List Of Contents | Contents of Black Bartlemy's Treasure by Jeffrey
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Forthwith I began to climb by means of these staples and the ivy,
until at last my fingers grasped the stone sill of a window; and
now, the lattice being open, I contrived (albeit it with much
ado) to clamber into the room.  It was a fair-sized chamber, and
the moonlight, falling athwart the floor, lit upon a great carven
bed brave with tapestried hangings.  Just now the silken curtains
were up-drawn and upon the bed I saw a bundle of garments all
ribands, laces and the like, the which, of themselves, gave me
sudden pause.  From these my gaze wandered to where, against the
panelling, hung a goodly rapier complete with girdle and slings,
its silver hilt, its guards and curling quillons bright in the
moonbeams.  So came I and, reaching it down, drew it from the
scabbard and saw the blade very bright as it had been well cared
for.  And graven on the forte of the blade was the Conisby blazon
and the legend:


Now as I stood watching the moonbeams play up and down the long
blade, I heard the light, quick tread of feet ascending the
stairs without and a voice (very rich and sweetly melodious) that
brake out a-singing, and the words it sang these:

"A poor soul sat sighing by a green willow tree
With hand on his bosom, his head on his knee,
Sighing Willow, willow, willow!
O willow, willow, willow!
And O the green willow my garland shall be!"

Nearer came the singing while I stood, sword in hand, waiting;
the song ended suddenly and the sweet voice called:

"O Marjorie, wake me betimes, I must be abroad with the sun to-
morrow--good-night, sweet wench!"

I crouched in the curtains of the great bed as the latch clicked
and the room filled with the soft glow of a candle; a moment's
silence, then:

"O Marjorie, I'll wear the green taffety in the morning.  Nay
indeed, I'll be my own tirewoman to-night."

The light was borne across the room; then coming softly to the
door I closed it and, setting my back against it, leaned there. 
At the small sound I made she turned and, beholding me, shrank
back, and I saw the candlestick shaking in her hand ere she set
it down upon the carved press beside her.

"Who is it--who is it?" she questioned breathlessly, staring at
my bruised and swollen features.

"A rogue you had dragged lifeless to the pillory!"

"You?" she breathed.  "You!  And they set you in the pillory? 
'Twas by no order of me."

"'Tis no matter, lady, here was just reward for a rogue," says I. 
"But now I seek Sir Richard--"

"Nay indeed--indeed you shall not find him here."

"That will I prove for myself!" says I, and laid hand on latch.

"Sir," says she in the same breathless fashion, "why will you not
believe me?  Seek him an you will, but I tell you Sir Richard
sailed into the Spanish Main two years since and was lost."

"Lost?" says I, feeling a tremor of apprehension shake me as I
met her truthful eyes.  "Lost, say you--how lost?"

"He and his ship were taken by the Spaniards off Hispaniola."

"Taken?" I repeated, like one sore mazed.  "Taken--off--
Hispaniola?"  And here, bethinking me of the cruel mockery of it
all (should this indeed be so) black anger seized me.  "You lie
to me!" I cried.  "Ha, by God, you lie!  An there be aught of
justice in heaven then Richard Brandon must be here."

"Who are you?" she questioned, viewing me with the same wide-eyed
stare.  "Who are you--so fierce, so young, yet with whitened
hair, and that trembles at the truth?  Who are you--speak?"

"You have lied to save him from me!" I cried.  "You lie--ha,
confess!"  And I strode towards her, the long blade a-glitter in
my quivering grasp.

"Would you kill me?" says she, all unflinching and with eyes that
never wavered.  "Would you murder a helpless maid--Martin
Conisby?"  The rapier fell to the rug at my feet and lay there,
my breath caught, and thus we stood awhile, staring into each
other's eyes.

"Martin Conisby is dead!" says I at last.

For answer she pointed to the wall above my head and, looking
thither, I saw the picture of a young cavalier, richly habited,
who smiled down grey-eyed and gentle-lipped, all care-free youth
and gaiety; and beneath this portrait ran the words:


"Madam," quoth I at last, turning my back on the picture, "Yon
innocent was whipped to death aboard a Spanish galleass years
since, wherefore I, a poor rogue, come seeking his destroyer."

"Sir," says she, clasping her hands and viewing me with troubled
eyes, "O sir--whom mean you?"

"One who, having slain the father, sold the son into slavery, to
the hell of Spanish dungeon and rowing-bench, to stripes and
shame and torment, one the just God hath promised to my
vengeance--I mean Richard Brandon."

"Ah--mercy of God--my father!  Ah no, no--it cannot be!  My
father?  Sure here is some black mistake."

"Being his daughter you should know 'tis very truth!  Being a
Brandon you must know of the feud hath cursed and rent our
families time out of mind, the bitter faction and bloodshed!"

"Aye!" she murmured, "This I do know."

"Well, madam, five years agone, or thereabouts, my father falsely
attainted of treason, died in his prison and I, drugged and
trepanned aboard ship, was sold into the plantations, whence few
return--and Richard Brandon, enriched by our loss and great at
court, dreamed he had made an end o' the Conisbys and that the
feud was ended once and for all."

"My lord," says she, proud head upflung, "I deny all this!  Such
suspicion, so base and unfounded, shameth but yourself.  You have
dared force your way into my house at dead of night, and now--O
now you would traduce my absent father, charging him with
shameful crimes--and this to me, his daughter!  Enough, I'll hear
no more, begone ere I summon my servants and have you driven
forth!" and, seizing the bell-rope that hung against the
panelling, she faced me, her deep bosom heaving tempestuous,
white hands clenched and scorning me with her eyes.

"Ring!" says I, and seated myself in a chair beside her great

"Have you no shame?"

"None, madam, 'twas all whipped out o' me aboard the 'Esmeralda'
galleass.  Ring, madam!  But I go not till I learn, once and for
all, if Sir Richard be here or no."

Now at this she loosed the bell-rope very suddenly and, covering
her face with her hands, stood thus awhile:

"God pity me!" says she at last in weeping voice.  "I may not
forget how you saved me from--"  Here a tremor seemed to shake
her; then she spake again, yet now scarce above a whisper.  "Your
face hath looked upon me night and morn these two years, and now
--O Martin Conisby, were you but the man I dreamed you!"

"I'm a rogue new-broke from slavery!" says I.

"Aye," she cried suddenly, lifting her head and viewing me with
new and bitter scorn, "and one that speaketh lies of an absent

"Lies!" quoth I, choking on the word.  "Lies, madam?  Why then,
how cometh my picture here--my coat of arms above the mantel
yonder, the Conisby 'scutcheon on your gates?  What do you at
Conisby Shene?"

Now in her look I saw a sudden doubt, a growing dread, her breath
caught and she shrank back to the panelled wall and leaned there,
and ever the trouble in her eyes grew.  "Well, my lady?" I
questioned, "Have ye no answer?"

"'Twas said...I have heard...the Conisbys were no more."

"Even so, how came Sir Richard by this, our house?"

"Nay--nay, I--I know little of my father's business--he was ever
a silent man and I--have passed my days in London or abroad.  But
you--ah, tell me--why seek you my father?"

"That is betwixt him and me!"

"Was it--murder?  Was it vengeance, my lord?"  Here, as I made no
answer, she crosses over to me and lays one slender hand on my
shoulder; whereat I would have risen but her touch stayed me. 
"Speak!" says she in a whisper.  "Was it his life you sought?" 
Meeting the look in her deep, soft eyes, I was silent for a
while, finding no word, then dumbly I nodded.  And now I felt her
hand trembling on my shoulder ere it was withdrawn and, looking
up, I saw she had clasped her hands and stood with head bowed
like one in prayer:  "O Martin Conisby," she whispered, "now
thank God that in His mercy He hath stayed thee from murder!"  So
she stood awhile, then, crossing to the carven press, took thence
divers papers and set them before me.  "Read!" she commanded.

So I examined these papers and found therein indisputable
evidence that my journey here was vain indeed, that Sir Richard,
sailing westward, had been taken by Spaniards off Hispaniola and
carried away prisoner, none knew whither.

And in a while, having read these papers, I laid them by and
rising, stumbled towards the open casement.

"Well, my lord?" says she in strange, breathless fashion, "And
what now?"

"Why now," says I, wearily, "it seems my vengeance is yet to

"Vengeance?" she cried, "Ah, God pity thee!  Doth life hold for
thee nought better?"


"Vengeance is a consuming fire!"

"So seek I vengeance!"

"O Martin Conisby, bethink you!  Vengeance is but a sickness of
the mind--a wasting disease--"

"So seek I vengeance!"

"For him that questeth after vengeance this fair world can hold
nought beside."

"So give me vengeance, nought else seek I of this world!"

"Ah, poor soul--poor man that might be, so do I pity thee!"

"I seek no man's pity."

"But I am a woman, so shall I pity thee alway!"

Now as I prepared to climb through the lattice she, beholding the
sword where it yet lay, stooped and, taking it up, sheathed it. 
"This was thine own once, I've heard," says she.  "Take it,
Martin Conisby, keep it clean, free from dishonour and leave thy
vengeance to God."

"Not so!" says I, shaking my head.  "I have my knife, 'tis weapon
better suited to my rags!"  So saying, I clambered out through
the lattice even as I had come.  Being upon the terrace, I
glanced up to find her leaning to watch me and with the moon
bright on her face.

"Live you for nought but vengeance?" she questioned softly.

"So aid me God!" says I.

"So shall I pity thee alway, Martin Conisby!" she repeated, and
sighed, and so was gone.

Then I turned, slow of foot, and went my solitary way.



I remember the moon was very bright as, reaching the end of a
grassy lane (or rather cart-track) I saw before me a small, snug-
seeming tavern with a board over the door, whereon were the




And looking the place over, from trim, white steps before the
door to trim thatched roof, I marvelled at its air of prosperity;
for here it stood, so far removed from road and bye-road, so
apparently away from all habitation, and so lost and hid by trees
(it standing within a little copse) that it was great wonder any
customer should ever find his way hither.

The place was very quiet, not a light showed anywhere and the
door was fast shut, which was nothing strange, for the hour was
late.  Stepping up to the door I knocked loudly thereon with my
cudgel, at first without effect, but having repeated the summons,
a voice from within hailed me gruffly:

"Who knocks?"

"'The Faithful Friend!'" says I.  At this, the door swung
suddenly open and a lanthorn was thrust into my face, whereupon I
fell back a step, dazzled; then gradually, beyond this glare, I
made out a dark shape blocking the doorway, a great fellow, so
prodigiously hairy of head and face that little was there to see
of features, save two round eyes and a great, hooked nose.

"And who d'ye seek, Faithful Friend?" says he.

"Master Adam Penfeather."

"Why then, Faithful Friend, heave ahead!" says he, and, making
way for me to enter, closed the door (the which I noticed was
mighty stout and strong) and, having locked and bolted it, barred
it with a stout iron set into massy sockets in either wall.

"You go mighty secure!" says I.

"Cock," quoth the giant, eyeing me over slowly, "Cock, be ye a
cackler--because if so be you do cackle overly here's we as won't
love ye no whit, my cock."

"Good!" says I, returning his look.  "I seek no man's love!"

"Cock," quoth he, plunging huge fist into his beard and giving it
a tug, "I begin to love ye better nor I thought!  This way,
cock!"  Herewith he led me along a wide, flagged passage and up a
broad stair with massy, carven handrail; and as I went I saw the
place was much bigger than I had deemed it, the walls, too, were
panelled, and I judged it had once formed part of a noble house. 
At last we reached a door whereon the fellow knocked softly, and
so presently ushered me into a fair chamber lit by wax candles;
and here, seated at a table with papers before him and a pen in
his fingers, sat Master Adam Penfeather.

"Ha, shipmate," says he, motioning to a chair, "you be something
earlier than I expected.  Suffer me to make an end o' this
business--sit ye, comrade, sit!  As for you, Bo'sun, have up a
flask o' the Spanish wine--the black seal!"

"Aye, cap'n!" says he, and seizing a fistful of hair above his
eyebrow, strode away, closing the door behind him.

Now beholding Penfeather as he bent to his writing--the lean,
aquiline face of him so smooth and youthful in contrast to his
silver hair--I was struck by his changed look; indeed he seemed
some bookish student rather than the lawless rover I had thought
him, despite the pistols at his elbow and the long rapier that
dangled at his chair-back; moreover there was about him also an
air of latent power I had not noticed ere this.

At length, having made an end of his writing, he got up and
stretched himself:

"So, shipmate, art ready to swear the blood-fellowship wi' me?"

"Aye!" says I.  "When do we sail?"  At this he glanced at me
swiftly from the corners of his eyes:

"So ho!" he murmured, pinching his chin.  "The wind's changed it
seems, you grow eager--and wherefore?"

"'Tis no matter!"

"Shipmate," says he, shaking his head, "an we sail as brothers
and comrades there must be never a secret betwixt us--speak!"

"As ye will!" quoth I, leaning back in my chair.  "I learn then
you are sailing as master in a ship bound for the Main in quest
of Sir Richard Brandon lost off Hispaniola two years agone.  Sir
Richard Brandon is the man I have sought ever since I broke out
of the hell he sold me into.  Now look'ee, Adam Penfeather," says
I, springing to my feet and grasping his arm, "look'ee now--put
me in the way of meeting this man, aid me to get my hand on this
man and I am yours--aye, body and soul--to the end o' things, and
this I swear!"

While I spake thus, my voice hoarse with passion, my fingers
clutching his arm, Penfeather stood pinching his chin and
watching me beneath his black brows; when I had ended he turned
and falls a-pacing to and fro across the room as it had been the
narrow poop of a ship.

"Ah--I know you now, my lord!" says he, pausing suddenly before
me.  "As the sailor-man who watched you as you lay a-groaning in
your sleep outside the Conisby Arms, I guessed you one o' the
Conisby breed by your ring, and as one born and bred here in Kent
I mind well the adage, 'To hate like a Brandon and revenge like a

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