"No, no, no, believe me, Sheila, I was a man who had too many temptations —that was all. But I did not spoil my life by them, and I am here a trusted servant of the government. I am a better governor than your first words to me would make you seem to think."
Her eyes were shining, her face was troubled, her tongue was silent. She knew not what to say. She felt she could not say yes—yet she wanted to escape from him. Her good fortune did not desert her. Suddenly the door of the room opened and her mother entered.
"There is a member of your suite here, your honour, asking for you. It is of most grave importance. It is urgent. What shall I say?"
"Say nothing. I am coming," said the governor. "I am coming now."
OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE PHILISTINES
That night the Maroons broke loose upon Jamaica, and began murder and depredation against which the governor's activities were no check. Estates were invaded, and men, women and children killed, or carried into the mountains and held as hostages. In the middle and western part of the island the ruinous movements went on without being stayed; planters and people generally railed at the governor, and said that through his neglect these dark things were happening. It was said he had failed to punish offences by the Maroons, and this had given them confidence, filling them with defiance. They had one advantage not possessed by the government troops and militia—they were masters of every square rod of land in the middle and west of the island. Their plan was to raid, to ambush, to kill and to excite the slaves to rebel.
The first assault and repulse took place not far from Enniskillen, Dyck Calhoun's plantation, and Michael Clones captured a Maroon who was slightly wounded.
Michael challenged him thus: "Come now, my blitherin' friend, tell us your trouble—why are you risin'? You don't do this without cause— what's the cause?"
The black man, naked except for a cloth about his loins, and with a small bag at his hip, slung from a cord over his shoulder, showed his teeth in a stark grimace.
"You're a newcomer here, massa, or you'd know we're treated bad," he answered. "We're robbed and trod on and there's no word kept with us. We asked the governor for more land and he moved us off. We warned him against having one of our head young men flogged by a slave in the presence of slaves—for we are free men, and he laughs. So, knowing a few strong men can bring many weak men to their knees, we rose. I say this—there's plenty weak men in Jamaica, men who don't know right when they see it. So we rose, massa, and we'll make Jamaica sick before we've done. They can't beat us, for we can ambush here, and shoot those that come after us. We hide, one behind this rock and one behind that, two or three together, and we're safe. But the white soldiers come all together and beat drums and blow horns, and we know where they are, and so we catch 'em and kill 'em. You'll see, we'll capture captains and generals, and we'll cut their heads off and bury them in their own guts."
He made an ugly grimace, and a loathsome gesture, and Michael Clones felt the man ought to die. He half drew his sword, but, thinking better of it, he took the Maroon to the Castle and locked him up in a slave's hut, having first bound him and put him in the charge of one he could trust. But as he put the man away, he said:
"You talk of your people hiding, and men not being able to find you; but did you never hear of bloodhounds, that can hunt you down, and chew you up? Did you never hear of them?"
The man's face wrinkled like a rag, for there is one thing the native fears more than all else, and that is the tooth of the hound. But he gathered courage, and said: "The governor has no hounds. There ain't none in Jamaica. We know dat—all of us know dat—all of us know dat, massa."
Michael Clones laughed, and it was not pleasant to hear. "It may be the governor has no bloodhounds, and would not permit their being brought into the island, but my master is bringing them in himself—a lot with their drivers from Cuba, and you Maroons will have all you can do to hide. Sure, d'ye think every wan in the island is as foolish as the governor? If you do, y'are mistaken, and that's all there is to say."
"The hounds not here—in de island, massa!" declared the Maroon questioningly.
"They'll be here within the next few hours, and then where will you and your pals be? You'll be caught between sharp teeth—nice, red, sharp, bloody teeth; and you'll make good steak-better than your best olio."
The native gave a moan—it was the lament of one whose crime was come tete-a-tete with its own punishment.
"That's the game to play," said Michael to himself as he fastened the door tight. "The hounds will settle this fool-rebellion quicker than aught else. Mr. Calhoun's a wise man, and he ought to be governor here. Criminal? As much as the angel Gabriel! He must put down this rebellion—no wan else can. They're stronger, the Maroons, than ever they've been. They've planned this with skill, and they'll need a lot of handlin'. We're safe enough here, but down there at Salem—well, they may be caught in the bloody net. Bedad, that's sure."
A few moments afterwards he met Dyck Calhoun. "Michael," said Dyck, "things are safe enough here, but we've prepared! The overseers, bookkeepers and drivers are loyal enough. But there are others not so safe. I'm going to Salem-riding as hard as I can, with six of our best men. They're not so daft at Salem as we are, Michael. They won't know how to act or what to do. Darius Boland is a good man, but he's only had Virginian experience, and this is different. A hundred Maroons are as good as a thousand white soldiers in the way the Maroons fight. There are a thousand of them, and they can lay waste this island, if they get going. So I shall stop them. The hounds are outside the harbour now, Michael. The ship Vincent, bringing them, was sighted by a sloop two days ago, making slowly for Kingston. She should be here before we've time to turn round. Michael, the game is in our hands, if we play it well. Do you go down to Kingston and—"
He detailed what Michael was to do on landing the hounds, and laid out plans for the immediate future. "They're in danger at Salem, Michael, so we must help them. The hounds will settle this whole wretched business."
Michael told him of his prisoner, and what effect the threat about the hounds had had. A look of purpose came into Dyck's face.
"A hound is as fair as a gun, and hounds shall be used here in Jamaica. The governor can't refuse their landing now. The people would kill him if he did. It was I proposed it all."
"Look, sir—who's that?" asked Michael, as they saw a figure riding under the palms not far away.
It was very early morning, and the light was dim yet, but there was sufficient to make even far sight easy. Dyck shaded his forehead with his hand.
"It's not one of our people, Michael. It's a stranger."
As the rider came on he was stopped by two of the drivers of the estate. Dyck and Michael saw him hold up a letter, and a moment later he was on his way to Dyck, galloping hard. Arrived, he dropped to the ground, and saluted Dyck.
"A letter from Salem, sir," he said, and handed it over to Dyck.
Dyck nodded, broke the seal of the letter and read it quickly. Then he nodded again and bade the man eat a hearty breakfast and return with him on one of the Enniskillen horses, as his own would be exhausted. "We'll help protect Salem, my man," said Dyck.
The man grinned. "That's good," he answered. "They knew naught of the rising when I left. But the governor was there yesterday, and he'd protect us."
"Nonsense, fellow, the governor would go straight to Spanish Town where he belongs, when there is trouble."
When the man had gone, Dyck turned to his servant. "Michael," he said, "the news in the letter came from Darius Boland. He says the governor told him he had orders from England to confine me here at Enniskillen, and he meant to do it. We'll see how he does it. If he sends his marshals, we'll make Gadarene swine of them."
There was a smile at his lips, and it was contemptuous, and the lines of his forehead told of resolve. "Michael," he added, "we'll hunt Lord Mallow with the hounds of our good fortune, for this war is our war. They can't win it without me, and they shan't. Without the hounds it may be a two years' war—with the hounds it can't go beyond a week or so."
"If the hounds get here, sir! But if they don't?"
Dyck laid his hand upon the sword at his side. "If they don't get here, Michael, still the war will be ours, for we understand fighting, and the governor does not. Confine me here, will he? If he does, he'll be a better man than I have ever known him, Michael. In a few hours I shall be at Salem, to do what he could not, and would not, do if he could. His love is as deep as water on a roof, no deeper. He'll think first of himself, and afterwards of the owner of Salem or any other. Let me show you what I mean to do once we've Salem free from danger. Come and have a look at my chart."
Some hours later Dyck Calhoun, with his six horsemen, was within a mile or so of Salem. They had ridden hard in the heat and were tired, but there was high spirit in the men, for they were behind a trusted leader —a man who ate little, but who did not disdain a bottle of Madeira or a glass of brandy, and who made good every step of the way he went— watchful, alert, careful, determined. They cared little what his past had been. Jamaica was not a heaven for the good, but it was a haven for many who had been ill-used elsewhere; where each man, as though he were really in a new world, was judged by his daily actions and not by any history of a hidden or an open past. As they came across country, Dyck always ahead, they saw how he responded to every sign of life in the bush, how he moved always with discretion where ambush seemed possible. They knew how on his own estate he never made mistakes of judgment; that he held the balance carefully, and that his violences, rare and tremendous, were not outbursts of an unregulated nature. "You can't fool Calhoun," was a common phrase in the language of Enniskillen, and there were few in the surrounding country who would not have upheld its truth.
Now, to-day, he was almost moodily silent, reserved and watchful. None knew the eddies of life which struggled for mastery in him, nor of his horrible disappointments. None knew of his love for Sheila. Yet all knew that he had killed—or was punished for killing—Erris Boyne. None of them had seen Sheila, but all had heard of her, and the governor's courtship of her, and all wondered why Dyck Calhoun should be doing what clearly the governor should do.
Somehow, in spite of the criminal record with which Calhoun's life was stained, they had a respect for him they did not have for Lord Mallow. Dyck's life in Jamaica was clean; and his progress as a planter had been free from black spots. He even kept no mistress, and none had ever known him to have to do with women, black, brown, or white. He had never gone a-Maying, as the saying was, and his only weakness or fault—if it was a fault—was a fondness for the bottle of good wine which was ever open on his table, and for tobacco in the smoking-leaf. To-day he smoked incessantly and carefully. He threw no loose ends of burning tobacco from cigar or pipe into the loose dry leaves and stiff-cut ground. Yet they knew the small clouds floating away from his head did not check his observation. That was proved beyond peradventure when they were within sight of the homestead of Salem on an upland well-wooded. It was in apparently happy circumstances, for they could see no commotion about the homestead; they saw men with muskets, evidently keeping guard—yet too openly keeping guard, and so some said to each other.
Presently Dyck reined his horse. Each man listened attentively, and eyed the wood ahead of them, for it was clear Dyck suspected danger there. For a moment there seemed doubt in Dyck's mind what to do, but presently he had decided.
"Ride slow for Salem," he said. "It's Maroons there in the bush. They are waiting for night. They won't attack us now. They're in ambush—of that I'm sure. If they want to capture Salem, they'll not give alarm by firing on us, so if we ride on they'll think we haven't sensed them. If they do attack us, we'll know they are in good numbers, for they'll be facing us as well as the garrison of Salem. But keep your muskets ready. Have a drink," he added, and handed his horn of liquor. "If they see us drink, and they will, they'll think we've only stopped to refresh, and we'll be safe. In any case, if they attack, fire your muskets at them and ride like the devil. Don't dismount and don't try to find them in the rocks. They'll catch us that way, as they've caught others. It's a poor game fighting hidden men. I want to get them into the open down below, and that's where they'll be before we're many hours older."
With this he rode on slightly ahead, and presently put his horse at a gentle canter which he did not increase as they neared the place where the black men ambushed. Every man of the group behaved well. None showed nervousness, even when one of the horses, conscious of hidden Maroons in the wood, gave a snort and made a sharp movement out of the track, in an attempt to get greater speed.
That was only for an instant, however. Yet every man's heart beat faster as they came to the place where the ambush was. Indeed, Dyck saw a bush move, and had a glimpse of a black, hideous face which quickly disappeared. Dyck's imperturbable coolness kept them steady. They even gossiped of idle things loud enough for the hidden Maroons to hear. No face showed suspicion or alarm, as they passed, while all felt the presence of many men in the underbrush. Only when they had passed the place, did they realize the fulness of the danger through which they had gone. Dyck talked to them presently without turning round, for that might have roused suspicion, and while they were out of danger now, there was the future and Dyck's plan which he now unfolded.
"They'll come down into the open before it's dark," he said quietly, "and when they do that, we'll have 'em. They've no chance to ambush in the cane-fields now. We'll get them in the open, and wipe them out. Don't look round. Keep steady, and we'll ride a little more quickly soon."
A little later they cantered to the front door of the Salem homestead.
The first face they saw there was that of Darius Boland. It had a look of trouble. Dyck explained. "We thought you might not have heard of the rise of the Maroons. We have no ladies at Enniskillen. We prepared, and we're safe enough there, as things are. Your ladies must go at once to Spanish Town, unless—"
"Unless they stay here! Well, they would not be unwise, for though the slaves under the old management might have joined the Maroons, they will not do so now. We have got them that far. But, Mr. Calhoun, the ladies aren't here. They rode away into the hills this morning, and they've not come back.
"I was just sending a search party for them. I did not know of the rise of the Maroons."
"In what direction did they go?" asked Dyck with anxiety, though his tone was even.
Darius Boland pointed. "They went slightly northwest, and if they go as I think they meant to do, they would come back the way you came in."
"They were armed?" Dyck asked sharply.
"Yes, they were armed," was the reply. "Miss Llyn had a small pistol. She learned to carry one in Virginia, and she has done so ever since we came here."
"Listen, Boland," said Dyck with anxiety. "Up there in the hills by which we came are Maroons hidden, and they will invade this place to- night. We were ready to fight them, of course, as we came, but it's a risky business, and we wanted to get them all if possible. We couldn't if we had charged them there, for they were well-ambushed. My idea was to let them get into the open between there and here, and catch them as they came. It would save our own men, and it would probably do for them. If Mrs. and Miss Llyn come back that way, they will be in greater danger than were we, for the Maroons were coming here to capture the ladies and hold them as hostages; and they would not let them pass. In any case, the risk is immense. The ladies must be got to Spanish Town, for the Maroons are desperate. They know we have no ships of the navy here now, and they rely on their raiding powers and the governor's weakness. They have placed their men in every part of the middle and western country, and they came upon my place last evening and were defeated. Several were killed and one taken prisoner. They can't be marched upon like an army. Their powers of ambush are too great. They must be run down by bloodhounds. It's the only way."
"Bloodhounds—there are no bloodhounds here!" said Darius Boland. "And if there were, wouldn't pious England make a fuss?"
Dyck Calhoun was about to speak sharply, but he caught sarcasm in Darius Boland's face, and he said: "I have the bloodhounds. They're outside the harbour now, and I intend to use them."
"If the governor allows you!" remarked Darius Boland ironically. "He does not like you or your bloodhounds. He has his orders, so he says."
Dyck made an impatient gesture. "I will not submit to his orders. I have earned my place in this is land, and he shall not have his way. The ladies must be brought to Spanish Town, and placed where the governor's men can protect them."
"The governor's men! Indeed. They might as well stay here; we can surely protect them."
"Perhaps, for you have skill, Boland, and you are cautious, but is it fair for ladies to stay in this isolated spot with murderers about? When the ladies come back, they must be sent at once to Spanish Town. Can't you see?"
Darius Boland bowed. "What you say goes always," he remarked, "but tell me, sir, who will take the ladies to Spanish Town?"
Dyck Calhoun read the inner meaning of Darius Boland's words. They did not put him out of self-control. It was not a time to dwell on such things. It was his primary duty to save the ladies.
"Come, Boland," he said sharply, "I shall start now. We must find the ladies. What sort of a country is it through which they pass?" He pointed.
"Bad enough in some ways. There's an old monastery of the days of the Spaniards up there"—he pointed or the ruins of one, and it is a pleasant place to rest. I doubt not they rested there, if—"
"If they reached it!" remarked Dyck with crisp inflection. "Yes, they would rest there—and it would be a good place for ambush by the Maroons, eh?"
"Good enough from the standpoint of the Maroons," was the reply, the voice slightly choked.
"Then we must go there. It's a damnable predicament—no, you must not come with me! You must keep command here."
He hastily described the course to be followed by those of his own men who stayed to defend, and then said: "Our horses are fagged. If you loan us four I'll see they are well cared for, and returned in kind or cash. I'll take three of my men only, and loan you three of the best. We'll fill our knapsacks and get away, Boland."
A few moments later, Calhoun and his three men, with a guide added by Boland, had started away up the road which had been ridden by Mrs. Llyn and Sheila. One thing was clear, the Maroons on the hill did not know of the absence of Sheila and her mother, or they would not be waiting. He did not like the long absence of the ladies. It was ominous at such a time.
Dyck and his small escort got away by a road unseen from where the Maroons were, and when well away put their horses to a canter and got into the hills. Once in the woods, however, they rode alertly, and Dyck's eyes were everywhere. He was quick to see a bush move, to observe the flick of a branch, to catch the faintest sound of an animal origin. He was obsessed with anxiety, for he had a dark fear that some ill had happened to the two. His blood almost dried in his veins when he thought of the fate which had followed the capture of ladies in other islands like Haiti or Grenada.
It did not seem possible that these beautiful women should have fallen into the outrageous hands of savages. He knew the girl was armed, and that before harm might come to her she would end her own life and her mother's also; but if she was caught from behind, and the opportunity of suicide should not be hers—what then?
Yet he showed no agitation to his followers. His eyes were, however, intensely busy, and every nerve was keen to feel. Life in the open had developed in him the physical astuteness of the wild man, and he had all the gifts that make a supreme open-air fighter. He sensed things; but with him it was feeling, and not scent or hearing; his senses were such perfect listeners. He had the intense perception of a delicate plant, those wonderful warnings which only come to those who live close to nature, who study from feeling the thousand moods and tenses of living vegetables and animal life. He was a born hunter, and it was not easy to surprise him when every nerve was sharp with premonition. He saw the marks of the hoofs of Sheila's and her mother's horses in the road, knowing them by the freshness of the indentations. An hour, two hours passed, and they then approached the monasterial ruin of which Boland had spoken. Here, suddenly, Dyck dropped to the ground, for he saw unmistakable signs of fright or flurry in the hoofmarks.
He quickly made examination, and there were signs of women's feet and also a bare native foot, but no signs of struggle or disturbance. The footprints, both native and white, were firmly placed, but the horses' hoof-prints showed agitation. Presently the hoofmarks became more composed again. Suddenly one of Dyck's supporters exclaimed he had picked up a small piece of ribbon, evidently dropped to guide those who might come searching. Presently another token was found in a loose bit of buckle from a shoe. Then, suddenly, upon the middle of the road was a little pool of blood and signs that a body had lain in the dust.
"She shot a native here," said Dyck to his men coolly. "There are no signs of a struggle," remarked the most observant.
"We must go carefully here, for they may have been imprisoned in the ruin. You stay here, and I'll go forward," he added, with a hand on his sword. "I've an idea they're here. We have one chance, my lads, and let's keep our heads. If anything should happen to me, have a try yourselves, and see what you can do. The ladies must be freed, if they're there. There's not one of you that won't stand by to the last, but I want your oath upon it. By the heads or graves of your mothers, lads, you'll see it through? Up with your hands!"
Their hands went up. "By our mothers' heads or graves!" they said in low tones.
"Good!" he replied. "I'll go on ahead. If you hear a call, or a shot fired, forward swiftly."
An instant later he plunged into the woods to the right of the road, by which he would come upon the ruins from the rear. He held a pistol as he stole carefully yet quickly forward. He was anxious there should be no delay, but he must not be rash. Without meeting anyone he came near the ruins. They showed serene in the shade of the trees.
Then suddenly came from the ruin a Maroon of fierce, yet not cruel appearance, who laid a hand behind his ear, and looked steadfastly towards that part of the wood where Dyck was. It was clear he had heard something. Dyck did not know how many Maroons there might be in the ruins, or near it, and he did not attack. It was essential he should know the strength of his foe; and he remained quiet. Presently the native turned as though to go back into the ruins, but changed his mind, and began to tour the stony, ruined building. Dyck waited, and presently saw more natives come from the ruins, and after a moment another three. These last were having an argument of some stress, for they pulled at each other's arms and even caught at the long cloths of their headdresses.
"They've got the ladies there," thought Dyck, "but they've done them no harm yet." He waited moments longer to see if more natives were coming out, then said to himself: "I'll make a try for it now. It won't do to run the risk of going back to bring my fellows up. It's a fair risk, but it's worth taking."
With that he ran softly to the entrance from which he had seen the men emerge. Looking in he saw only darkness. Then suddenly he gave a soft call, the call of an Irish bird-note which all people in Ireland—in the west and south of Ireland—know. If Sheila was alive and in the place she would answer it, he was sure. He waited a moment, and there was no answer. Then he called again, and in an instant, as though from a great distance, there came the reply of the same note, clearer and more bell- like than his own.
"She's there!" he said, and boldly entered the place. It was dark and damp, but ahead was a break in the solid monotony of ruined wall, and he saw a clear stream of light beyond. He stole ahead, got over the stone obstructions, and came on to a biggish room which once had been a refectory. Looking round it he saw three doors—one evidently led into the kitchen, one into a pantry, and one into a hall. It was clear the women were alone, or some one would have come in answer to his call. Who could tell when they would come? There was no time to be lost. With an instinct, which proved correct, he opened the door leading into the old kitchen, and there, tied, and with pale faces, but in no other sense disordered, were Sheila and her mother. He put his fingers to his lips, then hastily cut them loose from the ropes of bamboo, and helped them to their feet.
"Can you walk?" he whispered to Mrs. Llyn. She nodded assent, and braced herself. "Then here," he said, "is a pistol. Come quickly. We may have to fight our way out. Don't be afraid to fire, but take good aim first. I have some men in the wood beyond where you shot the native," he added to Sheila. "They'll come at once if I call, or a shot is fired. Keep your heads, and we shall be all right. They're a dangerous crew, but we'll beat them this time. Come quickly."
Presently they were in the refectory, and a moment after that they were over the stones, and near the entrance, and then a native appeared, armed. Without an instant's hesitation Dyck ran forward, and as he entered, put his sword into the man's vitals, and he fell, calling out as he fell.
"The rest will be on us now," said Dyck, "and we must keep going."
Three more natives appeared, and he shot two.
Catching a pistol from Sheila he aimed at the third native and wounded him, but did not kill him. The man ran into the wood. Presently more Maroons came—a dozen or more, and rushed for the entrance. They were met by Dyck's fire, and now also Sheila fired and brought down her man. Dyck wounded another, and in great skill loaded again, but at that moment three of the Maroons rushed down into the ruins.
They were astonished to see Dyck there, and more astonished to receive— first one and then another—his iron in their bowels. The third man made a stroke at Dyck with his lance, and only gashed Dyck's left arm. Then he turned and fled out into the open, and was met by a half-dozen others. They all were about to rush the entrance when suddenly four shots behind them brought three of them down, and the rest fled into the wood shouting. In another moment Dyck and the ladies were in the open, and making for the woods, the women in front, the men behind, loading their muskets as they ran, and alive to the risks of the moment.
The dresses of the ladies were stained and soiled with dust and damp, but otherwise they seemed little the worse for the adventure, save that Mrs. Llyn was shaken, and her face was pale.
"How did you know where we were, and why did you come?" she said, after they had got under way, having secured the horses which Sheila and her mother had ridden.
Briefly Dyck explained how as soon as he had dealt with the revolt of the Maroons at his own place he came straight to Salem.
"I knew you were unused to the ways of the country and to our sort of native here, and I felt sure you would not refuse to take help—even mine at a pinch. But what happened to you?" he added, turning to Sheila.
It was only yesterday Sheila had determined to cut him wholly out of her life by assenting to marry Lord Mallow. Yet here he was, and she could scarcely bear to look into his face. He was shut off from her by every fact of human reason. These were days when the traditions of family life were more intense than now; when to kill one's own father was not so bad as to embrace, as it were, him or her who had killed that father. Sheila felt if she were normal she ought to feel abhorrence against Dyck; yet she felt none at all, and his saving them had given a new colour to their relations. If he had killed her father, the traitor, he had saved themselves from death or freed them from a shameful captivity which might have ended in black disaster. She kept herself in hand, and did not show confusion.
"We had not heard of the rising of the Maroons," she said. "The governor was at Salem yesterday and a message came from his staff to say would he come at once. His staff were not at Salem, but at the next plantation nearer to Spanish Town. Lord Mallow went. If he suspected the real trouble he said naught, but was gone before you could realize it. The hours went by, night came and passed, then my mother and I, this morning, resolved to ride to the monastery, and then round by the road you travelled back to Salem."
"There are Maroons now on that hill above your place. They were in ambush when we passed, but we took no notice. It was not wise to invite trouble. Some of us would have been killed, but—"
He then told what had been in his mind, and what might be the outcome— the killing or capture of the whole group, and safety for all at Salem.
When he had finished, she continued her story. "We rode for an hour unchallenged, and then came the Maroons. At first I knew not what to do. We were surrounded before we could act. I had my pistol ready, and there was the chance of escape—the faint chance—if we drove our horses on; but there was also the danger of being fired at from behind! So we sat still on our horses, and I asked them how they dared attack white ladies. I asked them if they had never thought what vengeance the governor would take. They did not understand my words, but they grasped the meaning, and one of them, the leader, who understood English, was inclined to have reason. As it was, we stopped what might have been our murder by saying it would be wiser to hold us as hostages, and that we were Americans. That man was killed—by you. A shot from your pistol brought him down as he rushed forward to enter the ruins. But he took care of us as we went forward, and when I shot one of his followers for laying his hand upon me in the saddle—he caught me by the leg under my skirt—he would allow no retaliation. I knew boldness was the safe part to play.
"But in the end we were bound with ropes as you found us, while they waited for more of their people to come, those, no doubt, you found ambushed on the hill. As we lay, bound as you saw us, the leader said to us we should be safe if he could have his way, but there were bad elements among the Maroons, and he could not guarantee it. Yet he knew the government would pay for our release, would perhaps give the land for which they had asked with no avail. We must, therefore, remain prisoners. If we made no efforts to escape, it would be better in the end. "Keep your head steady, missy, try no tricks, and all may go well; but I have bad lot, and they may fly at you." That was the way he spoke. It made our blood run cold, for he was one man, with fair mind, and he had around him men, savage and irresponsible. Black and ruthless, they would stop at nothing except the sword at their throats or the teeth in their flesh."
"The teeth in their flesh!" said Dyck with a grim smile. "Yes, that is the only way with them. Naught can put the fear of God into them except bloodhounds, and that Lord Mallow will not have. He has been set against it until now. But this business will teach him. He may change his mind now, since what he cares for is in danger—his place and his ladies!"
Mrs. Llyn roused herself to say: "No, no, Mr. Calhoun, you must not say that of him. His place may be in danger, but not his ladies. He has no promise of that. . . . And see, Mr. Calhoun, I want to say that, in any case, you have paid your debt, if you owe one to us. For a life taken you have given two lives—to me and my girl. I speak as one who has a right to say it! Erris Boyne was naught to me at all, but he was my daughter's father, and that made everything difficult. I could make him cease to be my husband, and I did; but I could not make him cease to be her father."
"I had no love for Erris Boyne," said Sheila. Misery was heavy on her. "None at all, but he was my father."
"See, all's well still at Salem," said Dyck waving a hand as though to change the talk. "All's as we left it."
There in the near distance lay Salem, serene. All tropical life about seemed throbbing with life and soaking with leisure.
"We were in time," he added. "The Maroons are still in ambush. The sun is beginning to set though, and the trouble may begin. We shall get there about sundown—safe, thank God!"
"Safe, thank God—and you," said Sheila's mother.
THE CLASH OF RACE
In the King's House at Spanish Town the governor was troubled. All his plans and prophecies had come to naught. He had been sure there would be no rebellion of the Maroons, and he was equally sure that his career would be made hugely successful by marriage with Sheila Llyn—but the Maroons had revolted, and the marriage was not settled!
Messages had been coming from the provost-marshal-general of reports from the counties of Middlesex and Cornwall, that the Maroons were ravaging everywhere and that bands of slaves had joined them with serious disasters to the plantation people. Planters, their wives and children had been murdered, and in some districts the natives were in full possession and had destroyed, robbed and ravaged. He had summoned his commander of the militia forces, had created special constables, and armed them, and had sent a ship to the Bahamas to summon a small British fleet there. He had also mapped out a campaign against the Maroons, which had one grave demerit—it was planned on a basis of ordinary warfare and not with Jamaica conditions in mind. The provost-marshal warned him of the futility of these plans, but he had persisted in them. He had later been shocked, however, by news that the best of his colonels had been ambushed and killed, and that others had been made prisoners and treated with barbarity. From everywhere, except one, had come either news of defeat or set-back.
One good thing he immediately did: he threw open King's House to the wounded, and set the surgeons to work, thereby checking bitter criticism and blocking the movement rising against him. For it was well known he had rejected all warnings, had persisted in his view that trust in the Maroons and fair treatment of themselves and the slaves were all that was needed.
As he walked in the great salon or hall of audience where the wounded lay—over seventy feet long and thirty wide, with great height, to which beds and conveniences had been hastily brought—it seemed to him that he was saving, if barely saving, his name and career. Standing beside one of the Doric pillars which divided the salon from an upper and lower gallery of communications, he received the Custos of Kingston. As the Custos told his news the governor's eyes were running along the line of busts of ancient and modern philosophers on the gilt brackets between the Doric pilasters. They were all in bronze, and his mind had the doleful imagination of brown slave heroes placed there in honour for services given to the country. The doors at the south end of the great salon opened now and then into the council chambers beyond, and he could see the surgeons operating on the cases returned from the plantations.
"Your honour," said the Custos, "things have suddenly improved. The hounds have come from Cuba and in the charge of ten men—ten men with sixty hounds. That is the situation at the moment. All the people at Kingston are overjoyed. They see the end of the revolt."
"The hounds!" exclaimed the governor. "What hounds?"
"The hounds sent for by Dyck Calhoun—surely your honour remembers!"
Surely his honour did, and recalled also that he forbade the importation of the hounds; but he could not press that prohibition now. "The mutineer and murderer, Dyck Calhoun!" he exclaimed. "And they have come!"
"Yes, your honour, and gone with Calhoun's man, Michael Clones, to Salem."
"To Salem—why Salem?"
"Because Calhoun is there fighting the Maroons in that district. The Maroons first captured the ladies of Salem as they rode in the woods. They were beaten at that game by Calhoun and four men; the ladies then were freed and taken back to Salem. Then the storm burst on Salem— burst, but did not overwhelm. Calhoun saved the situation there; and when his hounds arrive at Salem he will range over the whole country. It is against the ideas of the people of England, but it does our work in Jamaica as nothing else could. It was a stroke of genius, the hounds, your honour!"
Lord Mallow was at once relieved and nonplussed. No doubt the policy of the hounds was useful, and it might save his own goose, but it was, in a sense, un-English to hunt the wild man with hounds. Yet was it un- English? What was the difference between a sword and a good sharp tooth save that the sword struck and let go and the tooth struck and held on? It had been said in England that to hunt negroes with hounds was barbarous and cowardly; but criminals were hunted with bloodhounds in all civilized countries; and as for cowardice, the man who had sent for these hounds was as brave as any old crusader! No, Dyck Calhoun could not be charged with cowardice, and his policy of the hounds might save the island and the administration in the end. They had arrived in the very hour of Jamaica's and Lord Mallow's greatest peril. They had gone on to the man who had been sane enough to send for them.
"Tell me about the landing of the hounds," said Lord Mallow.
"It was last night about dusk that word came from the pilot's station at Port Royal that the vessel Vincent was making for port, and that she. came from Cuba. Presently Michael Clones, the servant of Dyck Calhoun, came also to say that the Vincent was the ship bringing Calhoun's hounds from Cuba, and asking permit for delivery. This he did because he thought you were opposed to the landing. In the light of our position here, we granted the delivery.
"When the vessel came to anchor, the hounds with their drivers were landed. The landing was the signal for a great display on the part of the people and the militia—yes, the militia shared in the applause, your honour! They had had a taste of war with the Maroons and the slaves, and they were well inclined to let the hounds have their chance. Resolutions were then passed to approach your honour and ask that full powers be given to Calhoun to pursue the war without thought of military precedent or of Calhoun's position. He has no official place in the public life here, but he is powerful with the masses. It is rumoured you have an order to confine him to his plantation; but to apply it would bring revolution in Jamaica. There are great numbers of people who love his courage, what he did for the King's navy, and for his commercial success here, and they would resent harsh treatment of him. They are aware, your honour, that he and you knew each other in Ireland, and they think you are hard on him. People judge not from all the facts, but from what they see and hear."
During the Custos' narrative, Lord Mallow was perturbed. He had the common sense to know that Dyck Calhoun, ex-convict and mutineer as he was, had personal power in the island, which he as governor had not been able to get, and Dyck had not abused that power. He realized that Dyck's premonition of an outbreak and sending for the hounds was a stroke of genius. He recalled with anger Dyck's appearance, in spite of regulations, in trousers at the King's ball and his dancing with a black woman, and he also realized that it was a cool insult to himself. It was then he had given the home authorities information which would poison their mind against Dyck, and from that had come the order to confine him to his plantation.
Yet he felt the time had come when he might use Dyck for his own purposes. That Dyck should be at Salem was a bitter dose, but that could amount to nothing, for Sheila could never marry the man who had killed her father, however bad and mad her father was. Yet it gravelled his soul that Dyck should be doing service for the lady to whom he had offered his own hand and heart, and from whom he had had no word of assent. It angered him against himself that he had not at once sent soldiers to Salem to protect it. He wished to set himself right with Sheila and with the island people, and how to do so was the question.
First, clearly, he must not apply the order to confine Dyck to his plantation; also he must give Dyck authority to use the hounds in hunting down the Maroons and slaves who were committing awful crimes. He forthwith decided to write, asking Dyck to send him outline of his scheme against the rebels. That he must do, for the game was with Dyck.
"How long will it take the hounds to get to Salem?" he asked the Custos presently in his office, with deepset lines in his face and a determined look in his eyes. He was an arrogant man, but he was not insane, and he wished to succeed. It could only be success if he dragged Jamaica out of this rebellion with flying colours, and his one possible weapon was the man whom he detested.
"Why, your honour, as we sent them by wagons and good horses they should be in Dyck Calhoun's hands this evening. They should be there by now almost, for they've been going for hours, and the distance is not great."
The governor nodded, and began to write. A halfhour later he handed to the Custos what he had written.
"See what you think of that, Custos," he said. "Does it, in your mind, cover the ground as it should?"
The Custos read it all over slowly and carefully, weighing every word. Presently he handed back the paper. "Your honour, it is complete and masterly," he said. "It puts the crushing of the revolt into the hands of Mr. Calhoun, and nothing could be wiser. He has the gifts of a leader, and he will do the job with no mistake, and in a time of crisis like this, that is essential. You have given him the right to order the militia to obey him, and nothing could be better. He will organize like a master. We haven't forgotten his fight on the Ariadne. Didn't the admiral tell the story at the dinner we gave him of how this ex-convict and mutineer, by sheer genius, broke the power of the French at the critical moment and saved our fleet, though it was only three-fourths that of the French?"
"You don't think the French will get us some day?" asked the governor with a smile.
"I certainly don't since our defences have been improved. Look at the sixty big cannon on Fort Augusta! They'd be knocked to smithereens before they could get into the quiet waters of the harbour. Don't forget the narrows, your honour. Then there's the Apostle's Battery with its huge shot, and the guns of Fort Royal would give them a cross-fire that would make them sick. Besides, we could stop them within the shoals and reefs and narrow channels before they got near the inner circle. It would only be the hand of God that would get them in, and it doesn't work for Frenchmen these days, I observe. No, this place is safe, and King's House will be the home of British governors for many a century."
"Ah, that's your gallant faith, and no doubt you are right, but go on with your tale of the hounds," said Lord Mallow.
"Your honour, as the hounds went away with Michael Clones there was greater applause than I have ever seen in the island except when Rodney defeated De Grasse. Imagine a little sloop in the wash of the seas and the buccaneers piling down on him, and no chance of escape, and then a great British battleship appearing, and the situation saved—that was how we were placed here till the hounds arrived.
"Your honour, this morning's—this early morning's exit of the hounds was like a procession of veterans to Walhalla. There was the sun breaking over the tops of the hills, a crimsonish, greyish, opaline touch of soft sprays or mists breaking away from the onset of the sunrise; and all the trees with night-lips wet sucking in the sun and drinking up the light like an overseer at a Christmas breakfast; and you know what that is. And all the shore, rocky and sandy, rough and smooth, happy and homely, shimmering in the radiance. And hundreds of Creoles and coloured folk beating the ground in agitation, and slaves a-plenty carrying boxes to the ships that are leaving, and white folk crowding the streets, and bugles blowing, and the tramp of the militia, and the rattle of carts on the cobble-stones, and the voices of the officers giving orders, and turmoil everywhere.
"Then, suddenly, the sharp sound of a long whip and a voice calling, and there rises out of the landing place the procession—the sixty dogs in three wagons, their ten drivers with their whips, but keeping order by the sound of their voices, low, soft, and peculiar, and then the horses starting into a quick trot which presently would become a canter—and the hounds were off to Salem! There could be no fear with the hounds loose to do the hunting."
"But suppose when they get to Salem their owner is no more."
The Custos laughed. "Him, your honour—him no more! Isn't he the man of whom the black folk say: "Lucky buckra—morning, lucky new-comer!" If that's his reputation, and the coming of his hounds just when the island most needed them is good proof of it, do you think he'll be killed by a lot of dirty Maroons! Ah, Calhoun's a man with the luck of the devil, your honour! He has the pull—as sure as heaven's above he'll make success. If you command your staff to have this posted as a proclamation throughout the island, it will do as much good as a thousand soldiers. The military officers will not object, they know how big a man he is, and they have had enough. The news is not good from all over the island, for there are bad planters and bad overseers, and they've poisoned large fields of men in many quarters of the island, and things are wrong.
"But this proclamation will put things right. It will stop the slaves from revolting; it will squelch the Maroons, and I'm certain sure Calhoun will have Maroons ready to fight for us, not against us, before this thing is over. I tell you, your honour, it means the way out—that's what it means. So, if you'll give me your order, keeping a copy of it for the provost-marshal, I'll see it's delivered to Dyck Calhoun before morning—perhaps by midnight. It's not more than a six hours' journey in the ordinary way."
At that moment an aide-de-camp entered, and with grave face presented to the governor the last report from the provost-marshal-general. Then he watched the governor read the report.
"Ten more killed and twenty wounded!" said the governor. "It must be stopped."
He gave the Custos the letter to Dyck Calhoun, and a few moments later handed the proclamation to his aide-de-camp.
"That will settle the business, your honour," said the aide-de-camp as he read the proclamation.
SHEILA HAS HER SAY
"Then, tell me please, what you know of the story," said the governor to Sheila at King's House one afternoon two weeks later. "I only get meagre reports from the general commanding. But you close to the intimate source of the events must know all."
Sheila shrank at the suggestion in the governor's voice, but she did not resent it. She had purposes which she must carry out, and she steeled herself. She wanted to get from Lord Mallow a pledge concerning Dyck Calhoun, and she must be patient.
"I know nothing direct from Mr. Calhoun, your honour!" she said, "but only through his servant, Michael Clones, who is a friend of my Darius Boland, and they have met often since the first outbreak. You know, of course, what happened at Port Louise—how the Maroons seized and murdered the garrison, how families were butchered when they armed first, how barbarism broke loose and made all men combine to fight the rebels. Even before Mr. Calhoun came they had had record of a sack of human ears, cut from the dead rebel-slaves, when they had been killed by faithful slaves, and good progress was made. But the revolters fixed their camps on high rocks, and by blowing of shells brought many fresh recruits to the struggle. It was only when Mr. Calhoun came with his hounds that anything decisive was done. For the rebels—Maroons and slaves—were hid, well entrenched and cautious, and the danger was becoming greater every day. On Mr. Calhoun's arrival, he was almost caught in ambush, being misled, and saved himself only by splendid markmanship. He was attacked by six rebels of whom he killed four, and riding his wounded horse over the other two he escaped. Then he set the hounds to work and the rebellion in that district was soon over."
"It was gathering strength with increasing tragedy elsewhere," remarked the governor. "Some took refuge in hidden places, and came out only to steal, rob, and murder—and worse. In one place, after a noted slave, well known for his treachery, had been killed—Khoftet was his name— his head was cut off by slaves friendly to us and his heart roasted and eaten. There is but one way to deal with these people. No gaming or drinking must be allowed, blowing of shells or beating of drums must be forbidden, and every free negro or mulatto must wear on his arm a sign— perhaps a cross in blue or red."
"Slavery is doomed," said Sheila firmly. "Its end is not far off."
"Well, they still keep slaves in the land of Washington and Alexander Hamilton. They are better off here at any rate than in their own country, where they were like animals among whom they lived. Here they are safe from poverty, cared for in sickness, and have no fear of being handed over to the keepers of carrion, or being the food of the gallinaso. They can feed their fill on fricasees of macaca worms and steal without punishment teal or ring-tailed pigeons and black crabs from the massa."
"But they are not free. They are atoms in heaps of dust. They have no rights—no liberties."
Sheila was agitated, but she showed no excitement.
She seemed to Lord Mallow like one who had perfect control of herself, and was not the victim of anticipation. She seemed, save for her dark searching eyes, like one who had gone through experience which had disciplined her to control. Only her hands were demonstrative—yet quietly so. Any one watching her closely would have seen that her hands were sensitive, expressed even more markedly than her eyes or lips what were her feelings. Her tragedy had altered her in one sense. She was paler and thinner than ever she had been, but there was enough of her, and that delicately made, which gave the governor a thrill of desire to make her his own for the rest of his life or hers. He had also gone through much since they had last met, and he had seen his own position in the balance—uncertain, troubled, insecure. He realized that he had lost reputation, which had scarcely been regained by his consent to the use of the hounds and giving Dyck Calhoun a free hand, as temporary head of the militia. He could not put him over the regular troops, but as the general commanding was, in effect, the slave of Dyck Calhoun, there was no need for anxiety.
Dyck Calhoun had smashed the rebellion, had quieted the island, had risen above all the dark disturbances of revolt like a master. He had established barracks and forts at many points in the island, and had stationed troops in them; he had subdued Maroons and slaves by the hounds. Yet he had punished only the chief of those who had been in actual rebellion, and had repressed the violent punishments of the earlier part of the conflict. He had forbidden any one to be burned alive, and had ordered that no one should be executed without his first judging—with the consent of the governor!—the facts of the case.
Dyck had built up for himself a reputation as no one in all the history of the island had been able to do. He commanded by more than official authority—by personality and achievement. There was no one in the island but knew they had been saved by his prudence, foresight and skill. It was to their minds stupendous and romantic. Fortunately they showed no strong feeling against Lord Mallow. By placing King's House at disposal as a hospital, and by gifts of food and money to wives and children of soldiers and civilians, the governor had a little eradicated his record of neglect.
Lord Mallow had a way with him when he chose to use it. He was not without the gift for popularity, and he saw now that he could best attain it by treating Dyck Calhoun well. He saw troops come and go, he listened to grievances, he corrected abuses, he devised a scheme for nursing, he planned security for the future, he gave permission for buccaneer trading with the United States, he had by legislative order given the Creoles a better place in the civic organism. This was a time for broad policy— for distribution of cassavi bread, yams and papaws, for big, and maybe rough, display of power and generosity. He was not blind to the fact that he might by discreet courses impress favourably his visitor. All he did was affected by that thought. He could not but think that Sheila would judge of him by what he did as much as by what he said.
He looked at her now with interest and longing. He loved to hear her talk, and she had information which was no doubt truer than most he received—was closer to the brine, as it were.
"What more can you tell me of Mr. Calhoun and his doings?" he asked presently. "He is lucky in having so perfect a narrator of his histories—yet so unexpected a narrator."
A flush stole slowly up Sheila's face, and gave a glow even to the roots of her hair. She could not endure these references to the dark gulf between her and Dyck Calhoun.
"My lord," she said sharply, "it is not meet that you should say such things. Mr. Calhoun was jailed for killing my father—let it be at that. The last time you saw me you offered me your hand and heart. Well, do you know I had almost made up my mind to accept your hand, when the news of this trouble was brought to you, and you left us—to ourselves and our dangers!"
The governor started. "You are as unfriendly as a 'terral garamighty,' you make me draw my breath thick as the blackamoors, as they say. I did what I thought best," he said. "I did not think you would be in any danger. I had not heard of the Maroons being so far south as Salem."
"Yet it is the man who foresees chances that succeeds, as you should know by now, your honour. I was greatly touched by the offer you made me— indeed, yes," she added, seeing the rapt eager look in his face. "I had been told what had upset me, that Dyck Calhoun was guilty of killing my father, and all the world seemed dreadful. Yes, in the reaction, it was almost on my tongue to say yes to you, for you are a good talker, you had skill in much that you did, and with honest advice from a wife might do much more. So I was in a mind to say yes. I had had much to try me, indeed, so very much. Ever since I first saw Dyck Calhoun he had been the one man who had ever influenced me. He was for ever in my mind even when he was in prison—oh, what is prison, what is guilt even to a girl when she loves! Yes, I loved him. There it was. He was ever in my mind, and I came here to Jamaica—he was here—for what else? Salem could have been restored by Darius Boland or others, or I could have sold it. I came to Jamaica to find him here—unwomanly, perhaps, you will say."
"Unusual only with a genius—like you."
"Then you do not speak what is in your mind, your honour. You say what you feel is the right thing to say—the slave of circumstances. I will be wholly frank with you. I came here to see Dyck Calhoun, for I knew he would not come to see me. Yes, there it was, a real thing in his heart. If he had been a lesser man than he is, he would have come to America when he was freed from prison. But he did not, would not, come. He knew he had been found guilty of killing my father, and that for him and me there could be no marriage—indeed he never asked me to marry him.
"Yet I know he would have done so if he could. When I came to know what he was jailed for doing, I felt there was no place for him and me together in the world. Yet my heart kept crying out to him, and I felt there was but one thing left for me to do, and that was to make it impossible for me to think of him even, or for him to think of me. Then you came and offered me your hand. It was a hand most women might have been glad to accept from the standpoint of material things. And you were Irish like myself, and like the boy I loved. I was sick of the robberies of life and time, and I wanted to be out of it all in some secure place. What place so secure from the sorrow that was eating at my heart as marriage! It said no to every stir of feeling that was vexing me, to every show of love or remembrance. So I listened to you. It was not because you were a governor or a peer—no, not that! For even in Virginia I had offers from one higher than yourself—and younger, and a peer also. No, it was not material things that influenced me, but your own intellectual eminence; for you have more brains than most men, as you know so well."
The governor interrupted her with a gesture. "No, no, I am not so vain as you think. If I were I should have seen at Salem that you meant to say yes."
"Yet you know well you have gifts, though you have made sad mistakes here. Do not think it was your personality, your looks that induced me to think of you, to listen to you. When Mr. Calhoun told me the truth, and gave me a letter he had written to me—"
"A letter—to you?"
There was surprise in the governor's voice—surprise and chagrin, for the thing had moved him powerfully. "Yes, a letter to me which he never meant me to have. It was a kind of diary of his heart, and it was written even while I was landing on the island on Christmas Day. It was the most terribly truthful thing, opening his whole soul to the girl whom he had always loved, but from whom he was separated by a thing not the less tragical because it was merely technical. He gave it me to read, and when I read it I saw there was no place for me in the world except a convent or marriage. The convent could not be, for I was no Catholic, and marriage seemed the only thing possible. That day you came I saw only one thing to do—one mad, hopeless thing to do."
"Mad and hopeless!" burst out Lord Mallow. "How so? Your very reason shows that it was sane, well founded in the philosophy of the heart."
He was eager to win her yet, and he did not see the end at which she aimed. He felt he must tell her all the passion and love he felt. But her look gave no encouragement, her eyes were uninviting.
Sheila smiled painfully. "Yes, mad and hopeless, for be sure of this: we cannot kill in one day the growth of years. I could not cure myself of loving him by marrying you. There had to be some other cure for that. I never knew and never loved my father. But he was my father, and if Mr. Calhoun killed him, I could not marry him. But at last I came to know that your love and affection could not make me forget him— no, never. I realize that now. He and I can never come together, but I owe him so much—I owe him my life, for he saved it; he must ever have a place in my heart, be to me more than any one else can be. I want you to do something for him."
"What do you wish?"
"I want you to have removed from him the sentence of the British Government. I want him to be free to come and go anywhere in the world —to return to England if he wishes it, to be a free man, and not a victim Off Outlawry. I want that, and you ought to give it to him."
Indignation filled her eyes. "You ask why. He has saved your administration and the island from defeat and horrible loss. He has prevented most of the slaves from revolting, and he conquered the Maroons. The empire is his debtor. Will you do this for one who has done so much for you?"
Lord Mallow was disconcerted, but he did not show it. "I can do no more than I have done. I have not confined him to his plantation as the Government commanded; I cannot go beyond that."
"You can put his case from the standpoint of a patriot."
For a moment the governor hesitated, then he said: "Because you ask me—"
"I want it done for his sake, not for mine," she returned with decision. "You owe it to yourself to see that it is done. Gratitude is not dead in you, is it?"
Lord Mallow flushed. "You press his case too hard. You forget what he is—a mutineer and a murderer, and no one should remember that as you should."
"He has atoned for both, and you know it well. Besides, he was not a murderer. Even the courts did not say he was. They only said he was guilty of manslaughter. Oh, your honour, be as gallant as your name and place warrant."
He looked at her for a moment with strange feelings in his heart. Then he said: "I will give you an answer in twenty-four hours. Will that do, sweet persuader?"
"It might do," she answered, and, strange to say, she had a sure feeling that he would say yes, in spite of her knowledge that, in his heart of hearts, he hated Calhoun.
As she left the room, Lord Mallow stood for a moment looking after her.
"She loves the rogue in spite of all!" he said bitterly. "But she must come with me. They are apart as the poles. Yet I shall do as she wishes if I am to win her."
THE COMING OF NOREEN
The next day came a new element in the situation: a ship arrived from England. On it was one who had come to Jamaica to act as governess to two children of the officer commanding the regular troops in the island. She had been ill for a week before nearing Kingston, and when the Regent reached the harbour she was in a bad way. The ship's doctor was despondent about her; but he was a second-rate man, and felt that perhaps an island doctor might give her some hope. When she was carried ashore she was at once removed to the home of the general commanding at Spanish Town, and there a local doctor saw her.
"What is her history?" he asked, after he had seen the haggard face of the woman.
The ship's doctor did not know; and the general commanding was in the interior at the head of his troops. There was no wife in the general's house, as he was a widower; and his daughters, of twelve and fourteen, under a faithful old housekeeper, had no knowledge of the woman's life.
When she was taken to the general's house she was in great dejection, and her face had a look of ennui and despair. She was thin and worn, and her eyes only told of the struggle going on between life and death.
"What is her name?" asked the resident doctor. "Noreen Balfe," was the reply of the ship's doctor.
"A good old Irish name, though you can see she comes of the lower ranks of life."
The ship's doctor pointed to her hand which had a wedding-ring. "Ah, yes, certainly . . . what hope have you of her?"
"I don't know what to say. The fever is high. She isn't trying to live; she's got some mental trouble, I believe. But you and I would be of no use in that kind of thing."
"I don't take to new-fangled ideas of mental cure," said the ship's doctor. "Cure the body and the mind will cure itself."
A cold smile stole to the lips of the resident doctor. Those were days of little scientific medical skill, and no West Indian doctor had knowledge enough to control a discussion of the kind. "But I'd like to see some one with brains take an interest in her," he remarked.
"I leave her in your hands," was the reply. "I'm a ship's medico, and she's now ashore."
"It's a pity," said the resident doctor reflectively, as he watched a servant doing necessary work at the bedside. "She hasn't long to go as she is, yet I've seen such cases recover."
As they left the room together they met Sheila and one of the daughters of the house. "I've come to see the sick woman from the ship, if I may," Sheila said. "I've just heard about her, and I'd like to be of use."
The resident doctor looked at her with admiration. She was the most conspicuous figure in the island, and her beauty was a fine support to her wealth and reputation. It was like her to be kind in this frank way.
"You can be of great use if you will," he said. "The fever is not infectious, I'm glad to say. So you need have no fear of being with her —on account of others."
"I have no fear," responded Sheila with a friendly smile, "and I will go to her now—no, if you don't mind, I'd prefer to go alone," she added as she saw the doctor was coming with her.
The other bowed and nodded approvingly. "The fewer the better," he said. "I think you ought to go in alone—quite alone," he said with gentle firmness, for he saw the girl with Sheila was also going with her.
So it was that Sheila entered alone, and came to the bed and looked at the woman in the extreme depression of fever. "Prepare some lime-juice, please," she said to the servant on the other side of the bed. "Keep it always beside the bed—I know what these cases are."
The servant disappeared, and the eyes of the sick woman opened and looked at Sheila. There shot into them a look of horror and relief in one, if such a thing might be. A sudden energy inspired her, and she drew herself up in bed, her face gone ghastly.
"You are Sheila Boyne, aren't you?" she asked in a low half-guttural note.
"I am Sheila Llyn," was the astonished reply. "It's the same thing," came the response. "You are the daughter of Erris Boyne."
Sheila turned pale. Who was this woman that knew her and her history?
"What is your name?" she asked—"your real name—what is it?"
"My name is Noreen Balfe; it was Noreen Boyne." For a moment Sheila could not get her bearings. The heavy scent of the flowers coming in at the window almost suffocated her. She seemed to lose a grip of herself. Presently she made an effort at composure. "Noreen Boyne! You were then the second wife of Erris Boyne?"
"I was his second wife. His first wife was your mother—you are like your mother!" Noreen said in agitation.
The meaning was clear. Sheila laid a sharp hand on herself. "Don't get excited," she urged with kindly feeling. "He is dead and gone."
"Yes, he is dead and gone."
For a moment Noreen seemed to fight for mastery of her emotion, and Sheila said: "Lie still. It is all over. He cannot hurt us now."
The other shook her head in protest. "I came here to forget, and I find you—his daughter."
"You find more than his daughter; you find his first wife, and you find the one that killed him."
"The one that killed him!" said the woman greatly troubled. "How did you know that?"
"All the world knows it. He was in prison four years, and since then he has been a mutineer, a treasure-hunter, a planter, and a saviour of these islands!"
The sick woman fell back in exhaustion. At that moment the servant entered with a pitcher of lime-juice. Sheila took it from her and motioned her out of the room; then she held a glass of the liquid to the stark lips.
"Drink," she said in a low, kind voice, and she poured slowly into the patient's mouth the cooling draught. A moment later Noreen raised herself up again.
"Mr. Dyck Calhoun is here?" she asked.
"He is here, and none to-day holds so high a place in the minds of all who live here. He has saved the island."
"All are here that matter," said Noreen. "And I came to forget!"
"What do you remember?" asked Sheila. "I remember all—how he died!"
Suddenly Sheila had a desire to shriek aloud. This woman—did this woman then see Erris Boyne die? Was she present when the deed was done? If so, why was she not called to give evidence at the trial. But yes, she was called to give evidence. She remembered it now, and the evidence had been that she was in her own home when the killing took place.
"How did he die?" she asked in a whisper.
"One stroke did it—only one, and he fell like a log." She made a motion as of striking, and shuddered, covering her eyes with trembling hands.
"You tell me you saw Dyck Calhoun do this to an undefended man—you tell me this!"
Sheila's anger was justified in her mind. That Dyck Calhoun should
"I did not see Dyck Calhoun strike him," gasped the woman. "I did not say that. Dyck Calhoun did not kill Erris Boyne!"
"My God!—oh, my God!" said Sheila with ashen lips, but a great light breaking in her eyes. "Dyck Calhoun did not kill Erris Boyne! Then who killed him?"
There was a moment's pause, then—"I killed him," said the woman in agony. "I killed him."
A terrible repugnance seized Sheila. After a moment she said in agitation: "You killed him—you struck him down! Yet you let an innocent man go to prison, and be kept there for years, and his father go to his grave with shame, with estates ruined and home lost—and you were the guilty one—you—all the time."
"It was part of my madness. I was a coward and I thought then there were reasons why I should feel no pity for Dyck Calhoun. His father injured mine—oh, badly! But I was a coward, and I've paid the price."
A kinder feeling now took hold of Sheila. After all, what this woman had done gave happiness into her—Sheila's-hands. It relieved Dyck Calhoun of shame and disgrace. A jail-bird he was still, but an innocent jail- bird. He had not killed Erris Boyne. Besides, it wiped out forever the barrier between them. All her blind devotion to the man was now justified. His name and fame were clear. Her repugnance of the woman was as nothing beside her splendid feeling of relief. It was as though the gates of hell had been closed and the curtains of heaven drawn for the eyes to see. Six years of horrible shame wiped out, and a new world was before her eyes.
This woman who had killed Erris Boyne must now suffer. She must bear the ignominy which had been heaped upon Dyck Calhoun's head. Yet all at once there came to her mind a softening feeling. Erris Boyne had been rightly killed by a woman he had wronged, for he was a traitor as well as an adulterer—one who could use no woman well, who broke faith with all civilized tradition, and reverted to the savage. Surely the woman's crime was not a dark one; it was injured innocence smiting depravity, tyranny and lust.
Suddenly, as she looked at the woman who had done this thing, she, whose hand had rid the world of a traitor and a beast, fell back on the pillow in a faint. With an exclamation Sheila lifted up the head. If the woman was dead, then there was no hope for Dyck Calhoun; any story that she— Sheila—might tell would be of no use. Yet she was no longer agitated in her body. Hands and fingers were steady, and she felt for the heart with firm fingers. Yes, the heart was still beating, and the pulse was slightly drumming. Thank God, the woman was alive! She rang a bell and lifted up the head of the sick woman.
A moment later the servant was in the room. Sheila gave her orders quickly, and snatched up a pencil from the table. Then, on a piece of paper, she wrote the words: "I, not Dyck Calhoun, killed Erris Boyne."
A few moments later, Noreen's eyes opened, and Sheila spoke to her. "I have written these words. Here they are—see them. Sign them."
She read the words, and put a pencil in the trembling fingers, and, on the cover of a book Noreen's fingers traced her name slowly but clearly. Then Sheila thrust the paper in her bosom, and an instant later a nurse, sent by the resident doctor, entered.
"They cannot hang me or banish me, for my end has come," whispered Noreen before Sheila left.
In the street of Spanish Town almost the first person Sheila saw was Dyck Calhoun. With pale, radiant look she went to him. He gazed at her strangely, for there was that in her face he could not understand. There was in it all the faith of years, all the truth of womanhood, all the splendour of discovery, all that which a man can see but once in a human face and be himself.
"Come with me," she said, and she moved towards King's House. He obeyed. For some moments they walked in silence, then all at once under a magnolia tree she stopped.
"I want you to read what a woman wrote who has just arrived in the island from England. She is ill at the house of the general commanding."
Taking from her breast the slip of paper, she handed it to him. He read it with eyes and senses that at first could hardly understand.
"God in heaven—oh, merciful God!" he said in great emotion, yet with a strange physical quiet.
"This woman was his wife," Sheila said.
He handed the paper back. He conquered his agitation. The years of suffering rolled away. "They'll put her in jail," he said with a strange regret. He had a great heart.
"No, I think not," was the reply. Yet she was touched by his compassion and thoughtfulness.
"Because she is going to die—and there is no time to lose. Come, we will go to Lord Mallow."
"Mallow!" A look of bitter triumph came into Dyck's face. "Mallow—at last!" he said.
WITH THE GOVERNOR
Lord Mallow frowned on his secretary. "Mr. Calhoun to see me! What's his business?"
"One can guess, your honour. He's been fighting for the island."
"Why should he see me? There is the general commanding."
The secretary did not reply, he knew his chief; and, after a moment, Lord Mallow said: "Show him in." When Dyck Calhoun entered the governor gave him a wintry smile of welcome, but did not offer to shake hands. "Will you sit down?" he said, with a slow gesture.
Calhoun made a dissenting motion. "I prefer to stand, your honour."
This was the first time the two men had met alone since Dyck had arrived in Jamaica, or since his trial. Calhoun was dressed in planter's costume, and the governor was in an officer's uniform. They were in striking contrast in face and figure—the governor long, lanky, ascetic in appearance, very intellectual save for the riotous mouth, and very spick and span—as though he had just stepped out of Almack's; while Calhoun was tough and virile, and with the air of a thorough outdoor man. There was in his face the firm fighting look of one who had done things and could tackle big affairs—and something more; there was in it quiet exultation. Here he was now at last alone with the man who had done him great harm, and for whom he had done so much; who had sought to wipe him off the slate of life and being; who had tried to win the girl from whom he himself had been parted.
In spite of it all—of his life in jail, of his stark mutiny, of the oppression of the governor, he had not been beaten down, but had prospered in spite of all. He had by his will, wisdom and military skill, saved the island in its hour of peril, saved its governor from condemnation; and here he was facing the worst enemy of his life with the cards of success in his hands.
"You have done the island and England great service, Mr. Calhoun," said the governor at last.
"It is the least I could do for the land where I have made my home, where I have reaped more than I have sown."
"We know your merit, sir."
A sharp satirical look came into Calhoun's face and his voice rang out with vigour. "And because you knew my merit you advised the crown to confine me to my estate, and you would have had me shot if you could. I am what I am because there was a juster man than yourself in Jamaica. Through him I got away and found treasure, and I bought land and have helped to save this island and your place. What do I owe you, your honour? Nothing that I can see—nothing at all."
"You are a mutineer, and but that you showed your courage would have been hung at the yard-arm, as many of your comrades in England were."
A cold smile played at Calhoun's lips. "My luck was as great as my courage, I know. I have the luck of Enniscorthy!"
At the last words the governor winced, for it was by that touch Calhoun had defeated him in the duel long ago. It galled him that this man whom he detested could say such things to him with truth. Yet in his heart of hearts he had for Calhoun a great respect. Calhoun's invincible will had conquered the worst in Mallow's nature, had, in spite of himself, created a new feeling in him. There was in Mallow the glimmer of greatness, and only his supreme selfishness had made him what he was. He laid a hand on himself now, though it was not easy to do so.
"It was not the luck of Enniscorthy that sent Erris Boyne to his doom," he said, however, with anger in his mind, for Dyck's calm boldness stirred the worst in him. He thought he saw in him an exultancy which could only come from his late experiences in the field. It was as though he had come to triumph over the governor. Mallow said what he had said with malice. He looked to see rage in the face of Dyck Calhoun, and was nonplussed to find that it had only a stern sort of pleasure. The eyes of Calhoun met his with no trace of gloom, but with a valour worthy of a high cause—their clear blue facing his own with a constant penetration. Their intense sincerity gave him a feeling which did not belong to authority. It was not the look of a criminal, whatever the man might be- -mutineer and murderer. As for mutineer, all that Calhoun had fought for had been at last admitted by the British Government, and reforms had been made that were due to the mutiny at the Nore. Only the technical crime had been done by Calhoun, and he had won pardon by his bravery in the battle at sea. Yes, he was a man of mark, even though a murderer.
Calhoun spoke slowly. "Your honour, you have said what you have a right to say to a man who killed Erris Boyne. But this man you accuse did not do it." The governor smiled, for the assumption was ridiculous. He shrugged a shoulder and a sardonic curl came to his lip.
"Who did it then?"
"If you will come to the house of the general commanding you will see."
The governor was in a great quandary. He gasped. "The general commanding—did he kill Erris Boyne, then?"
"Not he, yet the person that did it is in this house. Listen, your honour. I have borne the name of killing Erris Boyne, and I ought to have killed him, for he was a traitor. I had proofs of it; but I did not kill him, and I did not betray him, for he had alive a wife and daughter, and something was due to them. He was a traitor, and was in league with the French. It does not matter that I tell you now, for his daughter knows the truth. I ought to have told it long ago, and if I had I should not have been imprisoned."
"You were a brave man, but a fool—always a fool," said the governor sharply.
"Not so great a fool that I can't recover from it," was the calm reply. "Perhaps it was the best thing that ever happened to me, for now I can look the world in the face. It's made a man of me. It was a woman killed him," was Calhoun's added comment. "Will your honour come with me and see her?"
The governor was thunderstruck. "Where is she?"
"As I have told you-in the house of the general commanding."
The governor rose abashed. "Well, I can go there now. Come."
"Perhaps you would prefer I should not go with you in the street. The world knows me as a mutineer, thinks of me as a murderer! Is it fair to your honour?"
Something in Calhoun's voice roused the rage of Lord Mallow, but he controlled it, and said calmly: "Don't talk nonsense, sir; we shall walk together, if you will."
At the entrance to the house of the general, the man to whom this visit meant so much stopped and took a piece of paper from his pocket. "Your honour, here is the name of the slayer of Erris Boyne. I give it to you now to see, so you may not be astonished when you see her."
The governor stared at the paper. "Boyne's wife, eh?" he said in a strange mood. "Boyne's wife—what is she doing here?"
Calhoun told him briefly as he took the paper back, and added: "It was accident that brought us all together here, your honour, but the hand of God is in it."
"Is she very ill?"
"She will not live, I think."
"To whom did she tell her story?"
"To Miss Sheila Llyn."
The governor was nettled.
"Oh, to Miss Llyn When did you see her?"
"Just before I came to you."
"What did the woman look like—this Noreen Boyne?"
"I do not know; I have not seen her."
"Then how came you by the paper with her signature?"
"Miss Llyn gave it to me."
Anger filled Lord Mallow's mind. Sheila—why now the way would be open to Calhoun to win—to marry her! It angered him, but he held himself steadily.
"Where is Miss Llyn?"
"She is here, I think. She came back when she left me at your door."
"Oh, she left you at my door, did she? . . . But let me see the woman that's come so far to put the world right."
A few moments later they stood in the bedroom of Noreen Boyne, they two and Sheila Llyn, the nurse having been sent out.
Lord Mallow looked down on the haggard, dying woman with no emotion. Only a sense of duty moved him.
"What is it you wished to say to me?" he asked the patient.
"Who are you?" came the response in a frayed tone.
"I am the governor of the island—Lord Mallow."
"Then I want to tell you that I killed Erris Boyne—with this hand I killed him." She raised her skinny hand up, and her eyes became glazed. "He had used me vilely and I struck him down. He was a bad man."
"You let an innocent man bear punishment, you struck at one who did you no harm, and you spoiled his life for him. You can see that, can't you?"
The woman's eyes sought the face of Dyck Calhoun, and Calhoun said: "No, you did not spoil my life, Noreen Boyne. You have made it. Not that I should have chosen the way of making it, but there it is, as God's in heaven, I forgive you."
Noreen's face lost some of its gloom. "That makes it easier," she said brokenly. "I can't atone by any word or act, but I'm sorry. I've kept you from being happy, and you were born to be happy. Your father had hurt mine, had turned him out of our house for debt, and I tried to pay it all back. When they suspected you I held my peace. I was a coward; I could not say you were innocent without telling the truth, and that I could not do then. But now I'll tell it—I think I'd have told it whether I was dying or not, though. Yes, if I'd seen you here I'd have told it, I'm sure. I'm not all bad."
Sheila leaned over the bed. "Never mind about the past. You can help a man back to the good opinion of the world now."
"I hurt you too," said Noreen with hopeless pain. "You were his friend."
"I believed in him always—even when he did not deny the crime," was the quiet reply.
"There's no good going on with that," said the governor sharply. "We must take down her statement in writing, and then—"
"Look, she is sinking!" said Calhoun sharply. The woman's head had dropped forward, her chin was on her breast, and her hands became clenched.
"The doctor at once-bring in the nurse," said Calhoun. "She's dying."
An instant later, the nurse entered with Sheila, and in a short time the doctor came.
When later the doctor saw Lord Mallow alone he said: "She can't live more than two days."
"That's good for her in a way," answered the governor, and in reply to the doctor's question why, he said: "Because she'd be in prison."
"In prison—has she broken the law?"
"She is now under arrest, though she doesn't know it.
"What was her crime, your honour?"
"She killed a man."
"Him for whom Dyck Calhoun was sent to prison—Erris Boyne."
"Mr. Calhoun was not guilty, then?"
"No. As soon as the woman is dead, I mean to announce the truth."
"Not till then, your honour?"
"Not till then."
"It's hard on Calhoun."
"Is it? It's years since he was tried and condemned. Two days cannot matter now."
"Perhaps not. Last night the woman said to me: 'I'm glad I'm going to die.'" Then he added: "Calhoun will be more popular than ever now."
The governor winced.
THEN WHAT HAPPENED
An hour after Noreen Boyne had been laid in her grave, there was a special issue of the principal paper telling all the true facts of the death of Erris Boyne. Thus the people of Jamaica came to know that Dyck Calhoun was innocent of the crime of killing Erris Boyne, and he was made the object of splashing admiration, and was almost mobbed by admirers in the street. It all vexed Lord Mallow; but he steeled himself to urbanity, and he played his part well. He was clever enough to see it would pay him to be outwardly gracious to Calhoun. So it was he made a speech in the capital on the return of the general commanding and the troops from subduing the Maroons, in which he said: "No one in all the King's dominions had showed greater patriotism and military skill than their friend Mr. Dyck Calhoun, who had been harshly treated by a mistaken Government."
A few hours later, in the sweet garden of the house where Sheila and her mother lodged, Calhoun came upon the girl whose gentle dignity and beauty seemed to glow.
At first all she said to him was, "Welcome, old friend," and at last she said, "Now you can come to the United States, Dyck, and make a new life there."
Presently he said: "I ought to go where you wish me to go, for you came to me here when I was rejected of men. I owe you whatever I am that's worth while, if anything I am is worth while. Your faith kept me alive in my darkest days—even when I thought I had wronged you."
"Then you will come to Virginia with me—as my husband, Dyck?" She blushed and laughed. "You see I have to propose to you, for you've never asked me to marry you. I'm throwing myself at your head, sir, you observe!"
He gave an honest smile of adoration. "I came to-day to ask you to be my wife—for that reason only. I could not do it till the governor had declared my innocence. The earth is sweeter to-day than it has been since time began."
He held out his arms, and an instant later the flowers she carried were crushed to her breast, with her lips given to his.
A little later she drew from her pocket a letter. "You must read that," she said. "It is from the great Alexander Hamilton—yes, he will be great, he will play a wondrous part in the life of my new country. Read it Dyck."
After he had read it, he said: "He was born a British subject here in these islands, and he goes to help Americans live according to British principles. With all my sane fellow-countrymen I am glad the Americans succeeded. Do you go to your Virginia, and I will come as soon as I have put my affairs in order."
"I will not go without you—no, I will not go," she persisted.
"Then we shall be married at once," he declared. And so it was, and all the island was en fete, and when Sheila came to Dyck's plantation the very earth seemed to rejoice. The slaves went wild with joy, and ate and drank their fill, and from every field there came the song:
"Hold up yo hands, Hold up yo hands, Bress de Lord for de milk and honey! De big bees is a singin', My heart is held up and de bells is a ringin'; Hold up yo hands, Hold up yo hands!"
And sweetly solitary the two lived their lives, till one day, three months later, there came to the plantation the governor and his suite.
When they had dismounted, Lord Mallow said: "I bring you the pay of the British Government for something of what you have suffered, sir, and what will give your lady pleasure too, I hope. I come with a baronetcy given by the King. News of it came to me only this morning."
Calhoun smiled. "Your honour, I can take no title, receive no honour. I have ended my life under the British flag. I go to live under the Stars and Stripes."
The governor was astounded. "Your lady, sir, do you forget your lady?"
But Sheila answered: "The life of the new world has honours which have naught to do with titles."
"I sail for Virginia by the first ship that goes," said Calhoun. "It is good here, but I shall go to a place where things are better, and where I shall have work to do. I must decline the baronetcy, your honour. I go to a land where the field of life is larger, where Britain shall remake herself."
"It will take some time," said the governor tartly. "They'll be long apart."
"But they will come together at last—for the world's sake."
There was silence for a moment, and through it came the joy-chant from the fields:
"Hold up yo hands, Hold up yo hands, Bress de Lord for de milk and honey."
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Without the money brains seldom win alone
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS FOR THE ENTIRE "NO DEFENSE":
Beginning of a lifetime of experience, comedy, and tragedy Wit is always at the elbow of want Without the money brains seldom win alone