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Title: Tales of Our Coast
Author: Parket, Gilbert, Frederic, Harold, 1856-1898, Quiller-Couch, Arthur, 1863-1944, Crockett, S. R. (Samuel Rutherford), 1860-1914, Russell, William Clark, 1844-1911
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Tales of Our Coast" ***

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[Illustration: _You and I used to watch the Tide come swilling in._]

Tales of Our Coast



With Twelve Illustrations by FRANK BRANGWYN

[Illustration: Logo]

New York
Dodd, Mead and Company





THE PATH OF MURTOGH               81


'THAT THERE MASON'               179



BLACK TAGGART WAS IN WITH HIS LUGGER                      17

'I LAID A PISTOL TO HIS EAR'                              31

'MY HEART KEEPS WARM IN THINKIN' OF YOU'                  43

'YOU DROVE HIM FROM THE BOAT'                             69

SAW HIS HEAD SPIKED OVER SOUTH GATE                       83

'MY FATHER CUT HIM FREE FROM HIS DRUM'                   149

THE TRUMPETER SOUNDED THE 'REVELLY'                      165

'I KILLED A MAN'                                         169


'WHAT'S TAKEN YER HEYE?'                                 187

'YOU KILLEE HIM!' ROARS ONE                              199





'_Rise, Robin, rise! The partans are on the sands!_'

The crying at our little window raised me out of a sound sleep, for I
had been out seeing the Myreside lasses late the night before, and was
far from being wake-rife at two by the clock on a February morning.

It was the first time the summons had come to me, for I was then but
young. Hitherto it was my brother John who had answered the raising word
of the free-traders spoken at the window. But now John had a
farm-steading of his own, thanks to Sir William Maxwell and to my
father's siller that had paid for the stock.

So with all speed I did my clothes upon me, with much eagerness and a
beating heart,--as who would not, when, for the first time, he has the
privilege of man? As I went out to the barn I could hear my mother (with
whom I was ever a favourite) praying for me.

'Save the laddie--save the laddie!' she said over and over.

And I think my father prayed too; but, as I went, he also cried to me

'Be sure you keep up the grappling chains--dinna let them clatter till
ye hae the stuff weel up the hill. The Lord keep ye! Be a guid lad an'
ride honestly. Gin ye see Sir William, keep your head doon, an' gae by
withoot lookin'. He's a magistrate, ye ken. But he'll no' see you, gin
ye dinna see him. Leave twa ankers a-piece o' brandy an' rum at our ain
dyke back. An' abune a', the Lord be wi' ye, an' bring ye safe back to
your sorrowing parents!'

So, with pride, I did the harness graith upon the sonsy back of Brown
Bess,--the pad before where I was to sit,--the lingtow and the hooked
chains behind. I had a cutlass, a jockteleg (or smuggler's sheaf-knife),
and a pair of brass-mounted pistols ready swung in my leathern belt.
Faith, but I wish Bell of the Mains could have seen me then, ready to
ride forth with the light-horsemen. She would never scorn me more for a
lingle-backed callant, I'se warrant.

'Haste ye, Robin! Heard ye no' that the partans are on the sands?'

It was Geordie of the Clone who cried to me. He meant the free-traders
from the Isle, rolling the barrels ashore.

'I am e'en as ready as ye are yoursel'!' I gave him answer, for I was
not going to let him boast himself prideful all, because he had ridden
out with them once or twice before. Besides, his horse and accoutrement
were not one half so good as mine. For my father was an honest and
well-considered man, and in good standing with the laird and the
minister, so that he could afford to do things handsomely.

We made haste to ride along the heuchs, which are very high, steep, and
rocky at this part of the coast.

And at every loaning-end we heard the clinking of the smugglers chains,
and I thought the sound a livening and a merry one.

'A fair guid-e'en and a full tide, young Airyolan!' cried one to me as
we came by Killantrae. And I own the name was sweet to my ears. For it
was the custom to call men by the names of their farms, and Airyolan was
my father's name by rights. But mine for that night, because in my hands
was the honour of the house.

Ere we got down to the Clone we could hear, all about in the darkness,
athwart and athwart, the clattering of chains, the stir of many horses,
and the voices of men.

Black Taggart was in with his lugger, the 'Sea Pyet,' and such a cargo
as the Clone men had never run,--so ran the talk on every side. There
was not a sleeping wife nor yet a man left indoors in all the parish of
Mochrum, except only the laird and the minister.

[Illustration: _Black Taggart was in with his lugger._]

By the time that we got down by the shore, there was quite a company of
the Men of the Fells, as the shore men called us,--all dour, swack,
determined fellows.

'Here come the hill nowt!' said one of the village men, as he caught
sight of us. I knew him for a limber-tongued, ill-livered loon from the
Port, so I delivered him a blow fair and solid between the eyes, and he
dropped without a gurgle. This was to learn him how to speak to innocent
harmless strangers.

Then there was a turmoil indeed to speak about, for all the men of the
laigh shore crowded round us, and knives were drawn. But I cried,
'Corwald, Mochrum, Chippermore, here to me!' And all the stout lads came
about me.

Nevertheless, it looked black for a moment, as the shore men waved their
torches in our faces, and yelled fiercely at us to put us down by fear.

Then a tall young man on a horse rode straight at the crowd which had
gathered about the loon I had felled. He had a mask over his face which
sometimes slipped awry. But, in spite of the disguise, he seemed
perfectly well known to all there.

'What have we here?' he asked, in a voice of questioning that had also
the power of command in it.

''Tis these Men of the Fells that have stricken down Jock Webster of the
Port, Maister William!' said one of the crowd.

Then I knew the laird's son, and did my duty to him, telling him of my
provocation, and how I had only given the rascal strength of arm.

'And right well you did,' said Maister William, 'for these dogs would
swatter in the good brandy, but never help to carry it to the caves, nor
bring the well-graithed horses to the shore-side! Carry the loon away,
and stap him into a heather hole till he come to.'

So that was all the comfort they got for their tale-telling.

'And you, young Airyolan,' said Maister William, 'that are so ready with
your strength of arm,--there is even a job that you may do. Muckle Jock,
the Preventive man, rides to-night from Isle of Whithorn, where he has
been warning the revenue cutter. Do you meet him and keep him from doing
himself an injury.'

'And where shall I meet him, Maister William?' I asked of the young

'Oh, somewhere on the heuch-taps,' said he, carelessly; 'and see, swing
these on your horse and leave them at Myrtoun on the by-going.'

He called a man with a torch, who came and stood over me, while I laid
on Brown Bess a pair of small casks of some fine liqueur, of which more
than ordinary care was to be taken, and also a few packages of soft
goods, silks and laces as I deemed.

'Take these to the Loch Yett, and ca' Sandy Fergus to stow them for ye.
Syne do your work with the Exciseman as he comes hame. Gar him bide
where he is till the sun be at its highest to-morrow. And a double share
o' the plunder shall be lyin' in the hole at a back of the dyke at
Airyolan when ye ride hame the morn at e'en.'

So I bade him a good-night, and rode my ways over the fields, and across
many burns to Myrtoun. As I went I looked back, and there, below me, was
a strange sight,--all the little harbour of the Clone lighted up, a
hurrying of men down to the shore, the flickering of torches, and the
lappering of the sea making a stir of gallant life that set the blood
leaping along the veins. It was, indeed, I thought, worth while living
to be a free-trader. Far out, I could see the dark spars of the lugger
'Sea Pyet,' and hear the casks and ankers dumping into the boats

Then I began to bethink me that I had a more desperate ploy than any of
them that were down there, for they were many, and I was but one.
Moreover, easily, as young Master William might say, 'Meet Muckle Jock,
and keep him till the morn at noon!' the matter was not so easy as
supping one's porridge.

Now, I had never seen the Exciseman, but my brother had played at the
cudgels with Jock before this. So I knew more of him than to suppose
that he would bide for the bidding of one man when in the way of his

But when the young laird went away he slipped me a small, heavy packet.

'Half for you and half for the gauger, gin he hears reason,' he said.

By the weight and the jingle I judged it to be yellow Geordies, the best
thing that the wee, wee German lairdie ever sent to Tory Mochrum. And
not too plenty there, either! Though since the Clone folk did so well
with the clean-run smuggling from the blessed Isle of Man, it is true
that there are more of the Geordies than there used to be.

So I rode round by the back of the White Loch, for Sir William had a
habit of daunering, over by the Airlour and Barsalloch, and in my
present ride I had no desire to meet with him.

Yet, as fate would have it, I was not to win clear that night. I had not
ridden more than half-way round the loch when Brown Bess went
floundering into a moss-hole, which are indeed more plenty than paved
roads in that quarter. And what with the weight of the pack, and her
struggling, we threatened to go down altogether. When I thought of what
my father would say, if I went home with my finger in my mouth, and
neither Brown Bess nor yet a penny's-worth to be the value of her, I was
fairly a-sweat with fear. I cried aloud for help, for there were
cot-houses near by. And, as I had hoped, in a little a man came out of
the shadows of the willow bushes.

'What want ye, yochel?' said he, in a mightily lofty tone.

'I'll "_yochel_" ye, gin I had time. Pu' on that rope,' I said, for my
spirit was disturbed by the accident. Also, as I have said, I took
ill-talk from no man.

So, with a little laugh, the man laid hold of the rope, and pulled his
best, while I took off what of the packages I could reach, ever keeping
my own feet moving, to clear the sticky glaur of the bog-hole from them.

'Tak' that hook out, and ease doon the cask, man!' I cried to him, for I
was in desperation; 'I'll gie ye a heartsome gill, even though the stuff
be Sir William's!'

And the man laughed again, being, as I judged, well enough pleased. For
all that service yet was I not pleased to be called 'yochel.' But, in
the meantime, I saw not how, at the moment, I could begin to cuff and
clout one that was helping my horse and stuff out of a bog-hole. Yet I
resolved somehow to be even with him, for, though a peaceable man, I
never could abide the calling of ill names.

'Whither gang ye?' said he.

'To the Muckle Hoose o' Myrtoun,' said I, 'and gang you wi' me, my man;
and gie me a hand doon wi' the stuff, for I hae nae stomach for mair
warsling in bog-holes. And wha kens but that auld thrawn Turk, Sir
William, may happen on us?'

'Ken ye Sir William Maxwell?' said the man.

'Na,' said I. 'I never so muckle as set e'en on the auld wretch. But I
had sax hard days' wark cutting doon bushes, and makin' a road for his
daftlike carriage wi' wheels, for him to ride in to Mochrum Kirk'.

'Saw ye him never there?' said the man, as I strapped the packages on

'Na,' said I, 'my faither is a Cameronian, and gangs to nae Kirk

'He has gi'en his son a bonny upbringing, then!' quoth the man.

Now this made me mainly angry, for I cannot bide that folk should meddle
with my folk. Though as far as I am concerned myself I am a peaceable

'Hear ye,' said I, 'I ken na wha ye are that speers so mony questions.
Ye may be the de'il himsel', or ye may be the enemy o' Mochrum, the
blackavised Commodore frae Glasserton. But, I can warrant ye that ye'll
no mell and claw unyeuked with Robin o' Airyolan. Hear ye that, my man,
and keep a civil tongue within your ill-lookin' cheek, gin ye want to
gang hame in the morning wi' an uncracked croun!'

The man said no more, and by his gait I judged him to be some serving
man. For, as far as the light served me, he was not so well put on as
myself. Yet there was a kind of neatness about the creature that showed
him to be no outdoor man either.

However, he accompanied me willingly enough till we came to the Muckle
House of Myrtoun. For I think that he was feared of his head at my
words. And indeed it would not have taken the kittling of a flea to have
garred me draw a staff over his crown. For there is nothing that angers
a Galloway man more than an ignorant, upsetting town's body, putting in
his gab when he desires to live peaceable.

So, when we came to the back entrance, I said to him: 'Hear ye to this.
Ye are to make no noise, my mannie, but gie me a lift doon wi' thae
barrels cannily. For that dour old tod, the laird, is to ken naething
aboot this. Only Miss Peggy and Maister William, they ken. 'Deed, it was
young William himsel' that sent me on this errand.'

So with that the mannie gave a kind of laugh, and helped me down with
the ankers far better than I could have expected. We rolled them into a
shed at the back of the stables, and covered them up snug with some
straw and some old heather thatching.

'Ay, my lad,' says I to him, 'for a' your douce speech and fair words I
can see that ye hae been at this job afore!'

'Well, it is true,' he said, 'that I hae rolled a barrel or two in my

Then, in the waft of an eye I knew who he was. I set him down for Muckle
Jock, the Excise officer, that had never gone to the Glasserton at all,
but had been lurking there in the moss, waiting to deceive honest men. I
knew that I needed to be wary with him, for he was, as I had heard, a
sturdy carl, and had won the last throw at the Stoneykirk wrestling. But
all the men of the Fellside have an excellent opinion of themselves, and
I thought I was good for any man of the size of this one.

So said I to him: 'Noo, chiel, ye ken we are no' juist carryin' barrels
o' spring water at this time o' nicht to pleasure King George. Hearken
ye: we are in danger of being laid by the heels in the jail of Wigton
gin the black lawyer corbies get us. Noo, there's a Preventive man that
is crawling and spying ower by on the heights o' Physgill. Ye maun e'en
come wi' me an' help to keep him oot o' hairm's way. For it wad not be
for his guid that he should gang doon to the port this nicht!'

The man that I took to be the gauger hummed and hawed a while, till I
had enough of his talk and unstable ways.

'No back-and-forrit ways wi' Robin,' said I. 'Will ye come and help to
catch the King's officer, or will ye not?'

'No' a foot will I go,' says he. 'I have been a King's officer, myself!'

Whereupon I laid a pistol to his ear, for I was in some heat.

[Illustration: _I laid a pistol to his ear._]

'Gin you war King Geordie himsel', aye, or Cumberland either, ye shall
come wi' me and help to catch the gauger,' said I.

For I bethought me that it would be a bonny ploy, and one long to be
talked about in these parts, thus to lay by the heels the Exciseman and
make him tramp to Glasserton to kidnap himself.

The man with the bandy legs was taking a while to consider, so I said to
him: 'She is a guid pistol and new primed!'

'I'll come wi' ye!' said he.

So I set him first on the road, and left my horse in the stables of
Myrtoun. It was the gloam of the morning when we got to the turn of the
path by which, if he were to come at all, the new gauger would ride from
Glasserton. And lo! as if we had set a tryst, there he was coming over
the heathery braes at a brisk trot. So I covered him with my pistol, and
took his horse by the reins, thinking no more of the other man I had
taken for the gauger before.

'Dismount, my lad,' I said. 'Ye dinna ken me, but I ken you. Come here,
my brisk landlouper, and help to haud him!'

I saw the stranger who had come with me sneaking off, but with my other
pistol I brought him to a stand. So together we got the gauger into a
little thicket or planting. And here, willing or unwilling, we kept him
all day, till we were sure that the stuff would all be run, and the long
trains of honest smugglers on good horses far on their way to the towns
of the north.

Then very conscientiously I counted out the half of the tale of golden
guineas Master William had given me, and put them into the pocket of the
gauger's coat.

'Gin ye are a good, still-tongued kind of cattle, there is more of that
kind of yellow oats where these came from,' said I. 'But lie ye here
snug as a paitrick for an hour yet by the clock, lest even yet ye should
come to harm!'

So there we left him, not very sorely angered, for all he had posed as
so efficient and zealous a King's officer.

'Now,' said I to the man that had helped me, 'I promised ye half o'
Maister William's guineas, that he bade me keep, for I allow that it
micht hae been a different job but for your help. And here they are. Ye
shall never say that Robin of Airyolan roguit ony man,--even a feckless
toon's birkie wi' bandy legs!'

The man laughed and took the siller, saying, 'Thank'ee!' with an
arrogant air as if he handled bags of them every day. But, nevertheless,
he took them, and I parted from him, wishing him well, which was more
than he did to me. But I know how to use civility upon occasion.

When I reached home I told my father, and described the man I had met.
But he could make no guess at him. Nor had I any myself till the next
rent day, when my father, having a lame leg where the colt had kicked
him, sent me down to pay the owing. The factor I knew well, but I had my
money in hand and little I cared for him. But what was my astonishment
to find, sitting at the table with him, the very same man who had helped
me to lay the Exciseman by the heels. But now, I thought, there was a
strangely different air about him.

And what astonished me more, it was this man, and not the factor, who
spoke first to me.

Aye, young Robin of Airyolan, and are you here? Ye are a chiel with birr
and smeddum! There are the bones of a man in ye! Hae ye settled with the
gauger for shackling him by the hill of Physgill?'

Now, as I have said, I thole snash from no man, and I gave him the word
back sharply.

'Hae ye settled wi' him yoursel', sir? For it was you that tied the tow

My adversary laughed, and looked not at all ill-pleased.

He pointed to the five gold Georges on the tables.

'Hark ye, Robin of Airyolan, these are the five guineas ye gied to me
like an honest man. I'll forgie ye for layin' the pistol to my lug, for
after all ye are some credit to the land that fed ye. Gin ye promise to
wed a decent lass, I'll e'en gie ye a farm o' your ain. And as sure as
my name is Sir William Maxwell, ye shall sit your lifetime rent free,
for the de'il's errand that ye took me on the nicht of the
brandy-running at the Clone.'

I could have sunken through the floor when I heard that it was Sir
William himself,--whom, because he had so recently returned from foreign
parts after a sojourn of many years, I had never before seen.

Then both the factor and the laird laughed heartily at my discomfiture.

'Ken ye o' ony lass that wad tak' up wi' ye, Robin?' said Sir William.

'Half a dozen o' them, my lord,' said I. 'Lassies are neither ill to
seek nor hard to find when Robin of Airyolan gangs acoortin'!'

'Losh preserve us!' cried the laird, slapping his thigh, 'but I mysel'
never sallied forth to woo a lass so blithely confident!'

I said nothing, but dusted my knee-breeks. For the laird was no very
good-looking man, being grey as a badger.

'An' mind ye maun see to it that the bairns are a' loons, and as staunch
and stark as yoursel'!' said the factor.

'A man can but do his best,' answered I, very modestly as I thought. For
I never can tell why it is that the folk will always say that I have a
good opinion of myself. But neither, on the other hand, can I tell why I
should not.







_23rd September, 1747._

MY DEAR COUSIN FANNY,--It was a year last April Fool's Day, I left you
on the sands there at Mablethorpe, no more than a stone's throw from the
Book-in-Hand, swearing that you should never see or hear from me again.
You remember how we saw the coastguards flash their lights here and
there, as they searched the sands for me? how one came bundling down the
bank, calling, 'Who goes there?' and when I said, 'A friend,' he
stumbled, and his light fell to the sands and went out, and in the
darkness you and I stole away: you to your home, with a whispering,
'God-bless-you, Cousin Dick,' over your shoulder, and I with a bit of a
laugh that, maybe, cut you to the heart, and that split in a sob in my
own throat,--though you didn't hear that.

'Twas a bad night's work that, Cousin Fanny, and maybe I wish it undone;
and maybe I don't; but a devil gets into the heart of a man when he has
to fly from the lass he loved, while the friends of his youth go hunting
him with muskets, and he has to steal out of the back-door of his own
country and shelter himself, like a cold sparrow, up in the eaves of the

Ay, lass, that's how I left the fens of Lincolnshire a year last April
Fool's Day. There wasn't a dyke from Lincoln town to Mablethorpe that I
hadn't crossed with a running jump; and there wasn't a break in the
shore, or a sink-hole in the sand, or a clump of rushes, or a samphire
bed, from Skegness to Theddlethorpe, that I didn't know like every line
of your face. And when I was a slip of a lad--ay, and later, too,--how
you and I used to snuggle into little nooks of the sand-hills, maybe
just beneath the coastguard's hut, and watch the tide come swilling
in,--daisies you used to call the breaking surf, Cousin Fanny! And that
was like you, always with a fancy about everything you saw. And when the
ships, the fishing-smacks with their red sails, and the tall-masted
brigs, went by, taking the white foam on their canvas, you used to wish
that you might sail away to the lands you'd heard tell of from old
skippers that gathered round my uncle's fire in the Book-in-Hand. Ay, a
grand thing I thought it would be, too, to go riding round the world on
a well-washed deck, with plenty of food and grog, and maybe, by-and-by,
to be first mate, and lord it from fo'castle bunk to stern-rail!

[Illustration: _My heart keeps warm in thinkin' of you._]

You did not know, did you, who was the coastguardsman that stumbled as
he came on us that night? It looked a stupid thing to do that, and let
the lantern fall. But, lass, 'twas done o' purpose. That was the one
man in all the parish that would ha' risked his neck to let me free.
'Twas Lancy Doane, who 's give me as many beatings in his time as I him.
We were always getting foul one o' t'other since I was big enough to shy
a bit of turf at him across a dyke, and there isn't a spot on 's body
that I haven't hit, nor one on mine that he hasn't mauled. I've sat on
his head, and he's had his knee in my stomach till I squealed, and we
never could meet without back-talking and rasping 'gainst the grain. The
night before he joined the coastguardsmen, he was down at the
Book-in-Hand, and 'twas little like that I'd let the good chance
pass,--I might never have another; for Gover'ment folk will not easy
work a quarrel on their own account. I mind him sittin' there on the
settle, his shins against the fire, a long pipe going, and Casey of the
'Lazy Beetle,' and Jobbin the mate of the 'Dodger,' and Little Faddo,
who had the fat Dutch wife down by the Ship Inn, and Whiggle the
preaching blacksmith. And you were standin' with your back to the
shinin' pewters, and the great jug of ale with the white napkin behind
you; the light o' the fire wavin' on your face, and your look lost in
the deep hollow o' the chimney. I think of you most as you were that
minute, Cousin Fanny, when I come in. I tell you straight and fair, that
was the prettiest picture I ever saw; and I've seen some rare fine
things in my travels. 'Twas as if the thing had been set by some one
just to show you off to your best. Here you were, a slip of a lass,
straight as a bulrush, and your head hangin' proud on your shoulders;
yet modest too, as you can see off here in the North the top of the
golden-rod flower swing on its stem. You were slim as slim, and yet
there wasn't a corner on you; so soft and full and firm you were, like
the breast of a quail; and I mind me how the shine of your cheeks was
like the glimmer of an apple after you've rubbed it with a bit of cloth.
Well, there you stood in some sort of smooth, plain, clingin' gown, a
little bit loose and tumblin' at the throat, and your pretty foot with a
brown slipper pushed out, just savin' you from bein' prim. That's why
the men liked you,--you didn't carry a sermon in your waist-ribbon, and
the Lord's Day in the lift o' your chin; but you had a smile to give
when 'twas the right time for it, and men never said things with _you_
there that they'd have said before many another maid.

'Twas a thing I've thought on off here, where I've little to do but
think, how a lass like you could put a finger on the lip of such rough
tykes as Faddo, Jobbin, and the rest, keepin' their rude words under
flap and button. Do you mind how, when I passed you comin' in, I laid my
hand on yours as it rested on the dresser? That hand of yours wasn't a
tiny bit of a thing, and the fingers weren't all taperin' like a
simperin' miss from town, worked down in the mill of quality and got
from graftin' and graftin', like one of them roses from the flower-house
at Mablethorpe Hall,--not fit to stand by one o' them that grew strong
and sweet with no fancy colour, in the garden o' the Book-in-Hand. Yours
was a hand that talked as much as your lips or face, as honest and
white; and the palm all pink, and strong as strong could be, and warmin'
every thread in a man's body when he touched it. Well, I touched your
hand then, and you looked at me and nodded, and went musin' into the
fire again, not seemin' to hear our gabble.

But, you remember--don't you?--how Jobbin took to chaffin' of Lancy
Doane, and how Faddo's tongue got sharper as the time got on, and many a
nasty word was said of coastguards and excisemen, and all that had to do
with law and gover'ment. Cuts there were at some of Lancy's wild doings
in the past, and now and then they'd turn to me, saying what they
thought would set me girdin' Lancy too. But I had my own quarrel, and I
wasn't to be baited by such numskulls. And Lancy--that was a thing I
couldn't understand--he did no more than shrug his shoulder and call for
more ale, and wish them all good health and a hundred a year. I never
thought he could ha' been so patient-like. But there was a kind of
little smile, too, on his face, showin' he did some thinkin'; and I
guessed he was bidin' his time.

I wasn't as sharp as I might ha' been, or I'd ha' seen what he was
waitin' for, with that quiet provokin' smile on his face, and his eyes
smoulderin' like. I don't know to this day whether you wanted to leave
the room when you did, though 'twas about half after ten o'clock, later
than I ever saw you there before. But when my uncle came in from Louth,
and gave you a touch on the shoulder, and said: 'To bed wi' you, my
lass,' you waited for a minute longer, glancin' round on all of us, at
last lookin' steady at Lancy; and he got up from his chair, and took off
his hat to you with a way he had. You didn't stay a second after that,
but went away straight, sayin' good-night to all of us; but Lancy was
the only one on his feet.

Just as soon as the door was shut behind you, Lancy turned round to the
fire, and pushed the log with his feet in a way a man does when he's
thinkin' a bit. And Faddo gave a nasty laugh, and said:--

'Theer's a dainty sitovation. Theer's Mr. Thomas Doane, outlaw and
smuggler, and theer's Mr. Lancy Doane, coastguardsman. Now, if them two
should 'appen to meet on Lincolnshire coast, Lord, theer's a sitovation
for ye,--Lord, theer's a cud to chew! 'Ere's one gentleman wants to try
'is 'and at 'elpin' Prince Charlie, and when 'is 'elp doesn't amount to
anythink, what does the King on 'is throne say? He says, "As for Thomas
Doane, Esquire, aw've doone wi' 'im!" And theer's another gentleman, Mr.
Lancy Doane, Esquire. He turns pious, and says, "Aw'm goin' for a
coastguardsman!" What does the King on his throne say? 'E says, "Theer's
the man for me!" But aw says, "Aw've doone, aw've doone wid Mr. Lancy
Doane, Esquire, and be damned to 'im." He! he! Theer's a fancy
sitovation for ye. Mr. Thomas Doane, Esquire, smuggler and outlaw, an'
Mr. Lancy Doane, Esquire, coastguardsman. Aw've doone. Ho! ho! That gits
into my crop.'

I tell you these things, Cousin Fanny, because I'm doubtin' if you ever
heard them, or knew exactly how things stood that night. I never was a
friend of Lancy Doane, you understand, but it's only fair that the truth
be told about that quarrel, for like as not he wouldn't speak himself,
and your father was moving in and out; and, I take my oath, I wouldn't
believe Faddo and the others if they were to swear on the Bible. Not
that they didn't know the truth when they saw it, but they did love just
to let their fancy run. I'm livin' over all the things that happened
that night,--livin' them over to-day, when everything's so quiet about
me here, so lonesome. I wanted to go over it all, bit by bit, and work
it out in my head just as you and I used to do the puzzle games we
played in the sands. And maybe, when you're a long way off from things
you once lived, you can see them and understand them better. Out here,
where it's so lonely, and yet so good a place to live in, I seem to get
the hang o' the world better, and why some things are, and other things
aren't; and I thought it would pull at my heart to sit down and write
you a long letter, goin' over the whole business again; but it doesn't.
I suppose I feel as a judge does when he goes over a lot of evidence,
and sums it all up for the jury. I don't seem prejudiced one way or
another. But I'm not sure that I've got all the evidence to make me ken
everything; and that's what made me bitter wild the last time that I saw
you. Maybe you hadn't anything to tell me, and maybe you had, and maybe,
if you ever write to me out here, you'll tell me if there's anything I
don't know about them days.

Well, I'll go back now to what happened when Faddo was speakin' at my
uncle's bar. Lancy Doane was standin' behind the settle, leanin' his
arms on it, and smokin' his pipe quiet. He waited patient till Faddo had
done, then he comes round the settle, puts his pipe up in the rack
between the rafters, and steps in front of Faddo. If ever the devil was
in a man's face, it looked out of Lancy Doane's that minute. Faddo had
touched him on the raw when he fetched out that about Tom Doane. All of
a sudden Lancy swings, and looks at the clock.

'It's half-past ten, Jim Faddo,' he said, 'and aw've got an hour an' a
half to deal wi' you as a Lincolnshire lad. At twelve o'clock aw'm the
Gover'ment's, but till then aw'm Lancy Doane, free to strike or free to
let alone; to swallow dirt or throw it; to take a lie or give it. And
now list to me; aw'm not goin' to eat dirt, and aw'm goin' to give you
the lie, and aw'm goin' to break your neck, if I swing for it to-morrow,
Jim Faddo. And here's another thing aw'll tell you. When the clock
strikes twelve, on the best horse in the country aw'll ride to
Theddlethorpe, straight for the well that's dug you know where, to find
your smuggled stuff, and to run the irons round your wrists. Aw'm
dealin' fair wi' you that never dealt fair by no man. You never had an
open hand nor soft heart; and because you've made money, not out o'
smugglin' alone, but out o' poor devils of smugglers that didn't know
rightly to be rogues, you think to fling your dirt where you choose. But
aw'll have ye to-night as a man, and aw'll have ye to-night as a King's
officer, or aw'll go damned to hell.'

Then he steps back a bit very shiny in the face, and his eyes like
torchlights, but cool and steady. 'Come on now,' he says, 'Jim Faddo,
away from the Book-in-Hand, and down to the beach under the sand-hills,
and we'll see man for man--though, come to think of it, y'are no man,'
he said--'if ye'll have the right to say when aw'm a King's officer
that you could fling foul words in the face of Lancy Doane. And a word
more,' he says; 'aw wouldn't trust ye if an Angel o' Heaven swore for
ye. Take the knife from the belt behind your back there, and throw it on
the table, for you wouldn't bide by no fair rules o' fightin'. Throw the
knife on the table,' he says, comin' a step forward.

Faddo got on to his feet. He was bigger built than Lancy, and a bit
taller, and we all knew he was devilish strong in his arms. There was a
look in his face I couldn't understand. One minute I thought it was
fear, and another I thought it was daze; and maybe it was both. But all
on a sudden something horrible cunnin' come into it, and ugly too.

'Go to the well, then, since ye've found out _all_ about it,' he says,
'but aw've an hour and a half start o' ye, Lancy Doane.'

'Ye've less than that,' says Lancy back to him, 'if ye go with me to the
sands first.'

At that my uncle stepped in to say a word for peace-makin', but Lancy
would have none of it. 'Take the knife and throw it on the table,' he
said to Faddo once more, and Faddo took it out and threw it down.

'Come on, then,' Faddo says, with a sneerin' laugh; 'we'll see by
daybreak who has the best o' this night's work,' and he steps towards
the door.

'Wait a minute,' says Lancy, gettin' in front of him. 'Now take the
knife from your boot. Take it,' he says again, 'or aw will. That's like
a man, to go to a fist-fight wi' knives. Take it,' he said; 'aw'll gi'
ye till aw count four, and if ye doan't take it, aw'll take it meself.
One!' he says steady and soft. 'Two!' Faddo never moved. 'Three!' The
silence made me sick, and the clock ticked like hammers. 'Four!' he
said, and then he sprang for the boot, but Faddo's hand went down like
lightnin', too. I couldn't tell exactly how they clinched, but once or
twice I saw the light flash on the steel. Then they came down together,
Faddo under, and when I looked again Faddo was lying eyes starin' wide,
and mouth all white with fear, for Lancy was holding the knife-point at
his throat. 'Stir an inch,' says Lancy, 'and aw'll pin ye to the lid o'

And three minutes by the clock he knelt there on Faddo's chest, the
knife-point touching the bone in 's throat. Not one of us stirred, but
just stood lookin', and my own heart beat so hard it hurt me, and my
uncle steadyin' himself against the dresser. At last Lancy threw the
knife away into the fire.

'Coward!' he said. 'A man would ha' taken the knife. Did you think aw
was goin' to gie my neck to the noose just to put your knife to proper
use? But don't stir till aw gie you the word, or aw'll choke the breath
o' life out o' ye.'

At that Faddo sprung to clinch Lancy's arms, but Lancy's fingers caught
him in the throat, and I thought surely Faddo was gone, for his tongue
stood out a finger-length, and he was black in the face.

'For God's sake, Lancy,' said my uncle, steppin' forward, 'let him go.'

At that Lancy said, 'He's right enough. It's not the first time aw've
choked a coward. Throw cold water on him and gi' 'im brandy.'

Sure enough, he wasn't dead. Lancy stood there watchin' us while we
fetched Faddo back, and I tell you, that was a narrow squeak for him.
When he got his senses again, and was sittin' there lookin' as if he'd
been hung and brought back to life, Lancy says to him: 'There, Jim
Faddo, aw've done wi' you as a man, and at twelve o'clock aw'll begin
wi' ye as King's officer.' And at that, with a good-night to my uncle
and all of us, he turns on his heels and leaves the Book-in-Hand.

I tell you, Cousin Fanny, though I'd been ripe for quarrel wi' Lancy
Doane myself that night, I could ha' took his hand like a brother, for
I never saw a man deal fairer wi' a scoundrel than he did wi' Jim Faddo.
You see it wasn't what Faddo said about himself that made Lancy wild,
but that about his brother Tom; and a man doesn't like his brother
spoken ill of by dirt like Faddo, be it true or false. And of Lancy's
brother I'm goin' to write further on in this letter, for I doubt that
you know all I know about him, and the rest of what happened that night
and afterwards.

       *       *       *       *       *       *       *       *

DEAR COUSIN FANNY,--I canna write all I set out to, for word come to me,
just as I wrote the last sentence above, that the ship was to leave port
three days sooner than was fixed for when I began. I have been rare and
busy since then, and I have no time to write more. And so 't will be
another year before you get a word from me; but I hope that when this
letter comes you'll write one back to me by the ship that sails next
summer from London. The summer's short and the winter's long here,
Cousin Fanny, and there's more snow than grass; and there's more flowers
in a week in Mablethorpe than in a whole year here. But, lass, the sun
shines always, and my heart keeps warm in thinkin' of you, and I ask you
to forgive me for any harsh word I ever spoke, not forgettin' that last
night when I left you on the sands, and stole away like a thief across
the sea. I'm going to tell you the whole truth in my next letter, but
I'd like you to forgive me before you know it all, for 't is a right
lonely and distant land, this, and who can tell what may come to pass in
twice a twelvemonth! Maybe a prayer on lips like mine doesn't seem in
place, for I've not lived as parson says man ought to live, but I think
the Lord will have no worse thought o' me when I say, God bless thee,
lass, and keep thee safe as any flower in His garden that He watereth
with His own hand. Write to me, lass: I love thee still, I do love thee.



_May-Day, 1749._

DEAR COUSIN DICK,--I think I have not been so glad in many years as when
I got your letter last Guy Fawkes Day. I was coming from the church
where the parson preached on plots and treasons, and obedience to the
King, when I saw the old postman coming down the road. I made quickly to
him, I know not why, for I had not thought to hear from you, and before
I reached him he held up his hand, showing me the stout packet which
brought me news of you. I hurried with it to the inn, and went straight
to my room and sat down by the window, where I used to watch for your
coming with the fishing fleet, down the sea from the Dogger Bank. I was
only a girl, a young girl, then, and the Dogger Bank was, to my mind,
as far off as that place you call York Factory, in Hudson's Bay, is to
me now. And yet I did not know how very far it was until our
schoolmaster showed me on a globe how few days' sail it is to the Dogger
Bank, and how many to York Factory.

But I will tell you of my reading of your letter, and of what I thought.
But first I must go back a little. When you went away that wild, dark
night, with bitter words on your lips to me, Cousin Dick, I thought I
should never feel the same again. You did not know it, but I was bearing
the misery of your trouble and of another's also, and of my own as well;
and so I said over and over again: Oh, why will men be hard on women?
Why do they look for them to be iron like themselves, bearing double
burdens as most women do? But afterwards, I settled to a quietness which
I would not have you think was happiness, for I have given up thought of
that. Nor would I have you think me bearing trouble sweetly, for
sometimes I was most hard and stubborn. But I lived on in a sort of
stillness till that morning when, sitting by my window, I read all you
had written to me. And first of all, I must tell you how my heart was
touched at your words about our childhood together. I had not thought it
lay so deep in your mind, Cousin Dick. It always stays in mine; but
then, women have more memories than men. The story of that night I knew;
but never fully as you have told it to me in your letter. Of what
happened after Lancy Doane left the inn, of which you have not written,
but promised the writing in your next letter, I think I know as well as
yourself. Nay, more, Cousin Dick. There are some matters concerning what
followed that night and after, which I know, and you do not know. But
you have guessed there was something which I did not tell you, and so
there was. And I will tell you of them now. But I will take up the
thread of the story where you dropped it, and reel it out.

You left the inn soon after Lancy Doane, and James Faddo went then, too,
riding hard for Theddlethorpe, for he knew that in less than an hour the
coastguards would be rifling the hiding-places of his smuggled stuff.
You did not take a horse, but, getting a musket, you walked the sands
hard to Theddlethorpe.

I know it all, though you did not tell me, Cousin Dick. You had no
purpose in going, save to see the end of a wretched quarrel and a
smuggler's ill-scheme. You carried a musket for your own safety, not
with any purpose. It was a day of weight in your own life, for on one
side you had an offer from the Earl Fitzwilliam to serve on his estate;
and on the other to take a share in a little fleet of fishing smacks, of
which my father was part owner. I think you know to which side I
inclined, but that now is neither here nor there; and, though you did
not tell me, as you went along the shore you were more intent on
handing back and forth in your mind your own affairs, than of what
should happen at Theddlethorpe. And so you did not hurry as you went,
and, as things happened, you came to Faddo's house almost at the same
moment with Lancy Doane and two other mounted coastguards.

You stood in the shadow while they knocked at Faddo's door. You were so
near, you could see the hateful look in his face. You were surprised he
did not try to stand the coastguards off. You saw him, at their bidding,
take a lantern, and march with them to a shed standing off a little from
the house nearer to the shore. Going a round-about swiftly, you came to
the shed first, and posted yourself at the little window on the
sea-side. You saw them enter with the lantern, saw them shift a cider
press, uncover the floor, and there beneath, in a dry well, were barrels
upon barrels of spirits, and crouched among them was a man whom you all
knew at once,--Lancy's brother, Tom. That, Cousin Dick, was Jim Faddo's
revenge. Tom Doane had got refuge with him till he should reach his
brother, not knowing Lancy was to be coastguard. Faddo, coming back from
Mablethorpe, told Tom the coastguards were to raid him that night; and
he made him hide in this safe place, as he called it, knowing that Lancy
would make for it.

For a minute after Tom was found no man stirred. Tom was quick of brain
and wit--would it had always been put to good purposes!--and saw at once
Faddo's treachery. Like winking he fired at the traitor, who was almost
as quick to return the fire. What made you do it I know not, unless it
was you hated treachery; but, sliding in at the open door behind the
coastguards, you snatched the lantern from the hands of one, threw it
out of the open door, and, thrusting them aside, called for Tom to
follow you. He sprang towards you over Faddo's body, even as you threw
the lantern, and catching his arm, you ran with him towards the dyke.

'Ready for a great jump!' you said; 'your life hangs on it.' He was even
longer of leg than you. 'Is it a dyke?' he whispered, as the shots from
three muskets rang after you. 'A dyke. When I count three, jump,' you
answered. I have read somewhere of the great leap that one Don Alvarado,
a Spaniard, made in Mexico, but surely never was a greater leap than you
two made that night, landing safely on the other side, and making for
the sea-shore. None of the coastguardsmen, not even Lancy, could make
the leap, for he was sick and trembling, though he had fired upon his
own brother. And so they made for the bridge some distance above, just
as the faint moon slipped behind a cloud and hid you from their sight.

That is no country to hide in, as you know well,--no caves, or hills, or
mazy coombes,--just a wide, flat, reedy place, broken by open wolds. The
only refuge for both now was the sea. 'Twas a wild run you two made,
side by side, down that shore, keeping close within the gloom of the
sand-hills, the coastguards coming after, pressing you closer than they
thought at the time, for Tom Doane had been wounded in the leg. But
Lancy sent one back for the horses, he and the other coming on; and so,
there you were, two and two. 'Twas a cruel task for Lancy that night,
enough to turn a man's hair grey. But duty was duty, though those two
lads were more to each other than most men ever are. You know how it
ended. But I want to go all over it just to show you that I understand.
You were within a mile of Mablethorpe, when you saw a little fishing
smack come riding in, and you made straight for it. Who should be in the
smack but Solby, the canting Baptist, who was no friend to you, or my
uncle, or any of us. You had no time for bargaining or coaxing, and so,
at the musket's mouth, you drove him from the boat, and pushed it out
just as Lancy and his men came riding up. Your sail was up, and you
turned the lugger to the wind in as little time as could be, but the
coastguardsmen rode after you, calling you to give in. No man will ever
know the bitter trouble in Lancy's heart when he gave the order to fire
on you, though he did not fire himself. And you,--do I not know, Cousin
Dick, what you did? Tom Doane was not the man to fire at the three dark
figures riding you down, not knowing which was his brother. But you, you
understood that; and you were in, you said to yourself, and you'd play
the game out, come what would. You raised your musket and drew upon a
figure. At that moment a coastguard's musket blazed, and you saw the man
you had drawn on was Lancy Doane. You lowered your musket, and as you
did a ball struck you on the wrist.

[Illustration: _You drove him from the boat._]

Oh, I have thanked God a hundred times, dear Cousin Dick, that you fired
no shot that night, but only helped a hunted, miserable man away, for
you did get free. Just in the nick of time your sail caught the wind
bravely, and you steered for the open sea. Three days from that, Tom
Doane was safe at the Hague, and you were on your way back to
Lincolnshire. You came by a fishing boat to Saltfleet Haven, and made
your way down the coast towards Mablethorpe. Passing Theddlethorpe, you
went up to Faddo's house, and, looking through the window, you saw
Faddo, not dead, but being cared for by his wife. Then you came on to
Mablethorpe, and standing under my window, at the very moment when I was
on my knees praying for the safety of those who travelled by sea, you
whistled, like a quail from the garden below,--the old signal. Oh, how
my heart stood still a moment, and then leaped, for I knew it was you. I
went down to the garden, and there you were. Oh, I _was_ glad to see
you, Cousin Dick!

You remember how I let you take me in your arms for an instant, and then
I asked if _he_ was safe. And when you told me that he was, I burst
into tears, and I asked you many questions about him. And you answered
them quickly, and then would have taken me in your arms again. But I
would not let you, for then I knew--I knew that you loved me, and, oh, a
dreadful feeling came into my heart, and I drew back, and could have
sunk upon the ground in misery, but that there came a thought of your
safety. _He_ was safe, but you,--you were here, where reward was set for
you. I begged you to come into the house, that I might hide you there,
but you would not. You had come for one thing, you said, and only one.
An hour or two, and then you must be gone for London. And so you urged
me to the beach. I was afraid we might be seen, but you led me away from
the cottages near to the little bridge which crosses the dyke. By that
way we came to the sands, as we thought unnoted. But no, who should it
be to see us but that canting Baptist, Solby! And so the alarm was
given. You had come, dear Cousin Dick, to ask me one thing,--if I loved
you? and if, should you ever be free to come back, I would be your wife?
I did not answer you; I could not answer you; and, when you pressed me,
I begged you to have pity on me, and not to speak of it. You thought I
was not brave enough to love a man open to the law. As if--as if I knew
not that what you did came out of a generous, reckless heart! And on my
knees--oh, on my knees--I ought to have thanked you for it. But I knew
not what to say; my lips were closed. And just then shots were fired,
and we saw the coastguards' lights. Then came Lancy Doane stumbling down
the banks, and our parting,--our parting. Your bitter laugh as you left
me has rung in my ears ever since.

Do not think we have been idle here in your cause, for I myself went to
Earl Fitzwilliam and told him the _whole_ story, and how you had come
to help Tom Doane that night. How do I know of it all? Because I have
seen a letter from Tom Doane. Well, the Earl promised to lay your case
before the King himself, and to speak for you with good eager entreaty.
And so, it may be, by next time I write, there will go good news to you,
and--will you then come back, dear Cousin Dick?

And I now want to tell you what I know, and what you do not know. Tom
Doane had a wife in Mablethorpe. He married her when she was but
sixteen,--a child. But she was afraid of her father's anger, and her
husband soon after went abroad, became one of Prince Charlie's men, and
she's never seen him since. She never really loved him, but she never
forgot that she was his wife; and she always dreaded his coming back; as
well she might, for you see what happened when he did come. I pitied
her, dear Cousin Dick, with all my heart; and when Tom Doane died on
the field of battle in Holland last year, I wept with her and prayed for
her. And you would have wept too, man though you are, if you had seen
how grateful she was that he died in honourable fighting, and not in a
smuggler's cave at Theddlethorpe. She blessed you for that, and she
never ceases to work with me for the King's pardon for you.

There is no more to say now, dear Cousin Dick, save that I would have
you know I think of you with great desire of heart for your well-being,
and I pray God for your safe return some day to the good country which,
pardoning you, will cast you out no more.

I am, dear Cousin Dick,
Thy most affectionate Cousin,

P.S.--Dear Dick, my heart bursts for joy. Enclosed here is thy pardon,
sent by the good Earl Fitzwilliam last night. I could serve him on my
knees forever. Dick, she that was Tom Doane's wife, she loves thee. Wilt
thou not come back to her? In truth, she always loved thee. She was thy
cousin; she is thy Fanny. Now thou knowest all.





A curse is laid on one long narrow strip of the sea, down in front of

No matter how lifeless the sunlit air may hang above; no matter how
silken-smooth the face of the waters nearest by, lifting themselves
without a ripple in the most indolent summer swell,--an angry churning
goes always forward here. Disordered currents will never tire of their
coiling and writhing somewhere underneath: the surface is streaked with
sinister markings like black shadows, which yet are no shadows at all;
and these glide without ceasing out and in among the twisted lines of
grey-white scum, and everything moves and nothing changes, till Judgment
Day. It has the name of the _Slighe Mhuircheartaigh_ (spoken Shlee
Vurharthee), or the Path of Murtogh.

Though 'tis well known that the grandest ling and turbot and wonderful
other big fishes lie swaying themselves in the depths of this wicked
water, with giant crayfish and crabs to bear them company, the fishermen
of Dunmanus and Goleen and Crookhaven, and even the strangers from Cape
Clear, would not buy a soul from Purgatory at the price of drawing a net
through it. They have a great wish to please the buyers in the English
ships, and the Scotch and Manx, O yes,--but a creel of gold would not
tempt them to meddle in 'Murty's Path.' They steer their boats far to
one side, and bless themselves as they pass, in the manner of their
fathers and grandfathers before them.

These poor men, having not much of the Irish now, and not rightly
understanding what their elders may have heard the truth of, say that
this snake-like forbidding stretch wears its name from Murty _Oge_
O'Sullivan. Their thought is that the uncanny boiling began in the wake
of the English _Speedwell_, as the corpse of the vanquished privateer
spun and twirled at her keel through the foam, on its savage last
journey from Castletown to Cork. But it is enough to look down at this
evil place, to see that the malediction upon it must be older than Murty
_Oge's_ time, which, in the sight of Dunlogher, was as yesterday. Why,
men are living this year who talked with men who saw his head spiked
over South gate. There were no great curses left unused in Ireland at so
late a day as his. And again, would it be the waters of Dunlogher that
would tear themselves for an O'Sullivan?

[Illustration: _Saw his head spiked over South Gate._]

No, the curse threads back a dozen lives behind poor Murty _Oge_. The
strange currents weave and twine, and the greasy foam spreads and
gathers, gathers and spreads, in the path of another, whose birthright
it was that they should baptise him. The true tale is of Murty the
Proud, or if you will have his style from the Book of Schull,--Murtogh
_Mordha_ O'Mahony, chief in Dunlogher. And his time is not so distant,
in one way, as men take account of years. But in another it is too
remote for any clear vision, because the 'little people' of the old,
fearful kind had left every other part of Ireland, and they were just
halting together for a farewell pause in Dunlogher, by reason of its
being the last end of the land, and their enchantments fanned up a
vapour about Murty _Mordha_ to his undoing. And it is as if that mist
still rose between us and his story.


When the sun began to sink out of sight, down behind the sea, two men
stood on the edge of the great cliff of Dunlogher, their faces turned to
the west.

The yellow flame from the sky shone full in the eyes of Murtogh, and he
held his huge, bare head erect with boldness, and stared back at it
without blinking. His companion, a little, shrivelled old man, whom he
held by the arm, had the glowing light on his countenance as well, but
his eyelids were shut. He bent himself against his chief's thick
shoulder and trembled.

'Are we to the brink itself?' he asked; his aged voice shook when he

'Here, where I stand, when I would grip you, and hold you forth at the
length of my arm, and open my hand, you would fall a hundred fathoms in
the air.' Murtogh's free arm and hand made the terrible gesture to fit
his words, but he tightened his protecting clasp upon the other, and led
him back a few paces. The old man groaned his sigh of relief.

'It is you who are the brave nobleman, Murty,' he whispered, admiringly.
'There is none to equal your strength, or your grand courage, in all the
land. And the heart of pure gold along with it!'

Murtogh tossed his big head, to shake the twisted forelock of his hair
to one side. 'I looked straight into the sun at noon on St. John's Day,'
he said, quietly, with the pride of a child. 'If it were a hundred times
as bright, I would look at it, and never fear for my eyes. I would hold
my own son out here, stretched over the abyss, and he would be no safer
in his bed. Whatever I wished to do, I would do it.'

'You would--O, you would!' assented the old man, in tones of entire

The chieftain kept his eyes on the skyline, beneath which, as the
radiance above deepened, the waters grew ashen and coldly dark. Musing,
he held his silence for a time. Then, with abruptness, he asked:--

'What age were you, Owny Hea, when the McSwineys put out your eyes? Were
you strong enough to remember the sun well?'

'I was of no strength at all,' the other whimpered, the tragedy of his
childhood affecting his speech on the instant. 'I was in my mother's
arms. There were the men breaking in through the wall, and the kine
bellowing outside, and my father cut down; and then it was like my
mother drew her cloak tight over my head,--and no one came ever to take
it off again. I forget the sun.'

Murtogh nodded his head. 'I will go to Muskerry some day,' he said, in a
kindly way. 'I cannot tell when, just now; but I will go, and I will
burn and desolate everything for six miles around, and you shall have a
bag for your harp made of eyelids of the McSwineys.'

Old Owny lifted his sightless face toward his master, and smiled with
wistful affection. 'Ah, Murty, dear,' he expostulated, mildly, 'it is
you who have the grand nature; but think, Murty,--I am a very old man,
and no kin of yours. It is fifty years since the last man who took my
eyes drew breath. If you went now, no living soul could tell what you
came for, or why the great suffering was put upon them. And, moreover,
the O'Mahonys Carbery have wives from the McSwineys these three
generations. No feud lies now.'

The lord of Dunlogher growled sharply between his teeth, and Owny shrank
further back.

'How long will you be learning,' Murtogh demanded, with an arrogant note
in his voice, 'that I have no concern in the O'Mahonys Carbery, or the
O'Mahonys _Fonn-Iartarach_, or any other? I do not take heed of Conogher
of Ardintenant, or Teige of Rosbrin, or Donogh of Dunmanus, or Donal of
Leamcon. I will give them all my bidding to do, and they will do it, or
I will kill them, and spoil their castles. You could not behold it, but
you have your song from the words of others: how last year I fell upon
Diarmaid _Bhade_, and crushed him and his house, and slew his son, and
brought away his herds. His father's father and mine were brothers. He
is nearer to me in blood than the rest, yet I would not spare him. I
made his Ballydevlin a nest for owls and bats. Let the others observe
what I did. I am in Dunlogher, and I am the O'Mahony here, and I look
the sun in the face like an eagle. Put that to your song!'

The sound came to them, from the walled bawn and gateways beyond the
Three Castles, a hundred yards behind, of voices in commotion. The old
bard lifted his head, and his brow scored itself in lines of listening
attention. If Murtogh heard, he gave no sign, but gazed again in
meditation out upon the vast waste of waters, blackening now as the
purple reflections of the twilight waned.

'Blind men have senses that others lack,' he remarked at last. 'Tell me,
you, does the earth we stand on seem ever to you to be turning round?'

Owny shuddered a little at the thought which came to him. 'When you led
me out beyond here, and I felt the big round sea-pinks under my feet,
and remembered they grew only on the very edge--' he began.

'Not that,' the chief broke in, ''tis not my meaning. But at Rosbrin
there was a book written by Fineen the son of Diarmaid, an uncle to my
father's father, and my father heard it read from this book that the
world turned round one way, like a duck on a spit, and the sun turned
round the other way, and that was why they were apart all night. And
often I come here, and I swear there is a movement under my feet. But
elsewhere there is none, not in the bawn, or in the towers, or anywhere
else but just here.'

The old man inclined his face, as if he could see the ground he stood
upon, but shook his head after a moment's waiting. 'It would not be
true, Murty,' he suggested. 'Old Fineen had a mighty scholarship, as I
have heard, and he made an end to edify the angels, but--but--'

Murtogh did not wait for the hesitating conclusion. 'I saw his tomb
when I was a lad, in the chapel at Rosbrin. He was laid at his own
desire under a weight of stone like my wall here. I saw even then how
foolish it was. These landsmen have no proper sense. How will they rise
at the blessed Resurrection, with all that burden of stone to hold them
down? I have a better understanding than that. I buried my father, as he
buried his father, out yonder in the sea. And I will be buried there,
too, and my son after me--and if I have other children--' he stole a
swift glance at the old man's withered face as he spoke--'if I have
others, I say, it will be my command that they shall follow me there,
when their time comes. I make you witness to that wish, Owny Hea.'

The bard hung his head. 'As if my time would not come first!' he said,
for the mere sake of saying something. Then, gathering courage, he
pulled upon the strong arm which was still locked in his, and raised
his head to speak softly in the O'Mahony's ear.

'If only the desire of your heart were given you, Murty,' he murmured;
'if only once I could hold a babe of yours to my breast, and put its
pretty little hands in my beard,--I'd be fit to pray for the men who
took my eyes from me. And Murty dear,'--his voice rose in tremulous
entreaty as he went on,--'tell me, Murty,--I'm of an age to be your
father's father, and I've no eyesight to shame you,--is she--is your
holy wife coming to see her duty differently? Have you hope

Murtogh turned abruptly on his heel, swinging his companion round with
him. They walked a dozen paces towards the sea-gate of the castles,
before he spoke. 'You have never seen her, Owny!' he said, gravely. 'You
do not know at all how beautiful she is. It is not in the power of your
mind to imagine it. There is no one like her in all the world. She is
not just flesh and blood like you, Owny, or even like me. I am a great
lord among men, Owny, and I am not afraid of any man. I would put the
MacCarthy, or even the Earl of Desmond, over my cliff like a rat, if he
came to me here, and would not do me honour. But whenever I come where
she sits, I am like a little dirty boy, frightened before a great shrine
of our Blessed Lady, all with jewels and lights and incense. I take
shame to myself when she looks at me, that there are such things in my
heart for her to see.'

Owny sighed deeply. 'The grandest princess in the world might be proud
to be mated to you, Murty,' he urged.

'True enough,' responded Murtogh, with candour. 'But she is not a
princess,--or any mere woman at all. She is a saint. Perhaps she is more
still. Listen, Owny. Do you remember how I took her,--how I swam for her
through the breakers--and snapped the bone of my arm to keep the mast of
their wreck from crushing her when the wave flung it upon us, and still
made land with her head on my neck, and hung to the bare rock against
all the devils of the sea sucking to pull me down--?'

'Is it not all in my song?' said Owny, with gentle reproach.

'Owny, man, listen!' said Murtogh, halting and giving new impressiveness
to his tone. 'I took her from the water. Her companions were gone; their
vessel was gone. Did we ever see sign of them afterward? And her
family,--the Sigersons of that island beyond Tiobrad,--when men of mine
sailed thither, and asked for Hugh, son of Art, were they not told that
the O'Flaherty had passed over the island, and left nothing alive on it
the size of a mussel shell? Draw nearer to me, Owny. You will be
thinking the more without your eyes. Have you thought that it may be
she--whisper now!--that she may belong to the water?'

They stood motionless in the gathering twilight, and the bard turned the
problem over deliberately. At last he seemed to shake his head. '_They_
would not be displaying such piety, as the old stories of them go,' he
suggested, 'or--I mean it well to you, Murty--or breaking husbands'
hearts with vows of celibacy.'

The O'Mahony pushed the old man from him. 'Then if she be a saint,' he
cried, 'why then it were better for me to make ten thousand more blind
men like you, and tear my own eyes out, and lead you all headlong over
the cliff there, than risk the littlest offence to her pure soul!'

The old bard held out a warning hand. 'People are coming!' he said. Then
gliding towards his chief, he seized the protecting arm again, and
patted it, and fawned against it. 'Where you go, Murty,' he said
eagerly, 'I follow. What you say, I say.'

Some dancing lights had suddenly revealed themselves at the corner of
the nearest castle wall. Murtogh had not realised before that it was
dusk. 'They will be looking for me,' he said, and moved forward,
guiding his companion's steps. The thought that with Owny it was always
dark rose in him, and drove other things away.

Three men with torches came up,--rough men with bare legs and a single
skirt-like tunic of yellow woollen cloth, and uncovered heads with
tangled and matted shocks of black hair. The lights they bore gleamed
again in the fierce eyes which looked out from under their forelocks.

'O'Mahony,' one of them said, 'the _liathan_ priest is at the
gate,--young Donogh, son of Donogh _Bhade_ who fled to Spain. He is
called Father Donatus now.'

'What will he want here?' growled Murtogh. 'I have beaten his father; if
I have the mind, his tonsure will not hold me from beating him also.'

'He has brought a foreign Spaniard, a young man with breeches and a
sword, who comes to you from the King of Spain.'

Murtogh straightened himself, and disengaged the arm of the blind man.
'Run forward, you two,' he ordered sharply, 'and call all the men from
the bawns and the cattle and the boats, and I will have them light
torches, and stand in a line from the second tower to the postern, and
show their spears well in front, and be silent. I will not have any man
talk but myself, or thrust himself into notice. We were Kings of
Rathlin, and we have our own matters to discuss with the Kings of


Three score fighting men, some bearing lights, and all showing shields,
and spears, or javelins, or long hooked axes, crowded in the semblance
of a line along the narrow way to the large keep--and behind them packed
four times their number of women and children--watched Murtogh when he
brought his guests past from the gate.

He moved proudly up the boreen, with a slow step, and the gleam of a
high nature in his eyes. His own people saw afresh how great was his
right to be proud. The broad hard muscles of his legs, straining to
burst their twisted leather thongs as he walked; the vast weight and
thickness of the breast and shoulders, under the thin summer cloak of
cloth from the Low Countries which he held wrapped tight about them; the
corded sinews of his big bare neck; above all, the lion-like head, with
its dauntless regard and its splendid brown-black mane, and the sparkle
of gold in the bushing glibb on his brow,--where else in all Ireland
would their match be found? But for that strange injunction to silence,
the fighters of the sept would be splitting the air with yells for their
chieftain. They struck their weapons together, and made the gaze they
bent upon him burn with meaning, and he, without looking, read it, and
bore himself more nobly yet; and the mothers and wives and little ones,
huddled behind in the darkness, groaned aloud with the pain of their
joy in Murty _mordha_.

It swelled the greatness of Murtogh when they looked upon those who
followed him. 'It is the _soggarth liathan_,' they whispered, at view of
the young priest, with his pointed face and untimely whitened hair. He
would not turn his ferret glance to right or left, as he followed close
in his cousin's lordly footsteps, for the reason that these sea-wolves
of Dunlogher had ravaged and burnt his father's country within the year,
and slain his brother, and gnashed their teeth now, even as he passed,
for rage at the sight of him.

And the messenger who came to speak to Murty the words of the King of
Spain! They grinned as they stared upon him. An eel-fly, a lame
fledgeling gull, a young crab that has lost its shell,--thus they
murmured of him. His legs were scarce the bigness of a Cape woman's
arms, and were clad in red silken cloth stretched as close as skin. He
had foolish little feet, with boots of yellow leather rising to the
knee, and from the mid-thigh to the waist were unseemly bulging
breeches, blown out like a buoy, and gashed downwise with stripes of
glowing colours, repeated again in his flowing sleeves. His burnished
steel corslet and long reed-like sword would be toys for children in
Dunlogher. His face, under its wide plumed hat of drab felt, was that of
no soldier at all,--a thin smooth rounded face of a strange smoky
darkness of hue, with tiny upturned moustachios, and delicately bended
nose. And the eyes of him! They seemed to be the half of his countenance
in size, what with their great dusky-white balls, and sloe black
centres, and their thick raven fringes and brows that joined each other.
The armed kernes who stood nearest took not much heed of these eyes, but
the older women, peeping between their shoulders, saw little else, and
they made the sign of the cross at the sight.

When two hours had passed, the baser folk of Dunlogher knew roughly
what was in the wind. Two wayfaring men of humble station had come in
the train of the Spaniard, and though they had no Irish, their story
somehow made itself told. A ship from Spain, which indeed Dunlogher had
seen pass a week before, had put in at Dingle, on the Kerry coast, and
had landed James Fitzmaurice, the Papal legate Sanders, some other
clergy, and a score and more Spanish gentlemen or men at arms, with a
banner blessed by the Holy Father. A great army from Spain and Italy
would follow in their wake. But, meantime, the first comers were
building a fort at Smerwick, and the clan of Fitzgerald was up, and
messengers were flying through the length and breadth of Munster and
Connaught, passing the word to the Catholic chiefs that the hour of
driving the English into the sea was at hand.

The lower floors of the castle and the pleasant grassy bawns outside,
cool with the soft sea wind of the summer night, were stirred to a
common fervour by these tidings. The other O'Mahonys, the chiefs of
Dunmanus and Dunbeacon to the north, of Ballydevlin, Leamcon,
Ardintenant, and Rosbrin to the south, and elsewhere in Desmond the
O'Sullivans, MacCarthys, O'Driscolls and the rest, were clashing their
shields. Ah, when they should see Murty striding into the field!

In the big hall overhead, where--after three courses of stone stairs
were climbed, so narrow that a man in armour must needs walk
sideways--the abode of the chieftain and his own blood began, Murtogh
was ready to hear the message of the King of Spain.

The broad rough-hewn table, with its dishes of half-cleaned bones and
broken cheeses and bread, its drinking horns and flagons, and litter of
knives and spoons, had been given over to the master's greyhounds, who
stood with forepaws on the board and insinuated their long necks and
muzzles noiselessly here and there among the remains of the meal. A
clump of reeds, immersed in a brazier of fish oil, burned smokily among
the dishes for light.

When, at the finish of the eating, Murtogh had given the signal for
departure to the dozen strong men nearest akin to him, or in his best
favour, there were left only his son, a slow, good lad born of a first
wife long since dead, the blind Owny, the Spaniard and the _liathan_ (or
prematurely grey) young priest.

Then Murtogh said to this last man: 'Donogh, son of Donogh _Bhade_, I
have not frowned on you nor struck you, for the reason that you are my
guest. But because my hand is open to you, it is no reason that I should
lie, and pretend that I am your friend or you mine. Your brother,
Diarmaid, the one I could not get to kill, calls himself my heir, and
twice has sought to take the life of my son here, my Donogh _baoth_.
Therefore, I will have you go now, and sit below with the others, or
read your prayers in your chamber where you are to sleep, because I will
hear now what the King of Spain says to me, and that is not meant for
your ears.'

The priest stood on his feet. 'Your pride does not become you, Murty
_Mordha_' he said, 'when I am come to you for your soul's sake and the
glory of religion.' His voice was thin and high-pitched, but there was
no fear in it.

'I will not be taking trouble for my soul just now,' replied Murty;
'that will be for another time, when I am like to die. And then I will
have my own confessor, and not you, nor anyone like you. So you will go
now, as I bid you.'

Father Donatus, standing still, curled his lips in a hard smile. 'You
are a great man, Murty! You could dishonour my father, and slay my
brother like the headstrong bullock that you are; but there are things
you cannot do. You cannot lay your finger to me because I come on the
business of God.'

'It is the business of the King of Spain that I will be thinking of,'
said Murty, with curtness.

'They are the same,' rejoined the young priest. 'And you are wrong to
say what you will be thinking of, because you have not a mind to think
at all. If you could think, you would know that you cannot have the
words of the King of Spain except when I interpret them to you. This
noble gentleman who comes with me speaks more tongues than one, but he
has no Irish, and you,--it is well known that you have nothing else. Don
Tello has sat at your side for two hours, and you have not observed that
each word between him and you came and went through me. Oh, yes; you are
a great man, Murty, but your mind is not of a high order.'

The chieftain rose also. The blood came into his face, and he laid a
strong hand on the hilt of his broad sword. But the foot that he lifted
he set down again; and he looked at his kinsman, the _liathan_ priest,
and did not move towards him. 'You are in the right to wear a gown,' he
said slowly, 'because you have the tongue and the evil temper of an ugly
girl. You speak foolish things in your heat, and they disgrace you. I
have the best mind that any man in my family ever had. I have more
thoughts in my mind than there are words in your Latin book. I would
speak whatever I chose to this gentleman, and I would understand his
speech when I troubled myself to do so. But I will not do that,--for
some time at least; I will have my wife come, and she will sit here, and
she will tell me his words, and I will be taking my ease.'

Murtogh _Mordha_ called his son to his side, and gave him a message to

The priest, smiling in his cold way, leant over and spoke for the space
of a minute in a tongue strange to Dunlogher into the Spaniard's ear.
Then he stood erect, and gazed at Murtogh with an ill-omened look, and
so turned and strode after the lad out of the door.


A young woman of the rarest beauty, tall and slender, and with the
carriage of a great lady, came into the chamber and moved across to the
high, carved chair which Murtogh made ready for her, and seated herself
upon it as upon a throne. She had a pale fair skin, and her hair, coiled
heavily in plaits upon her shoulders, was of the hue of a red harvest
sun. There were jewels in this hair and upon her throat and hands, and
her long robes were of rich shining stuffs. A chain of wooden beads,
with a cross of gold at the end, hung from her girdle, and she gathered
this in her fingers as she sat.

The boy, Donogh _baoth_, came with her, and crouched in humility on the
floor at her side. His thick form and dark hair, and his over-large
head, spoke a likeness now to his father which was not to be noted
before. When, as if under the spell of her attraction, he nestled nearer
the lady's chair, and touched her garment with his hand, she drew it

Murtogh _Mordha_, before he took his seat again, and leant back to half
lie upon the skins thrown over it, told her the Spaniard's name, and
explained to her his errand. The Spaniard, bowing himself low, sank upon
one knee, and reverently kissed her hand, as Murty had seen his father
kiss the ring of the Bishop of Ross. He was proud to observe this,
because his wife was holier and more saintly still than any bishop.

The lady smiled upon the Spaniard, and all that she said to him, and he
to her, was in his tongue. 'I cannot speak it well,' she said. Her voice
had the sweetness of a perfume in the air. 'I lived at Seville, in the
old convent there, for only two years. I have no joy of remembrance now,
save in the peace and charm of those years there; but I fear my memory
of the dear speech is dimmed. But I will listen with all my ears,--and
oh, so gladly!'

She fastened her regard upon his eyes,--the great, rolling, midnight
eyes,--and held it there, that she might the better follow his speech.

'Beautiful lady,' the Spaniard said, 'I learn only now the power our
language, spoken by such lips, may have to enthrall the hearing. Condone
my error, I pray you, but I caught from Father Donatus that you were
this strong chieftain's wife, and I see that you are his daughter; and
even that is strange, to look upon him and _you_!

'I am his wife, but only in name, naught else,' she answered. The wave
of comprehension sweeping over the surface of the Spaniard's eyes made
instant confidence between them. 'I am in captivity here. He is a
pirate, a Goth, a murderous barbarian. He and his savages here--but of
this more a little hence. I beg you now to speak something of your
mission,--your errand here. He is as helpless to follow our words as one
of those hounds; but no dog is keener to suspicion.'

The Spaniard, with eager swiftness of speech, piled one upon another the
curtailed topics of his business. The lady, moving her fingers along the
beads, gleaned the narrow pith of it, and dressed it forth in new
phrases for the lord of Dunlogher.

'_The King of Spain will send this month_,' she said in the Irish, '_a
mighty army to drive the heretic English to the last man from this
Island of Saints. They have wounded God too long! The last drop of
Heavens patience is dried up by their crimes. Their Queen was not born
in lawful wedlock, and the Blessed Sacraments are daily profaned by her
and her accursed people. Those who sustain and honour God now will be
sustained and honoured by Him through glorious Eternity._'

'These things are well known to me,' said Murtogh. 'I would not need the
King of Spain to tell them to me. How will he speak concerning myself?'

The lady was not afraid to smile into the eyes of the Spaniard. 'You are
to speak after a moment or two,' she told him, with a calm voice; 'but
hear me this little first. My heart is broken here. I do not know how I
have had the courage to live. These jewels I wear, the fabrics of my
raiment, the wines on the board yonder, are all the booty of
blood-stained waves down at the foot of this terrible cliff. He and his
savages burn false lights, and lure ships to the rocks, and rob and
murder their people. It was thus unhappily I came here, and in fear of
my life, while I was still half dead from the water, I suffered the
marriage words to be read over me,--but now you must speak.'

'I would show you tears rather than words, dear lady,' the Spaniard
said; 'and blows on your behalf more preferably than either. Father
Donatus whispered the tithe of this to me. The whole truth burns like
fire in my heart. As my fathers gave their life blood to drive the
infidel from Grenada,--so I lay my own poor life at your dear feet. If
aught but harm to you could come from it, I would slay him now where he
lolls there on the skins. He is looking at you now, waiting for you to

'_The King of Spain has heard much of you_,' she began in the Irish,
without turning her head. '_He is filled with admiration for your
strength and valour. He desires deeply to know what you will be doing.
When you will take arms, and join him with your great might in the
battles, then there cannot be any doubt of his victory._'

'That it is easy to see,' replied Murtogh. 'But the King of Spain's
battles are not my battles. There would be some reason to be given, to
call me out for his wars. The English will be doing me no hurt. They
cannot come here to me, by water or by land; and if they did I would not
let any of them depart alive. For what cause should I go to them? Let
the King of Spain tell me what it would be in his mind to do in my
behalf, when I did this thing for him.'

The lady spoke to the Spaniard. 'The last of my people are killed. They
would not have seemed different to you perhaps,--to you who were bred in
the gentle graces of Spain,--but they were not the ferocious barbarians
these O'Mahonys are. My father was learned in Latin and English, and it
was his dream that I should wed in Spain.'

'Oh, rapturous vision!' said Don Tello, with new flames kindling in his
eyes. 'And if it shall be proved prophetic as well, beautiful lady!
Something of this, too, the priest whispered; but the precious words
return to me as your dear lips breathed them forth,--"wife only in
name." I long to hear them once again.'

The lady repeated them, with tender deliberation, and a languorous gleam
in her blue eyes began to answer his burning gaze. 'I have held the
fierce beast at arm's length,' she said, 'because he is also a fool. I
would give a year of my life to be able to laugh in his face, and slap
these beads across it. I have told him--the blessed thought came to me
even while we knelt at the altar together--that I am bound by a vow. His
big empty head is open to all the fancies that fly. He believes that an
enchanted woman drives up her horses from the bottom of the lake, down
at the foot of the small tower here, every night for food; and he
spreads corn for them which the thieves about him fatten on. He believes
in witches rising from the sea, and leprechauns, and changelings, like
any ignorant herdsman out in the bog, but he is a frightened Churchman,
too. He believes that I am a saint!'

'As I swear by the grave of my mother, you are!' panted Don Tello. 'But
speak now to him.'

'_The King of Spain will do very great things in your behalf_,' she
recited, in Murtogh's tongue. '_He will make you of the rank of a
commander in his armies, and he will ennoble you._'

'I am noble now,' Murtogh made comment, 'as noble as the King of Spain
himself. I am not a MacCarthy or an O'Driscoll, that I would be craving
titles to my name.'

'_Then he will send large rich ships here_,' she began again, with
weariness in her tone, '_to bring you costly presents. And the Pope, he
will grant you ten years' indulgence,--or it may be twenty._'

'Ask him,' broke in Murtogh, sitting up with a brightened face, his hand
outstretched to secure silence for the thought that stirred within
him,--'ask if the Holy Father would be granting just the one spiritual
favour I would beg. Will this gentleman bind the King of Spain to that?'

'And may I wholly trust,' she asked the Spaniard, with half-closed eyes,
through which shone the invitation of her mood, 'may I trust in your
knightly proffer of help? Do not answer till I have finished. You are
the first who has come to me--here in this awful dungeon--and I have
opened my heart to you as perhaps I should not. But you have the blood
of youth in your veins, like me; you are gallant and of high lineage;
you are from the land where chivalry is the law of gentle life,--is it
true that you will be my champion?'

The Spaniard rose with solemn dignity, though his great eyes flashed
devouringly upon her, and his breast heaved under its cuirass. He half
lifted his sword from the sheath, and kissed the cross of its hilt. 'Oh,
my beloved, I swear!' he said, in sombre earnestness.

She translated the action and utterance to Murtogh. '_Whatever of a
spiritual nature you would crave of his Holiness he would grant._'

'But it would be a cruel time of waiting, to send all the long way to
Rome and back,' he objected, 'and this matter lies like lead upon my

She looked up into the Spaniard's eyes, and let her own lashes tremble,
and fed the ravening conflagration of his gaze with a little sigh. 'It
would be very sweet to believe,' she murmured, 'too sweet for sense, I
fear me. Nay, Don Tello, I need not such a world of
persuasion--only--only--lift your right hand, with thumb and two fingers
out, and swear again. And say, "Bera, I swear!"'

'It is your name?' he asked, and as she closed her eyes in assent, and
slowly opened them to behold his oath, he lifted the fingers and waved
them toward her, and passionately whispered, 'Bera, queen of my Heaven,
star of my soul, I swear!'

'_That is the sign of the Pope himself_,' she explained, with
indifference, to Murtogh. '_Whatever wish you offered up you have it
already granted. It is Don Tello who bears the holy authority from the

The lord of Dunlogher hurled himself to his feet with a boisterous
energy before which the lady, wondering, drew herself away. He
stretched his bared arms towards her, then flung them upward as in
invocation to the skies. The beatitude of some vast triumph illumined
his glance.

'Oh, then, indeed, I am Murty _Mordha_!' he cried. 'It is I who am
prouder than all the Kings on earth! It is I who have won my love! Oh,
glory to the Heavens that send me this joy! Glory and the praise of the
saints! Glory! Glory!'

The rhapsody was without meaning to the Spaniard. He stared in
astonishment at the big chieftain with the shining countenance who
shouted with such vehemence up at the oaken roof. Turning a glance of
inquiry at the lady, he saw that she had grown white-faced, and was
cowering backward in her chair.

'Our Lady save us!' she gasped at him in Spanish. 'He has asked the Pope
to absolve me from my vow.'

Don Tello, no wiser, put his hand to his sword. 'Tell me quickly, what
it is? What am I to do?' he demanded of her.

Murtogh, with a smile from the heart moistening his eyes and
transfiguring all his face, strode to the Spaniard, and grasped his
reluctant hand between his own broad palms, and gripped it with the
fervour of a giant.

'I would have you tell him,' he called out to the Lady Bera. 'Tell him
that he has no other friend in any land who will do for him what Murty
_Mordha_ will be doing. I will ride with him into the battle, and take
all his blows on my own back. I will call him my son and my brother.
Whatever he will wish, I will give it to him. And all his enemies I will
slay and put down for him to walk upon. Oh, Bera, the jewel restored to
me, the beautiful gem I saved from the waters, tell him these things for
me! Why will your lips be so silent? Would they be waiting for my kisses
to waken them? And Donogh, son of mine, come hither and take my other
son's hand. I will hear you swear to keep my loyalty to him the same as
myself. And, Owny Hea,--hither, man! You cannot see my benefactor, the
man I will be giving my life for, but you have heard his voice. You will
not forget it.'

The absence of all other sound of a sudden caught Murtogh's ear, and
checked his flow of joyous words. He looked with bewilderment at the
figure of his wife in the chair, motionless with clenched hands on her
knees, and eyes fixed in a dazed stare upon vacancy. He turned again,
and noted that Owny Hea had come up to the Spaniard, and was standing
before him so close that their faces were near touching.

The old blind man had the smile of an infant on his withered face. He
lifted his left hand to the Spaniard's breast and passed it curiously
over the corselet and its throat-plate and arm-holes, muttering in Irish
to himself, 'I will not forget. I will not at all forget.'

A zigzag flash of light darted briefly somewhere across Murtogh's
vision. Looking with more intentness he saw that both the blind man's
hands were at the arm-pit of the Spaniard, and pulled upon something not
visible. Don Tello's big eyes seemed bursting from their black-fringed
sockets. His face was distorted, and he curled the fingers of his hand
like stiffened talons, and clawed once into the air with them. Then Owny
Hea pushed him, and he pitched sprawling against Murtogh's legs, and
rolled inert to the floor. His hot blood washed over Murtogh's sandalled

A woman's shriek of horror burst into the air, and the hounds moaned and
glided forward. Murtogh did not know why he stood so still. He could not
rightly think upon what was happening, or put his mind to it. The bones
in his arms were chilled, and would not move for him. He gazed with
round eyes at Owny, and at the red dripping knife which the bard
stretched out to him. He felt the rough tongue of a dog on his ankle.
The dark corners of the chamber seemed to be moving from him a long
distance away. There was a spell upon him, and he could not tremble.

The voice of Owny Hea came to him, and though it was soundless, like the
speech of Dreamland, he heard all its words; 'Murtogh son of Teige, I
have slain your guest for the reason that I have the Spanish, and I knew
the meaning of his words to this woman, and he could not live any
longer. The _liathan_ priest, when he would be going, told this stranger
that she you called your wife was your enemy, and made a mockery of you,
and would give ear gladly to any means of dishonouring you. And the
_liathan_ priest spoke truly. While the woman repeated lies to you of
the King of Spain and the Pope, she whispered foul scandal of you, and
wicked love-words to that dog's-meat at your feet. It is I, Owen son of
Aodh, who tell you these things. And now you know what you have to do!'

Murtogh turned slowly to the lady. She lay, without motion, in her
chair, her head limp upon her shoulder, and the whiteness of sea foam on
her cheek. Thoughts came again into his brain.

'I have the wisest mind of all in my family,' he said; 'I know what it
is I will be doing.'

He drew the short sword from his girdle, and put his nail along its

'Donogh _baoth_,' he said to his son, 'go below and seek out Conogher
_tuathal_ and Shane _buidhe_, and bid them seize the _liathan_ priest
between them, and bring him to me here where I am. And you will take
some sleep for yourself then, for it is a late hour.'

The lad looked at the pale lady with the closed eyes, and at the sword
in his father's hand. He set his teeth together, and lifted his head.

'I am of years enough to see it all,' he said. 'I have no sleep on my

Murtogh bent over the corpse at his feet, and caressed the boy's head
with his hand. 'I will not call you _baoth_ (simple) any more,' he said,
fondly. 'You are my true son, and here is my ring for your finger, and
you may return with them when they fetch me my _liathan_ cousin.'


Next morning young Donogh gave his word to the men of Dunlogher, and
they obeyed him, for in the one night he had thrown aside his sluggish
boyhood, and they saw his father's ring on his finger, and heard a good
authority in his voice. They came out from the Western gate at his
command, three-score and more, and stood from the brink of the cliff
inward, with their weapons in their hands, and made a path between them.
But the women and children Donogh bade remain within the bawn, and he
shut the inner gate upon them. It was as if the smell of blood came to
them there, for the old women put up a lamentation of death, and the
others cried aloud, till the noise spread to the men on the cliff. These
looked one to another and held their silence.

They did not clash their spears together when, after a long waiting,
Murtogh came from the gate, and walked toward them. A fine rain was in
the air, and the skies and sea were grey, and the troubled man would
have no spirit for such greeting.

He bore upon his broad back a great shapeless bundle thrice his own
bulk. The weight of it bent his body, and swayed his footsteps as he
came. The cover of it was of skins of wild beasts, sewn rudely with
thongs, and through the gaps in this cover some of the men saw stained
foreign cloths and the plume of a hat, and some a shoe with a priest's
buckle, and some the marble hand of a fair woman. But no word was
spoken, and Murtogh, coming to the edge, heaved his huge shoulders
upward, and the bundle leaped out of sight.

Then Murtogh turned and looked all his fighting-men in their faces, and
smiled in gentleness upon them, and they saw that in that same night,
while the 'little people' had changed Donogh into a man, they had made
Murtogh a child again.

'She came up from the water,' he said to them, in a voice no man knew.
'It was I who brought her out of the water, and fought for her with the
demons under the rocks, and beat all of them off. But one of them I did
not make the sign of the Cross before, and that one is the King of
Spain; and so he has wrought me this mischief, and made all my labour as
nothing; and she is in the water again, and I must be going to fetch her
out rightly this time.'

Murtogh sprang like a deer into the air, with a mighty bound which bore
him far over the edge of the cliff. Some there were, in the throng that
sprang forward, agile enough to be looking down the abyss before his
descent was finished. These, to their amazement, beheld a miracle. For
the great fall did not kill Murtogh _Mordha_, but the waters boiled and
rose to meet him, and held him up on their tossing currents as he swam
forward, and marked with a pallid breadth of foam his path out to sea,
farther and farther out, till the mists hid him from human view.

The wailing song of Owny Hea rose through the wet air above the keening
of the women in the bawn. But louder still was the voice of the lad who
wore his father's ring, and drew now from beneath his mantle his
father's sword.

'I am Donogh son of Murtogh _Mordha_!' he shouted, 'and I am Lord in
Dunlogher, and when I am of my full strength I will kill the King of
Spain, and give his castles and all his lands and herds and women to you
for your own!'

The three towers of Dunlogher are broken, and the witch has fled from
its grey lake, and no man knows where the bones of its forgotten sept
are buried. But the evil currents will never tire of writhing, and the
shadows which are no shadows are forever changing, in the Path of Murty
the Proud.




'Yes, sir,' said my host the quarryman, reaching down the relics from
their hook in the wall over the chimney-piece; 'they've hung here all my
time, and most of my father's. The women won't touch 'em; they're afraid
of the story. So here they'll dangle, and gather dust and smoke, till
another tenant comes and tosses 'em out o' doors for rubbish. Whew! 'tis
coarse weather.'

He went to the door, opened it, and stood studying the gale that beat
upon his cottage-front, straight from the Manacle Reef. The rain drove
past him into the kitchen, aslant like threads of gold silk in the shine
of the wreck-wood fire. Meanwhile, by the same firelight, I examined the
relics on my knee. The metal of each was tarnished out of knowledge.
But the trumpet was evidently an old cavalry trumpet, and the threads of
its parti-coloured sling, though frayed and dusty, still hung together.
Around the side-drum, beneath its cracked brown varnish, I could hardly
trace a royal coat-of-arms and a legend running--_Per Mare Per
Terram_--the motto of the Marines. Its parchment, though coloured and
scented with wood-smoke, was limp and mildewed; and I began to tighten
up the straps--under which the drumsticks had been loosely thrust--with
the idle purpose of trying if some music might be got out of the old
drum yet.

But as I turned it on my knee, I found the drum attached to the
trumpet-sling by a curious barrel-shaped padlock, and paused to examine
this. The body of the lock was composed of half-a-dozen brass rings, set
accurately edge to edge; and, rubbing the brass with my thumb, I saw
that each of the six had a series of letters engraved around it.

I knew the trick of it, I thought. Here was one of those word padlocks,
once so common; only to be opened by getting the rings to spell a
certain word, which the dealer confides to you.

My host shut and barred the door, and came back to the hearth.

''T was just such a wind--east by south--that brought in what you've got
between your hands. Back in the year 'nine, it was; my father has told
me the tale a score o' times. You're twisting round the rings, I see.
But you'll never guess the word. Parson Kendall, he made the word, and
locked down a couple o' ghosts in their graves with it; and when his
time came, he went to his own grave and took the word with him.'

'Whose ghosts, Matthew?'

'You want the story, I see, sir. My father could tell it better than I
can. He was a young man in the year 'nine, unmarried at the time, and
living in this very cottage, just as I be. That's how he came to get
mixed up with the tale.'

He took a chair, lit a short pipe, and went on, with his eyes fixed on
the dancing violet flames:--

'Yes, he'd ha' been about thirty years old in January, of the year
'nine. The storm got up in the night o' the twenty-first o' that month.
My father was dressed and out, long before daylight; he never was one to
'bide in bed, let be that the gale by this time was pretty near lifting
the thatch over his head. Besides which, he'd fenced a small 'taty-patch
that winter, down by Lowland Point, and he wanted to see if it stood the
night's work. He took the path across Gunner's Meadow--where they buried
most of the bodies afterwards. The wind was right in his teeth at the
time, and once on the way (he's told me this often) a great strip of
ore-weed came flying through the darkness and fetched him a slap on the
cheek like a cold hand. But he made shift pretty well till he got to
Lowland, and then had to drop upon hands and knees and crawl, digging
his fingers every now and then into the shingle to hold on, for he
declared to me that the stones, some of them as big as a man's head,
kept rolling and driving past till it seemed the whole foreshore was
moving westward under him. The fence was gone, of course: not a stick
left to show where it stood; so that, when first he came to the place,
he thought he must have missed his bearings. My father, sir, was a very
religious man; and if he reckoned the end of the world was at
hand--there in the great wind and night, among the moving stones--you
may believe he was certain of it when he heard a gun fired, and, with
the same, saw a flame shoot up out of the darkness to windward, making a
sudden fierce light in all the place about. All he could find to think
or say was, "The Second Coming--The Second Coming! The Bridegroom
cometh, and the wicked He will toss like a ball into a large country!"
and being already upon his knees, he just bowed his head and 'bided,
saying this over and over.

'But by'm-by, between two squalls, he made bold to lift his head and
look, and then by the light--a bluish colour 'twas--he saw all the
coast clear away to Manacle Point, and off the Manacles, in the thick of
the weather, a sloop-of-war with top-gallants housed driving stern
foremost towards the reef. It was she, of course, that was burning the
flare. My father could see the white streak and the ports of her quite
plain as she rose to it, a little outside the breakers, and he guessed
easy enough that her captain had just managed to wear ship, and was
trying to force her nose to the sea with the help of her small bower
anchor and the scrap or two of canvas that hadn't yet been blown out of
her. But while he looked, she fell off, giving her broadside to it foot
by foot, and drifting back on the breakers around Carn dû and the
Varses. The rocks lie so thick thereabouts, that 'twas a toss up which
she struck first; at any rate, my father couldn't tell at the time, for
just then the flare died down and went out.

'Well, sir, he turned then in the dark and started back for Coverack to
cry the dismal tidings--though well knowing ship and crew to be past any
hope; and as he turned, the wind lifted him and tossed him forward "like
a ball," as he'd been saying, and homeward along the foreshore. As you
know, 'tis ugly work, even by daylight, picking your way among the
stones there, and my father was prettily knocked about at first in the
dark. But by this 'twas nearer seven than six o'clock, and the day
spreading. By the time he reached North Corner, a man could see to read
print; hows'ever, he looked neither out to sea nor towards Coverack, but
headed straight for the first cottage--the same that stands above North
Corner to-day. A man named Billy Ede lived there then, and when my
father burst into the kitchen bawling, "Wreck! wreck!" he saw Billy
Ede's wife, Ann, standing there in her clogs, with a shawl thrown over
her head, and her clothes wringing wet.

'"Save the chap!" says Billy Ede's wife, Ann. "What d' 'ee mean by
crying stale fish at that rate?"

'"But 'tis a wreck, I tell 'ee. I've a-zeed 'n!"

'"Why, so 'tis," says she, "and I've a-zeed'n, too; and so has everyone
with an eye in his head."

'And with that she pointed straight over my father's shoulder, and he
turned; and there, close under Dolor Point, at the end of Coverack town,
he saw another wreck washing, and the point black with people like
emmets, running to and fro in the morning light. While he stood staring
at her, he heard a trumpet sounded on board, the notes coming in little
jerks, like a bird rising against the wind; but faintly, of course,
because of the distance and the gale blowing--though this had dropped a

'"She's a transport," said Billy Ede's wife, Ann, "and full of horse
soldiers, fine long men. When she struck they must ha' pitched the
hosses over first to lighten the ship, for a score of dead hosses had
washed in afore I left, half-an-hour back. An' three or four soldiers,
too--fine long corpses in white breeches and jackets of blue and gold. I
held the lantern to one. Such a straight young man."

'My father asked her about the trumpeting.

'"That's the queerest bit of all. She was burnin' a light when me an' my
man joined the crowd down there. All her masts had gone; whether they
were carried away, or were cut away to ease her, I don't rightly know.
Anyway, there she lay 'pon the rocks with her decks bare. Her keelson
was broke under her and her bottom sagged and stove, and she had just
settled down like a sitting hen--just the leastest list to starboard;
but a man could stand there easy. They had rigged up ropes across her,
from bulwark to bulwark, an' beside these the men were mustered, holding
on like grim death whenever the sea made a clean breach over them, an'
standing up like heroes as soon as it passed. The captain an' the
officers were clinging to the rail of the quarter-deck, all in their
golden uniforms, waiting for the end as if 'twas King George they
expected. There was no way to help, for she lay right beyond cast of
line, though our folk tried it fifty times. And beside them clung a
trumpeter, a whacking big man, an' between the heavy seas he would lift
his trumpet with one hand, and blow a call; and every time he blew, the
men gave a cheer. There (she says)--hark 'ee now--there he goes agen!
But you won't hear no cheering any more, for few are left to cheer, and
their voices weak. Bitter cold the wind is, and I reckon it numbs their
grip o' the ropes; for they were dropping off fast with every sea when
my man sent me home to get his breakfast. Another wreck, you say? Well,
there's no hope for the tender dears, if 'tis the Manacles. You'd better
run down and help yonder; though 'tis little help any man can give. Not
one came in alive while I was there. The tide's flowing, an' she won't
hold together another hour, they say."

'Well, sure enough, the end was coming fast when my father got down to
the point. Six men had been cast up alive, or just breathing--a seaman
and five troopers. The seaman was the only one that had breath to speak;
and while they were carrying him into the town, the word went round that
the ship's name was the _Despatch_, transport, homeward bound from
Corunna, with a detachment of the 7th Hussars, that had been fighting
out there with Sir John Moore. The seas had rolled her further over by
this time, and given her decks a pretty sharp slope; but a dozen men
still held on, seven by the ropes near the ship's waist, a couple near
the break of the poop, and three on the quarter-deck. Of these three my
father made out one to be the skipper; close by him clung an officer in
full regimentals--his name, they heard after, was Captain Duncanfield;
and last came the tall trumpeter; and if you'll believe me, the fellow
was making shift there, at the very last, to blow "God save the King."
What's more, he got to "Send us victorious," before an extra big sea
came bursting across and washed them off the deck--every man but one of
the pair beneath the poop--and _he_ dropped his hold before the next
wave; being stunned, I reckon. The others went out of sight at once; but
the trumpeter--being, as I said, a powerful man as well as a tough
swimmer--rose like a duck, rode out a couple of breakers, and came in on
the crest of the third. The folks looked to see him broke like an egg at
their very feet; but when the smother cleared, there he was, lying face
downward on a ledge below them; and one of the men that happened to have
a rope round him--I forget the fellow's name, if I ever heard
it--jumped down and grabbed him by the ankle as he began to slip back.
Before the next big sea, the pair were hauled high enough to be out of
harm, and another heave brought them up to grass. Quick work, but master
trumpeter wasn't quite dead; nothing worse than a cracked head and three
staved ribs. In twenty minutes or so they had him in bed, with the
doctor to tend him.

'Now was the time--nothing being left alive upon the transport--for my
father to tell of the sloop he'd seen driving upon the Manacles. And
when he got a hearing, though the most were set upon salvage, and
believed a wreck in the hand, so to say, to be worth half-a-dozen they
couldn't see, a good few volunteered to start off with him and have a
look. They crossed Lowland Point; no ship to be seen on the Manacles,
nor anywhere upon the sea. One or two was for calling my father a liar.
"Wait till we come to Dean Point," said he. Sure enough on the far side
of Dean Point they found the sloop's mainmast washing about with
half-a-dozen men lashed to it, men in red jackets, every mother's son
drowned and staring; and a little further on, just under the Dean, three
or four bodies cast up on the shore, one of them a small drummer-boy,
side-drum and all; and, near by, part of a ship's gig, with H. M. S.
_Primrose_ cut on the stern-board. From this point on, the shore was
littered thick with wreckage and dead bodies,--the most of them Marines
in uniform; and in Godrevy Cove, in particular, a heap of furniture from
the captain's cabin, and amongst it a water-tight box, not much damaged,
and full of papers, by which, when it came to be examined, next day, the
wreck was easily made out to be the _Primrose_, of eighteen guns,
outward bound from Portsmouth, with a fleet of transports for the
Spanish War, thirty sail, I've heard, but I've never heard what became
of them. Being handled by merchant skippers, no doubt they rode out the
gale, and reached the Tagus safe and sound. Not but what the Captain of
the _Primrose_ (Mein was his name) did quite right to try and club-haul
his vessel when he found himself under the land; only he never ought to
have got there, if he took proper soundings. But it's easy talking.

'The _Primrose_, sir, was a handsome vessel--for her size, one of the
handsomest in the King's service--and newly fitted out at Plymouth Dock.
So the boys had brave pickings from her in the way of brass-work, ship's
instruments, and the like, let alone some barrels of stores not much
spoiled. They loaded themselves with as much as they could carry, and
started for home, meaning to make a second journey before the preventive
men got wind of their doings, and came to spoil the fun. But as my
father was passing back under the Dean, he happened to take a look over
his shoulder at the bodies there. "Hullo!" says he, and dropped his
gear, "I do believe there's a leg moving!" and running fore, he stooped
over the small drummer-boy that I told you about. The poor little chap
was lying there, with his face a mass of bruises, and his eyes
closed--but he had shifted one leg an inch or two, and was still
breathing. So my father pulled out a knife, and cut him free from his
drum--that was lashed on to him with a double turn of Manilla rope--and
took him up and carried him along here, to this very room that we're
sitting in. He lost a good deal by this; for when he went back to fetch
the bundle he'd dropped, the preventive men had got hold of it, and were
thick as thieves along the foreshore; so that 'twas only by paying one
or two to look the other way that he picked up anything worth carrying
off--which you'll allow to be hard, seeing that he was the first man to
give news of the wreck.

[Illustration: _'My father cut him free from his drum.'_]

'Well, the inquiry was held, of course, and my father gave evidence, and
for the rest they had to trust to the sloop's papers, for not a soul
was saved besides the drummer-boy, and he was raving in a fever, brought
on by the cold and the fright. And the seaman and the five troopers gave
evidence about the loss of the _Despatch_. The tall trumpeter, too,
whose ribs were healing, came forward and kissed the Book; but somehow
his head had been hurt in coming ashore, and he talked foolish-like, and
'twas easy seen he would never be a proper man again. The others were
taken up to Plymouth, and so went their ways; but the trumpeter stayed
on in Coverack; and King George, finding he was fit for nothing, sent
him down a trifle of a pension after a while--enough to keep him in
board and lodging, with a bit of tobacco over.

'Now the first time that this man--William Tallifer he called
himself--met with the drummer-boy was about a fortnight after the little
chap had bettered enough to be allowed a short walk out of doors, which
he took, if you please, in full regimentals. There never was a soldier
so proud of his dress. His own suit had shrunk a brave bit with the salt
water; but into ordinary frock an' corduroys he declared he would not
get, not if he had to go naked the rest of his life; so my father--being
a good-natured man, and handy with the needle--turned to and repaired
damages with a piece or two of scarlet cloth cut from the jacket of one
of the drowned Marines. Well, the poor little chap chanced to be
standing, in this rig out, down by the gate of Gunner's Meadow, where
they had buried two score and over of his comrades. The morning was a
fine one, early in March month; and along came the cracked trumpeter,
likewise taking a stroll.

'"Hullo!" says he; "good mornin'! And what might you be doin' here?"

'"I was a-wishin'," says the boy, "I had a pair o' drum-sticks. Our lads
were buried yonder without so much as a drum tapped or a musket fired;
and that's not Christian burial for British soldiers."

'"Phut!" says the trumpeter, and spat on the ground; "a parcel of

'The boy eyed him a second or so, and answered up: "If I'd a tab of turf
handy, I'd hang it at your mouth, you greasy cavalryman, and learn you
to speak respectful of your betters. The Marines are the handiest body
o' men in the service."

'The trumpeter looked down on him from the height of six foot two, and
asked: "Did they die well?"

'"They died very well. There was a lot of running to and fro at first,
and some of the men began to cry, and a few to strip off their clothes.
But when the ship fell off for the last time, Captain Mein turned and
said something to Major Griffiths, the commanding officer on board, and
the Major called out to me to beat to quarters. It might have been for a
wedding, he sang it out so cheerful. We'd had word already that 'twas
to be parade order; and the men fell in as trim and decent as if they
were going to church. One or two even tried to shave at the last moment.
The Major wore his medals. One of the seamen, seeing I had work to keep
the drum steady--the sling being a bit loose for me, and the wind what
you remember--lashed it tight with a piece of rope; and that saved my
life afterwards, a drum being as good as a cork until it's stove. I kept
beating away until every man was on deck; and then the Major formed them
up and told them to die like British soldiers, and the chaplain read a
prayer or two--the boys standin' all the while like rocks, each man's
courage keeping up the others'. The chaplain was in the middle of a
prayer when she struck. In ten minutes she was gone. That was how they
died, cavalryman."

'"And that was very well done, drummer of the Marines. What's your

"John Christian."

'"Mine's William George Tallifer, trumpeter of the 7th Light Dragoons,
the Queen's Own. I played 'God save the King' while our men were
drowning. Captain Duncanfield told me to sound a call or two, to put
them in heart; but that matter of 'God save the King' was a notion of my
own. I won't say anything to hurt the feelings of a Marine, even if he's
not much over five foot tall; but the Queen's Own Hussars is a tearin'
fine regiment. As between horse and foot, 'tis a question o' which gets
the chance. All the way from Sahagun to Corunna 'twas we that took and
gave the knocks--at Mayorga and Rueda and Bennyventy." (The reason, sir,
I can speak the names so pat, is that my father learnt 'em by heart
afterwards from the trumpeter, who was always talking about Mayorga and
Rueda and Bennyventy.) "We made the rear-guard, under General Paget, and
drove the French every time; and all the infantry did was to sit about
in wine-shops till we whipped 'em out, an' steal an' straggle an' play
the tomfool in general. And when it came to a stand-up fight at Corunna,
'twas the horse, or the best part of it, that had to stay sea-sick
aboard the transports, an' watch the infantry in the thick o' the caper.
Very well they behaved, too; 'specially the 4th Regiment, an' the 42nd
Highlanders, an' the Dirty Half-Hundred. Oh, ay; they're decent
regiments, all three. But the Queen's Own Hussars is a tearin' fine
regiment. So you played on your drum when the ship was goin' down?
Drummer John Christian, I'll have to get you a new pair o' drum-sticks
for that."

'Well, sir, it appears that the very next day the trumpeter marched into
Helston, and got a carpenter there to turn him a pair of box-wood
drumsticks for the boy. And this was the beginning of one of the most
curious friendships you ever heard tell of. Nothing delighted the pair
more than to borrow a boat off my father and pull out to the rocks
where the _Primrose_ and the _Despatch_ had struck and sunk; and on
still days 'twas pretty to hear them out there off the Manacles, the
drummer playing his tattoo--for they always took their music with
them--and the trumpeter practising calls, and making his trumpet speak
like an angel. But if the weather turned roughish, they'd be walking
together and talking; leastwise, the youngster listened while the other
discoursed about Sir John's campaign in Spain and Portugal, telling how
each little skirmish befell; and of Sir John himself, and General Baird,
and General Paget, and Colonel Vivian, his own commanding officer, and
what kind of men they were; and of the last bloody stand-up at Corunna,
and so forth, as if neither could have enough.

'But all this had to come to an end in the late summer, for the boy,
John Christian, being now well and strong again, must go up to Plymouth
to report himself. 'Twas his own wish (for I believe King George had
forgotten all about him), but his friend wouldn't hold him back. As for
the trumpeter, my father had made an arrangement to take him on as
lodger as soon as the boy left; and on the morning fixed for the start,
he was up at the door here by five o'clock, with his trumpet slung by
his side, and all the rest of his belongings in a small valise. A Monday
morning it was, and after breakfast he had fixed to walk with the boy
some way on the road towards Helston, where the coach started. My father
left them at breakfast together, and went out to meat the pig, and do a
few odd morning jobs of that sort. When he came back, the boy was still
at table, and the trumpeter standing here by the chimney-place with the
drum and trumpet in his hands, hitched together just as they be at this

'"Look at this," he says to my father, showing him the lock, "I picked
it up off a starving brass-worker in Lisbon, and it is not one of your
common locks that one word of six letters will open at any time. There's
_janius_ in this lock; for you've only to make the rings spell any
six-letter word you please and snap down the lock upon that, and never a
soul can open it--not the maker, even--until somebody comes along that
knows the word you snapped it on. Now, Johnny here's goin', and he
leaves his drum behind him; for though he can make pretty music on it,
the parchment sags in wet weather, by reason of the sea-water getting at
it; an' if he carries it to Plymouth, they'll only condemn it and give
him another. And, as for me, I sha'n't have the heart to put lip to the
trumpet any more when Johnny's gone. So we've chosen a word together,
and locked 'em together upon that; and, by your leave, I'll hang 'em
here together on the hook over your fireplace. Maybe Johnny'll come
back; maybe not. Maybe, if he comes, I'll be dead an' gone, an' he'll
take 'em apart an' try their music for old sake's sake. But if he never
comes, nobody can separate 'em; for nobody beside knows the word. And if
you marry and have sons, you can tell 'em that here are tied together
the souls of Johnny Christian, drummer of the Marines, and William
George Tallifer, once trumpeter of the Queen's Own Hussars. Amen."

'With that he hung the two instruments 'pon the hook there; and the boy
stood up and thanked my father and shook hands; and the pair went forth
of the door, towards Helston.

'Somewhere on the road they took leave of one another; but nobody saw
the parting, nor heard what was said between them. About three in the
afternoon the trumpeter came walking back over the hill; and by the time
my father came home from the fishing the cottage was tidied up, and the
tea ready, and the whole place shining like a new pin. From that time
for five years he lodged here with my father, looking after the house
and tilling the garden. And all the while he was steadily failing; the
hurt in his head spreading, in a manner, to his limbs. My father watched
the feebleness growing on him, but said nothing. And from first to last
neither spake a word about the drummer, John Christian; nor did any
letter reach them, nor word of his doings.

'The rest of the tale you'm free to believe sir, or not, as you please.
It stands upon my father's words, and he always declared he was ready to
kiss the Book upon it, before judge and jury. He said, too, that he
never had the wit to make up such a yarn; and he defied anyone to
explain about the lock, in particular, by any other tale. But you shall
judge for yourself.

'My father said that about three o'clock in the morning, April
fourteenth, of the year 'fourteen, he and William Tallifer were sitting
here, just as you and I, sir, are sitting now. My father had put on his
clothes a few minutes before, and was mending his spiller by the light
of the horn lantern, meaning to set off before daylight to haul the
trammel. The trumpeter hadn't been to bed at all. Towards the last he
mostly spent his nights (and his days, too) dozing in the elbow-chair
where you sit at this minute. He was dozing then (my father said) with
his chin dropped forward on his chest, when a knock sounded upon the
door, and the door opened, and in walked an upright young man in scarlet

'He had grown a brave bit, and his face was the colour of wood-ashes;
but it was the drummer John Christian. Only his uniform was different
from the one he used to wear, and the figures "38" shone in brass upon
his collar.

'The drummer walked past my father as if he never saw him, and stood by
the elbow-chair and said:--

'"Trumpeter, trumpeter, are you one with me?"

'And the trumpeter just lifted the lids of his eyes, and answered, "How
should I not be one with you, drummer Johnny--Johnny boy? If you come,
I count: while you march, I mark time: until the discharge comes."

'"The discharge has come to-night," said the drummer; "and the word is
Corunna no longer." And stepping to the chimney-place, he unhooked the
drum and trumpet, and began to twist the brass rings of the lock,
spelling the word aloud, so,--C-O-R-U-N-A. When he had fixed the last
letter, the padlock opened in his hand.

'"Did you know, trumpeter, that, when I came to Plymouth, they put me
into a line regiment?"

'"The 38th is a good regiment," answered the old Hussar, still in his
dull voice; "I went back with them from Sahagun to Corunna. At Corunna
they stood in General Fraser's division, on the right. They behaved

'"But I'd fain see the Marinys again," says the drummer, handing him the
trumpet; "and you, you shall call once more for the Queen's Own.
Matthew," he says, suddenly, turning on my father--and when he turned,
my father saw for the first time that his scarlet jacket had a round
hole by the breast-bone, and that the blood was welling there--"Matthew,
we shall want your boat."

'Then my father rose on his legs like a man in a dream, while they two
slung on, the one his drum, and t'other his trumpet. He took the lantern
and went quaking before them down to the shore, and they breathed
heavily behind him; and they stepped into his boat, and my father pushed

'"Row you first for Dolor Point," says the drummer. So my father rowed
them out past the white houses of Coverack to Dolor Point, and there, at
a word, lay on his oars. And the trumpeter, William Tallifer, put his
trumpet to his mouth and sounded the _Revelly_. The music of it was like
rivers running.

[Illustration: _The trumpeter sounded the Revelly._]

'"They will follow," said the drummer. "Matthew, pull you now for the

'So my father pulled for the Manacles, and came to an easy close outside
Carn dû. And the drummer took his sticks and beat a tattoo, there by the
edge of the reef: and the music of it was like a rolling chariot.

'"That will do," says he, breaking off; "they will follow. Pull now for
the shore under Gunner's Meadow."

'Then my father pulled for the shore, and ran his boat in under Gunner's
Meadow. And they stepped out, all three, and walked up to the meadow. By
the gate the drummer halted, and began his tattoo again, looking out
towards the darkness over the sea.

'And while the drum beat, and my father held his breath, there came up
out of the sea and the darkness a troop of many men, horse and foot, and
formed up among the graves; and others rose out of the graves and formed
up,--drowned Marines with bleached faces, and pale Hussars, riding
their horses, all lean and shadowy. There was no clatter of hoofs or
accoutrements, my father said, but a soft sound all the while like the
beating of a bird's wing; and a black shadow lying like a pool about the
feet of all. The drummer stood upon a little knoll just inside the gate,
and beside him the tall trumpeter, with hand on hip, watching them
gather; and behind them both my father, clinging to the gate. When no
more came, the drummer stopped playing, and said, "Call the roll."

'Then the trumpeter stepped towards the end man of the rank and called,
"Troop-Sergeant-Major Thomas Irons!" and the man answered in a thin
voice, "Here!"

'"Troop-Sergeant-Major Thomas Irons, how is it with you?"

'The man answered, "How should it be with me? When I was young, I
betrayed a girl; and when I was grown, I betrayed a friend, and for
these things I must pay. But I died as a man ought. God save the King!"

'The trumpeter called to the next man, "Trooper Henry Buckingham!" and
the next man answered, "Here!"

'"Trooper Henry Buckingham, how is it with you?"

'"How should it be with me? I was a drunkard, and I stole, and in Lugo,
in a wine-shop, I killed a man. But I died as a man should. God save the

[Illustration: _'I killed a man.'_]

'So the trumpeter went down the line; and when he had finished, the
drummer took it up, hailing the dead Marines in their order. Each man
answered to his name, and each man ended with "God save the King!" When
all were hailed, the drummer stepped back to his mound, and called,--

'"It is well. You are content, and we are content to join you. Wait,
now, a little while."

'With this he turned and ordered my father to pick up the lantern, and
lead the way back. As my father picked it up, he heard the ranks of dead
men cheer and call, "God save the King!" all together, and saw them
waver and fade back into the dark, like a breath fading off a pane.

'But when they came back here to the kitchen, and my father set the
lantern down, it seemed they'd both forgot about him. For the drummer
turned in the lantern light--and my father could see the blood still
welling out of the hole in his breast--and took the trumpet-sling from
around the other's neck, and locked drum and trumpet together again,
choosing the letters on the lock very carefully. While he did this he

'"The word is no more Corunna, but Bayonne. As you left out an 'n' in
Corunna, so must I leave out an 'n' in Bayonne." And before snapping the
padlock, he spelt out the word slowly--"B-A-Y-O-N-E." After that, he
used no more speech, but turned and hung the two instruments back on the
hook; and then took the trumpeter by the arm; and the pair walked out
into the darkness, glancing neither to right nor left.

'My father was on the point of following, when he heard a sort of sigh
behind him; and there, sitting in the elbow-chair, was the very
trumpeter he had just seen walk out by the door! If my father's heart
jumped before, you may believe it jumped quicker now. But, after a bit,
he went up to the man asleep in the chair and put a hand upon him. It
was the trumpeter in flesh and blood that he touched; but though the
flesh was warm, the trumpeter was dead.

'Well, sir, they buried him three days after; and at first my father was
minded to say nothing about his dream (as he thought it). But the day
after the funeral, he met Parson Kendall coming from Helston market; and
the parson called out: "Have'ee heard the news the coach brought down
this mornin'?" "What news?" says my father. "Why, that peace is agreed
upon." "None too soon," says my father. "Not soon enough for our poor
lads at Bayonne," the parson answered. "Bayonne!" cries my father, with
a jump. "Why, yes;" and the parson told him all about a great sally the
French had made on the night of April 13th. "Do you happen to know if
the 38th Regiment was engaged?" my father asked. "Come, now," said
Parson Kendall, "I didn't know you was so well up in the campaign. But
as it happens, I _do_ know that the 38th was engaged, for 'twas they
that held a cottage and stopped the French advance."

'Still my father held his tongue; and when, a week later, he walked into
Helston and bought a "Mercury" off the Sherborne rider, and got the
landlord of the "Angel" to spell out the list of killed and wounded,
sure enough, there among the killed was Drummer John Christian, of the
38th Foot.

'After this, there was nothing for a religious man but to make a clean
breast. So my father went up to Parson Kendall, and told the whole
story. The parson listened, and put a question or two, and then asked,--

'"Have you tried to open the lock since that night?"

"I han't dared to touch it," says my father.

'"Then come along and try." When the parson came to the cottage here, he
took the things off the hook and tried the lock. "Did he say
'_Bayonne_'? The word has seven letters."

'"Not if you spell it with one 'n' as _he_ did," says my father.

'The parson spelt it out--B-A-Y-O-N-E. "Whew!" says he, for the lock had
fallen open in his hand.

'He stood considering it a moment, and then he says, "I tell you what. I
shouldn't blab this all round the parish, if I was you. You won't get no
credit for truth-telling, and a miracle's wasted on a set of fools. But
if you like, I'll shut down the lock again upon a holy word that no one
but me shall know, and neither drummer nor trumpeter, dead nor alive,
shall frighten the secret out of me."

'"I wish to gracious you would, parson," said my father.

'The parson chose the holy word there and then, and shut the lock back
upon it, and hung the drum and trumpet back in their place. He is gone
long since, taking the word with him. And till the lock is broken by
force, nobody will ever separate those twain.'





I was in Ramsgate, in the pier-yard, and noticed the figure of a boatman
leaning against the wall of a building used by the Trinity people. I
stepped close, and looked at him. He was a little man, curved; his hands
were buried to the knuckles' end in his breeches pockets; he wore a
yellow sou'wester, and under it was a sour, sneering, wicked face. His
eyes were damp and sunk, and seemed to discharge a thin liquor like pale
ale, and he would not pull out his hands to wipe them.

'What's your name?' said I.

He looked at me slowly, beginning at my waistcoat, and answered: 'What's
that got to do with you?'

'Do you want a job?'

'What sorter job?' he replied, continuing to lean against the wall,
without any motion of his body, merely looking at me.

'The job of answering a civil question with a civil answer,' said I.

He turned his head, and gazed at the sea without replying.

'What's that obelisk?' said I.

His head came back to its bearings, and he answered: 'What's what?'

'That thing in granite, yonder; that tall stone spike. What is it?'

'Can yer read?'

'Better than you, I expect,' I answered.

'Then why don't you go and find out for yourself?' said he, uttering a
small, hideous laugh.

'I rather fancy,' said I, 'that that spike was erected to commemorate
the landing of George IV. He was kind enough to condescend to land at
Ramsgate. Wasn't that good of him, Tommy? Blown here, maybe, vomiting,
to the pier-head, and rejoicing, under his waistcoats, to get ashore
anywhere and anyhow. And the snobs of Ramsgate go to the expense of
erecting that unwholesome and shocking memorial of so abject a trifle as
the landing of a fat immoral man at this port on his way to London. Why
don't you, and the like of you, level it,--knock the blamed thing into
blocks of stone, and build a house with them for a good man to live in?

His eyes had come to the surface; they were running harder than ever. He
was in a rage.

'Look here,' said he; 'I don't know who y'are, but don't yer like that
there pillar?'

'No,' I answered.

'Then why don't yer go home? There's nothen' to keep yer 'ere, I 'ope?
Plenty of trains to all parts, and I'll carry yer bag for nothen',
allowin' you've got one, only for the satisfaction of seein' the last of

I told him I would remember that, and, bursting into uncontrollable
laughter at his peculiarly ugly, wicked face, I walked off, scarce
knowing but that I should feel the blow of ''arf a brick' in the back of
my head as I went.

I met a boatman with whom I had gone fishing on some occasions.

'Thomas,' said I, pointing to the leaning figure, 'who is that queer
little chap?'

'Jimmie Mason,' replied Thomas, with a half-glance at the wall-scab,
then turning his back upon it.

'Has he ever been hung?' said I.

'Don't think he could have been quite old enough for it,' he replied,
turning again to look at the little man. 'They cut a man down from the
gibbet on the sand hills yonder,' said he, pointing in the direction of
Deal, 'when my father was a boy, and he used to say that, when the man
got sprung, he'd relate, in beautiful language, how he felt when he was
turned off.'

'A dose of turning-off would do that gent in the sou'wester a great
deal of good,' said I. 'He's a sort of man, you know, to murder you when
you're out fishing with him. He's a sort of man to stab you in the back
with a great clasp knife, and drag your body into the empty house, which
never lets ever after.'

'Old Jim Mason's just the worst-tempered man on the coast. His heart was
turned black by a disappointment,' said Thomas.

[Illustration: _Old Jim Mason's the worst-tempered man on the coast._]

'Love?' said I.

'Why, not exactly love,' he replied; 'it was more in the hovelling

'Is it a good yarn?' I asked. 'If so, I'll stand two drinks; a pint for
you and a half-pint for me.'

'It might be worth recording,' said Thomas, taking the time occupied by
the harbour clock in striking: twelve to reflect. 'Anyways, pint or no
pint, here it is,' and, folding his arms, this intelligent longshoreman'
started thus:--

'Some years ago, a gemman and a lady went out for a sail, and, as is
not always customary in these 'ere parts,--though we've got some thick
heads among us, I can tell you,--they were capsized. The gemman was
drowned, the lady and the boatman saved, and the boat was picked up and
towed in,--there she lies, "The 'Arbour Bud."

'The widder, as was natural, was in dreadful grief; and, in a day or
two, police bills was pasted about the walls, offering a reward of 50l.
to any one who should recover the body. That there Mason, as you see
a-leaning agin that house, was just the party for a job of this sort. He
called 'em soft jobs. He was one of them men as would walk about the
rocks and sands arter a breeze of wind, hunting for whatever he might
find,--be it a corpse that had come ashore to keep him in good spirits,
or the 'arf of a shoe. Him and Sam Bowler was a-huntin' arter jewellery
down among the rocks one day, and that there Mason picked up a gold
ring. He offered it to Bowler, who gave him five shullens for it, and
that night, at the sign of the "Welcome 'Arp," that there Mason
swallowed some of his front teeth, and got both eyes plugged, for
Bowler, who weighs fourteen stun, had discovered that the ring was

'Well, that there Mason takes it into his head to go for a walk one day
arter the bills about the body had been pasted on the walls. He walked
in the direction of Broadstairs, and, comin' to the coastguard station,
he falls in with one of the men, a sort of relation of his. They got
yarning. The coastguard had a big telescope under his arm. That there
Mason asked leave to have a look, and he levels the glass and begins to
work about with it. The line of the Good'in Sands was as plain as the
nose on his face. It was low water, the whole stretch of the shoal was
visible, and it was a clear bright afternoon.

'"What's taken yer heye?" says the coastguard presently.

[Illustration: _'What's taken yer heye?'_]

'"Nothen, oh, nothen," answered that there Mason. "Sands show oncommon
plain to-day."

'He handed back the glass to the coastguard, and then, instead of
continuing his walk, he returned to this here yard, and got into his
boat and pulled away out of the harbour.

'Now what do yer think he had seen in that telescope? A dead man
stranded on the Good'in Sands. There could be no mistake. That there
Mason belonged to the cocksure lot; _he_ never made a blunder in all his
life. It mightn't be the body as was advertised for, but, if it was,
'twas a fifty-pound job; and that there Mason, without a word, pulled
out o' 'arbour feelin', I daresay, as if he'd got the gold in his
pocket, and the heavens was beginnin' to smile upon him.

''Tis a long pull to the Good'ins, tide or no tide. None took any notice
of his goin' out. There was some boats a-fishin' in Pegwell Bay, and if
any man looked at that there Mason a-rowing out to sea, he'd expect to
see him bring up and drop a line over the side. He rowed and rowed. The
body lay upon the edge of the Sand, a long distance away from the Gull
lightship. He rowed and rowed. By-and-bye, standin' up, he pulls out a
bit of a pocket glass, and then discovers that what he'd taken to be a
man's dead body was nothen but a small balk of timber, black with black
seaweed, stretched out on either side, so that at a distance it looked
exactly like a corpse on its back with its arms out.

'That there Mason might ha' burst himself with passion if he hadn't been
too dead beat with rowing. Even in them times he wasn't no chicken.
Well, thinks he to himself, since I've had all this here labour merely
to view a balk of timber, I may as well step ashore for a spell of rest,
and take a short cruise round, for who knows what I might find? So what
does the joker do but head his boat right in for the sand, and then he
jumps ashore. He made his boat fast to the balk of timber. It was arter
five, and the sun westerin' fast. He drives his 'ands deep into his
pockets, and slowly meanders, always a-looking. What was there to find?
_He_ couldn't tell. There was expectation, yer see, and that was a sort
of joy to the 'eart of that there Mason. Y'u'd hardly think it of a
boatman, but it's true: whilst that bally idiot was a-wandering about
them sands searching for whatever there might be, his boat, giving a tug
at her painter, frees the rope and drifts away on the tide, with that
there man as you are now a-looking at walking about the sands, his 'ands
buried deep and his eyes fixed, dreaming of lighting upon a sovereign or
a gold chain,--you can never tell what passes in such an 'ead. By'm-bye
he turns to look for his boat, and lo and be'old she's gone. There she
was half a mile off, quietly floating away to the norr'ard. The sun was
beginning to sink low; the night was coming along. The people aboard
the Gull lightship didn't see him or take any notice; what was that
there Mason going to do? There was no wreck to shelter him. It might be
that at Ramsgate they'd see a lonely man a-walking about, and send a
boat; but, as I've said, dusk was at 'and, and he knew bloomin' well
that if they didn't see him soon they'd never see him again.

'He'd taken notice afore the darkness had drawn down of a cutter bearing
about northeast. He watched her now whilst it was light, for it looked
to him as if she was making a straight course for the sands. It was
plain she wasn't under no government. The wind blew her along, and at
eight o'clock that evening, when the moon was rising and the tide making
fast all about the sands, I'm blest if that cutter didn't come quietly
ashore, and lie as sweetly still as if she was a young woman wore out
with walkin'.

'I allow that it didn't take that there Mason a lifetime to scramble
aboard of her. She was a fine boat, 'bout sixteen or eighteen ton, newly
sheathed, and her sails shone white and new in the moon. When he got
aboard he sung out, "Anybody here?" and he received no reply. There was
a bit of a forehatch; he put his 'ead into it and sung out, and several
times he sung out, and got no answer; he then walked aft. I must tell
you, it was a very quiet night, with a light breeze and plenty of stars,
and a growing moon. He looks through the bit of a skylight, and sees
nothen; puts his head in the companion-way and sings out as afore. An
abandoned wessel, he thinks to himself, and his 'eart, you may be sure,
turns to and rejoices.

'What should he do? Try to kedge her off himself? That was beyond him.
Send up a rocket, if he should find such a thing in the vessel? S'elp
me, he was that greedy he couldn't make up his mind to ask for 'elp. He
took a look round the sea and considered. There was some big lump of
shadow out behind the sands,--she looked like a French smack; his boat
was out of sight in the dark, but the cutter, he noticed, carried a
little jolly boat, amidships, right fair in the wake of the gangway,
easy to be launched, smack fashion, so that there Mason felt his life
was saved.

'He carried some lucifers in his pocket for lighting his pipe; he
stepped into the cabin, and struck a light. A lamp was hung up close
against his 'and; it was ready trimmed, and he set the wick afire, and
looked round. What did he see? As beautiful a little cabin as the
hinvention of man could figure. The sides of the wessel had been picked
out by artists, and that there Mason swears no man ever saw finer
pictures in his life,--ladies a-bathin', gentlemen chasin' with hounds,
a steamer going along; both sides had been picked out into pictures, and
that there Mason looked around him with his mouth opening and opening.
There was likewise lookin' glasses; a thick carpet; the lamps seemed to
be made of silver, and there was such a twinkling of silver all about,
what with the 'andles of doors and a lot of forks and spoons on the
table, that Mason's eyes began to dance in his evil old nut, and he
reckoned himself a made man for life. Look at him as he leans there.

'But what else did he see? The door of a cabin right aft stood open, and
half-way in and half-way out lay the body of a man; his throat was most
horribly cut; not by 's own 'and. No man could nearly cut his own 'ead
half off as that chap's was. He'd been murdered, and there was no man in
that beautiful little cutter saving that bleedin' corpse. It was a sight
to have thickened the wind-pipe of most men, and set them a-breathin'
hard and tight; but _he_ saw nothing but a man with his throat cut. He
took a look at him, and reckoned him to be a furriner, as, indeed, the
whole little ship seemed. It was a very quiet night, and he stood
looking at the dead body considering what he should do. If he brought
assistance from the shore, and the cutter was towed into port, his share
of the salvage money,--for the rewards are small in jobs of this sort
when the weather is fine and there is no risk of life,--his share, I
says, of the money would be scarcely worth talking about. Same time, if
he left the cutter to lie, and it came on to blow, she'd go to pieces
afore the morning. That wasn't his consarn, he thought; he had come to
the Good'ins on the look-out for a job, and had got one, and he made up
his mind to make the most of his chances.

'So the first thing that there Mason did was to stoop down and plunder
the body. Plenty was on it. I can see in fancy the looks of his face as
he 'elped himself; he found a beautiful gold watch and chain, a diamond
ring, and another ring, a lot of gold coins in French money in one
pocket, and French money in silver coin in another. He found a silver
toothpick, an eye-glass, and I can't tell you what besides. He was in
high feather, a very 'appy man; he fills his pockets with the forks and
spoons, supposing them silver, tho' they wasn't. He looked into the
cabin where the dead body lay, but found nothen but bed-clothes and male
wearin' apparel hangin' to the bulkhead. There was a chest of drawers
full of good linen shirts and vests and the like of that. But that there
Mason thought of Cocky Honour, the Customs man, and abandoned the idea
of makin' up them shirts into a parcel.

'It was his notion to get away in the cutter's jolly boat or dinghey,
and he stood looking about him to see if there was anything else he
could put in his pockets. All at once he heard a noise of men's voices
alongside, and, immediately arter, the 'eavy tread of fishermen's boots
over'ead. Afore he could get on deck, a big chap, with a red night-cap
on, came down the little companion-ladder, and instantly roars out
something in French. Down comes others,--three or four. 'Twas a minute
or two afore they took notice of the dead body, all along of starin'
round 'em, and at that there Mason, who stared back. They then set up a
howl, and fell a-brandishing their arms, as if they were gone stark mad.

'"You killee him!" roars one.

[Illustration: _'You killee him!' roars one._]

'"No, no," sings out Mason, "me no killee, me find him killee."

'"You killee him," roars the great man with the cap, lookin' most
ferocious, for that here Mason says his face was nearly all hair,
besides that he squinted most damnably, beggin' of your pardon. And then
he began to shout to the others, who shouted back at him, all talkin' at
the top of their voices, as is the custom in France when excited, and
all lookin' at that there Mason.

'Suddenly they all rushed at him, knocked him down, overhauled his
pockets, and brought out the spoons and forks and the dead gent's gold
watch and chain, and the rest of the plunder.

'"You killee", roared the big man in the cap, and layin' hold of him,
they ran him into the cabin where the corpse was, and locked him up with
the body, and presently that there Mason, who was next door to ravin'
mad, felt that they was warping the cutter off,--that, in short, she
_was_ off, and, by the noise of passin' waters, either sailing or in

'And now to end this, sir, what do you think happened to that there
Mason? She was a French smack that had sighted and boarded the cutter;
that was a Frenchman likewise, and they towed her straight to Boulogne,
at which place they arrived at about ten o'clock in the morning. Numbers
was on the pier to see the uncommon sight of a smack towing an abandoned
cutter. That there Mason was handed over to the authorities, charged
with murder and robbery. The British Consul took up the case. When the
facts were stated, and inquiries made, his innocence was established;
but not afore he'd lain three weeks in a beastly jail, fed on black
bread, and denied his pipe. I don't say he came home much changed; but I
allow the disappointment sunk as deep as his heart, and blacked it. And
to this hour he's not fit company for man nor beast. Look at him as he

Laughing together, we strolled off for our drinks, and I saw Mason turn
his head to watch us as we walked.


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