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Title: By order of the company
Author: Johnston, Mary
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Internet Archive)



                        BY ORDER OF THE COMPANY

                          By the same Author

                           THE OLD DOMINION

                            Second Edition


 "_A book very much to be recommended._"--GUARDIAN. "_A stirring
 tale of love and adventure._"--TABLET. "_The whole book is a
 masterpiece._"--BRITISH WEEKLY. "_A delightful story._"--SPEAKER. "_A
 notable book._"--LITERARY WORLD. "_Any reader who likes Stevenson will
 like 'The Old Dominion.'_"--OUTLOOK. "_I have not met with a more
 readable book for many a long day._"--WHITEHALL REVIEW. "_Miss Mary
 Johnston is to be congratulated._"--DAILY TELEGRAPH. "_Altogether,
 'The Old Dominion' is an excellent story._"--WESTMINSTER GAZETTE.
 "_Every scene is realized, and every character lives._"--MANCHESTER
 GUARDIAN. "_A romance of a merit quite remarkable._"--ECHO. "_The
 Baron congratulates Mary Johnston on her romantic story entitled 'The
 Old Dominion.' It is an exciting narrative of perilous adventures,
 and of a hate that was converted into love as strong as death. The
 characters are drawn with a strong hand, and the interest is sustained
 to the end._"--PUNCH.



                            BY ORDER OF THE
                                COMPANY

                           BY MARY JOHNSTON

                     Author of _The Old Dominion_

                       [Illustration: colophon]

                              WESTMINSTER
                      ARCHIBALD CONSTABLE AND CO
                          2 WHITEHALL GARDENS
                                 1900

                   1900. COPYRIGHT IN THE U.S.A. BY
                         HOUGHTON MIFFLIN & CO



Contents


CHAPTER                                                             PAGE

   I IN WHICH I THROW AMBS-ACE                                         7

  II IN WHICH I MEET MASTER JEREMY SPARROW                            16

 III IN WHICH I MARRY IN HASTE                                        26

  IV IN WHICH I AM LIKE TO REPENT AT LEISURE                          36

   V IN WHICH A WOMAN HAS HER WAY                                     49

  VI IN WHICH WE GO TO JAMESTOWN                                      58

 VII IN WHICH WE PREPARE TO FIGHT THE SPANIARD                        69

VIII IN WHICH ENTERS MY LORD CARNAL                                   80

  IX IN WHICH TWO DRINK OF ONE CUP                                    92

   X IN WHICH MASTER PORY GAINS TIME TO SOME PURPOSE                 108

  XI IN WHICH I MEET AN ITALIAN DOCTOR                               116

 XII IN WHICH I RECEIVE A WARNING AND REPOSE A TRUST                 128

XIII IN WHICH THE "SANTA TERESA" DROPS DOWNSTREAM                    135

 XIV IN WHICH WE SEEK A LOST LADY                                    143

  XV IN WHICH WE FIND THE HAUNTED WOOD                               151

 XVI IN WHICH I AM RID OF AN UNPROFITABLE SERVANT                    161

   XVII IN WHICH MY LORD AND I PLAY AT BOWLS                         172

  XVIII IN WHICH WE GO OUT INTO THE NIGHT                            185

    XIX IN WHICH WE HAVE UNEXPECTED COMPANY                          196

     XX IN WHICH WE ARE IN DESPERATE CASE                            206

    XXI IN WHICH A GRAVE IS DIGGED                                   216

   XXII IN WHICH I CHANGE MY NAME AND OCCUPATION                     226

  XXIII IN WHICH WE WRITE UPON THE SAND                              238

   XXIV IN WHICH WE CHOOSE THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS                   250

    XXV IN WHICH MY LORD HATH HIS DAY                                261

   XXVI IN WHICH I AM BROUGHT TO TRIAL                               272

  XXVII IN WHICH I FIND AN ADVOCATE                                  281

 XXVIII IN WHICH THE SPRINGTIME IS AT HAND                           294

   XXIX IN WHICH I KEEP TRYST                                        306

    XXX IN WHICH WE START UPON A JOURNEY                             322

   XXXI IN WHICH NANTAUQUAS COMES TO OUR RESCUE                      333

  XXXII IN WHICH WE ARE THE GUESTS OF AN EMPEROR                     348

 XXXIII IN WHICH MY FRIEND BECOMES MY FOE                            362

  XXXIV IN WHICH THE RACE IS NOT TO THE SWIFT                        375

   XXXV IN WHICH I COME TO THE GOVERNOR'S HOUSE                      385

  XXXVI IN WHICH I HEAR ILL NEWS                                     397

 XXXVII IN WHICH MY LORD AND I PART COMPANY                          409

XXXVIII IN WHICH I GO UPON A QUEST                                   419

  XXXIX IN WHICH WE LISTEN TO A SONG                                 430



CHAPTER I

In which I Throw Ambs-ace


The work of the day being over, I sat down upon my doorstep, pipe in
hand, to rest awhile in the cool of the evening. Death is not more still
than is this Virginian land in the hour when the sun has sunk away, and
it is black beneath the trees, and the stars brighten slowly and softly,
one by one. The birds that sing all day have hushed, and the horned
owls, the monster frogs, and that strange and ominous fowl (if fowl it
be, and not, as some assert, a spirit damned) which we English call the
whippoorwill, are yet silent. Later the wolf will howl and the panther
scream, but now there is no sound. The winds are laid, and the restless
leaves droop and are quiet. The low lap of the water among the reeds is
like the breathing of one who sleeps in his watch beside the dead.

I marked the light die from the broad bosom of the river, leaving it a
dead man's hue. Awhile ago, and for many evenings, it had been
crimson,--a river of blood. A week before, a great meteor had shot
through the night, blood-red and bearded, drawing a slow-fading fiery
trail across the heavens; and the moon had risen that same night
blood-red, and upon its disk there was drawn in shadow a thing most
marvellously like a scalping knife. Wherefore, the following day being
Sunday, good Mr. Stockham, our minister at Weyanoke, exhorted us to be
on our guard, and in his prayer besought that no sedition or rebellion
might raise its head amongst the Indian subjects of the Lord's anointed.
Afterward, in the churchyard, between the services, the more timorous
began to tell of divers portents which they had observed, and to recount
old tales of how the savages distressed us in the Starving Time. The
bolder spirits laughed them to scorn, but the women began to weep and
cower, and I, though I laughed too, thought of Smith, and how he ever
held the savages, and more especially that Opechancanough, who was now
their emperor, in a most deep distrust; telling us that the red men
watched while we slept, that they might teach wiliness to a Jesuit, and
how to bide its time to a cat crouched before a mousehole. I thought of
the terms we now kept with these heathen; of how they came and went
familiarly amongst us, spying out our weakness, and losing the salutary
awe which that noblest captain had struck into their souls; of how many
were employed as hunters to bring down deer for lazy masters; of how,
breaking the law, and that not secretly, we gave them knives and arms, a
soldier's bread, in exchange for pelts and pearls; of how their emperor
was for ever sending us smooth messages; of how their lips smiled and
their eyes frowned. That afternoon, as I rode home through the
lengthening shadows, a hunter, red-brown and naked, rose from behind a
fallen tree that sprawled across my path, and made offer to bring me my
meat from the moon of corn to the moon of stags in exchange for a gun.
There was scant love between the savages and myself,--it was answer
enough when I told him my name. I left the dark figure standing, still
as a carved stone, in the heavy shadow of the trees, and, spurring my
horse (sent me from home, the year before, by my cousin Percy), was soon
at my house,--a poor and rude one, but pleasantly set upon a slope of
green turf, and girt with maize and the broad leaves of the tobacco.
When I had had my supper, I called from their hut the two Paspahegh lads
bought by me from their tribe the Michaelmas before, and soundly flogged
them both, having in my mind a saying of my ancient captain's, namely,
"He who strikes first ofttimes strikes last."

Upon the afternoon of which I now speak, in the midsummer of the year of
grace 1621, as I sat upon my doorstep, my long pipe between my teeth and
my eyes upon the pallid stream below, my thoughts were busy with these
matters,--so busy that I did not see a horse and rider emerge from the
dimness of the forest into the cleared space before my palisade, nor
knew, until his voice came up the bank, that my good friend, Master John
Rolfe, was without and would speak to me.

I went down to the gate, and, unbarring it, gave him my hand and led the
horse within the inclosure.

"Thou careful man!" he said, with a laugh, as he dismounted. "Who else,
think you, in this or any other hundred, now bars his gate when the sun
goes down?"

"It is my sunset gun," I answered briefly, fastening his horse as I
spoke.

He put his arm about my shoulder, for we were old friends, and together
we went up the green bank to the house, and, when I had brought him a
pipe, sat down side by side upon the doorstep.

"Of what were you dreaming?" he asked presently, when we had made for
ourselves a great cloud of smoke. "I called you twice."

"I was wishing for Dale's times and Dale's laws."

He laughed, and touched my knee with his hand, white and smooth as a
woman's, and with a green jewel upon the forefinger.

"Thou Mars incarnate!" he cried. "Thou first, last, and in the meantime
soldier! Why, what wilt thou do when thou gettest to heaven? Make it too
hot to hold thee? or take out letters of marque against the Enemy?"

"I am not there yet," I said dryly. "In the meantime I would like a
commission against--your relatives."

He laughed, then sighed, and sinking his chin into his hand and softly
tapping his foot against the ground, fell into a reverie.

"I would your princess were alive," I said presently.

"So do I," he answered softly. "So do I." Locking his hands behind his
head, he raised his quiet face to the evening star. "Brave and wise and
gentle," he mused. "If I did not think to meet her again, beyond that
star, I could not smile and speak calmly, Ralph, as I do now."

"'Tis a strange thing," I said, as I refilled my pipe. "Love for your
brother-in-arms, love for your commander if he be a commander worth
having, love for your horse and dog, I understand. But wedded love! to
tie a burden around one's neck because 'tis pink and white, or clear
bronze, and shaped with elegance! Faugh!"

"Yet I came with half a mind to persuade thee to that very burden!" he
cried, with another laugh.

"Thanks for thy pains," I said, blowing blue rings into the air.

"I have ridden to-day from Jamestown," he went on. "I was the only man,
i' faith, that cared to leave its gates; and I met the world--the
bachelor world--flocking to them. Not a mile of the way but I
encountered Tom, Dick, and Harry, dressed in their Sunday bravery and
making full tilt for the city. And the boats upon the river! I have seen
the Thames less crowded."

"There was more passing than usual," I said; "but I was busy in the
fields, and did not attend. What's the lodestar?"

"The star that draws us all,--some to ruin, some to bliss
ineffable,--woman."

"Humph! The maids have come, then?"

He nodded. "There's a goodly ship down there, with a goodly lading."

"_Videlicet_, some fourscore waiting damsels and milkmaids, warranted
honest by my Lord Warwick," I muttered.

"This business hath been of Edwyn Sandys' management, as you very well
know," he rejoined, with some heat. "His word is good: therefore I hold
them chaste. That they are fair I can testify, having seen them leave
the ship."

"Fair and chaste," I said, "but meanly born."

"I grant you that," he answered. "But after all, what of it? Beggars
must not be choosers. The land is new and must be peopled, nor will
those who come after us look too curiously into the lineage of those to
whom a nation owes its birth. What we in these plantations need is a
loosening of the bonds which tie us to home, to England, and a
tightening of those which bind us to this land in which we have cast our
lot. We put our hand to the plough, but we turn our heads and look to
our Egypt and its fleshpots. 'Tis children and wife--be that wife
princess or peasant--that make home of a desert, that bind a man with
chains of gold to the country where they abide. Wherefore, when at
midday I met good Master Wickham rowing down from Henricus to Jamestown,
to offer his aid to Master Bucke in his press of business to-morrow, I
gave the good man Godspeed, and thought his a fruitful errand and one
pleasing to the Lord."

"Amen," I yawned. "I love the land, and call it home. My withers are
unwrung."

He rose to his feet, and began to pace the greensward before the door.
My eyes followed his trim figure, richly though sombrely clad, then fell
with a sudden dissatisfaction upon my own stained and frayed apparel.

"Ralph," he said presently, coming to a stand before me, "have you ever
an hundred and twenty pounds of tobacco in hand? If not, I----"

"I have the weed," I replied. "What then?"

"Then at dawn drop down with the tide to the city, and secure for
thyself one of these same errant damsels."

I stared at him, and then broke into laughter, in which, after a space
and unwillingly, he himself joined. When at length I wiped the water
from my eyes it was quite dark, the whippoorwills had begun to call, and
Rolfe must needs hasten on. I went with him down to the gate.

"Take my advice,--it is that of your friend," he said, as he swung
himself into the saddle. He gathered up the reins and struck spurs into
his horse, then turned to call back to me: "Sleep upon my words, Ralph,
and the next time I come I look to see a farthingale behind thee!"

"Thou art as like to see one upon me," I answered.

Nevertheless, when he had gone, and I climbed the bank and re-entered
the house, it was with a strange pang at the cheerlessness of my hearth,
and an angry and unreasoning impatience at the lack of welcoming face or
voice. In God's name, who was there to welcome me? None but my hounds,
and the flying squirrel I had caught and tamed. Groping my way to the
corner, I took from my store two torches, lit them, and stuck them into
the holes pierced in the mantel shelf; then stood beneath the clear
flame, and looked with a sudden sick distaste upon the disorder which
the light betrayed. The fire was dead, and ashes and embers were
scattered upon the hearth; fragments of my last meal littered the table,
and upon the unwashed floor lay the bones I had thrown my dogs. Dirt and
confusion reigned; only upon my armour, my sword and gun, my hunting
knife and dagger, there was no spot or stain. I turned to gaze upon them
where they hung against the wall, and in my soul I hated the piping
times of peace, and longed for the camp fire and the call to arms.

With an impatient sigh, I swept the litter from the table, and, taking
from the shelf that held my meagre library a bundle of Master
Shakespeare's plays (gathered for me by Rolfe when he was last in
London), I began to read; but my thoughts wandered, and the tale seemed
dull and oft-told. I tossed it aside, and, taking dice from my pocket,
began to throw. As I cast the bits of bone, idly, and scarce caring to
observe what numbers came uppermost, I had a vision of the forester's
hut at home, where, when I was a boy, in the days before I ran away to
the wars in the Low Countries, I had spent many a happy hour. Again I
saw the bright light of the fire reflected in each well-scrubbed crock
and pannikin; again I heard the cheerful hum of the wheel; again the
face of the forester's daughter smiled upon me. The old grey manor
house, where my mother, a stately dame, sat ever at her tapestry, and an
imperious elder brother strode to and fro among his hounds, seemed less
of home to me than did that tiny, friendly hut. To-morrow would be my
thirty-sixth birthday. All the numbers that I cast were high. "If I
throw ambs-ace," I said, with a smile for my own caprice, "curse me if
I do not take Rolfe's advice!"

I shook the box and clapped it down upon the table, then lifted it, and
stared with a lengthening face at what it had hidden; which done, I
diced no more, but put out my lights and went soberly to bed.



CHAPTER II

In which I meet Master Jeremy Sparrow


Mine are not dicers' oaths. The stars were yet shining when I left the
house, and, after a word with my man Diccon, at the servants' huts,
strode down the bank and through the gate of the palisade to the wharf,
where I loosed my boat, put up her sail, and turned her head down the
broad stream. The wind was fresh and favourable, and we went swiftly
down the river through the silver mist toward the sunrise. The sky grew
pale pink to the zenith; then the sun rose and drank up the mist. The
river sparkled and shone; from the fresh green banks came the smell of
the woods and the song of birds; above rose the sky, bright blue, with a
few fleecy clouds drifting across it. I thought of the day, thirteen
years before, when for the first time white men sailed up this same
river, and of how noble its width, how enchanting its shores, how gay
and sweet their blooms and odours, how vast their trees, how strange the
painted savages, had seemed to us, storm-tossed adventurers, who thought
we had found a very paradise, the Fortunate Isles at least. How quickly
were we undeceived! As I lay back in the stern with half-shut eyes and
tiller idle in my hand, our many tribulations and our few joys passed in
review before me. Indian attacks; dissension and strife amongst our
rulers; true men persecuted, false knaves elevated; the weary search for
gold and the South Sea; the horror of the pestilence and the blacker
horror of the Starving Time; the arrival of the _Patience_ and
_Deliverance_, whereat we wept like children; that most joyful Sunday
morning when we followed my Lord de la Warre to church; the coming of
Dale with that stern but wholesome martial code which was no stranger to
me who had fought under Maurice of Nassau; the good times that followed,
when bowl-playing gallants were put down, cities founded, forts built,
and the gospel preached; the marriage of Rolfe and his dusky princess;
Argall's expedition, in which I played a part, and Argall's iniquitous
rule; the return of Yeardley as Sir George, and the priceless gift he
brought us,--all this and much else, old friends, old enemies, old toils
and strifes and pleasures, ran, bitter-sweet, through my memory, as the
wind and flood bore me on. Of what was before me I did not choose to
think, sufficient unto the hour being the evil thereof.

The river seemed deserted: no horsemen spurred along the bridle path on
the shore; the boats were few and far between, and held only servants or
Indians, or very old men. It was as Rolfe had said, and the free and
able-bodied of the plantations had put out, posthaste, for matrimony.
Chaplain's Choice appeared unpeopled; Piersey's Hundred slept in the
sunshine, its wharf deserted, and but few, slow-moving figures in the
tobacco fields; even the Indian villages looked scant of all but squaws
and children, for the braves were gone to see the palefaces buy their
wives. Below Paspahegh a cockleshell of a boat carrying a great white
sail overtook me, and I was hailed by young Hamor.

"The maids are come!" he cried. "Hurrah!" and stood up to wave his hat.

"Humph!" I said. "I guess thy destination by thy hose. Are they not
'those that were thy peach-coloured ones'?"

"Oons! yes!" he answered, looking down with complacency upon his
tarnished finery. "Wedding garments, Captain Percy, wedding garments!"

I laughed. "Thou art a tardy bridegroom. I thought that the bachelors of
this quarter of the globe slept last night in Jamestown."

His face fell. "I know it," he said ruefully; "but my doublet had more
rents than slashes in it, and Martin Tailor kept it until cockcrow. That
fellow rolls in tobacco; he hath grown rich off our impoverished
wardrobes since the ship down yonder passed the capes. After all," he
brightened, "the bargaining takes not place until toward midday, after
solemn service and thanksgiving. There's time enough!" He waved me a
farewell, as his great sail and narrow craft carried him past me.

I looked at the sun, which truly was not very high, with a secret
disquietude; for I had had a scurvy hope that after all I should be too
late, and so the noose which I felt tightening about my neck might
unknot itself. Wind and tide were against me, and an hour later saw me
nearing the peninsula and marvelling at the shipping which crowded its
waters. It was as if every sloop, barge, canoe, and dugout between
Point Comfort and Henricus were anchored off its shores, while above
them towered the masts of the _Marmaduke_ and _Furtherance_, then in
port, and of the tall ship which had brought in those doves for sale.
The river with its dancing freight, the blue heavens and bright
sunshine, the green trees waving in the wind, the stir and bustle in the
street and market-place thronged with gaily dressed gallants, made a
fair and pleasant scene. As I drove my boat in between the sloop of the
commander of Shirley Hundred and the canoe of the Nansemond werowance,
the two bells then newly hung in the church began to peal and the drum
to beat. Stepping ashore, I had a rear view only of the folk who had
clustered along the banks and in the street, their faces and footsteps
being with one accord directed towards the market-place. I went with the
throng, jostled alike by velvet and dowlas, by youths with their estates
upon their backs and naked fantastically painted savages, and trampling
the tobacco with which the greedy citizens had planted the very street.
In the square I brought up before the Governor's house, and found myself
cheek by jowl with Master Pory, our Secretary, and Speaker of the
Assembly.

"Ha, Ralph Percy!" he cried, wagging his grey head, "we two be the only
sane younkers in the plantations! All the others are horn-mad!"

"I have caught the infection," I said, "and am one of the bedlamites."

He stared, then broke into a roar of laughter. "Art in earnest?" he
asked, holding his fat sides. "Is Saul among the prophets?"

"Yes," I answered. "I diced last night,--yea or no; and the
'yea'--plague on't--had it."

He broke into another roar. "And thou callest that bridal attire, man!
Why, our cow-keeper goes in flaming silk to-day!"

I looked down upon my suit of buff, which had in truth seen some
service, and at my great boots, which I had not thought to clean since I
mired in a swamp, coming from Henricus the week before, then shrugged my
shoulders.

"You will go begging," he continued, wiping his eyes. "Not a one of them
will so much as look at you."

"Then will they miss seeing a man, and not a popinjay," I retorted. "I
shall not break my heart."

A cheer arose from the crowd, followed by a crashing peal of the bells
and a louder roll of the drum. The doors of the houses around and to
right and left of the square swung open, and the company which had been
quartered overnight upon the citizens began to emerge. By twos and
threes, some with hurried steps and downcast eyes, others more slowly
and with free glances at the staring men, they gathered to the centre of
the square, where, in surplice and band, there awaited them godly Master
Bucke and Master Wickham of Henricus. I stared with the rest, though I
did not add my voice to theirs.

Before the arrival of yesterday's ship there had been in this natural
Eden (leaving the savages out of the reckoning) several thousand Adams,
and but some threescore Eves. And for the most part, the Eves were
either portly and bustling or withered and shrewish housewives, of age
and experience to defy the serpent. These were different. Ninety slender
figures decked in all the bravery they could assume; ninety comely
faces, pink and white, or clear brown with the rich blood showing
through; ninety pair of eyes, laughing and alluring, or downcast with
long fringes sweeping rounded cheeks; ninety pair of ripe red lips,--the
crowd shouted itself hoarse and would not be restrained, brushing aside
like straws the staves of the marshal and his men, and surging in upon
the line of adventurous damsels. I saw young men, panting, seize hand or
arm and strive to pull toward them some reluctant fair; others snatched
kisses, or fell on their knees and began speeches out of Euphues; others
commenced an inventory of their possessions,--acres, tobacco, servants,
household plenishing. All was hubbub, protestation, frightened cries,
and hysterical laughter. The officers ran to and fro, threatening and
commanding; Master Pory alternately cried "Shame!" and laughed his
loudest; and I plucked away a jackanapes of sixteen who had his hand
upon a girl's ruff, and shook him until the breath was well-nigh out of
him. The clamour did but increase.

"Way for the Governor!" cried the marshal. "Shame on you, my masters!
Way for his Honour and the worshipful Council!"

The three wooden steps leading down from the door of the Governor's
house suddenly blossomed into crimson and gold, as his Honour with the
attendant Councillors emerged from the hall and stood staring at the mob
below.

The Governor's honest moon face was quite pale with passion. "What a
devil is this?" he cried wrathfully. "Did you never see a woman before?
Where's the marshal? I'll imprison the last one of you for rioters!"

Upon the platform of the pillory, which stood in the centre of the
market place, suddenly appeared a man of a gigantic frame, with a strong
face deeply lined and a great shock of grizzled hair,--a strange thing,
for he was not old. I knew him to be one Master Jeremy Sparrow, a
minister brought by the _Southampton_ a month before, and as yet without
a charge, but at that time I had not spoken with him. Without word of
warning he thundered into a psalm of thanksgiving, singing it at the top
of a powerful and yet sweet and tender voice, and with a fervour and
exaltation that caught the heart of the riotous crowd. The two ministers
in the throng beneath took up the strain; Master Pory added a husky
tenor, eloquent of much sack; presently we were all singing. The
audacious suitors, charmed into rationality, fell back, and the broken
line reformed. The Governor and the Council descended, and with pomp and
solemnity took their places between the maids and the two ministers who
were to head the column. The psalm ended, the drum beat a thundering
roll, and the procession moved forward in the direction of the church.

Master Pory having left me, to take his place among his brethren of the
Council, and the mob of those who had come to purchase and of the
curious idle having streamed away at the heels of the marshal and his
officers, I found myself alone in the square, save for the singer, who
now descended from the pillory and came up to me.

"Captain Ralph Percy, if I mistake not?" he said, in a voice as deep and
rich as the bass of an organ.

"The same," I answered. "And you are Master Jeremy Sparrow?"

"Yea, a silly preacher,--the poorest, meekest, and lowliest of the
Lord's servitors."

His deep voice, magnificent frame, and bold and free address so gave the
lie to the humility of his words that I had much ado to keep from
laughing. He saw, and his face, which was of a cast most martial,
flashed into a smile, like sunshine on a scarred cliff.

"You laugh in your sleeve," he said good-humouredly, "and yet I am but
what I profess to be. In spirit I am a very Job, though nature hath seen
fit to dress me as a Samson. I assure you, I am worse misfitted than is
Master Yardstick yonder in those Falstaffian hose. But, good sir, will
you not go to church?"

"If the church were Paul's, I might," I answered. "As it is, we could
not get within fifty feet of the door."

"Of the great door, ay, but the ministers may pass through the side
door. If you please, I will take you in with me. The pretty fools yonder
march slowly; if we turn down this lane, we will outstrip them quite."

"Agreed," I said, and we turned into a lane thick planted with tobacco,
made a detour of the Governor's house, and outflanked the procession,
arriving at the small door before it had entered the churchyard. Here we
found the sexton mounting guard.

"I am Master Sparrow, the minister that came in the _Southampton_," my
new acquaintance explained. "I am to sit in the choir. Let us pass, good
fellow."

The sexton squared himself before the narrow opening, and swelled with
importance.

"You, reverend sir, I will admit, such being my duty. But this gentleman
is no preacher; I may not allow him to pass."

"You mistake, friend," said my companion gravely. "This gentleman, my
worthy colleague, has but just come from the island of St. Brandon,
where he preaches on the witches' Sabbath: hence the disorder of his
apparel. His admittance be on my head; wherefore let us by."

"None to enter at the west door save Councillors, commander, and
ministers. Any attempting to force an entrance to be arrested and laid
by the heels if they be of the generality, or, if they be of quality, to
be duly fined and debarred from the purchase of any maid whatsoever,"
chanted the sexton.

"Then, in God's name, let's on!" I exclaimed. "Here, try this!" and I
drew from my purse, which was something of the leanest, a shilling.

"Try this," quoth Master Jeremy Sparrow, and knocked the sexton down.

We left the fellow sprawling in the doorway, sputtering threats to the
air without, but with one covetous hand clutching at the shilling which
I threw behind me, and entered the church, which we found yet empty,
though through the open great door we heard the drum beat loudly and a
deepening sound of footsteps.

"I have choice of position," I said. "Yonder window seems a good
station. You remain here in the choir?"

"Ay," he answered, with a sigh; "the dignity of my calling must be
upheld: wherefore I sit in high places, rubbing elbows with gold lace,
when of the very truth the humility of my spirit is such that I would
feel more at home in the servants' seats or among the negars that we
bought last year."

Had we not been in church I would have laughed, though indeed I saw that
he devoutly believed his own words. He took his seat in the largest and
finest of the chairs behind the great velvet one reserved for the
Governor, while I went and leaned against my window, and we stared at
each other across the flower-decked building in profound silence, until,
with one great final crash, the bells ceased, the drum stopped beating,
and the procession entered.



CHAPTER III

In which I Marry in Haste


The long service of praise and thanksgiving was well-nigh over when I
first saw her.

She sat some ten feet from me, in the corner, and so in the shadow of a
tall pew. Beyond her was a row of milkmaid beauties, red of cheek, free
of eye, deep-bosomed, and beribboned like May-poles. I looked again, and
saw--and see--a rose amongst blowzed poppies and peonies, a pearl amidst
glass beads, a Perdita in a ring of rustics, a nonparella of all grace
and beauty! As I gazed with all my eyes, I found more than grace and
beauty in that wonderful face,--found pride, wit, fire, determination,
finally shame and anger. For, feeling my eyes upon her, she looked up
and met what she must have thought the impudent stare of an appraiser.
Her face, which had been without colour, pale and clear like the sky
about the evening star, went crimson in a moment. She bit her lip and
shot at me one withering glance, then dropped her eyelids and hid the
lightning. When I looked at her again, covertly, and from under my hand
raised as though to push back my hair, she was pale once more, and her
dark eyes were fixed upon the water and the green trees without the
window.

The congregation rose, and she stood up with the other maids. Her dress
of dark woollen, severe and unadorned, her close ruff and prim white
coif, would have cried "Puritan," had ever Puritan looked like this
woman, upon whom the poor apparel had the seeming of purple and ermine.

Anon came the benediction. Governor, Councillors, commanders, and
ministers left the choir and paced solemnly down the aisle; the maids
closed in behind; and we who had lined the walls, shifting from one heel
to the other for a long two hours, brought up the rear, and so passed
from the church to a fair green meadow adjacent thereto. Here the
company disbanded; the wearers of gold lace betaking themselves to seats
erected in the shadow of a mighty oak, and the ministers, of whom there
were four, bestowing themselves within pulpits of turf. For one altar
and one clergyman could not hope to dispatch that day's business.

As for the maids, for a minute or more they made one cluster; then,
shyly or with laughter, they drifted apart like the petals of a
wind-blown rose, and silk doublet and hose gave chase. Five minutes saw
the goodly company of damsels errant and would-be bridegrooms scattered
far and near over the smiling meadow. For the most part they went man
and maid, but the fairer of the feminine cohort had rings of clamorous
suitors from whom to choose. As for me, I walked alone; for if by chance
I neared a maid, she looked (womanlike) at my apparel first, and never
reached my face, but squarely turned her back. So disengaged, I felt
like a guest at a mask, and in some measure enjoyed the show, though
with an uneasy consciousness that I was pledged to become, sooner or
later, a part of the spectacle. I saw a shepherdess, fresh from Arcadia,
wave back a dozen importunate gallants, then throw a knot of blue ribbon
into their midst, laugh with glee at the scramble that ensued, and
finally march off with the wearer of the favour. I saw a neighbour of
mine, tall Jack Pride, who lived twelve miles above me, blush and
stammer, and bow again and again to a milliner's apprentice of a girl,
not five feet high and all eyes, who dropped a curtsy at each bow. When
I had passed them fifty yards or more, and looked back, they were still
bobbing and bowing. And I heard a dialogue between Phyllis and Corydon.
Says Phyllis, "Any poultry?"

_Corydon._ "A matter of twalve hens and twa cocks."

_Phyllis._ "A cow?"

_Corydon._ "Twa."

_Phyllis._ "How much tobacco?"

_Corydon._ "Three acres, hinny, though I dinna drink the weed mysel'.
I'm a Stewart, woman, an' the King's puir cousin."

_Phyllis._ "What household plenishing?"

_Corydon._ "Ane large bed, ane flock bed, ane trundle bed, ane chest,
ane trunk, ane leather cairpet, sax cawfskin chairs an' twa-three rush,
five pair o' sheets an' auchteen dowlas napkins, sax alchemy spunes----"

_Phyllis._ "I'll take you."

At the far end of the meadow, near to the fort, I met young Hamor,
alone, flushed, and hurrying back to the more populous part of the
field.

"Not yet mated?" I asked. "Where are the maids' eyes?"

"By----!" he answered, with an angry laugh. "If they're all like the
sample I've just left, I'll buy me a squaw from the Paspaheghs!"

I smiled. "So your wooing has not prospered?"

His vanity took fire. "I have not wooed in earnest," he said carelessly,
and hitched forward his cloak of sky-blue tuftaffeta with an air. "I
sheered off quickly enough, I warrant you, when I found the nature of
the commodity I had to deal with."

"Ah!" I said. "When I left the crowd they were going very fast. You had
best hurry, if you wish to secure a bargain."

"I'm off," he answered; then, jerking his thumb over his shoulder, "If
you keep on to the river and that clump of cedars, you will find
Termagaunt in ruff and farthingale."

When he was gone, I stood still for a while and watched the slow sweep
of a buzzard high in the blue, after which I unsheathed my dagger, and
with it tried to scrape the dried mud from my boots. Succeeding but
indifferently, I put the blade up, stared again at the sky, drew a long
breath, and marched upon the covert of cedars indicated by Hamor.

As I neared it, I heard at first only the wash of the river; but
presently there came to my ears the sound of a man's voice, and then a
woman's angry "Begone, sir!"

"Kiss and be friends," said the man.

The sound that followed being something of the loudest for even the most
hearty salutation, I was not surprised, on parting the bushes, to find
the man nursing his cheek, and the maid her hand.

"You shall pay well for that, you sweet vixen!" he cried, and caught her
by both wrists.

She struggled fiercely, bending her head this way and that, but his hot
lips had touched her face before I could come between.

When I had knocked him down he lay where he fell, dazed by the blow, and
blinking up at me with his small ferret eyes. I knew him to be one
Edward Sharpless, and I knew no good of him. He had been a lawyer in
England. He lay on the very brink of the stream, with one arm touching
the water. Flesh and blood could not resist it, so, assisted by the toe
of my boot, he took a cold bath to cool his hot blood.

When he had clambered out and had gone away, cursing, I turned to face
her. She stood against the trunk of a great cedar, her head thrown back,
a spot of angry crimson in each cheek, one small hand clenched at her
throat. I had heard her laugh as Sharpless touched the water, but now
there was only defiance in her face. As we gazed at each other, a burst
of laughter came to us from the meadow behind. I looked over my
shoulder, and beheld young Hamor,--probably disappointed of a
wife,--with Giles Allen and Wynne, returning to his abandoned quarry.
She saw, too, for the crimson spread and deepened and her bosom heaved.
Her dark eyes, glancing here and there like those of a hunted creature,
met my own.

"Madam," I said, "will you marry me?"

She looked at me strangely. "Do you live here?" she asked at last, with
a disdainful wave of her hand toward the town.

"No, madam," I answered. "I live up river, in Weyanoke Hundred, some
miles from here."

"Then, in God's name, let us be gone!" she cried, with sudden passion.

I bowed low, and advanced to kiss her hand.

The finger-tips which she slowly and reluctantly resigned to me were
icy, and the look with which she favoured me was not such an one as
poets feign for like occasions. I shrugged the shoulders of my spirit,
but said nothing. So, hand in hand, though at arms' length, we passed
from the shade of the cedars into the open meadow, where we presently
met Hamor and his party. They would have barred the way, laughing and
making unsavoury jests, but I drew her closer to me and laid my hand
upon my sword. They stood aside, for I was the best swordsman in
Virginia.

The meadow was now less thronged. The river, up and down, was white with
sail-boats, and across the neck of the peninsula went a line of
horsemen, each with his purchase upon a pillion behind him. The
Governor, the Councillors, and the commanders had betaken themselves to
the Governor's house, where a great dinner was to be given. But Master
Piersey, the Cape Merchant, remained to see the Company reimbursed to
the last leaf, and the four ministers still found occupation, though one
couple trod not upon the heels of another, as they had done an hour
agone.

"I must first satisfy the treasurer," I said, coming to a halt within
fifty feet of the now deserted high places.

She drew her hand from mine, and looked me up and down.

"How much is it?" she asked at last. "I will pay it."

I stared at her.

"Can't you speak?" she cried, with a stamp of her foot. "At what am I
valued? Ten pounds--fifty pounds----"

"At one hundred and twenty pounds of tobacco, madam," I said dryly. "I
will pay it myself. To what name upon the ship's list do you answer?"

"Patience Worth," she replied.

I left her standing there, and went upon my errand with a whirling
brain. Her enrolment in that company proclaimed her meanly born, and she
bore herself as of blood royal; of her own free will she had crossed an
ocean to meet this day, and she held in passionate hatred this day and
all that it contained; she was come to Virginia to better her condition,
and the purse which she had drawn from her bosom was filled with gold
pieces. To another I would have advised caution, delay, application to
the Governor, inquiry; for myself I cared not to make inquiries.

The treasurer gave me my receipt, and I procured, from the crowd around
him, Humfrey Kent, a good man and true, and old Belfield, the perfumer,
for witnesses. With them at my heels I went back to her, and, giving her
my hand, was making for the nearest minister, when a voice at a little
distance hailed me, crying out, "This way, Captain Percy!"

I turned toward the voice, and beheld the great figure of Master Jeremy
Sparrow sitting, cross-legged like the Grand Turk, upon a grassy
hillock, and beckoning to me from that elevation.

"Our acquaintance hath been of the shortest," he said genially, when the
maid, the witnesses, and I had reached the foot of the hillock, "but I
have taken a liking to you and would fain do you a service. Moreover, I
lack employment. The maids take me for a hedge parson, and sheer off to
my brethren, who truly are of a more clerical appearance. Whereas if
they could only look upon the inner man! You have been long in choosing,
but have doubtless chosen----" He glanced from me to the woman beside
me, and broke off with open mouth and staring eyes. There was excuse,
for her beauty was amazing. "A paragon," he ended, recovering himself.

"Marry us quickly, friend," I said. "Clouds are gathering, and we have
far to go."

He came down from his mound, and we went and stood before him. I had
around my neck the gold chain given me upon a certain occasion by Prince
Maurice, and in lieu of other ring I now twisted off the smallest link
and gave it to her.

"Your name?" asked Master Sparrow, opening his book.

"Ralph Percy, Gentleman."

"And yours?" he demanded, staring at her with a somewhat too apparent
delight in her beauty.

She flushed richly and bit her lip.

He repeated the question.

She stood a minute in silence, her eyes upon the darkening sky. Then she
said in a low voice, "Jocelyn Leigh."

It was not the name I had watched the Cape Merchant strike off his list.
I turned upon her and made her meet my eyes. "What is your name?" I
demanded. "Tell me the truth!"

"I have told it," she answered proudly. "It is Jocelyn Leigh."

I faced the minister again. "Go on," I said briefly.

"The Company commands that no constraint be put upon its poor maids.
Wherefore, do you marry this man of your own free will and choice?"

"Ay," she said, "of my own free will."

Well, we were married, and Master Jeremy Sparrow wished us joy, and Kent
would have kissed the bride had I not frowned him off. He and Belfield
strode away, and I left her there, and went to get her bundle from the
house that had sheltered her overnight. Returning, I found her seated on
the turf, her chin in her hand and her dark eyes watching the distant
play of lightning. Master Sparrow had left his post, and was nowhere to
be seen.

I gave her my hand and led her to the shore; then loosed my boat and
helped her aboard. I was pushing off when a voice hailed us from the
bank, and the next instant a great bunch of red roses whirled past me
and fell into her lap. "Sweets to the sweet, you know," said Master
Jeremy Sparrow genially. "Goodwife Allen will never miss them."

I was in two minds whether to laugh or to swear,--for I had never given
her flowers,--when she settled the question for me by raising the
crimson mass and bestowing it upon the flood.

A sudden puff of wind brought the sail around, hiding his fallen
countenance. The wind freshened, coming from the bay, and the boat was
off like a startled deer. When I next saw him he had recovered his
equanimity, and, with a smile upon his rugged features, was waving us a
farewell. I looked at the beauty opposite me, and, with a sudden
movement of pity for him, mateless, stood up and waved to him vigorously
in turn.



CHAPTER IV

In which I am Like to Repent at Leisure


When we had passed the mouth of the Chickahominy, I broke the silence,
now prolonged beyond reason, by pointing to the village upon its bank,
and telling her something of Smith's expedition up that river, ending by
asking her if she feared the savages.

When at length she succeeded in abstracting her attention from the
clouds, it was to answer in the negative, in a tone of the supremest
indifference, after which she relapsed into her contemplation of the
weather.

Further on I tried again. "That is Kent's, yonder. He brought his wife
from home last year. What a hedge of sunflowers she has planted! If you
love flowers, you will find those of paradise in these woods."

No answer.

Below Martin-Brandon we met a canoe full of Paspaheghs, bound upon a
friendly visit to some one of the down-river tribes; for in the bottom
of the boat reposed a fat buck, and at the feet of the young men lay
trenchers of maize cakes and of late mulberries. I hailed them, and when
we were alongside held up the brooch from my hat, then pointed to the
purple fruit. The exchange was soon made; they sped away, and I placed
the mulberries upon the thwart beside her.

"I am not hungry," she said coldly. "Take them away."

I bit my lip, and returned to my place at the tiller. This rose was set
with thorns, and already I felt their sting. Presently she leaned back
in the nest I had made for her. "I wish to sleep," she said haughtily,
and, turning her face from me, pillowed her head upon her arms.

I sat, bent forward, the tiller in my hand, and stared at my wife in
some consternation. This was not the tame pigeon, the rosy, humble
domestic creature who was to make me a home and rear me children. A sea
bird with broad white wings swooped down upon the water, now dark and
ridged, rested there a moment, then swept away into the heart of the
gathering storm. She was liker such an one. Such birds were caught at
times, but never tamed and never kept.

The lightning, which had played incessantly in pale flashes across the
low clouds in the south, now leaped to higher peaks and became more
vivid, and the muttering of the thunder changed to long, booming peals.
Thirteen years before, the Virginia storms had struck us with terror.
Compared with those of the Old World we had left, they were as cannon to
the whistling of arrows, as breakers on an iron coast to the dull wash
of level seas. Now they were nothing to me, but as the peals changed to
great crashes as of falling cities, I marvelled to see my wife sleeping
so quietly. The rain began to fall, slowly, in large sullen drops, and I
rose to cover her with my cloak. Then I saw that the sleep was feigned,
for she was gazing at the storm with wide eyes, though with no fear in
their dark depths. When I moved they closed, and when I reached her the
lashes still swept her cheeks, and she breathed evenly through parted
lips. But, against her will, she shrank from my touch as I put the cloak
about her; and when I had returned to my seat, I bent to one side and
saw, as I had expected to see, that her eyes were wide open again. If
she had been one whit less beautiful, I would have wished her back at
Jamestown, back on the Atlantic, back at whatever outlandish place,
where manners were unknown, that had owned her and cast her out. Pride
and temper! I set my lips, and vowed that she should find her match.

The storm did not last. Ere we had reached Piersey's the rain had ceased
and the clouds were breaking; above Chaplain's Choice hung a great
rainbow; we passed Tants Weyanoke in the glory of the sunset, all
shattered gold and crimson. Not a word had been spoken. I sat in a
humour grim enough, and she lay there before me, wide awake, staring at
the shifting banks and running water, and thinking that I thought she
slept.

At last my own wharf rose before me through the gathering dusk, and
beyond it shone out a light; for I had told Diccon to set my house in
order, and to provide fire and torches, that my wife might see I wished
to do her honour. I looked at that wife, and of a sudden the anger in my
heart melted away. It was a wilderness vast and dreadful to which she
had come. The mighty stream, the towering forests, the black skies and
deafening thunder, the wild cries of bird and beast, the savages,
uncouth and terrible,--for a moment I saw my world as the woman at my
feet must see it, strange, wild, and menacing, an evil land, the other
side of the moon. A thing that I had forgotten came to my mind: how
that, after our landing at Jamestown, years before, a boy whom we had
with us did each night fill with cries and lamentations the hut where he
lay with my cousin Percy, Gosnold, and myself, nor would cease though we
tried both crying shame and a rope's end. It was not for home-sickness,
for he had no mother or kin or home; and at length Master Hunt brought
him to confess that it was but pure panic terror of the land
itself,--not of the Indians or of our hardships, both of which he faced
bravely enough, but of the strange trees and the high and long roofs of
vine, of the black sliding earth and the white mist, of the fireflies
and the whippoorwills,--a sick fear of primeval Nature and her tragic
mask.

This was a woman, young, alone, and friendless, unless I, who had sworn
to cherish and protect her, should prove myself her friend. Wherefore,
when, a few minutes later, I bent over her, it was with all gentleness
that I touched and spoke to her.

"Our journey is over," I said. "This is home, my dear."

She let me help her to her feet, and up the wet and slippery steps to
the level of the wharf. It was now quite dark, there being no moon, and
thin clouds obscuring the stars. The touch of her hand, which I perforce
held since I must guide her over the long, narrow, and unrailed trestle,
chilled me, and her breathing was hurried, but she moved by my side
through the gross darkness unfalteringly enough. Arrived at the gate of
the palisade, I beat upon it with the hilt of my sword, and shouted to
my men to open to us. A moment, and a dozen torches came flaring down
the bank. Diccon shot back the bolts, and we entered. The men drew up
and saluted; for I held my manor a camp, my servants soldiers, and
myself their captain.

I have seen worse favoured companies, but doubtless the woman beside me
had not. Perhaps, too, the red light of the torches, now flaring
brightly, now sunk before the wind, gave their countenances a more
villainous cast than usual. They were not all bad. Diccon had the virtue
of fidelity, if none other; there were a brace of Puritans, and a
handful of honest fools, who, if they drilled badly, yet abhorred
mutiny. But the half-dozen I had taken off Argall's hands; the Dutchmen
who might have been own brothers to those two Judases, Adam and Francis;
the thief and the highwayman I had bought from the precious crew sent us
by the King the year before; the Negro and the Indians--small wonder
that she shrank and cowered. It was but for a moment. I was yet seeking
for words sufficiently reassuring when she was herself again. She did
not deign to notice the men's awkward salute, and when Diccon, a
handsome rogue enough, advancing to light us up the bank, brushed by
her something too closely, she drew away her skirts as though he had
been a lazar. At my own door I turned and spoke to the men, who had
followed us up the ascent.

"This lady," I said, taking her hand as she stood beside me, "is my true
and lawful wife, your mistress, to be honoured and obeyed as such. Who
fails in reverence to her I hold as mutinous to myself, and will deal
with him accordingly. She gives you to-morrow for holiday, with double
rations, and to each a measure of rum. Now thank her properly."

They cheered lustily, of course, and Diccon, stepping forward, gave us
thanks in the name of them all, and wished us joy. After which, with
another cheer, they backed from out our presence, then turned and made
for their quarters, while I led my wife within the house and closed the
door.

Diccon was an ingenious scoundrel. I had told him to banish the dogs, to
have the house cleaned and lit, and supper upon the table; but I had not
ordered the floor to be strewn with rushes, the walls draped with
flowering vines, a great jar filled with sunflowers, and an illumination
of a dozen torches. Nevertheless, it looked well, and I highly approved
the capon and maize cakes, the venison pasty and ale, with which the
table was set. Through the open doors of the two other rooms were to be
seen more rushes, more flowers, and more lights.

To the larger of these rooms I now led the way, deposited her bundle
upon the settle, and saw that Diccon had provided fair water for her
face and hands; which done, I told her that supper waited upon her
convenience, and went back to the great room.

She was long in coming, so long that I grew impatient and went to call
her. The door was ajar, and so I saw her, kneeling in the middle of the
floor, her head thrown back, her hands raised and clasped, on her face
terror and anguish of spirit written so large that I started to see it.
I stared in amazement, and, had I followed my first impulse, would have
gone to her, as I would have gone to any other creature in so dire
distress. On second thoughts I went noiselessly back to my station in
the great room. She had not seen me, I was sure. Nor had I long to wait.
Presently she appeared, and I could have doubted the testimony of my
eyes, so changed were the agonized face and figure of a few moments
before. Beautiful and disdainful, she moved to the table, and took the
great chair drawn before it with the air of an empress mounting a
throne. I contented myself with the stool.

She ate nothing, and scarcely touched the canary I poured for her. I
pressed upon her wine and viands--in vain; I strove to make
conversation--equally in vain. Finally, tired of "yes" and "no" uttered
as though she were reluctantly casting pearls before swine, I desisted,
and applied myself to my supper in a silence as sullen as her own. At
last we rose from table, and I went to look to the fastenings of door
and windows, and returning found her standing in the centre of the room,
her head up and her hands clenched at her sides. I saw that we were to
have it out then and there, and I was glad of it.

"You have something to say," I said. "I am quite at your command," and I
went and leaned against the chimneypiece.

The low fire upon the hearth burnt lower still before she broke the
silence. When she did speak it was slowly, and with a voice which was
evidently controlled only by a strong effort of a strong will. She
said:--

"When--yesterday, to-day, ten thousand years ago--you went from this
horrible forest down to that wretched village yonder, to those huts that
make your London, you went to buy you a wife?"

"Yes, madam," I answered. "I went with that intention."

"You had made your calculation? In your mind you had pitched upon such
and such an article, with such and such qualities, as desirable?
Doubtless you meant to get your money's worth?"

"Doubtless," I said dryly.

"Will you tell me what you were inclined to consider its equivalent?"

I stared at her, much inclined to laugh. The interview promised to be
interesting.

"I went to Jamestown to get me a wife," I said at length, "because I had
pledged my word that I would do so. I was not over-anxious. I did not
run all the way. But, as you say, I intended to do the best I could for
myself; one hundred and twenty pounds of tobacco being a considerable
sum, and not to be lightly thrown away. I went to look for a mistress
for my house, a companion for my idle hours, a rosy, humble, docile
lass, with no aspirations beyond cleanliness and good temper, who was to
order my household and make me a home. I was to be her head and her law,
but also her sword and shield. That is what I went to look for."

"And you found--me!" she said, and broke into strange laughter.

I bowed.

"In God's name, why did you not go further?"

I suppose she saw in my face why I went no further, for into her own the
colour came flaming.

"I am not what I seem!" she cried out. "I was not in that company of
choice!"

I bowed again. "You have no need to tell me that, madam," I said. "I
have eyes. I desire to know why you were there at all, and why you
married me."

She turned from me, until I could see nothing but the coiled wealth of
her hair and the bit of white neck between it and the ruff. We stood so
in silence, she with bent head and fingers clasping and unclasping, I
leaning against the wall and staring at her, for what seemed a long
time. At least I had time to grow impatient, when she faced me again,
and all my irritation vanished in a gasp of admiration.

Oh, she was beautiful, and of a sweetness most alluring and fatal! Had
Medea worn such a look, sure Jason had quite forgot the fleece, and with
those eyes Circe had needed no other charm to make men what she would.
Her voice, when she spoke, was no longer imperious; it was low pleading
music. And she held out entreating hands.

"Have pity on me," she said. "Listen kindly, and have pity on me. You
are a strong man and wear a sword. You can cut your way through trouble
and peril. I am a woman, weak, friendless, helpless. I was in distress
and peril, and I had no arm to save, no knight to fight my battle. I do
not love deceit. Ah, do not think that I have not hated myself for the
lie I have been. But these forest creatures that you take,--will they
not bite against springe and snare? Are they scrupulous as to how they
free themselves? I too was in the toils of the hunter, and I too was not
scrupulous. There was a thing of which I stood in danger that would have
been bitterer to me, a thousand times, than death. I had but one
thought, to escape; how, I did not care,--only to escape. I had a
waiting woman, named Patience Worth. One night she came to me, weeping.
She had wearied of service, and had signed to go to Virginia as one of
Sir Edwyn Sandys' maids, and at the last moment her heart had failed
her. There had been pressure brought to bear upon me that day,--I had
been angered to the very soul. I sent her away with a heavy bribe, and
in her dress and under her name I fled from--I went aboard that ship. No
one guessed that I was not the Patience Worth to whose name I answered.
No one knows now,--none but you, none but you."

"And why am I so far honoured, madam?" I said bluntly.

She crimsoned, then went white again. She was trembling now through her
whole frame. At last she broke out: "I am not of that crew that came to
marry! To me you are the veriest stranger,--you are but the hand at
which I caught to draw myself from a pit that had been digged for me. It
was my hope that this hour would never come. When I fled, mad for
escape, willing to dare anything but that which I left behind, I
thought, 'I may die before that ship with its shameless cargo sets
sail.' When the ship set sail, and we met with stormy weather, and there
was much sickness aboard, I thought, 'I may drown or I may die of the
fever.' When, this afternoon, I lay there in the boat, coming up this
dreadful river through the glare of the lightning, and you thought I
slept, I was thinking, 'The bolts may strike me yet, and all will be
well.' I prayed for that death, but the storm passed. I am not without
shame. I know that you must think all ill of me, that you must feel
yourself gulled and cheated. I am sorry--that is all I can say--I am
sorry. I am your wife--I was married to you to-day--but I know you not
and love you not. I ask you to hold me as I hold myself, a guest in your
house, nothing more. I am quite at your mercy. I am entirely friendless,
entirely alone. I appeal to your generosity, to your honour----"

Before I could prevent her she was kneeling to me, and she would not
rise, though I bade her do so.

I went to the door, unbarred it, and looked out into the night, for the
air within the room stifled me. It was not much better outside. The
clouds had gathered again, and were now hanging thick and low. From the
distance came a rumble of thunder, and the whole night was dull, heavy,
and breathless. Hot anger possessed me: anger against Rolfe for
suggesting this thing to me; anger against myself for that unlucky
throw; anger, most of all, against the woman who had so cozened me. In
the servants' huts, a hundred yards away, lights were still burning,
against rule, for the hour was late. Glad that there was something I
could rail out against, I strode down upon the men, and caught them
assembled in Diccon's cabin, dicing for to-morrow's rum. When I had
struck out the light with my rapier, and had rated the rogues to their
several quarters, I went back through the gathering storm to the
brightly-lit, flower-decked room, and to Mistress Percy.

She was still kneeling, her hands at her breast, and her eyes, wide and
dark, fixed upon the blackness without the open door. I went up to her
and took her by the hand.

"I am a gentleman, madam," I said. "You need have no fear of me. I pray
you to rise."

She stood up at that, and her breath came hurriedly through her parted
lips, but she did not speak.

"It grows late, and you must be weary," I continued. "Your room is
yonder. I trust that you will sleep well. Good-night."

I bowed low, and she curtsied to me. "Good-night," she said.

On her way to the door, she brushed against the rack wherein hung my
weapons. Among them was a small dagger. Her quick eye caught its gleam,
and I saw her press closer to the wall and with her right hand strive
stealthily to detach the blade from its fastening. She did not
understand the trick. Her hand dropped to her side, and she was passing
on, when I crossed the room, loosened the dagger, and offered it to her,
with a smile and a bow. She flushed scarlet and bit her lips, but she
took it.

"There are bars to the door within," I said. "Again, good-night."

"Good-night," she answered, and, entering the room, she shut the door. A
moment more, and I heard the heavy bars drop into place.



CHAPTER V

In which a Woman has her Way


Ten days later, Rolfe, going down river in his barge, touched at my
wharf, and finding me there walked with me toward the house.

"I have not seen you since you laughed my advice to scorn--and took it,"
he said. "Where's the farthingale, Benedick the married man?"

"In the house."

"Oh, ay!" he commented. "It's near to supper time. I trust she's a good
cook?"

"She does not cook," I said dryly. "I have hired old Goody Cotton to do
that."

He eyed me closely. "By all the gods! a new doublet! She is skilful with
her needle, then?"

"She may be," I answered. "Having never seen her with one, I am no
judge. The doublet was made by the tailor at Flowerdieu Hundred."

By this we had reached the level sward at the top of the bank. "Roses!"
he exclaimed,--"a long row of them new planted! An arbour, too, and a
seat beneath the big walnut! Since when hast thou turned gardener,
Ralph?"

"It's Diccon's doing. He is anxious to please his mistress."

"Who neither sews, nor cooks, nor plants! What does she do?"

"She pulls the roses," I said. "Come in."

When we had entered the house he stared about him; then cried out,
"Acrasia's bower! Oh, thou sometime Guyon!" and began to laugh.

It was late afternoon, and the slant sunshine streaming in at door and
window striped wall and floor with gold. Floor and wall were no longer
logs gnarled and stained: upon the one lay a carpet of delicate ferns
and aromatic leaves, and glossy vines, purple-berried, tapestried the
other. Flowers--purple and red and yellow--were everywhere. As we
entered, a figure started up from the hearth.

"St. George!" exclaimed Rolfe. "You have never married a blackamoor?"

"It is the negress, Angela," I said. "I bought her from William Pierce
the other day. Mistress Percy wished a waiting damsel."

The creature, one of the five females of her kind then in Virginia,
looked at us with large, rolling eyes. She knew a little Spanish, and I
spoke to her in that tongue, bidding her find her mistress and tell her
that company waited. When she was gone I placed a jack of ale upon the
table, and Rolfe and I sat down to discuss it. Had I been in a mood for
laughter, I could have found reason in his puzzled face. There were
flowers upon the table, and beside them a litter of small objects, one
of which he now took up.

"A white glove," he said, "perfumed and silver-fringed, and of a size to
fit Titania."

I spread its mate out upon my palm. "A woman's hand. Too white, too
soft, and too small."

He touched lightly, one by one, the slender fingers of the glove he
held. "A woman's hand,--strength in weakness, veiled power, the star in
the mist, guiding, beckoning, drawing upward!"

I laughed and threw the glove from me. "The star, a will-of-the-wisp;
the goal, a slough," I said.

As he sat opposite me a change came over his face,--a change so great
that I knew before I turned that she was in the room.

The bundle which I had carried for her from Jamestown was neither small
nor light. Why, when she fled, she chose to burden herself with such
toys, or whether she gave a thought to the suspicions that might be
raised in Virginia if one of Sir Edwyn's maids bedecked herself in silk
and lace and jewels, I do not know, but she had brought to the forest
and the tobacco fields the gauds of a maid of honour. The Puritan dress
in which I first saw her was a thing of the past; she clothed herself
now like the parrakeets in the forest,--or liker the lilies of the
field, for verily she toiled not, neither did she spin.

Rolfe and I rose from our seats. "Mistress Percy," I said, "let me
present to you a right worthy gentleman and my very good friend, Master
John Rolfe."

She curtsied, and he bowed low. He was a man of quick wit and had been
at court, but for a time he could find no words. Then: "Mistress Percy's
face is not one to be forgotten. I have surely seen it before, though
where----"

Her colour mounted, but she answered him indifferently enough. "Probably
in London, amongst the spectators of some pageant arranged in honour of
the princess, your wife, sir," she said carelessly. "I had twice the
fortune to see the Lady Rebekah passing through the streets."

"Not in the streets only," he said courteously. "I remember now: 'twas
at my lord bishop's dinner. A very courtly company it was. You were
laughing with my Lord Rich. You wore pearls in your hair----"

She met his gaze fully and boldly. "Memory plays us strange tricks at
times," she told him in a clear, slightly raised voice, "and it hath
been three years since Master Rolfe and his Indian princess were in
London. His memory hath played him false."

She took her seat in the great chair which stood in the centre of the
room, bathed in the sunlight, and the negress brought a cushion for her
feet. It was not until this was done, and until she had resigned her fan
to the slave, who stood behind her slowly waving the plumed toy to and
fro, that she turned her lovely face upon us and bade us be seated.

An hour later a whippoorwill uttered its cry close to the window,
through which now shone the crescent moon. Rolfe started up. "Beshrew
me! but I had forgot that I am to sleep at Chaplain's to-night. I must
hurry on."

I rose also. "You have had no supper!" I cried. "I too have forgotten."

He shook his head. "I cannot wait. More over, I have feasted,--yea, and
drunk deep."

His eyes were very bright, with an exaltation in them as of wine. Mine,
I felt, had the same light. Indeed, we were both drunk with her
laughter, her beauty, and her wit. When he had kissed her hand, and I
had followed him out of the house and down the bank, he broke the
silence.

"Why she came to Virginia I do not know----"

"Nor care to ask," I said.

"Nor care to ask," he repeated, meeting my gaze. "And I know neither her
name nor her rank. But as I stand here, Ralph, I saw her, a guest, at
that feast of which I spoke; and Edwyn Sandys picked not his maids from
such assemblies."

I stopped him with my hand upon his shoulder. "She is one of Sandys'
maids," I asserted, with deliberation, "a waiting damsel who wearied of
service and came to Virginia to better herself. She was landed with her
mates at Jamestown a week or more agone, went with them to church, and
thence to the courting meadow, where she and Captain Ralph Percy, a
gentleman adventurer, so pleased each other that they were married
forthwith. That same day he brought her to his house, where she now
abides, his wife, and as such to be honoured by those who call
themselves his friends. And she is not to be lightly spoken of, nor
comment passed upon her grace, beauty, and bearing (something too great
for her station, I admit), lest idle tales should get abroad."

"Am I not thy friend, Ralph?" he asked, with smiling eyes.

"I have thought so at times," I answered.

"My friend's honour is my honour," he went on. "Where his lips are
sealed mine open not. Art content?"

"Content," I said, and pressed the hand he held out to me.

We reached the steps of the wharf, and descending them he entered his
barge, rocking lazily with the advancing tide. His rowers cast loose
from the piles, and the black water slowly widened between us. From over
my shoulder came a sudden bright gleam of light from the house above,
and I knew that Mistress Percy was as usual wasting good pine knots. I
had a vision of the many lights within, and of the beauty whom the world
called my wife, sitting erect, bathed in that rosy glow, in the great
armchair, with the turbaned negress behind her. I suppose Rolfe saw the
same thing, for he looked from the light to me, and I heard him draw his
breath.

"Ralph Percy, thou art the very button upon the cap of Fortune," he
said.

To myself my laugh sounded something of the bitterest, but to him, I
presume, it vaunted my return through the darkness to the lit room and
its resplendent pearl. He waved farewell, and the dusk swallowed up him
and his boat. I went back to the house and to her.

She was sitting as we had left her, with her small feet crossed upon the
cushion beneath them, her hands folded in her silken lap, the air from
the waving fan blowing tendrils of her dark hair against her delicate
standing ruff. I went and leaned against the window, facing her.

"I have been chosen Burgess for this hundred," I said abruptly. "The
Assembly meets next week. I must be in Jamestown then and for some time
to come."

She took the fan from the negress, and waved it lazily to and fro. "When
do we go?" she asked at last.

"_We!_" I answered. "I had thought to go alone."

The fan dropped to the floor, and her eyes opened wide. "And leave me
here!" she exclaimed. "Leave me in these woods, at the mercy of Indians,
wolves, and your rabble of servants!"

I smiled. "We are at peace with the Indians; it would be a stout wolf
that could leap this palisade; and the servants know their master too
well to care to offend their mistress. Moreover, I would leave Diccon in
charge."

"Diccon!" she cried. "The old woman in the kitchen hath told me tales of
Diccon! Diccon Bravo! Diccon Gamester! Diccon Cutthroat!"

"Granted," I said. "But Diccon Faithful as well. I can trust him."

"But I do not trust him!" she retorted. "And I wish to go to Jamestown.
This forest wearies me." Her tone was imperious.

"I must think it over," I said coolly. "I may take you, or I may not. I
cannot tell yet."

"But I desire to go, sir!"

"And I may desire you to stay."

"You are a churl!"

I bowed. "I am the man of your choice, madam."

She rose with a stamp of her foot, and, turning her back upon me, took a
flower from the table and commenced to pull from it its petals. I
unsheathed my sword, and, seating myself, began to polish away a speck
of rust upon the blade. Ten minutes later I looked up from the task, to
receive full in my face a red rose tossed from the other side of the
room. The missile was followed by an enchanting burst of laughter.

"We cannot afford to quarrel, can we?" cried Mistress Jocelyn Percy.
"Life is sad enough in this solitude without that. Nothing but trees and
water all day long, and not a soul to speak to! And I am horribly afraid
of the Indians! What if they were to kill me while you were away? You
know you swore before the minister to protect me. You won't leave me to
the mercies of the savages, will you? And I may go to Jamestown, mayn't
I? I want to go to church. I want to go to the Governor's house. I want
to buy a many things. I have gold in plenty, and but this one decent
dress. You'll take me with you, won't you?"

"There's not your like in Virginia," I told her. "If you go to town clad
like that and with that bearing, there will be talk enough. And ships
come and go, and there are those besides Rolfe who have been to London."

For a moment the laughter died from her eyes and lips, but it returned.
"Let them talk," she said. "What care I? And I do not think your ship
captains, your traders and adventurers, do often dine with my lord
bishop. This barbarous forest world and another world that I wot of are
so far apart that the inhabitants of the one do not trouble those of the
other. In that petty village down there I am safe enough. Besides, sir,
you wear a sword."

"My sword is ever at your service, madam."

"Then I may go to Jamestown?"

"If you will it so."

With her bright eyes upon me, and with one hand softly striking a rose
against her laughing lips, she extended the other hand.

"You may kiss it, if you wish, sir," she said demurely.

I knelt and kissed the white fingers, and four days later we went to
Jamestown.



CHAPTER VI

In which we Go to Jamestown


It was early morning when we set out on horse-back for Jamestown. I rode
in front, with Mistress Percy upon a pillion behind me, and Diccon on
the brown mare brought up the rear. The negress and the mails I had sent
by boat.

Now, a ride through the green wood with a noble horse beneath you, and
around you the freshness of the morn, is pleasant enough. Each twig had
its row of diamonds, and the wet leaves that we pushed aside spilled
gems upon us. The horses set their hoofs daintily upon fern and moss and
lush grass. In the purple distances deer stood at gaze, the air rang
with innumerable bird notes, clear and sweet, squirrels chattered, bees
hummed, and through the thick leafy roof of the forest the sun showered
gold dust. And Mistress Jocelyn Percy was as merry as the morning. It
was now fourteen days since she and I had first met, and in that time I
had found in her thrice that number of moods. She could be as gay and
sweet as the morning, as dark and vengeful as the storms that came up of
afternoons, pensive as the twilight, stately as the night--in her there
met a hundred minds. Also she could be childishly frank--and tell you
nothing.

To-day she chose to be gracious. Ten times in an hour Diccon was off
his horse to pluck this or that flower that her white forefinger pointed
out. She wove the blooms into a chaplet, and placed it upon her head;
she filled her lap with trailers of the vine that swayed against us, and
stained her fingers and lips with the berries Diccon brought her; she
laughed at the squirrels, at the scurrying partridges, at the turkeys
that crossed our path, at the fish that leaped from the brooks, at old
Jocomb and his sons who ferried us across the Chickahominy. She was
curious concerning the musket I carried; and when, in an open space in
the wood, we saw an eagle perched upon a blasted pine, she demanded my
pistol. I took it from my belt and gave it to her, with a laugh. "I will
eat all of your killing," I said.

She aimed the weapon. "A wager!" she declared. "There be mercers in
Jamestown? If I hit, thou'lt buy me a pearl hatband?"

"Two."

She fired, and the bird rose with a scream of wrath and sailed away. But
two or three feathers came floating to the ground, and when Diccon had
brought them to her she pointed triumphantly to the blood upon them.
"You said two!" she cried.

The sun rose higher, and the heat of the day set in. Mistress Percy's
interest in forest bloom and creature flagged. Instead of laughter, we
had sighs at the length of way; the vines slid from her lap, and she
took the faded flowers from her head and cast them aside. She talked no
more, and by-and-by I felt her head droop against my shoulder.

"Madam is asleep," said Diccon's voice behind me.

"Ay," I answered. "She'll find a jack of mail but a hard pillow. And
look to her that she does not fall."

"I had best walk beside you, then," he said.

I nodded, and he dismounted, and throwing the mares bridle over his arm
strode on beside us, with his hand upon the frame of the pillion. Ten
minutes passed, the last five of which I rode with my face over my
shoulder. "Diccon!" I cried at last sharply.

He came to his senses with a start. "Ay, sir?" he questioned, his face
dark red.

"Suppose you look at me for a change," I said. "How long since Dale came
in, Diccon?"

"Ten years, sir."

"Before we enter Jamestown we'll pass through a certain field and
beneath a certain tree. Do you remember what happened there, some years
ago?"

"I am not like to forget, sir. You saved me from the wheel."

"Upon which you were bound, ready to be broken for drunkenness, gaming,
and loose living. I begged your life from Dale for no other reason, I
think, than that you had been a horse-boy in my old company in the Low
Countries. God wot the life was scarcely worth the saving!"

"I know it, sir."

"Dale would not let you go scot-free, but would sell you into slavery.
At your own entreaty I bought you, since when you have served me
indifferently well. You have showed small penitence for past misdeeds,
and your amendment hath been of yet lesser bulk. A hardy rogue thou wast
born, and a rogue thou wilt remain to the end of time. But we have lived
and hunted, fought and bled together, and in our own fashion I think we
bear each other good will,--even some love. I have winked at much, have
shielded you in much, perhaps. In return I have demanded one thing,
which if you had not given I would have found you another Dale to deal
with."

"Have I ever refused it, my captain?"

"Not yet. Take your hand from that pillion and hold it up; then say
after me these words: 'This lady is my mistress, my master's wife, to be
by me reverenced as such. Her face is not for my eyes nor her hand for
my lips. If I keep not myself clean of all offence toward her, may God
approve that which my master shall do!'"

The blood rushed to his face. I watched his fingers slowly loosening
their grasp.

"Tardy obedience is of the house of mutiny," I said sternly. "Will you,
sirrah, or will you not?"

He raised his hand and repeated the words.

"Now hold her as before," I ordered, and, straightening myself in the
saddle, rode on, with my eyes once more on the path before me.

A mile further on, Mistress Percy stirred and raised her head from my
shoulder. "Not at Jamestown yet?" she sighed, as yet but half awake.
"Oh, the endless trees! I dreamed I was hawking at Windsor, and then
suddenly I was here in this forest, a bird, happy because I was free;
and then a falcon came swooping down upon me,--it had me in its talons,
and I changed to myself again, and it changed to--What am I saying? I am
talking in my sleep. Who is that singing?"

In fact, from the woods in front of us, and not a bowshot away, rang out
a powerful voice:--

    "'In the merry month of May,
      In a morn by break of day,
      With a troop of damsels playing
      Forth I went, forsooth, a-maying;'"

and presently, the trees thinning in front of us, we came upon a little
open glade and upon the singer. He lay on his back, on the soft turf
beneath an oak, with his hands clasped behind his head and his eyes
upturned to the blue sky showing between leaf and branch. On one knee
crossed above the other sat a squirrel with a nut in its paws, and half
a dozen others scampered here and there over his great body, like so
many frolicsome kittens. At a little distance grazed an old horse, gray
and gaunt, springhalt and spavined, with ribs like Death's own. Its
saddle and bridle adorned a limb of the oak.

The song went cheerfully on:--

    "'Much ado there was, God wot:
      He would love and she would not;
      She said, "Never man was true."
      He said, "None was false to you."'"

"Give you good-day, reverend sir!" I called. "Art conning next Sunday's
hymn?"

Nothing abashed, Master Jeremy Sparrow gently shook off the squirrels,
and getting to his feet advanced to meet us.

"A toy," he declared, with a wave of his hand, "a trifle, a silly old
song that came into my mind unawares, the leaves being so green and the
sky so blue. Had you come a little earlier or a little later, you would
have heard the ninetieth psalm. Give you good-day, madam. I must have
sung for that the very queen of May was coming by."

"Art on your way to Jamestown?" I demanded. "Come ride with us. Diccon,
saddle his reverence's horse."

"Saddle him an thou wilt, friend," said Master Sparrow, "for he and I
have idled long enough, but I fear I cannot keep pace with this fair
company. I and the horse are footing it together."

"He is not long for this world," I remarked, eyeing his ill-favoured
steed, "but neither are we far from Jamestown. He'll last that far."

Master Sparrow shook his head, with a rueful countenance. "I bought him
from one of the French _vignerons_ below Westover," he said. "The fellow
was astride the poor creature, beating him with a club because he could
not go. I laid Monsieur Crapaud in the dust, after which we compounded,
he for my purse, I for the animal; since when the poor beast and I have
tramped it together, for I could not in conscience ride him. Have you
read me Æsop his fables, Captain Percy?"

"I remember the man, the boy, and the ass," I replied. "The ass came to
grief in the end. Put thy scruples in thy pocket, man, and mount thy
pale horse."

"Not I!" he said, with a smile. "'Tis a thousand pities, Captain Percy,
that a small, mean, and squeamish spirit like mine should be cased like
a very Guy of Warwick. Now, if I were slight of body, or even if I were
no heavier than your servant there----"

"Oh!" I said. "Diccon, give his reverence the mare, and do you mount his
horse and bring him slowly on to town. If he will not carry you, you can
lead him in."

Sunshine revisited the countenance of Master Jeremy Sparrow; he swung
his great body into the saddle, gathered up the reins, and made the mare
to caracole across the path for very joy.

"Have a care of the poor brute, friend!" he cried genially to Diccon,
whose looks were of the sulkiest. "Bring him gently on, and leave him at
Master Bucke's, near to the church."

"What do you do at Jamestown?" I asked, as we passed from out the glade
into the gloom of a pine wood. "I was told that you were gone to
Henricus, to help Master Thorpe convert the Indians."

"Ay," he answered, "I did go. I had a call,--I was sure I had a call. I
thought of myself as a very apostle to the Gentiles. I went from
Henricus one day's journey into the wilderness, with none but an Indian
lad for interpreter, and coming to an Indian village gathered its
inhabitants about me, and sitting down upon a hillock read and expounded
to them the Sermon on the Mount. I was much edified by the solemnity of
their demeanour and the earnestness of their attention, and had
conceived great hopes for their spiritual welfare, when, the reading and
exhortation being finished, one of their old men arose and made me a
long speech, which I could not well understand, but took to be one of
grateful welcome to myself and my tidings of peace and good will. He
then desired me to tarry with them, and to be present at some
entertainment or other, the nature of which I could not make out. I
tarried; and toward evening they conducted me with much ceremony to an
open space in the midst of the village. There I found planted in the
ground a thick stake, and around it a ring of flaming brushwood. To the
stake was fastened an Indian warrior, captured, so my interpreter
informed me, from some hostile tribe above the falls. His arms and
ankles were secured to the stake by means of thongs passed through
incisions in the flesh; his body was stuck over with countless pine
splinters, each burning like a miniature torch; and on his shaven crown
was tied a thin plate of copper heaped with red-hot coals. A little to
one side appeared another stake and another circle of brushwood: the one
with nothing tied to it as yet, and the other still unlit. My friend, I
did not tarry to see it lit. I tore a branch from an oak, and I became
as Samson with the jaw-bone of the ass. I fell upon and smote those
Philistines. Their wretched victim was beyond all human help, but I
dearly avenged him upon his enemies. And they had their pains for naught
when they planted that second stake and laid the brush for their hell
fire. At last I dropped into the stream upon which their damnable
village was situate, and got safely away. Next day I went to George
Thorpe and resigned my ministry, telling him that we were nowhere
commanded to preach to devils; when the Company was ready to send shot
and steel amongst them, they might count upon me. After which I came
down the river to Jamestown, where I found worthy Master Bucke well-nigh
despaired of with the fever. Finally he was taken up river for change of
air, and, for lack of worthier substitute, the Governor and Captain West
constrained me to remain and minister to the shepherdless flock. Where
will you lodge, good sir?"

"I do not know," I said. "The town will be full, and the guest house is
not yet finished."

"Why not come to me?" he asked. "There are none in the minister's house
but me and Goodwife Allen who keeps it. There are five fair large rooms
and a goodly garden, though the trees do too much shadow the house. If
you will come and let the sunshine in,"--a bow and smile for madam,--"I
shall be your debtor."

His plan pleased me well. Except the Governor's and Captain West's, the
minister's house was the best in the town. It was retired, too, being
set in its own grounds, and not upon the street, and I desired privacy.
Goodwife Allen was stolid and incurious. Moreover, I liked Master Jeremy
Sparrow.

I accepted his hospitality and gave him thanks. He waved them away, and
fell to complimenting Mistress Percy, who was pleased to be gracious to
us both. Well content for the moment with the world and ourselves, we
fared on through the alternating sunshine and shade, and were happy
with the careless inhabitants of the forest. Oversoon we came to the
peninsula, and crossed the neck of land. Before us lay the town: to the
outer eye a poor and mean village, indeed, but to the inner the
stronghold and capital of our race in the western world, the germ from
which might spring stately cities, the newborn babe which might in time
equal its parent in stature, strength, and comeliness. So I and a few
besides, both in Virginia and at home, viewed the mean houses, the poor
church and rude fort, and loved the spot which had witnessed much
suffering and small joy, but which held within it the future, which was
even now a bit in the mouth of Spain, a thing in itself outweighing all
the toil and anguish of our planting. But there were others who saw only
the meanness of the place, its almost defencelessness, its fluxes and
fevers, the fewness of its inhabitants and the number of its graves.
Finding no gold and no earthly paradise, and that in the sweat of their
brow they must eat their bread, they straightway fell into the dumps,
and either died out of sheer perversity, or went yelping home to the
Company with all manner of dismal tales,--which tales, through my Lord
Warwick's good offices, never failed to reach the sacred ears of his
Majesty, and to bring the colony and the Company into disfavour.

We came to the palisade, and found the gates wide open and the warder
gone.

"Where be the people?" marvelled Master Sparrow, as we rode through into
the street. In truth, where were the people? On either side of the
street the doors of the houses stood open, but no person looked out from
them or loitered on the doorsteps; the square was empty; there were no
women at the well, no children underfoot, no gaping crowd before gaol
and pillory, no guard before the Governor's house,--not a soul, high or
low, to be seen.

"Have they all migrated?" cried Sparrow. "Are they gone to Croatan?"

"They have left one to tell the tale, then," I said, "for here he comes
running."



CHAPTER VII

In which we Prepare to Fight the Spaniard


A man came panting down the street.

"Captain Ralph Percy!" he cried. "My master said it was your horse
coming across the neck. The Governor commands your attendance at once,
sir."

"Where is the Governor? Where are all the people?" I demanded.

"At the fort. They are all at the fort or on the bank below. Oh, sirs, a
woeful day for us all!"

"A woeful day!" I exclaimed. "What's the matter?"

The man, whom I recognized as one of the commander's servants, a fellow
with the soul of a French _valet de chambre_, was wild with terror.

"They are at the guns!" he quavered. "Alackaday! What can a few sakers
and demi-culverins do against them?"

"Against _whom_?" I cried.

"They are giving out pikes and cutlasses! Woe's me, the sight of naked
steel hath ever made me sick!"

I drew my dagger and flashed it before him. "Does't make you sick?" I
asked. "You shall be sicker yet, if you do not speak to some purpose."

The fellow shrank back, his eyeballs starting from his head.

"It's a tall ship," he gasped, "a very big ship! It hath ten culverins,
beside fowlers and murderers, sakers, falcons, and bases!"

I took him by the collar and shook him off his feet.

"There are priests on board!" he managed to say as I set him down. "This
time to-morrow we'll all be on the rack! And next week the galleys will
have us!"

"It's the Spaniard at last," I said. "Come on!"

When we reached the river bank before the fort, it was to find confusion
worse confounded. The gates of the palisade were open, and through them
streamed Councillors, Burgesses, and officers, while the bank itself was
thronged with the generality. Ancient planters, Smith's men, Dale's men,
tenants and servants, women and children, including the little eyases we
imported the year before, negroes, Paspaheghs, French _vignerons_, Dutch
sawmill men, Italian glass-workers,--all seethed to and fro, all talked
at once, and all looked down the river. Out of the babel of voices these
words came to us over and over: "The Spaniard!" "The Inquisition!" "The
galleys!" They were the words oftenest heard at that time, when strange
sails hove in sight.

But where was the Spaniard? On the river, hugging the shore, were many
small craft, barges, shallops, sloops, and pinnaces, and beyond them
the masts of the _Truelove_, the _Due Return_, and the _Tiger_, then in
port; on these three, of which the largest, the _Due Return_, was of but
eighty tons burthen, the mariners were running about and the masters
bawling orders. But there was no other ship, no bark, galleon, or
man-of-war, with three tiers of grinning ordnance, and the hated yellow
flag flaunting above.

I sprang from my horse, and, leaving it and Mistress Percy in Sparrow's
charge, hastened up to the fort. As I passed through the palisade I
heard my name called, and, turning, waited for Master Pory to come up.
He was panting and puffing, his jovial face very red.

"I was across the neck of land when I heard the news," he said. "I ran
all the way and am somewhat scant of breath. Here's the devil to pay!"

"It looks another mare's-nest," I replied. "We have cried 'Spaniard!'
pretty often."

"But this time the wolf's here," he answered. "Davies sent a horseman at
a gallop from Algernon with the tidings. He passed the ship, and it was
a very great one. We may thank this dead calm that it did not catch us
unawares."

Within the palisade was noise enough, but more order than without. On
the half-moons commanding the river, gunners were busy about our sakers,
falcons, and three culverins. In one place, West, the commander, was
giving out brigandines, jacks, skulls, muskets, halberds, swords and
longbows; in another, his wife, who was a very Mary Ambree, supervised
the boiling of a great caldron of pitch. Each loophole in palisade and
fort had already its marksman. Through the west port came a horde of
reluctant invaders,--cattle, swine, and poultry,--driven in by yelling
boys.

I made my way through the press to where I saw the Governor, surrounded
by Councillors and Burgesses, sitting on a keg of powder, and issuing
orders at the top of his voice. "Ha, Captain Percy!" he cried as I came
up. "You are in good time, man! You've served your apprenticeship at the
wars. You must teach us how to beat the dons."

"To Englishmen, that comes by nature, sir," I said. "Art sure we are to
have the pleasure?"

"Not a doubt of it this time," he answered. "The ship slipped in past
the point last night. Davies signalled her to stop, and then sent a ball
over her; but she kept on. True, it was too dark to make out much; but
if she were friendly, why did she not stop for castle duties? Moreover,
they say she was of at least five hundred tons, and no ship of that size
hath ever visited these waters. There was no wind, and they sent a man
on at once, hoping to outstrip the enemy and warn us. The man changed
horses at Basse's Choice, and passed the ship about dawn. All he could
tell for the mist was that it was a very great ship, with three tiers of
guns."

"The flag?"

"She carried none."

"Humph!" I said. "It hath a suspicious look. At least we do well to be
ready. We'll give them a warm welcome."

"There are those here who counsel surrender," continued the Governor.
"There's one, at least, who wants the _Tiger_ sent downstream with a
white flag and my sword."

"Where?" I cried. "He's no Englishman, I warrant!"

"As much an Englishman as thou, sir!" called out a gentleman whom I had
encountered before, to wit, Master Edward Sharpless. "It's well enough
for swingebuckler captains, Low Country fire-eaters, to talk of holding
out against a Spanish man-of-war with twice our number of fighting men,
and enough ordnance to batter the town out of existence. Wise men know
when the odds are too heavy!"

"It's well enough for lily-livered, goose-fleshed lawyers to hold their
tongues when men and soldiers talk," I retorted. "We are not making
indentures to the devil, and so have no need of such gentry."

There was a roar of laughter from the captains and gunners, but terror
of the Spaniard had made Master Edward Sharpless bold to all besides.

"They will wipe us off the face of the earth!" he lamented. "There won't
be an Englishman left in America! They'll come close in upon us! They'll
batter down the fort with their culverins; they'll turn all their
swivels, sakers, and falcons upon us; they'll throw into our midst
stinkpots and grenades; they'll mow us down with chain shot! Their
gunners never miss!" His voice rose to a scream, and he shook as with an
ague.

"Are you mad? It's Spain that's to be fought! Spain the rich! Spain the
powerful! Spain the lord of the New World!"

"It's England that fights!" I cried. "For very shame, hold thy tongue!"

"If we surrender at once, they'll let us go!" he whined. "We can take
the small boats and get to the Bermudas. They'll let us go."

"Into the galleys," muttered West.

The craven tried another feint. "Think of the women and children!"

"We do," I said sternly. "Silence, fool!"

The Governor, a brave and honest man, rose from the keg of powder. "All
this is foreign to the matter, Master Sharpless. I think our duty is
clear, be the odds what they may. This is our post, and we will hold it
or die beside it. We are few in number, but we are England in America,
and I think we will remain here. This is the King's fifth kingdom, and
we will keep it for him. We will trust in the Lord and fight it out."

"Amen," I said, and "Amen," said the ring of Councillors and Burgesses
and the armed men beyond.

The hum of voices now rose into excited cries, and the watchman
stationed atop the big culverin called out, "Sail ho!" With one accord
we turned our faces downstream. There was the ship, undoubtedly.
Moreover, a strong breeze had sprung up, blowing from the sea, filling
her white sails, and rapidly lessening the distance between us. As yet
we could only tell that she was indeed a large ship with all sail set.

Through the gates of the palisade now came, pell-mell, the crowd
without. In ten minutes' time the women were in line ready to load the
muskets, the children sheltered as best they might be, the men in ranks,
the gunners at their guns, and the flag up. I had run it up with my own
hand, and as I stood beneath the folds Master Sparrow and my wife came
to my side.

"The women are over there," I said to the latter, "where you had best
betake yourself."

"I prefer to stay here," she answered. "I am not afraid." Her colour was
high, and she held her head up. "My father fought the Armada," she said.
"Get me a sword from that man who is giving them out."

From his coign of vantage the watch now called out: "She's a long
ship,--five hundred tons, anyhow! Lord! the metal that she carries!
She's rase-decked!"

"Then she's Spanish, sure enough!" cried the Governor.

From the crowd of servants, felons, and foreigners rose a great clamour,
and presently we made out Sharpless perched on a cask in their midst and
wildly gesticulating.

"The _Tiger_, the _Truelove_, and the _Due Return_ have swung across
channel!" announced the watch. "They've trained their guns on the
Spaniard!"

The Englishmen cheered, but the bastard crew about Sharpless groaned.
Extreme fear had made the lawyer shameless. "What guns have those
boats?" he screamed. "Two falcons apiece and a handful of muskets, and
they go out against a man-of-war! She'll trample them underfoot! She'll
sink them with a shot apiece! The _Tiger_ is forty tons, and the
_Truelove_ is sixty. You're all mad!"

"Sometimes quality beats quantity," said West.

"Didst ever hear of the _Content_?" sang out a gunner.

"Or of the _Merchant Royal_?" cried another.

"Or of the _Revenge_?" quoth Master Jeremy Sparrow. "Go hang thyself,
coward, or, if you choose, swim out to the Spaniard, and shift from thy
wet doublet and hose into a sanbenito. Let the don come, shoot if he
can, and land if he will! We'll singe his beard in Virginia as we did at
Cales!

    'The great _St. Philip_, the pride of the Spaniards,
      Was burnt to the bottom and sunk in the sea.
     But the _St. Andrew_ and eke the _St. Matthew_,
      We took in fight manfully and brought away.'

And so we'll do with this one, my masters! We'll sink her, or we'll take
her and send her against her own galleons and galleasses!

    'Dub-a-dub, dub-a-dub, thus strike their drums,
     Tantara, tantara, the Englishman comes!'"

His great voice and great presence seized and held the attention of all.
Over his doublet of rusty black he had clapped a yet rustier back and
breast; on his bushy hair rode a headpiece many sizes too small; by his
side was an old broadsword, and over his shoulder a pike. Suddenly, from
gay hardihood his countenance changed to an expression more befitting
his calling. "Our cause is just, my masters!" he cried. "We stand here
not for England alone; we stand for the love of law, for the love of
liberty, for the fear of God, who will not desert His servants and His
cause, nor give over to Anti-Christ this virgin world. This plantation
is the leaven which is to leaven the whole lump, and surely He will hide
it in the hollow of His hand and in the shadow of His wing. God of
battles, hear us! God of England, God of America, aid the children of
the one, the saviours of the other!"

He had dropped the pike to raise his clasped hands to the blue heavens,
but now he lifted it again, threw back his shoulders, and flung up his
head. He laid his hand on the flagstaff, and looked up to the banner
streaming in the breeze. "It looks well so high against the blue,
doesn't it, friends?" he cried genially. "Suppose we keep it there
forever and a day!"

A cheer arose, so loud that it silenced, if it did not convince, the
craven few. As for Master Edward Sharpless, he disappeared behind the
line of women.

The great ship came steadily on, her white sails growing larger and
larger, moment by moment, her tiers of guns more distinct and menacing,
her whole aspect more defiant. Her waist seemed packed with men. But no
streamers, no flag.

A puff of smoke floated up from the deck of the _Tiger_, and a ball from
one of her two tiny falcons passed through the stranger's rigging. A
cheer for the brave little cockboat arose from the English.

"David and his pebble!" exclaimed Master Jeremy Sparrow. "Now for
Goliath's twenty-pounders!"

But no flame and thunder issued from the guns aboard the stranger.
Instead, from her deck there came to us what sounded mightily like a
roar of laughter. Suddenly, from each masthead and yard shot out
streamers of red and blue, up from the poop rose and flaunted in the
wind the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew, and with a crash trumpet,
drum, and fife rushed into

    "Here's to jolly good ale and old!"

"By the Lord, she's English!" shouted the Governor.

On she came, banners flying, music playing, and inextinguishable
laughter rising from her decks. The _Tiger_, the _Truelove_, and the
_Due Return_ sent no more hailstones against her; they turned and
resolved themselves into her consort. The watch, a grim old sea dog that
had come in with Dale, swung himself down from his post, and came toward
the Governor at a run.

"I know her now, sir!" he shouted. "I was at the winning of Cales, and
she's the _Santa Teresa_, that we took and sent home to the Queen. She
was Spanish once, sir, but she's English now."

The gates were flung open, and the excited people poured out again upon
the river bank. I found myself beside the Governor, whose honest
countenance wore an expression of profound bewilderment.

"What d'ye make of her, Percy?" he said. "The Company doesn't send
servants, felons, 'prentices, or maids in such craft; no, nor officers
or governors, either. It's the King's ship, sure enough, but what is she
doing here?--that's the question. What does she want, and whom does she
bring?"

"We'll soon know," I answered, "for there goes her anchor."

Five minutes later a boat was lowered from the ship, and came swiftly
toward us. The boat had four rowers, and in the stern sat a tall man,
black-bearded, high-coloured, and magnificently dressed. It touched the
sand some two hundred feet from the spot where Governor, Councillors,
officers, and a sprinkling of other sorts stood staring at it, and at
the great ship beyond. The man in the stern leaped out, looked around
him, and then walked toward us. As he walked slowly, we had leisure to
note the richness of his doublet and cloak,--the one slashed, the other
lined with scarlet taffeta,--the arrogance of his mien and gait, and the
superb full-blooded beauty of his face.

"The handsomest man that ever I saw!" ejaculated the Governor.

Master Pory, standing beside him, drew in his breath, then puffed it out
again. "Handsome enough, your Honour," he said, "unless handsome is as
handsome does. That, gentlemen, is my Lord Carnal,--that is the King's
latest favourite."



CHAPTER VIII

In which Enters my Lord Carnal


I felt a touch upon my shoulder, and turned to find Mistress Percy
beside me. Her cheeks were white, her eyes aflame, her whole frame
tense. The passion that dominated her was so clearly anger at white heat
that I stared at her in amazement. Her hand slid from my shoulder to the
bend of my arm and rested there. "Remember that I am your wife, sir,"
she said in a low, fierce voice,--"your kind and loving wife. You said
that your sword was mine; now bring your wit to the same service!"

There was not time to question her meaning. The man whose position in
the realm had just been announced by the Secretary, and of whom we had
all heard as one not unlikely to supplant even Buckingham himself, was
close at hand. The Governor, headpiece in hand, stepped forward; the
other swept off his Spanish hat; both bowed profoundly.

"I speak to his Honour the Governor of Virginia?" inquired the newcomer.
His tone was offhand, his hat already back upon his head.

"I am George Yeardley, at my Lord Carnal's service," answered the
Governor.

The favourite raised his eyebrows. "I don't need to introduce myself, it
seems," he said. "You've found that I am not the devil, after all,--at
least not the Spanish Apollyon. Zooks! a hawk above a poultry yard
couldn't have caused a greater commotion than did my poor little ship
and my few poor birding pieces! Does every strange sail so put you
through your paces?"

The Governor's colour mounted. "We are not at home," he answered
stiffly. "Here we are few and weak, and surrounded by many dangers, and
have need to be vigilant, being planted, as it were, in the very grasp
of that Spain who holds Europe in awe, and who claims this land as her
own. That we are here at all is proof enough of our courage, my lord."

The other shrugged his shoulders. "I don't doubt your mettle," he said
negligently. "I daresay it matches your armour."

His glance had rested for a moment upon the battered headpiece and
ancient rusty breastplate with which Master Jeremy Sparrow was bedight.

"It is something antique, truly, something out of fashion," remarked
that worthy,--"almost as out of fashion as courtesy from guests, or
respect for dignities from my-face-is-my-fortune minions and lords on
carpet considerations."

The hush of consternation following this audacious speech was broken by
a roar of laughter from the favourite himself. "Zounds!" he cried, "your
courage is worn on your sleeve, good giant! I'll uphold you to face
Spaniards, strappado, rack, galleys, and all!"

The bravado with which he spoke, the insolence of his bold glance and
curled lip, the arrogance with which he flaunted that King's favour
which should be a brand more infamous than the hangman's, his beauty,
the pomp of his dress--all were alike hateful. I hated him then, scarce
knowing why, as I hated him afterward with reason.

He now pulled from the breast of his doublet a packet, which he
proffered the Governor. "From the King, sir," he announced, in the
half-fierce, half-mocking tone he had made his own. "You may read it at
your leisure. He wishes you to further me in a quest upon which I have
come."

The Governor took the packet with reverence. "His Majesty's will is our
law," he said. "Anything that lies in our power, sir; though if you come
for gold----"

The favourite laughed again. "I've come for a thing a deal more
precious, Sir Governor,--a thing worth more to me than all the treasure
of the Indies with Manoa and El Dorado thrown in,--to wit, the thing
upon which I've set my mind. That which I determine to do, I do, sir;
and the thing I determine to have, why, sooner or later, by hook or by
crook, fair means or foul, I have it! I am not one to be crossed or
defied with impunity."

"I do not take your meaning, my lord," said the Governor, puzzled, but
courteous. "There are none here who would care to thwart, in any
honourable enterprise, a nobleman so high in the King's favour. I trust
that my Lord Carnal will make my poor house his own during his stay in
Virginia---- What's the matter, my lord?"

My lord's face was dark red, his black eyes afire, his moustaches
working up and down. His white teeth had closed with a click on the loud
oath which had interrupted the Governor's speech. Honest Sir George and
his circle stared at this unaccountable guest in amazement not unmixed
with dismay. As for myself, I knew before he spoke what had caused the
oath and the fierce triumph in that handsome face. Master Jeremy Sparrow
had moved a little to one side, thus exposing to view that which his
great body had before screened from observation--namely, Mistress
Jocelyn Percy.

In a moment the favourite was before her, hat in hand, bowing to the
ground.

"My quest hath ended where I feared it but begun!" he cried, flushed and
exultant. "I have found my Manoa sooner than I thought for. Have you no
welcome for me, lady?"

She withdrew her arm from mine, and curtsied to him profoundly; then
stood erect, indignant and defiant, her eyes angry stars, her cheeks
carnation, scorn on her smiling lips.

"I cannot welcome you as you should be welcomed, my lord," she said in a
clear voice. "I have but my bare hands. Manoa, my lord, lies far to the
southward. This land is quite out of your course, and you will find here
but your travail for your pains. My lord, permit me to present to you my
husband, Captain Ralph Percy. I think that you know his cousin, my Lord
of Northumberland."

The red left the favourite's cheeks, and he moved as though a blow had
been dealt him by some invisible hand. Recovering himself, he bowed to
me, and I to him, which done we looked each other in the eyes long
enough for each to see the thrown gauntlet.

"I raise it," I said.

"And I raise it," he answered.

"_A l'outrance_, I think, sir?" I continued.

"_A l'outrance_," he assented.

"And between us two alone," I suggested.

His answering smile was not good to see, nor was the tone in which he
spoke to the Governor good to hear.

"It is now some weeks, sir," he said, "since there disappeared from
court a jewel, a diamond of most inestimable worth. It in some sort
belonged to the King, and his Majesty, in the goodness of his heart, had
promised it to a certain one--nay, had sworn by his kingdom that it
should be his. Well, sir, that man put forth his hand to claim his
own--when lo! the jewel vanished! Where it went no man could tell. There
was, as you may believe, a mighty running up and down, and looking into
dark corners, all for naught--it was clean gone. But the man to whom
that bright gem had been promised was not one easily hoodwinked or
baffled. He swore to trace it, follow it, find it, and wear it."

His bold eyes left the Governor, to rest upon the woman beside me; had
he pointed to her with his hand, he could not have more surely drawn
upon her the regard of that motley throng. By degrees the crowd had
fallen back, leaving us three--the King's minion, the masquerading lady,
and myself--the centre of a ring of staring faces; but now she became
the sole target at which all eyes were directed.

In Virginia, at this time, the women of our own race were held in high
esteem. During the first years of our planting they were a greater
rarity than the mocking-birds and flying squirrels, or than that weed
the eating of which made fools of men. The man whose wife was loving and
daring enough, or jealous enough of Indian maids, to follow him into the
wilderness counted his friends by the score, and never lacked for
company. The first marriage in Virginia was between a labourer and a
waiting-maid, and yet there was as great a deal of candy stuff as if it
had been the nuptials of a lieutenant of the shire. The brother of my
Lord de la Warre stood up with the groom, the brother of my Lord of
Northumberland gave away the bride and was the first to kiss her, and
the President himself held the caudle to their lips that night. Since
that wedding there had been others. Gentlewomen made the Virginia voyage
with husband or father; women signed as servants and came over, to marry
in three weeks' time, the husband paying good tobacco for the wife's
freedom; in the cargoes of children sent for apprentices there were many
girls. And last, but not least, had come Sir Edwyn's doves. Things had
changed since that day--at the memory of which men still held their
sides--when Madam West, then the only woman in the town with youth and
beauty, had marched down the street to the pillory, mounted it, called
to her the drummer, and ordered him to summon to the square by tuck of
drum every man in the place. Which done, and the amazed population at
hand, gaping at the spectacle of the wife of their commander (then
absent from home) pilloried before them, she gave command, through the
crier, that they should take their fill of gazing, whispering, and
nudging then and there, forever and a day, and then should go about
their business, and give her leave to mind her own.

That day was gone, but men still dropped their work to see a woman pass,
still cheered when a farthingale appeared over a ships side, and at
church still devoted their eyes to other service than staring at the
minister. In our short but crowded history few things had made a greater
stir than the coming in of Sir Edwyn's maids. They were married now, but
they were still the observed of all observers; to be pointed out to
strangers, run after by children, gaped at by the vulgar, bowed to with
broad smiles by Burgess, Councillor, and commander, and openly contemned
by those dames who had attained to a husband in somewhat more regular
fashion. Of the ninety who had arrived two weeks before, the greater
number had found husbands in the town itself, or in the neighbouring
hundreds, so that in the crowd that had gathered to withstand the
Spaniard, and had stayed to welcome the King's favourite, there were
farthingales not a few.

But there were none like the woman whose hand I had kissed in the
courting meadow. In the throng, that day, in her Puritan dress and amid
the crowd of meaner beauties, she had passed without overmuch comment,
and since that day none had seen her save Rolfe and the minister, my
servants and myself; and when "The Spaniard!" was cried, men thought of
other things than the beauty of women; so that until this moment she had
escaped any special notice. Now all that was changed. The Governor,
following the pointing of those insolent eyes, fixed his own upon her in
a stare of sheer amazement; the gold-laced quality about him craned
necks, lifted eyebrows, and whispered; and the rabble behind followed
their betters' example with an emphasis quite their own.

"Where do you suppose that jewel went, Sir Governor?" said the
favourite--"that jewel which was overnice to shine at court, which set
up its will against the King's, which would have none of that one to
whom it had been given?"

"I am a plain man, my lord," replied the Governor bluntly. "An it please
you, give me plain words."

My lord laughed, his eyes travelling round the ring of greedily intent
faces. "So be it, sir," he assented. "May I ask who is this lady?"

"She came in the _Bonaventure_," answered the Governor. "She was one of
the treasurer's poor maids."

"With whom I trod a measure at court not long ago," said the favourite.
"I had to wait for the honour until the Prince had been gratified."

The Governor's round eyes grew rounder. Young Hamor, a tiptoe behind
him, drew a long, low whistle.

"In so small a community," went on my lord, "sure you must all know one
another. There can be no masks worn, no false colours displayed.
Everything must be as open as daylight. But we all have a past as well
as a present. Now, for instance----"

I interrupted him. "In Virginia, my lord, we live in the present. At
present, my lord, I like not the colour of your lordship's cloak."

He stared at me, with his black brows drawn together. "It is not of your
choosing nor for your wearing, sir," he rejoined haughtily.

"And your sword knot is villainously tied," I continued. "And I like not
such a fire-new, bejewelled scabbard. Mine, you see, is out at heel."

"I see," he said dryly.

"The pinking of your doublet suits me not, either," I declared. "I could
make it more to my liking," and I touched his Genoa three-pile with the
point of my rapier.

A loud murmur arose from the crowd, and the Governor started forward,
crying out, "Captain Percy! Are you mad?"

"I was never saner in my life, sir," I answered. "French fashions like
me not,--that is all,--nor Englishmen that wear them. To my thinking
such are scarcely true-born."

That thrust went home. All the world knew the story of my late Lord
Carnal and the waiting woman in the service of the French ambassador's
wife. A gasp of admiration went up from the crowd. My lord's rapier was
out, the hand that held it shaking with passion. I had my blade in my
hand, but the point was upon the ground "I'll lesson you, you madman!"
he said thickly Suddenly, without any warning, he thrust at me; had he
been less blind with rage, the long score which each was to run up
against the other might have ended where it began. I swerved, and the
next instant with my own point sent his rapier whirling. It fell at the
Governor's feet.

"Your lordship may pick it up," I remarked. "Your grasp is as firm as
your honour, my lord."

He glared at me, foam upon his lips. Men were between us now,--the
Governor, Francis West, Master Pory, Hamor, Wynne,--and a babel of
excited voices arose. The diversion I had aimed to make had been made
with a vengeance. West had me by the arm. "What a murrain is all this
coil about, Ralph Percy? If you hurt hair of his head, you are lost!"

The favourite broke from the Governor's detaining hand and conciliatory
speech.

"You'll fight, sir?" he cried hoarsely.

"You know that I need not now, my lord," I answered.

He stamped upon the ground with rage and shame; not true shame for that
foul thrust, but shame for the sword upon the grass, for that which
could be read in men's eyes, strive to hide it as they might, for the
open scorn upon one face. Then, during the minute or more in which we
faced each other in silence, he exerted to some effect that will of
which he had boasted. The scarlet faded from his face, his frame
steadied, and he forced a smile. Also he called to his aid a certain
soldierly, honest-seeming frankness of speech and manner which he could
assume at will.

"Your Virginian sunshine dazzleth the eyes, sir," he said. "Of a verity
it made me think you on guard. Forgive me my mistake."

I bowed. "Your lordship will find me at your service. I lodge at the
minister's house, where your lordship's messenger will find me. I am
going there now with my wife, who hath ridden a score of miles this
morning and is weary. We give you good-day, my lord."

I bowed to him again and to the Governor, then gave my hand to Mistress
Percy. The crowd opening before us, we passed through it, and crossed
the parade by the west bulwark. At the further end was a bit of rising
ground. This we mounted; then, before descending the other side into the
lane leading to the minister's house, we turned as by one impulse and
looked back. Life is like one of those endless Italian corridors,
painted, picture after picture, by a master hand; and man is the
traveller through it, taking his eyes from one scene but to rest them
upon another. Some remain a blur in his mind; some he remembers not; for
some he has but to close his eyes and he sees them again, line for line,
tint for tint, the whole spirit of the piece. I close my eyes, and I see
the sunshine hot and bright, the blue of the skies, the sheen of the
river. The sails are white again upon boats long lost; the _Santa
Teresa_, sunk in a fight with an Algerine rover two years afterward,
rides at anchor there forever in the James, her crew in the waist and
the rigging, her master and his mates on the poop, above them the flag.
I see the plain at our feet and the crowd beyond, all staring with
upturned faces; and standing out from the group of perplexed and
wondering dignitaries a man in black and scarlet, one hand busy at his
mouth, the other clenched upon the newly restored and unsheathed sword.
And I see, standing on the green hillock, hand in hand, us two,--myself
and the woman so near to me, and yet so far away that a common enemy
seemed our only tie.

We turned and descended to the green lane and the deserted houses. When
we were quite hidden from those we had left on the bank below the fort,
she dropped my hand and moved to the other side of the lane; and thus,
with never a word to spare, we walked sedately on until we reached the
minister's house.



CHAPTER IX

In which Two Drink of One Cup


Waiting for us in the doorway we found Master Jeremy Sparrow, relieved
of his battered armour, his face wreathed with hospitable smiles, and a
posy in his hand.

"When the Spaniard turned out to be only the King's minion, I slipped
away to see that all was in order," he said genially. "Here are roses,
madam, that you are not to treat as you did those others."

She took them from him with a smile, and we went into the house to find
three fair large rooms, something bare of furnishing, but clean and
sweet, with here and there a bow pot of newly gathered flowers, a dish
of wardens on the table, and a cool air laden with the fragrance of the
pine blowing through the open window.

"This is your demesne," quoth the minister. "I have worthy Master
Bucke's own chamber upstairs. Ah, good man, I wish he may quickly
recover his strength and come back to his own, and so relieve me of the
burden of all this luxury. I, whom nature meant for an eremite, have no
business in kings' chambers such as these."

His devout faith in his own distaste for soft living, and his longings
after a hermit's cell, was an edifying spectacle. So was the evident
pride which he took in his domain, the complacence with which he
pointed out the shady, well-stocked garden, and the delight with which
he produced and set upon the table a huge pasty and a flagon of wine.

"It is a fast day with me," he said. "I may neither eat nor drink until
the sun goes down. The flesh is a strong giant, very full of pride and
lust of living, and the spirit must needs keep watch and ward, seizing
every opportunity to mortify and deject its adversary. Goodwife Allen is
still gaping with the crowd at the fort, and your man and maid have not
yet come, but I shall be overhead if you need aught. Mistress Percy must
want rest after her ride."

He was gone, leaving us two alone together. She stood opposite me,
beside the window, from which she had not moved since entering the room.
The colour was still in her cheeks, the light in her eyes, and she still
held the roses with which Sparrow had heaped her arms. I was moving to
the table.

"Wait!" she said, and I turned toward her again.

"Have you no questions to ask?" she demanded.

I shook my head. "None, madam."

"I was the King's ward!" she cried.

I bowed, but spoke no word, though she waited for me.

"If you will listen," she said at last, proudly, and yet with a pleading
sweetness,--"if you will listen, I will tell you how it was that I--that
I came to wrong you so."

"I am listening, madam," I replied.

She stood against the light, the roses pressed to her bosom, her dark
eyes upon me, her head held high. "My mother died when I was born; my
father, years ago. I was the King's ward. While the Queen lived she kept
me with her,--she loved me, I think; and the King, too, was kind,--would
have me sing to him, and would talk to me about witchcraft and the
Scriptures, and how rebellion to a king is rebellion to God. When I was
sixteen, and he tendered me marriage with a Scotch lord, I, who loved
the gentleman not, never having seen him, prayed the King to take the
value of my marriage and leave me my freedom. He was so good to me then
that the Scotch lord was wed elsewhere, and I danced at the wedding with
a mind at ease. Time passed, and the King was still my very good lord.
Then, one black day, my Lord Carnal came to court, and the King looked
at him oftener than at his Grace of Buckingham. A few months, and my
lord's wish was the King's will. To do this new favourite pleasure he
forgot his ancient kindness of heart; yea, and he made the law of no
account. I was his kinswoman, and under my full age; he would give my
hand to whom he chose. He chose to give it to my Lord Carnal."

She broke off, and turned her face from me toward the slant sunshine
without the window. Thus far she had spoken quietly, with a certain
proud patience of voice and bearing; but as she stood there in a silence
which I did not break, the memory of her wrongs brought the crimson to
her cheeks and the anger to her eyes. Suddenly she burst forth
passionately: "The King is the King! What is a subject's will to clash
with his? What weighs a woman's heart against his whim? Little cared he
that my hand held back, grew cold at the touch of that other hand in
which he would have put it. What matter if my will was against that
marriage? It was but the will of a girl, and must be broken. All my
world was with the King; I, who stood alone, was but a woman, young and
untaught. Oh, they pressed me sore, they angered me to the very heart!
There was not one to fight my battle, to help me in that strait, to show
me a better path than that I took. With all my heart, with all my soul,
with all my might, I _hate_ that man which that ship brought here
to-day! You know what I did to escape them all, to escape that man. I
fled from England in the dress of my waiting maid and under her name. I
came to Virginia in that guise. I let myself be put up, appraised, cried
for sale, in that meadow yonder, as if I had been indeed the piece of
merchandise I professed myself. The one man who approached me with
respect I gulled and cheated. I let him, a stranger, give me his name. I
shelter myself now behind his name. I have foisted on him my quarrel. I
have---- Oh, despise me, if you will! You cannot despise me more than I
despise myself!"

I stood with my hand upon the table and my eyes studying the shadow of
the vines upon the floor. All that she said was perfectly true, and
yet---- I had a vision of a scarlet and black figure and a dark and
beautiful face. I too hated my Lord Carnal.

"I do not despise you, madam," I said at last. "What was done two weeks
ago in the meadow yonder is past recall. Let it rest. What is mine is
yours: it's little beside my sword and my name. The one is naturally at
my wife's service; for the other, I have had some pride in keeping it
untarnished. It is now in your keeping as well as my own. I do not fear
to leave it there, madam."

I had spoken with my eyes upon the garden outside the window, but now I
looked at her, to see that she was trembling in every limb,--trembling
so that I thought she would fall. I hastened to her. "The roses," she
said,--"the roses are too heavy. Oh, I am tired--and the room goes
round."

I caught her as she fell, and laid her gently upon the floor. There was
water on the table, and I dashed some in her face and moistened her
lips; then turned to the door to get woman's help, and ran against
Diccon.

"I got that bag of bones here at last, sir," he began. "If ever I----"
His eyes travelled past me, and he broke off.

"Don't stand there staring," I ordered. "Go bring the first woman you
meet."

"Is she dead?" he asked under his breath. "Have you killed her?"

"Killed her, fool!" I cried. "Have you never seen a woman swoon?"

"She looks like death," he muttered. "I thought----"

"You thought!" I exclaimed. "You have too many thoughts. Begone, and
call for help!"

"Here is Angela," he said sullenly and without offering to move, as,
light of foot, soft of voice, ox-eyed and docile, the black woman
entered the room. When I saw her upon her knees beside the motionless
figure, the head pillowed on her arm, her hand busy with the fastenings
about throat and bosom, her dark face as womanly tender as any English
mother's bending over her nursling; and when I saw my wife, with a
little moan, creep further into the encircling arms, I was satisfied.

"Come away!" I said, and, followed by Diccon, went out and shut the
door.

My Lord Carnal was never one to let the grass grow beneath his feet. An
hour later came his cartel, borne by no less a personage than the
Secretary of the colony.

I took it from the point of that worthy's rapier. It ran thus: "Sir,--At
what hour to-morrow and at what place do you prefer to die? And with
what weapon shall I kill you?"

"Captain Percy will give me credit for the profound reluctance with
which I act in this affair against a gentleman and an officer so high in
the esteem of the colony," said Master Pory, with his hand upon his
heart. "When I tell him that I once fought at Paris in a duel of six on
the same side with my late Lord Carnal, and that when I was last at
court my Lord Warwick did me the honour to present me to the present
lord, he will see that I could not well refuse when the latter requested
my aid."

"Master Pory's disinterestedness is perfectly well known," I said,
without a smile. "If he ever chooses the stronger side, sure he has
strong reasons for so doing. He will oblige me by telling his principal
that I ever thought sunrise a pleasant hour for dying, and that there
could be no fitter place than the field behind the church, convenient as
it is to the graveyard. As for weapons, I have heard that he is a good
swordsman, but I have some little reputation that way myself. If he
prefers pistols or daggers, so be it."

"I think we may assume the sword," said Master Pory.

I bowed.

"You'll bring a friend?" he asked.

"I do not despair of finding one," I answered, "though my second, Master
Secretary, will put himself in some jeopardy."

"It is _combat à l'outrance_, I believe?"

"I understand it so."

"Then we'd better have Bohun. The survivor may need his services."

"As you please," I replied, "though my man Diccon dresses my scratches
well enough."

He bit his lip, but could not hide the twinkle in his eye.

"You are cocksure," he said. "Curiously enough, so is my lord. There are
no further formalities to adjust, I believe? To-morrow at sunrise,
behind the church, and with rapiers?"

"Precisely."

He slapped his blade back into its sheath. "Then that's over and done
with, for the nonce at least! Sufficient unto the day, etcetera. 'S
life! I'm hot and dry! You've sacked cities, Ralph Percy; now sack me
the minister's closet and bring out his sherris. I'll be at charges for
the next communion."

We sat us down upon the doorstep with a tankard of sack between us, and
Master Pory drank, and drank, and drank again.

"How's the crop?" he asked. "Martin reports it poorer in quality than
ever, but Sir George will have it that it is very Varinas."

"It's every whit as good as the Spanish," I answered. "You may tell my
Lord Warwick so, when next you write."

He laughed. If he was a timeserver and leagued with my Lord Warwick's
faction in the Company, he was a jovial sinner. Traveller and student,
much of a philosopher, more of a wit, and boon companion to any beggar
with a pottle of ale,--while the drink lasted,--we might look askance at
his dealings, but we liked his company passing well. If he took half a
poor rustic's crop for his fee, he was ready enough to toss him sixpence
for drink money; and if he made the tenants of the lands allotted to his
office leave their tobacco uncared for whilst they rowed him on his
innumerable roving expeditions up creeks and rivers, he at least
lightened their labours with most side-splitting tales, and with bottle
songs learned in a thousand taverns.

"After to-morrow there'll be more interesting news to write," he
announced. "You're a bold man, Captain Percy."

He looked at me out of the corners of his little twinkling eyes. I sat
and smoked in silence.

"The King begins to dote upon him," he said; "leans on his arm, plays
with his hand, touches his cheek. Buckingham stands by, biting his lip,
his brow like a thundercloud. You'll find in to-morrow's antagonist,
Ralph Percy, as potent a conjurer as your cousin Hotspur found in
Glendower. He'll conjure you up the Tower, and a hanging, drawing, and
quartering. Who touches the King's favourite had safer touch the King.
It's _lèse majesté_ you contemplate."

He lit his pipe and blew out a great cloud of smoke, then burst into a
roar of laughter. "My Lord High Admiral may see you through. Zooks!
there'll be a raree-show worth the penny, behind the church
to-morrow,--a Percy striving with all his might and main to serve a
Villiers! Eureka! There is something new under the sun, despite the
Preacher!" He blew out another cloud of smoke. By this the tankard was
empty, and his cheeks were red, his eyes moist, and his laughter very
ready.

"Where's the Lady Jocelyn Leigh?" he asked. "May I not have the honour
to kiss her hand before I go?"

I stared at him. "I do not understand you," I said coldly. "There's none
within but Mistress Percy. She is weary, and rests after her journey. We
came from Weyanoke this morning."

He shook with laughter. "Ay, ay, brave it out!" he cried. "It's what
every man Jack of us said you would do! But all's known, man! The
Governor read the King's letters in full Council an hour ago. She's the
Lady Jocelyn Leigh; she's a ward of the King's; she and her lands are to
wed my Lord Carnal!"

"She was all that," I replied. "Now she's my wife."

"You'll find that the Court of High Commission will not agree with you."

My rapier lay across my knees, and I ran my hand down its worn scabbard.
"Here's one that agrees with me," I said. "And up there is Another," and
I lifted my hat.

He stared. "God and my good sword!" he cried. "A very knightly
dependence, but not to be mentioned nowadays in the same breath with
gold and the King's favour. Better bend to the storm, man; sing low
while it roars past. You can swear that you didn't know her to be of
finer weave than dowlas. Oh, they'll call it in some sort a marriage,
for the lady's own sake; but they'll find flaws enough to crack a
thousand such mad matches. The divorce is the thing! There's precedent,
you know. A fair lady was parted from a brave man not a thousand years
ago, because a favourite wanted her. True, Frances Howard wanted the
favourite, whilst this beauty of yours----"

"You will please not couple the name of my wife with the name of that
adulteress!" I interrupted fiercely.

He started, then cried out somewhat hurriedly: "No offence, no offence!
I meant no comparisons; comparisons are odorous, saith Dogberry. All at
court know the Lady Jocelyn Leigh for a very Britomart, a maid as cold
as Dian!"

I rose, and began to pace up and down the bit of green before the door.
"Master Pory," I said at last, coming to a stop before him, "if, without
breach of faith, you can tell me what was said or done at the Council
to-day anent this matter, you will lay me under an obligation that I
shall not forget."

He studied the lace on his sleeve in silence for a while, then glanced
up at me out of those small, sly, merry eyes. "Why," he answered, "the
King demands that the lady be sent home forthwith, on the ship that gave
us such a turn to-day, in fact, with a couple of women to attend her,
and under the protection of the only other passenger of quality, to wit,
my Lord Carnal. His Majesty cannot conceive it possible that she hath so
far forgotten her birth, rank, and duty as to have maintained in
Virginia this mad masquerade, throwing herself into the arms of any
petty planter or broken adventurer who hath chanced to have an hundred
and twenty pounds of filthy tobacco with which to buy him a wife. If she
hath been so mad, she is to be sent home none the less, where she will
be tenderly dealt with as one surely in this sole matter under the spell
of witchcraft. The ship is to bring home also--and in irons--the man who
married her. If he swears to have been ignorant of her quality, and
places no straws in the way of the King's Commissioners, then shall he
be sent honourably back to Virginia with enough in his hand to get him
another wife. _Per contra_, if he erred with open eyes, and if he remain
contumacious, he will have to deal with the King and with the Court of
High Commission, to say nothing of the King's favourite. That's the sum
and substance, Ralph Percy."

"Why was my Lord Carnal sent?" I asked.

"Probably because my Lord Carnal would come. He hath a will, hath my
Lord, and the King is more indulgent than Eli to those upon whom he
dotes. Doubtless, my Lord High Admiral sped him on his way, gave him the
King's best ship, wished him a favourable wind--to hell."

"I was not ignorant that she was other than she seemed, and I remain
contumacious."

"Then," he said shamelessly, "you'll forgive me if in public, at least,
I forswear your company? You're plague-spotted, Captain Percy, and your
friends may wish you well, but they must stay at home and burn juniper
before their own doors."

"I'll forgive you," I said, "when you've told me what the Governor will
do."

"Why, there's the rub," he answered. "Yeardley is the most obstinate man
of my acquaintance. He who at his first coming, beside a great deal of
worth in his person, brought only his sword, hath grown to be as very a
Sir Oracle among us as ever I saw. It's 'Sir George says this,' and 'Sir
George says that,' and so there's an end on't. It's all because of that
leave to cut your own throats in your own way that he brought you last
year. Sir George and Sir Edwyn! Zooks! you had better dub them St.
George and St. Edwyn at once, and be done with it. Well, on this
occasion Sir George stands up and says roundly, with a good round oath
to boot: 'The King's commands have always come to us through the
Company. The Company obeys the King; we obey the Company. His Majesty's
demand (with reverence I speak it) is out of all order. Let the Company,
through the treasurer, command us to send Captain Percy home in irons to
answer for this passing strange offence, or to return, willy nilly, the
lady who is now surely his wife, and we will have no choice but to obey.
Until the Company commands us we will do nothing; nay, we can do
nothing.' And every one of my fellow Councillors (for myself, I was busy
with my pens) saith, 'My opinion, Sir George.' The upshot of it all is
that the _Due Return_ is to sail in two days with our humble
representation to his Majesty that though we bow to his lightest word as
the leaf bows to the zephyr, yet we are, in this sole matter, handfast,
compelled by his Majesty's own gracious charter to refer our slightest
official doing to that noble Company which owes its very being to its
rigid adherence to the terms of said charter. Wherefore, if his Majesty
will be graciously pleased to command us as usual through the said
Company--and so on. Of course, not a soul in the Council, or in
Jamestown, or in Virginia dreams of a duel behind the church at sunrise
to-morrow." He knocked the ashes from his pipe, and by degrees got his
fat body up from the doorstep. "So there's a reprieve for you, Ralph
Percy, unless you kill or are killed to-morrow morning. In the latter
case, the problem's solved; in the former, the best service you can do
yourself, and maybe the Company, is to walk out of the world of your
own accord, and that as quickly as possible. Better a cross-roads and a
stake through a dead heart than a hangman's hands upon a live one."

"One moment," I said. "Doth my Lord Carnal know of this decision of the
Governor's?"

"Ay, and a fine passion it put him into. Stormed and swore and
threatened, and put the Governor's back up finely. It seems that he
thought to 'bout ship to-morrow, lady and all. He refuseth to go without
the lady, and so remaineth in Virginia until he can have his will. Lord!
but Buckingham would be a happy man if he were kept here forever and a
day! My lord knows what he risks, and he's in as black a humour as ever
you saw. But I have striven to drop oil on the troubled waters. 'My
lord,' I told him, 'you have but to possess your soul with patience for
a few short weeks, just until the ship the Governor sends can return.
Then all must needs be as your lordship wishes. In the meantime you may
find existence in these wilds and away from that good company which is
the soul of life endurable, and perhaps pleasant. You may have daily
sight of the lady who is to become your wife, and that should count for
much with so ardent and determined a lover as your lordship hath shown
yourself to be. You may have the pleasure of contemplating your rival's
grave, if you kill him. If he kills you, you will care the less about
the date of the _Santa Teresa's_ sailing. The land, too, hath
inducements to offer to a philosophical and contemplative mind such as
one whom his Majesty delighteth to honour must needs possess. Beside
these crystal rivers and among these odoriferous woods, my lord, one
escapes much expense, envy, contempt, vanity, and vexation of mind.'"

The hoary sinner laughed and laughed. When he had gone away, still in
huge enjoyment of his own mirth, I, who had seen small cause for mirth,
went slowly indoors. Not a yard from the door, in the shadow of the
vines that draped the window, stood the woman who was bringing this fate
upon me.

"I thought that you were in your own room," I said harshly, after a
moment of dead silence.

"I came to the window," she replied. "I listened. I heard all." She
spoke haltingly, through dry lips. Her face was as white as her ruff,
but a strange light burned in her eyes, and there was no trembling.
"This morning you said that all that you had--your name and your
sword--were at my service. You may take them both again, sir. I refuse
the aid you offer. Swear what you will, tell them what you please, make
your peace whilst you may. I will not have your blood upon my soul."

There was yet wine upon the table. I filled a cup and brought it to her.
"Drink!" I commanded.

"I have much of forbearance, much of courtesy, to thank you for," she
said. "I will remember it when---- Do not think that I shall blame
you----"

I held the cup to her lips. "Drink!" I repeated. She touched the red
wine with her lips. I took it from her and put it to my own. "We drink
of the same cup," I said, with my eyes upon hers, and drained it to the
bottom. "I am weary of swords and courts and kings. Let us go into the
garden and watch the minister's bees."



CHAPTER X

In which Master Pory gains Time to some Purpose


Rolfe, coming down by boat from Varina, had reached the town in the dusk
of that day which had seen the arrival of the _Santa Teresa_, and I had
gone to him before I slept that night. Early morning found us together
again in the field behind the church. We had not long to wait in the
chill air and dew-drenched grass. When the red rim of the sun showed
like a fire between the trunks of the pines came my Lord Carnal, and
with him Master Pory and Dr. Lawrence Bohun.

My lord and I bowed to each other profoundly. Rolfe with my sword and
Master Pory with my lord's stepped aside to measure the blades. Dr.
Bohun, muttering something about the feverishness of the early air,
wrapped his cloak about him, and huddled in among the roots of a
gigantic cedar. I stood with my back to the church, and my face to the
red water between us and the illimitable forest; my lord opposite me,
six feet away. He was dressed again splendidly in black and scarlet,
colours he much affected, and, with the dark beauty of his face and the
arrogant grace with which he stood there waiting for his sword, made a
picture worth looking upon.

Rolfe and the Secretary came back to us. "If you kill him, Ralph," said
the former in a low voice, as he took my doublet from me, "you are to
put yourself in my hands and do as you are bid."

"Which means that you will try to smuggle me north to the Dutch. Thanks,
friend, but I'll see the play out here."

"You were ever obstinate, self-willed, reckless--and the man most to my
heart," he continued. "Have your way, in God's name, but I wish not to
see what will come of it! All's ready, Master Secretary."

Very slowly that worthy stooped down and examined the ground, narrowly
and quite at his leisure. "I like it not, Master Rolfe," he declared at
length. "Here is a molehill, and there a fairy ring."

"I see neither," said Rolfe. "It looks as smooth as a table. But we can
easily shift under the cedars, where there is no grass."

"Here's a projecting root," announced the Secretary, when the new ground
had been reached.

Rolfe shrugged his shoulders, but we moved again.

"The light comes jaggedly through the branches," objected my lord's
second. "Better try the open again."

Rolfe uttered an exclamation of impatience, and my lord stamped his foot
on the ground. "What is this foolery, sir?" the latter cried fiercely.
"The ground's well enough, and there's sufficient light to die by."

"Let the light pass then," said his second resignedly. "Gentlemen, are
you read---- Ods blood! my lord, I had not noticed the roses upon your
lordship's shoes! They are so large and have such a fall that they sweep
the ground on either side your foot; you might stumble in all that
dangling ribbon and lace. Allow me to remove them."

He unsheathed his knife, and, sinking upon his knees, began leisurely to
sever the threads that held the roses to the leather. As he worked, he
looked neither at the roses nor at my lord's angry face, but beneath his
own bent arm toward the church and the town beyond.

How long he would have sawed away at the threads there is no telling;
for my lord, amongst whose virtues patience was not one, broke from him,
and with an oath stooped and tore away the offending roses with his own
hand, then straightened himself and gripped his sword more closely.
"I've learned one thing in this d--d land," he snarled, "and that is
where not to choose a second. You, sir," to Rolfe, "give the word."

Master Pory rose from his knees, unruffled and unabashed, and still with
a curiously absent expression upon his fat face and with his ears cocked
in the direction of the church. "One moment, gentlemen," he said. "I
have just bethought me----"

"On guard!" cried Rolfe, and cut him short.

The King's favourite was no mean antagonist. Once or twice the thought
crossed my mind that here, where I least desired it, I had met my match.
The apprehension passed. He fought as he lived, with a fierce intensity,
a headlong passion, a brute force, bearing down and overwhelming most
obstacles. But that I could tire him out I soon knew.

The incessant flash and clash of steel, the quick changes in position,
the need to bring all powers of body and mind to aid of eye and wrist,
the will to win, the shame of loss, the rage and lust of blood,--there
was no sight or sound outside that trampled circle that could force
itself upon our brain or make us glance aside. If there was a sudden
commotion amongst the three witnesses, if an expression of immense
relief and childlike satisfaction reigned in Master Pory's face, we knew
it not. We were both bleeding,--I from a pin prick on the shoulder, he
from a touch beneath the arm. He made a desperate thrust, which I
parried, and the blades clashed. A third came down upon them with such
force that the sparks flew.

"In the King's name!" commanded the Governor.

We fell apart, panting, white with rage, staring at the unexpected
disturbers of our peace. They were the Governor, the commander, the Cape
Merchant, and the watch.

"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace!" exclaimed Master
Pory, and retired to the cedar and Dr. Bohun.

"This ends here, gentlemen," said the Governor firmly. "You are both
bleeding. It is enough."

"Out of my way, sir!" cried my lord, foaming at the mouth. He made a mad
thrust over the Governor's extended arm at me, who was ready enough to
meet him, "Have at thee, thou bridegroom!" he said between his teeth.

The Governor caught him by the wrist. "Put up your sword, my lord, or,
as I stand here, you shall give it into the commander's hands!"

"Hell and furies!" ejaculated my lord. "Do you know who I am, sir?"

"Ay," replied the Governor sturdily, "I do know. It is because of that
knowledge, my Lord Carnal, that I interfere in this affair. Were you
other than you are, you and this gentleman might fight until doomsday,
and meet with no hindrance from me. Being what you are, I will prevent
any renewal of this duel, by fair means if I may, by foul if I must."

He left my lord, and came over to me. "Since when have you been upon my
Lord Warwick's side, Ralph Percy?" he demanded, lowering his voice.

"I am not so," I said.

"Then appearances are mightily deceitful," he retorted.

"I know what you mean, Sir George," I answered. "I know that if the
King's darling should meet death or maiming in this fashion, upon
Virginian soil, the Company, already so out of favour, might find some
difficulty in explaining things to his Majesty's satisfaction. But I
think my Lord Southampton and Sir Edwyn Sandys and Sir George Yeardley
equal to the task, especially if they are able to deliver to his Majesty
the man whom his Majesty will doubtless consider the true and only rebel
and murderer. Let us fight it out, sir. You can all retire to a distance
and remain in profound ignorance of any such affair. If I fall, you
have nothing to fear. If he falls,--why, I shall not run away, and the
_Due Return_ sails to-morrow."

He eyed me closely from under frowning brows.

"And when your wife's a widow, what then?" he asked abruptly.

I have not known many better men than this simple, straightforward,
soldierly Governor. The manliness of his character begot trust, invited
confidence. Men told him of their hidden troubles almost against their
will, and afterward felt neither shame nor fear, knowing the simplicity
of his thoughts and the reticence of his speech. I looked him in the
eyes, and let him read what I would have shown to no other, and felt no
shame. "The Lord may raise her up a helper," I said. "At least she won't
have to marry _him_."

He turned on his heel and moved back to his former station between us
two. "My Lord Carnal," he said, "and you, Captain Percy, heed what I
say; for what I say I will do. You may take your choice: either you will
sheathe your swords here in my presence, giving me your word of honour
that you will not draw them upon each other before his Majesty shall
have made known his will in this matter to the Company, and the Company
shall have transmitted it to me, in token of which truce between you you
shall touch each other's hands; or you will pass the time between this
and the return of the ship with the King's and the Company's will in
strict confinement,--you, Captain Percy, in gaol, and you, my Lord
Carnal, in my own poor house, where I will use my best endeavours to
make the days pass as pleasantly as possible for your lordship. I have
spoken, gentlemen."

There was no protest. For my own part, I knew Yeardley too well to
attempt any; moreover, had I been in his place, his course should have
been mine. For my Lord Carnal,--what black thoughts visited that fierce
and sullen brain I know not, but there was acquiescence in his face,
haughty, dark, and vengeful though it was. Slowly, and as with one
motion, we sheathed our swords, and more slowly still repeated the few
words after the Governor. His Honour's countenance shone with relief.
"Take each other by the hand, gentlemen, and then let's all to breakfast
at my own house, where there shall be no feud save with good capon pasty
and jolly good ale." In dead silence my lord and I touched each other's
finger tips.

The world was now a flood of sunshine, the mist on the river vanishing,
the birds singing, the trees waving in the pleasant morning air. From
the town came the roll of the drum summoning all to the week-day
service. The bells, too, began to ring, sounding sweetly through the
clear air. The Governor took off his hat. "Let's all to church,
gentlemen," he said gravely. "Our cheeks are flushed as with a fever,
and our pulses run high this morning. There be some among us, perhaps,
that have in their hearts discontent, anger, and hatred. I know no
better place to take such passions, provided we bring them not forth
again."

We went in and sat down. Jeremy Sparrow was in the pulpit. Singly or in
groups the town folk entered. Down the aisle strode bearded men, old
soldiers, adventurers, sailors, scarred body and soul; young men
followed, younger sons and younger brothers, prodigals whose portion had
been spent, whose souls now ate of the husks; to the servants' benches
came dull labourers, dimly comprehending, groping in the twilight; women
entered softly and slowly, some with children clinging to their skirts.
One came alone and knelt alone, her face shadowed by her mantle. Amongst
the servants stood a slave or two, blindly staring, and behind them all
one of that felon crew sent us by the King.

Through the open windows streamed the summer sunshine, soft and
fragrant, impartial and unquestioning, caressing alike the uplifted face
of the minister, the head of the convict, and all between. The
minister's voice was grave and tender when he read and prayed, but in
the hymn it rose above the people's like the voice of some mighty
archangel. That triumphant singing shook the air, and still rang in the
heart while we said the Creed.

When the service was over, the congregation waited for the Governor to
pass out first. At the door he pressed me to go with him and his party
to his own house, and I gave him thanks, but made excuse to stay away.
When he and the nobleman who was his guest had left the churchyard, and
the townspeople, too, were gone, I and my wife and the minister walked
home together through the dewy meadow, with the splendour of the morning
about us, and the birds carolling from every tree and thicket.



CHAPTER XI

In which I Meet an Italian Doctor


The summer slipped away, and autumn came, with the purple of the grape
and the yellowing corn, the nuts within the forest, and the return of
the countless wild fowl to the marshes and reedy river banks, and still
I stayed in Jamestown, and my wife with me, and still the _Santa Teresa_
rode at anchor in the river below the fort. If the man whom she brought
knew that by tarrying in Virginia he risked his ruin with the King, yet,
with a courage worthy of a better cause, he tarried.

Now and then ships came in, but they were small, belated craft. The most
had left England before the sailing of the _Santa Teresa_; the rest,
private ventures, trading for clapboard or sassafras, knew nothing of
court affairs. Only the _Sea Flower_, sailing from London a fortnight
after the _Santa Teresa_, and much delayed by adverse winds, brought a
letter from the deputy treasurer to Yeardley and the Council. From Rolfe
I learned its contents. It spoke of the stir that was made by the
departure from the realm of the King's favourite. "None know where he
hath gone. The King looks _dour_; 'tis hinted that the privy council are
as much at sea as the rest of the world; my Lord of Buckingham saith
nothing, but his following--which of late hath somewhat decayed--is so
increased that his antechambers cannot hold the throngs that come to
wait upon him. Some will have it that my Lord Carnal hath fled the
kingdom to escape the Tower; others, that the King hath sent him on a
mission to the King of Spain about this detested Spanish match; others,
that the gadfly hath stung him and he is gone to America,--to search for
Raleigh's gold mine, maybe. This last most improbable; but if 'tis so,
and he should touch at Virginia, receive him with all honour. If,
indeed, he is not out of favour, the Company may find in him a powerful
friend; of powerful enemies, God knows, there is no lack!"

Thus the worthy Master Ferrar. And at the bottom of the letter, among
other news of city and court, mention was made of the disappearance of a
ward of the King's, the Lady Jocelyn Leigh. Strict search had been made,
but the unfortunate lady had not been found. "'Tis whispered that she
hath killed herself; also, that his Majesty had meant to give her in
marriage to my Lord Carnal. But that all true love and virtue and
constancy have gone from the age, one might conceive that the said lord
had but fled the court for a while, to indulge his grief in some
solitude of hill and stream and shady vale,--the lost lady being right
worthy of such dole."

In sooth she was, but my lord was not given to such fashion of mourning.

The summer passed, and I did nothing. What was there I could do? I had
written by the _Due Return_ to Sir Edwyn, and to my cousin, the Earl of
Northumberland. The King hated Sir Edwyn as he hated tobacco and
witchcraft. "Choose the devil, but not Sir Edwyn Sandys!" had been his
passionate words to the Company the year before. A certain fifth of
November had despoiled my Lord of Northumberland of wealth, fame, and
influence. Small hope there was in those two. That the Governor and
Council, remembering old dangers shared, wished me well, I did not
doubt, but that was all. Yeardley had done all he could do, more than
most men would have dared to do, in procuring this delay. There was no
further help in him; nor would I have asked it. Already out of favour
with the Warwick faction, he had risked enough for me and mine. I could
not flee with my wife to the Indians, exposing her, perhaps, to a death
by fierce tortures; moreover, Opechancanough had of late strangely taken
to returning to the settlements those runaway servants and fugitives
from justice which before we had demanded from him in vain. If even it
had been possible to run the gauntlet of the Indian villages, war
parties, and hunting bands, what would have been before us but endless
forest and a winter which for us would have had no spring? I could not
see her die of hunger and cold, or by the teeth of the wolves. I could
not do what I should have liked to do,--take, single-handed, that King's
ship with its sturdy crew and sail with her south and ever southwards,
before us nothing more formidable than Spanish ships, and beyond them
blue waters, spice winds, new lands, strange islands of the blest.

There seemed naught that I could do, naught that she could do. Our Fate
had us by the hands, and held us fast. We stood still, and the days came
and went like dreams.

While the Assembly was in session I had my part to act as Burgess from
my hundred. Each day I sat with my fellows in the church, facing the
Governor in his great velvet chair, the Council on either hand, and
listened to the droning of old Twine, the clerk, like the droning of the
bees without the window; to the chant of the sergeant-at-arms; to long
and windy discourses from men who planted better than they spoke; to
remarks by the Secretary, witty, crammed with Latin and travelled talk;
to the Governor's slow, weighty words. At Weyanoke we had had trouble
with the Indians. I was one who loved them not and had fought them well,
for which reason the hundred chose me its representative. In the
Assembly it was my part to urge a greater severity toward those our
natural enemies, a greater watchfulness on our part, the need for
palisades and sentinels, the danger that lay in their acquisition of
fire-arms, which, in defiance of the law, men gave them in exchange for
worthless Indian commodities. This Indian business was the chief matter
before the Assembly. I spoke when I thought speech was needed, and spoke
strongly; for my heart foreboded that which was to come upon us too soon
and too surely. The Governor listened gravely, nodding his head; Master
Pory, too, the Cape Merchant, and West were of my mind; but the
remainder were besotted by their own conceit, esteeming the very name
of Englishman sentinel and palisade enough, or trusting in the smooth
words and vows of brotherhood poured forth so plentifully by that red
Apollyon, Opechancanough.

When the day's work was done, and we streamed out of the church,--the
Governor and Council first, the rest of us in order,--it was to find as
often as not a red and black figure waiting for us among the graves.
Sometimes it joined itself to the Governor, sometimes to Master Pory;
sometimes the whole party, save one, went off with it to the guest
house, there to eat, drink, and make merry.

If Virginia and all that it contained, save only that jewel of which it
had robbed the court, were out of favour with the King's minion, he
showed it not. Perhaps he had accepted the inevitable with a good grace;
perhaps it was but his mode of biding his time; but he had shifted into
that soldierly frankness of speech and manner, that genial,
hail-fellow-well-met air, behind which most safely hides a villain's
mind. Two days after that morning behind the church, he had removed
himself, his French valets, and his Italian physician from the
Governor's house to the newly finished guest house. Here he lived, cock
of the walk, taking his ease in his inn, elbowing out all guests save
those of his own inviting. If, what with his open face and his open
hand, his dinners and bear-baitings and hunting parties, his tales of
the court and the wars, his half hints as to the good he might do
Virginia with the King, extending even to the lightening of the tax upon
our tobacco and the prohibition of the Spanish import, his known riches
and power, and the unknown height to which they might attain if his star
at court were indeed in the ascendant,--if with these things he slowly,
but surely, won to his following all save a very few of those I had
thought my fast friends, it was not a thing marvellous or without
precedent. Upon his side was good that might be seen and handled; on
mine was only a dubious right and a not at all dubious danger. I do not
think it plagued me much. The going of those who had it in their heart
to wish to go left me content, and for those who fawned upon him from
the first, or for the rabble multitude who flung up their caps and ran
at his heels, I cared not a doit. There were still Rolfe and West and
the Governor, Jeremy Sparrow and Diccon.

My lord and I met, perforce, in the street, at the Governor's house, in
church, on the river, in the saddle. If we met in the presence of
others, we spoke the necessary formal words of greeting or leave-taking,
and he kept his countenance; if none were by, off went the mask. The man
himself and I looked each other in the eyes and passed on. Once we
encountered on a late evening among the graves, and I was not alone.
Mistress Percy had been restless, and had gone, despite the minister's
protests, to sit upon the river bank. When I returned from the assembly
and found her gone, I went to fetch her. A storm was rolling slowly up.
Returning the long way through the churchyard, we came upon him sitting
beside a sunken grave, his knees drawn up to meet his chin, his eyes
gloomily regardful of the dark broad river, the unseen ocean, and the
ship that could not return for weeks to come. We passed him in
silence,--I with a slight bow, she with a slighter curtsy. An hour
later, going down the street in the dusk of the storm, I ran against Dr.
Lawrence Bohun. "Don't stop me!" he panted. "The Italian doctor is away
in the woods gathering simples, and they found my Lord Carnal in a fit
among the graves, half an hour agone." My lord was bled, and the next
morning went hunting.

The lady whom I had married abode with me in the minister's house, held
her head high, and looked the world in the face. She seldom went from
home, but when she did take the air it was with pomp and circumstance.
When that slender figure and exquisite face, set off by as rich apparel
as could be bought from a store of finery brought in by the
_Southampton_, and attended by a turbaned negress and a serving man who
had been to the wars, and had escaped the wheel by the skin of his
teeth, appeared in the street, small wonder if a greater commotion arose
than had been since the days of the Princess Pocahontas and her train of
dusky beauties. To this fairer, more imperial dame gold lace doffed its
hat and made its courtliest bow, and young planters bent to their
saddle-bows, while the common folk nudged and stared and had their say.
The beauty, the grace, the pride, that deigned small response to
well-meant words,--all that would have been intolerable in plain
Mistress Percy, once a waiting maid, then a piece of merchandise to be
sold for one hundred and twenty pounds of tobacco, then the wife of a
poor gentleman, was pardoned readily enough to the Lady Jocelyn Leigh,
the ward of the King, the bride to be (so soon as the King's Court of
High Commission should have snapped in twain an inconvenient and
ill-welded fetter) of the King's minion.

So she passed like a splendid vision through the street perhaps once a
week. On Sundays she went with me to church, and the people looked at
her instead of at the minister, who rebuked them not, because his eyes
were upon the same errand.

The early autumn passed and the leaves began to turn, and still all
things were as they had been, save that the Assembly sat no longer. My
fellow-Burgesses went back to their hundreds, but my house at Weyanoke
knew me no more. In a tone that was apologetic, but firm, the Governor
had told me that he wished my company at Jamestown. I was pleased enough
to stay, I assured him,--as indeed I was. At Weyanoke, the thunderbolt
would fall without warning; at Jamestown, at least I could see, coming
up the river, the sails of the _Due Return_, or what other ship the
Company might send.

The colour of the leaves deepened, and there came a season of a beauty
singular and sad, like a smile left upon the face of the dead summer.
Over all things, near and far, the forest where it met the sky, the
nearer woods, the great river, and the streams that empty into it, there
hung a blue haze, soft and dream-like. The forest became a painted
forest, with an ever-thinning canopy and an ever-thickening carpet of
crimson and gold; everywhere there was a low rustling underfoot and a
slow rain of colour. It was neither cold nor hot, but very quiet, and
the birds went by like shadows,--a listless and forgetful weather, in
which we began to look, every hour of every day, for the sail which we
knew we should not see for weeks to come.

Good Master Bucke tarried with Master Thorpe at Henricus, recruiting his
strength, and Jeremy Sparrow preached in his pulpit, slept in his
chamber, and worked in his garden. This garden ran down to the green
bank of the river; and here, sitting idly by the stream, her chin in her
hand and her dark eyes watching the strong, free sea birds as they came
and went, I found my wife one evening, as I came from the fort, where
had been some martial exercise. Thirty feet away Master Jeremy Sparrow
worked among the dying flowers, and hummed:--

    "There is a garden in her face,
     Where roses and white lilies grow."

He and I had agreed that when I must needs be absent he should be within
call of her; for I believed my Lord Carnal very capable of intruding
himself into her presence. That house and garden, her movements and
mine, were spied upon by his foreign hirelings, I knew perfectly well.

As I sat down upon the bank at her feet, she turned to me with a sudden
passion. "I am weary of it all!" she cried. "I am tired of being pent up
in this house and garden, and of the watch you keep upon me. And if I go
abroad, it is worse! I _hate_ all those shameless faces that stare at
me as if I were in the pillory. I _am_ pilloried before you all, and I
find the experience sufficiently bitter. And when I think that that man
whom I hate, hate, hate, breathes the air that I breathe, it stifles me!
If I could fly away like those birds, if I could only be gone from this
place for even a day!"

"I would beg leave to take you home, to Weyanoke," I said after a pause,
"but I cannot go and leave the field to him."

"And I cannot go," she answered. "I must watch for that ship and that
King's command that my Lord Carnal thinks potent enough to make me his
wife. King's commands are strong, but a woman's will is stronger. At the
last I shall know what to do. But now why may I not take Angela and
cross that strip of sand and go into the woods on the other side? They
are so fair and strange,--all red and yellow,--and they look very still
and peaceful. I could walk in them, or lie down under the trees and
forget awhile, and they are not at all far away." She looked at me
eagerly.

"You could not go alone," I told her. "There would be danger in that.
But to-morrow, if you choose, I and Master Sparrow and Diccon will take
you there. A day in the woods is pleasant enough, and will do none of us
harm. Then you may wander as you please, fill your arms with coloured
leaves, and forget the world. We will watch that no harm comes nigh you,
but otherwise you shall not be disturbed."

She broke into delighted laughter. Of all women the most steadfast of
soul, her outward moods were as variable as a child's. "Agreed!" she
cried. "You and the minister and Diccon Demon shall lay your muskets
across your knees, and Angela shall witch you into stone with her old,
mad, heathen charms. And then--and then--I will gather more gold than
had King Midas; I will dance with the hamadryads; I will find out Oberon
and make Titania jealous!"

"I do not doubt that you could do so," I said, as she sprang to her
feet, childishly eager and radiantly beautiful.

I rose to go in with her, for it was supper time, but in a moment
changed my mind, and resumed my seat on the bank of turf. "Do you go
in," I said. "There's a snake near by, in those bushes below the bank.
I'll kill the creature, and then I'll come to supper."

When she was gone, I walked to where, ten feet away, the bank dipped to
a clump of reeds and willows planted in the mud on the brink of the
river. Dropping on my knees, I leaned over, and, grasping a man by the
collar, lifted him from the slime where he belonged to the bank beside
me.

It was my Lord Carnal's Italian doctor that I had so fished up. I had
seen him before, and had found in his very small, mean figure, clad all
in black, and his narrow face with malignant eyes, and thin white lips
drawn tightly over gleaming teeth, something infinitely repulsive,
sickening to the sight as are certain reptiles to the touch.

"There are no simples or herbs of grace to be found amongst reeds and
half-drowned willows," I said. "What did so learned a doctor look for in
so unlikely a place?"

He shrugged his shoulders and made play with his clawlike hands, as if
he understood me not. It was a lie, for I knew that he and the English
tongue were sufficiently acquainted. I told him as much, and he shot at
me a most venomous glance, but continued to shrug, gesticulate, and
jabber in Italian. At last I saw nothing better to do than to take him,
still by the collar, to the edge of the garden next the churchyard, and
with the toe of my boot to send him tumbling among the graves. I watched
him pick himself up, set his attire to rights, and go away in the
gathering dusk, winding in and out among the graves; and then I went in
to supper, and told Mistress Percy that the snake was dead.



CHAPTER XII

In which I Receive a Warning and Repose a Trust


Shortly before daybreak I was wakened by a voice beneath my window.
"Captain Percy," it cried, "the Governor wishes you at his house!" and
was gone.

I dressed and left the house, disturbing no one. Hurrying through the
chill dawn, I reached the square not much behind the rapid footsteps of
the watch who had wakened me. About the Governor's door were horses,
saddled and bridled, with grooms at their heads, men and beasts gray and
indistinct, wrapped in the fog. I went up the steps and into the hall,
and knocked at the door of the Governor's great room. It opened, and I
entered to find Sir George, with Master Pory, Rolfe, West, and others of
the Council gathered about the great centre table and talking eagerly.
The Governor was but half dressed; West and Rolfe were in jack boots and
coats of mail. A man, breathless with hard riding, spattered with swamp
mud and torn by briers, stood, cap in hand, staring from one to the
other.

"In good time, Captain Percy!" cried the Governor. "Yesterday you called
the profound peace with the Indians, of which some of us boasted, the
lull before the storm. Faith, it looks to-day as though you were in the
right, after all!"

"What's the matter, sir?" I asked, advancing to the table.

"Matter enough!" he answered. "This man has come, post haste, from the
plantations above Paspahegh. Three days ago, Morgan, the trader, was
decoyed into the woods by that Paspahegh fool and bully, Nemattanow,
whom they call Jack of the Feather, and there murdered. Yesterday, out
of sheer bravado, the Indian turned up at Morgan's house, and Morgan's
men shot him down. They buried the dog, and thought no more of it. Three
hours ago, Chanco the Christian went to the commander and warned him
that the Paspaheghs were in a ferment, and that the warriors were
painting themselves black. The commander sent off at once to me, and I
see naught better to do than to dispatch you with a dozen men to bring
them to their senses. But there's to be no harrying nor battle. A show
of force is all that's needed,--I'll stake my head upon it. Let them see
that we are not to be taken unawares, but give them fair words. That
they may be the sooner placated I send with you Master Rolfe,--they'll
listen to him. See that the black paint is covered with red, give them
some beads and a knife or two, then come home. If you like not the look
of things, find out where Opechancanough is, and I'll send him an
embassy. He loves us well, and will put down any disaffection."

"There's no doubt that he loves us," I said dryly. "He loves us as a
cat loves the mouse that it plays with. If we are to start at once, sir,
I'll go get my horse."

"Then meet us at the neck of land," said Rolfe.

I nodded, and left the room. As I descended the steps into the growing
light outside, I found Master Pory at my side.

"I kept late hours last night," he remarked, with a portentous yawn.
"Now that this business is settled, I'll go back to bed."

I walked on in silence.

"I am in your black books," he continued, with his sly, merry, sidelong
glance. "You think that I was overcareful of the ground, that morning
behind the church, and so unfortunately delayed matters until the
Governor happened by and brought things to another guess conclusion."

"I think that you warned the Governor," I said bluntly.

He shook with laughter. "Warned him? Of course I warned him. Youth would
never have seen that molehill and fairy ring and projecting root, but
wisdom cometh with gray hairs, my son. D'ye not think I'll have the
King's thanks?"

"Doubtless," I answered. "An the price contents you, I do not know why I
should quarrel with it."

By this we were half-way down the street, and we now came upon the guest
house. A window above us was unshuttered, and in the room within a light
still burned. Suddenly it was extinguished. A man's face looked down
upon us for a moment, then drew back; a skeleton hand was put out softly
and slowly, and the shutter drawn to. Hand and face belonged to the man
I had sent tumbling among the graves the evening before.

"The Italian doctor," said Master Pory.

There was something peculiar in his tone. I glanced at him, but his
broad red face and twinkling eyes told me nothing.

"The Italian doctor," he repeated. "If I had a friend in Captain Percy's
predicament, I should bid him beware of the Italian doctor."

"Your friend would be obliged for the warning," I replied.

We walked a little further.

"And I think," he said, "that I should inform this purely hypothetical
friend of mine that the Italian and his patron had their heads mighty
close together last night."

"Last night?"

"Ay, last night. I went to drink with my lord, and so broke up their
_tête-à-tête_. My lord was boisterous in his cups and not oversecret. He
dropped some hints----" He broke off to indulge in one of his endless
silent laughs. "I don't know why I tell you this, Captain Percy. I am on
the other side, you know,--quite on the other side. But now I bethink
me, I am only telling you what I should tell you were I upon your side.
There's no harm in that, I hope, no disloyalty to my Lord Carnal's
interests which happen to be my interests?"

I made no answer. I gave him credit both for his ignorance of the very
hornbook of honour and for his large share of the milk of human
kindness.

"My lord grows restive," he said, when we had gone a little further.
"The _Francis and John_, coming in yesterday, brought court news. Out
of sight, out of mind. Buckingham is making hay while the sun shines.
Useth angel water for his complexion, sleepeth in a medicated mask such
as the Valois used, and is grown handsomer than ever; changeth the
fashion of his clothes thrice a week, which mightily pleaseth his
Majesty. Whoops on the Spanish match, too, and, wonderful past all
whooping, from the prince's detestation hath become his bosom friend.
Small wonder if my Lord Carnal thinks it's time he was back at
Whitehall."

"Let him go, then," I said. "There's his ship that brought him here."

"Ay, there's his ship," rejoined Master Pory. "A few weeks more, and the
_Due Return_ will be here with the Company's commands. D'ye think,
Captain Percy, that there's the slightest doubt as to their tenor?"

"No."

"Then my lord has but to possess his soul with patience and wait for the
_Due Return_. No doubt he'll do so."

"No doubt he'll do so," I echoed.

By this we had reached the Secretary's own door. "Fortune favour you
with the Paspaheghs!" he said, with another mighty yawn. "As for me,
I'll to bed. Do you ever dream, Captain Percy? I don't; mine is too good
a conscience. But if I did, I should dream of an Italian doctor."

The door shut upon his red face and bright eyes. I walked rapidly on
down the street to the minister's house. The light was very pale as
yet, and house and garden lay beneath a veil of mist. No one was
stirring. I went on through the gray wet paths to the stable, and roused
Diccon.

"Saddle Black Lamoral quickly," I ordered. "There's trouble with the
Paspaheghs, and I am off with Master Rolfe to settle it."

"Am I to go with you?" he asked.

I shook my head. "We have a dozen men. There's no need of more."

I left him busy with the horse, and went to the house. In the hall I
found the negress strewing the floor with fresh rushes, and asked her if
her mistress yet slept. In her soft half English, half Spanish, she
answered in the affirmative. I went to my own room and armed myself;
then ran upstairs to the comfortable chamber where abode Master Jeremy
Sparrow, surrounded by luxuries which his soul contemned. He was not
there. At the foot of the stair I was met by Goodwife Allen. "The
minister was called an hour ago, sir," she announced. "There's a man
dying of the fever at Archer's Hope, and they sent a boat for him. He
won't be back until afternoon."

I hurried past her back to the stable. Black Lamoral was saddled, and
Diccon held the stirrup for me to mount.

"Good luck with the vermin, sir!" he said. "I wish I were going, too."

His tone was sullen, yet wistful. I knew that he loved danger as I loved
it, and a sudden remembrance of the dangers we had faced together
brought us nearer to each other than we had been for many a day.

"I don't take you," I explained, "because I have need of you here.
Master Sparrow has gone to watch beside a dying man, and will not be
back for hours. As for myself, there's no telling how long I may be
kept. Until I come you are to guard house and garden well. You know what
I mean. Your mistress is to be molested by no one."

"Very well, sir."

"One thing more. There was some talk yesterday of my taking her across
the neck to the forest. When she awakes, tell her from me that I am
sorry for her to lose her pleasure, but that now she could not go even
were I here to take her."

"There's no danger from the Paspaheghs there," he muttered.

"The Paspaheghs happen not to be my only foes," I said curtly. "Do as I
bid you without remark. Tell her that I have good reasons for desiring
her to remain within doors until my return. On no account whatever is
she to venture without the garden."

I gathered up the reins, and he stood back from the horse's head. When I
had gone a few paces I drew rein, and, turning in my saddle, spoke to
him across the dew-drenched grass. "This is a trust, Diccon," I said.

The red came into his tanned face. He raised his hand and made our old
military salute. "I understand it so, my captain," he answered, and I
rode away satisfied.



CHAPTER XIII

In which the "Santa Teresa" Drops Downstream


An hour's ride brought us to the block house standing within the forest,
midway between the white plantations at Paspahegh and the village of the
tribe. We found it well garrisoned, spies out, and the men inclined to
make light of the black paint and the seething village.

Amongst them was Chanco the Christian. I called him to me, and we
listened to his report with growing perturbation. "Thirty warriors!" I
said, when he had finished. "And they are painted yellow as well as
black, and have dashed their cheeks with puccoon: it's _à l'outrance_,
then! And the war dance is toward! If we are to pacify this hornets'
nest, it's high time we set about it. Gentlemen of the block house, we
are but twelve, and they may beat us back, in which case those that are
left of us will fight it out with you here. Watch for us, therefore, and
have a sally party ready. Forward, men!"

"One moment, Captain Percy," said Rolfe. "Chanco, where's the Emperor?"

"Five suns ago he was with the priests at Uttamussac," answered the
Indian. "Yesterday, at the full sun power, he was in the lodge of the
werowance of the Chickahominies. He feasts there still. The
Chickahominies and the Powhatans have buried the hatchet."

"I regret to hear it," I remarked. "Whilst they took each other's
scalps, mine own felt the safer."

"I advise going direct to Opechancanough," said Rolfe.

"Since he's only a league away, so do I," I answered.

We left the block house and the clearing around it, and plunged into the
depths of the forest. In these virgin woods the trees are set well
apart, though linked one to the other by the omnipresent grape, and
there is little undergrowth, so that we were able to make good speed.
Rolfe and I rode well in front of our men. By now the sun was shining
through the lower branches of the trees, and the mist was fast
vanishing. The forest--around us, above us, and under the hoofs of the
horses where the fallen leaves lay thick--was as yellow as gold and as
red as blood.

"Rolfe," I asked, breaking a long silence, "do you credit what the
Indians say of Opechancanough?"

"That he was brother to Powhatan only by adoption?"

"That, fleeing for his life, he came to Virginia, years and years ago,
from some mysterious land far to the south and west?"

"I do not know," he replied thoughtfully. "He is like, and yet not like,
the people whom he rules. In his eye there is the authority of mind; his
features are of a nobler cast----"

"And his heart is of a darker," I said. "It is a strange and subtle
savage."

"Strange enough and subtle enough, I admit," he answered, "though I
believe not with you that his friendliness toward us is but a mask."

"Believe it or not, it is so," I said. "That dark, cold, still face is a
mask, and that simple-seeming amazement at horses and armour, guns and
blue beads, is a mask. It is in my mind that some fair day the mask will
be dropped. Here's the village."

Until our interview with Chanco the Christian, the village of the
Paspaheghs, and not the village of the Chickahominies, had been our
destination, and since leaving the block house we had made good speed;
but now, within the usual girdle of mulberries, we were met by the
werowance and his chief men with the customary savage ceremonies. We had
long since come to the conclusion that the birds of the air and the fish
of the streams were Mercuries to the Indians.

The werowance received us in due form, with presents of fish and
venison, cakes of chinquapin meal and gourds of pohickory, an uncouth
dance by twelve of his young men, and a deal of hellish noise; then, at
our command, led us into the village, and to the lodge which marked its
centre. Around it were gathered Opechancanough's own warriors, men from
Orapax and Uttamussac and Werowocomoco, chosen for their strength and
cunning; while upon the grass beneath a blood-red gum tree sat his
wives, painted and tattooed, with great strings of pearl and copper
about their necks. Beyond them were the women and children of the
Chickahominies, and around us all the red forest.

The mat that hung before the door of the lodge was lifted, and an
Indian, emerging, came forward, with a gesture of welcome. It was
Nantauquas, the Lady Rebekah's brother, and the one Indian--saving
always his dead sister--that was ever to my liking; a savage, indeed,
but a savage as brave and chivalrous, as courteous and truthful as a
Christian knight.

Rolfe sprang from his horse, and, advancing to meet the young chief,
embraced him. Nantauquas had been much with his sister during those, her
happy days, at Varina, before she went with Rolfe that ill-fated voyage
to England, and Rolfe loved him for her sake and for his own. "I thought
you at Orapax, Nantauquas!" he exclaimed.

"I was there, my brother," said the Indian, and his voice was sweet,
deep, and grave, like that of his sister. "But Opechancanough would go
to Uttamussac, to the temple and the dead kings. I lead his war parties
now, and I came with him. Opechancanough is within the lodge. He asks
that my brother and Captain Percy come to him there."

He lifted the mat for us, and followed us into the lodge. There was the
usual winding entrance, with half a dozen mats to be lifted one after
the other; but at last we came to the central chamber and to the man we
sought.

He sat beside a small fire burning redly in the twilight of the room.
The light shone now upon the feathers in his scalp lock, now upon the
triple row of pearls around his neck, now upon knife and tomahawk in his
silk grass belt, now on the otterskin mantle hanging from his shoulder
and drawn across his knees. How old he was no man knew. Men said that
he was older than Powhatan, and Powhatan was very old when he died. But
he looked a man in the prime of life; his frame was vigorous, his skin
unwrinkled, his eyes bright and full. When he rose to welcome us, and
Nantauquas stood beside him, there seemed not a score of years between
them.

The matter upon which we had come was not one that brooked delay. We
waited with what patience we might until his long speech of welcome was
finished, when, in as few words as possible, Rolfe laid before him our
complaint against the Paspaheghs. The Indian listened; then said, in
that voice that always made me think of some cold, still, bottomless
pool lying black beneath overhanging rocks: "My brothers may go in
peace. The Paspaheghs have washed off the black paint. If my brothers go
to the village, they will find the peace pipe ready for their smoking."

Rolfe and I stared at each other.

"I have sent messengers," continued the Emperor. "I have told the
Paspaheghs of my love for the white man, and of the goodwill the white
man bears the Indian. I have told them that Nemattanow was a murderer,
and that his death was just. They are satisfied. Their village is as
still as this beast at my feet." He pointed downward to a tame panther
crouched against his moccasins. I thought it an ominous comparison.

Involuntarily we looked at Nantauquas.

"It is true," he said. "I am but come from the village of the
Paspaheghs. I took them the word of Opechancanough."

"Then, since the matter is settled, we may go home," I remarked, rising
as I spoke. "We could, of course, have put down the Paspaheghs with one
hand, giving them besides a lesson which they would not soon forget; but
in the kindness of our hearts toward them, and to save ourselves
trouble, we came to Opechancanough. For his aid in this trifling
business the Governor gives him thanks."

A smile just lit the features of the Indian. It was gone in a moment.
"Does not Opechancanough love the white men?" he said. "Some day he will
do more than this for them."

We left the lodge and the dark Emperor within it, got to horse, and
quitted the village, with its painted people, yellowing mulberries, and
blood-red gum trees. Nantauquas went with us, keeping pace with Rolfe's
horse, and giving us now and then, in his deep musical voice, this or
that bit of woodland news. At the block house we found confirmation of
the Emperor's statement. An embassy from the Paspaheghs had come with
presents, and the peace pipe had been smoked. The spies, too, brought
news that all warlike preparations had ceased in the village. It had
sunk once more into a quietude befitting the sleepy, dreamy, hazy
weather.

Rolfe and I held a short consultation. All appeared safe, but there was
the possibility of a ruse. At the last it seemed best that he, who by
virtue of his peculiar relations with the Indians was ever our
negotiator, should remain with half our troop at the block house, while
I reported to the Governor. So I left him, and Nantauquas with him, and
rode back to Jamestown, reaching the town some hours sooner than I was
expected.

It was after nooning when I passed through the gates of the palisade,
and an hour later when I finished my report to the Governor. When he at
last dismissed me, I rode quickly down the street toward the minister's
house. As I passed the guest house, I glanced up at the window from
which, at daybreak, the Italian had looked down upon me. No one looked
out now; the window was closely shuttered, and at the door beneath my
lord's French rascals were conspicuously absent. A few yards further on
I met my lord face to face, as he emerged from a lane that led down to
the river. At sight of me he started violently, and his hand went to his
mouth. I slightly bent my head, and rode on past him. At the gate of the
churchyard, a stone's throw from home, I met Master Jeremy Sparrow.

"Well met!" he exclaimed. "Are the Indians quiet?"

"For the nonce. How is your sick man?"

"Very well," he answered gravely. "I closed his eyes two hours ago."

"He's dead, then," I said. "Well, he's out of his troubles, and hath
that advantage over the living. Have you another call, that you travel
from home so fast?"

"Why, to tell the truth," he replied, "I could not but feel uneasy when
I learned just now of this commotion amongst the heathen. You must know
best, but I should not have thought it a day for madam to walk in the
woods; so I e'en thought I would cross the neck and bring her home."

"For madam to walk in the woods?" I said slowly. "So she walks there?
With whom?"

"With Diccon and Angela," he answered. "They went before the sun was an
hour high, so Goodwife Allen says. I thought that you----"

"No," I told him. "On the contrary, I left command that she should not
venture outside the garden. There are more than Indians abroad."

I was white with anger; but besides anger there was fear in my heart.

"I will go at once and bring her home," I said. As I spoke, I happened
to glance toward the fort and the shipping in the river beyond.
Something seemed wrong with the prospect. I looked again, and saw what
hated and familiar object was missing.

"Where is the _Santa Teresa_?" I demanded, the fear at my heart tugging
harder.

"She dropped downstream this morning. I passed her as I came up from
Archer's Hope, awhile ago. She's anchored in midstream off the big
spring. Why did she go?"

We looked each other in the eyes, and each read the thought that neither
cared to put into words.

"You can take the brown mare," I said, speaking lightly because my heart
was as heavy as lead, "and we'll ride to the forest. It is all right, I
dare say. Doubtless we'll find her garlanding herself with the grape, or
playing with the squirrels, or asleep on the red leaves, with her head
in Angela's lap."

"Doubtless," he said. "Don't lose time. I'll saddle the mare and
overtake you in two minutes."



CHAPTER XIV

In which we Seek a Lost Lady


Beside the minister and myself, nothing human moved in the crimson
woods. Blue haze was there, and the steady drift of coloured leaves, and
the sunshine freely falling through bared limbs, but no man or woman.
The fallen leaves rustled as the deer passed, the squirrels chattered
and the foxes barked, but we heard no sweet laughter or ringing song.

We found a bank of moss, and lying upon it a chaplet of red-brown oak
leaves; further on, the mint beside a crystal streamlet had been trodden
underfoot; then, flung down upon the brown earth beneath some pines, we
came upon a long trailer of scarlet vine. Beyond was a fairy hollow, a
cuplike depression, curtained from the world by the red vines that hung
from the trees upon its brim, and carpeted with the gold of a great
maple; and here Fear became a giant with whom it was vain to wrestle.

There had been a struggle in the hollow. The curtain of vines was torn,
the boughs of a sumach bent and broken, the fallen leaves ground
underfoot. In one place there was blood upon the leaves.

The forest seemed suddenly very quiet,--quite soundless save for the
beating of our hearts. On every side opened red and yellow ways, sunny
glades, labyrinthine paths, long aisles, all dim with the blue haze like
the cloudy incense in stone cathedrals, but nothing moved in them save
the creatures of the forest. Without the hollow there was no sign. The
leaves looked undisturbed, or others, drifting down, had hidden any
marks there might have been; no footprints, no broken branches, no token
of those who had left the hollow. Down which of the painted ways had
they gone, and where were they now?

Sparrow and I sat our horses, and stared now down this alley, now down
that, into the blue that closed each vista.

"The _Santa Teresa_ is just off the big spring," he said at last. "She
must have dropped down there in order to take in water quietly."

"The man that came upon her is still in town,--or was an hour agone," I
replied.

"Then she hasn't sailed yet," he said.

In the distance something grew out of the blue mist. I had not lived
thirteen years in the woodland to be dim of sight or dull of hearing.

"Some one is coming," I announced. "Back your horse into this clump of
sumach."

The sumach grew thick, and was draped, moreover, with some broad-leafed
vine. Within its covert we could see with small danger of being seen,
unless the approaching figure should prove to be that of an Indian. It
was not an Indian; it was my Lord Carnal. He came on slowly, glancing
from side to side, and pausing now and then as if to listen. He was so
little of a woods-man that he never looked underfoot.

Sparrow touched my arm and pointed down a glade at right angles with the
path my lord was pursuing. Up this glade there was coming toward us
another figure,--a small black figure that moved swiftly, looking
neither to the right nor to the left.

Black Lamoral stood like a stone; the brown mare, too, had learned what
meant a certain touch upon her shoulder. Sparrow and I, with small shame
for our eavesdropping, bent to our saddle-bows and looked sideways
through tiny gaps in the crimson foliage.

My lord descended one side of the hollow, his heavy foot bringing down
the dead leaves and loose earth; the Italian glided down the opposite
side, disturbing the economy of the forest as little as a snake would
have done.

"I thought I should never meet you," growled my lord. "I thought I had
lost you and her and myself. This d--d red forest and this blue haze are
enough to----" He broke off with an oath.

"I came as fast as I could," said the other. His voice was strange, thin
and dreamy, matching his filmy eyes and his eternal, very faint smile.
"Your poor physician congratulates your lordship upon the success that
still attends you. Yours is a fortunate star, my lord."

"Then you have her safe?" cried my lord.

"Three miles from here, on the river bank, is a ring of pines, in which
the trees grow so thick that it is always twilight. Ten years ago a man
was murdered there, and Sir Thomas Dale chained the murderer to the tree
beneath which his victim was buried, and left him to perish of hunger
and thirst. That is the tale they tell at Jamestown. The wood is said to
be haunted by murdered and murderer, and no one enters it or comes
nearer to it than he can avoid: which makes it an excellent resort for
those whom the dead cannot scare. The lady is there, my lord, with your
four knaves to guard her. They do not know that the gloom and quiet of
the place are due to more than nature."

My lord began to laugh. Either he had been drinking, or the success of
his villainy had served for wine. "You are a man in a thousand, Nicolo!"
he said. "How far above or below the ship is this fortunate wood?"

"Just opposite, my lord."

"Can a boat land easily?"

"A creek runs through the wood to the river. There needs but the
appointed signal from the bank, and a boat from the _Santa Teresa_ can
be rowed up the stream to the very tree beneath which the lady sits."

My lord's laughter rang out again. "You're a man in ten thousand,
Nicolo! Nicolo, the bridegroom's in town."

"Back so soon?" said the Italian. "Then we must change your lordship's
plan. With him on the ground you can no longer wait until nightfall to
row downstream to the lady and the _Santa Teresa_. He'll come to look
for her."

"Ay, he'll come to look for her, curse him!" echoed my lord.

"Do you think the dead will scare him?" continued the Italian.

"No, I don't!" answered my lord, with an oath. "I would he were among
them! An I could have killed him before I went----"

"I had devised a way to do it long ago, had not your lordship's
conscience been so tender. And yet, before now, our enemies--yours and
mine, my lord--have met with sudden and mysterious death. Men stared,
but they ended by calling it a dispensation of Providence." He broke off
to laugh with silent, hateful laughter, as mirthful as the grin of a
death's-head.

"I know, I know!" said my lord impatiently. "We are not overnice,
Nicolo. But between me and those who then stood in my way there had
passed no challenge. This is my mortal foe, through whose heart I would
drive my sword. I would give my ruby to know whether he's in the town or
in the forest."

"He's in the forest," I said.

Black Lamoral and the brown mare were beside them before either moved
hand or foot, or did aught but stare and stare, as though men and horses
had risen from the dead. All the colour was gone from my lord's
face,--it looked white, drawn, and pinched; as for his companion, his
countenance did not change--never changed, I believe--but the trembling
of the feather in his hat was not caused by the wind.

Jeremy Sparrow bent down from his saddle, seized the Italian under the
armpits, and swung him clean from the ground up to the brown mare's
neck. "Divinity and medicine," he said genially, "soul healer and body
poisoner, we'll ride double for a time," and proceeded to bind the
doctor's hands with his own scarf. The creature of venom before him
writhed and struggled, but the minister's strength was as the strength
of ten, and the minister's hand held him down. By this I was off Black
Lamoral and facing my lord. The colour had come back to his lip and
cheek, and the flash to his eye. His hand went to his sword hilt.

"I shall not draw mine, my lord," I told him. "I keep troth."

He stared at me with a frown that suddenly changed into a laugh, forced
and unnatural enough. "Then go thy ways and let me go mine!" he cried.
"Be complaisant, worthy captain of trainbands and Burgess from a dozen
huts! The King and I will make it worth your while."

"I will not draw my sword upon you," I replied, "but I will try a fall
with you," and I seized him by the wrist.

He was a good wrestler as he was a good swordsman, but, with bitter
anger in my heart and a vision of the haunted wood before my eyes, I
think I could have wrestled with Hercules and won. Presently I threw
him, and, pinning him down with my knee upon his breast, cried to
Sparrow to cut the bridle reins from Black Lamoral and throw them to me.
Though he had the Italian upon his hands, he managed to obey. With my
free hand and my teeth I drew a thong about my lord's arms and bound
them to his sides; then took my knee from his chest and my hand from his
throat, and rose to my feet. He rose too with one spring. He was very
white, and there was foam on his lips.

"What next, captain?" he demanded thickly. "Your score is mounting up
rather rapidly. What next?"

"This," I replied, and with the other thong fastened him, despite his
struggles, to the young maple beneath which we had wrestled. When the
task was done, I first drew his sword from its jewelled scabbard and
laid it on the ground at his feet, and then cut the leather which
restrained his arms, leaving him only tied to the tree. "I am not Sir
Thomas Dale," I said, "and therefore I shall not gag you and leave you
bound for an indefinite length of time, to contemplate a grave that you
thought to dig. One haunted wood is enough for one county. Your lordship
will observe that I have knotted your bonds in easy reach of your hands,
the use of which I have just restored to you. The knot is a peculiar
one; an Indian taught it to me. If you set to work at once, you will get
it untied before nightfall. That you may not think it the Gordian knot
and treat it as such, I have put your sword where you can get it only
when you have worked for it. Your familiar, my lord, may prove of use to
us; therefore we will take him with us to the haunted wood. I have the
honour to wish your lordship a very good day."

I bowed low, swung myself into my saddle, and turned my back upon his
glaring eyes and bared teeth. Sparrow, his prize flung across his
saddlebow, turned with me. A minute more saw us out of the hollow, and
entered upon the glade up which had come the Italian. When we had gone a
short distance, I turned in my saddle and looked back. The tiny hollow
had vanished; all the forest looked level, dreamy and still, barren of
humanity, given over to its own shy children, nothing moving save the
slow-falling leaves. But from beyond a great clump of sumach, set like a
torch in the vaporous blue, came a steady stream of words, happily
rendered indistinguishable by distance, and I knew that the King's
minion was cursing the Italian, the Governor, the _Santa Teresa_, the
_Due Return_, the minister, the forest, the haunted wood, his sword, the
knot that I had tied, and myself.

I admit that the sound was music in mine ears.



CHAPTER XV

In which we Find the Haunted Wood


On the outskirts of the haunted wood we dismounted, fastening the horses
to two pines. The Italian we gagged and bound across the brown mare's
saddle. Then, as noiselessly as Indians, we entered the wood.

Once within it, it was as though the sun had suddenly sunk from the
heavens. The pines, of magnificent height and girth, were so closely set
that far overhead, where the branches began, was a heavy roof of
foliage, impervious to the sunshine, brooding, dark and sullen as a
thundercloud, over the cavernous world beneath. There was no
undergrowth, no clinging vines, no bloom, no colour; only the dark,
innumerable tree trunks and the purplish-brown, scented, and slippery
earth. The air was heavy, cold, and still, like cave air; the silence as
blank and awful as the silence beneath the earth.

The minister and I stole through the dusk, and for a long time heard
nothing but our own breathing and the beating of our hearts. But coming
to a sluggish stream, as quiet as the wood through which it crept, and
following its slow windings, we at last heard a voice, and in the
distance made out dark forms sitting on the earth beside that sombre
water. We went on with caution, gliding from tree to tree and making no
noise. In the cheerless silence of that place any sound would have
shattered the stillness like a pistol shot.

Presently we came to a halt, and, ourselves hidden by a giant trunk,
looked out on stealers and stolen. They were gathered on the bank of the
stream, waiting for the boat from the _Santa Teresa_. The lady whom we
sought lay like a fallen flower on the dark ground beneath a pine. She
did not move, and her eyes were shut. At her head crouched the negress,
her white garments showing ghostlike through the gloom. Beneath the next
tree sat Diccon, his hands tied behind him, and around him my Lord
Carnal's four knaves. It was Diccon's voice that we had heard. He was
still speaking, and now we could distinguish the words.

"So Sir Thomas chains him there," he said,--"right there to that tree
under which you are sitting, Jacky Bonhomme." Jacques incontinently
shifted his position. "He chains him there, with one chain around his
neck, one around his waist, and one around his ankles. Then he sticks me
a bodkin through his tongue." A groan of admiration from his audience.
"Then they dig, before his very eyes, a grave--shallow enough they make
it, too,--and they put into it, uncoffined, with only a long white
shroud upon him, the man he murdered. Then they cover the grave. You're
sitting on it now, you other Jacky."

"Godam!" cried the rascal addressed, and removed with expedition to a
less storied piece of ground.

"Then they go away," continued Diccon in graveyard tones. "They all go
away together,--Sir Thomas and Captain Argall, Captain West, Lieutenant
George Percy and his cousin, my master, and Sir Thomas's men; they go
out of the wood as though it were accursed, though indeed it was not
half so gloomy then as it is now. The sun shone into it then, sometimes,
and the birds sang. You wouldn't think it from the looks of things now,
would you? As the dead man rotted in his grave, and the living man died
by inches above him, they say the wood grew darker, and darker, and
darker. How dark it's getting now, and cold,--cold as the dead!"

His auditors drew closer together, and shivered. Sparrow and I were so
near that we could see the hands of the ingenious story-teller, bound
behind his back, working as he talked. Now they strained this way, and
now that, at the piece of rope that bound them.

"That was ten years ago," he said, his voice becoming more and more
impressive. "Since that day nothing comes into this wood,--nothing
_human_ that is. Neither white man nor Indian comes, that's certain.
Then why aren't there chains around that tree, and why are there no
bones beneath it, on the ground there? Because, Jackies all, the man
that did that murder _walks_! It is not always deadly still here;
sometimes there's a clanking of chains! And a bodkin through the tongue
can't keep the dead from wailing! And the murdered man walks, too; in
his shroud he follows the other---- Isn't that something white in the
distance yonder?"

My lord's four knaves looked down the arcade of trees, and saw the
something white as plainly as if it had been verily there. Each moment
the wood grew darker,--a thing in nature, since the sun outside was
swiftly sinking to the horizon. But to those to whom that tale had been
told it was a darkening unearthly and portentous, bringing with it a
colder air and a deepened silence.

"Oh, Sir Thomas Dale, Sir Thomas Dale!"

The voice seemed to come from the distance, and bore in its dismal
cadence the melancholy of the damned. For a moment my heart stood still,
and the hair of my head commenced to rise; the next, I knew that Diccon
had found an ally, not in the dead, but in the living. The minister,
standing beside me, opened his mouth again, and again that dismal voice
rang through the wood, and again it seemed, by I know not what art, to
come from any spot rather than from that particular tree behind whose
trunk stood Master Jeremy Sparrow.

"Oh, the bodkin through my tongue! Oh, the bodkin through my tongue!"

Two of the guard sat with hanging lip and lack-lustre eyes, turned to
stone; one, at full length upon the ground, bruised his face against the
pine-needles and called on the Virgin; the fourth, panic-stricken,
leaped to his feet and dashed off into the darkness, to trouble us no
more that day.

"Oh, the heavy chains!" cried the unseen spectre. "Oh, the dead man in
his grave!"

The man on his face dug his nails into the earth and howled; his
fellows were too frightened for sound or motion. Diccon, a hardy rogue,
with little fear of God or man, gave no sign of perturbation beyond a
desperate tugging at the rope about his wrists. He was ever quick to
take suggestion, and he had probably begun to question the nature of the
ghost who was doing him such yeoman service.

"D'ye think they've had enough?" said Sparrow in my ear. "My invention
flaggeth."

I nodded, too choked with laughter for speech, and drew my sword. The
next moment we were upon the men like wolves upon the fold.

They made no resistance. Amazed and shaken as they were, we might have
dispatched them with all ease, to join the dead whose lamentations yet
rang in their ears; but we contented ourselves with disarming them and
bidding them begone for their lives in the direction of the Pamunkey.
They went like frightened deer, their one goal in life escape from the
wood.

"Did you meet the Italian?"

I turned to find my wife at my side. The King's ward had a kingly
spirit; she was not one that the dead or the living could daunt. To her,
as to me, danger was a trumpet call to nerve heart and strengthen soul.
She had been in peril of that which she most feared, but the light in
her eye was not quenched, and the hand with which she touched mine,
though cold, was steady.

"Is he dead?" she asked. "At court they called him the Black Death. They
said----"

"I did not kill him," I answered; "but I will if you desire it."

"And his master?" she demanded "What have you done with his master?"

I told her. At the vision my words conjured up her strained nerves gave
way, and she broke into laughter as cruel as it was sweet. Peal after
peal rang through the haunted wood, and increased the eeriness of the
place.

"The knot that I tied he will untie directly," I said. "If we would
reach Jamestown first, we had best be going."

"Night is upon us, too," said the minister, "and this place hath the
look of the very valley of the shadow of death. If the spirits walk, it
is hard upon their time--and I prefer to walk elsewhere."

"Cease your laughter, madam," I said. "Should a boat be coming up this
stream, you would betray us."

I went over to Diccon, and in a silence as grim as his own cut the rope
which bound his hands, which done we all moved through the deepening
gloom to where we had left the horses, Jeremy Sparrow going on ahead to
have them in readiness. Presently he came hurrying back. "The Italian is
gone!" he cried.

"Gone!" I exclaimed. "I told you to tie him fast to the saddle!"

"Why, so I did," he replied. "I drew the thongs so tight that they cut
into his flesh. He could not have endured to pull against them.

"Then how did he get away?"

"Why," he answered, with a rueful countenance, "I did bind him, as I
have said; but when I had done so, I bethought me of how the leather
must cut, and of how pain is dreadful even to a snake, and of the
injunction to do as you would be done by, and so e'en loosened his
bonds. But, as I am a christened man, I thought that they would yet hold
him fast!"

I began to swear, but ended in vexed laughter. "The milk's spilt.
There's no use in crying over it. After all, we must have loosed him
before we entered the town."

"Will you not bring the matter before the Governor?" he asked.

I shook my head. "If Yeardley did me right, he would put in jeopardy his
office and his person. This is my private quarrel, and I will draw no
man into it against his will. Here are the horses, and we had best be
gone, for by this time my lord and his physician may have their heads
together again."

I mounted Black Lamoral, and lifted Mistress Percy to a seat behind me.
The brown mare bore the minister and the negress, and Diccon, doggedly
silent, trudged beside us.

We passed through the haunted wood and the painted forest beyond without
adventure. We rode in silence: the lady behind me too weary for speech,
the minister revolving in his mind the escape of the Italian, and I with
my own thoughts to occupy me. It was dusk when we crossed the neck of
land, and as we rode down the street torches were being lit in the
houses. The upper room in the guest house was brightly illumined, and
the window was open. Black Lamoral and the brown mare made a trampling
with their hoofs, and I began to whistle a gay old tune I had learnt in
the wars. A figure in scarlet and black came to the window, and stood
there looking down upon us. The lady riding with me straightened herself
and raised her weary head. "The next time we go to the forest, Ralph,"
she said in a clear, high voice, "thou'lt show me a certain tree," and
she broke into silvery laughter. She laughed until we had left behind
the guest house and the figure in the upper window, and then the
laughter changed to something like a sob. If there were pain and anger
in her heart, pain and anger were in mine also. She had never called me
by my name before. She had only used it now as a dagger with which to
stab at that fierce heart above us.

At last we reached the minister's house, and dismounted before the door.
Diccon led the horses away, and I handed my wife into the great room.
The minister tarried but for a few words anent some precautions that I
meant to take, and then betook himself to his own chamber. As he went
out of the door Diccon entered the room.

"Oh, I am weary!" sighed Mistress Jocelyn Percy. "What was the mighty
business, Captain Percy, that made you break tryst with a lady? You
should go to court, sir, to be taught gallantry."

"Where should a wife go to be taught obedience?" I demanded. "You know
where I went and why I could not keep tryst. Why did you not obey my
orders?"

She opened wide her eyes. "Your orders? I never received any,--not that
I should have obeyed them if I had. Know where you went? I know neither
why nor where you went!"

I leaned my hand upon the table, and looked from her to Diccon.

"I was sent by the Governor to quell a disturbance amongst the nearest
Indians. The woods to-day have been full of danger. Moreover, the plan
that we made yesterday was overheard by the Italian. When I had to go
this morning without seeing you, I left you word where I had gone and
why, and also my commands that you should not stir outside the garden.
Were you not told this, madam?"

"No!" she cried.

I looked at Diccon. "I told madam that you were called away on
business," he said sullenly. "I told her that you were sorry you could
not go with her to the woods."

"You told her nothing more?"

"No."

"May I ask why?"

He threw back his head. "I did not believe the Paspaheghs would trouble
her," he answered, with hardihood, "and you hadn't seen fit, sir, to
tell me of the other danger. Madam wanted to go, and I thought it a pity
that she should lose her pleasure for nothing."

I had been hunting the day before, and my whip yet lay upon the table.
"I have known you for a hardy rogue," I said, with my hand upon it; "now
I know you for a faithless one as well. If I gave you credit for all the
vices of the soldier, I gave you credit also for his virtues. I was the
more deceived. The disobedient servant I might pardon, but the soldier
who is faithless to his trust----"

I raised the whip and brought it down again and again across his
shoulders. He stood without a word, his face dark red and his hands
clenched at his sides. For a minute or more there was no sound in the
room save the sound of the blows; then my wife suddenly cried out: "It
is enough! You have beaten him enough! Let him go, sir!"

I threw down the whip. "Begone, sirrah!" I ordered. "And keep out of my
sight to-morrow!"

With his face still dark red and with a pulse beating fiercely in his
cheek, he moved slowly toward the door, turned when he had reached it
and saluted, then went out and closed it after him.

"Now he too will be your enemy," said Mistress Percy, "and all through
me. I have brought you many enemies, have I not? Perhaps you count me
amongst them? I should not wonder if you did. Do you not wish me gone
from Virginia?"

"So I were with you, madam," I said bluntly, and went to call the
minister down to supper.



CHAPTER XVI

In which I am Rid of an Unprofitable Servant


The next day, Governor and Councillors sat to receive presents from the
Paspaheghs and to listen to long and affectionate messages from
Opechancanough, who, like the player queen, did protest too much. The
Council met at Yeardley's house, and I was called before it to make my
report of the expedition of the day before. It was late afternoon when
the Governor dismissed us, and I found myself leaving the house in
company with Master Pory.

"I am bound for my lord's," said that worthy, as we neared the guest
house. "My lord hath Xeres wine that is the very original nectar of the
gods, and he drinks it from goblets worth a king's ransom. We have heard
a deal to-day about burying hatchets: bury thine for the nonce, Ralph
Percy, and come drink with us."

"Not I," I said. "I would sooner drink with--some one else."

He laughed. "Here's my lord himself shall persuade you."

My lord, dressed with his usual magnificence and darkly handsome as
ever, was indeed standing within the guest-house door. Pory drew up
beside him. I was passing on with a slight bow, when the Secretary
caught me by the sleeve. At the Governor's house wine had been set forth
to revive the jaded Council, and he was already half seas over. "Tarry
with us, captain!" he cried. "Good wine's good wine, no matter who pours
it! 'S bud! in my young days men called a truce and forgot they were
foes when the bottle went round!"

"If Captain Percy will stay," quoth my lord, "I will give him welcome
and good wine. As Master Pory says, men cannot be always fighting. A
breathing spell to-day gives to-morrow's struggle new zest."

He spoke frankly, with open face and candid eyes. I was not fooled. If
yesterday he would have slain me only in fair fight, it was not so
to-day. Under the lace that fell over his wrist was a red cirque, the
mark of the thong with which I had bound him. As if he had told me, I
knew that he had thrown his scruples to the winds, and that he cared not
what foul play he used to sweep me from his path. My spirit and my wit
rose to meet the danger. Of a sudden I resolved to accept his
invitation.

"So be it," I said, with a laugh and a shrug of my shoulders. "A cup of
wine is no great matter. I'll take it at your hands, my lord, and drink
to our better acquaintance."

We all three went up into my lord's room. The King had fitted out his
minion bravely for the Virginia voyage, and the riches that had decked
the state cabin aboard the _Santa Teresa_ now served to transform the
bare room in the guest house at Jamestown into a corner of Whitehall.
The walls were hung with arras, there was a noble carpet beneath as
well as upon the table, and against the wall stood richly carved trunks.
On the table, beside a bowl of late flowers were a great silver flagon
and a number of goblets, some of chased silver and some of coloured
glass, strangely shaped and fragile as an eggshell. The late sun now
shining in at the open window made the glass to glow like precious
stones.

My lord rang a little silver bell, and a door behind us was opened.
"Wine, Giles!" cried my lord in a raised voice. "Wine for Master Pory,
Captain Percy, and myself! And Giles, my two choice goblets."

Giles, whom I had never seen before, advanced to the table, took the
flagon, and went toward the door, which he had shut behind him. I
negligently turned in my seat, and so came in for a glimpse, as he
slipped through the door, of a figure in black in the next room.

The wine was brought, and with it two goblets. My lord broke off in the
midst of an account of the mornings bear-baiting which the tediousness
of the Indians had caused us to miss. "Who knows if we three shall ever
drink together again?" he said. "To honour this bout I use my most
precious cups." Voice and manner were free and unconstrained. "This gold
cup"--he held it up--"belonged to the Medici. Master Pory, who is a man
of taste, will note the beauty of the graven mænads upon this side, and
of the Bacchus and Ariadne upon this. It is the work of none other than
Benvenuto Cellini. I pour for you, sir." He filled the gold cup with the
ruby wine and set it before the Secretary, who eyed it with all the
passion of a lover, and waited not for us, but raised it to his lips at
once. My lord took up the other cup. "This glass," he continued, "as
green as an emerald, freckled inside and out with gold, and shaped like
a lily, was once amongst a convent's treasures. My father brought it
from Italy, years ago. I use it as he used it, only on gala days. I fill
to you, sir." He poured the wine into the green and gold and twisted
bauble and set it before me, then filled a silver goblet for himself.
"Drink, gentlemen," he said.

"Faith, I have drunken already," quoth the Secretary, and proceeded to
fill for himself a second time. "Here's to you, gentlemen!" and he
emptied half the measure.

"Captain Percy does not drink," remarked my lord.

I leaned my elbow upon the table, and, holding up the glass against the
light, began to admire its beauty. "The tint is wonderful," I said, "as
lucent a green as the top of the comber that is to break and overwhelm
you. And these knobs of gold, within and without, and the strange shape
the tortured glass has been made to take. I find it of a quite sinister
beauty, my lord."

"It hath been much admired," said the nobleman addressed.

"I am strangely suited, my lord," I went on, still dreamily enjoying the
beauty of the green gem within my clasp. "I am a soldier with an
imagination. Sometimes, to give the rein to my fancy pleases me more
than wine. Now, this strange chalice,--might it not breed dreams as
strange?"

"When I had drunken, I think," replied my lord. "The wine would be a
potent spur to my fancy."

"What saith honest Jack Falstaff?" broke in the maudlin Secretary. "Doth
he not bear testimony that good sherris maketh the brain apprehensive
and quick; filleth it with nimble, fiery, and delectable shapes, which
being delivered by the tongue become excellent wit? Wherefore let us
drink, gentlemen, and beget fancies." He filled for himself again, and
buried his nose in the cup.

"'Tis such a cup, methinks," I said, "as Medea may have filled for
Theseus. The white hand of Circe may have closed around this stem when
she stood to greet Ulysses, and knew not that he had the saving herb in
his palm. Goneril may have sent this green and gilded shape to Regan.
Fair Rosamond may have drunk from it while the Queen watched her. At
some voluptuous feast, Cæsar Borgia and his sister, sitting crowned with
roses, side by side, may have pressed it upon a reluctant guest, who
had, perhaps, a treasure of his own. I dare swear René, the Florentine,
hath fingered many such a goblet before it went to whom Catherine
de'Medici delighted to honour."

"She had the whitest hands," maundered the Secretary. "I kissed them
once before she died, in Blois, when I was young. René was one of your
slow poisoners. Smell a rose, draw on a pair of perfumed gloves, drink
from a certain cup, and you rang your own knell, though your bier might
not receive you for many and many a day,--not till the rose was dust,
the gloves lost, the cup forgotten."

"There's a fashion I have seen followed abroad, that I like," I said.
"Host and guest fill to each other, then change tankards. You are my
host to-day, my lord, and I am your guest. I will drink to you, my lord,
from your silver goblet."

With as frank a manner as his own of a while before, I pushed the green
and gold glass over to him, and held out my hand for the silver goblet.
That a man may smile and smile and be a villain is no new doctrine. My
lord's laugh and gesture of courtesy were as free and ready as if the
poisoned splendour he drew toward him had been as innocent as a pearl
within the shell. I took the silver cup from before him. "I drink to the
King," I said, and drained it to the bottom. "Your lordship does not
drink. 'Tis a toast no man refuses."

He raised the glass to his lips, but set it down before its rim had
touched them. "I have a headache," he declared. "I will not drink
to-day."

Master Pory pulled the flagon toward him, tilted it, and found it empty.
His rueful face made me laugh. My lord laughed too,--somewhat
loudly,--but ordered no more wine. "I would I were at the Mermaid
again," lamented the now drunken Secretary. "There we didn't split a
flagon in three parts.... The Tsar of Muscovy drinks me down a quartern
of aqua vitæ at a gulp,--I've seen him do it.... I would I were the
Bacchus on this cup, with the purple grapes adangle above me.... Wine
and women--wine and women ... good wine needs no bush ... good sherris
sack".... His voice died into unintelligible mutterings, and his gray
unreverend head sank upon the table.

I rose, leaving him to his drunken slumbers, and, bowing to my lord,
took my leave. My lord followed me down to the public room below. A
party of up-river planters had been drinking, and a bit of chalk lay
upon a settle behind the door upon which the landlord had marked their
score. I passed it; then turned back and picked it up. "How long a line
shall I draw, my lord?" I asked with a smile.

"How does the length of the door strike you?" he answered.

I drew the chalk from top to bottom of the wood. "A heavy score makes a
heavy reckoning, my lord," I said, and, leaving the mark upon the door,
I bowed again and went out into the street.

The sun was sinking when I reached the minister's house, and going into
the great room drew a stool to the table and sat down to think. Mistress
Percy was in her own chamber; in the room overhead the minister paced up
and down, humming a psalm. A fire was burning briskly upon the hearth,
and the red light rose and fell,--now brightening all the room, now
leaving it to the gathering dusk. Through the door, which I had left
open, came the odour of the pines, the fallen leaves, and the damp
earth. In the churchyard an owl hooted, and the murmur of the river was
louder than usual.

I had sat staring at the table before me for perhaps half an hour, when
I chanced to raise my eyes to the opposite wall. Now, on this wall,
reflecting the firelight and the open door behind me, hung a small
Venetian mirror, which I had bought from a number of such toys brought
in by the _Southampton_, and had given to Mistress Percy. My eyes rested
upon it, idly at first, then closely enough as I saw within it a man
enter the room. I had heard no footfall; there was no noise now behind
me. The fire was somewhat sunken, and the room was almost in darkness; I
saw him in the glass dimly, as shadow rather than substance. But the
light was not so faint that the mirror could not show me the raised hand
and the dagger within its grasp. I sat without motion, watching the
figure in the glass grow larger. When it was nearly upon me, and the
hand with the dagger drawn back for the blow, I sprang up, wheeled, and
caught it by the wrist.

A moment's fierce struggle, and I had the dagger in my own hand and the
man at my mercy. The fire upon the hearth seized on a pine knot and
blazed up brightly, filling the room with light. "Diccon!" I cried, and
dropped my arm.

I had never thought of this. The room was very quiet as, master and man,
we stood and looked each other in the face. He fell back to the wall and
leaned against it, breathing heavily; into the space between us the past
came thronging.

I opened my hand and let the dagger drop to the floor. "I suppose that
this was because of last night," I said. "I shall never strike you
again."

I went to the table, and sitting down leaned my forehead upon my hand.
It was Diccon who would have done this thing! The fire crackled on the
hearth as had crackled the old camp fires in Flanders; the wind outside
was the wind that had whistled through the rigging of the _Treasurer_,
one terrible night when we lashed ourselves to the same mast and never
thought to see the morning. Diccon!

Upon the table was the minister's inkhorn and pen. I drew my tablets
from the breast of my doublet and began to write. "Diccon!" I called,
without turning, when I had finished.

He came slowly forward to the table, and stood beside it with hanging
head. I tore the leaf from the book and pushed it over to him. "Take
it," I ordered.

"To the commander?" he asked. "I am to take it to the commander?"

I shook my head. "Read it."

He stared at it vacantly, turning it now this way, now that.

"Did you forget how to read when you forgot all else?" I said sternly.

He read, and the colour rushed into his face.

"It is your freedom," I said. "You are no longer man of mine. Begone,
sirrah!"

He crumpled the paper in his hand. "I was mad," he muttered.

"I could almost believe it," I replied. "Begone!"

After a moment he went. Sitting still in my place, I heard him heavily
and slowly leave the room, descend the step at the door, and go out into
the night.

A door opened, and Mistress Jocelyn Percy came into the great room,
like a sunbeam strayed back to earth. Her skirt was of flowered satin,
her bodice of rich taffeta; between the gossamer walls of her French
ruff rose the whitest neck to meet the fairest face. Upon her dark hair
sat, as lightly as a kiss, a little pearl-bordered cap. A colour was in
her cheeks and a laugh on her lips. The rosy light of the burning pine
caressed her,--now dwelling on the rich dress, now on the gold chain
around the slender waist, now on rounded arms, now on the white forehead
below the pearls. Well, she was a fair lady for a man to lay down his
life for.

"I held court this afternoon!" she cried. "Where were you, sir? Madam
West was here, and my Lady Temperance Yeardley, and Master Wynne, and
Master Thorpe from Henricus, and Master Rolfe with his Indian
brother,--who, I protest, needs but silk doublet and hose and a month at
Whitehall to make him a very fine gentleman."

"If courage, steadfastness, truth, and courtesy make a gentleman," I
said, "he is one already. Such an one needs not silk doublet nor court
training."

She looked at me with her bright eyes. "No," she repeated, "such an one
needs not silk doublet nor court training." Going to the fire, she stood
with one hand upon the mantelshelf, looking down into the ruddy hollows.
Presently she stooped and gathered up something from the hearth. "You
waste paper strangely, Captain Percy," she said. "Here is a whole
handful of torn pieces."

She came over to the table, and with a laugh showered the white
fragments down upon it, then fell to idly piecing them together. "What
were you writing?" she asked. "'To all whom it may concern: I, Ralph
Percy, Gentleman, of the Hundred of Weyanoke, do hereby set free from
all service to me and mine----'"

I took from her the bits of paper, and fed the fire with them. "Paper is
but paper," I said. "It is easily rent. Happily a man's will is more
durable."



CHAPTER XVII

In which my Lord and I Play at Bowls


The Governor had brought with him from London, the year before, a set of
boxwood bowls, and had made, between his house and the fort, a noble
green. The generality must still use for the game that portion of the
street that was not tobacco planted; but the quality flocked to the
Governor's green, and here, one holiday afternoon, a fortnight or more
from the day in which I had drunk to the King from my lord's silver
goblet, was gathered a very great company. The Governor's match was
toward,--ten men to a side, a hogshead of sweet-scented to the
victorious ten, and a keg of canary to the man whose bowl should hit the
jack.

The season had been one of unusual mildness, and the sunshine was still
warm and bright, gilding the velvet of the green, and making the red and
yellow leaves swept into the trench to glow like a ribbon of flame. The
sky was blue, the water bluer still, the leaves bright-coloured, the
wind blowing; only the enshrouding forest, wrapped in haze, seemed as
dim, unreal, and far away as a last year's dream.

The Governor's gilt armchair had been brought from the church, and put
for him upon the bank of turf at the upper end of the green. By his
side sat my Lady Temperance, while the gaily dressed dames and the men
who were to play and to watch were accommodated with stools and settles
or with seats on the green grass. All were dressed in holiday clothes,
all tongues spoke, all eyes laughed; you might have thought there was
not a heavy heart amongst them. Rolfe was there, gravely courteous,
quiet and ready; and by his side, in otterskin mantle, beaded moccasins,
and feathered headdress, the Indian chief, his brother-in-law,--the
bravest, comeliest, and manliest savage with whom I have ever dealt.
There, too, was Master Pory, red and jovial, with an eye to the sack the
servants were bringing from the Governor's house; and the commander,
with his wife; and Master Jeremy Sparrow, fresh from a most moving
sermon on the vanities of this world. Captains, Councillors, and
Burgesses aired their gold lace, and their wit or their lack of it;
while a swarm of younger adventurers, youths of good blood and bad
living, come from home for the weal of England and the woe of Virginia,
went here and there through the crowd like gilded summer flies.

Rolfe and I were to play; he sat on the grass at the feet of Mistress
Jocelyn Percy, making her now and then some courtly speech, and I stood
beside her, my hand on the back of her chair.

The King's ward held court as though she were a kings daughter. In the
brightness of her beauty she sat there, as gracious for the nonce as the
sunshine, and as much of another world. All knew her story, and to the
daring that is in men's hearts her own daring appealed,--and she was
young and very beautiful. Some there had not been my friends, and now
rejoiced in what seemed my inevitable ruin; some whom I had thought my
friends were gone over to the stronger side; many who in secret wished
me well still shook their heads and shrugged their shoulders over what
they were pleased to call my madness; but for her, I was glad to know,
there were only good words. The Governor had left his gilt armchair to
welcome her to the green, and had caused a chair to be set for her near
his own, and here men came and bowed before her as if she had been a
princess indeed.

A stir amongst the crowd, a murmur, and a craning of necks heralded the
approach of that other at whom the town gaped with admiration. He came
with his retinue of attendants, his pomp of dress, his arrogance of
port, his splendid beauty. Men looked from the beauty of the King's ward
to the beauty of the King's minion, from her costly silk to his velvet
and miniver, from the air of the court that became her well to the
towering pride and insolence which to the thoughtless seemed his
fortune's proper mantle, and deemed them a pair well suited, and the
King's will indeed the will of Heaven.

I was never one to value a man by his outward seeming, but suddenly I
saw myself as in a mirror,--a soldier, scarred and bronzed, acquainted
with the camp, but not with the court, roughened by a rude life, poor in
this world's goods, the first flush of youth gone for ever. For a moment
my heart was bitter within me. The pang passed, and my hand tightened
its grasp upon the chair in which sat the woman I had wed. She was my
wife, and I would keep my own.

My lord had paused to speak to the Governor, who had risen to greet him.
Now he came toward us, and the crowd pressed and whispered. He bowed low
to Mistress Percy, made as if to pass on, then came to a stop before
her, his hat in his hand, his handsome head bent, a smile upon his
bearded lips.

"When was it that we last sat to see men bowl, lady?" he said. "I
remember a gay match when I bowled against my Lord of Buckingham, and
fair ladies sat and smiled upon us. The fairest laughed and tied her
colours around my arm."

The lady whom he addressed sat quietly, with hands folded in her silken
lap and an untroubled face. "I did not know you then, my lord," she
answered him, quite softly and sweetly. "Had I done so, be sure I would
have cut my hand off ere it gave colour of mine to----"

"To whom?" he demanded, as she paused.

"To a coward, my lord," she said clearly.

As if she had been a man, his hand went to his sword hilt. As for her,
she leaned back in her chair and looked at him with a smile.

He spoke at last, slowly and with deliberate emphasis. "I won then," he
said. "I shall win again, my lady--my Lady Jocelyn Leigh."

I dropped my hand from her chair and stepped forward. "It is my wife to
whom you speak, my Lord Carnal," I said sternly. "I wait to hear you
name her rightly."

Rolfe rose from the grass and stood beside me, and Jeremy Sparrow,
shouldering aside with scant ceremony Burgess and Councillor, came also.
The Governor leaned forward out of his chair, and the crowd became
suddenly very still.

"I am waiting, my lord," I repeated.

In an instant, from what he had been he became the frank and guileless
nobleman. "A slip of the tongue, Captain Percy!" he cried, his white
teeth showing and his hand raised in a gesture of deprecation. "A
natural thing, seeing how often, how very often, I have so addressed
this lady in the days when we had not the pleasure of your
acquaintance." He turned to her and bowed, until the feather in his hat
swept the ground. "I won then," he said. "I shall win again--Mistress
Percy," and passed on to the seat that had been reserved for him.

The game began. I was to lead one side, and young Clement the other. At
the last moment he came over to me. "I am out of it, Captain Percy," he
announced with a rueful face. "My lord there asks me to give him my
place. When we were hunting yesterday, and the stag turned upon me, he
came between and thrust his knife into the brute, which else might have
put an end to my hunting forever and a day: so you see I can't refuse
him. Plague take it all! and Dorothy Gookin sitting there watching!"

My lord and I stood forward, each with a bowl in his hand. We looked
toward the Governor. "My lord first, as becometh his rank," he said. My
lord stooped and threw, and his bowl went swiftly over the grass,
turned, and rested not a hand's-breadth from the jack. I threw. "One is
as near as the other!" cried Master Macocke for the judges. A murmur
arose from the crowd, and my lord swore beneath his breath. He and I
retreated to our several sides, and Rolfe and West took our places.
While they and those that followed bowled, the crowd, attentive though
it was, still talked and laughed, and laid wagers upon its favourites;
but when my lord and I again stood forth, the noise was hushed, and men
and women stared with all their eyes. He delivered, and his bowl touched
the jack. He straightened himself, with a smile, and I heard Jeremy
Sparrow behind me groan; but my bowl too kissed the jack. The crowd
began to laugh with sheer delight, but my lord turned red and his brows
drew together. We had but one turn more. While we waited, I marked his
black eyes studying every inch of the ground between him and that small
white ball, to strike which, at that moment, I verily believe he would
have given the King's favour. All men pray, though they pray not to the
same god. As he stood there, when his time had come, weighing the bowl
in his hand, I knew that he prayed to his dæmon, fate, star, whatever
thing he raised an altar to and bent before. He threw, and I followed,
while the throng held its breath. Master Macocke rose to his feet. "It's
a tie, my masters!" he exclaimed.

The excited crowd surged forward, and a babel of voices arose. "Silence,
all!" cried the Governor. "Let them play it out!"

My lord threw, and his bowl stopped perilously near the shining mark. As
I stepped to my place a low and supplicating "O Lord!" came to my ears
from the lips and the heart of the preacher, who had that morning
thundered against the toys of this world. I drew back my arm and threw
with all my force. A cry arose from the throng, and my lord ground his
heel into the earth. The bowl, spurning the jack before it, rushed on,
until both buried themselves in the red and yellow leaves that filled
the trench.

I turned and bowed to my antagonist. "You bowl well, my lord," I said.
"Had you had the forest training of eye and arm, our fortunes might have
been reversed."

He looked me up and down. "You are kind, sir," he said thickly. "'To-day
to thee, to-morrow to me.' I give you joy of your petty victory."

He turned squarely from me, and stood with his face downstream. I was
speaking to Rolfe and to the few--not even all of that side for which I
had won--who pressed around me, when he wheeled.

"Your Honour," he cried to the Governor, who had paused beside Mistress
Percy, "is not the _Due Return_ high-pooped? Doth she not carry a blue
pennant, and hath she not a gilt siren for figurehead?"

"Ay," answered the Governor, lifting his head from the hand he had
kissed with ponderous gallantry. "What then, my lord?"

"Then to-morrow has dawned, sir captain," said my lord to me. "Sure,
Dame Venus and her blind son have begged for me favourable winds; for
the _Due Return_ has come again."

The game that had been played was forgotten for that day. The hogshead
of sweet-scented, lying to one side, wreathed with bright vines, was
unclaimed of either party; the servants who brought forward the keg of
canary dropped their burden, and stared with the rest. All looked down
the river, and all saw the _Due Return_ coming up the broad, ruffled
stream, the wind from the sea filling her sails, the tide with her, the
gilt mermaid on her prow just rising from the rushing foam. She came as
swiftly as a bird to its nest. None had thought to see her for at least
ten days.

Upon all there fell a sudden realization that it was the word of the
King, feathered by the command of the Company, that was hurrying,
arrow--like, toward us. All knew what the Company's orders would
be,--must needs be,--and the Tudor sovereigns were not so long in the
grave that men had forgot to fear the wrath of kings. The crowd drew
back from me as from a man plague-spotted. Only Rolfe, Sparrow, and the
Indian stood their ground.

The Governor turned from staring downstream. "The game is played,
gentlemen," he announced abruptly. "The wind grows colder, too, and
clouds are gathering. This fair company will pardon me if I dismiss them
somewhat sooner than is our wont. The next sunny day we will play again.
Give you God den, gentles."

The crowd stood not upon the order of its going, but streamed away to
the river bank, whence it could best watch the oncoming ship. My lord,
after a most triumphant bow, swept off with his train in the direction
of the guest house. With him went Master Pory. The Governor drew nearer
to me. "Captain Percy," he said, lowering his voice, "I am going now to
mine own house. The letters which yonder ship brings will be in my hands
in less than an hour. When I have read them, I shall perforce obey their
instructions. Before I have them I will see you, if you so wish."

"I will be with your Honour in five minutes."

He nodded, and strode off across the green to his garden. I turned to
Rolfe. "Will you take her home?" I said briefly. She was so white and
sat so still in her chair that I feared to see her swoon. But when I
spoke to her she answered clearly and steadily enough, even with a
smile, and she would not lean upon Rolfe's arm. "I will walk alone," she
said. "None that see me shall think that I am stricken down." I watched
her move away, Rolfe beside her, and the Indian following with his
noiseless step; then I went to the Governor's house. Master Jeremy
Sparrow had disappeared some minutes before, I knew not whither.

I found Yeardley in his great room, standing before a fire and staring
down into its hollows. "Captain Percy," he said, as I went up to him, "I
am most heartily sorry for you and for the lady whom you so ignorantly
married."

"I shall not plead ignorance," I told him.

"You married, not the Lady Jocelyn Leigh, but a waiting woman named
Patience Worth. The Lady Jocelyn Leigh, a noble lady, and a ward of the
King, could not marry without the King's consent. And you, Captain
Percy, are but a mere private gentleman, a poor Virginia adventurer; and
my Lord Carnal is--my Lord Carnal. The Court of High Commission will
make short work of this fantastic marriage."

"Then they may do it without my aid," I said. "Come, Sir George, had you
wed my Lady Temperance in such fashion, and found this hornets' nest
about your ears, what would you have done?"

He gave his short, honest laugh. "It's beside the question, Ralph Percy,
but I dare say you can guess what I would have done."

"I'll fight for my own to the last ditch," I continued. "I married her
knowing her name, if not her quality. Had I known the latter, had I
known she was the King's ward, all the same I should have married her,
an she would have had me. She is my wife in the sight of God and honest
men. Esteeming her honour, which is mine, at stake, Death may silence
me, but men shall not bend me."

"Your best hope is in my Lord of Buckingham," he said. "They say it is
out of sight, out of mind, with the King, and, thanks to this
infatuation of my Lord Carnal's, Buckingham hath the field. That he
strains every nerve to oust completely this his first rival since he
himself distanced Somerset goes without saying. That to thwart my lord
in this passion would be honey to him is equally of course. I do not
need to tell you that, if the Company so orders, I shall have no choice
but to send you and the lady home to England. When you are in London,
make your suit to my Lord of Buckingham, and I earnestly hope that you
may find in him an ally powerful enough to bring you and the lady, to
whose grace, beauty, and courage we all do homage, out of this coil."

"We give you thanks, sir," I said.

"As you know," he went on, "I have written to the Company, humbly
petitioning that I be graciously relieved from a most thankless task, to
wit, the governorship of Virginia. My health faileth, and I am,
moreover, under my Lord Warwick's displeasure. He waxeth ever stronger
in the Company, and if I put not myself out, he will do it for me. If I
be relieved at once, and one of the Council appointed in my place, I
shall go home to look after certain of my interests there. Then shall I
be but a private gentleman, and if I can serve you, Ralph Percy, I shall
be blithe to do so; but now, you understand----"

"I understand, and thank you, Sir George," I said. "May I ask one
question?"

"What is it?"

"Will you obey to the letter the instructions the Company sends?"

"To the letter," he answered. "I am its sworn officer."

"One thing more," I went on: "the parole I gave you, sir, that morning
behind the church, is mine own again when you shall have read those
letters and know the King's will. I am free from that bond, at least."

He looked at me with a frown. "Make not bad worse, Captain Percy," he
said sternly.

I laughed. "It is my aim to make bad better, Sir George. I see through
the window that the _Due Return_ hath come to anchor; I will no longer
trespass on your Honour's time." I bowed myself out, leaving him still
with the frown upon his face, staring at the fire.

Without, the world was bathed in the glow of a magnificent sunset.
Clouds, dark purple and dark crimson, reared themselves in the west to
dizzy heights, and hung threateningly over the darkening land beneath.
In the east loomed more pallid masses, and from the bastions of the east
to the bastions of the west went hurrying, wind-driven cloudlets, dark
in the east, red in the west. There was a high wind, and the river,
where it was not reddened by the sunset, was lividly green. "A storm,
too!" I muttered.

As I passed the guest house, there came to me from within a burst of
loud and vaunting laughter and a boisterous drinking catch sung by many
voices; and I knew that my lord drank, and gave others to drink, to the
orders which the _Due Return_ should bring. The minister's house was in
darkness. In the great room I struck a light and fired the fresh
torches, and found I was not its sole occupant. On the hearth, the ashes
of the dead fire touching her skirts, sat Mistress Jocelyn Percy, her
arms resting upon a low stool, and her head pillowed upon them. Her face
was not hidden: it was cold and pure and still, like carven marble. I
stood and gazed at her a moment; then, as she did not offer to move, I
brought wood to the fire and made the forlorn room bright again.

"Where is Rolfe?" I asked at last.

"He would have stayed," she answered, "but I made him go. I wished to be
alone." She rose, and going to the window leaned her forehead against
the bars, and looked out upon the wild sky and the hurrying river. "I
would I were alone," she said in a low voice and with a catch of her
breath. As she stood there in the twilight by the window, I knew that
she was weeping, though her pride strove to keep that knowledge from me.
My heart ached for her, and I knew not how to comfort her. At last she
turned. A pasty and stoup of wine were upon the table.

"You are tired and shaken," I said, "and you may need all your strength.
Come, eat and drink."

"For to-morrow we die," she added, and broke into tremulous laughter.
Her lashes were still wet, but her pride and daring had returned. She
drank the wine I poured for her, and we spoke of indifferent things,--of
the game that afternoon, of the Indian Nantauquas, of the wild night
that clouds and wind portended. Supper over, I called Angela to bear her
company, and I myself went out into the night, and down the street
toward the guest house.



CHAPTER XVIII

In which we Go Out into the Night


The guest house was aflame with lights. As I neared it, there was borne
to my ears a burst of drunken shouts accompanied by a volley of
musketry. My lord was pursuing with a vengeance our senseless fashion of
wasting in drinking bouts powder that would have been better spent
against the Indians. The noise increased. The door was flung open, and
there issued a tide of drawers and servants headed by mine host himself,
and followed by a hail of such minor breakables as the house contained
and by Olympian laughter.

I made my way past the indignant host and his staff, and standing upon
the threshold looked at the riot within. The long room was thick with
the smoke of tobacco and the smoke of powder, through which the many
torches burned yellow. Upon the great table wine had been spilt, and
dripped to swell a red pool upon the floor. Underneath the table, still
grasping his empty tankard, lay the first of my lord's guests to fall,
an up-river Burgess with white hair. The rest of the company were fast
reeling to a like fate. Young Hamor had a fiddle, and, one foot upon a
settle, the other upon the table, drew across it a fast and furious bow.
Master Pory, arrived at the maudlin stage, alternately sang a slow and
melancholy ditty and wiped the tears from his eyes with elaborate care.
Master Edward Sharpless, now in a high voice, now in an
undistinguishable murmur, argued some imaginary case. Peaceable Sherwood
was drunk, and Giles Allen, and Pettiplace Clause. Captain John Martin,
sitting with outstretched legs, called now for a fresh tankard, which he
emptied at a gulp; now for his pistols, which, as fast as my lord's
servants brought them to him new primed, he discharged at the ceiling.
The loud wind rattled doors and windows, and made the flame of the
torches stream sideways. The music grew madder and madder, the shots
more frequent, the drunken voices thicker and louder.

The master of the feast carried his wine better than did his guests, or
had drunk less, but his spirit too was quite without bounds. A colour
burned in his cheeks, a wicked light in his eyes; he laughed to himself.
In the gray smoke cloud he saw me not, or saw me only as one of the many
who thronged the doorway and stared at the revel within. He raised his
silver cup with a slow and wavering hand. "Drink, you dogs!" he chanted.
"Drink to the _Santa Teresa_! Drink to to-morrow night! Drink to a proud
lady within my arms and an enemy in my power!"

The wine that had made him mad had maddened those others, also. In that
hour they were dead to honour. With shameless laughter and as little
spilling as might be, they raised their tankards as my lord raised his.
A stone thrown by some one behind me struck the cup from my lord's
hand, sending it clattering to the floor and dashing him with the red
wine. Master Pory roared with drunken laughter. "Cup and lip missed that
time!" he cried.

The man who had thrown the stone was Jeremy Sparrow. For one instant I
saw his great figure, and the wrathful face beneath his shock of
grizzled hair; the next he had made his way through the crowd of gaping
menials and was gone.

My lord stared foolishly at the stains upon his hands, at the fallen
goblet and the stone beside it. "Cogged dice," he said thickly, "or I
had not lost that throw! I'll drink that toast by myself to-morrow
night, when the ship doesn't rock like this d----d floor, and the sea
has no stones to throw. More wine, Giles! To my Lord High Admiral,
gentlemen! To his Grace of Buckingham! May he shortly howl in hell, and
looking back to Whitehall see me upon the King's bosom! The King's a
good king, gentlemen! He gave me this ruby! D'ye know what I had of him
last year? I----"

I turned and left the door and the house. I could not thrust a fight
upon a drunken man.

Ten yards away, suddenly and without any warning of his approach, I
found beside me the Indian Nantauquas. "I have been to the woods to
hunt," he said, in the slow musical English Rolfe had taught him. "I
knew where a panther lodged, and to-day I laid a snare, and took him in
it. I brought him to my brother's house, and caged him there. When I
have tamed him, I shall give him to the beautiful lady."

He expected no answer, and I gave him none. There are times when an
Indian is the best company in the world.

Just before we reached the market-place we had to pass the mouth of a
narrow lane leading down to the river. The night was very dark, though
the stars still shone through rifts in the ever-moving clouds. The
Indian and I walked rapidly on,--my footfalls sounding clear and sharp
on the frosty ground, he as noiseless as a shadow. We had reached the
further side of the lane, when he put forth an arm and plucked from the
blackness a small black figure.

In the middle of the square was kept burning a great brazier filled with
pitched wood. It was the duty of the watch to keep it flaming from
darkness to dawn. We found it freshly heaped with pine, and its red
glare lit a goodly circle. The Indian, pinioning the wrists of his
captive with his own hand of steel, dragged him with us into this circle
of light.

"Looking for simples once more, learned doctor?" I demanded.

He mowed and jabbered, twisting this way and that in the grasp of the
Indian.

"Loose him," I said to the latter, "but let him not come too near you.
Why, worthy doctor, in so wild and threatening a night, when fire is
burning and wine flowing at the guest house, do you choose to crouch
here in the cold and darkness?"

He looked at me with his filmy eyes, and that faint smile that had more
of menace in it than a panther's snarl. "I laid in wait for you, it is
true, noble sir," he said in his thin, dreamy voice, "but it was for
your good. I would give you warning, sir."

He stood with his mean figure bent cringingly forward, and with his hat
in his hand. "A warning, sir," he went ramblingly on. "Maybe a certain
one has made me his enemy. Maybe I cut myself loose from his service.
Maybe I would do him an ill turn. I can tell you a secret, sir." He
lowered his voice and looked around, as if in fear of eavesdroppers. "In
your ear, sir," he said.

I recoiled. "Stand back," I cried, "or you will cull no more simples
this side of hell!"

"Hell!" he answered. "There's no such place. I will not tell my secret
aloud."

"Nicolo the Italian! Nicolo the Poisoner! Nicolo the Black Death! I am
coming for the soul you sold me. There is a hell!"

The thundering voice came from underneath our feet. With a sound that
was not a groan and not a screech, the Italian reeled back against the
heated iron of the brazier. Starting from that fiery contact with an
unearthly shriek, he threw up his arms and dashed away into the
darkness. The sound of his madly hurrying footsteps came back to us
until the guest house had swallowed him and his guilty terrors.

"Can the preacher play the devil, too?" I asked, as Sparrow came up to
us from the other side of the fire. "I could have sworn that that voice
came from the bowels of the earth. 'Tis the strangest gift!"

"A mere trick," he said, with his great laugh, "but it has served me
well on more occasions than one. It is not known in Virginia, sir, but
before ever the word of the Lord came to me to save poor silly souls I
was a player. Once I played the King's ghost in Will Shakespeare's
'Hamlet,' and then, I warrant you, I spoke from the cellarage indeed. I
so frighted players and playgoers that they swore it was witchcraft, and
Burbage's knees did knock together in dead earnest. But to the matter in
hand. When I had thrown yonder stone, I walked quietly down to the
Governor's house and looked through the window. The Governor hath the
Company's letters, and he and the Council--all save the reprobate
Pory--sit there staring at them and drumming with their fingers on the
table."

"Is Rolfe of the Council?" I asked.

"Ay; he was speaking,--for you, I suppose, though I heard not the words.
They all listened, but they all shook their heads."

"We shall know in the morning," I said. "The night grows wilder, and
honest folk should be abed. Nantauquas, good-night. When will you have
tamed your panther?"

"It is now the moon of cohonks," answered the Indian. "When the moon of
blossoms is here, the panther shall roll at the beautiful lady's feet."

"The moon of blossoms!" I said. "The moon of blossoms is a long way off.
I have panthers myself to tame before it comes. This wild night gives
one wild thoughts, Master Sparrow. The loud wind, and the sound of the
water, and the hurrying clouds--who knows if we shall ever see the moon
of blossoms?" I broke off with a laugh for my own weakness. "It's not
often that a soldier thinks of death," I said. "Come to bed, reverend
sir. Nantauquas, again, good-night, and may you tame your panther!"

In the great room of the minister's house I paced up and down; now
pausing at the window to look out upon the fast-darkening houses of the
town, the ever-thickening clouds, and the bending trees; now speaking to
my wife, who sat in the chair I had drawn for her before the fire, her
hands idle in her lap, her head thrown back against the wood, her face
white and still, with wide dark eyes. We waited for we knew not what,
but the light still burned in the Governor's house, and we could not
sleep and leave it there.

It grew later and later. The wind howled down the chimney, and I heaped
more wood upon the fire. The town lay in darkness now; only in the
distance burned like an angry star the light in the Governor's house. In
the lull between the blasts of wind it was so very still that the sound
of my footfalls upon the floor, the dropping of the charred wood upon
the hearth, the tapping of the withered vines without the window, jarred
like thunder.

Suddenly madam leaned forward in her chair. "There is some one at the
door," she said.

As she spoke, the latch rose and some one pushed heavily against the
door. I had drawn the bars across. "Who is it?" I demanded, going to it.

"It is Diccon, sir," replied a guarded voice outside. "I beg of you, for
the lady's sake, to let me speak to you."

I opened the door, and he crossed the threshold. I had not seen him
since the night he would have played the assassin. I had heard of him
as being in Martin's Hundred, with which plantation and its turbulent
commander the debtor and the outlaw often found sanctuary.

"What is it, sirrah?" I inquired sternly.

He stood with his eyes upon the floor, twirling his cap in his hands. He
had looked once at madam when he entered, but not at me. When he spoke
there was the old bravado in his voice, and he threw up his head with
the old reckless gesture. "Though I am no longer your man, sir," he
said, "yet I hope that one Christian may warn another. The marshal, with
a dozen men at his heels, will be here anon."

"How do you know?"

"Why, I was in the shadow by the Governor's window when the parson
played eavesdropper. When he was gone I drew myself up to the ledge, and
with my knife made a hole in the shutter that fitted my ear well enough.
The Governor and the Council sat there, with the Company's letters
spread upon the table. I heard the letters read. Sir George Yeardley's
petition to be released from the governorship of Virginia is granted,
but he will remain in office until the new Governor, Sir Francis Wyatt,
can arrive in Virginia. The Company is out of favour. The King hath sent
Sir Edwyn Sandys to the Tower. My Lord Warwick waxeth greater every day.
The very life of the Company dependeth upon the pleasure of the King,
and it may not defy him. You are to be taken into custody within six
hours of the reading of the letter, to be kept straitly until the
sailing of the _Santa Teresa_, and to be sent home aboard of her in
irons. The lady is to go also, with all honour, and with women to attend
her. Upon reaching London, you are to be sent to the Tower, the lady to
Whitehall. The Court of High Commission will take the matter under
consideration at once. My Lord of Southampton writes that, because of
the urgent entreaty of Sir George Yeardley, he will do for you all that
lieth in his power, but that if you prove not yourself conformable,
there will be little that any can do."

"When will the marshal be here?" I demanded.

"Directly. The Governor was sending for him when I left the window.
Master Rolfe spoke vehemently for you, and would have left the Council
to come to you; but the Governor, swearing that the Company should not
be betrayed by its officers, constrained him to remain. I'm not the
Company's officer, so I may tell its orders if I please. A masterless
man may speak without fear or favour. I have told you all I know."

Before I could speak he was gone, closing the door heavily behind him.

I turned to the King's ward. She had risen from the chair, and now stood
in the centre of the room, one hand at her bosom, the other clenched at
her side, her head thrown up. She looked as she had looked at Weyanoke,
that first night.

"Madam," I said under my breath.

She turned her face upon me. "Did you think," she asked in a low, even
voice,--"did you think that I would ever set my foot upon that
ship,--that ship on the river there? One ship brought me here upon a
shameful errand; another shall not take me upon one more shameful
still."

She took her hand from her bosom; in it gleamed in the firelight the
small dagger I had given her that night. She laid it on the table, but
kept her hand upon it. "You will choose for me, sir," she declared.

I went to the door and looked out. "It is a wild night," I said. "I can
suit it with as wild an enterprise. Make a bundle of your warmest
clothing, madam, and wrap your mantle about you. Will you take Angela?"

"No," she answered. "I will not have her peril too upon me."

As she stood there, her hand no longer upon the dagger, the large tears
welled into her eyes and fell slowly over her white cheeks. "It is for
mine honour, sir," she said. "I know that I ask your death."

I could not bear to see her weep, and so I spoke roughly. "I have told
you before," I said, "that your honour is my honour. Do you think I
would sleep to-morrow night, in the hold of the _Santa Teresa_, knowing
that my wife supped with my Lord Carnal?"

I crossed the room to take my pistols from the rack. As I passed her she
caught my hand in hers, and bending pressed her lips upon it. "You have
been very good to me," she murmured. "Do not think me an ingrate."

Five minutes later she came from her own room, hooded and mantled, and
with a packet of clothing in her hand. I extinguished the torches, then
opened the door. As we crossed the threshold, we paused as by one
impulse and looked back into the firelit warmth of the room; then I
closed the door softly behind us, and we went out into the night.



CHAPTER XIX

In which We have Unexpected Company


The wind, which had heretofore come in fierce blasts, was now steadying
to a gale. What with the flying of the heaped clouds, the slanting,
groaning pines, and the rushing of the river, the whole earth seemed a
fugitive, fleeing breathless to the sea. From across the neck of land
came the long-drawn howl of wolves, and in the wood beyond the church a
catamount screamed and screamed. The town before us lay as dark and as
still as the grave; from the garden where we were we could not see the
Governor's house.

"I will carry madam's bundle," said a voice behind us.

It was the minister who had spoken, and he now stood beside us. There
was a moment's silence, then I said, with a laugh: "We are not going
upon a summer jaunt, friend Sparrow. There is a warm fire in the great
room, to which your reverence had best betake yourself out of this windy
night."

As he made no movement to depart, but instead possessed himself of
Mistress Percy's bundle, I spoke again, with some impatience: "We are no
longer of your fold, reverend sir, but are bound for another parish. We
give you hearty thanks for your hospitality, and wish you a very good
night."

As I spoke I would have taken the bundle from him, but he tucked it
under his arm, and, passing us, opened the garden gate. "Did I forget to
tell you," he said, "that worthy Master Bucke is well of the fever, and
returns to his own to-morrow? His house and church are no longer mine. I
have no charge anywhere. I am free and footloose. May I not go with you,
madam? There may be dragons to slay, and two can guard a distressed
princess better than one. Will you take me for your squire, Captain
Percy?"

He held out his great hand, and after a moment I put my own in it.

We left the garden and struck into a lane. "The river, then, instead of
the forest?" he asked in a low voice.

"Ay," I answered. "Of the two evils it seems the lesser."

"How about a boat?"

"My own is fastened to the piles of the old deserted wharf."

"You have with you neither food nor water."

"Both are in the boat. I have kept her victualled for a week or more."

He laughed in the darkness, and I heard my wife beside me utter a
stifled exclamation.

The lane that we were now in ran parallel to the street to within fifty
yards of the guest house, when it bent sharply down to the river. We
moved silently and with caution, for some night bird might accost us or
the watch come upon us. In the guest house all was darkness save one
room,--the upper room,--from which came a very pale light. When we had
turned with the lane there were no houses to pass; only gaunt pines and
copses of sumach. I took my wife by the hand and hurried her on. A
hundred yards before us ran the river, dark and turbulent, and between
us and it rose an old, unsafe, and abandoned landing. Sparrow laid his
hand upon my arm. "Footsteps behind us," he whispered.

Without slackening pace I turned my head and looked. The clouds, high
around the horizon, were thinning overhead, and the moon, herself
invisible, yet lightened the darkness below. The sandy lane stretched
behind us like a ribbon of twilight,--nothing to be seen but it and the
ebony mass of bush and tree lining it on either side. We hastened on. A
minute later and we heard behind us a sound like the winding of a small
horn, clear, shrill, and sweet. Sparrow and I wheeled--and saw nothing.
The trees ran down to the very edge of the wharf, upon whose rotten,
loosened, and noisy boards we now trod. Suddenly the clouds above us
broke, and the moon shone forth, whitening the mountainous clouds, the
ridged and angry river, and the low, tree--fringed shore. Below us,
fastened to the piles and rocking with the waves, was the open boat in
which we were to embark. A few broken steps led from the boards above to
the water below. Descending these, I sprang into the boat and held out
my arms for Mistress Percy. Sparrow gave her to me, and I lifted her
down beside me; then turned to give what aid I might to the minister,
who was halfway down the steps--and faced my Lord Carnal.

What devil had led him forth on such a night; why he, whom with my own
eyes, three hours agone, I had seen drunken, should have chosen, after
his carouse, cold air and his own company rather than sleep; when and
where he first spied us, how long he had followed us, I have never
known. Perhaps he could not sleep for triumph, had heard of my impending
arrest, had come forth to add to the bitterness of my cup by his
presence, and so had happened upon us. He could only have guessed at
those he followed, until he reached the edge of the wharf and looked
down upon us in the moonlight. For a moment he stood without moving;
then he raised his hand to his lips, and the shrill call that had before
startled us rang out again. At the far end of the lane lights appeared.
Men were coming down the lane at a run; whether they were the watch, or
my lord's own rogues, we tarried not to see. There was not time to
loosen the rope from the piles, so I drew my knife to cut it. My lord
saw the movement, and sprang down the steps, at the same time shouting
to the men behind to hasten. Sparrow, grappling with him, locked him in
a giant's embrace, lifted him bodily from the steps, and flung him into
the boat. His head struck against a thwart, and he lay, huddled beneath
it, quiet enough. The minister sprang after him, and I cut the rope. By
now the wharf shook with running feet, and the backward-streaming flame
of the torches reddened its boards and the black water beneath; but each
instant the water widened between us and our pursuers. Wind and current
swept us out, and at that wharf there were no boats to follow us.

Those whom my lord's whistle had brought were now upon the very edge of
the wharf. The marshal's voice called upon us in the name of the King to
return. Finding that we vouchsafed no answer, he pulled out a pistol and
fired, the ball going through my hat; then whipped out its fellow and
fired again. Mistress Percy, whose behaviour had been that of an angel,
stirred in her seat. I did not know until the day broke that the ball
had grazed her arm, drenching her sleeve with blood.

"It is time we were away," I said, with a laugh. "If your reverence will
keep your hand upon the tiller and your eye upon the gentleman whom you
have made our travelling companion, I'll put up the sail."

I was on my way to the foremast, when the boom lying prone before me
rose. Slowly and majestically the sail ascended, tapering upward,
silvered by the moon,--the great white pinion which should bear us we
knew not whither. I stopped short in my tracks, Mistress Percy drew a
sobbing breath, and the minister gasped with admiration. We all three
stared as though the white cloth had veritably been a monster wing
endowed with life.

"Sails don't rise of themselves!" I exclaimed, and was at the mast
before the words were out of my lips. Crouched behind it was a man. I
should have known him even without the aid of the moon. Often enough,
God knows, I had seen him crouched like this beside me, ourselves in
ambush awaiting some unwary foe, brute or human; or ourselves in hiding,
holding our breath lest it should betray us. The minister who had been
a player, the rival who would have poisoned me, the servant who would
have stabbed me, the wife who was wife in name only,--mine were strange
shipmates.

He rose to his feet and stood there against the mast, in the old
half-submissive, half-defiant attitude, with his head thrown back in the
old way.

"If you order me, sir, I will swim ashore," he said, half sullenly,
half--I know not how.

"You would never reach the shore," I replied. "And you know that I will
never order you again. Stay here if you please, or come aft if you
please."

I went back and took the tiller from Sparrow. We were now in mid-river,
and the swollen stream and the strong wind bore us on with them like a
leaf before the gale. We left behind the lights and the clamour, the
dark town and the silent fort, the weary _Due Return_ and the shipping
about the lower wharf. Before us loomed the _Santa Teresa_; we passed so
close beneath her huge black sides that we heard the wind whistling
through her rigging. When she, too, was gone, the river lay bare before
us; silver when the moon shone, of an inky blackness when it was
obscured by one of the many flying clouds.

My wife wrapped her mantle closer about her, and, leaning back in her
seat in the stern beside me, raised her face to the wild and solemn
heavens. Diccon sat apart in the bow and held his tongue. The minister
bent over, and, lifting the man that lay in the bottom of the boat,
laid him at full length upon the thwart before us. The moonlight
streamed down upon the prostrate figure. I think it could never have
shone upon a more handsome or a more wicked man. He lay there in his
splendid dress and dark beauty, Endymion-like, beneath the moon. The
King's ward turned her eyes upon him, kept them there a moment, then
glanced away, and looked at him no more.

"There's a parlous lump upon his forehead where it struck the thwart,"
said the minister, "but the life's yet in him. He'll shame honest men
for many a day to come. Your Platonists, who from a goodly outside argue
as fair a soul, could never have been acquainted with this gentleman."

The subject of his discourse moaned and stirred. The minister raised one
of the hanging hands and felt for the pulse. "Faint enough," he went on.
"A little more and the King might have waited for his minion forever and
a day. It would have been the better for us, who have now, indeed, a
strange fish upon our hands, but I am glad I killed him not."

I tossed him a flask. "It's good _aqua vitæ_, and the flask is honest.
Give him to drink of it."

He forced the liquor between my lord's teeth, then dashed water in his
face. Another minute and the King's favourite sat up and looked around
him. Dazed as yet, he stared, with no comprehension in his eyes, at the
clouds, the sail, the rushing water, the dark figures about him.
"Nicolo!" he cried sharply.

"He's not here, my lord," I said.

At the sound of my voice he sprang to his feet.

"I should advise your lordship to sit still," I said. "The wind is very
boisterous, and we are not under bare poles. If you exert yourself, you
may capsize the boat."

He sat down mechanically, and put his hand to his forehead. I watched
him curiously. It was the strangest trick that fortune had played him.

His hand dropped at last, and he straightened himself, with a long
breath. "Who threw me into the boat?" he demanded.

"The honour was mine," declared the minister.

The King's minion lacked not the courage of the body, nor, when
passionate action had brought him naught, a certain reserve force of
philosophy. He now did the best thing he could have done,--burst into a
roar of laughter. "Zooks!" he cried. "It's as good a comedy as ever I
saw! How's the play to end, captain? Are we to go off laughing, or is
the end to be bloody after all? For instance, is there murder to be
done?" He looked at me boldly, one hand on his hip, the other twirling
his mustaches.

"We are not all murderers, my lord," I told him. "For the present you
are in no danger other than that which is common to us all."

He looked at the clouds piling behind us, thicker and thicker, higher
and higher, at the bending mast, at the black water swirling now and
again over the gunwales. "It's enough," he muttered.

I beckoned to Diccon, and putting the tiller into his hands went forward
to reef the sail. When it was done and I was back in my place, my lord
spoke again.

"Where are we going, captain?"

"I don't know."

"If you leave that sail up much longer, you will land us at the bottom
of the river."

"There are worse places," I replied.

He left his seat, and moved, though with caution, to one nearer Mistress
Percy. "Are cold and storm and peril sweeter to you, lady, than warmth
and safety, and a love that would guard you from, not run you into,
danger?" he said in a whisper. "Do you not wish this boat the _Santa
Teresa_, these rude boards the velvet cushions of her state cabin, this
darkness her many lights, this cold her warmth, with the night shut out
and love shut in?"

His audacity, if it angered me, yet made me laugh. Not so with the
King's ward. She shrank from him until she pressed against the tiller.
Our flight, the pursuing feet, the struggle at the wharf, her wounded
arm of which she had not told, the terror of the white sail rising as if
by magic, the vision of the man she hated lying as one dead before her
in the moonlight, the cold, the hurry of the night,--small wonder if her
spirit failed her for a time. I felt her hand touch mine where it rested
upon the tiller. "Captain Percy," she murmured, with a little sobbing
breath.

I leaned across the tiller and addressed the favourite. "My lord," I
said, "courtesy to prisoners is one thing, and freedom from restraint
and license of tongue is another. Here at the stern the boat is somewhat
heavily freighted. Your lordship will oblige me if you will go forward
where there is room enough and to spare."

His black brows drew together. "And what if I refuse, sir?" he demanded
haughtily.

"I have rope here," I answered, "and to aid me the gentleman who once
before to-night, and in despite of your struggles, lifted you in his
arms like an infant. We will tie you hand and foot, and lay you in the
bottom of the boat. If you make too much trouble, there is always the
river. My lord, you are not now at Whitehall. You are with desperate
men, outlaws who have no king, and so fear no king's minions. Will you
go free, or will you go bound? Go you shall, one way or the other."

He looked at me with rage and hatred in his face. Then, with a laugh
that was not good to hear, and a shrug of the shoulders, he went forward
to bear Diccon company in the bow.



CHAPTER XX

In which We are in Desperate Case


"God walketh upon the sea as He walketh upon the land," said the
minister. "The sea is His and we are His. He will do what it liketh Him
with His own." As he spoke he looked with a steadfast soul into the
black hollow of the wave that combed above us, threatening destruction.

The wave broke, and the boat still lived. Borne high upon the shoulder
of the next rolling hill, we looked north, south, east, and west, and
saw only a waste of livid, ever-forming, ever-breaking waves, a gray sky
streaked with darker gray shifting vapour, and a horizon impenetrably
veiled. Where we were in the great bay, in what direction we were being
driven, how near we might be to the open sea or to some fatal shore, we
knew not. What we did know was that both masts were gone, that we must
bale the boat without ceasing if we would keep it from swamping, that
the wind was doing an apparently impossible thing and rising higher and
higher, and that the waves which buffeted us from one to the other were
hourly swelling to a more monstrous bulk.

We had come into the wider waters at dawn, and still under canvas. An
hour later, off Point Comfort, a bare mast contented us; we had hardly
gotten the sail in when mast and all went overboard. That had been hours
ago.

A common peril is a mighty leveller of barriers. Scant time was there in
that boat to make distinction between friend and foe. As one man we
fought the element which would devour us. Each took his turn at the
baling, each watched for the next great wave before which we must cower,
clinging with numbed hands to gunwale and thwart. We fared alike, toiled
alike, and suffered alike, only that the minister and I cared for
Mistress Percy, asking no help from the others.

The King's ward endured all without a murmur. She was cold, she was worn
with watching and terror, she was wounded; each moment Death raised his
arm to strike, but she sat there dauntless, and looked him in the face
with a smile upon her own. If, wearied out, we had given up the fight,
her look would have spurred us on to wrestle with our fate to the last
gasp. She sat between Sparrow and me, and as best we might we shielded
her from the drenching seas and the icy wind. Morning had shown me the
blood upon her sleeve, and I had cut away the cloth from the white arm,
and had washed the wound with wine and bound it up. If, for my fee, I
should have liked to press my lips upon the blue-veined marble, still I
did it not.

When, a week before, I had stored the boat with food and drink and had
brought it to that lonely wharf, I had thought that if at the last my
wife willed to flee I would attempt to reach the bay, and passing out
between the capes would go to the north. Given an open boat and the
tempestuous seas of November, there might be one chance out of a
hundred of our reaching Manhattan and the Dutch, who might or might not
give us refuge. She had willed to flee, and we were upon our journey,
and the one chance had vanished. That wan, monotonous, cold, and
clinging mist had shrouded us for our burial, and our grave yawned
beneath us.

The day passed and the night came, and still we fought the sea, and
still the wind drove us whither it would. The night passed and the
second morning came, and found us yet alive. My wife lay now at my feet,
her head pillowed upon the bundle she had brought from the minister's
house. Too weak for speech, waiting in pain and cold and terror for
death to bring her warmth and life, the knightly spirit yet lived in her
eyes, and she smiled when I bent over her with wine to moisten her lips.
At length she began to wander in her mind, and to speak of summer days
and flowers. A hand held my heart in a slowly tightening grip of iron,
and the tears ran down the minister's cheeks. The man who had darkened
her young life, bringing her to this, looked at her with an ashen face.

As the day wore on, the gray of the sky paled to a dead man's hue and
the wind lessened, but the waves were still mountain high. One moment we
poised, like the gulls that now screamed about us, upon some giddy
summit, the sky alone above and around us; the next we sank into dark
green and glassy caverns. Suddenly the wind fell away, veered, and rose
again like a giant refreshed.

Diccon started, put his hand to his ear, then sprang to his feet.
"Breakers!" he cried hoarsely.

We listened with straining ears. He was right. The low, ominous murmur
changed to a distant roar, grew louder yet, and yet louder, and was no
longer distant.

"It will be the sand islets off Cape Charles, sir," he said. I nodded.
He and I knew there was no need of words.

The sky grew paler and paler, and soon upon the woof of the clouds a
splash of dull yellow showed where the sun would be. The fog rose,
laying bare the desolate ocean. Before us were two very small islands,
mere handfuls of sand lying side by side, and encompassed half by the
open sea, half by stiller waters diked in by marshes and sand bars. A
coarse, scanty grass and a few stunted trees with branches bending away
from the sea lived upon them, but nothing else. Over them and over the
marshes and the sand banks circled myriads of great white gulls. Their
harsh, unearthly voices came to us faintly, and increased the desolation
of earth and sky and sea.

To the shell-strewn beach of the outer of the two islets raced long
lines of surf, and between us and it lurked a sand bar, against which
the great rollers dashed with a bull-like roar. The wind drove us
straight upon this bar. A moment of deadly peril and it had us fast,
holding us for the waves to beat our life out. The boat listed, then
rested, quivering through all its length. The waves pounded against its
side, each watery battering-ram dissolving in foam and spray but to
give place to another, and yet it held together, and yet we lived. How
long it would hold we could not tell; we only knew it could not be for
long. The inclination of the boat was not so great but that, with
caution, we might move about. There were on board rope and an axe. With
the latter I cut away the thwarts and the decking in the bow, and Diccon
and I made a small raft. When it was finished, I lifted my wife in my
arms and laid her upon it and lashed her to it with the rope. She smiled
like a child, then closed her eyes. "I have gathered primroses until I
am tired," she said. "I will sleep here a little in the sunshine, and
when I awake I will make you a cowslip ball."

Time passed, and the groaning, trembling timbers still held together.
The wind fell, the sky became blue, and the sun shone. Another while,
and the waves were less mountainous and beat less furiously against the
boat. Hope brightened before us. To strong swimmers the distance to the
islet was trifling; if the boat would but last until the sea subsided,
we might gain the beach. What we would do upon that barren spot, where
was neither man nor brute, food nor water, was a thing that we had not
the time to consider. It was land that we craved.

Another hour, and the sea still fell. Another, and a wave struck the
boat with force. "The sea is coming in!" cried the minister.

"Ay," I answered. "She will go to pieces now."

The minister rose to his feet. "I am no mariner," he said, "but once in
the water I can swim you like any fish. There have been times when I
have reproached the Lord for that He cased a poor silly humble preacher
like me with the strength and seeming of some mighty man of old, and
there have been times when I have thanked Him for that strength. I thank
Him now. Captain Percy, if you will trust the lady to me, I will take
her safely to that shore."

I raised my head from the figure over which I was bending, and looked
first at the still tumultuous sea, and then at the gigantic frame of the
minister. When we had made that frail raft no swimmer could have lived
in that shock of waves; now there was a chance for all, and for the
minister, with his great strength, the greatest I have ever seen in any
man, a double chance. I took her from the raft and gave her into his
arms. A minute later the boat went to pieces.

Side by side Sparrow and I buffeted the sea. He held the King's ward in
one arm, and he bore her safely over the huge swells and through the
onslaught of the breaking waves. I could thank God for his strength, and
trust her to it. For the other three of us, we were all strong swimmers,
and, though bruised and beat about, we held our own. Each wave,
overcome, left us nearer the islet,--a little while and our feet touched
bottom. A short struggle with the tremendous surf and we were out of the
maw of the sea, but out upon a desolate islet, a mere hand's-breadth of
sand and shell in a lonely ocean, some three leagues from the mainland
of Accomac, and upon it neither food nor water. We had the clothes upon
our backs, and my lord and I had kept our swords. I had a knife, and
Diccon too was probably armed. The flint and steel and tinder box within
my pouch made up our store.

The minister laid the woman whom he carried upon the pebbles, fell upon
his knees, and lifted his rugged face to heaven. I too knelt, and with
my hand upon her heart said my own prayer in my own way. My lord stood
with unbent head, his eyes upon that still white face, but Diccon turned
abruptly and strode off to a low ridge of sand, from the top of which
one might survey the entire island.

In two minutes he was back again. "There's plenty of driftwood further
up the beach," he announced, "and a mort of dried seaweed. At least we
needn't freeze."

The great bonfire that we made roared and crackled, sending out a most
cheerful heat and light. Under that genial breath the colour came slowly
back to madam's cheek and lip, and her heart beat more strongly.
Presently she turned under my hand, and with a sigh pillowed her head
upon her arm and went to sleep in that blessed warmth like a little
child.

We who had no mind for sleep sat there beside the fire and watched the
sun sink behind the low black line of the mainland, now plainly visible
in the cleared air. It dyed the waves blood red, and shot out one long
ray to crimson a single floating cloud, no larger than a man's hand,
high in the blue. Sea birds, a countless multitude, went to and fro with
harsh cries from island to marsh, and marsh to island. The marshes were
still green; they lay, a half moon of fantastic shapes, each parted from
the other by pink water. Beyond them was the inlet dividing us from the
mainland, and that inlet was three leagues in width. We turned and
looked seaward. Naught but leaping waves white-capped to the horizon.

"We touched here the time we went against the French at Port Royal and
St. Croix," I said. "We had heard a rumour that the Bermuda pirates had
hidden gold here. Argall and I went over every foot of it."

"And found no water?" questioned the minister.

"And found no water."

The light died from the west and from the sea beneath, and the night
fell. When with the darkness the sea fowl ceased their clamour, a
dreadful silence suddenly enfolded us. The rush of the surf made no
difference; the ear heard it, but to the mind there was no sound. The
sky was thick with stars; every moment one shot, and the trail of white
fire it left behind melted into the night silently like snowflakes.
There was no wind. The moon rose out of the sea, and lent the sandy isle
her own pallor. Here and there, back amongst the dunes, the branches of
a low and leafless tree writhed upward like dark fingers thrust from out
the spectral earth. The ocean, quiet now, dreamed beneath the moon and
cared not for the five lives it had cast upon that span of sand.

We piled driftwood and tangles of seaweed upon our fire, and it flamed
and roared and broke the silence. Diccon, going to the landward side of
the islet, found some oysters, which we roasted and ate; but we had nor
wine nor water with which to wash them down.

"At least there are here no foes to fear," quoth my lord. "We may all
sleep to-night; and zooks! we shall need it!" He spoke frankly, with an
open face.

"I will take one watch, if you will take the other," I said to the
minister.

He nodded. "I will watch until midnight."

It was long past that time when he roused me from where I lay at
Mistress Percy's feet.

"I should have relieved you long ago," I told him.

He smiled. The moon, now high in the heavens, shone upon and softened
his rugged features. I thought I had never seen a face so filled with
tenderness and hope and a sort of patient power. "I have been with God,"
he said simply. "The starry skies and the great ocean and the little
shells beneath my hand,--how wonderful are Thy works, O Lord! What is
man that Thou art mindful of him? And yet not a sparrow falleth----"

I rose and sat by the fire, and he laid himself down upon the sand
beside me.

"Master Sparrow," I asked, "have you ever suffered thirst?"

"No," he answered. We spoke in low tones, lest we should wake her.
Diccon and my lord, upon the other side of the fire, were sleeping
heavily.

"I have," I said. "Once I lay upon a field of battle throughout a
summer day, sore wounded and with my dead horse across my body. I shall
forget the horror of that lost field and the torment of that weight
before I forget the thirst."

"You think there is no hope?"

"What hope should there be?"

He was silent. Presently he turned and looked at the King's ward where
she lay in the rosy light; then his eyes came back to mine.

"If it comes to the worst I shall put her out of her torment," I said.

He bowed his head and we sat in silence, our gaze upon the ground
between us, listening to the low thunder of the surf and the crackling
of the fire. "I love her," I said at last. "God help me!"

He put his finger to his lips. She had stirred and opened her eyes. I
knelt beside her, and asked her how she did and if she wanted aught.

"It is warm," she said wonderingly.

"You are no longer in the boat," I told her. "You are safe upon the
land. You have been sleeping here by the fire that we kindled."

An exquisite smile just lit her face, and her eyelids drooped again. "I
am so tired," she said drowsily, "that I will sleep a little longer.
Will you bring me some water, Captain Percy? I am very thirsty."

After a moment I said gently, "I will go get it, madam." She made no
answer; she was already asleep. Nor did Sparrow and I speak again. He
laid himself down with his face to the ocean, and I sat with my head in
my hands, and thought and thought, to no purpose.



CHAPTER XXI

In which a Grave is Digged


When the stars had gone out and the moon begun to pale, I raised my face
from my hands. Only a few glowing embers remained of the fire, and the
driftwood that we had collected was exhausted. I thought that I would
gather more, and build up the fire against the time when the others
should awake. The driftwood lay in greatest quantity some distance up
the beach, against a low ridge of sand dunes. Beyond these the islet
tapered off to a long gray point of sand and shell. Walking toward this
point in the first pale light of dawn, I chanced to raise my eyes, and
beheld riding at anchor beyond the spit of sand a ship.

I stopped short and rubbed my eyes. She lay there on the sleeping ocean
like a dream ship, her masts and rigging black against the pallid sky,
the mist that rested upon the sea enfolding half her hull. She might
have been of three hundred tons burthen; she was black and two-decked,
and very high at poop and forecastle, and she was heavily armed. My eyes
travelled from the ship to the shore, and there, dragged up on the
point, the oars within it, was a boat.

At the head of the beach, beyond the line of shell and weed, the sand
lay piled in heaps. With these friendly hillocks between me and the
sea, I crept on as silently as I might, until I reached a point just
above the boat. Here I first heard voices. I went a little further, then
knelt, and, parting the long coarse grass that filled the hollow between
two hillocks, looked out upon two men who were digging a grave.

They dug in a furious hurry, throwing the sand to left and right, and
cursing as they dug. They were powerful men, of a most villainous cast
of countenance, and dressed very oddly. One with a shirt of coarsest
dowlas, and a filthy rag tying up a broken head, yet wore velvet
breeches, and wiped the sweat from his face with a wrought handkerchief;
the other topped a suit of shreds and patches with a fine bushy ruff,
and swung from one ragged shoulder a cloak of grogram lined with
taffeta. On the ground, to one side of them, lay something long and
wrapped in white.

As they dug and cursed, the light strengthened. The east changed from
gray to pale rose, from rose to a splendid crimson shot with gold. The
mist lifted and the sea burned red. Two boats were lowered from the
ship, and came swiftly toward the point.

"Here they are at last," growled the gravedigger with the broken head
and velvet breeches.

"They've taken their time," snarled his companion, "and us two here on
this d----d island with a dead man the whole ghost's hour. Boarding a
ship's nothing, but to dig a grave on the land before cockcrow, with the
man you're to put in it looking at you! Why couldn't he be buried at
sea, decent and respectable, like other folk?"

"It was his will--that's all I know," said the first; "just as it was
his will, when he found he was a dying man, to come booming away from
the gold seas up here to a land where there isn't no gold, and never
will be. Belike he thought he'd find waiting for him at the bottom of
the sea, all along from the Lucayas to Cartagena, the many he sent there
afore he died. And Captain Paradise, he says, says he: 'It's ill
crossing a dead man. We'll obey him this once more----'"

"Captain Paradise!" cried he of the ruff. "Who made him captain?--curse
him!"

His fellow straightened himself with a jerk. "Who made him captain? The
ship will make him captain. Who else should be captain?"

"Red Gil!"

"Red Gil!" exclaimed the other. "I'd rather have the Spaniard!"

"The Spaniard would do well enough, if the rest of us weren't English.
If hating every other Spaniard would do it, he'd be English fast
enough."

The scoundrel with the broken head burst into a loud laugh. "D'ye
remember the barque we took off Porto Bello, with the priests aboard?
Oho! Oho!"

The rogue with the ruff grinned. "I reckon the padres remember it, and
find hell easy lying. This hole's deep enough, I'm thinking."

They both clambered out, and one squatted at the head of the grave and
mopped his face with his delicate handkerchief, while the other swung
his fine cloak with an air and dug his bare toes in the sand.

The two boats now grated upon the beach, and several of their occupants,
springing out, dragged them up on the sand.

"We'll never get another like him that's gone," said the worthy at the
head of the grave, gloomily regarding the something wrapped in white.

"That's gospel truth," assented the other, with a prodigious sigh. "He
was a man what was a man. He never stuck at nothing. Don or priest, man
or woman, good red gold or dirty silver,--it was all one to him. But
he's dead and gone!"

"Now, if we had a captain like Kirby," suggested the first.

"Kirby keeps to the Summer Isles," said the second. "'Tisn't often now
that he swoops down as far as the Indies."

The man with the broken head laughed. "When he does, there's a noise in
that part of the world."

"And that's gospel truth, too," swore the other, with an oath of
admiration.

By this the score or more who had come in the two boats were halfway up
the beach. In front, side by side, as each conceding no inch of
leadership, walked three men: a large man, with a villainous face much
scarred, and a huge, bushy, dark-red beard; a tall, dark man, with a
thin, fierce face and bloodshot eyes, the Spaniard by his looks; and a
slight man, with the face and bearing of an English gentleman. The men
behind them differed no whit from the two grave--diggers, being as
scoundrelly of face, as great of strength, and as curiously attired.
They came straight to the open grave, and the dead man beside it. The
three who seemed of most importance disposed themselves, still side by
side, at the head of the grave, and their following took the foot.

"It's a dirty piece of work," said Red Gil in a voice like a raven's,
"and the sooner it's done with, and we are aboard again and booming back
to the Indies, the better I'll like it. Over with him, brave boys!"

"Is it yours to give the word?" asked the slight man, who was dressed
point-device, and with a finical nicety, in black and silver. His voice
was low and clear, and of a somewhat melancholy cadence, going well with
the pensiveness of fine, deeply-fringed eyes.

"Why shouldn't I give the word?" growled the personage addressed, adding
with an oath, "I've as good a right to give it as any man,--maybe a
better right!"

"That would be scanned," said he of the pensive eyes. "Gentlemen, we
have here the pick of the ship. For the captain that these choose, those
on board will throw up their caps. Let us bury the dead, and then let
choice be made of one of us three, each of whom has claims that might be
put forward----" He broke off and picking up a delicate shell began to
study its pearly spirals with a tender, thoughtful, half-pleased,
half-melancholy countenance.

The gravedigger with the wrought handkerchief looked from him to the
rascal crew massed at the foot of the grave, and, seeing his own
sentiments mirrored in the countenances of not a few, snatched the
bloody clout from his head, waved it, and cried out, "Paradise!"
Whereupon arose a great confusion. Some bawled for Paradise, some for
Red Gil, a few for the Spaniard. The two gravediggers locked horns, and
a brawny devil with a woman's mantle swathed about his naked shoulders
drew a knife, and made for a partisan of the Spaniard, who in his turn
skilfully interposed between himself and the attack the body of a
bawling well-wisher to Red Gil.

The man in black and silver tossed aside the shell, rose, and entered
the lists. With one hand he seized the gravedigger of the ruff, and
hurled him apart from him of the velvet breeches; with the other he
presented a dagger with a jewelled haft at the breast of the ruffian
with the woman's mantle, while in tones that would have befitted
Astrophel plaining of his love to rocks, woods, and streams, he poured
forth a flood of wild, singular, and filthy oaths, such as would have
disgraced a camp-follower. His interference was effectual. The
combatants fell apart and the clamour was stilled, whereupon the
gentleman of contrarieties at once resumed the gentle and indifferent
melancholy of manner and address.

"Let us off with the old love before we are on with the new, gentlemen,"
he said. "We'll bury the dead first, and choose his successor
afterward,--decently and in order, I trust, and with due submission to
the majority."

"I'll fight for my rights," growled Red Gil.

"And I for mine," cried the Spaniard.

"And each of us'll back his own man," muttered in an aside the
gravedigger with the broken head.

The one they called Paradise sighed. "It is a thousand pities that there
is not amongst us some one of merit so pre-eminent that faction should
hide its head before it. But to the work in hand, gentlemen."

They gathered closer around the yawning grave, and some began to lift
the corpse. As for me, I withdrew as noiselessly as an Indian from my
lair of grass, and, hidden by the heaped-up sand, made off across the
point and down the beach to where a light curl of smoke showed that some
one was mending the fire I had neglected. It was Sparrow, who
alternately threw on driftwood and seaweed and spoke to madam, who sat
at his feet in the blended warmth of fire and sunshine. Diccon was
roasting the remainder of the oysters he had gathered the night before,
and my lord stood and stared with a frowning face at the
nine-mile-distant mainland. All turned their eyes upon me as I came up
to the fire.

"A little longer, Captain Percy, and we would have had out a
search-warrant," began the minister cheerfully. "Have you been building
a bridge?"

"If I build one," I said, "it will be a perilous one enough. Have you
looked seaward?"

"We waked but a minute agone," he answered. As he spoke, he straightened
his great form and lifted his face from the fire to the blue sea.
Diccon, still on his knees at his task, looked too; and my lord, turning
from his contemplation of the distant kingdom of Accomac; and Mistress
Percy, one hand shading her eyes, the slender fingers of the other still
immeshed in her long dark hair, which she had been braiding. They stared
at the ship in silence until my lord laughed.

"Conjure us on board at once, captain," he cried. "We are thirsty."

I drew the minister aside. "I am going up the beach, beyond that point,
again; you will one and all stay here. If I do not come back, do the
best you can, and sell her life as dearly as you can. If I come
back,--you are quick of wit and have been a player; look that you take
the cue I give you!"

I returned to the fire, and he followed me, amazement in his face. "My
Lord Carnal," I said, "I must ask you for your sword."

He started, and his black brows drew together.

"Though the fortunes of war have made me in some sort your captive,
sir," he said at last, and not without dignity, "I do not see, upon this
isle to which we are all prisoners, the need of so strong testimony to
the abjectness of my condition, nor deem it generous----"

"We will speak of generosity another day, my lord," I interrupted. "At
present I am in a hurry. That you are my prisoner in verity is enough
for me, but not for others. I must have you so in seeming as well as in
truth. Moreover, Master Sparrow is weaponless, and I must needs disarm
an enemy to arm a friend. I beg that you will give what else we must
take."

He looked at Diccon, but Diccon stood with his face to the sea. I
thought we were to have a struggle, and I was sorry for it, but my lord
could and did add discretion to a valour that I never doubted. He
shrugged his shoulders, burst into a laugh, and turned to Mistress
Percy.

"What can one do, lady, when one is doubly a prisoner--prisoner to
numbers and to beauty? E'en laugh at fate, and make the best of a bad
job. Here, sir! Some day it shall be the point!"

He drew his rapier from its sheath, and presented the hilt to me. I took
it with a bow, and handed it to Sparrow.

The King's ward had risen, and now leant against the bank of sand, her
long dark hair, half braided, drawn over either shoulder, her face
marble white between the waves of darkness.

"I do not know that I shall ever come back," I said, stopping before
her. "May I kiss your hand before I go?"

Her lips moved, but she did not speak. I knelt and kissed her clasped
hands. They were cold to my lips. "Where are you going?" she whispered.
"Into what danger are you going? I--I--take me with you!"

I rose, with a laugh at my own folly that could have rested brow and
lips on those hands, and let the world wag. "Another time," I said.
"Rest in the sunshine now, and think that all is well. All will be well,
I trust."

A few minutes later saw me almost upon the party gathered about the
grave. The grave had received that which it was to hold until the crack
of doom, and was now being rapidly filled with sand. The crew of
deep-dyed villains worked or stood or sat in silence, but all looked at
the grave, and saw me not. As the last handful of sand made it level
with the beach, I walked into their midst, and found myself face to face
with the three candidates for the now vacant captaincy.

"Give you good-day, gentlemen!" I cried. "Is it your captain that you
bury or one of your crew, or is it only pezos and pieces of eight?"



CHAPTER XXII

In which I Change my Name and Occupation


"The sun shining on so much bare steel hurts my eyes," I said. "Put up,
gentlemen, put up! Cannot one rover attend the funeral of another
without all this crowding and display of cutlery? If you will take the
trouble to look around you, you will see that I have brought to the
obsequies only myself."

One by one cutlass and sword were lowered, and those who had drawn them,
falling somewhat back, spat and swore and laughed. The man in black and
silver only smiled gently and sadly. "Did you drop from the blue?" he
asked. "Or did you come up from the sea?"

"I came out of it," I said. "My ship went down in the storm yesterday.
Your little cockboat yonder was more fortunate." I waved my hand toward
that ship of three hundred tons, then twirled my mustaches and stood at
gaze.

"Was your ship so large, then?" demanded Paradise, while a murmur of
admiration, larded with oaths, ran around the circle.

"She was a very great galleon," I replied, with a sigh for the good ship
that was gone.

A moment's silence, during which they all looked at me. "A galleon,"
then said Paradise softly.

"They that sailed her yesterday are to-day at the bottom of the sea," I
continued. "Alack--aday! so are one hundred thousand pezos of gold,
three thousand bars of silver, ten frails of pearls, jewels uncounted,
cloth of gold and cloth of silver. She was a very rich prize."

The circle sucked in their breath. "All at the bottom of the sea?"
queried Red Gil, with gloating eyes fixed upon the smiling water. "Not
one pezo left? not one little, little pearl?"

I shook my head and heaved a prodigious sigh. "The treasure is gone," I
said, "and the men with whom I took it are gone. I am a captain with
neither ship nor crew. I take you, my friends, for a ship and crew
without a captain. The inference is obvious."

The ring gaped with wonder; then strange oaths arose. Red Gil broke into
a bellow of angry laughter, while the Spaniard glared like a catamount
about to spring. "So you would be our captain?" said Paradise, picking
up another shell, and poising it upon a hand as fine and small as a
woman's.

"Faith, you might go farther and fare worse," I answered, and began to
hum a tune. When I had finished it, "I am Kirby," I said, and waited to
see if that shot should go wide or through the hull.

For two minutes the dash of the surf and the cries of the wheeling
sea-fowl made the only sound in that part of the world; then from those
half-clad rapscallions arose a shout of "Kirby!"--a shout in which the
three leaders did not join. That one who looked a gentleman rose from
the sand and made me a low bow. "Well met, noble captain," he cried in
those his honey tones. "You will doubtless remember me who was with you
that time at Maracaibo, when you sunk the galleasses. Five years have
passed since then, and yet I see you ten years younger and three inches
taller."

"I touched once at the Lucayas, and found the spring de Leon sought," I
said. "Sure, the waters have a marvellous effect, and if they give not
eternal youth, at least renew that which we have lost."

"Truly a potent _aqua vitæ_," he remarked, still with thoughtful
melancholy. "I see that it hath changed your eyes from black to gray."

"It hath that peculiar virtue," I said, "that it can make black seem
white."

The man with the woman's mantle drawn about him now thrust himself from
the rear to the front rank. "That's not Kirby!" he bawled. "He's no more
Kirby than I am Kirby! Didn't I sail with Kirby from the Summer Isles to
Cartagena and back again? He's a cheat, and I'm a-going to cut his heart
out!" He was making at me with a long knife, when I whipped out my
rapier.

"Am I not Kirby, you dog?" I cried, and ran him through the shoulder.

He dropped, and his fellows surged forward with a yell. "Yet a little
patience, my masters!" said Paradise in a raised voice, and with genuine
amusement in his eyes. "It is true that that Kirby with whom I and our
friend there on the ground sailed was somewhat short and as swart as a
raven, besides having a cut across his face that had taken away a part
of his lip and the top of his ear, and that this gentleman who announces
himself as Kirby hath none of Kirby's marks. But we are fair and
generous, and open to conviction----"

"He'll have to convince my cutlass!" roared Red Gil.

I turned upon him. "If I do convince it, what then?" I demanded. "If I
convince your sword, you of Spain, and yours, Sir Black and Silver?"

The Spaniard stared. "I was the best sword in Lima," he said stiffly. "I
and my Toledo will not change our minds."

"Let him try to convince Paradise; he's got no reputation as a
swordsman!" cried out the grave--digger with the broken head.

A roar of laughter followed this suggestion, and I gathered from it and
from the oaths and allusions to this or that time and place that
Paradise was not without reputation.

I turned to him. "If I fight you three, one by one, and win, am I
Kirby?"

He regarded the shell with which he was toying with a thoughtful smile,
held it up that the light might strike through its rose and pearl, then
crushed it to dust between his fingers.

"Ay," he said with an oath. "If you win against the cutlass of Red Gil,
the best blade of Lima, and the sword of Paradise, you may call yourself
the devil an you please, and we will all subscribe to it."

I lifted my hand. "I am to have fair play?"

As one man that crew of desperate villains swore that the odds should be
only three to one. By this the whole matter had presented itself to them
as an entertainment more diverting than bull-fight or bear-baiting. They
that follow the sea, whether honest men or black-hearted knaves, have in
their composition a certain childlikeness that makes them easily turned,
easily led, and easily pleased. The wind of their passion shifts quickly
from point to point, one moment blowing a hurricane, the next sinking to
a happy-go-lucky summer breeze. I have seen a little thing convert a
crew on the point of mutiny into a set of rollicking, good-natured souls
who--until the wind veered again--would not hurt a fly. So with these.
They spread themselves into a circle, squatting or kneeling or standing
upon the white sand in the bright sunshine, their sinewy hands, that
should have been ingrained red, clasped over their knees, or arms
akimbo, resting upon their hips, on their scoundrel faces a broad smile,
and in their eyes that had looked on nameless horrors a pleasurable
expectation, as of spectators in a playhouse awaiting the entrance of
the players.

"There is really no good reason why we should gratify your whim," said
Paradise, still amused. "But it will serve to pass the time. We will
fight you, one by one."

"And if I win?"

He laughed. "Then, on the honour of a gentleman, you are Kirby and our
captain. If you lose, we will leave you where you stand for the gulls to
bury."

"A bargain," I said, and drew my sword.

"I first!" roared Red Gil. "God's wounds! there will need no second!"

As he spoke he swung his cutlass, and made an arc of blue flame. The
weapon became in his hands a flail, terrible to look upon, making
lightnings and whistling in the air, but in reality not so deadly as it
seemed. The fury of his onslaught would have beaten down the guard of
any mere swordsman, but that I was not. A man, knowing his weakness and
insufficiency in many and many a thing, may yet know his strength in one
or two, and his modesty take no hurt. I was ever master of my sword, and
it did the thing I would have it do. Moreover, as I fought I saw her as
I had last seen her, standing against the bank of sand, her dark hair,
half braided, drawn over her bosom and hanging to her knees. Her eyes
haunted me, and my lips yet felt the touch of her hand. I fought
well--how well the lapsing of oaths and laughter into breathless silence
bore witness.

The ruffian against whom I was pitted began to draw his breath in gasps.
He was a scoundrel not fit to die, less fit to live, unworthy of a
gentleman's steel. I presently ran him through with as little
compunction and as great a desire to be quit of a dirty job as if he had
been a mad dog. He fell, and a little later, while I was engaged with
the Spaniard, his soul went to that hell which had long gaped for it. To
those his companions his death was as slight a thing as would theirs
have been to him. In the eyes of the two remaining would-be leaders he
was a stumbling-block removed, and to the squatting, open-mouthed
commonalty his taking off weighed not a feather against the solid
entertainment I was affording them. I was now a better man than Red
Gil,--that was all.

The Spaniard was a more formidable antagonist. The best blade of Lima
was by no means to be despised; but Lima is a small place, and its
blades can be numbered. The sword that for three years had been counted
the best in all the Low Countries was its better. But I fought fasting
and for the second time that morning, so maybe the odds were not so
great. I wounded him slightly, and presently succeeded in disarming him.
"Am I Kirby?" I demanded, with my point at his breast.

"Kirby, of course, señor," he answered with a sour smile, his eyes upon
the gleaming blade.

I lowered my point and we bowed to each other, after which he sat down
upon the sand and applied himself to stanching the bleeding from his
wound. The pirate ring gave him no attention, but stared at me instead.
I was now a better man than the Spaniard.

The man in black and silver rose and removed his doublet, folding it
very carefully, inside out, that the sand might not injure the velvet,
then drew his rapier, looked at it lovingly, made it bend until point
and hilt well-nigh met, and faced me with a bow.

"You have fought twice, and must be weary," he said. "Will you not take
breath before we engage, or will your long rest afterward suffice you?"

"I will rest aboard my ship," I made reply. "And as I am in a hurry to
be gone, we won't delay."

Our blades had no sooner crossed than I knew that in this last encounter
I should need every whit of my skill, all my wit, audacity, and
strength. I had met my equal, and he came to it fresh and I jaded. I
clenched my teeth and prayed with all my heart; I set her face before
me, and thought if I should fail her to what ghastly fate she might
come, and I fought as I had never fought before. The sound of the surf
became a roar in my ears, the sunshine an intolerable blaze of light;
the blue above and around seemed suddenly beneath my feet as well. We
were fighting high in the air, and had fought thus for ages. I knew that
he made no thrust I did not parry, no feint I could not interpret. I
knew that my eye was more quick to see, my brain to conceive, and my
hand to execute than ever before; but it was as though I held that
knowledge of some other, and I myself was far away, at Weyanoke, in the
minister's garden, in the haunted wood, anywhere save on that barren
islet. I heard him swear under his breath, and in the face I had set
before me the eyes brightened. As if she had loved me, I fought for her
with all my powers of body and mind. He swore again, and my heart
laughed within me. The sea now roared less loudly, and I felt the good
earth beneath my feet. Slowly but surely I wore him out. His breath came
short, the sweat stood upon his forehead, and still I deferred my
attack. He made the thrust of a boy of fifteen, and I smiled as I put it
by.

"Why don't you end it?" he breathed. "Finish and be d----d to you!"

For answer I sent his sword flying over the nearest hillock of sand. "Am
I Kirby?" I said. He fell back against the heaped-up sand and leaned
there, panting, with his hand to his side. "Kirby or devil," he replied.
"Have it your own way."

I turned to the now highly excited rabble. "Shove the boats off, half a
dozen of you!" I ordered. "Some of you others take up that carrion there
and throw it into the sea. The gold upon it is for your pains. You there
with the wounded shoulder, you have no great hurt. I'll salve it with
ten pieces of eight from the captain's own share, the next prize we
take."

A shout of acclamation arose that scared the sea-fowl. They who so short
a time before had been ready to tear me limb from limb now with the
greatest apparent delight hailed me as captain. How soon they might
revert to their former mood was a question that I found not worth while
to propound to myself.

By this the man in black and silver had recovered his breath and his
equanimity. "Have you no commission with which to honour me, noble
captain?" he asked in gently reproachful tones. "Have you forgot how
often you were wont to employ me in those sweet days when your eyes were
black?"

"By no means, Master Paradise," I said courteously. "I desire your
company and that of the gentleman from Lima. You will go with me to
bring up the rest of my party. The three gentlemen of the broken head,
the bushy ruff, which I protest is vastly becoming, and the wounded
shoulder will escort us."

"The rest of your party?" said Paradise softly.

"Ay," I answered nonchalantly. "They are down the beach and around the
point warming themselves by a fire which this piled-up sand hides from
you. Despite the sunshine, it is a biting air. Let us be going! This
island wearies me, and I am anxious to be on board ship and away."

"So small an escort scarce befits so great a captain," he said. "We will
all attend you." One and all started forward.

I called to mind and gave utterance to all the oaths I had heard in the
wars. "I entertain you for my subordinate whom I command, and not who
commands me!" I cried, when my memory failed me. "As for you, you dogs,
who would question your captain and his doings, stay where you are, if
you would not be lessoned in earnest!"

Sheer audacity is at times the surest steed a man can bestride. Now at
least it did me good service. With oaths and grunts of admiration the
pirates stayed where they were, and went about their business of
launching the boats and stripping the body of Red Gil, while the man in
black and silver, the Spaniard, the two gravediggers, the knave with the
wounded shoulder, and myself walked briskly up the beach.

With these five at my heels I strode up to the dying fire and to those
who had sprung to their feet at our approach. "Sparrow," I said easily,
"luck being with us as usual, I have fallen in with a party of rovers. I
have told them who I am,--that Kirby, to wit, whom an injurious world
calls the blackest pirate unhanged,--and have recounted to them how the
great galleon which I took some months ago went down yesterday with all
on board, you and I with these others being the sole survivors. By dint
of a little persuasion they have elected me their captain, and we will
go on board directly and set sail for the Indies, a hunting ground which
we never should have left. You need not look so blank; you shall be my
mate and right hand still." I turned to the five who formed my escort.
"This, gentlemen, is my mate, Jeremy Sparrow by name, who hath a taste
for divinity that in no wise interferes with his taste for a galleon or
a _guarda costa_. This man, Diccon Demon by name, was of my crew. The
gentleman without a sword is my prisoner, taken by me from the last ship
I sunk. How he, an Englishman, came to be upon a Spanish barque I have
not found leisure to inquire. The lady is my prisoner, also."

"Sure by rights she should be gaoler and hold all men's hearts in ward,"
said Paradise, with a low bow to my unfortunate captive.

While he spoke a most remarkable transformation was going on. The
minister's grave, rugged, and deeply lined face smoothed itself and shed
ten years at least; in the eyes that I had seen wet with noble tears a
laughing devil now lurked, while his strong mouth became a loose-lipped,
devil-may-care one. His head with its aureole of bushy, grizzled hair
set itself jauntily upon one side, and from it and from his face and
his whole great frame breathed a wicked jollity quite indescribable.

"Odsbodikins, captain!" he cried. "Kirby's luck!--'twill pass into a
saw! Adzooks! and so you're captain once more, and I'm mate once more,
and we've a ship once more, and we're off once more

    'To sail the Spanish Main,
     And give the Spaniard pain,
        Heave ho, bully boy, heave ho!'

By'r lakin! I'm too dry to sing. It will take all the wine of Xeres in
the next galleon to unparch my tongue!"



CHAPTER XXIII

In which we Write upon the Sand


Day after day the wind filled our sails and sang in the rigging, and day
after day we sailed through blue seas toward the magic of the south. Day
after day a listless and voluptuous world seemed too idle for any dream
of wrong, and day after day we whom a strange turn of Fortune's wheel
had placed upon a pirate ship held our lives in our hands, and walked so
close with Death that at length that very intimacy did breed contempt.
It was not a time to think; it was a time to act, to laugh and make
others laugh, to bluster and brag, to estrange sword and scabbard, to
play one's hand with a fine unconcern, but all the time to watch, watch,
watch, day in and day out, every minute of every hour. That ship became
a stage, and we, the actors, should have been applauded to the echo. How
well we played let witness the fact that the ship came to the Indies,
with me for captain and the minister for mate, and with the woman that
was on board unharmed; nay, reverenced like a queen. The great cabin was
hers, and the poop deck; we made for her a fantastic state with doffing
of hats and bowings and backward steps. We were her guard,--_the
gentlemen of the Queen_,--I and my Lord Carnal, the minister and Diccon,
and we kept between her and the rest of the ship.

We did our best, and our best was very much. When I think of the songs
the minister sang; of the roars of laughter that went up from the
lounging pirates when, sitting astride one of the main-deck guns, he
made his voice call to them, now from the hold, now from the stern
gallery, now from the masthead, now from the gilt sea maid upon the
prow, I laugh too. Sometimes a space was cleared for him, and he played
to them as to the pit at Blackfriars. They laughed and wept and swore
with delight,--all save the Spaniard, who was ever like a thundercloud,
and Paradise, who only smiled like some languid, side-box lord. There
was wine on board, and during the long, idle days, when the wind droned
in the rigging like a bagpipe, and there was never a cloud in the sky,
and the galleons were still far away, the pirates gambled and drank.
Diccon diced with them, and taught them all the oaths of a free company.
So much wine, and no more, should they have; when they frowned, I let
them see that their frowning and their half-drawn knives mattered no
doit to me. It was their whim--a huge jest of which they could never
have enough--still to make believe that they sailed under Kirby. Lest it
should spoil the jest, and while the jest outranked all other
entertainment, they obeyed as though I had been indeed that fierce
sea-wolf.

Time passed, though it passed like a tortoise, and we came to the
Lucayas, to the outposts of the vast hunting-ground of Spaniard and
pirate and buccaneer, the fringe of that zone of beauty and villainy and
fear, and sailed slowly past the islands, looking for our prey.

The sea was blue as blue could be. Only in the morning and the evening
it glowed blood red, or spread upon its still bosom all the gold of all
the Indies, or became an endless mead of palest green shot with
amethyst. When night fell, it mirrored the stars, great and small, or
was caught in a net of gold flung across it from horizon to horizon. The
ship rent the net with a wake of white fire. The air was balm; the
islands were enchanted places, abandoned by Spaniard and Indian,
overgrown, serpent-haunted. The reef, the still water, pink or gold, the
gleaming beach, the green plume of the palm, the scarlet birds, the
cataracts of bloom,--the senses swooned with the colour, the steaming
incense, the warmth, the wonder of that fantastic world. Sometimes, in
the crystal waters near the land, we sailed over the gardens of the sea
gods, and, looking down, saw red and purple blooms and shadowy, waving
forests, with rainbow fish for humming-birds. Once we saw below us a
sunken ship. With how much gold she had endowed the wealthy sea, how
many long-drowned would rise from her rotted decks when the waves gave
up their dead, no man could tell. Away from the ship darted many-hued
fish, gold-disked, or barred and spotted with crimson, or silver and
purple. The dolphin and the tunny and the flying-fish swam with us.
Sometimes flights of small birds came to us from the land. Sometimes the
sea was thickly set with full-blown pale red bloom--the jelly-fish, that
was a flower to the sight and a nettle to the touch. If a storm arose, a
fury that raged and threatened, it presently swept away, and the blue
laughed again. When the sun sank, there arose in the east such a moon as
might have been sole light to all the realms of faery. A beauty
languorous and seductive was most absolute empress of the wonderful land
and the wonderful sea.

We were in the hunting-grounds, and men went not there to gather
flowers. Day after day we watched for Spanish sails; for the plate
fleets went that way, and some galleass or caravel or galleon might
stray aside. At last, in the clear green bay of a nameless island at
which we stopped for water, we found two carracks come upon the same
errand, took them, and with them some slight treasure in rich cloths and
gems. A week later, in a strait between two islands like tinted clouds,
we fought a very great galleon from sunrise to noon, pierced her hull
through and through and silenced her ordnance, then boarded her and
found a king's ransom in gold and silver. When the fighting had ceased
and the treasure was ours, then we four stood side by side on the deck
of the slowly sinking galleon, in front of our prisoners--of the men who
had fought well, of the ashen priests and the trembling women. Those
whom we faced were in high good humour: they had gold with which to
gamble, and wine to drink, and rich clothing with which to prank their
villainous bodies, and prisoners with whom to make merry. When I ordered
the Spaniards to lower their boats, and, taking with them their priests
and women, row off to one of those two islands, the weather changed.

We outlived that storm, but how I scarcely know. As Kirby would have
done, so did I; rating my crew like hounds, turning my point this way
and that, daring them to come taste the red death upon it, braving it
out like some devil who knows he is invulnerable. My lord, swinging the
cutlass with which he was armed, stood beside me, knee to knee, and
Diccon cursed after me, making quarterstaff play with his long pike. But
it was the minister that won us through. At length they laughed, and
Paradise, standing forward, swore that such a captain and such a mate
were worth the lives of a thousand Spaniards. To pleasure Kirby, they
would depart this once from their ancient usage and let the prisoners
go, though it was passing strange,--it being Kirby's wont to clap
prisoners under hatches and fire their ship above them. At the end of
which speech the Spaniard began to rave, and sprang at me like a
catamount. Paradise put forth a foot and tripped him up, whereat the
pirates laughed again, and held him back when he would have come at me a
second time.

From the deck of the shattered galleon I watched her boats, with their
heavy freight of cowering humanity, pull off toward the island. Back
upon my own poop, the grappling-irons cast loose, and a swiftly widening
ribbon of blue between us and the sinking ship, I looked at the pirates
thronging the waist below me, and knew that the play was nearly over.
How many days, weeks, hours, before the lights would go out, I could not
tell; they might burn until we took or lost another ship; the next hour
might see that brief tragedy consummated.

I turned, and going below met Sparrow at the foot of the poop ladder.

"I have sworn at these pirates until my hair stood on end," he said
ruefully. "God forgive me! And I have bent into circles three half-pikes
in demonstration of the thing that would occur to them if they tempted
me overmuch. And I have sung them all the bloody and lascivious songs
that ever I knew in my unregenerate days. I have played the bravo and
buffoon until they gaped for wonder. I have damned myself to all
eternity, I fear, but there'll be no mutiny this fair day. It may arrive
by to-morrow, though."

"Likely enough," I said. "Come within. I have eaten nothing since
yesterday."

"I'll speak to Diccon first," he answered, and went on toward the
forecastle, while I entered the state cabin. Here I found Mistress Percy
kneeling beside the bench beneath the stern windows, her face buried in
her outstretched arms, her dark hair shadowing her like a mantle. When I
spoke to her she did not answer. With a sudden fear I stooped and
touched her clasped hands. A shudder ran through her frame, and she
slowly raised a colourless face.

"Are you come back?" she whispered. "I thought you would never come
back. I thought they had killed you. I was only praying before I killed
myself."

I took her hands and wrung them apart to rouse her, she was so white and
cold, and spoke so strangely. "God forbid that I should die yet awhile,
madam!" I said. "When I can no longer serve you, then I shall not care
how soon I die."

The eyes with which she gazed upon me were still wide and unseeing. "The
guns!" she cried, wresting her hands from mine and putting them to her
ears. "Oh, the guns! they shake the air. And the screams and the
trampling--the guns again!"

I brought her wine and made her drink it; then sat beside her, and told
her gently, over and over again, that there was no longer thunder of the
guns or screams or trampling. At last the long, tearless sobs ceased,
and she rose from her knees, and let me lead her to the door of her
cabin. There she thanked me softly, with downcast eyes and lips that yet
trembled; then vanished from my sight, leaving me first to wonder at
that terror and emotion in her who seldom showed the thing she felt, and
finally to conclude that it was not so wonderful, after all.

We sailed on,--southwards to Cuba, then north again to the Lucayas and
the Florida straits, looking for Spanish ships and their gold. The
lights yet burned,--now brightly, now so sunken that it seemed as though
the next hour they must flicker out. We, the players, flagged not in
that desperate masque; but we knew that, in spite of all endeavour, the
darkness was coming fast upon us.

Had it been possible, we would have escaped from the ship, hazarding new
fortunes on the Spanish Main, in an open boat, _sans_ food or water. But
the pirates watched us very closely. They called me "captain" and
"Kirby," and for the jest's sake gave an exaggerated obedience, with
laughter and flourishes; but none the less I was their prisoner,--I and
those I had brought with me to that ship.

An islet, shaped like the crescent moon, rose from out the sea before
us. We needed water, and so we felt our way between the horns of the
crescent into the blue crystal of a fairy harbour. One low hill,
rose-coloured from base to summit, with scarce a hint of the green world
below that canopy of giant bloom, a little silver beach with wonderful
shells upon it, the sound of a waterfall and a lazy surf,--we smelt the
fruits and the flowers, and a longing for the land came upon us. Six men
were left on the ship, and all besides went ashore. Some rolled the
water casks toward the sound of the cascade; others plunged into the
forest, to return laden with strange and luscious fruits, birds, guanas,
conies,--whatever eatable thing they could lay hands upon; others
scattered along the beach to find turtle eggs, or, if fortune favoured
them, the turtle itself. They laughed, they sang, they swore, until the
isle rang to their merriment. Like wanton children, they called to each
other, to the screaming birds, to the echoing bloom-draped hill.

I spread a square of cloth upon the sand, in the shadow of a mighty tree
that stood at the edge of the forest, and the King's ward took her seat
upon it, and looked, in the golden light of the sinking sun, the very
spirit of the isle. By this we two were alone on the beach. The hunters
for eggs, led by Diccon, were out upon the farthest gleaming horn; from
the wood came the loud laughter of the fruit-gatherers, and a most
rollicking song issuing from the mighty chest of Master Jeremy Sparrow.
With the woodsmen had gone my lord.

I walked a little way into the forest, and shouted a warning to Sparrow
against venturing too far. When I returned to the giant tree and the
cloth in the shadow of its outer branches, my wife was writing on the
sand with a pointed shell. She had not seen or heard me, and I stood
behind her and read what she wrote. It was my name. She wrote it three
times, slowly and carefully; then she felt my presence, glanced swiftly
up, smiled, rubbed out my name, and wrote Sparrow's, Diccon's, and the
King's in succession. "Lest I should forget to make my letters," she
explained.

I sat down at her feet, and for some time we said no word. The light,
falling between the heavy blooms, cast bright sequins upon her dress and
dark hair. The blooms were not more pink than her cheeks, the recesses
of the forest behind us not deeper or darker than her eyes. The laughter
and the song came faintly to us now. The sun was low in the west, and a
wonderful light slept upon the sea.

"Last year we had a masque at court," she said at length, breaking the
long silence. "We had Calypso's island, and I was Calypso. The island
was built of boards covered with green velvet, and there was a mound
upon it of pink silk roses. There was a deep-blue painted sea below, and
a deep-blue painted sky above. My nymphs danced around the mound of
roses, while I sat upon a real rock beside the painted sea and talked
with Ulysses--to wit, my Lord of Buckingham--in gold armour. That was a
strange, bright, unreal, and wearisome day, but not so strange and
unreal as this."

She ceased to speak, and began again to write upon the sand. I watched
her white hand moving to and fro. She wrote, "How long will it last?"

"I do not know. Not long."

She wrote again: "If there is time at the last, when you see that it is
best, will you kill me?"

I took the shell from her hand, and wrote my answer beneath her
question.

The forest behind us sank into that pause and breathless hush between
the noises of the day and the noises of the night. The sun dropped
lower, and the water became as pink as the blooms above us.

"An you could, would you change?" I asked. "Would you return to England
and safety?"

She took a handful of the sand and let it slowly drift through her white
fingers. "You know that I would not," she said; "not if the end were to
come to-night. Only--only----" She turned from me and looked far out to
sea. I could not see her face, only the dusk of her hair and her heaving
bosom. "My blood may be upon your hands," she said in a whisper, "but
yours will be upon my soul."

She turned yet further away, and covered her eyes with her hand. I
arose, and bent over her until I could have touched with my lips that
bowed head. "Jocelyn," I said.

A branch of yellow fruit fell beside us, and my Lord Carnal, a mass of
gaudy bloom in his hand, stepped from the wood. "I returned to lay our
first-fruits at madam's feet," he explained, his darkly watchful eyes
upon us both. "A gift from one poor prisoner to another, madam." He
dropped the flowers in her lap. "Will you wear them, lady? They are as
fair almost as I could wish."

She touched the blossoms with listless fingers, said they were fair;
then, rising, let them drop upon the sand. "I wear no flowers save of my
husband's gathering, my lord," she said.

There was a pathos and weariness in her voice, and a mist of unshed
tears in her eyes. She hated him; she loved me not, yet was forced to
turn to me for help at every point, and she had stood for weeks upon the
brink of death and looked unfalteringly into the gulf beneath her.

"My lord," I said, "you know in what direction Master Sparrow led the
men. Will you re-enter the wood and call them to return? The sun is fast
sinking, and darkness will be upon us."

He looked from her to me, with his brows drawn downwards and his lips
pressed together. Stooping, he took up the fallen flowers and
deliberately tore them to pieces, until the pink petals were all
scattered upon the sand.

"I am weary of requests that are but sugared commands," he said thickly.
"Go seek your own men, an you will. Here we are but man to man, and I
budge not. I stay, as the King would have me stay, beside the
unfortunate lady whom you have made the prisoner and the plaything of a
pirate ship."

"You wear no sword, my Lord Carnal," I said at last, "and so may lie
with impunity."

"But you can get me one!" he cried, with ill-concealed eagerness.

I laughed. "I am not zealous in mine enemy's cause, my lord. I shall not
deprive Master Sparrow of your lordship's sword."

Before I knew what he was about, he crossed the yard of sand between us
and struck me in the face. "Will that quicken your zeal?" he demanded
between his teeth.

I seized him by the arm, and we stood so, both white with passion, both
breathing heavily. At length I flung his arm from me and stepped back.
"I fight not my prisoner," I said, "nor, while the lady you have named
abides upon that ship with the nobleman who, more than myself, is
answerable for her being there, do I put my life in unnecessary hazard.
I will endure the smart as best I may, my lord, until a more convenient
season, when I will salve it well."

I turned to Mistress Percy, and giving her my hand led her down to the
boats; for I heard the fruit-gatherers breaking through the wood, and
the hunters for eggs, black figures against the crimson sky, were
hurrying down the beach. Before the night had quite fallen we were out
of the fairy harbour, and when the moon rose the islet looked only a
silver sail against the jewelled heavens.



CHAPTER XXIV

In which We Choose the Lesser of Two Evils


The luck that had been ours could not hold; when the tide turned, it
ebbed fast.

The weather changed. One hurricane followed upon the stride of another,
with only a blue day or two between. Ofttimes we thought the ship was
lost. All hands toiled like galley-slaves; and as the heavens darkened,
there darkened also the mood of the pirates.

In sight of the great island of Cuba we gave chase to a barque. The sun
was shining and the sea fairly still when first she fled before us; we
gained upon her, and there was not a mile between us when a cloud
blotted out the sun. The next minute our own sails gave us occupation
enough. The storm, not we, was victor over the barque; she sank with a
shriek from her decks that rang above the roaring wind. Two days later
we fought a large caravel. With a fortunate shot she brought down our
foremast, and sailed away from us with small damage of her own. All that
day and night the wind blew, driving us out of our course, and by dawn
we were as a shuttlecock between it and the sea. We weathered the gale,
but when the wind sank there fell on board that black ship a menacing
silence.

In the state cabin I held a council of war. Mistress Percy sat beside
me, her arm upon the table, her hand shadowing her eyes; my lord,
opposite, never took his gaze from her, though he listened gloomily to
Sparrow's rueful assertion that the brazen game we had been playing was
well-nigh over. Diccon, standing behind him, bit his nails and stared at
the floor.

"For myself I care not overmuch," ended the minister. "I scorn not life,
but think it at its worst well worth the living; yet when my God calls
me, I will go as to a gala day and triumph. You are a soldier, Captain
Percy, you and Diccon here, and know how to die. You too, my Lord
Carnal, are a brave man, though a most wicked one. For us four, we can
drink the cup, bitter though it be, with little trembling. But there is
one among us----" His great voice broke, and he sat staring at the
table.

The King's ward uncovered her eyes. "If I be not a man and a soldier,
Master Sparrow," she said simply, "yet I am the daughter of many valiant
gentlemen. I will die as they died before me. And for me, as for you
four, it will be only death,--naught else." She looked at me with a
proud smile.

"Naught else," I said.

My lord started from his seat and strode over to the window, where he
stood drumming his fingers against the casing. I turned toward him. "My
Lord Carnal," I said, "you were overheard last night when you plotted
with the Spaniard."

He recoiled with a gasp, and his hand went to his side, where it found
no sword. I saw his eyes busy here and there through the cabin, seeking
something which he might convert into a weapon.

"I am yet captain of this ship," I continued. "Why I do not, even though
it be my last act of authority, have you flung to the sharks, I scarcely
know."

He threw back his head, all his bravado returned to him. "It is not I
that stand in danger," he began loftily; "and I would have you remember,
sir, that you are my enemy, and that I owe you no loyalty."

"I am content to be your enemy," I answered.

"You do not dare to set upon me now," he went on, with his old insolent,
boastful smile. "Let me cry out, make a certain signal, and they without
will be here in a twinkling, breaking in the door----"

"The signal set?" I said. "The mine laid, the match burning? Then 'tis
time that we were gone. When I bid the world good-night, my lord, my
wife goes with me."

His lips moved and his black eyes narrowed, but he did not speak.

"An my cheek did not burn so," I said, "I would be content to let you
live; live, captain in verity of this ship of devils, until, tired of
you, the devils cut your throat, or until some victorious Spaniard hung
you at his yardarm; live even to crawl back to England, by hook or
crook, to wait, hat in hand, in the antechamber of his Grace of
Buckingham. As it is, I will kill you here and now. I restore you your
sword, my lord, and there lies my challenge."

I flung my glove at his feet, and Sparrow unbuckled the keen blade which
he had worn since the day I had asked it of its owner, and pushed it to
me across the table. The King's ward leaned back in her chair, very
white, but with a proud, still face, and hands loosely folded in her
lap. My lord stood irresolute, his lip caught between his teeth, his
eyes upon the door.

"Cry out, my lord," I said. "You are in danger. Cry to your friends
without, who may come in time. Cry out loudly, like a soldier and a
gentleman!"

With a furious oath he stooped and caught up the glove at his feet; then
snatched out of my hand the sword that I offered him.

"Push back the settle, you; it is in the way!" he cried to Diccon; then
to me, in a voice thick with passion: "Come on, sir! Here there are no
meddling governors; this time let Death throw down the warder!"

"He throws it," said the minister beneath his breath.

From without came a trampling and a sudden burst of excited voices. The
next instant the door was burst open, and a most villainous, fiery-red
face thrust itself inside. "A ship!" bawled the apparition, and
vanished. The clamour increased; voices cried for captain and mate, and
more pirates appeared at the door, swearing out the good news, come in
search of Kirby, and giving no choice but to go with them at once.

"Until this interruption is over, sir," I said sternly, bowing to him as
I spoke. "No longer."

"Be sure, sir, that to my impatience the time will go heavily," he
answered as sternly.

We reached the poop to find the fog that had lain about us thick and
white suddenly lifted, and the hot sunshine streaming down upon a rough
blue sea. To the larboard, a league away, lay a low, endless coast of
sand, as dazzling white as the surf that broke upon it, and running back
to a matted growth of vivid green.

"That is Florida," said Paradise at my elbow, "and there are reefs and
shoals enough between us. It was Kirby's luck that the fog lifted.
Yonder tall ship hath a less fortunate star."

She lay between us and the white beach, evidently in shoal and dangerous
waters. She too had encountered a hurricane, and had not come forth
victorious. Foremast and forecastle were gone, and her bowsprit was
broken. She lay heavily, her ports but a few inches above the water.
Though we did not know it then, most of her ordnance had been flung
overboard to lighten her. Crippled as she was, with what sail she could
set, she was beating back to open sea from that dangerous offing.

"Where she went we can follow!" sang out a voice from the throng in our
waist. "A d----d easy prize! And we'll give no quarter this time!"
There was a grimness in the applause of his fellows that boded little
good to some on either ship.

"Lord help all poor souls this day!" ejaculated the minister in
undertones; then aloud and more hopefully, "She hath not the look of a
don; maybe she's buccaneer."

"She is an English merchantman," said Paradise. "Look at her colours. A
Company ship, probably, bound for Virginia, with a cargo of servants,
gentlemen out at elbows, felons, children for apprentices, traders,
French _vignerons_, glass-work Italians, returning councillors and heads
of hundreds, with their wives and daughters, men-servants and
maid-servants. I made the Virginia voyage once myself, captain."

I did not answer. I too saw the two crosses, and I did not doubt that
the arms upon the flag beneath were those of the Company. The vessel,
which was of about two hundred tons, had mightily the look of the
_George_, a ship with which we at Jamestown were all familiar. Sparrow
spoke for me.

"An English ship!" he cried out of the simplicity of his heart. "Then
she's safe enough for us! Perhaps we might speak her and show her that
we are English, too! Perhaps----" He looked at me eagerly.

"Perhaps you might be let to go off to her in one of the boats,"
finished Paradise dryly. "I think not, Master Sparrow."

"It's other guess messengers that they'll send," muttered Diccon.
"They're uncovering the guns, sir."

Every man of those villains, save one, was of English birth; every man
knew that the disabled ship was an English merchantman filled with
peaceful folk, but the knowledge changed their plans no whit. There was
a great hubbub; cries and oaths and brutal laughter, the noise of the
gunners with their guns, the clang of cutlass and pike as they were
dealt out, but not a voice raised against the murder that was to be
done. I looked from the doomed ship, upon which there was now frantic
haste and confusion, to the excited throng below me, and knew that I had
as well cry for mercy to winter wolves.

The helmsman behind me had not waited for orders, and we were bearing
down upon the disabled barque. Ahead of us, upon our larboard bow, was a
patch of lighter green, and beyond it a slight hurry and foam of the
waters. Half a dozen voices cried warning to the helmsman. It was he of
the woman's mantle, whom I had run through the shoulder on the island
off Cape Charles, and he had been Kirby's pilot from Maracaibo to Fort
Caroline. Now he answered with a burst of vaunting oaths: "We're in deep
water, and there's deep water beyond. I've passed this way before, and
I'll carry ye safe past that reef were't hell's gate!"

The desperadoes who heard him swore applause, and thought no more of the
reef that lay in wait. Long since they had gone through the gates of
hell for the sake of the prize beyond. Knowing the appeal to be
hopeless, I yet made it.

"She is English, men!" I shouted. "We will fight the Spaniards while
they have a flag in the Indies, but our own people we will not touch!"

The clamour of shouts and oaths suddenly fell, and the wind in the
rigging, the water at the keel, the surf on the shore, made themselves
heard. In the silence, the terror of the fated ship became audible.
Confused voices came to us, and the scream of a woman.

On the faces of a very few of the pirates there was a look of momentary
doubt and wavering; it passed, and the most had never worn it. They
began to press forward toward the poop, cursing and threatening, working
themselves up into a rage that would not care for my sword, the
minister's cutlass, or Diccon's pike. One who called himself a wit cried
out something about Kirby and his methods, and two or three laughed.

"I find that the rôle of Kirby wearies me," I said. "I am an English
gentleman, and I will not fire upon an English ship."

As if in answer there came from our forecastle a flame and thunder of
guns. The gunners there, intent upon their business, and now within
range of the merchantman, had fired the three forecastle culverins. The
shot cut her rigging and brought down the flag. The pirates' shout of
triumph was echoed by a cry from her decks and the defiant roar of her
few remaining guns.

I drew my sword. The minister and Diccon moved nearer to me, and the
King's ward, still and white and braver than a man, stood beside me.
From the pirates that we faced came one deep breath, like the first sigh
of the wind before the blast strikes. Suddenly the Spaniard pushed
himself to the front; with his gaunt figure and sable dress he had the
seeming of a raven come to croak over the dead. He rested his gloomy
eyes upon my lord. The latter, very white, returned the look; then, with
his head held high, crossed the deck with a measured step and took his
place among us. He was followed a moment later by Paradise. "I never
thought to die in my bed, captain," said the latter nonchalantly.
"Sooner or later, what does it matter? And you must know that before I
was a pirate I was a gentleman." Turning, he doffed his hat with a
flourish to those he had quitted. "Hell litter!" he cried. "I have run
with you long enough. Now I have a mind to die an honest man."

At this defection a dead hush of amazement fell upon that crew. One and
all they stared at the man in black and silver, moistening their lips,
but saying no word. We were five armed and desperate men; they were
fourscore. We might send many to death before us, but at the last we
ourselves must die,--we and those aboard the helpless ship.

In the moment's respite I bowed my head and whispered to the King's
ward.

"I had rather it were your sword," she answered in a low voice, in which
there was neither dread nor sorrow. "You must not let it grieve you; it
will be added to your good deeds. And it is I that should ask your
forgiveness, not you mine."

Though there was scant time for such dalliance, I bent my knee and
rested my forehead upon her hand. As I rose, the minister's hand touched
my shoulder and the minister's voice spoke in my ear. "There is another
way," he said. "There is God's death, and not man's. Look and see what I
mean."

I followed the pointing of his eyes, and saw how close we were to those
white and tumbling waters, the danger signal, the rattle of the hidden
snake. The eyes of the pirate at the helm, too, were upon them; his
brows were drawn downward, his lips pressed together, the whole man bent
upon the ship's safe passage.... The low thunder of the surf, the cry of
a wheeling sea-bird, the gleaming lonely shore, the cloudless sky, the
ocean, and the white sand far, far below, where one might sleep well,
sleep well, with other valiant dead, long drowned, long changed. "Of
their bones are coral made."

The storm broke with fury and outcries, and a blue radiance of drawn
steel. A pistol ball sang past my ear.

"Don't shoot!" roared the gravedigger to the man who had fired the shot.
"Don't cut them down! Take them and thrust them under hatches until
we've time to give them a slow death! And hands off the woman until
we've time to draw lots!"

He and the Spaniard led the rush. I turned my head and nodded to
Sparrow, then faced them again. "Then may the Lord have mercy upon your
souls!" I said.

As I spoke the minister sprang upon the helmsman, and, striking him to
the deck with one blow of his huge fist, himself seized the wheel.
Before the pirates could draw breath he had jammed the helm to
starboard, and the reef lay right across our bows.

A dreadful cry went up from that black ship to a deaf Heaven--a cry that
was echoed by a wild shout of triumph from the merchantman. The mass
fronting us broke in terror and rage and confusion. Some ran frantically
up and down with shrieks and curses; others sprang overboard. A few
made a dash for the poop and for us who stood to meet them. They were
led by the Spaniard and the gravedigger. The former I met and sent
tumbling back into the waist; the latter whirled past me, and rushing
upon Paradise thrust him through with a pike, then dashed on to the
wheel, to be met and hewn down by Diccon.

The ship struck. I put my arm around my wife, and my hand before her
eyes; and while I looked only at her, in that storm of terrible cries,
of flapping canvas, rushing water, and crashing timbers, the Spaniard
clambered like a catamount upon the poop, that was now high above the
broken forepart of the ship, and fired his pistol at me point-blank.



CHAPTER XXV

In which My Lord hath his Day


I and Black Lamoral were leading a forlorn hope. With all my old company
behind us, we were thundering upon an enemy as thick as ants, covering
the face of the earth. Down came Black Lamoral, and the hoofs of every
mad charger went over me. For a time I was dead; then I lived again, and
was walking with the forester's daughter in the green chase at home. The
oaks stretched broad sheltering arms above the young fern and the little
wild flowers, and the deer turned and looked at us. In the open spaces,
starring the lush grass, were all the yellow primroses that ever
bloomed. I gathered them for her, but when I would have given them to
her she was no longer the forester's daughter, but a proud lady, heiress
to lands and gold, the ward of the King. She would not take the
primroses from a poor gentleman, but shook her head and laughed sweetly,
and faded into a waterfall that leaped from a pink hill into a waveless
sea. Another darkness, and I was captive to the Chickahominies, tied to
the stake. My arm and shoulder were on fire, and Opechancanough came and
looked at me, with his dark, still face and his burning eyes. The fierce
pain died, and I with it, and I lay in a grave and listened to the loud
and deep murmur of the forest above. I lay there for ages on ages before
I awoke to the fact that the darkness about me was the darkness of a
ship's hold, and the murmur of the forest the wash of the water
alongside. I put out an arm and touched, not the side of a grave, but a
ship's timbers. I stretched forth the other arm, then dropped it with a
groan. Some one bent over me and held water to my lips. I drank, and my
senses came fully to me. "Diccon!" I said.

"It's not Diccon," replied the figure, setting down a pitcher. "It is
Jeremy Sparrow. Thank God, you are yourself again!"

"Where are we?" I asked, when I had lain and listened to the water a
little longer.

"In the hold of the _George_," he answered. "The ship sank by the bows,
and well-nigh all were drowned. But when they upon the _George_ saw that
there was a woman amongst us who clung to the poop deck, they sent their
long-boat to take us off."

The light was too dim for me to read his face, so I touched his arm.

"She was saved," he said. "She is safe now. There are gentlewomen
aboard, and she is in their care."

I put my unhurt arm across my eyes.

"You are weak yet," said the minister gently. "The Spaniard's ball, you
know, went through your shoulder, and in some way your arm was badly
torn from shoulder to wrist. You have been out of your head ever since
we were brought here, three days ago. The chirurgeon came and dressed
your wound, and it is healing well. Don't try to speak,--I'll tell you
all. Diccon has been pressed into service, as the ship is short of
hands, having lost some by fever and some overboard. Four of the pirates
were picked up, and hung at the yardarm next morning."

He moved as he spoke, and something clanked in the stillness. "You are
ironed!" I exclaimed.

"Only my ankles. My lord would have had me bound hand and foot; but you
were raving for water, and, taking you for a dying man, they were so
humane as to leave my hands free to attend you."

"My lord would have had you bound," I said slowly. "Then it's my lord's
day."

"High noon and blazing sunshine," he answered, with a rueful laugh. "It
seems that half the folk on board had gaped at him at court. Lord! when
he put his foot over the side of the ship, how the women screeched and
the men stared! He's cock of the walk now, my Lord Carnal, the King's
favourite!"

"And we are pirates."

"That's the case in a nutshell," he answered cheerfully.

"Do they know how the ship came to strike upon that reef?" I asked.

"Probably not, unless madam has enlightened them. I didn't take the
trouble,--they wouldn't have believed me,--and I can take my oath my
lord hasn't. He was only our helpless prisoner, you know; and they would
think madam mistaken or bewitched."

"It's not a likely tale," I said grimly, "seeing that we had already
opened fire upon them."

"I trust in heaven the sharks got the men who fired the culverins!" he
cried, and then laughed at his own savagery.

I lay still and tried to think. "Who are they on board?" I asked at
last.

"I don't know," he replied. "I was only on deck until my lord had had
his say in the poop cabin with the master and a gentleman who appeared
most in authority. Then the pirates were strung up, and we were bundled
down here in quick order. But there seems to be more of quality than
usual aboard."

"You do not know where we are?"

"We lay at anchor for a day,--whilst they patched her up, I
suppose,--and since then there has been rough weather. We must be still
off Florida, and that is all I know. Now go to sleep. You'll get your
strength best so, and there's nothing to be gotten by waking."

He began to croon a many-versed psalm. I slept and waked, and slept
again, and was waked by the light of a torch against my eyes. The torch
was held by a much-betarred seaman, and by its light a gentleman of a
very meagre aspect, with a weazen face and small black eyes, was busily
examining my wounded shoulder and arm.

"It passeth belief," he said in a sing-song voice, "how often wounds,
with naught in the world done for them outside of fair water and a clean
rag, do turn to and heal out of sheer perversity. Now, if I had been
allowed to treat this one properly with scalding oil and melted lead,
and to have bled the patient as he should have been bled, it is ten to
one that by this time there would have been a pirate the less in the
world." He rose to his feet with a highly injured countenance.

"Then he's doing well?" asked Sparrow.

"So well that he couldn't do better," replied the other. "The arm was a
trifling matter, though no doubt exquisitely painful. The wound in the
shoulder is miraculously healing, without either blood-letting or
cauteries. You'll have to hang after all, my friend." He looked at me
with his little beady eyes. "It must have been a grand life," he said
regretfully. "I never expected to see a pirate chief in the flesh. When
I was a boy, I used to dream of the black ships and the gold and the
fighting. By the serpent of Esculapius, in my heart of hearts I would
rather be such a world's thief, uncaught, than Governor of Virginia!" He
gathered up the tools of his trade, and motioned to his torchbearer to
go before. "I'll have to report you rapidly recovering," he said
warningly, as he turned to follow the light.

"Very well," I made answer. "To whom am I indebted for so much
kindness?"

"I am Dr. John Pott, newly appointed physician general to the colony of
Virginia. It is little of my skill I could give you, but that little I
gladly bestow upon a real pirate. What a life it must have been! And to
have to part with it when you are yet young! And the good red gold and
the rich gems all at the bottom of the sea!"

He sighed heavily and went his way. The hatches were closed after him,
and the minister and I were left in darkness while the slow hours
dragged themselves past us. Through the chinks of the hatches a very
faint light streamed down, and made the darkness gray instead of black.
The minister and I saw each other dimly, as spectres. Some one brought
us mouldy biscuit that I wanted not, and water for which I thirsted.
Sparrow put the small pitcher to his lips, kept it there a moment, then
held it to mine. I drank, and with that generous draught tasted pure
bliss. It was not until five minutes later that I raised myself upon my
elbow and turned on him.

"The pitcher felt full to my lips!" I exclaimed. "Did you drink when you
said you did?"

He put out his great hand and pushed me gently down. "I have no wound,"
he said, "and there was not enough for two."

The light that trembled through the cracks above died away, and the
darkness became gross. The air in the hold was stifling; our souls
panted for the wind and the stars outside. At the worst, when the fetid
blackness lay upon our chests like a nightmare, the hatch was suddenly
lifted, a rush of pure air came to us, and with it the sound of men's
voices speaking on the deck above. Said one, "True, the doctor
pronounces him out of all danger, yet he is a wounded man."

"He is a desperate and dangerous man," broke in another harshly. "I know
not how you will answer to your Company for leaving him unironed so
long."

"I and the Company understand each other, my lord," rejoined the first
speaker, with some haughtiness. "I can keep my prisoner without advice.
If I now order irons to be put upon him and his accomplice, it is
because I see fit to do so, and not because of your suggestion, my
lord. You wish to take this opportunity to have speech with him,--to
that I can have no objection."

The speaker moved away. As his footsteps died in the distance my lord
laughed, and his merriment was echoed by three or four harsh voices.
Some one struck flint against steel, and there was a sudden flare of
torches and the steadier light of a lantern. A man with a brutal,
weather-beaten face--the master of the ship, we guessed--came down the
ladder, lantern in hand, turned when he had reached the foot, and held
up the lantern to light my lord down. I lay and watched the King's
favourite as he descended. The torches held slantingly above cast a
fiery light over his stately figure and the face which had raised him
from the low estate of a doubtful birth and a most lean purse to a
pinnacle too near the sun for men to gaze at with undazzled eyes. In his
rich dress and the splendour of his beauty, with the red glow enveloping
him, he lit the darkness like a baleful star.

The two torchbearers and a third man descended, closing the hatch after
them. When all were down, my lord, the master at his heels, came and
stood over me. I raised myself, though with difficulty, for the fever
had left me weak as a babe, and met his gaze. His was a cruel look; if I
had expected, as assuredly I did not expect, mercy or generosity from
this my dearest foe, his look would have struck such a hope dead.
Presently he beckoned to the men behind him. "Put the manacles upon him
first," he said, with a jerk of his thumb toward Sparrow.

The man who had come down last, and who carried irons enough to fetter
six pirates, started forward to do my lord's bidding. The master glanced
at Sparrow's great frame, and pulled out a pistol. The minister laughed.
"You'll not need it, friend. I know when the odds are too great." He
held out his arms, and the men fettered them wrist to wrist. When they
had finished, he said calmly: "'I have seen the wicked in great power,
and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and,
lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.'"

My lord turned from him, and pointed to me. He kept his eyes upon my
face while they shackled me hand and foot; then said abruptly, "You have
cords there: bind his arms to his sides." The men wound the cords around
me many times. "Draw them tight," commanded my lord.

There came a wrathful clank of the minister's chains. "The arm is torn
and inflamed from shoulder to wrist, as I make no doubt you have been
told!" he cried. "For very shame, man!"

"Draw them tighter," said my lord, between his teeth.

The men knotted the cords, and rose to their feet, to be dismissed by my
lord with a curt "You may go." They drew back to the foot of the ladder,
while the master of the ship went and perched himself upon one of the
rungs. "The air is fresher here beneath the hatch," he remarked.

As for me, though I lay at my enemy's feet, I could yet set my teeth
and look him in the eyes. The cup was bitter, but I could drink it with
an unmoved face.

"Art paid?" he demanded. "Art paid for the tree in the red forest
without the haunted wood? Art paid, thou bridegroom?"

"No," I answered. "Bring her here to laugh at me as she laughed in the
twilight beneath the guest-house window."

I thought he would murder me with the poniard he drew, but presently he
put it up.

"She is come to her senses," he said. "Up in the state cabin are bright
lights, and wine and laughter. There are gentlewomen aboard, and I have
been singing to the lute, to them--and to her. She is saved from the
peril into which you plunged her; she knows that the Kings Court of High
Commission, to say nothing of the hangman, will soon snap the fetters
which she now shudders to think of; that the King and one besides will
condone her past short madness. Her cheeks are roses, her eyes are
stars. But now, when I pressed her hand between the verses of my song,
she smiled and sighed and blushed. She is again the dutiful ward of the
King, the Lady Jocelyn Leigh--she hath asked to be so called----"

"You lie," I said. "She is my true and noble wife. She may sit in the
state cabin, in the air and warmth and light, she may even laugh with
her lips, but her heart is here with me in the hold."

As I spoke, I knew, and knew not how I knew, that the thing which I had
said was true. With that knowledge came a happiness so deep and strong
that it swept aside like straw the torment of those cords, and the
deeper hurt that I lay at his feet. I suppose my face altered, and
mirrored that blessed glow about my heart, for into his own came a white
fury, changing its beauty into something inhuman and terrifying. He
looked a devil baffled. For a minute he stood there rigid, with hands
clenched. "Embrace her heart, if thou canst," he said, in a voice so low
that it came like a whisper from the realm he might have left. "I shall
press my face against her bosom."

Another minute of a silence that I disdained to break; then he turned
and went up the ladder. The seamen and the master followed. The hatch
was clapped to and fastened, and we were left to the darkness and the
heavy air, and to a grim endurance of what could not be cured.

During those hours of thirst and torment I came indeed to know the man
who sat beside me. His hands were so fastened that he could not loosen
the cords, and there was no water for him to give me; but he could and
did bestow a higher alms,--the tenderness of a brother, the manly
sympathy of a soldier, the balm of the priest of God. I lay in silence,
and he spoke not often; but when he did so, there was that in the tone
of his voice---- Another cycle of pain, and I awoke from a half-swoon,
in which there was water to drink and no anguish, to hear him praying
beside me. He ceased to speak, and in the darkness I heard him draw his
breath hard and his great muscles crack. Suddenly there came a sharp
sound of breaking iron, and a low "Thank Thee, Lord!" Another moment,
and I felt his hands busy at the knotted cords. "I will have them off
thee in a twinkling, Ralph," he said, "thanks to Him who taught my hands
to war, and my arms to break in two a bow of steel." As he spoke, the
cords loosened beneath his fingers.

I raised my head and laid it on his knee, and he put his great arm, with
the broken chain dangling from it, around me, and, like a mother with a
babe, crooned me to sleep with the twenty-third Psalm.



CHAPTER XXVI

In which I am Brought to Trial


My lord came not again into the hold, and the untied cords and the
broken chain were not replaced. Morning and evening we were brought a
niggard allowance of bread and water; but the man who carried it bore no
light, and may not even have observed their absence. We saw no one in
authority. Hour by hour my wounds healed, and my strength returned. If
it was a dark and noisome prison, if there were hunger and thirst and
inaction to be endured, if we knew not how near to us might be a death
of ignominy, yet the minister and I found the jewel in the head of the
toad; for in that time of pain and heaviness we became as David and
Jonathan.

At last some one came beside the brute who brought us food. A quiet
gentleman, with whitening hair and bright dark eyes, stood before us. He
had ordered the two men with him to leave open the hatch, and he held in
his hand a sponge soaked with vinegar. "Which of you is--or rather
was--Captain Ralph Percy?" he asked, in a grave but pleasant voice.

"I am Captain Percy," I answered.

He looked at me with attention. "I have heard of you before," he said.
"I read the letter you wrote to Sir Edwyn Sandys, and thought it an
excellently conceived and manly epistle. What magic transformed a
gentleman and a soldier into a pirate?"

As he waited for me to speak, I gave him for answer, "Necessity."

"A sad metamorphosis," he said. "I had rather read of nymphs changed
into laurel and gushing springs. I am come to take you, sir, before the
officers of the Company aboard this ship, when, if you have aught to say
for yourself, you may say it. I need not tell you, who saw so clearly
some time ago the danger in which you then stood, that your plight is
now a thousandfold worse."

"I am perfectly aware of it," I said. "Am I to go in fetters?"

"No," he replied, with a smile. "I have no instructions on the subject,
but I will take it upon myself to free you from them,--even for the sake
of that excellently writ letter."

"Is not this gentleman to go too?" I asked.

He shook his head. "I have no orders to that effect."

While the men who were with him removed the irons from my wrists and
ankles he stood in silence, regarding me with a scrutiny so close that
it would have been offensive had I been in a position to take offence.
When they had finished I turned and held Jeremy's hand in mine for an
instant, then followed the new-comer to the ladder and out of the hold;
the two men coming after us, and resolving themselves above into a
guard. As we traversed the main deck we came upon Diccon, busy with two
or three others about the ports. He saw me, and, dropping the bar that
he held, started forward, to be plucked back by an angry arm. The men
who guarded me pushed in between us, and there was no word spoken by
either. I walked on, the gentleman at my side, and presently came to an
open port, and saw, with an intake of my breath, the sunshine, a dark
blue heaven flecked with white, and a quiet ocean. My companion glanced
at me keenly.

"Doubtless it seems fair enough, after that Cimmerian darkness below,"
he remarked. "Would you like to rest here a moment?"

"Yes," I said, and, leaning against the side of the port, looked out at
the beauty of the light.

"We are off Hatteras," he informed me, "but we have not met with the
stormy seas that vex poor mariners hereabouts. Those sails you see on
our quarter belong to our consort. We were separated by the hurricane
that nigh sunk us, and finally drove us, helpless as we were, toward the
Florida coast and across your path. For us that was a fortunate reef
upon which you dashed. The gods must have made your helmsman blind, for
he ran you into a destruction that gaped not for you. Why did every
wretch that we hung next morning curse you before he died?"

"If I told you, you would not believe me," I replied.

I was dizzy with the bliss of the air and the light, and it seemed a
small thing that he would not believe me. The wind sounded in my ears
like a harp, and the sea beckoned. A white bird flashed down into the
crystal hollow between two waves, hung there a second, then rose, a
silver radiance against the blue. Suddenly I saw a river, dark and
ridged beneath thunderclouds, a boat, and in it, her head pillowed upon
her arm, a woman, who pretended that she slept. With a shock my senses
steadied, and I became myself again. The sea was but the sea, the wind
the wind; in the hold below me lay my friend; somewhere in that ship was
my wife; and awaiting me in the state cabin were men who perhaps had the
will, as they had the right and the might, to hang me at the yardarm
that same hour.

"I have had my fill of rest," I said. "Whom am I to stand before?"

"The newly appointed officers of the Company, bound in this ship for
Virginia," he answered. "The ship carries Sir Francis Wyatt, the new
Governor; Master Davison, the Secretary; young Clayborne, the surveyor
general; the knight marshal, the physician general, and the Treasurer,
with other gentlemen, and with fair ladies, their wives and sisters. I
am George Sandys, the Treasurer."

The blood rushed to my face, for it hurt me that the brother of Sir
Edwyn Sandys should believe that the firing of those guns had been my
act. His was the trained observation of the traveller and writer, and he
probably read the colour aright. "I pity you, if I can no longer esteem
you," he said, after a pause. "I know no sorrier sight than a brave
man's shield reversed."

I bit my lip and kept back the angry word. The next minute saw us at the
door of the state cabin. It opened, and my companion entered, and I
after him, with my two guards at my back. Around a large table were
gathered a number of gentlemen, some seated, some standing. There were
but two among them whom I had seen before,--the physician who had
dressed my wound and my Lord Carnal. The latter was seated in a great
chair, beside a gentleman with a pleasant active face and light brown
curling hair,--the new Governor, as I guessed. The Treasurer, nodding to
the two men to fall back to the window, glided to a seat upon my lord's
other hand, and I went and stood before the Governor of Virginia.

For some moments there was silence in the cabin, every man being engaged
in staring at me with all his eyes; then the Governor spoke: "It should
be upon your knees, sir."

"I am neither petitioner nor penitent," I said. "I know no reason why I
should kneel, your Honour."

"There's reason, God wot, why you should be both!" he exclaimed. "Did
you not, now some months agone, defy the writ of the King and Company,
refusing to stand when called upon to do so in the King's name?"

"Yes."

"Did you not, when he would have stayed your lawless flight, lay violent
hands upon a nobleman high in the King's favour, and, over--powering him
with numbers, carry him out of the King's realm?"

"Yes."

"Did you not seduce from her duty to the King, and force to fly with
you, his Majesty's ward, the Lady Jocelyn Leigh?"

"No," I said. "There was with me only my wife, who chose to follow the
fortunes of her husband."

He frowned, and my lord swore beneath his breath. "Did you not, falling
in with a pirate ship, cast in your lot with the scoundrels upon it, and
yourself turn pirate?"

"In some sort."

"And become their chief?"

"Since there was no other situation open,--yes."

"Taking with you as captives upon the pirate ship that lady and that
nobleman?"

"Yes."

"You proceeded to ravage the dominions of the King of Spain, with whom
his Majesty is at peace----"

"Like Drake and Raleigh,--yes," I said.

He smiled, then frowned. "_Tempora mutantur_," he said dryly. "And I
have never heard that Drake or Raleigh attacked an English ship."

"Nor have I attacked one," I said.

He leaned back in his chair and stared at me. "We saw the flame and
heard the thunder of your guns, and our rigging was cut by the shot. Did
you expect me to believe that last assertion?"

"No."

"Then you might have spared yourself--and us--that lie," he said coldly.

The Treasurer moved restlessly in his seat, and began to whisper to his
neighbour the Secretary. A young man, with the eyes of a hawk and an
iron jaw,--Clayborne, the surveyor general,--who sat at the end of the
table beside the window, turned and gazed out upon the clouds and the
sea, as if, contempt having taken the place of curiosity, he had no
further interest in the proceedings. As for me, I set my face like a
flint, and looked past the man who might have saved me that last speech
of the Governor's as if he had never been.

There was a closed door in the cabin, opposite the one by which I had
entered. Suddenly from behind it came the sound of a short struggle,
followed by the quick turn of a key in the lock. The door was flung
open, and two women entered the cabin. One, a fair young gentlewoman,
with tears in her brown eyes, came forward hurriedly with outspread
hands.

"I did what I could, Frank!" she cried. "When she would not listen to
reason, I e'en locked the door; but she is strong, for all that she has
been ill, and she forced the key out of my hand!" She looked at the red
mark upon the white hand, and two tears fell from her long lashes upon
her wild-rose cheeks.

With a smile the Governor put out an arm and drew her down upon a stool
beside him, then rose and bowed low to the King's ward. "You are not yet
well enough to leave your cabin, as our worthy physician general will
assure you, lady," he said courteously, but firmly. "Permit me to lead
you back to it."

Still smiling, he made as if to advance, when she stayed him with a
gesture of her raised hand, at once so majestic and so pleading that it
was as though a strain of music had passed through the stillness of the
cabin.

"Sir Francis Wyatt, as you are a gentleman, let me speak," she said. It
was the voice of that first night at Weyanoke, all pathos, all
sweetness, all entreating.

The Governor stopped short, the smile still upon his lips, his hand
still outstretched,--stood thus for a moment, then sat down. Around the
half-circle of gentlemen went a little rustling sound, like wind in dead
leaves. My lord half rose from his seat. "She is bewitched," he said,
with dry lips. "She will say what she has been told to say. Lest she
speak to her shame, we should refuse to hear her."

She had been standing in the centre of the floor, her hands clasped, her
body bowed toward the Governor, but at my lord's words she straightened
like a bow unbent. "I may speak, your Honour?" she asked clearly.

The Governor, who had looked askance at the working face of the man
beside him, slightly bent his head and leaned back in his great
armchair. The King's favourite started to his feet. The King's ward
turned her eyes upon him. "Sit down, my lord," she said. "Surely these
gentlemen will think that you are afraid of what I, a poor erring woman,
rebellious to the King, traitress to mine own honour, late the plaything
of a pirate ship, may say or do. Truth, my lord, should be more
courageous." Her voice was gentle, even plaintive, but it had in it the
quality that lurks in the eyes of the crouching panther.

My lord sat down, one hand hiding his working mouth, the other clenched
on the arm of his chair as if it had been an arm of flesh.



CHAPTER XXVII

In which I Find an Advocate


She came slowly nearer the ring of now very quiet and attentive faces
until she stood beside me, but she neither looked at me nor spoke to me.
She was thinner, and there were heavy shadows beneath her eyes, but she
was beautiful.

"I stand before gentlemen to whom, perhaps, I am not utterly unknown,"
she said. "Some here, perchance, have been to court, and have seen me
there. Master Sandys, once, before the Queen died, you came to Greenwich
to kiss her Majesty's hands; and while you waited in her antechamber you
saw a young maid of honour--scarce more than a child--curled in a
window--seat with a book. You sat beside her, and told her wonderful
tales of sunny lands and gods and nymphs. I was that maid of honour.
Master Clayborne, once, hawking near Windsor, I dropped my glove. There
were a many out of their saddles before it touched the ground, but a
gentleman, not of our party, who had drawn his horse to one side to let
us pass, was quicker than they all. Did you not think yourself well
paid, sir, when you kissed the hand to which you restored the glove? All
here, I think, may have heard my name. If any hath heard aught that ever
I did in all my life to tarnish it, I pray him to speak now and shame
me before you all!"

Clayborne started up. "I remember that day at Windsor, lady!" he cried.
"The man of whom I afterward asked your name was a most libertine
courtier, and he raised his hat when he spoke of you, calling you a lily
which the mire of the court could not besmirch. I will believe all good,
but no harm of you, lady!"

He sat down, and Master Sandys said gravely:

"Men need not be courtiers to have known of a lady of great wealth and
high birth, a ward of the King's, and both beautiful and pure. I nor no
man else, I think, ever heard aught of the Lady Jocelyn Leigh but what
became a daughter of her line."

A murmur of assent went round the circle. The Governor, leaning forward
from his seat, his wife's hand in his, gravely bent his head. "All this
is known, lady," he said courteously.

She did not answer; her eyes were upon the King's favourite, and the
circle waited with her.

"It is known," said my lord.

She smiled proudly. "For so much grace, thanks, my lord," she said; then
addressed herself again to the Governor: "Your Honour, that is the past,
the long past, the long, long past, though not a year has gone by. Then
I was a girl, proud and careless; now, your Honour, I am a woman, and I
stand here in the dignity of suffering and peril. I fled from
England----" She paused, drew herself up, and turned upon my lord a face
and form so still, and yet so expressive of noble indignation, outraged
womanhood, scorn, and withal a kind of angry pity, that small wonder if
he shrank as from a blow. "I left the only world I knew," she said. "I
took a way low and narrow and dark and set with thorns, but the only way
that I--alone and helpless and bewildered--could find, because that I,
Jocelyn Leigh, willed not to wed with you, my Lord Carnal. Why did you
follow me, my lord? You knew that I loved you not. You knew my mind, and
that I was weak and friendless, and you used your power. I must tell
you, my lord, that you were not chivalrous, nor compassionate, nor
brave----"

"I loved you!" he cried, and stretched out his arm toward her across the
table. He saw no one but her, spoke to none but her. There was a fierce
yearning and a hopelessness in his voice and bent head and outstretched
arm that lent for the time a tragic dignity to the pageant, evil and
magnificent, of his life.

"You loved me," she said. "I had rather you hated me, my lord. I came to
Virginia, your Honour, and men thought me the thing I professed myself.
In the green meadow beyond the church they wooed me as such. This one
came and that one, and at last a fellow, when I said him nay and bade
him begone, did dare to seize my hands and kiss my lips. While I
struggled one came and flung that dastard out of the way, then asked me
plainly to become his wife, and there was no laugh or insult in his
voice. I was wearied and fordone and desperate.... So I met my husband,
and so I married him. That same day I told him a part of my secret, and
when my Lord Carnal was come I told him all.... I had not met with much
true love or courtesy or compassion in my life. When I saw the danger in
which he stood because of me, I told him he might free himself from that
coil, might swear to what they pleased, whistle me off, save himself,
and I would say no word of blame. There was wine upon the table, and he
filled a cup and brought it to me, and we drank of it together. We drank
of the same cup then, your Honour, and we will drink of it still. We
twain were wedded, and the world strove to part us. Which of you here,
in such quarrel, would not withstand the world? Lady Wyatt, would not
thy husband hold thee, while he lived, against the world? Then speak for
mine!"

"Frank, Frank!" cried Lady Wyatt. "They love each other!"

"If he withstood the King," went on the King's ward, "it was for his
honour and for mine. If he fled from Virginia, it was because I willed
it so. Had he stayed, my Lord Carnal, and had you willed to follow me
again, you must have made a yet longer journey to a most distant bourne.
That wild night when we fled, why did you come upon us, my lord? The
moon burst forth from a black cloud, and you stood there upon the wharf
above us, calling to the footsteps behind to hasten. We would have left
you there in safety, and gone ourselves alone down that stream as black
and strange as death. Why did you spring down the steps and grapple with
the minister? And he that might have thrust you beneath the flood and
drowned you there did but fling you into the boat. We wished not your
company, my lord; we would willingly have gone without you. I trust, my
lord, you have made honest report of this matter, and have told these
gentlemen that my husband gave you, a prisoner whom he wanted not, all
fair and honourable treatment. That you have done this I dare take my
oath, my lord----"

She stood silent, her eyes upon his. The men around stirred, and a
little flash like the glint of drawn steel went from one pair of eyes to
another.

"My lord, my lord!" said the King's ward. "Long ago you won my hatred;
an you would not win my contempt, speak truth this day!"

In his eyes, which he had never taken from her face, there leaped to
meet the proud appeal in her own a strange fire. That he loved her with
a great and evil passion, I, who needs had watched him closely, had long
known. Suddenly he burst into jarring laughter. "Yea, he treated me
fairly enough, damn him to everlasting hell! But he's a pirate, sweet
bird; he's a pirate, and must swing as such!"

"A pirate!" she cried. "But he was none! My lord, you know he was none!
Your Honour----"

The Governor interrupted her: "He made himself captain of a pirate ship,
lady. He took and sunk ships of Spain."

"In what sort did he become their chief?" she cried. "In such sort,
gentlemen, as the bravest of you, in like straits, would have been
blithe to be, an you had had like measure of wit and daring! Your
Honour, the wind before which our boat drave like a leaf, the waves that
would engulf us, wrecked us upon a desert isle. There was no food or
water or shelter. That night, while we slept, a pirate ship anchored off
the beach, and in the morning the pirates came ashore to bury their
captain. My husband met them alone, fought their would-be leaders one by
one, and forced the election to fall upon himself. Well he knew that if
he left not that isle their leader, he would leave it their captive; and
not he alone! God's mercy, gentlemen, what other could he do? I pray you
to hold him absolved from a willing embrace of that life! Sunk ships of
Spain! Yea, forsooth; and how long hath it been since other English
gentlemen sunk other ships of Spain? The world hath changed indeed if to
fight the Spaniard in the Indies, e'en though at home we be at peace
with him, be conceived so black a crime! He fought their galleons fair
and knightly, with his life in his hand; he gave quarter, and while they
called him chief those pirates tortured no prisoner and wronged no
woman. Had he not been there, would the ships have been taken less
surely? Had he not been there, God wot, ships and ships' boats alike
would have sunk or burned, and no Spanish men and women had rowed away
and blessed a generous foe. A pirate! He, with me and with the minister
and with my Lord Carnal, was prisoner to the pirates, and out of that
danger he plucked safety for us all! Who hath so misnamed a gallant
gentleman? Was it you, my lord?"

Eyes and voice were imperious, and in her cheeks burned an indignant
crimson. My lord's face was set and white; he looked at her, but spoke
no word.

"The Spanish ships might pass, lady," said the Governor; "but this is an
English ship, with the flag of England above her."

"Yea," she said. "What then?"

The circle rustled again. The Governor loosed his wife's fingers and
leaned forward. "You plead well, lady!" he exclaimed. "You might win, an
Captain Percy had not seen fit to fire upon us."

A dead silence followed his words. Outside the square window a cloud
passed from the face of the sun, and a great burst of sunshine entered
the cabin. She stood in the heart of it, and looked a goddess angered.
My lord, with his haggard face and burning eyes, slowly rose from his
seat, and they faced each other.

"You told them not who fired those guns, who sunk that pirate ship?" she
said. "Because he was your enemy, you held your tongue? Knight and
gentleman--my Lord Carnal--my Lord Coward!"

"Honour is an empty word to me," he answered. "For you I would dive into
the deepest hell,--if there be a deeper than that which burns me, day
in, day out.... Jocelyn, Jocelyn, Jocelyn!"

"You love me so?" she said. "Then do me pleasure. Because I ask it of
you, tell these men the truth." She came a step nearer, and held out her
clasped hands to him. "Tell them how it was, my lord, and I will strive
to hate you no longer. The harm that you have done me I will pray for
strength to forgive. Ah, my lord, let me not ask in vain! Will you that
I kneel to you?"

"I fix my own price," he said. "I will do what you ask, an you will let
me kiss your lips."

I sprang forward with an oath. Some one behind caught both my wrists in
an iron grasp and pulled me back. "Be not a fool!" growled Clayborne in
my ear. "The cord's loosening fast: if you interfere, it may tighten
with a jerk!" I freed my hands from his grasp. The Treasurer, sitting
next him, leaned across the table and motioned to the two seamen beside
the window. They left their station, and each seized me by an arm. "Be
guided, Captain Percy," said Master Sandys in a low voice. "We wish you
well. Let her win you through."

"First tell the truth, my lord," said the King's ward; "then come and
take the reward you ask."

"Jocelyn!" I cried. "I command you----"

She turned upon me a perfectly colourless face. "All my life after I
will be to you an obedient wife," she said. "This once I pray you to
hold me excused.... Speak, my lord."

There was the mirth of the lost in the laugh with which he turned to the
Governor. "That pretty little tale, sir, that I regaled you with, the
day you obligingly picked me up, was pure imagination; the wetting must
have disordered my reason. A potion sweeter than the honey of Hybla,
which I am about to drink, hath restored me beforehand. Gentlemen all,
there was mutiny aboard that ship which so providentially sank before
your very eyes. For why? The crew, who were pirates, and the captain,
who was yonder gentleman, did not agree. The one wished to attack you,
board you, rummage you, and slay, after recondite fashions, every
mother's son of you; the other demurred,--so strongly, in fact, that his
life ceased to be worth a pin's purchase. Indeed, I believe he resigned
his captaincy then and there, and, declining to lift a finger against an
English ship, defied them to do their worst. He had no hand in the
firing of those culverins; the mutineers touched them off without so
much as a 'by your leave.' His attention was otherwise occupied. Good
sirs, there was not the slightest reason in nature why the ship should
have struck upon that sunken reef, to the damnation of her people and
the salvation of yours. Why do you suppose she diverged from the path of
safety to split into slivers against that fortunate ledge?"

The men around drew in their breath, and one or two sprang to their
feet. My lord laughed again. "Have you seen the pious man who left
Jamestown and went aboard the pirate ship as this gentleman's
lieutenant? He hath the strength of a bull. Captain Percy here had but
to nod his head, and hey, presto! the helmsman was bowled over, and the
minister had the helm. The ship struck: the pirates went to hell, and
you, gentlemen, were preserved to order all things well in Virginia. May
she long be grateful! The man who dared that death rather than attack
the ship he guessed to be the Company's is my mortal foe, whom I will
yet sweep from my path, but he is not a pirate. Ay, take it down, an it
please you, Master Secretary! I retreat from a most choice position, to
be sure, but what care I? I see a vantage ground more to my liking. I
have lost a throw, perhaps, but I will recoup ten such losses with one
such kiss. By your leave, lady."

He went up to her where she stood, with hanging arms, her head a little
bent, white and cold and yielding as a lady done in snow; gazed at her a
moment, with his passion written in his fierce eyes and haggard,
handsome face; then crushed her to him.

If I could have struck him dead, I would have done so. When her word had
been kept, she released herself with a quiet and resolute dignity. As
for him, he sank back into the great chair beside the Governor's, leaned
an elbow on the table, and hid his eyes with one shaking hand.

The Governor rose to his feet, and motioned away the two seamen who held
me fast. "We'll have no hanging this morning, gentlemen," he announced.
"Captain Percy, I beg to apologize to you for words that were never
meant for a brave and gallant gentleman, but for a pirate who I find
does not exist. I pray you to forget them, quite."

I returned his bow, but my eyes travelled past him.

"I will allow you no words with my Lord Carnal," he said. "With your
wife,--that is different." He moved aside with a smile.

She was standing, pale, with downcast eyes, where my lord had left her.
"Jocelyn," I said. She turned toward me, crimsoned deeply, uttered a low
cry, half laughter, half a sob, then covered her face with her hands. I
took them away and spoke her name again, and this time she hid her face
upon my breast.

A moment thus; then--for all eyes were upon her--I lifted her head,
kissed her, and gave her to Lady Wyatt, whom I found at my side. "I
commend my wife to your ladyship's care," I said. "As you are woman,
deal sisterly by her!"

"You may trust me, sir," she made answer, the tears upon her cheeks. "I
did not know,--I did not understand.... Dear heart, come away,--come
away with Margaret Wyatt."

Clayborne opened the door of the cabin, and stood aside with a low bow.
The men who had sat to judge me rose; only the King's favourite kept his
seat. With Lady Wyatt's arm about her, the King's ward passed between
the lines of standing gentlemen to the door, there hesitated, turned,
and, facing them with I know not what of pride and shame, wistfulness of
entreaty and noble challenge to belief in the face and form that were of
all women's most beautiful, curtsied to them until her knee touched the
floor. She was gone, and the sunlight with her.

When I turned upon that shameless lord where he sat in his evil beauty,
with his honour dead before him, men came hastily in between. I put them
aside with a laugh. I had but wanted to look at him. I had no
sword,--already he lay beneath my challenge,--and words are weak things.

At length he rose, as arrogant as ever in his port, as evilly superb in
his towering pride, and as amazingly indifferent to the thoughts of men
who lied not. "This case hath wearied me," he said. "I will retire for a
while to rest, and in dreams to live over a past sweetness. Give you
good-day, gentles! Sir Francis Wyatt, you will remember that this
gentleman did resist arrest, and that he lieth under the King's
displeasure!" So saying, he clapped his hat upon his head and walked out
of the cabin. The Company's officers drew a long breath, as if a fresher
air had come in with his departure.

"I have no choice, Captain Percy, but to keep you still under restraint,
both here and when we shall reach Jamestown," said the Governor. "All
that the Company, through me, can do, consistent with its duty to his
Majesty, to lighten your confinement shall be done----"

"Then send him not again into the hold, Sir Francis!" exclaimed the
Treasurer, with a wry face.

The Governor laughed. "Lighter and sweeter quarters shall be found. Your
wife's a brave lady, Captain Percy----"

"And a passing fair one," said Clayborne under his breath.

"I left a friend below in the hold, your Honour," I said. "He came with
me from Jamestown because he was my friend. The King hath never heard of
him. And he's no more a pirate than I or you, your Honour. He is a
minister,--a sober, meek, and godly man----"

From behind the Secretary rose the sing-song of my acquaintance of the
hold, Dr. John Pott. "He is Jeremy, your Honour, Jeremy who made the
town merry at Blackfriars. Your Honour remembers him? He had a sickness,
and forsook the life and went into the country. He was known to the Dean
of St. Paul's. All the town laughed when it heard that he had taken
orders."

"Jeremy!" cried out the Treasurer. "Nick Bottom! Christopher Sly! Sir
Toby Belch! Sir Francis, give me Jeremy to keep in my cabin!"

The Governor laughed. "He shall be bestowed with Captain Percy where
he'll not lack for company, I warrant! Jeremy! Ben Jonson loved him;
they drank together at the Mermaid."

A little later the Treasurer turned to leave my new quarters, to which
he had walked beside me, glanced at the men who waited for him
without,--Jeremy had not yet been brought from the hold,--and returned
to my side to say, in a low voice, but with emphasis: "Captain Percy has
been a long time without news from home,--from England. What would he
most desire to hear?"

"Of the welfare of his Grace of Buckingham," I replied.

He smiled. "His Grace is as well as heart could desire, and as powerful.
The Queen's dog now tuggeth the sow by the ears this way or that, as it
pleaseth him. Since we are not to hang you as a pirate, Captain Percy, I
incline to think your affairs in better posture than when you left
Virginia."

"I think so too, sir," I said, and gave him thanks for his courtesy, and
wished him good-day, being anxious to sit still and thank God, with my
face in my hands and summer in my heart.



CHAPTER XXVIII

In which the Springtime is at Hand


Tired of dicing against myself, and of the books that Rolfe had sent me,
I betook myself to the gaol window, and, leaning against the bars,
looked out in search of entertainment. The nearest if not the merriest
thing the prospect had to offer was the pillory. It was built so tall
that it was but little lower than the low upper storey of the gaol, and
it faced my window at so short a distance that I could hear the long,
whistling breath of the wretch who happened to occupy it. It was not a
pleasant sound; neither was a livid face, new branded on the cheek with
a great R, and with a trickle of dark blood from the mutilated ears
staining the board in which the head was immovably fixed, a pleasant
sight. A little to one side was the whipping-post: a woman had been
whipped that morning, and her cries had tainted the air even more
effectually than had the decayed matter with which certain small devils
had pelted the runaway in the pillory. I looked away from the poor rogue
below me into the clear, hard brightness of the March day, and was most
heartily weary of the bars between me and it. The wind blew keenly; the
sky was blue as blue could be, and the river a great ribbon of azure
sewn with diamonds. All colours were vivid and all distances near. There
was no haze over the forest; brown and bare it struck the cloudless
blue. The marsh was emerald, the green of the pines deep and rich, the
budding maples redder than coral. The church, with the low green graves
around it, appeared not a stone's-throw away, and the voices of the
children up and down the street sounded clearly, as though they played
in the brown square below me. When the drum beat for the nooning, the
roll was close in my ears. The world looked so bright and keen that it
seemed new made, and the brilliant sunshine and the cold wind stirred
the blood like wine.

Now and then men and women passed through the square below. Well-nigh
all glanced up at the window, and their eyes were friendly. It was known
now that Buckingham was paramount at home, and my Lord Carnal's
following in Virginia was much decayed. Young Hamor strode by, bravely
dressed and whistling cheerily, and doffed a hat with a most noble
broken feather. "We're going to bait a bear below the fort!" he called.
"Sorry you'll miss the sport! There will be all the world--and my Lord
Carnal." He whistled himself away, and presently there came along Master
Edward Sharpless. He stopped and stared at the rogue in the
pillory,--with no prescience, I suppose, of a day when he was to stand
there himself; then looked up at me with as much malevolence as his
small soul could write upon his mean features, and passed on. He had a
jaded look; moreover, his clothes were swamp-stained and his cloak had
been torn by briars. "What did you go to the forest for?" I muttered.

The key grated in the door behind me, and it opened to admit the gaoler
and Diccon with my dinner,--which I was not sorry to see. "Sir George
sent the venison, sir," said the gaoler, grinning, "and Master Piersey
the wild fowl, and Madam West the pasty and the marchpane, and Master
Pory the sack. Be there anything you lack, sir?"

"Nothing that you can supply," I answered curtly.

The fellow grinned again, straightened the things upon the table, and
started for the door. "You can stay until I come for the platters," he
said to Diccon, and went out, locking the door after him with
ostentation.

I applied myself to the dinner, and Diccon went to the window, and stood
there looking out at the blue sky and at the man in the pillory. He had
the freedom of the gaol. I was somewhat more straitly confined, though
my friends had easy access to me. As for Jeremy Sparrow, he had spent
twenty-four hours in gaol, at the end of which time Madam West had a fit
of the spleen, declared she was dying, and insisted upon Master
Sparrow's being sent for to administer consolation; Master Bucke,
unfortunately, having gone up to Henricus on business connected with the
college. From the bedside of that despotic lady Sparrow was called to
bury a man on the other side of the river, and from the grave to marry a
couple at Mulberry Island. And the next day being Sunday, and no
minister at hand, he preached again in Master Bucke's pulpit,--and
preached a sermon so powerful and moving that its like had never been
heard in Virginia. They marched him not back from the pulpit to gaol.
There were but five ministers in Virginia, and there were a many more
sick to visit and dead to bury. Master Bucke, still feeble in body,
tarried up river discussing with Thorpe the latter's darling project of
converting every imp of an Indian this side the South Sea, and Jeremy
slipped into his old place. There had been some talk of a public
censure, but it died away.

The pasty and sack disposed of, I turned in my seat and spoke to Diccon:
"I looked for Master Rolfe to-day. Have you heard aught of him?"

"No," he answered. As he spoke, the door was opened and the gaoler put
in his head. "A messenger from Master Rolfe, captain." He drew back, and
the Indian Nantauquas entered the room.

Rolfe I had seen twice since the arrival of the _George_ at Jamestown,
but the Indian had not been with him. The young chief now came forward
and touched the hand I held out to him. "My brother will be here before
the sun touches the tallest pine," he announced in his grave, calm
voice. "He asks Captain Percy to deny himself to any other that may
come. He wishes to see him alone."

"I shall hardly be troubled with company," I said. "There's a
bear-baiting toward."

Nantauquas smiled. "My brother asked me to find a bear for to-day. I
bought one from the Paspaheghs for a piece of copper, and took him to
the ring below the fort."

"Where all the town will presently be gone," I said. "I wonder what
Rolfe did that for!"

Filling a cup with sack, I pushed it to the Indian across the table.
"You are little in the woods nowadays, Nantauquas."

His fine dark face clouded ever so slightly. "Opechancanough has dreamt
that I am Indian no longer. Singing birds have lied to him, telling him
that I love the white man, and hate my own colour. He calls me no more
his brave, his brother Powhatan's dear son. I do not sit by his council
fire now, nor do I lead his war bands. When I went last to his lodge and
stood before him, his eyes burned me like the coals the Monacans once
closed my hands upon. He would not speak to me."

"It would not fret me if he never spoke again," I said. "You have been
to the forest to-day?"

"Yes," he replied, glancing at the smear of leaf mould upon his beaded
moccasins. "Captain Percy's eyes are quick; he should have been an
Indian. I went to the Paspaheghs to take them the piece of copper. I
could tell Captain Percy a curious thing----"

"Well?" I demanded, as he paused.

"I went to the lodge of the werowance with the copper, and found him not
there. The old men declared that he had gone to the weirs for fish,--he
and ten of his braves. The old men lied. I had passed the weirs of the
Paspaheghs, and no man was there. I sat and smoked before the lodge, and
the maidens brought me chinquapin cakes and pohickory; for Nantauquas is
a prince and a welcome guest to all save Opechancanough. The old men
smoked, with their eyes upon the ground, each seeing only the days when
he was even as Nantauquas. They never knew when a wife of the werowance,
turned child by pride, unfolded a doeskin and showed Nantauquas a silver
cup carved all over and set with coloured stones."

"Humph!"

"The cup was a heavy price to pay," continued the Indian. "I do not know
what great thing it bought."

"Humph!" I said again. "Did you happen to meet Master Edward Sharpless
in the forest?"

He shook his head. "The forest is wide, and there are many trails
through it. Nantauquas looked for that of the werowance of the
Paspaheghs, but found it not. He had no time to waste upon a white man."

He gathered his otterskin mantle about him and prepared to depart. I
rose and gave him my hand, for I thoroughly liked him, and in the past
he had made me his debtor. "Tell Rolfe he will find me alone," I said,
"and take my thanks for your pains, Nantauquas. If ever we hunt together
again, may I have the chance to serve you! I bear the scars of the
wolf's teeth yet; you came in the nick of time, that day."

The Indian smiled. "It was a fierce old wolf. I wish Captain Percy free
with all my heart, and then we will hunt more wolves, he and I."

When he was gone, and the gaoler and Diccon with him, I returned to the
window. The runaway in the pillory was released, and went away
homewards, staggering beside his master's stirrup. Passers-by grew more
and more infrequent, and up the street came faint sounds of laughter and
hurrahing,--the bear must be making good sport. I could see the
half-moon, and the guns, and the flag that streamed in the wind, and on
the river a sail or two, white in the sunlight as the gulls that swooped
past. Beyond rose the bare masts of the _George_. The _Santa Teresa_
rode no more for ever in the James. The King's ship was gone home to the
King without the freight he looked for. Three days, and the _George_
would spread her white wings and go down the wide river, and I with her,
and the King's ward, and the King's sometime favourite. I looked down
the wind--ruffled stream, and saw the great bay into which it emptied,
and beyond the bay the heaving ocean, dark and light, league on league,
league on league; then green England, and London, and the Tower. The
vision disturbed me less than once it would have done. Men that I knew
and trusted were to be passengers on that ship, as well as one I knew
and did not trust. And if, at the journey's end, I saw the Tower, I saw
also his Grace of Buckingham. Where I hated he hated, and was now
powerful enough to strike.

The wind blew from the west, from the unknown. I turned my head, and it
beat against my forehead, cold and fragrant with the essence of the
forest,--pine and cedar, dead leaves and black mould, fen and hollow and
hill,--all the world of woods over which it had passed. The ghost of
things long dead, which face or voice could never conjure up, will
sometimes start across our path at the beckoning of an odour. A day in
the Starving Time came back to me: how I had dragged myself from our
broken palisade and crazy huts, and the groans of the famished and the
plague-stricken, and the presence of the unburied dead, across the neck
and into the woods, and had lain down there to die, being taken with a
sick fear and horror of the place of cannibals behind me; and how weak I
was!--too weak to care any more. I had been a strong man, and it had
come to that, and I was content to let it be. The smell of the woods
that day, the chill brown earth beneath me, the blowing wind, the long
stretch of the river gleaming between the pines, ... _and fair in sight
the white sails of the Patience and the Deliverance_.

I had been too nigh gone then to greatly care that I was saved; now I
cared, and thanked God for my life. Come what might in the future, the
past was mine. Though I should never see my wife again, I had that hour
in the state cabin of the _George_. I loved, and was loved again.

There was a noise outside the door, and Rolfe's voice speaking to the
gaoler. Impatient for his entrance, I started toward the door, but when
it opened he made no move to cross the threshold. "I am not coming in,"
he said, with a face that he strove to keep grave. "I only came to bring
some one else." With that he stepped back, and a second figure, coming
forward out of the dimness behind him, crossed the threshold. It was a
woman, cloaked and hooded. The door was drawn to behind her, and we were
alone together.

Beside the cloak and hood she wore a riding mask. "Do you know who it
is?" she asked, when she had stood, so shrouded, for a long minute,
during which I had found no words with which to welcome her.

"Yea," I answered: "the princess in the fairy tale."

She freed her dark hair from its covering, and unclasping her cloak let
it drop to the floor. "Shall I unmask?" she asked, with a sigh. "Faith!
I should keep the bit of silk between your eyes, sir, and my blushes. Am
I ever to be the forward one? Do you not think me too bold a lady?" As
she spoke, her white hands were busy about the fastening of her mask.
"The knot is too hard," she murmured, with a little tremulous laugh and
a catch of her breath.

I untied the ribbons.

"May I not sit down?" she said plaintively, but with soft merriment in
her eyes. "I am not quite strong yet. My heart--you do not know what
pain I have in my heart sometimes. It makes me weep of nights and when
none are by, indeed it does!"

There was a settle beneath the window. I led her to it, and she sat
down.

"You must know that I am walking in the Governors garden, that hath only
a lane between it and the gaol." Her eyes were downcast, her cheeks pure
rose.

"When did you first love me?" I demanded.

"Lady Wyatt must have guessed why Master Rolfe alone went not to the
bear-baiting, but joined us in the garden. She said the air was keen,
and fetched me her mask, and then herself went indoors to embroider
Samson in the arms of Delilah."

"Was it here at Jamestown, or was it when we were first wrecked, or on
the island with the pink hill when you wrote my name in the sand,
or----"

"The _George_ will sail in three days, and we are to be taken back to
England after all. It does not scare me now."

"In all my life I have kissed you only once," I said.

The rose deepened, and in her eyes there was laughter, with tears
behind. "You are a gentleman of determination," she said. "If you are
bent upon having your way, I do not know that I--that I--can help
myself. I do not even know that I want to help myself."

Outside the wind blew and the sun shone, and the laughter from below the
fort was too far away and elfin to jar upon us. The world forgot us, and
we were well content. There seemed not much to say: I suppose we were
too happy for words. I knelt beside her, and she laid her hands in mine,
and now and then we spoke. In her short and lonely life, and in my
longer stern and crowded one, there had been little tenderness, little
happiness. In her past, to those about her, she had seemed bright and
gay; I had been a comrade whom men liked because I could jest as well as
fight. Now we were happy, but we were not gay. Each felt for the other a
great compassion; each knew that though we smiled to-day, the groan and
the tear might be to-morrow's due; the sunshine around us was pure gold,
but that the clouds were mounting we knew full well.

"I must soon be gone," she said at last. "It is a stolen meeting. I do
not know when we shall meet again."

She rose from the settle, and I rose with her, and we stood together
beside the barred window. There was no danger of her being seen; street
and square were left to the wind and the sunshine. My arm was around
her, and she leaned her head against my breast. "Perhaps we shall never
meet again," she said.

"The winter is over," I answered. "Soon the trees will be green and the
flowers in bloom. I will not believe that our spring can have no
summer."

She took from her bosom a little flower that had been pinned there. It
lay, a purple star, in the hollow of her hand. "It grew in the sun. It
is the first flower of spring." She put it to her lips, then laid it
upon the window ledge beside my hand. "I have brought you evil
gifts,--foes and strife and peril. Will you take this little purple
flower--and all my heart beside?"

I bent and kissed first the tiny blossom, and then the lips that had
proffered it. "I am very rich," I said.

The sun was now low, and the pines in the square and the upright of the
pillory cast long shadows. The wind had fallen and the sounds had died
away. It seemed very still. Nothing moved but the creeping shadows until
a flight of small white-breasted birds went past the window. "The snow
is gone," I said. "The snowbirds are flying north."

"The woods will soon be green," she murmured wistfully. "Ah, if we could
ride through them once more, back to Weyanoke----"

"To home," I said.

"Home," she echoed softly.

There was a low knocking at the door behind us. "It is Master Rolfe's
signal," she said. "I must not stay. Tell me that you love me, and let
me go."

I drew her closer to me and pressed my lips upon her bowed head. "Do you
not know that I love you?" I asked.

"Yea," she answered. "I have been taught it. Tell me that you believe
that God will be good to us. Tell me that we shall be happy yet; for oh,
I have a boding heart this day!"

Her voice broke, and she lay trembling in my arms, her face hidden. "If
the summer never comes for us----" she whispered. "Good-bye, my lover
and my husband. If I have brought you ruin and death, I have brought
you, too, a love that is very great. Forgive me and kiss me, and let me
go."

"Thou art my dearly loved and honoured wife," I said. "My heart
forebodes summer, and joy, and peace, and home."

We kissed each other solemnly, as those who part for a journey and a
warfare. I spoke no word to Rolfe when the door was opened and she had
passed out with her cloak drawn about her face, but we clasped hands,
and each knew the other for his friend indeed. They were gone, the
gaoler closing and locking the door behind them. As for me, I went back
to the settle beneath the window, and, falling on my knees beside it,
buried my face in my arms.



CHAPTER XXIX

In which I Keep Tryst


The sun dropped below the forest, blood red, dyeing the river its own
colour. There were no clouds in the sky,--only a great suffusion of
crimson climbing to the zenith; against it the woods were as black as
war paint. The colour faded and the night set in, a night of no wind and
of numberless stars. On the hearth burned a fire. I left the window and
sat beside it, and in the hollows between the red embers made pictures,
as I used to make them when I was a boy.

I sat there long. It grew late, and all sounds in the town were hushed;
only now and then the "All's well!" of the watch came faintly to my
ears. Diccon lodged with me; he lay in his clothes upon a pallet in the
far corner of the room, but whether he slept or not I did not ask. He
and I had never wasted words; since chance had thrown us together again
we spoke only when occasion required.

The fire was nigh out, and it must have been ten of the clock when, with
somewhat more of caution and less of noise than usual, the key grated in
the lock; the door opened, and the gaoler entered, closing it
noiselessly behind him. There was no reason why he should intrude
himself upon me after nightfall, and I regarded him with a frown and an
impatience that presently turned to curiosity.

He began to move about the room, making pretence of seeing that there
was water in the pitcher beside my pallet, that the straw beneath the
coverlet was fresh, that the bars of the window were firm, and ended by
approaching the fire and heaping pine upon it. It flamed up brilliantly,
and in the strong red light he half opened a clenched hand and showed me
two gold pieces, and beneath them a folded paper. I looked at his
furtive eyes and brutal, doltish face, but he kept them blank as a wall.
The hand closed again over the treasure within it, and he turned away as
if to leave the room. I drew a noble--one of a small store of gold
pieces conveyed to me by Rolfe--from my pocket, and stooping made it
spin upon the hearth in the red firelight. The gaoler looked at it
askance, but continued his progress toward the door. I drew out its
fellow, set it too to spinning, then leaned back against the table.
"They hunt in couples," I said. "There will be no third one."

He had his foot upon them before they had done spinning. The next moment
they had kissed the two pieces already in his possession, and he had
transferred all four to his pocket. I held out my hand for the paper,
and he gave it to me grudgingly, with a spiteful slowness of movement.
He would have stayed beside me as I read it, but I sternly bade him keep
his distance; then kneeling before the fire to get the light, I opened
the paper. It was written upon in a delicate, woman's hand, and it ran
thus:--

     "An you hold me dear, come to me at once. Come without tarrying to
     the deserted hut on the neck of land, nearest to the forest. As you
     love me, as you are my knight, keep this tryst.

          "In distress and peril,      _Thy Wife_."



Folded with it was a line in the commander's hand and with his
signature: "The bearer may pass without the palisade at his pleasure."

I read the first paper again, refolded it, and rose to my feet. "Who
brought this, sirrah?" I demanded.

His answer was glib enough: "One of the Governor's servants. He said as
how there was no harm in the letter, and the gold was good."

"When was this?"

"Just now. No, I didn't know the man."

I saw no way to discover whether or not he lied. Drawing out another
gold piece, I laid it upon the table. He eyed it greedily, edging nearer
and nearer.

"For leaving this door unlocked," I said.

His eyes narrowed and he moistened his lips, shifting from one foot to
the other.

I put down a second piece. "For opening the outer door," I said.

He wet his lips again, made an inarticulate sound in his throat, and
finally broke out with, "The commander will nail my ears to the
pillory."

"You can lock the doors after me, and know as little as you choose in
the morning. No gain without some risk."

"That's so," he agreed, and made a clutch at the gold.

I swept it out of his reach. "First earn it," I said dryly. "Look at the
foot of the pillory an hour from now and you'll find it. I'll not pay
you this side of the doors."

He bit his lips and studied the floor. "You're a gentleman," he growled
at last. "I suppose I can trust ye."

"I suppose you can."

Taking up his lantern, he turned toward the door. "It's growing late,"
he said, with a most uncouth attempt to feign a guileless drowsiness.
"I'll to bed, captain, when I've locked up. Good-night to ye!"

He was gone, and the door was left unlocked. I could walk out of that
gaol as I could have walked out of my house at Weyanoke. I was free, but
should I take my freedom? Going back to the light of the fire, I
unfolded the paper and stared at it, turning its contents this way and
that in my mind. The hand--but once had I seen her writing, and then it
had been wrought with a shell upon firm sand. I could not judge if this
were the same. Had the paper indeed come from her? Had it not? If in
truth it was a message from my wife, what had befallen in a few hours
since our parting? If it was a forger's lie, what trap was set, what
toils were laid? I walked up and down, and tried to think it out. The
strangeness of it all, the choice of a lonely and distant hut for
trysting-place, that pass coming from a sworn officer of the Company,
certain things I had heard that day.... A trap ... and to walk into it
with my eyes open.... _An you hold me dear. As you are my knight, keep
this tryst. In distress and peril...._ Come what might, there was a risk
I could not run.

I had no weapons to assume, no preparations to make. Gathering up the
gaolers gold, I started toward the door, opened it, and going out, would
have closed it softly behind me but that a booted leg thrust across the
jamb prevented me. "I am going with you," said Diccon in a guarded
voice. "If you try to prevent me, I will rouse the house." His head was
thrown back in the old way; the old daredevil look was upon his face. "I
don't know why you are going," he declared, "but there'll be danger,
anyhow."

"To the best of my belief I am walking into a trap," I said.

"Then it will shut on two instead of one," he answered doggedly.

By this he was through the door, and there was no shadow of turning on
his dark, determined face. I knew my man, and wasted no more words. Long
ago it had grown to seem the thing most in nature that the hour of
danger should find us side by side.

When the door of the firelit room was shut, the gaol was in darkness
that might be felt. It was very still: the few other inmates were fast
asleep; the gaoler was somewhere out of sight, dreaming with open eyes.
We groped our way through the passage to the stairs, noiselessly
descended them, and found the outer door unchained, unbarred, and
slightly ajar.

When I had laid the gold beneath the pillory, we struck swiftly across
the square, being in fear lest the watch should come upon us, and took
the first lane that led toward the palisade. Beneath the burning stars
the town lay stark in sleep. So bright in the wintry air were those
far-away lights that the darkness below them was not great. We could see
the low houses, the shadowy pines, the naked oaks, the sandy lane
glimmering away to the river, star-strewn to match the heavens. The air
was cold, but exceedingly clear and still. Now and then a dog barked, or
wolves howled in the forest across the river. We kept in the shadow of
the houses and the trees, and went with the swiftness, silence, and
caution of Indians.

The last house we must pass before reaching the palisade was one that
Rolfe owned, and in which he lodged when business brought him to
Jamestown. It and some low outbuildings beyond it were as dark as the
cedars in which they were set, and as silent as the grave. Rolfe and his
Indian brother were sleeping there now, while I stood without. Or did
they sleep? Were they there at all? Might it not have been Rolfe who had
bribed the gaoler and procured the pass from West? Might I not find him
at that strange trysting-place? Might not all be well, after all? I was
sorely tempted to rouse that silent house and demand if its master were
within. I did it not. Servants were there, and noise would be made, and
time that might be more precious than life-blood was flying fast. I went
on, and Diccon with me.

There was a cabin built almost against the palisade, and here one man
was supposed to watch, whilst another slept. To-night we found both
asleep. I shook the younger to his feet, and heartily cursed him for
his negligence. He listened stupidly, and read as stupidly, by the light
of his lantern, the pass which I thrust beneath his nose. Staggering to
his feet, and drunk with his unlawful slumber, he fumbled at the
fastenings of the gate for full three minutes before the ponderous wood
finally swung open and showed the road beyond. "It's all right," he
muttered thickly. "The commander's pass. Good-night, the three of ye!"

"Are you drunk or drugged?" I demanded. "There are only two. It's not
sleep that is the matter with you. What is it?"

He made no answer, but stood holding the gate open and blinking at us
with dull, unseeing eyes. Something ailed him besides sleep; he may have
been drugged, for aught I know. When we had gone some yards from the
gate, we heard him say again, in precisely the same tone, "Good-night,
the three of ye!" Then the gate creaked to, and we heard the bars drawn
across it.

Without the palisade was a space of waste land, marsh and thicket,
tapering to the narrow strip of sand and scrub joining the peninsula to
the forest, and here and there upon this waste ground rose a mean house,
dwelt in by the poorer sort. All were dark. We left them behind, and
found ourselves upon the neck, with the desolate murmur of the river on
either hand, and before us the deep blackness of the forest. Suddenly
Diccon stopped in his tracks and turned his head. "I did hear something
then," he muttered. "Look, sir!"

The stars faintly lit the road that had been trodden hard and bare by
the feet of all who came and went. Down this road something was coming
toward us, something low and dark, that moved not fast, and not slow,
but with a measured and relentless pace. "A panther!" said Diccon.

We watched the creature with more of curiosity than alarm. Unless
brought to bay, or hungry, or wantonly irritated, these great cats were
cowardly enough. It would hardly attack the two of us. Nearer and nearer
it came, showing no signs of anger and none of fear, and paying no
attention to the withered branch with which Diccon tried to scare it
off. When it was so close that we could see the white of its breast it
stopped, looking at us with large, unfaltering eyes, and slightly moving
its tail to and fro.

"A tame panther!" ejaculated Diccon. "It must be the one Nantauquas
tamed, sir. He would have kept it somewhere near Master Rolfe's house."

"And it heard us, and followed us through the gate," I said. "It was the
_third_ the warder talked of."

We walked on, and the beast, addressing itself to motion, followed at
our heels. Now and then we looked back at it, but we feared it not.

As for me, I had begun to think that a panther might be the least
formidable thing I should meet that night. By this I had scarcely any
hope--or fear--that I should find her at our journey's end. The lonesome
path that led only to the night-time forest, the deep and dark river
with its mournful voice, the hard, bright, pitiless stars, the cold, the
loneliness, the distance,--how should she be there? And if not she, who
then?

The hut to which I had been directed stood in an angle made by the neck
and the main bank of the river. On one side of it was the water, on the
other a deep wood. The place had an evil name, and no man had lived
there since the planter who had built it hanged himself upon its
threshold. The hut was ruinous: in the summer tall weeds grew up around
it, and venomous snakes harboured beneath its rotted and broken floor;
in the winter the snow whitened it, and the wild fowl flew screaming in
and out of the open door and the windows that needed no barring.
To-night the door was shut and the windows in some way obscured. But the
interstices between the logs showed red; the hut was lighted within, and
some one was keeping tryst.

The stillness was deadly. It was not silence, for the river murmured in
the stiff reeds, and far off in the midnight forest some beast of the
night uttered its cry, but a hush, a holding of the breath, an expectant
horror. The door, warped and shrunken, was drawn to, but was not
fastened, as I could tell by the unbroken line of red light down one
side from top to bottom. Making no sound, I laid my hand upon it, pushed
it open a little way, and looked within the hut.

I had thought to find it empty or to find it crowded. It was neither. A
torch lit it, and on the hearth burned a fire. Drawn in front of the
blaze was an old rude chair, and in it sat a slight figure draped from
head to foot in a black cloak. The head was bowed and hidden, the whole
attitude one of listlessness and dejection. As I looked, there came a
long, tremulous sigh, and the head drooped lower and lower, as if in a
growing hopelessness.

The revulsion of feeling was so great that for the moment I was dazed as
by a sudden blow. There had been time during the walk from the gaol for
enough of wild and whirling thoughts as to what should greet me in that
hut; and now the slight figure by the fire, the exquisite melancholy of
its posture, its bent head, the weeping I could divine,--I had but one
thought, to comfort her as quickly as I might. Diccon's hand was upon my
arm, but I shook it off, and pushing the door open, crossed the uneven
and noisy floor to the fire, and bent over the lonely figure beside it.
"Jocelyn," I said, "I have kept tryst."

As I spoke, I laid my hand upon the bowed and covered head. It was
raised, the cloak was drawn aside, and there looked me in the eyes the
Italian.

As if it had been the Gorgon's gaze, I was turned to stone. The filmy
eyes, the smile that would have been mocking had it not been so very
faint, the pallor, the malignance,--I stared and stared, and my heart
grew cold and sick.

It was but for a minute; then a warning cry from Diccon roused me. I
sprang backward until the width of the hearth was between me and the
Italian, then wheeled and found myself face to face with the King's late
favourite. Behind him was an open door, and beyond it a small inner
room, dimly lighted. He stood and looked at me with an insolence and a
triumph most intolerable. His drawn sword was in his hand, the jewelled
hilt blazing in the firelight, and on his dark, superb face a taunting
smile. I met it with one as bold, at least, but I said no word, good or
bad. In the cabin of the _George_ I had sworn to myself that
thenceforward my sword should speak for me to this gentleman.

"You came," he said. "I thought you would."

I glanced around the hut, seeking for a weapon. Seeing nothing more
promising than the thick, half-consumed torch, I sprang to it and
wrested it from the socket. Diccon caught up a piece of rusted iron from
the hearth, and together we faced my lord's drawn sword and a small,
sharp, and strangely shaped dagger that the Italian drew from a velvet
sheath.

My lord laughed, reading my thoughts. "You are mistaken," he declared
coolly. "I am content that Captain Percy knows I do not fear to fight
him. This time I play to win." Turning toward the outer door, he raised
his hand with a gesture of command.

In an instant the room was filled. The red-brown figures, naked save for
the loincloth and the headdress, the impassive faces dashed with black,
the ruthless eyes,--I knew now why Master Edward Sharpless had gone to
the forest, and what service had been bought with that silver cup. The
Paspaheghs and I were old enemies; doubtless they would find their task
a pleasant one.

"My own knaves, unfortunately, were out of the way; sent home on the
_Santa Teresa_," said my lord, still smiling. "I am not yet so poor that
I cannot hire others. True, Nicolo might have done the work just now,
when you bent over him so lovingly and spoke so softly; but the river
might give up your body to tell strange tales. I have heard that the
Indians are more ingenious, and leave no such witness anywhere."

Before the words were out of his mouth I had sprung upon him, and had
caught him by the sword wrist and the throat. He strove to free his
hand, to withdraw himself from my grasp. Locked together, we struggled
backward and forward in what seemed a blaze of lights and a roaring as
of mighty waters. Red hands caught at me, sharp knives panted to drink
my blood; but so fast we turned and writhed, now he uppermost, now I,
that for very fear of striking the wrong man hands and knives could not
be bold. I heard Diccon fighting, and knew that there would be howling
to-morrow among the squaws of the Paspaheghs. With all his might my lord
strove to bend the sword against me, and at last did cut me across the
arm, causing the blood to flow freely. It made a pool upon the floor,
and once my foot slipped in it, and I stumbled and almost fell.

Two of the Paspaheghs were silent for evermore. Diccon had the knife of
the first to fall, and it ran red. The Italian, quick and sinuous as a
serpent, kept beside my lord and me, striving to bring his dagger to his
master's aid. We two panted hard; before our eyes blood, within our ears
the sea. The noise of the other combatants suddenly fell. The hush could
only mean that Diccon was dead or taken. I could not look behind to see.
With an access of fury I drove my antagonist toward a corner of the
hut,--the corner, so it chanced, in which the panther had taken up its
quarters. With his heel he struck the beast out of his way, then made a
last desperate effort to throw me. I let him think he was about to
succeed, gathered my forces and brought him crashing to the ground. The
sword was in my hand and shortened, the point was at his throat, when my
arm was jerked backwards. A moment, and half a dozen hands had dragged
me from the man beneath me, and a supple savage had passed a thong of
deerskin around my arms and pinioned them to my sides. The game was up;
there remained only to pay the forfeit without a grimace.

Diccon was not dead; pinioned, like myself, and breathing hard, he
leaned sullenly against the wall, they that he had slain at his feet. My
lord rose, and stood over against me. His rich doublet was torn and
dragged away at the neck, and my blood stained his hand and arm. A smile
was upon the face that had made him master of a kingdom's master.

"The game was long," he said, "but I have won at last. A long good-night
to you, Captain Percy, and a dreamless sleep!"

There was a swift backward movement of the Indians, and a loud "The
panther, sir! Have a care!" from Diccon. I turned. The panther, maddened
by the noise and light, the shifting figures, the blocked doors, the
sight and smell of blood, the blow that had been dealt it, was crouching
for a spring. The red-brown hair was bristling, the eyes were terrible.
I was before it, but those glaring eyes had marked me not. It passed me
like a bar from a catapult, and the man whose heel it had felt was full
in its path. One of its forefeet sank in the velvet of the doublet; the
claws of the other entered the flesh below the temple, and tore
downwards and across. With a cry as awful as the panther's scream, the
Italian threw himself upon the beast and buried his poniard in its neck.
The panther and the man it had attacked went down together.

When the Indians had unlocked that dread embrace and had thrust aside
the dead brute, there emerged from the dimness of the inner room Master
Edward Sharpless, gray with fear, trembling in every limb, to take the
reins that had fallen from my lord's hands. The King's minion lay in his
blood, a ghastly spectacle; unconscious now, but with life before
him,--life through which to pass a nightmare vision. The face out of
which had looked that sullen, proud, and wicked spirit had been one of
great beauty; it had brought him exceeding wealth and power beyond
measure; the King had loved to look upon it; and it had come to this. He
lived, and I was to die: better my death than his life. In every heart
there are dark depths, whence at times ugly things creep into the
daylight; but at least I could drive back that unmanly triumph, and bid
it never come again. I would have killed him, but I would not have had
him thus.

The Italian was upon his knees beside his master: even such a creature
could love. From his skeleton throat came a low, prolonged, croaking
sound, and his bony hands strove to wipe away the blood. The Paspaheghs
drew around us closer and closer, and the werowance clutched me by the
shoulder. I shook him off. "Give the word, Sharpless," I said, "or nod,
if thou art too frightened to speak. Murder is too stern a stuff for
such a base kitchen knave as thou to deal in."

White and shaking, he would not meet my eyes, but beckoned the werowance
to him, and began to whisper vehemently; pointing now to the man upon
the floor, now to the town, now to the forest. The Indian listened,
nodded, and glided back to his fellows.

"The white men upon the Powhatan are many," he said in his own tongue,
"but they build not their wigwams upon the banks of the Pamunkey.[1] The
singing-birds of the Pamunkey tell no tales. The pine splinters will
burn as brightly there, and the white men will smell them not. We will
build a fire at Uttamussac, between the red hills, before the temple and
the graves of the kings." There was a murmur of assent from his braves.

 [1] The modern York.

Uttamussac! They would probably make a two days' journey of it. We had
that long, then, to live.

Captors and captives, we presently left the hut. On the threshold I
looked back, past the poltroon whom I had flung into the river one
midsummer day, to that prone and bleeding figure. As I looked, it
groaned and moved. The Indians behind me forced me on; a moment, and we
were out beneath the stars. They shone so very brightly; there was
one--large, steadfast, golden--just over the dark town behind us, over
the Governor's house. Did she sleep or did she wake? Sleeping or waking,
I prayed God to keep her safe and give her comfort. The stars now shone
through naked branches, black tree-trunks hemmed us round, and under our
feet was the dreary rustling of dead leaves. The leafless trees gave way
to pines and cedars, and the closely woven, scented roof hid the
heavens, and made a darkness of the world beneath.



CHAPTER XXX

In which we Start upon a Journey


When the dawn broke, it found us travelling through a narrow valley,
beside a stream of some width. Upon its banks grew trees of
extraordinary height and girth; cypress and oak and walnut, they towered
into the air, their topmost branches stark and black against the roseate
heavens. Below that iron tracery glowed the firebrands of the maples,
and here and there a willow leaned a pale green cloud above the stream.
Mist closed the distances; we could hear, but not see, the deer where
they stood to drink in the shallow places, or couched in the gray and
dreamlike recesses of the forest.

Spectral, unreal, and hollow seems the world at dawn. Then, if ever, the
heart sickens and the will flags, and life becomes a pageant that hath
ceased to entertain. As I moved through the mist and the silence, and
felt the tug of the thong that bound me to the wrist of the savage who
stalked before me, I cared not how soon they made an end, seeing how
stale and unprofitable were all things under the sun.

Diccon, walking behind me, stumbled over a root and fell upon his knees,
dragging down with him the Indian to whom he was tied. In a sudden
access of fury, aggravated by the jeers with which his fellows greeted
his mishap, the savage turned upon his prisoner and would have stuck a
knife into him, bound and helpless as he was, had not the werowance
interfered. The momentary altercation over, and the knife restored to
its owner's belt, the Indians relapsed into their usual menacing
silence, and the sullen march was resumed. Presently the stream made a
sharp bend across our path, and we forded it as best we might. It ran
dark and swift, and the water was of icy coldness. Beyond, the woods had
been burnt, the trees rising from the red ground like charred and
blackened stakes, with the ghostlike mist between. We left this dismal
tract behind, and entered a wood of mighty oaks, standing well apart,
and with the earth below carpeted with moss and early wild flowers. The
sun rose, the mist vanished, and there set in the March day of keen wind
and brilliant sunshine.

Farther on, an Indian bent his bow against a bear shambling across a
little sunny glade. The arrow did its errand, and where the creature
fell, there we sat down and feasted beside a fire kindled by rubbing two
sticks together. According to their wont the Indians ate ravenously, and
when the meal was ended began to smoke, each warrior first throwing into
the air, as thank-offering to Kiwassa, a pinch of tobacco. They all
stared at the fire around which we sat, and the silence was unbroken.
One by one, as the pipes were smoked, they laid themselves down upon the
brown leaves and went to sleep, only our two guardians and a third
Indian over against us remaining wide-eyed and watchful.

There was no hope of escape, and we entertained no thought of it. Diccon
sat, biting his nails, staring into the fire, and I stretched myself
out, and burying my head in my arms tried to sleep, but could not.

With the midday we were afoot again, and we went steadily on through the
bright afternoon. We met with no harsh treatment other than our bonds.
Instead, when our captors spoke to us, it was with words of amity and
smiling lips. Who accounteth for Indian fashions? It is a way they have,
to flatter and caress the wretch for whom have been provided the
torments of the damned. If, when at sunset we halted for supper and
gathered around the fire, the werowance began to tell of a foray I had
led against the Paspaheghs years before, and if he and his warriors, for
all the world like generous foes, loudly applauded some daring that had
accompanied that raid, none the less did the red stake wait for us; none
the less would they strive, as for heaven, to wring from us groans and
cries.

The sun sank, and the darkness entered the forest. In the distance we
heard the wolves, so the fire was kept up through the night. Diccon and
I were tied to trees, and all the savages save one lay down and slept. I
worked awhile at my bonds; but an Indian had tied them, and after a time
I desisted from the useless labour. We two could have no speech
together; the fire was between us, and we saw each other but dimly
through the flame and wreathing smoke,--as each might see the other
to-morrow. What Diccon's thoughts were I know not; mine were not of the
morrow.

There had been no rain for a long time, and the multitude of leaves
underfoot were crisp and dry. The wind was loud in them and in the
swaying trees. Off in the forest was a bog, and the will-o'-the-wisps
danced over it,--pale, cold flames, moving aimlessly here and there like
ghosts of those lost in the woods. Toward the middle of the night some
heavy animal crashed through a thicket to the left of us, and tore away
into the darkness over the loud-rustling leaves; and later on wolves'
eyes gleamed from out the ring of darkness beyond the firelight. Far on
in the night the wind fell and the moon rose, changing the forest into
some dim, exquisite, far-off land, seen only in dreams. The Indians
awoke silently and all at once, as at an appointed hour. They spoke for
a while among themselves; then we were loosed from the trees, and the
walk toward death began anew.

On this march the werowance himself stalked beside me, the moonlight
whitening his dark limbs and relentless face. He spoke no word, nor did
I deign to question or reason or entreat. Alike in the darkness of the
deep woods, and in the silver of the glades, and in the long twilight
stretches of sassafras and sighing grass, there was for me but one
vision. Slender and still and white, she moved before me, with her wide
dark eyes upon my face. _Jocelyn! Jocelyn!_

At sunrise the mist lifted from a low hill before us, and showed an
Indian boy, painted white, poised upon the summit, like a spirit about
to take its flight. He prayed to the One over All, and his voice came
down to us pure and earnest. At sight of us he bounded down the hillside
like a ball, and would have rushed away into the forest had not a
Paspahegh starting out of line seized him and set him in our midst,
where he stood, cool and undismayed, a warrior in miniature. He was of
the Pamunkeys, and his tribe and the Paspaheghs were at peace;
therefore, when he saw the totem burnt upon the breast of the werowance,
he became loquacious enough, and offered to go before us to his village,
upon the banks of a stream, some bowshots away. He went, and the
Paspaheghs rested under the trees until the old men of the village came
forth to lead them through the brown fields and past the ring of
leafless mulberries to the strangers' lodge. Here on the green turf mats
were laid for the visitors, and water was brought for their hands. Later
on, the women spread a great breakfast of fish and turkey and venison,
maize bread, tuckahoe and pohickory. When it was eaten, the Paspaheghs
ranged themselves in a semicircle upon the grass, the Pamunkeys faced
them, and each warrior and old man drew out his pipe and tobacco pouch.
They smoked gravely, in a silence broken only by an occasional slow and
stately question or compliment. The blue incense from the pipes mingled
with the sunshine falling freely through the bare branches; the stream
which ran by the lodge rippled and shone, and the wind rose and fell in
the pines upon its farther bank.

Diccon and I had been freed for the time from our bonds, and placed in
the centre of this ring, and when the Indians raised their eyes from the
ground it was to gaze steadfastly at us. I knew their ways, and how they
valued pride, indifference, and a bravado disregard of the worst an
enemy could do. They should not find the white man less proud than the
savage.

They gave us readily enough the pipes I asked for. Diccon lit one and I
the other, and sitting side by side we smoked in a contentment as
absolute as the Indians' own. With his eyes upon the werowance, Diccon
told an old story of a piece of Paspahegh villainy and of the payment
which the English exacted, and I laughed as at the most amusing thing in
the world. The story ended, we smoked with serenity for a while; then I
drew my dice from my pocket, and, beginning to throw, we were at once as
much absorbed in the game as if there were no other stake in the world
beside the remnant of gold that I piled between us. The strange people
in whose power we found ourselves looked on with grim approval, as at
brave men who could laugh in Death's face.

The sun was high in the heavens when we bade the Pamunkeys farewell. The
cleared ground, the mulberry trees, and the grass beneath, the few rude
lodges with the curling smoke above them, the warriors and women and
brown naked children,--all vanished, and the forest closed around us. A
high wind was blowing, and the branches far above beat at one another
furiously, while the pendent, leafless vines swayed against us, and the
dead leaves went past in the whirlwind. A monstrous flight of pigeons
crossed the heavens, flying from west to east, and darkening the land
beneath like a transient cloud. We came to a plain covered with very
tall trees that had one and all been ringed by the Indians. Long dead,
and partially stripped of the bark, with their branches, great and
small, squandered upon the ground, they stood, gaunt and silver gray,
ready for their fall. As we passed, the wind brought two crashing to the
earth. In the centre of the plain something--deer or wolf or bear or
man--lay dead, for to that point the buzzards were sweeping from every
quarter of the blue. Beyond was a pine wood, silent and dim, with a high
green roof and a smooth and scented floor. We walked through it for an
hour, and it led us to the Pamunkey. A tiny village, counting no more
than a dozen warriors, stood among the pines that ran to the water's
edge, and tied to the trees that shadowed the slow-moving flood were its
canoes. When the people came forth to meet us, the Paspaheghs bought
from them, for a string of roanoke, two of these boats; and we made no
tarrying, but, embarking at once, rowed up river toward Uttamussac and
its three temples.

Diccon and I were placed in the same canoe. We were not bound: what need
of bonds, when we had no friend nearer than the Powhatan, and when
Uttamussac was so near? After a time the paddles were put into our
hands, and we were required to row while our captors rested. There was
no use in sulkiness; we laughed as at some huge jest, and bent to the
task with a will that sent our canoe well in advance of its mate.
Diccon burst into an old song that we had sung in the Low Countries, by
camp fires, on the march, before the battle. The forest echoed to the
loud and warlike tune, and a multitude of birds rose startled from the
trees upon the bank. The Indians frowned, and one in the boat behind
called out to strike the singer upon the mouth; but the werowance shook
his head. There were none upon that river who might not know that the
Paspaheghs journeyed to Uttamussac with prisoners in their midst. Diccon
sang on, his head thrown back, the old bold laugh in his eyes. When he
came to the chorus I joined my voice to his, and the woodland rang to
the song. A psalm had better befitted our lips than those rude and
vaunting words, seeing that we should never sing again upon this earth;
but at least we sang bravely and gaily, with minds that were reasonably
quiet.

The sun dropped low in the heavens, and the trees cast shadows across
the water. The Paspaheghs now began to recount the entertainment they
meant to offer us in the morning. All those tortures that they were wont
to practise with hellish ingenuity they told over, slowly and
tauntingly, watching to see a lip whiten or an eyelid quiver. They
boasted that they would make women of us at the stake. At all events,
they made not women of us beforehand. We laughed as we rowed, and Diccon
whistled to the leaping fish, and the fish-hawk, and the otter lying
along a fallen tree beneath the bank.

The sunset came, and the river lay beneath the coloured clouds like
molten gold, with the gaunt forest black upon either hand. From the
lifted paddles the water showered in golden drops. The wind died away,
and with it all noises, and a dank stillness settled upon the flood and
upon the endless forest. We were nearing Uttamussac, and the Indians
rowed quietly, with bent heads and fearful glances; for Okee brooded
over this place, and he might be angry. It grew colder and stiller, but
the light dwelt in the heavens, and was reflected in the bosom of the
river. The trees upon the southern bank were all pines; as if they had
been carved from black stone they stood rigid against the saffron sky.
Presently, back from the shore, there rose before us a few small hills,
treeless, but covered with some low, dark growth. The one that stood the
highest bore upon its crest three black houses shaped like coffins.
Behind them was the deep yellow of the sunset.

An Indian rowing in the second canoe commenced a chant or prayer to
Okee. The notes were low and broken, unutterably wild and melancholy.
One by one his fellows took up the strain; it swelled higher, louder,
and sterner, became a deafening cry, then ceased abruptly, making the
stillness that followed like death itself. Both canoes swung round from
the middle stream and made for the bank. When the boats had slipped from
the stripe of gold into the inky shadow of the pines, the Paspaheghs
began to divest themselves of this or that which they conceived Okee
might desire to possess. One flung into the stream a handful of copper
links, another the chaplet of feathers from his head, a third a
bracelet of blue beads. The werowance drew out the arrows from a gaudily
painted and beaded quiver, stuck them into his belt, and dropped the
quiver into the water.

We landed, dragging the canoes into a covert of overhanging bushes and
fastening them there; then struck through the pines toward the rising
ground, and presently came to a large village, with many long huts, and
a great central lodge where dwelt the emperors when they came to
Uttamussac. It was vacant now, Opechancanough being no man knew where.

When the usual stately welcome had been extended to the Paspaheghs, and
when they had returned as stately thanks, the werowance began a harangue
for which I furnished the matter. When he ceased to speak a great
acclamation and tumult arose, and I thought they would scarce wait for
the morrow. But it was late, and their werowance and conjurer restrained
them. In the end the men drew off, and the yelling of the children and
the passionate cries of the women, importunate for vengeance, were
stilled. A guard was placed around the vacant lodge, and we two
Englishmen were taken within and bound down to great logs, such as the
Indians use to roll against their doors when they go from home.

There was revelry in the village; for hours after the night came,
everywhere were bright firelight and the rise and fall of laughter and
song. The voices of the women were musical, tender, and plaintive, and
yet they waited for the morrow as for a gala day. I thought of a woman
who used to sing, softly and sweetly, in the twilight at Weyanoke, in
the firelight at the minister's house. At last the noises ceased, the
light died away, and the village slept beneath a heaven that seemed
somewhat deaf and blind.



CHAPTER XXXI

In which Nantauquas Comes to our Rescue


A man who hath been a soldier and an adventurer into far and strange
countries must needs have faced Death many times and in many guises. I
had learned to know that grim countenance, and to have no great fear of
it. And beneath the ugliness of the mask that now presented itself there
was only Death at last. I was no babe to whimper at a sudden darkness,
to cry out against a curtain that a Hand chose to drop between me and
the life I had lived. Death frighted me not, but when I thought of one
whom I should leave behind me I feared lest I should go mad. Had this
thing come to me a year before, I could have slept the night through;
now--now----

I lay, bound to the log, before the open door of the lodge, and, looking
through it, saw the pines waving in the night wind and the gleam of the
river beneath the stars, and saw her as plainly as though she had stood
there under the trees, in a flood of noon sunshine. Now she was the
Jocelyn Percy of Weyanoke, now of the minister's house, now of a
storm-tossed boat and a pirate ship, now of the gaol at Jamestown. One
of my arms was free; I could take from within my doublet the little
purple flower, and drop my face upon the hand that held it. The bloom
was quite withered, and scalding tears would not give it life again.

The face that was now gay, now defiant, now pale and suffering, became
steadfastly the face that had leaned upon my breast in the Jamestown
gaol, and looked at me with a mournful brightness of love and sorrow.
Spring was in the land, and the summer would come, but not to us. I
stretched forth my hand to the wife who was not there, and my heart lay
crushed within me. She had been my wife not a year; it was but the other
day that I knew she loved me----

After a while the anguish lessened, and I lay, dull and hopeless,
thinking of trifling things, counting the stars between the pines.
Another slow hour, and, a braver mood coming upon me, I thought of
Diccon, who was in that plight because of me, and spoke to him, asking
him how he did. He answered from the other side of the lodge, but the
words were scarcely out of his mouth before our guard broke in upon us
commanding silence. Diccon cursed them, whereupon a savage struck him
across the head with the handle of a tomahawk, stunning him for a time.
As soon as I heard him move I spoke again, to know if he were much hurt;
when he had answered in the negative we said no more.

It was now moonlight without the lodge and very quiet. The night was far
gone; already we could smell the morning, and it would come apace.
Knowing the swiftness of that approach, and what the early light would
bring, I strove for a courage which should be the steadfastness of the
Christian, and not the vainglorious pride of the heathen. If my thoughts
wandered, if her face would come athwart the verses I tried to remember,
the prayer I tried to frame, perhaps He who made her lovely understood
and forgave. I said the prayer I used to say when I was a child, and
wished with all my heart for Jeremy.

Suddenly, in the first gray dawn, as at a trumpet's call, the village
awoke. From the long communal houses poured forth men, women, and
children; fires sprang up, dispersing the mist, and a commotion arose
through the length and breadth of the place. The women made haste with
their cooking, and bore maize cakes and broiled fish to the warriors who
sat on the ground in front of the royal lodge. Diccon and I were loosed,
brought without, and allotted our share of the food. We ate sitting side
by side with our captors, and Diccon, with a great cut across his head,
seized the Indian girl who brought him his platter of fish, and pulling
her down beside him kissed her soundly, whereat the maid seemed not ill
pleased and the warriors laughed.

In the usual order of things, the meal over, tobacco should have
followed. But now not a pipe was lit, and the women made haste to take
away the platters and to get all things in readiness. The werowance of
the Paspaheghs rose to his feet, cast aside his mantle, and began to
speak. He was a man in the prime of life, of a great figure, strong as a
Susquehannock, and a savage cruel and crafty beyond measure. Over his
breast, stained with strange figures, hung a chain of small bones, and
the scalp locks of his enemies fringed his moccasins. His tribe being
the nearest to Jamestown, and in frequent altercation with us, I had
heard him speak many times, and knew his power over the passions of his
people. No player could be more skilful in gesture and expression, no
poet more nice in the choice of words, no general more quick to raise a
wild enthusiasm in the soldiers to whom he called. All Indians are
eloquent, but this savage was a leader among them.

He spoke now to some effect. Commencing with a day in the moon of
blossoms when for the first time winged canoes brought white men into
the Powhatan, he came down through year after year to the present hour,
ceased, and stood in silence, regarding his triumph. It was complete. In
its wild excitement the village was ready then and there to make an end
of us who had sprung to our feet and stood with our backs against a
great bay tree, facing the maddened throng. So much the best for us
would it be if the tomahawks left the hands that were drawn back to
throw, if the knives that were flourished in our faces should be buried
to the haft in our hearts, that we courted death, striving with word and
look to infuriate our executioners to the point of forgetting their
former purpose in the lust for instant vengeance. It was not to be. The
werowance spoke again, pointing to the hills with the black houses upon
them, dimly seen through the mist. A moment, and the hands clenched upon
the weapons fell; another, and we were upon the march.

As one man, the village swept through the forest toward the rising
ground that was but a few bowshots away. The young men bounded ahead to
make preparation; but the approved warriors and the old men went more
sedately, and with them walked Diccon and I, as steady of step as they.
The women and children for the most part brought up the rear, though a
few impatient hags ran past us, calling the men tortoises who would
never reach the goal. One of these women bore a great burning torch, the
flame and smoke streaming over her shoulder as she ran. Others carried
pieces of bark heaped with the slivers of pine of which every wigwam has
store.

The sun was yet to rise when we reached a hollow amongst the low red
hills. Above us were the three long houses in which they keep the image
of Okee and the mummies of their kings. These temples faced the crimson
east, and the mist was yet about them. Hideous priests, painted over
with strange devices, the stuffed skins of snakes knotted about their
heads, in their hands great rattles which they shook vehemently, rushed
through the doors and down the bank to meet us, and began to dance
around us, contorting their bodies, throwing up their arms, and making a
hellish noise. Diccon stared at them, shrugged his shoulders, and with a
grunt of contempt sat down upon a fallen tree to watch the enemy's
manoeuvres.

The place was a natural amphitheatre, well fitted for a spectacle. Those
Indians who could not crowd into the narrow level spread themselves over
the rising ground, and looked down with fierce laughter upon the
driving of the stakes which the young men brought. The women and
children scattered into the woods beyond the cleft between the hills,
and returned bearing great armfuls of dry branches. The hollow rang to
the exultation of the playgoers. Taunting laughter, cries of savage
triumph, the shaking of the rattles, and the furious beating of two
great drums combined to make a clamour deafening to stupor. And above
the hollow was the angry reddening of the heavens, and the white mist
curling up like smoke.

I sat down beside Diccon on the log. Beneath it there were growing tufts
of a pale blue, slender--stemmed flower. I plucked a handful of the
blossoms, and thought how blue they would look against the whiteness of
her hand; then dropped them in a sudden shame that in that hour I was so
little steadfast to things which were not of earth. I did not speak to
Diccon, nor he to me. There seemed no need of speech. In the pandemonium
to which the world had narrowed, the one familiar, matter-of-course
thing was that he and I were to die together.

The stakes were in the ground and painted red, the wood properly
arranged. The Indian woman who held the torch that was to light the pile
ran past us, whirling the wood around her head to make it blaze more
fiercely. As she went by she lowered the brand and slowly dragged it
across my wrists. The beating of the drums suddenly ceased, and the loud
voices died away. To Indians no music is so sweet as the cry of an
enemy; if they have wrung it from a brave man who has striven to
endure, so much the better. They were very still now, because they would
not lose so much as a drawing in of the breath.

Seeing that they were coming for us, Diccon and I rose to await them.
When they were nearly upon us, I turned to him and held out my hand.

He made no motion to take it. Instead he stood with fixed eyes looking
past me and slightly upwards. A sudden pallor had overspread the bronze
of his face. "There's a verse somewhere," he said in a quiet
voice,--"it's in the Bible, I think,--I heard it once long ago, before I
was lost: '_I will look unto the hills from whence cometh my help_'----
Look, sir!"

I turned and followed with my eyes the pointing of his finger. In front
of us the bank rose steeply, bare to the summit,--no trees, only the red
earth, with here and there a low growth of leafless bushes. Behind it
was the eastern sky. Upon the crest, against the sunrise, stood the
figure of a man,--an Indian. From one shoulder hung an otterskin, and a
great bow was in his hand. His limbs were bare, and as he stood
motionless, bathed in the rosy light, he looked like some bronze god,
perfect from the beaded moccasins to the calm, uneager face below the
feathered headdress. He had but just risen above the brow of the hill;
the Indians in the hollow saw him not.

While Diccon and I stared, our tormentors were upon us. They came a
dozen or more at once, and we had no weapons. Two hung upon my arms,
while a third laid hold of my doublet to rend it from me. An arrow
whistled over our heads and stuck into a tree behind us. The hands that
clutched me dropped, and with a yell the busy throng turned their faces
in the direction whence had come the arrow.

The Indian who had sent that dart before him was descending the bank. An
instant's breathless hush while they stared at the solitary figure; then
the dark forms bent forward for the rush straightened, and there arose a
loud cry of recognition. "The son of Powhatan! The son of Powhatan!"

He came down the hillside to the level of the hollow, the authority of
his look and gesture making way for him through the crowd that surged
this way and that, and walked up to us where we stood, hemmed round, but
no longer in the clutch of our enemies. "It was a very big wolf this
time, Captain Percy," he said.

"You were never more welcome, Nantauquas," I answered,--"unless, indeed,
the wolf intends making a meal of three instead of two."

He smiled. "The wolf will go hungry to--day." Taking my hand in his, he
turned to his frowning countrymen. "Men of the Pamunkeys" he cried.
"This is Nantauquas' friend, and so the friend of all the tribes that
called Powhatan 'father.' The fire is not for him nor for his servant;
keep it for the Monacans and for the dogs of the Long House! The calumet
is for the friend of Nantauquas, and the dance of the maidens, the
noblest buck and the best of the weirs----"

There was a surging forward of the Indians, and a fierce murmur of
dissent. The werowance, standing out from the throng, lifted his voice.
"There was a time," he cried, "when Nantauquas was the panther crouched
upon the bough above the leader of the herd; now Nantauquas is a tame
panther and rolls at the white men's feet! There was a time when the
word of the son of Powhatan weighed more than the lives of many dogs
such as these, but now I know not why we should put out the fire at his
command! He is war chief no longer, for Opechancanough will have no tame
panther to lead the tribes. Opechancanough is our head, and
Opechancanough kindleth a fire indeed! We will give to this one what
fuel we choose, and to-night Nantauquas may look for the bones of the
white men!"

He ended, and a great clamour arose. The Paspaheghs would have cast
themselves upon us again but for a sudden action of the young chief, who
had stood motionless, with raised head and unmoved face, during the
werowance's bitter speech. Now he flung up his hand, and in it was a
bracelet of gold carved and twisted like a coiled snake and set with a
green stone. I had never seen the toy before, but evidently others had
done so. The excited voices fell, and the Indians, Pamunkeys and
Paspaheghs alike, stood as though turned to stone.

Nantauquas smiled coldly. "This day hath Opechancanough made me war
chief again. We have smoked the peace pipe together--my father's brother
and I--in the starlight, sitting before his lodge, with the wide marshes
and the river dark at our feet. Singing birds in the forest have been
many; evil tales have they told; Opechancanough has stopped his ears
against their false singing. My friends are his friends, my brother is
his brother, my word is his word: witness the armlet that hath no like;
that Opechancanough brought with him when he came from no man knows
where to the land of the Powhatans, many Huskanawings ago; that no white
men but these have ever seen. Opechancanough is at hand; he comes
through the forest with his two hundred warriors that are as tall as
Susquehannocks, and as brave as the children of Wahunsonacock. He comes
to the temples to pray to Kiwassa for a great hunting. Will you, when
you lie at his feet, that he ask you, 'Where is the friend of my friend,
of my war chief, of the Panther who is one with me again?'"

There came a long, deep breath from the Indians, then a silence, in
which they fell back, slowly and sullenly; whipped hounds, but with the
will to break that leash of fear.

"Hark!" said Nantauquas, smiling. "I hear Opechancanough and his
warriors coming over the leaves."

The noise of many footsteps was indeed audible, coming toward the hollow
from the woods beyond. With a burst of cries, the priests and the
conjurer whirled away to bear the welcome of Okee to the royal
worshipper, and at their heels went the chief men of the Pamunkeys. The
werowance of the Paspaheghs was one that sailed with the wind; he
listened to the deepening sound, and glanced at the son of Powhatan
where he stood, calm and confident, then smoothed his own countenance
and made a most pacific speech, in which all the blame of the late
proceedings was laid upon the singing birds. When he had done speaking,
the young men tore the stakes from the earth and threw them into a
thicket, while the women plucked apart the newly-kindled fire and flung
the brands into a little near-by stream, where they went out in a cloud
of hissing steam.

I turned to the Indian who had wrought this miracle. "Art sure it is not
a dream, Nantauquas?" I said. "I think that Opechancanough would not
lift a finger to save me from all the deaths the tribes could invent."

"Opechancanough is very wise," he answered quietly. "He says that now
the English will believe in his love indeed when they see that he holds
dear even one who might be called his enemy, who hath spoken against him
at the Englishmen's council fire. He says that for five suns Captain
Percy shall feast with Opechancanough, and that then he shall be sent
back free to Jamestown. He thinks that then Captain Percy will not speak
against him any more, calling his love to the white men only words with
no good deeds behind."

He spoke simply, out of the nobility of his nature, believing his own
speech. I that was older, and had more knowledge of men and the masks
that they wear, was but half deceived. My belief in the hatred of the
dark Emperor was not shaken, and I looked yet to find the drop of poison
within this honey flower. How poisoned was that bloom God knows I could
not guess!

"When you were missed, three suns ago," Nantauquas went on, "I and my
brother tracked you to the hut beside the forest, where we found only
the dead panther. There we struck the trail of the Paspaheghs; but
presently we came to running water, and the trail was gone."

"We walked up the bed of the stream for half the night," I said.

The Indian nodded. "I know. My brother went back to Jamestown for men
and boats and guns to go to the Paspahegh village and up the Powhatan.
He was wise with the wisdom of the white men, but I, who needed no gun,
and who would not fight against my own people, I stepped into the stream
and walked up it until past the full sun power. Then I found a broken
twig and the print of a moccasin, half hidden by a bush, overlooked when
the other prints were smoothed away. I left the stream and followed the
trail until it was broken again. I looked for it no more then, for I
knew that the Paspaheghs had turned their faces toward Uttamussac, and
that they would make a fire where many others had been made, in the
hollow below the three temples. Instead I went with speed to seek
Opechancanough. Yesterday, when the sun was low, I found him, sitting in
his lodge above the marshes and the coloured river. We smoked the peace
pipe together, and I am his war chief again. I asked for the green
stone, that I might show it to the Paspaheghs for a sign. He gave it,
but he willed to come to Uttamussac with me."

"I owe you my life," I said, with my hand upon his. "I and Diccon----"

What I would have said he put aside with a fine gesture. "Captain Percy
is my friend. My brother loves him, and he was kind to Matoax when she
was brought prisoner to Jamestown. I am glad that I could pull off this
wolf."

"Tell me one thing," I asked. "Before you left Jamestown, had you heard
aught of my wife or of my enemy?"

He shook his head. "At sunrise, the commander came to rouse my brother,
crying out that you had broken gaol and were nowhere to be found, and
that the man you hate was lying within the guest house, sorely torn by
some beast of the forest. My brother and I followed your trail at once;
the town was scarce awake when we left it behind us,--and I did not
return."

By this we three were alone in the hollow, for all the savages, men and
women, had gone forth to meet the Indian whose word was law from the
falls of the far west to the Chesapeake. The sun now rode above the low
hills, pouring its gold into the hollow and brightening all the world
besides. The little stream flashed diamonds, and the carven devils upon
the black houses above us were frightful no longer. There was not a
menace anywhere from the cloudless skies to the sweet and plaintive
chant to Kiwassa, sung by women and floating to us from the woods beyond
the hollow. The singing grew nearer, and the rustling of the leaves
beneath many feet more loud and deep; then all noise ceased, and
Opechancanough entered the hollow alone. An eagle feather was thrust
through his scalp lock; over his naked breast, that was neither painted
nor pricked into strange figures, hung a triple row of pearls; his
mantle was woven of bluebird feathers, as soft and sleek as satin. The
face of this barbarian was dark, cold, and impassive as death. Behind
that changeless mask, as in a safe retreat, the supersubtle devil that
was the man might plot destruction and plan the laying of dreadful
mines. He had dignity and courage,--no man denied him that. I suppose he
thought that he and his had wrongs: God knows! perhaps they had. But if
ever we were hard or unjust in our dealings with the savages,--I say not
that this was the case,--at least we were not treacherous and dealt not
in Judas kisses.

I stepped forward, and met him on the spot where the fire had been. For
a minute neither spoke. It was true that I had striven against him many
a time, and I knew that he knew it. It was also true that without his
aid Nantauquas could not have rescued us from that dire peril. And it
was again the truth that an Indian neither forgives nor forgets. He was
my saviour, and I knew that mercy had been shown for some dark reason
which I could not divine. Yet I owed him thanks, and gave them as
shortly and simply as I could.

He heard me out with neither liking nor disliking nor any other emotion
written upon his face; but when I had finished, as though he suddenly
bethought himself, he smiled and held out his hand, white-man fashion.
Now, when a man's lips widen I look into his eyes. The eyes of
Opechancanough were as fathomless as a pool at midnight, and as devoid
of mirth or friendliness as the staring orbs of the carven imps upon the
temple corners.

"Singing birds have lied to Captain Percy," he said, and his voice was
like his eyes. "Opechancanough thinks that Captain Percy will never
listen to them again. The chief of the Powhatans is a lover of the white
men, of the English, and of other white men,--if there are others. He
would call the Englishmen his brothers, and be taught of them how to
rule, and who to pray to----"

"Let Opechancanough go with me to-day to Jamestown," I said. "He hath
the wisdom of the woods; let him come and gain that of the town."

The Emperor smiled again. "I will come to Jamestown soon, but not to-day
nor to-morrow nor the next day. And Captain Percy must smoke the peace
pipe in my lodge above the Pamunkey, and watch my young men and maidens
dance, and eat with me five days. Then he may go back to Jamestown with
presents for the great white father there, and with a message that
Opechancanough is coming soon to learn of the white men."

I could have gnashed my teeth at that delay when she must think me dead,
but it would have been the madness of folly to show the impatience which
I felt. I too could smile with my lips when occasion drove, and drink a
bitter draught as though my soul delighted in it. Blithe enough to all
seeming, and with as few inward misgivings as the case called for,
Diccon and I went with the subtle Emperor and the young chief he had
bound to himself once more, and with their fierce train, back to that
village which we had never thought to see again. A day and a night we
stayed there; then Opechancanough sent away the Paspaheghs,--where we
knew not,--and taking us with him went to his own village above the
great marshes of the Pamunkey.



CHAPTER XXXII

In which we are the Guests of an Emperor


I had before this spent days among the Indians, on voyages of discovery,
as conqueror, as negotiator for food, exchanging blue beads for corn and
turkeys. Other Englishmen had been with me. Knowing those with whom we
dealt for sly and fierce heathen, friends to-day, to-morrow deadly foes,
we kept our muskets ready and our eyes and ears open, and, what with the
danger and the novelty and the bold, wild life, managed to extract some
merriment as well as profit from these visits. It was different now.

Day after day I ate my heart out in that cursed village. The feasting
and the hunting and the triumph, the wild songs and wilder dances, the
fantastic mummeries, the sudden rages, the sudden laughter, the great
fires with their rings of painted warriors, the sleepless sentinels, the
wide marshes that could not be crossed by night, the leaves that rustled
so loudly beneath the lightest footfall, the monotonous days, the
endless nights when I thought of her grief, of her peril, maybe,--it was
an evil dream, and for my own pleasure I could not wake too soon.

Should we ever wake? Should we not sink from that dream without pause
into a deeper sleep whence there would be no waking? It was a question
that I asked myself each morning, half looking to find another hollow
between the hills before the night should fall. The night fell, and
there was no change in the dream.

I will allow that the dark Emperor to whom we were so much beholden gave
us courteous keeping. The best of the hunt was ours, the noblest fish,
the most delicate roots. The skins beneath which we slept were fine and
soft; the women waited upon us, and the old men and warriors held with
us much stately converse, sitting beneath the budding trees with the
blue tobacco smoke curling above our heads. We were alive and sound of
limb, well treated, and with the promise of release; we might have
waited, seeing that wait we must, in some measure of content. We did not
so. There was a horror in the air. From the marshes that were growing
green, from the sluggish river, from the rotting leaves and cold, black
earth and naked forest, it rose like an exhalation. We knew not what it
was, but we breathed it in, and it went to the marrow of our bones.

Opechancanough we rarely saw, though we were bestowed so near to him
that his sentinels served for ours. Like some god, he kept within his
lodge with the winding passage, and the hanging mats between him and the
world without. At other times, issuing from that retirement, he would
stride away into the forest. Picked men went with him, and they were
gone for hours; but when they returned they bore no trophies, brute or
human. What they did we could not guess. We might have had much comfort
in Nantauquas, but the morning after our arrival in this village the
Emperor sent him upon an embassy to the Rappahannocks, and when for the
fourth time the forest stood black against the sunset he had not
returned. If escape had been possible, we would not have awaited the
doubtful fulfilment of that promise made to us below the Uttamussac
temples. But the vigilance of the Indians never slept; they watched us
like hawks, night and day. And the dry leaves under foot would not hold
their peace, and there were the marshes to cross and the river.

Thus four days dragged themselves by, and in the early morning of the
fifth, when we came from our wigwam, it was to find Nantauquas sitting
by the fire, magnificent in the paint and trappings of the ambassador,
motionless as a piece of bronze, and apparently quite unmindful of the
admiring glances of the women who knelt about the fire preparing our
breakfast. When he saw us he rose and came to meet us, and I embraced
him, I was so glad to see him. "The Rappahannocks feasted me long," he
said. "I was afraid that Captain Percy would be gone to Jamestown before
I was back upon the Pamunkey."

"Shall I ever see Jamestown again, Nantauquas?" I demanded. "I have my
doubts."

He looked me full in the eyes, and there was no doubting the candour of
his own. "You go with the next sunrise," he answered. "Opechancanough
has given me his word."

"I am glad to hear it," I said. "Why have we been kept at all? Why did
he not free us five days agone?"

He shook his head. "I do not know. Opechancanough has many thoughts
which he shares with no man. But now he will send you with presents for
the Governor, and with messages of his love to the white men. There will
be a great feast to-day, and to-night the young men and maidens will
dance before you. Then in the morning you will go."

"Will you not come with us?" I asked, "You are ever welcome amongst us,
Nantauquas, both for your sister's sake and for your own. Rolfe will
rejoice to have you with him again; he ever grudgeth you to the forest."

He shook his head again. "Nantauquas, the son of Powhatan, hath had much
talk with himself lately," he said simply. "The white men's ways have
seemed very good to him, and the God of the white men he knows to be
greater than Okee, and to be good and tender; not like Okee, who sucks
the blood of the children. He remembers Matoax, too, and how she loved
and cared for the white men, and would weep when danger threatened them.
And Rolfe is his brother and his teacher. But Opechancanough is his
king, and the red men are his people, and the forest is his home. If,
because he loved Rolfe, and because the ways of the white men seemed to
him better than his own ways, he forgot these things, he did wrong, and
the One over All frowns upon him. Now he has come back to his home
again, to the forest and the hunting and the warpath, to his king and
his people. He will be again the panther crouching upon the bough----"

"Above the white men?"

He gazed at me in silence, a shadow upon his face.

"Above the Monacans," he answered slowly. "Why did Captain Percy say
'above the white men'? Opechancanough and the English have buried the
hatchet for ever, and the smoke of the peace pipe will never fade from
the air. Nantauquas meant 'above the Monacans or the Long House dogs.'"

I put my hand upon his shoulder. "I know you did, brother of Rolfe by
nature if not by blood! Forget what I said; it was without thought or
meaning. If we go indeed to-morrow, I shall be loath to leave you
behind; and yet, were I in your place, I should do as you are doing."

The shadow left his face and he drew himself up. "Is it what you call
faith and loyalty and like a knight?" he demanded, with a touch of
eagerness breaking through the slowness and gravity with which an Indian
speaks.

"Yea," I made reply. "I think you good knight and true, Nantauquas, and
my friend, moreover, who saved my life."

His smile was like his sister's, quick and very bright, and leaving
behind it a most entire gravity. Together we sat down by the fire and
ate of the sylvan breakfast, with shy brown maidens to serve us and with
the sunshine streaming down upon us through the trees that were growing
faintly green. It was a thing to smile at to see how the Indian girls
manoeuvred to give the choicest meat, the most delicate maize cakes,
to the young war chief, and to see how quietly he turned aside their
benevolence. The meal over, he went to divest himself of his red and
white paint, of the stuffed hawk and strings of copper that formed his
headdress, of his gorgeous belt and quiver and his mantle of racoon
skins, while Diccon and I sat still before our wigwam, smoking, and
reckoning the distance to Jamestown and the shortest time in which we
could cover it.

When we had sat there for an hour, the old men and the warriors came to
visit us, and the smoking must commence all over again. The women laid
mats in a great half-circle, and each savage took his seat with perfect
breeding; that is, in absolute silence and with a face like a stone. The
peace paint was upon them all,--red, or red and white; they sat and
looked at the ground until I had made the speech of welcome. Soon the
air was dense with the fragrant smoke; in the thick blue haze the sweep
of painted figures had the seeming of some fantastic dream. An old man
arose and made a long and touching speech with much reference to
calumets and buried hatchets. When he had finished, a chief talked of
Opechancanough's love for the English, "high as the stars, deep as
Popogusso, wide as from the sunrise to the sunset," adding that the
death of Nemattanow last year and the troubles over the hunting grounds
had kindled in the breasts of the Indians no desire for revenge. With
which highly probable statement he made an end, and all sat in silence
looking at me and waiting for my contribution of honeyed words. These
Pamunkeys, living at a distance from the settlements, had but little
English to their credit, and the learning of the Paspaheghs was not much
greater. I sat and repeated to them the better part of the seventh canto
of the second book of Master Spenser's "Faery Queen." Then I told them
the story of the Moor of Venice, and ended by relating Smiths tale of
the three Turks' heads. It all answered the purpose to admiration. When
at length they went away to change their paint for the coming feast,
Diccon and I laughed at that foolery as though there were none beside us
who could juggle with words. We were as light-hearted as children--God
forgive us!

The day wore on, with relay after relay of food which we must taste at
least, with endless smoking of pipes and speeches that must be listened
to and answered. When evening came, and our entertainers drew off to
prepare for the dance, they left us as wearied as by a long day's march.

The wind had been high during the day, but with the sunset it sank to a
desolate murmur. The sky wore the strange crimson of the past year at
Weyanoke. Against that sea of colour the pines were drawn in ink, and
beneath it the winding, threadlike creeks that pierced the marshes had
the look of spilt blood moving slowly and heavily to join the river that
was black where the pines shadowed it, red where the light touched it.
From the marsh arose the cry of some great bird that made its home
there; it had a lonely and a boding sound, like a trumpet blown above
the dead. The colour died into an ashen gray and the air grew cold, with
a heaviness beside that dragged at the very soul. Diccon shivered
violently, turned restlessly upon the log that served him as settle, and
began to mutter to himself.

"Art cold?" I asked.

He shook his head. "Something walked over my grave," he said. "I would
give all the pohickory that was ever brewed by heathen for a toss of
_aqua vitæ_!"

In the centre of the village rose a great heap of logs and dry branches,
built during the day by the women and children. When the twilight fell
and the owls began to hoot, this pile was fired, and lit the place from
end to end. The scattered wigwams, the scaffolding where the fish were
dried, the tall pines and wide-branching mulberries, the trodden
grass,--all flashed into sight as the flame roared up to the topmost
withered bough. The village glowed like a lamp set in the dead blackness
of marsh and forest. Opechancanough came from the forest with a score of
warriors behind him, and stopped beside me. I rose to greet him, as was
decent; for he was an Emperor, albeit a savage and a pagan. "Tell the
English that Opechancanough grows old," he said. "The years that once
were as light upon him as the dew upon the maize are now hailstones to
beat him back to the earth whence he came. His arm is not swift to
strike and strong as it once was. He is old; the warpath and the scalp
dance please him no longer. He would die at peace with all men. Tell the
English this; tell them also that Opechancanough knows that they are
good and just, that they do not treat men whose colour is not their own
like babes, fooling them with toys, thrusting them out of their path
when they grow troublesome. The land is wide and the hunting grounds are
many. Let the red men who were here as many moons ago as there are
leaves in summer and the white men who came yesterday dwell side by side
in peace, sharing the maize fields and the weirs and the hunting grounds
together." He waited not for my answer, but passed on, and there was no
sign of age in his stately figure and his slow, firm step. I watched him
with a frown until the darkness of his lodge had swallowed up him and
his warriors, and mistrusted him for a cold and subtle devil.

Suddenly, as we sat staring at the fire, we were beset by a band of
maidens, coming out of the woods, painted, with antlers upon their heads
and pine branches in their hands. They danced about us, now advancing
until the green needles met above our heads, now retreating until there
was a space of turf between us. Their slender limbs gleamed in the
firelight; they moved with grace, keeping time to a plaintive song, now
raised by the whole choir, now fallen to a single voice. Pocahontas had
danced thus before the English many a time. I thought of the little
maid, of her great wondering eyes and her piteous, untimely death, of
how loving she was to Rolfe and how happy they had been in their brief
wedded life. It had bloomed like a rose, as fair and as early fallen,
with only a memory of past sweetness. Death was a coward, passing by men
whose trade it was to out-brave him, and striking at the young and
lovely and innocent....

We were tired with all the mummery of the day; moreover, every fibre of
our souls had been strained to meet the hours that had passed since we
left the gaol at Jamestown. The elation we had felt earlier in the day
was all gone. Now, the plaintive song, the swaying figures, the red
light beating against the trees, the blackness of the enshrouding
forest, the low, melancholy wind,--all things seemed strange, and yet
deadly old, as though we had seen and heard them since the beginning of
the world. All at once a fear fell upon me, causeless and unreasonable,
but weighing upon my heart like a stone. She was in a palisaded town,
under the Governor's protection, with my friends about her and my enemy
lying sick, unable to harm her. It was I, not she, that was in danger. I
laughed at myself, but my heart was heavy, and I was in a fever to be
gone.

The Indian girls danced more and more swiftly, and their song changed,
becoming gay and shrill and sweet. Higher and higher rang the notes,
faster and faster moved the dark limbs; then, quite suddenly, song and
motion ceased together. They who had danced with the abandonment of wild
priestesses to some wild god were again but shy brown Indian maids who
went and set them meekly down upon the grass beneath the trees. From the
darkness now came a burst of savage cries only less appalling than the
war whoop itself. In a moment the men of the village had rushed from the
shadow of the trees into the broad, firelit space before us. Now they
circled around us, now around the fire; now each man danced and stamped
and muttered to himself. For the most part they were painted red, but
some were white from head to heel,--statues come to life,--while others
had first oiled their bodies, then plastered them over with small
bright-coloured feathers. The tall head-dresses made giants of them all;
as they leaped and danced in the glare of the fire they had a fiendish
look. They sang, too, but the air was rude, and broken by dreadful
cries. Out of a hut behind us burst two or three priests, the conjurer,
and a score or more of old men. They had Indian drums upon which they
beat furiously, and long pipes made of reeds which gave forth no
uncertain sound. Fixed upon a pole and borne high above them was the
image of their Okee, a hideous thing of stuffed skins and rattling
chains of copper. When they had joined themselves to the throng in the
firelight, the clamour became deafening. Some one piled on more logs,
and the place grew light as day. Opechancanough was not there, nor
Nantauquas.

Diccon and I watched that uncouth spectacle, that Virginian masque, as
we had watched many another one, with disgust and weariness. It would
last, we knew, for the better part of the night. It was in our honour,
and for a while we must stay and testify our pleasure; but after a time,
when they had sung and danced themselves into oblivion of our presence,
we might retire, and leave the very old men, the women, and the children
sole spectators. We waited for that relief with impatience, though we
showed it not to those who pressed about us.

Time passed, and the noise deepened and the dancing became more frantic.
The dancers struck at one another as they leaped and whirled, the sweat
rolled from their bodies, and from their lips came hoarse, animal-like
cries. The fire, ever freshly fed, roared and crackled, mocking the
silent stars. The pines were bronze-red, the woods beyond a dead black.
All noises of marsh and forest were lost in the scream of the pipes, the
wild yelling, and the beating of the drums.

From the ranks of the women beneath the reddened pines rose shrill
laughter and applause as they sat or knelt, bent forward, watching the
dancers. One girl alone watched not them, but us. She stood somewhat
back of her companions, one slim brown hand touching the trunk of a
tree, one brown foot advanced, her attitude that of one who waits but
for a signal to be gone. Now and then she glanced impatiently at the
wheeling figures, or at the old men and the few warriors who took no
part in the masque, but her eyes always came back to us. She had been
among the maidens who danced before us earlier in the night; when they
rested beneath the trees she had gone away, and the night was much older
when I marked her again, coming out of the firelit distance back to the
fire and her dusky mates. It was soon after this that I became aware
that she must have some reason for her anxious scrutiny, some message to
deliver or warning to give. Once when I made a slight motion as if to go
to her, she shook her head and laid her finger upon her lips.

A dancer fell from sheer exhaustion, another and another, and warriors
from the dozen or more seated at our right began to take the places of
the fallen. The priests shook their rattles, and made themselves dizzy
with bending and whirling about their Okee; the old men, too, though
they sat like statues, thought only of the dance, and of how they
themselves had excelled, long ago when they were young.

I rose, and making my way to the werowance of the village, where he sat
with his eyes fixed upon a young Indian, his son, who bade fair to
outlast all others in that wild contest, told him that I was wearied and
would go to my hut, I and my servant, to rest for the few hours that yet
remained of the night. He listened dreamily, his eyes upon the dancing
Indian, but made offer to escort me thither. I pointed out to him that
my quarters were not fifty yards away, in the broad firelight, in sight
of them all, and that it were a pity to take him or any others from the
contemplation of that whirling Indian, so strong and so brave that he
would surely one day lead the war parties.

After a moment he acquiesced, and Diccon and I, quietly and yet with
some ostentation, so as to avoid all appearance of stealing away, left
the press of savages and began to cross the firelit turf between them
and our lodge. When we had gone fifty paces, I glanced over my shoulder
and saw that the Indian maid no longer stood where we had last seen her,
beneath the pines. A little farther on we caught a glimpse of her
winding in and out among a row of trees to our left. The trees ran past
our lodge. When we had reached its entrance we paused and looked back
to the throng we had left. Every back seemed turned to us, every eye
intent upon the leaping figures around the great fire. Swiftly and
quietly we walked across the bit of even ground to the friendly trees,
and found ourselves in a thin strip of shadow between the light of the
great fire we had left and that of a lesser one burning redly before the
Emperor's lodge. Beneath the trees, waiting for us, was the Indian maid,
with her light form, and large, shy eyes, and finger upon her lips. She
would not speak or tarry, but flitted before us as dusk and noiseless as
a moth, and we followed her into the darkness beyond the firelight,
well-nigh to the line of sentinels. A wigwam, larger than common and
shadowed by trees, rose in our path; the girl, gliding in front of us,
held aside the mats that curtained the entrance. We hesitated a moment,
then stooped and entered the place.



CHAPTER XXXIII

In which my Friend becomes my Foe


In the centre of the wigwam the customary fire burned clear and bright,
showing the white mats, the dressed skins, the implements of war hanging
upon the bark walls,--all the usual furniture of an Indian
dwelling,--and showing also Nantauquas standing against the stripped
trunk of a pine that pierced the wigwam from floor to roof. The fire was
between us. He stood so rigid, at his full height, with folded arms and
head held high, and his features were so blank and still, so forced and
frozen, as it were, into composure, that, with the red light beating
upon him and the thin smoke curling above his head, he had the look of a
warrior tied to the stake.

"Nantauquas!" I exclaimed, and striding past the fire would have touched
him but that with a slight and authoritative motion of the hand he kept
me back. Otherwise there was no change in his position or in the dead
calm of his face.

The Indian maid had dropped the mat at the entrance, and if she waited,
waited without in the darkness. Diccon, now staring at the young chief,
now eyeing the weapons upon the wall with all a lover's passion, kept
near the doorway. Through the thickness of the bark and woven twigs the
wild cries and singing came to us somewhat faintly; beneath that distant
noise could be heard the wind in the trees and the soft fall of the
burning pine.

"Well!" I asked at last. "What is the matter, my friend?"

For a full minute he made no answer, and when he did speak his voice
matched his face.

"_My friend_," he said, "I am going to show myself a friend indeed to
the English, to the strangers who were not content with their own
hunting grounds beyond the great salt water. When I have done this, I do
not know that Captain Percy will call me 'friend' again."

"You were wont to speak plainly, Nantauquas," I answered him. "I am not
fond of riddles."

Again he waited, as though he found speech difficult. I stared at him in
amazement, he was so changed in so short a time.

He spoke at last: "When the dance is over, and the fires are low, and
the sunrise is at hand, then will Opechancanough come to you to bid you
farewell. He will give you the pearls that he wears about his neck for a
present to the Governor, and a bracelet for yourself. Also he will give
you three men for a guard through the forest. He has messages of love to
send the white men, and he would send them by you who were his enemy and
his captive. So all the white men shall believe in his love."

"Well," I said dryly as he paused. "I will take his messages. What
next?"

"Those are the words of Opechancanough. Now listen to the words of
Nantauquas, the son of Wahunsonacock, a war chief of the Powhatans.
There are two sharp knives there, hanging beneath the bow and the quiver
and the shield. Take them and hide them."

The words were scarcely out of his mouth before Diccon had the two keen
English blades. I took the one he offered me, and hid it in my doublet.

"So we go armed, Nantauquas," I said. "Love and peace and goodwill
consort not with such toys."

"You may want them," he went on, with no change in his low, measured
tones. "If you see aught in the forest that you should not see, if they
think you know more than you are meant to know, then those three, who
have knives and tomahawks, are to kill you, whom they believe unarmed."

"See aught that we should not see, know more than we are meant to know?"
I said. "To the point, friend."

"They will go slowly, too, through the forest to Jamestown, stopping to
eat and to sleep. For them there is no need to run like the stag with
the hunter behind him."

"Then we should make for Jamestown as for life," I said, "not sleeping
or eating or making pause?"

"Yea," he replied, "if you would not die, you and all your people."

In the silence of the hut the fire crackled, and the branches of the
trees outside, bent by the wind, made a grating sound against the bark
roof.

"How die?" I asked at last. "Speak out!"

"Die by the arrow and the tomahawk," he answered,--"yea, and by the guns
you have given the red men. To-morrow's sun, and the next, and the
next,--three suns,--and the tribes will fall upon the English. At the
same hour, when the men are in the fields and the women and children are
in the houses, they will strike,--Kecoughtans, Paspaheghs,
Chickahominies, Pamunkeys, Arrowhatocks, Chesapeakes, Nansemonds,
Accomacs,--as one man will they strike; and from where the Powhatan
falls over the rocks to the salt water beyond Accomac, there will not be
one white man left alive."

He ceased to speak, and for a minute the fire made the only sound in the
hut. Then, "All die?" I asked dully. "There are three thousand
Englishmen in Virginia."

"They are scattered and unwarned. The fighting men of the villages of
the Powhatan and the Pamunkey and the great bay are many, and they have
sharpened their hatchets and filled their quivers with arrows."

"Scattered," I said, "strewn broadcast up and down the river,--here a
lonely house, there a cluster of two or three; they at Jamestown and
Henricus off guard,--the men in the fields or at the wharves, the women
and the children busy within doors, all unwarned--O my God!"

Diccon strode over from the doorway to the fire.

"We'd best be going, I reckon, sir," he cried. "Or you wait until
morning; then there'll be two chances. Now that I've a knife, I'm
thinking I can give account of one of them damned sentries, at least.
Once clear of them----"

I shook my head, and the Indian too made a gesture of dissent. "You
would only be the first to die."

I leaned against the side of the hut, for my heart beat like a
frightened woman's. "Three days," I exclaimed. "If we go with all our
speed, we shall be in time. When did you learn this thing?"

"While you watched the dance," he answered, "Opechancanough and I sat
within his lodge in the darkness. His heart was moved, and he talked to
me of his own youth in a strange country, south of the sunset, where he
and his people dwelt in stone houses and worshipped a great and fierce
god, giving him blood to drink and flesh to eat. To that country, too,
white men had come in ships. Then he spoke to me of Powhatan, my
father,--of how wise he was and how great a chief before the English
came, and how the English made him kneel in sign that he held his lands
from their King, and how he hated them; and then he told me that the
tribes had called me 'woman,' 'lover no longer of the warpath and the
scalp dance,' but that he, who had no son, loved me as his son, knowing
my heart to be Indian still; and then I heard what I have told you."

"How long had this been planned?"

"For many moons. I have been a child, fooled and turned aside from the
trail; not wise enough to see it beneath the flowers, through the smoke
of the peace pipes."

"Why does Opechancanough send us back to the settlements?" I demanded.
"Their faith in him needs no strengthening."

"It is his fancy. Every hunter and trader and learner of our tongues,
living in the villages or straying in the woods, has been sent back to
Jamestown or to his hundred with presents and with words that are
sweeter than honey. He has told the three who go with you the hour in
which you are to reach Jamestown; he would have you as singing birds,
telling lying tales to the Governor, with scarce the smoking of a pipe
between those words of peace and the war whoop. But if those who go with
you see reason to misdoubt you, they will kill you in the forest."

His voice fell, and he stood in silence, straight as an arrow, against
the post, the firelight playing over his dark limbs and sternly quiet
face. Outside, the night wind, rising, began to howl through the naked
branches, and a louder burst of yells came to us from the roisterers in
the distance. The mat before the doorway shook, and a slim brown hand,
slipped between the wood and the woven grass, beckoned to us.

"Why did you come?" demanded the Indian. "Long ago, when there were none
but dark men from the Chesapeake to the hunting grounds beneath the
sunset, we were happy. Why did you leave your own land, in the strange
black ships with sails like the piled-up clouds of summer? Was it not a
good land? Were not your forests broad and green, your fields fruitful,
your rivers deep and filled with fish? And the towns I have heard
of--were they not fair? You are brave men: had you no enemies there, and
no warpaths? It was your home: a man should love the good earth over
which he hunts, upon which stands his village. This is the red man's
land. He wishes his hunting grounds, his maize fields, and his rivers
for himself, his women and children. He has no ships in which to go to
another country. When you first came, we thought you were gods; but you
have not done like the great white God who, you say, loves you so. You
are wiser and stronger than we, but your strength and wisdom help us
not: they press us down from men to children; they are weights upon the
head and shoulders of a babe to keep him under stature. Ill gifts have
you brought us, evil have you wrought us----"

"Not to you, Nantauquas!" I cried, stung into speech.

He turned his eyes upon me. "Nantauquas is the war chief of his tribe.
Opechancanough is his king, and he lies upon his bed in his lodge and
says within himself: 'My war chief, the Panther, the son of
Wahunsonacock, who was chief of all the Powhatans, sits now within his
wigwam, sharpening flints for his arrows, making his tomahawk bright and
keen, thinking of a day three suns hence, when the tribes will shake off
for ever the hand upon their shoulder,--the hand so heavy and white that
strives always to bend them to the earth and keep them there.' Tell me,
you Englishman who have led in war, another name for Nantauquas, and ask
no more what evil you have done him."

"I will not call you 'traitor,' Nantauquas," I said, after a pause.
"There is a difference. You are not the first child of Powhatan who has
loved and shielded the white men."

"She was a woman, a child," he answered. "Out of pity she saved your
lives, not knowing that it was to the hurt of her people. Then you were
few and weak, and could not take your revenge. Now, if you die not, you
will drink deep of vengeance,--so deep that your lips may never leave
the cup. More ships will come, and more; you will grow ever stronger.
There may come a moon when the deep forests and the shining rivers know
us, to whom Kiwassa gave them, no more." He paused, with unmoved face,
and eyes that seemed to pierce the wall and look out into unfathomable
distances. "Go!" he said at last. "If you die not in the woods, if you
see again the man whom I called my brother and teacher, tell him ...
tell him _nothing_! Go!"

"Come with us," urged Diccon gruffly. "We English will make a place for
you among us----" and got no further, for I turned upon him with a stern
command for silence.

"I ask of you no such thing, Nantauquas," I said. "Come against us, if
you will. Nobly warned, fair upon our guard, we will meet you as
knightly foe should be met."

He stood for a minute, the quick change that had come into his face at
Diccon's blundering words gone, and his features sternly impassive
again; then, very slowly, he raised his arm from his side and held out
his hand. His eyes met mine in sombre inquiry, half eager, half proudly
doubtful.

I went to him at once, and took his hand in mine. No word was spoken.
Presently he withdrew his hand from my clasp, and, putting his finger to
his lips, whistled low to the Indian girl. She drew aside the hanging
mats, and we passed out, Diccon and I, leaving him standing as we had
found him, upright against the post, in the red firelight.

Should we ever go through the woods, pass through that gathering storm,
reach Jamestown, warn them there of the death that was rushing upon
them? Should we ever leave that hated village? Would the morning ever
come? When we reached our hut, unseen, and sat down just within the
doorway to watch for the dawn, it seemed as though the stars would never
pale. Again and again the leaping Indians between us and the fire fed
the tall flame; if one figure fell in the wild dancing, another took its
place; the yelling never ceased, nor the beating of the drums.

It was an alarum that was sounding, and there were only two to hear;
miles away beneath the mute stars English men and women lay asleep, with
the hour thundering at their gates, and there was none to cry, "Awake!"
When would the dawn come, when should we be gone? I could have cried out
in that agony of waiting, with the leagues on leagues to be travelled,
and the time so short! If we never reached those sleepers---- I saw the
dark warriors gathering, tribe on tribe, war party on war party, thick
crowding shadows of death, slipping though the silent forest ... and
the clearings we had made and the houses we had built ... the goodly
Englishmen, Kent and Thorpe and Yeardley, Maddison, Wynne, Hamor, the
men who had striven to win and hold this land so fatal and so fair, West
and Rolfe and Jeremy Sparrow ... the children about the doorsteps, the
women ... one woman....

It came to an end, as all things earthly will. The flames of the great
bonfire sank lower and lower, and as they sank the gray light faltered
into being, grew, and strengthened. At last the dancers were still, the
women scattered, the priests with their hideous Okee gone. The wailing
of the pipes died away, the drums ceased to beat, and the village lay in
the keen wind and the pale light, inert and quiet with the stillness of
exhaustion.

The pause and hush did not last. When the ruffled pools amid the marshes
were rosy beneath the sunrise, the women brought us food, and the
warriors and old men gathered about us. They sat upon mats or billets of
wood, and I offered them bread and meat, and told them they must come to
Jamestown to taste of the white man's cookery.

Scarcely was the meal over when Opechancanough issued from his lodge,
with his picked men behind him, and, coming slowly up to us, took his
seat upon the white mat that was spread for him. For a few minutes he
sat in a silence that neither we nor his people cared to break. Only the
wind sang in the brown branches, and from some forest brake came a
stag's hoarse cry. As he sat in the sunshine he glistened all over,
like an Ethiop besprent with silver; for his dark limbs and mighty chest
had been oiled, and then powdered with antimony. Through his scalp lock
was stuck an eagle's feather; across his face, from temple to chin, was
a bar of red paint; the eyes above were very bright and watchful, but we
upon whom that scrutiny was bent were as little wont as he to let our
faces tell our minds.

One of his young men brought a great pipe, carved and painted, stem and
bowl; an old man filled it with tobacco, and a warrior lit it and bore
it to the Emperor. He put it to his lips and smoked in silence, while
the sun climbed higher and higher, and the golden minutes that were more
precious than heart's blood went by, at once too slow, too swift.

At last, his part in the solemn mockery played, he held out the pipe to
me. "The sky will fall, and the rivers run dry, and the birds cease to
sing," he said, "before the smoke of the calumet fades from the land."

I took the symbol of peace, and smoked it as silently and soberly--ay,
and as slowly--as he had done before me, then laid it leisurely aside
and held out my hand. "My eyes have been holden," I told him, "but now I
see plainly the deep graves of the hatchets and the drifting of the
peace smoke through the forest. Let Opechancanough come to Jamestown to
smoke of the Englishman's _uppowoc_, and to receive rich presents,--a
red robe like his brother Powhatan's, and a cup from which he shall
drink, he and all his people."

He laid his dark fingers in mine for an instant, withdrew them, and,
rising to his feet, motioned to three Indians who stood out from the
throng of warriors. "These are Captain Percy's guides and friends," he
announced. "The sun is high; it is time that he was gone. Here are
presents for him and for my brother the Governor." As he spoke, he took
from his neck the rope of pearls and from his arm a copper bracelet, and
laid both upon my palm.

I thrust the pearls within my doublet, and slipped the bracelet upon my
wrist. "Thanks, Opechancanough," I said briefly. "When we meet again, I
shall not greet you with empty thanks."

By this all the folk of the village had gathered around us; and now the
drums beat again, and the maidens raised a wild and plaintive song of
farewell. At a sign from the werowance men and women formed a rude
procession, and followed us, who were to go upon a journey, to the edge
of the village where the marsh began. Only the dark Emperor and the old
men stayed behind, sitting and standing in the sunshine, with the peace
pipe lying on the grass at their feet, and the wind moving the branches
overhead. I looked back and saw them thus, and wondered idly how many
minutes they would wait before putting on the black paint. Of Nantauquas
we had seen nothing. Either he had gone to the forest, or upon some
pretence he kept within his lodge.

We bade farewell to the noisy throng who had brought us upon our way,
and went down to the river, where we found a canoe and rowers, crossed
the stream, and, bidding the rowers good-bye, entered the forest. It was
Wednesday morning, and the sun was two hours high. Three suns,
Nantauquas had said: on Friday, then, the blow would fall. Three days!
Once at Jamestown, it would take three days to warn each lonely
scattered settlement, to put the colony into any posture of defence.
What of the leagues of danger-haunted forest to be traversed before even
a single soul of the three thousand could be warned?

As for the three Indians,--who had their orders to go slowly, who at any
suspicious haste or question or anxiety on our part were to kill us whom
they deemed unarmed,--when they left their village that morning, they
left it for ever. There were times when Diccon and I had no need of
speech, but knew each other's mind without; so now, though no word had
been spoken, we were agreed to set upon and slay our guides the first
occasion that offered.



CHAPTER XXXIV

In which the Race is not to the Swift


The three Indians of whom we must rid ourselves were approved warriors,
fierce as wolves, cunning as foxes, keen-eyed as hawks. They had no
reason to doubt us, to dream that we would turn upon them, but from
habit they watched us, with tomahawk and knife resting lightly in their
belts.

As for us, we walked slowly, smiled freely, and spoke frankly. The
sunshine streaming down in the spaces where the trees fell away was not
brighter than our mood. Had we not smoked the peace pipe? Were we not on
our way home? Diccon, walking behind me, fell into a low-voiced
conversation with the savage who strode beside him. It related to the
barter for a dozen otterskins of a gun which he had at Jamestown. The
savage was to bring the skins to Paspahegh at his earliest convenience,
and Diccon would meet him there and give him the gun, provided the pelts
were to his liking. As they talked, each, in his mind's eye, saw the
other dead before him. The one meant to possess a gun, indeed, but he
thought to take it himself from the munition house at Jamestown; the
other knew that the otter which died not until this Indian's arrow
quivered in its side would live until Doomsday. Yet they discussed the
matter gravely, hedging themselves about with provisos, and, the bargain
clinched, walked on side by side in the silence of a perfect and
all-comprehending amity.

The sun rode higher and higher, gilding the misty green of the budding
trees, quickening the red maple bloom into fierce scarlet, throwing
lances of light down through the pine branches to splinter against the
dark earth far below. For an hour it shone; then clouds gathered and
shut it from sight. The forest darkened, and the wind arose with a
shriek. The young trees cowered before the blast, the strong and
vigorous beat their branches together with a groaning sound, the old and
worn fell crashing to the earth. Presently the rain rushed down, slant
lines of silver tearing through the wood with the sound of the feet of
an army; hail followed, a torrent of ice beating and bruising all tender
green things to the earth. The wind took the multitudinous sounds,--the
cries of frightened birds, the creaking trees, the snap of breaking
boughs, the crash of falling giants, the rush of the rain, the drumming
of the hail,--enwound them with itself, and made the forest like a great
shell held close to the ear.

There was no house to flee to; so long as we could face the hail we
staggered on, heads down, buffeting the wind; but at last, the fury of
the storm increasing, we were fain to throw ourselves upon the earth, in
a little brake, where an overhanging bank somewhat broke the wind. A
mighty oak, swaying and groaning above us, might fall and crush us like
eggshells; but if we went on, the like fate might meet us in the way.
Broken and withered limbs, driven by the wind, went past us like crooked
shadows; it grew darker and darker, and the air was deadly cold.

The three Indians pressed their faces against the ground; they dreamed
not of harm from us, but Okee was in the merciless hail and the first
thunder of the year, now pealing through the wood. Suddenly Diccon
raised himself upon his elbow, and looked across at me. Our eyes had no
sooner met than his hand was at his bosom. The savage nearest him,
feeling the movement, as it were, lifted his head from the earth, of
which it was so soon to become a part; but if he saw the knife, he saw
it too late. The blade, driven down with all the strength of a desperate
man, struck home; when it was drawn from its sheath of flesh, there
remained to us but a foe apiece.

In the instant of its descent I had thrown myself upon the Indian
nearest me. It was not a time for overniceness. If I could have done so,
I would have struck him in the back while he thought no harm; as it was,
some subtle instinct warning him, he whirled himself over in time to
strike up my hand and to clench with me. He was very strong, and his
naked body, wet with rain, slipped like a snake from my hold. Over and
over we rolled on the rain-soaked moss and rotted leaves and cold black
earth, the hail blinding us, and the wind shrieking like a thousand
watching demons. He strove to reach the knife within his belt; I, to
prevent him, and to strike deep with the knife I yet held.

At last I did so. Blood gushed over my hand and wrist, the clutch upon
my arm relaxed, the head fell back. The dying eyes glared into mine;
then the lids shut for ever upon that unquenchable hatred. I staggered
to my feet and turned, to find that Diccon had given account of the
third Indian.

We stood up in the hail and the wind, and looked at the dead men at our
feet. Then, without speaking, we went our way through the tossing
forest, with the hailstones coming thick against us, and the wind a
strong hand to push us back. When we came to a little trickling spring,
we knelt and washed our hands.

The hail ceased, but the rain fell and the wind blew throughout the
morning. We made what speed we could over the boggy earth against the
storm, but we knew that we were measuring miles where we should have
measured leagues. There was no breath to waste in words, and thought was
a burden quite intolerable; it was enough to stumble on through the
partial light, with a mind as gray and blank as the rain-blurred
distance.

At noon the clouds broke, and an hour later the sunshine was streaming
down from a cloudless heaven, beneath which the forest lay clear before
us, naught stirring save shy sylvan creatures to whom it mattered not if
red man or white held the land.

Side by side Diccon and I hurried on, not speaking, keeping eye and ear
open, proposing with all our will to reach the goal we had set, and to
reach it in time, let what might oppose. It was but another forced
march; many had we made in our time, through dangers manifold, and had
lived to tell the tale.

There was no leisure in which to play the Indian and cover up our
footprints as we made them, but when we came to a brook we stepped into
the cold, swift-flowing water, and kept it company for a while. The
brook flowed between willows, thickly set, already green, and
overarching a yard or more of water. Presently it bent sharply, and we
turned with it. Ten yards in front of us the growth of willows ceased
abruptly, the low, steep banks shelved downwards to a grassy level, and
the stream widened into a clear and placid pool, as blue as the sky
above. Crouched upon the grass or standing in the shallow water were
some fifteen or twenty deer. We had come upon them without noise; the
wind blew from them to us, and the willows hid us from their sight.
There was no alarm, and we stood a moment watching them before we should
throw a stone or branch into their midst and scare them from our path.

Suddenly, as we looked, the leader threw up his head, made a spring, and
was off like a dart, across the stream and into the depths of the forest
beyond. The herd followed. A moment, and there were only the trodden
grass and the troubled waters; no other sign that aught living had
passed that way.

"Now what was that for?" muttered Diccon. "I'm thinking we had best not
take to the open just yet."

For answer I parted the willows, and forced myself into the covert,
pressing as closely as possible against the bank, and motioning him to
do the same. He obeyed, and the thick-clustering gold-green twigs swung
into place again, shutting us in with the black water and the leafy,
crumbling bank. From that green dimness we could look out upon the pool
and the grass, with small fear that we ourselves would be seen.

Out of the shadow of the trees into the grassy space stepped an Indian;
a second followed, a third, a fourth,--one by one they came from the
gloom into the sunlight, until we had counted a score or more. They made
no pause, a glance telling them to what were due the trampled grass and
the muddied water. As they crossed the stream one stooped and drank from
his hand, but they said no word and made no noise. All were painted
black; a few had face and chest striped with yellow. Their headdresses
were tall and wonderful, their leggings and moccasins fringed with scalp
locks; their hatchets glinted in the sunshine, and their quivers were
stuck full of arrows. One by one they glided from the stream into the
thick woods beyond. We waited until we knew that they were deep in the
forest, then crept from the willows and went our way.

"They were Youghtenunds," I said, in the low tones we used when we spoke
at all, "and they went to the southward."

"We may thank our stars that they missed our trail," Diccon answered.

We spoke no more, but, leaving the stream, struck again toward the
south. The day wore on, and still we went without pause. Sun and shade
and keen wind, long stretches of pine and open glades, where we
quickened our pace to a run, dense woods, snares of leafless vines,
swamp and thicket, through which we toiled so slowly that the heart bled
at the delay, streams and fallen trees,--on and on we hurried, until the
sun sank and the dusk came creeping in upon us.

"We've dined with Duke Humphrey to-day," said Diccon at last; "but if we
can keep this pace, and don't meet any more war parties, or fall foul of
an Indian village, or have to fight the wolves to-night, we'll dine with
the Governor to-morrow. What's that?"

"That" was the report of a musket, and a spent ball had struck me above
the knee, bruising the flesh beneath the leather of my boot.

We wheeled, and looked in the direction whence had come that unwelcome
visitor. There was naught to be seen. It was dusk in the distance, and
there were thickets too, and fallen logs. Where that ambuscade was
planted, if one or twenty Indians lurked in the dusk behind the trees,
or lay on the further side of those logs, or crouched within a thicket,
no mortal man could tell.

"It was a spent ball," I said. "Our best hope is in our heels."

"There are pines beyond, and smooth going," he answered; "but if ever I
thought to run from an Indian!"

Without more ado we started. If we could outstrip that marksman, if we
could even hold our distance until night had fallen, all might yet be
well. A little longer, and even an Indian must fire at random; moreover,
we might reach some stream and manage to break our trail. The ground was
smooth before us--too smooth--and slippery with pine needles; the pines
themselves stood in grim brown rows, and we ran between them lightly and
easily, husbanding our strength. Now and again one or the other looked
behind, but we saw only the pines and the gathering dusk. Hope was
strengthening in us, when a second bullet dug into the earth just beyond
us.

Diccon swore beneath his breath. "It struck deep," he muttered. "The
dark is slow in coming."

A minute later, as I ran with my head over my shoulder, I saw our
pursuer, dimly, like a deeper shadow in the shadows far down the arcade
behind us. There was but one man,--a tall warrior, strayed aside from
his band, perhaps, or bound upon a warpath of his own. The musket that
he carried some English fool had sold him for a mess of pottage.

Putting forth all our strength, we ran for our lives, and for the lives
of many others. Before us the pine wood sloped down to a deep and wide
thicket, and beyond the thicket a line of sycamores promised water. If
we could reach the thicket, its close embrace would hide us,--then the
darkness and the stream. A third shot, and Diccon staggered slightly.

"For God's sake, not struck, man?" I cried.

"It grazed my arm," he panted. "No harm done. Here's the thicket!"

Into the dense growth we broke, reckless of the blood which the sharp
twigs drew from face and hands. The twigs met in a thick roof over our
heads; that was all we cared for, and through the network we saw one of
the larger stars brighten into being. The thicket was many yards across.
When we had gone thirty feet down, we crouched and waited for the dark.
If our enemy followed us, he must do so at his peril, with only his
knife for dependence.

One by one the stars swam into sight, until the square of sky above us
was thickly studded. There was no sound, and no living thing could have
entered that thicket without noise. For what seemed an eternity, we
waited; then we rose and broke our way through the bushes to the
sycamores, to find that they indeed shadowed a little sluggish stream.

Down this we waded for some distance before taking to dry earth again.
Since entering the thicket we had seen and heard nothing suspicious, and
were now fain to conclude that the dark warrior had wearied of the
chase, and was gone on his way toward his mates and that larger and
surer quarry which two suns would bring. Certain it is that we saw no
more of him.

The stream flowing to the south, we went with it, hurrying along its
bank, beneath the shadow of great trees, with the stars gleaming down
through the branches. It was cold and still, and far in the distance we
heard wolves hunting. As for me, I felt no weariness. Every sense was
sharpened; my feet were light; the keen air was like wine in the
drinking; there was a star low in the south that shone and beckoned.
The leagues between my wife and me were few. I saw her standing beneath
the star, with a little purple flower in her hand.

Suddenly, a bend in the stream hiding the star, I became aware that
Diccon was no longer keeping step with me, but had fallen somewhat to
the rear. I turned, and he was leaning heavily, with drooping head,
against the trunk of a tree.

"Art so worn as that?" I exclaimed. "Put more heart into thy heels,
man!"

He straightened himself and strode on beside me. "I don't know what came
over me for a minute," he answered. "The wolves are loud to-night. I
hope they'll keep to their side of the water."

A stone's-throw farther on, the stream curving to the west, we left it,
and found ourselves in a sparsely wooded glade, with a bare and sandy
soil beneath our feet, and above, in the western sky, a crescent moon.
Again Diccon lagged behind, and presently I heard him groan in the
darkness.

I wheeled. "Diccon!" I cried. "What is the matter?"

Before I could reach him he had sunk to his knees. When I put my hand
upon his arm and again demanded what ailed him, he tried to laugh, then
tried to swear, and ended with another groan. "The ball did graze my
arm," he said, "but it went on into my side. I'll just lie here and die,
and wish you well at Jamestown. When the red imps come against you
there, and you open fire on them, name a bullet for me."



CHAPTER XXXV

In which I come to the Governor's House


I laid him down upon the earth, and, cutting away his doublet and the
shirt beneath, saw the wound, and knew that there was a journey indeed
that he would shortly make. "The world is turning round," he muttered,
"and the stars are falling thicker than the hailstones yesterday. Go on,
and I will stay behind,--I and the wolves."

I took him in my arms and carried him back to the bank of the stream,
for I knew that he would want water until he died. My head was bare, but
he had worn his cap from the gaol at Jamestown that night. I filled it
with water and gave him to drink; then washed the wound and did what I
could to stanch the bleeding. He turned from side to side, and presently
his mind began to wander, and he talked of the tobacco in the fields at
Weyanoke. Soon he was raving of old things, old camp fires and
night-time marches and wild skirmishes, perils by land and by sea; then
of dice and wine and women. Once he cried out that Dale had bound him
upon the wheel, and that his arms and legs were broken, and the woods
rang to his screams. Why, in that wakeful forest, they were unheard, or
why, if heard, they went unheeded, God only knows.

The moon went down, and it was very cold. How black were the shadows
around us, what foes might steal from that darkness upon us, it was not
worth while to consider. I do not know what I thought of on that night,
or even that I thought at all. Between my journeys for the water that he
called for I sat beside the dying man with my hand upon his breast, for
he was quieter so. Now and then I spoke to him, but he answered not.

Hours before we had heard the howling of wolves, and knew that some
ravenous pack was abroad. With the setting of the moon the noise had
ceased, and I thought that the brutes had pulled down the deer they
hunted, or else had gone with their hunger and their dismal voices out
of earshot. Suddenly the howling recommenced, at first faint and far
away, then nearer and nearer yet. Earlier in the evening the stream had
been between us, but now the wolves had crossed and were coming down our
side of the water, and were coming fast.

All the ground was strewn with dead wood, and near by was a growth of
low and brittle bushes. I gathered the withered branches, and broke
faggots from the bushes; then into the press of dark and stealthy forms
I threw a great crooked stick, shouting as I did so, and threatening
with my arms. They turned and fled, but presently they were back again.
Again I frightened them away, and again they returned. I had flint and
steel and tinder-box; when I had scared them from us a third time, and
they had gone only a little way, I lit a splinter of pine, and with it
fired my heap of wood; then dragged Diccon into the light and sat down
beside him, with no longer any fear of the wolves, but with absolute
confidence in the quick appearance of less cowardly foes. There was wood
enough and to spare; when the fire sank low and the hungry eyes gleamed
nearer, I fed it again, and the flame leaped up and mocked the eyes.

No human enemy came upon us. The fire blazed and roared, and the man who
lay in its rosy glare raved on, crying out now and then at the top of
his voice; but on that night of all nights, of all years, light and
voice drew no savage band to put out the one and silence the other for
ever.

Hours passed, and as it drew toward midnight Diccon sank into a stupor.
I knew that the end was not far away. The wolves were gone at last, and
my fire was dying down. He needed my touch upon his breast no longer,
and I went to the stream and bathed my hands and forehead, and then
threw myself face downward upon the bank. In a little while the desolate
murmur of the water became intolerable, and I rose and went back to the
fire, and to the man whom, as God lives, I loved as a brother.

He was conscious. Pale and cold and nigh gone as he was, there came a
light to his eyes and a smile to his lips when I knelt beside him. "You
did not go?" he breathed.

"No," I answered, "I did not go."

For a few minutes he lay with closed eyes; when he again opened them
upon my face, there were in their depths a question and an appeal. I
bent over him, and asked him what he would have.

"You know," he whispered. "If you can ... I would not go without it."

"Is it that?" I asked. "I forgave you long ago."

"I meant to kill you. I was mad because you struck me before the lady,
and because I had betrayed my trust. An you had not caught my hand, I
should be your murderer." He spoke with long intervals between the
words, and the death dew was on his forehead.

"Remember it not, Diccon," I entreated. "I too was to blame. And I see
not that night for other nights,--for other nights and days, Diccon."

He smiled, but there was still in his face a shadowy eagerness. "You
said you would never strike me again," he went on, "and that I was man
of yours no more for ever--and you gave me my freedom in the paper which
I tore." He spoke in gasps, with his eyes upon mine. "I'll be gone in a
few minutes now. If I might go as your man still, and could tell the
Lord Jesus Christ that my master on earth forgave, and took back, it
would be a hand in the dark. I have spent my life in gathering darkness
for myself at the last."

I bent lower over him, and took his hand in mine. "Diccon, my man," I
said.

A brightness came into his face, and he faintly pressed my hand. I
slipped my arm beneath him and raised him a little higher to meet his
death. He was smiling now, and his mind was not quite clear. "Do you
mind, sir," he asked, "how green and strong and sweet smelled the pines
that May day, when we found Virginia, so many years ago?"

"Ay, Diccon," I answered. "Before we saw the land, the fragrance told us
we were near it."

"I smell it now," he went on, "and the bloom of the grape, and the
May-time flowers. And can you not hear, sir, the whistling and the
laughter and the sound of the falling trees, that merry time when Smith
made axemen of all our fine gentlemen?"

"Ay, Diccon," I said. "And the sound of the water that was dashed down
the sleeve of any that were caught in an oath."

He laughed like a little child. "It is well that I wasn't a gentleman,
and had not those trees to fell, or I should have been as wet as any
merman.... And Pocahontas, the little maid ... and how blue the sky was,
and how glad we were what time the _Patience_ and _Deliverance_ came
in!"

His voice failed, and for a minute I thought he was gone; but he had
been a strong man, and life slipped not easily from him. When his eyes
opened again he knew me not, but thought he was in some tavern, and
struck with his hand upon the ground as upon a table, and called for the
drawer.

Around him were only the stillness and the shadows of the night, but to
his vision men sat and drank with him, diced and swore and told wild
tales of this or that. For a time he talked loudly and at random of the
vile quality of the drink, and his viler luck at the dice; then he began
to tell a story. As he told it, his senses seemed to steady, and he
spoke with coherence and like a shadow of himself.

"And you call that a great thing, William Host?" he demanded. "I can
tell a true tale worth two such lies, my masters. (Robin tapster, more
ale! And move less like a slug, or my tankard and your ear will cry,
'Well met!') It was between Ypres and Courtrai, friends, and it's nigh
fifteen years ago. There were fields in which nothing was sowed because
they were ploughed with the hoofs of war horses, and ditches in which
dead men were thrown, and dismal marshes, and roads that were no roads
at all, but only sloughs. And there was a great stone house, old and
ruinous, with tall poplars shivering in the rain and mist. Into this
house there threw themselves a band of Dutch and English, and hard on
their heels came two hundred Spaniards. All day they besieged that
house,--smoke and flame and thunder and shouting and the crash of
masonry,--and when eventide was come we, the Dutch and the English,
thought that Death was not an hour behind."

He paused, and made a gesture of raising a tankard to his lips. His eyes
were bright, his voice was firm. The memory of that old day and its
mortal strife had wrought upon him like wine.

"There was one amongst us," he said, "he was our captain, and it's of
him I am going to tell the story. (Robin tapster, bring me no more ale,
but good mulled wine! It's cold and getting dark, and I have to drink to
a brave man besides----)"

With the old bold laugh in his eyes, he raised himself, for the moment
as strong as I that held him. "Drink to that Englishman, all of ye!" he
cried, "and not in filthy ale, but in good, gentlemanly sack! I'll pay
the score. Here's to him, brave hearts! Here's to my master!"

With his hand at his mouth, and his story untold, he fell back. I held
him in my arms until the brief struggle was over, and then laid his body
down upon the earth.

It might have been one of the clock. For a little while I sat beside
him, with my head bowed in my hands. Then I straightened his limbs and
crossed his hands upon his breast, and kissed him upon the brow, and
left him lying dead in the forest.

It was hard going through the blackness of the night-time woods. Once I
was nigh sucked under in a great swamp, and once I stumbled into some
hole or pit in the earth, and for a time thought that I had broken my
leg. The night was very dark, and sometimes when I could not see the
stars, I lost my way, and went to the right or the left, or even back
upon my track. Though I heard the wolves, they did not come nigh me.
Just before daybreak, I crouched behind a log, and watched a party of
savages file past like shadows of the night.

At last the dawn came, and I could press on more rapidly. For two days
and two nights I had not slept; for a day and a night I had not tasted
food. As the sun climbed the heavens, a thousand black spots, like
summer gnats, danced between his face and my weary eyes. The forest laid
stumbling-blocks before me, and drove me back, and made me wind in and
out when I would have had my path straighter than an arrow. When the
ground allowed, I ran; when I must break my way, panting, through
undergrowth so dense and stubborn that it seemed some enchanted
thicket, where each twig snapped but to be on the instant stiff in
place again, I broke it with what patience I might; when I must turn
aside for this or that obstacle, I made the detour, though my heart
cried out at the necessity. Once I saw reason to believe that two or
more Indians were upon my trail, and lost time in outwitting them; and
once I must go a mile out of my way to avoid an Indian village.

As the day wore on, I began to go as in a dream. It had come to seem the
gigantic wood of some fantastic tale through which I was travelling. The
fallen trees ranged themselves into an abattis hard to surmount; the
thickets withstood one like iron; the streamlets were like rivers, the
marshes leagues wide, the treetops miles away. Little things, twisted
roots, trailing vines, dead and rotten wood, made me stumble. A wind was
blowing that had blown just so since time began, and the forest was
filled with the sound of the sea.

Afternoon came, and the shadows began to lengthen. They were lines of
black paint spilt in a thousand places, and stealing swiftly and surely
across the brightness of the land. Torn and bleeding and breathless, I
hastened on; for it was drawing toward night, and I should have been at
Jamestown hours before. My head pained me, and as I ran I saw men and
women stealing in and out among the trees before me: Pocahontas with her
wistful eyes and braided hair and finger on her lips; Nantauquas; Dale,
the knight-marshal, and Argall with his fierce, unscrupulous face; my
cousin, George Percy, and my mother with her stately figure, her
embroidery in her hands. I knew that they were but phantoms of my
brain, but their presence confused and troubled me.

The shadows ran together, and the sunshine died out of the forest.
Stumbling on, I saw through the thinning trees a long gleam of red, and
thought it was blood, but presently knew that it was the river, crimson
from the sunset. A minute more and I stood upon the shore of the mighty
stream, between the two brightnesses of flood and heavens. There was a
silver crescent in the sky with one white star above it, and fair in
sight, down the James, with lights springing up through the twilight,
was the town,--the English town that we had built and named for our
King, and had held in the teeth of Spain, in the teeth of the wilderness
and its terrors. It was not a mile away; a little longer,--a little
longer and I could rest, with my tidings told.

The dusk had quite fallen when I reached the neck of land. The hut to
which I had been enticed that night stood dark and ghastly, with its
door swinging in the wind. I ran past it and across the neck, and,
arriving at the palisade, beat upon the gate with my hands, and called
to the warder to open. When I had told him my name and tidings, he did
so, with shaking knees and starting eyes. Cautioning him to raise no
alarm in the town, I hurried by him into the street, and down it toward
the house that was set aside for the Governor of Virginia. I should find
there now, not Yeardley, but Sir Francis Wyatt.

The torches were lighted, and the folk were indoors, for the night was
cold. One or two figures that I met or passed would have accosted me,
not knowing who I was, but I brushed by them, and hastened on. Only when
I passed the guest house I looked up, and saw that mine host's chief
rooms were yet in use.

The Governor's door was open, and in the hall serving-men were moving to
and fro. When I came in upon them, they cried out as it had been a
ghost, and one fellow let a silver dish that he carried fall clattering
to the floor. They shook and stood back, as I passed them without a
word, and went on to the Governor's great room. The door was ajar, and I
pushed it open and stood for a minute upon the threshold, unobserved by
the occupants of the room.

After the darkness outside the lights dazzled me; the room, too, seemed
crowded with men, though when I counted them there were not so many,
after all. Supper had been put upon the table, but they were not eating.
Before the fire, his head thoughtfully bent, and his fingers tapping
upon the arm of his chair, sat the Governor; over against him, and as
serious of aspect, was the Treasurer. West stood by the mantel, tugging
at his long mustaches and softly swearing. Clayborne was in the room,
Piersey the Cape merchant, and one or two besides. And Rolfe was there,
walking up and down with hasty steps, and a flushed and haggard face.
His suit of buff was torn and stained, and his great-boots were
spattered with mud.

The Governor let his fingers rest upon the arm of his chair, and raised
his head.

"He is dead, Master Rolfe," he said. "There can be no other
conclusion,--a brave man lost to you and to the colony. We mourn with
you, sir."

"We too have searched, Jack," put in West. "We have not been idle,
though well-nigh all men believe that the Indians, who we know had a
grudge against him, murdered him and his man that night, then threw
their bodies into the river, and themselves made off out of our reach.
But we hoped against hope that when your party returned he would be in
your midst."

"As for this latest loss," continued the Governor, "within an hour of
its discovery this morning search parties were out; yea, if I had
allowed it, the whole town would have betaken itself to the woods. The
searchers have not returned, and we are gravely anxious. Yet we are not
utterly cast down. This trail can hardly be missed, and the Indians are
friendly. There were a number in town overnight, and they went with the
searchers, volunteering to act as their guides. We cannot but think that
of this load our hearts will soon be eased."

"God grant it!" groaned Rolfe. "I will drink but a cup of wine, sir, and
then will be gone upon this new quest."

There was a movement in the room. "You are worn and spent with your
fruitless travel, sir," said the Governor kindly. "I give you my word
that all that can be done is doing. Wait at least for the morning, and
the good news it may bring."

The other shook his head. "I will go now. I could not look my friend in
the face else--God in heaven!"

The Governor sprang to his feet; through the Treasurer's lips came a
long, sighing breath; West's dark face was ashen. I came forward to the
table, and leaned my weight upon it; for all the waves of the sea were
roaring in my ears, and the lights were going up and down.

"Are you man or spirit?" cried Rolfe through white lips. "Are you Ralph
Percy?"

"Yes, I am Percy," I said. "I have not well understood what quest you
would go upon, Rolfe, but you cannot go to-night. And those parties that
your Honour talked of, that have gone with Indians to guide them to look
for some lost person,--I think that you will never see them again."

With an effort I drew myself erect, and standing so told my tidings,
quietly and with circumstance, so as to leave no room for doubt as to
their verity, or as to the sanity of him who brought them. They
listened, as the warder had listened, with shaking limbs and gasping
breath; for this was the fall and wiping out of a people of which I
brought warning.

When all was told, and they stood there before me, white and shaken,
seeking in their minds the thing to say or do first, I thought to ask a
question myself; but before my tongue could frame it, the roaring of the
sea became so loud that I could hear naught else, and the lights all ran
together into a wheel of fire. Then in a moment all sounds ceased, and
to the lights succeeded the blackness of outer darkness.



CHAPTER XXXVI

In which I hear Ill News


When I awoke from the sleep or stupor into which I must have passed from
that swoon, it was to find myself lying upon a bed in a room flooded
with sunshine. I was alone. For a moment I lay still, staring at the
blue sky without the window, and wondering where I was and how I came
there. A drum beat, a dog barked, and a man's quick voice gave a
command. The sounds stung me into remembrance, and I was at the window
while the voice was yet speaking.

It was West in the street below, pointing with his sword now to the
fort, now to the palisade, and giving directions to the armed men about
him. There were many people in the street. Women hurried by to the fort
with white, scared faces, their arms filled with household gear;
children ran beside them, sturdily bearing their share of the goods, but
pressing close to their elders' skirts; men went to and fro, the most
grimly silent, but a few talking loudly. Not all of the faces in the
crowd belonged to the town: there were Kingsmell and his wife from the
main, and John Ellison from Archer's Hope, and the Italians Vincencio
and Bernardo from the Glass House. The nearer plantations, then, had
been warned, and their people had come for refuge to the city. A negro
passed, but on that morning, alone of many days, no Indian aired his
paint and feathers in the white man's village.

I could not see the palisade across the neck, but I knew that it was
there that the fight--if fight there were--would be made. Should the
Indians take the palisade, there would yet be the houses of the town,
and, last of all, the fort in which to make a stand. I believed not that
they would take it. Long since we had found out their method of warfare.
They used ambuscade, surprise, and massacre; when withstood in force and
with determination they withdrew to their stronghold, the forest, there
to bide their time until, in the blackness of some night, they could
again swoop down upon a sleeping foe.

The drum beat again, and a messenger from the palisade came down the
street at a run. "They're in the woods over against us, thicker than
ants!" he cried to West as he passed. "A boat has just drifted ashore
yonder, with two men in it, dead and scalped!"

I turned to leave the room, and ran against Master Pory coming in on
tip-toe, with a red and solemn face. He started when he saw me.

"The roll of the drum brought you to your feet, then!" he cried. "You've
lain like the dead all night. I came but to see if you were breathing."

"When I have eaten, I shall be myself again," I said. "There's no attack
as yet?"

"No," he answered. "They must know that we are prepared. But they have
kindled fires along the river bank, and we can hear them yelling.
Whether they'll be mad enough to come against us remains to be seen."

"The nearest settlements have been warned?"

"Ay. The Governor offered a thousand pounds of tobacco and the perpetual
esteem of the Company to the man or men who would carry the news. Six
volunteered, and went off in boats, three up river, three down. How many
they reached, or if they still have their scalps, we know not. And a
while ago, just before daybreak, comes with frantic haste Richard Pace,
who had rowed up from Pace's Pains to tell the news which you had
already brought. Chanco the Christian had betrayed the plot to him, and
he managed to give warning at Powel's and one or two other places as he
came up the river."

He broke off, but when I would have spoken interrupted me with: "And so
you were on the Pamunkey all this while! Then the Paspaheghs fooled us
with the simple truth, for they swore so stoutly that their absent chief
men were but gone on a hunt toward the Pamunkey that we had no choice
but to believe them gone in quite another direction. And one and all of
every tribe we questioned swore that Opechancanough was at Orapax. So
Master Rolfe puts off up river to find, if not you, then the Emperor,
and make him give up your murderers; and the Governor sends a party
along the bay, and West another up the Chickahominy. And there you were,
all the time, mewed up in the village above the marshes! And Nantauquas,
after saving our lives like one of us, is turned Indian again! And your
man is killed! Alackaday! there's naught but trouble in the world. 'As
the sparks fly upwards,' you know. But a brave man draws his breath and
sets his teeth."

In his manner, his rapid talk, his uneasy glances toward the door, I
found something forced and strange. "I thought Rolfe was behind me," he
said, "but he must have been delayed. There are meat and drink set out
in the great room, where the Governor and those of the Council who are
safe here with us are advising together. Let's descend; you've not
eaten, and the good sack will give you strength. Wilt come?"

"Ay," I answered; "but tell me the news as we go. I have been gone ten
days,--faith, it seems ten years! There have no ships sailed, Master
Pory? The _George_ is still here?" I looked him full in the eye, for a
sudden guess at a possible reason for his confusion had stabbed me like
a knife.

"Ay," he said, with a readiness that could scarce be feigned. "She was
to have sailed this week, it is true, the Governor fearing to keep her
longer. But the _Esperance_, coming in yesterday, brought news which
removed his Honour's scruples. Now she'll wait to see out this hand at
the cards, and to take home the names of those who are left alive in
Virginia. If the red varlets do swarm in upon us, there are her
twelve-pounders; they and the fort guns----"

I let him talk on. The _George_ had not sailed. I saw again a firelit
hut, and a man and a panther who went down together. Those claws had dug
deep; the man across whose face they had torn their way would keep his
room in the guest house at Jamestown until his wounds were somewhat
healed. The _George_ would wait for him, would scarcely dare to sail
without him, and I should find the lady whom she was to carry away to
England in Virginia still. It was this that I had built upon, the grain
of comfort, the passionate hope, the sustaining cordial of those
year-long days in the village above the Pamunkey.

My heart was sore because of Diccon; but I could speak of that grief to
her, and she would grieve with me. There were awe and dread and stern
sorrow in the knowledge that even now in the bright spring morning blood
from a hundred homes might be flowing to meet the shining, careless
river; but it was the springtime, and she was waiting for me. I strode
on toward the stairway so fast that when I asked a question Master Pory,
at my side, was too out of breath to answer it. Halfway down the stairs
I asked it again, and again received no answer save a "Zooks! you go too
fast for my years and having in flesh! Go more slowly, Ralph Percy;
there's time enough, there's time enough!"

There was a tone in his voice that I liked not, for it savoured of pity.
I looked at him with knitted brows; but we were now in the hall, and
through the open door of the great room I caught a glimpse of a woman's
skirt. There were men in the hall, servants and messengers, who made way
for us, staring at me as they did so, and whispering. I knew that my
clothing was torn and muddied and stained with blood; as we paused at
the door there came to me in a flash that day in the courting meadow
when I had tried with my dagger to scrape the dried mud from my boots. I
laughed at myself for caring now, and for thinking that she would care
that I was not dressed for a lady's bower. The next moment we were in
the great room.

She was not there. The silken skirt that I had seen, and--there being
but one woman in all the world for me--had taken for hers, belonged to
Lady Wyatt, who, pale and terrified, was sitting with clasped hands,
mutely following with her eyes her husband as he walked to and fro. West
had come in from the street and was making some report. Around the table
were gathered two or three of the Council; Master Sandys stood at a
window, Rolfe beside Lady Wyatt's chair. The room was filled with
sunshine, and a caged bird was singing, singing. It made the only sound
there when they saw that I stood amongst them.

When I had made my bow to Lady Wyatt and to the Governor, and had
clasped hands with Rolfe, I began to find in the silence, as I had found
in Master Pory's loquaciousness, something strange. They looked at me
uneasily, and I caught a swift glance from the Treasurer to Master Pory,
and an answering shake of the latter's head. Rolfe was very white, and
his lips were set; West was pulling at his mustaches and staring at the
floor.

"With all our hearts we welcome you back to life and to the service of
Virginia, Captain Percy," said the Governor, when the silence had become
awkward.

A murmur of assent went round the room.

I bowed. "I thank you, sir, and these gentlemen very heartily. You have
but to command me now. I find that I have to-day the best will in the
world toward fighting. I trust that your Honour does not deem it
necessary to send me back to gaol?"

"Virginia has no gaol for Captain Percy," he answered gravely. "She has
only grateful thanks and fullest sympathy."

I glanced at him keenly. "Then I hold myself at your command, sir, when
I shall have seen and spoken with my wife."

He looked at the floor, and they one and all held their peace.

"Madam," I said to Lady Wyatt, "I have been watching your ladyship's
face. Will you tell me why it is so very full of pity, and why there are
tears in your eyes?"

She shrank back in her chair with a little cry, and Rolfe stepped toward
me, then turned sharply aside. "I cannot!" he cried. "I that know----"

I drew myself up to meet the blow, whatever it might be. "I demand of
you my wife, Sir Francis Wyatt," I said. "If there is ill news to be
told, be so good as to tell it quickly. If she is sick, or hath been
sent away to England----"

The Governor made as if to speak, then turned and flung out his hands to
his wife. "'Tis woman's work, Margaret!" he cried. "Tell him!"

More merciful than the men, she came to me at once, the tears running
down her cheeks, and laid one trembling hand upon my arm. "She was a
brave lady, Captain Percy," she said. "Bear it as she would have had you
bear it."

"I am bearing it, madam," I answered at length. "'She _was_ a brave
lady.' May it please your ladyship to go on?"

"I will tell you all, Captain Percy; I will tell you everything.... She
never believed you dead, and she begged upon her knees that we would
allow her to go in search of you with Master Rolfe. That could not be;
my husband, in duty to the Company, could not let her have her will.
Master Rolfe went, and she sat in the window, yonder, day after day,
watching for his return. When other parties went out, she besought the
men, as they had wives whom they loved, to search as though those loved
ones were in captivity and danger; when they grew weary and
fainthearted, to think of her face waiting in the window.... Day after
day she sat there watching for them to come back; when they were come,
then she watched the river for Master Rolfe's boats. Then came word down
the river that he had found no trace of you whom he sought; that he was
on his way back to Jamestown; that he too believed you dead.... We put a
watch upon her after that, for we feared we knew not what--there was
such a light and purpose in her eyes. But two nights ago, in the middle
of the night, the woman who stayed in her chamber fell asleep. When she
awoke before the dawn, it was to find her gone."

"To find her gone?" I said dully. "To find her dead?"

She locked her hands together, and the tears came faster. "Oh, Captain
Percy, it had been better so!--it had been better so! Then would she
have lain to greet you, calm and white, unmarred and beautiful, with the
spring flowers upon her.... She believed not that you were dead; she was
distraught with grief and watching; she thought that love might find
what friendship missed; she went to the forest to seek you. They that
were sent to find and bring her back have never returned----"

"Into the forest!" I cried. "_Jocelyn, Jocelyn, Jocelyn, come back!_"

Some one pushed me into a chair, and I felt the warmth of wine within my
lips. In the moment that the world steadied I rose and went toward the
door, to find my way barred by Rolfe.

"Not you, too, Ralph!" he cried. "I will not let you go. Look for
yourself!"

He drew me to the window, Master Sandys gravely making place for us.
From the window was visible the neck of land and the forest beyond, and
from the forest, up and down the river as far as the eye could reach,
rose here and there thin columns of smoke. Suddenly, as we stared, three
or four white smoke puffs, like giant flowers, started out of the
shadowy woods across the neck. Following the crack of the muskets--fired
out of pure bravado by their Indian owners--came the yelling of the
savages. The sound was prolonged and deep, as though issuing from many
throats.

I looked and listened, and knew that I could not go--not now.

"She was not alone, Ralph," said Rolfe, with his arm about me. "On the
morning that she was missed, they found not Jeremy Sparrow either. They
tracked them both to the forest by the footprints upon the sand, though
once in the wood the trail was lost. The minister must have been
watching, must have seen her leave the house, and must have followed
her. How she, and he after her, passed through the gates, none know. So
careless and confident had we grown--God forgive us!--that they may have
been left open all that night. But he was with her, Ralph; she had not
to face it alone----" His voice broke.

For myself, I was glad that the minister had been there, though I knew
that for him also I should grieve after a while.

At the firing and the shouting West had rushed from the room, followed
by his fellow Councillors, and now the Governor clapped on his headpiece
and called to his men to bring his back-and-breast. His wife hung around
his neck, and he bade her good-bye with great tenderness. I looked dully
on at that parting. I too was going to battle. Once I had tasted such a
farewell, the pain, the passion, the sweetness; but never again--never
again.

He went, and the Treasurer, after a few words of comfort to Lady Wyatt,
was gone also. Both were merciful, and spoke not to me, but only bowed
and turned aside, requiring no answering word or motion of mine. When
they were away, and there was no sound in the room save the caged bird's
singing and Lady Wyatt's low sobs, I begged Rolfe to leave me, telling
him that he was needed, as indeed he was, and that I would stay in the
window for a while, and then would join him at the palisade. He was
loath to go; but he too had loved and lost, and knew that there is
nothing to be said, and that it is best to be alone. He went, and only
Lady Wyatt and I kept the quiet room with the singing bird and the
sunshine on the floor.

I leaned against the window and looked out into the street--which was
not crowded now, for the men were all at their several posts--and at the
budding trees, and at the smoke of many fires going up from the forest
to the sky, from a world of hate and pain and woe to the heaven where
she dwelt; and then I turned and went to the table, where had been set
bread and meat and wine.

At the sound of my footstep Lady Wyatt uncovered her face. "Is there
aught that I can do for you, sir?" she asked timidly.

"I have not broken my fast for many hours, madam," I answered. "I would
eat and drink, that I may not be found wanting in strength. There is a
thing that I have yet to do."

Rising from her chair, she brushed away her tears, and coming to the
table with a little house--wifely eagerness, would not let me wait upon
myself, but carved and poured for me, and then sat down opposite me and
covered her eyes with her hand.

"I think that the Governor is quite safe, madam," I said. "I do not
believe that the Indians will take the palisade. It may even be that,
knowing we are prepared, they will not attack at all. Indeed, I think
that you may be easy about him."

She thanked me with a smile. "It is all so strange and dreadful to me,
sir," she said. "At my home in England, it was like a Sunday morning all
the year round--all stillness and peace; no terror, no alarm. I fear
that I am not yet a good Virginian."

When I had eaten, and had drunk the wine she gave me, I rose, and asked
her if I might not see her safe within the fort before I joined her
husband at the palisade. She shook her head, and told me that there were
with her faithful servants, and that if the savages broke in upon the
town she would have warning in time to flee, the fort being so close at
hand. When I thereupon begged her leave to depart, she first curtsied to
me, and then, again with tears, came to me and took my hand in hers. "I
know that there is naught that I can say.... Your wife loved you, sir,
with all her heart." She drew something from the bosom of her gown.
"Would you like this? It is a knot of ribbon that she wore. They found
it caught in a bush at the edge of the forest."

I took the ribbon from her and put it to my lips, then unknotted it and
tied it around my arm; and then, wearing my wife's colours, I went
softly out into the street, and turned my face toward the guest house
and the man whom I meant to kill.



CHAPTER XXXVII

In which my Lord and I part Company


The door of the guest house stood wide, and within the lower room were
neither men that drank nor men that gave to drink. Host and drawers and
chance guests alike had left pipe and tankard for sword and musket, and
were gone to fort or palisade or river bank.

I crossed the empty room and went up the creaking stairway. No one met
me or withstood me; only a pigeon perched upon the sill of a sunny
window whirred off into the blue. I glanced out of the window as I
passed it, and saw the silver river and the _George_ and the
_Esperance_, with the gunners at the guns watching for Indian canoes,
and saw smoke rising from the forest on the southern shore. There had
been three houses there--John West's and Minifie's and Crashaw's. I
wondered if mine were burning, too, at Weyanoke, and cared not if 'twas
so.

The door of the upper room was shut. When I raised the latch and pushed
against it, it gave at the top and middle, but there was some pressure
from within at the bottom. I pushed again, more strongly, and the door
slowly opened, moving away whatever thing had lain before it. Another
moment, and I was in the room, and had closed and barred the door behind
me.

The weight that had opposed me was the body of the Italian, lying face
downwards, upon the floor. I stooped and turned it over, and saw that
the venomous spirit had flown. The face was purple and distorted; the
lips were drawn back from the teeth in a dreadful smile. There was in
the room a faint, peculiar, not unpleasant odour. It did not seem
strange to me to find that serpent, which had coiled in my path, dead
and harmless for evermore. Death had been busy of late; if he struck
down the flower, why should he spare the thing that I pushed out of my
way with my foot?

Ten feet from the door stood a great screen, hiding from view all that
might be beyond. It was very quiet in the room, with the sunshine coming
through the window, and a breeze that smelt of the sea. I had not cared
to walk lightly or to close the door softly, and yet no voice had
challenged my entrance. For a minute I feared to find the dead physician
the room's only occupant; then I passed the screen and came upon my
enemy.

He was sitting beside a table, with his arms outstretched and his head
bowed upon them. My footfall did not rouse him; he sat there in the
sunshine as still as the figure that lay before the threshold. I thought
with a dull fury that maybe he was dead already, and I walked hastily
and heavily across the floor to the table. He was a living man, for with
the fingers of one hand he was slowly striking against a sheet of paper
that lay beneath them. He knew not that I stood above him; he was
listening to other footsteps.

The paper was a letter, unfolded and written over with great black
characters. The few lines above those moving fingers stared me in the
face. They ran thus: "_I told you that you had as well cut your throat
as go upon that mad Virginia voyage. Now all's gone--wealth, honours,
favour. Buckingham is the sun in heaven, and cold are the shadows in
which we walk who hailed another luminary. There's a warrant out for the
Black Death; look to it that one meets not you too, when you come at
last. But come, in the name of all the fiends, and play your last card.
There's your cursed beauty still. Come, and let the King behold your
face once more----_" The rest was hidden.

I put out my hand and touched him upon the shoulder, and he raised his
head and stared at me as at one come from the grave.

Over one side of his face, from temple to chin, was drawn and fastened a
black cloth; the unharmed cheek was bloodless and shrunken, the lip
twisted. Only the eyes, dark, sinister, and splendid, were as they had
been. "I dig not my graves deep enough," he said. "Is she behind you
there in the shadow?"

Flung across a chair was a cloak of scarlet cloth. I took it and spread
it out upon the floor, then unsheathed a dagger which I had taken from
the rack of weapons in the Governor's hall. "Loosen thy poniard, thou
murderer," I cried, "and come stand with me upon the cloak."

"Art quick or dead?" he answered. "I will not fight the dead." He had
not moved in his seat, and there was a lethargy and a dullness in his
voice and eyes. "There is time enough," he said. "I too will soon be of
thy world, thou haggard, bloody shape. Wait until I come, and I will
fight thee, shadow to shadow."

"I am not dead," I said, "but there is one that is. Stand up, villain
and murderer, or I will kill you sitting there, with her blood upon your
hands!"

He rose at that, and drew his dagger from the sheath. I laid aside my
doublet, and he followed my example, but his hands moved listlessly and
his fingers bungled at the fastenings. I waited for him in some wonder,
it not being like him to come tardily to such pastime.

He came at length, slowly and with an uncertain step, and we stood
together on the scarlet cloak. I raised my left arm and he raised his,
and we locked hands. There was no strength in his clasp; his hand lay
within mine cold and languid. "Art ready?" I demanded.

"Yea," he answered in a strange voice, "but I would that she did not
stand there with her head upon your breast.... I too loved thee,
Jocelyn,--Jocelyn lying dead in the forest!"

I struck at him with the dagger in my right hand, and wounded him, but
not deeply, in the side. He gave blow for blow, but his poniard scarce
drew blood, so nerveless was the arm that would have driven it home. I
struck again, and he stabbed weakly at the air, then let his arm drop to
his side, as though the light and jewelled blade had weighed it down.

Loosening the clasp of our left hands, I fell back until the narrow
scarlet field was between us. "Hast no more strength than that?" I
cried. "I cannot murder you!"

He stood looking past me as into a great distance. He was bleeding, but
I had as yet been able to strike no mortal blow. "It is as you choose,"
he said. "I am as one bound before you. I am sick unto death."

Turning, he went back, swaying as he walked, to his chair, and sinking
into it sat there a minute with half-closed eyes; then raised his head
and looked at me, with a shadow of the old arrogance, pride, and disdain
upon his scarred face. "Not yet, captain?" he demanded. "To the heart,
man! So I would strike an you sat here and I stood there."

"I know you would," I said, and going to the window I flung the dagger
down into the empty street; then stood and watched the smoke across the
river, and thought it strange that the sun shone and the birds sang.

When I turned to the room again, he still sat there in the great chair,
a tragic, splendid figure, with his ruined face and the sullen woe of
his eyes. "I had sworn to kill you," I said. "It is not just that you
should live."

He gazed at me with something like a smile upon his bloodless lips.
"Fret not thyself, Ralph Percy," he said. "Within a week I shall be
gone. Did you see my servant, my Italian doctor, lying dead upon the
floor, there beyond the screen? He had poisons, had Nicolo whom men
called the Black Death,--poisons swift and strong, or subtle and slow.
Day and night, the earth and sunshine have become hateful to me. I will
go to the fires of hell, and see if they can make me forget,--can make
me forget the face of a woman." He was speaking half to me, half to
himself. "Her eyes are dark and large," he said, "and there are shadows
beneath them, and the mark of tears. She stands there day and night with
her eyes upon me. Her lips are parted, but she never speaks. There was a
way that she had with her hands, holding them one within the other,
thus----"

I stopped him with a cry for silence, and I leaned trembling against the
table. "Thou wretch!" I cried. "Thou art her murderer!"

He raised his head and looked beyond me with that strange, faint smile.
"I know," he replied, with the dignity which was his at times. "You may
play the headsman, if you choose. I dispute not your right. But it is
scarce worth while. I have taken poison."

The sunshine came into the room, and the wind from the river, and the
trumpet notes of swans flying to the north. "The _George_ is ready for
sailing," he said at last. "To--morrow or the next day she will be going
home with the tidings of this massacre. I shall go with her, and within
a week they will bury me at sea. There is a stealthy, slow, and secret
poison.... I would not die in a land where I have lost every throw of
the dice, and I would not die in England for Buckingham to come and look
upon my face, and so I took that poison. For the man upon the floor,
there,--prison and death awaited him at home. He chose to flee at
once."

He ceased to speak, and sat with his head bowed upon his breast. "If you
are content that it should be as it is," he said at length, "perhaps you
will leave me? I am not good company to-day."

His hand was busy again with the letter upon the table, and his gaze was
fixed beyond me. "I have lost," he muttered. "How I came to play my
cards so badly I do not know. The stake was heavy,--I have not
wherewithal to play again."

His head sank upon his outstretched arm. As for me, I stood a minute
with set lips and clenched hands, and then I turned and went out of the
room and down the stair and out into the street. In the dust beneath the
window lay my dagger. I picked it up, sheathed it, and went my way.

The street was very quiet. All windows and doors were closed and barred;
not a soul was there to trouble me with look or speech. The yelling from
the forest had ceased; only the keen wind blew, and brought from the
_Esperance_ upon the river a sound of singing. The sea was the home of
the men upon her decks, and their hearts dwelt not in this port; they
could sing while the smoke went up from our homes and the dead lay
across the thresholds.

I went on through the sunshine and the stillness to the minister's
house. The trees in the garden were bare, the flowers dead. The door was
not barred. I entered the house and went into the great room and flung
the heavy shutters wide, then stood and looked about me. Naught was
changed; it was as we had left it that wild November night. Even the
mirror which, one other night, had shown me Diccon still hung upon the
wall. Master Bucke had been seldom at home, perhaps, or was feeble and
careless of altering matters. All was as though we had been but an hour
gone, save that no fire burned upon the hearth.

I went to the table, and the books upon it were Jeremy Sparrow's: the
minister's house, then, had been his home once more. Beside the books
lay a packet, tied with silk, sealed, and addressed to me. Perhaps the
Governor had given it, the day before, into Master Bucke's care,--I do
not know; at any rate, there it lay. I looked at the "By the
_Esperance_" upon the cover, and wondered dully who at home would care
to write to me; then broke the seal and untied the silk. Within the
cover there was a letter with the super--scription, "To a Gentleman who
has served me well."

I read the letter through to the signature, which was that of his Grace
of Buckingham, and then I laughed, who had never thought to laugh again,
and threw the paper down. It mattered naught to me now that George
Villiers should be grateful, or that James Stewart could deny a
favourite nothing. "_The King graciously sanctions the marriage of his
sometime ward, the Lady Jocelyn Leigh, with Captain Ralph Percy; invites
them home----_"

She was gone home, and I her husband, I who loved her, was left behind.
How many years of pilgrimage ... how long, how long, O Lord?

The minister's great armchair was drawn before the cold and blackened
hearth. How often she had sat there within its dark clasp, the firelight
on her dress, her hands, her face! She had been fair to look upon; the
pride, the daring, the wilfulness, were but the thorns about the rose;
behind those defences was the flower, pure and lovely, with a heart of
gold. I flung myself down beside the chair, and putting my arms across
it, hid my face upon them, and could weep at last.

That passion spent itself, and I lay with my face against the wood and
well-nigh slept. The battle was done; the field was lost; the storm and
stress of life had sunk into this dull calm, as still as peace, as
hopeless as the charred log and white ash upon the hearth, cold, never
to be quickened again.

Time passed, and at length I raised my head, roused suddenly to the
consciousness that for a while there had been no stillness. The air was
full of sound, shouts, savage cries, the beating of a drum, the noise of
musketry. I sprang to my feet, and went to the door to meet Rolfe
crossing the threshold.

He put his arm within mine and drew me out into the sunshine upon the
doorstep. "I thought I should find you here," he said; "but it is only a
room with its memories, Ralph. Out here is more breadth, more height.
There is country yet, Ralph, and after a while, friends. The Indians are
beginning to attack in force. Humphry Boyse is killed, and Morris
Chaloner. There is smoke over the plantations up and down the river, as
far as we can see, and awhile ago the body of a child drifted down to
us."

"I am unarmed," I said. "I will but run to the fort for sword and
musket----"

"No need," he answered. "There are the dead whom you may rob." The noise
increasing as he spoke, we made no further tarrying, but, leaving behind
us house and garden, hurried to the palisade.



CHAPTER XXXVIII

In which I go upon a Quest


Through a loophole in the gate of the palisade I looked, and saw the
sandy neck joining the town to the main, and the deep and dark woods
beyond, the fairy mantle giving invisibility to a host. Between us and
that refuge dead men lay here and there, stiff and stark, with the black
paint upon them, and the coloured feathers of their headdresses red or
blue against the sand. One warrior, shot through the back, crawled like
a wounded beetle to the forest. We let him go, for we cared not to waste
ammunition upon him.

I drew back from my loophole, and held out my hand to the women for a
freshly loaded musket. A quick murmur like the drawing of a breath came
from our line. The Governor, standing near me, cast an anxious glance
along the stretch of wooden stakes that were neither so high nor so
thick as they should have been. "I am new to this warfare, Captain
Percy," he said. "Do they think to use those logs that they carry as
battering rams?"

"As scaling ladders, your Honour," I replied. "It is on the cards that
we may have some sword play, after all."

"We'll take your advice, the next time we build a palisade, Ralph
Percy," muttered West on my other side. Mounting the breastwork that we
had thrown up to shelter the women who were to load the muskets, he
coolly looked over the pales at the oncoming savages. "Wait until they
pass the blasted pine, men!" he cried. "Then give them a hail of lead
that will beat them back to the Pamunkey!"

An arrow whistled by his ear; a second struck him on the shoulder, but
pierced not his coat of mail. He came down from his dangerous post with
a laugh.

"If the leader could be picked off----" I said. "It's a long shot, but
there's no harm in trying."

As I spoke I raised my gun to my shoulder; but he leaned across Rolfe,
who stood between us, and plucked me by the sleeve. "You've not looked
at him closely. Look again."

I did as he told me, and lowered my musket. It was not for me to send
that Indian leader to his account. Rolfe's lips tightened and a sudden
pallor overspread his face. "Nantauquas?" he muttered in my ear, and I
nodded yes.

The volley that we fired full into the ranks of our foe was deadly, and
we looked to see them turn and flee, as they had fled before. But this
time they were led by one who had been trained in English steadfastness.
Broken for the moment, they rallied and came on yelling, bearing logs,
thick branches of trees, oars tied together,--anything by whose help
they could hope to surmount the palisade. We fired again, but they had
planted their ladders. Before we could snatch the loaded muskets from
the women a dozen painted figures appeared above the sharpened stakes. A
moment, and they and a score behind them had leaped down upon us.

It was no time now to skulk behind a palisade. At all hazards, that tide
from the forest must be stemmed. Those that were amongst us we might
kill, but more were swarming after them, and from the neck came the
exultant yelling of madly hurrying reinforcements.

We flung open the gates. I drove my sword through the heart of an Indian
who would have opposed me, and, calling for men to follow me, sprang
forward. Perhaps thirty came at my call; together we made for the
opening. A party of the savages in our midst interposed. We set upon
them with sword and musket butt, and though they fought like very devils
drove them before us through the gateway. Behind us were wild clamour,
the shrieking of women, the stern shouts of the English, the whooping of
the savages; before us a rush that must be met and turned.

It was done. A moment's fierce fighting, then the Indians wavered,
broke, and fled. Like sheep we drove them before us, across the neck, to
the edge of the forest, into which they plunged. Into that ambush we
cared not to follow, but fell back to the palisade and the town,
believing, and with reason, that the lesson had been taught. The strip
of sand was strewn with the dead and the dying, but they belonged not to
us. Our dead numbered but three, and we bore their bodies with us.

Within the palisade we found the English in sufficiently good case. Of
the score or more Indians cut off by us from their mates and penned
within that death trap, half at least were already dead, run through
with sword and pike, shot down with the muskets that there was now time
to load. The remainder, hemmed about, pressed against the wall, were
fast meeting with a like fate. They stood no chance against us; we cared
not to make prisoners of them; it was a slaughter, but they had taken
the initiative. They fought with the courage of despair, striving to
spring in upon us, striking when they could with hatchet and knife, and
through it all talking and laughing, making God knows what savage
boasts, what taunts against the English, what references to the hunting
grounds to which they were going. They were brave men that we slew that
day.

At last there was left but the leader,--unharmed, unwounded, though time
and again he had striven to close with some one of us, to strike and to
die striking with his fellows. Behind him was the wall: of the
half-circle which he faced well-nigh all were old soldiers and servants
of the colony, gentlemen none of whom had come in later than
Dale,--Rolfe, West, Wynne, and others. We were swordsmen all. When in
his desperation he would have thrown himself upon us, we contented
ourselves with keeping him at sword's length, and at last West sent the
knife in the dark hand whirling over the palisade. Some one had shouted
to the musketeers to spare him.

When he saw that he stood alone, he stepped back against the wall, drew
himself up to his full height, and folded his arms. Perhaps he thought
that we would shoot him down then and there; perhaps he saw himself a
captive amongst us, a show for the idle and for the strangers that the
ships brought in.

The din had ceased, and we the living, the victors, stood and looked at
the vanquished dead at our feet, and at the dead beyond the gates, and
at the neck upon which was no living foe, and at the blue sky bending
over all. Our hearts told us, and told us truly, that the lesson had
been taught, that no more for ever need we at Jamestown fear an Indian
attack. And then we looked at him whose life we had spared.

He opposed our gaze with his folded arms and his head held high and his
back against the wall. Many of us could remember him, a proud, shy lad,
coming for the first time from the forest with his sister to see the
English village and its wonders. For idleness we had set him in our
midst that summer day, long ago, on the green by the fort, and had
called him "your royal highness," laughing at the quickness of our wit,
and admiring the spirit and bearing of the lad and the promise he gave
of a splendid manhood. And all knew the tale I had brought the night
before.

Slowly, as one man, and with no spoken word, we fell back, the
half-circle straightening into a line and leaving a clear pathway to the
open gates. The wind had ceased to blow, I remember, and a sunny
stillness lay upon the sand, and the rough-hewn wooden stakes, and a
little patch of tender grass across which stretched a dead man's arm.
The church bells began to ring.

The Indian out of whose path to life and freedom we had stepped glanced
from the line of lowered steel to the open gates and the forest beyond,
and understood. For a full minute he waited, moving not a muscle, still
and stately as some noble masterpiece in bronze. Then he stepped from
the shadow of the wall and moved past us through the sunshine that
turned the eagle feather in his scalp lock to gold. His eyes were fixed
upon the forest; there was no change in the superb calm of his face. He
went by the huddled dead and the long line of the living that spoke no
word, and out of the gates and across the neck, walking slowly that we
might yet shoot him down if we saw fit to repent ourselves, and proudly
like a king's son. There was no sound save the church bells ringing for
our deliverance. He reached the shadow of the trees: a moment, and the
forest had back her own.

We sheathed our swords and listened to the Governor's few earnest words
of thankfulness and of recognition of this or that man's service, and
then we set to work to clear the ground of the dead, to place sentinels,
to bring the town into order, to determine what policy we should pursue,
to search for ways by which we might reach and aid those who might be
yet alive in the plantations above and below us.

We could not go through the forest, where every tree might hide a foe,
but there was the river. For the most part, the houses of the English
had been built, like mine at Weyanoke, very near to the water. I
volunteered to lead a party up river, and Wynne to go with another
toward the bay. But as the council at the Governor's was breaking up,
and as Wynne and I were hurrying off to make our choice of the craft at
the landing, there came a great noise from the watchers upon the bank,
and a cry that boats were coming down the stream.

It was so, and there were in them white men, nearly all of whom had
their wounds to show, and cowering women and children. One boat had come
from the plantation at Paspahegh, and two from Martin-Brandon; they held
all that were left of the people.... A woman had in her lap the body of
a child, and would not let us take it from her; another, with a
half-severed arm, crouched above a man who lay in his blood in the
bottom of the boat.

Thus began that strange procession that lasted throughout the afternoon
and night and into the next day, when a sloop came down from Henricus
with the news that the English were in force there to stand their
ground, although their loss had been heavy. Hour after hour they came as
fast as sail and oar could bring them, the panic-stricken folk, whose
homes were burned, whose kindred were slain, who had themselves escaped
as by a miracle. Many were sorely wounded, so that they died when we
lifted them from the boats; others had slighter hurts. Each boatload had
the same tale to tell of treachery, surprise, and fiendish butchery.
Wherever it had been possible the English had made a desperate defence,
in the face of which the savages gave way and finally retired to the
forest. Contrary to their wont, the Indians took few prisoners, but for
the most part slew outright those whom they seized, wreaking their
spite upon the senseless corpses. A man too good for this world, George
Thorpe, who would think no evil, was killed and his body mutilated by
those whom he had taught and loved. And Nathaniel Powel was dead, and
four others of the Council, besides many more of name and note. There
were many women slain and little children.

From the stronger hundreds came tidings of the number lost, and that the
survivors would hold the homes that were left, for the time at least.
The Indians had withdrawn; it remained to be seen if they were satisfied
with the havoc they had wrought. Would his Honour send by boat--there
could be no travelling through the woods--news of how others had fared,
and also powder and shot?

Before the dawning we had heard from all save the remoter settlements.
The blow had been struck, and the hurt was deep. But it was not beyond
remedy, thank God! It is known what measures we took for our protection,
and how soon the wound to the colony was healed, and what vengeance we
meted out to those who had set upon us in the dark, and had failed to
reach the heart. These things belong to history, and I am but telling my
own story,--mine and another's.

In the chill and darkness of the hour before dawn something like quiet
fell upon the distracted, breathless town. There was a pause in the
coming of the boats. The wounded and the dying had been cared for, and
the noise of the women and the children was stilled at last. All was
well at the palisade; the strong party encamped upon the neck reported
the forest beyond them as still as death.

In the Governor's house was held a short council, subdued and quiet, for
we were all of one mind and our words were few. It was decided that the
_George_ should sail at once with the tidings, and with an appeal for
arms and powder and a supply of men. The _Esperance_ would still be with
us, besides the _Hope-in-God_ and the _Tiger_; the _Margaret_ and _John_
would shortly come in, being already overdue.

"My Lord Carnal goes upon the _George_, gentlemen," said Master Pory.
"He sent but now to demand if she sailed to-morrow. He is ill, and would
be at home."

One or two glanced at me, but I sat with a face like stone, and the
Governor, rising, broke up the council.

I left the house, and the street that was lit with torches and noisy
with going to and fro, and went down to the river. Rolfe had been
detained by the Governor, West commanded the party at the neck. There
were great fires burning along the river bank, and men watching for the
incoming boats; but I knew of a place where no guard was set, and where
one or two canoes were moored. There was no firelight there, and no one
saw me when I entered a canoe and cut the rope and pushed off from the
land.

Well-nigh a day and a night had passed since Lady Wyatt had told me that
which made for my heart a night-time indeed. I believed my wife to be
dead,--yea, I trusted that she was dead. I hoped that it had been
quickly over,--one blow.... Better that, oh, better that a thousand
times, than that she should have been carried off to some village, saved
to-day to die a thousand deaths to-morrow.

But I thought that there might have been left, lying on the dead leaves
of the forest, that fair shell from which the soul had flown. I knew not
where to go,--to the north, to the east, to the west,--but go I must. I
had no hope of finding that which I went to seek, and no thought but to
take up that quest. I was a soldier, and I had stood to my post; but now
the need was past, and I could go. In the hall at the Governor's house,
I had written a line of farewell to Rolfe, and had given the paper into
the hand of a trusty fellow, charging him not to deliver it for two
hours to come.

I rowed two miles downstream through the quiet darkness,--so quiet after
the hubbub of the town. When I turned my boat to the shore, the day was
close at hand. The stars were gone, and a pale, cold light, more
desolate than the dark, streamed from the east across which ran, like a
faded blood stain, a smear of faint red. Upon the forest the mist lay
heavy. When I drove the boat in amongst the sedge and reeds below the
bank, I could see only the trunks of the nearest trees, hear only the
sullen cry of some river bird that I had disturbed.

Why I was at some pains to fasten the boat to a sycamore that dipped a
pallid arm into the stream, I do not know. I never thought to come back
to the sycamore; I never thought to bend to an oar again, to behold
again the river that the trees and the mist hid from me before I had
gone twenty yards into the forest.



CHAPTER XXXIX

In which we Listen to a Song


It was like a May morning, so mild was the air, so gay the sunshine,
when the mist had risen. Wild flowers were blooming, and here and there
unfolding leaves made a delicate fretwork against a deep blue sky. The
wind did not blow; everywhere were stillness soft and sweet, dewy
freshness, careless peace.

Hour after hour I walked slowly through the woodland, pausing now and
then to look from side to side. It was idle going, wandering in a desert
with no guiding star. The place where I would be might lie to the east,
to the west. In the wide enshrouding forest I might have passed it by. I
believed not that I had done so. Surely, surely, I should have known;
surely the voice that lived only in my heart would have called to me to
stay.

Beside a newly felled tree, in a glade starred with small white flowers,
I came upon the bodies of a man and a boy, so hacked, so hewn, so robbed
of all comeliness, that at the sight the heart stood still and the brain
grew sick. Farther on was a clearing, and in its midst the charred and
blackened walls of what had been a home. I crossed the freshly turned
earth, and looked in at the cabin door with the stillness and the
sunshine. A woman lay dead upon the floor, her outstretched hand
clenched upon the foot of a cradle. I entered the room, and, looking
within the cradle, found that the babe had not been spared. Taking up
the little waxen body with the blood upon its innocent breast, I laid it
within the mother's arms, and went my way over the sunny doorstep and
the earth that had been made ready for planting. A white butterfly--the
first of the year--fluttered before me; then rose through a mist of
green and passed from my sight.

The sun climbed higher into the deep blue sky. Save where grew pines or
cedars, there were no shadowy places in the forest. The slight green of
uncurling leaves, the airy scarlet of the maples, the bare branches of
the tardier trees, opposed no barrier to the sunlight. It streamed into
the world below the treetops, and lay warm upon the dead leaves and the
green moss and the fragile wild flowers. There was a noise of birds, and
a fox barked. All was lightness, gaiety, and warmth; the sap was
running, the heyday of the spring at hand. Ah! to be riding with her, to
be going home through the fairy forest, the sunshine, and the
singing!... The happy miles to Weyanoke, the smell of the sassafras in
its woods, the house all lit and trimmed. The fire kindled, the wine
upon the table ... Diccon's welcoming face, and his hand upon Black
Lamoral's bridle; the minister, too, maybe, with his great heart and
his kindly eyes; her hand in mine, her head upon my breast----

The vision faded. Never, never, never for me a home-coming such as that,
so deep, so dear, so sweet. The men who were my friends, the woman whom
I loved, had gone into a far country. This world was not their home.
They had crossed the threshold while I lagged behind. The door was shut,
and without were the night and I.

With the fading of the vision came a sudden consciousness of a presence
in the forest other than my own. I turned sharply, and saw an Indian
walking with me, step for step, but with a space between us of earth and
brown tree-trunks and drooping branches. For a moment I thought that he
was a shadow, not substance; then I stood still, waiting for him to
speak or to draw nearer. At the first glimpse of the bronze figure I had
touched my sword, but when I saw who it was I let my hand fall. He too
paused, but he did not offer to speak. With his hand upon a great bow,
he waited, motionless in the sunlight. A minute or more thus; then I
walked on with my eyes upon him.

At once he addressed himself to motion, not speaking or making any sign
or lessening the distance between us, but moving as I moved through the
light and shade, the warmth and stillness, of the forest. For a time I
kept my eyes upon him, but soon I was back with my dreams again. It
seemed not worth-while to wonder why he walked with me, who was now the
mortal foe of the people to whom he had returned.

From the river bank, the sycamore, and the boat that I had fastened
there, I had gone northward toward the Pamunkey; from the clearing and
the ruined cabin with the dead within it, I had turned to the eastward.
Now, in that hopeless wandering, I would have faced the north again. But
the Indian who had made himself my travelling companion stopped short,
and pointed to the east. I looked at him, and thought that he knew,
maybe, of some war party between us and the Pamunkey, and would save me
from it. A listlessness had come upon me, and I obeyed the pointing
finger.

So, estranged and silent, with two spears' length of earth between us,
we went on until we came to a quiet stream flowing between low, dark
banks. Again I would have turned to the northward, but the son of
Powhatan, gliding before me, set his face down the stream, toward the
river I had left. A minute in which I tried to think and could not,
because in my ears was the singing of the birds at Weyanoke; then I
followed him.

How long I walked in a dream, hand in hand with the sweetness of the
past, I do not know; but when the present and its anguish weighed again
upon my heart it was darker, colder, stiller, in the forest. The
soundless stream was bright no longer; the golden sunshine that had lain
upon the earth was all gathered up; the earth was dark and smooth and
bare, with not a flower; the tree-trunks were many and straight and
tall. Above were no longer brown branch and blue sky, but a deep and
sombre green, thick woven, keeping out the sunlight like a pall. I stood
still and gazed around me, and knew the place.

To me, whose heart was haunted, the dismal wood, the charmed silence,
the withdrawal of the light were less than nothing. All day I had looked
for one sight of horror; yea, had longed to come at last upon it, to
fall beside it, to embrace it with my arms. There, there, though it
should be some fair and sunny spot, there would be my haunted wood. As
for this place of gloom and stillness, it fell in with my mood. More
welcome than the mocking sunshine were this cold and solemn light, this
deathlike silence, these ranged pines. It was a place in which to think
of life as a slight thing and scarcely worth the while, given without
the asking, spent in turmoil, strife, suffering, and longings all in
vain. Easily laid down, too,--so easily laid down that the wonder
was----

I looked at the ghostly wood, and at the dull stream, and at my hand
upon the hilt of the sword that I had drawn halfway from the scabbard.
The life within that hand I had not asked for. Why should I stand like a
soldier left to guard a thing not worth the guarding; seeing his
comrades march homeward, hearing a cry to him from his distant
hearthstone?

I drew my sword well-nigh from its sheath; and then of a sudden I saw
the matter in a truer light; knew that I was indeed the soldier, and
willed to be neither coward nor deserter. The blade dropped back into
the scabbard with a clang, and, straightening myself, I walked on
beside the sluggish stream deep into the haunted wood.

Presently it occurred to me to glance aside at the Indian who had kept
pace with me through the forest. He was not there; he walked with me no
longer; save for myself there seemed no breathing creature in the dim
wood. I looked to right and left, and saw only the tall, straight pines
and the needle-strewn ground. How long he had been gone I could not
tell. He might have left me when first we came to the pines, for my
dreams had held me, and I had not looked his way.

There was that in the twilight place, or in the strangeness, the horror,
and the yearning that had kept company with me that day, or in the dull
weariness of a mind and body overwrought of late, which made thought
impossible. I went on down the stream toward the river, because it
chanced that my face was set in that direction.

How dark was the shadow of the pines, how lifeless the earth beneath,
how faint and far away the blue that showed here and there through rifts
in the heavy roof of foliage! The stream bending to one side I turned
with it, and there before me stood the minister!

I do not know what strangled cry burst from me. The earth was rocking,
all the wood a glare of light. As for him, at the sight of me and the
sound of my voice he had staggered back against a tree; but now,
recovering himself, he ran to me and put his great arms about me. "From
the power of the dog, from the lion's mouth," he cried brokenly. "And
they slew thee not, Ralph, the heathen who took thee away! Yesternight I
learned that you lived, but I looked not for you here."

I scarce heard or marked what he was saying, and found no time in which
to wonder at his knowledge that I had not perished. I only saw that he
was alone, and that in the evening wood there was no sign of other
living creature.

"Yea, they slew me not, Jeremy," I said. "I would that they had done so.
And you are alone? I am glad that you died not, my friend; yes, faith, I
am very glad that one escaped. Tell me about it, and I will sit here
upon the bank and listen. Was it done in this wood? A gloomy deathbed,
friend, for one so young and fair. She should have died to soft music,
in the sunshine, with flowers about her."

With an exclamation he put me from him, but kept his hand upon my arm
and his steady eyes upon my face.

"She loved laughter and sunshine and sweet songs," I continued. "She can
never know them in this wood. They are outside; they are outside the
world, I think. It is sad, is it not? Faith, I think it is the saddest
thing I have ever known."

He clapped his other hand upon my shoulder. "Wake, man!" he commanded.
"If thou shouldst go mad now--Wake! thy brain is turning. Hold to
thyself. Stand fast, as thou art soldier and Christian! Ralph, she is
not dead. She will wear flowers,--thy flowers,--sing, laugh, move
through the sunshine of earth for many and many a year, please God! Art
listening, Ralph? Canst hear what I am saying?"

"I hear," I said at last, "but I do not well understand."

He pushed me back against a pine, and held me there with his hands upon
my shoulders. "Listen," he said, speaking rapidly and keeping his eyes
upon mine. "All those days that you were gone, when all the world
declared you dead, she believed you living. She saw party after party
come back without you, and she believed that you were left behind in the
forest. Also she knew that the _George_ waited but for the search to be
quite given over, and for my Lord Carnal's recovery. She had been told
that the King's command might not be defied, that the Governor had no
choice but to send her from Virginia. Ralph, I watched her, and I knew
that she meant not to go upon that ship. Three nights agone she stole
from the Governor's house, and, passing through the gates that the
sleeping warder had left unfastened, went toward the forest. I saw her
and followed her, and at the edge of the forest I spoke to her. I stayed
her not, I brought her not back, Ralph, because I was convinced that an
I did so she would die. I knew of no great danger, and I trusted in the
Lord to show me what to do, step by step, and how to guide her gently
back when she was weary of wandering,--when, worn out, she was willing
to give up the quest for the dead. Art following me, Ralph?"

"Yes," I answered, and took my hand from my eyes. "I was nigh mad,
Jeremy, for my faith was not like hers. I have looked on Death too much
of late, and yesterday all men believed that he had come to dwell in the
forest and had swept clean his house before him. But you escaped, you
both escaped----"

"God's hand was over us," he said reverently. "This is the way of it.
She had been ill, you know, and of late she had taken no thought of food
or sleep. She was so weak, we had to go so slowly, and so winding was
our path, who knew not the country, that the evening found us not far
upon our way, if way we had. We came to a cabin in a clearing, and they
whose home it was gave us shelter for the night. In the morning, when
the father and son would go forth to their work we walked with them.
When they came to the trees they meant to fell we bade them good-bye and
went on alone. We had not gone an hundred paces when, looking back, we
saw three Indians start from the dimness of the forest and set upon and
slay the man and the boy. That murder done they gave chase to me, who
caught up thy wife and ran for both our lives. When I saw that they were
light of foot and would overtake me, I set my burden down, and, drawing
a sword that I had with me, went back to meet them halfway. Ralph, I
slew all three,--may the Lord have mercy on my soul! I knew not what to
think of that attack, the peace with the Indians being so profound, and
I began to fear for thy wife's safety. She knew not the woods, and I
managed to turn our steps back toward Jamestown without her knowledge
that I did so. It was about midday when we saw the gleam of the river
through the trees before us, and heard the sound of firing and of a
great yelling. I made her crouch within a thicket, while I myself went
forward to reconnoitre, and well-nigh stumbled into the midst of an
army. Yelling, painted, maddened, brandishing their weapons toward the
town, human hair dabbled with blood at the belts of many--in the name of
God, Ralph, what is the meaning of it all?"

"It means," I said, "that yesterday they rose against us and slew us by
the hundred. The town was warned and is safe. Go on."

"I crept back to madam," he continued, "and hurried her away from that
dangerous neighbourhood. We found a growth of bushes and hid ourselves
within it, and just in time, for from the north came a great band of
picked warriors, tall and black and wondrously feathered, fresh to the
fray, whatever the fray might be. They joined themselves to the imps
upon the river bank, and presently we heard another great din with more
firing and more yelling. Well, to make a long story short, we crouched
there in the bushes until late afternoon, not knowing what was the
matter, and not daring to venture forth to find out. The woman of the
cabin at which we had slept had given us a packet of bread and meat, so
we were not without food, but the time was long. And then of a sudden
the wood around us was filled with the heathen, band after band, coming
from the river, stealing like serpents this way and that into the depths
of the forest. They saw us not in the thick bushes; maybe it was because
of the prayers which I said with might and main. At last the distance
swallowed them, the forest seemed clear, no sound, no motion. Long we
waited, but with the sunset we stole from the bushes and down an aisle
of the forest toward the river, rounded a little wood of cedar, and came
full upon perhaps fifty of the savages----" He paused to draw a great
breath and to raise his brows after a fashion that he had.

"Go on, go on!" I cried. "What did you do? You have said that she is
alive and safe!"

"She is," he answered, "but no thanks to me, though I did set lustily
upon that painted fry. Who led them, d'ye think, Ralph? Who saved us
from those bloody hands?"

A light broke in upon me. "I know," I said. "And he brought you
here----"

"Ay, he sent away the devils whose colour he is, worse luck! He told us
that there were Indians, not of his tribe, between us and the town. If
we went on we should fall into their hands. But there was a place that
was shunned by the Indian as by the white man: we could bide there until
the morrow, when we might find the woods clear. He guided us to this
dismal wood that was not altogether strange to us. Ay, he told her that
you were alive. He said no more than that; all at once, when we were
well within the wood and the twilight was about us, he was gone."

He ceased to speak, and stood regarding me with a smile upon his rugged
face. I took his hand and raised it to my lips. "I owe you more than I
can ever pay," I said. "Where is she, my friend?"

"Not far away," he answered. "We sought the centre of the wood, and
because she was so chilled and weary and shaken I did dare to build a
fire there. Not a foe has come against us, and we waited but for the
dusk of this evening to try to make the town. I came down to the stream
just now to find, if I could, how near we were to the river----"

He broke off, made a gesture with his hand toward one of the long aisles
of pine trees, and then, with a muttered "God bless you both," left me,
and going a little way down the stream, stood with his back to a great
tree and his eyes upon the slow, deep water.

She was coming, I watched the slight figure grow out of the dusk between
the trees, and the darkness in which I had walked of late fell away. The
wood that had been so gloomy was a place of sunlight and song; had red
roses sprung up around me I had felt no wonder. She came softly and
slowly, with bent head and hanging arms, not knowing that I was near. I
went not to meet her,--it was my fancy to have her come to me
still,--but when she raised her eyes and saw me I fell upon my knees.

For a moment she stood still, with her hands at her bosom; then, softly
and slowly through the dusky wood, she came to me and touched me upon
the shoulder. "Art come to take me home?" she asked. "I have wept and
prayed and waited long, but now the spring is here and the woods are
growing green."

I took her hands and bowed my head upon them. "I believed thee dead," I
said. "I thought that thou hadst gone home, indeed, and I was left in
the world alone. I can never tell thee how I love thee."

"I need no telling," she answered. "I am glad that I did so forget my
womanhood as to come to Virginia on such an errand; glad that they did
laugh at and insult me in the meadow at Jamestown, for else thou mightst
have given me no thought; very heartily glad that thou didst buy me with
thy handful of tobacco. With all my heart I love thee, my knight, my
lover, my lord and husband----" Her voice broke, and I felt the
trembling of her frame. "I love not thy tears upon my hands," she
murmured. "I have wandered far and am weary. Wilt rise and put thy arm
around me and lead me home?"

I stood up, and she came to my arms like a tired bird to its nest. I
bent my head, and kissed her upon the brow, the blue-veined eyelids, the
perfect lips. "I love thee," I said. "The song is old, but it is sweet.
See! I wear thy colour, my lady."

The hand that had touched the ribbon upon my arm stole upwards to my
lips. "An old song, but a sweet one," she said. "I love thee. I will
always love thee. My head may lie upon thy breast, but my heart lies at
thy feet."

There was joy in the haunted wood, deep peace, quiet thankfulness, a
springtime of the heart,--not riotous like the May, but fair and grave
and tender like the young world in the sunshine without the pines. Our
lips met again, and then, with my arm around her, we moved to the giant
pine beneath which stood the minister. He turned at our approach, and
looked at us with a quiet and tender smile, though the water stood in
his eyes. "'Heaviness may endure for a night,'" he said, "'but joy
cometh in the morning.' I thank God for you both."

"Last summer, in the green meadow, we knelt before you while you blessed
us, Jeremy," I answered. "Bless us now again, true friend and man of
God."

He laid his hands upon our bowed heads and blessed us, and then we three
moved through the dismal wood and beside the sluggish stream down to the
great bright river. Ere we reached it the pines had fallen away, the
haunted wood was behind us, our steps were set through a fairy world of
greening bough and springing bloom. The blue sky laughed above, the late
sunshine barred our path with gold. When we came to the river it lay in
silver at our feet, making low music amongst its reeds.

I had bethought me of the boat which I had fastened that morning to the
sycamore between us and the town, and now we moved along the river bank
until we should come to the tree. Though we walked through an enemy's
country we saw no foe. Stillness and peace encompassed us; it was like a
beautiful dream from which one fears no wakening.

As we went, I told them, speaking low, for we knew not if we were yet in
safety, of the slaughter that had been made and of Diccon. My wife
shuddered and wept, and the minister drew long breaths while his hands
opened and closed. And then, when she asked me, I told of how I had been
trapped to the ruined hut that night and of all that had followed. When
I had done she turned within my arm and clung to me with her face
hidden. I kissed her and comforted her, and presently we came to the
sycamore tree reaching out over the clear water, and to the boat that I
had fastened there.

The sunset was nigh at hand, and all the west was pink. The wind had
died away, and the river lay like tinted glass between the dark borders
of the forest. Above the sky was blue, while in the south rose clouds
that were like pillars, tall and golden. The air was soft as silk; there
was no sound other than the ripple of the water about our keel and the
low dash of the oars. The minister rowed, while I sat idle beside my
love. He would have it so, and I made slight demur.

We left the bank behind us and glided into the midstream, for it was as
well to be out of arrow-shot. The shadow of the forest was gone; still
and bright around us lay the mighty river. When at length the boat head
turned to the west, we saw far up the stream the roofs of Jamestown,
dark against the rosy sky.

"There is a ship going home," said the minister.

We to whom he spoke looked with him down the river, and saw a tall ship
with her prow to the ocean. All her sails were set; the last rays of the
sinking sun struck against her poop windows and made of them a half-moon
of fire. She went slowly, for the wind was light, but she went surely,
away from the new land back to the old, down the stately river to the
bay and the wide ocean, and to the burial at sea of one upon her. With
her pearly sails and the line of flame colour beneath, she looked a
dwindling cloud; a little while, and she would be claimed of the
distance and the dusk.

"It is the _George_," I said.

The lady who sat beside me caught her breath. "Ay, sweetheart," I went
on. "She carries one for whom she waited. He has gone from out our life
for ever."

She uttered a low cry and turned to me, trembling, her lips parted, her
eyes eloquent. "We will not speak of him," I said. "As if he were dead,
let his name rest between us. I have another thing to tell thee, dear
heart, dear court lady masking as a waiting damsel, dear ward of the
King whom his Majesty hath thundered against for so many weary months.
Would it grieve thee to go home, after all?"

"Home?" she asked. "To Weyanoke? That would not grieve me."

"Not to Weyanoke, but to England," I said. "The _George_ is gone, but
three days since the _Esperance_ came in. When she sails again I think
that we must go."

She gazed at me with a whitening face. "And you?" she whispered. "How
will you go? In chains?"

I took her clasped hands, parted them, and drew her arms around my neck.
"Ay," I answered, "I will go in chains that I care not to have broken.
My dear love, I think that the summer lies fair before us. Listen while
I tell thee of news that the _Esperance_ brought."

While I told of new orders from the Company to the Governor and of my
letter from Buckingham, the minister rested upon his oars that he might
hear the better. When I had ceased to speak he bent to them again, and
his tireless strength sent us swiftly over the glassy water toward the
town that was no longer distant. "I am more glad than I can tell you,
Ralph and Jocelyn," he said; and the smile with which he spoke made his
face beautiful.

The light streaming to us from the ruddy west laid roses in the cheeks
of the sometime ward of the King, and the low wind lifted the dark hair
from her forehead. Her head was on my breast, her hand in mine; we cared
not to speak, we were so happy. On her finger was her wedding ring, the
ring that was only a link torn from the gold chain Prince Maurice had
given me. When she saw my eyes upon it, she raised her hand and kissed
the rude circlet.

The hue of the sunset lingered in cloud and water, and in the pale
heavens above the rose and purple shone the evening star. The cloudlike
ship at which we had gazed was gone into the distance and the twilight;
we saw her no more. Broad between its blackening shores stretched the
James, mirroring the bloom in the west, the silver star, the lights upon
the _Esperance_ that lay between us and the town. Aboard her the
mariners were singing, and their song of the sea floated over the water
to us, sweetly and like a love song. We passed the ship unhailed, and
glided on to the haven where we would be. The singing behind us died
away, but the song in our hearts kept on. All things die not: while the
soul lives, love lives: the song may be now gay, now plaintive, but it
is deathless.

Butler & Tanner, The Selwood Printing Works, Frome, and London.





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