Part 5 out of 7
A murmur of assent went round the circle. The Governor, leaning
forward from his seat, his wife's hand in his, gravely bent his head.
"All this is known, lady," he said courteously.
She did not answer; her eyes were upon the King's favorite, and the
circle waited with her.
"It is known," said my lord.
She smiled proudly. "For so much grace, thanks, my lord," she
said, then addressed herself again to the Governor: "Your Honor,
that is the past, the long past, the long, long past, though not a year
has gone by. Then I was a girl, proud and careless; now, your
Honor, I am a woman, and I stand here in the dignity of suffering
and peril. I fled from England" - She paused, drew herself up, and
turned upon my lord a face and form so still, and yet so expressive
of noble indignation, outraged womanhood, scorn, and withal a
kind of angry pity, that small wonder if he shrank as from a blow.
"I left the only world I knew," she said. "I took a way low and
narrow and dark and set with thorns, but the only way that I - alone
and helpless and bewildered - could find, because that I, Jocelyn
Leigh, willed not to wed with you, my Lord Carnal. Why did you
follow me, my lord? You knew that I loved you not. You knew my
mind, and that I was weak and friendless, and you used your
power. I must tell you, my lord, that you were not chivalrous, nor
compassionate, nor brave" -
"I loved you!" he cried, and stretched out his arm toward her across
the table. He saw no one but her, spoke to none but her. There was
a fierce yearning and a hopelessness in his voice and bent head and
outstretched arm that lent for the time a tragic dignity to the
pageant, evil and magnificent, of his life.
"You loved me," she said. "I had rather you had hated me, my lord.
I came to Virginia, your Honor, and men thought me the thing I
professed myself. In the green meadow beyond the church they
wooed me as such. This one came and that one, and at last a
fellow, when I said him nay and bade him begone, did dare to
seize my hands and kiss my lips. While I struggled one came and
flung that dastard out of the way, then asked me plainly to become
his wife, and there was no laugh or insult in his voice. I was
wearied and fordone and desperate. . . . So I met my husband, and
so I married him. That same day I told him a part of my secret, and
when my Lord Carnal was come I told him all. . . . I had not met
with much true love or courtesy or compassion in my life. When I
saw the danger in which he stood because of me, I told him he
might free himself from that coil, might swear to what they
pleased, whistle me off, save himself, and I would say no word of
blame. There was wine upon the table, and he filled a cup and
brought it to me, and we drank of it together. We drank of the
same cup then, your Honor, and we will drink of it still. We twain
were wedded, and the world strove to part us. Which of you here,
in such quarrel, would not withstand the world? Lady Wyatt,
would not thy husband hold thee, while he lived, against the
world? Then speak for mine!"
"Frank, Frank!" cried Lady Wyatt. "They love each other!"
"If he withstood the King," went on the King's ward, "it was for his
honor and for mine. If he fled from Virginia, it was because I
willed it so. Had he stayed, my Lord Carnal, and had you willed to
follow me again, you must have made a yet longer journey to a
most distant bourne. That wild night when we fled, why did you
come upon us, my lord? The moon burst forth from a black cloud,
and you stood there upon the wharf above us, calling to the
footsteps behind to hasten. We would have left you there in safety,
and gone ourselves alone down that stream as black and strange as
death. Why did you spring down the steps and grapple with the
minister? And he that might have thrust you beneath the flood and
drowned you there did but fling you into the boat. We wished not
your company, my lord; we would willingly have gone without
you. I trust, my lord, you have made honest report of this matter,
and have told these gentlemen that my husband gave you, a
prisoner whom he wanted not, all fair and honorable treatment.
That you have done this I dare take my oath, my lord" -
She stood silent, her eyes upon his. The men around stirred, and a
little flash like the glint of drawn steel went from one pair of eyes
"My lord, my lord!" said the King's ward. "Long ago you won my
hatred; an you would not win my contempt, speak truth this day!"
In his eyes, which he had never taken from her face, there leaped
to meet the proud appeal in her own a strange fire. That he loved
her with a great and evil passion, I, who needs had watched him
closely, had long known. Suddenly he burst into jarring laughter.
"Yea, he treated me fairly enough, damn him to everlasting hell!
But he 's a pirate, sweet bird; he's a pirate, and must swing as
"A pirate!" she cried. "But he was none! My lord, you know he was
none! Your Honor" -
The Governor interrupted her: "He made himself captain of a
pirate ship, lady. He took and sunk ships of Spain."
"In what sort did he become their chief?" she cried. "In such sort,
gentlemen, as the bravest of you, in like straits, would have been
blithe to be, an you had had like measure of wit and daring! Your
Honor, the wind before which our boat drave like a leaf, the waves
that would engulf us, wrecked us upon a desert isle. There was no
food or water or shelter. That night, while we slept, a pirate ship
anchored off the beach, and in the morning the pirates came ashore
to bury their captain. My husband met them alone, fought their
would-be leaders one by one, and forced the election to fall upon
himself. Well he knew that if he left not that isle their leader, he
would leave it their captive; and not he alone! God's mercy,
gentlemen, what other could he do? I pray you to hold him
absolved from a willing embrace of that life! Sunk ships of Spain!
Yea, forsooth; and how long hath it been since other English
gentlemen sunk other ships of Spain? The world hath changed
indeed if to fight the Spaniard in the Indies, e'en though at home
we be at peace with him, be conceived so black a crime! He fought
their galleons fair and knightly, with his life in his hand; he gave
quarter, and while they called him chief those pirates tortured no
prisoner and wronged no woman. Had he not been there, would the
ships have been taken less surely? Had he not been there, God wot,
ships and ships' boats alike would have sunk or burned, and no
Spanish men and women had rowed away and blessed a generous
foe. A pirate! He, with me and with the minister and with my Lord
Carnal, was prisoner to the pirates, and out of that danger he
plucked safety for us all! Who hath so misnamed a gallant
gentleman? Was it you, my lord?"
Eyes and voice were imperious, and in her cheeks burned an
indignant crimson. My lord's face was set and white; he looked at
her, but spoke no word.
"The Spanish ships might pass, lady," said the Governor; "but this
is an English ship, with the flag of England above her."
"Yea," she said. "What then?"
The circle rustled again. The Governor loosed his wife's fingers
and leaned forward. "You plead well, lady!" he exclaimed. "You
might win, an Captain Percy had not seen fit to fire upon us."
A dead silence followed his words. Outside the square window a
cloud passed from the face of the sun, and a great burst of sunshine
entered the cabin. She stood in the heart of it, and looked a
goddess angered. My lord, with his haggard face and burning eyes,
slowly rose from his seat, and they faced each other.
"You told them not who fired those guns, who sunk that pirate
ship?" she said. "Because he was your enemy, you held your
tongue? Knight and gentleman - my Lord Carnal - my Lord
"Honor is an empty word to me," he answered. "For you I would
dive into the deepest hell, - if there be a deeper than that which
burns me, day in, day out. . . . Jocelyn, Jocelyn, Jocelyn!"
"You love me so?" she said. "Then do me pleasure. Because I ask
it of you, tell these men the truth." She came a step nearer, and
held out her clasped hands to him. "Tell them how it was, my lord,
and I will strive to hate you no longer. The harm that you have
done me I will pray for strength to forgive. Ah, my lord, let me not
ask in vain! Will you that I kneel to you?"
"I fix my own price," he said. "I will do what you ask, an you will
let me kiss your lips."
I sprang forward with an oath. Some one behind caught both my
wrists in an iron grasp and pulled me back. "Be not a fool!"
growled Clayborne in my ear. "The cord's loosening fast: if you
interfere, it may tighten with a jerk!" I freed my hands from his
grasp. The Treasurer, sitting next him, leaned across the table and
motioned to the two seamen beside the window. They left their
station, and each seized me by an arm. "Be guided, Captain Percy,"
said Master Sandys in a low voice. "We wish you well. Let her win
"First tell the truth, my lord," said the King's ward; "then come and
take the reward you ask."
"Jocelyn!" I cried. "I command you" -
She turned upon me a perfectly colorless face. "All my life after I
will be to you an obedient wife," she said. "This once I pray you to
hold me excused. . . . Speak, my lord."
There was the mirth of the lost in the laugh with which he turned
to the Governor. "That pretty little tale, sir, that I regaled you with,
the day you obligingly picked me up, was pure imagination; the
wetting must have disordered my reason. A potion sweeter than
the honey of Hybla, which I am about to drink, hath restored me
beforehand. Gentlemen all, there was mutiny aboard that ship
which so providentially sank before your very eyes. For why? The
crew, who were pirates, and the captain, who was yonder
gentleman, did not agree. The one wished to attack you, board you,
rummage you, and slay, after recondite fashions, every mother's
son of you; the other demurred, - so strongly, in fact, that his life
ceased to be worth a pin's purchase. Indeed, I believe he resigned
his captaincy then and there, and, declining to lift a finger against
an English ship, defied them to do their worst. He had no hand in
the firing of those culverins; the mutineers touched them off
without so much as a 'by your leave.' His attention was otherwise
occupied. Good sirs, there was not the slightest reason in nature
why the ship should have struck upon that sunken reef, to the
damnation of her people and the salvation of yours. Why do you
suppose she diverged from the path of safety to split into slivers
against that fortunate ledge?"
The men around drew in their breath, and one or two sprang to
their feet. My lord laughed again. "Have you seen the pious man
who left Jamestown and went aboard the pirate ship as this
gentleman's lieutenant? He hath the strength of a bull. Captain
Percy here had but to nod his head, and hey, presto! the helmsman
was bowled over, and the minister had the helm. The ship struck:
the pirates went to hell, and you, gentlemen, were preserved to
order all things well in Virginia. May she long be grateful! The
man who dared that death rather than attack the ship he guessed to
be the Company's is my mortal foe, whom I will yet sweep from
my path, but he is not a pirate. Ay, take it down, an it please you,
Master Secretary! I retreat from a most choice position, to be sure,
but what care I? I see a vantage ground more to my liking. I have
lost a throw, perhaps, but I will recoup ten such losses with one
such kiss. By your leave, lady."
He went up to her where she stood, with hanging arms, her head a
little bent, white and cold and yielding as a lady done in snow;
gazed at her a moment, with his passion written in his fierce eyes
and haggard, handsome face; then crushed her to him.
If I could have struck him dead, I would have done so. When her
word had been kept, she released herself with a quiet and resolute
dignity. As for him, he sank back into the great chair beside the
Governor's, leaned an elbow on the table, and hid his eyes with one
The Governor rose to his feet, and motioned away the two seamen
who held me fast. "We'll have no hanging this morning,
gentlemen," he announced. "Captain Percy, I beg to apologize to
you for words that were never meant for a brave and gallant
gentleman, but for a pirate who I find does not exist. I pray you to
forget them, quite."
I returned his bow, but my eyes traveled past him.
"I will allow you no words with my Lord Carnal," he said. "With
your wife, - that is different." He moved aside with a smile.
She was standing, pale, with downcast eyes, where my lord had
left her. "Jocelyn," I said. She turned toward me, crimsoned
deeply, uttered a low cry, half laughter, half a sob, then covered
her face with her hands. I took them away and spoke her name
again, and this time she hid her face upon my breast.
A moment thus; then - for all eyes were upon her - I lifted her
head, kissed her , and gave her to Lady Wyatt, whom I found at my
side. "I commend my wife to your ladyship's care," I said. "As you
are woman, deal sisterly by her!"
"You may trust me, sir," she made answer, the tears upon her
cheeks. "I did not know, - I did not understand. . . .Dear heart,
come away, - come away with Margaret Wyatt."
Clayborne opened the door of the cabin, and stood aside with a
low bow. The men who had sat to judge me rose; only the King's
favorite kept his seat. With Lady Wyatt's arm about her, the King's
ward passed between the lines of standing gentlemen to the door,
there hesitated, turned, and, facing them with I know not what of
pride and shame, wistfulness of entreaty and noble challenge to
belief in the face and form that were of all women's most
beautiful, curtsied to them until her knee touched the floor. She
was gone, and the sunlight with her.
When I turned upon that shameless lord where he sat in his evil
beauty, with his honor dead before him, men came hastily in
between. I put them aside with a laugh. I had but wanted to look at
him. I had no sword, - already he lay beneath my challenge, - and
words are weak things.
At length he rose, as arrogant as ever in his port, as evilly superb in
his towering pride, and as amazingly indifferent to the thoughts of
men who lied not. "This case hath wearied me," he said. "I will
retire for a while to rest, and in dreams to live over a past
sweetness. Give you good-day, gentles! Sir Francis Wyatt, you will
remember that this gentleman did resist arrest, and that he lieth
under the King's displeasure!" So saying he clapped his hat upon
his head and walked out of the cabin. The Company's officers drew
a long breath, as if a fresher air had come in with his departure.
"I have no choice, Captain Percy, but to keep you still under
restraint, both here and when we shall reach Jamestown," said the
Governor. "All that the Company, through me, can do, consistent
with its duty to his Majesty, to lighten your confinement shall be
"Then send him not again into the hold, Sir Francis!" exclaimed
the Treasurer, with a wry face.
The Governor laughed. "Lighter and sweeter quarters shall be
found. Your wife's a brave lady, Captain Percy" -
"And a passing fair one," said Claybourne under his breath.
"I left a friend below in the hold, your Honor," I said. "He came
with me from Jamestown because he was my friend. The King
hath never heard of him. And he's no more a pirate than I or you,
your Honor. He is a minister, - a sober, meek, and godly man" -
From behind the Secretary rose the singsong of my acquaintance of
the hold, Dr. John Pott. "He is Jeremy, your Honor, Jeremy who
made the town merry at Blackfriars. Your Honor remembers him?
He had a sickness, and forsook the life and went into the country.
He was known to the Dean of St. Paul's. All the town laughed
when it heard that he had taken orders."
"Jeremy!" cried out the Treasurer. "Nick Bottom! Christopher Sly!
Sir Toby Belch! Sir Francis, give me Jeremy to keep in my cabin!"
The Governor laughed. "He shall be bestowed with Captain Percy
where he'll not lack for company, I warrant! Jeremy! Ben Jonson
loved him; they drank together at the Mermaid."
A little later the Treasurer turned to leave my new quarters, to
which he had walked beside me, glanced at the men who waited
for him without, - Jeremy had not yet been brought from the hold, -
and returned to my side to say, in a low voice, but with emphasis:
"Captain Percy has been a long time without news from home, -
from England. What would he most desire to hear?"
"Of the welfare of his Grace of Buckingham," I replied.
He smiled. "His Grace is as well as heart could desire, and as
powerful. The Queen's dog now tuggeth the sow by the ears this
way or that, as it pleaseth him. Since we are not to hang you as a
pirate, Captain Percy, I incline to think your affairs in better
posture than when you left Virginia."
"I think so too, sir," I said, and gave him thanks for his courtesy,
and wished him good-day, being anxious to sit still and thank God,
with my face in my hands and summer in my heart.
CHAPTER XXVIII IN WHICH THE SPRINGTIME IS AT HAND
TIRED of dicing against myself, and of the books that Rolfe had
sent me, I betook myself to the gaol window, and, leaning against
the bars, looked out in search of entertainment. The nearest if not
the merriest thing the prospect had to offer was the pillory. It was
built so tall that it was but little lower than the low upper story of
the gaol, and it faced my window at so short a distance that I could
hear the long, whistling breath of the wretch who happened to
occupy it. It was not a pleasant sound; neither was a livid face,
new branded on the cheek with a great R, and with a trickle of
dark blood from the mutilated ears staining the board in which the
head was immovably fixed, a pleasant sight. A little to one side
was the whipping post: a woman had been whipped that morning,
and her cries had tainted the air even more effectually than had the
decayed matter with which certain small devils had pelted the
runaway in the pillory. I looked away from the poor rogue below
me into the clear, hard brightness of the March day, and was most
heartily weary of the bars between me and it. The wind blew
keenly; the sky was blue as blue could be, and the river a great
ribbon of azure sewn with diamonds. All colors were vivid and all
distances near. There was no haze over the forest; brown and bare
it struck the cloudless blue. The marsh was emerald, the green of
the pines deep and rich, the budding maples redder than coral. The
church, with the low green graves around it, appeared not a stone's
throw away, and the voices of the children up and down the street
sounded clearly, as though they played in the brown square below
me. When the drum beat for the nooning the roll was close in my
ears. The world looked so bright and keen that it seemed new
made, and the brilliant sunshine and the cold wind stirred the
blood like wine.
Now and then men and women passed through the square below.
Well-nigh all glanced up at the window, and their eyes were
friendly. It was known now that Buckingham was paramount at
home, and my Lord Carnal's following in Virginia was much
decayed. Young Hamor strode by, bravely dressed and whistling
cheerily, and doffed a hat with a most noble broken feather. "We're
going to bait a bear below the fort!" he called. "Sorry you'll miss
the sport! There will be all the world - and my Lord Carnal." He
whistled himself away, and presently there came along Master
Edward Sharpless. He stopped and stared at the rogue in the
pillory, - with no prescience, I suppose, of a day when he was to
stand there himself; then looked up at me with as much
malevolence as his small soul could write upon his mean features,
and passed on. He had a jaded look; moreover, his clothes were
swamp-stained and his cloak had been torn by briers. "What did
you go to the forest for?" I muttered.
The key grated in the door behind me, and it opened to admit the
gaoler and Diccon with my dinner, - which I was not sorry to see.
"Sir George sent the venison, sir," said the gaoler, grinning, "and
Master Piersey the wild fowl, and Madam West the pasty and the
marchpane, and Master Pory the sack. Be there anything you lack,
"Nothing that you can supply," I answered curtly.
The fellow grinned again, straightened the things upon the table,
and started for the door. "You can stay until I come for the
platters," he said to Diccon, and went out, locking the door after
him with ostentation.
I applied myself to the dinner, and Diccon went to the window,
and stood there looking out at the blue sky and at the man in the
pillory. He had the freedom of the gaol. I was somewhat more
straitly confined, though my friends had easy access to me. As for
Jeremy Sparrow, he had spent twenty-four hours in gaol, at the end
of which time Madam West had a fit of the spleen, declared she
was dying, and insisted upon Master Sparrow's being sent for to
administer consolation; Master Bucke, unfortunately, having gone
up to Henricus on business connected with the college. From the
bedside of that despotic lady Sparrow was called to bury a man on
the other side of the river, and from the grave to marry a couple at
Mulberry Island. And the next day being Sunday, and no minister
at hand, he preached again in Master Bucke's pulpit, - and
preached a sermon so powerful and moving that its like had never
been heard in Virginia. They marched him not back from the
pulpit to gaol. There were but five ministers in Virginia, and there
were a many more sick to visit and dead to bury. Master Bucke,
still feeble in body, tarried up river discussing with Thorpe the
latter's darling project of converting every imp of an Indian this
side the South Sea, and Jeremy slipped into his old place. There
had been some talk of a public censure, but it died away.
The pasty and sack disposed of, I turned in my seat and spoke to
Diccon: "I looked for Master Rolfe to-day. Have you heard aught
"No," he answered. As he spoke, the door was opened and the
gaoler put in his head. "A messenger from Master Rolfe, captain."
He drew back, and the Indian Nantauquas entered the room.
Rolfe I had seen twice since the arrival of the George at
Jamestown, but the Indian had not been with him. The young chief
now came forward and touched the hand I held out to him. "My
brother will be here before the sun touches the tallest pine," he
announced in his grave, calm voice. "He asks Captain Percy to
deny himself to any other that may come. He wishes to see him
"I shall hardly be troubled with company," I said. "There's a
Nantauquas smiled. " My brother asked me to find a bear for
to-day. I bought one from the Paspaheghs for a piece of copper,
and took him to the ring below the fort."
"Where all the town will presently be gone," I said. "I wonder what
Rolfe did that for!"
Filling a cup with sack, I pushed it to the Indian across the table.
"You are little in the woods nowadays, Nantauquas."
His fine dark face clouded ever so slightly. "Opechancanough has
dreamt that I am Indian no longer. Singing birds have lied to him,
telling him that I love the white man, and hate my own color. He
calls me no more his brave, his brother Powhatan's dear son. I do
not sit by his council fire now, nor do I lead his war bands. When I
went last to his lodge and stood before him, his eyes burned me
like the coals the Monacans once closed my hands upon. He
would not speak to me."
"It would not fret me if he never spoke again," I said. "You have
been to the forest to-day?"
"Yes," he replied, glancing at the smear of leaf mould upon his
beaded moccasins. "Captain Percy's eyes are quick; he should have
been an Indian. I went to the Paspaheghs to take them the piece of
copper. I could tell Captain Percy a curious thing" -
"Well?" I demanded, as he paused.
"I went to the lodge of the werowance with the copper, and found
him not there. The old men declared that he had gone to the weirs
for fish, - he and ten of his braves. The old men lied. I had passed
the weirs of the Paspaheghs, and no man was there. I sat and
smoked before the lodge, and the maidens brought me chinquapin
cakes and pohickory; for Nantauquas is a prince and a welcome
guest to all save Opechancanough. The old men smoked, with their
eyes upon the ground, each seeing only the days when he was even
as Nantauquas. They never knew when a wife of the werowance,
turned child by pride, unfolded a doeskin and showed Nantauquas
a silver cup carved all over and set with colored stones."
"The cup was a heavy price to pay," continued the Indian. "I do not
know what great thing it bought."
"Humph!" I said again. "Did you happen to meet Master Edward
Sharpless in the forest?"
He shook his head. "The forest is wide, and there are many trails
through it. Nantauquas looked for that of the werowance of the
Paspaheghs, but found it not. He had no time to waste upon a
He gathered his otterskin mantle about him and prepared to depart.
I rose and gave him my hand, for I thoroughly liked him, and in the
past he had made me his debtor. "Tell Rolfe he will find me
alone," I said, "and take my thanks for your pains, Nantauquas. If
ever we hunt together again, may I have the chance to serve you! I
bear the scars of the wolf's teeth yet; you came in the nick of time,
The Indian smiled. "It was a fierce old wolf. I wish Captain Percy
free with all my heart, and then we will hunt more wolves, he and
When he was gone, and the gaoler and Diccon with him, I returned
to the window. The runaway in the pillory was released, and went
away homewards, staggering beside his master's stirrup. Passers-by
grew more and more infrequent, and up the street came faint
sounds of laughter and hurrahing, - the bear must be making good
sport. I could see the half-moon, and the guns, and the flag that
streamed in the wind, and on the river a sail or two, white in the
sunlight as the gulls that swooped past. Beyond rose the bare masts
of the George. The Santa Teresa rode no more forever in the
James. The King's ship was gone home to the King without the
freight he looked for. Three days, and the George would spread her
white wings and go down the wide river, and I with her, and the
King's ward, and the King's sometime favorite. I looked down the
wind-ruffled stream, and saw the great bay into which it emptied,
and beyond the bay the heaving ocean, dark and light, league on
league, league on league; then green England, and London, and the
Tower. The vision disturbed me less than once it would have done.
Men that I knew and trusted were to be passengers on that ship, as
well as one I knew and did not trust. And if, at the journey's end, I
saw the Tower, I saw also his Grace of Buckingham. Where I
hated he hated, and was now powerful enough to strike.
The wind blew from the west, from the unknown. I turned my
head, and it beat against my forehead, cold and fragrant with the
essence of the forest, - pine and cedar, dead leaves and black
mould, fen and hollow and hill, - all the world of woods over
which it had passed. The ghost of things long dead, which face or
voice could never conjure up, will sometimes start across our path
at the beckoning of an odor. A day in the Starving Time came back
to me: how I had dragged myself from our broken palisade and
crazy huts, and the groans of the famished and the plague-stricken,
and the presence of the unburied dead, across the neck and into the
woods, and had lain down there to die, being taken with a sick fear
and horror of the place of cannibals behind me; and how weak I
was! - too weak to care any more. I had been a strong man, and it
had come to that, and I was content to let it be. The smell of the
woods that day, the chill brown earth beneath me, the blowing
wind, the long stretch of the river gleaming between the pines, . . .
and fair in sight the white sails of the Patience and the
I had been too nigh gone then to greatly care that I was saved; now
I cared, and thanked God for my life. Come what might in the
future, the past was mine. Though I should never see my wife
again, I had that hour in the state cabin of the George. I loved, and
was loved again.
There was a noise outside the door, and Rolfe's voice speaking to
the gaoler. Impatient for his entrance I started toward the door, but
when it opened he made no move to cross the threshold. "I am not
coming in," he said, with a face that he strove to keep grave. "I
only came to bring some one else." With that he stepped back, and
a second figure, coming forward out of the dimness behind him,
crossed the threshold. It was a woman, cloaked and hooded. The
door was drawn to behind her, and we were alone together.
Beside the cloak and hood she wore a riding mask. "Do you know
who it is?" she asked, when she had stood, so shrouded, for a long
minute, during which I had found no words with which to
"Yea," I answered: "the princess in the fairy tale."
She freed her dark hair from its covering, and unclasping her cloak
let it drop to the floor. "Shall I unmask?" she asked, with a sigh.
"Faith! I should keep the bit of silk between your eyes, sir, and my
blushes. Am I ever to be the forward one? Do you not think me too
bold a lady?" As she spoke, her white hands were busy about the
fastening of her mask. "The knot is too hard," she murmured, with
a little tremulous laugh and a catch of her breath.
I untied the ribbons.
"May I not sit down?" she said plaintively, but with soft merriment
in her eyes. "I am not quite strong yet. My heart - you do not know
what pain I have in my heart sometimes. It makes me weep of
nights and when none are by, indeed it does!"
There was a settle beneath the window. I led her to it, and she sat
"You must know that I am walking in the Governor's garden, that
hath only a lane between it and the gaol." Her eyes were downcast,
her cheeks pure rose.
"When did you first love me?" I demanded.
"Lady Wyatt must have guessed why Master Rolfe alone went not
to the bear-baiting, but joined us in the garden. She said the air
was keen, and fetched me her mask, and then herself went indoors
to embroider Samson in the arms of Delilah.'
"Was it here at Jamestown, or was it when we were first wrecked,
or on the island with the pink hill when you wrote my name in the
sand, or" -
"The George will sail in three days, and we are to be taken back to
England after all. It does not scare me now."
"In all my life I have kissed you only once," I said.
The rose deepened, and in her eyes there was laughter, with tears
behind. "You are a gentleman of determination," she said. "If you
are bent upon having your way, I do not know that I - that I - can
help myself. I do not even know that I want to help myself."
Outside the wind blew and the sun shone, and the laughter from
below the fort was too far away and elfin to jar upon us. The world
forgot us, and we were well content. There seemed not much to
say: I suppose we were too happy for words. I knelt beside her, and
she laid her hands in mine, and now and then we spoke. In her
short and lonely life, and in my longer stern and crowded one,
there had been little tenderness, little happiness. In her past, to
those about her, she had seemed bright and gay; I had been a
comrade whom men liked because I could jest as well as fight.
Now we were happy, but we were not gay. Each felt for the other a
great compassion; each knew that though we smiled to-day, the
groan and the tear might be to-morrow's due; the sunshine around
us was pure gold, but that the clouds were mounting we knew full
"I must soon be gone," she said at last. "It is a stolen meeting. I do
not know when we shall meet again."
She rose from the settle, and I rose with her, and we stood together
beside the barred window. There was no danger of her being seen;
street and square were left to the wind and the sunshine. My arm
was around her, and she leaned her head against my breast.
"Perhaps we shall never meet again," she said.
"The winter is over," I answered. "Soon the trees will be green and
the flowers in bloom. I will not believe that our spring can have no
She took from her bosom a little flower that had been pinned
there. It lay, a purple star, in the hollow of her hand. "It grew in the
sun. It is the first flower of spring." She put it to her lips, then laid
it upon the window ledge beside my hand. "I have brought you evil
gifts, - foes and strife and peril. Will you take this little purple
flower - and all my heart beside?"
I bent and kissed first the tiny blossom, and then the lips that had
proffered it. "I am very rich," I said.
The sun was now low, and the pines in the square and the upright
of the pillory cast long shadows. The wind had fallen and the
sounds had died away. It seemed very still. Nothing moved but the
creeping shadows until a flight of small white-breasted birds went
past the window. "The snow is gone," I said. "The snowbirds are
"The woods will soon be green," she murmured wistfully. "Ah, if
we could ride through them once more, back to Weyanoke" -
"To home," I said.
"Home," she echoed softly.
There was a low knocking at the door behind us. "It is Master
Rolfe's signal," she said. "I must not stay. Tell me that you love
me, and let me go."
I drew her closer to me and pressed my lips upon her bowed head.
"Do you not know that I love you?" I asked.
"Yea," she answered. "I have been taught it. Tell me that you
believe that God will be good to us. Tell me that we shall be happy
yet; for oh, I have a boding heart this day!"
Her voice broke, and she lay trembling in my arms, her face
hidden. "If the summer never comes for us" - she whispered.
"Good-by, my lover and my husband. If I have brought you ruin
and death, I have brought you, too, a love that is very great.
Forgive me and kiss me, and let me go."
"Thou art my dearly loved and honored wife," I said. "My heart
forebodes summer, and joy, and peace, and home."
We kissed each other solemnly, as those who part for a journey
and a warfare. I spoke no word to Rolfe when the door was opened
and she had passed out with her cloak drawn about her face, but
we clasped hands, and each knew the other for his friend indeed.
They were gone, the gaoler closing and locking the door behind
them. As for me, I went back to the settle beneath the window,
and, falling on my knees beside it, buried my face in my arms.
CHAPTER XXIX IN WHICH I KEEP TRYST
THE sun dropped below the forest, blood red, dyeing the river its
own color. There were no clouds in the sky, - only a great
suffusion of crimson climbing to the zenith; against it the woods
were as black as war paint. The color faded and the night set in, a
night of no wind and of numberless stars. On the hearth burned a
fire. I left the window and sat beside it, and in the hollows between
the red embers made pictures, as I used to make them when I was
I sat there long. It grew late, and all sounds in the town were
hushed; only now and then the "All's well!" of the watch came
faintly to my ears. Diccon lodged with me; he lay in his clothes
upon a pallet in the far corner of the room, but whether he slept or
not I did not ask. He and I had never wasted words; since chance
had thrown us together again we spoke only when occasion
The fire was nigh out, and it must have been ten of the clock when,
with somewhat more of caution and less of noise than usual, the
key grated in the lock; the door opened, and the gaoler entered,
closing it noiselessly behind him. There was no reason why he
should intrude himself upon me after nightfall, and I regarded him
with a frown and an impatience that presently turned to curiosity.
He began to move about the room, making pretense of seeing that
there was water in the pitcher beside my pallet, that the straw
beneath the coverlet was fresh, that the bars of the window were
firm, and ended by approaching the fire and heaping pine upon it.
It flamed up brilliantly, and in the strong red light he half opened a
clenched hand and showed me two gold pieces, and beneath them
a folded paper. I looked at his furtive eyes and brutal, doltish face,
but he kept them blank as a wall. The hand closed again over the
treasure within it, and he turned away as if to leave the room. I
drew a noble - one of a small store of gold pieces conveyed to me
by Rolfe - from my pocket, and stooping made it spin upon the
hearth in the red firelight. The gaoler looked at it askance, but
continued his progress toward the door. I drew out its fellow, set it
too to spinning, then leaned back against the table. "They hunt in
couples," I said. "There will be no third one."
He had his foot upon them before they had done spinning. The
next moment they had kissed the two pieces already in his
possession, and he had transferred all four to his pocket. I held out
my hand for the paper, and he gave it to me grudgingly, with a
spiteful slowness of movement. He would have stayed beside me
as I read it, but I sternly bade him keep his distance; then kneeling
before the fire to get the light, I opened the paper. It was written
upon in a delicate, woman's hand, and it ran thus: -
An you hold me dear, come to me at once. Come without tarrying
to the deserted hut on the neck of land, nearest to the forest. As
you love me, as you are my knight, keep this tryst.
In distress and peril,
Folded with it was a line in the commander's hand and with his
signature: "The bearer may pass without the palisade at his
I read the first paper again, refolded it, and rose to my feet. "Who
brought this, sirrah?" I demanded.
His answer was glib enough: "One of the governor's servants. He
said as how there was no harm in the letter, and the gold was
"When was this?"
"Just now. No, I did n't know the man."
I saw no way to discover whether or not he lied. Drawing out
another gold piece, I laid it upon the table. He eyed it greedily,
edging nearer and nearer.
"For leaving this door unlocked," I said.
His eyes narrowed and he moistened his lips, shifting from one
foot to the other.
I put down a second piece. "For opening the outer door," I said.
He wet his lips again, made an inarticulate sound in his throat, and
finally broke out with, "The commander will nail my ears to the
"You can lock the doors after me, and know as little as you choose
in the morning. No gain without some risk."
"That's so," he agreed, and made a clutch at the gold.
I swept it out of his reach. "First earn it," I said dryly. "Look at the
foot of the pillory an hour from now and you'll find it. I'll not pay
you this side of the doors."
He bit his lips and studied the floor. "You're a gentleman," he
growled at last. "I suppose I can trust ye."
"I suppose you can."
Taking up his lantern he turned toward the door. "It 's growing
late," he said, with a most uncouth attempt to feign a guileless
drowsiness. "I'll to bed, captain, when I've locked up. Good-night
He was gone, and the door was left unlocked. I could walk out of
that gaol as I could have walked out of my house at Weyanoke. I
was free, but should I take my freedom? Going back to the light of
the fire I unfolded the paper and stared at it, turning its contents
this way and that in my mind. The hand - but once had I seen her
writing, and then it had been wrought with a shell upon firm sand.
I could not judge if this were the same. Had the paper indeed come
from her? Had it not? If in truth it was a message from my wife,
what had befallen in a few hours since our parting? If it was a
forger's lie, what trap was set, what toils were laid? I walked up
and down, and tried to think it out. The strangeness of it all, the
choice of a lonely and distant hut for trysting place, that pass
coming from a sworn officer of the Company, certain things I had
heard that day . . . A trap . . . and to walk into it with my eyes open.
. . . An you hold me dear. As you are my knight, keep this tryst. In
distress and peril. . . .Come what might, there was a risk I could
I had no weapons to assume, no preparations to make. Gathering
up the gaoler's gold I started toward the door, opened it, and going
out would have closed it softly behind me but that a booted leg
thrust across the jamb prevented me. "I am going with you," said
Diccon in a guarded voice. "If you try to prevent me, I will rouse
the house." His head was thrown back in the old way; the old
daredevil look was upon his face. "I don't know why you are
going," he declared, "but there'll be danger, anyhow."
"To the best of my belief I am walking into a trap," I said.
"Then it will shut on two instead of one," he answered doggedly.
By this he was through the door, and there was no shadow of
turning on his dark, determined face. I knew my man, and wasted
no more words. Long ago it had grown to seem the thing most in
nature that the hour of danger should find us side by side.
When the door of the firelit room was shut, the gaol was in
darkness that might be felt. It was very still: the few other inmates
were fast asleep; the gaoler was somewhere out of sight, dreaming
with open eyes. We groped our way through the passage to the
stairs, noiselessly descended them, and found the outer door
unchained, unbarred, and slightly ajar.
When I had laid the gold beneath the pillory, we struck swiftly
across the square, being in fear lest the watch should come upon
us, and took the first lane that led toward the palisade. Beneath the
burning stars the town lay stark in sleep. So bright in the wintry air
were those far-away lights that the darkness below them was not
great. We could see the low houses, the shadowy pines, the naked
oaks, the sandy lane glimmering away to the river, star-strewn to
match the heavens. The air was cold, but exceedingly clear and
still. Now and then a dog barked, or wolves howled in the forest
across the river. We kept in the shadow of the houses and the trees,
and went with the swiftness, silence, and caution of Indians.
The last house we must pass before reaching the palisade was one
that Rolfe owned, and in which he lodged when business brought
him to Jamestown. It and some low outbuildings beyond it were as
dark as the cedars in which they were set, and as silent as the
grave. Rolfe and his Indian brother were sleeping there now, while
I stood without. Or did they sleep? Were they there at all? Might it
not have been Rolfe who had bribed the gaoler and procured the
pass from West? Might I not find him at that strange trysting
place? Might not all be well, after all? I was sorely tempted to
rouse that silent house and demand if its master were within. I did
it not. Servants were there, and noise would be made, and time that
might be more precious than life-blood was flying fast. I went on,
and Diccon with me.
There was a cabin built almost against the palisade, and here one
man was supposed to watch, whilst another slept. To-night we
found both asleep. I shook the younger to his feet, and heartily
cursed him for his negligence. He listened stupidly, and read as
stupidly, by the light of his lantern, the pass which I thrust beneath
his nose. Staggering to his feet, and drunk with his unlawful
slumber, he fumbled at the fastenings of the gate for full three
minutes before the ponderous wood finally swung open and
showed the road beyond. "It's all right," he muttered thickly. "The
commander's pass. Good-night, the three of ye!"
"Are you drunk or drugged?" I demanded. "There are only two. It's
not sleep that is the matter with you. What is it?"
He made no answer, but stood holding the gate open and blinking
at us with dull, unseeing eyes. Something ailed him besides sleep;
he may have been drugged, for aught I know. When we had gone
some yards from the gate, we heard him say again, in precisely the
same tone, "Good-night, the three of ye!" Then the gate creaked to,
and we heard the bars drawn across it.
Without the palisade was a space of waste land, marsh and thicket,
tapering to the narrow strip of sand and scrub joining the peninsula
to the forest, and here and there upon this waste ground rose a
mean house, dwelt in by the poorer sort. All were dark. We left
them behind, and found ourselves upon the neck, with the desolate
murmur of the river on either hand, and before us the deep
blackness of the forest. Suddenly Diccon stopped in his tracks and
turned his head. "I did hear something then," he muttered. "Look,
The stars faintly lit the road that had been trodden hard and bare
by the feet of all who came and went. Down this road something
was coming toward us, something low and dark, that moved not
fast, and not slow, but with a measured and relentless pace. "A
panther!" said Diccon.
We watched the creature with more of curiosity than alarm. Unless
brought to bay, or hungry, or wantonly irritated, these great cats
were cowardly enough. It would hardly attack the two of us.
Nearer and nearer it came, showing no signs of anger and none of
fear, and paying no attention to the withered branch with which
Diccon tried to scare it off. When it was so close that we could see
the white of its breast it stopped, looking at us with large
unfaltering eyes, and slightly moving its tail to and fro.
"A tame panther!" ejaculated Diccon. "It must be the one
Nantauquas tamed, sir. He would have kept it somewhere near
Master Rolfe's house."
"And it heard us, and followed us through the gate," I said. "It was
the third the warder talked of."
We walked on, and the beast, addressing itself to motion, followed
at our heels. Now and then we looked back at it, but we feared it
As for me, I had begun to think that a panther might be the least
formidable thing I should meet that night. By this I had scarcely
any hope - or fear - that I should find her at our journey's end. The
lonesome path that led only to the night-time forest, the deep and
dark river with its mournful voice, the hard, bright, pitiless stars,
the cold, the loneliness, the distance, - how should she be there?
And if not she, who then?
The hut to which I had been directed stood in an angle made by the
neck and the main bank of the river. On one side of it was the
water, on the other a deep wood. The place had an evil name, and
no man had lived there since the planter who had built it hanged
himself upon its threshold. The hut was ruinous: in the summer tall
weeds grew up around it, and venomous snakes harbored beneath
its rotted and broken floor; in the winter the snow whitened it, and
the wild fowl flew screaming in and out of the open door and the
windows that needed no barring. To-night the door was shut and
the windows in some way obscured. But the interstices between
the logs showed red; the hut was lighted within, and some one was
The stillness was deadly. It was not silence, for the river murmured
in the stiff reeds, and far off in the midnight forest some beast of
the night uttered its cry, but a hush, a holding of the breath, an
expectant horror. The door, warped and shrunken, was drawn to,
but was not fastened, as I could tell by the unbroken line of red
light down one side from top to bottom. Making no sound, I laid
my hand upon it, pushed it open a little way, and looked within the
I had thought to find it empty or to find it crowded. It was neither.
A torch lit it, and on the hearth burned a fire. Drawn in front of the
blaze was an old rude chair, and in it sat a slight figure draped
from head to foot in a black cloak. The head was bowed and
hidden, the whole attitude one of listlessness and dejection. As I
looked, there came a long tremulous sigh, and the head drooped
lower and lower, as if in a growing hopelessness.
The revulsion of feeling was so great that for the moment I was
dazed as by a sudden blow. There had been time during the walk
from the gaol for enough of wild and whirling thoughts as to what
should greet me in that hut; and now the slight figure by the fire,
the exquisite melancholy of its posture, its bent head, the weeping
I could divine, - I had but one thought, to comfort her as quickly as
I might. Diccon's hand was upon my arm, but I shook it off, and
pushing the door open crossed the uneven and noisy floor to the
fire, and bent over the lonely figure beside it. "Jocelyn," I said, "I
have kept tryst."
As I spoke, I laid my hand upon the bowed and covered head. It
was raised, the cloak was drawn aside, and there looked me in the
eyes the Italian.
As if it had been the Gorgon's gaze, I was turned to stone. The
filmy eyes, the smile that would have been mocking had it not
been so very faint, the pallor, the malignance, - I stared and stared,
and my heart grew cold and sick.
It was but for a minute; then a warning cry from Diccon roused
me. I sprang backward until the width of the hearth was between
me and the Italian, then wheeled and found myself face to face
with the King's late favorite. Behind him was an open door, and
beyond it a small inner room, dimly lighted. He stood and looked
at me with an insolence and a triumph most intolerable. His drawn
sword was in his hand, the jeweled hilt blazing in the firelight, and
on his dark, superb face a taunting smile. I met it with one as bold,
at least, but I said no word, good or bad. In the cabin of the George
I had sworn to myself that thenceforward my sword should speak
for me to this gentleman.
"You came," he said. "I thought you would."
I glanced around the hut, seeking for a weapon. Seeing nothing
more promising than the thick, half-consumed torch, I sprang to it
and wrested it from the socket. Diccon caught up a piece of rusted
iron from the hearth, and together we faced my lord's drawn sword
and a small, sharp, and strangely shaped dagger that the Italian
drew from a velvet sheath.
My lord laughed, reading my thoughts. "You are mistaken," he
declared coolly. "I am content that Captain Percy knows I do not
fear to fight him. This time I play to win." Turning toward the
outer door, he raised his hand with a gesture of command.
In an instant the room was filled. The red-brown figures, naked
save for the loincloth and the headdress, the impassive faces
dashed with black, the ruthless eyes - I knew now why Master
Edward Sharpless had gone to the forest, and what service had
been bought with that silver cup. The Paspaheghs and I were old
enemies; doubtless they would find their task a pleasant one.
"My own knaves, unfortunately, were out of the way; sent home
on the Santa Teresa," said my lord, still smiling. "I am not yet so
poor that I cannot hire others. True, Nicolo might have done the
work just now, when you bent over him so lovingly and spoke so
softly; but the river might give up your body to tell strange tales. I
have heard that the Indians are more ingenious, and leave no such
Before the words were out of his mouth I had sprung upon him,
and had caught him by the sword wrist and the throat. He strove to
free his hand, to withdraw himself from my grasp. Locked
together, we struggled backward and forward in what seemed a
blaze of lights and a roaring as of mighty waters. Red hands caught
at me, sharp knives panted to drink my blood; but so fast we
turned and writhed, now he uppermost, now I, that for very fear of
striking the wrong man hands and knives could not be bold. I
heard Diccon fighting, and knew that there would be howling
tomorrow among the squaws of the Paspaheghs. With all his might
my lord strove to bend the sword against me, and at last did cut me
across the arm, causing the blood to flow freely. It made a pool
upon the floor, and once my foot slipped in it, and I stumbled and
Two of the Paspaheghs were silent for evermore. Diccon had the
knife of the first to fall, and it ran red. The Italian, quick and
sinuous as a serpent, kept beside my lord and me, striving to bring
his dagger to his master's aid. We two panted hard; before our eyes
blood, within our ears the sea. The noise of the other combatants
suddenly fell. The hush could only mean that Diccon was dead or
taken. I could not look behind to see. With an access of fury I
drove my antagonist toward a corner of the hut, - the corner, so it
chanced, in which the panther had taken up its quarters. With his
heel he struck the beast out of his way, then made a last desperate
effort to throw me. I let him think he was about to succeed,
gathered my forces and brought him crashing to the ground. The
sword was in my hand and shortened, the point was at his throat,
when my arm was jerked backwards. A moment, and half a dozen
hands had dragged me from the man beneath me, and a supple
savage had passed a thong of deerskin around my arms and
pinioned them to my sides. The game was up; there remained only
to pay the forfeit without a grimace.
Diccon was not dead; pinioned, like myself, and breathing hard, he
leaned sullenly against the wall, they that he had slain at his feet.
My lord rose, and stood over against me. His rich doublet was torn
and dragged away at the neck, and my blood stained his hand and
arm. A smile was upon the face that had made him master of a
"The game was long," he said, "but I have won at last. A long
good-night to you, Captain Percy, and a dreamless sleep!"
There was a swift backward movement of the Indians, and a loud
"The panther, sir! Have a care!" from Diccon. I turned. The
panther, maddened by the noise and light, the shifting figures, the
blocked doors, the sight and smell of blood, the blow that had been
dealt it, was crouching for a spring. The red-brown hair was
bristling, the eyes were terrible. I was before it, but those glaring
eyes had marked me not. It passed me like a bar from a catapult,
and the man whose heel it had felt was full in its path. One of its
forefeet sank in the velvet of the doublet; the claws of the other
entered the flesh below the temple, and tore downwards and
across. With a cry as awful as the panther's scream the Italian
threw himself upon the beast and buried his poniard in its neck.
The panther and the man it had attacked went down together.
When the Indians had unlocked that dread embrace and had thrust
aside the dead brute, there emerged from the dimness of the inner
room Master Edward Sharpless, gray with fear, trembling in every
limb, to take the reins that had fallen from my lord's hands. The
King's minion lay in his blood, a ghastly spectacle; unconscious
now, but with life before him, - life through which to pass a
nightmare vision. The face out of which had looked that sullen,
proud, and wicked spirit had been one of great beauty; it had
brought him exceeding wealth and power beyond measure; the
King had loved to look upon it; and it had come to this. He lived,
and I was to die: better my death than his life. In every heart there
are dark depths, whence at times ugly things creep into the
daylight; but at least I could drive back that unmanly triumph, and
bid it never come again. I would have killed him, but I would not
have had him thus.
The Italian was upon his knees beside his master: even such a
creature could love. From his skeleton throat came a low,
prolonged, croaking sound, and his bony hands strove to wipe
away the blood. The Paspaheghs drew around us closer and closer,
and the werowance clutched me by the shoulder. I shook him off.
"Give the word, Sharpless," I said, "or nod, if thou art too
frightened to speak. Murder is too stern a stuff for such a base
kitchen knave as thou to deal in."
White and shaking, he would not meet my eyes, but beckoned the
werowance to him, and began to whisper vehemently; pointing
now to the man upon the floor, now to the town, now to the forest.
The Indian listened, nodded, and glided back to his fellows.
"The white men upon the Powhatan are many," he said in his own
tongue, "but they build not their wigwams upon the banks of the
Pamunkey. 1 The singing birds of the Pamunkey tell no tales. The
pine splinters will burn as brightly there, and the white men will
smell them not. We will build a fire at Uttamussac, between the
red hills, before the temple and the graves of the kings." There was
a murmur of assent from his braves.
Uttamussac! They would probably make a two days' journey of it.
We had that long, then, to live.
Captors and captives, we presently left the hut. On the threshold I
looked back, past the poltroon whom I had flung into the river one
midsummer day, to that prone and bleeding figure. As I looked, it
groaned and moved. The Indians behind me forced me on; a
moment, and we were out beneath the stars. They shone so very
brightly; there was one - large, steadfast, golden - just over the
dark town behind us, over the Governor's house. Did she sleep or
did she wake? Sleeping or waking, I prayed God to keep her safe
and give her comfort. The stars now shone through naked
branches, black tree trunks hemmed us round, and under our feet
was the dreary rustling of dead leaves. The leafless trees gave way
to pines and cedars, and the closely woven, scented roof hid the
heavens, and made a darkness of the world beneath.
1. The modern York.
CHAPTER XXX IN WHICH WE START UPON A JOURNEY
WHEN the dawn broke, it found us traveling through a narrow
valley, beside a stream of some width. Upon its banks grew trees
of extraordinary height and girth; cypress and oak and walnut, they
towered into the air, their topmost branches stark and black against
the roseate heavens. Below that iron tracery glowed the firebrands
of the maples, and here and there a willow leaned a pale green
cloud above the stream. Mist closed the distances; we could hear,
but not see, the deer where they stood to drink in the shallow
places, or couched in the gray and dreamlike recesses of the forest.
Spectral, unreal, and hollow seems the world at dawn. Then, if
ever, the heart sickens and the will flags, and life becomes a
pageant that hath ceased to entertain. As I moved through the mist
and the silence, and felt the tug of the thong that bound me to the
wrist of the savage who stalked before me, I cared not how soon
they made an end, seeing how stale and unprofitable were all
things under the sun.
Diccon, walking behind me, stumbled over a root and fell upon his
knees, dragging down with him the Indian to whom he was tied. In
a sudden access of fury, aggravated by the jeers with which his
fellows greeted his mishap, the savage turned upon his prisoner
and would have stuck a knife into him, bound and helpless as he
was, had not the werowance interfered. The momentary altercation
over, and the knife restored to its owner's belt, the Indians relapsed
into their usual menacing silence, and the sullen march was
resumed. Presently the stream made a sharp bend across our path,
and we forded it as best we might. It ran dark and swift, and the
water was of icy coldness. Beyond, the woods had been burnt, the
trees rising from the red ground like charred and blackened stakes,
with the ghostlike mist between. We left this dismal tract behind,
and entered a wood of mighty oaks, standing well apart, and with
the earth below carpeted with moss and early wild flowers. The
sun rose, the mist vanished, and there set in the March day of keen
wind and brilliant sunshine.
Farther on, an Indian bent his bow against a bear shambling across
a little sunny glade. The arrow did its errand, and where the
creature fell, there we sat down and feasted beside a fire kindled
by rubbing two sticks together. According to their wont the Indians
ate ravenously, and when the meal was ended began to smoke,
each warrior first throwing into the air, as thankoffering to
Kiwassa, a pinch of tobacco. They all stared at the fire around
which we sat, and the silence was unbroken. One by one, as the
pipes were smoked, they laid themselves down upon the brown
leaves and went to sleep, only our two guardians and a third Indian
over against us remaining wide-eyed and watchful.
There was no hope of escape, and we entertained no thought of it.
Diccon sat, biting his nails, staring into the fire, and I stretched
myself out, and burying my head in my arms tried to sleep, but
With the midday we were afoot again, and we went steadily on
through the bright afternoon. We met with no harsh treatment
other than our bonds. Instead, when our captors spoke to us, it was
with words of amity and smiling lips. Who accounteth for Indian
fashions? It is a way they have, to flatter and caress the wretch for
whom have been provided the torments of the damned. If, when at
sunset we halted for supper and gathered around the fire, the
werowance began to tell of a foray I had led against the
Paspaheghs years before, and if he and his warriors, for all the
world like generous foes, loudly applauded some daring that had
accompanied that raid, none the less did the red stake wait for us;
none the less would they strive, as for heaven, to wring from us
groans and cries.
The sun sank, and the darkness entered the forest. In the distance
we heard the wolves, so the fire was kept up through the night.
Diccon and I were tied to trees, and all the savages save one lay
down and slept. I worked awhile at my bonds; but an Indian had
tied them, and after a time I desisted from the useless labor. We
two could have no speech together; the fire was between us, and
we saw each other but dimly through the flame and wreathing
smoke, - as each might see the other to-morrow. What Diccon's
thoughts were I know not; mine were not of the morrow.
There had been no rain for a long time, and the multitude of leaves
underfoot were crisp and dry. The wind was loud in them and in
the swaying trees. Off in the forest was a bog, and the
will-o'-the-wisps danced over it, - pale, cold flames, moving
aimlessly here and there like ghosts of those lost in the woods.
Toward the middle of the night some heavy animal crashed
through a thicket to the left of us, and tore away into the darkness
over the loud-rustling leaves; and later on wolves' eyes gleamed
from out the ring of darkness beyond the firelight. Far on in the
night the wind fell and the moon rose, changing the forest into
some dim, exquisite, far-off land, seen only in dreams. The Indians
awoke silently and all at once, as at an appointed hour. They spoke
for a while among themselves; then we were loosed from the trees,
and the walk toward death began anew.
On this march the werowance himself stalked beside me, the
moonlight whitening his dark limbs and relentless face. He spoke
no word, nor did I deign to question or reason or entreat. Alike in
the darkness of the deep woods, and in the silver of the glades, and
in the long twilight stretches of sassafras and sighing grass, there
was for me but one vision. Slender and still and white, she moved
before me, with her wide dark eyes upon my face. Jocelyn!
At sunrise the mist lifted from a low hill before us, and showed an
Indian boy, painted white, poised upon the summit, like a spirit
about to take its flight. He prayed to the One over All, and his
voice came down to us pure and earnest. At sight of us he bounded
down the hillside like a ball, and would have rushed away into the
forest had not a Paspahegh starting out of line seized him and set
him in our midst, where he stood, cool and undismayed, a warrior
in miniature. He was of the Pamunkeys, and his tribe and the
Paspaheghs were at peace; therefore, when he saw the totem burnt
upon the breast of the werowance, he became loquacious enough,
and offered to go before us to his village, upon the banks of a
stream, some bowshots away. He went, and the Paspaheghs rested
under the trees until the old men of the village came forth to lead
them through the brown fields and past the ring of leafless
mulberries to the strangers' lodge. Here on the green turf mats
were laid for the visitors, and water was brought for their hands.
Later on, the women spread a great breakfast of fish and turkey
and venison, maize bread, tuckahoe and pohickory. When it was
eaten, the Paspaheghs ranged themselves in a semicircle upon the
grass, the Pamunkeys faced them, and each warrior and old man
drew out his pipe and tobacco pouch. They smoked gravely, in a
silence broken only by an occasional slow and stately question or
compliment. The blue incense from the pipes mingled with the
sunshine falling freely through the bare branches; the stream
which ran by the lodge rippled and shone, and the wind rose and
fell in the pines upon its farther bank.
Diccon and I had been freed for the time from our bonds, and
placed in the centre of this ring, and when the Indians raised their
eyes from the ground it was to gaze steadfastly at us. I knew their
ways, and how they valued pride, indifference, and a bravado
disregard of the worst an enemy could do. They should not find the
white man less proud than the savage.
They gave us readily enough the pipes I asked for. Diccon lit one
and I the other, and sitting side by side we smoked in a
contentment as absolute as the Indians' own. With his eyes upon
the werowance, Diccon told an old story of a piece of Paspahegh
villainy and of the payment which the English exacted, and I
laughed as at the most amusing thing in the world. The story
ended, we smoked with serenity for a while; then I drew my dice
from my pocket, and, beginning to throw, we were at once as
much absorbed in the game as if there were no other stake in the
world beside the remnant of gold that I piled between us. The
strange people in whose power we found ourselves looked on with
grim approval, as at brave men who could laugh in Death's face.
The sun was high in the heavens when we bade the Pamunkeys
farewell. The cleared ground, the mulberry trees, and the grass
beneath, the few rude lodges with the curling smoke above them,
the warriors and women and brown naked children, - all vanished,
and the forest closed around us. A high wind was blowing, and the
branches far above beat at one another furiously, while the
pendent, leafless vines swayed against us, and the dead leaves
went past in the whirlwind. A monstrous flight of pigeons crossed
the heavens, flying from west to east, and darkening the land
beneath like a transient cloud. We came to a plain covered with
very tall trees that had one and all been ringed by the Indians. Long
dead, and partially stripped of the bark, with their branches, great
and small, squandered upon the ground, they stood, gaunt and
silver gray, ready for their fall. As we passed, the wind brought
two crashing to the earth. In the centre of the plain something -
deer or wolf or bear or man - lay dead, for to that point the
buzzards were sweeping from every quarter of the blue. Beyond
was a pine wood, silent and dim, with a high green roof and a
smooth and scented floor. We walked through it for an hour, and it
led us to the Pamunkey. A tiny village, counting no more than a
dozen warriors, stood among the pines that ran to the water's edge,
and tied to the trees that shadowed the slow-moving flood were its
canoes. When the people came forth to meet us, the Paspaheghs
bought from them, for a string of roanoke, two of these boats; and
we made no tarrying, but, embarking at once, rowed up river
toward Uttamussac and its three temples.
Diccon and I were placed in the same canoe. We were not bound:
what need of bonds, when we had no friend nearer than the
Powhatan, and when Uttamussac was so near? After a time the
paddles were put into our hands, and we were required to row
while our captors rested. There was no use in sulkiness; we
laughed as at some huge jest, and bent to the task with a will that
sent our canoe well in advance of its mate. Diccon burst into an
old song that we had sung in the Low Countries, by camp fires, on
the march, before the battle. The forest echoed to the loud and
warlike tune, and a multitude of birds rose startled from the trees
upon the bank. The Indians frowned, and one in the boat behind
called out to strike the singer upon the mouth; but the werowance
shook his head. There were none upon that river who might not
know that the Paspaheghs journeyed to Uttamussac with prisoners
in their midst. Diccon sang on, his head thrown back, the old bold
laugh in his eyes. When he came to the chorus I joined my voice to
his, and the woodland rang to the song. A psalm had better befitted
our lips than those rude and vaunting words, seeing that we should
never sing again upon this earth; but at least we sang bravely and
gayly, with minds that were reasonably quiet.
The sun dropped low in the heavens, and the trees cast shadows
across the water. The Paspaheghs now began to recount the
entertainment they meant to offer us in the morning. All those
tortures that they were wont to practice with hellish ingenuity they
told over, slowly and tauntingly, watching to see a lip whiten or an
eyelid quiver. They boasted that they would make women of us at
the stake. At all events, they made not women of us beforehand.
We laughed as we rowed, and Diccon whistled to the leaping fish,
and the fish-hawk, and the otter lying along a fallen tree beneath
The sunset came, and the river lay beneath the colored clouds like
molten gold, with the gaunt forest black upon either hand. From
the lifted paddles the water showered in golden drops. The wind
died away, and with it all noises, and a dank stillness settled upon
the flood and upon the endless forest. We were nearing
Uttamussac, and the Indians rowed quietly, with bent heads and
fearful glances; for Okee brooded over this place, and he might be
angry. It grew colder and stiller, but the light dwelt in the heavens,
and was reflected in the bosom of the river. The trees upon the
southern bank were all pines; as if they had been carved from
black stone they stood rigid against the saffron sky. Presently, back
from the shore, there rose before us a few small hills, treeless, but
covered with some low, dark growth. The one that stood the
highest bore upon its crest three black houses shaped like coffins.
Behind them was the deep yellow of the sunset.
An Indian rowing in the second canoe commenced a chant or
prayer to Okee. The notes were low and broken, unutterably wild
and melancholy. One by one his fellows took up the strain; it
swelled higher, louder, and sterner, became a deafening cry, then
ceased abruptly, making the stillness that followed like death
itself. Both canoes swung round from the middle stream and made
for the bank. When the boats had slipped from the stripe of gold
into the inky shadow of the pines, the Paspaheghs began to divest
themselves of this or that which they conceived Okee might desire
to possess. One flung into the stream a handful of copper links,
another the chaplet of feathers from his head, a third a bracelet of
blue beads. The werowance drew out the arrows from a gaudily
painted and beaded quiver, stuck them into his belt, and dropped
the quiver into the water.
We landed, dragging the canoes into a covert of overhanging
bushes and fastening them there; then struck through the pines
toward the rising ground, and presently came to a large village,
with many long huts, and a great central lodge where dwelt the
emperors when they came to Uttamussac. It was vacant now,
Opechancanough being no man knew where.
When the usual stately welcome had been extended to the
Paspaheghs, and when they had returned as stately thanks, the
werowance began a harangue for which I furnished the matter.
When he ceased to speak a great acclamation and tumult arose,
and I thought they would scarce wait for the morrow. But it was
late, and their werowance and conjurer restrained them. In the end
the men drew off, aud the yelling of the children and the
passionate cries of the women, importunate for vengeance, were
stilled. A guard was placed around the vacant lodge, and we two
Englishmen were taken within and bound down to great logs, such
as the Indians use to roll against their doors when they go from
There was revelry in the village; for hours after the night came,
everywhere were bright firelight and the rise and fall of laughter
and song. The voices of the women were musical, tender, and
plaintive, and yet they waited for the morrow as for a gala day. I
thought of a woman who used to sing, softly and sweetly, in the
twilight at Weyanoke, in the firelight at the minister's house. At
last the noises ceased, the light died away, and the village slept
beneath a heaven that seemed somewhat deaf and blind.
CHAPTER XXXI IN WHICH NANTAUQUAS COMES TO OUR RESCUE
A MAN who hath been a soldier and an adventurer into far and
strange countries must needs have faced Death many times and in
many guises. I had learned to know that grim countenance, and to
have no great fear of it. And beneath the ugliness of the mask that
now presented itself there was only Death at last. I was no babe to
whimper at a sudden darkness, to cry out against a curtain that a
Hand chose to drop between me and the life I had lived. Death
frighted me not, but when I thought of one whom I should leave
behind me I feared lest I should go mad. Had this thing come to
me a year before, I could have slept the night through; now- now-
I lay, bound to the log, before the open door of the lodge, and,
looking through it, saw the pines waving in the night wind and the
gleam of the river beneath the stars, and saw her as plainly as
though she had stood there under the trees, in a flood of noon
sunshine. Now she was the Jocelyn Percy of Weyanoke, now of the
minister's house, now of a storm-tossed boat and a pirate ship, now
of the gaol at Jamestown. One of my arms was free; I could take
from within my doublet the little purple flower, and drop my face
upon the hand that held it. The bloom was quite withered, and
scalding tears would not give it life again.
The face that was, now gay, now defiant, now pale and suffering,
became steadfastly the face that had leaned upon my breast in the
Jamestown gaol, and looked at me with a mournful brightness of
love and sorrow. Spring was in the land, and the summer would
come, but not to us. I stretched forth my hand to the wife who was
not there, and my heart lay crushed within me. She had been my
wife not a year; it was but the other day that I knew she loved me -
After a while the anguish lessened, and I lay, dull and hopeless,
thinking of trifling things, counting the stars between the pines.
Another slow hour, and, a braver mood coming upon me, I thought
of Diccon, who was in that plight because of me, and spoke to
him, asking him how he did. He answered from the other side of
the lodge, but the words were scarcely out of his mouth before our
guard broke in upon us commanding silence. Diccon cursed them,
whereupon a savage struck him across the head with the handle of
a tomahawk, stunning him for a time. As soon as I heard him move
I spoke again, to know if he were much hurt; when he had
answered in the negative we said no more.
It was now moonlight without the lodge and very quiet. The night
was far gone; already we could smell the morning, and it would
come apace. Knowing the swiftness of that approach, and what the
early light would bring, I strove for a courage which should be the
steadfastness of the Christian, and not the vainglorious pride of the
heathen. If my thoughts wandered, if her face would come athwart
the verses I tried to remember, the prayer I tried to frame, perhaps
He who made her lovely understood and forgave. I said the prayer
I used to say when I was a child, and wished with all my heart for
Suddenly, in the first gray dawn, as at a trumpet's call, the village
awoke. From the long, communal houses poured forth men,
women, and children; fires sprang up, dispersing the mist, and a
commotion arose through the length and breadth of the place. The
women made haste with their cooking, and bore maize cakes and
broiled fish to the warriors who sat on the ground in front of the
royal lodge. Diccon and I were loosed, brought without, and
allotted our share of the food. We ate sitting side by side with our
captors, and Diccon, with a great cut across his head, seized the
Indian girl who brought him his platter of fish, and pulling her
down beside him kissed her soundly, whereat the maid seemed not
ill pleased and the warriors laughed.
In the usual order of things, the meal over, tobacco should have
followed. But now not a pipe was lit, and the women made haste
to take away the platters and to get all things in readiness. The
werowance of the Paspaheghs rose to his feet, cast aside his
mantle, and began to speak. He was a man in the prime of life, of a
great figure, strong as a Susquehannock, and a savage cruel and
crafty beyond measure. Over his breast, stained with strange
figures, hung a chain of small bones, and the scalp locks of his
enemies fringed his moccasins. His tribe being the nearest to
Jamestown, and in frequent altercation with us, I had heard him
speak many times, and knew his power over the passions of his
people. No player could be more skillful in gesture and expression,
no poet more nice in the choice of words, no general more quick to
raise a wild enthusiasm in the soldiers to whom he called. All
Indians are eloquent, but this savage was a leader among them.
He spoke now to some effect. Commencing with a day in the
moon of blossoms when for the first time winged canoes brought
white men into the Powhatan, he came down through year after
year to the present hour, ceased, and stood in silence, regarding his
triumph. It was complete. In its wild excitement the village was
ready then and there to make an end of us who had sprung to our
feet and stood with our backs against a great bay tree, facing the
maddened throng. So much the best for us would it be if the
tomahawks left the hands that were drawn back to throw, if the
knives that were flourished in our faces should be buried to the
haft in our hearts, that we courted death, striving with word and
look to infuriate our executioners to the point of forgetting their
former purpose in the lust for instant vengeance. It was not to be.
The werowance spoke again, pointing to the hills with the black
houses upon them, dimly seen through the mist. A moment, and
the hands clenched upon the weapons fell; another, and we were
upon the march.
As one man, the village swept through the forest toward the rising
ground that was but a few bowshots away. The young men
bounded ahead to make preparation; but the approved warriors and
the old men went more sedately, and with them walked Diccon
and I, as steady of step as they. The women and children for the
most part brought up the rear, though a few impatient hags ran past
us, calling the men tortoises who would never reach the goal. One
of these women bore a great burning torch, the flame and smoke
streaming over her shoulder as she ran. Others carried pieces of
bark heaped with the slivers of pine of which every wigwam has
The sun was yet to rise when we reached a hollow amongst the
low red hills. Above us were the three long houses in which they
keep the image of Okee and the mummies of their kings. These
temples faced the crimson east, and the mist was yet about them.
Hideous priests, painted over with strange devices, the stuffed
skins of snakes knotted about their heads, in their hands great
rattles which they shook vehemently, rushed through the doors and
down the bank to meet us, and began to dance around us,
contorting their bodies, throwing up their arms, and making a
hellish noise. Diccon stared at them, shrugged his shoulders, and
with a grunt of contempt sat down upon a fallen tree to watch the
The place was a natural amphitheatre, well fitted for a spectacle.
Those Indians who could not crowd into the narrow level spread
themselves over the rising ground, and looked down with fierce
laughter upon the driving of the stakes which the young men
brought. The women and children scattered into the woods beyond
the cleft between the hills, and returned bearing great armfuls of
dry branches. The hollow rang to the exultation of the playgoers.
Taunting laughter, cries of savage triumph, the shaking of the
rattles, and the furious beating of two great drums combined to
make a clamor deafening to stupor. And above the hollow was the
angry reddening of the heavens, and the white mist curling up like
I sat down beside Diccon on the log. Beneath it there were
growing tufts of a pale blue, slender-stemmed flower. I plucked a
handful of the blossoms, and thought how blue they would look
against the whiteness of her hand; then dropped them in a sudden
shame that in that hour I was so little steadfast to things which
were not of earth. I did not speak to Diccon, nor he to me. There
seemed no need of speech. In the pandemonium to which the
world had narrowed, the one familiar, matter-of-course thing was
that he and I were to die together.
The stakes were in the ground and painted red, the wood properly
arranged. The Indian woman who held the torch that was to light
the pile ran past us, whirling the wood around her head to make it
blaze more fiercely. As she went by she lowered the brand and
slowly dragged it across my wrists. The beating of the drums
suddenly ceased, and the loud voices died away. To Indians no
music is so sweet as the cry of an enemy; if they have wrung it
from a brave man who has striven to endure, so much the better.
They were very still now, because they would not lose so much as
a drawing in of the breath.
Seeing that they were coming for us, Diccon and I rose to await
them. When they were nearly upon us I turned to him and held out
He made no motion to take it. Instead he stood with fixed eyes
looking past me and slightly upwards. A sudden pallor had
overspread the bronze of his face. "There's a verse somewhere," he
said in a quiet voice, - "it's in the Bible, I think, - I heard it once
long ago, before I was lost: 'I will look unto the hills from whence
cometh my help' - Look, sir!"
I turned and followed with my eyes the pointing of his finger. In
front of us the bank rose steeply, bare to the summit, - no trees,
only the red earth, with here and there a low growth of leafless
bushes. Behind it was the eastern sky. Upon the crest, against the
sunrise, stood the figure of a man, - an Indian. From one shoulder
hung an otterskin, and a great bow was in his hand. His limbs
were bare, and as he stood motionless, bathed in the rosy light, he
looked like some bronze god, perfect from the beaded moccasins
to the calm, uneager face below the feathered headdress. He had
but just risen above the brow of the hill; the Indians in the hollow
saw him not.
While Diccon and I stared our tormentors were upon us. They
came a dozen or more at once, and we had no weapons. Two hung
upon my arms, while a third laid hold of my doublet to rend it
from me. An arrow whistled over our heads and stuck into a tree
behind us. The hands that clutched me dropped, and with a yell the
busy throng turned their faces in the direction whence had come
The Indian who had sent that dart before him was descending the
bank. An instant's breathless hush while they stared at the solitary
figure; then the dark forms bent forward for the rush straightened,
and there arose a loud cry of recognition. "The son of Powhatan!
The son of Powhatan!"
He came down the hillside to the level of the hollow, the authority
of his look and gesture making way for him through the crowd that
surged this way and that, and walked up to us where we stood,
hemmed round, but no longer in the clutch of our enemies. "It was
a very big wolf this time, Captain Percy," he said.
"You were never more welcome, Nantauquas," I answered, -
"unless, indeed, the wolf intends making a meal of three instead of
He smiled. "The wolf will go hungry to-day." Taking my hand in
his he turned to his frowning countrymen. "Men of the
Pamunkeys!" he cried. "This is Nantauquas' friend, and so the
friend of all the tribes that called Powhatan 'father.' The fire is not
for him nor for his servant; keep it for the Monacans and for the
dogs of the Long House! The calumet is for the friend of
Nantauquas, and the dance of the maidens, the noblest buck and
the best of the weirs" -
There was a surging forward of the Indians, and a fierce murmur
of dissent. The werowance, standing out from the throng, lifted his
voice. "There was a time," he cried, "when Nantauquas was the
panther crouched upon the bough above the leader of the herd;
now Nantauquas is a tame panther and rolls at the white men's
feet! There was a time when the word of the son of Powhatan
weighed more than the lives of many dogs such as these, but now I
know not why we should put out the fire at his command! He is
war chief no longer, for Opechancanough will have no tame
panther to lead the tribes. Opechancanough is our head, and
Opechancanough kindleth a fire indeed! We will give to this one
what fuel we choose, and to-night Nantauquas may look for the
bones of the white men!"
He ended, and a great clamor arose. The Paspaheghs would have
cast themselves upon us again but for a sudden action of the young
chief, who had stood motionless, with raised head and unmoved
face, during the werowance's bitter speech. Now he flung up his
hand, and in it was a bracelet of gold carved and twisted like a
coiled snake and set with a green stone. I had never seen the toy
before, but evidently others had done so. The excited voices fell,
and the Indians, Pamunkeys and Paspaheghs alike, stood as though
turned to stone.
Nantauquas smiled coldly. "This day hath Opechancanough made
me war chief again. We have smoked the peace pipe together - my
father's brother and I - in the starlight, sitting before his lodge, with
the wide marshes and the river dark at our feet. Singing birds in
the forest have been many; evil tales have they told;
Opechancanough has stopped his ears against their false singing.
My friends are his friends, my brother is his brother, my word is
his word: witness the armlet that hath no like; that
Opechancanough brought with him when he came from no man
knows where to the land of the Powhatans, many Huskanawings
ago; that no white men but these have ever seen. Opechancanough
is at hand; he comes through the forest with his two hundred
warriors that are as tall as Susquehannocks, and as brave as the
children of Wahunsonacock. He comes to the temples to pray to
Kiwassa for a great hunting. Will you, when you lie at his feet, that
he ask you, 'Where is the friend of my friend, of my war chief, of
the Panther who is one with me again?' "
There came a long, deep breath from the Indians, then a silence, in
which they fell back, slowly and sullenly; whipped hounds, but
with the will to break that leash of fear.
"Hark!" said Nantauquas, smiling. "I hear Opechancanough and his
warriors coming over the leaves."
The noise of many footsteps was indeed audible, coming toward
the hollow from the woods beyond. With a burst of cries, the
priests and the conjurer whirled away to bear the welcome of Okee
to the royal worshiper, and at their heels went the chief men of the
Pamunkeys. The werowance of the Paspaheghs was one that sailed
with the wind; he listened to the deepening sound, and glanced at
the son of Powhatan where he stood, calm and confident, then
smoothed his own countenance and made a most pacific speech, in
which all the blame of the late proceedings was laid upon the
singing birds. When he had done speaking, the young men tore the
stakes from the earth and threw them into a thicket, while the
women plucked apart the newly kindled fire and flung the brands
into a little near-by stream, where they went out in a cloud of
I turned to the Indian who had wrought this miracle. "Art sure it is
not a dream, Nantauquas?" I said. "I think that Opechancanough
would not lift a finger to save me from all the deaths the tribes
"Opechancanough is very wise," he answered quietly. "He says that
now the English will believe in his love indeed when they see that
he holds dear even one who might be called his enemy, who hath
spoken against him at the Englishmen's council fire. He says that
for five suns Captain Percy shall feast with Opechancanough, and
that then he shall be sent back free to Jamestown. He thinks that
then Captain Percy will not speak against him any more, calling
his love to the white men only words with no good deeds behind."
He spoke simply, out of the nobility of his nature, believing his
own speech. I that was older, and had more knowledge of men and
the masks that they wear, was but half deceived. My belief in the
hatred of the dark Emperor was not shaken, and I looked yet to
find the drop of poison within this honey flower. How poisoned
was that bloom God knows I could not guess!
"When you were missed, three suns ago," Nantauquas went on, "I
and my brother tracked you to the hut beside the forest, where we
found only the dead panther. There we struck the trail of the
Paspaheghs; but presently we came to running water, and the trail
"We walked up the bed of the stream for half the night," I said.
The Indian nodded. "I know. My brother went back to Jamestown
for men and boats and guns to go to the Paspahegh village and up
the Powhatan. He was wise with the wisdom of the white men, but
I, who needed no gun, and who would not fight against my own
people, I stepped into the stream and walked up it until past the
full sun power. Then I found a broken twig and the print of a
moccasin, half hidden by a bush, overlooked when the other prints
were smoothed away. I left the stream and followed the trail until
it was broken again. I looked for it no more then, for I knew that
the Paspaheghs had turned their faces toward Uttamussac, and that
they would make a fire where many others had been made, in the
hollow below the three temples. Instead I went with speed to seek
Opechancanough. Yesterday, when the sun was low, I found him,
sitting in his lodge above the marshes and the colored river. We
smoked the peace pipe together, and I am his war chief again. I
asked for the green stone, that I might show it to the Paspaheghs
for a sign. He gave it, but he willed to come to Uttamussac with
"I owe you my life," I said, with my hand upon his. "I and Diccon"
What I would have said he put aside with a fine gesture. "Captain
Percy is my friend. My brother loves him, and he was kind to
Matoax when she was brought prisoner to Jamestown. I am glad
that I could pull off this wolf."
"Tell me one thing," I asked. "Before you left Jamestown, had you
heard aught of my wife or of my enemy?"
He shook his head. "At sunrise, the commander came to rouse my
brother, crying out that you had broken gaol and were nowhere to
be found, and that the man you hate was lying within the guest
house, sorely torn by some beast of the forest. My brother and I
followed your trail at once; the town was scarce awake when we
left it behind us, - and I did not return."
By this we three were alone in the hollow, for all the savages, men
and women, had gone forth to meet the Indian whose word was
law from the falls of the far west to the Chesapeake. The sun now
rode above the low hills, pouring its gold into the hollow and
brightening all the world besides. The little stream flashed
diamonds, and the carven devils upon the black houses above us
were frightful no longer. There was not a menace anywhere from
the cloudless skies to the sweet and plaintive chant to Kiwassa,
sung by women and floating to us from the woods beyond the
hollow. The singing grew nearer, and the rustling of the leaves
beneath many feet more loud and deep; then all noise ceased, and
Opechancanough entered the hollow alone. An eagle feather was
thrust through his scalp lock; over his naked breast, that was
neither painted nor pricked into strange figures, hung a triple row
of pearls; his mantle was woven of bluebird feathers, as soft and
sleek as satin. The face of this barbarian was dark, cold, and
impassive as death. Behind that changeless mask, as in a safe
retreat, the supersubtle devil that was the man might plot
destruction and plan the laying of dreadful mines. He had dignity
and courage, - no man denied him that. I suppose he thought that
he and his had wrongs: God knows! perhaps they had. But if ever
we were hard or unjust in our dealings with the savages, - I say not
that this was the case, - at least we were not treacherous and dealt
not in Judas kisses.
I stepped forward, and met him on the spot where the fire had
been. For a minute neither spoke. It was true that I had striven
against him many a time, and I knew that he knew it. It was also
true that without his aid Nantauquas could not have rescued us
from that dire peril. And it was again the truth that an Indian
neither forgives nor forgets. He was my saviour, and I knew that
mercy had been shown for some dark reason which I could not
divine. Yet I owed him thanks, and gave them as shortly and
simply as I could.
He heard me out with neither liking nor disliking nor any other
emotion written upon his face; but when I had finished, as though
he suddenly bethought himself, he smiled and held out his hand,
white-man fashion. Now, when a man's lips widen I look into his
eyes. The eyes of Opechancanough were as fathomless as a pool at
midnight, and as devoid of mirth or friendliness as the staring orbs
of the carven imps upon the temple corners.
"Singing birds have lied to Captain Percy," he said, and his voice
was like his eyes. "Opechancanough thinks that Captain Percy will
never listen to them again. The chief of the Powhatans is a lover of
the white men, of the English, and of other white men, - if there
are others. He would call the Englishmen his brothers, and be
taught of them how to rule, and who to pray to" -
"Let Opechancanough go with me to-day to Jamestown," I said.
"He hath the wisdom of the woods; let him come and gain that of
The Emperor smiled again. "I will come to Jamestown soon, but
not to-day nor to-morrow nor the next day. And Captain Percy
must smoke the peace pipe in my lodge above the Pamunkey, and
watch my young men and maidens dance, and eat with me five
days. Then he may go back to Jamestown with presents for the
great white father there, and with a message that Opechancanough
is coming soon to learn of the white men."
I could have gnashed my teeth at that delay when she must think
me dead, but it would have been the madness of folly to show the
impatience which I felt. I too could smile with my lips when
occasion drove, and drink a bitter draught as though my soul
delighted in it. Blithe enough to all seeming, and with as few
inward misgivings as the case called for, Diccon and I went with
the subtle Emperor and the young chief he had bound to himself
once more, and with their fierce train, back to that village which
we had never thought to see again. A day and a night we stayed
there; then Opechancanough sent away the Paspaheghs, - where
we knew not, - and taking us with him went to his own village
above the great marshes of the Pamunkey.
CHAPTER XXXII IN WHICH WE ARE THE GUESTS OF AN EMPEROR
I HAD before this spent days among the Indians, on voyages of
discovery, as conqueror, as negotiator for food, exchanging blue
beads for corn and turkeys. Other Englishmen had been with me.
Knowing those with whom we dealt for sly and fierce heathen,
friends to-day, to-morrow deadly foes, we kept our muskets ready
and our eyes and ears open, and, what with the danger and the
novelty and the bold wild life, managed to extract some merriment
as well as profit from these visits. It was different now.
Day after day I ate my heart out in that cursed village. The feasting
and the hunting and the triumph, the wild songs and wilder dances,
the fantastic mummeries, the sudden rages, the sudden laughter,
the great fires with their rings of painted warriors, the sleepless
sentinels, the wide marshes that could not be crossed by night, the
leaves that rustled so loudly beneath the lightest footfall, the
monotonous days, the endless nights when I thought of her grief,
of her peril, maybe, - it was an evil dream, and for my own
pleasure I could not wake too soon.
Should we ever wake? Should we not sink from that dream
without pause into a deeper sleep whence there would be no
waking? It was a question that I asked myself each morning, half
looking to find another hollow between the hills before the night
should fall. The night fell, and there was no change in the dream.
I will allow that the dark Emperor to whom we were so much
beholden gave us courteous keeping. The best of the hunt was
ours, the noblest fish, the most delicate roots. The skins beneath
which we slept were fine and soft; the women waited upon us, and
the old men and warriors held with us much stately converse,
sitting beneath the budding trees with the blue tobacco smoke
curling above our heads. We were alive and sound of limb, well
treated and with the promise of release; we might have waited,
seeing that wait we must, in some measure of content. We did not
so. There was a horror in the air. From the marshes that were
growing green, from the sluggish river, from the rotting leaves and
cold black earth and naked forest, it rose like an exhalation. We
knew not what it was, but we breathed it in, and it went to the
marrow of our bones.
Opechancanough we rarely saw, though we were bestowed so near
to him that his sentinels served for ours. Like some god, he kept
within his lodge with the winding passage, and the hanging mats
between him and the world without. At other times, issuing from
that retirement, he would stride away into the forest. Picked men
went with him, and they were gone for hours; but when they
returned they bore no trophies, brute or human. What they did we
could not guess. We might have had much comfort in Nantauquas,
but the morning after our arrival in this village the Emperor sent
him upon an embassy to the Rappahannocks, and when for the
fourth time the forest stood black against the sunset he had not
returned. If escape had been possible, we would not have awaited
the doubtful fulfillment of that promise made to us below the
Uttamussac temples. But the vigilance of the Indians never slept;
they watched us like hawks, night and day. And the dry leaves
underfoot would not hold their peace, and there were the marshes
to cross and the river.
Thus four days dragged themselves by, and in the early morning of
the fifth, when we came from our wigwam, it was to find
Nantauquas sitting by the fire, magnificent in the paint and
trappings of the ambassador, motionless as a piece of bronze, and
apparently quite unmindful of the admiring glances of the women
who knelt about the fire preparing our breakfast. When he saw us
he rose and came to meet us, and I embraced him, I was so glad to
see him. "The Rappahannocks feasted me long," he said. "I was
afraid that Captain Percy would be gone to Jamestown before I
was back upon the Pamunkey."
"Shall I ever see Jamestown again, Nantauquas?" I demanded. "I
have my doubts."
He looked me full in the eyes, and there was no doubting the
candor of his own. "You go with the next sunrise," he answered.
"Opechancanough has given me his word."
"I am glad to hear it," I said. "Why have we been kept at all? Why
did he not free us five days agone?"
He shook his head. "I do not know. Opechancanough has many
thoughts which he shares with no man. But now he will send you
with presents for the Governor, and with messages of his love to
the white men. There will be a great feast to-day, and to-night the
young men and maidens will dance before you. Then in the
morning you will go."
"Will you not come with us?" I asked. "You are ever welcome
amongst us, Nantauquas, both for your sister's sake and for your
own. Rolfe will rejoice to have you with him again; he ever
grudgeth you to the forest."
He shook his head again. "Nantauquas, the son of Powhatan, hath
had much talk with himself lately," he said simply. "The white
men's ways have seemed very good to him, and the God of the
white men he knows to be greater than Okee, and to be good and
tender; not like Okee, who sucks the blood of the children. He
remembers Matoax, too, and how she loved and cared for the
white men and would weep when danger threatened them. And
Rolfe is his brother and his teacher. But Opechancanough is his
king, and the red men are his people, and the forest is his home. If,
because he loved Rolfe, and because the ways of the white men
seemed to him better than his own ways, he forgot these things, he
did wrong, and the One over All frowns upon him. Now he has
come back to his home again, to the forest and the hunting and the
warpath, to his king and his people. He will be again the panther
crouching upon the bough" -
"Above the white men?"
He gazed at me in silence, a shadow upon his face. "Above the
Monacans," he answered slowly. "Why did Captain Percy say
'above the white men'? Opechancanough and the English have
buried the hatchet forever, and the smoke of the peace pipe will
never fade from the air. Nantauquas meant 'above the Monacans or
the Long House dogs.' "
I put my hand upon his shoulder. "I know you did, brother of Rolfe
by nature if not by blood! Forget what I said; it was without
thought or meaning. If we go indeed to-morrow, I shall be loath to
leave you behind; and yet, were I in your place, I should do as you
The shadow left his face and he drew himself up. "Is it what you
call faith and loyalty and like a knight?" he demanded, with a
touch of eagerness breaking through the slowness and gravity with
which an Indian speaks.
"Yea," I made reply. "I think you good knight and true,
Nantauquas, and my friend, moreover, who saved my life."
His smile was like his sister's, quick and very bright, and leaving
behind it a most entire gravity. Together we sat down by the fire
and ate of the sylvan breakfast, with shy brown maidens to serve
us and with the sunshine streaming down upon us through the trees
that were growing faintly green. It was a thing to smile at to see
how the Indian girls manoeuvred to give the choicest meat, the
most delicate maize cakes, to the young war chief, and to see how
quietly he turned aside their benevolence. The meal over, he went
to divest himself of his red and white paint, of the stuffed hawk
and strings of copper that formed his headdress, of his gorgeous
belt and quiver and his mantle of raccoon skins, while Diccon and
I sat still before our wigwam, smoking, and reckoning the distance
to Jamestown and the shortest time in which we could cover it.
When we had sat there for an hour the old men and the warriors
came to visit us, and the smoking must commence all over again.
The women laid mats in a great half circle, and each savage took
his seat with perfect breeding; that is, in absolute silence and with
a face like a stone. The peace paint was upon them all, - red, or
red and white; they sat and looked at the ground until I had made
the speech of welcome. Soon the air was dense with the fragrant
smoke; in the thick blue haze the sweep of painted figures had the
seeming of some fantastic dream. An old man arose and made a