List Of Contents | Contents of Black Bartlemy's Treasure by Jeffrey
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

great rushing sound, a torrent of prodigious volume though of no
great height.  "So here" (thinks I) "is Adam's 'notable fall of
water,'" and sitting down, I fell to viewing the place, munching
my grapes the while.  Opposite me the lake was bounded by a high-
sloping sandy beach with trees beyond, while beyond these again
rose that high, tree-clad hill whose barren, rocky dome we had
seen from afar.  Now the waters of this lake flooded away through
a great rent in the surrounding rocks betwixt which I might catch
a glimpse of the distant sea; and beholding this rushing cataract
I must needs fall a-wondering where so great a body of water
should come from, and to ponder on the marvels of nature.  And
from this I got to considering how we might cross this stream,
supposing we should explore the island.  I was yet puzzling this
when, glancing up, I found the sun already westering, wherefore
(not minded to be caught in the dark) I rose and, turning my back
on these troubled waters, set out on my return.  Ever and anon as
I went I caught glimpses of that rocky eminence with its silver
thread of falling water whence I had come, and, guided by this,
strode on amain, bethinking me how best I might cook the goat's-
flesh for (despite the grapes) I was mightily an hungered.  But
reaching the denser woods I lost my way, for here nought was to
see but the greeny gloom of tangled thickets and dense-growing
boskages where I must needs cut a path, yet even so I troubled
myself with divers bunches of grapes that my companion might
prove my discovery.  Thus my progress was slow and wearisome, and
night found me still forcing my way through this tangled
underwood.  Being lost and in the dark, I sat me down to wait for
the moon and stayed my hunger with the grapes meant for better
purpose, but one bunch that methought the better I preserved. 
Soon this leafy gloom glowed with a silvery radiance, and by this
light I went on and so at last came upon the stream.  But
hereabouts it ran fast and deep and I must needs seek about till
I found a ford.  Thus the moon was high as, after desperate
scramble, I came out upon our grassy plateau and saw the welcome
glow of a fire.  Moreover, as I approached I smelt right savoury
and most delectable savour, and hurrying forward saw my companion
crouched upon that stone I have mentioned, her head bowed upon
her hands.  Hearing my step she glanced up and rose to her feet.

"Are you come at last, Martin?" says she in her sweet voice. 
"Supper is ready this hour and more!"

"Supper!" says I.

"The goat's-flesh.  I made a stew, but fear 'tis spoiled."

"Indeed," says I, "it smells mighty appetising!"

"I had no salt nor spices, Martin, but in a little garden yonder
that is all run wild, I found some sage and sweet herbs."

"Good!" says I.  So she brought me to the fire and there in our
great turtle-shell was as savoury a stew as ever greeted eyes of
hungry man.

By her directions, and will all due care, I lifted this from the
fire, and propping it with stones we sat down side by side.  And
now she shows me two of my smaller shells, and dipping hers into
the stew I did the like, and though we had no salt (the which set
my wits at work) and though we lacked for bread, a very excellent
meal we made of it, and the moon shedding its glory all about us.

The meal done, and while she cleansed the things at a rill that
murmured hard by, I made up the fire (for after the heat of the
day, night struck chill) and by the time she came back I had the
flame crackling merrily.  And now as she sat over against me on
the stone, I saw she had been weeping.  And she, knowing I saw
this, nodded her head, scorning all subterfuge.

"I feared you had met with some mischance and lay hurt, Martin--
or worse--"

"You mean dead?"

"Aye, dead."

"Would it have mattered so much?"

"Only that I should have died likewise!"

"Because of the loneliness?" says I.

"Indeed," she sighed, staring into the fire, "because of the

"I serve some purpose, then, in the scheme of things?"

"Yes, Martin, you teach a woman how, even in this desolation,
being weak and defenceless she may trust to a man's honour and
find courage and great comfort in his strength.  'Twas foolish of
me to be horror-struck at your stained garments when you had been
slaying that I might eat."

"'Tis all forgot!" says I, hastily.

"And as for the murders on the ship--O Martin, as if you might
ever make me believe you had committed murder--or ever could. 
You that under all your bitterness are still the same gentle boy
I knew so long ago."

"And why should you be so sure of all this and I but what I am?"
says I, staring also into the fire.

"Mayhap because I am a woman with all a woman's instinct to know
the evil from the good."

Hereupon I began telling her of my exploration and describing the
wonders I had seen, as the fruit-trees and waterfall.  Whereupon
she grew eager to explore the island so soon as she might.  In a
while I arose, and drawing my knife turned where I knew was fern

"Where away?" she questioned, rising also.

"I must make you a bed."

"'Tis done, Martin, and yours also."

"Mine!" says I, staring.  "How should you do all this?"

"With the old, rusty sword, Martin.  Come and see!"

So she brought me to the cave, the moon flooding the place with
its pale radiance, and I espied a goodly bed of fern very neatly
contrived, in one corner.

"Bravely done!" says I.

"At least, Martin, 'twill be more easy than your bed of sand, and
methinks you shall have no ill dreams to-night."

"Dreams!" quoth I, and bethinking me of my last night's hateful
visions (and now beholding the beauty of her) I shivered.

"Are you cold?"


"Why then, good-night, Martin."

"Wait!" says I, "Wait!"  And hasting out, I brought her the
grapes I had saved, telling her that though small she would find
them sweet and wholesome.

"Why, Martin!" says she, under her breath as one greatly
surprised, "Why, Martin!" and so vanishes into her little cave
forthwith, and never a word of thanks.

Now being yet haunted by my dreams of yesternight, I went forth
into the moonlight and walked there awhile, my eyes uplifted to
the glory of the heavens; and now I must needs bethink me of
Godby's star-time, of the dark, lonely road, of the beckoning
light beyond and the welcoming arms of love.  And hereupon I
scowled and turned to stare away across the placid sea dimpling
'neath the moon, at the stilly waters of the lagoon, and the
white curve of Deliverance Beach below; but, look where I would,
I could see only the proud, lovely face and the great, truthful
eyes of this woman Joan Brandon, even when my scowling brows were
bent on that distant pimento tree beneath whose towering shadow
Black Bartlemy had laughed his life out.  So in a while I came
within the cave and found it dim, for the moonbeam was there no
longer, and cast myself upon my bed, very full of gloomy

"Martin, I thank you for your grapes.  To-morrow we will gather

"Aye, to-morrow!"

"I found a shirt of chain-work by the pool, Martin--"

"'Tis mine."

"I have set it by against your need."

"Nay, I'm done with it, here is no fear of knives in the back."

"Are you sleepy, Martin?"

"No, but 'tis plaguy dark."

"But you are there," says she, "so I do not fear the dark."

"To-morrow I will make a lamp."  Here she fell silent and I think
to sleep, but as for me I lay long, oppressed by my thoughts. 
"Aye, verily," says I at last, speaking my thought aloud as had
become my custom in my solitude, "to-morrow I will contrive a
lamp, for light is a goodly thing."  Now here I heard a rustle
from the inner cave as she had turned in her sleep, for she spake
no word; and so, despite my thoughts, I too presently fell to
blessed slumber.

Now if there be any who, reading this my narrative, shall think
me too diffuse and particular in the chapters to follow, I do
hereby humbly crave their pardon, but (maugre my reader's
weariness) shall not abate one word or sentence, since herein I
(that by my own folly have known so little of happiness) do
record some of the happiest hours that ever man knew, so that it
is joy again to write.  Therefore to such as would read of rogues
and roguish doings, of desperate fights, encounters and affrays,
I would engage him to pass over these next few chapters, for he
shall find overmuch of these things ere I make an end of this
tale of Black Bartlemy's Treasure.  Which very proper advice
having duly set down, I will again to my narrative.



Early next morning, having bathed me in the pool and breakfasted
with my companion on what remained of our goat's-flesh, I set to
work to build me a fireplace in a fissure of the rock over
against the little valley and close beside a great stone, smooth
and flat-topped, that should make me an anvil, what time my
companion collected a pile of kindling-wood.  Soon we had the
fire going merrily, and whilst my iron was heating, I chose a
likely piece of wood, and splitting it with the hatchet, fell to
carving it with my knife.

"What do you make now, Martin?"

"Here shall be a spoon for you, 'twill help you in your cooking."

"Indeed it will, Martin!  But you are very skilful!"

"Nay, 'tis simple matter!" says I, whittling away but very
conscious of her watchful eyes:  "I have outworn many a weary
hour carving things with my knife.  Given time and patience a man
may make anything."

"Some men!" says she, whereat I grew foolishly pleased with
myself.  The wood being soft and dry and my knife sharp the spoon
grew apace and her interest in it; and because it was for her
(and she so full of pleased wonder) I elaborated upon it here and
there until, having shaped it to my fancy, I drew my iron from
the fire and with the glowing end, burned out the bowl, scraping
away the charred wood until I had hollowed it sufficiently, and
the spoon was finished.  And because she took such pleasure in
it, now and hereafter, I append here a rough drawing of it.

(Drawing of a spoon.)

"'Tis wonderful!" cries she, turning it this way and that.  "'Tis

"It might be better!" says I, wishing I had given more labour to

"I want no better, Martin!"  And now she would have me make
another for myself.

"Nay, mine can wait.  But there is your comb to make."

"How shall you do that, Martin?"

"Of wood, like the Indians, but 'twill take time!"

"Why then, it shall wait with your spoon, first should come

"As what?"

"Dear Heaven, they be so many!" says she with rueful laugh.  "For
one thing, a cooking-pot, Martin."

"There is our turtle-shell!" says I.

"Why, 'tis very well, Martin, for a turtle-shell, but clumsy--a
little.  I would have a pan--with handles if you could contrive. 
And then plates would be a good thing."

"Handles?" says I, rubbing my chin.  "Handles--aye, by all means,
a pan with handles, but for this we must have clay."

"And then, Martin, platters would be useful things!"

"So they will!" I nodded.  "These I can fashion of wood."

"And then chairs, and a table, Martin."

"True!" says I, growing gloomy.  "Table and chairs would be easy
had I but a saw!  I could make you shelves and a cupboard had I
but fortuned to find a saw instead of this hatchet."

"Nay, Martin," says she, smiling at my doleful visage.  "Why this
despond?  If you can make me so wondrous a spoon with nought but
your knife and a piece of driftwood, I know you will make me
chairs and table of sorts, saw or no, aye, if our table be but a
board laid across stones, and our chairs the same."

"What more do we need?" says I, sighing and scowling at my
hatchet that it was not a saw.

"Well, Martin, if there be many goats in the island, and if you
could take two or three alive, I have been thinking we might use
their milk in many ways if we had pans to put the milk in, as
butter and cheese if you could make me a press.  Here be a-plenty
of ifs, Martin, and I should not waste breath with so many if you
were not the man you are!"

"As how?" I questioned, beginning to grind the hatchet on a

"A man strong to overcome difficulty!  And with such clever

Here I ground my hatchet harder than before, but scowled at it no

"And what more would you have?" I questioned.

"If you could make our front door to open and shut?"

"That is easily done!  And what else beside?"

"Nay, here is enough for the present.  We are like to be very
busy people, Martin."

"Why, 'twill pass the time!" says I.

"And work is a very good thing!" quoth she thoughtfully.

"It is!" says I, grinding away at my hatchet again.

"O Martin!" sighs she after awhile, "I grow impatient to explore
our island!"

"And so you shall so soon as you are strong enough."

"And that will be very soon!" says she.  "The sea-water is life
to me, and what with this sweet air, I grow stronger every day."

"Meantime there is much to be done and here sit I in idleness."

"Nay, you are sharpening your axe and I am talking to you and
wondering what you will make next?"

"A lamp!" says I.

"How, Martin?"

"With a shell, the fat of our goat rendered down, and cotton from
my shirt."

"Nay, if you so yearn for a lamp I can do this much."

"Good!" says I, rising.  "Meantime I'll turn carpenter and to
begin with, try my hand at a stool for you."

"But if you have no saw, Martin--?"

"I will make me a chisel instead."  Crossing to the fire I found
my iron red-hot, and taking it betwixt two flat pieces of wood
that served me for tongs I laid it upon my stone anvil, and fell
forthwith to beating and shaping it with the hammer-back of my
hatchet until I had beaten out a blade some two inches wide. 
Having cooled my chisel in the brook I betook me to sharpening it
on a stone moistened with water, and soon had wrought it to a
good edge.  I now selected from my timber a board sufficiently
wide, and laying this on my anvil-stone began to cut a piece from
the plank with hammer and chisel, the which I found a work
requiring great care, lest I split my wood, and patience, since
my chisel, being of iron, needed much and repeated grinding. 
Howbeit it was done at last, and the result of my labour a piece
of wood about two feet square, and behold the seat of my stool!

Now was my companion idle for, while all this is a-doing, she
sets the turtle-shell on the fire with water and collops of meat
cut with my knife, and, soon as it simmers, breaks into it divers
herbs she had dried in the sun; and so comes to watch and
question me at my work, yet turning, ever and anon, to stir at
the stew with her new spoon, whereby I soon began to snuff a
savour methought right appetising.  As time passed, this savour
grew ever more inviting and my hunger with it, my mouth a-
watering so that I might scarce endure, as I told her to her no
small pleasure.

"Had I but a handful of salt, Martin!" sighs she.

"Why, comrade," says I, pausing 'twixt two hammer-strokes,
"Wherefore this despond?  If you can make stew so savoury and

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: