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´╗┐Title: Black Bartlemy's Treasure
Author: Farnol, Jeffery, 1878-1952
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Black Bartlemy's Treasure" ***

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BLACK BARTLEMY'S TREASURE


BY

JEFFREY FARNOL



TO MY NEPHEWS

JAMES JEFFREY FARNOL

AND

RONALD EWART OAKESHOTT



CONTENTS

          PROLOGUE
       I  OF WHAT BEFELL ON PEMBURY HILL
      II  HOW I HEARD A SONG IN THE WOOD AT MIDNIGHT
     III  TELLS HOW I STOLE MY BREAKFAST
      IV  TELLETH HOW I MET ONE ADAM PENFEATHER
       V  HOW I CAME TO CONISBY SHENE
      VI  OF MY SHAMEFUL SUFFERINGS AND HOW I WAS DELIVERED THEREFROM
     VII  HOW I HEARD TELL OF BLACK BARTLEMY'S TREASURE
    VIII  HOW I FELL IN WITH ONE GOD-BE-HERE, A PEDDLER
      IX  HOW I HAD WORD WITH THE LADY JOAN BRANDON FOR THE THIRD TIME
       X  HOW I SWORE TO THE BLOOD-BROTHERHOOD
      XI  ADAM PENFEATHER, HIS NARRATIVE
     XII  TELLETH OF A FIGHT IN THE DARK
    XIII  WE SET OUT FOR DEPTFORD POOL
     XIV  HOW I CAME ABOARD THE "FAITHFUL FRIEND"
      XV  TELLETH OF A NAMELESS BLACK SHIP
     XVI  TELLS HOW WE WERE DOGGED BY THE BLACK SHIP
    XVII  TELLETH HOW AN EYE WATCHED ME FROM THE DARK
   XVIII  CONCERNING THE MARK OF A BLOODY HAND AND HOW I LAY IN THE
          BILBOES ON SUSPICION OF MURDER
     XIX  CONCERNING THE PRINCESS DAMARIS
      XX  HOW I CAME OUT OF MY BONDS AND OF THE TERRORS OF A FIRE AT SEA
     XXI  TELLETH HOW THE SAID FIRE CAME ABOUT
    XXII  TELLETH HOW WE WERE CAST ADRIFT
   XXIII  DIVERS PERILS AND DANGERS AT SEA
    XXIV  HOW WE CAME TO BLACK BARTLEMY'S ISLAND
     XXV  HOW I WAS HAUNTED OF BLACK BARTLEMY
    XXVI  WE COME UPON GRIM EVIDENCES OF ADAM PENFEATHER
   XXVII  DIVERS ADVENTURES ON THE ISLAND
  XXVIII  I BECOME A JACK-OF-ALL-TRADES
    XXIX  OF MY ENCOUNTER BENEATH BARTLEMY'S TREE
     XXX  OF MY SICK HUMOURS
    XXXI  I TRY MY HAND AT POTTERY
   XXXII  TELLS HOW I FOUND A SECRET CAVE
  XXXIII  WE EXPLORE THE ISLAND
   XXXIV  HOW I STOOD RESOLUTE IN MY FOLLY
    XXXV  HOW MY DEAR LADY WAS LOST TO ME
   XXXVI  TELLETH SOME PART OF A NIGHT OF AGONY
  XXXVII  HOW I SOUGHT DEATH BUT FOUND IT NOT
 XXXVIII  CONCERNING THE DEAD MAN HUMPHREY AND HOW I SAW A VISION
          IN THE MOONLIGHT
   XXXIX  HOW MY DEAR LADY CAME BACK TO ME
      XL  OF CLOTHES
     XLI  OF THE VOICE THAT SANG ON DELIVERANCE SANDS
    XLII  CONCERNING THE SONG OF A DEAD MAN
   XLIII  OF THE DEATH-DANCE OF THE SILVER WOMAN
    XLIV  HOW I HAD SPEECH WITH ROGER TRESSADY TO MY UNDOING
     XLV  OF THE COMING OF ADAM PENFEATHER
    XLVI  HOW I DOUBTED MYSELF
   XLVII  HOW MY DOUBTING WAS RESOLVED FOR ME



BLACK BARTLEMY'S TREASURE


PROLOGUE

The Frenchman beside me had been dead since dawn.  His scarred and
shackled body swayed limply back and forth with every sweep of the
great oar as we, his less fortunate bench-fellows, tugged and strained
to keep time to the stroke.

Two men had I seen die beside me, yet Death ever passed me by, nay, it
seemed rather that despite the pain of stripes, despite the travail and
hardship, my strength waxed the mightier; upon arm and thigh, burnt
nigh black by fierce suns, the muscles showed hard and knotted; within
my body, scarred by the lash, the life leapt and glowed yet was the
soul of me sick unto death. But it seemed I could not die--finding
thereby blessed rest and a surcease from this agony of life as had this
Frenchman, who of all the naked wretches about me, was the only one
with whom I had any sort of fellowship.  He had died (as I say) with
the dawn, so quietly that at first I thought he but fainted and pitied
him, but, when I knew, pity changed to bitterness.

Therefore, as I strove at the heavy oar I prayed 'twixt gnashing teeth
a prayer I had often prayed, and the matter of my praying was thus:

"O God of Justice, for the agony I needs must now endure, for the
bloody stripes and bitter anguish give to me vengeance--vengeance, O
God, on mine enemy!"

So prayed I, hoarse-panting and with the sweat trickling down whiles I
stared at the naked back of him that rowed before me--a great, fat
fellow he had been once, but now the skin hung in numberless creases
whereon were many weals, some raw and bloody, that crossed and
re-crossed each other after the manner of lace-work.

"Justice, O God, upon mine enemy!  Since Death is not for me let me
live until I be avenged; for the pain I suffer so may I see him suffer,
for the anguish that is mine so may I watch his agony.  Thou art a just
God, so, God of Justice, give to me vengeance!"

The sun rose high and higher over our quarter, beating down upon our
naked backs and adding greatly to our torments thereby, waking the pain
of old stripes and lending an added sting to new.

Ever and anon would come the sharp crack of the drivers' whips followed
by the squealing cry of quivering flesh (a cry wherein was none of the
human) the which, dying to a whine, was lost in the stir and bustle of
the great galleass.  But ever and always, beneath the hoarse voices of
the mariners, beneath the clash of armour and tramp of feet, beneath
the creak and rumble of the long oars, came yet another sound, rising
and falling yet never ceasing, a dull, low sound the like of which you
shall sometimes hear among trees when the wind is high--the deep,
sobbing moan that was the voice of our anguish as we poor wretches
urged the great "Esmeralda" galleass upon her course.

The oar whereto I was chained along with my three bench-mates had at
some time been badly sprung, so that the armourers had made shift to
strengthen it with a stout iron fillet some six inches wide.  Now it so
happened that my grasp came upon this fillet, and, with every stroke of
the oar, day after day, week in and week out, it had become my wont to
rub the links of my chain to and fro across this iron band, whereby
they had become very smooth and shining.

The words of my prayer were yet upon my lips, when, chancing to look
upon one of these links, I beheld that which set my heart a-leaping and
my riotous blood a-tingle to my fingers' ends; yet 'twas a very small
thing, no more than a mark that showed upon the polished surface of the
link, a line not so thick as a hair and not to be noticed without close
looking; but when I bore upon the link this hair-line grew and widened,
it needed but a sudden wrench and I should be free.  This threw me into
such a rapturous transport that I had much ado to contain myself,
howbeit after some while I lifted my eyes to the heaven all flushed and
rosy with the young day, for it seemed that God had indeed heard my
prayer.

Presently, along the gangway amidships, comes none other than that
accursed Portugal, Pedro the whip-master, who, espying the drooping
form of the Frenchman beside me, forthwith falls a-cursing in his vile
tongue and gives a prodigious flourish with his whip.  Now by reason of
much practice they do become very expert with these same whips,
insomuch that they shall (with a certain cunning flick of the lash)
gash you a man as it were with a knife, the like of which none may bear
and not cry out for the exceeding pain of it.  "Ha, thou lazy dog!"
cries he, "Think ye to snore and take your ease whiles Pedro is
aboard?"  And with the word the long lash hissed and cracked upon the
Frenchman's naked back like a pistol-shot.

And lo! he (that meseemed was dead) stirred.  I felt the scarred body
leap and quiver, the swooning eyes opened, rolling dim and sightless
and the pallid face was twisted in sharp anguish; but, even as I
watched, the lines of agony were smoothed away, into the wild eyes came
a wondrous light, and uttering a great, glad cry he sank forward across
the oar-shaft and hung there. Hereupon this accursed Pedro betook him
to his whip, smiting right heartily, but, seeing the Frenchman stirred
not and perceiving, moreover, the blood to come but slow and in no
great quantity, he presently desisted and bade us cease rowing one and
all.

This sudden respite from labour served but to teach me how stiff and
painful were my limbs, more especially my left wrist and ankle where
the fetters had worn great sores.

The wind was fallen light and there rose that hot, sickening reek, that
suffocating stench that is like unto nothing on earth save one of these
floating hells, and the which, if a man hath but smelled it once, he
shall nevermore forget.

After some while, back cometh Pedro with certain of the armourers, and
(having by divers methods learned the Frenchman was in sooth dead) they
struck off his fetters, hand and leg, in the doing of which they must
needs free me also (since we were chained together, he and I) and,
binding a great shot to his feet, made ready to heave him overboard.

And now, seeing no man heeded me, I snapped asunder the cracked link
and was free, save for the heavy chain that cumbered my leg. Stooping,
I lifted this chain and crouched to spring for the bulwark; but now
(even in this moment), remembering all that I had suffered at the hands
of this most accursed Pedro, I turned, and wrapping the broken
oar-chain about my fist, crept towards where he stood to oversee the
armourers.  His back was towards me and I was within a yard of him when
he turned, and, seeing me, uttered a shout and raised his whip, but ere
the blow could fall I leapt and smote him.  My iron-bound fist took him
full betwixt the eyes, and looking down upon his crushed and spattered
face as he lay I knew that Pedro the whip-master would whip men no more
these many days.

Then (not minded to die by the whip or upon a pike-head) turned I and
sprang for the ship's side, but the chain about my leg hampered me
sorely, and ere I could mount the high bulwark I was beset from behind.
So would I have faced them and died fighting but fierce strokes
battered me to my knees, fierce hands wrenched and tore at me, and
grown faint with blows I was overborne, my hands lashed behind me, and
thus helpless I was dragged along the gangway and so up the ladder to
the poop where, plain to all men's sight, a whipping-post had been set
up.  Yet even so I struggled still, panting out curses on them, French
and Spanish and English, drawing upon all the vile abuse of the
rowing-bench and lazarette since fain would I have them slay me out of
hand the rather than endure the miseries and anguish of my lot.  Yet
this might not be (since slaves were hard to come by and I was mighty
and strong) wherefore I struggled no more, but suffered them to strike
off my broken fetters and bind me to the whipping-post as they listed.
Yet scarce had they made an end when there comes a loud hail from the
masthead, whereupon was sudden mighty to-do of men running hither and
yon, laughing and shouting one to another, some buckling on armour as
they ran, some casting loose the great ordnance, while eyes turned and
hands pointed in the one direction; but turn and twist me how I might I
could see nought of any strange sail by reason of the high bulkhead
beside me.

Of a sudden all voices were hushed as up the poop-ladder comes the
commander Don Miguel in his black armour, who, looking long and
steadily to windward, gives a sign with his gauntleted hand, whereon
divers of the officers go off hot-foot, some to muster the long files
of arquebusiers, others to overlook the setting of more sail and the
like.  And now was a prodigious cracking of whips followed by groans
and cries and screaming curses, and straightway the long oars began to
swing with a swifter beat. From where I stood in my bonds I could look
down upon the poor, naked wretches as they rose and fell, each and all
at the same moment, in time to the stroke.

For maybe half an hour the chase was kept up and then all at once the
decks quivered 'neath the discharge of one of the forward culverins;
and presently, as the great galleass altered her course, obedient to
the motion of Don Miguel's hand, I beheld, some half-league to
windward, the towering stern of the ship we were pursuing, whose length
gradually grew upon me as we overhauled her until she was fairly in
view.  She was a small ship, and by her build I did not doubt but that
she was English; even as I watched, up to her mizzen-peak fluttered the
English flag.  And hereupon a great yearning came upon me, insomuch
that of a sudden her high, weatherbeaten sides, her towering masts and
patched canvas grew all blurred and indistinct.

Thrice already our guns had roared, yet (though she was now so close
that I made out her very rope and spar) she made no sign. In a little
our guns fell silent also, wherefore, looking about, I beheld Don
Miguel standing beside the tiller yet with his impassive gaze ever bent
upon the foe; and, as I watched, I read his deadly purpose, and a great
fear for the English ship came upon me, and I fell a-praying beneath my
breath, for we carried a weapon more terrible than any culverin that
was ever cast, the long, sharp ram below the water.

The English ship was now so near that I could see the yawning muzzles
of her guns, while her high, curving sides seemed to tower over us.  As
I gazed, with my heart full of a pitiful fear for her, I saw a head
appear above her quarter-railing, a very round head whereon was a
mariner's red cap.  Came a puff of smoke, the sharp crack of a caliver,
and one of the officers beside Don Miguel threw up his hands and,
twisting on his heels, fell clashing in his armour.  When I looked
again for the red cap, it was gone.  But Don Miguel waited, silent and
impassive as ever.  Suddenly he gestured with his hand, I saw the heave
of the steersmen's shoulders as they obeyed, while the air rang with
shouts of command as, the starboard oars holding water, the larboard
thrashed and churned amain and the great "Esmeralda" galleass (turning
thus well-nigh in her own length) drove straight for the side of her
foe.

Never had I seen it better done, and I set my teeth, waiting for the
grinding crash that was to send the English ship to the bottom, but lo!
her creaking yards were braced round, and, paying off before the wind
(which now blew strongly) she stood away upon a course at right angles
to her old, whereby both vessels were running parallel as before.  Yet
it had been close, so very close indeed that as we drove past her I
heard the sickening crack of our oars as they snapped off one after the
other against her side, tossing those that manned them in bloody,
struggling heaps.

And now from every English gun leaped roaring flame; the air was full
of shrieks and groans and the crash of splintering wood, and through
the eddying smoke I could see many of our soldiery that lay in strange,
contorted attitudes while others crawled, sobbing on hands and knees;
but on the scarlet-dropping rowing-benches I dared not look.

Hotter waxed the fight, louder swelled the din and tumult with the
never-ceasing thunder of the guns; and amid it all Don Miguel paced to
and fro, impassive as always, the blade of his long rapier gleaming
here and there as he directed the fire.

Up rolled the smoke thicker and denser, but, ever and anon, through
some rift I might catch a glimpse of the scarred, blackened side of the
English ship, or the litter and confusion of our decks.  Twice shots
ploughed up the planking hard by me, and once my post itself was
struck, so that for a moment I had some hope of winning free of my
bonds, yet struggle how I would I could not move; the which filled me
with a keen despair, for I made no doubt (what with the smoke and
tumult) I might have plunged overboard unnoticed and belike have gained
the English ship.

Slowly and by degrees our fire slackened, one by one the guns fell
silent and in their place rose the more hateful sounds of anguish.  Now
as I stood thus, my eyes smarting with burnt powder, my ears yet
ringing with the din, I grew aware how the deck sloped in strange
fashion; at first I paid small heed, yet with every minute this slope
became steeper, and with this certainty came the knowledge that we were
sinking and, moreover (judging by the angle of the deck) sinking by the
stern.

Hereupon, impelled by that lust of life the which is implanted in each
one of us, I fell to a wild struggling against my bonds, until, seeing
in a little the hopelessness of this, I grew resigned to despair, and,
ceasing my passionate efforts, looked about me, for the smoke was
thinned away.  And truly an evil sight was this great galleass, with
its shot-torn decks and huddled heaps of dead, its litter of broken
spars and dismantled guns, and with everywhere great gouts and pools of
blood, while below and beyond were the shattered rowing-benches
cumbered now with awful red heaps, silent for the most part, yet some
there were who screamed high and shrill.

Save for myself and divers of the dead the poop lay deserted, but
forward such of the soldiers and mariners who yet lived were fighting
for the boats, and all was riot and confusion.

As I stared about me thus I espied Don Miguel lying among the wreckage
of a dismantled gun; his face was towards me and looked as I had seen
it an hundred times, save for a smear of blood upon his cheek.  Even as
I gazed his eyes met mine full and square. For a moment he lay without
motion, then (his face a-twitch with the effort) he came slowly to his
elbow, gazed about him and so back to me again.  Then I saw his hand
creep down to the dagger at his hip, to fumble weakly there--howbeit,
at the third essay he drew the blade and began to creep towards me.
Very slowly and painfully he dragged himself along, and once I heard
him groan, but he stayed not till he was come within striking distance,
yet was he sore wounded and so weak withal that he was fain to rest him
awhile.  And ever his impassive eyes looked up into mine the while I
nerved myself to meet the blow unflinching (an it might be so).  Once
more he raised himself, his arm lifted slowly, the dagger gleamed and
fell, its keen edge severing the cords that bound me, and with a sudden
effort I broke free and stood staring down into those impassive eyes as
one in a dream.  Then, lifting a feeble hand, he pointed to the
tattered sails of the English ship hard by, and so, resting his head
upon his arm as one that is very weary, he sighed; and with the sigh I
think the life passed out of him.

Turning, I was upon the quarter-railing in a single leap, and, without
a glance at the red havoc behind me, I plunged over and down.

The sharp sting of the brine struck me like a myriad needle-points, but
the sweet cool of the waters was wondrous grateful to my sun-scorched
body as, coming to the surface, I struck out for the English ship
though sore hampered by my chain.

Presently coming beneath her lofty stern I found hanging therefrom a
tangle of ropes and cordage whereby I contrived to clamber aboard, and
so beheld a man in a red seaman's bonnet who sat upon the wreckage of
one of the quarter guns tying up a splinter-gash in his arm with hand
and teeth; perceiving me he rolled a pair of blue eyes up at me and
nodded:

"Welcome aboard, lad!" says he, having knotted the bandage to his
liking.  "Be ye one as can understand good English?"

"Aye!" says I, nodding.

"Why then bear witness as I be a patient soul and marciful.  Be witness
as I held my fire so long as any marciful soul might by token that I
knew what a broadside can do among crowded rowing-benches--having rowed
aboard one o' they Spanish hells afore now--so I held my fire till yon
devil's craft came nigh cutting me asunder--and marcy hath its limits.
Timothy Spence o' the "Tiger", master, is me, homeward bound for the
Port of London, and by this fight am short five good men.  But you're a
proper big 'un.  Go for'ard to the bo'sun, you shall know him by reason
that he lacketh his starboard yere.  Ask him for clothes to cover thy
nakedness, lad, and--Oho, there goeth yon devil's craft--!" Turning as
he spoke I saw the sharp bows of the "Esmeralda" lift and lift, high
and higher, and, with a long-drawn gurgling roar, the great galleass
plunged down stern foremost, burying her shame and misery from the eyes
of man for evermore.

Thus then I sailed with Master Timothy Spence aboard the "Tiger," a
free man after five years of anguish.



CHAPTER I

OF WHAT BEFELL ON PEMBURY HILL

It was a night of tempest with rain and wind, a great wild wind that
shouted mightily near and far, filling the world with halloo; while,
ever and anon, thunder crashed and lightning flamed athwart the muddy
road that wound steeply up betwixt grassy banks topped by swaying
trees.  Broken twigs, whirling down the wind, smote me in the dark,
fallen branches reached out arms that grappled me unseen, but I held on
steadfastly, since every stride carried me nearer to vengeance, that
vengeance for the which I prayed and lived.  So with bared head lifted
exulting to the tempest and grasping the stout hedge-stake that served
me for staff, I climbed the long ascent of Pembury Hill.

Reaching the summit at last I must needs stay awhile to catch my breath
and shelter me as well as I might 'neath the weather bank, for upon
this eminence the rain lashed and the wind smote me with a fury
redoubled.

And now, as I stood amid that howling darkness, my back propped by the
bank, my face lifted to the tempest, I was aware of a strange sound,
very shrill and fitful, that reached me 'twixt the booming wind-gusts,
a sound that came and went, now loud and clear, anon faint and remote,
and I wondered what it might be. Then the rushing dark was split
asunder by a jagged lightning-flash, and I saw.  Stark against the
glare rose black shaft and crossbeam, wherefrom swung a creaking shape
of rusty chains and iron bands that held together something shrivelled
and black and wet with rain, a grisly thing that leapt on the buffeting
wind, that strove and jerked as it would fain break free and hurl
itself down upon me.

Now hearkening to the dismal creak of this chained thing, I fell to
meditation.  This awful shape (thought I) had been a man once, hale and
strong,--even as I, but this man had contravened the law (even as I
purposed to do) and he had died a rogue's death and so hung, rotting,
in his chains, even as this my own body might do some day.  And,
hearkening to the shrill wail of his fetters, my flesh crept with
loathing and I shivered.  But the fit passed, and in my vain pride I
smote my staff into the mud at my feet and vowed within myself that
nought should baulk me of my just vengeance, come what might; as my
father had suffered death untimely and hard, so should die the enemy of
my race; for the anguish he had made me endure so should he know
anguish.  I bethought me how long and deadly had been this feud of
ours, handed down from one generation to another, a dark,
blood-smirched record of bitter wrongs bitterly avenged.  "To hate like
a Brandon and revenge like a Conisby!"  This had been a saying in our
south country upon a time; and now--he was the last of his race as I
was the last of mine, and I had come back out of hell that this saying
might be fulfilled.  Soon--ha, yes, in a few short hours the feud
should be ended once and for all and the house of Conisby avenged to
the uttermost.  Thinking thus, I heeded no more the raving tempest
around me until, roused by the plunge and rattle of the gibbet-chains,
I raised my head and shaking my staff up at that black and shrivelled
thing, I laughed loud and fierce, and, even as I did so, there leapt a
great blaze of crackling flame and thereafter a thunder-clap that
seemed to shake the very earth and smite the roaring wind to awed
silence; and in this silence, I heard a whisper:

"O mercy of God!"

Somewhere in the darkness hard by a woman had cried. Instinctively I
turned thitherward, searching the night vainly until the lightning
flared again and I beheld a cloaked and hooded figure huddled miserably
against the bank of the road, and, as darkness came, I spoke:

"Woman, doth the gibbet fright you, or is't I?  If 'tis the gibbet go
hence, if 'tis I rest assured."

"Who are you?" said a breathless voice.

"One of no more account than the poor thing that danceth aloft in his
chains and for you as harmless."

And now she was beside me, a dark, wind-blown shape, and above the
howling tempest her voice reached me in passionate pleading:

"Sir--sir, will you aid one in sore danger and distress?"

"Yourself?" I questioned.

"Nay--indeed nay," she panted, "'tis Marjorie, my poor, poor brave
Marjorie.  They stopped my coach--drunken men.  I know not what came of
Gregory and I leapt out and escaped them in the dark, but
Marjorie--they carried her off--there is a light down the lane yonder.
I followed and saw--O sir, you will save Marjorie--you are a man--"

A hand was upon my ragged sleeve, a hand that gripped and shook at me
in desperate supplication--"You will save her from--from worse than
death?  Speak--speak!"

"Lead on!" quoth I, answering this compelling voice.  The griping
fingers slipped down and clasped my hand in the dark, and with never
another word she led me away unseeing and unseen until we came where we
were more sheltered from rain and wind; and now I took occasion to
notice that the hand that gripped mine so masterfully was small and
soft, so that what with this and her voice and speech I judged her one
of condition.  But my curiosity went no further nor did I question her,
for in my world was no place for women.  So she led me on at haste
despite the dark--like one that was sure of her whereabouts--until I
suddenly espied a dim light that shone out from the open lattice of
what I judged to be a small hedge-tavern.  Here my companion halted
suddenly and pointed to the light.

"Go!" she whispered.  "Go--nay, first take this!" and she thrust a
small pistol into my hand.  "Haste!" she panted, "O haste--and I do
pray God shield and bless you."  Then with never a word I left her and
strode towards the beam of light.

Being come nigh the casement I paused to cock the weapon and to glance
at the priming, then, creeping to the open lattice, I looked into the
room.

Three men scowled at each other across a table--desperate-looking
fellows, scarred and ill-featured, with clothes that smacked of the
sea; behind them in a corner crouched a maid, comely of seeming but
pallid of cheek and with cloak torn by rough hands, and, as she
crouched, her wide eyes stared at the dice-box that one of the men was
shaking vigorously--a tall, hairy fellow this, with great rings in his
ears; thus stood he rattling the dice and smiling while his companions
cursed him hoarsely.

With a twist of the hand the hairy man made his throw, and as the three
evil heads stooped above the dice, I clambered through the window,
levelled pistol in one hand, heavy staff in the other.

"What d'ye set?" quoth I.  The three sprang apart and stared at me
quite chapfallen.

"What's to do?" growled one.

"First your barking-irons--lay them here on the table and quick's the
word!"  One after another they drew the weapons from their belts, and
one by one I tossed them through the window.

"What!" quoth one, a lank rogue with a patch over one eye and winking
the other jovial-wise, "How now, mate o' mine, shall dog bite dog then?"

"Aye," says I, "and with a will!"

"Nay, nay, shipmate," quoth another, a plump, small man with round,
bright eyes and but one ear, "easy now--easy.  We be three lorn
mariners d'ye see--jolly dogs, bully boys, shipmate--a little fun wi' a
pretty lass--nought to harm d'ye see, sink me! Join us and welcome,
says I, share and share alike O!"

"Aye, I'll join you," quoth I, "but first--you wi' the rings--open the
door!"  Here the hairy fellow growled an oath and reached for an empty
tankard, and thereupon got the end of my staff driven shrewdly into his
midriff so that he sank to the floor and lay gasping.

"Nay now, shipmate," quoth the plump man in wheedling tone but round
eyes snapping, "here's lubberly manners, sink and scuttle me--"

"Open the door!" says I.

"Heartily--heartily!" says he, his eye upon my cudgel, and edging to
the door, drew the bolts and set it wide.

"Woman," quoth I, "run!"

With never a word the maid sprang erect, caught her torn cloak about
her and, speeding across the room, was gone; whereupon the lank fellow
sat him down and fell a-cursing viciously in Spanish and English, the
plump man clicked his teeth and grinned, while 'Rings,' leaning against
the wall, clasped his belly and groaned.

"Well so, my bully roarer, and what now?" demanded the plump man,
softly.

"Why now," says I, "'twas share and share alike, I mind--"

"Aye, but she's off, slipped her moorings d'ye see, my good lad, and be
damned t' ye wi' all my heart," said the little plump man, smiling, but
with the devil peeping through his narrowed lids.

"Look'ee," says I, laying a groat upon the table, "there's my all--come
turn out your pockets--"

"Pockets!" murmured the plump man, "Lord love me, what's this? Here's
us cheated of a bit of daintiness, here's Abner wi' all the wind
knocked out o' him and now here's you for thieving and robbing three
poor lorn sailor-men as never raised hand agin ye--shame, shipmate."

"Od rot your bones!" snarled the one-eyed man and spat towards me,
whereat I raised my staff and he, lifting an arm, took the blow on his
elbow-joint and writhed, cursing; but while I laughed at the fellow's
contortions, the plump man sprang (marvellous nimble) and dashed out
the light and, as I stepped from before the window, I heard the lattice
go with a crash of glass. Followed a long, tense moment wherein we all
(as I judge) held our breath, for though the storm yet roared beyond
the shattered casement, within was a comparative quiet.  Thus, as I
stood in the dark listening for some rustle, some stealthy creeping
step to guide my next blow, I thrust away my pistol and changing my
staff to my right hand, drew forth the broad-bladed sailor's knife I
carried, and so waited mighty eager and alert, but heard only the
far-off booming of the wind.  Then a floorboard creaked faintly to my
left, and turning short, I whirled my staff, felt it strike home and
heard a fierce cry and the uneven tread of staggering feet.

"Fight, rogues!" cried I.  "Here's meat and drink to me--fight!" and
setting my back to the wall I waited for their rush.  Instead I heard a
hoarse whispering, lost all at once in a woman's shrill scream out
beyond the casement, and thereafter a loud voice that hailed:

"House ho!  House ahoy!  Light ho!  Show a glim, ye drunken dogs!" and
here followed a rush of roaring sea-oaths, drowned in a scream, louder,
wilder than before.  Then, while this distressful cry yet thrilled upon
the air, pandemonium broke loose about me, shouts, cries and a rush and
trample of feet; the table went over with a crash and the darkness
about me rained blows.  But as they struck random and fierce, so struck
I and (as I do think) made right goodly play with my hedge-stake until,
caught by a chance blow, I staggered, tripped and, falling headlong,
found myself rolling upon sodden grass outside the shattered window.
For a moment I lay half-dazed and found in the wind and rain vasty
comfort and refreshment.

Then in the pitchy gloom hard by I heard that which brought me to my
feet--an evil scuffling, a close and desperate struggling--a man's
hoarse laugh and a woman's pitiful pleading and sobbing.  I had lost my
staff, but I yet grasped my knife, and with this held point upwards and
my left hand outstretched before me, I crept forward guided by these
sounds.  My fingers came upon hair, a woman's long, soft tresses, and I
remember marvelling at the silky feel of them; from these my hand
slipped to her waist and found there an arm that grasped her close,
then, drawing back my hand, I smote with my knife well beneath this arm
and drove in the stout blade twice.  The fellow grunted and, loosing
the maid, leapt full at me, but I met him with clenched fist and he
went down headlong, and I, crouched above him and feeling him struggle
to his knees, kicked him back into the mud and thereafter leapt on him
with both feet as I had been wont to do when fighting my fellow-slaves
in some lazarette; then, seeing he stirred no more, I left him,
doubting nothing I had done his business.  Yet as I went I felt myself
shiver, for though I had been compelled to fight the naked wretches who
had been my fellow-slaves, I had killed no man as yet.

Thus as I went, chancing to stumble against a tree, I leaned there
awhile; and now remembering those two blows under the armpit, what with
this stabbing and my fall and lack of food, for I had eaten but once
that day, I grew faint and sick.  But as I leaned there, out of the
gloom came a hand that fumbled timidly my bowed head, my arm, my hand.

"Sir--are you hurt?" questioned a voice, and here once again I was
struck by the strange, vital quality of this voice, its bell-like depth
and sweetness.

"No whit!" says I.  Now as I spoke it chanced she touched the knife in
my grasp and I felt her shiver a little.

"Did you--O sir--did you--kill him?"

"And wherefore no?" I questioned.  "And why call me 'sir'?"

"You do speak as one of gentle birth."

"And go like the beggar I am--in rags.  I am no 'sir.'"

"How may I call you?"

"Call me rogue, thief, murderer--what ye will, 'tis all one.  But as
for you," quoth I, lifting my head, "'tis time you were gone--see
yonder!" and I pointed where a light winked through the trees, a light
that danced to and fro, coming slowly nearer until it stopped all at
once, then rose a shout answered by other shouts and a roar of dismayed
blasphemy.  At this my companion pressed nearer so that I felt her
shiver again.

"Let us be gone!" she whispered.  "Marjorie, come, child, let us
haste."  So we went on together at speed, and ever as we went that
small, soft hand was upon the hand that held the knife.  So we sped on
through the dark, these two maids and I, unseeing and unseen, speaking
little by reason of our haste.

Presently the rain ceased, the wind abated its rage and the thunder
pealed faint with distance, while ever and anon the gloom gave place to
a vague light, where, beyond the flying cloud-wrack, a faint moon
peeped.

Guided by that slender hand, so soft and yet instinct with warm and
vigorous life, I stumbled on through leafy ways, traversed a little
wood, on and ever on until, the trees thinning, showed beyond a glimmer
of the great high road.  Here I stayed.

"Madam," says I, making some ado over the unfamiliar word.  "You should
be safe now--and, as I do think, your road lieth yonder."

"Pembury is but a mile hence," says she, "and there we may get horses.
Come, at least this night you shall find comfort and shelter."

"No," says I.  "No--I am a thing of the roads, and well enough in hedge
or rick!" and I would have turned but her hand upon my sleeve
restrained me.

"Sir," says she, "be you what you will, you are a man!  Who you are I
know and care not--but you have this night wrought that I shall
nevermore forget and now I--we--would fain express our gratitude--"

"Indeed and indeed!" said the maid Marjorie, speaking for the first
time.

"I want no gratitude!" says I, mighty gruff.

"Yet shall it follow thee, for the passion of gratitude is strong and
may not be denied--even by beggar so proud and arrogant!" And now,
hearkening to this voice, so deep and soft and strangely sweet, I knew
not if she laughed at me or no; but even as I debated this within
myself, she lifted my hand, the hand that grasped the knife, and I felt
the close, firm pressure of two warm, soft lips; then she had freed me
and I fell back a step, striving for speech yet finding none.

"God love me!" quoth I at last.  "Why must you--do so!"

"And wherefore not?" she questioned proudly.

"'Tis the hand of a vagrant, an outcast, a poor creeper o' ditches!"
says I.

"But a man's hand!" she answered.

"'Tis at hand that hath slain once this night and shall slay again ere
many hours be sped."  Now here I heard her sigh as one that is troubled.

"And yet," says she gently, "'tis no murderer's hand and you that are
vagrant and outcast are no rogue."

"How judge ye this, having never seen me?" I questioned.

"In that I am a woman.  For God hath armed our weakness with a gift of
knowledge whereby we may oft-times know truth from falsehood, the noble
from the base, 'spite all their outward seeming.  So do I judge you no
rogue--a strong man but very--aye, very young that, belike, hath
suffered unjustly, and being so young art fierce and impatient of all
things, and apt to rail bitterly 'gainst the world.  Is't not so?"

"Aye," says I, marvelling, "truly 'tis like witchcraft--mayhap you will
speak me my name."  At this she laughed (most wonderful to hear and
vastly so to such coarse rogue as I, whose ears had long been strangers
to aught but sounds of evil and foul obscenity):

"Nay," says she, "my knowledge of you goeth no further--but--" (and
here she paused to fetch a shuddering breath) "but for him you
killed--that two-legged beast!  You did but what I would have done
for--O man, had you not come I--I should have killed him, maid though I
am!  See, here is the dagger I snatched from his girdle as he strove
with me.  O, take it--take it!"  And, with a passionate gesture, she
thrust the weapon into my grasp.

"O madam--my lady!" cried her companion, "Look, yonder be
lights--lanthorns aflare on the road.  'Tis Gregory as I do think, with
folk come to seek for us.  Shall we go meet them?"

"Nay wait, child--first let us be sure!"  So side by side we stood all
three amid the dripping trees, watching the tossing lights that grew
ever nearer until we might hear the voices of those that bare them,
raised, ever and anon, in confused shouting.

"Aye, 'tis Gregory!" sighed my lady after some while.  "He hath raised
the village and we are safe--"

"Hark!" cried I, starting forward.  "What name do they cry upon?"

"Mine, sir!"

"Oho, my lady!" roared the hoarse chorus.  "Oho, my Lady Joan--my Lady
Brandon--Brandon--Brandon!"

"Brandon!" cried I, choking upon the word.

"Indeed, sir--I am the Lady Joan Brandon of Shene Manor, and so long as
life be mine needs must I bear within my grateful heart the memory of--"

But, waiting for no more, I turned and sprang away into the denser
gloom of the wood.  And ever as I went, crashing and stumbling through
the underbrush, above the noise of my headlong flight rang the hated
name of the enemy I had journeyed so far to kill--"Brandon!  Brandon!
Brandon!"



CHAPTER II

HOW I HEARD A SONG IN THE WOOD AT MIDNIGHT

Headlong went I, staying for nought and heedless of all direction, but
presently, being weary and short of breath, I halted and leaning
against a tree stood thus very full of bitter thought.  The storm was
quite passed, but a chill wind was abroad that moaned dismally, while
all about me sodden trees dripped with mournful, sobbing noises.  And
hearkening to all this, what should I be thinking but of the sweet,
soft tones of a woman's voice that had stirred within me memories of
better days, a voice that had set me to dreams of a future, to fond and
foolish imaginings.  For, though shamed and brutalised by my
sufferings, I was a man and in this past hour (strange though it do
seem) felt scorn of myself and a yearning for higher things, and all
this by no greater reason than the sound of a woman's voice in the dark
and the touch of her warm lips on my hand--and she a Brandon!  And now
as the bitter mockery of it all rushed upon me, fierce anger swept me
and I broke forth into vile oaths and cursings, English and Spanish,
foul invectives picked up from the rogues, my fellows in misery; and
feeling a new shame therefore, did but curse the more.  So there
crouched I 'gainst the tree, shivering like the miserable wretch I was
and consumed with a ravening hunger.  At last, becoming aware that I
yet grasped a weapon in either hand, I thrust my knife in my girdle and
fell to handling this other, judging it by touch since it was yet too
dark for eyes to serve me.  And by its feel I knew it for no honest
knife; here was a thing wrought by foreign hands, a haft cunningly
shaped and wrought, a blade curiously slender and long and three-edged,
a very deadly thing I judged by the feel.  Now since it had no sheath
(and it so sharp) I twisted my neckerchief about it from pommel to
needle-point, and thrusting it into the leathern wallet at my belt,
went on some way further 'mid the trees, seeking some place where I
might be sheltered from the cold wind.  Then, all at once, I heard that
which brought me to a stand.

A man was singing and at no great distance, a strange, merry air and
stranger words; and the voice was loud, yet tuneful and mellow, and the
words (the which I came to know all too well) were these:

  "Cheerly O and cheerly O,
  Right cheerly I'll sing O,
  Whiles at the mainyard to and fro
  We watch a dead man swing O.
  With a rumbelow and to and fro
  He by the neck doth swing O!

  One by the knife did part wi' life
  And three the bullet took O,
  But three times three died plaguily
  A-wriggling on a hook O.
  A hook both strong and bright and long,
  They died by gash o' hook O.

  So cheerly O and cheerly O,
  Come shake a leg, lads, all O.
  Wi' a yo-ho-ho and a rumbelow
  And main-haul, shipmates, haul O.

  Some swam in rum to kingdom come,
  Full many a lusty fellow.
  And since they're dead I'll lay my head
  They're flaming now in hell O.

  So cheerly O, so cheerly O"--


Waiting for no more of the vile rant I strode forward and thus
presently came on a small dell or dingle full of the light of a fire
that crackled right merrily; at the which most welcome sight I made
shift to scramble down the steepy bank forthright and approached the
blaze on eager feet.  Drawing near, I saw the fire burned within a
small cave beneath the bank, and as I came within its radiance the song
broke off suddenly and a man rose up, facing me across the fire and
with one hand hid under the flap of his side pocket.

"Fibs off your popps, cull!" quoth in the vernacular of the roads.
"Here's none but a pal as lacketh warmth and a bite!"

"Aha!" quoth the fellow, peering across the blaze, "And who be you?
Stand and give a show o' your figurehead!"  Obediently I stood with
hands outspread to the flame, warming my shivering body at its grateful
heat.

"Well?" says I.

"Why," quoth he, nodding, "You're big enough and wild enough and as
likely a cut-throat as another--what's the lay?"

"The high pad!" says I.

"Where away?"

"'Tis no matter!"

"All I asks is," quoth the fellow with a quizzical look, "how you've
fobbed the nubbing-cheat so long!"

"And what I ask is," quoth I, "how a sailor-man comes to know the
patter o' the flash coves!"

"'Tis no matter," says he, "but since you're o' the Brotherhood sit ye
and welcome, 'tis dry enough here in this cave."

Staying for no second bidding I entered the little cave and sat me down
in the comforting warmth of the fire.  The man was a comely fellow of a
hectoring, swashing air, bright of eyes and instant of gesture; close
to hand lay a short cutting-sword, pistols bulged his deep
coat-pockets, while betwixt his knees was a battered case-bottle.

"Well," says he, eyeing me over, "what's the word?"

"Food!" says I.

"Nary a bite!" he answered, shaking his head.  "But here's rum now if
you've a mind to sluice the ivories--ha?"

"Not a drop!" says I.

"Good!  The more for me!" he nodded.  "Rum--ha--

"Some swam in rum to kingdom come"--

"You sing a mighty strange song!" quoth I.

"Ha--d'ye like it?"

"No, I don't!"

"And wherefore no?"

"There seems overmuch death in it."

"Death?" cries he with a great laugh and hugging his case-bottle.
"Death says you--aye, aye, says I and so there is, death in every line
on't.  'Tis song as was made for dead men, of dead men, by a dead man,
and there's for ye now!"  Here he lifted the bottle, drank, and
thereafter smacked his lips with great gusto.  "Made by a dead man," he
repeated, "for dead men, of dead men, and there's for ye!"

"I like your song less and less!"

"You've a cursed queasy stomach I think!" he hiccupped.

"And an empty one!" says I.

"'Tis a song well bethought on by--by better men nor you, for all your
size!" says he, glancing at me over his bottle with a truculent eye,
and though his glance was steady, I perceived the drink was affecting
him more and more.  "Aye, many a better man!" he nodded, frowning.

"As who?" I questioned.

"First, there's Abnegation Mings as you shall hear tell of on the Main
from Panama to St. Catherine's, aye, by the horns of Nick there be none
of all the coastwise Brotherhood quicker or readier when there's aught
i' the wind than Abnegation, and you can lay to that, my delicate cove!"

"And who's he?"

"Myself!"  Here he took another draught and nodded at me in drunken
solemnity.  "And look'ee, my dainty cull, when you've seen as much o'
death as Abnegation Mings you'll know as Death's none so bad a thing,
so long as it leaves you alone.  And I for one say 'tis a good song and
there's for ye!"

"And who else?"

"Well, there's Montbars as do they call the Exterminator, and there's
young Harry Morgan--a likely lad, and there's Roger Tressady and Sol
Aiken and Penfeather--sink him!"

"And Abner!" said I at a venture.

"Aye for sure!" he nodded, and then, "Ha, d'ye know Abner then?"

"I've met him."

"Where away?"

"In a tavern some mile hence."

"A tavern!" quoth he, "A tavern, 'od rot 'em and here's me hove short
in this plaguy hole!  A tavern, and here's my bottle out--dog bite me!
But a mouthful left--well, here's to a bloody shirt and the Brotherhood
o' the Coast."

"You drink to the buccaneers, I think?" says I.

"And what if I do?"

"'Tis said they be no better than pirates--"

"Would ye call me a pirate then?" cried he, scowling.

"I would."  Quick as flash he clapped hand to pocket, but the pistol
caught on the lining, and before he could free it I had covered him
with mine, whereat he grew suddenly rigid and still. "Up wi' your
fambles!" says I.  Obediently he raised his hands and, taking his
pistols, I opened the pan of each one and, having blown out the
primings, tossed them back.

"Snake sting me!" says he, laughing ruefully as he re-pocketed his
weapons.  "This comes o' harbouring a lousy rogue as balks good liquor.
The man as won't take good rum hath the head of a chicken, the heart of
a yellow dog, and the bowels of a w-worm, and bone-rot him, says I.
Lord love me, but I've seen many a better throat than yours slit ere
now, my buxom lad!"

"And aided too, belike?" says I.

"Why, here's a leading question--but mum!  Here's a hand that knoweth
not what doth its fellow--mum, boy, mum!"  And tilting back his head he
brake forth anew into his villainous song:

  "Two on a knife did end their life
  And three the bullet took O,
  But three times three died plaguily
  A-wriggling on a hook O.
  Sing cheerly O and cheerly O,
  They died by gash o' hook O."

"And look'ee, my ben cull, if I was to offer ye all Bartlemy's
treasure--which I can't, mark me--still you'd never gather just what
manner o' hook that was.  Anan, says you--mum, boy, says I. Howbeit, I
say, 'tis a good song," quoth he, blinking drowsily at the fire,
"here's battle in't, murder and sudden death and wha--what more could
ye expect of any song--aye, and there's women in't too!"  Here he fell
to singing certain lewd ribaldry that I will not here set down, until
what with the rum and the drowsy heat of the fire that I had
replenished, he yawned, stretched, and laying himself down, very soon
fell a-snoring, to my no small comfort.  As for me, I sat there waiting
for the dayspring; the fire sank lower and lower, filling the little
cave with a rosy glow falling athwart the sprawling form of the sleeper
and making his red face seem purplish and suffused like the face of one
I had once seen dead of strangulation; howbeit, he slept well enough,
judging from his lusty snoring.  Now presently in the surrounding dark
beyond the smouldering fire was a glimmer, a vague blur of sloping,
trampled bank backed by misty trees; so came the dawn, very chill and
full of eddying mists that crawled phantom-like, filling the little
dingle brimful and blotting out the surrounding trees.  In a little I
arose and, coming without the cave, shivered in the colder air, shaken
with raging hunger. And now remembering my utter destitution, I stooped
to peer down at the sleeper, half minded to go through his pockets, but
in a while I turned away and left him sprawled in his sottish slumber.



CHAPTER III

TELLS HOW I STOLE MY BREAKFAST

The mist lay very thick all about me, but when I had climbed to higher
ground it thinned away somewhat, so that as the pallid light grew I
began to see something of the havoc wrought by the storm; here and
there lay trees uprooted, while everywhere was a tangle of broken
boughs and trailing branches, insomuch that I found my going no small
labour.  But presently as I forced a way through these leafy tangles,
the birds, awaking, began to fill the dim world with blithe chirpings
that grew and grew to a sweet clamour, ever swelling until the dark
woods thrilled with gladsome music and I, beholding the first beam of
sun, felt heartened thereby 'spite my lack of sleep and the gnawing of
hunger's sharp fangs, and hastened with blither steps.  Thus in a while
I brake forth of the desolate trees and came out upon a fair, rolling
meadow with blooming hedgerows before me and, beyond, the high road.
And now as I stayed to get my bearings, up rose the sun in majesty, all
glorious in purple and pink and gold, whose level beams turned the
world around me into a fair garden all sweet and fresh and green,
while, in the scowling woods behind, the sullen mists crept furtive
away till they were vanished quite and those leafy solitudes became a
very glory.

But my hunger was very sore, a need I purposed to satisfy soon and at
all hazards; therefore, having marked my direction, I went at speed
and, crossing the meadow, came into the highway and struck south.  On
my going through the woods I had chosen me a cudgel in place of the one
lost, shortish and knotted and very apt for quick wrist-play, and I
plucked forth my sailor's knife meaning to trim my staff therewith; but
with it poised in my hand, I stopped all at once, for I saw that the
point of the stout blade (the which I had sharpened and whetted to an
extreme keenness), I perceived, I say, that the blade was bent somewhat
and the point turned, hook-like.  Now as I strode on again, the early
sun flashing back from the steel, I fell to wondering how this had
chanced, and bethinking me of those two deadly blows I had struck in
the dark I scrutinised my knife, blade and haft, yet found nowhere on
it any trace of blood, so that 'twas manifest the fellow had worn some
protection--chain-shirts were common enough and many a rogue went with
a steel skull to line his hat.  So it seemed the fellow lived yet and
(black rogue though he was) I was vaguely glad 'twas not my hand had
sent him to his account.

I was yet revolving the matter in my mind when I heard a loud and merry
whistling, and glancing up, beheld a country fellow approaching down a
side lane.  He wore a wide-eaved hat and his smock was new-washed and
speckless; but that which drew and held my eyes, that which brought me
to a sudden stand, was the bundle he bore wrapped in a fair, white
clout.  So, with my gaze on this I stood leaning on my knotted,
untrimmed staff, waiting him. Suddenly, chancing to turn his head, he
espied me, halted in his stride, then eyeing me askance, advanced
again.  A small man he was, with rosy face, little, merry eyes, and a
wide, up-curving mouth.

"Goo' marnin' to 'ee--it do have been a tur'ble bad starm las' night,
master!"

"Aye!" says I, and my heart warmed to him by reason of his good Kentish
tongue--the like of which I had not heard these many weary years; but
at sight of that white-clouted bundle my mouth watered and hunger
gnawed with sharper tooth.  "What have ye here?" I questioned, touching
this with my staff.

"Nou't but my dinner, master, 's ever was!"

"Nay," says I scowling, "I think not!"

"Aye, but it be, master!" he nodded.  "Bread and beef wi' a mossel of
cheese like, 's ever was!"

"Bread!" says I.  "Beef!  Cheese!  Liar--here is no dinner o' yours!"

"Aye, master, but it do be so, sure!" quoth he, staring.  "My very own
dinner cut by my very own darter, beef an' bread an' a mossel o'
cheese--I take my bible oath t' it, I do--bread an' beef an' a mossel--"

"Show me!"  With notable haste he undid the wrapping, discovering a
good half-loaf, a thick slice of roast beef and a slab of yellow cheese.

"Ha, man!" quoth I 'twixt shut teeth.  "So you lied to me then."

"Lied to 'ee, master?" says he faintly.

"You told me 'twas your dinner!"

"Aye, and so it be, so it be, I lay my oath--beef, d'ye see, an' a
mossel--"

"Nay," says I gathering up the viands, "here's my breakfast."

"Is it?" says he, gaping.

"It is!  Would ye deny it?"

"Not for a moment!" says he, eyeing my staff and the gleaming knife in
my belt.  "Lordy, no!  Only how was I to know 'twere yourn,
master--when my darter cut it for her very own feyther--"

"We live and we learn!" says I, turning away.  "What might your name
be?"

"Full-o'-j'y Tucker, master."

"Why then, Full-of-joy, though my gain be your loss take comfort in
that 'tis more blessed to give than receive.  Moreover, though you lack
a dinner you have a daughter and a roof to shelter you and I neither
one nor other--a poor, hungry rogue.  Methinks of the two of us you
have the better of life."

"Why, look'ee now, master," says he, scratching his shaven chin, "since
you've got your breakfus' surely, if you're minded t' step along t' my
cottage down t' lane, I can give ye a jug of good ale to wash it down."
Now as he spoke thus, seeing the sturdy manliness of him I dropped my
staff and reached out my hand.

"Full-of-joy," says I, "a starving man must eat by hook or crook, but
if you'll give your honest hand to a thief--there's mine!"

The man stared from my hand to my face, his wide mouth curved, then
rubbing hand on snowy smock he grasped my fingers and wrung them
heartily--a clean and honest grip, such as I had not known for many a
long day.

"Will 'ee come, master?" he questioned.  I shook my head.  Quoth I:

"You have a daughter and I'm no fit company for a good, sweet maid--nor
ever shall be for that matter!"  So saying, I dropped his hand and
turning, strode away down the road, his dinner beneath my arm; and when
at last I glanced back I saw him standing where I had left him, staring
after me chin in hand. Presently, turning in at a gate beside the way,
I sat down beneath a hedge in the warm, level beams of the sun and fell
to eating with huge appetite and (stolen though it was) never tasted
food more sweet.  I was thus rapturously employed when I heard a
dolorous whine and, starting about, beheld a ragged creature on the
opposite side of the hedge who glared at the food with haggard eyes and
reached out claw-like hands in supplication.

"O for the love o' Christ, spare a crust!" she wailed.  "Spare a bite
to a grannam as dieth o' hunger.  O sweet Jesu--a mouthful to a poor
soul as do be pined for lack o' food--"

"Off!" cries I fiercely, "What know you of hunger?  Away, hag!" and I
reached for my staff, whereupon she wailed and wept, and clawing her
dismal rags about her, crept away moaning.

But now while my jaws champed ravenously, the food had lost its savour;
wherefore I cursed and choked and, springing to my feet, made after
her, but, seeing me follow at speed, she cried out in fear and,
striving to flee from me, sank on feeble knees.

"Old hag!" quoth I, "Be damned for spoiling a hungry man's appetite and
robbing him of what he was at pains to rob for himself!"  Then I thrust
the well-filled napkin into her clutching fingers and hasted away, but
her raptured cry followed me as I went.

I trudged on slow and heavy through the mud, being very weary for lack
of sleep and mightily down cast, heedless of gladsome morn and the
fair, fresh world about me, conscious but of my own most miserable
estate; insomuch that I presently sank down on the grass by the road
and, with heavy head bowed between my hands, gave myself up to black
despond.

But now as I sat thus, very sick and sorrowful, I heard a sound of
wheels and plodding hoofs drawing slowly near, and lifting my head at
last, espied a great wain piled high with fragrant hay whereon the
driver sprawled asleep, a great fat fellow whose snores rose above the
jingle of harness and creak of wheels.  Now hearkening to his snoring,
beholding him so gross and full-fed (and I starving!!) my sadness gave
place to sudden, hot anger and, as the waggon lumbered by, I swung
myself up behind, and clambering over the hay, raised my staff, minded
to drub the fellow into wakefulness; but even then I stayed the blow,
for I spied a wallet that hung to the driving-seat, a large wallet of
plump and inviting aspect.  Reaching it down I opened it forthwith and
found therein a new-baked loaf, a roast capon delicately browned and a
jar of small beer.  And now, couched luxuriously among the hay, I fell
to work (tooth and nail) and though I ate in voracious haste, never
before or since have I tasted aught so delicate and savoury as that
stolen fowl.  I was yet busied with what remained of the carcass when
the fat fellow choked in his snoring, sighed, grunted, propped himself
on lazy elbow and, catching sight of me, fell a-gaping.  So whiles he
watched open-mouthed, I finished what remained of the capon and tossed
the bones over the hedge.

"Ecod!" quoth he faintly.  "O, ecod--my dinner!"  As for me, having my
mouth full, I spake not.  "Ad's bobs!" says he, "A rascally, robbing
thief of the roads!"

"Even so!" I nodded and took a long draught of his beer.

"A-eating and a-drinking of a honest man's dinner, by the Lord!" says
he, clenching fat fists.  "O ecod--a hell-fire rogue--a very lousy,
scurvy dog as shall be carted and whipped and set in Sir Richard's new
pillory!"  At this, being engaged with the bread, I reached out my foot
and kicked him (very featly) in the belly; whereat he gasped and
growing thoughtful, dolefully watched me make an end.

"If there is aught left to eat," says I, "show it me!"

"As fine a capon as was ever plucked, by the Lord!" he groaned.

"Most true!" says I, stretching myself in the hay.

"O!" quoth he, as to himself, "O the pity on't--so foul an end to so
fair a bird!"

"Never whine!" says I, "but tell me how far hence lieth Lamberhurst."

"Better nor six mile!" he sighed, heaving himself into the driving-seat.

"Why then, do you carry me thither."

"Ad's love!" he mourned.  "'Tis manifest shame a rogue should thieve
the food of an honest man--a man like I be as do slave morning, noon
and--"

"Slave!" says I, frowning.  "What know you of slavery?  Be curst for a
great, fat fool that speaketh lies!"  Now watching him as I lay, I saw
his hand close stealthily on his heavy whip, but or ever he could turn
to strike, I rose and fetched him a buffet 'neath the ear that pitched
him sprawling upon the broad backs of his horses, whence (with much
groaning and puffing) he presently got him safely into the road; seeing
the which, I took the reins, whipping the team to faster gait, so that
to keep pace he must needs trot it in the mud.

"Hold!" cries he.  "What would ye wi' my waggon?"

"Ride in 't!"

"Hold!  Then suffer me to ride likewise, for I'm scant o' breath--"

"Good!  I've been scant o' breath ere now!"

"Show a little pity, master!" he groaned.

"None ever showed pity on me!"

"Nay, but--what harm have I--ever--done thee?"

"Begrudged food to a starving wretch!"

"'Twas my dinner and I do need a deal of feeding, I!  Lord, how I
sweat!  Prithee, master, let me up.  How have I deserved this?"

"Called me rogue and thief!"

"Aye, that I did--to my woe.  Aye, rogue I named thee and
likewise--lousy knave--and grieve for't now, I do!"

"And so needs must you sweat awhile!" says I.

And thus I (aloft and at mine ease) and the fat fellow trotting
breathless at the wheel we went awhile (and never another word) until,
what with fear of losing his goods, what with the mud and heat and
sweat, the poor gross fool looked wellnigh spent and all foredone (as I
had seen many a better man than he), whereupon I brought the waggon to
a stand and reached down to stir him where he lent half-swooning across
the wheel.

"Hark'ee, fool, dost know of one called Brandon of Shene hereabouts?"

"Aye, truly--truly!" he gasped.  "I do know--Sir Richard--passing well.
Ad's bobs, my innards be all shook t'pieces and I do be parched wi'
thirst."

"Why then, up with you!" says I, and giving him my hand, aided him back
to the driving-seat.  Being there, he sighed, groaned and cast a
yearning eye towards his wallet.

"Parched wi' thirst I be!" he groaned.

"I've been the like ere now!" says I, and having gulped down what
remained of the fellow's beer I tossed the jar into the road, whereat
he beat his breast.

"My beer!" he wailed, "And I a-famishing wi' thirst!  O my beer!"

"There's sweet water i' the brook yonder!" says I.

"You be a chap wi' no bowels, for sure!" he cried.  "Aye, a hard man
you be!"

"'Tis a hard world," says I, "but 'tis no matter for that, tell me of
Sir Richard Brandon."

"Why then, you must know I am Myles Trueman--"

"And truly, man, there be miles of you, but 'tis no matter for that
either--what of Sir Richard?"

"I do be coming to he," says Trueman in surly tone.  "I do farm Sir
Richard's land--a hard man, see you, though just."

"So--here's another hard man."

"Though a just--aye, and a godly!  He hath restored our church
weathercock an' all an' set up a fine, large and fair pillory on the
green.  Lunnon couldn't show a finer, wi' stocks an' cucking-stool
complete and rare to fancy--"

"And findeth he the wherewithal to fill 'em?"

"That doth he!  Aha, there be never a vagrant, gipsy nor beggar dare
come anigh in Sir Richard's time.  And witches be few hereabouts since
old Mother Mottridge was ducked, and scolds and shrews be fewer by
reason o' the brank, d'ye see?"

"Hum!" says I, "a right proper gentleman this!"

"Aye," quoth Trueman, nodding until his fat cheeks quivered, "and one
that doth abhor vagrants and such-like vermin--"

"As myself?" says I.  To this Trueman answered nothing, but fell
a-fanning himself with his hat again, eyeing me warily the while.

"Art strange in these parts?" he questioned.

"Aye and no!"

"Hast met Sir Richard?"

"I have!"

"Aha!" quoth the fellow, nodding.  "He had ye whipped, belike?"

"He did so."

"For stealing of a fine, fat capon, belike?"

"Nay, 'twas for another matter.  But what of him, is he hale o' body,
rich and well esteemed, is he strong in friends and a power at court
yet?"

"No," says Trueman, flicking his plodding horses.  "Neither one nor
t'other!"

"How--not?" quoth I.  "And wherefore?"

"Because he's dead--"

"Dead!" says I, starting up.  "Dead?"

"Why look'ee, if he ain't dead--leastways--"  But here I seized him by
the throat and, twisting him round, shook him to and fro till he choked:

"Rogue--damned rogue!" I cried 'twixt gnashing teeth.  "Will ye mock me
then!"

"No--no!" he gasped.

"Then tell me ye lied--confess!"

"Aye, aye--I'll confess--anything--anything ye will, master!"

"Then Sir Richard lieth snug in his manor of Shene--doth he not? Aye or
no?"

"Aye--aye, at Shene--at Shene!"  Hereupon I loosed him and, falling
back on the hay, found myself all breathless and shaking as with an
ague-fit.  And these tremors were within me as without, since (by
reason of this fellow's lying words) I had, for one black moment,
doubting God's justice, seen (as it were) my countless anguished
supplications for vengeance on mine enemy so much vain breath, and this
my toilsome journey a labour to no purpose.  But now, bowing my head, I
(who knew no forgiveness) humbly prayed forgiveness of God for my
doubting of God, and passionately besought Him that He would cherish
mine enemy and save him in health.  And this to no other end but that I
myself might destroy him.

"His life, O God--give this man's life into mine hand!"  So prayed I
(in my vain pride and selfish blindness) as I jogged along that sunny
midsummer morn; and thereafter, my trembling having passed from me, I
stretched myself out amid the hay and fell to blissful slumber.

Now to all such as reading this my narrative shall contemn and abhor me
for the purblind fool and poor, desperate wretch I was, and who, living
but for murder, could cry thus on God for the blood of his
fellow-man--to all such I would say that none can despise me more
utterly than I who write these words.  For life since then hath learned
me many truths and in some few things I am, mayhap, a little wiser.

But, because I was proud and stubborn beyond belief, because hate
begetteth hate and evil--evil, so came I to consort and make fellowship
with pirates and the like rogues and to endure much of harms and
dangers as battle, shipwreck, prison and solitude; until God (of His
infinite mercy) brought me forth a better man therefor and, in some
sense, a more worthy.  All of the which I have fully and faithfully
recorded for such as shall trouble to read this narrative to the end.

And so will I again to my story.



CHAPTER IV

TELLETH HOW I MET ONE ADAM PENFEATHER

I awoke to find the waggon at a standstill and Master Trueman watching
me with a scowl the while his plump fingers toyed lovingly with his
whip-stock; but as I roused, this hand crept up to finger his several
chins.

"Yonder lieth Lamberhurst!" quoth he sulkily, and nodded where, in the
valley below, was a village with a green wherein was a placid pool
shaded by trees; and about this green stood white-walled cottages, many
of them bowered in roses or honeysuckle to the very thatch (right
pleasant to the eye), while beyond these again rose gables of barns or
the pointed roofs of oasthouses. "Lamberhurst!" says Trueman again;
whereon, having yawned and stretched myself, I clambered down into the
road.

"Well?" I questioned, seeing how he watched me, triple chin in hand.

"Well," quoth he stoutly, "I be wondering what the likes o' you should
be wanting wi' the likes o' Sir Richard Brandon o' Shene?"

"Nought but this," says I, shaking the hay from my tattered cloak, "I
am come to watch him die, and the manner of it shall mayhap be
something slow and painful!" and speaking, I clenched my right hand to
a sunburnt fist.  Now looking on this clutching hand, Trueman blinked
and, saying no word, whipped his horses and the heavy wain rumbled and
creaked on its way.  But, when he had gone some distance, he grinned at
me over his shoulder and called something whereof I caught the words
"labour lost."  For a moment I was minded to run after and demand his
meaning; howbeit, in a little, I turned and went down the hill very
full of thought.

Reaching the village I found it not yet astir, for the clock of the
church tower showed the time was but half after four; and now, leaning
on my staff I stared up at the church tower with its new weathercock,
brave with gilding, agleam in the early sun, and from thence turned my
gaze where (hard beside the pool upon the green) rose the grim shape of
Sir Richard's new pillory.  Just now it stood untenanted and I wondered
idly what unhappy wight was destined next to suffer there.  Thus stood
I some while, staring round me on this peaceful hamlet where all (save
only myself) forgot their cares awhile in blessed sleep; the wide road,
the gabled cottages, oast-house and fragrant rick yard--all was as I
minded it five weary years since:  nothing strange was there saving
only Sir Richard's hateful pillory, wherefore I smote it with my staff
and, cursing him that set it there, turned away.

Now within a stone's-cast of the church was a goodly tavern with a
weatherbeaten signboard a-swing above the door, whereon was painted
what purported to be a leopard asleep and below the following legend,
viz.:

  ROUSE ME NOT

and below this again:

  YE CONISBY ARMS.

From this I glanced at the third finger of my left hand, which was a
battered signet ring that bore the semblance of another sleeping
leopard and the like inscription; and looking from the sleeping leopard
on the signboard to the sleeping leopard on my ring, I fell to deep and
gloomy thought.  Howbeit, rousing in a while, I perceived a
horse-trough hard by full of clean water, and came thither minded to
wash the dust and sweat from me.  But, stooping, I paused and stood
thus, staring down at the face that scowled up at me; a face lean and
haggard with wide, fierce eyes agleam beneath knitted brows, a
prominent nose and square chin with short, peaked, golden beard; an
unlovely face framed in shaggy, yellow hair patched and streaked with
silver; and beholding lowering brow and ferocious mouth and jaw I stood
awhile marvelling at the ill-changes evil and hardship had wrought in
me.

For thus was it that I first beheld myself after five years of slavery.

Having looked my fill, I nodded grimly at my watery image and plunged
my face and head within the trough to my great refreshment, which done,
I made shift to dry myself on my tattered shirt.  Thereafter, coming to
the broad oak settle beside the tavern door, I sat down and fell to
meditation.  But now, moved by sudden impulse, I unbuckled the wallet
at my girdle and taking thence the strange dagger, unwound the
neckerchief that swathed it and began to examine the weapon, first
carelessly enough, then with growing interest and wonder.  The blade
(as I have told elsewhere) was triangular of form, very narrow and some
eight inches in length and exceeding sharp of point; but that which
drew and held my gaze was the wonder of its haft.  I have seen and
handled many fair weapons in my day, but never before or since have I
beheld such rare craftsmanship as went to the chiselling of this hilt.
Of silver it was, wrought into the shape of a standing woman, her feet
poised upon the small, chiselled cross-guard, her head forming the
pommel; naked she stood in languorous pose, arms raised and hands
locked behind her head.  The delicate chiselling of the features was
worn somewhat by handling and rough usage, but even so the evil beauty
of the face was plain and manifest, the wanton languor of the long
eyes, the mocking cruelty of the smiling mouth.  The longer I viewed
it, the more manifest became the nameless evil of the thing, so that I
was greatly minded to whirl it into the horse-pond and be done with it.
But bethinking me of my destitution and not doubting but that I might
find a ready market for a thing so rare, I lapped it up again and
thrusting it back into my wallet, stretched myself out upon the broad
settle and presently fell asleep.

But (even as I slept) methought I was back in torment.  I seemed to
hear again the crack of whips, the harsh cries of the drivers, the
shrill screams and curses, the long, groaning breaths with the rattle
and creak of the great oars as they swung ceaselessly back and forth;
nay, I could even feel the kick of the oar-shaft that had escaped my
fainting grasp.  So real was it all that I waked groaning (as I had
done many a time and oft), waked to find the kindly sun making a glory
about me and a blackbird hard by a-piping most sweet to hear, while
before me stood a little, thin fellow in a broad-eaved, steeple-crowned
hat, who peered at me through narrowed eyes and poked at me with a
stick.

"And how's the wind, shipmate?" he questioned.  I sat up and scowled,
whereupon he tucked the stick beneath an arm and stood viewing me, chin
in hand.  "You sleep mighty sound," says he, "here I've stood a-poking
at ye with my stick, d'ye see, and you snore but the louder--or was it
groans?"

"For the which poking I'm minded to throw you into the horse-pond--"

"Why, that's as may be!" says he, falling back a step.  "But no
offence, shipmate."

"Then leave me in peace."  And I laid me down again.

"You sleep mighty sound," says he, "and your bed none so easy!"

"I've known worse!"

"Aye--the rowing-bench of a Spanish floating hell, shipmate--ha?"

At this, I started and turned to look at him again.  He was (as I say)
a little man and clad in suit of russet-brown (very trim and sober),
but at his hip he bore a long rapier or tuck, while in his ears (which
were trimmed to points in mighty strange fashion) swung great, gold
rings such as mariners do wear; his face was lean and sharp and wide of
mouth and lighted by very quick, bright eyes, seeming to take in all
things with swift-darting glances.  A scar that ran from brow to chin
lent to him a certain hangdog air; as to his age, it might have been
thirty or forty or sixty, for, though he seemed vigorous and active,
with smooth, unwrinkled face, his hair was snow-white.

"Well, shipmate," he questioned, meeting my searching gaze, "and how
d'ye like me?"

"No whit!"

"Sink me, but that's plain enough!" says he, smiling ruefully. "So
there's nought in me as draws you, then?"

"No!"

"'Tis pity, for I've a feeling we shall sail aboard ship together yet."

"How should you know I've rowed aboard a Spanish ship?"

"You bear the mark, shipmate; as you lay a-groaning in your sleep I
took occasion to cast an eye over ye, d'ye see, and what wi' the
new-healed scars on your wrist, your sunburnt skin and the desperate
sink-or-swim look o' you I judged you new-broke from slavery, and named
a Spanish galleass at a venture, d'ye see."

"You are an observant man, it seems," says I, frowning.

"I have a way o' putting one and one together--'tis a trick I've found
useful now and then!"

"Ha!" says I, mighty scornful, "You'll be telling me my own name next!"

"Why, as to that," says he, pinching his long, clean-shaven chin
thoughtfully, "how would Conisby suit?"

"Damned spy!" I cried, and caught him in my grip; the fellow never so
much as flinched, and there was something formidable in his very
quietude.

"Easy all, shipmate!" says he mildly and staring up at me eye to eye.
"Use me kindly, for I'm a timid soul with a good heart, meaning no
offence."

"How learned ye my name?  What devilry is here?"

"None in the world, Lord love ye!  'Tis just my trick of adding one and
one, d'ye see?  There's the ring on your finger and the signboard above
you."

"And wherefore spy on a sleeping man?"

"Because I'm a lonely soul doth seek a comrade.  Because the moment I
clapped eyes on you I felt drawn to ye, and seeing the scars on your
wrist, knew 'em for shackle-marks--and 'twas a bond betwixt us."

"How a bond?"

"Loose me, shipmate, and I'll show ye."  Which done, he bared a long
and sinewy arm, discovering thereon marks of old fetter-sores like
those upon my own.

"So you've slaved at an oar, then?" says I.

"Aye, shipmate!"

"Endured the shame of stripes and nakedness and filth?"

"Aye, shipmate.  And more, I've fought for my life on the Inca
Death-stone ere now, as you may see by my ears if you know aught of the
Maya Indians."

And here without so much as a "by your leave" he sat him down on the
bench beside me, and leaning forward began to trace idle patterns in
the dust with his stick.

"Shipmate," says he, "I'm a timid man--"

"As a snake," quoth I, "and as deadly!"

Here he stayed his drawing to glance at me askance, to sigh and shake
his head.  "You misjudge me," says he, "howbeit we'll say cautious--a
cautious man with an honest, kindly heart as yearns to fellowship."

"And with a pistol 'neath each armpit!"

"True!" he nodded.  "I might ha' shot ye a moment since and
didn't--which doth but prove my words, for I'm one as never harmed any
man--without just cause--save once, and that--" here he sighed, "was
years agone.  And me a lonely man to this day. So 'tis I seek a
comrade--a right man, one at odds wi' fortune and the world and
therefore apt to desperate ploys, one hath suffered and endured and
therefore scornful of harms and dangers, one as knoweth the sea.  Now
let that man pledge me the blood-brotherhood, let him stand staunch and
faithful blow fair, blow foul, and I'll help him to a fortune greater
than ever came out of Manoa, El Dorado, or the Indies.  Come, what d'ye
say, friend?"

"I say sheer off and leave me to my sleep lest I mischief you."

"Ha' ye no lust for riches, then?"

"No more than I have to your company and I love that less and less."

"'Tis pity!" says he, shaking his head.  "Aye, 'tis pity, for I do like
you more and more, such a fine blood-and-beef, dare-and-be-damned,
gibbet-like figure of a rogue, shipmate, as would grace a cross-roads
better than most, which is one reason I was drawn to ye, d'ye see, I
being a quiet soul--"

"And a pirate, like as not!"

"Easy, shipmate, easy.  Passion is an ill word to steer by.  And I'm a
lonely man as seeks a comrade--"

"And I'm a lonely man that loveth solitude, so e'en now will I go seek
it!" and I rose.

"Stay a bit, shipmate, haul your wind and listen!" says he, laying hand
on my arm.  "Stand in wi' me, blow high, blow low, and I offer
you--wealth untold--riches, fortune--"

"Tush!" says I, "empty things all."  At this his hold tightened while
his keen gaze held mine.

"More than this," says he slowly, "I offer you rank, honours, power and
mayhap--love, shipmate."

"Enough!" quoth I.  "You offer nought I desire."

"Why then," says he, "in the Fiend's name what would ye have?"

"Vengeance!" I answered, and shaking off his grasp I turned and strode
away along the dusty road.



CHAPTER V

HOW I CAME TO CONISBY SHENE

It being yet full early for my purpose I took to the woods, and
presently chancing upon a little stream that bubbled pleasantly 'mid
shady willows, I sat myself down within this greeny bower and fell to
watching the hurrying waters of this brook and hearkening to its drowsy
murmur.  And lying thus, with the good green world around me, the sunny
air blithe with the mellow piping of birds and the soft wind rustling
the leaves about me--what must I have in mind but bloodshed and the
destruction of my enemy, insomuch that reaching a stone from the brook
I drew the knife from my girdle and set about straightening the blade
thereof.

I was thus employed when all at once the leaves on the opposite side of
the brook were parted and a girl-child appeared.  For a long moment we
eyed each other across the brook, then all at once her pretty lips
curved to a smile.

"Little maid," says I, furtively thrusting the knife into my belt, "art
not afraid of me then?"

"Nay!" she answered, smiling yet and shaking her golden head.

"And why?"

"I do like your eyes, big man, kind eyes they be!"

"Are they?" says I, glancing from her smiling innocence into the brook.

"Aye, and your voice--I do like that too--'tis low and soft--like
father's."

"And who's your father?"

"He be th' blacksmith."

"How old are you?"

"Seven, an' a big maid I be.  Will 'ee aid me 'cross t'brook, now?"

So I lifted her over and there we sat, side by side, she laughing and
talking and I hearkening to her childish prattle with marvellous great
pleasure.  Presently I ventured to touch her soft cheek, to stroke her
curls, and finding she took this not amiss, summoned courage to stoop
and kiss her.

How long we had sat thus I know not, when I was aroused by a shrill,
harsh voice and turning, beheld a bony woman who peered at us through
the leaves.

"Susan Ann!" she cried.  "O you Susan, come away!  Come quick or I'll
run for your mother."

"The child is safe enough!" says I, frowning, but clasping the small
damsel closer within my arm.

"Safe?" cries the woman, turning on me in fury.  "Safe--aye, for sooth,
wi' a great, ill rogue the like o' you!  Loose her--loose her or I'll
scream and rouse the village on ye for a wild gipsy wastrel that ye
are!"  And here the old harridan railed at me until the child whimpered
for fear and even I blenched before the woman's fierce aspect and
shrewish tongue.  Then, while she loaded me with abuse, a ceaseless
torrent (and no lack of breath), I kissed the little maid's tear-wetted
cheek and, setting her back across the brook, stood to watch until the
child and woman were lost to my sight.  Then I sat down, scowling at
the hurrying water, chin on fist, for my black humour, banished awhile
by the child's innocent faith in me, was returned and therewith an
added bitterness.  Scowling yet, I plucked forth my knife and seizing
my staff, set to trim and shape it to a formidable weapon; and as I
worked I cursed this woman deep and oft, yet (even so) knew she had the
right on't, for truly I was a rogue, an outcast of unlovely look and
unlovely ways, a desperate fellow unfit for the company of decent folk,
much less an innocent child; and yet, remembering those fearless
child-eyes, the kiss of those pure child-lips I sighed amain betwixt my
muttered cursings.

At last, having trimmed my bludgeon to a nicety, I laid it by, and sat
brooding, the knife betwixt my knees; now a beam of sun falling athwart
the leaves lit upon the broad blade of the knife and made of it a
glory.  And beholding this and the hand that grasped it, I took
pleasure to heed how strong and sinewy were my fingers and how the
muscles bulged beneath the brown skin of my forearm; and turning the
glittering steel this way and that I fell to joyous thought of my enemy
and of my vengeance, now so near.

"To-night!" says I to myself, "Death ever cometh with more terrors in
the dark!  To-night!"  But now, little by little, my joy gave place to
anger that the night must be so long a-coming; and, glancing up, I
cursed the sun that it must needs shine and the gladsome day that it
was not grim night.  And presently to anger was added a growing fear
lest mine enemy might (by some hap) elude me at the eleventh
hour--might, even now, be slipping from my reach.  Now at this a sweat
brake out on me, and leaping to my feet I was minded to seek him out
and end the matter there and then.  "Why wait for to-night?" I asked
myself.  "Surely in the gladsome light of day Death findeth an added
bitterness.  Why wait for night, then?"

So I stood awhile debating within myself, then, catching up my knotted
bludgeon, I set off along the stream incontinent, following a path I
had trodden many a time when but a lad; a path that led on through mazy
thickets, shady dells and green coppices dappled with sunlight and glad
with the trilling melody of birds; but ever as I went, before my eyes
was a man who twisted in my grasp and died, over and over again, and in
my ears the sounds of his agony.  And ever as I went trees reached out
arms as if to stay me and bushes stretched forth little, thorny fingers
that caught my garments as if to hinder me from my purpose.  But I
brushed them aside with my scarred arms or beat them down with my heavy
staff, o'er-leaping hedge and ditch and fallen tree until I reached the
highway, and even as I came there a distant clock chimed the hour of
ten.  I quickened my pace, twirling my staff as I went, so that the two
or three wayfarers I chanced to meet drew from my neighbourhood and
eyed me mightily askance.  Having gone thus some mile or so, I came to
a wall that bordered the road, a high and mossy wall, and following
this, to a pair of gates set well back from the highway, with pillars
of stone each surmounted by a couchant leopard carved in the stone.
Now these gates were of iron, very lofty and strong and fast shut, but
besides these was a smaller gate or postern of wood hard by the
gatehouse where stood a lusty fellow in fair livery, picking his teeth
with a straw and staring at the square toes of his shoes. Hearing me
approach he glanced up and, frowning, shook his head and waved me away.

"Here's no road for the likes o' you!" said he while I was yet at some
distance.  "Off wi' you!"  Howbeit, seeing I still advanced he clapped
to the gate, and letting fall the bar, cursed me roundly through the
grille.

"I would see Sir Richard Brandon!" says I.

"Then ye can't--nowise.  So be off and be danged!"

"Open the gate!" says I.

"Be hanged for a murderous-looking rogue, a lousy thief, a wastrel and
a hangdog knave!" says he all in a breath.

"All true enough!" says I.  "And now, open the gate!"

"Be danged for a prigging gipsy--'A Gad!  I'll have ye clapped i' the
pillory for a black-visaged clapper-claw!"

"Unbar!" says I, "Or it shall go plaguy ill wi' you when I come in."

At this he spat upon me through the grille and chuckled.  Now, glancing
about, I espied a stone hard by about the bigness of a man's head and,
laying by my staff, I wrenched the stone from where it lay and, raising
it aloft, hove it with all my strength; whereon the gate crashed open
so suddenly as to catch the fellow a buffet that laid him sprawling on
his back, and as he strove to rise I pinned him down with my staff and
kicked him heartily.

"And now," says I, "up with you and bring me to your master."

But or ever he could do aught but groan and rub his hurts, I heard the
sound of approaching hoof-strokes and, turning, beheld a lady bravely
mounted who galloped furiously towards us down the avenue.  When almost
upon us she swung her powerful beast aside and, checking him with
strong wrist, sat looking down at me from the shade of her plumed hat.

"What is this?" she demanded, and her eyes swept over me grey and wide
and fearless.  "Who--who are you?"

Now at the sound of her voice so rich and wonder-sweet, I felt
strangely abashed and, finding no word, turned from her to scowl down
at the man I had pinned beneath my broken shoe.

"Who are you?" she questioned again.  "Speak!"

"A rogue!" says I, keeping my head averted.  "A creeper o' hedges!"

"Ah--is't you?" said she in softer tone.  "I saw you for a moment by
lightning-flash near the gibbet.  You are my man o' the woods, and,
sir, I owe you much--very much--indeed, sir, if--"

"I am no 'sir'!" quoth I shortly.

"Gregory," says she, looking down on the fellow 'neath my foot.
"Gregory, get up!"

"Gregory," says I, "stir not!"

"Sir, would you hurt my servant?" says she, knitting her slender black
brows.

"I' faith!" I nodded.  "The uncivil rogue forced me to burst open the
gate."

"And why are you here?  Who are you?  What is your name?" cried she a
little breathlessly, and I wondered at the fixed intensity of her gaze.

"Gregory," says I, taking my foot from his middle but threatening him
with my staff, "I am come for no traffic with maids, so rise up and
bring me to your master."

"Nay," groans the fellow, turning up his eyes, "'tis thing impossible,
here's only my lady--"

"And I seek your master--is he within?"

"Nay," says Gregory, flinching beneath my staff, "as my lady shall tell
'ee--he is not here."

"Ha!" quoth I.  "That will I see for myself."  But as I turned to
stride up the avenue, my lady wheeled her horse, barring my way.

"Whither go you?" she demanded, her eyes holding mine.

"To the house for Sir Richard.  I have been at some small pains to gain
speech with him."

"To what end?"

"Why truly," I answered, leaning upon my staff and viewing her eye to
eye, "'tis a matter of vital moment, aye--in a manner of speaking--'tis
a matter of life and death betwixt us."  Now as I stood thus I could
not but be conscious of her glowing, vigorous beauty, her body's noble
shape and the easy grace of her as she sat her fretting horse, swaying
to his every movement.  And to me, in my rags, she seemed no woman but
a goddess rather, proud, immaculate and very far removed; and yet these
proud lips could (mayhap) grow soft and tender, these clear eyes that
met mine so fearlessly--

The staff was wrenched from my loosened grasp and Gregory, leaping to
his feet, fetched me therewith staggering blow on blow, shouting with
his every stroke:

"Ho--Peter!  Roger!  Will!  Ho--hither, lads all!  Loose the
dogs--hither to me, 'a God's name!"  But, though mused with blows, I
rushed in blindly and, closing with the fellow, got him fairly by the
throat and shook him to and fro.  And now was I minded to choke him
outright, but, even then, spied a cavalier who spurred his horse
against me.  Hereupon I dashed the breathless Gregory aside and turned
to meet my new assailant, a spruce young gallant he, from curling
lovelock to Spanish boots. I remember cursing savagely as his whip
caught me, then, or ever he could reach me again, I sprang in beneath
the head of his rearing horse and seizing the rein close by the bridle
began to drag and wrench at the bit.  I heard shouts and a woman's cry
of fear, but I strove only the fiercer, while up and up reared the
great roan horse, snorting in terror, his forelegs lashing wildly;
above tossing mane the eyes of his rider glared down at me as, laughing
exultant, I wrenched savagely at the bridle until, whinnying with pain
and terror, the great beast, losing his balance, crashed over backwards
into the dust.  Leaping clear of those desperate, wild-thrashing
hooves, I found myself beset by divers fellows armed with staves, who
closed upon me, shouting; and above these, her eyes wide, her full, red
lips close-set, my lady looked down on me and I (meeting that look)
laughed, even as her fellows rushed at me:

"Go cosset your pretty springald, wench!"  But even then, dazed and
half-blinded by a hail of blows, I staggered, sank to my knees,
struggled up again, smiting with bare fists.  A flame seemed to flash
before my eyes, a taste of blood was on my tongue, and all sounds grew
faint and far away as, stumbling blindly, I threw up my arms, tripped
and plunged down and down into an engulfing darkness, and knew no more.



CHAPTER VI

OF MY SHAMEFUL SUFFERINGS AND HOW I WAS DELIVERED THEREFROM

I awoke with a sound in my ears like the never-ceasing surge and hiss
of waters, a sound that waxed ever louder.  Hearkening to this, I
presently sought to move and wondered, vaguely uneasy, to find this
impossible:  I strove now to lift my right hand, found it fast held,
tried my left and found it in like case, and so became conscious of
something that gripped me about the throat, and ever my wonder and
unease grew.  And now, opening my eyes, the first thing they lighted on
was a small pool of blood and beyond this a battered turnip, and beyond
this, the carcass of a dead cat, and beyond this again, a pair of trim,
buckled shoes, cotton stockings, wide breeches and a broad belt where
swung a tuck or rapier prodigiously long of blade; in a while (my eyes
ranging higher yet) I beheld a thin face scarred from mouth to eyebrow,
a brown face with bright, very quick eyes and strange ears, they being
cut to points like a dog's ears.  Now looking at this face, it seemed
to me in hazy fashion that somewhere and at some time I had seen such a
face before.  All this while, the noise I have likened to the sea had
been growing louder, so that I began to recognise voices and even
words, and, lifting my head as well as I might (by reason of the thing
that gripped my throat), I saw faces all about me--they hemmed me in on
every side and stretched away to the churchyard wall.

Then, all at once, the knowledge of my situation rushed upon me; I was
in the pillory.

"Huroor!  'E be a-coming' round!" cried a voice.

"Time, too!" shouted a great, strapping fellow near by.  "'Tis sinful
shame to waste good bad-eggs on rogue as knoweth not when 'e do be hit!
He be a mark as babe couldn't miss--a proper big 'un!"  So saying, the
fellow let fly an egg at me, the which, striking the board within an
inch of my face, filled the air with suffocating stench.

This was a signal for me to become a target for all the garbage of the
village.  And now, indeed, good cause had I to be thankful for my thick
mane of hair which (in some sort) saved me from sundry cuts and
bruises, howbeit my face was soon clotted with blood and filth.

Vain were it to tell all the frenzy of rage that possessed me as I
stood thus helpless against my howling tormentors, chief of whom was
the great fellow I have mentioned, who (by reason of height and length
of arm) struck me oftenest; once indeed when (beside myself with fury)
I raised my head to curse him, he took me a blow in the mouth with some
vile missile that set my very gums a-bleeding.

"Lord love ye, shipmate--that's the spirit!" said a voice below me,
"But keep the wind o' them--don't let 'em rake ye--douse your
figure-head.  Lie low, shipmate, lie low and trust to your comrade Adam
Penfeather--and that's me.  Patience is the word!"

Looking whence the voice came I beheld the man with whom I had talked
that morning; now as our glances met, one of his bright eyes closed
slowly and, nodding twice, he turned and elbowed his way through the
crowd.  Small liking had I for this fellow, but with his departure a
sense of loneliness gripped me and needs must I lift my head to stare
after him, whereupon a rotten egg struck me above the eye, causing a
most intolerable smart; at this moment, too, the great fellow swung a
cat's carcass by the tail, but, or ever he could hurl this stinking
missile, a hand clouted him heavily over the ear from behind, tumbling
his hat off, whereupon he turned, bellowing with rage, and smote his
nearest neighbour with the foul thing meant for me.  In an instant all
was uproar around these two as the crowd, forgetting me, surged about
them.  Thus for some while, during which the fight raged, I was left
unmolested and looked hither and thither amid the swaying throng for
this fellow, Adam Penfeather, but he was vanished quite.

At length, the big fellow having sufficiently trounced his opponent,
the crowd betook itself (and very joyously) to my further baiting and
torment.  Now as I hung thus in my shame and misery, faint with my
hurts and parched with cruel thirst, my gaze lighted upon a small, bony
man--a merry-eyed fellow with wide, up-curving mouth, who laughed and
jested continually; it was as he stooped for some missile or other that
his eye met mine, and in that bright eye methought I read a sudden pity.

"O cull," says I hoarsely, "a mouthful o' water--"

"Pal," says he, winking, "all's bowmon!"  Whereupon he turned and
vanished in the crowd and I, burning in a fever of thirst, panted for
his return, straining my eyes for sight of him; then, as he came not, I
groaned and drooped my head, and lo! even then he was before me bearing
a tin pannikin full of water.  This in hand, he mounted the steps of
the pillory and, despite the jeers and hootings of the crowd, was
lifting the life-giving water to my eager lips when forth leapt the big
fellow and sent water and pannikin flying with a savage blow of his
fist.

"None o' that, peddler!" he roared.  And now, as I groaned and licked
at bleeding lips with swollen tongue, the little man turned (quick as a
flash), tripped up the great fellow's heels and, staying for no more,
made off through the crowd, that gave him passage, howling its acclaim.

The afternoon dragged wearily on and, what with the suffocating stench
of the filth that plastered me, what with heat and dust and agonising
thirst, my suffering grew almost beyond endurance; a deadly nausea
seized me and I came nigh to swooning.  But now, in this my great
extremity, of a sudden, from somewhere on the outskirts of the crowd
rose a shrill cry of "Fire!" the which cry, being taken up by others,
filled the air with panic, the crowd melted as if by magic until the
village green and the road were quite deserted.  All this I noted but
dimly (being more dead than alive) when I became conscious of one that
spake in my ear.

"Stand by, shipmate, stand by!  There's never a rogue left--all run to
the fire--stand by to slip your moorings!"

"Let be," I groaned, "I'm a dead man!"

"Then here's that shall make ye quick," says this fellow Penfeather,
dangling a great key before my swimming eyes. "Here's freedom from your
devil's trap and a plaguy time I've had to come by it."

"Then for the love o' God--let me out," I groaned.

"Easy all, shipmate!" says he, turning the key upon his finger. "For
look'ee now, here's me, (a timid man) run no small risk this last
half-hour and all for you.  Now a bargain's a bargain, you'll agree?"

"Well?" says I, faintly.

"Why then, shipmate, if I free ye of your bonds, wilt be my comrade
sworn?  Aye or no?"

"No!" says I.  "Plague take ye that bargain with dying man.  No!"

"Why then," sighs he, "here's a good rick ablaze, here's John Purdy the
beadle wi' his head broke, and here's me in a sweat, alack--and all to
no purpose, since needs must you in your bilboes bide."

"Do but get me a draft of water!" I pleaded.

"Nary a drop!" says he, spinning the key on his finger under my nose,
"Nor yet a foaming stoup o' good Kentish ale--nut brown--"

"Ha, rogue--rogue!" I panted, 'twixt parched lips.  "I'll yet--avenge
this torment--an' I live!"

"The legs of a man," says he, "are a vain thing and his strength
likewise, and as to vengeance, shipmate, well--how goeth your vengeance
as be more to ye than fortune or riches?"  Here he paused, but I held
my peace and he continued, "Here's you now, you that was so mighty and
fierce--aye, a very hell-fire roarer--here's that same you a-hanging
here a very helpless, pitiful fool, shipmate, and thirsty 'twould
seem--"

Here I groaned again.

"And one not over sweet!" says he, stopping his nose.

Hereupon I cursed him, though faintly, and he comes a step nearer.

"'Tis said my Lady Brandon and her gallant Sir Rupert Dering--him you
overthrew, shipmate--do mean to come and take a look at you anon,
though 'tis shame you should be made a raree show--burn me!"

Hereupon, I fell into a sudden raging fury, striving so desperately
against my bonds that the devilish engine wherein I stood shook and
rattled again; but I strove to no purpose, and so presently hung there
spent and bruised and breathless whiles Penfeather spun the key on his
finger and sighed:

"Shipmate," says he, "wherefore irk yourself wi' bonds?  Say but the
word and I'll deliver ye, bring ye to safe harbourage and cherish ye
with much good ale.  Be persuaded, now."

"Why then," groans I, "give me but until to-morrow to do what I
will--and I'm yours!"

"Done!" says he, and forthwith set key to padlock; but scarce had he
freed the head-board than he falls a-cursing 'neath his breath.  "Easy,
comrade, easy!" quoth he, softly.  "Bide still awhile--hither cometh
yon beefy fool back again--so will I make show of miscalling ye till he
be gone."  The which he did forthwith, giving me "scurvy rogue" and the
like.  Now, lifting my head, whom should I behold but that same tall
fellow had been my chief tormenter, and who now hasted over the green
towards us.

"It be now't but Farmer Darrell's rick ablaze," says he to Penfeather,
"so let 'un burn, says I, Farmer Darrell be no friend o' mine.  So I be
come to sport wi' yon big rogue awhile." Herewith he stooped for some
missile to cast at me; but now I straightened my back, the head-board
gave and, ere the fellow was aware, I was creeping swiftly upon him.
Taken thus by surprise small chance had he, for, leaping on him, I bore
him over on his back and kneeling on him, buried my fingers in his
throat.  And so I choked him (right joyfully) till Penfeather gripped
my arm.

"Lord love me!" cries he, "Will ye kill the fool?"

"That will I!"

"And hang for him?"

"Nay--he's scarce worth it."

"Then, devil burn ye--loose his windpipe!"  So I loosed the fellow's
throat, and, despite his feeble kicks, began to drag him over the grass.

"What now, comrade?" says Penfeather.  "Sink me, what now?"

"Watch and see!"  So I brought the fellow to the pillory wherein I set
him, and plucking the key from Penfeather, locked him there in my
stead; which done I kicked him once or twice, and having found the
cat's carcass made shift to hang the stinking thing about his neck;
then tossing the key into the pond, I took to my heels and left the
fellow groaning mighty dismal.



CHAPTER VII

HOW I HEARD TELL OF BLACK BARTLEMY'S TREASURE

Now scarce was I clear of the village than I was again seized of a
deadly sickness and vertigo so that I stumbled and was like to fall,
but that Penfeather propped me with his shoulder.  In this fashion I
made shift to drag myself along, nor would he suffer me stay or respite
(maugre my weakness) until, following the brook, he had brought me into
the green solitude of the woods.

Here then I sank down, sucking up the cool, sweet water 'twixt parched
lips, drinking until Penfeather stayed me, lest I should do myself hurt
thereby.  Thereafter, from strength reviving, I bathed my divers wounds
(the which, though painful, were of small account) and fell to
cleansing my spattered garments as well as I might.

"So we're to be comrades, after all!" says Penfeather, watching me
where he sat hard by.

"Aye--to-morrow!"

"And how goeth vengeance, shipmate?"  At this I turned on him with
clenched fist.  "Nay, easy does it," says he, never budging, "for if
'twas the folly of vengeance brought ye in the peccadille, 'twas your
comrade Adam Penfeather got ye out again--so easy all!"

"'Twas you fired the rick, then?"

"None other!"

"'Tis a hanging matter, I've heard!"

"Why a man must needs run some small risk for his comrade d'ye see--"

"Then, Adam Penfeather, I'm your debtor."

"Nay," says he, "there be no debts 'twixt comrades o' the Brotherhood,
'tis give and take, share and share!"  And speaking, he drew forth a
purse and emptying store of money on the grass betwixt us, divided it
equally and pushed a pile of silver and copper towards me.

"And what's this?" I demanded.

"Share and share, comrade!"

"But I'm no comrade o' yours till after to-night."

"Aha!" says he, pinching his long chin.  "Is't more vengeance then?"

"Keep your money till it be earned!" I muttered.

"Sink me--and there's pride for ye!" says he.  "Pride which is a vain
thing and vengeance which is a vainer.  Lord love me, shipmate, 'tis
plain to see you're o' the quality, 'spite your rags--blue blood,
high-breeding, noblesse oblige and all the rest on't."

"Stint your gab!" says I, scowling.

"'Tis writ large all over ye," he went on placidly enough.  "As for me,
I'm but a plain man wi' no time for vengeance and no whit o' pride
about me anywhere.  What I says to you is, get to wind'ard o'
vengeance--nay, heave it overboard, shipmate, and you'll ride the
easier, aye and sweeter, and seek something more useful--gold, for
instance, 'tis a handy thing, I've heard say--so ha' done wi'
vengeance!"

"No!" says I, frowning.  "Not--nay, not for all Bartlemy's treasure!"

"Aha!" quoth he softly.  "So you've heard tell of it then, along the
Spanish Main?"

"I heard tell of it last night in a cave from a sailor-man."

"How?" says he starting and with keen eyes glancing hither and thither.
"A sailor-man--hereabouts?"

"Damme!" says I, "the country seems thick o' sailor-men."

"Ha!  D'ye say so?  And what like was this one?"

"A comely rogue that sang strange song."

"Ah!" said Penfeather, his eyes narrowing.  "A song, says you--and
strange--how strange?"

"'Twas all of dead men and murder!"

"D'ye mind any line o't, shipmate?"

"Aye, the words of it went somewhat like this:

  "'Some on a knife did part wi' life
  And some a bullet took O!
  But--'"

Now here, as I stopped at a loss, my companion took up the rhyme almost
unconsciously and below his breath:

  "'But three times three died plaguily
  A wriggling on a hook O!'

"Comrade!" says he in the same low voice, "Did ye see ever among these
mariners a one-handed man, a tall man wi' a hook in place of his left
hand--a very bright, sharp hook?"  And now as Penfeather questioned me,
he seized my wrist and I was amazed at the iron grip of him.

"No!" I answered.

"Nay," says he, loosing his hold, "how should you--he's dead, along o'
so many on 'em!  He's done for--him and his hook, devil burn him!"

  "'A hook both long and stout and strong,
  They died by gash o' hook O!'"

"Ah!" I cried.  "So that was the kind of hook!"

"Aye!" nodded Penfeather, "That was the kind.  A bullet's bad, a
knife's worse, but a steel hook, shipmate, very sharp d'ye see, is a
death no man should die.  Shipmate, I've seen divers men dead by that
same hook--torn and ripped d'ye see--like a dog's fangs!  I'd seen many
die ere then, but that way--'twas an ill sight for queasy stomachs!"

"And he--this man with the hook is dead, you say?"

"And burning in hell-fire!"

"Are you sure?"

"I killed him, shipmate!"

"You!" says I.

"I, shipmate.  We fought on a shelf o' rock high above the sea, my
knife agin his knife and hook--'twas that same hook gave me this scar
athwart my jaw--but as he struck, I struck and saw him go spinning over
and over, down and down and splash into the sea. And for three days I
watched that bit o' shore, living on shell-fish and watching for him,
to make sure I had finished him at last."

"And these other rogues?" says I.

"What like were they, shipmate?"  Hereupon I described (as fully as I
might) the three sailor-men I had fought with in the hedge-tavern
(albeit I made no mention of the maid), while Penfeather listened,
nodding now and then and pinching at his long chin. "And this other
fellow," says he, when I had done, "this fellow that sang--d'ye know if
his name chanced to be Mings--Abnegation Mings, comrade?"

"The very same!" says I.

"Strange!" quoth Penfeather, and thereafter sat staring gloomily down
into the rippling waters of the brook for a while.  "I wonder?" says he
at last.  "I wonder?"

"What think ye shall bring these fellows so far from the coast--what
should they be after?"

"Me, shipmate!"

"You!" says I for the second time, marvelling at the strange quiet of
him.  "And what would they have of you?"

"My life, shipmate, and one other thing.  What that thing is I will
tell you when we have drunk the blood-brotherhood!  But now it behoveth
me to be a-going, so I'll away.  But when you shall seek me, as seek me
ye will, shipmate, shalt hear of me at the Peck-o'-Malt tavern, which
is a small, quiet place 'twixt here and Bedgebury Cross.  Come there at
any hour, day or night, and say 'The Faithful Friend,' and you shall
find safe harbourage. Remember, comrade, the word is 'The Faithful
Friend,' and if so be you can choose your time--night is better."  So
saying, he arose.

"Wait!" says I, pointing to the coins yet lying on the grass. "Take
your money!"

"'Tis none o' mine," says he, shaking his head.  "Keep it or throw it
away--'tis all one to me!"  Then he went away through the wood and, as
he went, I thought he walked with a new and added caution.



CHAPTER VIII

HOW I FELL IN WITH ONE GOD-BE-HERE, A PEDDLER

Evening was at hand as I reached a little alehouse well away from the
road and pleasantly secluded by trees:  thither came I, fondling
Penfeather's money in my pocket, for I was again mightily sharp set.
But all at once I stopped, for, passing the open lattice, I heard loud
laughter and a merry voice:

"And there, believe me, gossips" (quoth this voice), "as sure as this
be beef--aye, and good beef and cooked to a turn, mistress--there's
this great, lob-lolly, hectoring Tom Button fast i' the pillory--and by
this good ale, a woeful sight, his eyes blacked, his nose a-bleeding,
his jerkin torn and a dead cat about his neck, oho--aha!  Tom
Button--big Tom, fighting Tom so loud o' tongue and ready o' fist--Tom
as have cowed so many--there is he fast by the neck and a-groaning, see
ye, gossips, loud enough for six, wish I may die else!  And the best o'
the joke is--the key be gone, as I'm a sinner!  So they needs must
break the lock to get him out.  Big Tom, as have thrashed every man for
miles." But here merry voice and laughter ceased and a buxom woman
thrust smiling face from the window, and face (like her voice) was
kindly when she addressed me:

"What would ye, young master?"

"A little food, mistress," says I, touching my weather-worn hat and
pulling it lower over my bruised and swollen features.

"Why come in, master, come in--there be none here but my Roger and
Godby the peddler, as knoweth everyone."

So I entered forthwith a small, snug chamber, and seating myself in the
darkest corner, acknowledged the salutations of the two men while the
good-looking woman, bustling to and fro, soon set before me a fine
joint of roast beef with bread and ale, upon which I incontinent fell
to.

The two men sat cheek by jowl at the farther end of the table, one a
red-faced, lusty fellow, the other, a small, bony man who laughed and
ate and ate and laughed and yet contrived to talk all the while, that
it was a wonder to behold.

"Was you over to Lamberhurst way, master?" says he to me, all at once.

"Aye!" I nodded, busy with the beef.

"Why then, happen ye saw summat o' the sport they had wi' the big gipsy
i' the pillory--him as 'saulted my Lady Brandon and nigh did for her
ladyship's coz?"

"Aye," says I again, bending over my platter.

"'Tis ill sport to bait a poor soul as be helpless, I think--nay I
know, for I've stood there myself ere now, though I won't say as I
didn't clod this fellow once or twice to-day myself--I were a rare
clodder in my time, aha!  Did you clod this big rogue, master?"

"No!"

"And wherefore not?"

"Because," says I, cutting myself more beef, "I happened to be that
same rogue."  Here Roger the landlord stared, his buxom wife shrank
away, and even the talkative peddler grew silent awhile, viewing me
with his shrewd, merry eyes.

"Aha!" says he at last, "'Twas you, was it?"

"It was!"

"And why must ye 'sault a noble lady?"

"I never did!"

"Gregory swears to it."

"Gregory's a liar!"

"Which is true enough--so he be!" nodded the landlord.

"And a cruel-hard man!" added his wife.  "But Lord, young master, they
do ha' used ye ill--your poor face, all bruised and swole it be!"

"Which it be!" nodded Roger.  "Likewise cut!  Which be ill for 'ee
though--like Godby here--I won't say but what I moughtn't ha' took a
heave at ye, had I been there, it being nat'ral-like to heave things at
such times, d'ye see?"

"Very natural!" says I.

"And then why," questioned the little peddler, "why break open the
wicket-gate?"

"To get in!"

"Aha!" quoth Godby the peddler, winking roguish eye, "On the prigging
lay perchance, cull, or peradventure the mill-ken? Speak plain, pal,
all's bowmon!"

"I'm no flash cull," says I, "neither buzz, file, mill-ken nor
scamperer."

"Mum, pal, mum!  I'm no more flash than you be, though I've no love for
the harmon-becks as Roger here will tell 'ee.  A peddler be I and well
liked--wish I may swing else!  Aye, well beloved is kind Godby,
specially by wenches and childer--aha, many's the yard o' riband and
lace, the garters, pins, ballads, gingerbread men, pigs and elephants,
very fair gilt, as they've had o' kind Godby, and all for love!  And
yet, plague and perish it--here's me warned off my pitch, here's me wi'
the damned catchpolls on my heels, and all along o' this same Gregory
Bragg--rot him!"

"As to all that, I know not," says I, "but this I'll swear to, you are
a man, Godby the peddler, and one with a bold and kindly heart inside
you."

"How so?" he questioned, his bright eyes all of a twinkle.  "How so, my
bully boy?"

"That pannikin of water."

"Which you didn't get, my cock's-body lad!"

"Which you were man enough to bring me."

"Which Tom Button did ye out of!"

"Which you knocked him down for!"

"Which is Gospel-true, Roger and Cicely, 'twas a neat throw.  Tom
bumped heavy--aye, uncommon flat were Tom, let me eat worms else!"

"For all of the which," says I, cutting more beef, "I ask you now to
drink a stoup of ale with me."

"Wi' all my heart!" cries the peddler.

"Then," says I, laying my money on the table, "let us all drink in
fellowship, for ale, like fellowship, is a goodly thing and good things
be rare in this world!"

"And that's true, o' conscience!" smiled the buxom Cicely.

"And ye'll find no better brew than our own!" quoth Roger.

"And that I'll swear to!" laughed the peddler.  "Cram me wi' spiders
else!"

So the good ale was brought and Godby, lifting his tankard, smiled and
nodded over the creamy foam:

"Here's a griping colic to every catchpoll, harmon-beck and the like
vermin 'twixt this and London town!" says he, and lifted the ale to his
lips; but suddenly he sat it down untasted and rose: "Friends, I'm
took!" quoth he.  "See yonder!"  As he spake the narrow doorway was
darkened and two rough fellows entered, and each bore a formidable
bludgeon.

"Aye," says one, a big, surly-voiced fellow, "here be us, peddler, and
there be you, so best come easy--an' no tricks, mind!"

"Then easy does it, lads!" says Godby, no whit abashed.  "No lamb could
come milder than Godby, aye lambs, doves and babes is roaring lions
compared wi' Godby--so easy does it.  What is't this time, codgers?"

"Fower hours i' the pillory, three i' the stocks, and a month in
Maidstone jail and that's what!"

"And enough too!" growled Roger the landlord, clenching hairy fist and
glancing furtively towards a rusty sword suspended above the hearth.

"Let be, Roger--I'm a lamb!" sighed the peddler.  "And I wouldn't ha'
you in trouble by me--besides this room o' yourn, though snug, ain't
fit for struggling nor striving!  So, friends--good-bye!"  Then he
turned away between his two captors, but as he did so, his bright eyes
for one moment met mine and in his look I read appeal.

Now scarce were they gone when I got me to my feet, whereat the
landlord, Roger, did the like:

"What's to do?" he questioned, glancing yearningly from me to the rusty
sword.

"Why now," says I, counting out my reckoning, "bide you here--for your
good wife's sake."

"Aye, do now, Roger!" she pleaded.  "'Twould be ruination to us!"

"Moreover," says I, reaching for my cudgel, "they are but two, so bide
you here."  Then I stepped forth of the tavern and very soon came up
with the two fellows, their prisoner walking betwixt them meekly
enough.  But, as I approached, they halted all three.

"And what be you after?" demanded the surly fellow.

"You!"

"And what d'ye want of us--hey?"

"Your prisoner!"

"Ha!  And what for him?"

"I've a mind to him!"

"O!  Ye have, eh?"

"I have.  Do I get him?"

"Be curst for a black, ugly rogue."

"That's no answer!"

"'Tis all you'll get o' we, save 'ard knocks!" says the man, spitting
in his hand and taking firm grip of his bludgeon.

"Why then I must take him!" says I.

"Try and be damned!" roared the fellow.  "Ha--look alive, Jem!" And
whirling up his staff, he made at me amain; but I sprang aside and, as
his rush carried him past, my answering stroke caught him fairly 'twixt
wrist and elbow and his cudgel spun harmlessly into the hedge;
breathing curses he sought to close with me, but I, keeping my
distance, smote him (very blithely) how and where I would until he (his
arm useless), misliking my bludgeon-play and reading no mercy in my
look, very wisely betook him to his heels.  Hereupon I turned to find
the little peddler sitting astride his man's neck and his fist against
the fellow's nose:

"Smell it, Job!" he was saying.  "Smell it, lad, 'tis the fist of a man
as would be a-groping for your liver if it weren't for the respect I do
bear your old mother--skin me else!  So thank your old mother, lad,
first as you've got a liver and second for a-saving o' that same liver.
And now, get up, Job--begone, Job, arter your pal, and tell folk as
kind Godby, though sore tempted, never so much as set finger on your
liver, and all along o' your good old mother--away wi' ye!"  So the
fellow got him to his legs (mighty rueful) and sped away after his
comrade.

"Pal," says the little peddler, reaching out and grasping my hand,
"here's full quittance for that pannikin o' water as you never got!
And now--what's the word?"

"Now," says I, "let us go back and drink the good ale!"

"Pal," quoth the peddler, with a flash of white teeth, "wi' all my
heart!"

Thus we presently returned to the little tavern and found there Roger
the landlord, the rusty sword in one brawny fist, his wife holding fast
to the other.  At sight of us he dropped the weapon and roared
joyously, and Cicely, running to us, clasped our hands in hearty
welcome.  So we sat down all four, and while we quaffed the ale Godby
described our late encounter with great exactness.

"Pal," says he thereafter, reaching across the table to grip my hand
again, "what might your name be?"

"Martin."

"Why then, Martin, have ye any friends or kin?"

"None!"

"No more have I, and look now, this Kent country is no fit place for
you or me arter to-day!  So what I says is, lets you and me pad it,
pal--the road, lad--the good high-road, aha!  How say ye, Martin?"

"No!"

"Why no, pal?"

"Because, after to-night, if I chance to be neither dead nor in prison,
I'm for shipboard."

"'Tis an ill life, pal!"

"Why, life is an ill thing!" says I.

"Nay, look'ee, Martin, life may be worth whiles now and then--aye, lad,
there be times, good times."

"What times?"

"Well, Martin, to lie snug 'neath hedge o' star-time, when your fire's
low an' the stars peep down through leaves at a man--wink, they go, and
wink, wink, till, watching 'em, a man forgets his troubles awhile and
knows something o' content.  Aha, many's the time o' star-time they
have winked me and my troubles asleep. Then there's wakings o'
bird-time, wi' the sun up, dew a-sparkle and life calling within ye and
without, and the birds--O the birds, Martin--a-filling the world wi'
brave songs o' hope new-born like the day!  Ah, many's the morn the
birds ha' waked me and I as merry as any grig--Lord love their beaks
and wings! There's hay-time o' the evening full o' soft, sweet
smells--aye, sweet as lad's first kiss; there's wheat-time at noon wi'
the ears a-rustle and the whitt-whitt o' scythe and whetstone; there's
night, Martin, and the long, black road dipping and a-winding, but wi'
the beam o' light beyond, lad--the good light as tells o' journey done,
of companionship and welcomes and belike--eyes o' love, with--"

"Lusty ale!" quoth Roger, setting three new-filled pipkins before us.
"And none better nor ourn--eh, wife?"

"That I do swear to, Roger!" laughed the peddler, "Choke me else! But
now, as to the sea, Martin pal--'tis a dog's life!"

"You know the sea, then?"

"Like my hand, Martin, and all along o' my father's godliness.  A fine,
big man he was and devout as he was lusty.  Having begot me his next
duty was to name me, and O pal, name me he did!  A name as no raskell
lad might live up to, a name as brought me into such troublous faction
ashore that he packed me off to sea.  And if you ax me what name 'twas,
I'll answer ye bold and true--'God-be-here Jenkins,' at your service,
though Godby for short and 'twixt friends."

Now the more I saw of this little peddler the better I liked him, so
that the hour was late when, having supped excellently well, I rose to
take my leave.

"If you must be away, young master," said the buxom Cicely, "don't 'ee
forget there be ever a welcome for 'ee at the Hop-pole--eh, Roger?"

"There is so!" nodded the landlord.  "Likewise a pipkin of ale and a
bite and all gratus to a pal!"

"And look 'ee, Martin my cove," quoth the peddler, grasping my hand,
"there be ever and always the good high-road leading on and away to
better things, so happen ye should change your mind, seek me here
'twixt this and dawn, if to-morrow ye shall hear o' Godby at the Fox at
Spelmonden.  So luck go wi' ye, my bien cull."

"And you," says I, "should you be minded to sail with me, go to the
Peck-o'-Malt at Bedgbury Cross--the word is 'The Faithful Friend,' and
ask for Adam Penfeather."

So I presently stepped forth of the little tavern where I had found
such kindliness and, turning from the narrow lane, struck off across
the fields.

It was a sweet, warm night, the moon not up as yet, thus as I went I
lifted my gaze to the heavens where stars made a glory. And beholding
these wondrous fires I needs must recall the little peddler's saying
and ponder his "good times"--his "times of stars and birds, of noon and
eventide, of welcomes sweet and eyes of love."

And now I was of a sudden filled with a great yearning and passionate
desire that I too might know such times.  But, as I climbed a stile, my
hand by chance came upon the knife at my girdle, and sitting on the
stile I drew it forth and fell to handling its broad blade, and, doing
so, knew in my heart that such times were not for me, nor ever could
be.  And sitting there, knife in hand, desire and yearning were lost
and 'whelmed in fierce and black despair.



CHAPTER IX

HOW I HAD WORD WITH THE LADY JOAN BRANDON FOR THE THIRD TIME

The moon was well up when, striking out from the gloom of the woods, I
reached a wall very high and strong, whereon moss and lichens grew;
skirting this, I presently espied that I sought--a place where the
coping was gone with sundry of the bricks, making here a gap very apt
to escalade; and here, years agone, I had been wont to climb this wall
to the furtherance of some boyish prank on many a night such as this.
Awhile stood I staring up at this gap, then, seizing hold of massy
brickwork, I drew myself up and dropped into a walled garden.  Here
were beds of herbs well tended and orderly, and, as I went, I breathed
an air sweet with the smell of thyme and lavender and a thousand other
scents, an air fraught with memories of sunny days and joyous youth,
insomuch that I clenched my hands and hasted from the place. Past
sombre trees, mighty of girth and branch, I hurried; past still pools,
full of a moony radiance, where lilies floated; past marble fauns and
dryads that peeped ghost-like from leafy solitudes; past sundial and
carven bench, by clipped yew-hedges and winding walks until, screened
in shadow, I paused to look upon a great and goodly house; and as I
stood there viewing it over from terrace-walk to gabled roof, I heard a
distant clock chime ten.

The great house lay very silent and dark, not a light showed save in
one lower chamber.  So I waited patiently, my gaze on this light,
while, ever and anon, the leaves about me stirred in the soft
night-wind with a sound like one that sighed mournfully.

Thus stayed I some while; howbeit, the light yet aglow and my patience
waning, I stole forward, keeping ever in the shadows, and, ascending
the terrace, came where grew ivy, very thick and gnarled, overspreading
this wing of the house.  Groping amid the leaves I found that I
sought--a stout staple deep-driven between the bricks with above this
another and yet other again, the which formed a sort of ladder whereby,
as a boy, I had been wont to come and go by night or day as I listed.

Forthwith I began to climb by means of these staples and the ivy, until
at last my fingers grasped the stone sill of a window; and now, the
lattice being open, I contrived (albeit it with much ado) to clamber
into the room.  It was a fair-sized chamber, and the moonlight, falling
athwart the floor, lit upon a great carven bed brave with tapestried
hangings.  Just now the silken curtains were up-drawn and upon the bed
I saw a bundle of garments all ribands, laces and the like, the which,
of themselves, gave me sudden pause.  From these my gaze wandered to
where, against the panelling, hung a goodly rapier complete with girdle
and slings, its silver hilt, its guards and curling quillons bright in
the moonbeams.  So came I and, reaching it down, drew it from the
scabbard and saw the blade very bright as it had been well cared for.
And graven on the forte of the blade was the Conisby blazon and the
legend:

  ROUSE ME NOT.

Now as I stood watching the moonbeams play up and down the long blade,
I heard the light, quick tread of feet ascending the stairs without and
a voice (very rich and sweetly melodious) that brake out a-singing, and
the words it sang these:

  "A poor soul sat sighing by a green willow tree
  With hand on his bosom, his head on his knee,
  Sighing Willow, willow, willow!
  O willow, willow, willow!
  And O the green willow my garland shall be!"

Nearer came the singing while I stood, sword in hand, waiting; the song
ended suddenly and the sweet voice called:

"O Marjorie, wake me betimes, I must be abroad with the sun
to-morrow--good-night, sweet wench!"

I crouched in the curtains of the great bed as the latch clicked and
the room filled with the soft glow of a candle; a moment's silence,
then:

"O Marjorie, I'll wear the green taffety in the morning.  Nay indeed,
I'll be my own tirewoman to-night."

The light was borne across the room; then coming softly to the door I
closed it and, setting my back against it, leaned there. At the small
sound I made she turned and, beholding me, shrank back, and I saw the
candlestick shaking in her hand ere she set it down upon the carved
press beside her.

"Who is it--who is it?" she questioned breathlessly, staring at my
bruised and swollen features.

"A rogue you had dragged lifeless to the pillory!"

"You?" she breathed.  "You!  And they set you in the pillory? 'Twas by
no order of me."

"'Tis no matter, lady, here was just reward for a rogue," says I. "But
now I seek Sir Richard--"

"Nay indeed--indeed you shall not find him here."

"That will I prove for myself!" says I, and laid hand on latch.

"Sir," says she in the same breathless fashion, "why will you not
believe me?  Seek him an you will, but I tell you Sir Richard sailed
into the Spanish Main two years since and was lost."

"Lost?" says I, feeling a tremor of apprehension shake me as I met her
truthful eyes.  "Lost, say you--how lost?"

"He and his ship were taken by the Spaniards off Hispaniola."

"Taken?" I repeated, like one sore mazed.  "Taken--off--Hispaniola?"
And here, bethinking me of the cruel mockery of it all (should this
indeed be so) black anger seized me.  "You lie to me!" I cried.  "Ha,
by God, you lie!  An there be aught of justice in heaven then Richard
Brandon must be here."

"Who are you?" she questioned, viewing me with the same wide-eyed
stare.  "Who are you--so fierce, so young, yet with whitened hair, and
that trembles at the truth?  Who are you--speak?"

"You have lied to save him from me!" I cried.  "You lie--ha, confess!"
And I strode towards her, the long blade a-glitter in my quivering
grasp.

"Would you kill me?" says she, all unflinching and with eyes that never
wavered.  "Would you murder a helpless maid--Martin Conisby?"  The
rapier fell to the rug at my feet and lay there, my breath caught, and
thus we stood awhile, staring into each other's eyes.

"Martin Conisby is dead!" says I at last.

For answer she pointed to the wall above my head and, looking thither,
I saw the picture of a young cavalier, richly habited, who smiled down
grey-eyed and gentle-lipped, all care-free youth and gaiety; and
beneath this portrait ran the words:

  MARTIN CONISBY, LORD WENDOVER.  Aetat. 21.

"Madam," quoth I at last, turning my back on the picture, "Yon innocent
was whipped to death aboard a Spanish galleass years since, wherefore
I, a poor rogue, come seeking his destroyer."

"Sir," says she, clasping her hands and viewing me with troubled eyes,
"O sir--whom mean you?"

"One who, having slain the father, sold the son into slavery, to the
hell of Spanish dungeon and rowing-bench, to stripes and shame and
torment, one the just God hath promised to my vengeance--I mean Richard
Brandon."

"Ah--mercy of God--my father!  Ah no, no--it cannot be!  My father?
Sure here is some black mistake."

"Being his daughter you should know 'tis very truth!  Being a Brandon
you must know of the feud hath cursed and rent our families time out of
mind, the bitter faction and bloodshed!"

"Aye!" she murmured, "This I do know."

"Well, madam, five years agone, or thereabouts, my father falsely
attainted of treason, died in his prison and I, drugged and trepanned
aboard ship, was sold into the plantations, whence few return--and
Richard Brandon, enriched by our loss and great at court, dreamed he
had made an end o' the Conisbys and that the feud was ended once and
for all."

"My lord," says she, proud head upflung, "I deny all this!  Such
suspicion, so base and unfounded, shameth but yourself.  You have dared
force your way into my house at dead of night, and now--O now you would
traduce my absent father, charging him with shameful crimes--and this
to me, his daughter!  Enough, I'll hear no more, begone ere I summon my
servants and have you driven forth!" and, seizing the bell-rope that
hung against the panelling, she faced me, her deep bosom heaving
tempestuous, white hands clenched and scorning me with her eyes.

"Ring!" says I, and seated myself in a chair beside her great bed.

"Have you no shame?"

"None, madam, 'twas all whipped out o' me aboard the 'Esmeralda'
galleass.  Ring, madam!  But I go not till I learn, once and for all,
if Sir Richard be here or no."

Now at this she loosed the bell-rope very suddenly and, covering her
face with her hands, stood thus awhile:

"God pity me!" says she at last in weeping voice.  "I may not forget
how you saved me from--"  Here a tremor seemed to shake her; then she
spake again, yet now scarce above a whisper.  "Your face hath looked
upon me night and morn these two years, and now--O Martin Conisby, were
you but the man I dreamed you!"

"I'm a rogue new-broke from slavery!" says I.

"Aye," she cried suddenly, lifting her head and viewing me with new and
bitter scorn, "and one that speaketh lies of an absent man!"

"Lies!" quoth I, choking on the word.  "Lies, madam?  Why then, how
cometh my picture here--my coat of arms above the mantel yonder, the
Conisby 'scutcheon on your gates?  What do you at Conisby Shene?"

Now in her look I saw a sudden doubt, a growing dread, her breath
caught and she shrank back to the panelled wall and leaned there, and
ever the trouble in her eyes grew.  "Well, my lady?" I questioned,
"Have ye no answer?"

"'Twas said ... I have heard ... the Conisbys were no more."

"Even so, how came Sir Richard by this, our house?"

"Nay--nay, I--I know little of my father's business--he was ever a
silent man and I--have passed my days in London or abroad.  But
you--ah, tell me--why seek you my father?"

"That is betwixt him and me!"

"Was it--murder?  Was it vengeance, my lord?"  Here, as I made no
answer, she crosses over to me and lays one slender hand on my
shoulder; whereat I would have risen but her touch stayed me. "Speak!"
says she in a whisper.  "Was it his life you sought?" Meeting the look
in her deep, soft eyes, I was silent for a while, finding no word, then
dumbly I nodded.  And now I felt her hand trembling on my shoulder ere
it was withdrawn and, looking up, I saw she had clasped her hands and
stood with head bowed like one in prayer:  "O Martin Conisby," she
whispered, "now thank God that in His mercy He hath stayed thee from
murder!"  So she stood awhile, then, crossing to the carven press, took
thence divers papers and set them before me.  "Read!" she commanded.

So I examined these papers and found therein indisputable evidence that
my journey here was vain indeed, that Sir Richard, sailing westward,
had been taken by Spaniards off Hispaniola and carried away prisoner,
none knew whither.

And in a while, having read these papers, I laid them by and rising,
stumbled towards the open casement.

"Well, my lord?" says she in strange, breathless fashion, "And what
now?"

"Why now," says I, wearily, "it seems my vengeance is yet to seek."

"Vengeance?" she cried, "Ah, God pity thee!  Doth life hold for thee
nought better?"

"Nought!"

"Vengeance is a consuming fire!"

"So seek I vengeance!"

"O Martin Conisby, bethink you!  Vengeance is but a sickness of the
mind--a wasting disease--"

"So seek I vengeance!"

"For him that questeth after vengeance this fair world can hold nought
beside."

"So give me vengeance, nought else seek I of this world!"

"Ah, poor soul--poor man that might be, so do I pity thee!"

"I seek no man's pity."

"But I am a woman, so shall I pity thee alway!"

Now as I prepared to climb through the lattice she, beholding the sword
where it yet lay, stooped and, taking it up, sheathed it. "This was
thine own once, I've heard," says she.  "Take it, Martin Conisby, keep
it clean, free from dishonour and leave thy vengeance to God."

"Not so!" says I, shaking my head.  "I have my knife, 'tis weapon
better suited to my rags!"  So saying, I clambered out through the
lattice even as I had come.  Being upon the terrace, I glanced up to
find her leaning to watch me and with the moon bright on her face.

"Live you for nought but vengeance?" she questioned softly.

"So aid me God!" says I.

"So shall I pity thee alway, Martin Conisby!" she repeated, and sighed,
and so was gone.

Then I turned, slow of foot, and went my solitary way.



CHAPTER X

HOW I SWORE TO THE BLOOD-BROTHERHOOD

I remember the moon was very bright as, reaching the end of a grassy
lane (or rather cart-track) I saw before me a small, snug-seeming
tavern with a board over the door, whereon were the words:

  YE PECK OF MALT

  BY

  JOEL BYM.

And looking the place over, from trim, white steps before the door to
trim thatched roof, I marvelled at its air of prosperity; for here it
stood, so far removed from road and bye-road, so apparently away from
all habitation, and so lost and hid by trees (it standing within a
little copse) that it was great wonder any customer should ever find
his way hither.

The place was very quiet, not a light showed anywhere and the door was
fast shut, which was nothing strange, for the hour was late.  Stepping
up to the door I knocked loudly thereon with my cudgel, at first
without effect, but having repeated the summons, a voice from within
hailed me gruffly:

"Who knocks?"

"'The Faithful Friend!'" says I.  At this, the door swung suddenly open
and a lanthorn was thrust into my face, whereupon I fell back a step,
dazzled; then gradually, beyond this glare, I made out a dark shape
blocking the doorway, a great fellow, so prodigiously hairy of head and
face that little was there to see of features, save two round eyes and
a great, hooked nose.

"And who d'ye seek, Faithful Friend?" says he.

"Master Adam Penfeather."

"Why then, Faithful Friend, heave ahead!" says he, and, making way for
me to enter, closed the door (the which I noticed was mighty stout and
strong) and, having locked and bolted it, barred it with a stout iron
set into massy sockets in either wall.

"You go mighty secure!" says I.

"Cock," quoth the giant, eyeing me over slowly, "Cock, be ye a
cackler--because if so be you do cackle overly here's we as won't love
ye no whit, my cock."

"Good!" says I, returning his look.  "I seek no man's love!"

"Cock," quoth he, plunging huge fist into his beard and giving it a
tug, "I begin to love ye better nor I thought!  This way, cock!"
Herewith he led me along a wide, flagged passage and up a broad stair
with massy, carven handrail; and as I went I saw the place was much
bigger than I had deemed it, the walls, too, were panelled, and I
judged it had once formed part of a noble house. At last we reached a
door whereon the fellow knocked softly, and so presently ushered me
into a fair chamber lit by wax candles; and here, seated at a table
with papers before him and a pen in his fingers, sat Master Adam
Penfeather.

"Ha, shipmate," says he, motioning to a chair, "you be something
earlier than I expected.  Suffer me to make an end o' this
business--sit ye, comrade, sit!  As for you, Bo'sun, have up a flask o'
the Spanish wine--the black seal!"

"Aye, cap'n!" says he, and seizing a fistful of hair above his eyebrow,
strode away, closing the door behind him.

Now beholding Penfeather as he bent to his writing--the lean, aquiline
face of him so smooth and youthful in contrast to his silver hair--I
was struck by his changed look; indeed he seemed some bookish student
rather than the lawless rover I had thought him, despite the pistols at
his elbow and the long rapier that dangled at his chair-back; moreover
there was about him also an air of latent power I had not noticed ere
this.

At length, having made an end of his writing, he got up and stretched
himself:

"So, shipmate, art ready to swear the blood-fellowship wi' me?"

"Aye!" says I.  "When do we sail?"  At this he glanced at me swiftly
from the corners of his eyes:

"So ho!" he murmured, pinching his chin.  "The wind's changed it seems,
you grow eager--and wherefore?"

"'Tis no matter!"

"Shipmate," says he, shaking his head, "an we sail as brothers and
comrades there must be never a secret betwixt us--speak!"

"As ye will!" quoth I, leaning back in my chair.  "I learn then you are
sailing as master in a ship bound for the Main in quest of Sir Richard
Brandon lost off Hispaniola two years agone.  Sir Richard Brandon is
the man I have sought ever since I broke out of the hell he sold me
into.  Now look'ee, Adam Penfeather," says I, springing to my feet and
grasping his arm, "look'ee now--put me in the way of meeting this man,
aid me to get my hand on this man and I am yours--aye, body and
soul--to the end o' things, and this I swear!"

While I spake thus, my voice hoarse with passion, my fingers clutching
his arm, Penfeather stood pinching his chin and watching me beneath his
black brows; when I had ended he turned and falls a-pacing to and fro
across the room as it had been the narrow poop of a ship.

"Ah--I know you now, my lord!" says he, pausing suddenly before me.
"As the sailor-man who watched you as you lay a-groaning in your sleep
outside the Conisby Arms, I guessed you one o' the Conisby breed by
your ring, and as one born and bred here in Kent I mind well the adage,
'To hate like a Brandon and revenge like a Conisby,' and by God, my
lord, you are a true Conisby, it seemeth!  Vengeance!" says he, his
thin features grown sharp and austere, "Ah! I have seen much and
overmuch of it aboard lawless craft and among the wild islands of the
Caribbees.  I have seen the devilish cruelties of Spaniard, Portugal,
and the red horrors of Indian vengeance--but, for cold, merciless
ferocity, for the vengeance that dieth not, biding its time and
battening on poisonous hate, it needeth your man o' noble birth, your
gentleman o' quality!"  Here he turned his back and paced slowly to the
end of the room; when he faced me again his austere look was gone, in
its stead was the grimly whimsical expression of the mariner, as I had
seen him first.

"Damme!" says I, scowling, "Was it to read me homilies that you had me
here?"

"Aha, shipmate," says he with rueful smile, "there spake the young
divine, the excellent divinity student who committed a peccadillo long
years agone and, sailing to the Golden West, gave place to one Adam
Penfeather a sailor-man--as you shall hear tell of at St. Kitt's,
Tortuga, Santa Catalina and a score o' places along the Main.  As to
yourself, shipmate, if 'tis only vengeance ye seek, vengeance let it
be, though, when all's done, 'tis but wind--hist!  Here cometh the
Bo'sun--come in, Jo lad, come in! 'Twas trusty Joel Bym here gave me my
first lesson in navigation--eh, Jo?"

"Aye, Cap'n," growled the hairy giant, "by cock, them was the days, a
fair wind, a quick eye an' no favour, aye, them was the days, by
cock's-body!"  So saying, he placed a flask of wine on the table,
together with a curious silver cup, and (at a sign from Penfeather)
left us together.

"And now, comrade," says Penfeather, filling the goblet, "draw up your
chair and do as I do."

And now as we sat facing each other (across the table) Penfeather turns
back his left sleeve and, whipping out a knife, nicked himself
therewith on the wrist and squeezed thence a few drops of blood into
the wine; which done, he passed the knife to me and I (though misliking
the extravagance of the thing) nevertheless did the same.

"Martin," says he, "give me your hand--so!  Now swear as I do!" And
thus, clasping each other's hands, we swore the oath of brotherhood;
and this as followeth, viz."

(1)  To keep ever each other's counsel.

(2)  To aid each other in all things against all men soever.

(3)  To cherish and comfort each other in every adversity.

(4)  To be faithful each to each unto the death.

Thereafter, at his command, I drank of the wine wherein our blood was
mingled and he did the like.

"And now," says he, leaning back in his chair and viewing me with his
pensive smile, "since we be brothers and comrades sworn, how d'ye like
me now?"

"Better than I did," says I, speaking on impulse, "for sure you are the
strangest picaroon that ever cheated the gallows."

"Ah," says he, pinching his chin, "an I am neither hanged nor murdered
you shall one day find me a worshipful magistrate, Martin, Justice o'
the Peace and quorum--custos rotulorum and the rest on't, there my
ambition lies.  As for you, Martin, Lord Wendover, there is your enemy,
ha?--bloody vengeance and murder and what beside?"

"That is mine own concern!" I retorted angrily.  "And look 'ee, since
comrades we are, you will forget who and what I am!"

"Why so I have, Martin, so I have.  Art a poor, destitute rogue that
might be a man and rich but for this vengeful maggot i' thy brain.
Howbeit thou'rt my comrade sworn and brother-in-arms and as such I
shall trust thee--to the death, Martin."

"And shall find me worthy, Adam--despite thy curst tongue."

"Death is an ill thing, Martin!"

"Is it?" says I, and laughed.

"Aye," he nodded, "an ill thing to him that hath ambitions above the
brute.  See here!"  Unbuttoning his doublet he showed me a shirt of
fine chain-mail beneath his linen.  "'Twill turn any point ever forged
and stop a bullet handsomely, as I do know."

"Why, sure," says I, a little scornful, "you avowed yourself a cautious
man--"

"True, Martin, I have another shirt the like o' this for you. And as
for caution, I have need, d'ye see, comrade.  The arrow that flieth by
day is an ill enough thing, but the knife that stabbeth i' the dark is
worse.  This shirt hath turned death thrice already--once i' the breast
here and twice 'twixt the shoulders.  I am a man marked for death,
Martin, murder creepeth at my heels, it hath dogged me overseas and
found me here in Kent at last, it seems.  And, comrade, henceforth the
steel that smiteth me shall smite you also, belike."

"And why is your life sought thus?"

"By reason of a secret I bear about me; wherefore (saving only my good
friend Nicholas Frant who ... perished) I have ever been a solitary man
walking alone and distrustful of my fellows.  For, Martin, I have here
the secret of a treasure that hath been the dream and hope of roving
adventurers along the Main this many a year--a treasure beyond price.
Men have sought it vainly, have striven and fought, suffered and died
for it, have endured plague, battle, shipwreck, famine, have died
screaming 'neath Indian tortures, languished in Spanish dungeon and
slaveship, and all for sake of Bartlemy's Treasure.  And of all that
ever sought it, but one man hath ever seen this treasure, and I am that
man, Martin.  And this treasure is so marvellous well hid that without
me it shall lie unfound till the trump of doom.  But now, since we are
brethren and comrades, needs must I share with thee the treasure and
the secret of it."

"No, no, Adam!" says I.  "Keep it to yourself, I'll none of it."

"Share and share!" says he.  "'Tis the law of the Coast."

"None the less I want nought of it."

"'Tis the law," he repeated, "and moreover with such vast wealth a man
shall buy anything in this world--even vengeance, Martin. Look'ee now,
here's the secret of our treasure."  Hereupon he thrust his hand into
his breast and drew out a small oilskin packet or bag, suspended about
his lean throat by a thin steel chain, and from this he drew forth a
small roll of parchment.

"Here 'tis, Martin," says he softly, "here's that so many lusty men
have perished for--not much to look at, shipmate, torn, d'ye see and
stained, but here's wealth, Martin, fame, honours, all the vices and
all the evils, and chief among 'em--vengeance!"

So saying, he unrolled the small scrap of parchment, and holding it
before me, I saw it was a rough chart.

"Take it, Martin, and study it the while I tell you my story."



CHAPTER XI

ADAM PENFEATHER, HIS NARRATIVE

"Mine is a strange, wild story, Martin, but needs must I tell it and in
few words as may be.  Fifteen years agone (or thereabouts) I became one
of that league known as the Brotherhood of the Coast and swore
comradeship with one Nicholas Frant, a Kent man, even as I.  Now though
I was full young and a cautious man, yet, having a natural hatred of
Spaniards and their ways, I wrought right well against them, and was
mighty diligent in many desperate affrays against their ships and along
the Coast.  'Twas I (and my good comrade Nick Frant) with sixteen lusty
lads took sea in an open pinnace and captured the great treasure
galleon 'Dolores del Principe' off Carthagena, and what with all this,
Martin, and my being blessed with some education and a gift of adding
two and two together, I got me rapid advancement in the Brotherhood
until--well, shipmate, I that am poor and solitary was once rich and
with nigh a thousand bully fellows at command. And then it was that I
fell in with that arch-devil, that master rogue whose deeds had long
been a terror throughout the Main, a fellow more bloody than any
Spaniard, more treacherous than any Portugal, and more cruel than any
Indian--Inca, Mosquito, Maya or Aztec, and this man an Englishman, and
one of birth and breeding, who hid his identity under the name of
Bartlemy.  I met him first in Tortuga where we o' the Brotherhood lay,
six stout ships and nigh four hundred men convened for an expedition
against Santa Catalina, and this for two reasons, first, because 'twas
a notable rich city, and second, to rescue certain of the Brotherhood
that lay there waiting to be burnt at the next auto-de-fe.  Well,
Martin, 'tis upon a certain evening that this Bartlemy comes aboard my
ship and with him his mate, by name Tressady.  And never was greater
difference than 'twixt these two, Tressady being a great, wild fellow
with a steel hook in place of his left hand, d'ye see, and Bartlemy a
slender, dainty-seeming, fiendly-smiling gentleman, very nice as to
speech and deportment and clad in the latest mode, from curling periwig
to jewelled shoe-buckles.

"'Captain Penfeather,' says he, 'Your most dutiful, humble--ha, let me
parish but here is curst reek o' tar!' with which, Martin, he claps a
jewelled pomander to the delicate nose of him. 'You've heard of me, I
think, Captain,' says he, 'and of my ship, yonder, the "Ladies'
Delight?"'  I told him I had, Martin, bluntly and to the point, whereat
he laughs and bows and forthwith proffers to aid us against Santa
Catalina, the which I refused forthwith.  But my council of captains,
seeing his ship was larger than any we possessed and exceeding well
armed and manned, overruled me, and the end of it was we sailed, six
ships of the Brotherhood and this accursed pirate.

"Well, Martin, Santa Catalina fell according to my plans, and the
Governor and Council agreeing to pay ransom, I drew off my companies,
and camped outside the walls of the town till they should collect the
money.  Now the women of this place were exceeding comely, Martin, in
especial the Governor's lady, and upon the second night was sudden
outcry and uproar within the city, whereupon I marched into the place
forthwith and found this curst Bartlemy and his rogues, grown
impatient, were at their devil's work.  Hastening to the Governor's
house I found it gutted and him dragged from his bed and with the life
gashed out of him--aye, Martin, torn body and throat, d'ye see, as by
the fangs of some great beast!  That was the first time I saw what a
steel hook may do!  As for this poor gentleman's lady, she was gone.
Hereupon, we o' the Brotherhood fell upon these pirate rogues and
fought them by light o' the blazing houses (for they had fired the
city), and I, thus espying the devil Bartlemy, met him point to point.
He was very full o' rapier tricks, but so was I, Martin (also I was
younger), and winged him sore and had surely ended him, but that
Tressady and divers others got him away, and what with the dark night
and the woods that lie shorewards he, together with some few of his
crew, got them back aboard his ship, the "Ladies' Delight," and so
away; but twelve of his rogues we took (beyond divers we slew in fight)
and those twelve I saw hanged that same hour.  A week later we sailed
for Tortuga with no less than ninety and one thousand pieces of eight
for our labour, but I and those with me never had the spending of a
single piece, Martin, for we ran into a storm such as I never saw the
like of even in those seas.  Well, we ran afore it for three days and
its fury nothing abating all this time I never quit the deck, but I had
been wounded, and on the third night, being fevered and outworn, turned
in below.  I was awakened by Nick Frant roaring in my ear, for the
tempest was very loud and fierce:

"'Adam!' cried he, 'We're lost, every soul and the good money! we've
struck a reef, Adam, and 'tis the end and O the good money!'  Hereupon
I climbed 'bove deck, the vessel on her beam ends and in desperate
plight and nought to be seen i' the dark save the white spume as the
seas broke over us.  None the less I set the crew to cutting away her
masts and heaving the ordnance overboard (to lighten her thereby), but
while this was doing comes a great wave roaring out of the dark and
dashing aboard us whirled me up and away, and I, borne aloft on that
mighty, hissing sea, strove no more, doubting not my course was run.
So, blinded, choking, I was borne aloft and then, Martin, found myself
adrift in water calm as any millpond--a small lagoon, and spying
through the dark a grove of palmetto trees presently managed to climb
ashore, more dead than alive; and, lying there, I prayed--a thing I had
not done for many a year.  As the dawn came I saw the great wave had
hurled me over the barrier reef into this small lagoon, and beyond the
reef lay all that remained of my good ship.  I was yet viewing this
dolorous sight (and much cast down for the loss of my companions, in
especial my sworn friend Nicholas Frant) when I heard a sound behind me
and turning about, espied a woman, and in this woman's face (fair
though it was) I read horror and sadness beyond tears, and yet I knew
her for the same had been wife to the murdered governor of Santa
Catalina.

"'Go back!' says she in Spanish, pointing to the surf that thundered
beyond the reef.  'Go back!  Here is the devil--the sea hath more
mercy--go back whiles ye may!'  And now she checked all at once and
falls a-shivering, for a voice reached us, a man's voice a-singing fair
to hear, and the song he sang was this,

  'Hey cheerly O and cheerly O
  And cheerly come sing O!
  While at the mainyard to and fro--

and knowing this voice (to my cost) I looked around for some weapon,
since I had none and was all but naked, and whipping up a jagged and
serviceable stone, stood awaiting him with this in my fist.  And down
the beach he comes, jocund and debonair in his finery, albeit something
pale by reason of excess and my rapier work.  And now I come to look at
you, Martin, he was just such another as you as to face and feature,
though lacking your beef and bone.  Now he beholding me where I stood,
flourishes off his belaced hat and, making me a bow, comes on smiling.

"'Ah,' says he gaily, ''tis Captain Penfeather of the Brotherhood,
a-collogueing with my latest wife!  Is she not a pearl o' dainty
woman-ware, Captain, a sweet and luscious piece, a passionate, proud
beauty worth the taming--ha, Captain?  And she is tamed, see you.  To
your dainty knees, wench--down!'  Now though he smiled yet and spake
her gentle, she, bowing proud head, sank to her knees, crouching on the
ground before him, while he looked down on her, the devil in his eyes
and his jewelled fingers toying with the dagger in his girdle, a
strange dagger with a hilt wrought very artificially in the shape of a
naked woman--"

"How," says I, leaning across the table, "A woman, Penfeather?"

"Aye, shipmate!  So I stood mighty alert, my eyes on this dagger, being
minded to whip it into his rogue's heart as chance might offer.  'I
wonder,' says he to this poor lady, 'I wonder how long I shall keep
thee, madonna, a week--a month--a year?  Venus knoweth, for you amuse
me, sweet.  Rise, rise, dear my lady, my Dolores of Joy, rise and aid
me with thy counsel, for here hath this misfortunate clumsy Captain
fool blundered into our amorous paradise, this tender Cyprian isle
sacred to our passion.  Yet here is he profaning our joys with his base
material presence. How then shall we rid ourselves of this offence?
The knife--this lover o' men of mine?  The bullet?  Yet 'tis a poor
small naked rogue and in two days cometh my 'Ladies' Delight' and
Tressady with his hook.  See, my Dolores, for two days he shall be our
slave and thereafter, for thy joy, shall show thee how to die, my
sweet--torn 'twixt pimento trees or Tressady's hook--thou shalt choose
the manner of't.  And now, unveil, unveil, my goddess of the isle--so
shall--'  Ha, Martin!  My stone took him 'neath the ear, and as he
swayed reeling to the blow, lithe and swift as any panther this
tortured woman sprang, and I saw the flash of steel ere it was buried
in his breast.  Even then he didn't fall, but, staggering to a pimento
tree, leans him there and falls a-laughing, a strange, high-pitched,
gasping laugh, and as he laughed thus, I saw the silver haft of the
dagger that was a woman leap and quiver in his breast.  Then, laughing
yet, he, never heeding me, plucked and levelled sudden pistol, and when
the smoke cleared the brave Spanish lady lay dead upon the sands.

"'A noble piece, Captain!' says he, gasping for breath, and then to
her, 'Art gone, my goddess--I--follow thee!'  And now he sinks to his
knees and begins to crawl where she lay, but getting no further than
her feet (by reason of his faintness) he clasps her feet and kisses
them, and laying his head upon them--closes his eyes.  'Penfeather!' he
groans, 'my treasure--hidden--dagger--'

"Then I came very hastily and raised his head (for I had oft heard talk
o' this treasure), and in that moment he died.  So I left them lying
and coming to the seaboard sat there a great while watching the break
o' the seas on what was left o' the wreck, yet seeing it not.  I sat
there till noon, Martin, until, driven by thirst and hunger and heat of
sun, I set off to seek their habitation, for by their looks I judged
them well-fed and housed.  But, and here was the marvel, Martin, seek
how I might I found no sign of any hut or shelter save that afforded by
nature (as caves and trees), and was forced to satisfy my cravings with
such fruits as flourished in profusion, for this island, Martin, is a
very earthly paradise.  That night, the moon being high and bright, I
came to that stretch of silver sand beside the lagoon where they lay
together rigid and pale and, though I had no other tool but his dagger
and a piece o' driftwood, made shift to bury them 'neath the great
pimento tree that stood beside the rock, and both in the same grave.
Which done, I betook me to a dry cave hard by a notable fall of water
that plungeth into a lake, and there passed the night.  Next day,
having explored the island very thoroughly, and dined as best I might
on shell-fish that do abound, I sat me down where I might behold the
sea and fell to viewing of this silver-hilted dagger."

"The which was shaped like to a woman!" says I.

"Aye, Martin.  And now, bethinking me of Bartlemy's dying words anent
this same dagger, and of the tales I had heard full oft along the Main
regarding this same Bartlemy and his hidden treasure, I fell to
handling this dagger, turning and twisting it this way and that.  And
suddenly, shipmate, I felt the head turn upon the shoulders 'twixt the
clasping hands; turn and turn until it came away and showed a cavity,
and in this cavity a roll of parchment, and that parchment none other
than this map with the cryptogram, the which I could make nought of.

"Now as I sat thus, studying this meaningless jumble of words, I of a
sudden espied a man below me on the reef, a wild, storm-tossed figure,
his scanty clothing all shreds and tatters, and as he went seeking of
shell-fish that were plenteous enough, I knew him for my sworn comrade,
Nick Frant.  And then, Martin, I did strange thing, for blood-brothers
though we were, I made haste (and all of a tremble) to slip back this
map into its hiding-place, which done, I arose, hailing my comrade and
went to meet him joyously enough.  And no two men in the world more
rejoiced than we as we clasped hands and embraced each other as only
comrades may.  It seemed the hugeous sea that had caught me had caught
him likewise and hurled him, sore bruised, some mile to the south of
the reef.  So now I told him of the deaths of Bartlemy and the poor
lady, yet Martin (and this was strange) I spoke nothing of knife or
treasure; I told him of the expectation I had of the pirate's ship
return, and yet I never once spake o' the map and chart.  And methinks
the secret cast a shadow betwixt us that grew ever deeper, for as the
days passed and no sail appeared, there came a strangeness, an unlove
betwixt us that grew until one day we fell to open quarrel, disputation
and deadly strife, and the matter no more than a dead man's shirt (and
that ragged) that had come ashore.  And we (being in rags and the sun
scorching) each claimed this shirt, and from words came blows.  He had
his seaman's knife and I Bartlemy's accursed dagger, and so we fought
after the manner of the buccaneers, his leg bound fast to mine, and
Martin, though he was a great fellow and strong and wounded me sore, in
the end I got in a thrust under the armpit and he fell a-dying, and I
with him.  Then I (seeing death in his eyes, Martin) clasped him in my
arms and kissed him and besought him not to die, whereat he smiled.
'Adam!' says he, 'Why Adam, lad--' and so died.

"Then I took that accursed dagger, wet with my comrade's life-blood,
and hurled it from me, and so with many tears and lamentations I
presently buried poor Nick Frant in the sands, and lay there face down
upon his grave wetting it with my tears and groaning there till
nightfall.  But all next day, Martin (though my heart yearned to my
slain friend) all next day I spent seeking and searching for the dagger
had killed him.  And as the sun set, I found it.  Thereafter I passed
my days (since the pirate ship came not, doubtless owing to the late
tempest) studying the writing on the chart here, yet came no nearer a
solution, though my imagination was inflamed by mention of diamonds,
rubies and pearls, as ye may see written here for yourself.  So the
time passed till one day at dawn I beheld a great ship, her mizzen and
fore-topmasts gone, standing in for my island, and as she drew nearer,
I knew her at last for that accursed pirate ship called "Ladies'
Delight."  Being come to anchor within some half-mile or so, I saw a
boat put off for the reef, and lying well hid I watched this boat,
steered by a knowing hand, pass through the reef by a narrow channel
and so enter the lagoon.  Now in this boat were six men and at the
rudder sat Tressady, and I saw his hook flash in the sun as he sprang
ashore.  Having beached their boat, they fell to letting off their
calivers and pistols and hallooing:

"'Oho, Captain!' they roared, 'Bartlemy, ahoy!'  And this outcry
maintained they for some while.  But none appearing to answer, they
seemed to take counsel together, and thereafter set off three and
three, shouting as they went.  And now it seemed they knew no more of
Bartlemy's hiding-place than I, whereat I rejoiced greatly.  So lay I
all that forenoon watching their motions and hearing their outcries now
here, now there, until, marvelling at the absence of Bartlemy, they sat
down all six upon the spit of sand whereby I lay hid and fell to eating
and drinking, talking the while, though too low for me to hear what
passed.  But all at once they seemed to fall to disputation, Tressady
and a small, dark fellow against the four, and thereafter to brawl and
fight, though this was more butchery than fight, Martin, for Tressady
shoots down two ere they can rise, and leaping up falls on the other
two with his hook!  So with aid from the small, dark fellow they soon
have made an end o' their four companions, and leaving them lying, come
up the beach and sitting below the ledge of rock whereon I lay snug
hidden, fell to talk.

"'So, Ben, camarado mio, we be committed to it now!  Since these four
be dead and all men well-loved by Bartlemy, needs must Bartlemy follow
'em!'

"'Aye!' says the man Ben, 'when we have found him.  Though Bartlemy's a
fighting man!'

"'And being a man can die, Ben.  And he once dead we stand his
heirs--you and I, Ben, I and you!'

"'Well and good!' says Ben.  'But for this treasure where lieth it, and
for that matter, Roger, where is Bartlemy?'

"'Both to find, Ben, so let us set about it forthwith.'  The which they
did, Martin; for three days they sought the island over and I watching
'em.  On the third day, as they are sitting 'neath the great pimento
tree I have mentioned (and I watching close by) Tressady sits up all at
once.

"'Ben!' says he, 'What be yon?' and he pointed to a mound of sand hard
by.

"'Lord knoweth!' says Ben.

"'Yon's been digging!' says Tressady, 'and none so long since!'

"'Aye,' said Ben, 'and now what?'

"'Now,' says Tressady, 'let us dig likewise.'

"'Aye, but what with?' says Ben.

"'Our fingers!' says Tressady.  So there and then they fell to digging,
casting up the loose sand with their two hands, dog-fashion, and I,
watching, turned my head that I might not see.

"'Ha!' says Tressady, in a while, 'Here is foul reek, Ben, foul reek.'

"'Right curst!' says Ben, and then uttered a great, hoarse cry. And I,
knowing what they had come upon, kept my face turned away. ''Tis she!'
says Ben in a whisper.

"'Aye, and him!' says Tressady.  'Faugh!  Man, 'tis ill thing but needs
must--his dagger, Ben, his dagger.'

"'Here's no dagger,' says Ben.  'Here's empty sheath but no steel in't!'

"''Tis fallen out!' says Tressady in a strangled voice.  'Seek, Ben,
seek!'  So despite the horror of the thing, they sought, Martin,
violating death and careless of corruption they sought, and all the
time the thing they sought was quivering in this right hand.

"'Ben,' says Tressady, when they were done.  'Ben--how came he
dead--how?'

"'Who shall say, Roger?  Mayhap they did each other's business.'

"'Why then--where's the dagger o' the woman--the silver goddess--where?
And how came they buried?'

"'Aye, there's the rub, Roger!'

"'Why,' says Tressady, 'look'ee, Ben, 'tis in my mind we're not alone
on this island--'

"'And who should be here, Roger?'

"'The man that slew our Captain!'  Here there was silence awhile, then
the man Ben arose and spat.

"'Faugh!' says he.  'Come away, Roger, ere I stifle--come, i' the
devil's name!'  So they went and I, lying hid secure, watched them out
of sight.

"Now when they were gone I took counsel with myself, for here were two
desperate, bloody rogues, very well armed, and here was I, a solitary
man with nought to my defence save for Nick's knife and the
silver-hilted dagger, which was heavy odds, Martin, as you'll agree.
Now I have ever accounted myself a something timid man, wherefore in
cases of desperate need and danger I have been wont to rely on my wit
rather than weapons, on head rather than hands.  So now as I looked
upon this cursed dagger wherewith I had slain my poor friend, beholding
this evil silver woman whose smile seemed verily to allure men to
strife and bloodshed--the end of it was I stole from my lurking-place
and set the dagger amid the gnarled roots of the great pimento tree,
where it might have slipped from dying fingers, and so got me back into
hiding. And sure enough in a while comes the big man Tressady
a-stealing furtive-fashion and falls to hunting both in the open grave
and round about it but, finding nothing, steals him off again. Scarce
was he out of eye-shot, Martin, than cometh the little dark fellow Ben,
who likewise fell to stealthy search, grubbing here and there on hands
and knees, yet with none better fortune than his comrade.  But of a
sudden he gives a spring and, stooping, stands erect with Bartlemy's
dagger in his hand.  Now scarce had he found it than comes Tressady
creeping from where he had lain watching.

"'Ha, Ben!' says he jovially.  'How then, lad, how then?  Hast found
what we sought?  Here's luck, Ben, here's luck!  Aye, by cock, 'tis
your fortune to find it and your fortune's my fortune, eh, Ben--us
being comrades, Ben?'

"'Aye,' says Ben, turning the dagger this way and that.

"'Ha' ye come on the chart, Ben, ha' ye found the luck in't Ben?'

"'Stay, Roger, I've but just picked it up--'

"'And was coming to your comrade with it, eh, Ben--share and share--eh,
Benno--Bennie?'

"'Aye,' says Ben, staring down at the thing, 'but 'twas me as found it,
Roger!'

"'And what then, lad, what then?'

"'Why then, Roger, since I found it, 'tis mine,' says he gripping the
dagger in quivering fist and glancing up sideways.

"'Hilt and blade, Ben!'

"'And the chart, Roger?'

"'Aye, and the chart, Ben!' says Tressady, coming a pace nearer, and I
saw his hook glitter.

"'And the treasure, Roger!' says Ben, making little passes in the air
to see the blue gleam of the steel.

"'All yours, Ben all yours, and what's yours is mine, according to
oath, Ben, to oath!  But come, Ben, you hold the secret o' the treasure
in your fist--the silver goddess.  Come, the chart, lad, out wi' the
chart and Bartlemy's jewels are ours--pearls, Ben--diamonds,
rubies--aha, come, find the chart--let your comrade aid ye, lad--'

"'Stand back!' says Ben and whips a pistol from his belt. 'Look'ee,
Roger, says he, 'I found the dagger without ye and I'll find the
chart--stand back!'

"'Why here's ill manners to a comrade, Ben ill manners, sink me--but as
ye will.  Only out wi' the chart and let's go seek the treasure, Ben.'

"'D'ye know the secret o' this thing, Roger?'

"'Not I, Ben!'

"'Why then must I break it asunder.  Hand me yon piece o' of rock,'
says Ben, pointing to a heavy stone that chanced to be near.

"'Stay, Ben lad, 'twere pity to crush the silver woman, but if you
will, you will Ben--take a hold!'  So saying, Tressady picked up the
stone, but, as his comrade reached to take it, let it fall, whereupon
Ben stooped for it and in that moment Tressady was on him.  And
then--ha, Martin, I heard the man Ben scream, and as he writhed, saw
Tressady's hook at work ... the man screamed but once ... and then,
wiping the hook on his dead comrade's coat he took up the dagger and
began to unscrew the head.  But now, Martin, methought 'twas time for
me to act if I meant to save my life, for I had nought but Nick Frant's
knife, while within Tressady's reach lay the dead man's pistols and
divers musquetoons and fusees on the beach behind him, which put me to
no small panic lest he shoot me ere I could come at him with my knife.
Thus, as I lay watching, I took counsel with myself how I might lure
him away from these firearms wherewith he might hunt me down and
destroy me at his ease; and the end of it was I started up all at once
and, leaning down towards him, shook the parchment in his face.  'Ha,
Tressady!' says I, 'Is this the thing you've murdered your comrade
for?'  Now at this Tressady sprang back, to stare from me to the thing
in my hand, Martin, and then--ha, then with a wild-beast roar he sprang
straight at me with his hook--even as I had judged he would.  As for
me, I turned and ran, making for a rocky ledge I knew, with Tressady
panting behind me, his hook ringing on the rocks as he scrambled in
pursuit.  So at last we reached the place I sought--a shelf of rock,
the cliff on one side, Martin, and on the other a void with the sea
thundering far below--a narrow ledge where his great bulk hampered him
and his strength availed little.  And there we fought, his dagger and
hook against my dead comrade's knife, and thus as he sprang I, falling
on my knee, smote up beneath raised arm, heard him roar and saw him go
whirling over and down and splash into the sea--"

"And he had the dagger with him, Adam!" says I in eager question.

"Aye, Martin, which was the end of an ill rogue and an evil thing."

"The end," says I, "the end, Adam?  Why then--what o' this?"

So saying I whipped the strange dagger from my wallet and held it
towards him balanced upon my palm.  Now, beholding this, Penfeather's
eyes opened suddenly wide, then narrowed to slits as, viewing this
deadly thing, he drew back and back, and so sat huddled in his chair
utterly still, only I heard his breath hiss softly 'twixt clenched
teeth.

"Martin," says he in the same hushed voice, "when a man's dead he's
dead, and the dead can never come back, can they, shipmate?"

But now, as we sat thus, eyeing the evil thing on the table betwixt us,
my answer died on my lips, for there came a sharp, quick rapping of
fingers on the lattice.



CHAPTER XII

TELLETH OF A FIGHT IN THE DARK

Penfeather was at the casement, had whipped open the lattice and,
pinning the intruder by the throat, thrust a pistol into his face all
in a moment; and then I recognised Godby the peddler.

"Let be, Adam!" I cried, springing forward.  "Let be, here's a friend!"
Saying nothing, Penfeather thrust away the weapon, and gripping the
little man in both hands, with prodigious strength jerked him bodily in
through the window; which done, he clapped to the lattice and drawing
the curtain stood fronting Godby grim-lipped.

"And now what?" says he softly.

"Lord!" gasped Godby, "Lord love me, but here's a welcome to a pal,
here's the second pistol I've had under my nose this night--throttle me
in a hayband else!"

"What d'ye seek?"

"My pal Martin, 'cording to his word."

"D'ye know this fellow, Martin?"

"Aye!" I nodded and told briefly how and where we had met.

"God-be-here Jenkins am I, master," said Godby, "and well beknown to
Joel Bym as keepeth this house, strangle me else--ask Joel! And if
you're Master Penfeather I've first, this here for ye, and second, a
warning."  And speaking, Godby drew a letter from the breast of his
leathern jerkin.

"A warning?" says Penfeather, glancing at the superscription, "Against
whom?"

"A black dog as goes erect on two legs and calls himself Gregory Bragg."

"You mean Lady Brandon's under-bailiff?"

"I do so.  Well, he be no friend o' yourn, and what's more, he's hand
and fist wi' others as be no friends o' yourn either, cut-throat
sailor-men and black rogues every one."

"How d'ye know 'em for sailor-men?"

"By their speech, master--I was a mariner once--and moreover by a
ranting, hell-fire chorus."

"Ha!" says Penfeather, shooting a glance at me.  "A chorus, was it?"

"Aye, master, concerning murder and what not."

"And the words running like this--

  'Two on a knife did part wi' life
  And three a bullet took O!
  But three times three died plaguily
  A-wriggling on a hook O!'

Was that the way of it?"

"Smother me if it weren't!" quoth Godby, staring.

"Sit down, Godby, and tell me how you chanced on this," says Adam,
seating himself at the table.

"Well, master, I happened to lie snug hid 'neath a heap o' straw--and
for why, says you?  Says I to you, by reason o' two lousy catchpolls as
won't let poor Godby be.  Now this straw chanced to be in my Lady
Brandon's stables--and why there, says you?  Says I to you, because
these lousy catchpolls being set on poor Godby by this black dog
Gregory, and him my lady's man, my lady's stables is the last place
catchpolls would come a-seeking Godby.  Well now, as I lie there I fall
asleep.  Now I'm a light sleeper and presently I'm roused by the sound
o' your name, master."

"Mine?" says Penfeather, softly.

"Aye.  'Here's a black passage to Captain Penfeather--curse him!" says
a voice.  'Aye,' says another, 'by knife or bullet or--' and here he
falls to singing of a knife and a bullet and a hook. 'Avast!' says a
third voice.  'Belay that, Abny, you'll be having all the lubbers about
the place aboard of us!'  'Why,' says the man Abny, 'since you're wi'
us well and good, but don't forget we was hard in his wake, aye, and
ready to lay him aboard long before you hove in sight and damn all,
says I.'  'Some day, Abny, some day,' says the other, "I shall cut out
that tongue o' yourn and watch ye eat it, lad, eat it--hist, here
cometh Gregory at last--easy all.'  Now the moon was very bright,
master, and looking out o' my hay-pile as the door opened I spied this
rogue Gregory--"

"Did ye see aught o' the others?" questioned Adam.

"No master, not plain, for they kept to the dark, but I could see they
was four and one a very big man.  'Ha' ye got it, friend, ha' ye got
it?' says the big rogue.  'No, plague on't!' says Gregory.  'Look how I
will, I can find nought.'  'Here's luck!' says the big fellow, 'Bad
luck, as I'm a soul.  Where's he lie?' 'Can't say,' says Gregory.  'His
messages go to the Conisby Arms, but he aren't there, I know.'  'The
Faithful Friend, was it,' says the big fellow, 'a-lying off Deptford
Creek?'  'Aye, the Faithful Friend,' says Gregory, and then chancing to
look outside, claps finger to lip and comes creeping into the shadow.
'Lie low!' says he in a whisper--here's my lady!'  And then, master,
close outside comes my lady's voice calling 'Gregory! Gregory!'
'Answer, fool!' whispers the big man.  'Quick, or she'll be athwart our
cable!'  'Here, my lady!' says Gregory and steps out o' the stable as
she's about to step in.  'Gregory,' says she in hesitating fashion,
'have ye seen a stranger hereabouts to-night?'  'Not a soul, my lady!'
says Gregory. 'A tall, wild man,' says she, 'very ragged and with
yellow hair?' 'No, my lady,' says Gregory.  Here she gives a sigh.
'Why then,' says she, 'bear you this letter to Master Penfeather--at
once.' 'To the Conisby Arms, my lady?' says Gregory.  'No,' says she,
'to the Peck-o'-Malt by Bedgebury Cross.  And, Gregory, should you see
aught of the poor man that suffered lately in the pillory, say I would
speak with him.  And now saddle and begone with my letter.'  'To
Bedgebury,' says Gregory, 'the Peck-o'-Malt--to-night, my lady?'  'This
moment!' says she, mighty sharp. 'And, Gregory, I hear tales of your
hard dealing with some of the tenantry:  let me hear no more or you
quit my service!'  And away she goes, leaving Gregory staring after
her, letter in hand. ''Twas she!' says the big man in a whisper.  'I'd
know her voice anywhere--aye, 'twas she whipped it from my girdle, my
luck, shipmates--our luck, but we'll find it if we have to pull the
cursed house down brick and brick.'"

"Godby," says Adam suddenly, leaning forward, "did ye get no glimpse o'
this man's face?"

"Nary a one, master, and for why?--the place was dark and he wore a
great flapped hat."

"Why then," says Adam, pinching his chin, "did ye chance to see his
hands?"

"No whit, master, and for why?--he wore a loose cloak about him."

"And what more did ye hear?"

"No more, master, and for why?--because, as luck would have it a straw
tickled my nose and I sneezed loud as a demi-culverin, and there's poor
Godby up and running for his life and these murderous rogues after poor
Godby.  Howbeit they durst not shoot lest they should alarm the house,
and I'm very light on my feet and being small and used to dodging
catchpolls and the like vermin, I got safe away.  Having done which and
bethinking me of my pal Martin, I made for the Peck-o'-Malt.  Now as
luck would have it, Gregory overtakes me (as I had purposed he should,
I being minded to get even wi' him for good and all).  Down he gets
from the saddle and me by the collar, and claps a great snaphaunce
under my nose.  'So it was you, ye rogue, was it?' says he.  'That
same,' says I, 'but who's that peeping over the hedge there?'  The fool
turns to see, I twist the pistol out of his grip, and have him very
neatly trussed and gagged with his belt and my girdle, and so, heaving
him i' the ditch, into the saddle and here I am."

"Godby," says Penfeather, viewing him keen-eyed, "I need men--will ye
sail with us for the Main?"

"Does Martin sail?"

"He does!  Will ye along?"

"Heartily, captain, heartily!"

"Are ye armed, Godby?"

"I've Gregory's dag here," says Godby, pulling out a long-barrelled
pistol.

"Joel shall find ye another to go with it.  And ye know the sea?"

"Aye, Captain, I sailed with Captain Myddleton as gunner and will lay
you a gun with any man from a murdering-piece or minion to a great
culverin."

"Good!" says Penfeather and summoned Joel Bym, who, beholding the
peddler, stared, bellowed jovial greeting, and at nod from Penfeather,
departed with him, arm in arm.

"Well, Martin," says Adam when the door had closed, "and what d'ye make
o' this tale of sailor-men?"

"That they're the same rogues I fell out with."

"Beyond doubt, Martin.  And what more?"

"That like enough they're on their road hither."

"Beyond any peradventure, shipmate."

"Well?"

"Well, let 'em come, Martin, let 'em come.  There's somewhat here I
don't understand and I mislike mystery.  So let them come, here in this
little room, in light or dark, I ask no better."

"And you such a timid man, Adam!"

"True, Martin, but there's occasion when a worm turneth."  Here he took
up the letter Godby had brought and breaking the seal, read it through,
once with a glimmer of his grim smile, read it again and frowned and
frowning, glanced across at me:

"Here's matter concerning you, Martin, hark'ee!"  And he read this:


"To MASTER ADAM PENFEATHER:

Should you chance upon the poore man that suffered lately in the
pillory (by no order or will of mine) you will I charge you do all you
may to succour him in any manner soever:  This letter I do write in
much haste to instruct you that I purpose to sail in the 'Faithfull
Friend' along with you and my good cuzen Sir Rupert in this quest for
my father.  Moreover I will you should sail as speedily soon as may be.

As regardeth the poore young man afore-mentioned, if he be quite
destitute as I do think him, and will take no money as I do judge most
like, then Master Adam you shall offer to him such employ in my ship
the 'Faithfull Friend' as he will accept.

And this is my wish and command.

JOAN BRANDON.

He is great and tall and fierce with yellow hair and cruell mouth, yet
seemeth more cruell than he trulie is."


"So there you are to a hair, Martin, and here's our enterprise brought
to nought if she sail on this venture!"

"Why then she mustn't sail!" says I.

"'Tis her ship, Martin, and she's a Brandon!"

"Then sail without her."

"And be taken before we're clear o' the Downs and strung up at
Execution Dock for piracy."

"Why then if she goeth aboard I don't!"

"And wherefore not, Martin?"

"I'll take no service with a Brandon!"

"Aye verily there's your pride, Martin, which is cumbersome cargo."

"Call it what you will, I'll not sail."

"And your oath, comrade?  Sail along o' me you must and shall! But
having respect for your high-stomached pride you shall stow away in
some hole or corner and she never know you're aboard."

Hereupon I scowled, but perceiving him so serene albeit a little grim,
I said no more and he fell to pacing slowly back and forth, head bowed
and hands locked behind him.

"I need you, Martin," says he at last, "aye, I need you even more than
I thought, the one man I may trust to in a pinch.  For, Martin, here's
that I don't understand."

So saying he halted by the table, and presently taking up the dagger
(and with a strange reluctance) fell to twisting it this way and that;
finally he gave a sudden twist and the smiling head of the silver woman
coming away, showed a hollow cavity, running the length of the haft,
roomy and cunningly contrived.  Slowly he fitted the head into place
again and, laying the weapon down, shook his head:

"Here's Bartlemy's dagger true enough, Martin," says he, touching its
keen point.  "Here's what found Bartlemy's black heart--aye, and many
another!  Here's what went hurtling over cliff in Tressady's fist--and
yet here it lies--which is great matter for wonder, Martin.  And, since
'tis here--why then--where sis the vile rogue Tressady?  Which is
matter for painful speculation, Martin--where?"

"Snoring, likely enough!" says I, "Not so far hence, or tramping
hither."

"If so, Martin, then Death cannot touch him, the which is out of all
reason!"

"'Tis more like the fall did not kill him, Adam."

"Had you but seen the place, shipmate!  But if water won't drown him
and steel won't harm him--"

"Like you, he wears a chain-shirt, Adam, that I do know. Moreover, the
devil cherisheth his own, I've heard."

"Why here's reason, Martin, plain reason I grant, and yet--but 'tis
late and you'll be for sleep, and there's reason in that too.  Come,
I'll show your bed--"

"Spare yourself--I want no bed," says I bitterly.  "'Twere a luxury
wasted on the likes o' me.  My couch shall be the corner yonder."

"Ah, prideful youth!  'Tis sweet to be young, Martin!" says Penfeather
with his sudden, whimsical half-smile and clapping his hand on my
shoulder.  "Sleep where ye will, that corner is as good as another.
See, there stands my tuck, a Spanish blade of notable good temper, it
hath been a true friend to me many a time ere now and should be a
trusty bedfellow.  As for me, I'm for a feather-bed.  And, Martin,"
says he, pausing to pinch his chin and view me sideways, "if aught
should chance to me--at any time--the chart and treasure will be yours.
So good-night, comrade, and sleep sound, for 'tis like we shall wake
betimes."

Saying which he turned, slow and thoughtful, and went out, closing the
door softly behind him.  As for me, being very drowsy, I wrapped myself
in my weather-worn cloak, blew out the candles and, lying down in the
corner, was presently fast asleep.

Now as I slept I dreamed that Penfeather's long rapier, standing in the
dark corner close by, was stealthily endeavouring to free itself from
its leathern scabbard with intent to skewer me to the floor as I lay;
and, striving thus to draw itself, made soft, strange noises and
rustlings insomuch that I presently woke, and staring motionless into
the darkness above, knew that these sounds were real.  Somewhere close
by was a furtive whisper of sound that came and went, a soft-drawn
breath, a scraping of fingers on the panelling above me in the
darkness; and in that moment also I became aware that the lattice
yawned wide upon a square of glimmering blackness.  Suddenly a
sly-creeping foot touched me unseen and then (even as the owner of this
foot tripped over me) came the roaring flash of a pistol hard by,
followed immediately by another and, as I lay deafened and half-dazed,
the floor quivered to the soft, vicious thud of leaping,
swift-trampling feet, and on the air was a confused scuffling, mingled
with an awful, beast-like worrying sound.  And now (though I was
broad-awake and tingling for action) I constrained myself to lie still,
nothing stirring, for here (as I judged) was desperate knife-play,
indeed more than once I heard the faint click of steel.  And now rose
shouts and cries and a tramp of feet on the stair without.  Someone
reeled staggering across the room, came a-scrabbling at the open
casement and, as I leapt up, the door burst open and Joel Bym appeared
flourishing a naked hanger and with Godby behind bearing a lanthorn,
whose flickering light showed Adam, knife in hand, where he leaned
panting against the wall, a smear of blood across his pallid face and
with shirt and doublet torn in horrid fashion.

"The window!" he gasped.  "Shutters!  'Ware bullets!"  I sprang
forward, but Joel was before me, and crouching beneath the open lattice
swung the heavy shutters into position, but even as he did so, a bullet
crashed through the stout oak.

"Doors all fast, Joel?"

"Aye, Cap'n!  But who's here--is't the preventive?  And me wi' the
cellars choke-full.  My cock!  Is't the customs, Cap'n?"

"Worse, Joel!" says Penfeather, wiping sweat from him.

"Art hurt, Adam?" I questioned, eyeing his wild figure, and now I saw
that the thin, steel chain was gone from his sinewy throat.

"No, shipmate.  But the dagger, look ye--'tis clean disappeared,
Martin."

"And good riddance," quoth I.  "But, Adam--what o' your chart--gone
along o' the dagger, has it?"

"Tush, man!" says he, sheathing his knife, "'Tis snug in that wallet o'
yours."

"My wallet!" I cried, clapping hand on it where it hung at my girdle.

"Aye, shipmate.  I slipped it there as I bid ye good-night!  But,
Martin--O Martin, the dead is alive again--see how I'm all gashed with
his hook."

"Hook?" quoth Joel, shooting great, hairy head forward.  "Did ye--say
a--hook, Cap'n?"

"Aye, Joel--Tressady's alive again."

"God love us!" gasped the giant and sank into a chair.



CHAPTER XIII

WE SET OUT FOR DEPTFORD POOL

Penfeather drew clenched hand across his brow, and coming to the table
reached the half-emptied flagon and drank what remained of the wine
thirstily, while Bym, his great body huddled in the chair, stared at
the bullet hole in the shutter with starting eyes:  as to me, I picked
up Penfeather's fallen pistols and laid them on the table, where Godby
had set the lanthorn.

"Tressady!" says Bym at last in a hoarse whisper, "Tressady--O Cap'n,
be ye sarten sure?"

"Sure!" says Penfeather, in the same hushed manner, and reaching powder
and bullets from a cupboard he began methodically to reload his
pistols.  "He'll be outside now where the shadows be thickest, waiting
me with Abnegation and Sol and Rory, and God knoweth how many more."

"Then he aren't dead, Cap'n?"  Penfeather's black brows flickered and
his keen eyes glanced from his rent doublet round about the room:

"Howbeit--he was here, Joel!" said he.

"Why then, Cap'n, the dying woman's curse holds and he can't die?" says
Bym, clawing at his great beard.

"He was here, Joel, in this room," says Penfeather, busy with
powder-horn, "man to man, knife to knife--and I missed him. Since
midnight I've waited wi' pistols cocked and never closed eye--and yet
here was he or ever I was aware; for, as I sat there i' the dark by the
window above the porch, which is therefore easiest to come at, I spied
Mings and him staring up at the lattice of this chamber.  So here
creeps I and opening the door saw him move against the open lattice
yonder--a shot no man could miss."

"Aye, Cap'n--aye?"

"And I--missed him, Joel--with both weapons and I within three yards of
him, aye, I missed him with both pistols."

"Which is small wonder," says I, "for as you fired he tripped over me,
Adam--"

"And why should he trip just then--at the one and only moment, Martin?
Chance, says you?  Why, when he came leaping on me in the black dark
should his hook meet and turn my knife from his throat?  Chance again,
says you?  Why, when he flung me off and made for the window--why must
I catch my foot 'gainst that staff o' yours and bring up against the
wall with all the strength and breath knocked out o' me, and no chance
for one thrust as he clambered through the lattice?  By the Lord,
Martin, here's more than chance, says I."

"Aye, by cock!" muttered Joel, shaking his head.  "'Tis 'witched he be!
You'll mind what I told ye, Cap'n--the poor lady as died raving mad
aboard the 'Delight,' how she died cursing him wi' life.  And him
standing by a-polishing o' that hook o' his--ah, Cap'n, I'll never
forget the work o' that same hook ... many's the time ... Bartlemy's
prisoners ... men and women ... aboard that cursed 'Ladies' Delight!'
By cock, I dream on't sometimes and wake all of a sweat--"

"Here's no time for dreams!" says Penfeather, ramming home the charge
of his second pistol, "Is the passage clear?"

"Save for the matter of a few kegs, Cap'n, but 'twill serve."

"We start in half an hour, Joel."

"The three o' you, Cap'n?"

"Aye, we must be aboard as soon as maybe now."

"Captain," says Godby, "speaking as a master-gunner, a mariner and a
peddler, I'm bold to say as there's nought like bite and sup to hasten
a man for a journey or aught beside--flog me else! And there's nought
more heartening than ham or neat's tongue, or brisket o' beef, the
which I chanced to spy i' the kitchen--"

"Why then, master-gunner," says Penfeather, "go you and engage those
same in close action and I'll join ye as soon as I've shifted these
rags o' mine."

"Adam," says I, unstrapping my wallet as Bym and Godby descended the
stair, "if we are to have our throats cut to-night, 'twere as well I
handed back your chart first"; and I laid it on the table.

"Why 'tis as safe with you, comrade--but as you will!" says he,
slipping the chain about his neck.  "As for any throat-slitting,
Martin, you'll find that with danger my inborn caution groweth to
timidity--"

"Ha, yes!" I nodded.  "Such timidity as walks under the very noses of
desperate, well-armed rogues of a moonlight night."

"Why, the moon is down--or nearly so, Martin.  And then, besides, this
trim little inn hath divers exits discreetly non-apparent. 'Twas a
monastery once, I've heard."

"And now a smuggling-ken it seems, Adam."

"Even so, comrade, and no place better suited!  And there's the Bo's'n
hailing!" says he, as a hoarse roar of "Supper O!" reached us.  "Go
down, Martin, I stay but to make things ship-shape!" and he nodded
towards the books and papers that littered the table. Upon the stairs I
met Godby, who brought me to a kitchen, very spacious and lofty, paved
with great flagstones and with groined arches supporting the roof, and
what with this and the wide fireplace flanked with fluted columns and
enriched by carvings, I did not doubt that here had once stood a noble
abbey or the like.

"Pal," said Godby, as I stared about me, "you'd never guess as there be
nigh three hundred kegs stowed hereabouts besides bales and the like,
choke me else!  Ha, many's the good cargo I've helped Jo and the lads
to run--eh, Joel?"

"So you're a smuggler, Godby," says I.

"Cock," says Bym reproachfully, and setting a goodly cheese on the
table with a bang, "say free-trader, cock--t'other 'un's a cackling
word and I don't like cackle--"

"Aye," nodded Godby, "that's the word, 'free-trader,' Mart'n.  So I am
and what then?  'Twas summat o' the sort as got me suspicioned by
Gregory and his catchpolls, rot 'em."  But here Adam entered, very
soberly dressed in sad-coloured clothes, and we sat down to sup
forthwith.

"Do we sail soon, Captain?" questioned Godby in a while.

"I hope to be clear o' the Downs a few days hence," says Adam.

"And you so short-handed, Cap'n," quoth Bym.

"Sir Rupert hath 'listed thirty new men, I hear, and rogues every one
I'll be sworn."

"Sir Rupert--?" says I.

"My lady's cousin, Martin, and captain of the expedition."

"Is he a sailor, Adam?"

"No, Martin, like most o' your fine gentlemen-adventurers, he knows no
more of navigation than this cheese, which is just as well, Martin,
aye, mighty well!"

"How so?"

"Who shall say, Martin, who shall say?"  And here he took a long
draught of ale.  In a while, our meal being ended, Penfeather rose:

"As to arms, Martin, ha' ye aught beside your knife?"

"My staff and this pistol," says I, taking out the silver-mounted
weapon my lady Brandon had thrust upon me.

"Is't loaded, Martin?"  I examined charge and priming and nodded.
"Good!" says Adam, "Here's five shot betwixt us, that should suffice.
Up wi' the trap, Jo, and we'll out."  Hereupon Bym lighted his lanthorn
and putting aside the great settle by the hearth, stooped and raised
one of the flagstones, discovering a flight of worn, stone steps, down
which we followed him and so into a great cellar or vaulted crypt,
where stood row upon row of barrels and casks, piled very orderly to
the stone roof.  Along the narrow way between strode Bym, and halting
suddenly, stooped and lifted another flagstone with more steps below,
down which we followed him into a passage-way fairly paved, whence
divers other passages opened right and left.  And when we had gone some
distance Adam halted.

"Best bring the light no further, Jo," says he.  "And hark'ee, Joel, as
to this black rogue--this--y'know who I mean, Jo?"

"Aye--him, Cap'n!"

"That same, Jo.  Well, keep an eye lifting and if you find out aught
worth the telling, let one o' your lads ride post to Deptford, Jo."

"Aye, Cap'n.  Aboard ship?"

"Aboard ship."

"Cap'n," quoth he, grasping Adam's hand, "I'm man o' few words, an'
thanks t' you I'm snug enough here wi' my wife and darter as is away
till this cargo's run, but, say the word, and I'll sail along o' you
come battle, murder or shipwreck--"

"Or a hook, Joel?" says Penfeather softly, whereat Joel clawed at his
beard and blinked into the lanthorn; finally he gives a great tug to
his beard and nods:

"Aye, Cap'n," says he, "for you--even that, by cock!"

"Good lad," says Penfeather, clapping him on brawny shoulder. "Bide
where you are, Jo, and Fortune with you and yours.  This way, Martin."

So having taken our leave of Bym, Godby and I followed Adam along the
passage, guided by the Bo's'n's lanthorn until, turning a sudden, sharp
corner, we plunged into pitchy gloom wherein I groped my way until
Penfeather's voice stayed me:

"Easy all!" says he, softly.  "Have your pistols ready and heed how you
come."  Creeping cautiously I found myself amid leaves that yielded
before me, and stepping through this natural screen, I stumbled into a
bush and presently found myself standing in a small copse dim-lighted
by a waning moon; and never a sound to be heard save the soft whisper
of leaves about us and the faint, far cry of some night-bird.

"Ha!" says Adam at last, gazing away to the sinking moon, "So our
journey begins, and from the look o' things, Martin, from the look o'
things here's going to be need of all your resolution and all my
caution ere we can see the end.  Come!"



CHAPTER XIV

HOW I CAME ABOARD THE "FAITHFUL FRIEND"

We followed a roundabout course, now across broad meadows, now treading
green cart-tracks, now climbing some grassy upland, anon plunging into
the shadow of lonely wood or coppice until the moon was down, until was
a glimmer of dawn with low-lying mists brimming every grassy hollow and
creeping phantom-like in leafy boskages; until in the east was a glory,
warming the grey mist to pink and amber and gold, and the sun,
uprising, darted his level beams athwart our way and it was day.

And now from coppice and hedgerow, near and far, was stir and flutter,
a whistling and a piping that rose ever louder and swelled to a
trilling ecstasy of gladness.

"Hark to 'em--O pal, hark to 'em!" quoth Godby, lifting head to watch a
lark that soared aloft.  "Here's music, Martin, here's cure for the
megrims, hope for the downcast and promise o' joys to come.  O hark to
'em!"

All the day Penfeather led us on by lonely ways, never seeming to weary
and never at a loss, silent for the most part as one in profound
thought, and I speaking little as is my wont, but Godby talked and sang
and laughed for the three of us.

It was as we sat outside a little ale-house snugged 'mid trees, eating
of bread and cheese, that Penfeather turned suddenly and gripped my arm:

"Martin," says he, "'twill be plaguy business carrying women aboard
ship--along o' these lambs o' mine--there's scarce a rogue but cheats
the gallows with his every breath!"

"Why then, tell her so, Adam, plain and to the point."

"'Twould be vain breath, Martin, I know her too well--and she is a
Brandon!"

"A curse on the name!" says I, whereupon Godby choked into his ale,
stared in surprise and would fain have questioned me, but meeting my
eye, spake no word.

"D'ye know aught of navigation, Martin?" says Adam suddenly.

"No whit, Adam, but I'll handle a boat with any man."

"Ha!" says he, and sat there pinching his chin until, our hunger being
appeased and the ale all drank, we fared on again.  So we tramped, and
though our road was long I will here make short work of it and say that
at last we came, very hot and dusty, into the village of Lewisham,
where we would fain have baited awhile at the 'Lion and Lamb,' a fair
inn; but this Adam would by no means permit, so, leaving the village,
we presently turned aside from the main road into a lane very
pleasantly shaded by tall trees and bloomy hedgerows, the which (as I
do think) is called Mill Lane.  In a while we reached a narrow track
down which Adam turned, and now as we went I was aware of strange
sounds, a confused hubbub growing ever louder until, deep amid the
green, we espied a lonely tavern before which stood a short, stout man
who alternately wrung his hands in lamentation, mopped at bloody pate
and stamped and swore mighty vehement, in the midst of which, chancing
to behold Penfeather, he uttered joyful shout and came running.

"Master Penfeather," cried he, "O Master Penfeather, here's fine
doings, love my eyes!  Here's your rogues a-fighting and a-murdering of
each other, which is no great matter, but here's them a-wrecking o' my
house, which is great matter, here's them has broke my head wi' one o'
my own pottlepots, which is greater matter, here's me dursen't set of
it i' the place and my wife and maids all of a swound--O Master
Penfeather, here's doings, love my limbs!"

"Ha," says Penfeather, "fighting, are they, Jerry?"

"Like devils, Captain, your rogues and the rogues as my Lord Dering
'listed and brought here yesterday--O love my liver--look at yon!"  As
he spoke was a crash of splintered glass and a broken chair hurtled
through the wide lattice.

"So!" says Adam, striding towards the inn, and I saw a pistol in his
hand.  Following hard on his heels I entered the inn with him and so to
the scene of the riot.

A long, low room, full of swirling dust, and amid this choking cloud a
huddle of men who fought and struggled fiercely, roaring blasphemy and
curses.  Two or three lay twisted among overturned chairs and tables,
others had crawled into corners to look to their hurts, while to and
fro the battle raged the fiercer. Leaning in the doorway Penfeather
surveyed the combatants with his quick keen glance, and then the hubbub
was drowned by the roar of his long pistol; the thunderous report
seemed to stun the combatants to silence, who, falling apart, turned
one and all to glare at the intruder.  And, in this moment of
comparative silence while all men panted and stared, from Penfeather's
grim lips there burst a string of blistering sea-oaths such as even I
had scarce heard till now; for a long minute he reviled them, the smoke
curling from his pistol, his black brows knit across glittering eyes,
his thin nostrils a-quiver, the scar glowing on his pallid cheek, his
face indeed so changed and evil that I scarce knew him.

"... ye filthy scum, ye lousy sons o' dogs!" he ended.  "Ha, will ye
fight agin my orders, then--mutiny is it?"

"And who a plague are you and be cursed to ye!" panted a great fellow,
flourishing a broken chair-leg threateningly and scowling in murderous
fashion.

"He'll tell ye--there, behind ye, fool!" snarled Penfeather, pointing
sinewy finger.  The big man turned, Penfeather sprang with uplifted
pistol and smote him, stunned and bleeding, to the floor, then
bestriding the prostrate carcass, fronted the rest with head viciously
out-thrust.

"And who's next--come!" says he softly, scowling from one to other of
the shrinking company.  "You, Amos Penarth, and you, Richard Farnaby,
aye and half a dozen others o' ye, you've sailed wi' me ere now and you
know when I say a thing I mean it.  And you'd fight, would ye, my last
words to you being 'see to it there be no quarrelling or riot.'"

"Why, Cap'n," says one, "'tis all along o' these new 'listed rogues--"

"Aye, master," says another, "and that's gospel-true, theer aren't a
right sailor-man among 'em--"

"Then we'll learn 'em to be!" says Penfeather.  "Stand forward the new
men--show a leg and bustle, ye dogs!"  Scowling and muttering, some
twelve unlovely fellows obeyed.  "I' faith!" says Penfeather, looking
them over, "Here's fine stuff for the gallows!  And where's the rest of
'em?"

"Gone aboard this morning along o' Toby Hudd the bo's'un!"

"See here, my bright lads," quoth Penfeather, eyeing each scowling face
in turn, "learn this--when you come aboard my ship and I say to one o'
ye do this or do that, he does it, d'ye see, or--up to the yard-arm he
swings by his thumbs or his neck as occasion warrants.  D'ye get me, my
bully roarers?"

Not a man of them spake a word, but all stood shifting uneasily beneath
Penfeather's quick bright eye, shuffling their feet and casting furtive
glances on their fellows.

"Now as to this lump o' roguery," says Penfeather, spurning the still
unconscious man with his foot, "have him into the yard and heave a
bucket o' water over him.  As to you, Farnaby, muster the hands, and
stand by to go aboard in half an hour--every unhung rascal."

Without we came on the misfortunate landlord still in the deeps of
gloom, but upon Adam's assurance that all damages should be made good,
he brought us up a pair of stairs to a fair chamber and there served us
a most excellent meal.

Scarce had we risen from table than comes the man Penarth a-knocking,
cap in hand, to say the men stood ready to go aboard. We found some
score fellows drawn up before the inn, and a desperate lot of
cut-throats they looked, what with their hurts and general hang-dog air
as they stood there in the light of a rising moon.  Having looked them
over each and every, Penfeather spat, and setting them in Godby's
charge, ordered them to go on before.

"Well, Martin," says he as we followed together, "and how think ye of
my lambs?"

"Call them raging tigers, rather--"

"Nay," says he, "tigers be cleanly creatures, I've heard."

"'A God's name, Adam, why truck with such ill rogues?  Sure there be
many honest mariners to be had?"

"Why as to that, Martin, good men be scarce and ever hard to come
by--moreover these scum are a means to an end, d'ye see?"

"How so?"

"Just that, Martin," says he, glancing at me in his furtive manner, "a
means to an end."

"What end?"

"Ah, who may tell, Martin?" he sighed, shaking his head.  Now when I
would have questioned him further he put me off thus with side answers,
until we were come to the waterside, which is called Deptford Creek.
Here, having seen the others safe embarked we took boat also, and were
soon rowing between the huge bulk of ships where dim lights burned and
whence came, ever and anon, the sound of voices, the rattle of a
hawser, a snatch of song and the like, as we paddled betwixt the vast
hulls. Presently we were beneath the towering stern of a great ship,
and glancing up at this lofty structure, brave with carved-work and
gilding, I read the name,

  THE FAITHFULL FRIEND.


At a word from Adam the oars were unshipped and we glided alongside her
high-curving side where hung a ladder, up which I followed Adam
forthwith.  She was a great ship (as I say) of some two hundred tons at
least, with high forecastle and lofty stern, though I saw little else
ere, at a sign from Adam I followed him down the after-gangway where,
taking a flickering lanthorn that hung from a deck-beam, he led me
'twixt a clutter of stores not yet stowed, past the grim shapes of
great ordnance, and so down and down to a noisome place beneath the
orlop.

"'Tis not over sweet, Martin," says he, "but then bilge-water never is,
you'll mind.  But you'll grow used to it in time, shipmate, unless,
instead o' swallowing this unholy reek you'll swallow your pride and
'list as master's mate."

"I've no knowledge of navigation," says I.

"But I've enough for the two of us, Martin.  'Tis a comrade at my back
I need.  What's the word?"

"No!" says I, mighty short.

"As you will, shipmate," he sighed, "as you will.  Pride and
bilge-water go well together!" which said he brought me to a dark
unlovely hole abaft the mizzen.  "'Tis none too clean, Martin," says
he, casting the light round the dingy place, "but that shall be
remedied and Godby shall bring ye bedding and the like, so although
'tis plaguy dark and wi' rats a-plenty still, despite the stench,
you'll lie snug as your pride will permit of.  As for me, shipmate, I
shall scarce close an eye till we be clear o' the Downs, so 'tis a
care-full man I shall be this next two days, heigho!  So good-night,
Martin, I'll send Godby below with all you lack."

Saying which Penfeather turned, and groping his way into the darkness,
left me scowling at the flickering lanthorn.



CHAPTER XV

TELLETH OF A NAMELESS BLACK SHIP

And now within my gloomy hiding-place, dim-lit by flickering lanthorn,
I passed many weary hours, while all about me was a stir and bustle, a
confused sound made up of many, as the never-ending tread of feet, the
sound of hoarse voices now faint and far and anon clear and loud, the
scrape of a fiddle, snatches of rough song, the ceaseless ring and tap
of hammers--a very babel that, telling of life and action, made my
gloomy prison the harder to endure.  And here (mindful of what is to
follow) I do think it well to describe in few words the place wherein I
lay. It was indeed a very dog-hole, just below the orlop, some ten feet
square (or thereabouts) shut in 'twixt bulkheads, mighty solid and
strong, but with a crazy door so ill-hung as to leave a good three
inches 'twixt it and the flooring.  It had been a store-room (as I
guessed), and judging by the reek that reached me above the stench of
the bilge, had of late held rancid fat of some sort; just abaft the
mizzen it lay and hard against the massy rudder-post, for I could hear
the creek and groan of the pintles as the rudder swung to the tide.
Against one bulkhead I had contrived a rough bunk with divers planks
and barrels, the which with mattress and bedding was well enough.

Now opposite my berth, within easy reach of my hand, was a knot-hole
the which, by some trick of the grain, had much the look of a great
staring eye, insomuch that (having no better employ) I fell to
improving on nature's handiwork with my knife, carving and trimming
around it; and in betwixt my sleeping, my eating and drinking (for Adam
and Godby kept me excellent well supplied) I would betake me to my
carving and fashioning of this eye and with my initials below it, the
which foolish business (fond and futile though it was) served in no
small measure to abate my consuming impatience and the dreary tedium.

Howbeit on the third day, my situation becoming unbearable, I stumbled
out from my dog-hole, and groping my way past kegs and barrels
firm-wedged in place against the rolling of the vessel, I climbed the
ladder to the orlop.  Here I must needs pause, for, dim though it was,
the light from the open scuttle nigh blinded me.  In a while, my eyes
growing strong, I got me to the main-deck, where again I must stay to
shade my eyes by reason of the radiance that poured through an open
gun-port.  Glancing around after some while, I saw no one and wondered,
for here was the main gun-deck.  Ten great pieces a side I counted,
with ports for divers more.  I was yet wondering at the emptiness about
me when I heard sudden uproar from the deck above my head, shouts,
cries, a rush and patter of many feet, and above all Penfeather's
furious hail.

Wondering, I came to the open port, and leaning out saw it was evening
with a heavy mist creeping down upon the waters, and through the mist
loomed a great, black ship drifting lubberly across our hawse.  Louder
and more furious grew the shouting above, answered by a hail aboard the
great, black craft as, broadside on, she swung towards us.

And now, creeping in the mist, I beheld a small boat with a great,
shapeless bundle in the stern-sheets and rowed by a single waterman who
swung easily to his oars, scanning now the "Faithful Friend," now the
great black ship, like one who bided the inevitable crash.  Sudden I
heard the roar of one of Penfeather's ever-ready pistols followed by
his voice up raised in vicious sea-curses, and glancing up saw the
black ship right aboard of us and braced myself for the impact; came a
shock, a quiver of creaking timbers and the groan of our straining
hawsers as the black ship, falling off, drifted by in a roaring storm
of oaths and blasphemy.  Now when her battered stern-gallery was nigh
lost in the mist, bethinking me of the boat I had seen, I glanced about
and beheld matter that set me wondering; for he was the fellow plying
his oars with a will and so near that I might have tossed a biscuit
aboard him; moreover the great misshapen bundle had lain in the
stern-sheets was there no longer, which set me mightily a-wondering.
Long after man and boat were swallowed up in the fog I sat there lost
in thought, insomuch that I started to feel a hearty clap on the
shoulder and, turning, beheld Godby, a pair of great gold rings in his
ears, and very sailor-like in all things from sea-boots to mariner's
bonnet.

"Here's a ploy, Mart'n!" says he with a round oath.  "Here's yon curst
lubberly craft carried away our starboard cat-head and six-feet o' the
harpings wi't, sink him!  And us but waiting for my lady to come aboard
to trip anchor and away.  And now here's we shorebound for another two
days at the least as I'm a gunner! And all on account of yon black dog,
burn him!  A plaguy fine craft as sails wi' no name on her anywheres,
keelhaul me else! But Penfeather winged one o' the lubberly rogues,
praise God, Mart'n!  Which done and with due time to curse 'em, every
mother's son of 'em, he turns to--him and the carpenter and his
mates--there and then to repair damages.  Ha, a man o' mark is Captain
Adam, pal."

"Godby," says I, "did ye chance to see aught of a boat carrying a great
bundle in the stern-sheets and rowed by a man in a red cap?"

"Nary a blink, Mart'n--why?"

"I'm wondering what came of that same bundle--"

"Hove overboard belike, pal--there's many a strange thing goes
a-floating out to sea from hereabouts, Mart'n--drownd me!"

"Belike you're right!" says I.

"Mart'n, Sir Rupert's ashore to meet her ladyship, so you'm free to
come 'bove deck if so minded?"

"Nay, I'll bide where I am, Godby."

"Why then come, Mart'n, clap your eye on my beauties--here's guns,
Mart'n, six culverins and t'others sakers, and yonder astern two
basilisks as shall work ye death and destruction at two or three
thousand paces; 'bove deck amidships I've divers goodly pieces as
minions, falcons and patereros with murderers mounted aft to sweep the
waist.  For her size she's well armed is the 'Faithful Friend,' Mart'n!"

Thus Godby, as he led me from gun to gun slapping hand on breech or
trunnion, and as I hearkened 'twas hard to recognise the merry peddler
in this short, square, grave-faced gunner who spake with mariner's
tongue, hitched ever and anon at the broad belt of his galligaskins,
and rolled in his gait already.

"She's a fair ship!" says I, seating myself on one of the great guns
mounted astern.

"She is so, Mart'n.  There's no finer e'er sailed from Deptford Pool,
which is saying much, split me if it isn't.  Though, when all's said,
Martin, I could wish for twenty more men to do justice to my noble
guns, aye thirty at the least."

"Are we so short?"

"We carry but ninety and two all told, pal, which considering my guns
is pity--aye, vast pity, plague me else!  'Twould leave me shorthanded
to serve my guns should they be necessary, which is fair and likely,
Martin."

"And black rogues they are!" says I.

"Never clapped eyes on worse, pal, kick me endwise else!  But Captain
Adam's the man for such and I mean to work 'em daily, each and every,
at my guns as soon as we be well at sea.  Ah, there soundeth Toby
Hudd's pipe--all hands on deck--this should be her ladyship coming
aboard.  So here's me aloft and you alow, and good luck to both, pal."
Saying which he nodded, gave a hitch to his wide galligaskins and
rolled away.  Now coming to the gun-port I have mentioned I must needs
pause there awhile to look out across the misty river already darkening
to evening; and thus presently beheld a boat, vague and blurred at
first, but as it drew nearer saw in the stern-sheets four gallants who
laughed and talked gaily enough, and the muffled forms of two women,
and in one, from the bold, free carriage of her head, I recognised,
despite hood and cloak, my Lady Joan Brandon; nay, as the boat drew in,
I heard the sweet, vital tones of her voice, and with this in my ears I
caught up my lanthorn and so descended to the orlop.  Now as I paused
at the narrow scuttle that gave down to my noxious hiding-place, I
thought to hear a step somewhere in the gloom below.

"Ha, Godby!" says I.  "Are you down there, man?"  But getting no
answer, I descended the ladder, bethinking me of the rats (whereof I
had no lack of company), and coming into my dog-hole, closed the
rickety door, and having supped, cast myself down upon my bed and blew
out the light, and despite the rustle and scutter away there in the
dark beyond my crazy door I was very soon asleep.

And in my sleep what must I dream of but rats with eyes that glared in
the dark, that crawled ever nearer, while one that crept upon my bosom
grew and swelled into a great fellow with a steel hook in place of one
hand, a face with flashing white teeth and glowing eyes that peered
close ere eyes and teeth vanished, and I sunk down and down into a
black emptiness of dreamless slumber.



CHAPTER XVI

TELLS HOW WE WERE DOGGED BY THE BLACK SHIP

I awoke in panic and, leaping up groped in the pitch-dark until my
eager fingers closed on the haft of the sheath-knife under my pillow,
and with this naked in my hand I crouched awaiting I knew not what; for
all about me was direful sound, groans and cries with wailings long
drawn out in shuddering complaint.  Then, all at once, my panic was
lost in sudden great content, and thrusting away the knife I took flint
and steel and therewith lighted my lanthorn; since now indeed I knew
these dismal sounds nought but the creak and groan of the stout ship,
the voice of her travail as she rose to the seas.  And as I hearkened,
every individual timber seemed to find a voice, and what with this and
the uneasy pitching and rolling of the ship I judged we were well under
weigh and beyond the river-mouth.  This (bethinking me of the damage we
had sustained from the great black ship) set me to wondering, insomuch
that I reached for my lanthorn, minded to steal on deck that I might
know our whereabouts and if it were day or night, since here in the
bowels of the ship it was always night.  So (as I say) I reached for
the lanthorn, then paused as above all other sounds rose a cheery hail,
and under the door was the flicker of a light.  Hereupon I opened the
door (though with strangely awkward fingers) and thus espied Godby
lurching towards me.

"What, Mart'n pal," says he, sitting beside me on my berth and setting
down the food and drink he had brought, "are ye waking at last?"

"Have I slept long, Godby?"

"You've slept, Mart'n, a full thirty hours."

"Thirty hours, Godby?"

"Split me crosswise else, pal!"

"Mighty strange!" says I, reaching for the flask he had brought, for I
felt my mouth bitterly parched and dry, while, added to the consuming
thirst, my head throbbed miserably.

"Well, here we be, pal, clear o' the river this twelve hours and more.
And, Mart'n, this is a ship--aye, by hokey, a sailer!  So true on a
wind, so sweet to her helm, and Master Adam's worthy of her, blister me
else!"

"'Tis strange I should sleep so long!" says I, clasping my aching head.

"Why, you'm wise to sleep all ye can, pal, seeing there be nought
better to do here i' the dark," says he, setting out the viands before
me.  "What, no appetite, Mart'n?"  I shook my head.  "Lord love ye,
'tis the dark and the curst reek o' this place, pal--come aloft, all's
bowmon, the fine folk han't found their sea-legs yet, nor like to while
this wind holds, Mart'n--so come aloft wi' Godby."

Nothing loth I rose and stumbled towards the ladder, marvelling to find
my hands and feet so unwieldy as I climbed; the higher I went the more
the rolling and pitching of the ship grew on me, so that when at last I
dragged myself out on deck it was no wonder to find the weather very
blusterous and with, ever and anon, clouds of white spray lashing
aboard out of the hissing dark with much wind that piped shrill and
high in cordage and rigging.

Being sheltered by the high bulwark hard beside the quarter-deck
ladder, I leaned awhile to stare about me and drink in great draughts
of sweet, clean air, so that in a little my head grew easier and the
heaviness passed from me.  Ever and anon the moon peeped through wrack
of flying cloud, by whose pale beam I caught glimpses of bellying sails
towering aloft with their indefinable mass of gear and rigging, and the
heel and lift of her looming forecastle as the stately vessel rose to
the heaving seas or plunged in a white smother of foam.

"She rides well, Mart'n!" roared Godby in my ear.  "Aha, here's duck of
a ship, pal!"

"Where's Adam?" I questioned.

"To'-gallant poop, Mart'n.  Lord love ye, it's little sleep he's had
since we hove anchor.  Hark'ee, pal--he's got it into his head as we'm
being dogged!"

"Dogged, man--by what?"

"By that same great black ship as fouled us--he has so, pal--roast me
else!  But come your ways."  So saying, Godby climbed to the
quarter-deck and I after him, and mounting the poop-ladder, presently
came on Penfeather, peering hard over our lee.

"Ha, is it you, shipmate!" says he, drawing me out of the wind. "Look
yonder, d'ye see aught of a rag o' sail, Martin?" Following his
pointing finger, I stared away into the distance across a tumbling
spume of waters vague in the half-light.  "D'ye glimpse aught, Martin?"

"Nothing, Adam!"

"Wait for the moon, shipmate--now, look yonder!"  As the light grew, I
swept the distant horizon with my eyes until, all at once against the
night, I saw the sheen of distant canvas that gleamed and was gone
again as a cloud veiled the moon.  "You saw it, Martin?"

"Plainly!" says I, whereupon he sprang away to the men at the helm;
came the hoarse roar of speaking-trumpet, and decks and waist below
seemed alive with scurrying, dim figures; and now was a chorus of
shouts and yo-ho-ing as the "Faithful Friend," obedient to his
commands, swung off upon an altered course.

"Godby," says Adam, beckoning us where stood the compass or bittacle,
"look'ee, as she bears now we should be nigh enough yon curst ship to
learn more of her by peep o' dawn."

"Aye, Cap'n--and then?"

"Then you shall try what you can do wi' one o' those long guns o'
yours."

"Lord love ye, Cap'n, that's the spirit!" cried Godby, hitching
joyously at his broad belt, "All I asks is a fair light and no favour!"

"And you have the middle watch, Godby man, so I'll get a wink o'
sleep," says Adam, "but do you call me so soon as we raise her hull.
As for you, Martin, you'll have slept your fill, I judge."

"And yet I'm plaguy drowsy still!" says I.

"There's a spare berth in the coach, comrade, an you're so minded!"

"Nay, Adam, I'll watch awhile with Godby."

"Good!  You've keen eyes, Martin--use 'em!" says he, and goes down the
ladder forthwith.

And now, pacing the lofty poop beside Godby, I was aware that the
"Faithful Friend" was dark fore and aft, not a light twinkled anywhere.

"How comes this, Godby!" says I, pointing to the dim shapes of the
great stern lanthorns above us.

"Cap'n's orders, Mart'n!  We've been dark these two nights, and yet if
yon craft is what we think, 'twould seem she follows us by smell, pal,
smell.  As how, say you?  Says I, last night she was fair to be seen
having closed us during the day, so out go our lights and up goes our
helm and we stand away from her.  At dawn she was nowhere and yet--here
she is again--if yon ship be the same."

"Which we shall learn in an hour or so, Godby."

"Aye, Mart'n, if she don't smell us a-coming and bear away from us.
And yet she must be a clean, fast vessel, but we'll overhaul her going
roomer or on a bowline."

"Roomer?  Speak plain, Godby, I'm no mariner!"

"Time'll teach ye, pal!  Look'ee now, 'roomer' means 'large,' and
'large' means 'free,' and 'free' means wi' a quartering-wind, and that
means going away from the wind or the wind astarn of us; whiles 'on a
bowline' means close-hauled agin the wind, d'ye see?"

"Godby, 'tis hard to believe you that same peddler I fell in with at
the 'Hop-pole.'"

"Why, Mart'n, I'm a cove as adapts himself according.  Give me a pack
and I'm all peddler and j'y in it, gi'e me a ship and I'm all mariner
to handle her sweet and kind and lay ye a course wi' any--though guns
is my meat, Mart'n.  Fifteen year I followed the sea and a man is apt
to learn a little in such time.  So here stand I this day not only
gunner but master's mate beside of as tight a ship, maugre the crew, as
ever sailed--and all along o' that same chance meeting at the
'Hop-pole.'"

"And though a friend of Bym you knew little of Adam Penfeather?"

"Little enough, Mart'n.  Joel be no talker--but it do seem Jo was one
of the Coast-Brotherhood once when Cap'n Penfeather saved his life and
that, years agone.  So Joel comes home and sets up marriage, free-trade
and what not, when one day lately Master Adam walks into the 'Peck o'
Malt,' and no whit changed for all the years save his white hair.  And
here comes rain, Mart'n--"

"And wind!" says I as the stout ship reeled and plunged to the howling
gust.

"No, Mart'n," roared Godby above the piping tumult, "not real wind,
pal--a stiffish breeze--jolly capful."

Slowly the night wore away and therewith the buffeting wind gentled
somewhat; gradually in the east was a pale glimmer that, growing,
showed great, black masses of torn cloud scudding fast above our
reeling mastheads and all about us a troubled sea.  But as the light
grew, look how I might, nowhere could I descry aught of any ship upon
that vast horizon of foaming waters.

"Ha!" says Godby, venting huge sigh, "there's to be no play for my guns
this day, Mart'n."

"Nay but," says I, mighty perplexed, "what's come of her?  She could
never have marked our change of course at the distance and 'twas black
dark beside, and we bore no lights."

"Mayhap she smelt us, pal, as I said afore.  Howbeit, 'tis beyond me,
cram me wi' rope-yarn else!"

Now, as he spoke, up came the sun, turning lowering sky and tempestuous
ocean to glory; every ragged cloud became as it were streaming banners
enwrought of scarlet and gold, every foaming billow a rolling splendour
rainbow-capped, insomuch that I stood awed by the very beauty of it all.

"I love the good, kind earth, Mart'n, wi' its green grass and flowers
a' peep, 'tis a fair resting-place for a man when all's done and said,
but yonder, pal--ah, there's glory for ye!  Many's the time I've
watched it, dawn and sunset, and, minding all the goodly ships and the
jolly lads as are a-sleeping down below, at such times, Mart'n, it do
seem to me as if all the good and glory of 'em came aloft for eyes to
see awhile--howbeit, 'tis a noble winding-sheet, pal, from everlasting
to everlasting, amen!  And by that same token the wind's veering, which
meaneth a fair-weather spell, and I must trim.  Meantime do you rouse
Master Adam."  And here, setting hands to mouth, Godby roared high
above the wind:

"Watch ho!  Watch!  Brace about--bowse away there!"

As I crossed the deck, up the poop ladder comes Adam himself, his red
seaman's bonnet tight-drawn about his ears and a perspective-glass
under his arm.  "'Tis as I thought, Martin," says he, pinching his chin
and scowling away to leeward, "she changed course as we did."

"Nay but, Adam, how should she know we changed and the night so black?"

"Very easily, shipmate, by means of a light--"

"We bore no lights, Adam."

"None the less someone aboard this ship signalled yon black craft by
means of a lanthorn, 'tis beyond doubt!"

"And why should she follow us, think ye?"

"Why am I a marked man, shipmate, why have I been dogged hither and yon
across seas?  Come into the coach and I'll tell ye a thing.  Godby!"
says he, coming where Godby stood beside the steersman, "lay her on her
old course.  'Tis Merrilees takes next watch, I think--tell him to warn
me as soon as we raise her accursed topsails."

"What," says I, as we climbed from the lofty poop, "you think she will
dog us still, then?"

"I know it, Martin!" says he gloomily, and so brought me into a
smallish cabin under the top-gallant poop; here were bunks to larboard
and starboard with a table mid-way furnished with calendars, charts, a
cross-staff, an astrolabe, with globes and the like, while against the
walls stood rows of calivers, musquetoons and fusees, set in racks very
orderly.  "Aye, shipmate," says he, noting my gaze, "every firelock
aboard is either here or in the arm-chests i' the round-house below,
and our powder is all stored well aft, by reason that I am a cautious
man, d'ye see!  Sit ye, Martin!  Now as to this black ship--first of
all she fouls us in the river, the which was no accident, Martin,
though just what the motive was I'm yet a-seeking. Second, as she
drifted past us whom should I see aboard her but Abnegation Mings and
pulled trigger a moment too late, but winged another o' the rogues.
Third, when we'd repaired our damage and got us clear of the river what
should we see but this same black ship hove short waiting us, for she
presently stands after us. And so she's dogged us ever since and so dog
us she will to the world's end unless I can bring her to action."

"She's a fighting ship by her looks and heavily armed!" says I.

"So are we, Martin!"

"And our men, Adam?"

"Ah!" says he, pinching his chin, "there it is, Martin, there it is!
Look'ee, shipmate, in all this crew there are no more than twenty men I
can count on, nay, less--ten only can I swear by. See now, here's you
and Merrilees and Godby, here's Farnaby and Toby Hudd the bo'sun,
Treliving the carpenter, and McLean his mate, here's Robins and Perks
and Taffery the armourer--good mariners all.  These I can trust,
shipmate, but never another one!"

"And what of the captain, Sir Rupert Dering?"

"That, Martin!" says Penfeather, snapping his fingers.  "A very
gentleman-like fool, d'ye see, a bladder of air--like his three
fellows."

"So we have four gentlemen aboard, Adam?"

"Aye--princocks all that do nothing but vie in court to her ladyship!
Now look'ee, Martin, what with one thing or another, and this hell-fire
ship on our heels in especial, there's stir and disaffection among the
crew, a-whispering o' corners that I don't like, and which is apt to
spread unless looked to. Wherefore this morning I ordered a certain
red-haired rascal fifty lashes athwart a gun.  But the bo'sun had laid
on but poor ten and the fellow roaring lustily when into the
'tween-decks cometh my lady in mighty taking, and seeing the rogue's
back a little bloody, ordered him freed and thereafter cossets him wi'
dainties from her own table.  Lord love ye!  Which cometh o' women
aboard ship!"  And here Adam sighed mighty dismal.

"Why then," says I, "here's work for me, belike."

"As how, Martin?"

"Nay, leave it to me, being little better than rogue myself I should
know how to outmatch roguery!"

"Meaning you'll spy on 'em, shipmate?"

"And lie and cozen and join fellowship with 'em if need be. Howbeit
there's aught afoot I'll bottom it, one rascally fashion or t'other."

"'Tis desperate risk, Martin, and should they suspicion you--"

"Why, look, Adam, my life's none so sweet or precious that I'd cherish
it in lavender.  Besides I've a feeling I may not die until--at least,
not yet."

"Wait!" says he, as I rose.  "Bide a while, Martin!"  And, opening a
locker beneath his bunk, he took thence a shirt of fine chain-work like
that he himself wore.  Shaking my head I would have put it by but he
caught my arm in his powerful grip and shook me insistent.  "Take it,
Martin," says he, "take it, man, 'tis easy and pleasant as any glove,
yet mighty efficacious 'gainst point or edge, and you go where knives
are sudden!  Stay then, take it for my sake, shipmate, since trusty
comrades be few and mighty hard come by."  So in the end I did it on
beneath my doublet and found it to irk me nothing.  "And now, what?" he
questioned, as I opened the door.

"Sleep," says I, yawning.

"There's a bunk yonder, Martin," says he, eyeing me 'twixt narrowed
lids.

"Nay, I'm for my dog-hole, Adam."

"You seem to sleep much and mighty well, despite stench and rats,
shipmate."

"I'm grown used to 'em," says I, with another yawn, "and as to sleeping
I do little else of late--'tis the dark, belike, or bad air, or lack of
exercise."  Now as I rose to be gone, the deck seemed to heave oddly
beneath my feet and the cabin to swing dizzily round, so that I must
needs grip at the table to steady myself, while Adam peered at me
through a haze as it were.

"What's here, Martin, are ye sick?" he questioned.

"A vertigo!" I mumbled, "I'll into the air!"  In a little the dizziness
abating, I got me out on deck and found in the rushing wind mighty
comfort and refreshment, while Adam steadied me with his arm.  "Let
be!" says I, shaking off his hold.  "'Twas nought--I'll go sleep
again."  And waiting for no more I stumbled down the quarter-ladder;
but even as I went, the haze seemed to close about me thicker than
ever, and groping my way to the ship's side I sank across the bulwark
and was miserably sick.  This agony passing, I made my way below until
I reached the orlop; but now feeling my sickness upon me again I crept
away into a dark corner and cast me down there.  And lying thus in my
misery I little by little became aware of someone weeping hard by, a
desolate sobbing very pitiful to hear.  Insomuch that (maugre my
weakness) I got up and going whence this sobbing proceeded, presently
came on a small, huddled figure, and stooping, saw it was a little lad.
At my step he started to his knees, elbow upraised as if expecting a
blow.

"Why d'ye weep, boy?" I questioned.  "What's your trouble?"

"Nowt!" says he, cowering away; but taking him by his little, thin
shoulders I lifted him into the dim light of a swinging lanthorn, and
looked into a small, pallid face swollen and disfigured by cuts and
bruises wrought by some brutal hand.

"Who did this?" I demanded.

"Nobody!" says he, gulping a sob.

"Who are you?"

"'Tween-decks boy."

"How old are you, child?"

At this he stared up at me out of his swollen eyes, then covering his
face in ragged sleeve broke into convulsive sobbing.

"What now?" says I, drawing him beside me.  "What now?"

"She used to call me 'child'--my mother--" and here his grief choked
him.  Now as I looked down upon this little, pitiful creature, I forgot
my sickness in sudden, fierce anger.

"Boy," said I, "who's been flogging you--speak!"

"Red Andy," he gasped, "'e be always a' doin' of it 'e be--wish I was
dead like my mother!"

"Jim, ho Jimmy," roared a voice from somewhere in the gloom forward,
"Jim--plague seize ye, show a leg, will 'ee--"  Here (and before I
could stay him) the boy started up and pattered away drying his tears
as he ran.  Now as I lay there I kicked off my shoes and hearkened
expectant.  Thus, all at once I heard a murmur rising to a wail that
ended in a shrill scream, and getting to my feet I crept stealthily
forward.  Past main and foremasts I crept, past dark store-rooms and
cubby-holes, and so to a crack of light, and clapping my eye thereto,
espied two fellows rolling dice and beyond them the boy, his hands
lashed miserably to a staple in the bulkhead, his little body writhing
under the cruel blows of a rope's-end wielded by a great, red-headed
fellow.

Now in my many desperate affrays with my fellow-slaves (those
two-legged beasts) I had learned that it is the first blow that tells;
wherefore groping for the latch I stealthily opened the door and, or
ever the red-headed fellow was aware, I was upon him from behind and,
giving him no chance for defence, I smote him a buffet under the ear
that tumbled him against the bulkhead whence he sank to hands and
knees.  Then while, half-dazed, he strove to rise, I kicked him down
again, and setting my foot upon his chest, caught up the rope's-end he
had dropped and beat him therewith until he roared, until he groaned
and lay writhing, face hid beneath his crossed arms.  Then, whipping
out my knife, I fronted his two mates, the one a doleful, bony man with
a squint, the other a small, mean, black-eyed fellow in a striped shirt
who, closing one bright eye, leered at them with the other; all at once
he nodded, and pointing from the knife in my fist to the fellow
groaning beneath my foot, drew a long thumb across his own stringy
throat, and nodded again.  Hereupon I stooped above my captive and set
the flat of my blade to his forehead just below his thick, red hair.

"Look'ee, dog!" I panted, while he glared up at me beneath his bruised
arms, "Set so much as a finger on yon pitiful brat again and I'll cut a
mark in your gallows-face shall last your life out."

"His throat, cully--quick's the word!" breathed a voice in my ear.  But
now as I turned and the little black-eyed fellow leapt nimbly back, was
a creaking and groaning of the ladder that led to the main-deck above,
and down comes a pair of prodigious stout legs, and after these a round
body, and last of all a great, flat face small of mouth, small of nose,
and with a pair of little, quick eyes that winked and blinked betwixt
hairless lids.

The fat fellow having got him down the ladder (and with wondrous ease
for one of his bulk) stood winking and blinking at me the while he
patted one of his plump cheeks with plump fingers.

"Love my limbs!" says he in soft, high-pitched voice.  "Perish and
plague me, but who's the friend as be a rope's-ending o' ye, Andy
lad--you as be cock o' the ship?"  Here the fellow beneath my foot
essays to curse, but groans instead.  "Bless my guts!" says the fat
man, blinking harder than ever, "So bad as that, Andy lad?  Wot then,
hath this fine, upstanding cock o' cocks thrashed all the hell-fire
spirit out o' ye, Andy lad?  Love my innards--I thought no man aboard
could do as much, Andy."

"He jumped me from behind!" says the fellow Andy 'twixt snarl and groan
and writhing under my 'prisoning feet.

"And where," says the fat man, smiling at me, "where might you ha' come
from, my bird o' price?  The bo'sun's mate Samuel Spraggons is me,
friend--Sam for short, called likewise Smiling Sam--come, come, never
scowl on Sam--nobody never quarrels with the Smiler, I'm friends wi'
everyone, I am, friend."

"Why then--loose the child!" says I.

"Child?  Ha, is't this little rogueling ye mean, friend?"  As he spoke
(and smiling yet) he caught the boy's ear and wrung it 'twixt vicious
thumb and finger, whereon I whirled the rope's-end, but he sprang out
of reach with wondrous agility and stood patting plump cheek and
smiling more kindly than ever, the while I cut the cords that bound the
boy's wrists, who, with an up-flung, wondering look at me, sped away
into the orlop and was gone.

"Now mark ye, Spraggons," says I, "harm the child again--any of ye--and
I'll beat your fat carcass to a jelly."

"No, no!" quoth he, "you can't quarrel wi' me, the Smiler don't never
quarrel wi' none.  You'd never strike Smiling Sam, friend!"

"Stand still and see!" says I.  But hereupon he retreated to the ladder
and I, feeling my sickness upon me again, contented me by throwing the
rope's-end at the fellow and stepping out backward, clapped to the
door.  So with what speed I might I got me down into the hold and to my
dog-hole.  And here I saw I had left my lanthorn burning, and found in
this light strange comfort.  Now being mighty athirst I reached the
demijohn from the corner and drank deep, but the good water tasted ill
on my parched tongue; moreover the place seemed strangely close and
airless and I in great heat, wherefore I tore off my sleeved doublet
and, kicking off my shoes, cast myself upon my miserable bed.  But now
as I lay blinking at the lanthorn I was seized of sudden, great dread,
though of what I knew not; and ever as my drowsiness increased so grew
my fear until (and all at once) I knew that the thing I dreaded was
Sleep, and fain would I have started up, but, even then, sleep seized
me, and strive how I would my eyes closed and I fell into deep and
fear-haunted slumber.



CHAPTER XVII

TELLETH HOW AN EYE WATCHED ME FROM THE DARK

It is not my intention to chronicle all those minor happenings that
befell us at this time, lest my narrative prove over-long and therefore
tedious to the reader.  Suffice it then that the fair weather foretold
by Godby had set in and day by day we stood on with a favouring wind.
Nevertheless, despite calm weather and propitious gale, the
disaffection among the crew waxed apace by reason of the great black
ship that dogged us, some holding her to be a bloody pirate and others
a phantom-ship foredooming us to destruction.

As to myself, never was poor wretch in more woeful plight for,
'prisoned in the stifling hold where no ray of kindly sun might ever
penetrate, and void of all human fellowship, I became a prey to wild,
unholy fancies and a mind-sickness bred of my brooding humours; my evil
thoughts seemed to take on stealthy shapes that haunted the fetid gloom
about me, shapes of horror and murder conjured up of my own vengeful
imaginations.  An evil time indeed this, of long, uneasy sleepings, of
hateful dreams and ill wakings, of sullen humours and a horror of all
companionship, insomuch that when came Godby or Adam to supply my daily
wants, I would hide myself until they should be gone; thereafter,
tossing feverishly upon my miserable bed, I would brood upon my wrongs,
hugging to myself the thought of vengeance and joying in the knowledge
that every hour brought me the nearer its fulfilment.

And now it was that I became possessed of an uneasy feeling that I was
not alone, that beyond my crazy door was a thing, soft-breathing, that
lurked watchful-eyed in the gloom, hearkening for my smallest movement
and following on soundless feet whithersoever I went.  This unease so
grew upon me that when not lost in fevered sleep I would lie, with
breath in check, listening to such sounds as reached me above the
never-ceasing groaning of the vessel's labour, until the squeak and
scutter of some rat hard by, or any unwonted rustling beyond the door,
would bring me to an elbow in sweating panic.

To combat the which sick fancies it became my custom to steal up from
my fetid hiding-place at dead of night and to prowl soft-footed about
the ship where none stirred save myself and the drowsy watch above
deck.  None the less (and go where I would) it seemed I was haunted
still, that behind me lurked a nameless dread, a silent, unseen
presence.  Night after night I roamed the ship thus, my fingers
clenched on the knife in my girdle, my ears on the strain and eyes that
sought vainly every dark corner or patch of shadow.

At last, on a night, as I crouched beside a gun on the 'tween-decks I
espied of a sudden a shape, dim and impalpable-seeming in the gloom,
that flitted silently past me and up the ladder to the deck above.  Up
started I, knife in hand, but in my haste I stumbled over some obstacle
and fell; but up the ladder I sprang in pursuit, out into moonlight,
and hastening forward came face to face with Adam.

"Ha-rogue!" I cried, and sprang at him with up lifted knife; but as I
came he stepped aside (incredibly quick) and thrusting out a foot
tripped me sprawling.

"Easy, shipmate, easy!" says he, thrusting a pistol under my nose.
"Lord love you, Martin, what would you now?"

"So you'll follow me, will you!" I panted.  "You'll creep and crawl and
spy on me, will you?"

"Neither one nor t'other, Martin."

"'Twas you climbed the gangway but now!"

"Not I, Martin, not I."  And as I scowled up at him I knew he spoke
truth, and a new fear seized me.

"And you saw no one, Adam?  Nothing--no shape that flitted up the
ladder hitherwards and no sound to it?"

"Never a thing, Martin, save yourself."

"Why then," says I, clasping my temples, "why then--I'm mad!"

"How so, comrade?"

"Because I'm followed--I'm watched--spied upon sleeping and waking!"

"Aye, but how d'ye know?" he questioned, stooping to peer at me.

"I feel it--I've known it for days past, and to-night I saw it. I'm
haunted, I tell you!"

"Who by, shipmate?"

"Aye!" I cried.  "Who is it--what?  'Tis a thing that flits i' the dark
and with never a sound, that watches and listens.  It mounted the
ladder yonder scarce a moment since plain to my sight--"

"Yet I saw nothing, Martin.  And not a soul stirring, save the watch
forward, the steersman aft, and myself."

"Why then I'm verily mad!" says I.

"Not you, shipmate, not you.  'Tis nought but the solitude and
darkness, they take many a man that way, so ha' done with 'em, Martin!
My lady's offer of employ yet holdeth good, so 'list with me as
master's mate, say but the word and--"

"No!" says I, fiercely.  "Come what may I take no service under an
accursed Brandon!"  Saying which I got me to my feet and presently back
to the haunted dark.

Thus the days dragged by all unmarked by me (that took no more heed of
time) for my fevered restlessness gave place to a heaviness, a growing
inertia that gripped me, mind and body; thus when not lost in troubled
sleep I would lie motionless, staring dully at the dim flame of the
lanthorn or blinking sightless on the dark.

This strange sickness (as hath been said) I then set down to no more
than confinement and my unwholesome situation, in the which supposition
I was very far beside the mark, as you shall hear. For there now befell
a thing that roused me from my apathy once and for all, and thereby
saved me from miserably perishing and others with me, and the manner of
it thus:

On a time as I lay 'twixt sleep and wake, my glance (and for no reason
in the world) chanced upon that knot-hole in the opposite bulkhead, the
which (as already told) I had wrought into the likeness of a great eye.
Now, as I stared at it, the thing seemed, all at once, to grow instinct
with life and to stare back at me.  I continued to view it (dully
enough) until little by little I became aware of something strange
about it, and then as I watched this (that was no more than a
knot-hole) the thing winked at me.  Thinking this but some wild fancy
or a trick of the light I lay still, watching it beneath my lowered
lids, and thus I suddenly caught the glitter of the thing as it moved
and knew it for a very bright, human eye that watched me through the
knot-hole.  Now this may seem a very small matter in the telling, but
to me at that moment (overwrought by my long sojourn in the dark) it
was vastly otherwise.

For maybe a full minute the eye stared at me, fixed and motionless and
with a piercing intensity, then suddenly was gone, and I lying there,
my flesh a-tingle, my heart quick-beating in a strange terror, so that
I marvelled to find myself so shaken. Leaping up in sudden fierce anger
I wrenched open the door and rushed forth, only to fall headlong over
some obstacle; and lying there bruised and dazed heard the soft thud
and scamper of rats in the dark hard by.  So I got me back to my bunk,
and lying there fell to a gloomy reflection.  And the more I thought,
the fiercer grew my anger that any should dare so to spy upon me.

Thus it was in one of my blackest humours that Godby found me when,
having set down the victuals he had brought, he closed the crazy door
and seated himself on the cask that served me as chair, and bent to
peer at me where I lay.

"Mart'n," said he, speaking almost in a whisper, "be ye awake at last?"
For answer I cursed him heartily.  "Avast, pal!" says he shaking his
head, "look'ee, Mart'n, 'tis in my mind the devil's aboard this ship."

"And what then?" I demanded angrily.  "Am I a raree show to be peeped
at and watched and spied upon?"

"Anan, pal--watched, d'ye say?"

"Aye, stared at through the knot-hole yonder awhile since by you or
Penfeather."

"Never knowed there was a knot-hole, Mart'n," said he in the same
hushed voice and staring at the thing, "and as for Cap'n Adam he aren't
been anigh you this two days.  But 'tis all one, pal, all one--this
ship do be haunted.  And as for eyes a-watching of ye, Martin, who
should it be but this here ghost as walketh the ship o'nights and makes
away wi' good men."

"How d'ye mean?" I questioned, reaching the ale he had brought. "What
talk is this of ghosts?"

"What's yon?" he whispered, starting up, as a rustling sounded beyond
the door.

"Mere rats, man!"

"Lord love ye, Mart'n," says he, glancing about him, "'tis a chancy
place this.  I don't know how ye can abide it."

"I've known worse!" said I.

"Then ye don't believe in spectres, Mart'n--ghosts, pal, nor yet
phantoms?"

"No, I don't!"

"Well, Mart'n, there be strange talk among the crew o' something as do
haunt the 'tween-decks--"

"Aye, I've overheard some such!" I nodded.  "But, look ye, I've haunted
the ship myself of late."

"And yet you've seen nowt o' this thing, pal?"

"No.  What thing should I see?"

"Who knows, Martin?  But the sea aren't the land, and here on these
wild wastes o' waters there's chancy things beyond any man's wisdom as
any mariner'll--ha, what's yon?" says he under his breath and whipping
round, knife in hand.  "'Twas like a shoeless foot, Mart'n ... creeping
murder ... 'Tis there again!" Speaking, he tore open the door and I saw
his knife flash as he sprang into the darkness beyond; as for me I
quaffed my ale. Presently back he comes, claps to the door (mighty
careful) and sinking upon the upturned cask, mops at his brow.

"Content you, Godby," says I, "here be no ghosts--"

"Soft, lad--speak soft!" he whispered.  "For--Lord love you, Mart'n,
'tis worse than ghosts as I do fear!  Dog bite me, pal, here's been
black and bloody doings aboard us this last two nights."

"How so, Godby?" I questioned, lowering my voice in turn as I met his
look.

"I mean, lad, as this thing--call it ghost or what ye will--has took
three men these last two nights.  There's Perks o' Deptford, McLean as
hails from Leith, and Treliving the Cornishman--three good men,
Mart'n--lost, vanished, gone!  And, O pal, wi' never a mark or trace to
tell how!"

"Lost!  D'ye mean--overboard?"

"No, Mart'n, I mean--lost!  And each of them i' the middle watch--the
sleepy hour, Mart'n, just afore dawn.  In a fair night, pal, wi' a calm
sea--these men vanish and none to see 'em go. And all of 'em prime
sailor-men and trusty.  The which, Mart'n, sets a cove to wondering
who'll be next."

"But are you sure they are gone?"

"Aye, Mart'n, we've sought 'em alow and aloft, all over the ship, save
only this hole o' yourn--the which you might ha' known had ye slept
less."

"Have I slept so much, then?"

"Pal, you've done little else since you came aboard, seemingly. All
yesterday, as I do know, you slept and never stirred nor took so much
as bite or sup--and I know because while we was a' turning out the hold
a-seekin' and a-searchin' I come and took a look at ye every now and
then, and here's you a-lyin' like a dead man but for your snoring."

"Here's strange thing, and mighty strange!  For until I came aboard I
was ever a wondrous light sleeper, Godby."

"Why, 'tis the stench o' this place--faugh!  Come aloft and take a
mouthful o' good, sweet air, pal."

"You say you sought these men everywhere--even down here in the hold?"

"Aye, alow and aloft, every bulkhead and timber from trucks to keelson!"

"And all this time I was asleep, Godby?"

"Aye--like a log, Mart'n."

"And breathing heavily?"

"Aye, ye did so, pal, groaning ye might call it--aye, fit to chill a
man's good blood!"

"And neither you nor Adam nor the others thought to search this
dog-hole of mine?"

"Lord love ye--no, Mart'n!  How should three men hide here?"

"Three men?  Aye, true enough!" says I, clasping my head to stay the
rush and hurry of my thoughts.

"Come aloft, pal, 'tis a fair evening and the fine folk all a-supping
in the great cabin.  Come into the air."

"Yes," I nodded, "yes, 'twill clear my head and I must think, Godby, I
must think.  Reach me my doublet," says I, for now I felt myself all
shivering as with cold.  So Godby took up the garment where it lay and
held it out to me; but all at once let it fall and, drawing back, stood
staring down at it, and all with never a word; whiles I sat crouched
upon my bed, my head between my clenched fists and my mind reeling
beneath the growing horror of the thought that filled me.  And now,
even as this thought took dreadful shape and meaning--even as suspicion
grew to certainty, I heard Godby draw a gasping breath, saw him reach a
stealthy, fumbling hand behind him and open the door, and then, leaping
backwards, he was swallowed in the dark, and with a hurry of stumbling
feet, was gone.

But I scarcely heeded his going or the manner of it, so stunned was I
by the sudden realisation of the terror that had haunted my ghastly
slumbers and evil wakings, a terror that (if my dreadful speculations
were true) was very real after all, a peril deadly and imminent.

The truth of which I now (and feverishly) set myself to prove beyond
all doubt, and reached for the lanthorn.  Now in so doing my foot
caught in the doublet lying where Godby had dropped it, and I picked it
up out of the way; but as I lifted it into the light I let it fall
again (even as Godby had done):  and now, staring down at it, felt my
flesh suddenly a-creep for, as it lay there at my feet, I saw upon one
sleeve a great, dark stain that smeared it up from wrist to elbow--the
hideous stain of new-spilt blood.



CHAPTER XVIII

CONCERNING THE MARK OF A BLOODY HAND AND HOW I LAY IN THE BILBOES ON
SUSPICION OF MURDER

It was with an effort at last that I dragged my gaze from the hateful
thing at my feet, only to meet the wide stare of that great eye my
knife had wrought and (albeit no human eye now glittered there) yet it
seemed none the less to watch my every move so persistently that I
snatched off my neckerchief and pinning it against the bulkhead with my
knife, hid the thing from sight.  Which done, I spurned my
blood-stained doublet into a corner and getting to hands and knees with
the light beside me, began my search.

My bunk was formed of boards supported by four up-ended casks and
stretched the whole length of my small chamber.  Upon these boards was
a pallet covered by a great blanket that hung down to the very
flooring; lifting this, I advanced the lanthorn and so began to examine
very narrowly this space beneath my bed.  And first I noticed that the
flooring hereabouts was free of dust as it had been new-swept, and
presently in the far corner espied a blurred mark that, as I looked,
took grim form and semblance; stooping nearer I stared at this in the
full glare of the lanthorn, then, shrank back (as well I might) for now
I saw this mark was indeed the print of a great, bloody hand, open at
full stretch.  Crouching thus, I felt again all the horror I had known
in my dreams, that dread of some unseen, haunting presence seeming to
breathe in the very air about me, a feeling of some evil thing that
moved and crept in the dark beyond the door, of ears that hearkened to
my every move and eyes that watched me unseen.  And this terror waxed
and grew, until hearing a faint stirring behind me, I whirled about in
panic to see the neckerchief gently a-swing against the bulkhead where
I had pinned it; and though this was caused by no more than the motion
of the ship (as I judged), yet in my then state of mind I whipped out
my pistol and, levelling at the knot-hole, pulled the trigger, whereon
was a mere flash in the pan and no more.  This of itself steadied me,
and sitting on my bed I found that the charge had been withdrawn.

Laying by the useless weapon (for I had neither powder nor ball) I fell
to profound meditation.  And now indeed many things were plain; here
(methought) had been the ghost, here had lain the murderer of three
men, here in the one and only safe place for him in the whole ship,
viz., beneath my bed, the while I lay there in drugged sleep.  It would
be simple matter to steal hither in my absence and drug my food, and
would explain the strange nausea had so afflicted me of late.  Here
then I had the secret of my day-long sleeping, my vapours and black
humours, here the explanation of my evil dreams and ghastly visions
while Death, in human guise, crept about my couch or stooped above my
unconscious form.  But (I reasoned) I was not to be murdered, since I
was of more use to him alive than dead and for three reasons (as I
judged).  First, that in his stealthy comings and goings he might be
mistaken for me and thus left alone; secondly, that dressed in my habit
he might haply father his crimes on me; and thirdly, that I (lying here
drugged and asleep) might afford him the one and only escape from
pursuit and capture.  And yet (thinks I) what manner of man (or rather
devil) should this be who, clad in my doublet, could make away with
three lusty fellows and no one the wiser?  Hereupon (and all in a
flash) I seemed to see again the great black ship drifting down on us
in the river and the man who rowed the skiff with the misshapen bundle
in the stern-sheets--the bundle that had vanished so inexplicably.

"By the living God," says I in a whisper, "here's an end to all the
mystery at last!"  And so remained a great while sitting motionless on
my bed, being mightily cast down and utterly confounded.  Rousing
myself at last I drew my knife from the bulkhead and put out the light;
then very cautiously set wide the door, and thus lapped in the pitchy
dark (and mighty thankful for the good chain-shirt beneath my jerkin)
stood holding my breath to listen.  But hearing no more than the usual
stir and bustle of the ship, I stole forward silent in my stockinged
feet, and groping before me with my left hand, the knife clenched in my
right, began to steal towards the ladder.  And now, despite shirt of
mail, I felt a cold chill that crept betwixt my twitching
shoulder-blades as I went, for that which I feared was more hateful
than any knife.

Howbeit, reaching the ladder, I got me to the orlop (and mighty
thankful) and so to the upper deck, to find a wondrous fair night
breathing a sweet and balmy air and with a round moon uprising against
a great plenitude of stars.  The moon was low as yet and, taking
advantage of the shadows, I got me into the gloom of the mainmast where
the boats were stowed; and here (being well screened from chance view)
I sat me down to drink in the glory of sea and sky, and to wait for
chance of speech with Adam.  And huge joy was it to behold these vast
waters as they heaved to a slumberous swell and all radiant with the
moon's loveliness; or, gazing aloft, through the maze of ropes and
rigging, marvelled at the glory of the heaven set with its myriad
starry fires.  And, contrasting all this with the place of black horror
whence I had come, I fell to a very ecstasy.  And now, even as I sat
thus lost in pleasing wonderment, from the quarter-deck hard by came
the sweet, throbbing melody of a lute touched by skilled fingers and
therewith a voice richly soft and plaintive, yet thrilling with that
strange, vital ring had first arrested me and which I should have known
the world over.  So she sang an air that I knew not, yet methought it
wondrous sweet; anon she breaks off, all at once, and falls to the song
I had heard her sing before now, viz.:

"A poor soul sat sighing by a green willow tree."

Now as I hearkened, my gaze bent aloft, the starry heavens grew all
sudden blurred and misty on my sight, and I knew again that deep
yearning for a life far different from that I (in my blind selfishness)
had marked out for myself. "Here truly" (thinks I) "is one of Godby's
'times of stars,' the which are good times being times of promise for
all that are blessed with eyes to see--saving only myself who (though
possessing eyes) am yet not as other men, being indeed one set apart
and dedicated to a just act of vengeance.  But for this, I too might
have been happy perchance and with a hope of greater happiness to be."

Something the like of this was in my thoughts while the song was
a-singing, and I half-blinded by tears that would not be blinked away.
Howbeit, the song ending, I was aware of a man's voice something
high-pitched and precise:

"I vow and protest, dear madam, 'tis rare--a night angelic and an angel
here to sing us to an ecstasy."

"Faith, Joan," says another voice, "your singing might draw any man's
heart out of him, sweet cousin."

"And that is but bald truth, I vow, my lady!" spoke a third.

"Why then, gentlemen," says she, laughing, "here's an angel will to bed
ere so ill a chance befall you."

Now here (being minded to steal a look upon her) I rose, and creeping
to the great mast, edged myself into the shadow and so beheld one that
crouched there already, and knew him for that same red-headed fellow I
had belaboured with the rope's-end.  He was staring up at the
quarter-deck and, following his look, I saw my lady stand leaning upon
the rail, her shapely figure outlined against the moonlight, her face
upraised to the sky.  So stood she awhile, the gentlemen beside her
(very brave in their velvets and new-fangled great periwigs) until came
her maid Marjorie; then she sighed, acknowledged the gentlemen's bows
and flourishes with a graceful curtesy, and bidding them a laughing
"good-night" went her way, her shapely arm about Marjorie's trim waist.
Hereupon the red-headed fellow uttered a sound 'twixt a sigh and groan,
and beholding him now as he yet stared after her, I saw his face
convulse and a look in his eyes as he tongued his lips as made my very
gorge rise, and I crept a pace nearer.

"Be that you, Smiler?" says he, his gaze still fixed.  "O mate, yon's a
rare dainty bit--a sweet armful, Smiler--"

"Dog!" I cried in sudden choking fury.  At this he leapt back, hardly
escaping my fist.

"Ha--is't you again!" cries he, and with the words sprang at me and
fetched me a staggering buffet in the mouth.  At this (forgetting all
prudence) I closed with him, and, heedless of his blows, secured the
wrestling grip I sought and wrenching him down and across my knee, saw
his face suddenly be-splashed with the blood from my cut mouth the
while I strove to choke him to silence.  But he struggled mightily and
thrice he cried "murder" in despite of me, whereupon the cry was taken
up by one here and others there, until the very ship seemed to roar
"murder."

Followed a rush of feet, a confusion of voices all about me and,
loosing my adversary, I reeled back to the mast under a rain of blows.

"Stand away--back all!" cried a voice.  "Gi'e mea shot at the rogue!"
and the muzzle of a caliver was thrust into my face, only to be dashed
aside as Adam sprang before me.

"Hold off!" says he, whereupon they shrank back from me, one and all,
before his levelled pistol, and there came a moment's silence wherein I
heard Godby utter a gasp, and letting fall the caliver he stared at me
a-gape.  "Here's no murderer, ye fools!" says Adam, scowling round on
them, "'Tis no more than--ha, way for Sir Rupert--make way for the
Captain, there!"

"Pray what's to do, Master Penfeather?" demanded Sir Rupert, hasting
forward with drawn sword and the three gentlemen behind him.  "What's
all this riot?"

"Nought but a stowaway rogue, Sir Rupert, and one beknown to me in
England."

"Ha!" says Sir Rupert, stroking a curl of his great peruke, "How cometh
he brawling with the watch?"

"Look'ee, my masters," cried the red-headed fellow (gasping and making
great to-do of gurgling and clasping his throat where I had squeezed
him) "look'ee, sirs, at my bloody face--all bloodied I be and nigh done
for by yon murdering rogue.  Here's me on my watch and no thought o'
harm, and suddenly out o' nowhere he takes him and grips me from behind
and would ha' murdered me as he murdered t'others!"

"Ha!" cried Sir Rupert, "The man reeks blood, observe, Master
Penfeather, and here's grave charge beside!"

Now as I leaned there against the mast I saw a figure flit down the
quarter-ladder and fain would have fled, yet seeing this vain, hung my
head and cowered in a very agony of mortified pride.

"And you know this man, you say, Master Adam?" questioned Sir Rupert.

"Aye I do, sir, for a desperate fellow, and so doth my Lady
Brandon--and yourself also."

"Ha?  Bring him forward where I may get look of him."  The which being
done, Sir Rupert starts back with sword-point raised.

"By heaven!" he cried, "How cometh this fellow aboard?"

"A stowaway as I said, sir," quoth Adam.  "You mind him very well, it
seemeth."

"Aye, verily!" says Sir Rupert, tapping me lightly with his sword as I
stood between my captors.  "Ha--you're the rogue stood i' the pillory!"

"Aye!" I nodded, scowling at his dainty person.  "And you're the one
that set me there!"

"'Tis a rogue ingrain!" said Sir Rupert, frowning in turn.  "O a very
desperate fellow as you say, Master Adam, and like enough the murderer
we are a-seeking."  Hereupon I laughed and was kicked (unseen) therefor
by Adam.

"My lady!" says he, turning where she stood hard by, "You have seen
this fellow, I think."

"Yes," says she readily.  "And indeed, Cousin Rupert, I know more of
this--of him than you do, and very sure am I he is no murderer--nor
ever will be!"  Here for a moment her glance rested on me, and meeting
that look I forgot my wounded vanity and degradation awhile.

"Sweet my lady," says Sir Rupert, "Your gentle woman's heart may not
brook scenes the like of this.  Go seek thy tender pillow and leave
such to us of sterner mould."

"Nay, cousin, my gentle woman's heart knoweth innocence from guilt,
methinks, and here standeth innocent man, stowaway though he be."

"Why then as stowaway will I entreat him, fair cousin.  Master
Penfeather, clap him in irons till the morning, away with him--nay, I
myself will see him safely lodged."  Here, and without further parley,
I was led below, watched by the whole ship's company, and so to a
dismal place abaft the lazarette, where the armourer, Master Taffery,
duly locked me into the manacles (arm and leg) beneath the eyes of
Penfeather and Sir Rupert who, seeing me this secure, presently left me
to darkness and my solitary reflections.

Howbeit, after some while I heard the sound of key turning and Adam
re-entered bearing a light; having locked the door on us, he set down
the lanthorn on the floor and, seating himself on the bench whereto I
was shackled, falls into a passion of cursing both in English, Spanish
(and Indian for aught I know) for never had I heard the like words or
such deep fervour.

"Adam," says I (he being at a pause), "'tis hard to think you were ever
a student of divinity!"

Hereupon he glances at me from the corners of his eyes and shakes his
head:

"Your face is bloody, Martin, are ye hurt?"

"My belly's empty, Adam."

"Why, I guessed as much, shipmate, Godby's bringing ye the wherewithal
to fill it.  In the meantime I'll free you o' your bilboes awhile,
though I must lock you up again that you may be found snug and secure
in the morning."  So saying he took a key from his pocket and therewith
set me at liberty.

"Ah, Martin," quoth he, as I stretched myself, "why must ye go
a-raising of tumults above deck under our very noses?  Here's mighty
ill plight you've got yourself into, and here's me a-wondering how I am
to get ye out again.  Here's been murder done, and, look'ee, this
coxcombly captain hath got it into his skull that you're the
murderer--aye, and what's worse, every soul aboard likewise save only
Godby and myself."

"And my lady!" says I.

"True, shipmate, true!  She spoke for ye, as I guessed she might."

"And how should you guess this, Adam?"

"By adding one and one, Martin.  But even so, comrade, even though she
stand by you--what can she do, or Godby and I for that matter, 'gainst
a whole ship's company crazed wi' panic fear--fear, aye and small
wonder, Martin!  Death is bad enough, murder's worse, but for three
hearty fellows to disappear and leave no trace--"

"Aye, but was there no trace, Adam?"

"None, shipmate, none!"

"No blood anywhere?"

"Never a spot, shipmate!"

"Why then is there ever a man aboard with a wounded hand, Adam?"

"Not one to my knowing and I've turned up the crew on deck twice these
last two days--every man and boy, but saw not so much as cut finger or
stained garment among 'em--and I've sharp eyes, Martin.  But why d'ye
ask?"

"Because the man who made away with these three fellows was wounded in
the hand, Adam--howbeit that hand was bloody."

"Hand, shipmate," says Penfeather softly, "would it be a right
hand--ha?"

"It was!" I nodded.  "The mark of a great right hand."

"Aye, aye!" says Adam, pinching his chin.  "A right hand, Martin. And
where was the mark, d'ye say?"

"Beneath my bed."

"Bed, Martin--your bed!"  Here he caught his breath and rose up and
stood looking down at me betwixt narrowed lids and a-pinching at his
square chin.

"Aye--there, Adam, the only place in the ship you never thought to
search--there he lay safe hid and I above him in a drugged sleep!"

"Drugged!" says Adam, betwixt shut teeth.  "Aye ... drugged ... crass
fool it was not to ha' guessed it ere this."  And now he falls silent
and stands very still, only his sinewy fingers pinched and pinched at
his chin as he stared blindly down at the floor.  So now I told him of
my fevered dreams and black imaginations, of my growing fears and
suspicions, of the eye had watched me through the knot-hole and of the
man on the river with the boat wherein was the great mis-shapen bundle
which had vanished just after the black ship ran foul of us.

"Lord!" says Adam at last.  "So the mystery is resolved!  The matter
lies plain as a pikestaff.  Ha, Martin, we've shipped the devil aboard
it seems!"

"Who weareth a steel hook, Adam!"

"And yet, Martin, and yet," says he, looking at me from the corners of
his eyes, "herein, if we seek far enough, we may find the hand of
Providence, I think--"

"How?" says I.  "Providence, d'ye call it?"

"Aye, Martin--if we do but seek far enough!"  Here he turned in answer
to a furtive rapping, and opening the door, I heard Godby's voice.
"Come in, man, come in," says Adam, "here's only Martin."

"Aye," quoth I heartily, "come in, God-be-here Jenkins that was my
friend."  At this in he comes unwillingly enough and with never so much
as a glance in my direction.

"Here's the wittles, Cap'n," says he, and setting down the food and
drink he had brought, turned away.

"What, Godby, ha' ye no word for a poor murderer in his abasement?"
says I.  Whereat he shakes his head mighty gloomy and keeping his gaze
averted.  As for Adam he stood pinching his chin the while his quick,
bright eyes darted from one to other of us.

"How, are ye going and never a word?" quoth I as Godby crossed to the
door.

"Aye, I am!" says he, with gaze still averted.

"Why you left me in mighty hurry last time, Godby,"

"Aye, I did!" says he.

"Why then tell us wherefore--speak out, man."

"Not I, Martin, not I!" says he, and touching his bonnet to Penfeather
hasted away.

"Ha!" says Adam, closing and locking the door.  "And what's the riddle,
Martin?"

"My doublet.  Godby, chancing to take it up, finds it all a-smear with
blood and incontinent suspects me for this black murderer, which comes
hard since here's an end of Godby's faith and my friendship."

"Why look now, Martin, his suspicions are in reason seeing that what
with drugs, deviltries and what not, you've been mighty strange o' late
and more unlovely company than usual, d'ye see!"

"Howbeit!" says I, scowling and reaching for the food, "Here's an end
to my friendship for Godby.  Now as to you--what d'you say?"

"I think, shipmate, that your doublet bloody and you the grimly,
desperate, gallowsy, hell-fire rogue you strive so hard to appear,
Martin, I say here's enough to hang you ten times over. One thing is
sure, you must leave this ship."

"Not I, Adam!"

"The long-boat's astern, victualled and ready."

"No matter!" says I.

"'Twill be no hard matter to get you safe away, Martin."

"Howbeit, I stay here!" says I, mighty determined.  "I'm no murderer!"

"But you're a man to hang and hanged you'll be and you can lay to that,
d'ye see?"

"So be it!" says I.

"Very fine, shipmate, but as I was saying the long-boat is towing
astern, a good boat and well stored.  The moon will be down in an
hour--"

"And what of it?" I demanded.

"'Twill be easy for you to slip down from the stern gallery."

"Never in the world!" quoth I.

"And as luck will have it, Martin, Bartlemy's Island--our island--lieth
scarce eighty miles south-westerly.  Being thither you shall come on
our treasure by the aid of the chart I shall give you, and leaving the
gold, take only the four coffers of jewels--"

"You waste your breath, Adam!"

"Then, shipmate, with these jewels aboard you shall stand away for
another island that beareth south a day's sail--"

"Look you, Adam," says I, clenching my fists, "once and for all, I do
not leave this ship, happen what may."

"Aye, but you will, shipmate."

"Ha, d'ye think to force me, then?"

"Not I, Martin, but circumstances shall."

"What circumstances?"

Here and all at once Adam started up as again there came a soft
knocking at the door.  "Who's there?" he cried.  And then in my ear,
"'Tis she, Martin, as I guess, though sooner than I had expected--into
the bilboes with you."  Thus whispering and with action incredibly
quick, he clapped and locked me back in my shackles, whisked food,
platter and bottle into a dark corner and crossed to the door.  "Who's
there?" he demanded gruffly.  Ensued a murmur whereupon he turned the
key, set wide the door and fell back bowing, bonnet in hand, all in a
moment.

"Good Master Adam!" says she gently, "Pray you leave us awhile and let
none intrude on us."  At this Adam bows again very low with a whimsical
glance at me, and goes out closing the door behind him.



CHAPTER XIX

CONCERNING THE PRINCESS DAMARIS

For a while she stood looking down on me, and I, meeting that look,
glanced otherwhere yet, conscious of her regard, stirred uneasily so
that my irons rattled dismally.

"Sir," says she at last, but there I stayed her.

"Madam, once and for all, I am no 'sir!'"

"Martin Conisby," she amended in the same gentle voice, "Master
Penfeather telleth you refused the honourable service I offered--I pray
you wherefore?"

"Because I've no mind to serve a Brandon."

"Yet you steal aboard my ship, Master Conisby, you eat the food my
money hath paid for!  Doth this suffice your foolish, stubborn pride?"
Here, finding nought to say, I scowled at my fetters and held my peace,
whereat she sighed a little, as I had been some fretful, peevish child:
"Why are you here in my ship?" she questioned patiently.  "Was it for
vengeance?  Tell me," she demanded, "is it that you came yet seeking
your wicked vengeance?"

"Mine is a just vengeance!"

"Vengeance, howsoever just, is God's--leave it unto God!"  At this I
was silent again, whereupon she continued, her voice more soft and
pleading:  "Even though my father had ... indeed ... wronged you and
yours ... how shall his death profit you--?"

"Ha!" I cried, staring up at her troubled face, "Can it be you know
this for very truth at last?  Are you satisfied of my wrongs and know
my vengeance just?  Have ye proof of Sir Richard's black
treachery--confess!"  Now at this her eyes quailed before my look and
she shrank away.

"God forgive him!" she whispered, bowing stately head.

"Speak!" says I, fiercely.  "Have ye the truth of it at last?"

"'Tis that bringeth me here to you, Martin Conisby, to confess this
wrong on his behalf and on his behalf to offer such reparation as I
may.  Alas! for the bodily sufferings you did endure we can never
atone, but ... in all other ways--"

"Never!" says I, scowling.  "What is done--is done, and I am--what I
am.  But for yourself his sin toucheth you no whit."

"How?" cried she passionately.  "Am I not his flesh--his blood? 'Twas
but lately I learned the truth from his secret papers ... and ... O
'twas all there ... even the price he paid to have you carried to the
plantations!  So am I come pleading your forgiveness for him and for me
... to humble myself before you ... see thus ... thus, upon my knees!"

Now beholding all the warm beauty of her as she knelt humbly before me,
the surge and tumult of her bosom, the quiver of her red lips, the
tearful light of her eyes, I was moved beyond speech, and ever she
knelt there bowed and shaken in her mute abasement.

"My Lady Joan," said I at last, "for your pure self I can have nought
to forgive--I--that am all unworthy to touch the latchet of your shoe
... Rise, I pray."

"And for--my father?" she whispered, "Alas, my poor, miserable father--"

"Speak not of him!" I cried.  "Needs must there be hate and enmity
betwixt us until the end."  So was silence awhile nor did I look up,
dreading to see her grief.

"Your face is cut, Martin!" said she at last, very softly, "Suffer that
I bathe it."  Now turning in amaze I saw her yet upon her knees,
looking up at me despite her falling tears: "Wilt suffer me to bathe
it, Martin?" says she, her voice unshaken by any sob.  I shook my head;
but rising she crossed to the door and came back bearing a small
pannikin of water.  "I brought this for the purpose," says she.

"Nay, indeed, I--I am well enough--"

"Then I will make you better!"

"No!" says I, angrily.

"Yes!" says she patiently, but setting dimpled chin at me.

"And wherefore, madam?"

"Because I'm so minded, sir!"  So saying she knelt close beside me and
fell a-bathing my bruised face as she would (and I helpless to stay
her) yet marvelling within me at the gentle touch of her soft hands and
the tender pity in her tear-wet eyes. "Martin," says she, "as I do thus
cherish your hurts, you shall one day, mayhap, cherish your enemy's--"

"Never!" says I.  "You can know me not at all to think so."

"I know you better than you guess, Martin.  You think it strange belike
and unmaidenly in me that I should seek you thus, that your name should
come so readily to my lip?  But I have remembered the name 'Martin' for
the sake of a boy, long years since, who found a little maid (she was
just ten year old) found her lost and wandering in a wood, very woeful
and frightened and forlorn.  And this boy seemed very big and strong
(he was just eleven, he said) and was armed with a bow and arrows 'to
shoot outlaws.'  And yet he was very gentle and kindly, laying by his
weapons the better to comfort her sorrows and dry her tears.  So he
brought her to a cave he called his 'castle' and showed her a real
sword he kept hidden there (albeit a very rusty one) and said he would
be her knight, to do great things for her some day. Then he brought her
safely home; and he told her his name was Martin and she said hers was
Damaris--"

"Damaris!" said I, starting.

"Often after this they used to meet by a corner of the old park wall
where he had made a place to go up and down by--for six months, I
think, they played together daily, and once he fought a great, rough
boy on her behalf, and when the boy had run away she bathed her
champion's hurts in a little brook--bathed them with her scarf as thus
I do yours.  At last she was sent away to a school and the years
passed, but she never forgot the name of Martin, though he forgot her
quite ... but ... you ... you remember now, Martin--O, you remember
now?" says she with a great sob.

"Aye, I remember now!" quoth I, hoarsely.

"It is for the sake of this boy, Martin, so brave, so strong, yet so
very gentle and kindly--for him and all he might have been that I pray
you forego your vengeance--I beseech you to here renounce it--"

"Never!" I cried, clenching my shackled hands.  "But for my enemy this
boy might now be as other men--'stead of outcast rogue and scarred
galley-slave, he might have come to love and win love--to have known
the joy of life and its fulness!  Howbeit he must go his way, rogue and
outcast to the end."

"No!" she cried, "No!  The wrong may be undone--must--shall be--wounds
will heal and even scars will fade with time."

"Scars of the body, aye--belike!" said I, "But there be scars of the
mind, wounds of the soul shall never heal--so shall my just vengeance
sleep not nor die whiles I have life!"

Here for awhile she was silent again and I saw a tear fall sparkling.

"And yet," said she at last and never stirring from her humble posture,
"and yet I have faith in you still for, despite all your cruel wrongs
and grievous suffering, you are so--young, headstrong and wilful and
very desolate and forlorn.  Thus whiles I have life my faith in you
shall sleep not nor die, yet greatly do I pity--"

"Pity?" says I fiercely, "You were wiser to hate and see me hanged out
of hand."

"Poor soul!" she sighed, and rising, laid one white hand upon my
shackled fist.  "And yet mayhap you shall one day find again your sweet
and long-lost youth--meanwhile strive to be worthy a sorrowing maid's
honest pity."

"Pity?" says I again, "'Tis akin to love--so give me hate, 'tis thing
most natural 'twixt your blood and mine."

"Poor soul!" she repeated, viewing me with her great, calm eyes albeit
their lashes were wet with tears, "How may I hate one so wretched?"
Here, seeing mayhap how the words stung me she must needs repeat them:
"Poor wretched soul, thou'rt far--far beneath my hate."

"Belike you'll come to learn in time!" says I, beside myself.  At this
I saw the white hand clench itself, but her voice was tender as ever
when she answered:

"Sorrow and suffering may lift a man to greatness if he be strong of
soul or debase him to the brute if he be weak."

"Why then," says I, "begone to your gallants and leave me to the
brutes."

"Nay, first will I do that which brought me!" and she showed the key of
my gyves.

"Let be!" I cried, "I seek no freedom at your hands--let be, I say!"

"As you will!" says she, gently.  "So endeth my hope of righting a
great wrong.  I have humbled myself to you to-night, Martin Conisby.  I
have begged and prayed you to forego your vengeance, to forgive the
evil done, not so much for my father's sake as for your own, and this
because of the boy I dreamed a man ennobled by his sufferings and one
great enough to forgive past wrongs, since by forgiveness cometh
regeneration.  Here ends my dream--alas, you are but rogue and
galley-slave after all.  So shall I ever pity you greatly and greatly
despise you!"

Then she turned slowly away and went from me, closing and locking the
door, and left me once more in the black dark, but now full of yet
blacker thoughts.

To be scorned by her!  And she--a Brandon!

And now I (miserable wretch that I was) giving no thought to the
possibility of my so speedy dissolution, raged in my bonds, wasting
myself in futile imprecations against this woman who (as it seemed to
me in my blind and brutish anger) had but come to triumph over me in my
abasement.  Thus of my wounded self-love did I make me a whip of
scorpions whereby I knew an agony beyond expression.



CHAPTER XX

HOW I CAME OUT OF MY BONDS AND OF THE TERRORS OF A FIRE AT SEA

The Devil, ever zealous for the undoing of poor Humanity, surely
findeth no readier ally than the blind and merciless Spirit of
Mortified Pride.  Thus I, minding the Lady Joan's scornful look and the
sting of her soft-spoke words, fell to black and raging fury, and vowed
that since rogue and galley-slave she had named me, rogue she should
find me in very truth henceforward if I might but escape my perilous
situation.

And now it was that Chance or Fate or the Devil sent me a means whereby
I might put this desperate and most unworthy resolution into practice;
for scarce had I uttered this vow when a key turned softly in the lock,
the door opened and closed stealthily, and though I could not see (it
being pitch-dark) I knew that someone stood within a yard of me, and
all with scarce a sound and never a word.  And when this silence had
endured a while, I spoke sudden and harsh:

"What now?  Is it the noose so soon, or a knife sooner?"

I heard a quick-drawn breath, a soft footfall, and a small hand,
groping in the dark, touched my cheek and crept thence to my helpless,
manacled fist.  "Who is it?" I demanded, blenching from the touch, "Who
is it?  Speak!"

"Hush!" whispered a voice in my ear, "It be only me, master.
Jimmy--little Jim as you was good to.  Red Andy don't beat me no more,
he be afeared o' you.  Good to me you was, master, an' so's she--took
me to be her page, she 'ave--"

"Whom d'you mean, boy?"

"I mean Her!  Her wi' the beautiful, kind eyes an' little feet! Her as
sings!  Her they calls 'my lady.'  Her!  Good t' me she is--an' so's
you, so I be come to ye, master."

"Ha--did she send you?"

"No, I just come to save you from being hung to-morrow like they says
you must."

"And how shall you do this, boy?"

"First wi' this key, master--"

"Stay!  Did she give you this key?"

"No, master--I took it!"  So, albeit 'twas very dark, the boy very soon
had freed me of my shackles; which done (and all a-quiver with haste)
he seizes my hand and tugs at it:

"Come, master!" he whispered, "This way--this way!"  So with his
little, rough hand in mine I suffered him to bring me whither he would
in the dimness, for not a lanthorn burned anywhere, until at last he
halted me at a ladder propped against a bulkhead and mounting before,
bade me follow.  Up I climbed forthwith, and so to a narrow trap or
scuttle through which I clambered with no little to-do, and found
myself in a strange place, the roof so low I could barely sit upright
and so strait that I might barely lie out-stretched.

"Lie you here, master!" he whispers, "And for the love o' God don't
speak nor make a sound!"  Saying which, he got him back through the
scuttle, closing the trap after him, and I heard the clatter of the
ladder as he removed it.

Hereupon, lying snug in my hiding-place, I presently became aware of a
sweetness that breathed upon the air, a fragrance very faint but vastly
pleasing, and fell a-wondering what this should be. My speculations
were banished by the opening of a door near by and a light appeared, by
which I saw myself lying in a narrow space shut off by a valance or
curtain that yet showed a strip of carpet beyond, and all at once upon
this carpet came a little, buckled shoe.  I was yet staring on this in
dumb amaze when a voice spoke softly:

"Are you there, Martin Conisby?  Hush, speak low I do command you!"

For answer I dragged myself into the light and stared up at the Lady
Joan Brandon.

"Where am I?" I demanded.

"In my cabin," says she, meeting my scowl with eyes serene and all
untroubled.  "I had you brought hither to save you--"

"To save me!  Ha, you--you to save me--"

"Because you are not man enough to die yet," she went on in her calm,
grave voice, "so I will save you alive that haply you may grow more
worthy."

"So 'twas by your orders?  The boy lied then!" says I choking with my
anger.  "'Twas you gave him the key!  'Twas you bade him bring me
hither--"

"Where none shall dare seek you!" says she, all unmoved by my bitter
rage, "So do I give you life, Martin Conisby, praying God you may find
your manhood one day--"

"Life!" quoth I, getting to my feet, "My life at your hands?  Now look
ye, madam, rather will I hang unjustly, rather will I endure again the
shame of the lash--aye by God's light, rather will I rot in chains or
perish of plague than take my life at your hands.  So now, madam, I'll
out of this perfumed nest and hang if I must!" saying which I turned to
the door, but she checked me with a gesture.

"Stay!" she commanded, "Would you shame me?"  And now though she
fronted me with proud head erect, I saw her cheek flush painfully.

"Aye, verily!" quoth I, "A lady's honour is delicate ware and not to be
cheapened by such poor rogue as I!  Fear nothing, lady, I will go as--"
I stopped all at once, as came footsteps without and a light tapping on
the door.

"Who is it?" she called, lightly enough, and shot the bolt with nimble
fingers.

"Only I, sweet coz," answered a gay voice, "And I come but to warn you
not to venture on deck to-morrow till justice hath been done upon our
prisoner."

"Shall you--hang him, Rupert?"

"Assuredly!  'Tis a black rogue and merits a worse fate."

"Is he then tried and condemned already, Rupert?"

"Nay, though 'twill be soon done.  We have come on such evidence of his
guilt as doth condemn him out of hand."

"What evidence, cousin?"

"His doublet all besmirched with his victim's blood.  The man is a very
devil and must hang at dawn.  So, Joan, stir not abroad in the morning
until I come to fetch you.  A fair, good night, sweet coz, and sweet
dreams attend thee!"  And away trips Sir Rupert and leaves us staring
on one another, she proud and gracious in all her dainty finery and I a
very hang-dog fellow, my worn garments smirched by the grime of my many
hiding-places.

"Was this indeed your doublet?" she questioned at last.

"It was."

"How came it stained with blood?"  For answer I shrugged my shoulders
and turned away.  "Have you nothing to say?"

"Nothing, madam."

"You would have me think you this murderer?"

"I would have you think of me none at all," I answered, and smiled to
see how I had stirred her anger at last.

"Nay," sighs she, "needs must I think of you as the poor, mean thing
you are and pity you accordingly!"

"Howbeit," says I, scowling blacker than ever, "I will get me out of
your sight--"

"Aye, but the ladder is gone!"

"No matter," says I, "better a broken neck to-night than a noose
to-morrow.  To-morrow, aye, the dawn is like to see an end of the feud
and the Conisbys both together--"

"And so shameful an end!" says she.  At this, I turned my back on her,
for anger was very strong in me.  So, nothing speaking, I got to my
knees that I might come at the trap beneath her berth; but next moment
I was on my feet glaring round for some weapon to my defence, for on
the air was sudden wild tumult and hubbub, a running of feet and
confused shouting that waxed ever louder. Then, as I listened, I knew
it was not me they hunted, for now was the shrill braying of a trumpet
and the loud throbbing of a drum:

"Martin--O Martin Conisby!"  She stood with hands clasped and eyes wide
in a dreadful expectancy, "What is it?" she panted, "O what is it?
Hark--what do they cry!"

Rigid and motionless we stood to listen; then every other emotion was
'whelmed and lost in sudden, paralysing fear as, above the trampling
rush of feet, above the shrill blast of tucket and rolling of drum we
caught the awful word "Fire!"

"Now God help us all!" cries she, wringing her hands; then sinking to
her knees, she leaned, half-swooning, against the door, yet I saw her
pallid lips moving in passionate supplication.

As for me (my first panic over) I sat me on her bed revolving how I
might turn the general confusion to the preservation of my life.  In
this I was suddenly aroused by my lady's hand on my bowed shoulder.

"Hark!" cries she, "Hark where they cry for aid!"

"Why so they do," says I.  "And so they may!"

"Then come, let us out.  You are a strong man, you will help to save
the ship."

"And hang thereafter?  Not I, madam!"

"Will you do nothing?" cried she, clenching her hands.

"Verily, madam.  I shall do my earnest endeavour to preserve this poor
rogue's body o' mine from noose and flame.  But as for the ship--let it
burn, say I."

"Spoke like a very coward!" says she in bitter scorn.  "And a coward is
selfish always."  So saying she crossed to the door and reached her
hand to the bolt; but in a leap I was beside her and caught this hand,
'prisoning it there:

"Hark'ee, madam!" quoth I, "You tell me that to hang is a shameful
death, and the noose as good as round my neck.  But, before God, madam,
I'll see this ship go up in flame and perish with it ere that noose
shall strangle the life out of me and my wrongs unavenged.  So the ship
may burn an it will.  Meantime do you seek your salvation and leave me
to seek mine!"  Then opening the door I stood aside to give her way;
instead she stood a moment looking on me great-eyed:

"O blind!" says she at last, "To treasure life for your wicked
vengeance!  O blind, blind!"  Then, and very suddenly she sped out and
away.

Left alone I stood hearkening to the distant uproar and casting about
in my mind how best I might contrive my preservation.  And now in my
desperate need it seemed there was but one hope for me and this but
slender, viz., to steal myself up to Adam's lodgment under the poop and
that as soon as might be.  To this end I stepped forth of the cabin and
so into a narrow passage-way with divers doors to right and left that
opened upon other cabins, in one of which I espied a cloak and
feathered hat lying where their owner had dropped them; whipping the
cloak about me I clapped on the hat and, staying for no more, hasted on
breathing an air acrid with drifting smoke.  Reaching a broad stairway
I climbed at speed and found myself out upon the lofty poop, whence I
might look down on the decks through a haze of smoke that poured up
through the after hatchway, mounting in billowy wreaths against the
splendour of the moon.  Here it seemed was gathered the whole ship's
company with mighty stir and to-do, and none with eyes to spare for me.
Howbeit, I stayed for no second glance, but running to Adam's cabin,
found the door unlocked, the which I closed and bolted after me, in the
doing of which I noticed (to my comfort) that this door was mighty
thick and strong and in it moreover a loophole newly cut, with others
in the bulkheads to right and left and all very neatly plugged from
within; and what with this and the musquetoons that stood in racks very
orderly, the place, small though it was, had all the virtues of a fort
or citadel.  Here then, so far as might be, I was safe whatever
chanced, since I had but to lift the trap in the floor and descend into
the roundhouse below, whence I might gain the stern-gallery and so the
sea itself.  And now, laying by the hat and cloak I cast myself on
Adam's bed and there outstretched in great content, hearkened to the
distant voices and tramp of feet where they laboured to put out the
fire.

Little by little these sounds became merged with the droning of the
wind and the never-ceasing surge and hiss of the seas; lulled by this
and the sense of my comparative safety, I presently fell a-slumbering.
And sleeping thus, dreamed myself young again and playing with the
child Damaris, thrilling to the clasp of her little, childish hands,
joying in the tones of her clear, sweet child voice--she that grown up
I knew for none other than Joan Brandon.



CHAPTER XXI

TELLETH HOW THE SAID FIRE CAME ABOUT

"Lord love me, shipmate, here's you to hang at peep o' day and
a-smiling in your dreams!"

"What--Adam!" says I, sitting up.

"In few short hours, Martin, here will be ninety odd souls earnestly
seeking to swing you up to the main-yard and you a-slumbering sweet as
any innocent babe, and burn me, shipmate, I love you the better for't!"

"What of the fire, Adam?"

"Why, 'twas an excellent fire, Martin, and smoked bravely! What's more
it served its divers purposes whiles it lasted."

"Is it out then, Adam?"

"This two hours."

"And what might you mean by its purposes?"

"Well, mayhap you were one o' them, Martin.  Here's the second time
fire hath served ye well, you'll mind."

"How!" I cried, starting to my feet, "Will you be telling me 'twas you
set this fire going?"

"As to the other purpose, shipmate, 'tis yonder--hark to it!" And
smiling grimly, Adam held up a sinewy finger, as, from somewhere
forward, rose a confused and dismal wailing.

"In heaven's name what's toward now, Adam?"

"The crew are singing, Martin, likewise they dance, presently they
shall fall a-quarrelling, then grow pot-valiant, all in regular and
accepted order.  Already one poor rogue hath been aft to demand the
women of us d'ye see, and--"

"To demand the women!" says I in gasping astonishment.

"Aye, the women, Martin--my Lady Joan and her maid, d'ye see."

"God's love, Adam!" I cried, gripping his arm, "And you--what said you
to the vile dog?"

"Nought!  I shot him!"

"Is the mutiny broke out then?"

"Not yet, shipmate, but 'tis coming, aye 'tis coming, which is very
well--"

"And what hath brought things to this pass?"

"Rum, Martin!  The fire was in the store-room where there is rum
a-plenty, d'ye see, and what was to prevent the rogues making off with
a keg or so that chanced to lie handy--not I, shipmate, not I!"

"And why not, in the Devil's name?"

"Because, Martin," says Adam, sitting at the table and beginning to set
his papers in order, "because there's nought like liquor for putting
the devil into a man, and of all liquor commend me to rum with a dash
o' tobacco or gunpowder, d'ye see.  We shall be heaving dead men
overboard ere dawn, I judge, and all along of this same rum, Martin.
Black mutiny, murder and sudden death, shipmate, and more's the pity
say I.  But if Providence seeth fit why so be it."

"Providence!" quoth I, scowling down into his impassive face, "Dare ye
talk of Providence?  'Twas you set this bloody business a-foot."

"Aye, Martin, it was!" says he nodding.  "As to Providence--look'ee
now, if you can ape Providence to your own ends, which is vengeance and
bloody murder, I can do as much for mine, which is to save the lives of
such as stand true to me and the ship--not to mention the women.
There's Tressady skulking below, and I have but contrived that the
mutiny should come in my time rather than his and theirs.  As it is, we
are prepared, fifteen stout lads lie in the round-house below with
musquetoon and fusee, and every gun and swivel that will bear (falconet
and paterero) aimed to sweep the waist when they rush, as rush they
will, Martin, when the drink hath maddened 'em properly--"

"And having maddened them with your hellish decoctions you'll shoot the
poor rogues down?"

"Aye, Martin, I will so, lest peradventure they shoot me.  Then
besides, shipmate, what o' the women?  I have the Lady Joan and her
maid to think on, 'twould be an ill fate theirs in the hands of yon
filthy rabblement.  Hark to 'em yonder, hark what they sing!"

For a while I could hear nought but a clamour of fierce shouts and
hallooing, then, little by little, this wild, hoarse tumult rose and
swelled to a fierce chaunt:

  "Some swam in rum to kingdom come,
  Full many a lusty fellow.
  And since they're sped, all stark and dead,
  They're flaming now in hell O.
  So cheerly O,
  Hey cheerly O,
  They're burning down in hell O!"


"D'ye hear it, Martin, did ye hear it?  Shoot the poor rogues d'ye say?
Sink me, but I will so if Fortune be so kind. Yonder's short shrift and
quick dispatch for me, shipmate, and then--the women!  Think of my Lady
Joan writhing in their clutches.  Hark'ee to the lewd rogues--'tis
women now--hark to 'em!"  And here again their vile song burst forth
with much the same obscenity as I had once heard sung by Abnegation
Mings in a wood, and the which I will not here transcribe.

"Well, shipmate," says Adam, glancing up from his papers, "last of all,
there's yourself!  Here's you with the rope in prospect unless you quit
this ship, and yonder, Martin, yonder is the long-boat towing astern,
all stored ready, a calm sea and a fair wind--"

"No more of that!" says I angrily.

"But will ye dangle in a noose, Martin, when you might be away in the
long-boat as tows astern of us, and with a fair wind as I say and--"

"Have done!" says I clenching my fists.

"'Twill be the simplest thing in the world, Martin," he went on,
leaning back in his chair and nodding up at me mighty pleasant, "aye, a
very simple matter for you to drop down from the stern-gallery yonder
d'ye see, and setting a course south-westerly you should make our
island in four-and-twenty hours or less what with this wind and the sea
so calm--"

"Never!" cried I in growing fury, "Come what will I stay aboard this
ship until we reach our destination!"

"Hum!" says he, pinching his chin and eyeing me 'twixt narrowed lids,
"Are ye still bent on nought but vengeance then?  Why look'ee, Martin,
'tis none so far to seek, for seeing you may not reach the father why
not smite him through the daughter?  She'd make fine sport for our
beastly crew--hark to 'em roaring!  Sport for them and a mighty full
vengeance for you--"

The table betwixt us hampered my blow and then, as I strove to come at
him, I brought up with the muzzle of his pistol within a foot of my
brow.

"Easy, shipmate, easy!" says he, leaning back in his chair but keeping
me covered.

"Damned rogue!" I panted.

"True!" he nodded, "True, Martin, vengeance is kin to roguery, d'ye
see.  If you're for murdering the father what's to hinder you from
giving the proud daughter up to--steady, Martin, steady it is!  Your
sudden ways be apt to startle a timid man and my finger's on the
trigger.  Look'ee now, shipmate, if your scheme of fine-gentlemanly
vengeance doth not permit of such methods towards a woman, what's to
prevent you going on another track and carrying her with you, safe from
all chance of brutality? There's stowage for her in the long-boat,
which is a stout, roomy craft now towing astern, stored and victualled,
a smooth sea, a fair wind--"

"Hark'ee, Adam Penfeather," says I, choking with passion, "once and for
all I bide on this ship until she brings up off Hispaniola."

"But then, Martin, she never will bring up off Hispaniola, not whiles I
navigate her!"

"Ha!" I cried, "Doth my lady know of this?  Doth Sir Rupert?"

"Not yet, Martin."

"Then, by Heaven, they shall learn this very hour!"

"I think not, Martin."

"And I swear they shall.  Let them hang me an they will, but first they
shall hear you intend to seize the ship to your own purposes--aye, by
God, they shall know you for the pirate you are!"

Now as I turned and strode for the door, I heard the sudden scrape of
Adam's chair behind me, and whirling about, saw his pistol a-swing
above my head, felt the vicious, staggering blow, and reeling to the
door, sank weakly to my knees, and thence seemed to plunge into a black
immensity and knew no more.



CHAPTER XXII

TELLETH HOW WE WERE CAST ADRIFT

I awoke to a wind on my brow, very pleasant and sweet, and in my ears
the soft and drowsy ripple of water right soothing to hear, and thus
would have slumbered on but for another sound that broke out at
intervals, a thunderous roar that seemed to shake me where I lay.
Therefore I opened my eyes to see above me a great multitude of stars,
and lay staring up at them in vague and dreamy wonderment until, roused
again by another thunderclap, I raised myself and saw I lay in the
stern-sheets of a large, open boat that rocked to a gentle swell, and
all about me a misty sea grey with the dawn.  Now as I gazed around me,
greatly troubled and amazed, I beheld, far away across these dim
waters, a flash of red flame, and after some while heard again the
thunder of a gun.

Little by little, as the light waxed, I made out the loom of two ships
and, despite the distance, I knew the foremost for the "Faithful
Friend."  Ever and anon would come the faint crack of caliver or
petronel from her high poop, and the thunder of her stern-chase guns.
And with my mind's eyes I seemed to espy Adam firing from his loopholes
to sweep the decks forward, the while Godby and his few gunners served
the great basilisks aft, aiming them at a tall, black ship that stood
hard in their wake, yawing now and then to bring her fore-chase to bear
on them in answer.

Suddenly up flamed the sun turning sea and sky to glory; but I crouched
miserable in my helplessness, for now I saw the "Faithful Friend"
steered a course that was taking her rapidly away from me upon the
freshening wind.  Perceiving which bitter truth, beholding myself thus
befooled, bubbled and tricked (and my head throbbing from the blow of
Penfeather's pistol-butt) a mighty anger against him surged within me,
and shaking my fists I fell to fierce curses and revilings, like any
madman, until what with my aching head and lack of breath, I cast
myself face down and lay there spent with my futile ravings.  Yet even
so, bethinking me of all my fine schemes and purposes thus brought to
nothingness and myself drifting impotent at the mercy of wind and wave,
I sought to spit my puny anger against the God that made me, in
blasphemies and bitter imprecations.

"O shame, shame on you, Martin Conisby!  The God you rail upon is my
God also.  Have done, I say!  Be silent, nor tempt His mercy with your
childish clamours!"

Up-starting I turned and beheld the Lady Brandon upon her knees within
a yard of me, saw her shrink before my gaze and the griping passion of
my hands; for now, reading in her look all her scorn and loathing for
the thing I was, I must needs turn my fury upon her and did that the
which shames me to this day, for even as she fronted me, all
defenceless but with head erect and eyes unflinching despite the sick
pallor of her cheeks, I seized her in cruel hold and, dragging her to
me, bent her backward across a thwart.

"Ha!" I gasped, "Will ye dare cry shame on me?  Will ye mock--will ye
flout--will ye scorn me still--and you but a lying, thieving Brandon!
Would you trample me 'neath your proud feet--."

"All this!" says she, staring up into my eyes, "But I do pity you most
for--what you are become.  O--kill me if you will, 'twould be very easy
for you and, mayhap, best for me, and I do not fear to die.  So do as
you will, Martin Conisby, I do not fear you since Death is my kind
friend and shall free me of the shame of you if need be!"

Hereupon I loosed her and, crouched again in the stern-sheets, bowed my
head upon my fists, whiles she, kneeling patiently beside the midship
thwart, ordered her wrenched garments with shaking hands.

And, after some while, her voice with its sweet, vital ring, pierced to
those black deeps where lay the soul of me:

"'Tis growing very rough.  What must we do?"

Lifting my head, I saw that the sea was risen considerably, and the
boat drifting broadside to the wind, so that the waves, taking us
abeam, spilled aboard us ever and anon.  So I arose and made shift to
step the mast and hoist sail, nothing heeding her proffered aid; then
shipping the tiller, I put our little vessel before the wind.  And now,
from a log pitching and rolling at mercy of the waves, this boat
became, as it were, alive and purposeful, lifting to the seas with
joyous motion, shaking the water from her bows in flashing brine that
sparkled jewel-like in the early sun, her every timber thrilling to the
buffets of the waters that rushed bubbling astern all rainbow-hued and
with a sound like elfin laughter, until what with all this and the
strong, sweet air, even I felt the joy of it; but though my black
humour lifted somewhat, my shame was sore upon me, wherefore I kept my
gaze for the peak of the sail, the cloudless heaven, the deep blue of
the seas, and never so much as glanced at the patient, solitary figure
amidships.

"Whither do we sail?" she questioned at last.

"What matter?" says I sullenly.

"Aye, true!" she sighed.

"Besides, I have no compass."

"There is one in the locker here, and with it a packet and a letter
writ to you.  Shall I bring them?"

"As you will," says I, keeping my gaze averted.  So she makes her way
over to me (and mighty dexterous) despite the motion of the boat, and
setting the compass beside me, gives me the letter.  It was sealed, and
subscribed thus:

"To my well-loved, trusty friend, comrade and brother-adventurer
Martin, these:"

Breaking the seal, I read as follows:


"For your sore head, Martin, I grieve, but the blow I regret no whit
seeing it was struck to our mutual advantage hereafter.  Now you
(reading this) being at sea betwixt the parallels 70 and 65 in an open
boat and all by reason of circumstances proving too strong for you,
Martin, it much behoveth you to mark and heed well these my directions,
to wit:  You shall lay your course south-westerly, and that for these
several and sufficing reasons, viz., (1) You lie out of the track of
ships.  (2) These be treacherous seas, given to sudden furies of wind
and raging tempest.  (3) I like not the look of the weather.  (4) Our
Island lieth scarce twenty-four hours' sail due south-westerly.
Whereof I have drawn for your guidance a chart of these waters,
together with a plan of our Island (very just and exact).  Also a chart
of the passage or channel through the barrier-reef, for saving this
passage, there is no landing upon the island that I know of.  Nor shall
you attempt this passage except at the flood and the seas calm.  Being
landed, Martin, you shall, with due regard to rest and refreshment,
forthwith secure our Treasure (the secret whereof I have included with
this my letter).  Thereupon, and with all dispatch, you shall,
troubling not for the gold or silver, take but the four caskets of
jewels, and, setting them aboard your boat, sail away due West (three
days) until you shall fetch up with another island, the which you shall
know by its three several hills plain to be seen, and called Gibbet
Island, since 'twas there I hanged one Juan Maldonada (and richly
deserved it!).  Here then you shall bury our Treasure (four caskets) in
such place as seemeth to you proper, and there await my coming.  And if
I join you not within two months, then shall this mighty treasure
three-quarters thereof be yours.  And if I come not within six months,
then shall this fortune be wholly yours since I shall be beyond all
need of it.  So now, Martin, good Fortune attend you.  Your boat
(chosen by me long since, and for this very purpose) is staunch, and an
excellent sea-boat and very well stored with everything for your needs,
as arms, clothes, food and the like.  Moreover within the treasure-cave
is all manner of stores, so that a man even though he bides on the land
to his life's end need suffer no lack, but have his every comfort
supplied.

And now, as to your head, Martin, 'twill be none the worse by this, I
judge.  And for the blow, 'twas no harder than called for, and very
well intentioned, as you shall confess one day, mayhap, unless you be
greater fool and blinder than I take you for.  Howbeit I trust you,
Martin, and in bidding you farewell for the nonce, subscribe myself,

Your faithful friend and comrade to serve,
  Adam Penfeather."


Having read this wordy missive, I crumpled it in angry fist and thrust
it into my pocket.  But now she gives me the packet named therein, the
which I forthwith tossed overboard (like the wilful fool I was).
Thereby involving us in divers and many great dangers and difficulties,
as you shall learn hereafter.

Howbeit (the wind serving) I altered our course and stood away
south-westerly even as Adam had directed, since I perceived the weather
thickening behind us and the sea heaving with uneasy motion.  And
presently my companion questions me again:

"Whither do we sail?"

"South-westerly."

"Aye, but whither?"

"To an island."

"Is it far?"

"Two days' journey or thereabouts."

"Do you know this island?"

"I have never seen it."

"Then why sail thither?"

"'Tis thereabouts Penfeather would meet with us again if he may."

"And being there, what then?"

"God knoweth!"

Here was silence again save for the creak of mast and timbers as we
rose to the gentle swell and the ripple of water 'neath our keel, while
the sun, high risen, blazed down from the blue, his fierce beams
tempered by the cool, sweet wind.

"Are you hungry, Martin?"

"Is there aught to eat?"

"Plenty!"  So saying she opened one of the lockers and brought thence a
loaf of fine white bread, a neat's tongue, a flask of wine, and a small
barrico of water, upon which I, for one, made an excellent meal.  Which
done, she sets all things away again, very orderly, and sits elbow on
knee, staring away into the distance and with her back to me.
Hereupon, I opened the stern-locker and found therein a couple of
musquetoons, a brace of pistols, a sword with belt and hangers, and
divers kegs of powder and ball.

"How came you lying stunned in the boat?" says my companion at last,
but without turning her head.

"By roguery!" I answered.  "But how and when did the mutiny start?"

"'Twas when we went to fetch the boy, my little page, Marjorie and I.
He lay hurt and crying on the deck; so we ran out to him and took him
up betwixt us, and then I heard shouts and rush of feet, and they were
all about us--drunken men singing and dancing.  And they struggled with
us till came Master Penfeather, with Godby and others, and after much
bitter fighting brought us away.  But Marjorie, my dear, faithful
Marjorie, had taken a blow aimed at me and died ... in my arms ... And
the great cabin choking with powder-smoke ... and wounded men who cried
and shouted.  My dear, brave Marjorie!  With the dark the fight began
again, and twice I feared they would break in upon us.  Then Master
Adam brought me into the stern-gallery and lowered me into the boat
where I might lie secure, and so got him back into the battle. But in a
little I saw a hand in the gloom cutting at the tow-rope, and I
screamed, but none heard.  And so the boat drifted away, and with the
dawn I found you lying under a boat-cloak."

When she had done, I sat awhile staring up at the peak of the sail:

"My Lady Brandon," says I at length, "Fate hath set you in scurvy
company, for I am an ill rogue, very rough and rude-mannered, and no
fit company for any woman, as you do very well know.  Howbeit, I swear
that henceforth, so long as we company together, I will trouble you no
more than I may, either by act or speech, you to your place in the bows
yonder in mine here at the tiller, you to your thoughts, I to mine.
And thus methinks we shall do well enough until we can go our several
ways."

"Must we not speak?" she questioned, keeping her face turned from me.

"When needful, madam!"

"Am I but to answer when you deign me notice?  Will it plague you if I
sing?  Am I to sit with my hands folded henceforth and do nought but
think?  Must I stay in the bows until you summon me thence?" says she,
and all in the same small, soft voice, so that I perceived my fine
speech had been thrown away; wherefore I stared up at the sail and with
never a word in answer.

But presently, chancing to look at her, I found her regarding me with
her dimpled chin set mighty resolute; "Because," says she, meeting my
look, "I shall talk when I will and sing when so minded, Martin
Conisby.  I shall not sit in the bows for 'tis wet there, and I shall
not fold my hands, but you shall teach me how to steer and handle the
boat and do my share of the labour.  For look now, here are we, by no
will of our own, God knoweth, companions in misfortune, let us then aid
each other that our troubles be the easier.  And O pray do you forget
Martin Conisby his woes awhile."  And away she goes, and getting to her
knees before one of the lockers, begins rearranging the contents,
singing away the while merry as any grig.

As the day wore on, the skies clouded over with a wind very sudden and
blusterous, wherefore, misliking the look of things, I was for
shortening sail, but feared to leave the helm lest the boat should
broach to and swamp while this was a-doing.  But the wind increasing, I
was necessitated to call my companion beside me and teach her how she
must counter each wind-gust with the helm, and found her very apt and
quick to learn.  So leaving the boat to her manage I got me forward and
(with no little to-do) double-reefed our sail, leaving just sufficient
to steer by; which done I glanced to my companion where she leaned to
the tiller, her long hair streaming out upon the wind, her lithe body
a-sway to the pitching of the boat and steering as well as I myself.
From her I gazed to windward where an ominous and ever-growing
blackness filled me with no small apprehensions; wherefore I made fast
all our loose gear, as oars, spare sail, spars and the like.  Now in
the bows were stowed her belongings, a leathern trunk and divers
bundles, the which I proceeded to secure in their turn.  This done, I
got me aft again, but when I would have relieved her of the tiller, she
shook her head.

"Nay, let me steer a while," she cried, looking up through her
wind-tossed hair, "'tis joy to me!  Lay you down and rest a while and
trust the boat to me."  And seeing how quick she was to meet each send
of the seas (that were already running high) glad enough was I to
humour her whim, and clambered forward again. And there (having nought
better to do) I set about rigging a rough awning athwart the bows, with
canvas and a stout spar, which methought should keep out the spray and
any chance sea that might break forward; though indeed the boat seemed
mighty staunch, and sea-worthy to a miracle.

With every hour the wind waxed in fury and therewith the sea rose,
huge, rolling billows that came roaring up astern to whirl us aloft
amid hissing brine and passing, left us deep-plunged in great, foaming
hollows.  Being got back aft at last and with no small exertion (by
reason of the boat's pitching) I stared amazed to hear my companion
singing right joyously.

"O Martin!" she cried, her voice a-thrill with the clear, vital ring I
knew so well, "O Martin, the wonder and glory of it!  See yonder on
these mighty waters, Death rides crying to us.  But God is there also,
and if these rushing surges 'whelm us we, dying, shall find God there."
And beholding her as she sat, her face uplifted to the tempest, her
sea-wet hair upborne upon the wind, I marvelled within myself.  "And
the boat, Martin!" cries she as we rose on a hissing wave-crest, "This
dear, brave boat!  See how nobly she rides--indeed and indeed I do love
her every timber!"

And verily to me, awed by these mighty waters, it was wonderful to see
how our little craft rose to the seas, buoyant as any cork; now poised
'mid hissing foam high in air, now plunging dizzily down; and ever the
wind gathered fury until the very air seemed full of whirling spindrift.

In a while I took the tiller, and wondered to see my companion droop
all at once with head bowed upon her hands.

"Are you sick?" I cried.

"'Tis but weariness," she answered, "I slept no wink last night."

"Why then go forward and lie down!" says I.  The which she did
forthwith, and made less business of it than I.  Reaching the mast she
paused thereby to behold my handiwork, then going on her knees crept
beneath the awning and vanished from my view.

Left alone I stared around me on the raging tumult, and beholding all
its terrors my mind was full of wonder of this maid who could sing so
blithely with Death all about her and behold God, as it were, riding on
the wings of the storm.

Presently she comes and sits close beside me that we might talk, for
the wind was very loud.

"It was kind of you to make me so fair a shelter, Martin, and a bed
also, kind and very thoughtful, but I shall not sleep to-night unless
it be here."

"And why here?"

"Death hath more terrors in the dark and I grow a little fearful,
Martin."  So saying she wrapped a boat-cloak about her and, spreading
out the other, lay down thereon and so near that I might have touched
her where she lay.

And in a while Night rushed down upon us and it was dark; but from the
dark her voice reached me where she lay, her head pillowed at my feet,
and I, crouching above her, strove to shelter her somewhat from the
lashing spray and buffeting wind. Thus in despite of raging tempest we
contrived to make each other hear though with difficulty, talking on
this wise:

She:  Are you afraid?

Myself:  No.

She:  Have you then no fears of death?

Myself:  I have prayed for it, ere now.

She:  And vainly!  For God, instead, hath made you very hale and strong.

Myself:  Aye, for a purpose.

She:  What purpose?

Here, seeing I held my peace, she questioned me again:  "Was your
purpose the slaying of my father?  He is an old man and feeble!"

Myself:  He plotted the downfall of our house and slew my father!

She:  And so you have prayed for vengeance?

Myself:  I have.

She: And God hath denied you this also.  Should you die to-night you go
to him innocent of your enemy's blood.

Myself:  Aye, but if I live--?

She:  You shall grow wiser, mayhap, and forgetting the ill that lies
behind you, reach out to the good that lieth before.

Myself:  And what of my just vengeance?

She:  Vengeance is but for the weak of soul, 'tis only the strong can
forgive.

Myself:  What of my sacred vow?  What of my many prayers for vengeance?

She:  Empty breath!

Myself:  Dare you say so?

She:  I dare more, for lying here with Death all about us I tell you,
Martin Conisby, despite your size and strength, you are no better than
a pitiful, peevish child--"

"Ha!" cried I fiercely, bending over her in the dimness until I might
stare into her eyes, wide and dark in the pale oval of her face, "Will
ye dare--"

"A child," says she again, nodding at me, "lost and wilful and very
selfish with no thought above Martin Conisby and his wrongs. Nay, scowl
not nor grind your teeth, 'tis vain!  For how may I, that fear not
God's dreadful tempest, stoop to fear poor Martin Conisby?"

"Stoop, madam?" I cried hoarsely.

"Aye, stoop," says she.  "The wrongs you have endured have plunged you
to the very deeps, have stripped you of your manhood. And yet--yours is
no murderer's face even when you scowl and clench your fist!  'Twas so
you looked when you fought that rough boy on my behalf so many years
ago when you were Sir Martin the Knight-errant and I was Princess
Damaris.  And now, Martin, you that were my playmate and had
forgot--you that were so ready to fight on my behalf--in this
desolation there is none you may do battle with for my sake saving
only--Martin Conisby!"

Now here she turned, her face hid from me 'neath a fold of the great
boat-cloak, and spake no more.  And I, crouched above her, staring down
at her muffled form outstretched thus at my mercy, felt my quivering
fist relax, felt my brutish anger cower before her trust and
fearlessness.  And so, leaning across the tiller, I stared away into
the raging dark; and now it seemed that the soul of me had sunk to
deeps more black and, groping blindly there, hungered for the light.

So all night long we drove before the tempest through a pitchy gloom
full of the hiss of mighty seas that roared past us in the dark like
raging giants.  And all night long she lay, her head pillowed at my
feet, sleeping like a wearied child, and her long, wind-tossed hair
within touch of my hand.



CHAPTER XXIII

DIVERS PERILS AND DANGERS AT SEA

Towards dawn the wind abated more and more and, glancing into the
lightening East, I saw the black storm-clouds pierced, as it were, by a
sword of glory, a single vivid ray that smote across the angry waters,
waxing ever more glorious until up flamed the sun before whose joyous
beams the sullen clouds scattered, little by little, and melted away.

And now I (that was doomed to be my own undoing) instead of thanking
that merciful God who had delivered us from such dire peril, must needs
scowl upon this kindly sun and fall again to my black humours.  For,
the immediate dangers past, I began to ponder the future and inwardly
to rage against that perverse fate the which was driving me whither it
would.  So, crouched chin on fist, scowling across these tempestuous
waters (for though the wind was fallen the seas ran very high) within
myself I cursed Adam Penfeather and all his works.

"You are hungry, Martin!"  Turning about I beheld my companion sitting
up regarding me with eyes that belied her solemn mouth.

"How should you know this?"

"You frown, Martin!  Though the storm is done and we alive, yet you
frown!  Have patience and you shall eat and sleep."

"I want neither one nor other!" I began.

"And you are wet, Martin!"

"'Tis no matter!"

"And cold!"

"The sun shall warm me."

"So you shall eat, and lie here i' the sunshine, and sleep!"  And away
she goes to vanish under the dripping pent-house forward (the which had
served its purpose admirably well) whiles I, perceiving the waves
subsiding and the wind blowing steady and fair, laid our course due
south-westerly again, and lashing the helm, went forward to shake out
the reefs, finding it no easy task what with the stiffness of my
cramped limbs and the pitching of the boat; howbeit, 'twas done at last
but, coming back, I tripped across a thwart and fell, cursing.

"Are you hurt?" she questioned, stooping over me; whereupon (for very
shame) I turned my back answering short and ungraciously, and sat
frowning like the sullen rogue I was whiles she busily set forth the
wherewithal to break our fast, and singing softly to herself.

"I told you I was an ill rogue and rough!" says I, bitterly.

"Why so you did," says she, meeting my scowl with her wide, calm gaze.
"Also you are hungry, and the food is unspoiled despite the storm--come
and eat!"

So I ate (though with mighty ill grace) and found little savour in the
food for all my hunger; but she waited on my wants with heedful care,
my surliness notwithstanding.

"Whose was the hand set this boat adrift, think you?" says I suddenly.

"Nay, 'twas too dark to see!"

"'Twas Penfeather!" says I, clenching my fist.  "Aye it was Adam, I'll
stake my life on't!"

"Then Poor Master Adam!" she sighed.

"How?  Will you pity a rogue?"

"I speak of Master Penfeather," says she.  "If he indeed cut the boat
adrift it was doubtless because the battle was going against him and he
did this to save me!"  Hereupon I laughed and she, flushing angrily,
turns her back on me.

"Pray you," she questioned, "when may we hope to reach the island and
be free of each other?"

"To-night or to-morrow, unless the storm hath driven us further than I
judge."  And now, our meal done, she sets away everything in its
appointed place and thereafter sat watching the sea all foam and
sparkle beneath the young sun.  And presently a sigh brake from her and
she turned, her anger forgotten quite.

"O!" cries she, "'Tis joy to be alive, to breathe such air, and behold
such a glory of sea and sky!  Look around us, Martin, and give thanks!"
And truly the sea was smooth enough save for a long, rolling swell out
of the East, and with a soft and gentle wind to abate the sun's
generous heat.  "Are you not glad to be alive, Martin?" says she.

"To what end?" I answered.  "Of what avail is life to me cast away on a
desolate island."

"Desolate?" says she, starting.  "Do you mean we shall be alone?"

"Aye, I do."

"But surely," says she with troubled look, "surely Master Adam will
fetch us away?"

"There is a chance!"

"And--if not?"

"God knoweth!" says I gloomily, "'Tis a small island as I learn, little
known and out of the track of vessels."

"Yet a ship may come thither to our relief?"

"And if one doth not?"

"Then must we tempt the sea again in our boat."

"I am no navigator, and these seas are strange to me."

"Howbeit," says she, bravely, "we have good store of provisions."

"And when they are gone--how then, think you?"

"I think you do lack for sleep.  Go, take your rest, mayhap you shall
waken a little bolder and less despairing."

"And you," says I, "you that so look on all this as a joyous
adventure--"

"Joyous?  Ah God!" she cried, "Do you think because I do not weep that
my heart is not full of misery and grief to lose thus home and friends
and country and live 'prisoned and solitary with such as you, that
think but on your own selfish woes and in your big body bear the soul
of a fretful babe?  I hate you, Martin Conisby, scorn and despise you!
And now give me the tiller and begone to your sleep!"  Saying which she
pointed where she had spread the cloaks hard by the midship thwart and
I, amazed by her fierce outburst, suffered her to take the tiller from
my hold, and coming amidships laid myself down even as she had
commanded.

But no thought of sleep had I, rather I lay that I might watch her
(furtively, beneath my arm) where she sat head aloft, cheeks flushed
and bosom tempestuous.  And (despite her beauty) a very termagant shrew
I thought her.  Then, all at once, I saw a tear fall and another; and
she that had sung undaunted to the tempest and outfaced its fury, sat
bitterly weeping like any heart-broke maid, yet giving due heed to our
course none the less. Presently, chancing to look my way, she catches
me watching her and knits her slender brows at me:

"Get you to sleep!" says she.  "O get you to sleep nor trouble my
grief!"

Hereupon (and feeling mighty guilty) I pillowed my head and, closing my
eyes, presently fell to sweet and dreamless slumber.



CHAPTER XXIV

HOW WE CAME TO BLACK BARTLEMY'S ISLAND

"Martin, Martin--look!"

I started up, and rubbing sleep from my eyes, turned to gaze whither
she pointed; and there, faint and far, above the rolling blue of the
seas rose a blue shape.  "'Tis the island, Martin! Our voyaging is nigh
ended."

"Aye, 'tis the island!" says I.

"'Tis like an island of dream, Martin."

"Nay, 'tis real enough!" quoth I, "And solitary!"

"There is a perspective glass in the locker, yonder, Martin."

"Master Adam was vastly thoughtful!" quoth I, bitterly.  And reaching
the glass I gave it to her.

"Will you not look at the island?" she questioned wonderingly.

"Nay, I shall see more than enough of it ere long!  Do you give me the
tiller and view it as you will."

"I see rocks!" says she, after some while.

"Ha, a barren place, as I thought."

"Nay, there are trees--many trees!  O 'tis wonderful!"  And so she sat
viewing it all untiring, every moment discovering some new marvel; but
I fell to my old, black humour, since to me this island was no better
than a prison.

By mid-day we were come so close that I might see the place very well;
a smallish island with sheer cliffs very jagged and grim where the seas
broke in foam and crowned with many and divers trees, beyond which rose
greeny slopes with more trees that mounted up and up to a lofty summit
of rocks and brush.  Being within some two miles of these forbidding
cliffs I steered to fetch a compass about the island, and so presently
opened a bay of white sand with tree-clad cliffs beyond, and before a
sheet of placid water or lagoon shut off from the sea by a semicircular
barrier-reef, such as Adam had described in his story.

And now, bethinking me that (by his account) this was the only means of
landing upon the island, I stood for this reef, against which the
foaming seas dashed with a mighty roaring, looking for that narrow
channel through the reef, that opening amid these breakers whereby we
might steer into those calm waters beyond.

And presently, sure enough, I espied it well-nigh in the middle of the
reef, even as Adam had said, and, putting up the helm, ran for it
straightway.  An evil enough place it looked, perilously narrow and
with mighty seas that broke in thunderous spray to right and left of
it; insomuch that heedful of Adam's warning (and all too late) I was
minded to bear up and stand away, plying off and on, until the waves
should have moderated.  But in my folly I had sailed too near and now,
swept onward by some current, the boat, responding no more to her helm,
was borne on at ever-increasing speed.  So thus helpless and at mercy
of the seas we drove straight for this perilous channel until I had
some desperate hope that she might make it; on we sped, nearer and
nearer, until the spume of the breakers was all about us and I
well-nigh deafened by their roar; but this roar was pierced suddenly by
a cry:

"O Martin!  God pity us--look!"  Turning my head, I saw a hugeous wave
hard upon us, felt my companion's arms about me, and then--deafened,
blinded, choking, I was whirled aloft on this mighty sea, tossed,
buffeted, hurled into blinding sunlight, buried beneath green deeps
and, expectant of death, suddenly found myself face down on warm sands
wherein my griping fingers clutched desperately against the back-rush
of the sea.

So lay I gasping and gripping this kindly earth and waited to do battle
for what remained of life, hearkening for the fierce hiss of that great
wave that was to bear me back to the horror of those green deeps the
which should bury me for ever; instead I heard the gentle, drowsy
lapping of water all about me, and opening my eyes beheld myself lying
on the edge of those white sands that bordered the lagoon, while behind
me the seas thundered impotent against the reef.  And now, little by
little, I saw that the great wave must have borne me hither in
miraculous fashion; and lying thus bruised and spent I must needs
remember how Adam had experienced the like.

But all at once I staggered up to my feet and began staring hither and
thither; then as my brain cleared and strength came back, I took to
running along the edge of the lagoon like one demented, staring down
into those placid waters and searching the white sands with eyes of
dreadful expectancy, yet nowhere could I discover sign or trace of my
companion.  None the less I continued to run aimlessly back and forth,
heedless of my going, slipping and stumbling and often falling, but
never staying my search until the sweat poured from me.  And ever as I
ran I kept repeating these words to myself over and over again, viz.,
"Adam's comrade, Nicholas Frant, was cast safe ashore with him!" Thus I
ran to and fro gasping these words to myself until, tripping over a
piece of driftwood I lay bruised and well-nigh spent.  Howbeit, I
forced myself up again and re-commenced my search, and this time with
more method, for I swore to myself that I would find her or perish
also.  To this end I determined to get me out upon the reef; now to
come thither I must needs climb over certain rocks, so came I thither
and, breathless with haste, made shift to mount these rocks heedless of
bruises or bleeding hands, and reaching the summit at last, paused all
at once.

She lay face down almost below these rocks, outstretched within a
little cove and her long, wet hair wide-tossed like drifted seaweed all
about her.  Now, seeing how still she lay, a great sickness seized me
so that I sank weakly to my knees and crouched thus a while, and with
no strength nor will to move.  At last, and very slowly, I made my way
a-down the rocks, and being within the little cove, found myself all
trembling and holding my breath.  Then, though the soft sand deadened
all sound of my going, I crept forward.  So came I where she lay, her
wet draperies clinged fast about her; and standing above this stilly
form I looked down upon her slender shapeliness yet feared to touch
her.  And now I saw that one sleeve was torn away and upon her round,
white arm the marks my cruel hands had wrought.

"Damaris!" says I, falling on my knees beside her, and the word was a
groan.  And in that moment she raised her head and looked at me, and in
her eyes methought to read wonder and a sudden, great joy:

"Martin!" she whispered, "O thank God!"  And so hid her face again.
Now, being yet on my knees, I looked from her to the blue heaven and
round about me like one that wakes upon a new world.



CHAPTER XXV

HOW I WAS HAUNTED OF BLACK BARTLEMY

"Are you hurt?" says I, at last.

"Indeed," she answered, "all over.  Yet am I alive and there's the
wonder.  The wave cast me into the lagoon and I crept ashore here.
Then methought you surely dead and I alone within these solitudes and
so I swooned, Martin."

"Being afraid of the loneliness?"

"Yes, Martin."

"Even fellow as rough as I is better than loneliness?"

"Yes, Martin."

"Though your arms be bruised by my handling!  For this I--I would crave
your pardon--"

"'Tis all forgot!" says she, making shift to cover up her arm. "But
your hand is bleeding--"

"A scratch!"

"Have you no other hurts?"

"A bruise or so."

"And did you come a-seeking me, Martin?"

"Yes."

"Are you glad to find me alive?"

"Yes."

"Even a Brandon is better than nobody, Martin?"  But at this I arose,
albeit stiffly, and turned away.  "Whither would you go?" she
questioned.

"To seek some shelter ere night catch us."

"Shall I not come with you?"

"Can you walk?"

Hereupon she made to rise, but getting to her knees, flinched and bit
her lip:

"I'm so bruised, Martin!" says she.

"Why then, bide you here, yonder cleft i' the rock should serve for
to-night.  Howbeit I'll go look."  So I limped across the beach to
where showed a great fissure in the cliff hard beside a lofty tree;
being come within this cleft I found it narrow suddenly, and at the end
a small cave very dry and excellent suited to our purpose.  Moreover,
close at hand was a little rill that bubbled among mossy rocks, mighty
pleasant to be heard.  And hereabouts grew all manner of vines,
sweet-smelling shrubs and fern; of these I gathered goodly quantity and
strowing them within the cave therewith made a very passable bed; which
done, I went back where she lay a-drying her wet garments in the warm
sun as well as she might.

"Martin," says she, mighty doleful, "I have lost my comb and all my
hairpins."

"I will fashion you others."

"Aye, but the boat, Martin, our dear, brave boat!"

"To-morrow I will seek what remains of her."

"And our stores--all lost, Martin!"

"I can find more."

"Where?"

"Among the rocks and on the trees.  There should be no lack of fruit
and fish according to Adam."

"Nay but," sighed she, shaking woeful head, "even though we contrive to
live thus, yet here must we 'bide far from our kind with small hopes of
relief and destitute of all things to our comfort."

"Why look now," says I, "here in my pocket is a tinder box, the which
is a very comfortable thing, here in my belt a good, stout, knife,
which is another comfortable thing, and yonder is a cave, dry and airy,
shall make you a goodly chamber; so take comfort to-night, at least."
And drawing my knife I betook me to whetting the blade on the sole of
my damp shoe.  Glancing up at last I found my companion regarding me
with strange expression.

"Methinks you are greatly changed!" says she.

"How changed?"

"In the boat you did nought but cry out and rail 'gainst fortune, but
now, Martin--"

"Now," says I, "the sun is low and night cometh apace in these
latitudes, let me know you sheltered ere it be dark!" and sheathing my
knife I rose.  Then seeing what effort she made to come to her knees, I
reached her my hand aiding her up to her feet.  So she takes a step
and, stifling a cry of pain, would have fallen but for my arm.

"O Martin," says she, with rueful shake of the head, "I fear I cannot
walk."

"Lean on me--"

"'Tis vain," says she, catching her breath, "I cannot set this foot to
ground."

"Have you any bones broke?"

"Nay, 'tis none so bad as that--"

"Where's your hurt?"

"My knee--my ankle!  And I'm direly bruised, Martin."

"But you cannot sleep out here!"

"I needs must.  The sand is warm and soft to my bed."

"There is a better waiting you in the cave yonder."

"But--if I cannot walk, Martin--"

"Why then," says I, "why then you must suffer that I carry you."

"I fear I am--greatly heavy, Martin!"

"As to that--" says I, and lifting her as gently as I might, began to
bear her across the beach.  And after we had gone thus some way she
spoke:

"I fear me I am vastly heavy!"

"No!" says I, keeping my gaze before me.

"Yet you go very slowly."

"'Tis that I would not jostle you."

"And the sand is ill-going, belike, Martin?"

"Most true!" says I, pretending to stumble.

"Why then, I pray you take your time."  At this I ventured to glance
down at her, but saw no more than the curve of a cheek and the tip of a
little ear; and staring at this came very near blundering into a rock.
So I bore her into the rocky cleft already full of shadow, taking due
heed in my going yet mighty conscious of all the yielding softness of
her none the less.

"Your clothes are very damp!" says I.

"They will be dry ere morning," she answered, her voice muffled.

"I had best light a fire then!"

"There is no need, 'tis very warm, I do think."

"'Tis good against wild beasts and the like," says I.

"Why then, as you will, Martin."

Reaching the little cave at last she would have had me set her down;
but I bade her lie still, and getting to my knees within the cave I
laid her upon her ferny bed, whereat she uttered a little cry of
pleasure.

"Why, Martin," says she, snugging down, "here is wondrous soft bed and
fragrant."

"'Twill serve until I can contrive a better," quoth I, and coming
without the cave, stood looking down on her, while the night deepened
about us apace.

"And what of you, Martin?"

"I shall sleep here, beyond the fire."

"Do you think there be any wild beasts hereabouts?"

"God knoweth!" says I.  "Howbeit you may sleep secure and fear nothing."

"I know that, O I know that!" says she gently.

"Do you lack for aught?"

"Only sleep, Martin."

"Why then, I'll set about making the fire."  So I fell to gathering
twigs and driftwood, of which there was no lack, and taking out my
tinder-box (albeit the tinder was still damp) soon contrived to have
the fire crackling right merrily.  This done and with store of fuel to
hand, I scooped me out a hollow in the warm sand and lying therein
found myself very well, the aches of my many bruises notwithstanding.
The night air struck chill through my damp garments, but now, stretched
in the comfort of the fire, there grew within me a great wonder at our
miraculous deliverance; and this led me to ponder upon our present
situation, cast thus destitute upon this lonely island where, devoid of
every comfort and necessity, we must needs live in barbarous fashion as
best we might until either Penfeather should come to our relief or we
be taken off by some chance vessel.  And supposing (thinks I) that
neither chance befall and we doomed to drag out our days to their
miserable end?  Here I must needs bethink me of all the woeful tales I
had heard of marooners or poor, shipwrecked mariners who, by reason of
wretchedness and hardship, had run mad or become baser than the brutes.
And now, I must needs take out and read Penfeather's crumpled letter,
and bethinking me how (in my wicked folly) I had cast overboard the
packet of instructions whereby we must at least have found all those
stores he made mention of, from cursing him I straightway fell to
bitter recriminations of my vain self.

"Are you asleep, Martin?"

"No!"  Here I heard her sigh, and a rustle as she turned on her leafy
couch.

"O Martin, surely God hath had us in His care to bring us safe through
so many dangers, and methinks His gentle hand will be over us still."

"Have you no fear of what is to be?"

"None, Martin--not now.  But had I found myself alone here--hurt and
helpless in the dark--and really alone, O methinks I should have died
indeed, or lost my wits and perished so.  O truly, truly, God is
infinitely merciful!"

Thus (and all unknowing) she rebuked my ungrateful despondency. For
(thinks I) if she, a woman accustomed to ease and comfort, may thus
front our desperate fortunes undismayed and with faith unshaken, how
much more should I, a man inured to suffering and hardened by
privation?  Thus, checking my gloomy foreboding, I too breathed a
prayer to God for His infinite mercies, and thereafter fell to
pondering how I might supply our more pressing needs with such small
means as I possessed; and so in a while, dozed off to sleep.

I started up, knife in hand, to find the moon very big and bright,
flooding the world with a radiance wondrous to behold; and blinking
drowsily, I wondered what had waked me.  Now as I gazed about me the
place seemed all at once to take on an evil look, what with its steepy
sides a-bristle with tangled vines and bushes and pierced here and
there with black holes and fissures, and I shivered.  The fire being
low I, minded to replenish it, was groping for my fuel when I started
and remained peering up at the cliff above, with ears on the stretch
and every nerve a-tingle.  The night was very calm and still, for the
wind had died away, and save for the distant murmur of the surf beyond
the reef, nought was to hear; then and all at once, from one of those
black holes in the rock above I heard a long-drawn, sighing breath and
therewith a faint scuffling.  Slowly and cautiously I got to my feet
and, with knife gripped ready, began to creep thither; and now within
one of these gloomy crevices in the rock-face I saw a crouching shape
that, as I drew nearer, sprang away with a snort and clatter, and I saw
this was a large goat.

And surely no poor wight ever more relieved than I as, sheathing my
knife, I wiped the sweat from me; and now to relief was added a mighty
satisfaction, for where was one goat would be others. Thus, my fears
allayed, and bethinking me how savoury was a mess of goat's-flesh, I
fell a-watering at the mouth like the hungry animal I was.

Having no more mind to sleep (and the moon so marvellous bright) I
wandered forth of these shadowy rocks and, being upon the sands, stood
to look about me.  Before me stretched the wide ocean, a desolation of
heaving waters that, rolling shorewards, broke in splendour 'neath the
moon; to my right lay a curve of silver beach backed by cliffs and
groves of stately palms; and to my left and hard beside these bush-girt
rocks was a great and lofty tree.

Now observing this tree more closely, its mighty writhen branches and
gnarled roots, and how it stood close against the opening in the cliff,
an uneasy feeling possessed me that this tree and its immediate
surroundings were all familiar, almost as I had seen it before, though
I knew this could not be.  So stood I chin in hand, staring about me
and ever my unease grew; and then:

"So that night, Martin, the moon being high and bright, I came to that
stretch of silver sand where they lay together rigid and pale, and
though I had no tool but his dagger and a piece of driftwood, I
contrived to bury them 'neath the great pimento tree that stood beside
the rock-cleft, and both in the same grave."

It was, for all the world, as though Adam had repeated the words in my
ear, insomuch that I glanced round as almost expecting to see him.  So
then it was here Black Bartlemy had died at the hands of the poor,
tortured Spanish lady; and here they lay buried, their bones mouldering
together within a yard of me.  And standing in this dismal spot I must
needs mind Adam's narrative and great was my pity for this poor Spanish
lady.

In a while I got me back to the fire and, lying down, fain would have
slept, but my mind was full of Adam's story.  Howbeit after some while,
what with fatigue and the warmth of the fire, slumber took me.

But in my sleep the dead arose and stood fronting each other beneath a
pallid moon, Bartlemy in all the bravery of velvet and lace and flowing
periwig, and the Spanish lady tall and proud and deadly pale.  And now
as she shrank from his evil touch, I saw that her face was the face of
Joan Brandon.  Sweating in dumb anguish I watched Bartlemy grip her in
cruel hands and bend her backward across his knee, while she stared up
at him with eyes of horror, her lips moving in passionate entreaty.
But, as he bent over her, was a flash of steel, and deep-smitten he
staggered back to the great tree and, leaning there, fell into a fit of
wild laughter so that the silver dagger-hilt that was shaped like a
woman seemed to dance and leap upon his quick-heaving breast; then as
he swayed there laughing his life out, he raised his face to the pale
moon, and I saw that the face of Black Bartlemy was my own.



CHAPTER XXVI

WE COME UPON GRIM EVIDENCES OF ADAM PENFEATHER

Waking to a glory of sun, I found my companion looking down on me all
anxious-eyed where she knelt, her hand upon my shoulder.

"Why, Joan," says I drowsily, "my lady--"

"You are groaning, Martin, so I came to you."

"Groaning?" says I, flinching from her touch.  "'Twas nought!  An ill
fancy--a dream, no more.  But here is the sun well up and I a-snoring--"

"Nay, you groaned and cried out, Martin.  And 'tis yet full early."

"And you'll be mighty hungry and for that matter so am I!"  So saying I
rose and, without more ado, strode away across the sands towards the
reef.  Now as I went, I chanced upon a great turtle-shell (to my joy!)
and divers others marvellously shaped and tinted, and chose such as
might serve us for cups and the like. With these beneath my arm I
clambered out upon the reef and (the tide being out) saw many rocks,
amongst which I had soon collected good store of shell-fish as limpets,
oysters, and others much like to a periwinkle though larger.  Filling
my turtle-shell with these I took it 'neath my arm again and went on,
following the curve of the reef, clambering over these slimy rocks, and
found it no small labour what with my burden and the heat of the sun;
but I persevered, seeking some fragment of our boat or the stores
wherewith she had been so well laden.  Yet, and search how I might,
found nought to reward me.  Having thus traversed the whole reef and
explored the rocks beyond very thoroughly, I cast me down beside the
lagoon to bathe my hands and face and rest myself awhile.  Presently,
chancing to turn my head, I saw a place of trees hard by, and started
up, my weariness clean forgotten.  For divers of these trees bore great
clusters of yellowish fruit, the which I knew for a sort of plantain,
very wholesome and of delicate savour.  So, casting out my limpets and
periwinkles, I hasted to pluck good store of this fruit, and with my
turtle-shell thus well laden, hastened back to our refuge very well
content.

My companion being absent I seated myself in the shade and began
opening the oysters with my knife as well as I might; in the which
occupation she presently found me, and grew very merry at my clumsy
efforts.  And now I noticed that she had wrought her long hair into two
braids very thick and glossy, also she had somehow contrived to mend
the rents in her gown and her torn sleeve.

"Why, you have combed your hair!" says I wondering and speaking my
thought aloud.

"With my fingers, they must be my comb until you can make me a
better--alack, my poor hair!"

"Why then, you must have a comb so soon as I can contrive one. But now
see the breakfast nature hath provided us withal!"

And who so full of pleased wonderment as she, particularly as regarded
the fruit which she pronounced delicious, but my shell-fish she showed
small liking for, though I found them eatable enough.  Seeing her so
pleased I told her I hoped to provide better fare very soon, and
recounted my adventure with the goat.

"But," says she, "how shall you go a-hunting and no firearms?"

"With a bow and arrows."

"Have you found these also?"

"No, I must make them.  I shall look out a sapling shaped to my purpose
and trim it with my knife.  For the cord of my bow I will have leather
strips cut from my jerkin."

"Aye, but your arrows, Martin, how shall you barb them without iron?"

"True!" says I, somewhat hipped.  But in that moment my eye lighted on
a piece of driftwood I had gathered for fuel and, reaching it, I laid
it at her feet.  "There," says I, pointing to the heads of divers rusty
bolts that pierced it, "here is iron enough to arm a score of arrows."

"But how shall you make them, Martin?"

"Heat the iron soft and hammer it into shape."

"But you have neither hammer nor anvil."

"Stones shall do."

"O wonderful!" she cried.

"Nay, it is not done yet!" says I, a little shamefaced.

"And how may I help you?"

"Watch me work."

"Indeed and I will keep your fire going.  So come let us begin."

Our meal done, I gathered twigs for kindling and a great pile of
driftwood of which was no lack, and with small boulders I builded a
fireplace against the cliff where we soon had a fire drawing merrily,
wherein I set my precious piece of timber.  Having charred it
sufficiently I found it an easy matter to break out the iron bolts and
nails; five of them there were of from four to eight inches in length,
and though the ends were much corroded by the sea, there yet remained
enough sound iron for my purpose. And now, my bolts ready for the fire,
I began to look for some stone that might serve me for hammer, and my
companion likewise. Suddenly, as I sought and mighty diligent, I heard
her cry out to me, and beholding her leaning in the cave mouth, all
pale and trembling, came running:

"What is't?" cries I, struck by the horror of her look.

"O Martin!" she gasped.  "O Martin--'tis in there--all huddled--in the
darkest corner!  And I--I slept with it--beside me all night!"  Coming
within the cave I looked whither her shaking hand pointed and saw what
I took at first for a monstrous egg and beyond this the staves of a
small barrel; then, bending nearer, I saw these were the skull and ribs
of a man.  And this man had died very suddenly, for the skeleton lay
face down one bony arm folded under him, the other wide-tossed, and the
skull, shattered behind, showed a small, round hole just above and
betwixt the cavernous eye-sockets; about the ribs were the mouldering
remains of a leathern jerkin girt by a broad belt wherein was a knife
and a rusty sword; but that which pleased me mightily was a thing still
fast-clenched in these bony fingers, and this no other than a heavy
hatchet.  So, disturbing these poor bones as little as need be, I took
the hatchet and thereafter sword and knife; and then, turning to go,
stopped all at once, for tied about the bony neck by a leathern thong I
espied a shrivelled parchment. Wondering, I took this also, and coming
without the cave, found my companion leaning as I had left her and very
shaky.

"O Martin!" says she, shivering, "and I slept within touch of it!"

"But you slept very well and he, poor soul, is long past harming you or
any."  So saying I smoothed out the crackling parchment and holding it
in her view, saw this writ very bold and clear:

"Benjamin Galbally Slain of necessity June 20, 1642 This for a sign to
like Rogues.

"Adam Penfeather."

"Will this be our Adam Penfeather, Martin?"

"Indeed," says I, "there is methinks but one Adam Penfeather in this
world, the which is just as well, mayhap."

"Then he murdered this poor man?"

"Why the fellow had this hatchet in his fist, it hath lain rusting in
his grasp all these years, methinks his blow came something too late!
Though he must be mighty quick who'd outmatch Penfeather, I guess.  No,
this man I take it died in fight.  Though why Adam must set this
placard about the poor rogue's neck is beyond me."

"Let us go away, Martin.  This is an evil place."

"It is!" says I, glancing at the great pimento tree that marked the
grave of the poor Spanish lady and Black Bartlemy.  "Truly we will seek
out another habitation and that at once.  Howbeit, I have gotten me my
hammer."  And I showed her the hatchet, the which, unlike the ordinary
boarding-axe, was furnished with a flat behind the blade, thus:

(Line drawing of the hatchet.)



CHAPTER XXVII

DIVERS ADVENTURES ON THE ISLAND

Seeing my companion so anxious to be gone, I left my fire to burn out
and, giving her my hand, forthwith turned my back on this place of
death, nor sorry to do it.

Following the base of the cliff we found an opening in the rock vaulted
and arched by nature so that it was of white sands, bordering the
lagoon, the which we there and then agreed to call "Deliverance" in
memory of our escape.  What with the soft sand and scattered rocks it
was ill-going for my companion, but though she limped painfully she
held bravely on nevertheless, being of a mighty resolute mind as this
narrative will show.

Now as we went slowly thus, I pointed out caves a-plenty and very
proper to our purpose, but she would have none of them and was forever
lifting her eyes to the cliffs and tree-clad, greeny slopes beyond.

"Let us seek above," says she, "where there be trees and mayhap
flowers, for, Martin, I do love trees."

"Nay but," says I, "none save a bird or a goat may climb yonder."

"Let us be patient and seek a way, Martin."

"And you all bruised and lame!"

"Nay, I am very well and--see yonder!"  Looking whither she would have
me, I saw, beyond this great jutting rock, a green opening in the
cliffs with a gentle ascent.

"O Martin!" cries she, stopping suddenly, "O Martin, 'tis like England,
'tis like one of our dear Kentish lanes!"  And indeed so it was, being
narrow and grassy and shady with trees, save that these were such trees
as never grew on English soil.

"Let us go, Martin, let us go!"

So we began the ascent and (despite the blazing sun) the slope being
gradual, found it easier than it had looked.  On we went, and though
she often stumbled she made nought of it nor stayed until we were come
to a green level or plateau, whence the ground before us trended
downwards to a wondrous fertile little valley where ran a notable
stream 'twixt reedy banks; here also bloomed flowers, a blaze of varied
colours; and beyond these again were flowery thickets a very maze of
green boskages besplashed with the vivid colour of flower or bird, for
here were many such birds that flew hither and thither on gaudy wings,
and filling the air with chatterings and whistlings strange to be heard.

Now beholding all this, my companion sank to the ground and sat very
still and silent like one rapt in pleasing wonder.

"O!" says she at last and very softly.  "Surely here is an earthly
paradise, O Martin, the beauty of it!"

"Yet these flowers have no smell!" says I.  "And for these gaudy birds
I would give them all for one honest English robin or sweet-throated
black bird!"

But she, chin in hand, sat a-gazing upon this prospect as she would
never tire.  As for me, I began to look around and, the more I looked,
the better I liked this place, pleasantly shaded as it was by trees and
affording from this eminence a wide view of the sea, the lagoon, and
Deliverance Beach below.  Moreover, I heard near by the pleasant sound
of falling water and, drawn by this, came to a flowery thicket, and
forcing my way through, paused suddenly, as well I might, for before
me, set in the face of a rock, was a door.  All askew it hung and grown
over with a riot of weed and vines; and behind the weatherworn timber I
saw the gloom of a cavern.

Approaching this door I found it built with ship's timbers exceeding
stout and strong, joined by great battens clamped with bolts and nails,
and in the midst a loophole; and besides this I saw divers shot-marks
in these timbers the which set me a-wondering.  Now having my hatchet
in hand, I set about cutting away bush and vines, and forcing wide the
door (the which swung 'twixt great beams like jambs, clamped to the
rock) I stepped into the cool dimness beyond.  The place was irregular
of shape but very spacious and lighted by a narrow, weed-choked crevice
high up that admitted a soft, greeny glow very pleasing after the glare
of the sun; by which light I perceived that from this cave two smaller
caves opened.  Now seeing this place had once been the abode of some
poor castaway, I sought high and low in hopes of finding something to
our use if no more than a broken cup, but came on nothing save the ruin
of a small table; the place was bare as my hand.  I was yet busied in
my fruitless search when comes my companion all pleased-eyed wonderment.

"Why, 'tis as good as any cottage!" cries she.

"And better than some," says I, "for here is no thatch to leak and no
windows to break and let in the rain!"

"O Martin, for a broom!" says she, looking around upon the floor
ankle-deep in dead leaves, twigs and the like.  "O for a broom!"

"These leaves be well enough--"

"But better for a broom, Martin."

"Why then, a broom you shall have," says I, and coming without the cave
I cut twigs sufficient to my purpose, and divers lengths of vine, very
strong and tough, and therewith bound my twigs about a stick I had
trimmed for a handle; whiles she, sitting upon a great stone that lay
hard by, watched me with mighty interest.

"You are very clever, Martin!" says she.

"'Tis very rough, I doubt."

"I have seen many a worse broom used in England, Martin."

"Why, 'twill serve, mayhap."

"'Tis excellent!" says she, and taking the broom from me away she limps
with it forthwith and I, standing without the cave, presently heard her
sweeping away (despite her bruises) and singing sweet as any mounting
lark.  I now set out to bring away such things as I had left behind, as
my iron and the turtle-shell (the which I held of more account than all
the jewels in Adam's treasure) and on my way stopped to cut a stout,
curved branch that I thought might furnish me a powerful bow; and
another that, bladed with iron, should become a formidable spear.
Though why my mind should run to weapons of offence seeing that the
island, so far as I knew, was deserted, and no wild beasts, I know not.
Reaching Deliverance Sands I paused to look about me for such pieces of
driftwood as might serve us, and came on several full of nails and
bolts; some of these timbers being warped with age and others
comparatively new.  And looking on these poor remains of so many noble
ships and thinking of the numberless poor souls that had manned them
and gone to their account, I could not but feel some awe for these
storm-rent timbers as I handled them. And presently as I laboured I
spied a piece new-painted, and dragging it forth from sand and seaweed,
knew it for the gunwale of our own boat.  This put me in great hopes
that I might come upon some of our stores, but, though I sought
diligently then and for days after, I never found anything but this
poor fragment. Having laid by such timbers as shewed iron of any sort,
I went my way and so at last reached our first shelter.  And what
should I espy upon a ledge of rock just above me but a goat; for a
moment the creature blinked at me, chewing busily, then scrambled to
its feet; but in that instant I caught up a heavy stone that chanced
handy and hurled it; the poor beast bleated once, and rolling down the
rock thudded at my feet, where I despatched it with my knife.  My next
care was to skin it, which unlovely task I made worse by my bungling,
howbeit it was done at last and I reeking of blood and sweat.  None the
less I persevered and, having cleaned the carcass I cut therefrom such
joints as might satisfy our immediate needs, and setting them in my
turtle-shell with my irons, hung up the carcass within the coolest part
of the cave out of reach of any prowling beast.  This done, I went down
to the lagoon and laved my arms and hands and face, cleansing myself as
well as I might, and so, taking my well-laden turtle-shell under one
arm and the reeking skin beneath the other, I set off. Now it was
mid-day and the sun very hot, insomuch that the sweat poured from me,
and more than once I must needs pause to moisten my hair to keep off
the heat.  At last, espying a palmetto that grew adjacent, I made shift
to get me a leaf, whereof, with twigs to skewer and shape it, I made me
the semblance of a hat and so tramped on again.  Being come to the
plateau I set down my burdens, very thankful for the kindly shade and
the sweet, cool wind that stirred up here, and turned to find my
companion regarding me pale-cheeked and with eyes wide and
horror-struck.

"Why, what now?" says I taking a step towards her; but seeing how she
shrank away I paused and, glancing down at myself, saw my clothes all
smirched with the blood of the goat.  "How, is it this?" says I.
"Well, a little blood is no great matter!"  But she still eyeing me
mightily askance I grew angry.  "Ha!" quoth I, "You'll be thinking
doubtless of the murders aboard ship and my bloody jerkin?  Why then,
madam, think and grow as wise as you may!"  Saying which I strode off;
and thus I presently heard the soothing sound of falling water, yet
look where I might could see none save that in the little valley below.
Being direly athirst I began to seek for this unseen rill, and little
by little was led up a steep, bush-grown acclivity until, all at once,
I found myself in a right pleasant place; for here, all set about with
soft mosses, fern and flowers, I beheld a great oval basin or rocky
hollow some twelve feet across and brim-full of pellucid water through
which I might see the bottom carpeted with mosses and in this water my
image mirrored; and what with the blood that fouled me, my shaggy hair
and beard and the shapeless thing upon my head, an ill-enough rogue I
looked.

This pool was fed by a little rill that gurgled down from rocks above
and, having filled the basin, flowed out through a wide fissure and
down the cliff to lose itself amid flowery banks 'twixt which it ran
bubbling joyously to meet the river.  And now, having satisfied my
thirst and found the water very sweet and cool, I stripped and bathing
me in this pool, found great solace and content, insomuch that (to my
great wonder) I presently found myself whistling like any boy.  At last
I got me forth mightily refreshed, and that the wind and sun might dry
me, strove to cleanse my garments, but finding it a thankless task I
got dressed at last, but my chain-shirt I left folded beside the pool
and I much more comfortable therefor.

Following the dancing rill, I clambered down the rocks and so into the
little valley where ran the stream.  Fording this, I came amid thickets
where was a glory of flowers of all colours, but one in especial I
noticed, white and trumpet-shaped.  And here I was often stayed by
quickset and creeping plants, their stems very pliant and strong and of
the bigness of my little finger.  On went I haphazard through a green
twilight of leaves, for here (as hath been said) were many trees both
great and small, some of which were utterly strange to me, but others I
knew for cocos-palms, plantain and bread-fruit, the which rejoiced me
greatly; and hereabouts I found growing great bunches of black fruit
like to grapes, though smaller, and which I would not dare touch until,
seeing divers birds peck at them, I ventured to taste and found them
excellent.  So, gathering some of these to stay my hunger I pressed on,
despite the heat, for from somewhere before me was the roar of great
waters, and forced me a passage with my hatchet until this denser wood
gave place to a grove of mighty palm trees, and beyond these I came
suddenly upon a great, barren rock that overhung a lake, whose dark
waters were troubled by a torrent hard by that poured into it with a
great rushing sound, a torrent of prodigious volume though of no great
height.  "So here" (thinks I) "is Adam's 'notable fall of water,'" and
sitting down, I fell to viewing the place, munching my grapes the
while.  Opposite me the lake was bounded by a high-sloping sandy beach
with trees beyond, while beyond these again rose that high, tree-clad
hill whose barren, rocky dome we had seen from afar.  Now the waters of
this lake flooded away through a great rent in the surrounding rocks
betwixt which I might catch a glimpse of the distant sea; and beholding
this rushing cataract I must needs fall a-wondering where so great a
body of water should come from, and to ponder on the marvels of nature.
And from this I got to considering how we might cross this stream,
supposing we should explore the island.  I was yet puzzling this when,
glancing up, I found the sun already westering, wherefore (not minded
to be caught in the dark) I rose and, turning my back on these troubled
waters, set out on my return.  Ever and anon as I went I caught
glimpses of that rocky eminence with its silver thread of falling water
whence I had come, and, guided by this, strode on amain, bethinking me
how best I might cook the goat's-flesh for (despite the grapes) I was
mightily an hungered.  But reaching the denser woods I lost my way, for
here nought was to see but the greeny gloom of tangled thickets and
dense-growing boskages where I must needs cut a path, yet even so I
troubled myself with divers bunches of grapes that my companion might
prove my discovery.  Thus my progress was slow and wearisome, and night
found me still forcing my way through this tangled underwood.  Being
lost and in the dark, I sat me down to wait for the moon and stayed my
hunger with the grapes meant for better purpose, but one bunch that
methought the better I preserved. Soon this leafy gloom glowed with a
silvery radiance, and by this light I went on and so at last came upon
the stream.  But hereabouts it ran fast and deep and I must needs seek
about till I found a ford.  Thus the moon was high as, after desperate
scramble, I came out upon our grassy plateau and saw the welcome glow
of a fire.  Moreover, as I approached I smelt right savoury and most
delectable savour, and hurrying forward saw my companion crouched upon
that stone I have mentioned, her head bowed upon her hands.  Hearing my
step she glanced up and rose to her feet.

"Are you come at last, Martin?" says she in her sweet voice. "Supper is
ready this hour and more!"

"Supper!" says I.

"The goat's-flesh.  I made a stew, but fear 'tis spoiled."

"Indeed," says I, "it smells mighty appetising!"

"I had no salt nor spices, Martin, but in a little garden yonder that
is all run wild, I found some sage and sweet herbs."

"Good!" says I.  So she brought me to the fire and there in our great
turtle-shell was as savoury a stew as ever greeted eyes of hungry man.

By her directions, and will all due care, I lifted this from the fire,
and propping it with stones we sat down side by side.  And now she
shows me two of my smaller shells, and dipping hers into the stew I did
the like, and though we had no salt (the which set my wits at work) and
though we lacked for bread, a very excellent meal we made of it, and
the moon shedding its glory all about us.

The meal done, and while she cleansed the things at a rill that
murmured hard by, I made up the fire (for after the heat of the day,
night struck chill) and by the time she came back I had the flame
crackling merrily.  And now as she sat over against me on the stone, I
saw she had been weeping.  And she, knowing I saw this, nodded her
head, scorning all subterfuge.

"I feared you had met with some mischance and lay hurt, Martin--or
worse--"

"You mean dead?"

"Aye, dead."

"Would it have mattered so much?"

"Only that I should have died likewise!"

"Because of the loneliness?" says I.

"Indeed," she sighed, staring into the fire, "because of the
loneliness."

"I serve some purpose, then, in the scheme of things?"

"Yes, Martin, you teach a woman how, even in this desolation, being
weak and defenceless she may trust to a man's honour and find courage
and great comfort in his strength.  'Twas foolish of me to be
horror-struck at your stained garments when you had been slaying that I
might eat."

"'Tis all forgot!" says I, hastily.

"And as for the murders on the ship--O Martin, as if you might ever
make me believe you had committed murder--or ever could. You that under
all your bitterness are still the same gentle boy I knew so long ago."

"And why should you be so sure of all this and I but what I am?" says
I, staring also into the fire.

"Mayhap because I am a woman with all a woman's instinct to know the
evil from the good."

Hereupon I began telling her of my exploration and describing the
wonders I had seen, as the fruit-trees and waterfall.  Whereupon she
grew eager to explore the island so soon as she might.  In a while I
arose, and drawing my knife turned where I knew was fern a-plenty.

"Where away?" she questioned, rising also.

"I must make you a bed."

"'Tis done, Martin, and yours also."

"Mine!" says I, staring.  "How should you do all this?"

"With the old, rusty sword, Martin.  Come and see!"

So she brought me to the cave, the moon flooding the place with its
pale radiance, and I espied a goodly bed of fern very neatly contrived,
in one corner.

"Bravely done!" says I.

"At least, Martin, 'twill be more easy than your bed of sand, and
methinks you shall have no ill dreams to-night."

"Dreams!" quoth I, and bethinking me of my last night's hateful visions
(and now beholding the beauty of her) I shivered.

"Are you cold?"

"No!"

"Why then, good-night, Martin."

"Wait!" says I, "Wait!"  And hasting out, I brought her the grapes I
had saved, telling her that though small she would find them sweet and
wholesome.

"Why, Martin!" says she, under her breath as one greatly surprised,
"Why, Martin!" and so vanishes into her little cave forthwith, and
never a word of thanks.

Now being yet haunted by my dreams of yesternight, I went forth into
the moonlight and walked there awhile, my eyes uplifted to the glory of
the heavens; and now I must needs bethink me of Godby's star-time, of
the dark, lonely road, of the beckoning light beyond and the welcoming
arms of love.  And hereupon I scowled and turned to stare away across
the placid sea dimpling 'neath the moon, at the stilly waters of the
lagoon, and the white curve of Deliverance Beach below; but, look where
I would, I could see only the proud, lovely face and the great,
truthful eyes of this woman Joan Brandon, even when my scowling brows
were bent on that distant pimento tree beneath whose towering shadow
Black Bartlemy had laughed his life out.  So in a while I came within
the cave and found it dim, for the moonbeam was there no longer, and
cast myself upon my bed, very full of gloomy thoughts.

"Martin, I thank you for your grapes.  To-morrow we will gather more!"

"Aye, to-morrow!"

"I found a shirt of chain-work by the pool, Martin--"

"'Tis mine."

"I have set it by against your need."

"Nay, I'm done with it, here is no fear of knives in the back."

"Are you sleepy, Martin?"

"No, but 'tis plaguy dark."

"But you are there," says she, "so I do not fear the dark."

"To-morrow I will make a lamp."  Here she fell silent and I think to
sleep, but as for me I lay long, oppressed by my thoughts. "Aye,
verily," says I at last, speaking my thought aloud as had become my
custom in my solitude, "to-morrow I will contrive a lamp, for light is
a goodly thing."  Now here I heard a rustle from the inner cave as she
had turned in her sleep, for she spake no word; and so, despite my
thoughts, I too presently fell to blessed slumber.

Now if there be any who, reading this my narrative, shall think me too
diffuse and particular in the chapters to follow, I do hereby humbly
crave their pardon, but (maugre my reader's weariness) shall not abate
one word or sentence, since herein I (that by my own folly have known
so little of happiness) do record some of the happiest hours that ever
man knew, so that it is joy again to write.  Therefore to such as would
read of rogues and roguish doings, of desperate fights, encounters and
affrays, I would engage him to pass over these next few chapters, for
he shall find overmuch of these things ere I make an end of this tale
of Black Bartlemy's Treasure.  Which very proper advice having duly set
down, I will again to my narrative.



CHAPTER XXVIII

I BECOME A JACK-OF-ALL-TRADES

Early next morning, having bathed me in the pool and breakfasted with
my companion on what remained of our goat's-flesh, I set to work to
build me a fireplace in a fissure of the rock over against the little
valley and close beside a great stone, smooth and flat-topped, that
should make me an anvil, what time my companion collected a pile of
kindling-wood.  Soon we had the fire going merrily, and whilst my iron
was heating, I chose a likely piece of wood, and splitting it with the
hatchet, fell to carving it with my knife.

"What do you make now, Martin?"

"Here shall be a spoon for you, 'twill help you in your cooking."

"Indeed it will, Martin!  But you are very skilful!"

"Nay, 'tis simple matter!" says I, whittling away but very conscious of
her watchful eyes:  "I have outworn many a weary hour carving things
with my knife.  Given time and patience a man may make anything."

"Some men!" says she, whereat I grew foolishly pleased with myself.
The wood being soft and dry and my knife sharp the spoon grew apace and
her interest in it; and because it was for her (and she so full of
pleased wonder) I elaborated upon it here and there until, having
shaped it to my fancy, I drew my iron from the fire and with the
glowing end, burned out the bowl, scraping away the charred wood until
I had hollowed it sufficiently, and the spoon was finished.  And
because she took such pleasure in it, now and hereafter, I append here
a rough drawing of it.

(Drawing of a spoon.)

"'Tis wonderful!" cries she, turning it this way and that.  "'Tis
admirable!"

"It might be better!" says I, wishing I had given more labour to it.

"I want no better, Martin!"  And now she would have me make another for
myself.

"Nay, mine can wait.  But there is your comb to make."

"How shall you do that, Martin?"

"Of wood, like the Indians, but 'twill take time!"

"Why then, it shall wait with your spoon, first should come
necessities."

"As what?"

"Dear Heaven, they be so many!" says she with rueful laugh.  "For one
thing, a cooking-pot, Martin."

"There is our turtle-shell!" says I.

"Why, 'tis very well, Martin, for a turtle-shell, but clumsy--a little.
I would have a pan--with handles if you could contrive. And then plates
would be a good thing."

"Handles?" says I, rubbing my chin.  "Handles--aye, by all means, a pan
with handles, but for this we must have clay."

"And then, Martin, platters would be useful things!"

"So they will!" I nodded.  "These I can fashion of wood."

"And then chairs, and a table, Martin."

"True!" says I, growing gloomy.  "Table and chairs would be easy had I
but a saw!  I could make you shelves and a cupboard had I but fortuned
to find a saw instead of this hatchet."

"Nay, Martin," says she, smiling at my doleful visage.  "Why this
despond?  If you can make me so wondrous a spoon with nought but your
knife and a piece of driftwood, I know you will make me chairs and
table of sorts, saw or no, aye, if our table be but a board laid across
stones, and our chairs the same."

"What more do we need?" says I, sighing and scowling at my hatchet that
it was not a saw.

"Well, Martin, if there be many goats in the island, and if you could
take two or three alive, I have been thinking we might use their milk
in many ways if we had pans to put the milk in, as butter and cheese if
you could make me a press.  Here be a-plenty of ifs, Martin, and I
should not waste breath with so many if you were not the man you are!"

"As how?" I questioned, beginning to grind the hatchet on a stone.

"A man strong to overcome difficulty!  And with such clever hands!"

Here I ground my hatchet harder than before, but scowled at it no
longer.

"And what more would you have?" I questioned.

"If you could make our front door to open and shut?"

"That is easily done!  And what else beside?"

"Nay, here is enough for the present.  We are like to be very busy
people, Martin."

"Why, 'twill pass the time!" says I.

"And work is a very good thing!" quoth she thoughtfully.

"It is!" says I, grinding away at my hatchet again.

"O Martin!" sighs she after awhile, "I grow impatient to explore our
island!"

"And so you shall so soon as you are strong enough."

"And that will be very soon!" says she.  "The sea-water is life to me,
and what with this sweet air, I grow stronger every day."

"Meantime there is much to be done and here sit I in idleness."

"Nay, you are sharpening your axe and I am talking to you and wondering
what you will make next?"

"A lamp!" says I.

"How, Martin?"

"With a shell, the fat of our goat rendered down, and cotton from my
shirt."

"Nay, if you so yearn for a lamp I can do this much."

"Good!" says I, rising.  "Meantime I'll turn carpenter and to begin
with, try my hand at a stool for you."

"But if you have no saw, Martin--?"

"I will make me a chisel instead."  Crossing to the fire I found my
iron red-hot, and taking it betwixt two flat pieces of wood that served
me for tongs I laid it upon my stone anvil, and fell forthwith to
beating and shaping it with the hammer-back of my hatchet until I had
beaten out a blade some two inches wide. Having cooled my chisel in the
brook I betook me to sharpening it on a stone moistened with water, and
soon had wrought it to a good edge.  I now selected from my timber a
board sufficiently wide, and laying this on my anvil-stone began to cut
a piece from the plank with hammer and chisel, the which I found a work
requiring great care, lest I split my wood, and patience, since my
chisel, being of iron, needed much and repeated grinding. Howbeit it
was done at last, and the result of my labour a piece of wood about two
feet square, and behold the seat of my stool!

Now was my companion idle for, while all this is a-doing, she sets the
turtle-shell on the fire with water and collops of meat cut with my
knife, and, soon as it simmers, breaks into it divers herbs she had
dried in the sun; and so comes to watch and question me at my work, yet
turning, ever and anon, to stir at the stew with her new spoon, whereby
I soon began to snuff a savour methought right appetising.  As time
passed, this savour grew ever more inviting and my hunger with it, my
mouth a-watering so that I might scarce endure, as I told her to her no
small pleasure.

"Had I but a handful of salt, Martin!" sighs she.

"Why, comrade," says I, pausing 'twixt two hammer-strokes, "Wherefore
this despond?  If you can make stew so savoury and with nought but
flesh of an old goat and a few dried herbs, what matter for salt?"  At
this she laughed and bent to stir at her stew again.

"There's plenty of salt in the sea yonder," says she presently.

"True, but how to come at it?"

"How if we boiled sea-water, Martin?"

"'Tis method unknown to me," says I, whittling at a leg of my stool,
"but we can try."

And now in the seat of my stool I burned three good-sized holes or
sockets, and having trimmed three lengths of wood, I fitted these into
my socket-holes, and there was my stool complete. This done, I must
needs call her from her cooking to behold it; and though it was no more
than a square of roughish wood set upon three pegs, she praised and
viewed it as it had been a great elbow chair and cushioned at that!
Hereupon, puffed up with my success, I must immediately begin to think
upon building us a table and chairs, but being summoned to dinner I
obeyed her gladly enough.  And she seated on her stool with me on the
ground beside her and our turtle-shell dish before us, we ate with
hearty good-will until, our hunger appeased, we fell to talk:

She:  'Tis marvellous how well I eat.

Myself:  'Tis the open air.

She:  And the work, Martin.  I have swept and dusted our cottage every
hole and corner.

Myself:  And found nothing left by its last tenant?

She:  Nothing.

Myself:  Had he but thought to leave us a saw our chairs and table
would have been the better.

She:  Then you will make them, Martin?

Myself:  Aye--with time.

She:  O 'tis bravely determined.

And here, for a moment, I felt the light touch of her hand on my
shoulder.

Myself:  They will be very unlovely things--very rough--

She:  And very wonderful, Martin.

Myself:  As to these goats now, 'tis an excellent thought to catch some
alive and rear them.

She:  I could make you excellent cheese and butter.

Myself:  If I cannot run them down, I must contrive to wound one or two
with arrows.

She:  Why then, Martin, why not head your arrows with pebbles in place
of iron points?

Myself:  Good again!  Or I might make a couple of gins, running nooses
cut from the goat-skin.  Howbeit, I'll try!

Herewith I arose and she also; then while she busied herself to scald
out our turtle-shell, I set off to get my goat-skin.  And finding it
where I had left it hanging on a rock to dry, I fell a-cursing to
myself for very chagrin; for what with the heat of the rock and the
fierce glare of the sun, here was my goat-skin all shrivelled and hard
as any board.  So stood I scowling at the thing, chin in hand, and
mightily cast down, and so she presently found me; and beholding my
disconsolate look falls a-laughing.

"O Martin," says she, "'tis well there are some things you cannot do!"
Saying which, she takes up the skin (albeit it smelt none too sweet)
and away she goes with it into the cave.  So I got me back to my
carpentry, and selecting as many boards as I required for the width of
my table, fell to cutting them to their proper lengths with hammer and
chisel.  And despite the shade of the mighty trees that girt us round
and the soft wind that stirred, plaguy hot work I found it; but ever
and anon she would bring me water, in one of our shells, cool from the
spring, or would sit beside me as I laboured, aiding me in a thousand
ways and showing herself vastly capable and quick-witted; thus as the
sun sank westwards I had all my boards cut to an even size and two of
the legs, though these, being square, I must needs chop asunder with
the hatchet; yet I persevered, being minded to complete the work ere
nightfall if possible.

"But where are your nails?" says she, where she sat watching.

"Our nails be too few and precious," quoth I, pausing to re-sharpen my
hatchet.  "I shall burn holes and pin our table together with pegs."

"Why then," says she readily, "let me split and shape you some pegs."

"Spoke like a true comrade!" says I impulsively.  "Sometimes I do
forget you are--"

"A woman?" she questioned as I paused; and I wondered to see her eyes
so bright and shining.  "Here is twice you have named me your comrade,
Martin, and so will I be so long as I may.  You sometimes would call me
your comrade when we played together years ago, and 'tis a good name,
Martin.  Come now, teach me how I must make these pegs for our table."
So I showed her how to split divers lengths of wood and shape these as
round and smooth as might be, the while I bored holes for them with a
heated iron; and thus we sat side by side at our labour, seldom
speaking, yet I (for one) very well content.

At length, with her assistance, I began setting the framework of our
table together, joining and pinning it with my wooden pegs driven
mighty secure; last of all I laid the boards across and, pinning these
in place, there was our table; and though it was rude and primitive so
far as looks went, yet very serviceable we were to find it.

"Well, Martin," says she, when I had borne it into our cave, "methinks
my shelves and cupboard are none so far to seek!"  Here she falls to
patting this unlovely thing and viewing it as it were the wonder of the
world; and I must needs leap upon it to prove its strength.

"'Tis over-heavy," says I, giving it a final shake, "but 'twill serve!"

"To admiration!" says she, smoothing its rough surface with gentle
hand. "To-night we will sup from it.  Which reminds me that supper is
to cook and our meat nearly all gone, Martin, though we have plenty of
plantains left."  So I told her I would go fetch what remained of the
carcass after supper, so soon as the moon rose.  And now whiles she
bustled to and fro, I chose me a little piece of wood, and sitting
where I might watch her at her labours, began to carve her the hair pin
I had promised.

"Our third cave should make us a very good larder!" says she busy at
her new table preparing supper.

"Aye."

"'Tis so marvellous cool!"

"Aye."

"I think, because the pool lieth above it."

"Mayhap!"

"Indeed, these are wonderful caves, Martin."

"They are."

"Who lived here before us, I wonder?"

"Penfeather, like as not."

"Why should you think this?"

"Well, that door yonder was never a carpenter's work, yet 'tis well
made and furnished with a loop-hole, narrow and horizontal to give a
lateral fire, the which I have seen but once ere this. Then again the
timbers of this door do carry many marks of shot, and Adam Penfeather
is no stranger to such, violence and danger, steel and bullet seem to
follow him."

"Why so, Martin?  He hath ever seemed a man very quiet and gentle, most
unlike such rough sailor-men as I have seen hitherto."

"True," says I, "but 'neath this attitude of mind is a wily cunning and
desperate, bloodthirsty courage and determination worthy any pirate or
buccaneer of them all."

"Why, courage and determination are good things, Martin.  And as for
Master Penfeather, he is as I do know a skilful navigator and very well
read, more especially in the Scriptures, and methought your friend?"

"For his own purposes!" quoth I.

"And what are these, Martin?"

At this I merely scowled at the wood I was carving, whereupon she
questions me further:

"Master Adam is such a grave and sober man!"

"True!" says I.

"And so wise in counsel--"

"Say, rather, cunning!"

"Though to be sure he once had a poor man beaten cruelly."

"Wherein he was exactly right!" says I, grinding my teeth at memory of
Red Andy.  "Aye, there Penfeather was very right, this fellow was a
vile and beastly rogue!"

"What dreadful thing had he done, Martin?"

"Stared at you!" says I, and stopped; and glancing up, found her
regarding me with look mighty strange.

"Did you mind so much?" she questioned.

"No whit, madam.  Why should I?"

"Aye, why indeed!" says she and turns to her cooking again and I to my
carving, yet in a little, hearing her gasp, I glanced up to find her
nigh stifled with her laughter.

"Ha, why must ye laugh, madam?" I demanded.

"O Martin!" says she, "And must this poor man be whipped--and for a
mere look?  And you so fierce withal!  I fear there be many men do
merit whipping if this be sin so great."

"I see no reason in your laughter, my lady!" quoth I, scowling up at
her.

"Because you have no gift of laughter, my lord!" says she, and turns
her back on me.

Here I came nigh to tossing her half-finished hairpin into the fire;
but seeing her turn her head, carved on for very shame.

"And are you so very angry, Martin?"  I bent to sharpen my knife. "I
would that you might laugh yourself--once in a while, Martin." I tested
my knife on my thumb.  "You are always so grave, Martin, so very solemn
and young!"  Finding my knife still blunt, I went on sharpening it.
Here and all suddenly she was beside me on her knees and clasps my
knife-hand in hers.  "Indeed I had no thought to anger you.  Are you
truly angered or is it only that you are so very--hungry?"  Now here I
glanced at her and beholding all the roguish mischief in her eyes, try
how I might, I could not but smile too.

"A little of both, comrade!" says I.  "Though verily I am a surly
animal by nature."

"Indeed yes, Martin," she sighs, "yet a very comfortable animal, and
though strong and fierce and woefully trying at times, a very gentle
animal to such as know you."

"And do you know me so well?"

"Better than you think, O a great deal better!  Because I am a woman.
And now are we friends again?"

"Yes!" says I heartily, "Yes!"  And away she goes to her cooking and I
mighty glad I had not destroyed her hairpin, the which (my knife being
sharp) I began to ornament with all sorts of elaborations.  Presently
back she comes, spoon in one hand, stool in the other, and sits to
watch me at work.

"What do you make now, Martin?"

"A pin for your hair."

"Why, 'tis beautiful!"

"'Tis scarce begun yet!"

Here she must needs lavish all manner of praises on my skill until I
came nigh cutting myself.

"How many will you make me, Martin?"

"As many as you will."

"Three should suffice."

"Why, you have a prodigious lot of hair."

"Do you think so, Martin?" says she, glancing down at the two great
braids that fell over her bosom well-nigh to her waist. "'Twas well
enough in England, but here 'tis greatly in my way and hampers me in my
work.  I had thought of cutting it off."

"Then don't!"

"Why not, Martin?"

"Well," says I, glancing at the nearest braid that showed coppery
lights where the setting sun caught it.  "Well, because--" and finding
nought else to say I fell to my carving again and away she goes to her
cooking.

"Martin," says she at last, "what do you know of Master Penfeather?
Where did you fall in with him, and why is his life so threatened?"

"All by reason of Black Bartlemy's treasure!"

"Treasure!" says she; and back she comes and onto her stool, all in a
moment.  "Tell me of it, Martin!"

"'Tis a great treasure of gold and jewels in such."

"And who is Black Bartlemy?"

"A foul rogue of a pirate that was killed by a poor Spanish lady, and
lieth buried with her under the great pimento tree on the beach yonder."

"O Martin!" says she, getting up that she might behold the tree, "O
Martin, I knew, I knew 'twas an evil place!  And the poor lady died
too?"

"He killed her after she had stabbed him!"

"How do you know of this?"

"Adam Penfeather told me, he saw it done!"  Hereupon she sits down and
is silent awhile.

"And where is this great treasure?"

"On this island!"

"Here?" says she, starting to her feet again, "Here, Martin?"

"Aye, 'twas this I was despatched to secure, after I had been rapped
over the head with a pistol-butt!"

"And how must you find it?"

"I never shall, the secret of it was in the packet I tossed overboard.
Adam may find it himself an he will."

"And you have no desire for this treasure?"

"None in the world."  And now (at her earnest solicitation) I told her
all my association with Adam, of my haunted days and nights aboard ship
and my suspicions of Tressady; only I spoke nothing of Adam's avowed
intent to steal the "Faithful Friend" to his own purposes.

"O wonderful!" says she, when I had done, and then again, "O wonderful!
So this was why we were cut adrift.  Truly Master Penfeather hath quick
and subtle wits."

"A guileful rogue--and very wily!" says I, clenching my fist.

"But wherein is he rogue, Martin?"

"How!" quoth I, "was it not a wicked, vile and most roguish act to set
you adrift thus, to run the peril of sea and a desolate island--"

"What other could he do, Martin, and the ship good as taken by the
mutineers?  I heard them shouting--for me!" and here she shivered.
"True, we have faced perils, have lost all our stores, but at least
here am I--safe with you, Martin!"  Saying which she rose and presently
summoned me to our evening meal.

Having supped, I took beneath my arm my rusty sword (the which I had
sharpened and burnished as well as I might) being minded to fetch what
remained of our goat:  but now she comes very earnest to go with me,
and I agreeing readily enough, we set out together forthwith.



CHAPTER XXIX

OF MY ENCOUNTER BENEATH BARTLEMY'S TREE

The moon was very bright, casting great, black shadows athwart our way,
and now, once our familiar surroundings were left behind, we fell
silent or spake only in low voices, awed by the universal hush of all
things; for the night was very still and hot and breathless, not a leaf
stirred and no sound to hear save the unceasing roar of the surf.

"Martin," says she, very softly, "here is a night of such infinite
quiet that I grow almost afraid--"

"Of what?" I demanded, pausing to look down on her where she limped
beside me.  And then, 'twixt my teeth, "Is it me you fear?"

"Ah no, no!" cries she, slipping her hand within my arm, "Never, never
that, you foolish Martin!"  And here she looks at me with such a smile
that I must needs glance otherwhere, yet methought her cheeks showed
pale in the moonlight.

"Why then, what's amiss?" I questioned as we went on again and I very
conscious of her hand yet upon my arm.

"I know not," she sighed, "'tis the stillness, mayhap, the loneliness
and dreadful solitude, I feel as though some danger threatened."

"A storm, belike," says I, glancing round about us and across the
placid sea.

"O Martin, 'tis hateful to be a woman!  Why should I fear thus and no
reason, 'tis folly!"  And here she must pause to stamp her foot at
herself.  "And yet I do fear!" says she after a while. "O Martin, glad
am I to have man like you beside me."

"Though another man might serve as well!" says I, "Of course?"

"Of course, Martin!"

At this I turned to scowl at the placid sea again.

"Any man?" says I at last.

"O Martin, no--how foolish under grow--'any man' might be evil as Black
Bartlemy."

"I've heard I am much like him in looks."

"But then you are Martin and he was--Black Bartlemy."

After this we were silent a great while nor spoke again until we had
traversed the whole length of Deliverance Sands, then:

"What manner of man?" I demanded.

Now at this she turns to look at me and I saw their lips quiver to a
little smile that came but to vanish again.

"Something your sort, Martin, but without your gloom and evil tempers
and one who could laugh betimes."

"Sir Rupert?" quoth I.

"He was very gay and merry-hearted!" says she.

"Yet suffered you to be beguiled and cast adrift to your great peril!"

"But stayed to do his share of the fighting, Martin."

"Ha!" says I scowling, "'Tis great pity we may not change places, he
and I!"

"Would you change places with him--willingly, Martin?"


"Aye--I would so!"  At this she whipped her hand from my arm and turned
to frown up at me whiles I scowled sullenly on her.

"Why then, Master Conisby," says she, "I would you were anywhere but
here.  And know this--when you scowl so, all sullen-eyed, I know you
for the very image of Black Bartlemy!"

Now as she spake thus, we were standing almost in the very shadow of
that tall pimento tree beneath which Bartlemy had laughed and died, and
now from this gloomy shadow came something that whirred by my ear and
was gone.  But in that moment I had swept my companion behind a rock
and with sword advanced leapt straight for the tree; and there, in the
half-light, came on a fantastic shape and closed with it in deadly
grapple.  My rusty sword had snapped short at the first onset, yet
twice I smote with the broken blade, while arm locked with arm we
writhed and twisted. To and fro we staggered and so out into the
moonlight, and I saw my opponent for an Indian.  His long hair was
bound by a fillet that bore a feather, a feather cloak was about him,
this much I saw as we strove together.  Twice he broke my hold and
twice I grappled him, and ever we strove more fiercely, he with his
knife and I with my broken sword, and once I felt the searing pain of a
wound.  And now as we swayed, locked together thus, I saw, over his
bowed shoulder, my lady where she crouched against a rock to watch us,
and knowing myself hurt and my opponent very mighty and strong, great
fear seized me.

"Run, Joan!" cried I, gasping, "O Damaris--run back!"

"Never, Martin--never without you.  If you must die--I come with you!"

Mightily heartened by her voice I strove desperately to secure the hold
I sought, but my antagonist was supple as any eel, moreover his skin
was greased after the manner of Indian warriors, but in our struggling
we had come nigh to the rock where crouched my lady and, biding my
time, I let go my broken sword, and seizing him by a sort of collar he
wore, I whirled him backward against the rock, saw his knife fly from
his hold at the impact, felt his body relax and grow limp, and then, as
my grasp loosened, staggered back from a blow of his knee and saw him
leap for the lagoon.  But I (being greatly minded to make an end of him
and for good reasons) set after him hot-foot and so came running hard
behind him to the reef; here, the way being difficult, I must needs
slack my pace, but he, surer footed, ran fleetly enough until he was
gotten well-nigh to the middle of the reef, there for a moment he
paused and, looking back on me where I held on in pursuit, I saw his
dark face darker for a great splash of blood; suddenly he raised one
hand aloft, shaking it to and fro, and so vanished down the rocks.
When I came there it was to behold him paddling away in a long piragua.
Panting I stood to watch (and yearning for a bow or firelock) until his
boat was hardly to be seen amid the moonlit ripples that furrowed the
placid waters, yet still I watched, but feeling at hand touch me,
turned to find my lady beside me.

"Martin," says she, looking up at me great-eyed, "O Martin, you are
wounded!  Come let me cherish your hurts!"

"Why, Damaris," says I, yet panting with my running, "You said this to
me when I fought the big village boy years agone."

"Come, Martin, you are bleeding--"

"Nought to matter ... and I let him go ... to bring others like enough
... to-morrow I will make my bow ... nay ... I can walk."  But now
indeed sea and rocks grew all blurred and misty on my sight, and twice
I must needs rest awhile ere we came on Deliverance Sands.  And so
homewards, a weary journey whereof I remember nothing save that I fell
a-grieving that I had suffered this Indian to escape.

So came we to the plateau at last, her arm about me and mine upon her
shoulders; and, angered at my weakness, I strove to go alone yet reeled
in my gait like a drunken man, and so suffered her to get me into our
cave as she would.  Being upon my bed she brings the lamp, and kneeling
by me would examine my hurt whether I would or no, and I being weak,
off came my shirt.  And then I heard her give a little, gasping cry.

"Is it so bad?" says I, finding my tongue more unready than usual.

"Nay, 'tis not--not your--wound, Martin.

"Then what?"

"Your poor back--all these cruel scars!  O Martin!"

"Nought but the lash!  They whipped us well aboard the 'Esmeralda'
galleass."  In a while I was aware of her soft, gentle hands as she
bathed me with water cool from the spring; thereafter she made a
compress of moss and leaves, and laying it to my wound bound it there
as well as she might, the which I found very grateful and comforting.
This done she sits close beside me to hush and soothe me to sleep as I
had been a sick child.  And I, lying 'twixt sleep and wake, knew I
might not rest until I told her what I had in mind.

"Damaris," says I, "this night I lied to you ... I would not have
another man in my place ... now or ... ever!" and so sank to sleep.



CHAPTER XXX

OF MY SICK HUMOURS

Next day I awoke early and my wound very painful and troublesome; this
notwithstanding, I presently got me out into the early sunshine and, to
my wonder, found the fire already lighted and no sign of my companion.
Hereupon I fell to shouting and hallooing, but getting no answer, sat
me down mighty doleful, and seeing her stool where it stood straddled
on its three legs I cursed it for its unsightliness and turned my back
on it.  And now crouched in the sunlight I grew mightily sorry for
myself thus solitary and deserted, and the hurt in my shoulder all on
fire.  And in a little, my self-love gave place to a fretful unease so
that I must needs shout her name again and again, listening for sound
of her voice, for some rustle to tell me she was nigh, but heard only
the faint booming of the surf.  So I arose and (albeit I found my legs
mighty unwilling) came out upon the plateau, but look how and where I
might, saw only a desolation of sea and beach, whereupon, being greatly
disquieted, I set out minded to seek her.  By the time I reached
Deliverance the sun was well up, its heat causing my wound to throb and
itch intolerably, and I very fretful and peevish.  But as I tramped on
and no trace of her I needs must remember how I had sought her
hereabouts when I had thought her dead, whereupon a great and
unreasoning panic seized me, and I began to run.  And then, all at
once, I spied her.  She was sitting upon a rock, her head bowed wearily
upon her hands, and seeing how her shoulders heaved I knew she was
bitterly a-weeping.  Therefore I stopped, and glancing from her
desolate figure round about upon her desolate surroundings, knew this
grim solitude for the reason of her tears.  At this thought a wave of
hot anger swept over me and a rage that, like my panic, reasoned not
as, clenching my fists, I strode on.  Suddenly she looked up and seeing
me, rose at once, and lifting the great turtle-shell limped wearily
towards me with this borne before her.

"Ha," says I, viewing her tear-wet cheeks as she came, "must ye weep,
madam, must ye weep?"

"May I not weep, Martin?" says she, head pitifully a-droop. "Come, let
us go back, you look very pale, 'twas wrong of you to come so far!
Here is our breakfast, 'tis the best I can find." And she showed me a
few poor shellfish.

"Give me the turtle-shell!" says I.

"Indeed I can bear it very easily, Martin.  And you so white and
haggard--your wound is troubling you.  Come, let me bathe it--"

"Give me the turtle-shell!"

"No, Martin, be wise and let us--"

"Will you gainsay me--d'ye defy me?"

"O Martin, no, but you are so weak--"

"Weak!  Am I so?"  And stooping, I caught her up in my arms, upsetting
the turtle-shell and spilling the result of her labours.  So with her
crushed to me I turned and set off along the beach, and she, lying thus
helpless, must needs fall to weeping again and I, in my selfish and
blind folly, to plaguing the sweet soul therewith, as:

"England is far away, my Lady Joan!  Here be no courtly swains, no
perfumed, mincing lovers, to sigh and bow and languish for you.  Here
is Solitude, lady.  Desolation hath you fast and is not like to let you
go--here mayhap shall you live--and die!  An ill place this and, like
nature, strong and cruel.  An ill place and an ill rogue for company.
You named me rogue once and rogue forsooth you find me.  England is far
away--but God--is farther--"

Thus I babbled, scowling down on her, as I bore her on until my breath
came in great gasps, until the sweat poured from me, until I sank to my
knees and striving to rise found I might not, and glaring wildly up saw
we were come 'neath Bartlemy's cursed pimento tree.  Then she, loosing
herself from my fainting arms, bent down to push the matted hair from
my eyes, to support my failing strength in tender arms, and to lower my
heavy head to her knee.

"Foolish child!" she murmured, "Poor, foolish child!  England is very
far I know, but this I know also, Martin, God is all about us, and here
in our loneliness within these great solitudes doth walk beside us."

"Yet you weep!" says I.

"Aye, I did, Martin."

"Because--of the--loneliness?"

"No, Martin."

"Your--lost friends?"

"No, Martin."

"Then--wherefore?"

"O trouble not for thing so small, a woman's tears come easily, they
say."

"Not yours, Joan.  Yet you wept--"

"Your wound bleeds afresh, lie you there and stir not till I bring
water to bathe it."  And away she hastes and I, burning in a fever of
doubt and questioning, must needs lie there and watch her bring the
turtle-shell to fill it at the little rill that bubbled in that rocky
cleft as I have described before.  While this was a-doing I stared up
at the pimento tree, and bethinking me of Black Bartlemy and the poor
Spanish lady and of my hateful dream, I felt sudden great shame, for
here had I crushed my lady in arms as cruel well-nigh as his.  This put
me to such remorse that I might not lie still and strove to rise up,
yet got no further than my knees; and 'twas thus she found me.  And now
when I would have sued her forgiveness for my roughness she soothed me
with gentle words (though what she spake I knew not) and gave me to
drink, and so fell to cherishing my hurt until, my strength coming back
somewhat, I got to my feet and suffered her to bring me where she
would, speaking no word, since in my fevered brain I was asking myself
this question, viz.,

"Why must she weep?"

Now whether the Indian's knife was poisoned or no I cannot say, but for
two days I lay direly sick and scarce able to crawl, conscious only of
the soothing tones of her voice and touch of her hands.  But upon the
third day, opening my eyes I found myself greatly better though
marvellous weak.  And as I stirred she was beside me on her knees.

"Drink this, Martin!" says she.  And I obeying, found it was excellent
broth.  And when I had drunk all I closed my eyes mighty content, and
so lay a while.

"My Lady Joan," says I at last, "wherefore did you weep?"

"O Martin!" she sighed, "'Twas because that morning I had sought so
long and found so little to give you and you so sick!"  Here was
silence a while.

"But whence cometh the broth?" quoth I at last.

"I caught a young goat, Martin; in a noose of hide set among the rocks;
and then--then I had to kill it--O Martin!"

"You--caught and--killed a goat!"

"Yes, Martin.  You had to be fed--but O, the poor thing--!"

"Surely," said I at last, "O surely never had man so brave a comrade as
I!  How may I ever show you all my gratitude?"

"By going to sleep, Martin.  Your wound is well-nigh healed, sleep is
all you need."  And sleep I did; though at that time and for many
nights to come my slumber was haunted by a fear that the Indian was
back again, and others with him, all stealing upon us to our torment
and destruction.  But in this night I awoke parched with thirst and the
night very hot and with the moon making pale glory all about me.  So I
got to my feet, albeit with much ado, being yet very feeble when her
voice reached me:

"What is it, Martin?  Are you thirsty?"

"Beyond enduring!" says I.

"Bide you still!" she commanded, and next moment she flits soft-footed
into the moonlight with one of our larger shells to bring me water from
the rill near by; but seeing me on my feet, looks on me glad-eyed, then
shakes reproving head.

"Lie you down!" says she mighty serious, "Lie you down!"

"Nay, I'll go myself--"  But she was past me and out of the cave or
ever I might stay her; but scarce had I seated myself upon my bed than
she was back again, the shell brimming in her hands; so I drank eagerly
enough but with my gaze on the sheen of white, rounded arm and dimpled
shoulder.  Having emptied the shell I stooped to set it by, and when I
looked again she had vanished into her own small cave.

"I am glad you are so greatly better, Martin," says she from the dark.

"Indeed, I am well again!" quoth I.  "To-morrow I make my bow and
arrows.  Had I done this before, the Indian should never have got away."

"Think you he will return and with others, Martin?"

"No," says I (albeit my mind misgave me).  "Yet 'tis best to be
prepared, so I will have a good stout pike also in place of my broken
sword."

"And strengthen our door, Martin?"

"Aye, I will so, 'tis a mighty stout door, thank God."

"Thank God!" says she mighty reverent.  "And now go to sleep, Martin."
So here was silence wherein I could hear the murmur of the breakers
afar and the soft bubbling of the rill hard by, and yet sleep I could
not.

"And you caught and killed a goat!" says I.

"Nay, Martin, 'tis a horror I would forget."

"And you did it that I might eat?"

"Yes, Martin.  And now hush thee."

"Though indeed," says I in a little, "thus much you would have done for
any man, to be sure!"

"To be sure, Martin--unless he were man like Black Bartlemy. Good-night
and close your eyes.  Are they shut?"

"Yes," says I.  "Good-night to thee, comrade."



CHAPTER XXXI

I TRY MY HAND AT POTTERY

Next morning, having bathed me in the pool, I descended thence to find
breakfast a-cooking, two noble steaks propped before the fire on
skewers stuck upright in the ground, a device methought very ingenious,
and told her so; the which did seem to please her mightily.

"Are you hungry, Martin?"

"'Tis a poor word for it!" says I, sniffing at the roasting steaks.

"Alas!  Our poor turtle-shell is all perished with the fire. Martin, if
you could but contrive me a pan with handles!  I have found plenty of
clay along the river bank yonder."  Here she gives me my steak on a
piece of wood for platter, and I being so sharp-set must needs burn my
mouth in my eagerness, whereon she gravely reproves me as I had been a
ravenous boy, yet laughs thereafter to see me eat with such huge
appetite now a bite of plantain, and now a slice of steak cut with my
knife.

"As to your pan with handles," says I, my hunger appeased somewhat, "I
will set about it as soon as I have made my bow and arrows--"

"There is no need of them," quoth she, and rising, away she goes and
presently comes back with a goodly bow and quiver full of arrows.

"Lord love you!" says I, leaping up in my eagerness.  "Here's mighty
good weapon!"  As indeed it was, being longer than most Indian bows and
of good power.  Moreover it was tufted with feathers rare to fancy and
garnished here and there with fillets of gold-work, very artificially
wrought as were also the arrows. Nine of these there were in a quiver
of tanned leather, adorned with featherwork and gold beads, so that I
did not doubt but that their late owner had been of some account among
his fellows.

"I found them two days ago, Martin, but kept them until you should be
well again.  And this I found too!"  And she showed me a gold collar of
twisted wire, delicately wrought.  All of the which put me in high good
humour and I was minded to set off there and then to try a shot at
something, but she prevailed upon me to finish my meal first; the which
I did, though hastily.

"There was a knife also," says I suddenly.

"Yes, Martin, but I threw it into the lagoon."

"O folly!" says I.

"Nay, we have two knives already, and this as I do think was poisoned."

"No matter, 'twas a goodly knife--why must you throw it away?"

"Because I was so minded!" says she, mighty serene and regarding me
with her calm, level gaze.  "Never scowl, Martin, though indeed 'twas
goodly knife with handle all gold-work."  At this I scowled the more
and she must needs laugh, calling me Black Bartlemy, whereon I turned
my back on her and she fell a-singing to herself.

"Think you these arrows are poisoned also?" says she as I rose. At
this, I emptied them from the quiver, and though their iron barbs
looked innocent enough, I held each in the fire until I judged I had
rendered them harmless if poisoned they were indeed.

And now, though sore tempted to try my skill with this good bow, I
followed her down to the river-bank to try my hand at pottery, though
taking good care to carry my bow with me.

Being come to the river I laid aside bow and quiver, and cutting divers
lumps of clay (the which seemed very proper to my purpose) I fell to
kneading these lumps until I had wrought them to a plastic consistency,
and so (keeping my hands continually moistened) I began to mould and
shape a pot to her directions. And now, since I was about it, I
determined to have as many as need be and of different sizes.  My first
was a great ill-looking thing, and my second little better, but as I
progressed I grew more skilful so that after some while I had six pots
of varying size and shape, and each with handles; and, though ill
things to look at, my lady found them all she desired.

"Surely they are very clumsy?" says I, viewing them doubtfully.

"But very strong, Martin!"

"And very ponderous!"

"But they have handles, Martin!"

"And very ill-shaped!"

"'Tis no matter so long as they will hold water, Martin."

Hereupon, heartened by her encouragement, I tried my hand at a set of
dishes, platters and the like, for as I grew more expert at the art, my
interest increased.  So I laboured all the morning, working 'neath a
tree upon the river-bank, and my pots set out to dry in the full glare
of the sun all of a row, and I, in my heart, not a little proud of
them.  But turning to look at them after some while I saw divers of
them beginning to crack and gape here and there with the sun's heat,
whereon my vain pride gave place to sudden petulant anger, and leaping
up I demolished them, one and all, with a couple of savage kicks.

"O Martin!" cries my lady, desponding, "Is all your labour wasted?  Are
you done?"

"No!" says I, clenching my teeth, "I begin now!"  And down I sat to my
clay-kneading again.  But this time I worked it more thoroughly, and so
began to mould my pots and pipkins over again, and she aiding me as
well as she might.  This time the thing came easier, at the which my
companion did admire and very full of encouragement as the vessels took
shape under my hands.

"Come, Martin," says she at last, "'tis dinner-time!"

"No matter!" quoth I.

"Will you not eat?"

"No!" says I, mighty determined.  "Here sit I nor will I go eat till I
can contrive you a pot worthy the name."  And I bent to my work again;
but missing her from beside me, turned to see her seated upon the
grassy bank and with two roasted steaks set out upon two great green
leaves, a delectable sight.

"Pray lend me your knife, Martin."

"What, have you brought dinner hither?" says I.

"To be sure, Martin."

"Why then--!" says I, and laving the clay from my hands came beside her
and, using our knife alternately, a very pleasant meal we made of it.

All that afternoon I wrought at our pots until I had made a dozen or so
of all sizes, and each and every furnished with one or more handles;
and though I scowled at a crack here and there, they looked none the
less serviceable on the whole, and hardening apace.

"And now, comrade," quoth I, rising, "now we will fire them."  So
having collected wood sufficient, I reached for my biggest pot (the
which being made first was the hardest-set), and taking it up with
infinite care off tumbled the handles.  At this I was minded to dash
the thing to pieces, but her touch restrained me and I set it down,
staring at it mighty discomfited and downcast; whereat she laughs right
merrily.

"O Martin," says she, "never gloom so, 'tis an excellent pot even
without handles, indeed I do prefer it so!"

"No," says I, "handles you wanted and handles you shall have!" So
taking a stick that lay handy, I sharpened it to a point and therewith
bored me two holes beneath the lip of the pot and other two opposite.
"This pot shall have iron handle," says I, "unless it perish in the
fire."  Then setting the pots as close as might be, I covered them with
brushwood and thereupon (and with infinite caution) builded a fire and
presently had it a-going. Now I would have stayed to tend the fire but
my companion showed me the sun already low, vowed I had done enough,
that I was tired, etc.  So, having set upon the fire wood enough to
burn good time, I turned away and found myself weary even as she said.

"Goat's-flesh," says I as we sat side by side after supper,
"goat's-flesh is an excellent, wholesome diet and, as you cook it,
delicious."

"'Tis kind of you to say so, Martin, but--"

"We have had it," says I, "we have had it boiled and baked--"

"And roast and stewed, and broiled across your iron bolts, Martin, and
yet 'tis always goat's-flesh and I do yearn for a change, and so do
you."

"Lord!" says I, "You do read my very thoughts sometimes."

"Is that so wonderful, Martin?"

"Why, a man's thoughts are but thoughts," says I, watching where she
braided a long tress of her hair.

"Some men's thoughts are so easily read!" says she.

"Are mine?"

"Sometimes, Martin!"  Now at this I blenched and well I might, and she
smiled down at the long tress of hair she was braiding and then glances
at me mighty demure; quoth she:  "But only sometimes, Martin.  Now, for
instance, you are wondering why of late I have taken to wearing my hair
twisted round my head and pinned with these two small pieces of wood in
fashion so unsightly!"

"Aye, truly," says I wondering, "indeed and so I was!  Though I do not
think it unsightly!"

"I wear it so, Martin, first because my hairpins are yet to make, and
second because I would not have you find my hairs in your baked goat,
boiled goat, roast, fried or stewed goat.  And speaking of goat brings
us back where we began, and we began yearning for a change of food."

"As to that," says I, taking her half-finished hairpin from my pocket
and drawing my knife, "the lagoon is full of fish had I but a hook--"

"Or a net, Martin."

"How should we contrive our net?"

"In the woods all about us do grow vines very strong and pliable--would
these serve, think you?"

"Ha--an excellent thought!" says I.  "To-morrow we will attempt it.  As
to fish-hooks, I might contrive them out of my nails hammered small,
though I fear they'd be but clumsy.  Had I but a good stout pin--"

"I have two, Martin, here in my shoe-buckles."

"Show me!"  Stooping, she slipped off one of her shoes and gave it to
me; and turning it over in my hand I saw the poor little thing all cut
and torn and in woeful estate.

"I must contrive you other shoes and soon!" says I.

"Can you make shoes, Martin?"

"I'll tell you this to-morrow."

"O Martin, 'twould be wonderful if you could, and a great comfort to
me."

"Why then, you shall have them, though unlovely things they'll be, I
fear."

"No matter so long as they keep out sharp stones and briars, Martin."

"Your foot is wonderfully small!" says I, studying her shoe.

"Is it, Martin?  Why 'tis a very ordinary foot, I think.  And the pins
are behind the buckles."  Sure enough I found these silver buckles
furnished each with a good stout pin well-suited to my design; so
breaking them from the buckles, I had soon bent them into hooks and
(with the back of my knife and a stone) I shaped each with a small ring
a-top whereby I might secure them to my line; and though they had no
barbs I thought they might catch any fish were I quick enough.

"How shall you do for a line, Martin?"

"I shall take the gut of one of our goats and worsted unravelled from
my stocking."

"Will worsted be strong enough?"

"I shall make it fourfold."

"Nay, I will plait it into a line for you!"

"Good!" quoth I.  And whipping off one of my stockings I unravelled
therefrom sufficient of the worsted.

"But what shall you do for stockings?" says she, while this was a-doing.

"I will make me leggings of goat's-skin."  So she took the worsted and
now, sitting in a patch of radiant moonlight, fell to work, she weaving
our fish-line with fingers very quick and dexterous, and I carving away
at the pin for her hair.

"How old are you, Martin?" says she suddenly.

"Twenty-seven."

"And I shall be twenty-six to-morrow."

"I judged you older."

"Do I look it, Martin?"

"Yes--no, no!"

"Meaning what, Martin!"

"You do seem older, being no silly maid but of a constant mind, and one
to endure hardship.  Also you are very brave in peril, very courageous
and high-hearted.  Moreover you are wise."

"Do you think me all this?" says she softly.  "And wherefore?"

"I have never heard you complain yet--save of me, and I have never seen
you afraid.  Moreover you caught a goat and killed it!"

"You are like to make me vain of my so many virtues, Martin!" laughs
she; yet her laugh was very soft and her eyes kind when she looked at
me.

"This hairpin shall be my birthday gift to you," says I.

"And surely none like to it in the whole world, Martin!"

After this we worked a great while, speaking no word; but presently she
shows me my fish-line very neatly plaited and a good five feet long,
the which did please me mightily, and so I told her.

"Heigho!" says she, leaning back against the rock, "Our days grow ever
more busy!"

"And will do!" quoth I.  "Here is strange, rude life for you, days of
hardship and labour unceasing.  Your hands shall grow all hard and
rough and yourself sick with longing to be hence--"

"Alas, poor me!" she sighed.

"Why, 'twill be no wonder if you grieve for England and ease," says I,
"'twill be but natural."

"O very, Martin!"

"For here are you," I went on, beginning to scowl up at the waning
moon, "here are you bred up to soft and silken comfort, very dainty and
delicate, and belike with lovers a-plenty, courtly gallants full up of
fine phrases and eager for your service--."

"Well, Martin?"

"Instead of the which you have this island!"

"An earthly paradise!" says she.

"And myself!"

"A foolish being and gloomy!" says she.  "One that loveth to be woeful
and having nought to grieve him for the moment must needs seek
somewhat!  So will I to bed ere he find it!"

"Look now," quoth I, as she rose, "in losing the world you do lose
everything--."

"And you also, Martin."

"Nay," says I, "in losing the world of yesterday I may find more than
ever I possessed!"

"Meaning you are content, Martin?"

"Is anyone ever content in this world?"

"Well--I--might be!" says she slowly.  "But you--I do fear you will
never know true content, it is not in you, I think."

And off she goes to bed leaving me very full of thought.  Howbeit the
moon being very bright (though on the wane) I stayed there until I had
finished her hairpin, of the which I give here a cut, viz.:--

(Sketch of a hairpin.)



CHAPTER XXXII

TELLS HOW I FOUND A SECRET CAVE

Next morning I was up mighty early and away to the little valley, first
to view my pots and then to pick some flowers for her birthday,
remembering her great love for such toys.  Coming to the ashes of the
fire, I must needs fall a-cursing most vilely like the ill fellow I
was, and to swearing many great and vain oaths (and it her birthday!).
For here were my pots (what the fire had left of them) all swollen and
bulged with the heat, warped and misshapen beyond imagining.

So I stood plucking my beard and cursing them severally and all
together, and fetched the nearest a kick that nigh broke my toe and set
the pot leaping and bounding a couple of yards, but all unbroken.
Going to it I took it up and found it not so much as scratched and hard
as any stone.  This comforted me somewhat and made me to regret my ill
language, more especially having regard to this day, being as it were a
day apart.  And now as I went on, crossing the stream at a place where
were stepping-stones, set there by other hands than mine, as I went, I
say, I must needs think what a surly, ill-mannered fellow I was,
contrasting the gross man I was become with the gentle, sweet-natured
lad I had been.  "Well but" (thinks I, excusing myself) "the
plantations and a rowing-bench be a school where a man is apt to learn
nought but evil and brutality, my wrongs have made me what I am.  But
again" (thinks I--blaming myself) "wrong and hardship, cruelty and
suffering do not debase all men, as witness the brave Frenchman that
was whipped to death beside me in the 'Esmeralda' galleass.  Wrong and
suffering either lift a man to greatness, or debase him to the very
brute!  She had said as much to me once. And she was right" (thinks I)
"for the Frenchman had died the noble gentleman he was born, whiles I,
as well-born as he and suffering no greater wrong than he, according to
his own account, I had sullied myself with all the vileness and filth
of slavedom, had fought and rioted with the worst of them!"  And now
remembering the shame of it all, I sat me down in the shade of a tree
and fell to gloomy and sad reflection, grieving sorely over things long
past and forgotten until now, and very full of remorse and scorn of
myself.

"Howbeit" (thinks I) "if rogue and brute I am" (which is beyond all
doubt) "I will keep such for my own kind and she shall know nought of
it!"  And here, getting upon my knees I took a great and solemn oath to
this effect, viz., "Never by look, or word, or gesture to give her
cause for shame or fear so long as we should abide together in this
solitude so aid me God!"  This done I arose from my knees and betook me
to culling flowers, great silver lilies and others of divers hues,
being minded to lay them on the threshold of her door to greet her when
she should arise. With these in my arms I recrossed the brook and
stepping out from a thicket came full upon her ere she was aware; and
seeing her so suddenly I stood like any fool, my poor flowers hidden
behind me. She had taken up one of my misshapen pots and was patting it
softly as she viewed it, and a little smile on her red lips.  All at
once she turned and, spying me, came towards me all smiling, fresh and
radiant as the morning.

"O Martin," says she, turning the pot this way and that, "O Martin,
'tis wonderful--"

"'Tis an abomination!" quoth I.

"And 'twill hold water!"

"'Tis like an ill dream!" says I.

"And so strong, Martin."

"True, 'tis the only merit the things possess, they are like
stone--watch now!"  And here, to prove my words, I let one drop, though
indeed I chose a soft place for it.

"And they will be so easy to carry with these handles, and--why, what
have you there?"  Saying which she sets down the pot, gently as it had
been an egg-shell, and comes to me; whereupon I showed her my posy, and
I more fool-like than ever.

"I chanced to--see them growing," says I, "and thought--your
birthday--they might pleasure you a little, mayhap--"

"Please me?" says she, taking them.  "Please me--O the dear, beautiful
things, I love them!"  And she buries her face among them.  "'Twas kind
of you to bring them for me, Martin!" says she, her face hidden in the
flowers, "Indeed you are very good to me!  After all, you are that same
dear Martin I knew long ago, that boy who used to brandish his rusty
sword and vow he'd suffer no evil to come near me, and yearned for
ogres and dragons to fight and slay on my behalf.  And one day you
caught a boy pulling my hair."

"It was very long hair even then!" says I.

"And he made your lip bleed, Martin."

"And I hit him on the nose!" says I.

"And he ran away, Martin."

"And you bathed my lip in the pool and afterwards you--you--"

"Yes I did, Martin.  Though 'tis a long time to remember."

"I--shall never forget!" says I.  "Shall you?"

Here she buries her face in her flowers again.

"As to the pots, Martin, there are four quite unbroken, will you help
me bear them to our refuge, breakfast will be ready."

"Breakfast is a sweet word!" quoth I.  "And as to these things, if you
will have them, well and good!"

And thus, she with her flowers and I with the gallipots, we came to our
habitation.

"What do we work at to-day?" she questioned as we rose from our morning
meal.

"To-day I make you a pair of shoes."

"How may I aid you, Martin?"

"In a thousand ways," says I, and I plucked a great fan-shaped leaf
that grew adjacent.  "First sit you down!  And now give me your foot!"
So, kneeling before her, I traced out the shape of her foot upon the
leaf and got no further for a while, so that presently she goes about
her household duties leaving me staring at my leaf and scratching my
head, puzzling out how I must cut and shape my goat-skin.  Well-nigh
all that morning I sat scheming and studying how best I might achieve
my purpose, and the end of it was this:

(Sketch of a leaf cut to shape.)

This shape I cut from the leaf and with it went to find my lady; then,
she sitting upon the stool, I took off one of her shoes (and she all
laughing wonderment) and fitting this pattern to her foot, found it
well enough for shape, though something too large. I now took the
goat-skin and, laying it on the table, cut therefrom a piece to my
pattern; then with one of my nails ground to a sharp point like a
cobbler's awl, I pierced it with holes and sewed it together with gut
in this fashion:

(Four sketches of shaped hide showing stages of manufacture.)

This is quickly over in the telling, but it was long a-doing, so that
having wrought steadily all day, night was at hand ere her shoes were
completed, with two thicknesses of hide for soles and all sewed mighty
secure.

Now though they were not things of beauty (as may plainly be seen from
my drawing herewith) yet, once I had laced them snug upon her feet,
they (shaping and moulding themselves to her slender ankles and dainty
feet) were none so ill-looking after all.  And now she, walking to and
fro in them, must needs admire at their construction and the comfort of
them, and very lavish in her praise of them and me; the which did
pleasure me mightily though I took pains to hide it.

"Why, Martin" says she, thrusting out a foot and wagging it to and fro
(very taking to behold), "I vow our cobbler surpasseth our carpenter!
Dian's buskins were no better, nay, not so good, judging by pictures I
have seen."

"They will at least keep out any thorns," says I, "though as to looks--"

"They look what they are, Martin, the shoes of a huntress.  You will
find her very swift and sure-footed when her bruises are quite gone."

"I'm glad they please you," says I, yet upon my knees and stooping to
view them 'neath her petticoat, "though now I see I might better them
by trimming and shaping them here and there."

"No, no, Martin, leave well alone."

But now and all at once I started to feel a great splash of rain upon
my cheek, and glancing up saw the sky all overcast while seaward the
whole horizon was very black and ominous; great masses of writhing
vapour and these threatening clouds lit ever and anon by a reddish
glow, and pierced by vivid lightning flashes.  All of which took us
mightily by surprise, we having been too intent upon these new buskins
to heed aught else.

"Yonder is storm and tempest," says I, "see how it sweeps towards us!"
And I pointed where, far across the dark sea, a line of foam marked the
oncoming fury of the wind.  And presently we heard it, a faint hum,
growing ever louder and fiercer.

"O Martin, see yonder!" and she pointed to the onrushing of the foaming
waters.  "'Tis very awful but very grand!"

"Let us go in!" says I, catching up my tools.  "Come, soon will be
roaring havoc all about us!"

"Nay, let us stay awhile and watch."

As she spoke it seemed as the sea gathered itself into one great and
mighty wave, a huge wall of foaming waters that rolled onward hissing
and roaring as it would 'whelm the very island beneath it.  On it
rushed, swelling ever higher, and so burst in thunder upon the barrier
reef, filling the air with whirling foam.  And then--then came the
wind--a screaming, howling, vicious titan that hurled us flat and
pinned me breathless and scarce able to move; howbeit I crawled where
she crouched somewhat sheltered by a rock, and clasping her within my
arm lay there nor dared to stir until the mad fury of the wind abated
somewhat.  Then, side by side, on hands and knees, we gained our rocky
fastness, and closing the door, which was screened from the direct
force of the tempest, I barred it with the beam I had made for the
purpose, and stood staring at my companion and she on me, while all the
world about us roared and clamoured loud and louder until it seemed
here was to be an end of all things.  And now suddenly came darkness;
and in this darkness her hand found mine and nestled there.  Thus we
remained a great while hearkening to the awful booming of this rushing,
mighty wind, a sound indescribable in itself, yet one to shake the very
soul.  In a while, the tumult subsiding a little we might distinguish
other sounds, as the rolling of thunder, the rending crash of falling
trees hard by, and the roar of mighty waters.  And presently her voice
came to me:

"God pity all poor mariners, Martin!"

"Amen!" says I.  And needs must think of Adam and Godby and wonder
where they might be.

"'Tis very dark, shall we not have a light?" she questioned.

"If I can find our lamp," says I, groping about for it.

"Here is a candle!"

"A candle?" says I, "And where should we find a candle?"

"We have three, Martin.  I made them with tallow from our goat, though
they are poor things, I fear."

Taking out my tinder-box I very soon had these candles burning, and
though they smoked somewhat, a very excellent light we thought them.
"And now for supper!" says she, beginning to bustle about.  "Our meat
is in the larder, Martin."  Now this larder was our third and smallest
cave, and going therein I was immediately struck by the coldness of it,
moreover the flame of the candle I bore flickered as in a draught of
air, insomuch that, forgetting the meat, I began searching high and
low, looking for some crack or crevice whence this draught issued, yet
found none.  This set me to wondering; for here was the cave some ten
feet by twelve or more, and set deep within the living rock, the walls
smoothed off, here and there, as by hand, but with never a crack or
fissure in roof or walls so far as I might discover.  Yet was I
conscious of this cold breath of air so that my puzzlement grew the
greater.

Presently as I stood thus staring about, to me comes my lady:

"Good lack, Martin," says she, "if we sup on goat to-night we must eat
it raw, for we have no fire!"

"Fire?" says I.  "Hum!  Smoke would do it, 'tis an excellent thought."

"Do what, Martin!"

"Look at the candle-flame and hark!"

And now, the booming of the wind dying down somewhat, we heard a
strange and dismal wailing and therewith a sound of water afar.

"O Martin!" she whispered, clasping her hands and coming nearer to me,
"What is it?"

"Nought to fear, comrade.  But somewhere in this larder of ours is an
opening or fissure, the question is--where?  And this I go to find out."

"Aye, but how?" she questioned, coming nearer yet, for now the wailing
had sunk to a groan, and this gave place to a bubbling gasp mighty
unpleasant to hear.

"With smoke," says I, setting the candle in a niche of rock, "I will
light a fire here."

"But we have no fuel, Martin."

"There is plenty in my bed."

"But how will you sleep and no bed?"

"Well enough, as I have done many a time and oft!"

"But, O Martin, 'twill make such dire mess and this our larder!"

"No matter, I'll clean it up.  Howbeit I must learn whence cometh this
cold-breathing air.  Besides, the fire shall cook our supper and
moreover--"

But here I checked speaking all at once, for above the dismal groans
and wailing I had heard a sudden fierce whispering:

"O Martin, O Martin!" sighed my companion, "We are not alone--somewhere
there are people whispering!  Did you hear, Martin, O did you hear?"
And I felt her all of a-tremble where she leaned against me.

"'Tis gone now!" says I, speaking under my breath.

"But 'twas there, Martin--a hateful whispering."

"Aye, I heard it," says I fierce and loud, "and I'll find out who or
what--"

"Who or what!" hissed a soft voice.  Hereupon I sheathed the knife I
had drawn and laughed, and immediately there came another laugh, though
very soft.

"Ahoy!" I shouted, and presently back came the answer "Ahoy!" and then
again, though much fainter, "Ahoy!"  "'Tis nought but an echo," says I
laughing (yet mighty relieved all the same).

"Thank God!" says she faintly, and would have fallen but for my arm.

"Why, comrade, how now?" says I; and for a moment her soft cheek rested
against my leathern jerkin.

"O Martin," says she, sighing, "I do fear me I'm a monstrous
craven--sometimes!  Forgive me!"

"Forgive you?" says I, and looking down on her bowed head, feeling her
thus all a-tremble against me, I fell a-stammering, "Forgive you,
nay--where--here was an unchancy thing--'tis small wonder--no wonder
you should grow affrighted and tremble a little--"

"You are trembling also," says she, her voice muffled against me.

"Am I?"

"Yes, Martin.  Were you afraid likewise?"

"No--Yes!" says I, and feeling her stir in my hold, I loosed her.

And now, bringing fern and bracken from my bed I kindled a fire and,
damping this a little, made a smoke the which, rising to a certain
height, blew back upon us but always from the one direction; and
peering up thither I judged here must be a space 'twixt the roof and
the face of the rock, though marvellous well-hid from all observation.
Hereupon, the place being full of smoke I must needs stamp out the fire
lest we stifle; yet I had discovered what I sought.  So whilst my
companion busied herself about supper, I dragged our table from the
outer cave, setting it in a certain corner and, mounted thereon,
reached up and grasped a ledge of rock by which I drew myself up and
found I was in a narrow opening or tunnel, and so low that I must creep
on hands and knees.

"Will you have a candle, Martin?"  And there was my lady standing below
me on the table, all anxious-eyed.  So I took the candle and creeping
through this narrow passage suddenly found myself in another cavern
very spacious and lofty; and now, standing in this place, I stared
about me very full of wonder, as well I might be, for I saw this:
Before me a narrow door, very stout and pierced with a loophole, and
beyond this a rocky passage that led steeply down:  on my right hand,
in a corner, a rough bed with a bundle of goat-skins and sheets that
looked like sailcloth; on my left a table and armchair, rough-builded
like the bed, and above these, a row of shelves against the rocky wall
whereon stood three pipkins, an iron, three-legged cooking-pot, a
candlestick and an inkhorn with pen in it.  Lastly, in a corner close
beside the bed, I spied a long-barrelled firelock with bandoliers
complete. I was about to reach this (and very joyously) when my lady's
voice arrested me.

"Martin, are you there?  Are you safe?"

"Indeed!" says I.  "And, Damaris, I have found you treasure beyond
price."

"O Martin, is it Bartlemy's treasure--the jewels?"

"Better than that a thousand times.  I have found you a real
cooking-pot!"

"O wonderful!  Show me!  Nay, let me see for myself.  Come and aid me
up, Martin."

Setting down my candle I crawled back where she stood all eager
impatience, and clasping her hands in mine, drew her up and on hands
and knees brought her into the cave.

"Here's a goodly place, comrade!" says I.

"Yes, Martin."

"With a ladder to come and go by, this should make you a noble
bedchamber."

"Never!" says she.  "O never!"

"And wherefore not?"

"First because I like my little cave best, and second because this is
too much like a dungeon, and third because I like it not--and hark!"
and indeed as we spoke the echoes hissed and whispered all about us.

"Why, 'tis airy and very dry!"

"And very dark by day, Martin."

"True enough!  Still 'tis a wondrous place--"

"O very, Martin, only I like it not at all."

"Why then, the bed, the bed should serve you handsomely."

"No!" says she, mighty vehement.  "You shall make me a better an you
will, or I will do with my bed of fern."

"Well then, this pot--here is noble iron pot for you, at least!"

"Why yes," says she, smiling to see me all chapfallen, "'tis indeed a
very good pot, let us bring it away with us, though indeed I could do
very well without it."

"Lord!" says I gloomily.  "Here have I found you all these goodly
things, not to mention chair and table, thinking to please you and
instead--"

"I know, Martin, forgive me, but I love not the place nor anything in
it.  I am very foolish belike, but so it is."  And here she must needs
shiver.  "As to these things, the bed, the chair and table and the
shelves yonder, why you can contrive better in time, Martin; and by
your thought and labour they will be doubly ours, made by you for our
two selves and used by none but us."

"True," says I, greatly mollified, "but this pot now, I can never make
you so brave a pot as this."

"Why, very well, Martin," says she smiling at my earnestness, "bring it
and let us begone."  So I reached down the pot and espied therein a
long-barrelled pistol; whipping it out, I blew off the dust and saw
'twas primed and loaded and with flint in place albeit very rusty.  I
was yet staring at this when my lady gives a little soft cry of
pleasure and comes to me with somewhat hidden behind her.

"Martin," says she, "'tis a good place after all, for see--see what it
hath given you!" and she shewed me that which I had yawned for so
bitterly, viz. a good, stout saw.  Tossing aside the pistol, I took it
eagerly enough, and, though it was rusty, a very serviceable tool I
found it to be.

"Ha, comrade!" says I, "Now shall you have a chair with arms, a
cupboard, and a bed fit to lie on.  Here is all the furniture you may
want!"

"And now," says she, "let us begone, if you would have your supper,
Martin."  So I followed her through the little tunnel and, having
lowered her on to the table, gave her the pot and then (albeit she was
mighty unwilling) turned back, minded to bring away the firelock and
pistol and any such odds and ends as might serve me.

Reaching the cave, I heard again the dismal groans and wailing, but
much louder than before, and coming to the door, saw it opened on a
steep declivity of rock wherein were rough steps or rather notches that
yet gave good foothold; so I began to descend this narrow way, my
candle before me, and taking vast heed to my feet, but as I got lower
the rock grew moist and slimy so that I was half-minded to turn back;
but having come this far, determined to see where it might bring me,
for now, from the glooms below, I could hear the soft lapping of water.
Then all at once I stopped and stood shivering (as well I might), for
immediately beneath me I saw a narrow ledge of rock and beyond this a
pit, black and noisome, and full of sluggish water.

For a long while (as it seemed) I stared down (into this water) scarce
daring to move lest I plunge into this dreadful abyss where the black
water, lapping sluggishly, made stealthy menacing noises very evil to
hear.  At last I turned about (and mighty careful) and so made my ways
up and out of this unhallowed place more painfully than I had come.
Reaching the cave at last (and very thankful) I sought to close the
door, but found it to resist my efforts.  This but made me the more
determined to shut out this evil place with its cold-breathing air, and
I began to examine this door to discover the reason of its immobility.
Now this (as I have said) was a narrow door and set betwixt jambs and
with lintel above very strong and excellent well contrived; but as I
lifted my candle to view it better I stopped all at once to stare up at
a something fixed midway in this lintel, a strange shrivelled black
thing very like to a great spider with writhen legs updrawn; and now,
peering closer, I saw this was a human hand hacked off midway 'twixt
wrist and elbow and skewered to the lintel by a great nail.  And as I
stood staring up at this evil thing, from somewhere in the black void
beyond the door rose a long, agonised wailing that rose to a bubbling
shriek; and though I knew this for no more than some trick of the wind,
I felt my flesh tingle to sudden chill.  Howbeit I lifted my candle
higher yet, and thus saw beneath this shrivelled, claw-like hand a
parchment nailed very precisely at its four corners, though black with
dust.  Wiping this dust away I read these words, very fair writ in
bold, clear characters:

  JAMES BALLANTYNE

  HIS HAND
  WHEREWITH HE FOULLY MURDERED A GOOD
  MAN.
  THIS HAND CUT OFF BY ME THIS JUNE 23 1642.
  THE SAME BALLANTYNE HAVING PERISHED SUDDENLY BY A
  PISTOL SHOT
  ACCORDING TO MY OATH.
  LIKE ROGUES--TAKE WARNING.

  ADAM PENFEATHER.


In a while I turned from this hateful thing, and coming to the bed
began to examine the huddle of goatskins, and though full of dust and
something stiff, found them little the worse for their long disuse; the
same applied equally to the sailcloth, the which, though yellow, was
still strong and serviceable.  Reaching the firelock from the corner I
found it to be furnished with a snaphaunce or flintlock, and though
very rusty, methought cleaned and oiled it might make me a very good
weapon had I but powder and shot for it.  But the bandoliers held in
all but two poor charges, which powder I determined to keep for the
pistol. Therefore I set the musket back in the corner, and doing so
espied a book that lay open and face down beneath the bedstead. Taking
it up I wiped off the dust, and opening this book at the first page I
came on this:

  ADAM PENFEATHER

  HYS JOURNAL

  1642.

Hereupon, perceiving in it many charts and maps together with a plan of
the island very well drawn, I thrust it into my bosom, and hearing my
lady calling me, took pistol and bandolier and so to supper.

Thus amidst howling storm and tempest we sat down side by side to sup,
very silent for the most part by reason of this elemental strife that
raged about our habitation, filling the world with awful stir and
clamour.

But in a while seeing her so downcast and with head a-droop I must
needs fall gloomy also, and full of a growing bitterness.

"Art grieving for England?" says I at last, "Yearning for home and
friends and some man belike that loves and is beloved again!"

"And why not, Martin?"

"Because 'tis vain."

"And yet 'twould be but natural."

"Aye indeed," says I gloomily and forgetting my supper, "for
contrasting all you have lost, home and friends and love, with your
present evil plight here in this howling wilderness, 'tis small wonder
you weep."

"But I am not weeping!" says she, flushing.

"Yet you well may," quoth I, "for here are you at the world's end and
with none but myself for company."

"Why, truly here is good cause for tears!" says she, flashing her eyes
at me.

"Aye!" I nodded.  "'Tis a pity Fate hath chosen you so ill a companion."

"Indeed and so it is!" says she, and turns her back on me.  And so we
sat awhile, she with her back to me and I gloomy and despondent
hearkening to the howling of the wind.

"You eat no supper!" says I at last.

"Neither do you!"

"I am not hungry!"

"Nor I!"

Myself (speaking after some while, humbly):  Have I angered you?

She:  Mightily!

Myself:  Aye, but how?

She:  By your idle, foolish talk, for if I grow thoughtful sometimes
why must you ever dream me repining against my lot? To-night,
hearkening to this dreadful tempest I was full of gratitude to God that
He had brought us to this safe harbourage and set me in your
companionship.  And if my heart cry out for England sometimes 'tis
because I do love England.  Yet my days here are too full of labour for
vain grieving and my labour, like my sleep, is joy to me.  And there is
no man I love in England--or anywhere else.

Myself (and more humbly than ever):  Why then I pray you forgive me,
comrade.

At this she looks at me over her shoulder, frowning and a little
askance.

"For indeed," says I, meeting this look, "I would have you know me ever
as your comrade to serve you faithfully, seeking only your friendship
and nought beyond; one you may trust unfearing despite my ungentle
ways."

And now I saw her frown was vanished quite, her eyes grown wondrous
gentle and her lips curving to a smile; and so she reached out her hand
to me.

And thus we two poor, desolate souls found great solace and comfort in
each other's companionship, and hearkening to the roar of this mighty
tempest felt the bonds of our comradeship only strengthened thereby.

When my lady was gone to bed I, remembering Adam's journal, took it
out, and drawing the candle nearer fell to examining the book more
closely.  It was a smallish volume but very thick, and with very many
close-written pages, its stout leathern covers battered and stained,
and an ill-looking thing I thought it; but opening it haphazard, I
forgot all save the words I read (these written in Adam's small clerkly
hand) for I came on this:

May 10.--Glory be and thanks unto that Providence hath been my
salvation and poured upon unworthy me His blessing in that I this day
have fought and killed this murderous rogue and detestable pirate,
Roger Tressady.

Here followed divers accounts of his labours, his discovery of these
caves and many cunning devices day by day until I came on this:

May 28.--To-day a storm-beat pinnace standing in for my island, and in
it Abnegation Mings and divers others of Bartlemy's rogues, survivors
(as I judge) of that cursed ship "Lady's Delight."  They landed, being
fifteen in all and I in great fear and distress therefore.  They
leaving their boat unwatched I stole thither and to my great joy found
therein a watch-coat and bonnet, 3 muskets, 2 swords, 5 pistols with
powder and shot, all of which did hide among the rocks adjacent (a
cunning hiding-place) where I may fetch them at my leisure, Providence
aiding.

May 29.--This day 1 hour before dawn secured arms, powder, etc., and
very grateful therefore.

May 30.--To-day set about strengthening and fortifying my door since,
though Roger Tressady is dead, there be other rogues yet to slay, their
evil minds being full of lust for Black Bartlemy's Treasure and my
blood.  And these their names:

A true list of these rogues each and every known to me aforetime in
Tortuga, viz.:

  My enemies.                My equipment against the same.

  Abnegation Mings (Mate of  A determined mind.
    the "Vengeance" galley)  3 Musquets with powder and shot
  Benjamin Galbally            a-plenty.
  Jasper Vokes               2 Swords.
  Juliano Bartolozzi         1 Axe.
  Benjamin Denton            2 Pikes.
  Pierre Durand              5 Pistols.
  John Ford                  A chain-shirt.
  James Ballantyne
  Izaac Pym
  Robert Ball
  William Loveday
  Daniel Marston
  Ebenezer Phips
  A boy and one woman.


June 1.--This day, waked by a shot and the sounds of lewd brawling, I
to my lookout and mighty alarmed.  Upon the sands a fire and thereby a
woman and 6 or 7 of these rogues fighting for her.  She, poor soul,
running to escape falls shot and they to furious fight.  But my hopes
of their destroying each other and saving me this labour vain by reason
of Abnegation Mings bringing them to accord.  Thereafter they to
drinking and singing of this lewd piratical rant of theirs.  Whereupon
I tried a shot at them with my long-barrelled arquebus to no purpose.
Have made me some ink and do answer very well.

June 2.--Went a-hunting three of my destroyers, viz. the rogues
Galbally, Vokes and Bartalozzi.  But they well-armed and keeping always
in company did no more than harm Vokes in the leg by a bullet, and so
to my fort and mighty downcast.  Began to make myself a chair with
arms.  This day also wrote me out divers parchments thus:

  JASPER VOKES

  SLAIN Of NECESSITY THIS [----] DAY
  LIKE ROGUES TAKE WARNING.

  ADAM PENFEATHER.

and of these parchments 13 (the boy being already dead), with every
rogue his name fair writ that they might know me for man of my word and
leave me and my treasure in peace.

June 3.--The weather hot and I out after my bloodthirsty enemies. Came
on the French rogue Durand and him sleeping.  Removed his firearms and
kicked him awake.  He to his sword and I to mine. Took him in quarte at
the third passado through the right eye--a shrewd thrust.  Tied a
parchment about his neck and so to my refuge very full of gratitude.

June 4.--To-day, guided by Providence, surprised Izaac Pym gorging
himself on wild grapes.  Spying me he whips out his pistol, but I fired
first.  Tied a parchment about his neck and so left him.

June 5.--Evil days for me since these murderous rogues keep ever
together now and on their watch against me day and night.  My great
chair finished and all I could wish it.

June 9.--This night the moon full they assaulted my fort with huge
halloo and many shot, battering my door with a great log for ram.  But
I shooting one and wounding others they left me in peace.

June 10.--All this day ventured not abroad fearing an ambuscado. And
lighting a fire within my inner cave the smoke showed me how I might
hide from my bloodthirsty foes an need be.

June 11.--My would-be slayers camped all about my refuge and howling
for my blood, though keeping well out of my line of fire. So I to
making me a ladder of ropes whereby to come at my new-found sanctuary.
Determine to make this my bedchamber.

June 12.--My cruel enemies yet raging about me ravening for my blood
and I very fearful.  Have taken down my bed to set it within my secret
chamber.

June 13.--This morning early the rogue Benjamin Denton, venturing
within my fire-zone, took a bullet in his midriff, whereof he suddenly
perished.

June 14.--This morning having gotten all my furniture into my secret
chamber do find myself very comfortable.  But my stores beginning to
run low do put myself on half-rations.

June 15.--My murderers very silent with intent to lure me to my death
but I--

The rest of this page was so stained and blotted that I could make
nothing of it save a word or phrase here and there as:

... secret pass ... pit of black water and very ... fear of death ...
head over ears ... to my chin so that I ... miserably wet ... on hands
and knees being determined ... wonderful beyond thought for here ...
tlemy's Treasure ... very great ... this gold I saw was ... emeralds,
diamonds and ... pearls a-many ... through my fingers ... like any poor
crazed soul.  For here was treasure greater ... moreover and wealth
undreamed ... shaft of ... suddenly ... the valley ... sore annoyed I
stood to ... he knelt ... seeking the water ... turned ... our knives
... through my forearm but I ... broke short against my chain-shirt and
I ... beneath the armpit.  So back by the secret way to bind up my hurt
and behold again my treasure.

Here my candle dying out and I in the dark, I laid the book aside and
presently got me to sleep.



CHAPTER XXXIII

WE EXPLORE THE ISLAND

I opened my eyes to a great beam of sun pouring in at the open doorway,
whereby I judged my companion already astir.  So I arose forthwith, and
going out of the cave stood amazed to see the havoc wrought by last
night's storm.  For everywhere lay trees torn and uprooted, and in
divers of the more exposed places the wind it seemed had swept them
utterly away, so that the landscape here and there wore an air
unfamiliar and not to be recognised. Though the wind was died away I
saw the sea yet rolling tempestuous to break in foam upon the reef and
with dreadful roar.  Looking down on Deliverance Beach I beheld its
white sands littered with piles of driftwood, and over all a cloudless
blue with the sun new-risen and very hot.

And now taking my hooks and line and a pliant bough for rod, I went
forth to angle for breakfast.  Reaching the lagoon great wonder was it
to behold these waters so smooth and placid while the surf foamed and
thundered beyond the reef.  I now baited my hooks with fat of the goat
and betook me to my angling; nor had I long to wait ere I felt a jerk
on my line, and tingling with the joy of it I whipped my rod so
furiously that my fish whirled glittering through the air, and flying
from my barbless hook lay floundering on the sands behind me; and
though of no great size yet a very good fish I thought him.  And indeed
I found the fish to bite readily enough and mighty dexterous to filch
my bait, and though I lost a-many yet I, becoming more expert,
contrived to land five likely fish of different sizes and of marvellous
colouring.

So there sat I in the shade of a rock, mighty content and quite lost in
the joy of my sport until, chancing to lift my gaze, I beheld my
companion upon the rocks over against me gazing away across the
troubled ocean.  And beholding all the grace of her as she stood there,
her shapely figure poised and outlined against the blue sky, her long
hair rippling in the soft wind, I clean forgot my fish, for indeed it
seemed I had not noticed the vigorous beauty of her until now.  And in
this moment, as I sat staring up at her, she turned and spying me,
waved her hand in cheery greeting and begins to descend these rocks,
leaping sure-footed from ledge to ledge, lithe and graceful as any
fabled nymph or goddess of them all.  But I, well knowing the danger of
these rocks, watched her with breath in check and mighty anxious until
she sprang nimbly to the sands and so came running all joyous to meet
me.  Hereupon I caught up my forgotten angle and found my hook empty,
whereat she must needs fall a-laughing at my discomfiture.

"O Martin" says she, "what a glory of sun and sea and sky and the wind
so sweet!  Indeed it seems as nature would make us amends for the cruel
storm, for the poor trees have suffered greatly."

"Aye, comrade," quoth I, "so is there much fruit for us to gather ere
it rot, and great store of palm-nuts, which are good food and useful in
a thousand ways."

"But nature is very cruel, Martin, for I have seen many birds lying
dead and over yonder a poor goat crushed by a tree."

"Why then," says I, "these will we eat also, at least, such as we may."

"Nay, Martin, your mind runneth overmuch on food, methinks."

"Mayhap!" says I.  "Howbeit here are fish to our breakfast." Hereupon
she falls on her knees to behold my catch and very full of wonder.

"Indeed," says she, "meseemeth we have strayed into Paradise, for even
the fish are beautiful.  Why stare you so, Martin?  Is it so wonderful
I joy in life and find it sweet in so fair a world and on such a day?
Moreover I have been swimming--"

"How?" says I, "and the sea so rough!"

"I have found me a little bay where the waters run smooth and deep.
But come, let us breakfast, for to-day, Martin, to-day we will explore
our island."

"Why, I had thought to try my saw to-day," says I, "I had intended to
begin a chair for you."

"Nay, let this rest awhile; Martin, to-day I yearn to adventure the
unknown, who can say what marvels and wonders lie waiting us?"

"As you will!" says I, rising, and so away to the plateau.  Now very
soon I had the fire a-going and while she bustled to and fro preparing
breakfast and singing very sweet and blithe to hear, I took the pistol,
and having cleaned and oiled it, found it very well; then I loaded it
with one of my six bullets, using a strip from my ragged shirtsleeve
for wads.  This done I laid it by and, going for Adam's journal, I cut
therefrom the map of the island and fell to studying it with a view to
our forthcoming journey. The which map I give herewith:

(Map of the island.)

Hearing my companion call me I went out to find breakfast ready, the
fish broiled and very appetising.  While we ate I showed her Adam's map
and she greatly pleased therewith and anxious to know how I came by it,
all of which I told her.  And she, examining this plan, grows but the
more eager to be gone on this expedition.

"But, Martin," says she all at once as she studied the map, "Master
Penfeather would seem to have been forced to slay a great number of
poor men, here be--one--two--three--O many men all dead by his
hand--and each marked with a little cross."

"Aye," I nodded, "and each and every 'slain of necessity'" ...

"Which meaneth--what, Martin?"

"Murder, like as not, though 'tis all cunningly glozed in his journal."

"I would fain see this journal, Martin."

"Why, so you shall and judge thereby whether he be rogue or no, for
'tis beyond me."

"But now," says she rising, "let us make ready for our journey, though
'twill be no great matter, for according to this plan the island is no
more than seven miles long and some five miles wide."

"Even so," quoth I, "'twill be ill travelling by reason of woods and
tangled thickets, swamps and the like, so I judge 'twill take the whole
day."

"Why then," says she, leaping up, "the sooner we start the better,
Martin."

Hereupon, finding her so set on it I proceeded to equip myself for the
journey; in my belt I thrust my trusty knife and the hatchet, these
balanced by the pistol, and over my shoulder I slung my bow and quiver
of arrows and chose me a good stout sapling for staff.  Soon cometh my
companion, her slender middle girt by a goatskin girdle whereto she had
hung our other sheath-knife and my wallet; so we set out together side
by side. Reaching the little valley, we turned off to the right, or
westerly, according to Adam's map, following the stream that rippled
amid great boulders or flowed 'twixt banks adorned with many-hued
flowers most rare to be seen.  And here were bushes of all kinds and
trees a-plenty untouched by the gale, for the little valley, being well
secluded, it fortuned the wind had passed over it.  Up rose the sun
waxing ever hotter, so that, reaching a grove of trees, I would have my
companion rest awhile in this right pleasant shade the whiles I, with
certain great leaves, contrived a covering for her head and another for
my own; which done, we fared on again and she very merry by reason of
the strange figures we cut.  Thus we presently came out of the valley
into a pleasant champain--a rolling grassy upland with dim woods
beyond, even as Adam had set forth in his map.  Wherefore, guided by
this map, we struck off north and so in a while came again to the river
and heard the roar of the waterfall away to our left; and turning
thither (I being minded to show her this wonder) we saw before us a
high land, well girt by bush and fern and flowering shrubs, up which we
scrambled forthwith, the roar of the fall waxing louder as we climbed.
Reaching the summit we saw it had once been covered by noble trees,
some few of which the storm had left standing yet, but for the most
part they lay wind-tossed in wild and tangled confusion.

"O Martin!" says my companion, "O Martin!" and so stood awed by the
destruction wrought by this mighty and pitiless tempest. Here was
ill-going, but by dint of labour with my hatchet I forced us a way
through the wreckage until we suddenly came where we might behold the
fall that leapt from the adjacent rocks, all rainbow-hued, to plunge
into those deep and troubled waters below.

And now instead of bursting forth into cries of delighted wonder, as I
had expected, my companion stood mute and still, her hands
tight-clasped, viewing now the splendour of these falling waters, now
the foam-sprent deeps below, like one quite dumbfounded.  At last:

"O Martin," says she in my ear, for the noise of the fall was very
loud, "here is wonder on wonder!"

"As how, comrade?"

"This great body of water for all its weight yet disturbeth yonder
black depths very little--and how should this chance except this dark
lake be immeasurably deep?"

"Aye, true!" says I.  "Here belike was a volcano once and this the
crater."

Hard by, a great rock jutted out above the lake, that same barren rock
wherein I had sat the day I discovered this cataract; now as I viewed
this rock I was struck by its grotesque shape and then, all at once, I
saw it was hatefully like to a shrivelled head--there were the
fleshless jaws, the shrunken nose and great, hollow eye-socket.  And
now even as I stared at the thing my companion spied it also, for I
felt her hand on my arm and saw her stand to view it wide-eyed.  So we,
speaking no word, stared upon this shape, and ever as we stared the
nameless evil of it seemed to grow, insomuch that we turned with one
accord and hasted away.

"Yonder was an ill sight, Martin."

"Indeed!" says I.  "'Twas like the face of one long dead!  And yet 'tis
no more than a volcanic rock!  Nature playeth strange tricks sometimes,
and here was one vastly strange and most unlovely!"  After this we went
on side by side and never a word betwixt us until we had reached that
pleasant champain country where flowed the river shaded by goodly
trees, in whose branches fluttered birds of a plumage marvellously
coloured and diverse, and beneath which bloomed flowers as vivid;
insomuch that my lady brake forth ever and anon into little soft cries
of delighted wonder.  And yet despite all these marvels it was long ere
we shook off the evil of that ghastly rock.

Presently as we journeyed came a wind sweet and fresh from the sea,
offsetting the sun's immoderate heat to our great comfort, so that,
though ofttimes our way was toilsome, our spirits rose notwithstanding,
and we laughed and talked unfeignedly as only good comrades may.

By noon we had reached a place of rocks where, according to Adam's map
should be a ford, though hereabouts the stream, swollen by the late
rains, ran deep.  Howbeit we presently came upon the ford sure enough
and, having crossed it, my lady must needs fall to admiring at her new
shoes again, finding them water-fast.

"And they so comfortable and easy to go in, Martin!"

"Why, you have footed it bravely thus far!" says I, "But--"

"But?" says she, "And what then?  You shall find me no laggard these
days, Martin.  Indeed I could run fast as you for all your long legs,
sir."

So she challenges me to race her forthwith, whereupon (and despite the
sun) we started off side by side and she so fleet that I might scarce
keep pace with her; thus we ran until at last we stopped all flushed
and breathless and laughing for the pure joy of it.

Presently in our going we came on a little dell, very shady and
pleasantly secluded, where flowers bloomed and great clusters of wild
grapes hung ripe for the plucking; and mighty pleasant methought it to
behold my companion's pleased wonderment.  Here we sat to rest and
found these grapes very sweet and refreshing.

Much might I tell of the marvels of this island, of fruit and bird and
beast, of the great butterflies that wheeled and hovered resplendent,
and of the many and divers wonders that beset us at every turn; but
lest my narrative grow to immoderate length (of the which I do already
begin to entertain some doubt) I will pass these with this mere mention
and hurry on to say that we tramped blithely on until, the sun
declining westwards, warned us to be turning back; but close before us
rose that high hill whose summit towered above the island, and my
companion mighty determined that she must climb it.

"For, Martin," says she, scornful of all weariness, "once up there we
may behold all our domain spread out before us!"

So having skirted the woods and avoided tangled thickets as well as we
might, we began the ascent, which we found to be no great matter after
all.  And now I bethought me how Adam had sped hotfoot up hereabouts on
a time and with Tressady's glittering hook ringing loud on the rocks
behind him.  More than once as we climbed we came on flocks of goats
that scampered off at sight of us; here, too, I remarked divers great
birds and determined to try a shot at one if chance should offer.  As
to my companion, I had all I could do to keep up with her until,
flushed and breathless, she turned to view me all radiant-eyed where we
stood panting upon the summit.  And now beholding the prospect below,
she uttered a soft, inarticulate cry, and sinking down upon the sward,
pushed the damp curls from her brow the better to survey the scene
outstretched before us.

A rolling, wooded country of broad savannahs, of stately groves and
mazy boskages, of dim woods and flashing streams; a blended harmony of
greens be-splashed, here and there, with blossoming thickets or
flowering trees, the whole shut in by towering, tree-girt cliffs and
bounded by a limitless ocean, blue as any sapphire.

Viewing the island from this eminence I could see that Adam's map was
true in all essentials as to shape and general trend of the country,
and sitting beside my lady I fell to viewing the island more narrowly,
especially this eminent place; and looking about me I called to mind
how Adam (according to his story) had waged desperate fight with
Tressady hereabouts--indeed I thought to recognise the very spot
itself, viz., a narrow ledge of rock with, far below, a sea that ran
deeply blue to break in foam against the base of these precipitous
cliffs.  Away over hill and dale I saw that greeny cliff with its
silver thread of falling water that marked our refuge, and beyond this
again, on my right hand, the white spume of the breakers on the reef.
And beholding the beauties thus spread out before my eyes, and knowing
myself undisputed lord of it all, there grew within me a sense of joy
unknown hitherto.

At last, moved by a sudden thought, I turned from the beauties of this
our island to study the beauty of her who sat beside me; the proud
carriage of her shapely head 'neath its silky masses of hair, the level
brows, the calm, deep serenity of her blue eyes, the delicate nose,
full red lips and dimpled chin, the soft round column of her throat,
deep bosom and slender waist--thus sat I staring upon her loveliness
heedless of all else until she stirred uneasily, as if conscious of my
regard, and looked at me. Then I saw that her eyes were serene no
longer, whiles all at once throat and cheeks and brow were suffused
with slow and painful colour, yet even as I gazed on her she met my
look unflinching.

"What is it, Martin?" she questioned, a little breathless still.

"Suppose," says I slowly, "suppose we are never taken hence--suppose we
are destined to end our days here?"

"Surely this is--an ill thought, Martin?"

"Indeed and is it, my lady?  Can the world offer a home more fair?"

"Surely not, Martin."

"Then wherein lieth the ill--Damaris?  Is it that you do yearn so
mightily for England?"

"There lieth my home, Martin!"

"Is home then so dear to you?"  Here, finding no answer, she grew
troubled.  "Or is it," says I, bending my staff across my knee and
beginning to frown, "or is it that there waits some man yonder that you
love?"

"No, Martin, have I not told you--"

"Why then," says I, "is it that you grow a-weary of my unlovely ways
and would be quit of me?"

"No, Martin--only--only--"  Here she fell silent and I saw her flush
again.

"Or is it that you fear I might grow to love you--in time?"

"To--love me!" says she, very softly, and now I saw her red lips dimple
to a smile as she stooped to cull a flower blooming hard by.  "Nay!"
says she lightly, "Here were a wonder beyond thought, Martin!"

"And wherefore should this be so great wonder?" I demanded.

"Because I am Joan Brandon and you are a man vowed and sworn to
vengeance, Martin."

"Vengeance?" says I and, with the word, the staff snapped in my hands.

"Is it not so, Martin?" she questioned, wistfully.  "Given freedom from
this island would you not go seeking your enemy's life?  Dream you not
of vengeance still?"

"Aye, true," says I, "true!  How should it be otherwise?  Come, let us
begone!"  And casting away my broken staff, I got to my feet.  But she,
sitting there, lifted her head to view me with look mighty strange.

"Poor Martin!" says she softly.  "Poor Martin!"

Then she arose, albeit slow and wearily, and we went down the hill
together.  Now as we went thus, I in black humour (and never a word) I
espied one of those great birds I have mentioned within easy range, and
whipping off my bow I strung it, and setting arrow on cord let fly and
brought down my quarry (as luck would have it) and running forward had
very soon despatched it.

"Why must you kill the poor thing, Martin?"

"For supper."

"Supper waiteth us at home."

"Home?" says I.

"The cave, Martin."

"We shall not reach there this night.  'Twill be dark in another hour
and there is no moon, so needs must we bide here."

"As you will, Martin."

Hard beside the river that wound a devious course through the green was
a little grove, and sitting here I fell to plucking the bird.

"Shall I not do that, Martin?"

"I can do it well enough."

"As you wish, Martin."

"You are weary, doubtless."

"Why, 'tis no great labour to cook supper, Martin."

"Howbeit, I'll try my hand to-night."

"Very well," says she and away she goes to collect sticks for the fire
whiles I sat feathering the bird and found the flesh of it very white
and delicate.  But all the while my anger swelled within me for the
folly I had uttered to her, in a moment of impulse, concerning love.
Thus as she knelt to build the fire I spoke my thought.

"I said a vain and foolish thing to you a while since."

"Aye, Martin you did!" says she, bending over her pile of sticks. "But
which do you mean?"

"I mean that folly regarding love."

"O, was that folly, Martin?" she questioned, busy laying the sticks in
place.

"Arrant folly, for I could never love you--or any woman--"

"O, why not, Martin?"

"Because I have no gift for't--no leaning that way--nor ever shall--"

"Why indeed, you are no ordinary man, Martin.  Shall I light the fire?"

"No, I will."

"Yes, Martin!"  And down she sits with folded hands, watching me mighty
solemn and demure and I very conscious of her scrutiny. Having plucked
and drawn my bird, I fell to trimming it with my knife, yet all the
time feeling her gaze upon me, so that what with this and my anger I
pricked my thumb and cursed beneath my breath, whereupon she arose and
left me.

Having thus prepared my bird for cooking I set it upon two sticks and,
lighting the fire, sat down to watch it.  But scarce had I done so when
back comes my lady.

"Martin," says she, "should you not truss your bird first, Martin?"

"'Twill do as it is."

"Very well, Martin.  But why are you so short with me?"

"I am surly by nature!" quoth I.

"Aye, true!" she nodded, "But why are you angry with me this time?"

"I ha' forgot."

"You were merry enough this noon and laughed gaily, and once you fell
a-whistling--"

"The more fool I!"

"Why then, methinks I do like your folly--sometimes!" says she softly.
"But now see this river, Martin, 'tis called the Serpent Water in the
map, and indeed it winds and twists like any snake. But where should so
much water come from, think you?  Let us go look!"

"Nay, not I--here's the bird to tend--"

"Why then," says she, stamping her foot at me in sudden anger, "stay
where you are until you find your temper!  And may your bird burn to a
cinder!"  And away she goes forthwith and I staring after her like any
fool until she was out of sight.  So there sat I beside the fire and
giving all due heed to my cooking; but in a while I fell to deep
reflection and became so lost in my thoughts that, roused by a smell of
burning, I started up to find my bird woefully singed.

This put me in fine rage so that I was minded to cast the carcass into
the fire and have done with it; and my anger grew as the time passed
and my companion came not.  The sun sank rapidly, and the bird I judged
well-nigh done; wherefore I began to shout and halloo, bidding her to
supper.  But the shadows deepening and getting no answer to my
outcries, I started up, clean forgetting my cookery, and hasted off in
search of my companion, calling her name now and then as I went.
Following the stream I found it to narrow suddenly (and it running very
furious and deep) perceiving which I began to fear lest some mischance
had befallen my wilful lady.  Presently as I hurried on, casting my
eyes here and there in search of her, I heard, above the rush of the
water, a strange and intermittent roaring, the which I could make
nothing of, until, at last, forcing my way through the underbrush I saw
before me a column of water that spouted up into the air from a fissure
at the base of the hill, and this waterspout was about the bigness of a
fair-sized tree and gushed up some twenty feet or so, now sinking to
half this height, only to rise again. Scarce pausing to behold this
wonder I would have hasted on (and roaring louder than the water) when
I beheld her seated close by upon a rock and watching me, chin in hand.

"Why must you shout so loud?" says she reprovingly.

"I feared you lost!" says I, like any fool.

"Would it matter so much?  And you so angry with me and no reason?"

"Howbeit, supper is ready!"

"I am not hungry, I thank you, sir."

"But I am!"

"Then go eat!"

"Not alone!" says I; and then very humbly, "Prithee, comrade, come to
supper, indeed you should be hungry!"

"And indeed, Martin," says she, rising and giving me her hand, "I do
think I am vastly hungry after all."  So back we went together and,
reaching the fire, found the accursed bird burned black as any coal,
whereupon I stood mighty downcast and abashed the while she laughed and
laughed until she needs must lean against a tree; and I, seeing her
thus merry at my expense, presently laughed also.  Hereupon she falls
on her knees, and taking the thing from the fire sets it upon a great
leaf for dish, and turns it this way and that.

"Good lack, Martin!" says she, "'Tis burned as black e'en as I wished!
This cometh of your usurpation of my duties, sir!  And yet methinks
'tis not utterly spoiled!"  And drawing her knife she scrapes and trims
it, cutting away the burned parts until there little enough remained,
but that mighty delectable judging by the smell of it.

So down we sat to supper forthwith and mighty amicable, nay indeed
methought her kinder than ordinary and our friendship only the
stronger, which did comfort me mightily.

But our supper done we spake little, for night was come upon us very
still and dark save for a glitter of stars, by whose unearthly light
all things took on strange shapes, and our solitude seemed but the more
profound and awesome.

Above us a purple sky be-gemmed by a myriad stars, a countless host
whose distant splendour throbbed upon the night; round about us a gloom
of woods and thickets that hemmed us in like a dark and sombre tide,
whence stole a sweet air fraught with spicy odours; and over all a deep
and brooding quietude.  But little by little upon this silence crept
sounds near and far, leafy rustlings, a stirring in the undergrowth,
the whimper of some animal, the croak of a bird, and the faint,
never-ceasing murmur of the surge.

And I, gazing thus upon this measureless immensity, felt myself humbled
thereby, and with this came a knowledge of the futility of my life
hitherto.  And now (as often she had done, ere this) my companion
voiced the thought I had no words for.

"Martin," says she, softly, "what pitiful things are we, lost thus in
God's infinity."

"And doth it affright you, Damaris?"

"No, Martin, for God is all-merciful.  Yet I needs must think how vain
our little strivings, our hopes and fears, how small our joys and
sorrows!"

"Aye, truly, truly!" quoth I.

"But," says she, leaning towards me in the firelight and with her gaze
uplifted to the starry heavens, "He who made the heavens is a merciful
God, 'who hath made great lights ... the moon and the stars to govern
the night.'  So, Martin, 'let us give thanks unto the Lord for He is
good, for His mercy endureth forever; and in this knowledge methinks we
may surely rest secure."

After this we fell silent again, I for one being very full of
troublesome thought and perplexity, and the sum of it this, viz.,
whether a woman, cast alone on a desolate island with a man such as I,
had need to fear him?  To the which question answer found I none.
Wherefore I got me another speculation, to wit:  Whether a man and
woman thus solitary must needs go a-falling in love with one another?
Finding no answer to this either, I turned, half-minded to put the
question to my companion, and found her fast asleep.

She lay deep-slumbering in the light of the fire, her face half-hid
'neath a tress of shining hair; and I viewing her, chin in fist, saw in
her only the last of her hated race and knew in that moment that never
might there be aught of true love, that pure passion, high and
ennobling, the which may lift man above his baser self--never might
this be 'twixt her blood and mine.  And knowing this I knew also great
doubt and fear of myself.  And in my fear I lifted my gaze to the
stars, those "great lights" set there by the hand of God; and spake
thus within myself:

"Lord God," quoth I, "Since love is not nor ever shall be 'twixt this
my companion and me, do Thou protect her from the devil within me, do
Thou aid me to keep the oath I sware in Thy name."

But now (and my prayer scarce uttered) the Devil sprang and was upon
me, and I, forgetting all my oaths and resolutions, yielded me joyously
to his will; stirring in her slumbers my lady sighed, turned and,
throwing her arm out it chanced that her hand came upon my knee and
rested there, and I, shivering at her touch, seized this hand and
caught it to my lips and began to kiss these helpless fingers and the
round, soft arm above.  I felt her start, heard her breath catch in a
sob, but, in my madness I swept her to my embrace.  Then as I stooped
she held me off striving fiercely against me; all at once her struggles
ceased and I heard her breath come in a long, tremulous sigh.

"Martin!" says she, "O thank God 'tis you!  I dreamed these Black
Bartlemy's cruel arms about me and I was sick with fear and
horror--thank God 'tis you, dear Martin, and I safe from all harms
soever.  So hold me an you will, Martin, you that have saved me from so
much and will do till the end."

"Aye, by God!" says I, bending my head above her that she might not see
my face, "And so I will, faithfully, truly, until the very end!"

"Do I not know it--O do I not know it!" says she in choking voice, and
here, lying beside me, she must take my hand and hold it to her soft
cheek.  "Indeed I do think there is no man like you in the whole world."

At this, knowing myself so unworthy, I thought no man in the world so
miserable as I, as I would have told her but dared not.

"God make me worthy of your trust!" says I at last.

"'Tis a good prayer, Martin.  Now hear mine, 'tis one I have prayed
full oft--God make you strong enough to forgive past wrongs and,
forgetting vengeance, to love your enemy."

"'Tis thing impossible!" says I.

"Yet the impossible shall come to pass soon or late, Martin, this am I
sure."

"And why so sure?"

"My heart telleth me so!" says she drowsily, and looking down I saw her
eyes were closed and she on the verge of slumber.  And beholding her
thus, my self-hate grew, insomuch that her fingers loosing their hold,
I stole away my hand and, seeing her asleep, crept from the place.
Being come to the stream I stood awhile staring down at the hurrying
waters, minded to cast myself therein; but presently I turned aside,
and coming amid leafy gloom lay there outstretched, my face hidden from
the stars and I very full of bitterness, for it seemed that I was as
great a rogue and well-nigh as vile as ever Bartlemy had been.  And
thus merciful sleep found me at last.



CHAPTER XXXIV

HOW I STOOD RESOLUTE IN MY FOLLY

The day was still young when we reached our habitation, and both of us
glad to return, especially my lady.

"For truly I do grow to love this home of ours," says she, and sets
herself to sweeping out her three caves.  As for me I was determined on
making her an arm chair forthright; to the which end I took my saw and
set out for Deliverance Sands, there to cut and select such timber as I
needed from my store.  But scarce was I come hither than I uttered a
shout of joy, for there, cast up high upon these white sands, lay a
great mast in a tangle of ropes and cordage.

Drawing near, I saw this for the mainmast of some noble ship but lately
wrecked, wherefore I hasted along the beach and out upon the reef to
see if haply any other wreckage had come ashore, but found nothing to
reward my search.  Returning to the mast I saw to my joy that this
cordage was all new and sound, though woefully tangled.  Howbeit I had
soon unravelled some fifty yards of good stout twine, and abundance of
more yet to hand together with the heavier ropes such as shrouds and
back-stays.  Taking this line I came to that rocky cleft where I had
killed the goat, and clambering up the bush-grown cliff found it to be
honey-combed with caves large and small and with abundant evidences of
the animals I sought.  Wherefore, choosing me a narrow, well-worn track
I set there a trap formed of a running noose, and this did I in divers
other places, which done I returned to my labours on the mast.  At the
which occupation my lady, finding me, must needs fall to work beside
me, aiding as well as she might like the true comrade she was.

Thus by late afternoon I had coiled and stowed safely away more good
hempen rope and cordage than I could ever want.  This accomplished I
found time to praise my companion's diligence; but finding her all
wearied out with such rough and arduous labour, grew mighty vexed with
my heedlessness, reproaching myself therewith; but she (and all
toilworn as she was) laughed her weariness to scorn, as was ever her
way:

"Why, Martin," says she, "labour is a good thing and noble since it
giveth health and strength to both mind and body.  And 'tis my joy to
share in your labours when I may and a delight to see how, cast here
destitute of all things, you have contrived so much already.  The more
I work and the harder, the more able am I for work, so trouble not if I
do grow a little weary sometimes!" This comforted me somewhat until,
chancing to see her hands, I caught them in mine and turning them saw
these tender palms all red and blistered with the ropes; and grieving
over them I would have kissed the poor little things had I dared (and
indeed came mighty nigh doing it) as she perceived, I think, for she
flushed and laughed and drew them from my hold.

"Nay, Martin," says she softly.  "I would have you forget my
sex--sometimes!"

"'Twere a thing impossible!" says I, whereat she, stealing a glance at
me, flushed all the hotter.

"Why then," says she, "You must not coddle and cosset me because I am a
woman--"

"Never," quoth I, "'tis not my nature to do so."

"And yet you do, Martin."

"As how?"

"O in many ways--these blisters now, why should your hands grow rough
and hard and not mine?  Nature hath formed me woman but Fate hath made
me your comrade, Martin.  And how may I be truly your comrade except I
share your toil?"

Now when I would have answered I could not, and turning from her to
stare away across the limitless ocean saw it a-gleam through a mist as
it were.

"Surely," says I at last, "O surely never had man so sweet and true a
comrade!  And I so rude and unlovely--and in all ways so unworthy."

"But you are not, Martin, you are not!"

"Aye, but I am--beyond your guessing, you that are so pure, so
saintly--"

"Saintly?  O Martin!" and here she laughs albeit a little tremulously.
"Surely I am a very human saint, for I do grow mighty hungry and yearn
for my supper.  So prithee let us go and eat."

But on our way we turned aside to see if we had any fortune with my
snares; sure enough, coming nigh the place we heard a shuffling and
snorting, and presently discovered a goat fast by the neck and
half-choked, and beside her a little kid pitifully a-bleating.

"O Martin!" cries my lady, and falling on her knees began caressing and
fondling the little creature whiles I secured the dam, and mighty
joyful.  The goat, for all its strangling, strove mightily, but lashing
its fore and hind legs I contrived to get it upon my shoulders and thus
burdened set off homewards, my lady carrying the kid clasped to her
bosom, and it very content there and small wonder.

"'Tis sweet, pretty thing," says my lady, stroking its silky hair, "and
shall soon grow tame."

"And here is the beginning of our flock:  our cheese and butter shall
not be long a-lacking now, comrade."

"You must fashion me a press, Martin."

"And a churn," says I.

"Nay I can manage well enough with one of our pipkins."

"But a churn would be easier for you, so a churn you shall have, of
sorts."

This evening after supper, sitting by our fire, my lady (and despite
her weariness) was merrier than her wont and very full of plans for the
future, deciding for me what furniture I must construct next, as chairs
(two) a cupboard with shelves, and where these should stand when made:

"And, Martin," says she, "now that we own goats I must have a dairy for
my cheese-making, and my dairy shall be our larder, aye, and stillroom
too, for I have been tending our garden lately and found growing many
good herbs and simples.  In time, Martin, these caves shall grow into a
home indeed and all wrought by our own hands, and this is a sweet
thought."

"Why so it is," says I, "in very truth--but--"

"But what, sir?" she questioned, lifting admonishing finger.

"There may come a day when we may weary of it, how then?"

"Nay we are too busy--"

"Can it--could it be"--says I, beginning to stammer--"that you might
live here thus content to the end of your days?"

"The end of my days?" says she staring thoughtfully into the fire.
"Why, Martin, this is a long way in the future I do pray, and our
future is in the hands of God, so wherefore trouble?"

"Because I who have been stranger to Happiness hitherto, dread lest it
may desert me and leave me the more woeful."

"Are you then happy at last--and so suddenly, Martin?"

Now this put me to no little heart-searching and perplexity, for
casting back over the time since our landing on the island I knew that,
despite my glooms and ill-humours, happiness had come to me in that
hour I had found her alive.

"Why, I am no longer the miserable wretch I was," quoth I at last.

"Because of late you have forgot to grieve for yourself and past wrong
and sorrows, Martin.  Mayhap you shall one day forget them quite."

"Never!" quoth I.

"Yet so do I hope, Martin, with all my heart," says she and with a
great sigh.

"Why then, fain would I forget an I might, but 'tis beyond me. The
agony of the rowing-bench, the shame of stripes--the blood and
bestiality of it all--these I may never forget."

"Why then, Martin--dear Martin," says she, all suddenly slipping from
her stool to kneel before me and reach out her two hands. "I do pray
our Heavenly Father, here and now before you, that you, remembering all
this agony and shame, may make of it a crown of glory ennobling your
manhood--that you, forgetting nothing, may yet put vengeance from you
now and for ever and strive to forget--to forgive, Martin, and win
thereby your manhood and a happiness undreamed--" here she stopped, her
bosom heaving, her eyes all tender pleading; and I (O deaf and purblind
fool!) hearing, heard not and seeing, saw nought but the witching
beauty of her; and now, having her hands in mine, beholding her so
near, I loosed her hands and turned away lest I should crush her to me.

"'Tis impossible!" I muttered.  "I am a man and no angel--'tis
impossible!"  Hereupon she rose and stood some while looking down into
the fire and never a word; suddenly she turned as to leave me, then,
sitting on her stool, drew out her hairpins and shook down her shining
hair that showed bronze-red where the light caught it.  And beholding
her thus, her lovely face offset by the curtain of her hair, her deep,
long-lashed eyes, the vivid scarlet of her mouth, I knew the world
might nowhere show me a maid so perfect in beauty nor so vitally a
woman.

"Martin!" says she very softly, as she began braiding a thick tress of
hair.  "Have you ever truly loved any woman?"

"No," says I, "No!"

"Could you so love, I wonder?"

"No!" says I again and clenching my hands.  "No--never!"

"Why, true," says she, more softly, "methinks in your heart is no room
for poor Love, 'tis over-full of Hate, and hate is a disease incurable
with you.  Is't not so, Martin?"

"Yes--no!  Nay, how should I know?" quoth I.

"Yet should love befall you upon a day, 'twould be love unworthy any
good woman, Martin!"

"Why then," says I, "God keep me from the folly of love."

"Pray rather that Love, of its infinite wisdom, teach you the folly of
hate, Martin!"

"'Tis a truth," says I bitterly, "a truth that hath become part of me!
It hath been my companion in solitude, my comfort in my shameful
misery, my hope, my very life or I had died else!  And now--now you bid
me forget it--as 'twere some mere whimsy, some idle fancy--this thought
that hath made me strong to endure such shames and tribulations as few
have been forced to suffer!"

"Aye, I do, I do!" she cried.  "For your own sake, Martin, and for
mine."

"No!" quoth I, "A thousand times!  This thought hath been life to me,
and only with life may I forego it!"

At this, the busy fingers faltered in their pretty labour, and, bowing
her head upon her hand, she sat, her face hid from me, until I, not
doubting that she wept, grew uneasy and questioned her at last.

"Nay, my lady--since this must be so--wherefore grieve?"

"Grieve?" says she lifting her head, and I saw her eyes all radiant and
her red lips up-curving in a smile.  "Nay, Martin, I do marvel how
eloquent you grow upon your wrongs, indeed 'tis as though you feared
you might forget them.  Thus do you spur up slothful memory, which
giveth me sure hope that one day 'twill sleep to wake no more."

And now, or ever I might find answer, she rose and giving me
"Good-night" was gone, singing, to her bed; and I full of bewilderment.
But suddenly as I sat thus, staring into the dying fire, she was back
again.

"What now?" I questioned.

"Our goat, Martin!  I may not sleep until I know her safe--come let us
go look!" and speaking, she reached me her hand.  So I arose, and thus
with her soft, warm fingers in mine we went amid the shadows where I
had tethered the goat to a tree hard beside the murmurous rill and
found the animal lying secure and placidly enough, the kid beside her.
The which sight seemed to please my lady mightily.

"But 'tis shame the poor mother should go tied always thus. Could you
not make a picket fence, Martin?  And she should have some refuge
against the storms," to the which I agreed.  Thus as we went back we
fell to making plans, one project begetting another, and we very blithe
about it.



CHAPTER XXXV

HOW MY DEAR LADY WAS LOST TO ME

And now followed a season of much hard work, each day bringing its
varied tasks and we right joyous in our labour, so that ofttimes I
would hear her singing away in her sweet voice merry as any grig, or
find myself whistling lustily to the tap of my hammer.  And now indeed
my saw (and all rusty though it was) served me faithfully and well, and
my carpentry went forward apace.  During this time also we added four
goats and six kids to our flock, so that we had good store of milk, and
having with my lady's help made our net with strands of cord knotted
crosswise, we caught therewith great plenty of fish.

Remembering my adventure with the Indian I furnished myself with a good
stout pike and a couple of javelins; moreover I set up divers marks,
like rovers, and every day I would shoot at these with my bow, so that
I soon became so dexterous I could bring down a bird on the wing six
times out of seven, though in teaching myself this proficiency I lost
four of my Indian arrows beyond recovery.

Thus sped the time all too quickly, but with each day came a greater
understanding and a deeper amity betwixt my lady and me.

Now much and very much might I set down here concerning this my sweet
comrade, her many noble qualities, and how, as our fellowship
lengthened, I (that was a man selfish beyond thought) finding her
unselfish always and uncomplaining, seeing her so brave in the face of
adversity, and indomitable to overcome all difficulty, yet ever and
always a woman gracious and tender, I, by my very reverence for her
sweet womanhood, became in some sense a better man.

I might tell how, when my black moods took me, the mere sight of her,
the sound of her voice, the touch of her hand, nay her very nearness
was enough to dispel them.

I might paint to your imagination the way her hair curled at her
temples, the trick she had of biting her nether lip when at all put
out, of the jut of her pretty chin when angered.  Then the sweet,
vibrant softness of her voice, her laughter, the wonder of her changing
moods--all these I would dilate upon if I might, since 'tis joy to me,
but lest I prove wearisome I will hasten on to the finding of Black
Bartlemy's Treasure, of all that led up to it and all those evils that
followed after it.  And this bringeth me to a time whenas we sat, she
and I, eating our breakfast and the world all radiant with a young sun.

"To-night," says she, "if my calculations be right, should be a new
moon.  And I am glad, for I do love the moon."

"Aye, but how should you judge this?" says I, wondering.

"Because I have kept a record, Martin.  A stroke for each day and a
cross for every Sunday."

"Excellent!" quoth I.  "Then you will know how long we have lived here?"

"Two months and five days, Martin."

"So long a time?" says I amazed.

"Hath it seemed so very long?" she questioned.

"No indeed!" says I.  "No, and there's the marvel!"

"'Tis no marvel, Martin, you have been too full of business to heed
time.  Let us reckon up what we have achieved thus far. First of all a
three-legged stool for me--"

"Hairpins!" says I.

"A spoon, Martin, and shoes for me--"

"Lamps and candles!" quoth I.

"A table, Martin--"

"A fishing line and two hooks."

"Two armchairs, Martin, a cupboard and a press."

"A churn!" says I.

"You are forgetting our five pipkins, Martin."

"True," says I, "and clumsy things they are!"

"But very useful, sir!  Next a fishing-net, and a bed for me. Here is
fine achievement, Martin!  Are you not proud to have wrought so much
and with so little?"

"But there is much yet to do!" quoth I.

"So much the better!" says she.  "Thus far I am well content."

"And happy?" I demanded.

"Aye, Martin--are you?"

Now at this I fell to profound reverie and she also, and this the
subject of my musings, viz.,

In every man and woman born into this world (as it doth seem to me) God
putteth some of His infinite self whereby all things are possible in
degree greater or smaller; for to the God within us all things are
possible, 'tis our very humanity that limits our potentialities.
Confidence in this power within us is a mighty aid to all endeavour
whereby we, our coward flesh notwithstanding, may attempt great things,
and though, being human, we ofttimes fail, yet this very effort
strengthens and ennobles us.

"Who art thou," cries Flesh, "to adventure thing so great and above thy
puny strength to perform?  Who art thou?"  "I am God!" answers
Man-soul, "Since finite man am I only by reason of thee, base, coward
Flesh."  Thus (to my thinking) in every man is angel and demon, each
striving 'gainst each for the soul of him; whereby he doeth evil or
good according to the which of these twain he aideth to victory.
Howbeit, thus it is with me, I being, despite my seeming slowness, of
quick and passionate temper and of such desperate determination that
once set on a course needs would I pursue it though it led to my own
confounding and destruction.  For now, indeed, I wrought that the which
brought on my lady great sorrow and grievous peril, and on myself
shame, bloodshed and a black despair, and this the manner of it.

"Are you not happy, Martin?" says she, "Happy and proud to have
accomplished so much with so little?"

"No!" says I, and so bitterly-fierce that she blenched from me. "For
look now," says I, clenching my fist, "here have we wrought and slaved
together day in and day out--and to what end?"

"That we may live--to our comfort--" says she a little breathlessly.

"And to what end?" I demanded.  "To what purpose have you cozened me to
labour thus?"

"I?  I don't understand you, Martin!" says she unsteadily.

"Here's you cast alone with me on this island.  'He is a man,' says you
to yourself, 'and I a lonely woman.  So must I keep him busy, his mind
ever employed on some labour, no matter what, lest peradventure he make
love to me--'"

"Stop!" cries she angrily, leaping up to her feet all in a moment.
"For shame, Martin Conisby!  You wrong me and yourself--I am your
comrade--"

"Nay, you are a woman, very subtle, and quick-witted as you are
beautiful.  So have you kept me in ploy thus, yearning meanwhile for
some ship--anything to bear you safe away from me!  Often have I seen
you staring seaward and praying for a sail."

"O you lie, Martin, you lie!  Ah, have I not trusted you?"

"Aye, as one might a tiger, by humouring me and distracting my
attention!  All these weeks I have scarce touched you and kissed you
never, nor had I thought to--but now by God--"

"Martin--O Martin, what would you--"

"Kiss you!" says I savagely, and caught her wrists.

"Nay, that you shall never do--with that look on your face!" cries she,
and twisted so strongly as nigh broke my hold; but despite all her
desperate striving, struggle how she might, I dragged her to me,
pinning her arms in my cruel embrace; but still she withstood me and
with such fury of strength that twice we staggered and came near
falling, until all at once she yielded and lay all soft, her breath
coming in little, pitiful, panting groans.  So I kissed her as I would,
her hair, her eyes, her parted lips, her cool, soft throat, until sun
and trees and green grass seemed to spin and whirl dizzily about me,
until my lips were wet with her salt tears.

"O God--O God!" she whispered, "O Martin that I trusted so, will you
kill my faith and trust?  Will you shame your comrade?  You that I
loved--"

"Loved!" says I, catching my breath and staring down at her tear-wet
lashes, "Loved me--O Damaris--"

"Aye loved, and honoured you above all men until the beast broke loose."

"And now?" cried I hoarsely, "And now--what?  Speak!"

"God's pity--loose me, Martin!"

"And now what--tell me.  Is't hate now, scorn and contempt--as 'twas
aboard ship?"

"O Martin--let me go!" she sobbed.

"Answer me, is it hate henceforth?"

"Yes!" she panted, "Yes!" and tore herself from my hold.  But, as she
turned to fly me, I caught her back to me and, madman that I was, bent
her backward across my knee that I might look down into her eyes; and,
meeting my look, she folded her hands upon her bosom and closing her
eyes, spoke broken and humbled:

"Take--take your will of me--Black Bartlemy--I am not--brave enough to
stab you as--she did--"

Now at this I shivered and must needs cast my gaze towards that great
pimento tree that towered afar off.  So, then, my hateful dream had
come true, and now I knew myself for black a rogue as ever Bartlemy had
been.  So I loosed her and starting up, stood staring across the
desolation of ocean.

"O Damaris!" says I at last, "Here in my belt was my knife to your
hand, 'twere better you had stabbed me indeed and I, dying, would have
kissed your feet after the manner of yon dead rogue. As it is I must
live hating myself for having destroyed the best, the sweetest thing
life could offer me and that, your trust. But, O my lady," says I,
looking down where she knelt, her face bowed upon her hands, "I do love
you reverently and beyond my life."

"Even greatly enough to forego your vengeance?" she questioned softly,
and without glancing up.

"God help me!" cried I, "How may I forget the oath I swore on my
father's grave?"

"You broke your oath to me!" says she, never stirring, "So do I know
that true love hath not touched you."

"Think of me as you will," quoth I, "but--"

"I know!" says she, raising her head at last and looking up at me, "I
am sure, Martin.  Where hate is, true love can never be, and love
howsoever vehement is gentle and reverent and, being of God, a very
holy thing!  But you have made of it a thing of passion, merciless and
cruel--'tis love debased."

"So will I get hence," says I, "for since I have destroyed your faith
how shall you ever sleep again and know yourself secure and such rogue
as I near you.  I'll go, Damaris, I'll away and take your fears along
with me."

Then, the while she watched me dumbly, I slung my bow and quiver of
arrows about me, set the hatchet in my girdle and, taking my pike,
turned to go; but, checking my haste, went into the cave (she following
me silent always) and taking the pistol from where it hung, examined
flint and priming and charge and laid it on the table.

"Should you need me at any time, shoot off this pistol and I will come"
says I, "so good-bye, my lady!"  But scarce was I without the cave than
she comes to me with my chain-shirt in her hands, and when I would have
none of it, grew the more insistent.

"Put it on," says she gently, "who can tell what may befall you, so put
it on I pray!"  Thus in the end I donned it, though with ill grace;
which done, I took my pike across my shoulder and strode away.  And
when I had gone some distance I glanced back and saw her standing where
I had left her, watching me and with her hands clasped tight together.

"Good-bye, Martin!" says she.  "O good-bye!" and vanished into the
gloom of the cave.

As for me I strode on at speed and careless of direction, for my mind
was a whirl of conflicting thoughts and a bitter rage against myself.
Thus went I a goodish while and all-unheeding, and so at last found
myself lost amidst mazy thickets and my eight-foot pike very
troublesome.  Howbeit I presently gained more open ways and went at
speed, though whither, I cared not. The sun was westering when, coming
out from the denser woods, I saw before me that high hill whose rocky
summit dominated the island, and bent my steps thitherward; and then
all in a moment my heart gave a great leap and I stood still, for borne
to me on the soft air came a sudden, sharp sound, and though faint with
distance I knew it for the report of a firearm.  At this thrice-blessed
sound an overwhelming great joy and gratitude surged within me since
thus, of her infinite mercy my lady had summoned me back; and now as I
retraced my steps full of thankfulness, I marvelled to find my eyes
a-watering and myself all trembling eagerness to behold her loveliness
again, to hear her voice, mayhap to touch her hand; indeed I felt as we
had been parted a year rather than a brief hour.  And now I got me to
dreaming how I should meet her and how she would greet me.  She should
find a new Martin, I told myself.  Suddenly these deluding dreams were
shivered to horrible fear and myself brought, sweating, to a standstill
by another sound that smote me like a blow, for I knew this for the
deep-toned report of a musket.  For a moment I stood leaning on my pike
as one dazed, then the hateful truth of it seized me and I began to run
like any madman.  Headlong I went, bursting my way through tangled
vines and undergrowth, heedless of the thorns that gashed me, cursing
such obstacles as stayed me; now o'erleaping thorny tangles, now
pausing to beat me a way with my pikestaff, running at breathless speed
whenever I might until (having taken a wrong direction in my frenzy) I
came out amid those vines and bushes that bordered the lake of the
waterfall, and right over against the great rock I have mentioned.  But
from where I was (the place being high) I could see over and beyond
this rock; and as I stood panting and well-nigh spent, mighty
distraught and my gaze bent thitherward, I shivered (despite the sweat
that streamed from me) with sudden awful chill, for from those greeny
depths I heard a scream, wild and heartrending, and knowing this voice
grew sick and faint and sank weakly to my knees; and now I heard vile
laughter, then hoarse shouts, and forth of the underbrush opposite
broke a wild, piteous figure all rent and torn yet running very
fleetly; as I watched, cursing my helplessness, she tripped and fell,
but was up again all in a moment, yet too late, for then I saw her
struggling in the clasp of a ragged, black-bearded fellow and with
divers other men running towards them.

And now madness seized me indeed, for between us was the lake, and,
though my bow was strung and ready, I dared not shoot lest I harm her.
Thus as I watched in an agony at my impotence, my lady broke her
captor's hold and came running, and he and his fellows hard after her.
Straight for the rock she came, and being there stood a moment to stare
about her like the piteous, hunted creature she was:

"Martin!" she cried, "O Martin!" and uttering this dolorous cry (and or
ever I might answer) she tossed wild arms to heaven and plunged over
and down.  I saw her body strike the water in a clean dive and vanish
into those dark and troubled deeps, and with breath in check and
glaring eyes, waited for her to reappear; I heard vague shouts and
cries where her pursuers watched for her likewise, but I heeded them
nothing, staring ever and waiting--waiting.  But these gloomy waters
gave no sign, and so at last my breath burst from me in a bitter,
sobbing groan. One by one the minutes dragged by until I thought my
brain must crack, for nowhere was sign of that beloved shape.  And
then--all at once, I knew she must be dead; this sweet innocent slain
thus before my eyes, snatched out of life and lost forever to me for
all time, lost to me beyond recovery.

At last I turned my haggard, burning eyes upon her murderers--four of
them there were and all staring into those cruel, black waters below
and not a word betwixt them.  Suddenly the black-bearded man snapped
his fingers and laughed even as my bowstring twanged; then I saw him
leap backwards, screaming with pain, his shoulder transfixed by my
arrow.  Immediately (and ere I might shoot again) his fellows dragged
him down, and lying prone on their bellies let fly wildly in my
direction with petronel and musquetoon.  And now, had I been near
enough, I would have leaped upon them to slay and be slain, since life
was become a hateful thing.  As it was, crouched there 'mid the leaves,
I watched them crawl from the rock dragging their hurt comrade with
them.  Then, seeing them stealing off thus, a mighty rage filled me,
ousting all other emotion, and (my bow in one hand and pike in the
other) I started running in pursuit.  But my great pike proving
over-cumbersome, I cast it away that I might go the faster, trusting
rather to my five arrows and the long-bladed knife in my girdle, and
the thought of this knife and its deadly work at close quarters
heartened me mightily as I ran; yet in a while, the passion of my anger
subsiding, grief took its place again and a hopeless desolation beyond
words.  So ran I, blinded by scalding tears and my heart breaking
within me, and thus came I to a place of rocks, and looking not to my
feet it chanced that I fell and, striking my head against a rock, knew
no more; and lost in a blessed unconsciousness, forgot awhile the
anguish of my breaking heart.



CHAPTER XXXVI

TELLETH SOME PART OF A NIGHT OF AGONY

When at last I opened my eyes I found myself in a place of gloom and
very stiff and sore; therefore I lay where I was nor sought to move.
Little by little, as I lay thus 'twixt sleep and wake, I was aware of a
pallid glow all about me, and lifting heavy head, saw the moon low down
in the sky like a great golden sickle.  And staring up at this, of a
sudden back rushed memory (and with it my hopeless misery) for now I
remembered how, but a few short hours since, my dear lady had
prophesied this new moon. Hereupon, crouching there, my aching head
bowed upon my hands, I gave myself up to my despair and a corroding
grief beyond all comforting.

From where I crouched I might look down upon this accursed lake, a
misty horror of gloomy waters, and beholding this, I knew that my
gentle, patient comrade was gone from me, that somewhere within those
black and awful depths her tender body was lying. She was dead, her
sweet voice for ever hushed, she that had been so vitally alive!  And
remembering all her pretty ways I grew suddenly all blind with tears
and, casting myself down, lay a great while sobbing and groaning until
I could weep no more.

At last, sitting up, I wondered to find my head so painful, and putting
up my hand found my face all wet and sticky with blood that flowed from
a gash in my hair.  And remembering how I had fallen and the reason of
my haste I started up and forthwith began seeking my knife and hatchet,
and presently found them hard by where I had tripped.  Now standing
thus, knife in one hand and hatchet in the other, I turned to look down
upon these dark and evil waters.

"Goodbye, my lady!" says I, "Fare thee well, sweet comrade! Before
to-morrow dawn we will meet again, I pray, and shalt know me for truer
man and better than I seemed!"  So, turning my back on the lake I went
to seek my vengeance on her destroyers and death at their hands an it
might be so.

In a while I came to that torrent where the water flowed out from the
lake, its bed strewn with tumbled rocks and easy enough to cross, the
water being less in volume by reason of the dry weather.  All at once I
stopped, for amid these rocks and boulders I saw caught all manner of
drift, as sticks and bushes, branches and the like, washed down by the
current and which, all tangled and twisted together, choked this narrow
defile, forming a kind of barrier against the current.  Now as I gazed
at this, my eyes (as if directed by the finger of God) beheld something
caught in this barrier, something small and piteous to see but which
set me all a-trembling and sent me clambering down these rocks; and
reaching out shaking hand I took up that same three-pronged pin I had
carved and wrought for her hair.  Thus stood I to view this through my
blinding tears and to kiss and kiss it many times over because it had
known her better than I.  But all at once I thrust this precious relic
into my bosom and stared about me with new and awful expectation, for
the current which had brought this thing would bring more.  So I began
to seek among these rocks where the stream ran fast and in each pool
and shallow, and once, sweating and shivering, stooped to peer at
something that gleamed white from a watery hollow, and gasped my relief
to find it was no more than a stone.  None the less sought I with a
prayer on my lips, dreading to find that white and tender body mangled
by the cruel rocks, yet searching feverishly none the less.  Long I
stayed there, until the moon, high-risen, sent down her tender beam as
though to aid me.  But of this time I will write no more, since even
now it is a misery to recall.

At last, I (that knew myself a man about to die) turned me towards our
habitation, those rocks she had called "home," and reaching the plateau
I stood still, swept alternately by grief and passion, to see this our
refuge all desecrated by vile hands, our poor furniture scattered
without the cave.  And presently I espied her three-legged stool
standing where she had been wont to sit to watch and cheer me at my
labour; coming thither I fell on my knees, and laying my head thereon
wetted this unlovely thing with my tears and kissed it many times.  As
I lay thus, much that she had done and said (little things forgot till
now) rushed upon my memory; her sweet, calm presence seemed all about
me soothing away the passion of my grief.  And in this hour that was to
end my miserable life, I knew at last that I had loved her purely and
truly from the first, and with such love as might have lifted me to
heaven.  And kneeling thus, I spake aloud to this her sweet presence
that seemed to hover about me:

"O Damaris, beloved--as thou, to 'scape shame, hast chosen death--in
death I'll follow thee--trusting to a merciful God that I may find thee
again!"  Then uprising from my knees, I came out from the shadows, and
standing in the moon's radiance, looked heedfully to the edge of my
axe, and with it gripped in my hand, went out to find death.



CHAPTER XXXVII

HOW I SOUGHT DEATH BUT FOUND IT NOT

Beyond Deliverance Sands I saw the glow of their fire, and drawing
thither knew them camped in the shadow of that great pimento tree and
within that rocky gorge the which had afforded my dear lady and me our
first night's shelter.  Being come thither, I sat me down and took
counsel how best to attack them that I might slay as many as possible
ere they gave me the death I hungered for; and the end of it was I
began to scale the cliff, my goatskin buskins soundless and very sure
amid the rocks.

As I mounted I heard the hoarse murmur of their voices and knew by
their very intonation (since I could hear no words as yet) that they
were speaking English.  Reaching the summit, and mighty cautious, I
came where I might look down into the cleft.

They lay sprawled about their fire, four grim-looking fellows, ragged
and unkempt, three of them talking together and one who lay groaning
ever and anon.

"Be damned, t'ye, Joel for a lily-livered dog!" growled a great, bony
fellow, "Here's good an island as man can want--"

"And full of bloody Indians--eh, Humphrey?" says a black-jowled fellow,
turning on the wounded man.  "Us do know the Indians, don't us
Humphrey?  Inca, Aztec, Mosquito and Cimaroon, we know 'em and their
devil's ways, don't us, Humphrey?"

"Aye--aye!" groaned the wounded man.  "They tortured me once and
they've done for me at last, by God!  My shoulder's afire--"

"And the shaft as took ye, Humphrey, were a Indian shaft--a Indian
shaft, weren't it, lad?  And all trimmed wi' gold, aren't it?  Here, ye
may see for yourselves!  'Sequently I do know it for the shaft of a
chief or cacique and where a cacique is there's Indians wi' him--O
thick as thieves--I know and Humphrey knows!  I say this curst island
be full of Indians, thick as fleas, curse 'em!  And they'll have us
soon or late and torment us.  So what I says is, let's away at the
flood and stand away for the Main--the sea may be bad now and then, but
Indians be worse--always and ever!"

"Why, as to that, Ned, the Indians ha' left us alone--"

"Aye!" cried the bony man, "And what o' the wench--her was no Indian, I
lay!  A fine, dainty piece she was, by hooky!  And handsome,
ah--handsome!  But for Humphrey's bungling--"

Here the man Humphrey groaned and cursed the speaker bitterly.

"Howbeit--'twas an Indian arrer!" says Ned.  "And that means Indians,
and Indians means death to all on us--ask Humphrey! Death--eh,
Humphrey?"

"Aye--death!" groaned Humphrey, "Death's got his grapples aboard me
now.  I'm a-dying, mates--dying!  Get me aboard, death will come easier
in open water."

"Why, if ye must die, Humphrey," growled the bony man, "die, lad, die
and get done wi' it, the sooner the better.  As to Indians I wait till
I see 'em, and as for Death--"

"Death?" gasped Humphrey, "Here's for you first!" and whipping out a
knife he made a fierce thrust at the speaker; but the others closed
with him.  Then as they strove together panting and cursing I rose to
come at them; but the wounded man, chancing to lift his head, saw me
where I stood, the moonlight on my bloody face, and uttered a hoarse
scream.

"Death!" cries he, "'Tis on us mates--look, look yonder!  Death and
wounds--yonder he comes for all of us--O mates look!  Yon's death--for
all on us!"

But in this moment I leaped down upon them from above, sending one man
sprawling and scattering their fire, and 'mid whirling sparks and
smoke, within this dim rock-cleft we fought with a merciless fury and
desperation beyond words.  A pistol flashed and roared and then another
as I leapt with whirling axe and darting knife.  I remember a wild
hurly-burly of random blows, voices that shouted hoarse blasphemies,
screams and groans, a whirl of vicious arms, of hands that clutched;
once I reeled to hard-driven sword-thrust, a knife flashed and stabbed
beneath my arm, but twice I got home with my knife and once a man
sobbed and went down beneath my hatchet--and then they were running and
I after them.  But I had taken a scathe in my leg and twice I fell;
thus they reached their boat with some hundred yards to spare, and I
saw their frantic struggles to launch it as I staggered after them; but
ere I could reach them they had it afloat and tumbled aboard pell-mell.
Then came I, panting curses, and plunged into the sea, wading after
them up to my middle and so near that, aiming a blow at one of them, I
cut a great chip from the gunwale, but, reeling from the blow of an
oar, sank to my knees, and a wave breaking over me bore me backward,
choking. Thus when I found my feet again they were well away and plying
their oars lustily, whiles I, roaring and shouting, stood to watch them
until the boat was lost in the distance.  Now as I stood thus, raging
bitterly at my impotence, I bethought me that I had seen but three men
run and, turning about, hasted back to deal with the fourth.  Reaching
the scene of the struggle, I came on the man Humphrey outstretched upon
his back in the moonlight and his face well-nigh shorn asunder.  Seeing
him thus so horribly dead, I went aside and fell to scrubbing my
hatchet, blade and haft, with the cleanly sand.

Then came I, and grasping this thing had been named Humphrey, I dragged
it a-down the sands and hove it forthwith into the sea, standing
thereafter to watch it borne out on the receding tide. Now as I watched
thus, came a wave that lifted the thing so that this dead man seemed to
rise up and wave an arm to me ere he vanished.

This done (and I yet alive!)  I took to wandering aimlessly hither and
thither, and chancing into the rocky cleft found lying three muskets
and four pistols with bandoliers full-charged, together with a knife
and a couple of swords; these I set orderly together and so wandered
away again.

All this night I rambled about thus, and dawn found me seated 'neath
Bartlemy's tree staring at the ocean yet seeing it not.

So God had refused my appeal!  It seemed I could not die.  And
presently, chancing to look down at myself in the growing light I
understood the reason, for here was I armed in my shirt of mail
(forgotten till now) and scowling down at this, I saw its fine, steel
links scratched and scored by many blows and bedaubed here and there
with blood.  So then (thinks I) 'twas she had saved me alive, and in
this thought found me some small solace.  Hereupon I arose and went
down to the sea, limping by reason of my hurt (an ugly gash above my
knee) being minded to wash from me the grime and smears that fouled me.
But or ever I reached the water I stopped, for there, more hateful in
sun than moonlight, lay that ghastly thing that had been Humphrey.
There he lay, cast up by the tide, and now, with every wave that broke,
he stirred gently and moved arms and legs in wanton, silly fashion, and
nodding with his shattered head as in mockery of me.  So I went and,
seizing hold upon the thing, swung it upon my back and, thus burdened,
climbed out upon the reef (and with mighty trouble, for my strength
seemed oozing out of me).  Reaching a place at last where the water ran
deep I paused, and with sudden, painful effort whirled the thing above
my head and hove it far out, where, splashing, it fell with sullen
plunge and vanished from my sight.  But even so I was possessed of
sudden, uneasy feeling that the thing had turned on me and was swimming
back to shore, so that, drawing my knife, I must needs sit there awhile
to watch if this were so indeed.  At last I arose, but being come to
Deliverance Sands, whirled suddenly about, expectant to behold that
dead thing uprising from the surge to flap derisive arms at me.  And
this did I many times, being haunted thus all that day, and for many
weary hours thereafter, by this dead man Humphrey. Presently, as I went
heedless of all direction and the sun very hot, I began to stagger in
my gait and to mutter her name to myself and presently to shouting it,
until the cliffs gave back my cries and the hollow caves murmured,
"Damaris!  O Damaris!"

And now was a mist all about me wherein dim forms moved mocking me, and
ever and anon methought to behold my lady, but dim and very far removed
from me, so that sometimes I ran and oft-times I fell to moaning and
shedding weak and impotent tears.  Truly a black and evil day for me
this, whereof I have but a vague memory save only of pain, a hopeless
weariness and intolerable thirst. Thus it was sunset when I found
myself once more upon that grassy plateau, creeping on hands and knees,
though how I came thither I knew not.  I remember drinking from the
little rill and staggering within the cave, there to fall and lie
filling the place with my lamentations and oft-repeated cry of
"Damaris!  O Damaris!"  I remember a patch of silver light, a radiance
that crept across the gloom, and of dreaming my lady beside me as of
old, and of babbling of love and forgiveness, of pain and heartbreak,
whiles I watched the beam of light creeping nigh me upon the floor;
until, sobbing and moaning, yet gazing ever upon this light, I saw grow
upon it a sudden dark shape that moved, heard a rustle behind me, a
footstep--a cry!  And knowing this for the man Humphrey come upon me at
last in my weakness, I strove to rise, to turn and face him, but
finding this vain, cried out upon him for murderer.  "'Twas you killed
her--my love--the very soul of me--'twas you, Humphrey, that are
dead--come, that I may slay you again!"  Then feeling his hands upon me
I strove to draw my knife, but could not and groaned, and so knowledge
passed from me.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

CONCERNING THE DEAD MAN HUMPHREY AND HOW I SAW A VISION IN THE MOONLIGHT

My next memory was of sun and a dance of leafy shadows on the wall of
the cave, the which shadows held my attention so that I had no will to
look otherwhere; for these were merry shadows that leapt in sportive
gambols, that danced and swayed, pleasing me mightily.  And as I
watched these antic shadows I could hear the pleasant murmur of the
little rill without the cave, that bubbled with sweet, soft noises like
small, babbling voices and brake ever and anon into elfin laughter.
And presently, mingled with this pretty babblement, I seemed to hear a
whisper:

"Martin!  Dear Martin!"

And now I saw my lady plunge to death from the rock, and started up,
filling the place with my lamentations, until for very weakness I lay
hushed and heard again the soft rippling of the brook and therewith her
voice very sweet and faint and far away:

"Martin!  Dear Martin!"

I remember a season of blackness in which dim-seen, evil things menaced
me, and a horror of dreams wherein I, fettered and fast bound, must
watch my sweet lady struggle, weeping, in the arms of vile rogues
whiles I strove desperately to break my bonds, and finding this vain,
fell to raging madness and dashed myself hither and thither to slay
myself and end my torment.  Or, axe in hand, amid smoke and flame, I
fell upon her murderers; then would I smite down the man Humphrey only
for him to rise to be smitten again and yet again, nodding shattered
head and flapping nerveless arms in derision of me until, knowing I
might never slay him--he being already dead--I turned to flee, but with
him ever behind me and in my ears his sobbing cry of "Death for all of
us--death!"  And feeling his hands on me I would fall to desperate
struggle until the blackness closed over me again thick and stifling
like a sea.

And behind all these horrors was a haunting knowledge that I was going
mad, that this man Humphrey was waiting for me out beyond the surf
beckoning to me with flapping arms, and had cast on me a spell whereby,
as my brain shrivelled to madness, my body was shrivelling and changing
into that of Black Bartlemy.  Always I knew that Humphrey waited me
beyond the reef, watchful for my coming and growing ever more querulous
and eager as the spell wrought on me so that he began to call to me in
strange, sobbing voice, hailing me by my new name:

"Bartlemy, ahoy!  Black Bartlemy--Bartlemy ho!  Come your ways to
Humphrey, that being dead can die no more and, knowing all, doth know
you for Bartlemy crept back from hell.  So come, Bartlemy, come and be
as I am.  And there's others here, proper lads as wants ye too, dead
men all--by the rope, by the knife, by the bullet--oho!

  There be two at the fore,
  At the main be three more,
  Dead men that swing all of a row;
  Here's fine, dainty meat
  For the fishes to eat:
  Black Bartlemy--Bartlemy ho!

  There's a fine Spanish dame,
  Joanna's her name,
  Must follow wherever ye go;
  Till your black heart shall feel
  Your own cursed steel:
  Black Bartlemy--Bartlemy ho!"

And I, hearkening to this awful sobbing voice, sweating and shivering
in the dark, knew that, since I was indeed Black Bartlemy, sooner or
later I must go.

Thus it befell that of a sudden I found myself, dazzled by a fierce
sun, supporting me against a rock and my breath coming in great gasps.
And in a while, my eyes growing stronger, I stared away to the reef
where this man Humphrey waited me with his "dead men all"; and since I
must needs go there I wept because it was so far off.

Now as I stood grieving thus, I saw one stand below me on Deliverance,
looking also towards the reef, a woman tall and very stately and
habited in gown of rich satin and embroidery caught in at slender waist
with golden girdle, and about her head a scarf of lace.  And this woman
stood with bowed head and hands tight-clasped as one that grieved also;
suddenly she raised her head and lifted folded hands to the cloudless
heaven in passionate supplication.  And beholding her face I knew her
for the poor Spanish lady imploring just heaven for vengeance on me
that had been her undoing; and uttering a great cry, I sank on my knees:

"Mercy, O God--mercy!  Let me not be mad!"

Yet, even as I prayed, I knew that madness was upon me ere I plunged
again into the dreadful dark.

But God (whose mercy is infinite) hearkened to my distressful cry, for,
in a while, He brought me up from that black abyss and showed me two
marvels, the which filled me with wonder and a sudden, passionate hope.
And the first was the bandage that swathed my thigh; and this of itself
enough to set my poor wits in a maze of speculation.  For this bandage
was of linen, very fine and delicate, such as I knew was not to be
found upon the whole island; yet here was it, bound about my hurt,
plain and manifest and set there by hands well-skilled in such kindly
work.

And my second wonder was a silver beaker or ewer, very artfully wrought
and all chased and embossed with designs of fruit and flower and of a
rare craftsmanship, and this jug set within my reach and half-full of
milk.  The better to behold this, I raised myself and with infinite
labour.  But now, and suddenly, she was before me again, this poor
Spanish lady I had slain upon a time, wherefore I blenched and shrank
from her coming.  But she, falling upon her knees, sought to clasp me
in her arms, crying words I heeded not as (maugre my weakness) I strove
wildly to hold her off.

"I am Bartlemy that killed you!" says I.  "I am Black Bartlemy! They
know out yonder beyond the reef, hark and you shall hear how they hail
me--"

"O kind God, teach me how I may win him back to knowledge!"  So crying,
this Spanish lady of a sudden unpinned her hair and shook its glossy
ripples all about her:

"Look, Martin!" cries she, "Don't you know me--O don't you know me now?
I am Joan--come back to you--"

"No!" says I, "No--Damaris is dead and lost--I saw her die!"

"Then who am I, Martin?"

"The Spanish lady or--one of the ghosts do haunt me."

But now her hands were clasping mine, her soft hair all about me as she
stooped.  And feeling these hands so warm and vital, so quick and
strong with life, I began to tremble and strove against her no longer;
and so she stooped above me that I might feel her sweet breath on
fevered cheek and brow:

"'Tis your Damaris, Martin," says she, her tears falling fast, "'tis
your comrade hath come back to comfort you."

Now seeing how I stared all trembling and amazed, she set her arms
about me, and drawing me to her bosom, clasped me there. And my head
pillowed thus I fell a-weeping, but these tears were tears of joy and
thankfulness beyond all words.

"O Damaris," quoth I at last, "if this be death I care not since I have
seen thee again!"

"Why, Martin," says she, weeping with me, "art indeed so glad--so glad
to find again thy poor comrade!"

And thus, knowing myself forgiven, a great joy sang within me.



CHAPTER XXXIX

HOW MY DEAR LADY CAME BACK TO ME

I was sitting in one of our armchairs amid the leafy shade watching her
knead dough with her two pretty fists.  To this end she had rolled up
the sleeves of her splendid gown; and thus I, hearkening to her story,
must needs stare at her soft, round arms and yearn mightily to kiss
their velvety smoothness and, instantly be-rating myself therefor,
shifted my gaze from these temptations to my own unlovely figure,
contrasting myself and my worn garments with her rich attire and proud
and radiant beauty; she was again the great lady and far removed above
such poor wretch as I, for all her pitiful tenderness.

"... and so when I plunged from the rock," she was saying, "I never
thought to see this dear place again or the blessed sun! And I sank ...
O deep--deep!  Then, Martin, I seemed to be caught in some current, far
down there in the darkness, that whirled and tossed me and swept me up
behind the torrent.  And in the rock was a great cavern sloping to the
water, and there this current threw me, all breathless and nigh dead,
Martin."

"God be thanked!" says I fervently.

"And there I lay all night, Martin, very sick and fearful.  When day
came I saw this great cave opened into a smaller and this into yet
another.  So I came to a passage in the rock, and because there was
none other way for me, I followed this--and then--O Martin!"

"What?" quoth I, leaning forward.

"Have you ever been to the palace at Versailles, Martin!"

"Once, as a boy with my father."

"Well, Martin, the cave--the hall I came to at last was more splendid
than any Versailles can show.  And then I knew that I had found--Black
Bartlemy's Treasure!"

"Ha!" quoth I.  "And is it indeed so great?"

"Beyond description!" says she, clasping her floury hands and turning
on me with shining eyes.  "I have held in my hands, jewels--O by the
handful!  Great pearls and diamonds, rubies, emeralds,
sapphires--beyond price!"

"Aye!" I nodded, "But was this all?"

"All, Martin?" says she, staring.

"Why, according to Adam there should be all manner of stores," says I,
"powder and shot, tools--a carpenter's chest--"

"They are all there, with provisions of every kind; as witness this
flour, Martin, but I heeded only these wondrous jewels!" Hereupon she
turns to her work again, describing to me the splendour of these
precious stones and the wonder of Bartlemy's treasure, whiles I,
viewing her loveliness, would have given such foolish treasure a
thousand times for but her little finger, as watching the play of her
round arms again, I fell a-sighing, whereupon she turns, all anxious
questioning.

"Doth your wound trouble you, Martin?"

"Nay, indeed," says I, shaking my head, "I am very well, I thank you!"

"Then wherefore sigh so deep and oft?"

"I am a vasty fool!"

"Are you, Martin--why?"  But in place of answer I rose and, coming
beside her, scowled to see the tender flesh of her arms all black and
bruised:

"What is this?" I demanded.

"Nought to matter!"

"Who did it?"

"You, Martin.  In your raving you were very strong, mistaking me for
the poor Spanish lady."

"O forgive me!" I cried, and stooping to this pretty arm would have
touched my lips thereto for mere pity but checked myself, fearing to
grieve her; perceiving this she comes a little nearer:

"You may--an you so desire, Martin," says she, "though 'tis all
floury!"  So I kissed her arm, tenderly and very reverently, as it had
been some holy thing (as indeed so I thought it).

"I'm glad 'twas I did this, comrade."

"Glad, Martin?"

"Aye!  I had rather 'twas myself than yon evil rogues--nay forget
them," says I, seeing her shiver, "plague on me for reminding you."

"Hush, Martin!"

"Why then, forget them--and I have their weapons to cope with 'em
should they return."

"Now thank God!" cries she, clasping my hand in both of hers. "Thank
God, Martin!  I feared you had killed them all!"

"Why, I did my best," I sighed, shaking my head, "but they were too
strong for me!  Would to God I had indeed slain--"

"Hush, Martin, O hush!"  And here she claps her pretty hand to my lips,
where I straightway 'prisoned it to my kisses.  "Though truly," says
she the whiles this was a-doing, "from your raving I feared them all
slain at your hand, so do I rejoice to know you innocent of their
deaths!"  Here, her hand released, she fell a-laughing (albeit a little
tremulously) to see my face all patched with flour; and so, back to her
labour.

"But, Martin," says she, turning to glance at me in a while, "You must
be very terrible to drive away these four great men, and very brave!"

"Here was no bravery!" quoth I, "Methought you surely dead and I meant
them to slay me also."

"Did you--miss me--so greatly?" she questioned and not looking at me.

"Yes!"

"You fought them in Skeleton Cove, beyond Deliverance, Martin?"

"Aye!  You found their guns there?"

"And the sand all trampled and hatefully stained.  'Tis an evil place,
Martin."

"And so it is!" says I.  "But as to these weapons, there were two good
firelocks I mind, and besides--"

"They are all here, Martin, guns and swords and pistols.  You raved for
them in your sickness so I fetched them while you slept.  Though indeed
you have no need of these, there be weapons of every sort in the
Treasure cave, 'tis like an arsenal."

"Ha, with good store of powder and shot, comrade?"

"Yes, Martin."

"How many weeks have I lain sick, comrade?"

"Nay, 'twas only four days."

At this I fell to marvelling that so much of agony might be endured in
so little time.

"And you--tended me, Damaris?"

"Why, to be sure, Martin."

"And so saved my life."

"So I pray may it be a life lived to noble purpose, Martin."

And now I sat awhile very thoughtful and watched her shape the dough
into little cakes and set them to bake.

"I must contrive you an oven and this at once!" says I.

"When you are strong again, Martin."

"Nay, I'm well, thanks to your care of me.  And truly 'twill be
wonderful to eat bread again."

"But I warned you I had no yeast!" says she, looking at me a little
anxiously, "Nay, sir, why must you smile?"

"'Tis strange to see you at such labour and clad so vastly fine!"

"Indeed, sir needs must this your cook-maid go bedight like any queen
since nought is there in Black Bartlemy's Treasure that is not
sumptuous and splendid.  Have you no desire to behold these wonders for
yourself?"

"Not a tittle!" says I.

"But, Martin, three months are nigh sped and Master Penfeather not
come, and according to his letter, three-quarters of this great
treasure is yours."

"Why then, my lady, I do freely bestow it on you."

"Nay, this have I taken already because I needed it, look!"  So saying
she drew a comb from her hair and showed me how it was all fashioned of
wrought gold and set with great gems, pearls and sapphires and rubies
marvellous to see.

"'Tis mighty handsome," quoth I, "and beyond price, I judge."

"And yet," says she, "I would rather have my wooden pin in its stead,
for surely there was none like to it in all this world."

Hereupon, groping in my pocket I brought out that three-pronged pin I
had carved for her; beholding which, she uttered a little cry of glad
surprise, and letting fall her golden comb, took the pin to turn it
this way and that, viewing it as it had been the very wonder of the
world rather than the poor thing it was.

"Why, Martin!" says she at last, "Why, Martin, where found you this?"
So I told her; and though my words were lame and halting I think she
guessed somewhat of the agony of that hour, for I felt her hand touch
my shoulder like a caress.

"Death's shadow hath been over us of late, Martin," says she, "and hath
made us wiser methinks."

"Death?" says I, "'Tis mayhap but the beginning of a greater life
wherein shall be no more partings, I pray."

"'Tis a sweet thought, Martin!"

"And you have never feared death!" says I.

"Aye, but I do, Martin--I do!" cries she.  "I am grown craven these
days, mayhap--"

"Yet you sought death."

"Because there was no other way, Martin.  But when Death clutched at me
from those black depths I agonised for life."

"Is life then--become so--sweet to you, Damaris?"

"Yes, Martin!" says she softly.

"Since when?" I questioned, "Since when?"  But instead of answering she
falls a-singing softly and keeping her back to me; thus I saw that she
had set the pin back in her hair, whereat I grew all suddenly and
beyond reason glad.  Though indeed the thing accorded but ill with her
fine gown, as I told her forthwith.

"Think you so, Martin?" says she gravely, but with a dimple in her
cheek.

"I do!  'Tis manifestly out of keeping with your 'broideries, your
pleats, tags, lappets, pearl-buttons, galoons and the rest on't."

"'Twould almost seem you do not like me thus," says she frowning down
at her finery but with the dimple showing plainer than ever.

"Why truly," says I, stooping to take up the jewelled comb where it
lay, "I liked your ragged gown better."

"Because your own clothes are so worn and sorry, sir.  'Tis time you
had better, I must see to it--"

"Nay, never trouble!"

"'Twill be joy!" says she sweetly, but setting her chin at me. "And
then--good lack, your hair, Martin!"

"What of it?"

"All elf-lox.  And then, your beard!"

"What o' my beard?"

"So wild and shaggy!  And 'tis so completely out o' the mode."

"Mode?" says I, frowning.

"Mode, Martin.  Your spade beard was, then came your dagger or stiletto
and now--"

"Hum!" says I, "It may be your broadsword or half-pike for aught I
care.  But as to yon gown--"

"Alas, poor thing!  'Twill soon look worn and ragged as you can wish,
Martin.  I have already lost three pearl studs, and should grieve for
them were there not a coffer full of better that I wot of.  O Martin,
when I think of all these wonders, these great diamonds, emeralds,
sapphires, pearls and rubies--I do tingle!"

"And can these toys so please you?" says I.

"Yes!" cries she, "Yes, and so would they any other that was not a
stock or a stone or--Martin Conisby who is above such vanities!"

"Vanities indeed!" says I, "In this wilderness more especially."

"How if we should find the world again?"

"Hum!" says I.  "But this powder and shot now--"

"Pho!" cries she, and stamping her foot turns her back on me. "Here am
I yearning to show you all these hidden marvels, Martin, but I never
will until you beg me--no, never!  And now 'tis time you took your
medicine."

"What medicine?" I questioned, wondering.

"'Tis a soothing draught I have decocted from some of my simples--it
will make you sleep."

"But I have no mind to sleep!"

"'Tis why you must drink your potion."

"Never in this world!" says I, mighty determined.

"Why yes you will, dear Martin," says she gently, but setting her
dimpled chin at me.  "I'll go fetch it."  And away she goes forthwith
and is presently back bearing an embossed cup (like unto a little
porringer) and of gold curiously ornamented.

"Here is a noble cup!" says I.

"In these secret caves, Martin, is nothing that is not beautiful. The
walls are all hung with rich arras, the floors adorned with marvellous
rugs and carpets.  And there are many pictures excellent well painted.
Pirate and wicked as he was, Black Bartlemy understood and loved
beautiful things."

"Aye, he did so!" says I, scowling.

"And amongst these pictures is one of himself."

"How should you know this?"

"Because, were you shaven, Martin, this might pass for picture of you,
though to be sure your expression is different--except when you scowl
as you do now, sir.  Come, take your medicine like a good Martin!"  And
here she sets the cup to my lips.

"No!" says I.

"Yes, Martin!  'Tis sleep you need, and sleep you shall have. For
indeed I do long to hear you at work again and whistling.  So drink it
for my sake, Martin!  Indeed, 'tis none so very bitter!"

So in the end I swallowed the stuff to be done with it.  And in a while
(sure enough) I grew drowsy, and limping into the cave, stared to
behold my bed no longer a heap of bracken but a real bed with sheets
and pillows, such indeed as I had not slept in for many a long day.
Thus, instead of throwing myself down all dressed, as I had been
minded, I laid aside my rough clothes lest they soil this dainty gear,
and, getting into bed, joyed in the feel of these cool, white sheets,
and closing my eyes, fell to dreamless slumber.



CHAPTER XL

OF CLOTHES

I awoke late next morning to find my clothes clean gone and others in
their place; but garments these whose like I had never seen.  For here
were purple breeches be-laced and ribbanded at the knee and buttoning
there with great gold buttons (six a side), and each set with a great
pearl; a fine cambric shirt; a doublet cut in at the waist with
gold-braided lappets, the sleeves slashed and very wide and turned up
at the wrists with point-lace, and this wondrous garment fastening in
front with many gold buttons all set with goodly pearls; so that I
judged this coat to be a very fortune in itself.  Besides this I found
a great lace collar or falling band, a pair of silk stockings, shoes
with gold buckles set with diamonds, and a great penthouse of a hat
adorned with a curling feather fastened by a diamond brooch; whiles
hard by was an embroidered shoulder-belt carrying a long rapier, its
guards and quillons of wrought gold, its pommel flaming with great
brilliants.  Beholding all of which gauds and fopperies, I vowed I'd
none of them, and cowering beneath the sheets fell to shouting and
hallooing for my lady; but finding this vain, scowled at these garments
instead.  They were of a fashion such as I remembered my father had
worn; and now as I gazed on them a strange fancy took me to learn how I
(that had gone so long half-naked and in rags) might feel in such
sumptuous apparel.  So up I got and dressed forthwith, and found this a
matter of no small difficulty, what with the unfamiliar shape of these
garments and their numberless points and buttons. Howbeit 'twas done at
last, and now, coming without the cave, there was my lady upon her
three-legged stool preparing breakfast.  Beholding me she stared
wide-eyed for a moment, then rose, smiling roguishly, and sank down in
a slow and gracious curtsey.

"Good morrow to your lordship," says she.  "Your lordship called, I
think, but I could not answer your lordship's shouts since I was busied
preparing your lordship's breakfast."

Now beholding all the sweet and roguish witchery of her, the sun so
bright and the world about us so joyous, what could I do but smile and,
sweeping off my great hat, make her as deep and profound a reverence as
ever was seen at Whitehall or Versailles.

"Madame," quoth I, "your ladyship's most humble and very obedient
servant.  I trust your ladyship hath breakfast ready, for of a truth my
magnificence is mighty sharp set."

"O Martin," cries she, clapping her hands, "I vow 'twas most gallant!
It needeth but for you to trim your hair and beard--no, I think I will
have you clean-shaven, 'twill mind me of the boyish Martin of years
ago!  Yes, you shall shave--"

"Shave!" quoth I, staring like any fool.

"Yes, Martin, I have all things ready.  Come, it shall not take you
long, we will breakfast when you are shaved and trimmed." So,
willy-nilly, she brings me back to the cave and presently comes bearing
a gold-mounted box, wherein lay razors with soap and everything needful
to a fine gentleman's toilet.  Then she sets before me a gold-framed
mirror, and taking a pair of scissors at her bidding I began to clip
the hair from my face, but so bungled the business that she presently
took the scissors and did it for me.  Thereafter I shaved (awkwardly
enough, and she mighty anxious lest I cut myself--the which I did!)
and, having at last washed and dried my face, I stood all amazed to
find myself so much younger-looking.  Now, seeing how she stared at me,
and with rosy lips all a-quiver, I smiled, then wondered to behold her
eyes suddenly a-brim with tears.

"O Martin, you do look the same Martin after all!" says she and so away
into the sunshine; yet when I presently joined her I found her blithe
enough.

"Are you hungry, sir?"

"Ravenous, my lady!"

"Why then, here we have broiled fish--caught by my ladyship--salt,
Martin!  Butter--churned by my ladyship--and--bread, Martin!  Bread
baked by my ladyship's own two hands."

"O marvellous, sweet lady!" says I.

"And 'tis none so ill though I had no yeast, is it, Martin?"

"Delicious!" says I, my mouth full.

And now, all our recent woes and sorrows clean forgotten, a right
joyous meal had we; our hearts light as the sweet air that breathed
around us, and untroubled as the placid ocean and broad serenity of
heaven, with no dark shadow anywhere to warn us of those evils to come.
Thus we ate and talked, finding joy in everything.  Often my fingers
must go to feel my smooth cheeks and chin, and she, catching me, must
needs laugh and vow a smooth face suited me well, and that I should be
handsome were my nose another shape and my eyes a different colour.
Thus (as I say) brooding sorrow seemed clean vanished from my world, so
that my heart swelled with gratitude for that I should live to breathe
the air she made sweet.

Breakfast done, I fetched my saw, and despite her remonstrances and my
resplendent breeches, forthwith set about making a cupboard; vowing I
was well again, that I never felt better, etc. Hereupon, finding me set
on it, she presently brings me the following, viz., an excellent new
saw, divers chisels of goodly edge, a plane, a hammer, an auger and an
adze; the which rejoiced me greatly, more especially the adze, the
which is an exceeding useful tool in skilled hands.  All these she had
brought from the secret store and I mighty grateful therefor, and told
her so.

"Why then, Martin," says she, "if your gratitude be real and true, you
shall do somewhat for me--"

"What you will!" says I eagerly.

"Nay," she laughed, "'tis no more than this--keep you
shaved--henceforth."

And so it was agreed.



CHAPTER XLI

OF THE VOICE THAT SANG ON DELIVERANCE SANDS

If clothes be the outward and visible (albeit silent) expression of a
man, his tastes and certain attitudes of his mind, yet have they of
themselves a mighty influence on their wearer, being, as it were, an
inspiration to him in degree more or less.

And this is truth I will maintain let say who will to the contrary,
since 'tis so my experience teacheth me.

Hitherto my ragged shirt, my rough leathern jerkin and open-kneed
sailor's breeches had been a constant reminder of the poor, desperate
rogue I had become, my wild hair and shaggy beard evidences of
slavedom.  Thus I had been indeed what I had seemed in looks, a rude,
ungentle creature expectant of scorns and ill-usage and therefore very
prone to fight and quarrel, harsh-tongued, bitter of speech, and in all
circumstances sullen, ungoverned and very desperate.

But now, seeing myself thus gently dight, my wild hair tamed by comb
and scissors, there grew within me a new respect for my manhood, so
that, little by little, those evils that slavery had wrought slipped
from me.  Thus, though I still laboured at my carpentry and such
business as was to do, yet the fine linen rolled high above my scarred
and knotted arm put me to the thought that I was no longer the poor,
wild wretch full of despairing rage against Fate her cruel dealings,
but rather a man gently born and therefore one who must endure all
things as uncomplainingly as might be, and one moreover who, to greater
or less degree, was master of his own fate.

And now came Hope, that most blessed and beneficent spirit that lifteth
the fallen from the slough, that bindeth up the broken heart, that
cheereth the sad and downcast and maketh the oft-defeated bold and
courageous to attempt Fortune yet again.

O thou that we call Hope, thou sweet, bright angel of God! Without thee
life were an evil unendurable, with thee for companion gloomy Doubt,
sullen Fear and dark Despair flee utterly away, and we, bold-hearted,
patient and undismayed by any dangers or difficulties, may realise our
dreams at last.  O sweet, strong angel of God, with thee to companion
us all things are possible!

Thus every morning came Hope to greet me on my waking, and I,
forgetting the futile past, began to look forward to a future more
glorious than I had ever dreamed; so I, from a sullen rogue full of
black humours, grew to know again the joy of laughter and put off my
ungracious speech and ways with my rough attire. Though how much the
change thus wrought in me was the work of my sweet comrade these pages,
I do think, will show.

As for my lady she, very quick to mark this change, grew ever the more
kind and trusting, sharing with me all her doubts and perplexities;
thus, did some problem vex her, she must come to me, biting her pretty
lips and her slender brows wrinkled, to ask my advice.

At this time (and at her suggestion) I builded a fireplace and oven
within our third or inmost cave (that was by turns her larder,
stillroom, dairy and kitchen) and with a chimney to carry off the smoke
the which I formed of clay and large pebbles, and found it answer very
well.  Thus, what with those things I contrived and others she brought
from her treasure-house (the secret whereof she kept mighty close) we
lacked for nothing to our comfort, even as Adam had promised in his
letter.  Moreover, I was very well armed both for offence and defence,
for, one by one, she brought me the following pieces, viz., a Spanish
helmet, inlaid with gold and very cumbersome; a back and breast of fine
steel of proof; four wheel-lock arquebuses, curiously chased and
gilded, with shot and powder for the same; three brace of pistols,
gold-mounted and very accurate; and what with these, my sword, axe, and
trusty knife, I felt myself capable to drive away any should dare
molest us, be he Indian, buccaneer or pirate, as I told her.

"Aye but," says she, "whiles you fought for our lives what must I be
doing?"

"Lying secure within your secret treasure-house."

"Never!" says she, setting her chin at me, "O never, Martin; since I am
your comrade my place must be beside you."

"'Twould but distress me and spoil my shooting."

"Why then, my aim should be truer, Martin.  Come now, teach me how to
use gun and pistol."

So then and there I fetched a pistol and one of the arquebuses and
showed her their manage, namely--how to hold them, to level, sight,
etc.  Next I taught her how to charge them, how to wad powder and then
shot lest the ball roll out of the barrel; how having primed she must
be careful ever to close the pan against the priming being blown away.
All of the which she was mighty quick to apprehend.  Moreover, I took
care to keep all my firearms cleaned and loaded, that I might be ready
for any disturbers of our peace.

So the days sped, each with its meed of work, but each full-charged of
joy.  And dear to me beyond expressing is the memory of those days
whenas I, labouring with my new tools, had but to lift my head to
behold my dear comrade (herself busy as I). Truly how dear, how
thrice-blessed the memory of it all!  A memory this, indeed, that was
to become for me sacred beyond all others; for now came Happiness with
arms outstretched to me and I (poor, blind wretch) suffered it to plead
in vain and pass me by, as you shall hear.

It was a night of splendour with a full moon uprising in majesty to
fill the world with her soft radiance; a night very warm and still and
we silent, I think because of the tender beauty of the night.

"Martin," says my companion softly at last, "here is another day sped--"

"Alas, and more's the pity!" quoth I.

"O?" says she, looking at me askance.

"Our days fly all too fast, Damaris, here is a time I fain would linger
upon, an I might."

"It hath been a very wonderful time truly, Martin, and hath taught me
very much.  We are both the better for it, I think, and you--"

"What of me, comrade?" I questioned as she paused.

"You are grown so much gentler since your sickness, so much more my
dear friend and companion."

"Why, 'tis all your doing, Damaris."

"I am glad--O very glad!" says she almost in a whisper.

"Why, 'tis you who have taught me to--to love all good, sweet things,
to rule myself that I--I may some day, mayhap, be a little more worthy
of--of--" here, beginning to flounder, I came to sudden halt, and
casting about in my mind for a likely phrase, saw her regarding me, the
dimple in her cheek, but her eyes all compassionate and ineffably
tender.

"Dear man!" says she, and reached me her hand.

"Damaris," says I heavily and looking down at these slender fingers,
yet not daring to kiss them lest my passion sweep me away, "you know
that I do love you?"

"Yes, Martin."

"And that, my love, be it what it may, is yet an honest love?"

"Yes, dear Martin."

Here was silence a while, she looking up at the moon, and I at her.

"I broke my oath to you once," says I, "nor will I swear again, but,
dear my lady, know this:  though I do hunger and thirst for you, yet
mine is such reverent love that should we live thus together long
years--aye, until the end of our lives, I will school myself to
patience and wait ever upon your will.  Though 'twill be hard!" says I
'twixt my teeth, thrilling to the sudden clasp of her fingers.

"But, Martin," says she softly, "how if our days together here should
all suddenly end--"

"End?" cries I, starting, "Wherefore end?  When?  Why end?"  And I
trembled in a sick panic at the mere possibility.  "End?" quoth I
again, "Would you have an end?"

"No--ah no!" says she leaning to me that I could look down into her
eyes.

"Doth this--O Damaris, can this mean that you are happy with me in this
solitude--content--?"

"So happy, Martin, so content that I do fear lest it may all suddenly
end and vanish like some loved dream."

"Damaris--O Damaris!" says I, kissing her sweet fingers, "Look now,
there is question hath oft been on my lips yet one I have it dared to
ask."

"Ask me now, Martin."

"'Tis this ... could it ... might it perchance be possible you should
learn with time ... mayhap ... to love me a little?  Nay, not a little,
not gently nor with reason, but fiercely, mightily, beyond the cramping
bounds of all reason?"

Now here she laughed, a small, sad laugh with no mirth in it, and
leaned her brow against my arm as one very weary.

"O foolish Martin!" she sighed.  "How little you have seen, how little
guessed--how little you know the real me!  For I am a woman, Martin, as
you are a man and joy in it.  All these months I have watched you
growing back to your nobler self, I have seen you strive with yourself
for my sake and gloried in your victories, though ... sometimes I have
... tempted you ... just a little, Martin.  Nay, wait, dear Martin.
Oft-times at night I have known you steal forth, and hearkened to your
step going to and fro out in the dark, and getting to my knees have
thanked God for you, Martin."

"'Twas not all in vain, then!" says I, hoarsely, bethinking me of the
agony of those sleepless nights.

"Vain?" she cried, "Vain?  'Tis for this I do honour you--"

"Honour--me?" says I, wincing.

"Above all men, Martin.  'Tis for this I--"

"Wait!" says I, fronting her all shamefaced.  "I do love you so greatly
I would not have you dream me better than I am!  So now must I tell you
this ... I stole to you once ... at midnight ... you were asleep, the
moonlight all about you and looked like an angel of God."

And now it was my turn to stare up at the moon whiles I waited
miserably enough for her answer.

"And when you went away, Martin," says she at last, "when I heard you
striding to and fro, out here beneath God's stars, I knew that yours
was the greatest, noblest love in all the world."

"You--saw me?"

"Yes, Martin!"

"Yet your eyes were fast shut."

"Yes, but not--not all the time.  And, O Martin, dear, dear Martin, I
saw your great, strong arms reach out to take me--but they didn't, they
didn't because true love is ever greatly merciful!  And your triumph
was mine also, Martin!  And so it is I love you--worship you, and needs
must all my days."

And now we were on our feet, her hands in mine, eyes staring into eyes
and never award to speak.

"Is it true?" says I at last, "God, Damaris--is it true?"

"Seems it so wonderful, dear Martin?  Why, this love of mine reacheth
back through the years to Sir Martin, my little knight-errant, and hath
grown with the years till now it filleth me and the universe about me.
Have you forgot 'twas your picture hung opposite my bed at home, your
sword I kept bright because it had been yours?  And often, Martin, here
on our dear island I have wept sometimes for love of you because it
pained me so!  Nay, wait, beloved, first let me speak, though I do
yearn for your kisses!  But this night is the greatest ever was or
mayhap ever shall be, and we, alone here in the wild, do lie beyond all
human laws soever save those of our great love--and, O Martin, you--you
do love me?"

Now when I would have answered I could not, so I sank to my knees and
stooping ere she knew, clasped and kissed the pretty feet of her.

"No, Martin--beloved, ah no!" cries she as it were pain to her, and
kneeling before me, set her soft arms about my neck. "Martin," says
she, "as we kneel thus in this wilderness alone with God, here and now,
before your lips touch mine, before your dear strong hands take me to
have and hold forever, so great and trusting is my love I ask of you no
pledge but this:  Swear now in God's sight to renounce and put away all
thought of vengeance now and for ever, swear this, Martin!"

Now I, all bemused by words so unexpected, all dazzled as it were by
the pleading, passionate beauty of her, closed my eyes that I might
think:

"Give me until to-morrow--" I groaned.

"'Twill be too late!  Choose now, Martin."

"Let me think--"

"'Tis no time for thought!  Choose, Martin!  This hour shall never come
again, so, Martin--speak now or--"

The words died on her lip, her eyes opened in sudden dreadful amaze,
and thus we remained, kneeling rigid in one another's arms, for, away
across Deliverance, deep and full and clear a voice was singing:

  "There are two at the fore,
  At the main are three more,
  Dead men that swing all in a row;
  Here's fine dainty meat
  For the fishes to eat:
  Black Bartlemy--Bartlemy ho!"



CHAPTER XLII

CONCERNING THE SONG OF A DEAD MAN

Long after the singing was died away I (like one dazed) could think of
nought but this accursed song, these words the which had haunted my
sick-bed and methought no more than the outcome of my own fevered
imagination; thus my mind running on this and very full of troubled
perplexity, I suffered my lady to bring me within our refuge, but with
my ears on the stretch as expectant to hear again that strange, deep
voice sing these words I had heard chanted by a dead man in my dreams.

Being come within our third cave (or kitchen) my lady shows me a small
cord that dangled in certain shadowy corner, and pulling on this cord,
down falls a rope-ladder and hangs suspended; and I knew this for
Adam's "ladder of cords" whereby he had been wont to mount into his
fourth (and secret) cavern, as mentioned in his chronicle.

"Here lieth safety, Martin," says my lady, "for as Master Penfeather
writes in his journal 'one resolute man lying upon the hidden ledge'
(up yonder) 'may withstand a whole army so long as his shot last.'  And
you are very resolute and so am I!"

"True!" says I, "True!"  Yet, even as I spake, stood all tense and
rigid, straining my ears to catch again the words of this hateful song.
But now my dear lady catches my hand and, peering up at me in the
dimness, presently draws me into the outer cave where the moon made a
glory.

"O Martin!" says she, looking up at me with troubled eyes, "Dear
Martin, what is it?"

"Aye--what?" quoth I, wiping sweat from me.  "God knoweth.  But you
heard?  That song?  The words--"

"I heard a man singing, Martin.  But what of it--we are safe here!
Ah--why are you so strange?"

"Damaris," says I, joying in the comfort of her soft, strong arms about
me, "dear love of mine, here is thing beyond my understanding, for
these were words I dreamed sung to me by a dead man--the man
Humphrey--out beyond the reef--"

"Nay, but dear Martin, this was a real voice.  'Tis some shipwrecked
mariner belike, some castaway--"

"Aye--but did you--mark these words, Damaris?"

"Nay--O my dear, how should I--at such a moment!"

"They were all--of Black Bartlemy!  And what should this mean, think
you?"

"Nay, dear love, never heed!" says she, clasping me the closer.

"Aye, but I must, Damaris, for--in a while this singing shall come
again mayhap and--if it doth--I know what 'twill be!"

"O Martin--Martin, what do you mean?"

"I mean 'twill be about the poor Spanish lady," says I, and catching up
my belt where it hung, I buckled it about me.

"Ah--what would you do, Martin?"

"I'm for Deliverance."

"Then will I come also."

"No!" says I, catching her in fierce arms, "No!  You are mine
henceforth and more precious than life to me.  So must you bide here--I
charge you by our love.  For look now, 'tis in my mind Tressady and his
pirates are upon us at last, those same rogues that dogged the
'Faithful Friend' over seas.  Howbeit I must find out who or what is it
is that sings this hateful--" I stopped, all at once, for the voice was
come again, nearer, louder than before, and singing the very words I
had been hearkening for and dreading to hear:

  "There's a fine Spanish dame,
  And Joanna's her name,
  Shall follow wherever ye go:
  'Till your black heart shall feel
  Yow cursed steel:
  Black Bartlemy--Bartlemy ho!"


"You heard!" says I, clapping hand on knife, "You heard?"

"Yes--yes," she whispered, her embrace tightening until I might feel
her soft body all a-tremble against mine.  "But you are safe--here,
Martin!"

"So safe," says I, "that needs must I go and find out this thing--nay,
never fear, beloved, life hath become so infinite precious that I shall
be a very coward--a craven for your sake.  Here shall be no fighting,
Damaris, but go I must.  Meanwhile do you wait me in the secret cave
and let down the ladder only to my whistle."

But now, and lying all trembling in my embrace, she brake into
passionate weeping, and I powerless to comfort her.

"Farewell happiness!" she sobbed.  "Only, Martin, dear Martin,
whatsoever may chance, know and remember always that I loved and shall
love you to the end of time."

Then (and all suddenly) she was her sweet, calm self again, and
bringing me my chain-shirt, insisted I must don it there and then
beneath my fine doublet, the which (to please her) I did.  Then she
brought me one of the arquebuses, but this I put by as too cumbersome,
taking one of the pistols in its stead.  So, armed with this together
with my hatchet and trusty knife, I stepped from the cave and she
beside me.  And now I saw she had dried her tears and the hand clasping
mine was firm and resolute, so that my love and wonder grew.

"Damaris," I cried, casting me on my knees before her, "O God, how I do
love thee!"  And, kneeling thus, I clasped her slender loveliness,
kissing the robes that covered her; and so, rising to my feet I hasted
away.  Yet in a little I turned to see her watching me but with hands
clasped as one in prayer.  Now, beholding her thus, I was seized of a
sudden great desire to go back to give her that promise and swear that
oath she sought of me, viz., that I would forego my vengeance and all
thought thereof, forgetting past wrongs in the wonder of her love.
But, even as I stood hesitating, she waved her hand in farewell and was
gone into the cave.



CHAPTER XLIII

OF THE DEATH-DANCE OF THE SILVER WOMAN

A small wind had sprung up that came in fitful gusts and with sound
very mournful and desolate, but the moon was wonderfully bright and,
though I went cautiously, my hand on the butt of the pistol in my
girdle, yet ever and always at the back of my mind was an infinitude of
joy by reason of my dear lady's love for me and the wonder of it.

I chose me a devious course, avoiding the white sands of Deliverance
Beach, trending towards that fatal cleft hard by Bartlemy's tree (the
which we had come to call Skeleton Cove) though why I must go hither I
knew no more then than I do now.

Thus went I (my eyes and ears on the stretch) pondering what manner of
man this should be who sang words the which had so haunted my sick
dreams; more than once I stopped to stare round about me upon the wide
expanse of ocean, dreading and half expecting to behold the loom of
that black craft had dogged us over seas.

Full of these disquieting thoughts I reached the cove and began to
descend the steep side, following goat-tracks long grown familiar.  The
place hereabouts was honeycombed with small caves and with ledges
screened by bushes and tangled vines; and here, well hid from
observation, I paused to look about me.  But (and all in a moment) I
was down on my knees, for from somewhere close by came the sharp
snapping of a dried stick beneath a stealthy foot.

Very still I waited, every nerve a-tingle, and then, forth into the
moonlight, sudden and silent as death, a man crept; and verily if ever
murderous death stood in human shape it was before me now.  The man
stood half-crouching, his head twisted back over his shoulder as
watching one who followed; beneath the vivid scarf that swathed his
temples was a shock of red hair and upon his cheek the sweat was
glittering; then he turned his head and I knew him for the man Red
Andy, that same I had fought aboard ship.  For a long moment he stood
thus, staring back ever and anon across Deliverance, and so comes
creeping into the shadow of the cliff, and I saw the moon glint on the
barrel of the long pistol he clutched, as, sinking down behind a great
boulder, he waited there upon his knees.

Now suddenly as I lay there watching Red Andy's murderous figure and
strung for swift action, I started and (albeit the night was very warm)
felt a chill pass over me, as, loud and clear upon the stilly air, rose
again that full, deep voice singing hard by upon Deliverance:

  "Go seek ye women everywhere,
  North, South, lads, East or West,
  Let 'em be dark, let 'em be fair,
  My Silver Woman's best,
  Blow high, blow low,
  Where e'er ye go
  The Silver Woman's best.
  Aha!
  My Silver Woman's best!"


Thus sang the unknown who, all unwitting, was coming to his death;
sudden as it came the voice was hushed and nought to hear save the hiss
and murmur of the surge, and I saw the man Andy stir restlessly as
minute after minute dragged by.

The rock where he crouched lay at the mouth of this cove towards
Deliverance, it being one of many that lay piled thereabout.  Now
chancing to look towards these scattered rocks (and for no reason in
the world) I saw a thing that held me as it were spellbound, and this a
small enough thing in itself, a sharp, glittering thing that seemed
fast caught in a fissure of one of those rocks, and I knew it for a
steel hook; but even as I stared at it, the thing was gone and so
noiselessly that I half-doubted if I had seen it or no.  But, out from
the shadow of this rock flashed something that whirled, glittering as
it flew, and Red Andy, starting up from his knees was shaken by a fit
of strange and awful coughing and came stumbling forward so that I
could see his chin and breast bedabbled with the blood that spurted
from his gaping mouth.  All at once he sank to his knees and thence to
his face, spreading his arms wide like one very weary, but with the
moonlight flashing back from that which stood upright betwixt his
shoulder-blades.  And thus I saw again the silver haft of the dagger
that was shaped like to a woman, saw this silver woman dance and leap,
glittering, ere it grew terribly still.

Then came Roger Tressady from the shadows and stooping, turned up the
dead face to the moon, and tapped it gently with his shining hook.  And
now, whipping out his dagger, he bent to wipe it on the dead man's
shirt, but checked suddenly as a pebble started beneath my foot, and,
stooped thus, he glared up beneath thick brows as I rose up with pistol
levelled and the moon bright upon my face, whereupon he leaped
backwards, uttering a choking cry:

"Black Bartlemy--by God!" he gasped and let fall his reeking dagger
upon the sand; and so we stood staring on each other and with the dead
man sprawling betwixt us.



CHAPTER XLIV

HOW I HAD SPEECH WITH ROGER TRESSADY TO MY UNDOING

For maybe a full minute we fronted each other unmoving and with never a
word; and thus at last I beheld this man Tressady.

A tall, lusty fellow, square of face and with pale eyes beneath a jut
of shaggy brow.  A vivid neckerchief was twisted about his head and in
his hairy ears swung great gold rings; his powerful right hand was
clenched to knotted fist, in place of his left glittered the deadly
hook.

"Sink me!" says he at last, drawing clenched fist across his brow,
"Sink me, but ye gave me a turn, my lord!  Took ye for a ghost, I did,
the ghost of a shipmate o' mine, one as do lie buried yonder, nought
but poor bones--aye, rotten bones--as this will be soon!"  Here he
spurned the dead man with his foot. "'Tis black rogue this, my lord,
one as would ha' made worm's-meat o' poor Tressady--aye, a lump o'
murdered clay like my shipmate Bartlemy yonder--but for this Silver
Woman o' mine!" Here he stooped for the dagger, and having cleaned it
in the sand, held it towards me upon his open palm:  "Aha, here's woman
hath never failed me yet!  She's faithful and true, friend, faithful
and true, this Silver Woman o' mine.  But 'tis an ill world, my master,
and full o' bloody rogues like this sly dog as stole ashore to murder
me--the fool!  O 'tis a black and bloody world."

"So it is!" quoth I, 'twixt shut teeth, "And all the worse for the
likes o' you, Roger Tressady!"

"So ho--he knoweth my name then!" says Tressady, rubbing shaven chin
with silver dagger-hilt and viewing me with his pale, keen gaze:  "But
do I know him now--do I?"

"I know you for pirate and damned murderer, Roger Tressady, so shall
you quit this island this very hour or stay here to rot along with
Bartlemy and Red Andy!"

Now at this (and all careless of my pistol) he drew a slow pace nearer,
great head out-thrust, peering.

"Why," says he at last, "why--bleed me!  If--if it aren't--aye
'tis--Martin!  Why for sure 'tis my bonnet Marty as saved my skin time
and again aboard the 'Faithful Friend!'  Though ye go mighty fine, lad,
mighty fine!  But good luck t'ye and a fair wind, say I!"  And
thrusting the dagger into his girdle he nodded mighty affable.  "But
look'ee now, Marty, here's me wishing ye well and you wi' a barker in
your fist, 'tis no fashion to greet a shipmate, I'm thinking."

"Enough words!" says I, stepping up to him.  "Do you go--alive, or stay
here dead--which?"

"Split me!" says he, never stirring.  "But 'tis small choice you offer,
Marty--"

"My name's Martin!"

"And a curst good name too, Marty.  But I've no mind to be worm's-meat
yet awhile--no!  Come, what's your quarrel wi' me? First Andy would
murder me and now 'tis you--why for?  Here's me wi' a heart of gold t'
cherish a friend and never a friend t' cherish!  What's your quarrel,
lad, what?"

"Quarrel enough, what with your drugging me and murder aboard ship--"

"Avast, lad!  Here's unchancy talk, ill and unmannered!"

"You murdered divers men aboard the 'Faithful Friend.'"

"Only three, Marty, only three--poor souls!  Though yours is a foul
word for't.  I took 'em off, lad, took 'em off as a matter of policy.
I've never took off any yet as I wasn't forced to by circumstances.
Look'ee, there's men in this world born to be took off by someone or
other, and they always come a-drifting across my hawse and get took off
accordingly, but don't blame me, lad, don't.  And as for a-drugging of
ye, Marty, true again!  But love me!  What was I to do?  But I didn't
take you off, lad, no, nor never shall unless you and policy force me
so to do.  I'm no murderer born--like Adam--curse him!  Clap me
alongside Adam and I'm a turtle-dove, a babe for innocence and a lamb
for meekness! There never was such a murderer born into this wicked
world as Adam Penfeather, with a curse!  'Twas he as murdered Black
Bartlemy and nine sweet, bright lads arter him, murdered 'em here one
by one, and wi' a parchment rove about the neck of each poor corpse,
Marty.  'Twas he as drove their mates out to sea to perish in a leaky
boat--ask Abnegation Mings!  'Twas him nigh murdered me more than once,
aye me, lad, as can't BE killed according to the prophecy of the poor
mad soul aboard the old 'Delight.'  Why Adam, curse him, has murdered
more men than you have years.  And talking of him, how cometh it you
aren't blown t' hell along wi' him and the rest?"

"Do you tell me Adam is dead?"

"Blown up aboard the 'Faithful Friend,' lad.  Just after we run her
aboard and grappled, aye blew up she did and nigh took us wi' her.
Aha, but Adam's dead at last, curse him!  Unless he can't be killed
either, unless he is--"

Here, and all at once, he turned to stare away across Deliverance, then
shrinking, cowered towards me as in sudden terror stabbing at the empty
air with his glittering hook:

"Ha--what's yon!" cried he in awful voice; and I turning whither his
glaring eyes stared (and half-dreading to behold my lady) had the
pistol wrenched from my hold and the muzzle under my ear all in a
moment; and stood scowling and defenceless like the vast fool I was.

"Split me!" says he, tapping me gently with his hook "O blind me if I
thought ye such a lubberly fool!  So old a trick, Marty! Now look'ee,
were I a murderer and loved it--like Adam, curse him--I should pull
trigger!  But being Roger Tressady wi' a heart o' gold, I say sit down,
lad, sit down and let us talk, friend, let us talk.  Come--sit down!
Never mind Andy, he shan't trouble us!"  So with the pistol at my ear
we sat down side by side and the dead man sprawling at our feet.

"Now first, Marty lad, how come ye here alone on Bartlemy's
island--how?"

But sitting thus chin on fist I stared down at Red Andy's stiffening
body silent as he, I being too full of fierce anger and bitter scorn of
my folly for speech.

"Come, come, Marty, be sociable!" says Tressady, tapping my cheek with
the pistol-muzzle, "Was it Penfeather sent ye hither t' give an eye
to--the treasure?  Was it?"

"Aye!"

"'Twould be the night he made the crew drunk and spoiled my plans.  Ha,
'twas like him--a cunning rogue!  But for this I'd have had the ship
and him and the treasure.  O a right cunning, fierce rogue was Adam,
and none to match him but me."

"But he nearly did for you once!" says I bitterly, "And he such a
small, timid man!"

"Look'ee, Martin, when Adam grows timid 'tis time for your bold,
desperate fellows to beware!  But he's dead at last, though I'd ha'
felt more comfort, aye I'd ha' took it kinder had he been took off by
my Silver Woman--or this!"  Here he thrust his hook before my eyes.
"It ain't a pretty thing, Martin, not pretty, no--but 'tis useful at
all times and serves to shepherd my lambs wi' now and then, 'tis
likewise a mighty persuading argument, but, and best of all--'tis sure,
lad, sure.  So I'd ha' took it kinder had I watched him go off on this,
lad, this.  My hook for my enemies and for my friends a heart o' gold!
And, talking o' gold, Marty, what--what o' Bartlemy's Treasure?"

"You are happily welcome to it for all me."

"Why, that's spoke manly and like a friend, rot me but it is! And now
where might it lie, Marty, where?"

"I've no idea."

"What ha'n't ye found it, lad?"

"No!"

"Not even--seen it, then?"

"No!"

"Why, think o' that now, think of that!  And you wi'--a fortun' o'
pearls on you, Marty.  These pearl studs and buttons, lad. Pearls--ha,
pearls was meat and drink to Bartlemy.  And here's you wi' pearls I've
seen on Bartlemy many a time.  And yet you ha'n't found the treasure,
says you.  If I was a passionate man, Marty, I should call ye liar,
says I.  Howsoever what I do say is--as you've forgot, and very right
and proper.  But we'm friends, you and me, so far, and so, 'twixt
friends, I ask you to think again until you remember, and to think
hard, lad, hard."

Now as I sat (and miserably enough) staring down at my jewelled buttons
that seemed to leer up at me like so many small, malevolent eyes, upon
the air rose a distant stir that grew and grew to sound of voices with
the creak and rumble of oars.

"Here come my lambs at last, Marty, and among 'em some o' the lads as
sailed wi' Bartlemy aboard the 'Delight.'  There's Sam Spraggons for
one--Smiling Sam as you'll mind aboard the 'Faithful Friend.'  Now the
Smiler knoweth many and divers methods of persuasion, Marty lad, tricks
learned of the Indians as shall persuade a man to anything in this
world.  But first, seeing 'tis you, Martin, as played 'bonnet' to me
and saved my life aboard ship, though all unknowing, here's my offer:
show me how to come by Bartlemy's Treasure as is mine--mine by rights,
let me get my hands on to it and none the wiser, and there shall be
share for you, Marty lad, share for you.  Otherwise I must let Sam try
to persuade you to remember where it lieth--come, what d'ye say?"

"What--you'll torture me then?"

"If I must, friend, if I must.  'Tis for you to say."

"Why then 'twill be labour in vain, Tressady, for I swear I know nought
of this treasure--"

"Sit still, lad, sit still!" says he, clapping the pistol to my ear
again.  "Though a fool in many ways, Marty, you're proper enough man to
look at and 'twill be pity to cripple ye!  Aye, there won't be much
left when Sam is done wi' you, more's the pity."

Hereupon he hailed loudly and was answered from the lagoon, and
glancing thither, I saw two boats crowded with men pulling for the
beach.

"A wildish company, Martin, desperate fellows as ever roved the Main,
as I do love no more than they love me.  So say the word and we'll
share Black Bartlemy's treasure betwixt us, just you and me, lad, me
and you!  Come, what's your will?"  But shaking my head (and hopelessly
enough) I set my teeth and watched the coming of my tormentors.

And foremost was a short, plump, bright-eyed man who lacked an ear, and
at his elbows two others, the one a lank rogue with a patch over one
eye, the third a tall, hairy fellow.

And observing them as they came I knew them for those same three rogues
I had fought with in the hedge-tavern beside Pembury Hill on that night
I had first seen my dear lady.  Hard upon their heels came a riotous
company variously armed and accoutred, who forthwith thronged upon me
pushing and jostling for sight of me, desecrating the quiet night with
their hoarse and clamorous ribaldry.  Unlovely fellows indeed and clad
in garments of every shape and cut, from stained home spun and tattered
shirts to velvet coats be-laced and gold-braided; and beholding this
tarnished and sordid finery, these clothes looted from sinking ships
and blazing towns, I wondered vaguely what had become of their late
owners.

At gesture from Tressady I was dragged to my feet and my arms jerked,
twisted and bound before me crosswise, and so stood I helpless and in
much painful discomfort whiles Tressady harangued his fellows, tapping
me gently with his hook:

"Look'ee, my bullies," quoth he, "I promised ye gold a' plenty and
here, somewhere on this island, it lieth waiting to be found. It
needeth but for this fool Martin here, as some o' you will mind for
Adam Penfeather's comrade, with a curse, it needeth but for him to
speak, I say, and in that same hour each one o' you may fill your
clutch wi' more treasure than ever came out o' Eldorado or Manoa--so
speak he must and shall--eh bullies, eh?"

"Aye, aye, Cap'n!" they roared, pressing upon me with a shaking of
fists and glitter of eager steel.

"Twist his thumbs, Cap'n!" cried one.

"Slit his nose!" roared another.

"Trim his yeres!" cried a third.  But Tressady silenced them with a
flourish of his hook.

"Hark'ee, lads!" says he.  "You all mean well, but you're bunglers,
here's a little delicate matter as none can handle like the Smiler.
There's none like Sam can make a man give tongue! Pass the word for
Smiling Sam!  Step forward, Sammy."

Hereupon cometh the great, fat fellow Spraggons who had been bo'sun's
mate aboard the "Faithful Friend," forcing his way with vicious elbows
and mighty anxious to come at me.

"O love my limbs!" says he in his high-pitched voice and blinking his
hairless lids at me, "O cherish my guts--leave him to me, Cap'n!  Sam's
the lad to make this yer cock crow.  See now--a good, sharp knife
'neath the finger or toe-nails--drew slow, mates, slow!  Or a hot iron
close agen his eyes is good.  Or boiling water poured in his yeres
might serve.  Then--aha, Cap'n! I know a dainty little trick, a small
cord, d'ye see, twisted athwart his head just a-low the brows, twisted
and twisted--as shall start his eyes out right pretty to behold.  I
mind too as Lollonais had a trick o' bursting a man's guts wi' water--"

"Bring him to the beach yonder!" says Tressady, watching me ever with
his pale eyes, "There shall be more room for't yonder!"

So they hailed me along betwixt them, and with huge merriment; but
scarce were we out of the cove and hard beside Bartlemy's tree than I
started to the vicious prick of a knife, and whirling about despite the
fierce hands that sought to hold me, I saw Smiling Sam about to stab me
again.  But now, as I strove with my reeling captors, was a flicker of
vicious steel as Tressady sprang and, whipping his hook beneath the
great fellow's belt, whirled Smiling Sam from his feet despite his
prodigious weight and forthwith trampled upon him.

"So-ho, my merry lad!" quoth Tressady, glaring down into Smiling Sam's
convulsed face, "And must ye be at it afore I give the word?  Who's
captain here--who?  Come speak up, my roaring boy!" and he thrust his
hook beneath the Smiler's great, flabby chin.

"Mercy, Cap'n--mercy!" cried Spraggons, his high-pitched voice rising
to a pitiful squeal.  "Not the hook, Cap'n--O Lord love me--not the
hook!"

"Hook?  And why not, Sam, why not?  'Tis sharp and clean and quick, and
hath done the business o' nicer rogues than you, bully, aye and better,
Sam, better--"

"O Cap'n--for God's sake--"

"Who're you to call on God so glib, Sammy?  'Tis marvel He don't strike
ye blind, lad.  Or there's your innards, Sam, here's that may whip out
your liver, lad--So!"  I saw the glitter of the hook, heard Smiling
Sam's gasping scream as the steel bit into him, and then Tressady was
on his feet smiling round upon his awed and silent company.

"Look'ee, bullies!" says he, pointing to the Smiler's inanimate form,
"Here's poor Sam all swounded away at touch o' my hook like any
woman--and him my bo'sun!  Pshaw!  I want a man!"  Here he stooped, and
wrenching the silver pipe from Smiling Sam's fat throat stared from one
shuffling rogue to another:  "Step forward, Abner," says he at last,
"Come, you'll do--you're a prime sailor-man, you're my bo'sun
henceforth."

But now Smiling Sam awaking from his swoon moaned feebly and sat up:

"Not the hook, Cap'n!" he wailed, "O not that--"

"No, Smiler, no, I keep it for better men.  Disobey me again and I'll
drown ye in a puddle.  And now up wi' you, Sammy, up wi' you and stand
by to teach Martin here how to talk."

"Aye, aye, Cap'n--aye, aye!" says the gross fellow, rising nimbly
enough, whiles his comrades closed about us expectant, and glancing
from me to Tressady where he had seated himself on a boulder:

"Here will do!" says he, pointing to a brilliant strip of moonlit sand
midway betwixt the shadows of the cliff and Bartlemy's tree. "On his
back, hearties, and grapple him fast, he's strong well-nigh as I am.
Now his hand, Smiler, his right hand--"

"Aye, aye, Cap'n!" quoth the fellow, kneeling above me where I lay
helpless.  "Will I cut it adrift--slow like?"  And as he flourished his
knife I saw a trickle of saliva at the corners of his great, loose
mouth, "Off at the wrist, Cap'n, or fingers first?"

"No, fool!  His thumb-nail first--try that!"

Sweating and with every nerve a-quiver I watched that cruel knife,
holding my breath in expectation of the coming agony, and then--from
the black gloom of the cliff beyond burst a sudden echoing roar, I
heard the whine of a bullet and immediately all was confusion and
uproar, shouts of dismay and a wild rush for shelter from this sudden
attack.  But as I struggled to my knees Tressady's great hand gripped
my throat, and dragging me behind a boulder he pinned me there.

"Stand by, lads!" he roared.  "Level at the cliff yonder, but let no
man pull trigger!  Wait till they fire again and mark the flash!"

Helpless in my bonds and crushed beneath Tressady's knee I heard a stir
and rustle to right and left of me, the click of cocking triggers and
thereafter--silence.  And, marking the gleam of pistol and
musket-barrel, I fell to an agony of dread, well knowing whence that
merciful shot had come.  For mayhap five minutes nought was to hear
save the rustle of stealthy arm or leg and the sound of heavy
breathing, until at length one spoke, loud-voiced:

"What now, Captain?  Us can't bide here all night."

"How many are we, Purdy?"

"Thirty and nine, Captain."

"Then do you take ten and scale the starboard cliff and you, Abner,
with other ten take the cliff to larboard.  I'll bide here wi' the rest
and so we'll have 'em--"

"Them cliffs be perilous high, Cap'n!"

"My hook is more perilous, Tom Day!  Off wi' you, ye dogs, or I'll show
ye a liver yet and be--"

He stopped all at once as, faint at first yet most dreadful to hear,
there rose a man's cry, chilling the flesh with horror, a cry that
waxed and swelled louder and louder to a hideous screaming that
shrilled upon the night and, sinking to an awful bubbling murmur, was
gone.

Up sprang Tressady to stare away across Deliverance whence this
dreadful cry had come, and I saw his hook tap-tapping at his great
chin; then beyond these shining sands was the thunderous roar of a
great gun, a furious rattle of small-arms that echoed and re-echoed
near and far, and thereafter single shots in rapid succession.
Hereupon rose shouts and cries of dismay:

"Lord love us we'm beset!  O Cap'n, we be took fore and aft. What shall
us do, Cap'n?  Yon was a gun.  What o' the ship, Cap'n--what o' the
ship?"

"Yonder--look yonder!  Who comes?" cried Tressady, pointing towards
Deliverance Beach with his glittering hook.

Twisting my head as I lay, I looked whither he pointed, and saw one
that ran towards us, yet in mighty strange fashion, reeling in wide
zig-zags like a drunken man; and sometimes he checked, only to come on
again, and sometimes he fell, only to struggle up.

"By God--it's Abnegation!" cries Tressady.  "'Tis my comrade Mings!
Look to the prisoner, ye dogs--you Tom Purdy!  I'm for Abnegation!"
And off he went at a run.  At his going was mighty talk and discussion
what they should do, some men being for stealing away in the boats,
others for taking to the woods, and all clean forgetting me where I
lay.  But suddenly they fell silent all for Abnegation was hailing
feebly, and was come so nigh that we might see him, his face all
bloody, his knees bending under him with weakness as he stumbled on.
Suddenly, beholding Tressady, he stopped and hailed him in wild,
gasping voice:

"Roger--O Roger!  The devil's aboard us, Roger--Penfeather's on
us--Penfeather's took the ship--I'm all that's left alive!  They killed
Sol first--did ye--hear him die, Roger?  O did ye hear--"

I saw him fall and Tressady run to lift him, and watched these pirate
rogues as, with oaths and cries of dismay, they hasted hither to throng
about the two; then, rolling into the nearest shadow I struggled to my
feet and found myself beneath the spreading branches of Bartlemy's
tree.  And now, as I strove desperately against the rope that bit into
the flesh of me, I felt the rope fall away, felt two soft arms close
about me and a soft breath on my cheek:

"Martin--O thank God!"  Turning, I caught my dear, brave lady to my
heart.  Heedless of aught else in the world beside I clasped her in my
aching arms, and kissed her until she stayed me and showing me where
stood our enemies, a wild disordered company, took my hand and began to
run.  Reaching the cliff we climbed together nor stayed until she had
brought me to a little cave where lay an arquebus together with
bandoliers.  "I tried to reload it, dear Martin, but 'twas vain--my
poor, silly hands shook so.  For, O my dear, I--heard them--saw them
and--thought I should run mad--O Martin my love!"

So now whiles I loaded the arquebus I told her as well as I might
something of what I thought concerning her brave spirit, of my undying
love for her, though in fashion very lame and halting. Thereafter, the
weapon being ready I placed it near and, sitting within the gloom of
this little cave, I took my love into my arms, her dear head pillowed
on my breast, and kissed the tremors from her sweet mouth and the
horror from her eyes.  And thus with her arms about my neck and her
soft, smooth cheek against mine, we waited for what was to be.



CHAPTER XLV

OF THE COMING OF ADAM PENFEATHER

In the shadow of the cliff below our hiding-place crept divers of these
pirate rogues, and, crouching there cheek by jowl fell to a hoarse
mutter of talk yet all too low for us to catch; but presently there
brake out a voice high-pitched, the which I knew for that of Smiling
Sam.

"We'm done, lads, I tell ye.  O love my lights--we'm done!  'Tis the
end o' we since Penfeather hath took the ship--and here's us shall lie
marooned to perish o' plagues, or Indian-savages, or hunger unless,
lads, unless--"

"Unless what, Smiler?" questioned one, eagerly.

"Unless we'm up and doing.  Penfeather do lack for men--Mings says he
counted but ten at most when they boarded him!  Well, mates--what d'ye
say?"

"Ha, d'ye mean fight, Smiler?  Fall on 'em by surprise and recapture
the ship--ha?"

"O bless my guts--no!  Penfeather aren't to be caught so--not him!
He'll ha' warped out from the anchorage by this!  But he be shorthanded
to work the vessel overseas, 'tis a-seekin' o' likely lads and prime
sailor-men is Penfeather, and we sits on these yere sands.  Well,
mates, on these yere sands we be but what's took up us on these yere
sands?  The boats lie yonder!  Well?"

"Where be you heading of now, Smiler?  Where's the wind?  Talk plain!"

"Why look'ee all, if Penfeather wants men, as wants 'em he doth, what's
to stay or let us from rowing out to Penfeather soft and quiet and
'listing ourselves along of Penfeather, and watch our chance t' heave
Penfeather overboard and go a-roving on our own account?  Well?"

At this was sudden silence and thereafter a fierce mutter of whispering
lost all at once in the clatter of arms and breathless scuffling as
they scrambled to their feet; for there, within a yard of them, stood
Tressady, hand grasping the dagger in his belt, his glittering hook
tapping softly at his great chin as he stared from one to other of them.

"Ha, my pretty lambs!" says he, coming a pace nearer.  "Will ye skulk
then, will ye skulk with your fools' heads together?  What now, mutiny
is it, mutiny?  And what's come o' my prisoner Martin, I don't spy him
hereabouts?"

Now at this they shuffled, staring about and upon each other and (as I
think) missed me for the first time.

"You, Tom Purdy, step forward--so!  Now where's the prisoner as I set
i' your charge, where, my merry bird, where?"

The fellow shrank away, muttering some sullen rejoinder that ended in a
choking scream as Tressady sprang.  Then I (knowing what was toward)
clasped my lady to me, covering her ears that she might not hear those
ghastly bubbling groans, yet felt her sweet body shaking with the
horror that shook me.

"So--there's an end--o' Tom Purdy, my bullies!" gasped Tressady,
stooping to clean his hook in the sand.  "And I did it--look'ee,
because he failed me once, d'ye see!  Who'll be next?  Who's for
mutiny--you, Sammy, you--ha?"

"No--no, Cap'n!" piped Smiling Sam, "Us do be but contriving o' ways
and means seeing' as Penfeather do ha' took our ship, curse him!"

"And what though he has?  'Tis we have the island and 'tis on this
island lieth Black Bartlemy's Treasure, and 'tis the treasure we're
after!  As to ways and means, here we be thirty and eight to
Penfeather's fourteen, and in a little 'twill be dark and the guns
shan't serve 'em and then--aha, look yonder! The fools be coming into
our very clutches!  To cover, lads, and look to your primings and wait
my word."

Now glancing whither he pointed, I saw, above the adjacent headland,
the tapering spars of a ship.  Slowly she hove into view, boltsprit,
forecastle, waist and poop, until she was plain to view, and I knew her
for that same black ship that fouled us in Deptford Pool.  She was
standing in for the island under her lower courses only, although the
wind was very light, but on she came, and very slowly, until she was so
near that I might see the very muzzles of her guns.  Suddenly with a
cheery yo-ho-ing her yards were braced round, her anchor was let go and
she brought to opposite Skeleton Cove and within fair pistol-shot.

Now glancing below I saw Tressady stand alone and with Abnegation Mings
huddled at his feet, but in the gloom of the cave and to right and
left, in every patch of shadow and behind every bush and rock, was the
glimmer of pistol or musket-barrel, and all levelled in the one
direction.

Presently up to the lofty poop of the ship clambered a short, squat man
in marvellous wide breeches and a great cutlass on hip, who clapping
speaking-trumpet to mouth, roared amain:

"Ahoy the shore!  We be shorthanded.  Now what rogues o' ye will turn
honest mariners and 'list aboard us for England?  Who's for a free
pardon and Old England?"

Hereupon, from bush and shadow and rock, I heard a whisper, a murmur,
and the word "England" oft repeated.

Tressady heard it also, and stepping forward he drew a long furrow in
the sand with the toe of his shoe.

"Look'ee my hearty boys," says he, pointing to this furrow with his
hook, "the first man as setteth foot athwart this line I send to
hell-fire along o' Tom Purdy yonder!"

"Ahoy the shore!" roared Godby louder than ever, "who's for an honest
life, a free pardon and a share in Black Bartlemy's Treasure--or shall
it be a broadside?  Here be every gun full charged wi'
musket-balls--and 'tis point-blank range!  Which shall it be?"

Once again rose a murmur that swelled to an angry muttering, and I saw
Smiling Sam come creeping from the shadow of the cave.

"O Cap'n," he piped, "'Tis plaguy desperate business, here's some on us
like to be bloody corpses--but I'm wi' you, Cap'n Roger, whether or no,
'tis me to your back!"

"To my back, Sammy?  Why so you shall, lad, so you shall, but I'll ha'
your pistols first, Smiler--so!"  And whipping the weapons from the
great fellow's belt, Tressady gave them to Abnegation Mings where he
lay in the shelter of a rock, and sitting down, crossed long legs and
cocked an eye at the heavens.

"Hearties all," quoth he, "the moon sinketh apace and 'twill be ill
shooting for 'em in the dark, so with dark 'tis us for the
boats--muffled oars--we clap 'em aboard by the forechains larboard and
starboard, and the ship is ours, bullies--ours!"

"Well and good, Cap'n!" piped Smiling Sam.  "But how if she slip her
cable and stand from us--"

"And how shall she, my fool lad, and the wind dropped?  The wind's
failed 'em and they lie helpless--"

"And that's gospel true, Cap'n.  Aye, aye, we'm wi' you!  Gi'e us the
word, Cap'n!" quoth divers voices in fierce answer.

"O sink me!" groaned Mings, "here lies poor Abnegation shattered alow
and aloft--O burn me, here's luck!  But you'll take me along, Roger?
If Death boards me to-night I'd rayther go in honest fight than lying
here like a sick dog--so you'll have me along, Roger?"

"Aye that will I, lad, that will I and--"

"Ahoy the shore!" roared Godby's great voice again, "Let them
rogue-dogs as'll turn honest mariners, them as is for England and a
free pardon, stand by to come aboard and lively!  In ten minutes we
open fire wi' every gun as bears!"

Now here there brake forth a clamour of oaths, cries and dismayed
questioning:

"Lord love us, what now, Cap'n?  Is us to be murdered, look'ee? Doomed
men we be, lads!  Shall us wait to be shot, mates?  What shall us do,
Cap'n, what shall us do?"

"Lie low!" quoth Tressady, rising, "Bide still all and let no man stir
till I give word.  In half an hour or less 'twill be black dark--very
well, for half an hour I'll hold 'em in parley, I'll speak 'em smooth
and mighty friendly, here shall be no shooting. I'll hold 'em till the
moon be down--and Smiler shall come wi' me--come, Sammy lad--come!"

So saying he turned and I watched him stride out upon that spit of sand
hard by Bartlemy's tree and this great fat fellow trotting at his
heels.  Upon the edge of the tide Tressady paused and hailed loud and
cheerily:

"Penfeather ahoy!  O Adam Penfeather here come I Roger Tressady for
word wi' you.  Look'ee Adam, we've fought and run foul of each other
this many a year--aye, half round the world and all for sake o' Black
Bartlemy's Treasure as is mine by rights, Adam, mine by rights.  Well
now to-night let's, you and me, make an end once and for all one way or
t'other.  There's you wi' my ship--true, Adam, true!  But here's me wi'
the island and the treasure, Adam, and the treasure.  And what then?
Why then, says I, let's you and me, either come to some composition or
fight it out man to man, Adam, man to man.  So come ashore, Captain
Penfeather--you as do be blacker pirate than ever was Bartlemy--come
out yonder on the reef alone wi' me and end it one way or t'other. Come
ashore, Adam, come ashore if ye dare adventure!"

"Ahoy you, Tressady!" roared Godby in reply, "Cap'n Adam is ashore wi'
ye this moment--look astarn o' you, ye rogue!"

Round sprang Tressady as out from the dense shadow of Bartlemy's tree
stepped Adam Penfeather himself.  He stood there in the moonlight very
still and viewing Tressady with head grimly out-thrust, his arms
crossed upon his breast, a pistol in the fist and deadly menace in
every line of his small, spare figure.

"I'm here, Tressady!" says he, his voice ringing loud and clear. "And I
am come to make an end o' you this night.  It hath been long
a-doing--but I have ye at last, Roger."

"Be ye sure, Adam, so sure?"

"As death, Tressady, for I have ye secure at last."

"Bleed me but you're out there, Adam, you're out there!  The boot's on
t'other leg, for hereabouts do lie thirty and eight o' my lads watching
of ye this moment and wi' finger on trigger."

"I know it!" says Adam nodding.  "But there's never a one dare shoot
me, for the first shot fired ashore shall bring a whole broadside in
answer, d'ye see.  But as for you, Tressady, pray if you can, for this
hour you hang."

"Hang is it, Adam?" says Tressady, and with swift glance towards the
sinking moon, "And who's to do it--who?"

"There be thirty and eight shall swing ye aloft so soon as I give 'em
the word, Tressady."

"You do talk rank folly, Adam, folly, and ye know it!" says he smiling
and stealing furtive hand to the dagger in his girdle. "But and I
should die this night I take you along wi' me and you can lay to--"
But he got no further, for Smiling Sam (and marvellous nimble) whipped
up a stone, and leaping on him from behind smote him two murderous
blows and, staggering helplessly, Tressady pitched forward upon his
face and lay upon the verge of the incoming tide.

Beholding his handiwork, Smiling Sam uttered a thin, high-shrilling
laugh, and spitting upon that still form kicked it viciously.

"Oho, Cap'n Penfeather," cries he, "'tis the Smiler hath saved ye the
labour, look'ee!  'Tis Sam hath finished Tressady at last and be damned
t' him!  And now 'tis the Smiler as do be first to 'list wi' ye!" and
he began to shamble across the sands; but passing that rock where
crouched Abnegation Mings he tripped and fell, and I saw the flash of
Abnegation's knife as they rolled and twisted in the shadow of this
rock, whiles, from this shadow, rose a shrill crying like the wail of a
hurt child, and into the moonlight came a great, fat hand that clutched
and tore at the sand then grew suddenly still, and with crooked fingers
plunged deep into the sand like a white claw.  Then, tossing aside his
bloody knife, Abnegation Mings struggled to his feet and came
staggering to kneel above his comrade Tressady and to turn up the
pallid face of him to the moon.

And now Adam thrust away his pistols and with hands clasped behind him,
turned to face the gloomy shadows of Skeleton Cove:

"Come out, sons o' dogs!" says he.  "Step forward and show
yourselves--and lively it is!"  Ensued a moment's breathless pause,
then, from bush and shadow and rocks, they stole forth these thirty and
eight and, at Adam's harsh command, lined up before him shoulder and
shoulder.  "Well," says Adam, pacing slowly along their rank to peer
into every sullen, hang-dog face. "Am I captain here?  Aye or no?"

"Aye--aye!" they cried in eager chorus.

"And us was promised a free pardon, Cap'n!" quoth one.

"And a share of the treasure, Cap'n!" says another.

"And England, Cap'n!" cried a third.  "There's some on us as do be
honest sailor-men and forced to turn pirate in spite o' we--"

"Avast!" says Adam.  "What I promise I stand by.  But mark this! Let
any man fail of his duty to me but once and I shoot that man or hang
him out o' hand--is't understood?"

"Aye, aye, Cap'n--'tis agreed!  We'll serve ye faithful and true," they
cried.

"Why then, bring ropes!" says Adam, and with his new 'listed men at his
heels, goes whither lay Tressady and with Abnegation Mings yet crouched
above him.

What now was doing I might not see by reason of the crowd, but I heard
the voice of Mings upraised in fierce invective, and the throng
presently parting, beheld him trussed hand and foot and dragged along
with Tressady towards Bartlemy's tree.  There a noose was set about the
neck of each, and the rope's ends cast over a branch.  But as at Adam's
command these miserable wretches were hauled aloft to their deaths, my
lady uttered a cry of horror and grasped my arm in desperate hands.

"Martin!" she panted, "O Martin, 'tis horrible!  Save them, this must
not--shall not be--"

"'Tis but justice," says I, "these men are pirates and murderers--"

"This is no justice!" cries she breathlessly, her face all pale and
drawn, "And these men are sore hurt beside--Ah God--look! Stop them,
Martin--O stop them!  Nay then I will!"  And here, or ever I could let
or stay her, she begins to clamber down into the cove.  Howbeit, quick
and sure-footed though she was, I was presently before her and so came
running, knife in hand.  Nor was I any too soon, for as I reached the
tree Tressady and Mings were dragged, choking, from their feet; but
with a couple of strokes my keen knife had cut those deadly ropes
asunder, and as the two fell gasping on the sand I turned to stare into
the scowling eyes of Adam Penfeather.

Now as I stood thus someone spoke 'twixt sigh and groan:
"Bartlemy--'tis Bartlemy!" and the word was taken up by others,
"Bartlemy--Black Bartlemy!" and all men fell back from me whiles Adam
scowled at me above levelled pistol.

"Hold off--Adam!" I panted.  "Let be, Adam Penfeather--let be!"

"What?" says he, peering, "And is it--Martin?  Lord love me, now what
fool's ploy is this?"

"What you will," quoth I, "only here has been enough of death for one
night--"

"'Tis but you do think so, Martin, and you was ever a fool!  I came
ashore to see these two rogues hang, and hang they shall!"

"Now look you, Adam Penfeather," says I, scowling in turn, "you have
cozened and tricked me since first you crossed my path, well, let that
go!  But mark this--according to your letter three-quarters of this
treasure is mine.  Very well--take it back--I'll buy these rogues'
lives of you--"

"Lord love me!" says he, staring in blank amaze, "What new fool craze
is this?  Will ye save this bloody murderer Tressady that drugged ye
aboard ship, the man that was our bane and plague all along?  The rogue
hath been my deadliest enemy seeking my destruction these fifteen
years, and you would save him alive! It seemeth my pistol-butt must ha'
harmed what little brain you have and you be run stark, staring mad,
Martin!"

"Howbeit," says I, mighty determined, "you don't hang these men whiles
I live!"

"Why, there's no difficulty either, Martin, for what's to stay me from
hanging you along with 'em, or shooting you for the fool you are?"

"I!" cried a voice, and there betwixt us was my lady, she all stately
dignity despite her hurried breathing, at sight of whom these lawless
fellows gave back one and all, even Adam himself retreated a step,
staring upon her round-eyed.  Then, very slowly he thrust pistols into
belt and uncovering his head bowed full low, and I fancied his thin
lips twitched as he did so.

"So be it, my lady," says he, "I call on your ladyship to witness that
I sell two bundles of very unseemly merchandise," and he pointed
towards the two helpless forms at his feet.  "And now, with your fair
leave, madam, I'll see these fellows safe aboard and warn my Lord
Dering and gentlemen of your welfare and presence here."

"Wait!" says I as he turned to go.  "First I would have these my
purchases set aboard a boat, with such stores needful, and cast adrift."

"Why, this was not in the bargain, Martin!" says he, shaking his head,
"But it shall be done for sake of our one-time comradeship."  And away
he goes and his fellows with him.  True to his word he orders the
pinnace launched and sends divers men to bear these two rogues aboard.
Hereupon I cut away their bonds, doing the which I found Tressady still
unconscious, but Mings for all his wounds seemed lively enough.

"Master," says he, staring hard at me, "Your name's Martin, as I think?"

"And what then?" says I, mighty short.

"'Tis a name I shall mind as long as I do my own, and that is
Mings--Abnegation Mings."

"Aye," says I.  "You told me this when you sang of dead men in a wood
at midnight--"

"Ha, 'twas you, was it, master!  Well, here lieth poor Roger dead or
dying and me little better, and 'tis far to the Main and an ill
journey, but should we come there and live, there be two men shall
wonder at ye, master, nor ever forget the name o' the man as saved our
necks.  Howsoever, come life or death, here's Abnegation doth wish ye a
fair wind ever and always, master."

So they bore him, together with Tressady, to the pinnace, and setting
them aboard, shoved them adrift, and I watched Abnegation ply feeble
oars until the boat was through the passage in the reef and out in the
open sea beyond.



CHAPTER XLVI

HOW I DOUBTED MYSELF

Now as I stood thus, staring out to sea, the moon sank and with it my
heart also, for as the dark came about me so came darkness within me
and sudden sorrow with great fear of the future; wherefore, beholding
the loom of the ship where lights twinkled, I would gladly have seen
her a shattered wreck, and hearing the hoarse laughter and voices of
these lawless fellows waking the echoes of Deliverance Beach, I hated
them one and all, and to my fear and sorrow anger was added.  But now
cometh my dear lady to stand beside me, to steal her hand into mine,
and never a word betwixt us for a while.  At last:

"So endeth our solitude, Martin!"

"Aye!"

"Our deliverance is come!" says she and then, very softly, "Doth not
this rejoice you?"  Here answer found I none, since now at last I knew
this the very thing I had come most to dread.  So was silence again
save for these hoarse unlovely voices where they launched and boarded
the longboat.  "Master Adam would have me go on board, Martin, but 'tis
near dawn so will I bide with you to welcome this new day."

"I'm glad you stayed, Damaris."  At this I felt her clasp tighten on my
fingers, and so she brings me to a rock hard by and, sinking on the
warm sand, would have me sit by her; thus, side by side, we watched the
boat pull away to the ship, and presently all about us was hushed and
still save for the never-ceasing murmur of the surge.

"Martin," says she in a while, "with this new day beginneth for us a
new life!  In a few short hours we sail for England."

"England!  Aye, to be sure!" says I, mighty doleful, but, conscious of
her regard, strove to look happy yet made such a botch of it that,
getting to her knees, she takes my hang-dog face betwixt her two hands.

"O but you are glad?" she questions, a little breathlessly, "Glad to
come with me to England--to leave this wilderness?"

"Aye!" I nodded, well-nigh choking on the word.

"Dear Martin, look at me!" she commanded, "Now speak me plain. Whence
is your grief?"

"O, my lady," quoth I, "'tis the knowledge of my unworthiness, my
unloveliness, my rude and graceless ways; England is no place for like
of me.  I am well enough here in the wild--to work for you, fight for
you an' need be, but how may I compare with your fine gallants and
courtly gentlemen?"

Now at this she clasps me all sudden in her arms and setting soft cheek
to mine falls a-chiding me, yet kissing me full oft, calling me
"silly," "dear," "foolish," and "beloved."

"How shall you compare?" cries she, "Thus and thus, dear Martin--so
infinitely above and beyond all other men that unless you wed me needs
must I die a maid!"

Thus did she comfort me, soothing my fears, and thus the dawn found us.

"O 'tis day!" she sighed, "'Tis day already!"  And now 'twas her voice
was doleful whiles her eyes gazed regretful round about the white sands
of Deliverance and the tree-clad highlands beyond. "O indeed I do love
this dear island of ours, Martin!"

Sudden upon the stilly air was the beat of oars, and we beheld a boat
rowed by a couple of mariners and in the stern-sheets Sir Rupert Dering
and the three gentlemen, his companions.  Hereupon my lady would have
me go with her to meet them then and there, but I shook my head.

"Do you go, Damaris, I'll not speak them before I must.  And should you
have cause to mention me I pray you will not tell my name."

"As you will, dear Martin," says she and, pressing my hand, goes her
way.  From the shadow of the rock I watched these gentlemen leap gaily
ashore to bow before her with many and divers elegant posturings,
flourishes and flauntings of hats, kissing of her hands and the like
gallantries until I must needs scowl otherwhere; yet even so, was
conscious of their merry laughter where they paced to and fro and the
new risen sun making a glory about her.  At last she curtseys, and
staying them with a gesture, comes hasting back to me.

"Martin," says she, "it seems there be men wounded and dying on board
ship, so must I go to them.  Will you not come with me?"

"Nay," I answered, "I'll to the caves for such things as you would
bring away."

"Why then, my spoon, Martin, and three-legged stool, bring these--nay
wait, 'tis there I would bid farewell to this our dear island.  Wait me
there, Martin."

So away she goes on her errand of mercy, leaving me to my thoughts and
these all of England and my future life there.  I was fain to picture
myself married and happy in my lady's love, my life thenceforth a
succession of peaceful days amid the ordered quiet of that Kentish
countryside I knew and loved so well.  With the eye of my mind I seemed
to see a road winding 'twixt bloomy hedgerows, past chattering brooks
and pleasant meadows, past sleepy hamlet bowered 'mid trees and so,
'neath a leafy shade, to where rose tall gates, their pillars crowned
by couchant leopards wrought in the stone, and beyond these a broad
avenue, its green shadow splashed with sunlight, leading away to the
house of Conisby Shene with its wide terrace where stood my lady
waiting and expectant; yet nowhere could I vision myself. And now I
must needs bethink me of Godby's "long, dark road with the beckoning
light and the waiting arms of love," and in my heart the old doubt
waked and a fear that such peace, such tender meetings and welcomes
sweet, were not for such as I, nor ever could be.

From these gloomy reflections I was roused by a giggling laugh, and
glancing about, espied Sir Rupert and his three fellows, their finery
somewhat the worse for their late hardship yet themselves very gay and
debonair none the less as they stood viewing me and mighty interested.
Presently Sir Rupert steps up to me with his haughtiest
fine-gentlemanly air and no civility of bowing.

"Let me perish but here's notable change!" says he, surveying my rich
attire, so that I yearned for my rags again.  "Here is strange
metamorphosis!  The sullen and rustic Cymon bloometh at Beauty's
mandate, Caliban is tamed!"  At the which sally his companions giggled
again.

"Sir," quoth I, and awkwardly enough, "I am in no mood for your
pleasantries.  If therefore you have aught else to say of me, pray
remove out o' my hearing."  This protest Sir Rupert fanned airily aside
with be-ringed hand.

"I gather," says he, "that you have been at some pains of service to my
Lady Brandon in her late dolorous situation here--receive my thanks!"

"I wish none o' your thanks, sir--"

"None the less I bestow 'em--on my Lady Brandon's behalf. Furthermore--"

"Enough, sir, I would be alone."

"Furthermore," he continued and with another airy motion of his white
fingers, "I would have you particularly remark that if my Lady Brandon,
lacking better company, hath stooped to any small familiarities with
you, these must be forgot and--"

"Ha!" I cried, springing to my feet, "Begone, paltry fool, lest I kick
you harder than I did last time at Conisby Shene."

"Insolent gallows'-rogue!" he panted, reaching for his sword-hilt, but
as he freed it from scabbard I closed with him and, wrenching it from
his hold, belaboured him soundly with the flat of it, and such of his
companions as chanced within my reach, until hearing shouts, I espied
Adam approaching with divers of his grinning fellows; whereupon I
snapped the blade across my knee and hasted from the place.

I strode on haphazard in a blind fury, but reaching the woods at last
and safe from all observation, I cast myself down therein, and
gradually my anger grew to a great bitterness.  For (thinks I)
"gallows'-rogue" am I in very truth an outcast from my kind, a creature
shamed by pillory and lash, a poor wretch for spiteful Fortune's
buffets.  Hereupon (being a blind fool ever) I cursed the world and all
men in it saving only my unworthy self.  And next, bethinking me of my
dear lady who of her infinite mercy had stooped to love such as I, it
seemed that my shame must smirch her also, that rather than lifting me
to her level I must needs drag her down to mine.  She, wedding me, gave
all, whiles I, taking all, had nought to offer in return save my
unworthiness. Verily it seemed that my hopes of life with her in
England were but empty dreams, that I had been living in the very
Paradise of Fools unless--

Here I raised bowed head, and clenching my fists stared blindly before
me.

How if the ship should sail without us?



CHAPTER XLVII

HOW MY DOUBTING WAS RESOLVED FOR ME

The sun being high-risen and myself famished with hunger, I set off for
our habitation by paths well-hid from observation and yearning mightily
to find my lady there.  Having scaled the cliff I reached the little
plateau, and parting the bushes, recoiled from the muzzle of a piece
levelled at me by a squat, grim fellow.

"What, Godby!" says I, frowning, "D'ye take me for murderer still,
then?"  At this he let fall his musket in blank amaze, and then came
running and with hands outstretched.

"O pal!" cries he, "O pal--have I found ye at last?  Ha, many's the
time I've grieved for ye and my fool's doubts o' you, Martin, choke me
else?  I'm sorry, pal, burn me but I've repented my suspecting o' you
ever since, though to be sure you was mighty strange aboard the
'Faithful Friend' and small wonder.  But here's me full o' repentance,
Martin, so--if you can forgive poor Godby--?"

"Full and freely!" says I, whereupon he hugs me and the tears running
down his sunburned cheeks.

"Then we'm pals again, Martin, and all's bowmon!"

"And what o' me?"  Turning about I beheld Adam on the threshold of the
cave, "What o' me, shipmate?"

"Aye--what?" says I, folding my arms.

"Ha, doth the tap o' my pistol-butt smart yet, Martin?"

"I know you beyond all doubt for pirate and buccaneer--"

"All past and done, Martin."

"I know you planned from the first to seize the 'Faithful Friend.'"

"Aye, but where's your proof--the 'Faithful Friend' is blown up--"

"And by your hand, like as not."

"True again, so it was, Martin, and thereby did I outwit Tressady and
saved the lives of my own people."

"You have been at great pains to befool me to your evil ends."

"At no pains, Martin, 'twas purely simple matter!"

"You have been the death of divers men on this island."

"But always in fair fight!" says he, glancing at me in his furtive
fashion.  "'Twas them or me, comrade, and black rogues all."

"So you say!"

"And who's to deny it, shipmate?"

"Aye, who indeed?  It seems you've killed 'em all."

"Ha, d'ye doubt my word, Martin?"

"Aye, I do so, and judging from what I know, I do take ye for a very
rogue and so I'm done with you henceforth."

"Rogue?" says he, "'Tis an ill word!  And yet I had rather be rogue
than fool, and you are the fool of the world, Martin, for here are you
seeking quarrel with your best friend."

"Friend?" quoth I, "O God protect me from such!"

"Now, look'ee, you have named me rogue and good as called me liar,
which is great folly seeing you do lie in my power.  So here will I
prove my friendship and the depth of your folly."

"Nay--I'll hear no more!"

"Aye--but you will!  Cover him, Godby, and fire if I say so!"

"O Lord love me!" groaned Godby, but obeyed nevertheless, and looking
where he stood, his piece levelled at me, I knew he would obey Adam's
word despite his anguished looks.

"And now," says Adam, crossing his arms, "here's the truth on't. I
found a poor wretch bent on vengeance, murder, and a rogue's death,
which was pure folly.  I offered you riches, the which you refused, and
this was arrant folly.  I took you for comrade, brought you aboard ship
with offer of honest employ which you likewise refused and here was
more folly.  Your conduct on board ship was all folly.  So, despite
yourself, I set you on a fair island with the right noble and handsome
lady that you, by love, might perchance learn some little wisdom.
Well, you fall in love--"

"Stop!" cried I, clenching my fists.

"Not I!" says he, uncrossing his arms, and I saw he had levelled a
pistol at me in the crook of his arm, "I'm no fine gentleman for ye to
bruise, so haul your wind and listen!  You fall in love with my lady,
as how could you help, and she with you, which is a matter of some
wonder.  So here are you full o' love, but doth this teach ye wisdom?
Never a whit!  For now must you fall foul and belabour our four
gallants, and from mere fine gentlemen transform 'em into your deadly
enemies, and here was folly stupendous!  And now you must quarrel with
me, the which is folly absolute.  Thus do I find ye fool persistent and
consistent ever, and I, being so infinitely the opposite, do contemn
you therefore--"

"And now ha' you done?" I demanded, raging.

"Not quite, Martin.  You balked me i' the hanging o' these two rogues
Tressady and Mings, and here was pitiful folly, since to hang such were
a wise and prudent measure.  Thus have you loosed murder on my heels
again, well, let that go.  But you doubted my word, you named me rogue,
and for this you shall fight me!"  So saying he stepped into the cave
and brought thence that same be-jewelled Spanish rapier.

"I've no mind to fight with you," says I, turning away.

"An excellent blade!" says he, making a pass in the air, then he
tendered it to me hilt foremost and with the little bow.

"'Tis right you should know I am wearing the chain-shirt."

"No matter," quoth he, drawing, "there is your throat or your
eye--come!"

So point to point we fell to it.  I had been somewhat esteemed at the
art once and now I matched his vicious thrusts with cunning parades,
with volts and passes, pushing at him when I might, so that twice I was
very near.  But suddenly as he retreated before my attack, his blade
darted and flashed and he called out: "One!"  And now he pressed me in
turn with quick thrusts and bewildering feints, and presently called
out again:  "Two! Three!  Four!"  Then I saw he was cutting the buttons
from my sleeve, how and when he would; therefore I cast away my sword
in petulant anger and folded my arms.

"Lord love me!  Are ye done, Martin?"

"O make an end one way or t'other, I'll not be played with!"

"Verily, you were more dangers with the club!" says he, and sheathed
his rapier.  As for me, espying the three-legged stool, I sat me down
mighty dejected and full of bitter thoughts until, feeling a touch on
my bowed shoulder, I looked up and found him beside me.

"Martin," says he, "'tis true you are a fool but your folly harmeth
none but yourself!  And thou'rt such honest fool that I must needs love
thee, which is strange, yet so it is.  Look'ee, we have quarrelled and
fought, very well--what's to let us from being friends again?"

"But if I doubt you, Adam?"

"Why, as to that," says he with his whimsical look, "I verily do think
myself a something doubtful being at times."

Now at this, up I rose and gripped his hand right heartily; which done
he brought me into the cave whiles Godby posted himself on the
threshold, leaning on his musket.

"What now, Adam?" I questioned.

"Now let us divide our treasure, Martin--"

"But I bartered my share for the lives of--"

"Tush!" says he, and reaching a valise from shadowy corner he opened it
and I beheld such a glory of flashing gems as nigh dazzled me with
their splendour.  "Look at 'em, Martin, look at 'em!" he whispered.
"Here's love and hate, life and death, every good and all the
sins--look at 'em!"  And catching up a handful he let them fall,
glittering, through his fingers.  "Lord love me, Martin," he whispered,
"'tis enough to turn a man's brain! Have ye counted 'em over, comrade?"

"I never saw them until this moment, Adam."  And I confessed how in my
folly I had cast his letter of instruction into the sea, and of how my
lady had found the secret at her dire peril.

"And she never showed you, Martin?"

"I was always too busy!"

"Busy!" says he, sitting back on his heels to stare up at me. "Busy?  O
Lord love me!  Sure there's not your like i' the whole world, Martin!"

"Which is mighty well for the world!" says I bitterly.

"'Tis vasty treasure, Martin and worth some little risk.  And in the
cave lie yet fifty and four bars of gold and others of silver, with
store of rix-dollars, doubloons, moidores and pieces of eight--gold
coins of all countries.  There let 'em rot--here's more wealth than we
shall ever spend.  Shall we divide it here or aboard ship?"

"Wait rather until we reach England."

"So be it, comrade.  Then I'm minded to apportion a share to Godby
here--what d'ye say?"

"With all my heart!"

"Why then 'tis time we got it safe on board."

"But how to do it--what of Tressady's rogues, Adam?"

"Having buried such of themselves as needed it, Martin, you shall see
'em playing leap-frog on the sands down yonder happy as any innocent
school-lads, and never a firearm amongst 'em."

"Hist, Cap'n!" says Godby, suddenly alert, "The man Abner and his two
mates a-peeping and a-prying!"

"Where away, Godby man?"

"Hove to in the lee o' them bushes yonder."

"'Tis sly, skulking rogue Abner!" says Adam, closing and strapping the
valise, "'Tis in my mind, Godby, this Abner will never live to see
England.  Summon 'em hither, all three."

This Godby did forthwith, and presently the three fellows appeared who,
knuckling their foreheads, made us their several reverences.

"What now, lads?" says Adam, viewing them with his keen eyes, "I seem
to mind your looks, you sailed with Black Bartlemy aboard the 'Delight'
I think?  Nay, 'tis no matter, we'll let bygones be bygones, and we be
all marvellous honest these days, the which is well.  Meantime take
this dunnage down to the boat," and he pointed to the valise.  Hereupon
one of the fellows took it up, and knuckled an eyebrow to us in turn.
"We sail at sundown," says Adam, "so, Godby, you may as well go aboard
and see that all be ready."

"Aye, aye!" says Godby, tightening the belt where swung his great
cutlass and, shouldering his musket, set off after the three.

"So there goeth our fortune aboard, comrade."

"And in desperate risky fashion, Adam."

"In safe, straightforward fashion rather, and in broad daylight, the
which is surer than stealing it aboard in the dark."

"But should these rogues guess what they carry--"

"They won't, Martin, and if they should they have but their knives
'gainst Godby's musket and pistols."

"Ha--murder, Adam?"

"Would you call this murder, comrade?"

"What other?  I wonder what manner of man you'll be, away there in
England?"

"A worthy, right worshipful justice o' the peace, Martin, if Providence
seeth fit, in laced coat and great peruke, to see that my tenants'
cottages be sound and wholesome, to pat the touzled heads o' the
children, bless 'em!  And to have word with every soul i' the village.
To snooze i' my great pew o' Sundays and, dying at last, snug abed, to
leave behind me a kindly memory. And what for you, Martin?  What see
you in the ship yonder?"

"God knoweth!" says I, gloomily.

"Why not a woman's love, comrade, why not good works, rank and
belike--children to honour your memory?"

"Were I but worthy all this, Adam."

"Zounds, but here's humility!  Yet your true lover is ever humble, I've
heard, so 'tis very well, Martin.  And this doth mind me I bear you a
message from my lady--"

"A message--from her?" I cried, gripping his arm, "Out with it, man,
out with it and God forgive you this delay!  What says my lady?"

"This, Martin:  she would have you shave according to late custom."

"Why, so I will!  But said she no more?"

"Aye, something of meeting you here.  So get to your shaving and
cheerily, comrade, cheerily.  I'll to the ship, for at sunset 'tis up
anchor and hey for England!  I'll fire two guns to warn you aboard, and
tarry not, for the ship lieth within a sunken reef and we must catch
the flood."  Here he turned to go, then paused to glance round the
horizon with a seaman's eye.  "The wind is fair to serve us, Martin,"
says he, pinching his chin, "yet I could wish for a tempest out o' the
north and a rising sea!"

"And why, Adam, in Heaven's name?"

"'Twould be the sure and certain end of Tressady and Mings, comrade.
Howbeit what's done is done and all things do lie in the hands of
Providence, so do I cherish hope.  Go and shave, Martin, go and shave!"

Left alone I betook me to my razors and shaved me with unwonted care,
yet hearkening for her quick, light step the while.

Scarce was my labour ended that I thought to hear the rustle of leaves
and hasted from the cave, calling on her name and mighty joyous and
eager:

"Damaris!  Art here at last, dear my lady!"  And so came face to face
with Sir Rupert.

He stood smiling at my discomfiture, yet his black brows were
close--but he halted and folded his arms and I could see the betraying
bulge of the pistol on his great side-pocket.  For a while he measured
me with his eye, at last he spoke:

"Within the hour my Lady Brandon sails for England, and from this hour
you will forget my Lady Brandon ever existed or--"

"Tush, man!" says I, "Begone, you weary me."

"Or," he went on with an airy gesture of his hand, "I shall cure your
weariness for good--"

"Shoot me?"

"Most joyfully!  Whatsoever hath chanced betwixt you in this
wilderness, my Lady Brandon's honour must and--"

Warned by my look he clapped hand to his pocket but as he freed the
weapon I was upon him, grasping his pistol-hand.  For a moment we
swayed together, he striving frantically to break my hold, I to wrest
the weapon from him, then it exploded, and uttering a sudden,
long-drawn gasp he sank to the grass at my feet and lay very mute and
still.  Whilst I yet stared from his pallid face to the pistol where it
had fallen, I heard shouts, a running of feet, and glancing up saw the
three gentlemen, his companions, standing at gaze, motionless; then
suddenly, they turned and hasted away, crying "murder" on me as they
ran.  Like one in a dream I stared down at Sir Rupert's motionless
form, until I was aware of my lady beside him on her knees and of the
pallor of her face as she looked from him to me, her eyes wide with
horror:

"If you have killed him, Martin--if you have killed him, here is an end
of our happiness--God forgive you!"

Now would I have spoken but found no words, for in this moment I knew
that Sir Rupert was surely dead.  Dumbly I watched the passionate
labour of her dexterous hands, saw them pause at last to clasp and
wring themselves in helpless despair, saw the three gentlemen, obedient
to her word, stoop and lift that limp form and bear it slowly away
towards Deliverance Sands and she going beside them.

Now as I stood watching her leave me, I heard the sudden roar of a gun,
and glancing towards the ship saw they were already making sail.
Roused by this I came beside my lady, and found my voice at last.

"Here was the work of chance--not I, Damaris, not I!"

But she, gazing ever on that piteous, limp form, sought to silence me
with a gesture.  "God, Damaris, you'll never doubt my word?
Speak--will you not speak to me?  He threatened me--we strove together
and the pistol went off in his grasp--"

"Damned Murderer!" cried one of the gentlemen.

After this I held my peace, despairing, and thus we went in silence
until before us was Deliverance Beach.  All at once I caught her up in
my arms and, despite her struggles, began to bear her back up the
ascent.  For a moment only she strove, uttering no word, then hiding
her face against me, suffered me to bear her where I would.  But now I
heard shouts and cries that told me I was pursued:

"You are mine, Damaris!" I cried, "Mine henceforth, and no man shall
take you from me whiles I live!"

Despite my haste the noise of pursuit waxed louder, spurring me to
greater effort.  And now it became the end and aim of my existence to
reach the cave in time, wherefore I began to run, on and up, until my
breath came in great, panting sobs; my heart seemed bursting, and in my
throbbing brain a confusion of wild thoughts:

"Better die thus, my love upon my heart ... The ship shall sail without
us ... The door of the cave is stout, God be thanked and, firing from
the loophole, I may withstand them all."

Breathless and reeling I gained the plateau at last, but as I staggered
towards the cave I tripped and fell heavily, crushing her beneath me.
But I struggled up, and bearing her within the cave, laid her upon my
bed and closing the door, barred it; then I reached my muskets from
their rack and set them in readiness. This done, and finding my lady so
still and silent, I came to view her where she lay and, peering in the
dimness, uttered a great cry to see the pale oval of cheek horribly
bedabbled with blood.  Trembling in a sickness of fear I sank beside
her on my knees, then, seeing she yet breathed, I parted the silky hair
above her temple and so came on a cruel gash.  Now as I strove to
staunch this precious blood I heard again the echoing thunder of a gun.

"Damaris!" says I, clasping her to me and kissing her pallid lips, "O
Damaris, they are summoning us to England, d'ye hear, beloved, d'ye
hear?  Well, they shall call in vain--they shall sail without us.  Love
hath found us and here with Love will we abide.  Wake, beloved, wake
and tell me you would have it so!"

But, save for her breathing, and despite all my pleading and caresses,
she lay like one dead.  So I brought water and bathed her face and
throat and wrists, yet all to no purpose, so that fear grew to agony.
How if she die thus? (thinks I) Why then I can die likewise.  But
again, how if she wake, and finding the ship gone, despise me and, in
place of her lover, look on me as her gaoler?  For a long while I
crouched there, my head bowed on my fists, since well I knew that
England might shelter me nevermore.  And yet to part with her that was
become my very life--

As I knelt thus, in an agony of indecision, was sudden tumult of
knocking upon the door and the sound of fierce voices:

"Come forth, murderer!  Open to us, rogue--open!"

But still I knelt there heeding only the hurry of my thoughts:

"How if the ship sail without us?  How if she wake and know me for her
gaoler?  How might I endure loneliness?  How part with her that was
become my life?  Belike she might not hate me--"

"Open, murderer, open!" roared the voices.

"A murderer!  How if she believe this?  Better loneliness and death
than to read horror of me in her every look!"

And now beyond the door was silence, and then I heard Adam hailing me:

"Oho, shipmate--unbar!  Tide's on the turn and we must aboard. And
trust me, Martin, for your comrade as will see justice done ye.  So
come, Martin, you and my lady and let's aboard!"

"Aye, aye, Adam!" quoth I, "Better die o' solitude than live with a
breaking heart.  So cheerily it is, Adam!"

Then rising, I took my dear lady in my arms, and holding her against my
heart, I kissed her hair, her closed eyes, her pale, unresponsive lips,
and bearing her to the door, contrived to open it and stepped forth of
the cave.  And here I found Adam, pistol in hand, with divers of his
fellows and the three gentlemen who scowled amain, yet, eyeing Adam's
weapon, did no more than clench their fists and mutter of gibbets and
the like.

"Look you, Adam," says I, "my lady is stunned of a fall, but 'twill be
no great matter once we come aboard--let us go."

"Why then, Lord love you, Martin--hasten!" says he, "For tide's falling
and it's all we shall do to clear the reef."

Reaching Deliverance Sands I saw the boat already launched and manned
and, wading into the water, laid my lady in the stern sheets.

"Come!" cried Adam, reaching me his hand, "In with ye man--"

"Not I, Adam."

"Why, what now, comrade?" says he, staring.

"Now--my hand, Adam, and a prosperous voyage!"

"How, comrade, will ye stay marooned in this desolation?" and he
stooped to peer down at me.  "Martin," says he, gripping my hand and
staring into my eyes, "Doth this mean you are safer here by reason of
the mystery of Sir Rupert's sudden end?"

"Mayhap!" says I, and loosed his hand.  "What think you?"

"That you are no murderer, comrade, nor ever will be!"

"My lady said as much once!  Farewell, Adam!"  And I waded back to the
beach.

"Give way, lads!" cries he, "Give way!"  I heard the splash and beat of
their oars, and when I turned to look I saw them half-way across the
lagoon.

Then I turned and wandered aimlessly along these white sands that had
known so often the light tread of her pretty feet.  Very slowly I went,
with eyes that saw not, ears that heard not and my mind a confusion of
bitter thoughts.

At last I reached the little plateau, and from this eminence beheld the
ship standing away under a press of sail, and saw that night was at
hand.  Suddenly as I watched, the ship, her lofty masts and gleaming
canvas swam all blurred and misty on my sight, and sinking to my knees
I bowed my head.

"Almighty God!" says I, "Thou hast shown unto me the wonder of love and
the heaven it might have been, but since love is not for me, teach me
how I may be avenged."

But now, even as I prayed thus, my voice brake upon a great sob
insomuch that I might pray no more.  Therefore I cast myself upon my
face, forgetting all things but my great and bitter loneliness.

And so came night and shut me in.

      *      *      *

Here then I make an end of this narrative of Black Bartlemy's Treasure,
but how and in what manner I came to my vengeance is yet to tell.





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