Conisby,' and by God, my lord, you are a true Conisby, it seemeth! Vengeance!" says he, his thin features grown sharp and austere, "Ah! I have seen much and overmuch of it aboard lawless craft and among the wild islands of the Caribbees. I have seen the devilish cruelties of Spaniard, Portugal, and the red horrors of Indian vengeance--but, for cold, merciless ferocity, for the vengeance that dieth not, biding its time and battening on poisonous hate, it needeth your man o' noble birth, your gentleman o' quality!" Here he turned his back and paced slowly to the end of the room; when he faced me again his austere look was gone, in its stead was the grimly whimsical expression of the mariner, as I had seen him first. "Damme!" says I, scowling, "Was it to read me homilies that you had me here?" "Aha, shipmate," says he with rueful smile, "there spake the young divine, the excellent divinity student who committed a peccadillo long years agone and, sailing to the Golden West, gave place to one Adam Penfeather a sailor-man--as you shall hear tell of at St. Kitt's, Tortuga, Santa Catalina and a score o' places along the Main. As to yourself, shipmate, if 'tis only vengeance ye seek, vengeance let it be, though, when all's done, 'tis but wind--hist! Here cometh the Bo'sun--come in, Jo lad, come in! 'Twas trusty Joel Bym here gave me my first lesson in navigation --eh, Jo?" "Aye, Cap'n," growled the hairy giant, "by cock, them was the days, a fair wind, a quick eye an' no favour, aye, them was the days, by cock's-body!" So saying, he placed a flask of wine on the table, together with a curious silver cup, and (at a sign from Penfeather) left us together. "And now, comrade," says Penfeather, filling the goblet, "draw up your chair and do as I do." And now as we sat facing each other (across the table) Penfeather turns back his left sleeve and, whipping out a knife, nicked himself therewith on the wrist and squeezed thence a few drops of blood into the wine; which done, he passed the knife to me and I (though misliking the extravagance of the thing) nevertheless did the same. "Martin," says he, "give me your hand--so! Now swear as I do!" And thus, clasping each other's hands, we swore the oath of brotherhood; and this as followeth, viz." (1) To keep ever each other's counsel. (2) To aid each other in all things against all men soever. (3) To cherish and comfort each other in every adversity. (4) To be faithful each to each unto the death. Thereafter, at his command, I drank of the wine wherein our blood was mingled and he did the like. "And now," says he, leaning back in his chair and viewing me with his pensive smile, "since we be brothers and comrades sworn, how d'ye like me now?" "Better than I did," says I, speaking on impulse, "for sure you are the strangest picaroon that ever cheated the gallows." "Ah," says he, pinching his chin, "an I am neither hanged nor murdered you shall one day find me a worshipful magistrate, Martin, Justice o' the Peace and quorum--custos rotulorum and the rest on't, there my ambition lies. As for you, Martin, Lord Wendover, there is your enemy, ha?--bloody vengeance and murder and what beside?" "That is mine own concern!" I retorted angrily. "And look 'ee, since comrades we are, you will forget who and what I am!" "Why so I have, Martin, so I have. Art a poor, destitute rogue that might be a man and rich but for this vengeful maggot i' thy brain. Howbeit thou'rt my comrade sworn and brother-in-arms and as such I shall trust thee--to the death, Martin." "And shall find me worthy, Adam--despite thy curst tongue." "Death is an ill thing, Martin!" "Is it?" says I, and laughed. "Aye," he nodded, "an ill thing to him that hath ambitions above the brute. See here!" Unbuttoning his doublet he showed me a shirt of fine chain-mail beneath his linen. "'Twill turn any point ever forged and stop a bullet handsomely, as I do know." "Why, sure," says I, a little scornful, "you avowed yourself a cautious man--" "True, Martin, I have another shirt the like o' this for you. And as for caution, I have need, d'ye see, comrade. The arrow that flieth by day is an ill enough thing, but the knife that stabbeth i' the dark is worse. This shirt hath turned death thrice already--once i' the breast here and twice 'twixt the shoulders. I am a man marked for death, Martin, murder creepeth at my heels, it hath dogged me overseas and found me here in Kent at last, it seems. And, comrade, henceforth the steel that smiteth me shall smite you also, belike." "And why is your life sought thus?" "By reason of a secret I bear about me; wherefore (saving only my good friend Nicholas Frant who...perished) I have ever been a solitary man walking alone and distrustful of my fellows. For, Martin, I have here the secret of a treasure that hath been the dream and hope of roving adventurers along the Main this many a year--a treasure beyond price. Men have sought it vainly, have striven and fought, suffered and died for it, have endured plague, battle, shipwreck, famine, have died screaming 'neath Indian tortures, languished in Spanish dungeon and slaveship, and all for sake of Bartlemy's Treasure. And of all that ever sought it, but one man hath ever seen this treasure, and I am that man, Martin. And this treasure is so marvellous well hid that without me it shall lie unfound till the trump of doom. But now, since we are brethren and comrades, needs must I share with thee the treasure and the secret of it." "No, no, Adam!" says I. "Keep it to yourself, I'll none of it." "Share and share!" says he. "'Tis the law of the Coast." "None the less I want nought of it." "'Tis the law," he repeated, "and moreover with such vast wealth a man shall buy anything in this world--even vengeance, Martin. Look'ee now, here's the secret of our treasure." Hereupon he thrust his hand into his breast and drew out a small oilskin packet or bag, suspended about his lean throat by a thin steel chain, and from this he drew forth a small roll of parchment. "Here 'tis, Martin," says he softly, "here's that so many lusty men have perished for--not much to look at, shipmate, torn, d'ye see and stained, but here's wealth, Martin, fame, honours, all the vices and all the evils, and chief among 'em--vengeance!" So saying, he unrolled the small scrap of parchment, and holding it before me, I saw it was a rough chart. "Take it, Martin, and study it the while I tell you my story." CHAPTER XI ADAM PENFEATHER, HIS NARRATIVE "Mine is a strange, wild story, Martin, but needs must I tell it and in few words as may be. Fifteen years agone (or thereabouts) I became one of that league known as the Brotherhood of the Coast and swore comradeship with one Nicholas Frant, a Kent man, even as I. Now though I was full young and a cautious man, yet, having a natural hatred of Spaniards and their ways, I wrought right well against them, and was mighty diligent in many desperate affrays against their ships and along the Coast. 'Twas I (and my good comrade Nick Frant) with sixteen lusty lads took sea in an open pinnace and captured the great treasure galleon 'Dolores del Principe' off Carthagena, and what with all this, Martin, and my being blessed with some education and a gift of adding two and two together, I got me rapid advancement in the Brotherhood until--well, shipmate, I that am poor and solitary was once rich and with nigh a thousand bully fellows at command. And then it was that I fell in with that arch-devil, that master rogue whose deeds had long been a terror throughout the Main, a fellow more bloody than any Spaniard, more treacherous than any Portugal, and more cruel than any Indian--Inca, Mosquito, Maya or Aztec, and this man an Englishman, and one of birth and breeding, who hid his identity under the name of Bartlemy. I met him first in Tortuga where we o' the Brotherhood lay, six stout ships and nigh four hundred men convened for an expedition against Santa Catalina, and this for two reasons, first, because 'twas a notable rich city, and second, to rescue certain of the Brotherhood that lay there waiting to be burnt at the next auto- de-fe. Well, Martin, 'tis upon a certain evening that this Bartlemy comes aboard my ship and with him his mate, by name Tressady. And never was greater difference than 'twixt these two, Tressady being a great, wild fellow with a steel hook in place of his left hand, d'ye see, and Bartlemy a slender, dainty- seeming, fiendly-smiling gentleman, very nice as to speech and deportment and clad in the latest mode, from curling periwig to jewelled shoe-buckles. "'Captain Penfeather,' says he, 'Your most dutiful, humble--ha, let me parish but here is curst reek o' tar!' with which, Martin, he claps a jewelled pomander to the delicate nose of him. 'You've heard of me, I think, Captain,' says he, 'and of my ship, yonder, the "Ladies' Delight?"' I told him I had, Martin, bluntly and to the point, whereat he laughs and bows and forthwith proffers to aid us against Santa Catalina, the which I refused forthwith. But my council of captains, seeing his ship was larger than any we possessed and exceeding well armed and manned, overruled me, and the end of it was we sailed, six ships of the Brotherhood and this accursed pirate. "Well, Martin, Santa Catalina fell according to my plans, and the Governor and Council agreeing to pay ransom, I drew off my companies, and camped outside the walls of the town till they should collect the money. Now the women of this place were exceeding comely, Martin, in especial the Governor's lady, and upon the second night was sudden outcry and uproar within the city, whereupon I marched into the place forthwith and found this curst Bartlemy and his rogues, grown impatient, were at their devil's work. Hastening to the Governor's house I found it gutted and him dragged from his bed and with the life gashed out of him--aye, Martin, torn body and throat, d'ye see, as by the fangs of some great beast! That was the first time I saw what a steel hook may do! As for this poor gentleman's lady, she was gone. Hereupon, we o' the Brotherhood fell upon these pirate rogues and fought them by light o' the blazing houses (for they had fired the city), and I, thus espying the devil Bartlemy, met him point to point. He was very full o' rapier tricks, but so was I, Martin (also I was younger), and winged him sore and had surely ended him, but that Tressady and divers others got him away, and what with the dark night and the woods that lie shorewards he, together with some few of his crew, got them back aboard his ship, the "Ladies' Delight," and so away; but twelve of his rogues we took (beyond divers we slew in fight) and those twelve I saw hanged that same hour. A week later we sailed for Tortuga with no less than ninety and one thousand pieces of eight for our labour, but I and those with me never had the spending of a single piece, Martin, for we ran into a storm such as I never saw the like of even in those seas. Well, we ran afore it for three days and its fury nothing abating all this time I never quit the deck, but I had been wounded, and on the third night, being fevered and outworn, turned in below. I was awakened by Nick Frant roaring in my ear, for the tempest was very loud and fierce: "'Adam!' cried he, 'We're lost, every soul and the good money! we've struck a reef, Adam, and 'tis the end and O the good money!' Hereupon I climbed 'bove deck, the vessel on her beam ends and in desperate plight and nought to be seen i' the dark save the white spume as the seas broke over us. None the less I set the crew to cutting away her masts and heaving the ordnance overboard (to lighten her thereby), but while this was doing comes a great wave roaring out of the dark and dashing aboard us whirled me up and away, and I, borne aloft on that mighty, hissing sea, strove no more, doubting not my course was run. So, blinded, choking, I was borne aloft and then, Martin, found myself adrift in water calm as any millpond--a small lagoon, and spying through the dark a grove of palmetto trees presently managed to climb ashore, more dead than alive; and, lying there, I prayed--a thing I had not done for many a year. As the dawn came I saw the great wave had hurled me over the barrier reef into this small lagoon, and beyond the reef lay all that remained of my good ship. I was yet viewing this dolorous sight (and much cast down for the loss of my companions, in especial my sworn friend Nicholas Frant) when I heard a sound behind me and turning about, espied a woman, and in this woman's face (fair though it was) I read horror and sadness beyond tears, and yet I knew her for the same had been wife to the murdered governor of Santa Catalina. "'Go back!' says she in Spanish, pointing to the surf that thundered beyond the reef. 'Go back! Here is the devil--the sea hath more mercy--go back whiles ye may!' And now she checked all at once and falls a-shivering, for a voice reached us, a man's voice a-singing fair to hear, and the song he sang was this, 'Hey cheerly O and cheerly O And cheerly come sing O! While at the mainyard to and fro-- and knowing this voice (to my cost) I looked around for some weapon, since I had none and was all but naked, and whipping up a jagged and serviceable stone, stood awaiting him with this in my fist. And down the beach he comes, jocund and debonair in his finery, albeit something pale by reason of excess and my rapier work. And now I come to look at you, Martin, he was just such another as you as to face and feature, though lacking your beef and bone. Now he beholding me where I stood, flourishes off his belaced hat and, making me a bow, comes on smiling. "'Ah,' says he gaily, ''tis Captain Penfeather of the Brotherhood, a-collogueing with my latest wife! Is she not a pearl o' dainty woman-ware, Captain, a sweet and luscious piece, a passionate, proud beauty worth the taming--ha, Captain? And she is tamed, see you. To your dainty knees, wench--down!' Now though he smiled yet and spake her gentle, she, bowing proud head, sank to her knees, crouching on the ground before him, while he looked down on her, the devil in his eyes and his jewelled fingers toying with the dagger in his girdle, a strange dagger with a hilt wrought very artificially in the shape of a naked woman--" "How," says I, leaning across the table, "A woman, Penfeather?" "Aye, shipmate! So I stood mighty alert, my eyes on this dagger, being minded to whip it into his rogue's heart as chance might offer. 'I wonder,' says he to this poor lady, 'I wonder how long I shall keep thee, madonna, a week--a month--a year? Venus knoweth, for you amuse me, sweet. Rise, rise, dear my lady, my Dolores of Joy, rise and aid me with thy counsel, for here hath this misfortunate clumsy Captain fool blundered into our amorous paradise, this tender Cyprian isle sacred to our passion. Yet here is he profaning our joys with his base material presence.
db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com