List Of Contents | Contents of Black Bartlemy's Treasure by Jeffrey
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cherish it in lavender.  Besides I've a feeling I may not die
until--at least, not yet."

"Wait!" says he, as I rose.  "Bide a while, Martin!"  And,
opening a locker beneath his bunk, he took thence a shirt of fine
chain-work like that he himself wore.  Shaking my head I would
have put it by but he caught my arm in his powerful grip and
shook me insistent.  "Take it, Martin," says he, "take it, man,
'tis easy and pleasant as any glove, yet mighty efficacious
'gainst point or edge, and you go where knives are sudden!  Stay
then, take it for my sake, shipmate, since trusty comrades be few
and mighty hard come by."  So in the end I did it on beneath my
doublet and found it to irk me nothing.  "And now, what?" he
questioned, as I opened the door.

"Sleep," says I, yawning.

"There's a bunk yonder, Martin," says he, eyeing me 'twixt
narrowed lids.

"Nay, I'm for my dog-hole, Adam."

"You seem to sleep much and mighty well, despite stench and rats,

"I'm grown used to 'em," says I, with another yawn, "and as to
sleeping I do little else of late--'tis the dark, belike, or bad
air, or lack of exercise."  Now as I rose to be gone, the deck
seemed to heave oddly beneath my feet and the cabin to swing
dizzily round, so that I must needs grip at the table to steady
myself, while Adam peered at me through a haze as it were.

"What's here, Martin, are ye sick?" he questioned.

"A vertigo!" I mumbled, "I'll into the air!"  In a little the
dizziness abating, I got me out on deck and found in the rushing
wind mighty comfort and refreshment, while Adam steadied me with
his arm.  "Let be!" says I, shaking off his hold.  "'Twas nought
--I'll go sleep again."  And waiting for no more I stumbled down
the quarter-ladder; but even as I went, the haze seemed to close
about me thicker than ever, and groping my way to the ship's side
I sank across the bulwark and was miserably sick.  This agony
passing, I made my way below until I reached the orlop; but now
feeling my sickness upon me again I crept away into a dark corner
and cast me down there.  And lying thus in my misery I little by
little became aware of someone weeping hard by, a desolate
sobbing very pitiful to hear.  Insomuch that (maugre my weakness)
I got up and going whence this sobbing proceeded, presently came
on a small, huddled figure, and stooping, saw it was a little
lad.  At my step he started to his knees, elbow upraised as if
expecting a blow.

"Why d'ye weep, boy?" I questioned.  "What's your trouble?"

"Nowt!" says he, cowering away; but taking him by his little,
thin shoulders I lifted him into the dim light of a swinging
lanthorn, and looked into a small, pallid face swollen and
disfigured by cuts and bruises wrought by some brutal hand.

"Who did this?" I demanded.

"Nobody!" says he, gulping a sob.

"Who are you?"

"'Tween-decks boy."

"How old are you, child?"

At this he stared up at me out of his swollen eyes, then covering
his face in ragged sleeve broke into convulsive sobbing.

"What now?" says I, drawing him beside me.  "What now?"

"She used to call me 'child'--my mother--" and here his grief
choked him.  Now as I looked down upon this little, pitiful
creature, I forgot my sickness in sudden, fierce anger.

"Boy," said I, "who's been flogging you--speak!"

"Red Andy," he gasped, "'e be always a' doin' of it 'e be--wish I
was dead like my mother!"

"Jim, ho Jimmy," roared a voice from somewhere in the gloom
forward, "Jim--plague seize ye, show a leg, will 'ee--"  Here
(and before I could stay him) the boy started up and pattered
away drying his tears as he ran.  Now as I lay there I kicked off
my shoes and hearkened expectant.  Thus, all at once I heard a
murmur rising to a wail that ended in a shrill scream, and
getting to my feet I crept stealthily forward.  Past main and
foremasts I crept, past dark store-rooms and cubby-holes, and so
to a crack of light, and clapping my eye thereto, espied two
fellows rolling dice and beyond them the boy, his hands lashed
miserably to a staple in the bulkhead, his little body writhing
under the cruel blows of a rope's-end wielded by a great, red-
headed fellow.

Now in my many desperate affrays with my fellow-slaves (those
two-legged beasts) I had learned that it is the first blow that
tells; wherefore groping for the latch I stealthily opened the
door and, or ever the red-headed fellow was aware, I was upon him
from behind and, giving him no chance for defence, I smote him a
buffet under the ear that tumbled him against the bulkhead whence
he sank to hands and knees.  Then while, half-dazed, he strove to
rise, I kicked him down again, and setting my foot upon his
chest, caught up the rope's-end he had dropped and beat him
therewith until he roared, until he groaned and lay writhing,
face hid beneath his crossed arms.  Then, whipping out my knife,
I fronted his two mates, the one a doleful, bony man with a
squint, the other a small, mean, black-eyed fellow in a striped
shirt who, closing one bright eye, leered at them with the other;
all at once he nodded, and pointing from the knife in my fist to
the fellow groaning beneath my foot, drew a long thumb across his
own stringy throat, and nodded again.  Hereupon I stooped above
my captive and set the flat of my blade to his forehead just
below his thick, red hair.

"Look'ee, dog!" I panted, while he glared up at me beneath his
bruised arms, "Set so much as a finger on yon pitiful brat again
and I'll cut a mark in your gallows-face shall last your life

"His throat, cully--quick's the word!" breathed a voice in my
ear.  But now as I turned and the little black-eyed fellow leapt
nimbly back, was a creaking and groaning of the ladder that led
to the main-deck above, and down comes a pair of prodigious stout
legs, and after these a round body, and last of all a great, flat
face small of mouth, small of nose, and with a pair of little,
quick eyes that winked and blinked betwixt hairless lids.

The fat fellow having got him down the ladder (and with wondrous
ease for one of his bulk) stood winking and blinking at me the
while he patted one of his plump cheeks with plump fingers.

"Love my limbs!" says he in soft, high-pitched voice.  "Perish
and plague me, but who's the friend as be a rope's-ending o' ye,
Andy lad--you as be cock o' the ship?"  Here the fellow beneath
my foot essays to curse, but groans instead.  Bless my guts!"
says the fat man, blinking harder than ever, "So bad as that,
Andy lad?  Wot then, hath this fine, upstanding cock o' cocks
thrashed all the hell-fire spirit out o' ye, Andy lad?  Love my
innards--I thought no man aboard could do as much, Andy."

"He jumped me from behind!" says the fellow Andy 'twixt snarl and
groan and writhing under my 'prisoning feet.

"And where," says the fat man, smiling at me, "where might you
ha' come from, my bird o' price?  The bo'sun's mate Samuel
Spraggons is me, friend--Sam for short, called likewise Smiling
Sam--come, come, never scowl on Sam--nobody never quarrels with
the Smiler, I'm friends wi' everyone, I am, friend."

"Why then--loose the child!" says I.

"Child?  Ha, is't this little rogueling ye mean, friend?"  As he
spoke (and smiling yet) he caught the boy's ear and wrung it
'twixt vicious thumb and finger, whereon I whirled the rope's-
end, but he sprang out of reach with wondrous agility and stood
patting plump cheek and smiling more kindly than ever, the while
I cut the cords that bound the boy's wrists, who, with an up-
flung, wondering look at me, sped away into the orlop and was

"Now mark ye, Spraggons," says I, "harm the child again--any of
ye--and I'll beat your fat carcass to a jelly."

"No, no!" quoth he, "you can't quarrel wi' me, the Smiler don't
never quarrel wi' none.  You'd never strike Smiling Sam, friend!"

"Stand still and see!" says I.  But hereupon he retreated to the
ladder and I, feeling my sickness upon me again, contented me by
throwing the rope's-end at the fellow and stepping out backward,
clapped to the door.  So with what speed I might I got me down
into the hold and to my dog-hole.  And here I saw I had left my
lanthorn burning, and found in this light strange comfort.  Now
being mighty athirst I reached the demijohn from the corner and
drank deep, but the good water tasted ill on my parched tongue;
moreover the place seemed strangely close and airless and I in
great heat, wherefore I tore off my sleeved doublet and, kicking
off my shoes, cast myself upon my miserable bed.  But now as I
lay blinking at the lanthorn I was seized of sudden, great dread,
though of what I knew not; and ever as my drowsiness increased so
grew my fear until (and all at once) I knew that the thing I
dreaded was Sleep, and fain would I have started up, but, even
then, sleep seized me, and strive how I would my eyes closed and
I fell into deep and fear-haunted slumber.



It is not my intention to chronicle all those minor happenings
that befell us at this time, lest my narrative prove over-long
and therefore tedious to the reader.  Suffice it then that the
fair weather foretold by Godby had set in and day by day we stood
on with a favouring wind.  Nevertheless, despite calm weather and
propitious gale, the disaffection among the crew waxed apace by
reason of the great black ship that dogged us, some holding her
to be a bloody pirate and others a phantom-ship foredooming us to

As to myself, never was poor wretch in more woeful plight for,
'prisoned in the stifling hold where no ray of kindly sun might
ever penetrate, and void of all human fellowship, I became a prey
to wild, unholy fancies and a mind-sickness bred of my brooding
humours; my evil thoughts seemed to take on stealthy shapes that
haunted the fetid gloom about me, shapes of horror and murder
conjured up of my own vengeful imaginations.  An evil time indeed
this, of long, uneasy sleepings, of hateful dreams and ill
wakings, of sullen humours and a horror of all companionship,
insomuch that when came Godby or Adam to supply my daily wants, I
would hide myself until they should be gone; thereafter, tossing
feverishly upon my miserable bed, I would brood upon my wrongs,
hugging to myself the thought of vengeance and joying in the
knowledge that every hour brought me the nearer its fulfilment.

And now it was that I became possessed of an uneasy feeling that
I was not alone, that beyond my crazy door was a thing, soft-
breathing, that lurked watchful-eyed in the gloom, hearkening for
my smallest movement and following on soundless feet
whithersoever I went.  This unease so grew upon me that when not
lost in fevered sleep I would lie, with breath in check,
listening to such sounds as reached me above the never-ceasing
groaning of the vessel's labour, until the squeak and scutter of
some rat hard by, or any unwonted rustling beyond the door, would
bring me to an elbow in sweating panic.

To combat the which sick fancies it became my custom to steal up
from my fetid hiding-place at dead of night and to prowl soft-
footed about the ship where none stirred save myself and the
drowsy watch above deck.  None the less (and go where I would) it
seemed I was haunted still, that behind me lurked a nameless
dread, a silent, unseen presence.  Night after night I roamed the
ship thus, my fingers clenched on the knife in my girdle, my ears
on the strain and eyes that sought vainly every dark corner or
patch of shadow.

At last, on a night, as I crouched beside a gun on the 'tween-
decks I espied of a sudden a shape, dim and impalpable-seeming in
the gloom, that flitted silently past me and up the ladder to the
deck above.  Up started I, knife in hand, but in my haste I
stumbled over some obstacle and fell; but up the ladder I sprang
in pursuit, out into moonlight, and hastening forward came face
to face with Adam.

"Ha-rogue!" I cried, and sprang at him with up lifted knife; but
as I came he stepped aside (incredibly quick) and thrusting out a
foot tripped me sprawling.

"Easy, shipmate, easy!" says he, thrusting a pistol under my
nose.  "Lord love you, Martin, what would you now?"

"So you'll follow me, will you!" I panted.  "You'll creep and
crawl and spy on me, will you?" 

"Neither one nor t'other, Martin."

"'Twas you climbed the gangway but now!"

"Not I, Martin, not I."  And as I scowled up at him I knew he
spoke truth, and a new fear seized me.

"And you saw no one, Adam?  Nothing--no shape that flitted up the
ladder hitherwards and no sound to it?"

"Never a thing, Martin, save yourself."

"Why then," says I, clasping my temples, "why then--I'm mad!"

"How so, comrade?"

"Because I'm followed--I'm watched--spied upon sleeping and

"Aye, but how d'ye know?" he questioned, stooping to peer at me.

"I feel it--I've known it for days past, and to-night I saw it. 
I'm haunted, I tell you!"

"Who by, shipmate?"

"Aye!" I cried.  "Who is it--what?  'Tis a thing that flits i'
the dark and with never a sound, that watches and listens.  It
mounted the ladder yonder scarce a moment since plain to my

"Yet I saw nothing, Martin.  And not a soul stirring, save the
watch forward, the steersman aft, and myself."

"Why then I'm verily mad!" says I.

"Not you, shipmate, not you.  'Tis nought but the solitude and
darkness, they take many a man that way, so ha' done with 'em,
Martin!  My lady's offer of employ yet holdeth good, so 'list
with me as master's mate, say but the word and--"

"No!" says I, fiercely.  "Come what may I take no service under
an accursed Brandon!"  Saying which I got me to my feet and
presently back to the haunted dark.

Thus the days dragged by all unmarked by me (that took no more
heed of time) for my fevered restlessness gave place to a
heaviness, a growing inertia that gripped me, mind and body; thus
when not lost in troubled sleep I would lie motionless, staring
dully at the dim flame of the lanthorn or blinking sightless on
the dark.

This strange sickness (as hath been said) I then set down to no
more than confinement and my unwholesome situation, in the which
supposition I was very far beside the mark, as you shall hear. 
For there now befell a thing that roused me from my apathy once
and for all, and thereby saved me from miserably perishing and
others with me, and the manner of it thus:

On a time as I lay 'twixt sleep and wake, my glance (and for no
reason in the world) chanced upon that knot-hole in the opposite
bulkhead, the which (as already told) I had wrought into the
likeness of a great eye.  Now, as I stared at it, the thing
seemed, all at once, to grow instinct with life and to stare back
at me.  I continued to view it (dully enough) until little by
little I became aware of something strange about it, and then as
I watched this (that was no more than a knot-hole) the thing
winked at me.  Thinking this but some wild fancy or a trick of
the light I lay still, watching it beneath my lowered lids, and
thus I suddenly caught the glitter of the thing as it moved and

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