List Of Contents | Contents of Black Bartlemy's Treasure by Jeffrey
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Hereupon the red-headed fellow uttered a sound 'twixt a sigh and
groan, and beholding him now as he yet stared after her, I saw
his face convulse and a look in his eyes as he tongued his lips
as made my very gorge rise, and I crept a pace nearer.

"Be that you, Smiler?" says he, his gaze still fixed.  "O mate,
yon's a rare dainty bit--a sweet armful, Smiler--"

"Dog!" I cried in sudden choking fury.  At this he leapt back,
hardly escaping my fist.

"Ha--is't you again!" cries he, and with the words sprang at me
and fetched me a staggering buffet in the mouth.  At this
(forgetting all prudence) I closed with him, and, heedless of his
blows, secured the wrestling grip I sought and wrenching him down
and across my knee, saw his face suddenly be-splashed with the
blood from my cut mouth the while I strove to choke him to
silence.  But he struggled mightily and thrice he cried "murder"
in despite of me, whereupon the cry was taken up by one here and
others there, until the very ship seemed to roar "murder."

Followed a rush of feet, a confusion of voices all about me and,
loosing my adversary, I reeled back to the mast under a rain of

"Stand away--back all!" cried a voice.  "Gi'e mea shot at the
rogue!" and the muzzle of a caliver was thrust into my face, only
to be dashed aside as Adam sprang before me.

"Hold off!" says he, whereupon they shrank back from me, one and
all, before his levelled pistol, and there came a moment's
silence wherein I heard Godby utter a gasp, and letting fall the
caliver he stared at me a-gape.  "Here's no murderer, ye fools!"
says Adam, scowling round on them, "'Tis no more than--ha, way
for Sir Rupert--make way for the Captain, there!"

"Pray what's to do, Master Penfeather?" demanded Sir Rupert,
hasting forward with drawn sword and the three gentlemen behind
him.  "What's all this riot?"

"Nought but a stowaway rogue, Sir Rupert, and one beknown to me
in England."

"Ha!" says Sir Rupert, stroking a curl of his great peruke, "How
cometh he brawling with the watch?"

"Look'ee, my masters," cried the red-headed fellow (gasping and
making great to-do of gurgling and clasping his throat where I
had squeezed him) "look'ee, sirs, at my bloody face--all bloodied
I be and nigh done for by yon murdering rogue.  Here's me on my
watch and no thought o' harm, and suddenly out o' nowhere he
takes him and grips me from behind and would ha' murdered me as
he murdered t'others!"

"Ha!" cried Sir Rupert, "The man reeks blood, observe, Master
Penfeather, and here's grave charge beside!"

Now as I leaned there against the mast I saw a figure flit down
the quarter-ladder and fain would have fled, yet seeing this
vain, hung my head and cowered in a very agony of mortified

"And you know this man, you say, Master Adam?" questioned Sir

"Aye I do, sir, for a desperate fellow, and so doth my Lady
Brandon--and yourself also."

"Ha?  Bring him forward where I may get look of him."  The which
being done, Sir Rupert starts back with sword-point raised.

"By heaven!" he cried, "How cometh this fellow aboard?"

"A stowaway as I said, sir," quoth Adam.  "You mind him very
well, it seemeth."

"Aye, verily!" says Sir Rupert, tapping me lightly with his sword
as I stood between my captors.  "Ha--you're the rogue stood i'
the pillory!"

"Aye!" I nodded, scowling at his dainty person.  "And you're the
one that set me there!"

"'Tis a rogue ingrain!" said Sir Rupert, frowning in turn.  "O a
very desperate fellow as you say, Master Adam, and like enough
the murderer we are a-seeking."  Hereupon I laughed and was
kicked (unseen) therefor by Adam.

"My lady!" says he, turning where she stood hard by, "You have
seen this fellow, I think."

"Yes," says she readily.  "And indeed, Cousin Rupert, I know more
of this--of him than you do, and very sure am I he is no
murderer--nor ever will be!"  Here for a moment her glance rested
on me, and meeting that look I forgot my wounded vanity and
degradation awhile.

"Sweet my lady," says Sir Rupert, "Your gentle woman's heart may
not brook scenes the like of this.  Go seek thy tender pillow and
leave such to us of sterner mould."

"Nay, cousin, my gentle woman's heart knoweth innocence from
guilt, methinks, and here standeth innocent man, stowaway though
he be."

"Why then as stowaway will I entreat him, fair cousin.  Master
Penfeather, clap him in irons till the morning, away with him--
nay, I myself will see him safely lodged."  Here, and without
further parley, I was led below, watched by the whole ship's
company, and so to a dismal place abaft the lazarette, where the
armourer, Master Taffery, duly locked me into the manacles (arm
and leg) beneath the eyes of Penfeather and Sir Rupert who,
seeing me this secure, presently left me to darkness and my
solitary reflections.

Howbeit, after some while I heard the sound of key turning and
Adam re-entered bearing a light; having locked the door on us, he
set down the lanthorn on the floor and, seating himself on the
bench whereto I was shackled, falls into a passion of cursing
both in English, Spanish (and Indian for aught I know) for never
had I heard the like words or such deep fervour.

"Adam," says I (he being at a pause), "'tis hard to think you
were ever a student of divinity!"

Hereupon he glances at me from the corners of his eyes and shakes
his head:

"Your face is bloody, Martin, are ye hurt?"

"My belly's empty, Adam."

"Why, I guessed as much, shipmate, Godby's bringing ye the
wherewithal to fill it.  In the meantime I'll free you o' your
bilboes awhile, though I must lock you up again that you may be
found snug and secure in the morning."  So saying he took a key
from his pocket and therewith set me at liberty.

"Ah, Martin," quoth he, as I stretched myself, "why must ye go a-
raising of tumults above deck under our very noses?  Here's
mighty ill plight you've got yourself into, and here's me a-
wondering how I am to get ye out again.  Here's been murder done,
and, look'ee, this coxcombly captain hath got it into his skull
that you're the murderer--aye, and what's worse, every soul
aboard likewise save only Godby and myself."

"And my lady!" says I.

"True, shipmate, true!  She spoke for ye, as I guessed she

"And how should you guess this, Adam?"

"By adding one and one, Martin.  But even so, comrade, even
though she stand by you--what can she do, or Godby and I for that
matter, 'gainst a whole ship's company crazed wi' panic fear--
fear, aye and small wonder, Martin!  Death is bad enough,
murder's worse, but for three hearty fellows to disappear and
leave no trace--"

"Aye, but was there no trace, Adam?"

"None, shipmate, none!"

"No blood anywhere?"

"Never a spot, shipmate!"

"Why then is there ever a man aboard with a wounded hand, Adam?"

"Not one to my knowing and I've turned up the crew on deck twice
these last two days--every man and boy, but saw not so much as
cut finger or stained garment among 'em--and I've sharp eyes,
Martin.  But why d'ye ask?"

"Because the man who made away with these three fellows was
wounded in the hand, Adam--howbeit that hand was bloody."

"Hand, shipmate," says Penfeather softly, "would it be a right

"It was!" I nodded.  "The mark of a great right hand."

"Aye, aye!" says Adam, pinching his chin.  "A right hand, Martin. 
And where was the mark, d'ye say?"

"Beneath my bed."

"Bed, Martin--your bed!"  Here he caught his breath and rose up
and stood looking down at me betwixt narrowed lids and a-pinching
at his square chin.

"Aye--there, Adam, the only place in the ship you never thought
to search--there he lay safe hid and I above him in a drugged

"Drugged!" says Adam, betwixt shut teeth.  "Aye...drugged...crass
fool it was not to ha' guessed it ere this."  And now he falls
silent and stands very still, only his sinewy fingers pinched and
pinched at his chin as he stared blindly down at the floor.  So
now I told him of my fevered dreams and black imaginations, of my
growing fears and suspicions, of the eye had watched me through
the knot-hole and of the man on the river with the boat wherein
was the great mis-shapen bundle which had vanished just after the
black ship ran foul of us.

"Lord!" says Adam at last.  "So the mystery is resolved!  The
matter lies plain as a pikestaff.  Ha, Martin, we've shipped the
devil aboard it seems!"

"Who weareth a steel hook, Adam!"

"And yet, Martin, and yet," says he, looking at me from the
corners of his eyes, "herein, if we seek far enough, we may find
the hand of Providence, I think--"

"How?" says I.  "Providence, d'ye call it?"

"Aye, Martin--if we do but seek far enough!"  Here he turned in
answer to a furtive rapping, and opening the door, I heard
Godby's voice.   "Come in, man, come in," says Adam, "here's only

"Aye," quoth I heartily, "come in, God-be-here Jenkins that was
my friend."  At this in he comes unwillingly enough and with
never so much as a glance in my direction.

"Here's the wittles, Cap'n," says he, and setting down the food
and drink he had brought, turned away.

"What, Godby, ha' ye no word for a poor murderer in his
abasement?" says I.  Whereat he shakes his head mighty gloomy and
keeping his gaze averted.  As for Adam he stood pinching his chin
the while his quick, bright eyes darted from one to other of us.

"How, are ye going and never a word?" quoth I as Godby crossed to
the door.

"Aye, I am!" says he, with gaze still averted.

"Why you left me in mighty hurry last time, Godby,"

"Aye, I did!" says he.

"Why then tell us wherefore--speak out, man."

"Not I, Martin, not I!" says he, and touching his bonnet to
Penfeather hasted away.

"Ha!" says Adam, closing and locking the door.  "And what's the
riddle, Martin?"

"My doublet.  Godby, chancing to take it up, finds it all a-smear
with blood and incontinent suspects me for this black murderer,
which comes hard since here's an end of Godby's faith and my

"Why look now, Martin, his suspicions are in reason seeing that
what with drugs, deviltries and what not, you've been mighty
strange o' late and more unlovely company than usual, d'ye see!"

"Howbeit!" says I, scowling and reaching for the food, "Here's an
end to my friendship for Godby.  Now as to you--what d'you say?"

"I think, shipmate, that your doublet bloody and you the grimly,
desperate, gallowsy, hell-fire rogue you strive so hard to
appear, Martin, I say here's enough to hang you ten times over. 
One thing is sure, you must leave this ship."

"Not I, Adam!"

"The long-boat's astern, victualled and ready."

"No matter!" says I.

"'Twill be no hard matter to get you safe away, Martin."

"Howbeit, I stay here!" says I, mighty determined.  "I'm no

"But you're a man to hang and hanged you'll be and you can lay to
that, d'ye see?"

"So be it!" says I.

"Very fine, shipmate, but as I was saying the long-boat is towing
astern, a good boat and well stored.  The moon will be down in an

"And what of it?" I demanded.

"'Twill be easy for you to slip down from the stern gallery."

"Never in the world!" quoth I.

"And as luck will have it, Martin, Bartlemy's Island--our island
--lieth scarce eighty miles south-westerly.  Being thither you
shall come on our treasure by the aid of the chart I shall give
you, and leaving the gold, take only the four coffers of

"You waste your breath, Adam!"

"Then, shipmate, with these jewels aboard you shall stand away
for another island that beareth south a day's sail--"

"Look you, Adam," says I, clenching my fists, "once and for all,
I do not leave this ship, happen what may."

"Aye, but you will, shipmate."

"Ha, d'ye think to force me, then?"

"Not I, Martin, but circumstances shall."

"What circumstances?"

Here and all at once Adam started up as again there came a soft
knocking at the door.  "Who's there?" he cried.  And then in my
ear, "'Tis she, Martin, as I guess, though sooner than I had
expected--into the bilboes with you."  Thus whispering and with
action incredibly quick, he clapped and locked me back in my
shackles, whisked food, platter and bottle into a dark corner and
crossed to the door.  "Who's there?" he demanded gruffly.  Ensued
a murmur whereupon he turned the key, set wide the door and fell
back bowing, bonnet in hand, all in a moment.

"Good Master Adam!" says she gently, "Pray you leave us awhile
and let none intrude on us."  At this Adam bows again very low
with a whimsical glance at me, and goes out closing the door
behind him.



For a while she stood looking down on me, and I, meeting that
look, glanced otherwhere yet, conscious of her regard, stirred
uneasily so that my irons rattled dismally.

"Sir," says she at last, but there I stayed her.

"Madam, once and for all, I am no 'sir!'"

"Martin Conisby," she amended in the same gentle voice, "Master
Penfeather telleth you refused the honourable service I offered--
I pray you wherefore?"

"Because I've no mind to serve a Brandon."

"Yet you steal aboard my ship, Master Conisby, you eat the food
my money hath paid for!  Doth this suffice your foolish, stubborn
pride?"  Here, finding nought to say, I scowled at my fetters and
held my peace, whereat she sighed a little, as I had been some
fretful, peevish child:  "Why are you here in my ship?" she
questioned patiently.  "Was it for vengeance?  Tell me," she
demanded, "is it that you came yet seeking your wicked

"Mine is a just vengeance!"

"Vengeance, howsoever just, is God's--leave it unto God!"  At
this I was silent again, whereupon she continued, her voice more
soft and pleading:  "Even though my father had...indeed...wronged
you and shall his death profit you--?"

"Ha!" I cried, staring up at her troubled face, "Can it be you
know this for very truth at last?  Are you satisfied of my wrongs
and know my vengeance just?  Have ye proof of Sir Richard's black
treachery--confess!"  Now at this her eyes quailed before my look
and she shrank away.

"God forgive him!" she whispered, bowing stately head.

"Speak!" says I, fiercely.  "Have ye the truth of it at last?"

"'Tis that bringeth me here to you, Martin Conisby, to confess
this wrong on his behalf and on his behalf to offer such
reparation as I may.  Alas! for the bodily sufferings you did
endure we can never atone, all other ways--"

"Never!" says I, scowling.  "What is done--is done, and I am--
what I am.  But for yourself his sin toucheth you no whit."

"How?" cried she passionately.  "Am I not his flesh--his blood? 
'Twas but lately I learned the truth from his secret
papers...and...O 'twas all there...even the price he paid to have
you carried to the plantations!  So am I come pleading your
forgiveness for him and for humble myself before
you...see thus...thus, upon my knees!"

Now beholding all the warm beauty of her as she knelt humbly
before me, the surge and tumult of her bosom, the quiver of her

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