and if there is no one else to arrest that
enemy of my country, I will do it myself. He shall go no further.
Step back from him."

So saying, he opened his cloak, drew a pistol from his belt and
cocked it. A shrill cry arouse from the crowd. The men on the Mount
stood quaking with fear, and Greeba flung herself over the restless
body of Michael Sunlocks.

But Jason did not move a feature.

"Old man," he said, looking up with eyes as steadfast as the sun into
Jorgensen's face, and pointing towards Sunlocks, "if you touch one
hair of this head, these hands will tear you to pieces."

Then one of the men who had stood near, a rough fellow with a big
tear-drop rolling down his tanned cheeks, stepped up to Jason's side,
and without speaking a word offered him his musket; but Jason calmly
pushed it back. There was dead silence once more. Jorgen Jorgensen's
uplifted hand fell to his side, and he was speechless.

"Speak now," said the Judge. "Why have you brought Michael Sunlocks
here?"

Jason stood silent for a moment as if to brace himself up, and then
he said, "I have laid my soul bare to your gaze already, and you know
what I am and where I come from."

A low moan seemed to echo him.

"But I, too, am an Icelander, and this is our ancient Mount of Laws,
the sacred ground of our fathers and our fathers' fathers for a
thousand years."

A deep murmur rose from the vast company.

"And I have heard that if any one is wronged and oppressed and
unjustly punished, let him but find his way to this place, and though
he be the meanest slave that wipes his forehead, yet he will be a man
among you all."

There were loud cries of assent.

"I have also heard that this Mount, on this day, is as the gate of
the city in old time, when the judges sat to judge the people; and
that he who is permitted to set foot on it, and cross it, though he
were as guilty as the outlaws that hide in the desert, is innocent
and free forever after. Answer me--is it true? Yes or no?"

"Yes! yes!" came from a thousand throats.

"Then, judges of Iceland, fellow-men and brothers, do you ask why I
have brought this man to this place? Look at this bleeding hand." He
lifted the right hand of Sunlocks. "It has been pierced with a nail."
A deep groan came from the people. He let the hand fall back. "Look
at these poor eyes. They are blind. Do you know what that means? It
means hellish barbarity and damned tyranny."

His voice swelled until it seemed to shake the very ground on which
he stood. "What this man's crime may be I do not know, and I do not
care. Let it be what it will, let the man be what he may--a felon
like myself, a malefactor, a miscreant, a monster--yet what crime and
what condition deserves punishment that is worse than death and
hell?"

"None, none," shouted a thousand voices.

"Then, judges of Iceland, fellow-men and brothers, I call on you to
save this man from that doom. Save him for his sake--save him for
your own, for He that dwells above is looking down on you."

He paused a moment and then cried, "Listen!"

There was a low rumble as of thunder. It came not from the clouds,
but from the bowels of the earth. The people turned pallid with
dismay, but Jason's face was lit up with a wild frenzy.

"Do you hear it? It is the voice that was heard when these old hills
were formed, and the valleys ran like fire. It is the voice of the
Almighty God calling on you."

The word was like a war cry. The people answered it with a shout. And
still Jason's voice pealed over their heads.

"Vengeance is God's but mercy belongs to man."

He stooped to Michael Sunlocks, where Greeba held him at her bosom,
picked him up in his arms as if he had been a child, turned his face
towards the Mount and cried, "Let me pass."

Then at one impulse, in one instant, the Judge and the Bishop parted
and made a way, and Jason, carrying Sunlocks, strode up the causeway
and swept through.

There was but one voice then in all that great assembly, and it was a
mighty shout that seemed to rend the dome of the heavy sky. "Free!
Free! Free!"


V.

But the end was not yet. More, and more terrible, is to follow,
though the spirit is not fain to tell of it, and the hand that sets
it down is trembling. Let him who thinks that this world of time is
founded in justice, wait long and watch patiently, for up to the
eleventh hour he may see the good man sit in misery, and the evil man
carried in honor. And let him who thinks that Nature is sweet and
benignant and that she leaps to the aid of the just, learn from what
is to come that she is all things to all men and nothing to any man.

Now when Jason had crossed the Mount of Laws with Sunlocks, thinking
that by virtue of old custom he had thereby set him free of tyranny,
Jorgen Jorgensen did what a man of shallow soul must always do when
he sees the outward signs of the holy things that move the deeper
souls of other men. He smiled with bitterness and laughed with
contempt.

"A pretty thing, truly," he sneered, "out of some forgotten age of
musty laws and old barbarians. But there is something else that is
forgotten. It is forgotten that between these two men, Jason and
Michael Sunlocks, there is this difference, that the one is a
prisoner of Iceland, and the other of Denmark. Jason is a prisoner of
Iceland, a felon of Iceland, therefore Iceland may pardon him, and if
this brave mummery has made him free, then so be it, and God pity
you! But Michael Sunlocks is a prisoner of Denmark, a traitor against
the crown of Denmark, therefore Denmark alone may pardon him--and he
is still unpardoned."

The clamorous crowd that had gathered about Michael Sunlocks looked
up in silence and bewilderment at this fresh blow. And Jorgen
Jorgensen saw his advantage and went on.

"Ask your Lagmann and let him answer you. Is it as I say or is it
not? Ask him."

The people looked from face to face of the men on the Mount, from
Jorgen Jorgensen to the Judge and from the Judge to the Bishop.

"Is this true?" shouted a voice from the crowd.

But the Judge made no answer, and the Bishop said, "Why all this
wrangling over the body of a dying man?"

"Dying indeed!" said Jorgen Jorgensen, and he laughed. "Look at him."
Michael Sunlocks, again lying in the arms of Greeba, was showing
signs of life. "He will recover fast enough when all is over."

"Is it true?" shouted the same voice from the crowd.

"Yes," said the Judge.

Then the look of bewilderment in the faces of the people deepened to
consternation. At that moment Michael Sunlocks was raised to his
feet. And Jorgen Jorgensen, standing like an old snuffy tiger on the
watch, laughed again, and turning to Jason he pointed at Sunlocks and
said, "What did I say? A pretty farce truly, this pretence at
unconsciousness. Small good it has done him. And he has little to
thank you for. You have brought him here to his death."

What answer Jason would have made him, no man may say, for at that
moment the same terrestrial thunder that had been heard before was
heard again, and the earth became violently agitated as with a deep
pulsation. The people looked into each other's faces with dismay, and
scarcely had they realized the horror that waited to pour itself out
on the world, when a man came galloping from the south and crying,
"The mountains are coming down at Skaptar. Fly! fly!"

They stopped the man and questioned him, and he answered, with terror
in his eyes, that the ice-mountain itself was sweeping down into the
plain. Then he put his heels to his horse and broke away.

Hardly had the people heard this dread word when another man came
galloping from the southwest, and crying, "The sea is throwing up new
islands at Reykianess, and all the rivers are dry."

They stopped this man also, and questioned him, and he answered that
the sky at the coast was raining red-hot stones, so that the sea
hissed with them, and all the land was afire. Then he, too, put his
heels to his horse and broke away.

Scarcely had he gone, when a third man came galloping from the
southeast, and crying, "The land around Hekla is washed away, and not
a green place is left on the face of the earth."

This man also they stopped and questioned, and he answered that a
torrent of boiling water was rolling down from the Kotlugia yakul,
hurling ice-blocks before it, and sweeping farms, churches, cattle,
horses, and men, women, and children into the sea. Then this man also
put his heels to his horse and broke away, like one pursued by death
itself.

For some moments thereafter the people stood where the men had left
them, silent, helpless, unable to think or feel. Then there rose
from them all, as from one man, such a shriek of mortal agony as
never before came from human breasts. In their terror they ran hither
and thither, without thought or intention. They took to their tents,
they took to their ponies, they galloped north, they galloped south,
they galloped east, they galloped west, and then came scurrying back
to the Mount from which they had started. A great danger was about to
burst upon them, but they could not tell from what direction it would
come. Some remembered their homes and the wives and children they had
left there. Others thought only of themselves and of the fire and
water that were dealing out death.

In two minutes the Mount was a barren waste, the fissures on its
sides were empty, and the seats on the crags were bare. The Thing-men
and the clergy were rushing to and fro in the throng, and the old
Bishop and the Judge were seeking their horses.

Greeba stood, with fear on her face, by the side of Michael Sunlocks,
who, blind and maimed, unable to see what was going on about him,
not knowing yet where he was and what new evil threatened him,
looked like a man who might have been dead and was awakening to
consciousness in a world of the damned.

Two men, and two only, of all that vast multitude, kept their heads
and were cool through this mad panic. One of these was Jorgen
Jorgensen; the other was Red Jason. They watched each other
constantly, the one with the eyes of the lynx, the other with the
eyes of a lion.

A troop of men came riding through the throng from the direction of
the Chasm of Ravens. Twenty of them were the bodyguard of the
Governor, and they pushed their way to the feet of Jorgen Jorgensen.

"Your Excellency," said one of them, "we had news of you that you
would want us; so we made bold to come."

"You have come in time," said Jorgen Jorgensen, and his cruel eyes
flashed with the light of triumph.

"There has been a great eruption of Skaptar," said the man, "and the
people of the south are flocking into Reykjavik."

"Leave old Skaptar to take care of itself," said Jorgen Jorgensen,
"and do you take charge of that man there, and the woman beside him."

So saying, he pointed towards Michael Sunlocks, who, amid the whirl
of the crowd around, had stood still in his helpless blindness.

Jason saw and heard all, and he shouted to the people to come to his
help, for he was one man against twenty. But the people paid no heed
to his calling, for every man was thinking of himself. Then Jason
fell on the guards with his bare hands only. And his mighty muscles
would have made havoc of many of them, but that Jorgen Jorgensen drew
his pistol again and fired at him, and wounded him. Jason knew
nothing of his injury until his right arm fell to his side, bleeding
and useless. After that, he was seized from behind and from before,
and held to the ground while Michael Sunlocks and Greeba were hurried
away.

Then the air began to be filled with smoke, a wind that was like a
solid wall of black sand swept up from the south, and sudden darkness
covered everything.

"It is the lava!" shouted one.

"It's the fiery flood!" shouted another.

"It's the end of the world!" shouted a third.

And at one impulse the people rushed hither, thither--north, south,
east, west--some weeping, some shrieking, some swearing, some
laughing like demons--all wild with frenzy and mad with terror.

Jorgen Jorgensen found his little piebald pony where he had left it,
for the docile beast, with the reins over its head, was munching the
grass at the foot of the causeway. He mounted, and rode past Jason as
the men were loosening their hold of him, and peering into his face
he said with a sneer, "If this is the end of the world, as they say,
make the best of what is left of it, and fly."

With that, he thrust spurs into his horse's sides, and went off at
utmost speed.

Then Jason was alone on the plain. Not another human soul was left.
The crowd was gone; the Mount of Laws was silent, and a flock of
young sheep ran past it bleating. Over the mountains to the south a
red glow burned along the black sky, and lurid flames shot through
it.

Such was the beginning of the eruption of Skaptar. And Jason
staggered along in the day-darkness, alone, abandoned, shouting like
a maniac, swearing like a man accursed, crying out to the desolate
waste and the black wind sweeping over it, that if this were the end
of the world, he had a question to ask of Him who made it: Why He had
broken His word, which said that the wages of sin was death--why the
avenger that was promised had not come to smite down the wicked and
save the just?


VI.

In this valley of the Loberg there is a long peninsula of rock
stretching between the western bank of the lake and the river called
the Oxara. It begins in a narrow neck where is a pass for one horse
only, and ends in a deep pool over a jagged precipice, with a mighty
gorge of water falling from the opposite ravine. It is said that this
awful place was used in ancient days for the execution of women who
had killed their children, and of men who had robbed the widow and
the orphan.

Near the narrowest part of the peninsula a man was plunging along in
the darkness, trusting solely to the sight of his pony, for his own
eyes could see nothing. Two long hours he had been groping his way
from the Mount of Laws, and he was still within one short mile of it.
But at last he saw help at hand in his extremity, for a man on foot
approached him out of the gloom. He took him for a farmer of those
parts, and hailed him with hearty cheer.

"Good man," he said, "put me on the right path for Reykjavik, and you
shall have five kroner, and welcome."

But scarcely had he spoken when he recognized the man he had met, and
the man recognized him. The one was Jason, and the other Jorgen
Jorgensen.

Jorgen Jorgensen thought his hour had come, for, putting his hand to
his weapon, he remembered that he had not reloaded it since he had
shot at Jason, and so he flung it away. But the old tiger was not to
be subdued. "Come," he said, out of the black depths of his heart,
"let us have done. What is it to be?"

Then Jason stepped back, and said, "That is the way to
Reykjavik--over the stream and through the first chasm on the left."

At this, Jorgen Jorgensen seemed to catch his breath. He tried to
speak and could not.

"No," said Jason. "It may be weakness, it may be folly, it may be
madness, but you were my mother's father, God pity her and forgive
you, and not even at the price of my brother's life will I have your
blood on my hands. Go!"

Jorgen Jorgensen touched his horse and rode on, with his gray,
dishonored head deep in his breast. And, evil man as he was, surely
his cold heart was smitten with shame.



CHAPTER VI.

THE GOSPEL OF LOVE.


No Althing was held in Iceland in that year of the great eruption of
Skaptar. The dread visitation lasted six long months, from the end of
June to the beginning of January of the year following. During that
time the people of the South and Southeast, who had been made
homeless and penniless, were constantly trooping into Reykjavik in
hundreds and tens of hundreds. The population of the capital rose
from less than two thousand to more than twenty thousand. Where so
many were housed no man ever knew, and how they lived none can say.
Every hut, every hovel, every hole was full of human beings. Men,
women, and children crawled like vermin in every quarter. For food,
they had what fish came out of the sea, and when the frost covered
the fiord a foot deep with ice, they starved on fish bones and and
moss and seaweed.

By this time a cry for help had gone up throughout Europe, and
Denmark and England had each sent a shipload of provisions, corn and
meal and potatoes. The relief came late, the ships were caught in the
ice, and held ice-bound a long month off Reykianess, and when at
length the food for which the people famished was brought into
Reykjavik harbor, the potatoes were like slabs of leather and the
corn and meal like blocks of stone.

But even in this land of fire and frost, the Universal Mother is good
to her children, and the people lived through their distresses. By
the end of February they were trooping back to the scenes of their
former homes, for, desolate as those places were, they loved them and
clung to them still.

In the days of this awful calamity there were few that remembered
Michael Sunlocks. Jorgen Jorgensen might have had his will of him
then, and scarce anybody the wiser. That he held his hand was due
first to fear and then to contempt; fear of Copenhagen, contempt of
the man who had lost his influence over the people of Iceland. He
was wrong on both counts. Copenhagen cared nothing for the life of
Michael Sunlocks, and laughed at the revolution whereof he had been
the head and centre. But when the people of Iceland recovered from
the deadly visitation, their hearts turned back to the man who had
suffered for their sakes.

Then it appeared that through these weary months Michael Sunlocks had
been lying in the little house of detention at Reykjavik, with no man
save one man, and that was old Adam Fairbrother, to raise a voice on
his behalf, and no woman save one woman, and that was Greeba, to
cling to him in his extremity. Neither of these had been allowed to
come near to him, but both had been with him always. Again and again
old Adam had forced his way to the Governor, and protested that
Michael Sunlocks was not being treated as a prisoner, but as a
condemned criminal and galley-slave; and again and again Greeba had
come and gone between her lodgings at the house of the Bishop and her
heart's home at the prison, with food and drink for him who lay in
darkness and solitude. Little he knew to whom he was thus beholden,
for she took pains to keep her secret, but all Reykjavik saw what she
was doing. And the heart of Reykjavik was touched when she brought
her child from Krisuvik, thinking no shame of her altered state,
content to exist in simple poverty where she had once lived in
wealth, if so be that she might but touch the walls that contained
her husband.

Seeing how the sympathy was going, Jorgen Jorgensen set himself to
consider what step to take, and finally concluded to remove Michael
Sunlocks as far as possible from the place where his power was still
great, and his temptation to use it was powerful. The remotest spot
under his rule was Grimsey, an island lying on the Arctic circle,
thirty-five miles from the mainland. It was small, it was sparsely
populated, its inhabitants were fishermen with no craft but open row
boats; it had no trade; no vessels touched at it, and the sea that
separated it from Iceland was frozen during many months of the year.
And to this island Jorgensen decided that Michael Sunlocks should go.

When the word was brought to Michael Sunlocks, he asked what he was
expected to do on that little rock at the end of the world, and said
that Grimsey would be his sentence of Jorgen death.

"I prefer to die, for I have no great reason to wish for life," he
said; "but if I must live, let me live here. I am blind, I do not
know the darkness of this place, and all I ask of you is air and
water."

Old Adam, too, protested loudly, whereupon Jorgen Jorgensen answered
with a smile that he had supposed that all he intended to do was for
the benefit of the prisoner himself, who would surely prefer a whole
island to live upon to being confined in a cell at Reykjavik.

"He will there have liberty to move about," said Jorgen, "and he will
live under the protection of the Danish laws."

"Then that will be more than he has done here," said Adam, boldly,
"where he has existed at the caprice of a Danish tyrant."

The people of Reykjavik heard of the banishment with surprise and
anger, but nothing availed to prevent it. When the appointed day
came, Michael Sunlocks was marched out of his prison and taken off
towards the Bursting-sand desert between a line of guards. There was
a great throng to bid adieu to him, and to groan at the power that
sent him. His face was pale, but his bodily strength was good. His
step was firm and steady, and gave hardly a hint of his blindness.
His farewell of those who crowded upon him was simple and manly.

"Good-bye," he said, "and though with my eyes I cannot see you, I can
see you with my heart, and that is the better sight whereof death
alone can rob me. No doubt you have much to forgive to me; so forgive
it to me now, for we shall meet no more."

There was many a sob at that word, but the two who would have been
most touched by it were not there to hear it, for Greeba and old Adam
were busy with their own enterprise, as we shall learn hereafter.

When Michael Sunlocks was landed at Grimsey, he was offered first as
bondman for life, or prisoner-slave to the largest bonder there, a
grasping old miser named Jonsson, who, like Jorgen himself, had never
allowed his bad conscience to get the better of him. But Jonsson
looked at Sunlocks with a curl of the lip and said, "What's the use
of a blind man?" So the end of all was that Sunlocks was put in
charge of the priest of the island. The priest was to take him into
his house, to feed, clothe and attend to him, and report his
condition twice a year to the Governor at Reykjavik. For such
service to the State, the good man was to receive an annual stipend
of one hundred kroner. And all arrangements being made, the escort
that had brought Michael Sunlocks the ten days' journey over the
desert, set their faces back towards the capital.

Michael Sunlocks was then on the edge of the habitable world. There
was no attempt to confine him, for his home was an island bound by a
rocky coast; he was blind and, therefore, helpless; and he could not
step out a thousand yards alone without the danger of walking over a
precipice into the sea. So that with all his brave show of liberty,
he was as much in fetters as if his feet had been enchained to the
earth beneath them.

The priest, who was in truth his jailer, was one who has already been
heard of in this history, being no other than the Sigfus Thomsson
(titled Sir from his cure of souls) who was banished from his
chaplaincy at Reykjavik six and twenty years before for marrying
Stephen Orry to Rachael, the daughter of the Governor-General
Jorgensen. He had been young then, and since his life had been cut in
twain he had fallen into some excesses. Thus it had often happened
that when his people came to church over miles of their trackless
country he had been too drunk to go through with it, and sometimes
when they wished to make sure of him for a wedding or a christening,
they had been compelled to decoy him into his house over night and
lock him up until morning. Now he was elderly and lived alone, save
for a fractious old man-servant, in a straggling old moss-covered
house, or group of houses. He was weak of will, timid as a deer, and
infirm of purpose, yet he was beloved by all men and pitied by all
women for his sweet simplicity, whereof anyone might take advantage,
and for the tenderness that could never resist a story of distress.

The coming of Michael Sunlocks startled him out of his tipsy sleep of
a quarter of a century, and his whole household was put into a wild
turmoil. In the midst of it, when he was at his wit's end to know
what to do for his prisoner-guest, a woman, a stranger to Grimsey,
carrying a child in her arms, presented herself at his door. She was
young and comely, poorly but not meanly clad, and she offered herself
to the priest as his servant. Her story was simple, touching, and
plausible. She had lately lost her husband, an Icelander, though she
herself was a foreigner, as her speech might tell. And hearing at
Husavik that the priest of Grimsey was a lone old gentleman without
kith or kin or belongings, she had bethought herself to come and say
that she would be glad to take service from him for the sake of the
home he might offer her.

It was Greeba, and simple old Sir Sigfus fell an easy prey to her
woman's wit. He wiped his rheumy eyes while she told her story, and
straightway sent her into the kitchen. Only one condition he made
with her, and that was that she was to bear herself in his house as
Iceland women bear themselves in the houses of Iceland masters. No
more than that and no less. She was to keep to her own apartments
and never allow herself to be seen or heard by a guest that was
henceforth to live with him. That good man was blind, and would
trouble her but little, for he had seen sorrow, poor soul, and was
very silent.

Greeba consented to this with all earnestness, for it fell straight
in the way of her own designs. But with a true woman's innocent
duplicity she showed modesty and said "He shall never know that I'm
in your house, sir, unless you tell him so yourself."

Thus did Greeba place herself under the same roof with Michael
Sunlocks, and baffle discovery by the cunning of love. Two purposes
were to be served by her artifice. First she was to be constantly by
the side of her husband, to nurse him and tend him, to succor him,
and to watch over him. Next, she was to be near him for her own sake,
and for love's sake, to win him back to her some day by means more
dear than those that had won him for her at the first. She had
decided not to reveal herself to him in the meantime, for he had lost
faith in her affection. He had charged her with marrying him for
pride's sake, but he should see that she had married him for himself
alone. The heart of his love was dead, but day by day, unknown,
unseen, unheard, she would breathe upon it, until the fire in its
ashes lived again. Such was the design with which Greeba took the
place of a menial in the house where her husband lived as a prisoner,
and little did she count the cost of it.

Six months passed, and she kept her promise to the priest to live as
an Iceland servant in the house of an Iceland master. She was never
seen, and never heard, and what personal service was called for was
done by the snappish old man-servant. But she filled the old house,
once so muggy and dark, with all the cheer and comfort of life. She
knew that Michael Sunlocks felt the change, for one day she heard him
say to the priest, as he lifted his blind face and seemed to look
around, "One would think that this place must be full of sunshine."

"Why, and so it is," said the priest, "and that's my good
housekeeper's doing."

"I have heard her step," said Michael Sunlocks. "Who is she?"

"A poor young woman that has lately lost her husband," said the
priest.

"Young, you say?" said Sunlocks.

"Why, yes, young as I go," said the priest.

"Poor soul!" said Sunlocks.

It cost Greeba many a pang not to fling herself at her husband's feet
at hearing that word so sadly spoken. But she remembered her promise
and was silent. Not long afterwards she heard Michael Sunlocks ask
the priest if he had never thought of marriage. And the priest
answered yes, that he was to have married at Reykjavik about the time
he was sent to Grimsey, but the lady had looked shy at his banishment
and declined to share it.

"So I have never looked at a woman again," said the priest.

"And I daresay you have your tender thoughts of her, though so badly
treated," said Sunlocks.

"Well, yes," said the priest, "yes."

"You were chaplain at Reykjavik, but looking to be priest or dean,
and perhaps bishop some day?" said Sunlocks.

"Well, maybe so; such dreams come in one's youth," said the priest.

"And when you were sent to Grimsey there was nothing before you but a
cure of less than a hundred souls?" said Sunlocks.

"That is so," said the priest.

"The old story," said Sunlocks, and he drew a deep breath.

But deeper far was the breath that Greeba drew, for it seemed to be
the last gasp of her heart.

A year passed, and never once had Greeba spoken that her husband
might hear her. But if she did not speak, she listened always, and
the silence of her tongue seemed to make her ears the more keen. Thus
she found a way to meet all his wishes, and before he had asked he
was answered. If the day was cold he found gloves to his hand; if he
thought to wash there was water beside him; if he wished to write the
pen lay near his fingers. Meantime he never heard more than a light
footfall and the rustle of a dress about him, but as these sounds
awoke painful memories he listened and said nothing.

The summer had come and gone in which he could walk out by the
priest's arm, or lie by the hour within sound of a stream, and the
winter had fallen in with its short days and long nights. And once,
when the snow lay thick on the ground, Greeba heard him say how
cheerfully he might cheat time of many a weary hour of days like that
if only he had a fiddle to beguile them. At that she remembered that
it was not want of money that had placed her where she was, and
before the spring of that year a little church organ came from
Reykjavik, addressed to the priest, as a present from someone whose
name was unknown to him.

"Some guardian angel seems to hover around us," said Michael
Sunlocks, "to give us everything that we can wish for."

The joy in his blind face brought smiles into the face of Greeba, but
her heart was heavy for all that. To live within hourly sight of
love, yet never to share it, was to sit at a feast and eat nothing.
To hear his voice, yet never to answer it, to see his face, yet never
to touch it with the lips that hungered to kiss it, was an ordeal
more terrible than any woman's heart could bear. Should she not
speak? Might she not reveal herself? Not yet, not yet! But how long,
oh, how long?

In the heat of her impatience she could not quite restrain herself,
and though she dare not speak, she sang. It was on the Sunday after
the organ came, when all the people at Grimsey were at church, in
their strong odor of fish and sea fowl, to hear the strange new
music. Michael Sunlocks played it, and when the people sang Greeba
also joined them. Her voice was low at first, but she soon lost
herself and then it rose above the other voices. Suddenly the organ
stopped, and she was startled to see the blind face of her husband
turning in her direction.

Later the same day she heard Sunlocks say to the priest, "Who was the
lady who sang?"

"Why, that was my good housekeeper," said the priest.

"And did you say that she had lost her husband?" said Sunlocks.

"Yes, poor thing, and she is a foreigner, too," said the priest.

"Did you say a foreigner?" said Sunlocks.

"Yes, and she has a child left with her also," said the priest.

"A child?" said Sunlocks. And then after a pause he added, with more
indifference, "Poor girl! poor girl!"

Hearing this, Greeba fluttered on the verge of discovering herself.
"If only I could be sure," she thought, but she could not; and the
more closely for the chance that had so nearly revealed her, she hid
herself henceforward in the solitude of an Iceland servant.

Two years passed and then Greeba had to share her secret with
another. That other was her own child. The little man was nearly
three years old by this time, walking a little and talking a great
deal, and not to be withheld by any care from going over every corner
of the house. He found Michael Sunlocks sitting alone in his
darkness, and the two struck up a fast friendship. They talked in
baby fashion, and played on the floor for hours. With a wild thrill
of the heart, Greeba saw those twain together, and it cost her all
she had of patience and self-command not to break in upon them with a
shower of rapturous kisses. But she held back her heart like a dog on
the leash and listened, while her eyes rained tears and her lips
smiled, to the words that passed between them.

"And what's your name, my sweet one?" said Sunlocks in English.

"Michael," lisped the little man.

"So? And an Englishman, too. That's brave."

"Ot's the name of _your_ 'ickle boy?"

"Ah, I've got none, sweetheart."

"Oh."

"But if I had one perhaps his name would be Michael also."

"Oh."

The little eyes looked up into the blind face, and the little lip
began to fall. Then, by a sudden impulse, the little legs clambered
up to the knee of Sunlocks, and the little head nestled close against
his breast.

"_I'll_ be your 'ickle boy."

"So you shall, my sweet one, and you shall come again and sit with
me, and sing to me, for I am very lonely sometimes, and your dear
voice will cheer me."

But the little man had forgotten his trouble by this time, and
scrambled back to the floor. There he sat on his haunches like a
frog, and cried, "Look! look! look!" as he held up a white pebble in
his dumpy hand.

"I cannot look, little one, for I am blind."

"Ot's blind?"

"Having eyes that cannot see, sweetheart."

"Oh."

"But _your_ eyes _can_ see, and if you are to be _my_ little boy, my
little Michael, your eyes shall see for my eyes also, and you shall
come to me every day, and tell me when the sun is shining, and the
sky is blue, and then we will go out together and listen for the
birds that will be singing."

"Dat's nice," said the little fellow, looking down at the pebble in
his palm, and just then the priest came into the house out of the
snow.

"How comes it that this sweet little man and I have never met
before?" said Sunlocks.

"You might live ten years in an Iceland house and never see the
children of its servants," said the priest.

"I've heard his silvery voice, though," said Sunlocks. "What is the
color of his eyes?"

"Blue," said the priest.

"Then his hair--this long curly hair--it must be of the color of the
sun?" said Sunlocks.

"Flaxen," said the priest.

"Run along to your mother, sweetheart, run," said Sunlocks, and,
dropping back in his seat, he murmured, "How easily he might have
been my son indeed."

Kneeling on both knees, her hot face turned down and her parted lips
quivering, Greeba had listened to all this with the old delicious
trembling at both sides her heart. And going back to her own room,
she caught sight of herself in the glass, and saw that her eyes were
dancing like diamonds and all her cheeks a rosy red. Life, and a
gleam of sunshine, seemed to have shot into her face in an instant,
and while she looked there came over her a creeping thrill of
delight, for she knew that she was beautiful. And because _he_ loved
beauty whose love was everything to her, she cried for joy, and
picked up her boy, where he stood tugging at her gown, and kissed him
rapturously.

The little man, with proper manly indifference to such endearments,
wriggled back to the ground, and then Greeba remembered, with a flash
that fell on her brain like a sword, that her husband was blind now,
and all the beauty of the world was nothing to him. Smitten by this
thought, she stood a moment, while the sunshine died out of her eyes
and the rosy red out of her cheeks. But presently it came to her to
ask herself if Sunlocks was blind forever, and if nothing could be
done for him. This brought back, with pangs of remorse for such long
forgetfulness, the memory of some man, an apothecary in Husavik, who
had the credit of curing many of blindness after accidents in the
northern mines where free men worked for wage. So, thinking of this
apothecary throughout that day and the next, she found at last a
crooked way to send money to him, out of the store that still
remained to her, and to ask him to come to Grimsey.

But, waiting for the coming of the apothecary, a new dread, that was
also a new hope, stole over her.

Since that first day on which her boy and her husband talked
together, and every day thereafter when Sunlocks had called out
"Little Michael! little Michael!" and she had sent the child in, with
his little flaxen curls combed out, his little chubby face rubbed to
a shiny red, and all his little body smelling sweet with the soft
odors of childhood, she had noticed--she could not help it--that
Sunlocks listened for the sound of her own footstep whenever by
chance (which might have been rare) she passed his way.

And at first this was a cause of fear to her, lest he should discover
her before her time came to reveal herself; and then of hope that he
might even do so, and save her against her will from the sickening
pains of hungry waiting; and finally of horror, that perhaps after
all he was thinking of her as another woman. This last thought sent
all the blood of her body tingling into her face, and on the day it
flashed upon her, do what she would she could not but hate him for it
as for an infidelity that might not be forgiven.

"He never speaks of me," she thought, "never thinks of me; I am dead
to him; quite, quite dead and swept out of his mind."

It was a cruel conflict of love and hate, and if it had come to a man
he would have said within himself, "By this token I know that she
whom I love has forgotten me, and may be happy with another some day.
Well, I am nothing--let me go my ways." But that is not the gospel of
a woman's love, with all its sweet, delicious selfishness. So after
Greeba had told herself once or twice that her husband had forgotten
her, she told herself a score of times that do what he would he
should yet be hers, hers only, and no other woman's in all the wide
world. Then she thought, "How foolish! Who is there to take him from
me? Why, no one."

About the same time she heard Sunlocks question the priest concerning
her, asking what the mother of little Michael was like to look upon.
And the priest answered that if the eyes of an old curmudgeon like
himself could see straight, she was comely beyond her grade in life,
and young, too, though her brown hair had sometimes a shade of gray,
and gentle and silent, and of a soft and touching voice.

"I've heard her voice once," said Sunlocks. "And her husband was an
Icelander, and he is dead, you say?"

"Yes," said the priest; "and she's like myself in one thing."

"And what is that?" said Sunlocks.

"That she has never been able to look at anybody else," said the
priest. "And that's why she is here, you must know, burying herself
alive on old Grimsey."

"Oh," said Sunlocks, in the low murmur of the blind, "if God had but
given me this woman, so sweet, so true, so simple, instead of her--of
her--and yet--and yet----"

"Gracious heavens!" thought Greeba, "he is falling in love with me."

At that, the hot flush overspread her cheeks again, and her dark eyes
danced, and all her loveliness flowed back upon her in an instant.
And then a subtle fancy, a daring scheme, a wild adventure broke on
her heart and head, and made every nerve in her body quiver. She
would let him go on; he should think she was the other woman; she
would draw him on to love her, and one day when she held him fast and
sure, and he was hers, hers, hers only forever and ever, she would
open her arms and cry, "Sunlocks, Sunlocks, I am Greeba, Greeba!"

It was while she was in the first hot flush of this wild thought,
never doubting but the frantic thing was possible, for love knows no
impediments, that the apothecary came from Husavik, saying he was
sent by some unknown correspondent named Adam Fairbrother, who had
written from London. He examined the eyes of Michael Sunlocks by the
daylight first, but the season being the winter season, and the
daylight heavy with fog from off the sea, he asked for a candle, and
Greeba was called to hold it while he examined the eyes again. Never
before had she been so near to her husband throughout the two years
that she had lived under the same roof with him, and now that she
stood face to face with him, within sound of his very breathing, with
nothing between them but the thin gray film that lay over his dear
eyes, she could not persuade herself but that he was looking at her
and seeing her. Then she began to tremble, and presently a voice
said,

"Steadily, young woman, steadily, or your candle may fall on the good
master's face."

She tried to compose herself, but could not, and when she had
recovered from her first foolish dread, there came a fear that was
not foolish--a fear of the verdict of the apothecary. Waiting for
this in those minutes that seemed to be hours, she knew that she was
on the verge of betraying herself, and however she held her breath
she could see that her bosom was heaving.

"Yes," said the apothecary, calmly, "yes, I see no reason why you
should not recover your sight."

"Thank God!" said Michael Sunlocks.

"Thank God again," said the priest.

And Greeba, who had dropped the candle to the floor at length, had to
run from the room on the instant, lest the cry of her heart should
straightway be the cry of her lips as well, "Thank God, again and
again, forever and forever."

And, being back in her own apartment, she plucked up her child into
her arms, and cried over him, and laughed over him, and whispered
strange words of delight into his ear, mad words of love, wild words
of hope.

"Yes, yes," she whispered, "he will recover his sight, and see his
little son, and know him for his own, his own, his own. Oh, yes, yes,
yes, he will know him, he will know him, for he will see his own
face, his own dear face, in little Michael's."

But next day, when the apothecary had gone, leaving lotions and drops
for use throughout a month, and promising to return at the end of it,
Greeba's new joy made way for a new terror, as she reflected that
just as Sunlocks would see little Michael if he recovered his sight,
so he would see herself. At that thought all her heart was in her
mouth again, for she told herself that if Sunlocks saw her he would
also see what deception she had practiced in that house, and would
hate her for it, and tell her, as he had told her once before, that
it came of the leaven of her old lightness that had led her on from
false-dealing to false-dealing, and so he would turn his back upon
her or drive her from him.

Then in the cruel war of her feelings she hardly knew whether to hope
that Sunlocks should recover his sight, or remain as he was. Her pity
cried out for the one, and her love for the other. If he recovered,
at least there would be light for him in his dungeon, though she
might not be near to share it. But if he remained as he was, she
would be beside him always, his second sight, his silent guardian
spirit, eating her heart out with hungry love, but content and
thanking God.

"Why couldn't I leave things as they were?" she asked herself, but
she was startled out of the selfishness of her love by a great crisis
that came soon afterwards.

Now Michael Sunlocks had been allowed but little intercourse with the
world during the two and a half years of his imprisonment since the
day of his recapture at the Mount of Laws. While in the prison at
Reykjavik he had heard the pitiful story of that day; who his old
yoke-fellow had been, what he had done and said, and how at last,
when his brave scheme had tottered to ruin, he had gone out of the
ken and knowledge of all men. Since Sunlocks came to Grimsey he had
written once to Adam Fairbrother, asking tenderly after the old man's
own condition, earnestly after Greeba's material welfare, and with
deep affectionate solicitude for the last tidings of Jason. His
letter never reached its destination, for the Governor of Iceland was
the postmaster as well. And Adam on his part had written twice to
Michael Sunlocks, once from Copenhagen where (when Greeba had left
for Grimsey) he had gone by help of her money from Reykjavik,
thinking to see the King of Denmark in his own person; and once from
London, whereto he had followed on when that bold design had failed
him. But Adam's letters shared the fate of the letter of Sunlocks,
and thus through two long years no news of the world without had
broken the silence of that lonely home on the rock of the Arctic
seas.

But during that time there had been three unwritten communications
from Jorgen Jorgensen. The first came after some six months in the
shape of a Danish sloop of war, which took up its moorings in the
roadstead outside; the second after a year, in the shape of a
flagstaff and flag which were to be used twice a day for signalling
to the ship that the prisoner was still in safe custody; the third
after two years, in the shape of a huge lock and key, to be placed on
some room in which the prisoner was henceforward to be confined.
These three communications, marking in their contrary way the
progress of old Adam's persistent suit, first in Denmark and then in
England, were followed after a while by a fourth. This was a message
from the Governor at Reykjavik to the old priest at Grimsey, that, as
he valued his livelihood and life he was to keep close guard and
watch over his prisoner, and, if need be, to warn him that a worse
fate might come to him at any time.

Now, the evil hour when this final message came was just upon the
good time when the apothecary from Husavik brought the joyful tidings
that Sunlocks might recover his sight, and the blow was the heavier
for the hope that had gone before it. All Grimsey shared both, for
the fisherfolk had grown to like the pale stranger who, though so
simple in speech and manner, had been a great man in some way that
they scarcely knew--having no one to tell them, being so far out of
the world--but had fallen upon humiliation and deep dishonor. Michael
Sunlocks himself took the blow with composure, saying it was plainly
his destiny and of a piece with the rest of his fate, wherein no
good thing had ever come to him without an evil one coming on the back
of it. The tender heart of the old priest was thrown into wild
commotion, for Sunlocks had become, during the two years of their
life together, as a son to him, a son that was as a father
also, a stay and guardian, before whom his weakness--that of
intemperance--stood rebuked.

But the trouble of old Sir Sigfus was as nothing to that of Greeba.
In the message of the Governor she saw death, instant death, death
without word or warning, and every hour of her life thereafter was
beset with terrors. It was the month of February; and if the snow
fell from the mossy eaves in heavy thuds, she thought it was the
muffled tread of the guards who were to come for her husband; and if
the ice-floes that swept down from Greenland cracked on the coast of
Grimsey, she heard the shot that was to end his life. When Sunlocks
talked of destiny she cried, and when the priest railed at Jorgen
Jorgensen (having his own reason to hate him) she cursed the name of
the tyrant. But all the while she had to cry without tears and curse
only in the dark silence of her heart, though she was near to
betraying herself a hundred times a day.

"Oh, it is cruel," she thought, "very, very cruel. Is this what I
have waited for all this weary, weary time?"

And though so lately her love had fought with her pity to prove that
it was best for both of them that Sunlocks should remain blind, she
found it another disaster now, in the dear inconsistency of
womanhood, that he should die on the eve of regaining his sight.

"He will never see his boy," she thought, "never, never, never now."

Yet she could hardly believe it true that the cruel chance could
befall. What good would the death of Sunlocks do to anyone? What evil
did it bring to any creature that he was alive on that rock at the
farthest ends of the earth and sea? Blind, too, and helpless,
degraded from his high place, his young life wrecked, and his noble
gifts wasted! There must have been some mistake. She would go out to
the ship and ask if it was not so.

And with such wild thoughts she hurried off to the little village at
the edge of the bay. There she stood a long hour by the fisherman's
jetty, looking wistfully out to where the sloop of war lay, like a
big wooden tub, between gloomy sea and gloomy sky, and her spirit
failed her, and though she had borrowed a boat she could go no
further.

"They might laugh at me, and make a jest of me," she thought, "for I
cannot tell them that I am his wife."

With that, she went her way back as she came, crying on the good
powers above to tell her what to do next, and where to look for help.
And entering in at the porch of her own apartments, which stood aside
from the body of the house, she heard voices within, and stopped to
listen. At first she thought they were the voices of her child and
her husband; but though one of them was that of little Michael, the
other was too deep, too strong, too sad for the voice of Sunlocks.

"And so your name is Michael, my brave boy. Michael! Michael!" said
the voice, and it was strange and yet familiar. "And how like you are
to your mother, too! How like! How very like!" And the voice seemed
to break in the speaker's throat.

Greeba grew dizzy, and stumbled forward. And, as she entered the
house, a man rose from the settle, put little Michael to the ground,
and faced about to her. The man was Jason.



CHAPTER VII.

THE GOSPEL OF RENUNCIATION.


I.

What had happened in the great world during the two years in which
Michael Sunlocks had been out of it is very simple and easily told.
Old Adam Fairbrother had failed at London as he had failed at
Copenhagen, and all the good that had come of his efforts had ended
in evil. It was then that accident helped him in his despair.

The relations of England and Denmark had long been doubtful, for
France seemed to be stepping between them. Napoleon was getting
together a combination of powers against England, and in order to
coerce Denmark into using her navy--a small but efficient one--on the
side of the alliance, he threatened to send a force overland. He
counted without the resources of Nelson, who, with no more ado than
setting sail, got across to Copenhagen, took possession of every ship
of war that lay in Danish waters, and brought them home to England in
a troop.

When Adam heard of this he saw his opportunity in a moment, and
hurrying away to Nelson at Spithead he asked if among the Danish
ships that had been captured there was a sloop of war that had lain
near two years off the island of Grimsey. Nelson answered, No, but
that if there was such a vessel still at liberty he was not of a mind
to leave it to harass him. So Adam told why the sloop was there, and
Nelson, waiting for no further instructions, despatched an English
man-of-war, with Adam aboard of her, to do for the last of the Danish
fleet what had been done for the body of it, and at the same time to
recover the English prisoner whom she had been sent to watch.

Before anything was known of this final step of Nelson, his former
proceeding had made a great noise throughout Europe, where it was
loudly condemned as against the law of nations, by the rascals who
found themselves outwitted. When the report reached Reykjavik,
Jorgen Jorgensen saw nothing that could come of it but instant war
between Denmark and England, and nothing that could come of war with
England but disaster to Denmark, for he knew the English navy of old.
So to make doubly sure of his own position in a tumult wherein little
things would of a certainty be seized up with great ones, he
conceived the idea of putting Michael Sunlocks out of the way, and
thus settling one harassing complication. Then losing no time he made
ready a despatch to the officer in command of the sloop of war off
Grimsey, ordering him to send a company of men ashore immediately to
execute the prisoner lying in charge of the priest of the island.

Now this despatch, whereof the contents became known throughout
Reykjavik in less time than Jorgen took to write and seal it, had to
be carried to Grimsey by two of his bodyguard. But the men were
Danes, and as they did not know the way across the Bursting-sand
desert, an Iceland guide had to be found for them. To this end the
two taverns of the town were beaten up for a man, who at that
season--it was winter, and the snow lay thick over the lava streams
and the sand--would adventure so far from home.

And now it was just at this time, after two-and-a-half years in
which no man had seen him or heard of him, that Jason returned to
Reykjavik. Scarce anyone knew him. He was the wreck of himself, a
worn, torn, pitiful, broken ruin of a man. People lifted both hands
at sight of him, but he showed no self-pity. Day after day, night
after night, he frequented the taverns. He drank as he had never
before been known to drink; he laughed as he had never been heard to
laugh; he sang as he had never been heard to sing, and to all outward
appearance he was nothing now but a shameless, graceless, disorderly,
abandoned profligate.

Jorgen Jorgensen heard that Jason had returned, and ordered his
people to fetch him to Government House. They did so, and Jorgen and
Jason stood face to face. Jorgen looked at Jason as one who would
say, "Dare you forget the two men whose lives you have taken?" And
Jason looked back at Jorgen as one who would answer, "Dare you
remember that I spared your own life?" Then, without a word to Jason,
old Jorgen turned to his people and said, "Take him away." So Jason
went back to his dissipations, and thereafter no man said yea or nay
to him.

But when he heard of the despatch, he was sobered by it in a moment,
and when the guards came on their search for a guide to the tavern
where he was, he leapt to his feet and said, "I'll go."

"You won't pass, my lad," said one of the Danes, "for you would be
dead drunk before you crossed the Basket Slope Hill."

"Would I?" said Jason, moodily, "who knows?" And with that he
shambled out. But in his heart he cried, "The hour has come at last!
Thank God! Thank God!"

Before he was missed he had gone from Reykjavik, and made his way to
the desert with his face towards Grimsey.

The next day the guards found their guide and set out on their
journey.

The day after that a Danish captain arrived at Reykjavik from
Copenhagen, and reported to Jorgen Jorgensen that off the Westmann
Islands he had sighted a British man-of-war, making for the northern
shores of Iceland. This news put Jorgen into extreme agitation, for
he guessed at its meaning in an instant. As surely as the war ship
was afloat she was bound for Grimsey, to capture the sloop that lay
there, and as surely as England knew of the sloop, she also knew of
the prisoner whom it was sent to watch. British sea-captains, from
Drake downwards, had been a race of pirates and cut-throats, and if
the captain of this ship, on landing at Grimsey, found Michael
Sunlocks dead, he would follow on to Reykjavik and never take rest
until he had strung up the Governor and his people to the nearest
yardarm.

So thinking in the wild turmoil of his hot old head, wherein
everything he had thought before was turned topsy-turvy, Jorgen
Jorgensen decided to countermand his order for the execution of
Sunlocks. But his despatch was then a day gone on its way. Iceland
guides were a tribe of lazy vagabonds, not a man or boy about his
person was to be trusted, and so Jorgen concluded that nothing would
serve but that he should set out after the guards himself. Perhaps he
would find them at Thingvellir, perhaps he would cross them on the
desert, but at least he would overtake them before they took boat at
Husavik. Twelve hours a day he would ride, old as he was, if only
these skulking Iceland giants could be made to ride after him.

Thus were four several companies at the same time on their way to
Grimsey: the English man-of-war from Spithead to take possession of
the Danish sloop; the guards of the Governor to order the execution
of Michael Sunlocks; Jorgen Jorgensen to countermand the order; and
Red Jason on his own errand known to no man.

The first to reach was Jason.


II.

When Jason set little Michael from his knee to the floor, and rose to
his feet as Greeba entered, he was dirty, bedraggled, and unkempt;
his face was jaded and old-looking, his skin shoes were splashed with
snow, and torn, and his feet were bleeding; his neck was bare, and
his sheepskin coat was hanging to his back only by the woollen scarf
that was tied about his waist. Partly from shock at this change, and
partly from a confused memory of other scenes--the marriage festival
at Government House, the night trial in the little chamber of the
Senate, the jail, the mines, and the Mount of Laws--Greeba staggered
at sight of Jason and would have cried aloud and fallen. But he
caught her in his arms in a moment, and whispered her in a low voice
at her ear to be silent, for that he had something to say that must
be heard by no one beside herself.

She recovered herself instantly, drew back as if his touch had stung
her, and asked with a look of dread if he had known she was there.

"Yes," he answered.

"Where have you come from?"

"Reykjavik."

She glanced down at his bleeding feet, and said, "on foot?"

"On foot," he answered.

"When did you leave?"

"Five days ago."

"Then you have walked night and day across the desert?"

"Night and day."

"Alone?"

"Yes, alone."

She had become more eager at every question, and now she cried, "What
has happened? What is going to happen? Do not keep it from me. I can
bear it, for I have borne many things. Tell me why have you come?"

"To save your husband," said Jason. "Hush! Listen!"

And then he told her, with many gentle protests against her ghastly
looks of fear, of the guards that were coming with the order for the
execution of Michael Sunlocks. Hearing that, she waited for no more,
but fell to a great outburst of weeping. And until her bout was spent
he stood silent and helpless beside her, with a strong man's pains at
sight of a woman's tears.

"How she loves him!" he thought, and again and again the word rang in
the empty place of his heart.

But when she had recovered herself he smiled as well as he was able
for the great drops that still rolled down his own haggard face, and
protested once more that there was nothing to fear, for he himself
had come to forestall the danger, and things were not yet so far past
help but there was still a way to compass it.

"What way?" she asked.

"The way of escape," he answered.

"Impossible," she said. "There is a war ship outside, and every path
to the shore is watched."

He laughed at that, and said that if every goat track were guarded,
yet would he make his way to the sea. And as for the war ship
outside, there was a boat within the harbor, the same that he had
come by, a Shetland smack that had made pretence to put in for
haddock, and would sail at any moment that he gave it warning.

She listened eagerly, and, though she saw but little likelihood of
escape, she clutched at the chance of it.

"When will you make the attempt?" she asked.

"Two hours before dawn to-morrow," he answered.

"Why so late?"

"Because the nights are moonlight."

"I'll be ready," she whispered.

"Make the child ready, also," he said.

"Indeed, yes," she whispered.

"Say nothing to anyone, and if anyone questions you, answer as little
as you may. Whatever you hear, whatever you see, whatever I may do or
pretend to do, speak not a word, give not a sign, change not a
feature. Do you promise?"

"Yes," she whispered, "yes, yes."

And then suddenly a new thought smote her.

"But, Jason," she said, with her eyes aside, and her fingers running
through the hair of little Michael, "but, Jason," she faltered, "you
will not betray me?"

"Betray you?" he said, and laughed a little.

"Because," she added quietly, "though I am here, my husband does not
know me for his wife. He is blind, and cannot see me, and for my own
reasons I have never spoken to him since I came."

"You have never spoken to him?" said Jason.

"Never."

"And how long have you lived in this house?"

"Two years."

Then Jason remembered what Sunlocks had told him at the mines, and in
another moment he had read Greeba's secret by the light of his own.

"I understand," he said, sadly, "I think I understand."

She caught the look of sorrow in his eyes, and said, "But, Jason,
what of yourself?"

At that he laughed again, and tried to carry himself off with a brave
gayety.

"Where have you been?" she asked.

"At Akureyri, Husavik, Reykjavik, the desert--everywhere, nowhere,"
he answered.

"What have you been doing?"

"Drinking, gaming, going to the devil--everything, nothing."

And at that he laughed once more, loudly and noisily, forgetting his
own warning.

"Jason," said Greeba, "I wronged you once, and you have done nothing
since but heap coals of fire on my head."

"No, no; you never wronged me," he said. "I was a fool--that was all.
I made myself think that I cared for you. But it's all over now."

"Jason," she said again, "it was not altogether my fault. My husband
was everything to me; but another woman might have loved you and made
you happy."

"Ay, ay," he said, "another woman, another woman."

"Somewhere or other she waits for you," said Greeba. "Depend on
that."

"Ay, somewhere or other," he said.

"So don't lose heart, Jason," she said; "don't lose heart."

"I don't," he said, "not I;" and yet again he laughed. But, growing
serious in a moment, he said, "And did you leave home and kindred and
come out to this desolate place only that you might live under the
same roof with your husband?"

"My home was his home," said Greeba, "my kindred his kindred, and
where he was there had I to be."

"And have you waited through these two long years," he said, "for the
day and the hour when you might reveal yourself to him?"

"I could have waited for my husband," said Greeba, "through twice the
seven long years that Jacob waited for Rachel."

He paused a moment, and then said, "No, no, I don't lose heart.
Somewhere or other, somewhere or other--that's the way of it." Then
he laughed louder than ever, and every hollow note of his voice went
through Greeba like a knife. But in the empty chamber of his heart he
was crying in his despair, "My God! how she loves him! How she loves
him!"


III.

Half-an-hour later, when the winter's day was done, and the candles
had been lighted, Greeba went in to the priest, where he sat in his
room alone, to say that a stranger was asking to see him.

"Bring the stranger in," said the priest, putting down his spectacles
on his open book, and then Jason entered.

"Sir Sigfus," said Jason, "your good name has been known to me ever
since the days when my poor mother mentioned it with gratitude and
tears."

"Your mother?" said the priest; "who was she?"

"Rachel Jorgen's daughter, wife of Stephen Orry."

"Then you must be Jason."

"Yes, your reverence."

"My lad, my good lad," cried the priest, and with a look of joy he
rose and laid hold of both Jason's hands. "I have heard of you. I
hear of you every day, for your brother is with me. Come, let us go
to him. Let us go to him. Come!"

"Wait," said Jason. "First let me deliver you a message concerning
him."

The old priest's radiant face fell instantly to a deep sadness. "A
message?" he said. "You have never come from Jorgen Jorgensen?"

"No."

"From whom, then?"

"My brother's wife," said Jason.

"His wife?"

"Has he never spoken of her?"

"Yes, but as one who had injured him, and bitterly and cruelly
wronged and betrayed him."

"That may be so, your reverence," said Jason, "but who can be hard on
the penitent and the dying?"

"Is she dying?" said the priest.

Jason dropped his head. "She sends for his forgiveness," he said.
"She cannot die without it."

"Poor soul, poor soul!" said the priest.

"Whatever her faults, he cannot deny her that little mercy," said
Jason.

"God forbid it!" said the priest.

"She is alone in her misery, with none to help and none to pity her,"
said Jason.

"Where is she?" said the priest.

"At Husavik," said Jason.

"But what is her message to me?"

"That you should allow her husband to come to her."

The old priest lifted his hands in helpless bewilderment, but Jason
gave him no time to speak.

"Only for a day," said Jason, quickly, "only for one day, an hour,
one little hour. Wait, your reverence, do not say no. Think, only
think! The poor woman is alone. Let her sins be what they may, she is
penitent. She is calling for her husband. She is calling on you to
send him. It is her last request--her last prayer. Grant it, and
heaven will bless you."

The poor old priest was cruelly distressed.

"My good lad," he cried, "it is impossible. There is a ship outside
to watch us. Twice a day I have to signal with the flag that the
prisoner is safe, and twice a day the bell of the vessel answers me.
It is impossible, I say, impossible, impossible! It cannot be done.
There is no way."

"Leave it to me, and I will find a way," said Jason.

But the old priest only wrung his hands, and cried, "I dare not; I
must not; it is more than my place is worth."

"He will come back," said Jason.

"Only last week," said the priest, "I had a message from Reykjavik
which foreshadowed his death. He knows it, we all know it."

"But he will come back," said Jason, again.

"My good lad, how can you say so? Where have you lived to think it
possible? Once free of the place where the shadow of death hangs over
him, what man alive would return to it."

"He will come back," said Jason, firmly; "I know he will, I swear he
will."

"No, no," said the old man. "I'm only a simple old priest, buried
alive these thirty years, or nearly, on this lonely island of the
frozen seas, but I know better than that. It isn't in human nature,
my good lad, and no man that breathes can do it. Then think of me,
think of me!"

"I do think of you," said Jason, "and to show you how sure I am that
he will come back, I will make you an offer."

"What is it?" said the priest.

"To stand as your bondman while he is away," said Jason.

"What! Do you know what you are saying?" cried the priest.

"Yes," said Jason, "for I came to say it."

"Do you know," said the priest, "that any day, at any hour, the
sailors from yonder ship may come to execute my poor prisoner?"

"I do. But what of that?" said Jason. "Have they ever been here
before?"

"Never," said the priest.

"Do they know your prisoner from another man?"

"No."

"Then where is your risk?" said Jason.

"My risk? Mine?" cried the priest, with the great drops bursting from
his eyes, "I was thinking of yours. My lad, my good lad, you have
made me ashamed. If you dare risk your life, I dare risk my place,
and I'll do it; I'll do it."

"God bless you!" said Jason.

"And now let us go to him," said the priest. "He is in yonder room,
poor soul. When the order came from Reykjavik that I was to keep
close guard and watch on him, nothing would satisfy him but that I
should turn the key on him. That was out of fear for me. He is as
brave as a lion, and as gentle as a lamb. Come, the sooner he hears
his wife's message the better for all of us. It will be a sad blow to
him, badly as she treated him. But come!"

So saying, the old priest was fumbling his deep pockets for a key,
and shuffling along, candle in hand, towards a door at the end of a
low passage, when Jason laid hold of his arm and said in a whisper,
"Wait! It isn't fair that I should let you go farther in this matter.
You should be ignorant of what we are doing until it is done."

"As you will," said the priest.

"Can you trust me?" said Jason.

"That I can."

"Then give me the key."

The old man gave it.

"When do you make your next signal?"

"At daybreak to-morrow."

"And when does the bell on the ship answer it?"

"Immediately."

"Go to your room, your reverence," said Jason, "and never stir out of
it until you hear the ship's bell in the morning. Then come here, and
you will find me waiting on this spot to return this key to you. But
first answer me again, Do you trust me?"

"I do," said the old priest.

"You believe I will keep to my bargain, come what may?"

"I believe you will keep to it."

"And so I will, as sure as God's above me."


IV.

Jason opened the door and entered the room. It was quite dark, save
for a dull red fire of dry moss that burned on the hearth in one
corner. By this little fire Michael Sunlocks sat, with only his sad
face visible in the gloom. His long thin hands were clasped about one
knee which was half-raised; his noble head was held down, and his
flaxen hair fell across his cheeks to his shoulders.

He had heard the key turn in the lock, and said quietly, "Is that
you, Sir Sigfus?"

"No," said Jason.

"Who is it?" said Sunlocks.

"A friend," said Jason.

Sunlocks twisted about as though his blind eyes could see. "Whose
voice was that?" he said, with a tremor in his own.

"A brother's," said Jason.

Sunlocks rose to his feet. "Jason?" he cried,

"Yes, Jason."

"Come to me! Come! Where are you? Let me touch you," cried Sunlocks,
stretching out both his hands.

Then they fell into each other's arms, and laughed and wept for joy.
After a while Jason said,--

"Sunlocks, I have brought you a message."

"Not from her, Jason?--no."

"No, not from her--from dear old Adam Fairbrother," said Jason.

"Were is he?"

"At Husavik."

"Why did you not bring him with you?"

"He could not come."

"Jason, is he ill?"

"He has crossed the desert to see you, but he can go no further."

"Jason, tell me, is he dying?"

"The good old man is calling on you night and day, 'Sunlocks!' he is
crying. 'Sunlocks! my boy, my son. Sunlocks! Sunlocks!'"

"My dear father, my other father, God bless him!"

"He says he has crossed the seas to find you, and cannot die without
seeing you again. And though he knows you are here, yet in his pain
and trouble he forgets it, and cries, 'Come to me, my son, my
Sunlocks.'"

"Now, this is the hardest lot of all," said Sunlocks, and he cast
himself down on his chair. "Oh, these blind eyes! Oh, this cruel
prison! Oh, for one day of freedom! Only one day, one poor simple
day!"

And so he wept, and bemoaned his bitter fate.

Jason stood over him with many pains and misgivings at sight of the
distress he had created. And if the eye of heaven saw Jason there,
surely the suffering in his face atoned for the lie on his tongue.

"Hush, Sunlocks, hush!" he said, in a tremulous whisper. "You can
have the day you wish for; and if you cannot see, there are others to
lead you. Yes, it is true, it is true, for I have settled it. It is
all arranged, and you are to leave this place to-morrow."

Hearing this, Michael Sunlocks made first a cry of delight, and then
said after a moment, "But what of this poor old priest?"

"He is a good man, and willing to let you go," said Jason.

"But he has had warning that I may be wanted at any time," said
Sunlocks, "and though his house is a prison, he has made it a home,
and I would not do him a wrong to save my life."

"He knows that," said Jason, "and he says that you will come back to
him though death itself should be waiting to receive you."

"He is right," said Sunlocks; "and no disaster save this one could
take me from him to his peril. The good old soul! Come, let me thank
him." And with that he was making for the door.

But Jason stepped between, and said, "Nay, it isn't fair to the good
priest that we should make him a party to our enterprise. I have told
him all that he need know, and he is content. Now, let him be
ignorant of what we are doing until it is done. Then if anything
happens it will appear that you have escaped."

"But I am coming back," said Sunlocks.

"Yes, yes," said Jason, "but listen. To-morrow morning, two hours
before daybreak, you will go down to the bay. There is a small boat
lying by the little jetty, and a fishing smack at anchor about a
biscuit-throw farther out. The good woman who is housekeeper here
will lead you----"

"Why she?" interrupted Sunlocks.

Jason paused, and said, "Have you anything against her?"

"No indeed," said Sunlocks. "A good, true woman. One who lately lost
her husband, and at the same time all the cheer and hope of life.
Simple and sweet, and silent, and with a voice that recalls another
who was once very near and dear to me."

"Is she not so still?" said Jason.

"God knows. I scarce can tell. Sometimes I think she is dearer to me
than ever, and now that I am blind I seem to see her near me always.
It is only a dream, a foolish dream."

"But what if the dream came true?" said Jason.

"That cannot be," said Sunlocks. "Yet where is she? What has become
of her? Is she with her father? What is she doing?"

"You shall soon know now," said Jason. "Only ask to-morrow and this
good woman will take you to her."

"But why not you yourself, Jason?" said Sunlocks.

"Because I am to stay here until you return," said Jason.

"What?" cried Sunlocks. "You are to stay here?"

"Yes," said Jason.

"As bondman to the law instead of me? Is that it? Speak!" cried
Sunlocks.

"And why not?" said Jason, calmly.

There was silence for a moment. Sunlocks felt about with his helpless
hands until he touched Jason and then he fell sobbing upon his neck.

"Jason, Jason," he cried, "this is more than a brother's love. Ah,
you do not know the risk you would run; but I know it, and I must not
keep it from you. Any day, any hour, a despatch may come to the ship
outside to order that I should be shot. Suppose I were to go to the
dear soul who calls for me, and the despatch came in my
absence--where would you be then?"

"I should be here," said Jason, simply.

"My lad, my brave lad," cried Sunlocks, "what are you saying? If you
cannot think for yourself, then think for me. If what I have said
were to occur, should I ever know another moment's happiness? No,
never, never, though I regained my sight, as they say I may, and my
place and my friends--all save one--and lived a hundred years."

Jason started at that thought, but there was no one to look upon his
face under the force of it, and he wriggled with it and threw it off.

"But you will come back," he said. "If the despatch comes while you
are away, I will say that you are coming, and you will come."

"I may never come back," said Sunlocks. "Only think, my lad. This is
winter, and we are on the verge of the Arctic seas, with five and
thirty miles of water dividing us from the mainland. He would be a
bold man who would count for a day on whether in which a little
fishing smack could live. And a storm might come up and keep me
back."

"The same storm that would keep you back," said Jason, "would keep
back the despatch. But why hunt after these chances? Have you any
reason to fear that the despatch will come to-day, or to-morrow, or
the next day? No, you have none. Then go, and for form's sake--just
that, no more, no less--let me wait here until you return."

There was another moment's silence, and then Sunlocks said, "Is that
the condition of my going?"

"Yes," said Jason.

"Did this old priest impose it?" asked Sunlocks.

Jason hesitated a moment, and answered, "Yes."

"Then I won't go," said Sunlocks, stoutly.

"If you don't," said Jason, "you will break poor old Adam's heart,
for I myself will tell him that you might have come to him, and would
not."

"Will you tell him why I would not?" said Sunlocks.

"No," said Jason.

There was a pause, and then Jason said, very tenderly, "Will you go,
Sunlocks?"

And Sunlocks answered, "Yes."


V.

Jason slept on the form over against the narrow wooden bed of Michael
Sunlocks. He lay down at midnight, and awoke four hours later. Then
he stepped to the door and looked out. The night was calm and
beautiful; the moon was shining, and the little world of Grimsey
slept white and quiet under its coverlet of snow. Snow on the roof,
snow in the valley, snow on the mountains so clear against the sky
and the stars; no wind, no breeze, no sound on earth and in air save
the steady chime of the sea below.

It was too early yet, and Jason went back into the house. He did not
lie down again lest he should oversleep himself, but sat on his form
and waited. All was silent in the home of the priest. Jason could
hear nothing but the steady breathing of Sunlocks as he slept.

After awhile it began to snow, and then the moon went out, and the
night became very dark.

"Now is the time," thought Jason, and after hanging a sheepskin over
the little skin-covered window, he lit a candle and awakened
Sunlocks.

Sunlocks rose and dressed himself without much speaking, and
sometimes he sighed like a down-hearted man. But Jason rattled on
with idle talk, and kindled a fire and made some coffee. And when
this was done he stumbled his way through the long passages of the
Iceland house until he came upon Greeba's room, and there he knocked
softly, and she answered him.

She was ready, for she had not been to bed, and about her shoulders
and across her breast was a sling of sheepskin, wherein she meant to
carry her little Michael as he slept.

"All is ready," he whispered. "He says he may recover his sight. Can
it be true?"

"Yes, the apothecary from Husavik said so," she answered.

"Then have no fear. Tell him who you are, for he loves you still."

And, hearing that, Greeba began to cry for joy, and to thank God that
the days of her waiting were over at last.

"Two years I have lived alone," she said, "in the solitude of a
loveless life and the death of a heartless home. My love has been
silent all this weary, weary time, but it is to be silent no longer.
At last! At last! My hour has come at last! My husband will forgive
me for the deception I have practiced upon him. How can he hate me
for loving him to all lengths and ends of love? Oh, that the blessed
spirit that counts the throbbings of the heart would but count my
life from to-day--to-day, to-day, to-day--wiping out all that is
past, and leaving only the white page of what is to come."

Then from crying she fell to laughing, as softly and as gently, as if
her heart grudged her voice the joy of it. She was like a child who
is to wear a new feather on the morrow, and is counting the minutes
until that morrow comes, too impatient to rest, and afraid to sleep
lest she should awake too late. And Jason stood aside and heard both
her weeping and her laughter.

He went back to Sunlocks, and found him yet more sad than before.

"Only to think," said Sunlocks, "that you, whom I thought my worst
enemy, you that once followed me to slay me, should be the man of all
men to risk your life for me."

"Yes, life is a fine lottery, isn't it?" said Jason, and he laughed.

"How the Almighty God tears our little passions to tatters," said
Sunlocks, "and works His own ends in spite of them."

When all was ready, Jason blew out the candle, and led Sunlocks to
the porch. Greeba was there, with little Michael breathing softly
from the sling at her breast.

Jason opened the door. "It's very dark," he whispered, "and it is
still two hours before the dawn. Sunlocks, if you had your sight
already, you could not see one step before you. So give your hand to
this good woman, and whatever happens hereafter never, never let it
go."

And with that he joined their hands.

"Does she know my way?" said Sunlocks.

"She knows the way for both of you," said Jason. "And now go. Down
at the jetty you will find two men waiting for you. Stop! Have you
any money?"

"Yes," said Greeba.

"Give some to the men," said Jason. "Good-bye. I promised them a
hundred kroner. Good-bye! Tell them to drop down the bay as silently
as they can. Good-bye!"

"Good-bye!"

"Come," said Greeba, and she drew at the hand of Sunlocks.

"Good-bye! Good-bye!" said Jason.

But Sunlocks held back a moment, and then in a voice that faltered
and broke he said, "Jason--kiss me."

At the next moment they were gone into the darkness and the falling
snow--Sunlocks and Greeba, hand in hand, and their child asleep at
its mother's bosom.

Jason stood a long hour at the open door, and listened. He heard the
footsteps die away; he heard the creak of the crazy wooden jetty; he
heard the light plash of the oars as the boat moved off; he heard the
clank of the chain as the anchor was lifted; he heard the oars again
as the little smack moved down the bay, and not another sound came to
his ear through the silence of the night.

He looked across the headland to where the sloop of war lay outside,
and he saw her lights, and their two white waterways, like pillars of
silver, over the sea. All was quiet about her.

Still he stood and listened until the last faint sound of the oars
had gone. By this time a woolly light had begun to creep over the
mountain tops, and a light breeze came down from them.

"It is the dawn," thought Jason. "They are safe."

He went back into the house, pulled down the sheepskin from the
window, and lit the candle again. After a search he found paper and
pens and wax in a cupboard and sat down to write. His hand was hard,
he had never been to school, and he could barely form the letters and
spell the words. This was what he wrote:

"Whatever you hear, fear not for me. I have escaped, and am safe. But
don't expect to see me. I can never rejoin you, for I dare not be
seen. And you are going back to your beautiful island, but dear old
Iceland is the only place for me. Greeba, good-bye; I shall never
lose heart. Sunlocks, she has loved you, you only, all the days of
her life. Good-bye. I am well and happy. God bless you both."

Having written and sealed this letter, he marked it with a cross for
superscription, touched it with his lips, laid it back on the table
and put a key on top of it. Then he rested his head on his hands, and
for some minutes afterwards he was lost to himself in thought. "They
would tell him to lie down," he thought, "and now he must be asleep.
When he awakes he will be out at sea, far out, and all sail set.
Before long he will find that he has been betrayed, and demand to be
brought back. But they will not heed his anger, for she will have
talked with them. Next week or the week after they will put in at
Shetlands, and there he will get my letter. Then his face will
brighten with joy, and he will cry, 'To home! To Home!' And
then--even then--why not?--his sight will come back to him, and he
will open his eyes and find his dream come true, and her own dear
face looking up at him. At that he will cry, 'Greeba, Greeba, my
Greeba,' and she will fall into his arms and he will pluck her to his
breast. Then the wind will come sweeping down from the North Sea, and
belly out the sail until it sings and the ropes crack and the blocks
creak. And the good ship will fly along the waters like a bird to the
home of the sun. Home! Home! England! England, and the little green
island of her sea!"

"God bless them both," he said aloud, in a voice like a sob, but he
leapt to his feet, unable to bear the flow of his thoughts. He put
back the paper and pens into the cupboard, and while he was doing so
he came upon a bottle of brenni-vin. He took it out and laughed, and
drew the cork to take a draught. But he put it down on the table
untouched. "Not yet," he said to himself, and then he stepped to the
door and opened it.

The snow had ceased to fall and the day was breaking. Great shivering
waifs of vapor crept along the mountain sides, and the valley was
veiled in mist. But the sea was clear and peaceful, and the sloop of
war lay on its dark bosom as before.

"Now for the signal," thought Jason.

In less than a minute afterwards the flag was floating from the
flag-staff, and Jason stood waiting for the ship's answer. It came in
due course, a clear-toned bell that rang out over the quiet waters
and echoed across the land.

"It's done," thought Jason, and he went back into the house. Lifting
up the brenni-vin, he took a long draught of it, and laughed as he
did so. Then a longer draught, and laughed yet louder. Still another
draught, and another, and another, until the bottle was emptied, and
he flung it on the floor.

After that he picked up the key and the letter, and shambled out into
the passage, laughing as he went.

"Where are you now, old mole?" he shouted, and again he shouted,
until the little house rang with his thick voice and his peals of
wild laughter.

The old priest came out of his room in his nightshirt with a lighted
candle in his hand.

"God bless me, what's this?" said the old man.

"What's this? Why, your bondman, your bondman, and the key, the key,"
shouted Jason, and he laughed once more. "Did you think you would
never see it again? Did you think I would run away and leave you? Not
I, old mole, not I."

"Has he gone?" said the priest, glancing fearfully into the room.

"Gone? Why, yes, of course he has gone," laughed Jason. "They have
both gone."

"Both!" said the priest, looking up inquiringly, and at sight of his
face Jason laughed louder than ever.

"So you didn't see it, old mole?"

"See what?"

"That she was his wife?"

"His wife? Who?"

"Why, your housekeeper, as you called her."

"God bless my soul! And when are they coming back?"

"They are never coming back."

"Never?"

"I have taken care that they never can."

"Dear me! dear me! What does it all mean?"

"It means that the despatch is on its way from Reykjavik, and will be
here to-day. Ha! ha! ha!"

"To-day? God save us! And do you intend--no, it cannot be--and
yet--_do_ you intend to die instead of him?"

"Well, and what of that? It's nothing to you, is it? And as for
myself, there are old scores against me, and if death had not come to
me soon, I should have gone to it."

"I'll not stand by and witness it."

"You will, you shall, you must. And listen--here is a letter. It is
for him. Address it to her by the first ship to the Shetlands. The
Thora, Shetlands--that will do. And now bring me some more of your
brenni-vin, you good old soul, for I am going to take a sleep at
last--a long sleep--a long, long sleep at last."

"God pity you! God help you! God bless you!"

"Ay, ay, pray to your God. But _I'll_ not pray to him. He doesn't
make His world for wretches like me. I'm a pagan, am I? So be it!
Good-night, you dear old mole! Good-night! I'll keep to my bargain,
never fear. Good-night. Never mind your brenni-vin, I'll sleep
without it. Good-night! Good-night!"

Saying this, amid broken peals of unearthly laughter, Jason reeled
back into the room, and clashed the door after him. The old priest,
left alone in the passage, dropped the foolish candle, and wrung his
hands. Then he listened at the door a moment. The unearthly laughter
ceased and a burst of weeping followed it.


VI.

It was on the day after that the evil work was done. The despatch had
arrived, a day's warning had been given, and four sailors, armed with
muskets, had come ashore.

It was early morning, and not a soul in Grimsey who had known Michael
Sunlocks was there to see. Only Sir Sigfus knew the secret, and he
dare not speak. To save Jason from the death that waited for him
would be to put himself in Jason's place.

The sailors drew up in a line on a piece of flat ground in front of
the house whereon the snow was trodden hard. Jason came out looking
strong and content. His step was firm, and his face was defiant. Fate
had dogged him all his days. Only in one place, only in one hour,
could he meet and beat it. This was that place, and this was that
hour. He was solemn enough at last.

By his side the old priest walked, with his white head bent and his
nervous hands clasped together. He was mumbling the prayers for the
dying in a voice that trembled and broke. The morning was clear and
cold, and all the world around was white and peaceful.

Jason took up his stand, and folded his arms behind him. As he did so
the sun broke through the clouds and lit up his uplifted face and his
long red hair like blood.

The sailors fired and he fell. He took their shots into his heart,
the biggest heart for good or ill that ever beat in the breast of
man.


VII.

Within an hour there was a great commotion on that quiet spot.
Jorgen Jorgensen had come, but come too late. One glance told him
everything. His order had been executed, but Sunlocks was gone and
Jason was dead. Where were his miserable fears now? Where was his
petty hate? Both his enemies had escaped him, and his little soul
shrivelled up at sight of the wreck of their mighty passions.

"What does this mean?" he asked, looking stupidly around him.

And the old priest, transformed in one instant from the poor, timid
thing he had been, turned upon him with the courage of a lion.

"It means," he said, face to face with him, "that I am a wretched
coward and you are a damned tyrant."

While they stood together so, the report of a cannon came from the
bay. It was a loud detonation, that seemed to heave the sea and shake
the island. Jorgen knew what it meant. It meant that the English
man-of-war had come.

The Danish sloop struck her colors, and Adam Fairbrother came ashore.
He heard what had happened, and gathered with the others where Jason
lay with his calm face towards the sky. And going down on his knees
he whispered into the deaf ear, "My brave lad, your troubled life is
over, your stormy soul is in its rest. Sleep on, sleep well, sleep in
peace. God will not forget you."

Then rising to his feet he looked around and said, "If any man thinks
that this world is not founded in justice, let him come here and see:
There stands the man who is called the Governor of Iceland, and here
lies his only kinsman in all the wide wilderness of men. The one is
alive, the other is dead; the one is living in power and plenty, the
other died like a hunted beast. But which do you choose to be: The
man who has the world at his feet or the man who lies at the feet of
the world?"

Jorgen Jorgensen only dropped his head while old Adam's lash fell
over him. And turning upon him with heat of voice, old Adam cried,
"Away with you! Go back to the place of your power. There is no one
now to take it from you. But carry this word with you for your
warning: Heap up your gold like the mire of the streets, grown
mighty and powerful beyond any man living, and when all is done you
shall be an execration and a curse and a reproach, and the poorest
outcast on life's highway shall cry with me, 'Any fate, oh, merciful
heaven, but not that! not that!' Away with you, away! Take your
wicked feet away, for this is holy ground!"

And Jorgen Jorgensen turned about on the instant and went off
hurriedly, with his face to the earth, like a whipped dog.


VIII.

They buried Jason in a piece of untouched ground over against the
little wooden church. Sir Sigfus dug the grave with his own hands. It
was a bed of solid lava, and in that pit of old fire they laid that
young heart of flame. The sky was blue, and the sun shone on the snow
so white and beautiful. It had been a dark midnight when Jason came
into the world, but it was a glorious morning when he went out of it.

The good priest learning the truth from old Adam, that Jason had
loved Greeba, bethought him of a way to remember the dead man's life
secret at the last. He got twelve Iceland maidens and taught them an
English hymn. They could not understand the words of it, but they
learned to sing them to an English tune. And, clad in white, they
stood round the grave of Jason, and sang these words in the tongue he
loved the best:

    Time, like an ever rolling stream
      Bears all its sons away;
    They fly forgotten, as a dream
      Dies at the opening day.

On the island rock of old Grimsey, close to the margin of the Arctic
seas, there is a pyramid of lava blocks, now honey-combed and
moss-covered, over Jason's rest. And to this day the place of it is
called "The place of Red Jason."


                            THE END.



A. L. BURT'S PUBLICATIONS

For Young People

BY POPULAR WRITERS.

97-99-101 Reade Street, New York.


Bonnie Prince Charlie: A Tale of Fontenoy and Culloden. By G. A.
HENTY. With 12 full-page Illustrations by GORDON BROWNE. 12mo, cloth,
price $1.00.

The adventures of the son of a Scotch officer in French service. The
boy, brought up by a Glasgow bailie, is arrested for aiding a
Jacobite agent, escapes, is wrecked on the French coast, reaches
Paris, and serves with the French army at Dettingen. He kills his
father's foe in a duel, and escaping to the coast, shares the
adventures of Prince Charlie, but finally settles happily in
Scotland.

  "Ronald, the hero, is very like the hero of 'Quentin Durward.'
  The lad's journey across France, and his hairbreadth escapes,
  make up as good a narrative of the kind as we have ever read. For
  freshness of treatment and variety of incident Mr. Henty has
  surpassed himself."--_Spectator._


With Clive in India; or, the Beginnings of an Empire. By G. A.
HENTY. With 12 full-page Illustrations by GORDON BROWNE. 12mo, cloth,
price $1.00.

The period between the landing of Clive as a young writer in India
and the close of his career was critical and eventful in the extreme.
At its commencement the English were traders existing on sufferance
of the native princes. At its close they were masters of Bengal and
of the greater part of Southern India. The author has given a full
and accurate account of the events of that stirring time, and battles
and sieges follow each other in rapid succession, while he combines
with his narrative a tale of daring and adventure, which gives a
lifelike interest to the volume.

  "He has taken a period of Indian history of the most vital
  importance, and he has embroidered on the historical facts a
  story which of itself is deeply interesting. Young people
  assuredly will be delighted with the volume."--_Scotsman._


The Lion of the North: A Tale of Gustavus Adolphus and the Wars of
Religion. By G. A. HENTY. With full-page Illustrations by JOHN
SCHÖNBERG. 12mo, cloth, price $1.00.

In this story Mr. Henty gives the history of the first part of the
Thirty Years' War. The issue had its importance, which has extended
to the present day, as it established religious freedom in Germany.
The army of the chivalrous king of Sweden was largely composed of
Scotchmen, and among these was the hero of the story.

  "The tale is a clever and instructive piece of history and as
  boys may be trusted to read it conscientiously, they can hardly
  fail to be profited."--_Times._


The Dragon and the Raven; or, The Days of King Alfred. By G. A.
HENTY. With full-page Illustrations by C. J. STANILAND, R.I. 12mo,
cloth, price $1.00.

In this story the author gives an account of the fierce struggle
between Saxon and Dane for supremacy in England, and presents a vivid
picture of the misery and ruin to which the country was reduced by
the ravages of the sea-wolves. The hero, a young Saxon thane, takes
part in all the battles fought by King Alfred. He is driven from his
home, takes to the sea and resists the Danes on their own element,
and being pursued by them up the Seine, is present at the long and
desperate siege of Paris.

  "Treated in a manner most attractive to the boyish
  reader."--_Athenæum._


The Young Carthaginian: A Story of the Times of Hannibal. By G. A.
HENTY. With full-page Illustrations by C. J. STANILAND, R.I. 12mo,
cloth, price $1.00.

Boys reading the history of the Punic Wars have seldom a keen
appreciation of the merits of the contest. That it was at first a
struggle for empire, and afterward for existence on the part of
Carthage, that Hannibal was a great and skillful general, that he
defeated the Romans at Trebia, Lake Trasimenus, and Cannæ, and all
but took Rome, represents pretty nearly the sum total of their
knowledge. To let them know more about this momentous struggle for
the empire of the world Mr. Henty has written this story, which not
only gives in graphic style a brilliant description of a most
interesting period of history, but is a tale of exciting adventure
sure to secure the interest of the reader.

  "Well constructed and vividly told. From first to last nothing
  stays the interest of the narrative. It bears us along as on a
  stream whose current varies in direction, but never loses its
  force."--_Saturday Review._


In Freedom's Cause: A Story of Wallace and Bruce. By G. A. HENTY.
With full-page Illustrations by GORDON BROWNE. 12mo, cloth, price
$1.00.

In this story the author relates the stirring tale of the Scottish
War of Independence. The extraordinary valor and personal prowess of
Wallace and Bruce rival the deeds of the mythical heroes of chivalry,
and indeed at one time Wallace was ranked with these legendary
personages. The researches of modern historians have shown, however,
that he was a living, breathing man--and a valiant champion. The hero
of the tale fought under both Wallace and Bruce, and while the
strictest historical accuracy has been maintained with respect to
public events, the work is full of "hairbreadth 'scapes" and wild
adventure.

  "It is written in the author's best style. Full of the wildest
  and most remarkable achievements, it is a tale of great interest,
  which a boy, once he has begun it, will not willingly put on one
  side."--_The Schoolmaster._


With Lee in Virginia: A Story of the American Civil War. By G. A.
HENTY. With full-page Illustrations by GORDON BROWNE. 12mo, cloth,
price $1.00.

The story of a young Virginian planter, who, after bravely proving
his sympathy with the slaves of brutal masters, serves with no less
courage and enthusiasm under Lee and Jackson through the most
exciting events of the struggle. He has many hairbreadth escapes, is
several times wounded and twice taken prisoner; but his courage and
readiness and, in two cases, the devotion of a black servant and of a
runaway slave whom he had assisted, bring him safely through all
difficulties.

  "One of the best stories for lads which Mr. Henty has yet
  written. The picture is full of life and color, and the stirring
  and romantic incidents are skillfully blended with the personal
  interest and charm of the story."--_Standard._


By England's Aid; or, The Freeing of the Netherlands (1585-1604).
By G. A. HENTY. With full-page Illustrations by ALFRED PEARSE, and
Maps. 12mo, cloth, price $1.00.

The story of two English lads who go to Holland as pages in the
service of one of "the fighting Veres." After many adventures by sea
and land, one of the lads finds himself on board a Spanish ship at
the time of the defeat of the Armada, and escapes only to fall into
the hands of the Corsairs. He is successful in getting back to Spain
under the protection of a wealthy merchant, and regains his native
country after the capture of Cadiz.

  "It is an admirable book for youngsters. It overflows with
  stirring incident and exciting adventure, and the color of the
  era and of the scene are finely reproduced. The illustrations add
  to its attractiveness."--_Boston Gazette._


By Right of Conquest; or, With Cortez in Mexico. By G. A. HENTY.
With full-page Illustrations by W. S. STACEY, and Two Maps. 12mo,
cloth, price $1.50.

The conquest of Mexico by a small band of resolute men under the
magnificent leadership of Cortez is always rightly ranked among the
most romantic and daring exploits in history. With this as the ground
work of his story Mr. Henty has interwoven the adventures of an
English youth, Roger Hawkshaw, the sole survivor of the good ship
Swan, which had sailed from a Devon port to challenge the mercantile
supremacy of the Spaniards in the New World. He is beset by many
perils among the natives, but is saved by his own judgment and
strength, and by the devotion of an Aztec princess. At last by a ruse
he obtains the protection of the Spaniards, and after the fall of
Mexico he succeeds in regaining his native shore, with a fortune and
a charming Aztec bride.

  "'By Right of Conquest' is the nearest approach to a perfectly
  successful historical tale that Mr. Henty has yet
  published."--_Academy._


In the Reign of Terror: The Adventures of a Westminster Boy. By G.
A. HENTY. With full-page Illustrations by J. SCHÖNBERG. 12mo, cloth,
price $1.00.

Harry Sandwith, a Westminster boy, becomes a resident at the chateau
of a French marquis, and after various adventures accompanies the
family to Paris at the crisis of the Revolution. Imprisonment and
death reduce their number, and the hero finds himself beset by perils
with the three young daughters of the house in his charge. After
hairbreadth escapes they reach Nantes. There the girls are condemned
to death in the coffin-ships, but are saved by the unfailing courage
of their boy protector.

  "Harry Sandwith, the Westminster boy, may fairly be said to beat
  Mr. Henty's record. His adventures will delight boys by the
  audacity and peril they depict.... The story is one of Mr.
  Henty's best."--_Saturday Review._


With Wolfe in Canada; or, The Winning of a Continent. By G. A.
HENTY. With full-page Illustrations by GORDON BROWNE. 12mo, cloth,
price $1.00.

In the present volume Mr. Henty gives an account of the struggle
between Britain and France for supremacy in the North American
continent. On the issue of this war depended not only the destinies
of North America, but to a large extent those of the mother countries
themselves. The fall of Quebec decided that the Anglo-Saxon race
should predominate in the New World; that Britain, and not France,
should take the lead among the nations of Europe; and that English
and American commerce, the English language, and English literature,
should spread right round the globe.

  "It is not only a lesson in history as instructively as it is
  graphically told, but also a deeply interesting and often
  thrilling tale of adventure and peril by flood and
  field."--_Illustrated London News._


True to the Old Flag: A Tale of the American War of Independence.
By G. A. HENTY. With full-page Illustrations by GORDON BROWNE. 12mo,
cloth, price $1.00.

In this story the author has gone to the accounts of officers who
took part in the conflict, and lads will find that in no war in which
American and British soldiers have been engaged did they behave with
greater courage and good conduct. The historical portion of the book
being accompanied with numerous thrilling adventures with the
redskins on the shores of Lake Huron, a story of exciting interest is
interwoven with the general narrative and carried through the book.

  "Does justice to the pluck and determination of the British
  soldiers during the unfortunate struggle against American
  emancipation. The son of an American loyalist, who remains true
  to our flag, falls among the hostile redskins in that very Huron
  country which has been endeared to us by the exploits of Hawkeye
  and Chingachgook."--_The Times._


The Lion of St. Mark: A Tale of Venice in the Fourteenth Century.
By G. A. HENTY. With full-page Illustrations by GORDON BROWNE. 12mo,
cloth, price $1.00.

A story of Venice at a period when her strength and splendor were put
to the severest tests. The hero displays a fine sense and manliness
which carry him safely through an atmosphere of intrigue, crime, and
bloodshed. He contributes largely to the victories of the Venetians
at Porto d'Anzo and Chioggia, and finally wins the hand of the
daughter of one of the chief men of Venice.

  "Every boy should read 'The Lion of St. Mark.' Mr. Henty has
  never produced a story more delightful, more wholesome, or more
  vivacious."--_Saturday Review_.


A Final Reckoning: A Tale of Bush Life in Australia. By G. A.
HENTY. With full-page Illustrations by W. B. WOLLEN. 12mo, cloth,
price $1.00.

The hero, a young English lad, after rather a stormy boyhood,
emigrates to Australia, and gets employment as an officer in the
mounted police. A few years of active work on the frontier, where he
has many a brush with both natives and bushrangers, gain him
promotion to a captaincy, and he eventually settles down to the
peaceful life of a squatter.

  "Mr. Henty has never published a more readable, a more carefully
  constructed, or a better written story than this."--_Spectator._


Under Drake's Flag: A Tale of the Spanish Main. By G. A. HENTY.
With full-page Illustrations by GORDON BROWNE. 12mo, cloth, price
$1.00.

A story of the days when England and Spain struggled for supremacy
of the sea. The heroes sail as lads with Drake in the Pacific
expedition, and in his great voyage of circumnavigation. The
historical portion of the story is absolutely to be relied upon, but
this will perhaps be less attractive than the great variety of
exciting adventure through which the young heroes pass course of
their voyages.

  "A book of adventure, where the hero meets with experience
  enough, one would think, to turn his hair gray."--_Harper's
  Monthly Magazine._


By Sheer Pluck: A Tale of the Ashanti War. By G. A. HENTY. With
full-page Illustrations by GORDON BROWNE. 12mo, cloth, price $1.00.

The author has woven, in a tale of thrilling interest, all the
details of the Ashanti campaign, of which he was himself a witness.
His hero, after many exciting adventures in the interior, is detained
a prisoner by the king just before the outbreak of the war, but
escapes, and accompanies the English expedition on their march to
Coomassie.

  "Mr. Henty keeps up his reputation as a writer of boys' stories.
  'By Sheer Pluck' will be eagerly read."--_Athenæum._


By Pike and Dyke: A Tale of the Rise of the Dutch Republic. By G.
A. HENTY. With full-page Illustrations by MAYNARD BROWN, and 4 Maps.
12mo, cloth, price $1.00.

In this story Mr. Henty traces the adventures and brave deeds of an
English boy in the household of the ablest man of his age--William
the Silent. Edward Martin, the son of an English sea-captain, enters
the service of the Prince as a volunteer, and is employed by him in
many dangerous and responsible missions, in the discharge of which he
passes through the great sieges of the time. He ultimately settles
down as Sir Edward Martin.

  "Boys with a turn for historical research will be enchanted with
  the book while the rest who only care for adventure will be
  students in spite of themselves."--_St. James' Gazette._


St. George for England: A Tale of Cressy and Poitiers. By G. A.
HENTY. With full-page Illustrations by GORDON BROWNE. 12mo, cloth,
price $1.00.

No portion of English history is more crowded with great events than
that of the reign of Edward III. Cressy and Poitiers; the destruction
of the Spanish fleet; the plague of the Black Death; the Jacquerie
rising; these are treated by the author in "St. George for England."
The hero of the story, although of good family, begins life as a
London apprentice, but after countless adventures and perils becomes
by valor and good conduct the squire, and at last the trusted friend
of the Black Prince.

  "Mr. Henty has developed for himself a type of historical novel
  for boys which bids fair to supplement, on their behalf, the
  historical labors of Sir Walter Scott in the land of
  fiction."--_The Standard._


Captain Kidd's Gold: The True Story of an Adventurous Sailor Boy.
By JAMES FRANKLIN FITTS. 12mo, cloth, price $1.00.

There is something fascinating to the average youth in the very idea
of buried treasure. A vision arises before his eyes of swarthy
Portuguese and Spanish rascals, with black beards and gleaming
eyes--sinister-looking fellows who once on a time haunted the Spanish
Main, sneaking out from some hidden creek in their long, low
schooner, of picaroonish rake and sheer, to attack an unsuspecting
trading craft. There were many famous sea rovers in their day, but
none more celebrated than Capt. Kidd. Perhaps the most fascinating
tale of all is Mr. Fitts' true story of an adventurous American boy,
who receives from his dying father an ancient bit of vellum, which
the latter obtained in a curious way. The document bears obscure
directions purporting to locate a certain island in the Bahama group,
and a considerable treasure buried there by two of Kidd's crew. The
hero of this book, Paul Jones Garry, is an ambitious, persevering
lad, of salt-water New England ancestry, and his efforts to reach the
island and secure the money form one of the most absorbing tales for
our youth that has come from the press.


Captain Bayley's Heir: A Tale of the Gold Fields of California. By
G. A. HENTY. With full-page Illustrations by H. M. PAGET. 12mo,
cloth, price $1.00.

A frank, manly lad and his cousin are rivals in the heirship of a
considerable property. The former falls into a trap laid by the
latter, and while under a false accusation of theft foolishly leaves
England for America. He works his passage before the mast, joins a
small band of hunters, crosses a tract of country infested with
Indians to the Californian gold diggings, and is successful both as
digger and trader.

  "Mr. Henty is careful to mingle instruction with entertainment;
  and the humorous touches, especially in the sketch of John Holl,
  the Westminster dustman, Dickens himself could hardly have
  excelled."--_Christian Leader._


For Name and Fame; or, Through Afghan Passes. By G. A. HENTY. With
full-page Illustrations by GORDON BROWNE. 12mo, cloth, price $1.00.

An interesting story of the last war in Afghanistan. The hero, after
being wrecked and going through many stirring adventures among the
Malays, finds his way to Calcutta and enlists in a regiment
proceeding to join the army at the Afghan passes. He accompanies the
force under General Roberts to the Peiwar Kotal, is wounded, taken
prisoner, carried to Cabul, whence he is transferred to Candahar, and
takes part in the final defeat of the army of Ayoub Khan.

  "The best feature of the book--apart from the interest of its
  scenes of adventure--is its honest effort to do justice to the
  patriotism of the Afghan people."--_Daily News._


Captured by Apes: The Wonderful Adventures of a Young Animal
Trainer. By HARRY PRENTICE. 12mo, cloth, $1.00.

The scene of this tale is laid on an island in the Malay Archipelago.
Philip Garland, a young animal collector and trainer, of New York,
sets sail for Eastern seas in quest of a new stock of living
curiosities. The vessel is wrecked off the coast of Borneo and young
Garland, the sole survivor of the disaster, is cast ashore on a small
island, and captured by the apes that overrun the place. The lad
discovers that the ruling spirit of the monkey tribe is a gigantic
and vicious baboon, whom he identifies as Goliah, an animal at one
time in his possession and with whose instruction he had been
especially diligent. The brute recognizes him, and with a kind of
malignant satisfaction puts his former master through the same course
of training he had himself experienced with a faithfulness of detail
which shows how astonishing is monkey recollection. Very novel indeed
is the way by which the young man escapes death. Mr. Prentice has
certainly worked a new vein on juvenile fiction, and the ability with
which he handles a difficult subject stamps him as a writer of
undoubted skill.


The Bravest of the Brave; or, With Peterborough in Spain. By G. A.
HENTY. With full-page Illustrations by H. M. PAGET. 12mo, cloth,
price $1.00.

There are few great leaders whose lives and actions have so
completely fallen into oblivion as those of the Earl of Peterborough.
This is largely due to the fact that they were overshadowed by the
glory and successes of Marlborough. His career as general extended
over little more than a year, and yet, in that time, he showed a
genius for warfare which has never been surpassed.

  "Mr. Henty never loses sight of the moral purpose of his work--to
  enforce the doctrine of courage and truth. Lads will read 'The
  Bravest of the Brave' with pleasure and profit; of that we are
  quite sure."--_Daily Telegraph._


The Cat of Bubastes: A Story of Ancient Egypt. By G. A. HENTY. With
full-page Illustrations. 12mo, cloth, price $1.00.

A story which will give young readers an unsurpassed insight into the
customs of the Egyptian people. Amuba, a prince of the Rebu nation,
is carried with his charioteer Jethro into slavery. They become
inmates of the house of Ameres, the Egyptian high-priest, and are
happy in his service until the priest's son accidentally kills the
sacred cat of Bubastes. In an outburst of popular fury Ameres is
killed, and it rests with Jethro and Amuba to secure the escape of
the high-priest's son and daughter.

  "The story, from the critical moment of the killing of the sacred
  cat to the perilous exodus into Asia with which it closes, is
  very skillfully constructed and full of exciting adventures. It
  is admirably illustrated."--_Saturday Review._


With Washington at Monmouth: A Story of Three Philadelphia Boys. By
JAMES OTIS. 12mo, cloth, price $1.00.

Three Philadelphia boys, Seth Graydon "whose mother conducted a
boarding-house which was patronized by the British officers;" Enoch
Ball, "son of that Mrs. Ball whose dancing school was situated on
Letitia Street," and little Jacob, son of "Chris, the Baker," serve
as the principal characters. The story is laid during the winter when
Lord Howe held possession of the city, and the lads aid the cause by
assisting the American spies who make regular and frequent visits
from Valley Forge. One reads here of home-life in the captive city
when bread was scarce among the people of the lower classes, and a
reckless prodigality shown by the British officers, who passed the
winter in feasting and merry-making while the members of the patriot
army but a few miles away were suffering from both cold and hunger.
The story abounds with pictures of Colonial life skillfully drawn,
and the glimpses of Washington's soldiers which are given show that
the work has not been hastily done, or without considerable study.



       *       *       *       *       *



Transcriber's note:

Obvious punctuation errors have been corrected without comment.

The following corrections were made:

p.  14: to her degradation[degredation], she had not murmured at the
p.  30: from the deposits of his memory. The Tynwald[Tynwalk],
        the Prince,
p.  35: spinster[spinister], of the parish of Maughold, and Stephen
p.  45: over the low murmur[murmer] of the sea's gentle swell.
        "Now is
p.  47: for the house of the Governor[Governer]. It was pointed out
        to him,
p.  55: "Maybe so, my ven[veen], maybe so."
p.  94: of twenty hard[hards] fists on the table, the rough toast was
        called
p.  95: more. Very soon they were outside[ouside] the little house in
p.  95: lay and tossed in a strong delirium[delirum]. The wet clothes
p.  96: Nary Crowe's[Browe's] cup. This she did, and more than this,
        seeming
p.  97: every repetition, and the others joined[foined] him,
        struggling to
p. 109: her relations with Jason she remembered[rememberd] that she
        was the
p. 112: this time[sime] suffered curtailment. He was ruining himself
        at
p. 113: Now the rapid impoverishment of the Governor[Govenor] was
        forcing
p. 114: the cry of the poor reached the Governor[Govenor] at
        Castletown. No
p. 117: The Governor was right that there would be no sale[sail] for
p. 122: his seat like one who is dumbfounded[dumfounded].
p. 140: in fury at the bare thought of either being hands[hinds] on
        their
p. 141: end of it all was a trial for ejectment at Deemster's
        [Deemsteer's] Court
p. 141: when the six good men of Maughold had clambered[clamered]
        up to
p. 142: fasten on somebody's[someboby's] throat, or pick up something
        as a dog
p. 145: better than four years have passed[pass] away since I left
        the
p. 147: daughter of the Governor-General[Govenor-General]. His name
        was Jorgen
p. 151: it for Hafnafiord[Hafnafjord]? Certainly it may have put in
        at the
p. 151: men should have a store like the widow's curse[cruse] to
p. 164: The service came to an end, and he strode[stroke] off, turning
p. 168: given to strange outbursts[outburts] when alone, was as
        simple and
p. 170: "Jorgen[Jogen] Jorgensen," said the old man, grinning.
p. 181: even to the third and fourth generation of his[His] children."
p. 188: to it and shot the heavy wooden bar[barr] that bolted it.
p. 191: The spokesman of the Court was a middle-aged[middled-aged]
        man,
p. 199: While the storm lasted all Reykjavik[Reyjavik] lay asleep, and
p. 200: she spoke, lest[least] in the fervor of her plea the Bishop
        should
p. 207: Thurstan[Thurston] mounted the till-board of his own cart, and
p. 208: "Ay," said Stean[Steam].
p. 212: "Ay[An], and a pretty penny it has cost us to fetch it," said
p. 222: her mouth. But he recked[wrecked] nothing of this, and only
p. 240: Then, with a sense of his wise brother's pitiable[pitable]
        blunderheadedness,
p. 242: the space within that had been allotted[alloted] to the
        public was
p. 244: "It is no doubt your concernment[concerment] to know what
        events
p. 244: I can only claim your indulgence in withholding[witholding]
        that part
p. 244: that dead stillness[stillnes] to rise to a cry.
p. 247: exalted[axalted]. Our young President has this day sat down in
p. 267: rise but she[he] could not, while its terrified eyeballs stood
        out
p. 268: safe, and with its load squared and righted on her[his] back.
p. 279: And while their warders dozed[dosed] in the heat of the
        noonday
p. 280: us two. You're [a] gentleman, and I'm only a rough fellow.
p. 321: plunging along in the darkness[darknes], trusting solely to
        the sight
p. 323: he had been the head and centre. But when the people[peo]
p. 324: blind man?" So the end of all was that Sunlocks[Sunlock] was
        put
p. 342: "At Akureyri[Akuyeri], Husavik, Reykjavik, the
        desert--everywhere,
p. 342: "Jason," she said again, "it was not altogether[altogeter]
        my fault.
p. 348: The good woman who is housekeeper[houskeeper] here will lead
        you----"
p. 350: "All is ready," he whispered. "He says he[be] may recover
p. 357: of the Arctic[Artic] seas, there is a pyramid of lava blocks,
        now
p.   6: Captain[Captain's] Kidd's Gold: The True Story of an
        Adventurous Sailor





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