No Defense
by Gilbert Parker
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"That would be strange, wouldn't it, in this immense continent!" Dyck remarked cynically.

"She knew I was here before she came?"

"Aye, she knew. She had seen your name in the papers—English and Jamaican. She knew you had regained your life and place, and was a man of mark here."

"A marked man, you mean, Michael—a man whom the king has had to pardon of a crime because of an act done that served the State. I am forbidden to return to the British Isles or to the land of my birth, forbidden free traffic as a citizen, hammered out of recognition by the strokes of enmity. A man of mark, indeed! Aye, with the broad arrow on me, with the shame of prison and mutiny on my name!"

"But if she don't believe?"

"If she don't believe! Well, she must be told the truth at last. I wonder her mother let her come here. Her mother knew part of the truth. She hid it all from the girl—and now they are here! I must see it through, but it's a wretched fate, Michael."

"Perhaps her mother didn't know you were here, sir."

Dyck laughed grimly. "Michael, you've a lawyer's mind. Perhaps you're right. The girl may have hid from her mother all newspapers referring to me. That may well be; but it's not the way that will bring understanding."

"I think it's the truth, sir, for Darius Boland spoke naught of the mother—indeed, he said only what would make me think the girl came with her own ends in view. Faith, I'm sure the mother did not know."

"She will know now. Your Darius Boland will tell her."

"By St. Peter, it doesn't matter who tells her, sir. The business must be faced."

"Michael, order my horse, and I will go to Spanish Town. This matter must be brought to a head. The truth must be told. Order my horse!" "It is the very heat of the day, sir."

"Then at five o'clock, after dinner, have my horse here."

"Am I to ride with you, sir?"

Dyck nodded. "Yes, Michael. There's only one thing to do—face all the facts with all the evidence, and you are fact and evidence too. You know more of the truth than any one else."

Several hours later, when the sun was abating its force a little, after travelling the burning roads through yams and cocoa, grenadillas and all kinds of herbs and roots and vagrant trees, Dyck Calhoun and Michael Clones came into Spanish Town. Dyck rode the unpaved streets on his horse with its high demipicque Spanish saddle, with its silver stirrups and heavy bit, and made his way towards Charlotte Bedford's lodgings.

Dyck looked round upon the town with new eyes. He saw it like one for the first time visiting it. He saw the people passing through the wide verandahs of the houses, like a vast colonnade, down the street, to be happily sheltered from the fierce sun. As he had come down from the hills he thought he had never seen the houses look more beautiful in their gardens of wild tamarinds, kennips, cocoa-nuts, pimentos, and palms, backed by negro huts. He had seen all sorts of people at the draw-wells of the houses-British, Spanish, French, South American, Creoles, and here and there a Maroon, and the everlasting negro who sang as he worked:

"Come along o' me, my buccra brave, You see de shild de Lord he gave: You drink de sangaree, I make de frichassee—"

Here a face peeped out from the glazed sash of the jalousies of the balconies above—a face that could never be said to be white, though it had only a tinge of black in its coaxing beauty. There a workman with long hair and shag trousers painted the prevailing two-storied house the prevailing colour, white and green. There was a young naval officer in full dress, gold-buckled shoes, white trousers, short jacket with gold swab on shoulders, dress-sword and smart gait making for supper at King's House.

A long-legged "son of a gun" of a Yankee had a "clapper-claw," or handshake, with a planting attorney in a kind of four-posted gig, canopied in leather and curtained clumsily. The Yankee laughed at the heavy straight shafts and the mule that drew the volante, as the gig was called, and the vehicle creaked and cried as it rolled along over the road, which was like a dry river-bed. There a French officer in Hessian boots, white trousers, blue uniform, and much-embroidered scarlet cuffs watched with amusement a slave carrying a goglet, or earthen jar, upon his head like an Egyptian, untouched by the hand, so adding dignity to carriage. He was holding a "round-aboutation" with an old hag who was telling his fortune.

As they passed King's House, they saw troops of the viceroy's guests issuing from the palace-officers of the king's navy and army, officers and men of the Jamaica militia, pale-faced, big-eyed men of the Creole class, mulattoes, quadroons and octoroons, Samboes with their wives in loose skirts, white stockings, and pinnacle hats. There also passed, in the streets, black servants with tin cases on their heads, or carrying parcels in their arms, and here and there processions of servants, each with something that belonged to their mistresses, who would presently be attending the king's ball.

Snatches of song were heard, and voices of men who had had a full meal and had "taken observations"—as looking through the bottom of a glass of liquor was called by people with naval spirit—were mixed in careless carousal.

All this jarred on Dyck Calhoun and gave revolt to his senses. Yet he was only half-conscious of the great sensuousness of the scene as he passed through it. Now and then some one doffed a hat to him, and very occasionally some half-drunken citizen tossed at him a remark meant to wound; but he took no notice, and let things pleasant and provocative pass down the long ranges of indifference.

All was brought to focus at last, however, by their arrival at Charlotte Bedford's lodgings, which, like most houses in the town, had a lookout or belfry fitted with green blinds and a telescope, and had a green-painted wooden railing round it.

At the very entrance, inside the gate, in the garden, they saw Sheila Llyn, her mother, and Darius Boland, who seemed to be enduring from the mother some sharp reprimand, to the amusement of the daughter. As the gate closed behind Dyck and Michael, the three from Virginia turned round and faced them. As Dyck came forward, Sheila flushed and trembled. She was no longer a young girl, but her slim straightness and the soft lines of her figure, gave her a dignity and charm which made her young womanhood distinguished—for she was now twenty-five, and had a carriage of which a princess might have been proud. Yet it was plain that the entrance of Dyck at this moment was disturbing. It was not what she had foreseen.

She showed no hesitation, however, but came forward to meet her visitor, while Michael fell back, as also did Darius Boland. Both these seemed to realize that the less they saw and heard the better; and they presently got together in another part of the garden, as Dyck Calhoun came near enough almost to touch Sheila.

Surely, he thought, she was supreme in appearance and design. She was like some rare flower of the field, alert, gentle, strong, intrepid, with buoyant face, brown hair, blue eyes and cream-like skin. She was touched by a rose on each cheek and made womanly by firm and yet generous breasts, tenderly imprisoned by the white chiffon of her blouse in which was one bright sprig of the buds of a cherry-tree-a touch of modest luxuriance on a person sparsely ornamented. It was not tropical, this picture of Sheila Llyn; it was a flick of northern life in a summer sky. It was at once cheerful and apart. It had no August in it; no oil and wine. It was the little twig that grew by a running spring. It was fresh, dominant and serene. It was Connemara on the Amazon! It was Sheila herself, whom time had enriched with far more than years and experience. It was a personality which would anywhere have taken place and held it. It was undefeatable, persistent and permanent; it was the spirit of Ireland loose in a world that was as far apart from Ireland as she was from her dead, dishonoured father.

And Dyck? At first she felt she must fly to him—yes, in spite of the fact that he had suffered prison for manslaughter. But a nearer look at him stopped the impulse at its birth. Here was the Dyck Calhoun she had known in days gone by, but not the Dyck she had looked to see; for this man was like one who had come from a hanging, who had seen his dearest swinging at the end of a rope. His face was set in coldness; his hair was streaked with grey; his forehead had a line in the middle; his manner was rigid, almost frigid, indeed. Only in his eyes was there that which denied all that his face and manner said—a hungry, absorbing, hopeless look, the look of one who searches for a friend in the denying desert.

Somehow, when he bowed low to her, and looked her in the eyes as no one in all her life had ever done, she had an almost agonized understanding of what a man feels who has been imprisoned—that is, never the same again. He was an ex-convict, and yet she did not feel repelled by him. She did not believe he had killed Erris Boyne. As for the later crime of mutiny, that did not concern her much. She was Irish; but, more than that, she was in sympathy with the mutineers. She understood why Dyck Calhoun, enlisting as a common sailor, should take up their cause and run risk to advance it. That he had advanced it was known to all the world; that he had paid the price of his mutiny by saving the king's navy with a stolen ship had brought him pardon for his theft of a ship and mutiny; and that he had won wealth was but another proof of the man's power.

"You would not come to America, so I came here, and—" She paused, her voice trembling slightly. "There is much to do at Salem," he added calmly, and yet with his heart beating, as it had not beaten since the day he had first met her at Playmore.

"You would not take the money I sent to Dublin for you—the gift of a believing friend, and you would not come to America!"

"I shall have to tell you why one day," he answered slowly, "but I'll pay my respects to your mother now." So saying he went forward and bowed low to Mrs. Llyn. Unlike her daughter, Mrs. Llyn did not offer her hand. She was pale, distraught, troubled—and vexed. She, however, murmured his name and bowed. "You did not expect to see me here in Jamaica," he said boldly.

"Frankly, I did not, Mr. Calhoun," she said.

"You resent my coming here to see you? You think it bold, at least."

She looked at him closely and firmly. "You know why I cannot welcome you."

"Yet I have paid the account demanded by the law. And you had no regard for him. You divorced him."

Sheila had drawn near, and Dyck made a gesture in her direction. "She does not know," he said, "and she should not hear what we say now?"

Mrs. Llyn nodded, and in a low tone told Sheila that she wished to be alone with Dyck for a little while. In Dyck's eyes, as he watched Sheila go, was a thing deeper than he had ever known or shown before. In her white gown, and with her light step, Sheila seemed to float away—a picture graceful, stately, buoyant, "keen and small." As she was about to pass beyond a clump of pimento bushes, she turned her head towards the two, and there was that in her eyes which few ever see and seeing are afterwards the same. It was a look of inquiry, or revelation, of emotion which went to Dyck's heart.

"No, she does not know the truth," Mrs. Llyn said. "But it has been hard hiding it from her. One never knew whether some chance remark, some allusion in the papers, would tell her you had killed her father."

"Did I kill her father?" asked Dyck helplessly. "Did I? I was found guilty of it, but on my honour, Mrs. Llyn, I do not know, and I do not think I did. I have no memory of it. We quarrelled. I drew my sword on him, then he made an explanation and I madly, stupidly drank drugged wine in reconciliation with him, and then I remember nothing more—nothing at all."

"What was the cause of your quarrel?"

Dyck looked at her long before answering. "I hid that from my father even, and hid it from the world—did not even mention it in court at the trial. If I had, perhaps I should not have gone to jail. If I had, perhaps I should not be here in Jamaica. If I had—" He paused, a flood of reflection drowning his face, making his eyes shine with black sorrow.

"Well, if you had! . . . Why did you not? Wasn't it your duty to save yourself and save your friends, if you could? Wasn't that your plain duty?"

"Yes, and that was why I did not tell what the quarrel was. If I had, even had I killed Erris Boyne, the jury would not have convicted me. Of that I am sure. It was a loyalist jury."

"Then why did you not?"

"Isn't it strange that now after all these years, when I have settled the account with judge and jury, with state and law—that now I feel I must tell you the truth. Madam, your ex-husband, Erris Boyne, was a traitor. He was an officer in the French army, and he offered to make me an officer also and pay me well in French Government money, if I would break my allegiance and serve the French cause—Ah, don't start! He knew I was on my last legs financially. He knew I had acquaintance with young rebel leaders like Emmet, and he felt I could be won. So he made his proposal. Because of your daughter I held my peace, for she could bear it less than you. I did not tell the cause of the quarrel. If I had, there would have been for her the double shame. That was why I held my peace—a fool, but so it was!"

The woman seemed almost robbed of understanding. His story overwhelmed her. Yet what the man had done was so quixotic, so Celtic, that her senses were almost paralysed.

"So mad—so mad and bad and wild you were," she said. "Could you not see it was your duty to tell all, no matter what the consequences. The man was a villain. But what madness you were guilty of, what cruel madness! Only you could have done a thing like that. Erris Boyne deserved death —I care not who killed him—you or another. He deserved death, and it was right he should die. But that you should kill him, apart from all else—why, indeed, oh, indeed, it is a tragedy, for you loved my daughter, and the killing made a gulf between you! There could be no marriage in such a case. She could not bear it, nor could you. But please know this, Mr. Calhoun, that she never believed you killed Erris Boyne. She has said so again and again. You are the only man who has ever touched her mind or her senses, though many have sought her. Wherever she goes men try to win her, but she has no thought for any. Her mind goes back to you. Just when you entered the garden I learned— and only then-that you were here. She hid it from me, but Darius Boland knew, and he had seen your man, Michael Clones, and she had then made him tell me. I was incensed. I was her mother, and yet she had hid the thing from me. I thought she came to this island for the sake of Salem, and I found that she came not for Salem, but for you. . . . Ah, Mr. Calhoun, she deserves what you did to save her, but you should not have done it."

"She deserves all that any better man might do. Why don't you marry her to some great man in your Republic? It would settle my trouble for me and free her mind from anxiety. Mrs. Llyn, we are not children, you and I. You know life, and so do I, and—"

She interrupted him. "Be sure of this, Mr. Calhoun, she knows life even better than either of us. She is, and has always been, a girl of sense and judgment. When she was a child she was my master, even in Ireland. Yet she was obedient and faithful, and kept her head in all vexed things. She will have her way, and she will have it as she wants it, and in no other manner. She is one of the world's great women. She is unique. Child as she is, she still understands all that men do, and does it. Under her hands the estates in Virginia have developed even more than under the hands of my brother. She controls like another Elizabeth. She has made those estates run like a spool of thread, and she will do the same here with Salem. Be sure of that."

"Why does she not marry? Is there no man she can bear? She could have the highest, that's sure." He spoke with passion and insistence. If she were married his trouble would be over. The worst would have come to him—like death. His eyes were only two dark fires in a face that was as near to tragic pain crystallized as any the world has seen. Yet there was in it some big commanding thing, that gave it a ghastly handsomeness almost; that bathed his look in dignity and power, albeit a reckless power, a thing that would not be stayed by any blandishments. He had the look of a lost angel, one who fell with Belial in the first days of sin.

"There is no man she can bear—except here in Jamaica. It is no use. Your governor, Lord Mallow, whom she knew in Ireland, who is distant kin of mine, he has already made advances here to her, as he did in Ireland —you did not know that. Even before we left for Virginia he came to see us, and brought her books and flowers, and here, on our arrival, he brought her choicest blooms of his garden. She is rich, and he would be glad of an estate that brings in scores of thousands of pounds yearly. He has asked us to stay at King's House, but we have declined. We start for Salem in a few hours. She wants her hand on the wheel."

"Lord Mallow—he courts her, does he?" His face grew grimmer. "Well, she might do worse, though if she were one of my family I would rather see her in her grave than wedded to him. For he is selfish—aye, as few men are! He would eat and keep his apple too. His theory is that life is but a game, and it must be played with steel. He would squeeze the life out of a flower, and give the flower to his dog to eat. He thinks first and always of himself. He would—but there, he would make a good husband as husbands go for some women, but not for this woman! It is not because he is my enemy I say this. It is because there is only one woman like your daughter, and that is herself; and I would rather see her married to a hedger that really loved her than to Lord Mallow, who loves only one being on earth—himself. But see, Mrs. Llyn, now that you know all, now that we three have met again, and this island is small and tragedy is at our doors, don't you think your daughter should be told the truth. It will end everything for me. But it would be better so. It is now only cruelty to hide the truth, harsh to continue a friendship which will only appal her in the end. If we had not met again like this, then silence might have been best; but as she is not cured of her tender friendship made upon the hills at Playmore, isn't it well to end it all? Your conscience will be clearer, and so will mine. We shall have done the right thing at last. Why did you not tell her who her father was? Then why blame me! You held your peace to save your daughter, as you thought. I held my tongue for the same reason; but she is so much a woman now, that she will understand, as she could not have understood years ago in Limerick. In God's name, let us speak. One of us should tell her, and I think it should be you. And see, though I know I did right in withholding the facts about the quarrel with Erris Boyne, yet I favour telling her that he was a traitor. The whole truth now, or nothing. That is my view."

He saw how lined and sunken was her face, he noted the weakness of her carriage, he realized the task he was putting on her, and his heart relented. "No, I will do it," he added, with sudden will, "and I will do it now, if I may."

"Oh, not to-day-not to-day!" she said with a piteous look. "Let it not be to-day. It is our first day here, and we are due at King's House to-night, even in an hour from now."

"You want her at her glorious best, is that it?" It seemed too strange that the pure feminine should show at a time of crisis like this, but there it was. It was this woman's way. But he added presently: "When she asks you what we have talked about, what will you say?"

"Is it not easy? I am a mother," she said meaningly.

"And I am an ex-convict, and a mutineer—is that it?"

She inclined her head. "It should not be difficult to explain. When you came I was speaking as I felt, and she will not think it strange if I give that as my reason."

"But is it wise? Isn't it better to end it all now? Suppose Lord Mallow tells her."

"He did not before. He is not likely now," was the vexed reply. "Is it a thing a gentleman will speak of to a lady?"

"But you do not know Mallow. If he thought she had seen me to-day, he would not hesitate. What would you do if you were Lord Mallow?"

"No, not to-day," she persisted. "It is all so many years ago. It can hurt naught to wait a little longer."

"When and where shall it be?" he asked gloomily. "At Salem—at Salem. We shall be settled then—and steady. There is every reason why you should consider me. I have suffered as few women have suffered, and I do not hate you. I am only sorry."

Far down at the other end of the garden he saw Sheila. Her face was in profile—an exquisite silhouette. She moved slowly among the pimento bushes.

"As you wish," he said with a heavy sigh. The sight of the girl anguished his soul.



The plantation of Salem was in a region below the Pedro Plains in the parish of St. Elizabeth, where grow the aloe, and torch-thistle, and clumps of wood which alter the appearance of the plain from the South Downs of England, but where thousands of cattle and horses even in those days were maintained. The air of the district was dry and elastic, and it filtered down to the valleys near like that where Salem was with its clusters of negro huts and offices, its mills and distilleries where sugar and rum were made. Salem was situated on the Black River, accessible by boats and canoes. The huts of negro slaves were near the sugar mills, without regard to order, but in clusters of banana, avocado- pear, limes and oranges, and with the cultivated land round their huts made an effective picture.

One day every fortnight was allowed the negroes to cultivate their crops, and give them a chance to manufacture mats for beds, bark-ropes, wicker- chairs and baskets, earthen jars, pans, and that kind of thing. The huts themselves were primitive to a degree, the floor being earth, the roof, of palm-thatch or the leaves of the cocoa-nut tree, the sides hard-posts driven in the ground and interlaced with wattle and plaster, and inside scarcely high enough for its owner to walk upright. The furniture was scant—a quatre, or bed, made of a platform of boards, with a mat and a blanket, some low stools, a small table, an earthen water-jar, and some smaller ones, a pail and an iron pot, and calabashes which did duty for plates, dishes and bowls. In one of the two rooms making the hut, there were always the ashes of the night-fire, without which negroes could not sleep in comfort.

These were the huts of the lowest grade of negro-slaves of the fields. The small merchants and the domestics had larger houses with boarded floors, some even with linen sheets and mosquito nets, and shelves with plates and dishes of good ware. Every negro received a yearly allowance of Osnaburgh linen, woollen, baize and checks for clothes, and some planters also gave them hats and handkerchiefs, knives, needles and thread, and so on.

Every plantation had a surgeon who received a small sum for attendance on every slave, while special cases of midwifery, inoculation, etc., had a particular allowance. The surgeon had to attend to about four hundred to five hundred negroes, on an income of L150 per annum, and board and lodging and washing, besides what he made from his practice with the whites.

Salem was no worse than some other plantations on the island, but it was far behind such plantations as that owned by Dyck Calhoun, and had been notorious for the cruelties committed on it. To such an estate a lady like Sheila Llyn would be a boon. She was not on the place a day before she started reforms which would turn the plantation into a model scheme. Houses, food, treatment of the negroes, became at once a study to her, and her experience in Virginia was invaluable. She had learned there not to work the slaves too hard in the warm period of the day; and she showed her interest by having served at her own table the favourite olio the slaves made of plantains, bananas, yams, calalue, eddoes, cassavi, and sweet potatoes boiled with salt fish and flavoured with cayenne pepper. This, with the unripe roasted plantain as bread, was a native relish and health-giving food.

Ever since the day when she had seen Dyck Calhoun at Spanish Town she had been disturbed in mind. Dyck had shown a reserve which she felt was not wholly due to his having been imprisoned for manslaughter. In one way he looked little older. His physique was as good, or better than when she first saw him on the hills of Playmore. It was athletic, strenuous, elastic. Yet there was about it the abandonment of despair—at least of recklessness. The face was older, the head more powerful, the hair slightly touched with grey-rather there was one spot in the hair almost pure white; a strand of winter in the foliage of summer. It gave a touch of the bizarre to a distinguished head, it lent an air of the singular to a personality which had flare and force—an almost devilish force. That much was to be said for him, that he had not sought to influence her to his own advantage. She was so surrounded in America by men who knew her wealth and prized her beauty, she was so much a figure in Virginia, that any reserve with regard to herself was noticeable. She was enough feminine to have pleasure in the fact that she was thought desirable by men; yet it played an insignificant part in her life.

It did not give her conceit. It was only like a frill on the skirts of life. It did not play any part in her character. Certainly Dyck Calhoun had not flattered her. That one to whom she had written, as she had done, should remove himself so from the place of the deserving friend, one whom she had not deserted while he was in jail as a criminal —that he should treat her so, gave every nerve a thrill of protest. Sometimes she trembled in indignation, and then afterwards gave herself to the work on the estate or in the household—its reform and its rearrangement; though the house was like most in Jamaica, had adequate plate, linen, glass and furniture. At the lodgings in Spanish Town, after Dyck Calhoun had left, her mother had briefly said that she had told Dyck he could not expect the conditions of the Playmore friendship should be renewed; that, in effect, she had warned him off. To this Sheila had said that the killing of a man whose life was bad might be punishable. In any case, that was in another land, under abnormal conditions; and, with lack of logic, she saw no reason why he should be socially punished in Jamaica for what he had been legally punished for in Ireland. As for the mutiny, he had done what any honest man of spirit would do; also, he had by great bravery and skill brought victory to the king's fleet in West Indian waters.

Then it was she told her mother how she had always disobeyed her commands where Dyck was concerned, that she had written to him while he was in jail; that she had come to Jamaica more to see him than to reform Salem; that she had the old Celtic spirit of brotherhood, and she would not be driven from it. In a sudden burst of anger her mother had charged her with deceit; but the girl said she had followed her conscience, and she dismissed it all with a gesture as emphatic as her mother's anger.

That night they had dined with Lord Mallow, and she saw that his attentions had behind them the deep purpose of marriage. She had not been overcome by the splendour of his retinue and table, or by the magnificence of his guests; though the military commander-in-chief and the temporary admiral on the station did their utmost to entertain her, and some of the local big-wigs were pompous. Lord Mallow had ability and knew how to use it; and he was never so brilliant as on this afternoon, for they dined while it was still daylight and hardly evening. He told her of the customs of the country, of the people; and slyly and effectively he satirized some of his grandiloquent guests. Not unduly, for one of them, the most renowned in the island, came to him after dinner as he sat talking to Sheila, and said: "I'm very sorry, your honour, but good Almighty God, I must go home and cool coppers." Then he gave Sheila a hot yet clammy hand, and bade her welcome as a citizen to the island, "alien but respected, beautiful but capable!" Sheila had seen a few of the Creole ladies present at their best-large-eyed, simple, not to say primitive in speech, and very unaffected in manner. She had learned also that the way to the Jamaican heart was by a full table and a little flattery.

One incident at dinner had impressed her greatly. Not far away from her was a young lady, beautiful in face and person, and she had seen a scorpion suddenly shoot into her sleeve and ruthlessly strike and strike the arm of the girl, who gave one cry only and then was still. Sheila saw the man next to the girl—he was a native officer—secure the scorpion, and then whip from his pocket a little bag of indigo, dip it in water, and apply the bag to the wounded arm, immediately easing the wound. This had all been done so quickly that it was over before the table had been upset, almost.

"That is the kind of thing we have here," said Lord Mallow. "There is a lady present who has seen in one day a favourite black child bitten by a congereel, a large centipede in her nursery, a snake crawl from under her child's pillow, and her son nearly die from a bite of the black spider with the red spot on its tail. It is a life that has its trials—and its compensations."

"I saw a man's head on a pole on my way to King's House. You have to use firm methods here," Sheila said in reply. "It is not all a rose-garden. You have to apply force."

Lord Mallow smiled grimly. "C'est la force morale toujours."

"Ah, I should not have thought it was moral force always," was the ironical reply.

"We have criminals here," declared the governor with aplomb, "and they need some handling, I assure you. We have in this island one of the worst criminals in the British Empire."

"Ah, I thought he was in the United States!" answered the girl sedately.

"You mean General George Washington," remarked the governor. "No, it is one who was a friend and fellow-countryman of yours before he took to killing unarmed men."

"You refer to Mr. Dyck Calhoun, I doubt not, sir? Well, he is still a friend of mine, and I saw him today—this afternoon, before I came here. I understood that the Crown had pardoned his mutiny."

The governor started. He was plainly annoyed.

"The crime is there just the same," he replied. "He mutinied, and he stole a king's ship, and took command of it, and brought it out here."

"And saved you and your island, I understand."

"Ah, he said that, did he?"

"He said nothing at all to me about it. I have been reading the Jamaica Cornwall Chronicle the last three years."

"He is ever a source of anxiety to me," declared the governor.

"I knew he was once in Phoenix Park years ago," was the demure yet sharp reply, "but I thought he was a good citizen here—a good and well-to-do citizen."

Lord Mallow flushed slightly. "Phoenix Park—ah, he was a capable fellow with the sword! I said so always, and I'd back him now against a champion; but many a bad man has been a good swordsman."

"So, that's what good swordsmanship does, is it? I wondered what it was that did it. I hear you fight him still—but with a bludgeon, and he dodges it."

"I do not understand," declared Lord Mallow tartly. "Ah, wasn't there some difference over his going for the treasure to Haiti? Some one told me, I think, that you were not in favour of his getting his ticket-of- leave, or whatever it is called, and that the provost-marshal gave it to him, as he had the right to do."

"You have wide sources of information in this case. I wonder—"

"No, your honour need not wonder. I was told that by a gentleman on the steamer coming here. He was a native of the island, I think—or perhaps it was the captain, or the mate, or the boatswain. I can't recall. Or maybe it came to me from my manager, Darius Boland, who hears things wherever he is, one doesn't know how; but he hears them. He is to me what your aide-de-camp is to you," she nodded towards a young man near by at the table.

"And do you dress your Darius Boland as I dress my aide in scarlet, with blue facings and golden embroidery, and put a stiff hat with a feather on his head?"

"But no, he does not need such things. I am a Republican now. I am a citizen of the United States, where men have no need of uniform to tell the world what they are. You shall see my Darius Boland—indeed, you have seen him. He was there to-day when you gave me the distinction of your presence."

"That dry, lean, cartridge of a fellow, that pair of pincers with a face!"

"And a tongue, your honour. If you did not hear it yet, you will hear it. He is to be my manager here. So he will be under your control— if I permit him."

"If you permit him, mistress?"

"If I permit him, yes. You are a power, but you are not stronger than the laws and rules you make. For instance, there was the case of Mr. Dyck Calhoun. When he came, you were for tying him up in one little corner of this island—the hottest part, I know, near to Kingston, where it averages ninety degrees in the shade at any time of the year. But the King you represent had not restricted his liberties so, and you being the King, that is, yourself, were forced to abide by your own regulations. So it may be the same with Darius Boland. He may want something, and you, high up, looking down, will say, "What devilry is here!" and decline. He will then turn to your chief-justice or provost-marshal- general, or a deputy of the provost-marshal, and they will say that Darius Boland shall have what he wants, because it is the will of the will you represent."

Almost the last words the governor used to her were these: "Those only live at peace here who are at peace with me"; and her reply had been: "But Mr. Dyck Calhoun lives at peace, does he not, your honour?"

To that he had replied: "No man is at peace while he has yet desires." He paused a minute and then added: "That Erris Boyne killed by Dyck Calhoun—did you ever see him that you remember?"

"Not that I remember," she replied quickly. "I never lived in Dublin."

"That may be. But did you never know his history?" She shook her head in negation. His eyes searched her face carefully, and he was astonished when he saw no sign of confusion there. "Good God, she doesn't know. She's never been told!" he said to himself. "This is too startling. I'll speak to the mother."

A little later he turned from the mother with astonishment. "It's madness," he remarked to himself. "She will find out. Some one will tell her. . . . By heaven, I'll tell her first," he hastily said. "When she knows the truth, Calhoun will have no chance on earth. Yes, I'll tell her myself. But I'll tell no one else," he added; for he felt that Sheila, once she knew the truth, would resent his having told abroad the true story of the Erris Boyne affair.

So Sheila and her mother had gone to their lodgings with depression, but each with a clear purpose in her mind. Mrs. Llyn was determined to tell her daughter what she ought to have known long before; and Sheila was firm to make the one man who had ever interested her understand that he was losing much that was worth while keeping.

Then had followed the journey to Salem. Yet all the while for Sheila one dark thought kept hovering over everything. Why should life be so complicated? Why should this one man who seemed capable and had the temperament of the Irish hills and vales be the victim of punishment and shame—why should he shame her?

Suddenly, without her mother's knowledge, she sent Darius Boland through the hills in the early morning to Enniskillen, Dyck Calhoun's place, with a letter which said only this: "Is it not time that you came to wish us well in our new home? We shall expect you to-morrow."

When Dyck read this note he thought it was written by Sheila, but inspired by the mother; and he lost no time in making his way down across the country to Salem, which he reached a few hours after sunrise. At the doorway of the house he met Mrs. Llyn.

"Have you told her?" he asked in anxiety. Astonished at his presence she could make no reply for a moment. "I have told her nothing," she answered. "I meant to do so this morning. I meant to do it—I must."

"She sent me a letter asking if it was not time I came to wish you well in your house, and you and she would expect me to-day."

"I knew naught of her writing you," was the reply—"naught at all. But now that you are here, will you not tell her all?"

Dyck smiled grimly. "Where is she?" he asked. "I will tell her."

The mother pointed down the garden. "Yonder by the clump of palms I saw her a moment ago. If you go that way you will find her."

In another moment Dyck Calhoun was on his way to the clump of palms, and before he reached it, the girl came out into the path. She was dressed in a black silk skirt with a white bodice and lace, as he had seen her on her arrival in Kingston, and at her throat was a sprig of the wild pear- tree. When she saw him, she gave a slight start, then stood still, and he came to her.

"I have your letter," he said, "and I came to say what I ought to say about your living here: you will bring blessings to the place."

She looked at him steadfastly. "Shall we talk here," she said, "or inside the house? There is a little shelter here in the trees"— pointing to the right—"a shelter built by the late manager. It has the covering of a hut, but it is open at two sides. Will you come?" As she went on ahead, he could not fail to notice how slim and trim she was, how perfectly her figure seemed to fit her gown-as though she had been poured into it; and yet the folds of her skirt waved and floated like silky clouds around her! Under cover of the shelter, she turned and smiled at him.

"You have seen my mother?"

"I have just come from her," he answered. "She bade me tell you what ought to have been told long ago, and you were not, for there seemed no reason that you should. You were young and ignorant and happy. You had no cares, no sorrows. The sorrows that had come to your mother belonged to days when you were scarce out of the cradle. But you did not know. You were not aware that your mother had divorced your father for crime against marital fidelity and great cruelty. You did not know even who that father was. Well, I must tell you. Your father was a handsome man, a friend of mine until I knew the truth about him, and then he died—I killed him, so the court said."

Her face became ghastly pale. After a moment of anguished bewilderment, she said: "You mean that Erris Boyne was my father?"

"Yes, I mean that. They say I killed him. They say that he was found with no sword drawn, but that my open sword lay on the table beside me while I was asleep, and that it had let out his life-blood."

"Why was he killed?" she asked, horror-stricken and with pale lips.

"I do not know, but if I killed him, it was because I revolted from the proposals he made to me. I—" He paused, for the look on her face was painful to see, and her body was as that of one who had been struck by lightning. It had a crumpled, stricken look, and all force seemed to be driven from it. It had the look of crushed vitality. Her face was set in paleness, her eyes were frightened, her whole person was, as it were, in ghastly captivity. His heart smote him, and he pulled himself together to tell her all.

"Go on," she said. "I want to hear. I want—to know all. I ought to have known—long ago; but that can't be helped now. Continue—please."

Her words had come slowly, in gasps almost, and her voice was so frayed he could scarcely recognize it. All the pride of her nature seemed shattered.

"If I killed him," he said presently, "it was because he tried to tempt me from my allegiance to the Crown to become a servant of France, to—"

He stopped short, for a cry came from her lips which appalled him.

"My God—my God!" she said with bloodless lips, her eyes fastened on his face, her every look and motion the inflection of despair. "Go on—tell all," she added presently with more composure.

Swiftly he described what happened in the little room at the traitor's tavern, of the momentary reconciliation and the wine that he drank, drugged wine poured out but not drunk by Erris Boyne, and of his later unconsciousness. At last he paused.

"Why did these things not come out at the trial?" she asked in hushed tones.

He made a helpless gesture. "I did not speak of them because I thought of you. I hid it—I did not want you to know what your father was."

Something like a smile gathered at her pale lips. "You saved me for the moment, and condemned yourself for ever," she said in a voice of torture. "If you had told what he was—if you had told that, the jury would not have condemned you, they would not have sent you to prison."

"I believe I did the right thing," he said. "If I killed your father, prison was my proper punishment. But I can't remember. There was no other clue, no other guide to judgment. So the law said I killed him, and—he had evidently not drawn his sword. It was clear he was killed defenceless."

"You killed a defenceless man!" Her voice was sharp with agony. "That was mentioned at the trial—but I did not believe it then—in that long ago." She trembled to her feet from the bench where she was sitting. "And I do not believe it now—no, on my soul, I do not."

"But it makes no difference, you see. I was condemned for killing your father, and the world knows that Erris Boyne was your father, and here Lord Mallow, the governor, knows it; and there is no chance of friendship between you and me. Since the day he was found dead in the room, there was no hope for our friendship, for anything at all between us that I had wished to be there. You dare not be friends with me—"

Her face suddenly suffused and she held herself upright with an effort. She was about to say, "I dare, Dyck—I do dare!" but he stopped her with a reproving gesture.

"No, no, you dare not, and I would not let you if you would. I am an ex-convict. They say I killed your father, and the way to understanding between us is closed."

She made a protesting gesture. "Closed! Closed!—But is it closed? No, no, some one else killed him, not you. You couldn't have done it. You would have fought him—fought him as you did Lord Mallow, and in fighting you might have killed him, but your sword never let out his life when he was defenceless—never."

A look of intense relief, almost of happiness, came to Dyck's face. "That is like you, Sheila, but it does not cure the trouble. You and I are as far apart as noon and midnight. The law has said the only thing that can be said upon it."

She sank down again upon the wooden bench. "Oh, how mad you were, not to tell the whole truth long ago! You would not have been condemned, and then—"

She paused overcome, and his self-control almost deserted him. With strong feeling he burst out: "And then, we might have come together? No, your mother—your friends, myself, could not have let that be. See, Sheila, I will tell you the whole truth now—aye, the whole absolute truth. I have loved you since the first day I saw you on the hills when you and I rescued Christopher Dogan. Not a day has passed since then when you were not more to me than any other woman in all the world."

A new light came into her face, the shadows left her eyes, and the pallor fled from her lips. "You loved me?" she said in a voice grown soft- husky still, but soft as the light in a summer heaven. "You loved me —and have always loved me since we first met?"

Her look was so appealing, so passionate and so womanly, that he longed to reach out his arms to her, and say, "Come—come home, Sheila," but the situation did not permit that, and only his eyes told the story of what was in his mind.

"I have always loved you, Sheila, and shall do so while I have breath and life. I have always given you the best that is in me, tried to do what was good for us both, since my misfortune—crime, Lord Mallow calls it, as does the world. Never a sunrise that does not find you in the forefront of all the lighted world; never a flower have I seen that does not seem sweeter—it brings thoughts of you; never a crime that does not deepen its shame because you are in the world. In prison, when I used to mop my floor and clean down the walls; when I swept the dust from the corners; when I folded up my convict clothes; when I ate the prison food and sang the prison hymns; when I placed myself beside the bench in the workshop to make things that would bring cash to my fellow-prisoners in their need; when I saw a minister of religion or heard the Litany; when I counted up the days, first that I had spent in jail and then the days I had still to spend in jail; when I read the books from the prison library of the land where you had gone, and of the struggle there; when I saw you, in my mind's eye, in the cotton-fields or on the verandah of your house in Virginia—I had but one thought, and that was the look in your face at Playmore and Limerick, the sound of your voice as you came singing up the hill just before I first met you, the joyous beauty of your body."

"And at sea?" she whispered with a gesture at once beautiful and pathetic, for it had the motion of helplessness and hopelessness. What she had heard had stirred her soul, and she wanted to hear more—or was it that she wished to drain the cup now that it was held to her lips? -drain it to the last drop of feeling.

"At sea," he answered, with his eyes full of intense feeling—"at sea, I was free at last, doomed as I thought, anguished in spirit, and yet with a wild hope that out of it would come deliverance. I expected to lose my life, and I lived each day as though it would be my last. I was chief rogue in a shipful of rogues, chief sinner in a hell of sinners, and yet I had no remorse and no regret. I had done all with an honest purpose, with the good of the sailors in my mind; and so I lived in daily touch with death, honour, and dishonour. Yet I never saw a sailor in the shrouds, or heard the night watch call 'All's well!' in the midst of night and mutiny, that I did not long for a word from you that would take away the sting of death. Those days at sea for ten long weeks were never free from anxiety, not anxiety for myself, only for the men who had put me where I was, had given me captain's rank, had—"

Suddenly he stopped, and took from his pocket the letter he was writing on the very day she landed in Jamaica. He opened it and studied it for a moment with a dark look in his face.

"This I wrote even as you were landing in Jamaica, and I knew naught of your coming. It was an outbreak of my soul. It was the truth written to you and for you, and yet with the feeling that you would never see it. I was still writing it when Michael Clones came up the drive to tell me you and your mother were here. Now, I know not what Christopher Dogan would say of it, but I say it is amazing that in the hour you were first come to this land I should be moved to tell you the story of my life since I left prison; since, on receiving your letter in London, forwarded from Dublin, I joined the navy. But here it is with all the truth and terror in it.—Aye, there was terror, for it gave the soul of my life to one I never thought to see again; and, if seeing, should be compelled to do what I have done—tell her the whole truth at once and so have it over.

"But do not think that in telling it now I repent of my secrecy. I repent of nothing; I would not alter anything. What was to be is, and what is has its place in the book of destiny. No, I repent nothing, yet here now I give you this to read while still my story of the days of which you know is in your ears. Here it is. It will tell the whole story; for when you have read it and do understand, then we part to meet no more as friends. You will go back to Virginia, and I will stay here. You will forgive the unwilling wrong I have done you, but you will make your place in life without thought of me. You will marry some one—not worthy of you, for that could not be; but you will take to yourself some man from among the men of this world. You will set him apart from all other men as yours, and he will be happy, having been blessed beyond deserving. You will not regret coming here; but you will desire our friendship to cease; and what has been to be no more, while the tincture of life is in your veins. Sheila, read this thing, for it is the rest of the story until now."

He handed her the papers, and she took them with an inclination of the head which said: "Give it to me. I will read it now while my eyes can still bear to read it. I have laid on my heart the nettle of shame, and while it is still burning there I will read all that you have to teach me."

"I will go out in the garden while you read it," he said. "In a half- hour I will come back, and then we can say good-bye," he added, with pain in his voice, but firmly.

"No, do not go," she urged. "Sit here on the bench—at the end of it here," she said, motioning with her hand.

He shook his head in negation. "No, I will go and say to your mother that I have told you, and ease her mind, for I know she herself meant to tell you."

As he went he looked at her face closely. It was so young, so pathetic, so pale, yet so strangely beautiful, and her forehead was serene. That was one of her characteristics. In all her life, her forehead remained untroubled and unlined. Only at her mouth and in her eyes did misery or sorrow show. He looked into her eyes now, and he was pleased with what he saw; for they had in them the glow of understanding and the note of will which said: "You and I are parted, but I believe in you, and I will not show I am a weak woman by futile horror. We shall meet no more, but I shall remember you."

That was what he saw, and it was what he wished to see. He knew her character would stand the test of any trial, and it had done so. Horror had struck her, but had not overwhelmed her. She had cried out in her agony, but she had not been swept out into chaos. She had no weak passions and no futilities. But as he turned away now, it was with the sharp conviction that he had dealt a blow from which the girl would recover, but would never be the same again. She was rich "beyond the dreams of avarice," but that would not console her. She had resources within herself, had what would keep her steady. Her real power and force, her real hope, were in her regnant soul which was not to be cajoled by life's subterfuges. Her lips opened now, as though she would say something, but nothing came from them. She only shook her head sadly, as if to say: "You understand. Go, and when you come again, it will be for us to part in peace—at least in peace."

Out in the garden he found her mother. After the first agitated greeting-agitated on her part, he said: "The story has been told, and she is now reading—"

He told her the story of the manuscript, and added that Sheila had carried herself with courage. Presently the woman said to him: "She never believed you killed Erris Boyne. Well, it may not help the situation, but I say too, that I do not believe you did. I cannot understand why you did not deny having killed him."

"I could not deny. In any case, the law punished me for it, and the book is closed for ever."

"Have you never thought that some one—"

"Yes, I have thought, but who is there? The crowd at the Dublin hotel where the thing was done were secret, and they would lie the apron off a bishop. No, there is no light, and, to tell the truth, I care not now."

"But if you are not guilty—it is not too late; there is my girl! If the real criminal should appear—can you not see?"

The poor woman, distressedly pale, her hair still abundant, her eyes still bright, her pulses aglow, as they had ever been, made a gesture of appeal with hands that were worn and thin. She had charm still, in a way as great as her daughter's.

"I can see—but, Mrs. Llyn, I have no hope. I am a man whom some men fear—"

"Lord Mallow!" she interjected.

"He does not fear me. Why do you say that?"

"I speak with a woman's intuition. I don't know what he fears, but he does fear you. You are a son of history; you had a duel with him, and beat him; you have always beaten him, even here where he has been supreme as governor—from first to last, you have beaten him."

"I hope I shall be even with him at the last—at the very last," was Dyck Calhoun's reply. "We were made to be foes. We were from the first. I felt it when I saw him at Playmore. Nothing has changed since then. He will try to destroy me here, but I will see it through. I will try and turn his rapier-points. I will not be the target of his arrows without making some play against him. The man is a fool. I could help him here, but he will have none of it, and he is running great risks. He has been warned that the Maroons are restive, that the black slaves will rise if the Maroons have any initial success, and he will listen to no advice. He would not listen to me, but, knowing that, I got the provost-marshal to approach him, and when he knew my hand was in it, he stiffened. He would have naught to do with it, and so no preparations are made. And up there"—he turned and pointed—"up there in Trelawney the Maroons are plotting and planning, and any day an explosion may occur. If it occurs no one will be safe, especially if the blacks rise too—I mean the black slaves. There will be no safety then for any one."

"For us as well, you mean?"

"For you as well as all others, and you are nearer to Trelawney than most others. You are in their path. So be wise, Mrs. Llyn, and get back to Virginia as soon as may be. It is a better place than this."

"My daughter is mistress here," was the sorrowful reply. "She will have her own way."

"Your daughter will not care to stay here now," he answered firmly.

"She will do what she thinks her duty in spite of her own feelings, or yours, or mine. It is her way, and it has always been her way."

"I will tell her what I fear, and she may change her mind."

"But the governor may want her to stay," answered Mrs. Llyn none too sagely, but with that in her mind which seemed to justify her.

"Lord Mallow—oh, if you think there is any influence in him to keep her, that is another question," said Dyck with a grim smile. "But, nevertheless, I think you should leave here and go back to Virginia. It is no safe place for two ladies, in all senses. Whatever Lord Mallow thinks or does, this is no place for you. This place is your daughter's for her to do what she chooses with it, and I think she ought to sell it. There would be no trouble in getting a purchaser. It is a fine property."

"But the governor might not think as you do; he might not wish it sold."

Mrs. Llyn was playing a bold, indeed a reckless game. She wanted to show Dyck there were others who would interest themselves in Sheila even if he, Dyck, were blotted from the equation; that the girl could look high, if her mind turned towards marriage. Also she felt that Dyck should know the facts before any one else, so that he would not be shocked in the future, if anything happened. Yet in her deepest heart she wished him well. She liked him as she had never liked any of Sheila's admirers, and if the problem of Erris Boyne had been solved, she would gladly have seen him wedded to Sheila.

"What has the governor to do with it!" he declared. "It is your daughter's own property, and she is free to hold or to part with it. There is no Crown consent to ask, no vice-regal approval needed."

Suddenly he became angry, almost excited. His blood pounded in his veins. Was this man, Mallow, to come between his and her fate always, come into his problem at the most critical moment? "God in heaven!" he said in a burst of passion, "is this a land of the British Empire or is it not? Why should that man break in on every crisis? Why should he do this or that—say yea or nay, give or take away! He is the king's representative, but he is bound by laws as rigid as any that bind you or me. What has he to do with your daughter or what concerns her? Is there not enough trouble in the world without bringing in Lord Mallow? If he—"

He stopped short, for he saw coming from the summerhouse, Sheila with his paper in her hand. She walked slowly and with dignity. She carried her head high and firmly, and the skin of her face was shining with light as she came on. Dyck noticed how her wide skirts flicked against the flowers that bordered the path, and how her feet seemed scarcely to touch the ground as she walked—a spirit, a regnant spirit of summer she seemed. But in her face there was no summer, there was only autumn and winter, only the bright frost of purpose. As she came, her mother turned as though to leave Dyck Calhoun. She called to her to wait, and Mrs. Llyn stood still, anxious. As Sheila came near she kept her eyes fixed on Dyck. When she reached them, she held out the paper to him.

"It is wonderful," she said quietly, "that which you have written, but it does not tell all; it does not say that you did not kill my father. You are punished for the crime, and we must abide by it, even though you did not kill Erris Boyne. It is the law that has done it, and we cannot abash the law."

"We shall meet no more then!" said Dyck with decision.

Her lips tightened, her face paled. "There are some things one may not do, and one of them is to be openly your friend—at present."

He put the letter carefully away in his pocket, his hand shaking, then flicking an insect from the collar of his coat, he said gently, yet with an air of warning: "I have been telling Mrs. Llyn about the Maroons up there"—he pointed towards Trelawney—"and I have advised your going back to Virginia. The Maroons may rise at any moment, and no care is being taken by Lord Mallow to meet the danger. If they rise, you, here, would be in their way, and I could not guarantee your safety. Besides, Virginia is a better place—a safer place than this," he added with meaning.

"You wish to frighten me out of Jamaica," she replied with pain in her voice. "Well, I will not go till I have put this place in order and brought discipline and good living here. I shall stay here in Jamaica till I have done my task. There is no reason why we should meet. This place is not so large as Ireland or America, but it is large enough to give assurance we shall not meet. And if we meet, there is no reason why we should talk. As for the Maroons, when the trouble comes, I shall not be unprepared." She smiled sadly. "The governor may not take your advice, but I shall. And remember that I come from a land not without its dangers. We have Red Indians and black men there, and I can shoot."

He waved a hand abruptly and then made a gesture—such as an ascetic might make-of reflection, of submission. "I shall remember every word you have said, and every note of your voice will be with me in all the lonely years to come. Good-bye—but no, let me say this before I go: I did not know that Erris Boyne was your father until after he was dead. So, if I killed him, it was in complete ignorance. I did not know. But we have outlived our friendship, and we must put strangeness in its place. Good-bye—God protect you!" he added, looking into Sheila's eyes.

She looked at him with sorrow. Her lips opened but no words came forth. He passed on out of the garden, and presently they heard his horse's hoofs on the sand.

"He is a great gentleman," said Mrs. Llyn.

Her daughter's eyes were dry and fevered. Her lips were drawn. "We must begin the world again," she said brokenly. Then suddenly she sank upon the ground. "My God—oh, my God!" she said.



Two months went by. In that time Sheila and Dyck did not meet, though Dyck saw her more than once in the distance at Kingston. Yet they had never met since that wonderful day at Salem, when they had parted, as it might seem, for ever. Dyck had had news of her, however, for Darius Boland had come and gone between the two plantations, and had won Michael Clones' confidence. He knew more perhaps than he ever conveyed to Dyck, who saw him and talked with him, gave him advice as to the customs of Jamaica, and let him see the details in the management of Enniskillen.

Yet Dyck made no inquiries as to how Mrs. Llyn and Sheila were; first because he chose not to do so, and also because Darius Boland, at one time or another, would of his own accord tell what Mrs. Llyn and Sheila were doing. One day Boland brought word that the governor had, more than once, visited Salem with his suite; that he had sat in judgment on a case in Kingston concerning the estate of Salem, and had given decision in its favour; and that Mrs. Llyn and Sheila visited him at Spanish Town and were entertained at King's House at second breakfast and dinner—in short, that Lord Mallow was making hay in Salem Plantation. This was no surprise to Dyck. He had full intuition of the foray the governor would make on Sheila, her estate and wealth.

Lord Mallow had acted with discretion, and yet with sufficient passion to warrant some success. He was trying to make for himself a future which might mean the control of a greater colony even. If he had wealth, that would be almost a certainty, and he counted Sheila's gold as a guarantee of power. He knew well how great effect could be produced at Westminster and at the Royal Palace by a discreet display of wealth. He was also aware that no scandal could be made through an alliance with Sheila, for she had inherited long after the revolutionary war and with her skirts free from responsibility. England certainly would welcome wealth got through an Irish girl inheriting her American uncle's estates. So, steadily and happily, he pressed his suit. At his dinner-parties he gave her first place nearly always, and even broke the code controlling precedence when his secretary could be overruled. Thus Sheila was given honour when she did not covet it, and so it was that one day at Salem when the governor came to court her she was able to help Dyck Calhoun.

"Then you go to Enniskillen?" Lord Mallow said to Darius Boland, as he entered the plantation, being met by the astute American.

"Sometimes, your honour," was the careful reply. "I suppose you know what Mr. Calhoun's career has been, eh?"

"Oh, in a way, your honour. They tell me he is a good swordsman."

The governor flushed. "He told you that, did he?"

"No, no, your honour, never. He told me naught. He does not boast. He's as modest as a man from Virginia. He does not brag at all."

"Who told you, then?"

"Ah, well, I heard it in the town! They speak of him there. They all know that Kingston and Spanish Town, and all the other places, would have been French by now, if it hadn't been for him. Oh, they talk a lot about him in Kingston and thereabouts!"

"What swordsmanship do they speak of that was remarkable?"

"Has your honour forgotten, then? Sure, seven years is a poor limit for a good memory." The blow was a shrewd one, for Darius Boland knew that Phoenix Park must be a galling memory to his honour. But Darius did not care. He guessed why the governor was coming to Salem, and he could not shirk having his hand in it. He had no fear of the results.

"Aye, seven years is a poor limit," he repeated.

The governor showed no feeling. He had been hit, and he took it as part of the game. "Ah, you mean the affair in Phoenix Park?" he said with no apparent feeling.

Darius tossed his head a little. "Wasn't it a clever bit of work? Didn't he get fame there by defeating one of the best swordsmen—in Ireland?"

Lord Mallow nodded. "He got fame, which he lost in time," he answered.

"You mean he put the sword that had done such good work against a champion into a man's bowels, without 'by your leave,' or 'will you draw and fight'?"

"Something like that," answered the governor sagely.

"Is it true you believed he'd strike a man that wasn't armed, sir?"

The governor winced, but showed nothing. "He'd been drinking—he is a heavy drinker. Do you never drink with him?"

Darius Boland's face took on a strange look. Here was an intended insult to Dyck Calhoun. Right well the governor knew their relative social positions. Darius pulled at the hair on his chin reflectively. "Yes, I've drunk his liquor, but not as you mean, your honour. He'd drink with any man at all: he has no nasty pride. But he doesn't drink with me." "Modest enough he is to be a good republican, eh, Boland?"

"Since your honour puts it so, it must stand. I'll not dispute it, me being what I am and employed by whom I am."

Darius Boland had a gift of saying the right thing in the right way, and he had said it now. The governor was not so dense as to put this man against him, for women were curious folk. They often attach importance to the opinion of a faithful servant and let it weigh against great men. He had once lost a possible fortune by spurning a little terrier of the daughter of the Earl of Shallow, and the lesson had sunk deep into his mind. He was high-placed, but not so high as to be sure of success where a woman was concerned, and he had made up his mind to capture Sheila Llyn, if so be she could be caught flying, or settled, or sleeping.

"Ah, well, he has drunk with worse men than republicans. Boland. He was a common sailor. He drank what was given him with whom it chanced in the fo'castle."

Darius sniffed a little, and kept his head. "But he changed all that, your honour, and gave sailormen better drink than they ever had, I hear. In Jamaica he treats his slaves as though they were men and not Mohicans."

"Well, he'll have less freedom in future, Boland, for word has come from London that he's to keep to his estate and never leave it."

Darius looked concerned, and his dry face wrinkled still more. "Ah, and when was this word come, your honour?"

"But yesterday, Boland, and he'll do well to obey, for I have no choice but to take him in hand if he goes gallivanting."

"Gallivanting—here, in Jamaica! Does your honour remember where we are?"

"Not in a bishop's close, Boland."

"No, not in a bishop's close, nor in an archdeacon's garden. For of all places on earth where they defy religion, this is the worst, your honour. There's as much religion here as you'll find in a last year's bird's- nest. Gallivanting—where should he gallivant?"

The governor waved a contemptuous hand. "It doesn't need ingenuity to find a place, for some do it on their own estate. I have seen it."

Darius spoke sharply. "Your honour, there's naught on Mr. Calhoun's estate that's got the taint, and he's not the man to go hunting for it. Drink—well, suppose a gentleman does take his quartern, is it a crime? I ask your honour, is that a crime in Jamaica?"

"It's no crime, Boland; nevertheless, your Mr. Calhoun will have to take his fill on his own land from the day I send him the command of the London Government."

"And what day will that be, your honour?"

To be questioned by one who had been a revolutionary was distasteful to the governor. "That day will be when I find the occasion opportune, my brave Boland," he said sourly.

"Why 'brave,' your honour?" There was an ominous light in Darius' eye.

"Did you not fight with George Washington against the King of England— against King George? And if you did, was that not brave?"

"It was true, your honour," came the firm reply. "It was the one right good thing to do, as we proved it by the victory we had. We did what we set out to do. But see, if you will let a poor man speak his mind, if I were you I'd not impose the command on Mr. Calhoun."

"Why, Boland?"

Darius spoke courageously. "Your honour, he has many friends in Jamaica, and they won't stand it. Besides, he won't stand it. And if he contests your honour, the island will be with him."

"Is he popular here as all that?" asked the governor with a shrug of the shoulders.

"They don't give their faith and confidence to order, your honour," answered Darius with a dry inflection.

The burr in the voice did not escape the other's attentive ear. He swung a glance sharply at Darius. "What is the secret of his popularity—how has it been made?" he asked morosely.

Darius' face took on a caustic look. "He's only been in the island a short time, your honour, and I don't know that I'm a good judge, but I'll say the people here have great respect for bravery and character."

"Character! Character!" sniffed the governor. "Where did he get that?"

"Well, I don't know his age, but it's as old as he is—his character. Say, I'm afraid I'm talking too much, your honour. We speak our minds in Virginia; we never count the cost."

The governor waved a deprecating hand. "You'll find the measure of your speech in good time, Boland, I've no doubt. Meanwhile, you've got the pleasure of hunting it. Character, you say. Well, that isn't what the judge and jury said."

Darius took courage again. Couldn't Lord Mallow have any decency?

"Judge and jury be damned, your honour," he answered boldly. "It was an Irish verdict. It had no sense. It was a bit of ballyhack. He did not kill an unarmed man. It isn't his way. Why, he didn't kill you when he had you at his mercy in Phoenix Park, now, did he, governor?"

A flush stole up the governor's face from his chin. Then he turned to Boland and looked him straight in the eyes. "That's true. He had me at his mercy, and he did not take my life."

"Then, why do you head the cabal against him? Why do you take joy in commanding him to stay on his estate? Is that grateful, your honour?"

The governor winced, but he said: "It's what I am ordered to do, my man. I'm a servant of the Crown, and the Crown has ordained it."

Again Darius grew stronger in speech. "But why do you have pleasure in it? Is nothing left to your judgment? Do you say to me that if he keeps the freedom such as he has enjoyed, you'd punish him? Must the governor be as ruthless as his master? Look, your honour, I wouldn't impose that command—not till I'd taken his advice about the Maroons anyway. There's trouble brewing, and Mr. Calhoun knows it. He has warned you through the provost-marshal. I'd heed his warning, your honour, or it may injure your reputation as a ruler. No, I'd see myself in nethermost hell before I'd meddle with Mr. Calhoun. He's a dangerous man, when he's moved."

"Boland, you'll succeed as a schoolmaster, when all else fails. You teach persistently."

"Your honour is clever enough to know what's what, but I'd like to see the Maroons dealt with. This is not my country, but I've got interests here, or my mistress has, and that's the same to me. . . . Does your honour travel often without a suite?"

The governor waved a hand behind him. "I left them at the last plantation, and rode on alone. I felt safe enough till I saw you, Boland."

He smiled grimly, and a grimmer smile stole to the lean lips of the manager of Salem. "Fear is a good thing for forward minds, your honour," he said with respect in the tone of his voice and challenge in the words.

"I'll say this, Boland, your mistress has been fortunate in her staff. You have a ready tongue."

"Oh, I'm readier in other things, your honour, as you'd find on occasion. But I thank you for the compliment in a land where compliments are few. For a planter's country it has few who speak as well as they entertain. I'll say this for the land you govern, the hospitality is rich and rare."

"In what way, Boland?"

"Why, your honour, it is the custom for a man and his whole family to go on a visit to a neighbour, perhaps twenty or forty miles away, bring their servants—maybe a dozen or more—and sit down on their neighbour's hearthstone. There they eat his food, drink his wine, exhaust his fowl- yard and debilitate his cook—till all the resources of the place are played out; then with both hands round his friend's neck the man and his people will say adieu, and go back to their own accumulated larder and await the return visit. The wonder is Jamaica is so rich, for truly the waste is harmful. We have the door open in Virginia, but not in that way. We welcome, but we don't debauch."

The governor smiled. "As you haven't old friends here, you should make your life a success—ah, there is the open door, Boland, and your mistress standing in it. But I come without my family, and with no fell purposes. I will not debilitate the cook; I will not exhaust the fowl- yard. A roasted plantain is good enough for me."

Darius' looks quickened, and he jerked his chin up. "So, your honour, so. But might I ask that you weigh carefully the warning of Mr. Calhoun. There's trouble at Trelawny. I have it from good sources, and Mr. Calhoun has made preparations against the sure risings. I'd take heed of what he says. He knows. Your honour, it is not my mistress in the doorway, it is Mrs. Llyn; she is shorter than my mistress."

The governor shaded his brow with his hands. Then he touched up his horse. "Yes, you are right, Boland. It is Mrs. Llyn. And look you, Boland, I'll think over what you've said about the Maroons and Mr. Calhoun. He's doing no harm as he is, that's sure. So why shouldn't he go on as he is? That's your argument, isn't it?"

Boland nodded. "It's part of my argument, not all of it. Of course he's doing no harm; he's doing good every day. He's got a stiff hand for the shirker and the wanton, but he's a man that knows his mind, and that's a good thing in Jamaica."

"Does he come here-ever?"

"He has been here only once since our arrival. There are reasons why he does not come, as your honour kens, knowing the history of Erris Boyne."

A quarter of an hour later Darius Boland said to Sheila: "He's got an order from England to keep Mr. Calhoun to his estate and to punish him, if he infringes the order."

Sheila started. "He will infringe the order if it's made, Boland. But the governor will be unwise to try and impose it. I will tell him so."

"But, mistress, he should not be told that this news comes from me."

"No, he should not, Boland. I can tempt him to speak of it, I think. He hates Mr. Calhoun, and will not need much prompting."

Sheila had changed since she saw Dyck Calhoun last. Her face was thinner, but her form was even fuller than it was when she had bade him good-bye, as it seemed to him for ever, and as it at first seemed to her. Through anxious days and nights she had fought with the old passion; and at last it seemed the only way to escape from the torture was by making all thought of him impossible. How could this be done? Well, Lord Mallow would offer a way. Lord Mallow was a man of ancient Irish family, was a governor, had ability, was distinguished-looking in a curious lean way; and he had a real gift with his tongue. He stood high in the opinion of the big folk at Westminster, and had a future. He had a winning way with women—a subtle, perniciously attractive way with her sex, and to herself he had been delicately persuasive. He had the ancient gift of picturesqueness without ornamentation. He had a strong will and a healthy imagination. He was a man of mettle and decision.

Of all who had entered her field outside of Dyck Calhoun he was the most attractive; he was the nearest to the possible husband which she must one day take. And if at any day at all, why not now when she needed a man as she had never done—when she needed to forget? The sardonic critic might ask why she did not seek forgetfulness in flight; why she remained in Jamaica where was what she wished to forget. There was no valid reason, save a business one, why she should remain in Jamaica, and she was in a quandary when she put the question. There were, however, other reasons which she used when all else failed to satisfy her exigeant mind. There was the question of vessels to Virginia or New York. They were few and not good, and in any case they could have no comfortable journey to the United States for several weeks at least, for, since the revolutionary war, commerce with the United States was sparse.

Also, there was the question of Salem. She did not feel she ought to waste the property which her Uncle Bryan had nurtured with care. In justice to his memory, and in fairness to Darius Boland, she felt she ought to stay—for a time. It did not occur to her that these reasons would vanish like mist—that a wilful woman would sweep them into the basket of forgetfulness, and do what she wished in spite of reason: that all else would be sacrificed, if the spirit so possessed her. Truth was that, far back in her consciousness, there was a vision of better days and things. It was as though some angel touched the elbow of her spirit and said: "Stay on, for things will be better than they seem. You will find your destiny here. Stay on."

So she had stayed. She was deluding herself to believe that what she was doing was all for the best; that the clouds were rising; that her fate had fairer aspects than had seemed possible when Dyck Calhoun told her the terrible tale of the death of her father, Erris Boyne. Yet memory gave a touch of misery and bitterness to all she thought and did. For twenty-five years she had lived in ignorance as to her paternity. It surely was futile that her mother should have suffered all those years, with little to cheer her, while her daughter should be radiant in health and with a mind free from care or sadness. Yet the bitterest thing of all was the thought that her father was a traitor, and had died sacrificing another man. When Dyck had told her first, she had shivered with anger and shame—but anger and shame had gone. Only one thing gave her any comfort—the man who knew Erris Boyne was a traitor, and could profit by telling it, held his tongue for her own sake, kept his own counsel, and went to prison for four years as the price of his silence. He was now her neighbour and he loved her, and, if the shadow of a grave was not between them, would offer himself in marriage to her. This she knew beyond all doubt. He had given all a man can give—had saved her and killed her father—in ignorance had killed her father; in love had saved herself. What was to be done?

In a strange spirit Sheila entered the room where the governor sat with her mother. She had reached the limit of her powers of suffering. Soon after her mother had left the room, the governor said:

"Why do you think I have come here to-day?"

He added to the words a note of sympathy, even of passion in his voice.

"It was to visit my mother and myself, and to see how Salem looks after our stay on it, was it not?"

"Yes, to see your mother and yourself, but chiefly the latter. As for Salem, it looks as though a mastermind had been at work, I see it in everything. The slaves are singing. Listen!"

He held up a finger as though to indicate attention and direction.

"One, two, three, All de same; Black, white, brown, All de same; All de same. One, two, three—"

They could hear the words indistinctly.

"What do the words mean?" asked Sheila. "I don't understand them."

"No more do I, but I think they refer to the march of pestilence or plague. Numbers, colour, race, nothing matters, the plague sweeps all away. Ah, then, I was right," he added. "There is the story in other words. Listen again."

To clapping of hands in unison, the following words were sung:

"New-come buckra, He get sick, He tak fever, He be die; He be die. New-come buckra—"

"Well, it may be a chant of the plague, but it's lacking in poetry," she remarked. "Doesn't it seem so to you?"

"No, I certainly shouldn't go so far as that. Think of how much of a story is crowded into those few words. No waste, nothing thrown away. It's all epic, or that's my view, anyhow," said the governor. "If you look out on those who are singing it, you'd see they are resting from their labours; that they are fighting the ennui which most of us feel when we rest from our labours. Let us look at them."

The governor stood up and came to the open French windows that faced the fields of sugar-cane. In the near distance were clumps of fruit trees, of hedges of lime and flowering shrubs, rows of orange trees, mangoes, red and purple, forbidden-fruit and grapefruit, the large scarlet fruit of the acqui, the avocado-pear, the feathering bamboo, and the Jack-fruit tree, with its enormous fruit like pumpkins. Parrots were chattering in the acacia and in the Otaheite plum tree, with its bright pink blossoms like tassels, and flanking the negro huts by the river were bowers of grenadilla fruit. Around the negro huts were small individual plantations kept by the slaves, for which they had one day a fortnight, besides Sundays, free to work on their own account. Here and there also were patches of "ground-fruit," as the underground vegetables were called, while there passed by on their way to the open road leading to Kingston wains loaded with sugar-casks, drawn by oxen, and in two cases by sumpter mules.

"Is there anything finer than that in Virginia?" asked the governor. "I have never been in Virginia, but I take this to be in some ways like that state. Is it?"

"In some ways only. We have not the same profusion of wild fruits and trees, but we have our share—and it is not so hot as here. It is a better country, though."

"In what way is it better?" the governor asked almost acidly.

"It is better governed."

"What do you mean by that? Isn't Jamaica well governed?"

"Not so well that it couldn't be improved," was Sheila's reply.

"What improvements would you suggest?" Lord Mallow asked urbanely, for he was set to play his cards carefully to-day.

"More wisdom in the governor," was the cheerful and bright reply.

"Is he lacking in wisdom?"

"In some ways, yes."

"Will you mind specifying some of the things?"

"I think he is careless."

"Careless—as to what?"

Sheila smiled. "He is indifferent to good advice. He has been told of trouble among the Maroons, that they mean to rise; he has been advised to make preparations, and he makes none, and he is deceived by a show of loyalty on the part of the slaves. Lord Mallow, if the free Maroons rise, why should not the black slaves rise at the same time? Why do you not act?"

"Is everybody whose good opinion is worth having mad?" answered the governor. "I have sent my inspectors to Trelawney. I have had reports from them. I have used every care—what would you have me do?"

"Used every care? Why don't you ensure the Maroons peaceableness by advancing on them? Why don't you take them prisoners? They are enraged that two of their herdsmen should be whipped by a negro-slave under the order of one of your captains. They are angry and disturbed and have ambushed the roads to Trelawney, so I'm told."

"Did Mr. Calhoun tell you that when he was here?"

"It was not that which Mr. Calhoun told me the only time he came here. But who Erris Boyne was. I never knew till, in his honour, he told me, coming here for that purpose. I never knew who my father was till he told me. My mother had kept it from me all my life."

The governor looked alert. "And you have not seen him since that day?"

"I have seen him, but I have not spoken to him. It was in the distance only."

"I understand your manager, Mr. Boland, sees him."

"My manager does not share my private interests—or troubles. He is free to go where he will, to speak to whom he chooses. He visits Enniskillen, I suppose—it is a well-managed plantation on Jamaican lines, and its owner is a man of mark."

Sheila spoke without agitation of any kind; her face was firm and calm, her manner composed, her voice even. As she talked, she seemed to be probing the centre of a flower which she had caught from a basket at the window, and her whole personality was alight and vivifying, her good temper and spirit complete. As he looked at her, he had an overmastering desire to make her his own—his wife. She was worth hundreds of thousands of pounds; she had beauty, ability and authority. She was the acme of charm and good bearing. With her he could climb high on the ladder of life. He might be a really great figure in the British world- if she gave her will to help him, to hold up his hands. It had never occurred to him that Dyck Calhoun could be a rival, till he had heard of Dyck's visit to Sheila and her mother, till he had heard Sheila praise him at the first dinner he had given to the two ladies on Christmas Day.

On that day it was clear Sheila did not know who her father was; but stranger things had happened than that she should take up with, and even marry, a man imprisoned for killing another, even one who had been condemned as a mutineer, and had won freedom by saving the king's navy. But now that Sheila knew the truth there could be no danger! Dyck Calhoun would be relegated to his proper place in the scheme of things. Who was there to stand between him and his desire? What was there to stay the great event? He himself was a peer and high-placed, for it was a time when the West Indian Islands were a centre of the world's fighting, where men like Rodney had made everlasting fame; where the currents of world-controversy challenged, met and fought for control.

The West Indies was as much a cock-pit of the fighting powers as ever Belgium was; and in those islands there was wealth and the power which wealth buys; the clash of white and black and coloured peoples; the naval contests on the sea; the horrible massacres and enslavement of free white peoples, as in St. Domingo and Grenada; the dominating attacks of people fighting for control—peoples of old empires like France and Spain, and new empires like that of Britain. These were a centre of colonial life as important as had been the life in Virginia and New York and the New England States and Canada—indeed, more important than Canada in one sense, for the West Indies brought wealth to the British Isles, and had a big export trade. He lost no time in bringing matters to an issue.

He got to his feet and came near to her. His eyes were inflamed with passion, his manner was impressive. He had a distinguished face, become more distinguished since his assumption of governorship, and authority had increased his personality.

"A man of mark!" he said. "You mean a marked man. Let me tell you I have an order from the British Government to confine him to his estate; not to permit him to leave it; and, if he does, to arrest him. That is my commanded duty. You approve, do you not? Or are you like most women, soft at heart to bold criminals?"

Sheila did not reply at once. The news was no news to her, for Darius Boland had told her; but she thought it well to let the governor think he had made a new, sensational statement.

"No," she said at last, looking him calmly in the eyes. "I have no soft feelings for criminals as criminals, none at all. And there is every reason why I should be adamant to this man, Dyck Calhoun. But, Lord Mallow, I would go carefully about this, if I were you. He is a man who takes no heed of people, high or low, and has no fear of consequences. Have you thought of the consequences to yourself? Suppose he resists, what will you do?"

"If he resists I will attack him with due force."

"You mean you will send your military and police to attack him?" The gibe was covered, but it found the governor's breast. He knew what she was meaning.

"You would not expect me to do police work, would you? Is that what your president does? What your great George Washington does? Does he make the state arrests with his own hand?"

"I have no doubt he would if the circumstances were such as to warrant it. He has no small vices, and no false feelings. He has proved himself," she answered boldly.

"Well, in that case," responded Lord Mallow irritably, "the event will be as is due. The man is condemned by my masters, and he must submit to my authority. He is twice a criminal, and—"

"And yet a hero and a good swordsman, and as honest as men are made in a dishonest world. Your Admiralty and your government first pardoned the man, and then gave him freedom on the island which you tried to prevent; and now they turn round and confine him to his acres. Is that pardon in a real sense? Did you write to the government and say he ought not to be free to roam, lest he should discover more treasure-chests and buy another estate? Was it you?"

The governor shook his head. "No, not I. I told the government in careful and unrhetorical language the incident of his coming here, and what I did, and my reasons for doing it—that was all."

"And you being governor they took your advice. See, my lord, if this thing is done to him it will be to your own discomfiture. It will hurt you in the public service."

"Why, to hear you speak, mistress, it would almost seem you had a fondness for the man who killed your father, who went to jail for it, and—"

"And became a mutineer," intervened the girl flushing. "Why not say all? Why not catalogue his offences? Fondness for the man who killed my father, you say! Yes, I had a deep and sincere fondness for him ever since I met him at Playmore over seven years ago. Yes, a fondness which only his crime makes impossible. But in all that really matters I am still his friend. He did not know he was killing my father, who had no claims upon me, none at all, except that through him I have life and being; but it is enough to separate us for ever in the eyes of the world, and in my eyes. Not morally, of course, but legally and actually. He and I are as far apart as winter and summer; we are parted for ever and ever and ever."

Now at last she was inflamed. Every nerve in her was alive. All she had ever felt for Dyck Calhoun came rushing to the surface, demanding recognition, reasserting itself. As she used the words, "ever and ever and ever," it was like a Cordelia bidding farewell to Lear, her father, for ever, for there was that in her voice which said: "It is final separation, it is the judgment of Jehovah, and I must submit. It is the last word."

Lord Mallow saw his opportunity, and did not hesitate. "No, you are wrong, wholly wrong," he said. "I did not bias what I said in my report —a report I was bound to make—by any covert prejudice against Mr. Calhoun. I guarded myself especially"—there he lied, but he was an incomparable liar—"lest it should be used against him. It would appear, however, that the new admiral's report with mine were laid together, and the government came to its conclusion accordingly. So I am bound to do my duty."

"If you—oh, if you did your duty, you would not obey the command of the government. Are there not times when to obey is a crime, and is not this one of them? Lord Mallow, you would be doing as great a crime as Mr. Dyck Calhoun ever committed, or could commit, if you put this order into actual fact. You are governor here, and your judgment would be accepted —remember it is an eight weeks' journey to London at the least, and what might not happen in that time! Are you not given discretion?"

The governor nodded. "Yes, I am given discretion, but this is an order."

"An order!" she commented. "Then if it should not be fulfilled, break it and take the consequences. The principle should be—Do what is right, and have no fear."

"I will think it over," answered the governor. "What you say has immense weight with me—more even than I have words to say. Yes, I will think it over—I promise you. You are a genius—you prevail."

Her face softened, a new something came into her manner. "You do truly mean it?" she asked with lips that almost trembled.

It seemed to her that to do this thing for Dyck Calhoun was the least that was possible, and it was perhaps the last thing she might ever be able to do. She realized how terrible it would be for him to be shorn of the liberty he had always had; how dangerous it might be in many ways; and how the people of the island might become excited by it—and troublesome.

"Yes, I mean it," answered Lord Mallow. "I mean it exactly as I say it."

She smiled. "Well, that should recommend you for promotion," she said happily. "I am sure you will decide not to enforce the order, if you think about it. You shall be promoted, your honour, to a better place," she repeated, half-satirically.

"Shall I then?" he asked with a warm smile and drawing close to her. "Shall I? Then it can only be by your recommendation. Ah, my dear, my beautiful dear one," he hastened to add, "my life is possible henceforward only through you. You have taught me by your life and person, by your beauty and truth, by your nobility of mind and character how life should be lived. I have not always deserved your good opinion nor that of others. I have fought duels and killed men; I have aspired to place; I have connived at appointment; I have been vain, overbearing and insistent on my rights or privileges; I have played the dictator here in Jamaica; I have not been satisfied save to get my own way; but you have altered all that. Your coming here has given me a new outlook. Sheila, you have changed me, and you can change me infinitely more. I who have been a master wish to become your slave. I want you—beloved, I want you for my wife."

He reached out as though to take her hand, but she drew back from him. His thrilling words had touched her, as she had seldom been touched, as she had never been touched by any one save the man that must never be hers; she was submerged for the moment in the flood of his eloquence, and his yielding to her on the point of Dyck's imprisonment gave fresh accent to his words. Yet she could not, she dared not yet say yes to his demand.

"My lord," she said, "oh, you have stirred me! Yet I dare not reply to you as you wish. Life is hard as it is, and you have suddenly made it harder. What is more, I do not, I cannot, believe you. You have loved many. Your life has been a covert menace. Oh, I know what they said of you in Ireland. I know not of your life here. I suppose it is circumspect now; but in Ireland it was declared you were notorious with women."

"It is a lie," he answered. "I was not notorious. I was no better and no worse than many another man. I played, I danced attendance, I said soft nothings, but I was tied to no woman in all Ireland. I was frolicsome and adventurous, but no more. There is no woman who can say I used her ill or took from her what I did not—"

"Atone for, Lord Mallow?"

"Atone—no. What I did not give return for, was what I was going to say."

The situation was intense. She was in a place from which there was no escape except by flight or refusal. She did not really wish to refuse. Somehow, there had come upon her the desire to put all thought of Dyck Calhoun out of her mind by making it impossible for her to think of him; and marriage was the one sure and complete way—marriage with this man, was it possible? He held high position, he was her fellow countryman and an Irish peer, and she was the daughter of an evil man, who was, above all else, a traitor to his country, though Lord Mallow did not know that. The only one she knew possessed of the facts was the man she desired to save herself from in final way—Dyck Calhoun. Her heart was for the moment soft to Lord Mallow, in spite of his hatred of Dyck Calhoun. The governor was a man of charm in conversation. He was born with rare faculties. Besides, he had knowledge of humanity and of women. He knew how women could be touched. He had appealed to Sheila more by ability than by aught else. His concessions to her were discretion in a way. They opened the route to her affections, as his place and title could not do.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5     Next Part
Home - Random Browse