List Of Contents | Contents of Black Bartlemy's Treasure by Jeffrey
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And yet--yours is no murderer's face even when you scowl and
clench your fist!  'Twas so you looked when you fought that rough
boy on my behalf so many years ago when you were Sir Martin the
Knight-errant and I was Princess Damaris.  And now, Martin, you
that were my playmate and had forgot--you that were so ready to
fight on my behalf--in this desolation there is none you may do
battle with for my sake saving only--Martin Conisby!"

Now here she turned, her face hid from me 'neath a fold of the
great boat-cloak, and spake no more.  And I, crouched above her,
staring down at her muffled form outstretched thus at my mercy,
felt my quivering fist relax, felt my brutish anger cower before
her trust and fearlessness.  And so, leaning across the tiller, I
stared away into the raging dark; and now it seemed that the soul
of me had sunk to deeps more black and, groping blindly there,
hungered for the light.

So all night long we drove before the tempest through a pitchy
gloom full of the hiss of mighty seas that roared past us in the
dark like raging giants.  And all night long she lay, her head
pillowed at my feet, sleeping like a wearied child, and her long,
wind-tossed hair within touch of my hand.



Towards dawn the wind abated more and more and, glancing into the
lightening East, I saw the black storm-clouds pierced, as it
were, by a sword of glory, a single vivid ray that smote across
the angry waters, waxing ever more glorious until up flamed the
sun before whose joyous beams the sullen clouds scattered, little
by little, and melted away.

And now I (that was doomed to be my own undoing) instead of
thanking that merciful God who had delivered us from such dire
peril, must needs scowl upon this kindly sun and fall again to my
black humours.  For, the immediate dangers past, I began to
ponder the future and inwardly to rage against that perverse fate
the which was driving me whither it would.  So, crouched chin on
fist, scowling across these tempestuous waters (for though the
wind was fallen the seas ran very high) within myself I cursed
Adam Penfeather and all his works.

"You are hungry, Martin!"  Turning about I beheld my companion
sitting up regarding me with eyes that belied her solemn mouth.

"How should you know this?"

"You frown, Martin!  Though the storm is done and we alive, yet
you frown!  Have patience and you shall eat and sleep."

"I want neither one nor other!" I began.

"And you are wet, Martin!"

"'Tis no matter!"

"And cold!"

"The sun shall warm me."

"So you shall eat, and lie here i' the sunshine, and sleep!"  And
away she goes to vanish under the dripping pent-house forward
(the which had served its purpose admirably well) whiles I,
perceiving the waves subsiding and the wind blowing steady and
fair, laid our course due south-westerly again, and lashing the
helm, went forward to shake out the reefs, finding it no easy
task what with the stiffness of my cramped limbs and the pitching
of the boat; howbeit, 'twas done at last but, coming back, I
tripped across a thwart and fell, cursing.

"Are you hurt?" she questioned, stooping over me; whereupon (for
very shame) I turned my back answering short and ungraciously,
and sat frowning like the sullen rogue I was whiles she busily
set forth the wherewithal to break our fast, and singing softly
to herself.

"I told you I was an ill rogue and rough!" says I, bitterly.

"Why so you did," says she, meeting my scowl with her wide, calm
gaze.  "Also you are hungry, and the food is unspoiled despite
the storm--come and eat!"

So I ate (though with mighty ill grace) and found little savour
in the food for all my hunger; but she waited on my wants with
heedful care, my surliness notwithstanding.

"Whose was the hand set this boat adrift, think you?" says I

"Nay, 'twas too dark to see!"

"'Twas Penfeather!" says I, clenching my fist.  "Aye it was Adam,
I'll stake my life on't!"

"Then Poor Master Adam!" she sighed.

"How?  Will you pity a rogue?"

"I speak of Master Penfeather," says she.  "If he indeed cut the
boat adrift it was doubtless because the battle was going against
him and he did this to save me!"  Hereupon I laughed and she,
flushing angrily, turns her back on me.

"Pray you," she questioned, "when may we hope to reach the island
and be free of each other?"

"To-night or to-morrow, unless the storm hath driven us further
than I judge."  And now, our meal done, she sets away everything
in its appointed place and thereafter sat watching the sea all
foam and sparkle beneath the young sun.  And presently a sigh
brake from her and she turned, her anger forgotten quite.

"O!" cries she, "'Tis joy to be alive, to breathe such air, and
behold such a glory of sea and sky!  Look around us, Martin, and
give thanks!"  And truly the sea was smooth enough save for a
long, rolling swell out of the East, and with a soft and gentle
wind to abate the sun's generous heat.  "Are you not glad to be
alive, Martin?" says she.

"To what end?" I answered.  "Of what avail is life to me cast
away on a desolate island."

"Desolate?" says she, starting.  "Do you mean we shall be alone?"

"Aye, I do."

"But surely," says she with troubled look, "surely Master Adam
will fetch us away?"

"There is a chance!"

"And--if not?"

"God knoweth!" says I gloomily, "'Tis a small island as I learn,
little known and out of the track of vessels."

"Yet a ship may come thither to our relief?"

"And if one doth not?"

"Then must we tempt the sea again in our boat."

"I am no navigator, and these seas are strange to me."

"Howbeit," says she, bravely, "we have good store of provisions."

"And when they are gone--how then, think you?"

"I think you do lack for sleep.  Go, take your rest, mayhap you
shall waken a little bolder and less despairing."

"And you," says I, "you that so look on all this as a joyous

"Joyous?  Ah God!" she cried, "Do you think because I do not weep
that my heart is not full of misery and grief to lose thus home
and friends and country and live 'prisoned and solitary with such
as you, that think but on your own selfish woes and in your big
body bear the soul of a fretful babe?  I hate you, Martin
Conisby, scorn and despise you!  And now give me the tiller and
begone to your sleep!"  Saying which she pointed where she had
spread the cloaks hard by the midship thwart and I, amazed by her
fierce outburst, suffered her to take the tiller from my hold,
and coming amidships laid myself down even as she had commanded.

But no thought of sleep had I, rather I lay that I might watch
her (furtively, beneath my arm) where she sat head aloft, cheeks
flushed and bosom tempestuous.  And (despite her beauty) a very
termagant shrew I thought her.  Then, all at once, I saw a tear
fall and another; and she that had sung undaunted to the tempest
and outfaced its fury, sat bitterly weeping like any heart-broke
maid, yet giving due heed to our course none the less. 
Presently, chancing to look my way, she catches me watching her
and knits her slender brows at me:

"Get you to sleep!" says she.  "O get you to sleep nor trouble my

Hereupon (and feeling mighty guilty) I pillowed my head and,
closing my eyes, presently fell to sweet and dreamless slumber.



"Martin, Martin--look!"

I started up, and rubbing sleep from my eyes, turned to gaze
whither she pointed; and there, faint and far, above the rolling
blue of the seas rose a blue shape.  "'Tis the island, Martin! 
Our voyaging is nigh ended."

"Aye, 'tis the island!" says I.

"'Tis like an island of dream, Martin."

"Nay, 'tis real enough!" quoth I, "And solitary!"

"There is a perspective glass in the locker, yonder, Martin."

"Master Adam was vastly thoughtful!" quoth I, bitterly.  And
reaching the glass I gave it to her.

"Will you not look at the island?" she questioned wonderingly.

"Nay, I shall see more than enough of it ere long!  Do you give
me the tiller and view it as you will."

"I see rocks!" says she, after some while.

"Ha, a barren place, as I thought."

"Nay, there are trees--many trees!  O 'tis wonderful!"  And so
she sat viewing it all untiring, every moment discovering some
new marvel; but I fell to my old, black humour, since to me this
island was no better than a prison.

By mid-day we were come so close that I might see the place very
well; a smallish island with sheer cliffs very jagged and grim
where the seas broke in foam and crowned with many and divers
trees, beyond which rose greeny slopes with more trees that
mounted up and up to a lofty summit of rocks and brush.  Being
within some two miles of these forbidding cliffs I steered to
fetch a compass about the island, and so presently opened a bay
of white sand with tree-clad cliffs beyond, and before a sheet of
placid water or lagoon shut off from the sea by a semicircular
barrier-reef, such as Adam had described in his story.

And now, bethinking me that (by his account) this was the only
means of landing upon the island, I stood for this reef, against
which the foaming seas dashed with a mighty roaring, looking for
that narrow channel through the reef, that opening amid these
breakers whereby we might steer into those calm waters beyond.

And presently, sure enough, I espied it well-nigh in the middle
of the reef, even as Adam had said, and, putting up the helm, ran
for it straightway.  An evil enough place it looked, perilously
narrow and with mighty seas that broke in thunderous spray to
right and left of it; insomuch that heedful of Adam's warning
(and all too late) I was minded to bear up and stand away, plying
off and on, until the waves should have moderated.  But in my
folly I had sailed too near and now, swept onward by some
current, the boat, responding no more to her helm, was borne on
at ever-increasing speed.  So thus helpless and at mercy of the
seas we drove straight for this perilous channel until I had some
desperate hope that she might make it; on we sped, nearer and
nearer, until the spume of the breakers was all about us and I
well-nigh deafened by their roar; but this roar was pierced
suddenly by a cry:

"O Martin!  God pity us--look!"  Turning my head, I saw a hugeous
wave hard upon us, felt my companion's arms about me, and then--
deafened, blinded, choking, I was whirled aloft on this mighty
sea, tossed, buffeted, hurled into blinding sunlight, buried
beneath green deeps and, expectant of death, suddenly found
myself face down on warm sands wherein my griping fingers
clutched desperately against the back-rush of the sea.

So lay I gasping and gripping this kindly earth and waited to do
battle for what remained of life, hearkening for the fierce hiss
of that great wave that was to bear me back to the horror of
those green deeps the which should bury me for ever; instead I
heard the gentle, drowsy lapping of water all about me, and
opening my eyes beheld myself lying on the edge of those white
sands that bordered the lagoon, while behind me the seas
thundered impotent against the reef.  And now, little by little,
I saw that the great wave must have borne me hither in miraculous
fashion; and lying thus bruised and spent I must needs remember
how Adam had experienced the like.

But all at once I staggered up to my feet and began staring
hither and thither; then as my brain cleared and strength came
back, I took to running along the edge of the lagoon like one
demented, staring down into those placid waters and searching the
white sands with eyes of dreadful expectancy, yet nowhere could I
discover sign or trace of my companion.  None the less I
continued to run aimlessly back and forth, heedless of my going,
slipping and stumbling and often falling, but never staying my
search until the sweat poured from me.  And ever as I ran I kept
repeating these words to myself over and over again, viz.,
"Adam's comrade, Nicholas Frant, was cast safe ashore with him!" 
Thus I ran to and fro gasping these words to myself until,
tripping over a piece of driftwood I lay bruised and well-nigh
spent.  Howbeit, I forced myself up again and re-commenced my
search, and this time with more method, for I swore to myself
that I would find her or perish also.  To this end I determined
to get me out upon the reef; now to come thither I must needs
climb over certain rocks, so came I thither and, breathless with
haste, made shift to mount these rocks heedless of bruises or
bleeding hands, and reaching the summit at last, paused all at

She lay face down almost below these rocks, outstretched within a
little cove and her long, wet hair wide-tossed like drifted
seaweed all about her.  Now, seeing how still she lay, a great
sickness seized me so that I sank weakly to my knees and crouched
thus a while, and with no strength nor will to move.  At last,
and very slowly, I made my way a-down the rocks, and being within
the little cove, found myself all trembling and holding my
breath.  Then, though the soft sand deadened all sound of my
going, I crept forward.  So came I where she lay, her wet
draperies clinged fast about her; and standing above this stilly
form I looked down upon her slender shapeliness yet feared to
touch her.  And now I saw that one sleeve was torn away and upon
her round, white arm the marks my cruel hands had wrought.

"Damaris!" says I, falling on my knees beside her, and the word
was a groan.  And in that moment she raised her head and looked
at me, and in her eyes methought to read wonder and a sudden,
great joy:

"Martin!" she whispered, "O thank God!"  And so hid her face
again.  Now, being yet on my knees, I looked from her to the blue
heaven and round about me like one that wakes upon a new world.



"Are you hurt?" says I, at last.

"Indeed," she answered, "all over.  Yet am I alive and there's
the wonder.  The wave cast me into the lagoon and I crept ashore
here.  Then methought you surely dead and I alone within these
solitudes and so I swooned, Martin."

"Being afraid of the loneliness?"

"Yes, Martin."

"Even fellow as rough as I is better than loneliness?"

"Yes, Martin."

"Though your arms be bruised by my handling!  For this I--I would
crave your pardon--"

"'Tis all forgot!" says she, making shift to cover up her arm. 
"But your hand is bleeding--"

"A scratch!"

"Have you no other hurts?"

"A bruise or so."

"And did you come a-seeking me, Martin?"


"Are you glad to find me alive?"


"Even a Brandon is better than nobody, Martin?"  But at this I
arose, albeit stiffly, and turned away.  "Whither would you go?"
she questioned.

"To seek some shelter ere night catch us."

"Shall I not come with you?"

"Can you walk?"

Hereupon she made to rise, but getting to her knees, flinched and
bit her lip:

"I'm so bruised, Martin!" says she.

"Why then, bide you here, yonder cleft i' the rock should serve
for to-night.  Howbeit I'll go look."  So I limped across the

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