List Of Contents | Contents of Black Bartlemy's Treasure by Jeffrey
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square of glimmering blackness.  Suddenly a sly-creeping foot
touched me unseen and then (even as the owner of this foot
tripped over me) came the roaring flash of a pistol hard by,
followed immediately by another and, as I lay deafened and half-
dazed, the floor quivered to the soft, vicious thud of leaping,
swift-trampling feet, and on the air was a confused scuffling,
mingled with an awful, beast-like worrying sound.  And now
(though I was broad-awake and tingling for action) I constrained
myself to lie still, nothing stirring, for here (as I judged) was
desperate knife-play, indeed more than once I heard the faint
click of steel.  And now rose shouts and cries and a tramp of
feet on the stair without.  Someone reeled staggering across the
room, came a-scrabbling at the open casement and, as I leapt up,
the door burst open and Joel Bym appeared flourishing a naked
hanger and with Godby behind bearing a lanthorn, whose flickering
light showed Adam, knife in hand, where he leaned panting against
the wall, a smear of blood across his pallid face and with shirt
and doublet torn in horrid fashion.

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

"Doors all fast, Joel?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Aye, Cap'n--aye?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We start in half an hour, Joel."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Sir Rupert--?" says I.

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

"Is he a sailor, Adam?"

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

"How so?"

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

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

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

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

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

"Aye--him, Cap'n!"

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

"Aye, Cap'n.  Aboard ship?"

"Aboard ship."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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