List Of Contents | Contents of Black Bartlemy's Treasure by Jeffrey
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"Mercy, O God--mercy!  Let me not be mad!"

Yet, even as I prayed, I knew that madness was upon me ere I
plunged again into the dreadful dark.

But God (whose mercy is infinite) hearkened to my distressful
cry, for, in a while, He brought me up from that black abyss and
showed me two marvels, the which filled me with wonder and a
sudden, passionate hope.  And the first was the bandage that
swathed my thigh; and this of itself enough to set my poor wits
in a maze of speculation.  For this bandage was of linen, very
fine and delicate, such as I knew was not to be found upon the
whole island; yet here was it, bound about my hurt, plain and
manifest and set there by hands well-skilled in such kindly work.

And my second wonder was a silver beaker or ewer, very artfully
wrought and all chased and embossed with designs of fruit and
flower and of a rare craftsmanship, and this jug set within my
reach and half-full of milk.  The better to behold this, I raised
myself and with infinite labour.  But now, and suddenly, she was
before me again, this poor Spanish lady I had slain upon a time,
wherefore I blenched and shrank from her coming.  But she,
falling upon her knees, sought to clasp me in her arms, crying
words I heeded not as (maugre my weakness) I strove wildly to
hold her off.

"I am Bartlemy that killed you!" says I.  "I am Black Bartlemy! 
They know out yonder beyond the reef, hark and you shall hear how
they hail me--"

"O kind God, teach me how I may win him back to knowledge!"  So
crying, this Spanish lady of a sudden unpinned her hair and shook
its glossy ripples all about her:

"Look, Martin!" cries she, "Don't you know me--O don't you know
me now?  I am Joan--come back to you--"

"No!" says I, "No--Damaris is dead and lost--I saw her die!"

"Then who am I, Martin?"

"The Spanish lady or--one of the ghosts do haunt me."

But now her hands were clasping mine, her soft hair all about me
as she stooped.  And feeling these hands so warm and vital, so
quick and strong with life, I began to tremble and strove against
her no longer; and so she stooped above me that I might feel her
sweet breath on fevered cheek and brow:

"'Tis your Damaris, Martin," says she, her tears falling fast,
"'tis your comrade hath come back to comfort you."

Now seeing how I stared all trembling and amazed, she set her
arms about me, and drawing me to her bosom, clasped me there. 
And my head pillowed thus I fell a-weeping, but these tears were
tears of joy and thankfulness beyond all words.

"O Damaris," quoth I at last, "if this be death I care not since
I have seen thee again!"

"Why, Martin," says she, weeping with me, "art indeed so glad--so
glad to find again thy poor comrade!"

And thus, knowing myself forgiven, a great joy sang within me.



I was sitting in one of our armchairs amid the leafy shade
watching her knead dough with her two pretty fists.  To this end
she had rolled up the sleeves of her splendid gown; and thus I,
hearkening to her story, must needs stare at her soft, round arms
and yearn mightily to kiss their velvety smoothness and,
instantly be-rating myself therefor, shifted my gaze from these
temptations to my own unlovely figure, contrasting myself and my
worn garments with her rich attire and proud and radiant beauty;
she was again the great lady and far removed above such poor
wretch as I, for all her pitiful tenderness.

"...and so when I plunged from the rock," she was saying, "I
never thought to see this dear place again or the blessed sun! 
And I sank...O deep--deep!  Then, Martin, I seemed to be caught
in some current, far down there in the darkness, that whirled and
tossed me and swept me up behind the torrent.  And in the rock
was a great cavern sloping to the water, and there this current
threw me, all breathless and nigh dead, Martin."

"God be thanked!" says I fervently.

"And there I lay all night, Martin, very sick and fearful.  When
day came I saw this great cave opened into a smaller and this
into yet another.  So I came to a passage in the rock, and
because there was none other way for me, I followed this--and
then--O Martin!"

"What?" quoth I, leaning forward.

"Have you ever been to the palace at Versailles, Martin!"

"Once, as a boy with my father."

"Well, Martin, the cave--the hall I came to at last was more
splendid than any Versailles can show.  And then I knew that I
had found--Black Bartlemy's Treasure!"

"Ha!" quoth I.  "And is it indeed so great?"

"Beyond description!" says she, clasping her floury hands and
turning on me with shining eyes.  "I have held in my hands,
jewels--O by the handful!  Great pearls and diamonds, rubies,
emeralds, sapphires--beyond price!"

"Aye!" I nodded, "But was this all?"

"All, Martin?" says she, staring.

"Why, according to Adam there should be all manner of stores,"
says I, "powder and shot, tools--a carpenter's chest--"

"They are all there, with provisions of every kind; as witness
this flour, Martin, but I heeded only these wondrous jewels!" 
Hereupon she turns to her work again, describing to me the
splendour of these precious stones and the wonder of Bartlemy's
treasure, whiles I, viewing her loveliness, would have given such
foolish treasure a thousand times for but her little finger, as
watching the play of her round arms again, I fell a-sighing,
whereupon she turns, all anxious questioning.

"Doth your wound trouble you, Martin?"

"Nay, indeed," says I, shaking my head, "I am very well, I thank

"Then wherefore sigh so deep and oft?"

"I am a vasty fool!"

"Are you, Martin--why?"  But in place of answer I rose and,
coming beside her, scowled to see the tender flesh of her arms
all black and bruised:

"What is this?" I demanded.

"Nought to matter!"

"Who did it?"

"You, Martin.  In your raving you were very strong, mistaking me
for the poor Spanish lady."

"O forgive me!" I cried, and stooping to this pretty arm would
have touched my lips thereto for mere pity but checked myself,
fearing to grieve her; perceiving this she comes a little nearer:

"You may--an you so desire, Martin," says she, "though 'tis all
floury!"  So I kissed her arm, tenderly and very reverently, as
it had been some holy thing (as indeed so I thought it).

"I'm glad 'twas I did this, comrade."

"Glad, Martin?"

"Aye!  I had rather 'twas myself than yon evil rogues--nay forget
them," says I, seeing her shiver, "plague on me for reminding

"Hush, Martin!"

"Why then, forget them--and I have their weapons to cope with 'em
should they return."

"Now thank God!" cries she, clasping my hand in both of hers. 
"Thank God, Martin!  I feared you had killed them all!"

"Why, I did my best," I sighed, shaking my head, "but they were
too strong for me!  Would to God I had indeed slain--"

"Hush, Martin, O hush!"  And here she claps her pretty hand to my
lips, where I straightway 'prisoned it to my kisses.  "Though
truly," says she the whiles this was a-doing, "from your raving I
feared them all slain at your hand, so do I rejoice to know you
innocent of their deaths!"  Here, her hand released, she fell a-
laughing (albeit a little tremulously) to see my face all patched
with flour; and so, back to her labour.

"But, Martin," says she, turning to glance at me in a while, "You
must be very terrible to drive away these four great men, and
very brave!"

"Here was no bravery!" quoth I, "Methought you surely dead and I
meant them to slay me also."

"Did you--miss me--so greatly?" she questioned and not looking at


"You fought them in Skeleton Cove, beyond Deliverance, Martin?"

"Aye!  You found their guns there?"

"And the sand all trampled and hatefully stained.  'Tis an evil
place, Martin."

"And so it is!" says I.  "But as to these weapons, there were two
good firelocks I mind, and besides--"

"They are all here, Martin, guns and swords and pistols.  You
raved for them in your sickness so I fetched them while you
slept.  Though indeed you have no need of these, there be weapons
of every sort in the Treasure cave, 'tis like an arsenal."

"Ha, with good store of powder and shot, comrade?"

"Yes, Martin."

"How many weeks have I lain sick, comrade?"

"Nay, 'twas only four days."

At this I fell to marvelling that so much of agony might be
endured in so little time.

"And you--tended me, Damaris?"

"Why, to be sure, Martin."

"And so saved my life."

"So I pray may it be a life lived to noble purpose, Martin."

And now I sat awhile very thoughtful and watched her shape the
dough into little cakes and set them to bake.

"I must contrive you an oven and this at once!" says I.

"When you are strong again, Martin."

"Nay, I'm well, thanks to your care of me.  And truly 'twill be
wonderful to eat bread again."

"But I warned you I had no yeast!" says she, looking at me a
little anxiously, "Nay, sir, why must you smile?"

"'Tis strange to see you at such labour and clad so vastly fine!"

"Indeed, sir needs must this your cook-maid go bedight like any
queen since nought is there in Black Bartlemy's Treasure that is
not sumptuous and splendid.  Have you no desire to behold these
wonders for yourself?"

"Not a tittle!" says I.

"But, Martin, three months are nigh sped and Master Penfeather
not come, and according to his letter, three-quarters of this
great treasure is yours."

"Why then, my lady, I do freely bestow it on you."

"Nay, this have I taken already because I needed it, look!"  So
saying she drew a comb from her hair and showed me how it was all
fashioned of wrought gold and set with great gems, pearls and
sapphires and rubies marvellous to see.

"'Tis mighty handsome," quoth I, "and beyond price, I judge."

"And yet," says she, "I would rather have my wooden pin in its
stead, for surely there was none like to it in all this world."

Hereupon, groping in my pocket I brought out that three-pronged
pin I had carved for her; beholding which, she uttered a little
cry of glad surprise, and letting fall her golden comb, took the
pin to turn it this way and that, viewing it as it had been the
very wonder of the world rather than the poor thing it was.

"Why, Martin!" says she at last, "Why, Martin, where found you
this?"  So I told her; and though my words were lame and halting
I think she guessed somewhat of the agony of that hour, for I
felt her hand touch my shoulder like a caress.

"Death's shadow hath been over us of late, Martin," says she,
"and hath made us wiser methinks."

"Death?" says I, "'Tis mayhap but the beginning of a greater life
wherein shall be no more partings, I pray."

"'Tis a sweet thought, Martin!"

"And you have never feared death!" says I.

"Aye, but I do, Martin--I do!" cries she.  "I am grown craven
these days, mayhap--"

"Yet you sought death."

"Because there was no other way, Martin.  But when Death clutched
at me from those black depths I agonised for life."

"Is life then--become so--sweet to you, Damaris?"

"Yes, Martin!" says she softly.

"Since when?" I questioned, "Since when?"  But instead of
answering she falls a-singing softly and keeping her back to me;
thus I saw that she had set the pin back in her hair, whereat I
grew all suddenly and beyond reason glad.  Though indeed the
thing accorded but ill with her fine gown, as I told her

"Think you so, Martin?" says she gravely, but with a dimple in
her cheek.

"I do!  'Tis manifestly out of keeping with your 'broideries,
your pleats, tags, lappets, pearl-buttons, galoons and the rest

"'Twould almost seem you do not like me thus," says she frowning
down at her finery but with the dimple showing plainer than ever.

"Why truly," says I, stooping to take up the jewelled comb where
it lay, "I liked your ragged gown better."

"Because your own clothes are so worn and sorry, sir.  'Tis time
you had better, I must see to it--"

"Nay, never trouble!"

"'Twill be joy!" says she sweetly, but setting her chin at me. 
"And then--good lack, your hair, Martin!"

"What of it?"

"All elf-lox.  And then, your beard!"

"What o' my beard?"

"So wild and shaggy!  And 'tis so completely out o' the mode."

"Mode?" says I, frowning.

"Mode, Martin.  Your spade beard was, then came your dagger or
stiletto and now--"

"Hum!" says I, "It may be your broadsword or half-pike for aught
I care.  But as to yon gown--"

"Alas, poor thing!  'Twill soon look worn and ragged as you can
wish, Martin.  I have already lost three pearl studs, and should
grieve for them were there not a coffer full of better that I wot
of.  O Martin, when I think of all these wonders, these great
diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, pearls and rubies--I do tingle!"

"And can these toys so please you?" says I.

"Yes!" cries she, "Yes, and so would they any other that was not
a stock or a stone or--Martin Conisby who is above such

"Vanities indeed!" says I, "In this wilderness more especially."

"How if we should find the world again?"

"Hum!" says I.  "But this powder and shot now--"

"Pho!" cries she, and stamping her foot turns her back on me. 
"Here am I yearning to show you all these hidden marvels, Martin,
but I never will until you beg me--no, never!  And now 'tis time
you took your medicine."

"What medicine?" I questioned, wondering.

"'Tis a soothing draught I have decocted from some of my simples
--it will make you sleep."

"But I have no mind to sleep!"

"'Tis why you must drink your potion."

"Never in this world!" says I, mighty determined.

"Why yes you will, dear Martin," says she gently, but setting her
dimpled chin at me.  "I'll go fetch it."  And away she goes
forthwith and is presently back bearing an embossed cup (like
unto a little porringer) and of gold curiously ornamented.

"Here is a noble cup!" says I.

"In these secret caves, Martin, is nothing that is not beautiful. 
The walls are all hung with rich arras, the floors adorned with
marvellous rugs and carpets.  And there are many pictures
excellent well painted.  Pirate and wicked as he was, Black
Bartlemy understood and loved beautiful things."

"Aye, he did so!" says I, scowling.

"And amongst these pictures is one of himself."

"How should you know this?"

"Because, were you shaven, Martin, this might pass for picture of
you, though to be sure your expression is different--except when
you scowl as you do now, sir.  Come, take your medicine like a
good Martin!"  And here she sets the cup to my lips.

"No!" says I.

"Yes, Martin!  'Tis sleep you need, and sleep you shall have. 
For indeed I do long to hear you at work again and whistling.  So
drink it for my sake, Martin!  Indeed, 'tis none so very bitter!"

So in the end I swallowed the stuff to be done with it.  And in a
while (sure enough) I grew drowsy, and limping into the cave,
stared to behold my bed no longer a heap of bracken but a real
bed with sheets and pillows, such indeed as I had not slept in
for many a long day.  Thus, instead of throwing myself down all
dressed, as I had been minded, I laid aside my rough clothes lest

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