List Of Contents | Contents of Black Bartlemy's Treasure by Jeffrey
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my noxious hiding-place, I thought to hear a step somewhere in
the gloom below.

"Ha, Godby!" says I.  "Are you down there, man?"  But getting no
answer, I descended the ladder, bethinking me of the rats
(whereof I had no lack of company), and coming into my dog-hole,
closed the rickety door, and having supped, cast myself down upon
my bed and blew out the light, and despite the rustle and scutter
away there in the dark beyond my crazy door I was very soon

And in my sleep what must I dream of but rats with eyes that
glared in the dark, that crawled ever nearer, while one that
crept upon my bosom grew and swelled into a great fellow with a
steel hook in place of one hand, a face with flashing white teeth
and glowing eyes that peered close ere eyes and teeth vanished,
and I sunk down and down into a black emptiness of dreamless



I awoke in panic and, leaping up groped in the pitch-dark until
my eager fingers closed on the haft of the sheath-knife under my
pillow, and with this naked in my hand I crouched awaiting I knew
not what; for all about me was direful sound, groans and cries
with wailings long drawn out in shuddering complaint.  Then, all
at once, my panic was lost in sudden great content, and thrusting
away the knife I took flint and steel and therewith lighted my
lanthorn; since now indeed I knew these dismal sounds nought but
the creak and groan of the stout ship, the voice of her travail
as she rose to the seas.  And as I hearkened, every individual
timber seemed to find a voice, and what with this and the uneasy
pitching and rolling of the ship I judged we were well under
weigh and beyond the river-mouth.  This (bethinking me of the
damage we had sustained from the great black ship) set me to
wondering, insomuch that I reached for my lanthorn, minded to
steal on deck that I might know our whereabouts and if it were
day or night, since here in the bowels of the ship it was always
night.  So (as I say) I reached for the lanthorn, then paused as
above all other sounds rose a cheery hail, and under the door was
the flicker of a light.  Hereupon I opened the door (though with
strangely awkward fingers) and thus espied Godby lurching towards

"What, Mart'n pal," says he, sitting beside me on my berth and
setting down the food and drink he had brought, "are ye waking at

"Have I slept long, Godby?"

"You've slept, Mart'n, a full thirty hours."

"Thirty hours, Godby?"

"Split me crosswise else, pal!"

"Mighty strange!" says I, reaching for the flask he had brought,
for I felt my mouth bitterly parched and dry, while, added to the
consuming thirst, my head throbbed miserably.

"Well, here we be, pal, clear o' the river this twelve hours and
more.  And, Mart'n, this is a ship--aye, by hokey, a sailer!  So
true on a wind, so sweet to her helm, and Master Adam's worthy of
her, blister me else!"

"'Tis strange I should sleep so long!" says I, clasping my aching

"Why, you'm wise to sleep all ye can, pal, seeing there be nought
better to do here i' the dark," says he, setting out the viands
before me.  "What, no appetite, Mart'n?"  I shook my head.  "Lord
love ye, 'tis the dark and the curst reek o' this place, pal--
come aloft, all's bowmon, the fine folk han't found their sea-
legs yet, nor like to while this wind holds, Mart'n--so come
aloft wi' Godby."

Nothing loth I rose and stumbled towards the ladder, marvelling
to find my hands and feet so unwieldy as I climbed; the higher I
went the more the rolling and pitching of the ship grew on me, so
that when at last I dragged myself out on deck it was no wonder
to find the weather very blusterous and with, ever and anon,
clouds of white spray lashing aboard out of the hissing dark with
much wind that piped shrill and high in cordage and rigging.

Being sheltered by the high bulwark hard beside the quarter-deck
ladder, I leaned awhile to stare about me and drink in great
draughts of sweet, clean air, so that in a little my head grew
easier and the heaviness passed from me.  Ever and anon the moon
peeped through wrack of flying cloud, by whose pale beam I caught
glimpses of bellying sails towering aloft with their indefinable
mass of gear and rigging, and the heel and lift of her looming
forecastle as the stately vessel rose to the heaving seas or
plunged in a white smother of foam.

"She rides well, Mart'n!" roared Godby in my ear.  "Aha, here's
duck of a ship, pal!"

"Where's Adam?" I questioned.

"To'-gallant poop, Mart'n.  Lord love ye, it's little sleep he's
had since we hove anchor.  Hark'ee, pal--he's got it into his
head as we'm being dogged!"

"Dogged, man--by what?"

"By that same great black ship as fouled us--he has so, pal--
roast me else!  But come your ways."  So saying, Godby climbed to
the quarter-deck and I after him, and mounting the poop-ladder,
presently came on Penfeather, peering hard over our lee.

"Ha, is it you, shipmate!" says he, drawing me out of the wind. 
"Look yonder, d'ye see aught of a rag o' sail, Martin?" 
Following his pointing finger, I stared away into the distance
across a tumbling spume of waters vague in the half-light.  "D'ye
glimpse aught, Martin?"

"Nothing, Adam!"

"Wait for the moon, shipmate--now, look yonder!"  As the light
grew, I swept the distant horizon with my eyes until, all at once
against the night, I saw the sheen of distant canvas that gleamed
and was gone again as a cloud veiled the moon.  "You saw it,

"Plainly!" says I, whereupon he sprang away to the men at the
helm; came the hoarse roar of speaking-trumpet, and decks and
waist below seemed alive with scurrying, dim figures; and now was
a chorus of shouts and yo-ho-ing as the "Faithful Friend,"
obedient to his commands, swung off upon an altered course.

"Godby," says Adam, beckoning us where stood the compass or
bittacle, "look'ee, as she bears now we should be nigh enough yon
curst ship to learn more of her by peep o' dawn."

"Aye, Cap'n--and then?"

"Then you shall try what you can do wi' one o' those long guns o'

"Lord love ye, Cap'n, that's the spirit!" cried Godby, hitching
joyously at his broad belt, "All I asks is a fair light and no

"And you have the middle watch, Godby man, so I'll get a wink o'
sleep," says Adam, "but do you call me so soon as we raise her
hull.  As for you, Martin, you'll have slept your fill, I judge."

"And yet I'm plaguy drowsy still!" says I.

"There's a spare berth in the coach, comrade, an you're so

"Nay, Adam, I'll watch awhile with Godby."

"Good!  You've keen eyes, Martin--use 'em!" says he, and goes
down the ladder forthwith.

And now, pacing the lofty poop beside Godby, I was aware that the
"Faithful Friend" was dark fore and aft, not a light twinkled

"How comes this, Godby!" says I, pointing to the dim shapes of
the great stern lanthorns above us.

"Cap'n's orders, Mart'n!  We've been dark these two nights, and
yet if yon craft is what we think, 'twould seem she follows us by
smell, pal, smell.  As how, say you?  Says I, last night she was
fair to be seen having closed us during the day, so out go our
lights and up goes our helm and we stand away from her.  At dawn
she was nowhere and yet--here she is again--if yon ship be the

"Which we shall learn in an hour or so, Godby."

"Aye, Mart'n, if she don't smell us a-coming and bear away from
us.  And yet she must be a clean, fast vessel, but we'll overhaul
her going roomer or on a bowline."

"Roomer?  Speak plain, Godby, I'm no mariner!"

"Time'll teach ye, pal!  Look'ee now, 'roomer' means 'large,' and
'large' means 'free,' and 'free' means wi' a quartering-wind, and
that means going away from the wind or the wind astarn of us;
whiles 'on a bowline' means close-hauled agin the wind, d'ye

"Godby, 'tis hard to believe you that same peddler I fell in with
at the 'Hop-pole.'"

"Why, Mart'n, I'm a cove as adapts himself according.  Give me a
pack and I'm all peddler and j'y in it, gi'e me a ship and I'm
all mariner to handle her sweet and kind and lay ye a course wi'
any--though guns is my meat, Mart'n.  Fifteen year I followed the
sea and a man is apt to learn a little in such time.  So here
stand I this day not only gunner but master's mate beside of as
tight a ship, maugre the crew, as ever sailed--and all along o'
that same chance meeting at the 'Hop-pole.'"

"And though a friend of Bym you knew little of Adam Penfeather?"

"Little enough, Mart'n.  Joel be no talker--but it do seem Jo was
one of the Coast-Brotherhood once when Cap'n Penfeather saved his
life and that, years agone.  So Joel comes home and sets up
marriage, free-trade and what not, when one day lately Master
Adam walks into the 'Peck o' Malt,' and no whit changed for all
the years save his white hair.  And here comes rain, Mart'n--"

"And wind!" says I as the stout ship reeled and plunged to the
howling gust.

"No, Mart'n," roared Godby above the piping tumult, "not real
wind, pal--a stiffish breeze--jolly capful."

Slowly the night wore away and therewith the buffeting wind
gentled somewhat; gradually in the east was a pale glimmer that,
growing, showed great, black masses of torn cloud scudding fast
above our reeling mastheads and all about us a troubled sea.  But
as the light grew, look how I might, nowhere could I descry aught
of any ship upon that vast horizon of foaming waters.

"Ha!," says Godby, venting huge sigh, "there's to be no play for
my guns this day, Mart'n."

"Nay but," says I, mighty perplexed, "what's come of her?  She
could never have marked our change of course at the distance and
'twas black dark beside, and we bore no lights."

"Mayhap she smelt us, pal, as I said afore.  Howbeit, 'tis beyond
me, cram me wi' rope-yarn else!"

Now, as he spoke, up came the sun, turning lowering sky and
tempestuous ocean to glory; every ragged cloud became as it were
streaming banners enwrought of scarlet and gold, every foaming
billow a rolling splendour rainbow-capped, insomuch that I stood
awed by the very beauty of it all.

"I love the good, kind earth, Mart'n, wi' its green grass and
flowers a' peep, 'tis a fair resting-place for a man when all's
done and said, but yonder, pal--ah, there's glory for ye!  Many's
the time I've watched it, dawn and sunset, and, minding all the
goodly ships and the jolly lads as are a-sleeping down below, at
such times, Mart'n, it do seem to me as if all the good and glory
of 'em came aloft for eyes to see awhile--howbeit, 'tis a noble
winding-sheet, pal, from everlasting to everlasting, amen!  And
by that same token the wind's veering, which meaneth a fair-
weather spell, and I must trim.  Meantime do you rouse Master
Adam."  And here, setting hands to mouth, Godby roared high above
the wind:

"Watch ho!  Watch!  Brace about--bowse away there!"

As I crossed the deck, up the poop ladder comes Adam himself, his
red seaman's bonnet tight-drawn about his ears and a perspective-
glass under his arm.  "'Tis as I thought, Martin," says he,
pinching his chin and scowling away to leeward, "she changed
course as we did."

"Nay but, Adam, how should she know we changed and the night so

"Very easily, shipmate, by means of a light--"

"We bore no lights, Adam."

"None the less someone aboard this ship signalled yon black craft
by means of a lanthorn, 'tis beyond doubt!"

"And why should she follow us, think ye?"

"Why am I a marked man, shipmate, why have I been dogged hither
and yon across seas?  Come into the coach and I'll tell ye a
thing.  Godby!" says he, coming where Godby stood beside the
steersman, "lay her on her old course.  'Tis Merrilees takes next
watch, I think--tell him to warn me as soon as we raise her
accursed topsails."

"What," says I, as we climbed from the lofty poop, "you think she
will dog us still, then?"

"I know it, Martin!" says he gloomily, and so brought me into a
smallish cabin under the top-gallant poop; here were bunks to
larboard and starboard with a table mid-way furnished with
calendars, charts, a cross-staff, an astrolabe, with globes and
the like, while against the walls stood rows of calivers,
musquetoons and fusees, set in racks very orderly.  "Aye,
shipmate," says he, noting my gaze, "every firelock aboard is
either here or in the arm-chests i' the round-house below, and
our powder is all stored well aft, by reason that I am a cautious
man, d'ye see!  Sit ye, Martin!  Now as to this black ship--first
of all she fouls us in the river, the which was no accident,
Martin, though just what the motive was I'm yet a-seeking. 
Second, as she drifted past us whom should I see aboard her but
Abnegation Mings and pulled trigger a moment too late, but winged
another o' the rogues.  Third, when we'd repaired our damage and
got us clear of the river what should we see but this same black
ship hove short waiting us, for she presently stands after us. 
And so she's dogged us ever since and so dog us she will to the
world's end unless I can bring her to action."

"She's a fighting ship by her looks and heavily armed!" says I.

"So are we, Martin!"

"And our men, Adam?"

"Ah!" says he, pinching his chin, "there it is, Martin, there it
is!  Look'ee, shipmate, in all this crew there are no more than
twenty men I can count on, nay, less--ten only can I swear by. 
See now, here's you and Merrilees and Godby, here's Farnaby and
Toby Hudd the bo'sun, Treliving the carpenter, and McLean his
mate, here's Robins and Perks and Taffery the armourer--good
mariners all.  These I can trust, shipmate, but never another

"And what of the captain, Sir Rupert Dering?"

"That, Martin!" says Penfeather, snapping his fingers.  "A very
gentleman-like fool, d'ye see, a bladder of air--like his three

"So we have four gentlemen aboard, Adam?"

"Aye--princocks all that do nothing but vie in court to her
ladyship!  Now look'ee, Martin, what with one thing or another,
and this hell-fire ship on our heels in especial, there's stir
and disaffection among the crew, a-whispering o' corners that I
don't like, and which is apt to spread unless looked to. 
Wherefore this morning I ordered a certain red-haired rascal
fifty lashes athwart a gun.  But the bo'sun had laid on but poor
ten and the fellow roaring lustily when into the 'tween-decks
cometh my lady in mighty taking, and seeing the rogue's back a
little bloody, ordered him freed and thereafter cossets him wi'
dainties from her own table.  Lord love ye!  Which cometh o'
women aboard ship!"  And here Adam sighed mighty dismal.

"Why then," says I, "here's work for me, belike."

"As how, Martin?"

"Nay, leave it to me, being little better than rogue myself I
should know how to outmatch roguery!"

"Meaning you'll spy on 'em, shipmate?"

"And lie and cozen and join fellowship with 'em if need be. 
Howbeit there's aught afoot I'll bottom it, one rascally fashion
or t'other."

"'Tis desperate risk, Martin, and should they suspicion you--"

"Why, look, Adam, my life's none so sweet or precious that I'd

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