List Of Contents | Contents of Black Bartlemy's Treasure by Jeffrey
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painful colour, yet even as I gazed on her she met my look

"What is it, Martin?" she questioned, a little breathless still.

"Suppose," says I slowly, "suppose we are never taken hence--
suppose we are destined to end our days here?"

"Surely this is--an ill thought, Martin?"

"Indeed and is it, my lady?  Can the world offer a home more

"Surely not, Martin."

"Then wherein lieth the ill--Damaris?  Is it that you do yearn so
mightily for England?"

"There lieth my home, Martin!"

"Is home then so dear to you?"  Here, finding no answer, she grew
troubled.  "Or is it," says I, bending my staff across my knee
and beginning to frown, "or is it that there waits some man
yonder that you love?"

"No, Martin, have I not told you--"

"Why then," says I, "is it that you grow a-weary of my unlovely
ways and would be quit of me?"

"No, Martin--only--only--"  Here she fell silent and I saw her
flush again.

"Or is it that you fear I might grow to love you--in time?"

"To--love me!" says she, very softly, and now I saw her red lips
dimple to a smile as she stooped to cull a flower blooming hard
by.  "Nay!" says she lightly, "Here were a wonder beyond thought,

"And wherefore should this be so great wonder?" I demanded.

"Because I am Joan Brandon and you are a man vowed and sworn to
vengeance, Martin."

"Vengeance?" says I and, with the word, the staff snapped in my

"Is it not so, Martin?" she questioned, wistfully.  "Given
freedom from this island would you not go seeking your enemy's
life?  Dream you not of vengeance still?"

"Aye, true," says I, "true!  How should it be otherwise?  Come,
let us begone!"  And casting away my broken staff, I got to my
feet.  But she, sitting there, lifted her head to view me with
look mighty strange.

"Poor Martin!" says she softly.  "Poor Martin!"

Then she arose, albeit slow and wearily, and we went down the
hill together.  Now as we went thus, I in black humour (and never
a word) I espied one of those great birds I have mentioned within
easy range, and whipping off my bow I strung it, and setting
arrow on cord let fly and brought down my quarry (as luck would
have it) and running forward had very soon despatched it.

"Why must you kill the poor thing, Martin?"

"For supper."

"Supper waiteth us at home."

"Home?" says I.

"The cave, Martin."

"We shall not reach there this night.  'Twill be dark in another
hour and there is no moon, so needs must we bide here."

"As you will, Martin."

Hard beside the river that wound a devious course through the
green was a little grove, and sitting here I fell to plucking the

"Shall I not do that, Martin?"

"I can do it well enough."

"As you wish, Martin."

"You are weary, doubtless."

"Why, 'tis no great labour to cook supper, Martin."

"Howbeit, I'll try my hand to-night."

"Very well," says she and away she goes to collect sticks for the
fire whiles I sat feathering the bird and found the flesh of it
very white and delicate.  But all the while my anger swelled
within me for the folly I had uttered to her, in a moment of
impulse, concerning love.  Thus as she knelt to build the fire I
spoke my thought.

"I said a vain and foolish thing to you a while since."

"Aye, Martin you did!" says she, bending over her pile of sticks. 
"But which do you mean?"

"I mean that folly regarding love."

"O, was that folly, Martin?" she questioned, busy laying the
sticks in place.

"Arrant folly, for I could never love you--or any woman--"

"O, why not, Martin?"

"Because I have no gift for't--no leaning that way--nor ever

"Why indeed, you are no ordinary man, Martin.  Shall I light the

"No, I will."

"Yes, Martin!"  And down she sits with folded hands, watching me
mighty solemn and demure and I very conscious of her scrutiny. 
Having plucked and drawn my bird, I fell to trimming it with my
knife, yet all the time feeling her gaze upon me, so that what
with this and my anger I pricked my thumb and cursed beneath my
breath, whereupon she arose and left me.

Having thus prepared my bird for cooking I set it upon two sticks
and, lighting the fire, sat down to watch it.  But scarce had I
done so when back comes my lady.

"Martin," says she, "should you not truss your bird first,

"'Twill do as it is."

"Very well, Martin.  But why are you so short with me?"

"I am surly by nature!" quoth I.

"Aye, true!" she nodded, "But why are you angry with me this

"I ha' forgot."

"You were merry enough this noon and laughed gaily, and once you
fell a-whistling--"

"The more fool I!"

"Why then, methinks I do like your folly--sometimes!" says she
softly.  "But now see this river, Martin, 'tis called the Serpent
Water in the map, and indeed it winds and twists like any snake. 
But where should so much water come from, think you?  Let us go

"Nay, not I--here's the bird to tend--"

"Why then," says she, stamping her foot at me in sudden anger,
"stay where you are until you find your temper!  And may your
bird burn to a cinder!"  And away she goes forthwith and I
staring after her like any fool until she was out of sight.  So
there sat I beside the fire and giving all due heed to my
cooking; but in a while I fell to deep reflection and became so
lost in my thoughts that, roused by a smell of burning, I started
up to find my bird woefully singed.

This put me in fine rage so that I was minded to cast the carcass
into the fire and have done with it; and my anger grew as the
time passed and my companion came not.  The sun sank rapidly, and
the bird I judged well-nigh done; wherefore I began to shout and
halloo, bidding her to supper.  But the shadows deepening and
getting no answer to my outcries, I started up, clean forgetting
my cookery, and hasted off in search of my companion, calling her
name now and then as I went.  Following the stream I found it to
narrow suddenly (and it running very furious and deep) perceiving
which I began to fear lest some mischance had befallen my wilful
lady.  Presently as I hurried on, casting my eyes here and there
in search of her, I heard, above the rush of the water, a strange
and intermittent roaring, the which I could make nothing of,
until, at last, forcing my way through the underbrush I saw
before me a column of water that spouted up into the air from a
fissure at the base of the hill, and this waterspout was about
the bigness of a fair-sized tree and gushed up some twenty feet
or so, now sinking to half this height, only to rise again. 
Scarce pausing to behold this wonder I would have hasted on (and
roaring louder than the water) when I beheld her seated close by
upon a rock and watching me, chin in hand.

"Why must you shout so loud?" says she reprovingly.

"I feared you lost!" says I, like any fool.

Would it matter so much?  And you so angry with me and no

"Howbeit, supper is ready!"

"I am not hungry, I thank you, sir."

"But I am!"

"Then go eat!"

"Not alone!" says I; and then very humbly, "Prithee, comrade,
come to supper, indeed you should be hungry!"

"And indeed, Martin," says she, rising and giving me her hand, "I
do think I am vastly hungry after all."  So back we went together
and, reaching the fire, found the accursed bird burned black as
any coal, whereupon I stood mighty downcast and abashed the while
she laughed and laughed until she needs must lean against a tree;
and I, seeing her thus merry at my expense, presently laughed
also.  Hereupon she falls on her knees, and taking the thing from
the fire sets it upon a great leaf for dish, and turns it this
way and that.

"Good lack, Martin!" says she, "'Tis burned as black e'en as I
wished!  This cometh of your usurpation of my duties, sir!  And
yet methinks 'tis not utterly spoiled!"  And drawing her knife
she scrapes and trims it, cutting away the burned parts until
there little enough remained, but that mighty delectable judging
by the smell of it.

So down we sat to supper forthwith and mighty amicable, nay
indeed methought her kinder than ordinary and our friendship only
the stronger, which did comfort me mightily.

But our supper done we spake little, for night was come upon us
very still and dark save for a glitter of stars, by whose
unearthly light all things took on strange shapes, and our
solitude seemed but the more profound and awesome.

Above us a purple sky be-gemmed by a myriad stars, a countless
host whose distant splendour throbbed upon the night; round about
us a gloom of woods and thickets that hemmed us in like a dark
and sombre tide, whence stole a sweet air fraught with spicy
odours; and over all a deep and brooding quietude.  But little by
little upon this silence crept sounds near and far, leafy
rustlings, a stirring in the undergrowth, the whimper of some
animal, the croak of a bird, and the faint, never-ceasing murmur
of the surge.

And I, gazing thus upon this measureless immensity, felt myself
humbled thereby, and with this came a knowledge of the futility
of my life hitherto.  And now (as often she had done, ere this)
my companion voiced the thought I had no words for.

"Martin," says she, softly, "what pitiful things are we, lost
thus in God's infinity."

"And doth it affright you, Damaris?"

"No, Martin, for God is all-merciful.  Yet I needs must think how
vain our little strivings, our hopes and fears, how small our
joys and sorrows!"

"Aye, truly, truly!" quoth I.

"But," says she, leaning towards me in the firelight and with her
gaze uplifted to the starry heavens, "He who made the heavens is
a merciful God, 'who hath made great lights...the moon and the
stars to govern the night.'  So, Martin, 'let us give thanks unto
the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever; and in
this knowledge methinks we may surely rest secure."

After this we fell silent again, I for one being very full of
troublesome thought and perplexity, and the sum of it this, viz.,
whether a woman, cast alone on a desolate island with a man such
as I, had need to fear him?  To the which question answer found I
none.  Wherefore I got me another speculation, to wit:  Whether a
man and woman thus solitary must needs go a-falling in love with
one another?  Finding no answer to this either, I turned, half-
minded to put the question to my companion, and found her fast

She lay deep-slumbering in the light of the fire, her face half-
hid 'neath a tress of shining hair; and I viewing her, chin in
fist, saw in her only the last of her hated race and knew in that
moment that never might there be aught of true love, that pure
passion, high and ennobling, the which may lift man above his
baser self--never might this be 'twixt her blood and mine.  And
knowing this I knew also great doubt and fear of myself.  And in
my fear I lifted my gaze to the stars, those "great lights" set
there by the hand of God; and spake thus within myself:

"Lord God," quoth I, "Since love is not nor ever shall be 'twixt
this my companion and me, do Thou protect her from the devil
within me, do Thou aid me to keep the oath I sware in Thy name."

But now (and my prayer scarce uttered) the Devil sprang and was
upon me, and I, forgetting all my oaths and resolutions, yielded
me joyously to his will; stirring in her slumbers my lady sighed,
turned and, throwing her arm out it chanced that her hand came
upon my knee and rested there, and I, shivering at her touch,
seized this hand and caught it to my lips and began to kiss these
helpless fingers and the round, soft arm above.  I felt her
start, heard her breath catch in a sob, but, in my madness I
swept her to my embrace.  Then as I stooped she held me off
striving fiercely against me; all at once her struggles ceased
and I heard her breath come in a long, tremulous sigh.

"Martin!" says she, "O thank God 'tis you!  I dreamed these Black
Bartlemy's cruel arms about me and I was sick with fear and
horror--thank God 'tis you, dear Martin, and I safe from all
harms soever.  So hold me an you will, Martin, you that have
saved me from so much and will do till the end."

"Aye, by God!" says I, bending my head above her that she might
not see my face, "And so I will, faithfully, truly, until the
very end!"

"Do I not know it--O do I not know it!" says she in choking
voice, and here, lying beside me, she must take my hand and hold
it to her soft cheek.  "Indeed I do think there is no man like
you in the whole world."

At this, knowing myself so unworthy, I thought no man in the
world so miserable as I, as I would have told her but dared not.

"God make me worthy of your trust!" says I at last.

"'Tis a good prayer, Martin.  Now hear mine, 'tis one I have
prayed full oft--God make you strong enough to forgive past
wrongs and, forgetting vengeance, to love your enemy."

"'Tis thing impossible!" says I.

"Yet the impossible shall come to pass soon or late, Martin, this
am I sure."

"And why so sure?"

"My heart telleth me so!" says she drowsily, and looking down I
saw her eyes were closed and she on the verge of slumber.  And
beholding her thus, my self-hate grew, insomuch that her fingers
loosing their hold, I stole away my hand and, seeing her asleep,
crept from the place.  Being come to the stream I stood awhile
staring down at the hurrying waters, minded to cast myself
therein; but presently I turned aside, and coming amid leafy
gloom lay there outstretched, my face hidden from the stars and I
very full of bitterness, for it seemed that I was as great a
rogue and well-nigh as vile as ever Bartlemy had been.  And thus
merciful sleep found me at last.



The day was still young when we reached our habitation, and both
of us glad to return, especially my lady.

"For truly I do grow to love this home of ours," says she, and
sets herself to sweeping out her three caves.  As for me I was
determined on making her an arm chair forthright; to the which
end I took my saw and set out for Deliverance Sands, there to cut
and select such timber as I needed from my store.  But scarce was
I come hither than I uttered a shout of joy, for there, cast up
high upon these white sands, lay a great mast in a tangle of
ropes and cordage.

Drawing near, I saw this for the mainmast of some noble ship but
lately wrecked, wherefore I hasted along the beach and out upon
the reef to see if haply any other wreckage had come ashore, but
found nothing to reward my search.  Returning to the mast I saw
to my joy that this cordage was all new and sound, though
woefully tangled.  Howbeit I had soon unravelled some fifty yards
of good stout twine, and abundance of more yet to hand together
with the heavier ropes such as shrouds and back-stays.  Taking
this line I came to that rocky cleft where I had killed the goat,
and clambering up the bush-grown cliff found it to be honey-
combed with caves large and small and with abundant evidences of
the animals I sought.  Wherefore, choosing me a narrow, well-worn
track I set there a trap formed of a running noose, and this did

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