List Of Contents | Contents of Black Bartlemy's Treasure by Jeffrey
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mercy of the waves, this boat became, as it were, alive and
purposeful, lifting to the seas with joyous motion, shaking the
water from her bows in flashing brine that sparkled jewel-like in
the early sun, her every timber thrilling to the buffets of the
waters that rushed bubbling astern all rainbow-hued and with a
sound like elfin laughter, until what with all this and the
strong, sweet air, even I felt the joy of it; but though my black
humour lifted somewhat, my shame was sore upon me, wherefore I
kept my gaze for the peak of the sail, the cloudless heaven, the
deep blue of the seas, and never so much as glanced at the
patient, solitary figure amidships.

"Whither do we sail?" she questioned at last.

"What matter?" says I sullenly.

"Aye, true!" she sighed.

"Besides, I have no compass."

"There is one in the locker here, and with it a packet and a
letter writ to you.  Shall I bring them?"

"As you will," says I, keeping my gaze averted.  So she makes her
way over to me (and mighty dexterous) despite the motion of the
boat, and setting the compass beside me, gives me the letter.  It
was sealed, and subscribed thus:

"To my well-loved, trusty friend, comrade and brother-adventurer
Martin, these:"

Breaking the seal, I read as follows:

"For your sore head, Martin, I grieve, but the blow I regret no
whit seeing it was struck to our mutual advantage hereafter.  Now
you (reading this) being at sea betwixt the parallels 70 and 65
in an open boat and all by reason of circumstances proving too
strong for you, Martin, it much behoveth you to mark and heed
well these my directions, to wit:  You shall lay your course
south-westerly, and that for these several and sufficing reasons,
viz., (1) You lie out of the track of ships.  (2) These be
treacherous seas, given to sudden furies of wind and raging
tempest.  (3) I like not the look of the weather.  (4) Our Island
lieth scarce twenty-four hours' sail due south-westerly.  Whereof
I have drawn for your guidance a chart of these waters, together
with a plan of our Island (very just and exact).  Also a chart of
the passage or channel through the barrier-reef, for saving this
passage, there is no landing upon the island that I know of.  Nor
shall you attempt this passage except at the flood and the seas
calm.  Being landed, Martin, you shall, with due regard to rest
and refreshment, forthwith secure our Treasure (the secret
whereof I have included with this my letter).  Thereupon, and
with all dispatch, you shall, troubling not for the gold or
silver, take but the four caskets of jewels, and, setting them
aboard your boat, sail away due West (three days) until you shall
fetch up with another island, the which you shall know by its
three several hills plain to be seen, and called Gibbet Island,
since 'twas there I hanged one Juan Maldonada (and richly
deserved it!).  Here then you shall bury our Treasure (four
caskets) in such place as seemeth to you proper, and there await
my coming.  And if I join you not within two months, then shall
this mighty treasure three-quarters thereof be yours.  And if I
come not within six months, then shall this fortune be wholly
yours since I shall be beyond all need of it.  So now, Martin,
good Fortune attend you.  Your boat (chosen by me long since, and
for this very purpose) is staunch, and an excellent sea-boat and
very well stored with everything for your needs, as arms,
clothes, food and the like.  Moreover within the treasure-cave is
all manner of stores, so that a man even though he bides on the
land to his life's end need suffer no lack, but have his every
comfort supplied.

And now, as to your head, Martin, 'twill be none the worse by
this, I judge.  And for the blow, 'twas no harder than called
for, and very well intentioned, as you shall confess one day,
mayhap, unless you be greater fool and blinder than I take you
for.  Howbeit I trust you, Martin, and in bidding you farewell
for the nonce, subscribe myself,

Your faithful friend and comrade to serve,

Adam Penfeather."

Having read this wordy missive, I crumpled it in angry fist and
thrust it into my pocket.  But now she gives me the packet named
therein, the which I forthwith tossed overboard (like the wilful
fool I was).  Thereby involving us in divers and many great
dangers and difficulties, as you shall learn hereafter.

Howbeit (the wind serving) I altered our course and stood away
south-westerly even as Adam had directed, since I perceived the
weather thickening behind us and the sea heaving with uneasy
motion.  And presently my companion questions me again:

"Whither do we sail?"


"Aye, but whither?"

"To an island."

"Is it far?"

"Two days' journey or thereabouts."

"Do you know this island?"

"I have never seen it."

"Then why sail thither?"

"'Tis thereabouts Penfeather would meet with us again if he may."

"And being there, what then?"

"God knoweth!"

Here was silence again save for the creak of mast and timbers as
we rose to the gentle swell and the ripple of water 'neath our
keel, while the sun, high risen, blazed down from the blue, his
fierce beams tempered by the cool, sweet wind.

"Are you hungry, Martin?"

"Is there aught to eat?"

"Plenty!"  So saying she opened one of the lockers and brought
thence a loaf of fine white bread, a neat's tongue, a flask of
wine, and a small barrico of water, upon which I, for one, made
an excellent meal.  Which done, she sets all things away again,
very orderly, and sits elbow on knee, staring away into the
distance and with her back to me.  Hereupon, I opened the stern-
locker and found therein a couple of musquetoons, a brace of
pistols, a sword with belt and hangers, and divers kegs of powder
and ball.

"How came you lying stunned in the boat?" says my companion at
last, but without turning her head.

"By roguery!" I answered.  "But how and when did the mutiny

"'Twas when we went to fetch the boy, my little page, Marjorie
and I.  He lay hurt and crying on the deck; so we ran out to him
and took him up betwixt us, and then I heard shouts and rush of
feet, and they were all about us--drunken men singing and
dancing.  And they struggled with us till came Master Penfeather,
with Godby and others, and after much bitter fighting brought us
away.  But Marjorie, my dear, faithful Marjorie, had taken a blow
aimed at me and my arms...And the great cabin choking
with powder-smoke...and wounded men who cried and shouted.  My
dear, brave Marjorie!  With the dark the fight began again, and
twice I feared they would break in upon us.  Then Master Adam
brought me into the stern-gallery and lowered me into the boat
where I might lie secure, and so got him back into the battle. 
But in a little I saw a hand in the gloom cutting at the tow-
rope, and I screamed, but none heard.  And so the boat drifted
away, and with the dawn I found you lying under a boat-cloak."

When she had done, I sat awhile staring up at the peak of the

"My Lady Brandon," says I at length, "Fate hath set you in scurvy
company, for I am an ill rogue, very rough and rude-mannered, and
no fit company for any woman, as you do very well know.  Howbeit,
I swear that henceforth, so long as we company together, I will
trouble you no more than I may, either by act or speech, you to
your place in the bows yonder in mine here at the tiller, you to
your thoughts, I to mine.  And thus methinks we shall do well
enough until we can go our several ways."

"Must we not speak?" she questioned, keeping her face turned from

"When needful, madam!"

"Am I but to answer when you deign me notice?  Will it plague you
if I sing?  Am I to sit with my hands folded henceforth and do
nought but think?  Must I stay in the bows until you summon me
thence?" says she, and all in the same small, soft voice, so that
I perceived my fine speech had been thrown away; wherefore I
stared up at the sail and with never a word in answer.

But presently, chancing to look at her, I found her regarding me
with her dimpled chin set mighty resolute; "Because," says she,
meeting my look, "I shall talk when I will and sing when so
minded, Martin Conisby.  I shall not sit in the bows for 'tis wet
there, and I shall not fold my hands, but you shall teach me how
to steer and handle the boat and do my share of the labour.  For
look now, here are we, by no will of our own, God knoweth,
companions in misfortune, let us then aid each other that our
troubles be the easier.  And O pray do you forget Martin Conisby
his woes awhile."  And away she goes, and getting to her knees
before one of the lockers, begins rearranging the contents,
singing away the while merry as any grig.

As the day wore on, the skies clouded over with a wind very
sudden and blusterous, wherefore, misliking the look of things, I
was for shortening sail, but feared to leave the helm lest the
boat should broach to and swamp while this was a-doing.  But the
wind increasing, I was necessitated to call my companion beside
me and teach her how she must counter each wind-gust with the
helm, and found her very apt and quick to learn.  So leaving the
boat to her manage I got me forward and (with no little to-do)
double-reefed our sail, leaving just sufficient to steer by;
which done I glanced to my companion where she leaned to the
tiller, her long hair streaming out upon the wind, her lithe body
a-sway to the pitching of the boat and steering as well as I
myself.  From her I gazed to windward where an ominous and ever-
growing blackness filled me with no small apprehensions;
wherefore I made fast all our loose gear, as oars, spare sail,
spars and the like.  Now in the bows were stowed her belongings,
a leathern trunk and divers bundles, the which I proceeded to
secure in their turn.  This done, I got me aft again, but when I
would have relieved her of the tiller, she shook her head.

"Nay, let me steer a while," she cried, looking up through her
wind-tossed hair, "'tis joy to me!  Lay you down and rest a while
and trust the boat to me."  And seeing how quick she was to meet
each send of the seas (that were already running high) glad
enough was I to humour her whim, and clambered forward again. 
And there (having nought better to do) I set about rigging a
rough awning athwart the bows, with canvas and a stout spar,
which methought should keep out the spray and any chance sea that
might break forward; though indeed the boat seemed mighty
staunch, and sea-worthy to a miracle.

With every hour the wind waxed in fury and therewith the sea
rose, huge, rolling billows that came roaring up astern to whirl
us aloft amid hissing brine and passing, left us deep-plunged in
great, foaming hollows.  Being got back aft at last and with no
small exertion (by reason of the boat's pitching) I stared amazed
to hear my companion singing right joyously.

"O Martin!" she cried, her voice a-thrill with the clear, vital
ring I knew so well, "O Martin, the wonder and glory of it!  See
yonder on these mighty waters, Death rides crying to us.  But God
is there also, and if these rushing surges 'whelm us we, dying,
shall find God there."  And beholding her as she sat, her face
uplifted to the tempest, her sea-wet hair upborne upon the wind,
I marvelled within myself.  "And the boat, Martin!" cries she as
we rose on a hissing wave-crest, "This dear, brave boat!  See how
nobly she rides--indeed and indeed I do love her every timber!"

And verily to me, awed by these mighty waters, it was wonderful
to see how our little craft rose to the seas, buoyant as any
cork; now poised 'mid hissing foam high in air, now plunging
dizzily down; and ever the wind gathered fury until the very air
seemed full of whirling spindrift.

In a while I took the tiller, and wondered to see my companion
droop all at once with head bowed upon her hands.

"Are you sick?" I cried.

"'Tis but weariness," she answered, "I slept no wink last night."

"Why then go forward and lie down!" says I.  The which she did
forthwith, and made less business of it than I.  Reaching the
mast she paused thereby to behold my handiwork, then going on her
knees crept beneath the awning and vanished from my view.

Left alone I stared around me on the raging tumult, and beholding
all its terrors my mind was full of wonder of this maid who could
sing so blithely with Death all about her and behold God, as it
were, riding on the wings of the storm.

Presently she comes and sits close beside me that we might talk,
for the wind was very loud.

"It was kind of you to make me so fair a shelter, Martin, and a
bed also, kind and very thoughtful, but I shall not sleep to-
night unless it be here."

"And why here?"

"Death hath more terrors in the dark and I grow a little fearful,
Martin."  So saying she wrapped a boat-cloak about her and,
spreading out the other, lay down thereon and so near that I
might have touched her where she lay.

And in a while Night rushed down upon us and it was dark; but
from the dark her voice reached me where she lay, her head
pillowed at my feet, and I, crouching above her, strove to
shelter her somewhat from the lashing spray and buffeting wind. 
Thus in despite of raging tempest we contrived to make each other
hear though with difficulty, talking on this wise:

She:  Are you afraid?

Myself:  No.

She:  Have you then no fears of death?

Myself:  I have prayed for it, ere now.

She:  And vainly!  For God, instead, hath made you very hale and

Myself:  Aye, for a purpose.

She:  What purpose?

Here, seeing I held my peace, she questioned me again:  "Was your
purpose the slaying of my father?  He is an old man and feeble!"

Myself:  He plotted the downfall of our house and slew my father!

She:  And so you have prayed for vengeance?

Myself:  I have.

She: And God hath denied you this also.  Should you die to-night
you go to him innocent of your enemy's blood. 

Myself:  Aye, but if I live--?

She:  You shall grow wiser, mayhap, and forgetting the ill that
lies behind you, reach out to the good that lieth before.

Myself:  And what of my just vengeance?

She:  Vengeance is but for the weak of soul, 'tis only the strong
can forgive.

Myself:  What of my sacred vow?  What of my many prayers for

She:  Empty breath!

Myself:  Dare you say so?

She:  I dare more, for lying here with Death all about us I tell
you, Martin Conisby, despite your size and strength, you are no
better than a pitiful, peevish child--"

"Ha!" cried I fiercely, bending over her in the dimness until I
might stare into her eyes, wide and dark in the pale oval of her
face, "Will ye dare--"

"A child," says she again, nodding at me, "lost and wilful and
very selfish with no thought above Martin Conisby and his wrongs. 
Nay, scowl not nor grind your teeth, 'tis vain!  For how may I,
that fear not God's dreadful tempest, stoop to fear poor Martin

"Stoop, madam?" I cried hoarsely.

"Aye, stoop," says she.  "The wrongs you have endured have
plunged you to the very deeps, have stripped you of your manhood. 

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