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

they soil this dainty gear, and, getting into bed, joyed in the
feel of these cool, white sheets, and closing my eyes, fell to
dreamless slumber.



I awoke late next morning to find my clothes clean gone and
others in their place; but garments these whose like I had never
seen.  For here were purple breeches be-laced and ribbanded at
the knee and buttoning there with great gold buttons (six a
side), and each set with a great pearl; a fine cambric shirt; a
doublet cut in at the waist with gold-braided lappets, the
sleeves slashed and very wide and turned up at the wrists with
point-lace, and this wondrous garment fastening in front with
many gold buttons all set with goodly pearls; so that I judged
this coat to be a very fortune in itself.  Besides this I found a
great lace collar or falling band, a pair of silk stockings,
shoes with gold buckles set with diamonds, and a great penthouse
of a hat adorned with a curling feather fastened by a diamond
brooch; whiles hard by was an embroidered shoulder-belt carrying
a long rapier, its guards and quillons of wrought gold, its
pommel flaming with great brilliants.  Beholding all of which
gauds and fopperies, I vowed I'd none of them, and cowering
beneath the sheets fell to shouting and hallooing for my lady;
but finding this vain, scowled at these garments instead.  They
were of a fashion such as I remembered my father had worn; and
now as I gazed on them a strange fancy took me to learn how I
(that had gone so long half-naked and in rags) might feel in such
sumptuous apparel.  So up I got and dressed forthwith, and found
this a matter of no small difficulty, what with the unfamiliar
shape of these garments and their numberless points and buttons. 
Howbeit 'twas done at last, and now, coming without the cave,
there was my lady upon her three-legged stool preparing
breakfast.  Beholding me she stared wide-eyed for a moment, then
rose, smiling roguishly, and sank down in a slow and gracious

"Good morrow to your lordship," says she.  "Your lordship called,
I think, but I could not answer your lordship's shouts since I
was busied preparing your lordship's breakfast."

Now beholding all the sweet and roguish witchery of her, the sun
so bright and the world about us so joyous, what could I do but
smile and, sweeping off my great hat, make her as deep and
profound a reverence as ever was seen at Whitehall or Versailles.

"Madame," quoth I, "your ladyship's most humble and very obedient
servant.  I trust your ladyship hath breakfast ready, for of a
truth my magnificence is mighty sharp set."

"O Martin," cries she, clapping her hands, "I vow 'twas most
gallant!  It needeth but for you to trim your hair and beard--no,
I think I will have you clean-shaven, 'twill mind me of the
boyish Martin of years ago!  Yes, you shall shave--"

"Shave!" quoth I, staring like any fool.

"Yes, Martin, I have all things ready.  Come, it shall not take
you long, we will breakfast when you are shaved and trimmed." 
So, willy-nilly, she brings me back to the cave and presently
comes bearing a gold-mounted box, wherein lay razors with soap
and everything needful to a fine gentleman's toilet.  Then she
sets before me a gold-framed mirror, and taking a pair of
scissors at her bidding I began to clip the hair from my face,
but so bungled the business that she presently took the scissors
and did it for me.  Thereafter I shaved (awkwardly enough, and
she mighty anxious lest I cut myself--the which I did!) and,
having at last washed and dried my face, I stood all amazed to
find myself so much younger-looking.  Now, seeing how she stared
at me, and with rosy lips all a-quiver, I smiled, then wondered
to behold her eyes suddenly a-brim with tears.

"O Martin, you do look the same Martin after all!" says she and
so away into the sunshine; yet when I presently joined her I
found her blithe enough.

"Are you hungry, sir?"

"Ravenous, my lady!"

"Why then, here we have broiled fish--caught by my ladyship--
salt, Martin!  Butter--churned by my ladyship--and--bread,
Martin!  Bread baked by my ladyship's own two hands."

"O marvellous, sweet lady!" says I.

"And 'tis none so ill though I had no yeast, is it, Martin?"

"Delicious!" says I, my mouth full.

And now, all our recent woes and sorrows clean forgotten, a right
joyous meal had we; our hearts light as the sweet air that
breathed around us, and untroubled as the placid ocean and broad
serenity of heaven, with no dark shadow anywhere to warn us of
those evils to come.  Thus we ate and talked, finding joy in
everything.  Often my fingers must go to feel my smooth cheeks
and chin, and she, catching me, must needs laugh and vow a smooth
face suited me well, and that I should be handsome were my nose
another shape and my eyes a different colour.  Thus (as I say)
brooding sorrow seemed clean vanished from my world, so that my
heart swelled with gratitude for that I should live to breathe
the air she made sweet.

Breakfast done, I fetched my saw, and despite her remonstrances
and my resplendent breeches, forthwith set about making a
cupboard; vowing I was well again, that I never felt better, etc. 
Hereupon, finding me set on it, she presently brings me the
following, viz., an excellent new saw, divers chisels of goodly
edge, a plane, a hammer, an auger and an adze; the which rejoiced
me greatly, more especially the adze, the which is an exceeding
useful tool in skilled hands.  All these she had brought from the
secret store and I mighty grateful therefor, and told her so.

"Why then, Martin," says she, "if your gratitude be real and
true, you shall do somewhat for me--"

"What you will!" says I eagerly.

"Nay," she laughed, "'tis no more than this--keep you shaved--

And so it was agreed.



If clothes be the outward and visible (albeit silent) expression
of a man, his tastes and certain attitudes of his mind, yet have
they of themselves a mighty influence on their wearer, being, as
it were, an inspiration to him in degree more or less.

And this is truth I will maintain let say who will to the
contrary, since 'tis so my experience teacheth me.

Hitherto my ragged shirt, my rough leathern jerkin and open-kneed
sailor's breeches had been a constant reminder of the poor,
desperate rogue I had become, my wild hair and shaggy beard
evidences of slavedom.  Thus I had been indeed what I had seemed
in looks, a rude, ungentle creature expectant of scorns and ill-
usage and therefore very prone to fight and quarrel, harsh-
tongued, bitter of speech, and in all circumstances sullen,
ungoverned and very desperate.

But now, seeing myself thus gently dight, my wild hair tamed by
comb and scissors, there grew within me a new respect for my
manhood, so that, little by little, those evils that slavery had
wrought slipped from me.  Thus, though I still laboured at my
carpentry and such business as was to do, yet the fine linen
rolled high above my scarred and knotted arm put me to the
thought that I was no longer the poor, wild wretch full of
despairing rage against Fate her cruel dealings, but rather a man
gently born and therefore one who must endure all things as
uncomplainingly as might be, and one moreover who, to greater or
less degree, was master of his own fate.

And now came Hope, that most blessed and beneficent spirit that
lifteth the fallen from the slough, that bindeth up the broken
heart, that cheereth the sad and downcast and maketh the oft-
defeated bold and courageous to attempt Fortune yet again.

O thou that we call Hope, thou sweet, bright angel of God! 
Without thee life were an evil unendurable, with thee for
companion gloomy Doubt, sullen Fear and dark Despair flee utterly
away, and we, bold-hearted, patient and undismayed by any dangers
or difficulties, may realise our dreams at last.  O sweet, strong
angel of God, with thee to companion us all things are possible!

Thus every morning came Hope to greet me on my waking, and I,
forgetting the futile past, began to look forward to a future
more glorious than I had ever dreamed; so I, from a sullen rogue
full of black humours, grew to know again the joy of laughter and
put off my ungracious speech and ways with my rough attire. 
Though how much the change thus wrought in me was the work of my
sweet comrade these pages, I do think, will show.

As for my lady she, very quick to mark this change, grew ever the
more kind and trusting, sharing with me all her doubts and
perplexities; thus, did some problem vex her, she must come to
me, biting her pretty lips and her slender brows wrinkled, to ask
my advice.

At this time (and at her suggestion) I builded a fireplace and
oven within our third or inmost cave (that was by turns her
larder, stillroom, dairy and kitchen) and with a chimney to carry
off the smoke the which I formed of clay and large pebbles, and
found it answer very well.  Thus, what with those things I
contrived and others she brought from her treasure-house (the
secret whereof she kept mighty close) we lacked for nothing to
our comfort, even as Adam had promised in his letter.  Moreover,
I was very well armed both for offence and defence, for, one by
one, she brought me the following pieces, viz., a Spanish helmet,
inlaid with gold and very cumbersome; a back and breast of fine
steel of proof; four wheel-lock arquebuses, curiously chased and
gilded, with shot and powder for the same; three brace of
pistols, gold-mounted and very accurate; and what with these, my
sword, axe, and trusty knife, I felt myself capable to drive away
any should dare molest us, be he Indian, buccaneer or pirate, as
I told her.

"Aye but," says she, "whiles you fought for our lives what must I
be doing?"

"Lying secure within your secret treasure-house."

"Never!" says she, setting her chin at me, "O never, Martin;
since I am your comrade my place must be beside you."

"'Twould but distress me and spoil my shooting."

"Why then, my aim should be truer, Martin.  Come now, teach me
how to use gun and pistol."

So then and there I fetched a pistol and one of the arquebuses
and showed her their manage, namely--how to hold them, to level,
sight, etc.  Next I taught her how to charge them, how to wad
powder and then shot lest the ball roll out of the barrel; how
having primed she must be careful ever to close the pan against
the priming being blown away.  All of the which she was mighty
quick to apprehend.  Moreover, I took care to keep all my
firearms cleaned and loaded, that I might be ready for any
disturbers of our peace.

So the days sped, each with its meed of work, but each full-
charged of joy.  And dear to me beyond expressing is the memory
of those days whenas I, labouring with my new tools, had but to
lift my head to behold my dear comrade (herself busy as I). 
Truly how dear, how thrice-blessed the memory of it all!  A
memory this, indeed, that was to become for me sacred beyond all
others; for now came Happiness with arms outstretched to me and I
(poor, blind wretch) suffered it to plead in vain and pass me by,
as you shall hear.

It was a night of splendour with a full moon uprising in majesty
to fill the world with her soft radiance; a night very warm and
still and we silent, I think because of the tender beauty of the

"Martin," says my companion softly at last, "here is another day

"Alas, and more's the pity!" quoth I.

"O?" says she, looking at me askance.

"Our days fly all too fast, Damaris, here is a time I fain would
linger upon, an I might."

"It hath been a very wonderful time truly, Martin, and hath
taught me very much.  We are both the better for it, I think, and

"What of me, comrade?" I questioned as she paused.

"You are grown so much gentler since your sickness, so much more
my dear friend and companion."

"Why, 'tis all your doing, Damaris."

"I am glad--O very glad!" says she almost in a whisper.

"Why, 'tis you who have taught me to--to love all good, sweet
things, to rule myself that I--I may some day, mayhap, be a
little more worthy of--of--" here, beginning to flounder, I came
to sudden halt, and casting about in my mind for a likely phrase,
saw her regarding me, the dimple in her cheek, but her eyes all
compassionate and ineffably tender.

"Dear man!" says she, and reached me her hand.

"Damaris," says I heavily and looking down at these slender
fingers, yet not daring to kiss them lest my passion sweep me
away, "you know that I do love you?"

"Yes, Martin."

"And that, my love, be it what it may, is yet an honest love?"

"Yes, dear Martin."

Here was silence a while, she looking up at the moon, and I at

"I broke my oath to you once," says I, "nor will I swear again,
but, dear my lady, know this:  though I do hunger and thirst for
you, yet mine is such reverent love that should we live thus
together long years--aye, until the end of our lives, I will
school myself to patience and wait ever upon your will.  Though
'twill be hard!" says I 'twixt my teeth, thrilling to the sudden
clasp of her fingers.

"But, Martin," says she softly, "how if our days together here
should all suddenly end--"

"End?" cries I, starting, "Wherefore end?  When?  Why end?"  And
I trembled in a sick panic at the mere possibility.  "End?" quoth
I again, "Would you have an end?"

"No--ah no!" says she leaning to me that I could look down into
her eyes.

"Doth this--O Damaris, can this mean that you are happy with me
in this solitude--content--?"

"So happy, Martin, so content that I do fear lest it may all
suddenly end and vanish like some loved dream."

"Damaris--O Damaris!" says I, kissing her sweet fingers, "Look
now, there is question hath oft been on my lips yet one I have it
dared to ask."

"Ask me now, Martin."

"'Tis this...could it...might it perchance be possible you should
learn with love me a little?  Nay, not a
little, not gently nor with reason, but fiercely, mightily,
beyond the cramping bounds of all reason?"

Now here she laughed, a small, sad laugh with no mirth in it, and
leaned her brow against my arm as one very weary.

"O foolish Martin!" she sighed.  "How little you have seen, how
little guessed--how little you know the real me!  For I am a
woman, Martin, as you are a man and joy in it.  All these months
I have watched you growing back to your nobler self, I have seen
you strive with yourself for my sake and gloried in your
victories, though...sometimes I have...tempted you...just a
little, Martin.  Nay, wait, dear Martin.  Oft-times at night I
have known you steal forth, and hearkened to your step going to
and fro out in the dark, and getting to my knees have thanked God
for you, Martin."

"'Twas not all in vain, then!" says I, hoarsely, bethinking me of
the agony of those sleepless nights.

"Vain?" she cried, "Vain?  'Tis for this I do honour you--"

"Honour--me?" says I, wincing.

"Above all men, Martin.  'Tis for this I--"

"Wait!" says I, fronting her all shamefaced.  "I do love you so

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: