List Of Contents | Contents of Black Bartlemy's Treasure by Jeffrey
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moonlight came a great, fat hand that clutched and tore at the
sand then grew suddenly still, and with crooked fingers plunged
deep into the sand like a white claw.  Then, tossing aside his
bloody knife, Abnegation Mings struggled to his feet and came
staggering to kneel above his comrade Tressady and to turn up the
pallid face of him to the moon.

And now Adam thrust away his pistols and with hands clasped
behind him, turned to face the gloomy shadows of Skeleton Cove:

"Come out, sons o' dogs!" says he.  "Step forward and show
yourselves--and lively it is!"  Ensued a moment's breathless
pause, then, from bush and shadow and rocks, they stole forth
these thirty and eight and, at Adam's harsh command, lined up
before him shoulder and shoulder.  "Well," says Adam, pacing
slowly along their rank to peer into every sullen, hang-dog face. 
"Am I captain here?  Aye or no?"

"Aye--aye!" they cried in eager chorus.

"And us was promised a free pardon, Cap'n!" quoth one.

"And a share of the treasure, Cap'n!" says another.

"And England, Cap'n!" cried a third.  "There's some on us as do
be honest sailor-men and forced to turn pirate in spite o' we--"

"Avast!" says Adam.  "What I promise I stand by.  But mark this! 
Let any man fail of his duty to me but once and I shoot that man
or hang him out o' hand--is't understood?"

"Aye, aye, Cap'n--'tis agreed!  We'll serve ye faithful and
true," they cried.

"Why then, bring ropes!" says Adam, and with his new 'listed men
at his heels, goes whither lay Tressady and with Abnegation Mings
yet crouched above him.

What now was doing I might not see by reason of the crowd, but I
heard the voice of Mings upraised in fierce invective, and the
throng presently parting, beheld him trussed hand and foot and
dragged along with Tressady towards Bartlemy's tree.  There a
noose was set about the neck of each, and the rope's ends cast
over a branch.  But as at Adam's command these miserable wretches
were hauled aloft to their deaths, my lady uttered a cry of
horror and grasped my arm in desperate hands.

"Martin!" she panted, "O Martin, 'tis horrible!  Save them, this
must not--shall not be--"

"'Tis but justice," says I, "these men are pirates and

"This is no justice!" cries she breathlessly, her face all pale
and drawn, "And these men are sore hurt beside--Ah God--look! 
Stop them, Martin--O stop them!  Nay then I will!"  And here, or
ever I could let or stay her, she begins to clamber down into the
cove.  Howbeit, quick and sure-footed though she was, I was
presently before her and so came running, knife in hand.  Nor was
I any too soon, for as I reached the tree Tressady and Mings were
dragged, choking, from their feet; but with a couple of strokes
my keen knife had cut those deadly ropes asunder, and as the two
fell gasping on the sand I turned to stare into the scowling eyes
of Adam Penfeather.

Now as I stood thus someone spoke 'twixt sigh and groan: 
"Bartlemy--'tis Bartlemy!" and the word was taken up by others,
"Bartlemy--Black Bartlemy!" and all men fell back from me whiles
Adam scowled at me above levelled pistol.

"Hold off--Adam!" I panted.  "Let be, Adam Penfeather--let be!"

"What?" says he, peering, "And is it--Martin?  Lord love me, now
what fool's ploy is this?"

"What you will," quoth I, "only here has been enough of death for
one night--"

"'Tis but you do think so, Martin, and you was ever a fool!  I
came ashore to see these two rogues hang, and hang they shall!"

"Now look you, Adam Penfeather," says I, scowling in turn, "you
have cozened and tricked me since first you crossed my path,
well, let that go!  But mark this--according to your letter
three-quarters of this treasure is mine.  Very well--take it
back--I'll buy these rogues' lives of you--"

"Lord love me!" says he, staring in blank amaze, "What new fool
craze is this?  Will ye save this bloody murderer Tressady that
drugged ye aboard ship, the man that was our bane and plague all
along?  The rogue hath been my deadliest enemy seeking my
destruction these fifteen years, and you would save him alive! 
It seemeth my pistol-butt must ha' harmed what little brain you
have and you be run stark, staring mad, Martin!"

"Howbeit," says I, mighty determined, "you don't hang these men
whiles I live!"

"Why, there's no difficulty either, Martin, for what's to stay me
from hanging you along with 'em, or shooting you for the fool you

"I!" cried a voice, and there betwixt us was my lady, she all
stately dignity despite her hurried breathing, at sight of whom
these lawless fellows gave back one and all, even Adam himself
retreated a step, staring upon her round-eyed.  Then, very slowly
he thrust pistols into belt and uncovering his head bowed full
low, and I fancied his thin lips twitched as he did so.

"So be it, my lady," says he, "I call on your ladyship to witness
that I sell two bundles of very unseemly merchandise," and he
pointed towards the two helpless forms at his feet.  "And now,
with your fair leave, madam, I'll see these fellows safe aboard
and warn my Lord Dering and gentlemen of your welfare and
presence here."

"Wait!" says I as he turned to go.  "First I would have these my
purchases set aboard a boat, with such stores needful, and cast

"Why, this was not in the bargain, Martin!" says he, shaking his
head, "But it shall be done for sake of our one-time
comradeship."  And away he goes and his fellows with him.  True
to his word he orders the pinnace launched and sends divers men
to bear these two rogues aboard.  Hereupon I cut away their
bonds, doing the which I found Tressady still unconscious, but
Mings for all his wounds seemed lively enough.

"Master," says he, staring hard at me, "Your name's Martin, as I

"And what then?" says I, mighty short.

"'Tis a name I shall mind as long as I do my own, and that is
Mings--Abnegation Mings."

"Aye," says I.  "You told me this when you sang of dead men in a
wood at midnight--"

"Ha, 'twas you, was it, master!  Well, here lieth poor Roger dead
or dying and me little better, and 'tis far to the Main and an
ill journey, but should we come there and live, there be two men
shall wonder at ye, master, nor ever forget the name o' the man
as saved our necks.  Howsoever, come life or death, here's
Abnegation doth wish ye a fair wind ever and always, master."

So they bore him, together with Tressady, to the pinnace, and
setting them aboard, shoved them adrift, and I watched Abnegation
ply feeble oars until the boat was through the passage in the
reef and out in the open sea beyond.



Now as I stood thus, staring out to sea, the moon sank and with
it my heart also, for as the dark came about me so came darkness
within me and sudden sorrow with great fear of the future;
wherefore, beholding the loom of the ship where lights twinkled,
I would gladly have seen her a shattered wreck, and hearing the
hoarse laughter and voices of these lawless fellows waking the
echoes of Deliverance Beach, I hated them one and all, and to my
fear and sorrow anger was added.  But now cometh my dear lady to
stand beside me, to steal her hand into mine, and never a word
betwixt us for a while.  At last:

"So endeth our solitude, Martin!"


"Our deliverance is come!" says she and then, very softly, "Doth
not this rejoice you?"  Here answer found I none, since now at
last I knew this the very thing I had come most to dread.  So was
silence again save for these hoarse unlovely voices where they
launched and boarded the longboat.  "Master Adam would have me go
on board, Martin, but 'tis near dawn so will I bide with you to
welcome this new day."

"I'm glad you stayed, Damaris."  At this I felt her clasp tighten
on my fingers, and so she brings me to a rock hard by and,
sinking on the warm sand, would have me sit by her; thus, side by
side, we watched the boat pull away to the ship, and presently
all about us was hushed and still save for the never-ceasing
murmur of the surge.

"Martin," says she in a while, "with this new day beginneth for
us a new life!  In a few short hours we sail for England."

"England!  Aye, to be sure!" says I, mighty doleful, but,
conscious of her regard, strove to look happy yet made such a
botch of it that, getting to her knees, she takes my hang-dog
face betwixt her two hands.

"O but you are glad?" she questions, a little breathlessly, "Glad
to come with me to England--to leave this wilderness?"

"Aye!" I nodded, well-nigh choking on the word.

"Dear Martin, look at me!" she commanded, "Now speak me plain. 
Whence is your grief?"

"O, my lady," quoth I, "'tis the knowledge of my unworthiness, my
unloveliness, my rude and graceless ways; England is no place for
like of me.  I am well enough here in the wild--to work for you,
fight for you an' need be, but how may I compare with your fine
gallants and courtly gentlemen?"

Now at this she clasps me all sudden in her arms and setting soft
cheek to mine falls a-chiding me, yet kissing me full oft,
calling me "silly," "dear," "foolish," and "beloved."

"How shall you compare?" cries she, "Thus and thus, dear Martin--
so infinitely above and beyond all other men that unless you wed
me needs must I die a maid!"

Thus did she comfort me, soothing my fears, and thus the dawn
found us.

"O 'tis day!" she sighed, "'Tis day already!"  And now 'twas her
voice was doleful whiles her eyes gazed regretful round about the
white sands of Deliverance and the tree-clad highlands beyond. 
"O indeed I do love this dear island of ours, Martin!"

Sudden upon the stilly air was the beat of oars, and we beheld a
boat rowed by a couple of mariners and in the stern-sheets Sir
Rupert Dering and the three gentlemen, his companions.  Hereupon
my lady would have me go with her to meet them then and there,
but I shook my head.

"Do you go, Damaris, I'll not speak them before I must.  And
should you have cause to mention me I pray you will not tell my

"As you will, dear Martin," says she and, pressing my hand, goes
her way.  From the shadow of the rock I watched these gentlemen
leap gaily ashore to bow before her with many and divers elegant
posturings, flourishes and flauntings of hats, kissing of her
hands and the like gallantries until I must needs scowl
otherwhere; yet even so, was conscious of their merry laughter
where they paced to and fro and the new risen sun making a glory
about her.  At last she curtseys, and staying them with a
gesture, comes hasting back to me.

"Martin," says she, "it seems there be men wounded and dying on
board ship, so must I go to them.  Will you not come with me?"

"Nay," I answered, "I'll to the caves for such things as you
would bring away."

"Why then, my spoon, Martin, and three-legged stool, bring these
--nay wait, 'tis there I would bid farewell to this our dear
island.  Wait me there, Martin."

So away she goes on her errand of mercy, leaving me to my
thoughts and these all of England and my future life there.  I
was fain to picture myself married and happy in my lady's love,
my life thenceforth a succession of peaceful days amid the
ordered quiet of that Kentish countryside I knew and loved so
well.  With the eye of my mind I seemed to see a road winding
'twixt bloomy hedgerows, past chattering brooks and pleasant
meadows, past sleepy hamlet bowered 'mid trees and so, 'neath a
leafy shade, to where rose tall gates, their pillars crowned by
couchant leopards wrought in the stone, and beyond these a broad
avenue, its green shadow splashed with sunlight, leading away to
the house of Conisby Shene with its wide terrace where stood my
lady waiting and expectant; yet nowhere could I vision myself. 
And now I must needs bethink me of Godby's "long, dark road with
the beckoning light and the waiting arms of love," and in my
heart the old doubt waked and a fear that such peace, such tender
meetings and welcomes sweet, were not for such as I, nor ever
could be.

From these gloomy reflections I was roused by a giggling laugh,
and glancing about, espied Sir Rupert and his three fellows,
their finery somewhat the worse for their late hardship yet
themselves very gay and debonair none the less as they stood
viewing me and mighty interested.  Presently Sir Rupert steps up
to me with his haughtiest fine-gentlemanly air and no civility of

"Let me perish but here's notable change!" says he, surveying my
rich attire, so that I yearned for my rags again.  "Here is
strange metamorphosis!  The sullen and rustic Cymon bloometh at
Beauty's mandate, Caliban is tamed!"  At the which sally his
companions giggled again.

"Sir," quoth I, and awkwardly enough, "I am in no mood for your
pleasantries.  If therefore you have aught else to say of me,
pray remove out o' my hearing."  This protest Sir Rupert fanned
airily aside with be-ringed hand.

"I gather," says he, "that you have been at some pains of service
to my Lady Brandon in her late dolorous situation here--receive
my thanks!"

"I wish none o' your thanks, sir--"

"None the less I bestow 'em--on my Lady Brandon's behalf. 

"Enough, sir, I would be alone."

"Furthermore," he continued and with another airy motion of his
white fingers, "I would have you particularly remark that if my
Lady Brandon, lacking better company, hath stooped to any small
familiarities with you, these must be forgot and--"

"Ha!" I cried, springing to my feet, "Begone, paltry fool, lest I
kick you harder than I did last time at Conisby Shene."

"Insolent gallows'-rogue!" he panted, reaching for his sword-
hilt, but as he freed it from scabbard I closed with him and,
wrenching it from his hold, belaboured him soundly with the flat
of it, and such of his companions as chanced within my reach,
until hearing shouts, I espied Adam approaching with divers of
his grinning fellows; whereupon I snapped the blade across my
knee and hasted from the place.

I strode on haphazard in a blind fury, but reaching the woods at
last and safe from all observation, I cast myself down therein,
and gradually my anger grew to a great bitterness.  For (thinks
I) "gallows'-rogue" am I in very truth an outcast from my kind, a
creature shamed by pillory and lash, a poor wretch for spiteful
Fortune's buffets.  Hereupon (being a blind fool ever) I cursed
the world and all men in it saving only my unworthy self.  And
next, bethinking me of my dear lady who of her infinite mercy had
stooped to love such as I, it seemed that my shame must smirch
her also, that rather than lifting me to her level I must needs
drag her down to mine.  She, wedding me, gave all, whiles I,
taking all, had nought to offer in return save my unworthiness. 
Verily it seemed that my hopes of life with her in England were
but empty dreams, that I had been living in the very Paradise of
Fools unless--

Here I raised bowed head, and clenching my fists stared blindly
before me.

How if the ship should sail without us?



The sun being high-risen and myself famished with hunger, I set

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