List Of Contents | Contents of Black Bartlemy's Treasure by Jeffrey
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"Hast met Sir Richard?"

"I have!"

"Aha!" quoth the fellow, nodding.  "He had ye whipped, belike?"

"He did so."

"For stealing of a fine, fat capon, belike?"

"Nay, 'twas for another matter.  But what of him, is he hale o'
body, rich and well esteemed, is he strong in friends and a power
at court yet?"

"No," says Trueman, flicking his plodding horses.  "Neither one
nor t'other!"

"How--not?" quoth I.  "And wherefore?"

"Because he's dead--"

"Dead!" says I, starting up.  "Dead?"

"Why look'ee, if he ain't dead--leastways--"  But here I seized
him by the throat and, twisting him round, shook him to and fro
till he choked:

"Rogue--damned rogue!" I cried 'twixt gnashing teeth.  "Will ye
mock me then!:

"No--no!" he gasped.

"Then tell me ye lied--confess!"

"Aye, aye--I'll confess--anything--anything ye will, master!"

"Then Sir Richard lieth snug in his manor of Shene--doth he not?
Aye or no?"

"Aye--aye, at Shene--at Shene!"  Hereupon I loosed him and,
falling back on the hay, found myself all breathless and shaking
as with an ague-fit.  And these tremors were within me as
without, since (by reason of this fellow's lying words) I had,
for one black moment, doubting God's justice, seen (as it were)
my countless anguished supplications for vengeance on mine enemy
so much vain breath, and this my toilsome journey a labour to no
purpose.  But now, bowing my head, I (who knew no forgiveness)
humbly prayed forgiveness of God for my doubting of God, and
passionately besought Him that He would cherish mine enemy and
save him in health.  And this to no other end but that I myself
might destroy him.

"His life, O God--give this man's life into mine hand!"  So
prayed I (in my vain pride and selfish blindness) as I jogged
along that sunny midsummer morn; and thereafter, my trembling
having passed from me, I stretched myself out amid the hay and
fell to blissful slumber.

Now to all such as reading this my narrative shall contemn and
abhor me for the purblind fool and poor, desperate wretch I was,
and who, living but for murder, could cry thus on God for the
blood of his fellow-man--to all such I would say that none can
despise me more utterly than I who write these words.  For life
since then hath learned me many truths and in some few things I
am, mayhap, a little wiser.

But, because I was proud and stubborn beyond belief, because hate
begetteth hate and evil--evil, so came I to consort and make
fellowship with pirates and the like rogues and to endure much of
harms and dangers as battle, shipwreck, prison and solitude;
until God (of His infinite mercy) brought me forth a better man
therefor and, in some sense, a more worthy.  All of the which I
have fully and faithfully recorded for such as shall trouble to
read this narrative to the end.

And so will I again to my story.



I awoke to find the waggon at a standstill and Master Trueman
watching me with a scowl the while his plump fingers toyed
lovingly with his whip-stock; but as I roused, this hand crept up
to finger his several chins.

"Yonder lieth Lamberhurst!" quoth he sulkily, and nodded where,
in the valley below, was a village with a green wherein was a
placid pool shaded by trees; and about this green stood white-
walled cottages, many of them bowered in roses or honeysuckle to
the very thatch (right pleasant to the eye), while beyond these
again rose gables of barns or the pointed roofs of oasthouses. 
"Lamberhurst!" says Trueman again; whereon, having yawned and
stretched myself, I clambered down into the road.

"Well?" I questioned, seeing how he watched me, triple chin in

"Well," quoth he stoutly, "I be wondering what the likes o' you
should be wanting wi' the likes o' Sir Richard Brandon o' Shene?"

"Nought but this," says I, shaking the hay from my tattered
cloak, "I am come to watch him die, and the manner of it shall
mayhap be something slow and painful!" and speaking, I clenched
my right hand to a sunburnt fist.  Now looking on this clutching
hand, Trueman blinked and, saying no word, whipped his horses and
the heavy wain rumbled and creaked on its way.  But, when he had
gone some distance, he grinned at me over his shoulder and called
something whereof I caught the words "labour lost."  For a moment
I was minded to run after and demand his meaning; howbeit, in a
little, I turned and went down the hill very full of thought.

Reaching the village I found it not yet astir, for the clock of
the church tower showed the time was but half after four; and
now, leaning on my staff I stared up at the church tower with its
new weathercock, brave with gilding, agleam in the early sun, and
from thence turned my gaze where (hard beside the pool upon the
green) rose the grim shape of Sir Richard's new pillory.  Just
now it stood untenanted and I wondered idly what unhappy wight
was destined next to suffer there.  Thus stood I some while,
staring round me on this peaceful hamlet where all (save only
myself) forgot their cares awhile in blessed sleep; the wide
road, the gabled cottages, oast-house and fragrant rick yard--all
was as I minded it five weary years since:  nothing strange was
there saving only Sir Richard's hateful pillory, wherefore I
smote it with my staff and, cursing him that set it there, turned

Now within a stone's-cast of the church was a goodly tavern with
a weatherbeaten signboard a-swing above the door, whereon was
painted what purported to be a leopard asleep and below the
following legend, viz.:


and below this again:


From this I glanced at the third finger of my left hand, which
was a battered signet ring that bore the semblance of another
sleeping leopard and the like inscription; and looking from the
sleeping leopard on the signboard to the sleeping leopard on my
ring, I fell to deep and gloomy thought.  Howbeit, rousing in a
while, I perceived a horse-trough hard by full of clean water,
and came thither minded to wash the dust and sweat from me.  But,
stooping, I paused and stood thus, staring down at the face that
scowled up at me; a face lean and haggard with wide, fierce eyes
agleam beneath knitted brows, a prominent nose and square chin
with short, peaked, golden beard; an unlovely face framed in
shaggy, yellow hair patched and streaked with silver; and
beholding lowering brow and ferocious mouth and jaw I stood
awhile marvelling at the ill-changes evil and hardship had
wrought in me.

For thus was it that I first beheld myself after five years of

Having looked my fill, I nodded grimly at my watery image and
plunged my face and head within the trough to my great
refreshment, which done, I made shift to dry myself on my
tattered shirt.  Thereafter, coming to the broad oak settle
beside the tavern door, I sat down and fell to meditation.  But
now, moved by sudden impulse, I unbuckled the wallet at my girdle
and taking thence the strange dagger, unwound the neckerchief
that swathed it and began to examine the weapon, first carelessly
enough, then with growing interest and wonder.  The blade (as I
have told elsewhere) was triangular of form, very narrow and some
eight inches in length and exceeding sharp of point; but that
which drew and held my gaze was the wonder of its haft.  I have
seen and handled many fair weapons in my day, but never before or
since have I beheld such rare craftsmanship as went to the
chiselling of this hilt.  Of silver it was, wrought into the
shape of a standing woman, her feet poised upon the small,
chiselled cross-guard, her head forming the pommel; naked she
stood in languorous pose, arms raised and hands locked behind her
head.  The delicate chiselling of the features was worn somewhat
by handling and rough usage, but even so the evil beauty of the
face was plain and manifest, the wanton languor of the long eyes,
the mocking cruelty of the smiling mouth.  The longer I viewed
it, the more manifest became the nameless evil of the thing, so
that I was greatly minded to whirl it into the horse-pond and be
done with it.  But bethinking me of my destitution and not
doubting but that I might find a ready market for a thing so
rare, I lapped it up again and thrusting it back into my wallet,
stretched myself out upon the broad settle and presently fell

But (even as I slept) methought I was back in torment.  I seemed
to hear again the crack of whips, the harsh cries of the drivers,
the shrill screams and curses, the long, groaning breaths with
the rattle and creak of the great oars as they swung ceaselessly
back and forth; nay, I could even feel the kick of the oar-shaft
that had escaped my fainting grasp.  So real was it all that I
waked groaning (as I had done many a time and oft), waked to find
the kindly sun making a glory about me and a blackbird hard by a-
piping most sweet to hear, while before me stood a little, thin
fellow in a broad-eaved, steeple-crowned hat, who peered at me
through narrowed eyes and poked at me with a stick.

"And how's the wind, shipmate?" he questioned.  I sat up and
scowled, whereupon he tucked the stick beneath an arm and stood
viewing me, chin in hand.  "You sleep mighty sound," says he,
"here I've stood a-poking at ye with my stick, d'ye see, and you
snore but the louder--or was it groans?"

"For the which poking I'm minded to throw you into the horse-

"Why, that's as may be!" says he, falling back a step.  "But no
offence, shipmate."

"Then leave me in peace."  And I laid me down again.

"You sleep mighty sound," says he, "and your bed none so easy!"

"I've known worse!"

"Aye--the rowing-bench of a Spanish floating hell, shipmate--ha?"

At this, I started and turned to look at him again.  He was (as I
say) a little man and clad in suit of russet-brown (very trim and
sober), but at his hip he bore a long rapier or tuck, while in
his ears (which were trimmed to points in mighty strange fashion)
swung great, gold rings such as mariners do wear; his face was
lean and sharp and wide of mouth and lighted by very quick,
bright eyes, seeming to take in all things with swift-darting
glances.  A scar that ran from brow to chin lent to him a certain
hangdog air; as to his age, it might have been thirty or forty or
sixty, for, though he seemed vigorous and active, with smooth,
unwrinkled face, his hair was snow-white.

"Well, shipmate," he questioned, meeting my searching gaze, "and
how d'ye like me?"

"No whit!"

"Sink me, but that's plain enough!" says he, smiling ruefully. 
"So there's nought in me as draws you, then?"


"'Tis pity, for I've a feeling we shall sail aboard ship together

"How should you know I've rowed aboard a Spanish ship?"

"You bear the mark, shipmate; as you lay a-groaning in your sleep
I took occasion to cast an eye over ye, d'ye see, and what wi'
the new-healed scars on your wrist, your sunburnt skin and the
desperate sink-or-swim look o' you I judged you new-broke from
slavery, and named a Spanish galleass at a venture, d'ye see."

"You are an observant man, it seems," says I, frowning.

"I have a way o' putting one and one together--'tis a trick I've
found useful now and then!"

"Ha!" says I, mighty scornful, "You'll be telling me my own name

"Why, as to that," says he, pinching his long, clean-shaven chin
thoughtfully, "how would Conisby suit?"

"Damned spy!" I cried, and caught him in my grip; the fellow
never so much as flinched, and there was something formidable in
his very quietude.

"Easy all, shipmate!" says he mildly and staring up at me eye to
eye.  "Use me kindly, for I'm a timid soul with a good heart,
meaning no offence."

"How learned ye my name?  What devilry is here?"

"None in the world, Lord love ye!  'Tis just my trick of adding
one and one, d'ye see?  There's the ring on your finger and the
signboard above you."

"And wherefore spy on a sleeping man?"

"Because I'm a lonely soul doth seek a comrade.  Because the
moment I clapped eyes on you I felt drawn to ye, and seeing the
scars on your wrist, knew 'em for shackle-marks--and 'twas a bond
betwixt us."

"How a bond?"

"Loose me, shipmate, and I'll show ye."  Which done, he bared a
long and sinewy arm, discovering thereon marks of old fetter-
sores like those upon my own.

"So you've slaved at an oar, then?" says I.

"Aye, shipmate!"

"Endured the shame of stripes and nakedness and filth?"

"Aye, shipmate.  And more, I've fought for my life on the Inca
Death-stone ere now, as you may see by my ears if you know aught
of the Maya Indians."

And here without so much as a "by your leave" he sat him down on
the bench beside me, and leaning forward began to trace idle
patterns in the dust with his stick.

"Shipmate," says he, "I'm a timid man--"

"As a snake," quoth I, "and as deadly!"

Here he stayed his drawing to glance at me askance, to sigh and
shake his head.  "You misjudge me," says he, "howbeit we'll say
cautious--a cautious man with an honest, kindly heart as yearns
to fellowship."

"And with a pistol 'neath each armpit!"

"True!" he nodded.  "I might ha' shot ye a moment since and
didn't--which doth but prove my words, for I'm one as never
harmed any man--without just cause--save once, and that--" here
he sighed, "was years agone.  And me a lonely man to this day. 
So 'tis I seek a comrade--a right man, one at odds wi' fortune
and the world and therefore apt to desperate ploys, one hath
suffered and endured and therefore scornful of harms and dangers,
one as knoweth the sea.  Now let that man pledge me the blood-
brotherhood, let him stand staunch and faithful blow fair, blow
foul, and I'll help him to a fortune greater than ever came out
of Manoa, El Dorado, or the Indies.  Come, what d'ye say,

"I say sheer off and leave me to my sleep lest I mischief you."

"Ha' ye no lust for riches, then?"

"No more than I have to your company and I love that less and

"'Tis pity!" says he, shaking his head.  "Aye, 'tis pity, for I
do like you more and more, such a fine blood-and-beef, dare-and-
be-damned, gibbet-like figure of a rogue, shipmate, as would
grace a cross-roads better than most, which is one reason I was
drawn to ye, d'ye see, I being a quiet soul--"

"And a pirate, like as not!"

"Easy, shipmate, easy.  Passion is an ill word to steer by.  And
I'm a lonely man as seeks a comrade--"

"And I'm a lonely man that loveth solitude, so e'en now will I go
seek it!" and I rose.

"Stay a bit, shipmate, haul your wind and listen!" says he,
laying hand on my arm.  "Stand in wi' me, blow high, blow low,
and I offer you--wealth untold--riches, fortune--"

"Tush!," says I, "empty things all."  At this his hold tightened
while his keen gaze held mine.

"More than this," says he slowly, "I offer you rank, honours,
power and mayhap--love, shipmate."

"Enough!" quoth I.  "You offer nought I desire."

"Why then," says he, "in the Fiend's name what would ye have?"

"Vengeance!" I answered, and shaking off his grasp I turned and
strode away along the dusty road.

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