Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

To Have and To Hold: by Mary Johnston

Part 7 out of 7

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

We could not go through the forest where every tree might hide a
foe, but there was the river. For the most part, the houses of the
English had been built, like mine at Weyanoke, very near to the
water. I volunteered to lead a party up river, and Wynne to go with
another toward the bay. But as the council at the Governor's was
breaking up, and as Wynne and I were hurrying off to make our
choice of the craft at the landing, there came a great noise from the
watchers upon the bank, and a cry that boats were coming down
the stream.

It was so, and there were in them white men, nearly all of whom
had their wounds to show, and cowering women and children. One
boat had come from the plantation at Paspahegh, and two from
Martin-Brandon; they held all that were left of the people. . . . A
woman had in her lap the body of a child, and would not let us
take it from her; another, with a half-severed arm, crouched above
a man who lay in his blood in the bottom of the boat.

Thus began that strange procession that lasted throughout the
afternoon and night and into the next day, when a sloop came
down from Henricus with the news that the English were in force
there to stand their ground, although their loss had been heavy.
Hour after hour they came as fast as sail and oar could bring them,
the panic-stricken folk, whose homes were burned, whose kindred
were slain, who had themselves escaped as by a miracle. Many
were sorely wounded, so that they died when we lifted them from
the boats; others had slighter hurts. Each boatload had the same
tale to tell of treachery, surprise, and fiendish butchery. Wherever
it had been possible the English had made a desperate defense, in
the face of which the savages gave way and finally retired to the
forest. Contrary to their wont, the Indians took few prisoners, but
for the most part slew outright those whom they seized, wreaking
their spite upon the senseless corpses. A man too good for this
world, George Thorpe, who would think no evil, was killed and his
body mutilated by those whom he had taught and loved. And
Nathaniel Powel was dead, and four others of the Council, besides
many more of name and note. There were many women slain and
little children.

From the stronger hundreds came tidings of the number lost, and
that the survivors would hold the homes that were left, for the time
at least. The Indians had withdrawn; it remained to be seen if they
were satisfied with the havoc they had wrought. Would his Honor
send by boat - there could be no traveling through the woods -
news of how others had fared, and also powder and shot?

Before the dawning we had heard from all save the remoter
settlements. The blow had been struck, and the hurt was deep. But
it was not beyond remedy, thank God! It is known what measures
we took for our protection, and how soon the wound to the colony
was healed, and what vengeance we meted out to those who had
set upon us in the dark, and had failed to reach the heart. These
things belong to history, and I am but telling my own story, - mine
and another's.

In the chill and darkness of the hour before dawn something like
quiet fell upon the distracted, breathless town. There was a pause
in the coming of the boats. The wounded and the dying had been
cared for, and the noise of the women and the children was stilled
at last. All was well at the palisade; the strong party encamped
upon the neck reported the forest beyond them as still as death.

In the Governor's house was held a short council, subdued and
quiet, for we were all of one mind and our words were few. It was
decided that the George should sail at once with the tidings, and
with an appeal for arms and powder and a supply of men. The
Esperance would still be with us, besides the Hope-in-God and the
Tiger; the Margaret and John would shortly come in, being already

"My Lord Carnal goes upon the George, gentlemen," said Master
Pory. "He sent but now to demand if she sailed to-morrow. He is
ill, and would be at home."

One or two glanced at me, but I sat with a face like stone, and the
Governor, rising, broke up the council.

I left the house, and the street that was lit with torches and noisy
with going to and fro, and went down to the river. Rolfe had been
detained by the Governor, West commanded the party at the neck.
There were great fires burning along the river bank, and men
watching for the incoming boats; but I knew of a place where no
guard was set, and where one or two canoes were moored. There
was no firelight there, and no one saw me when I entered a canoe
and cut the rope and pushed off from the land.

Well-nigh a day and a night had passed since Lady Wyatt had told
me that which made for my heart a night-time indeed. I believed
my wife to be dead, - yea, I trusted that she was dead. I hoped that
it had been quickly over, - one blow. . . . Better that, oh, better that
a thousand times, than that she should have been carried off to
some village, saved to-day to die a thousand deaths to-morrow.

But I thought that there might have been left, lying on the dead
leaves of the forest, that fair shell from which the soul had flown. I
knew not where to go, - to the north, to the east, to the west, - but
go I must. I had no hope of finding that which I went to seek, and
no thought but to take up that quest. I was a soldier, and I had
stood to my post; but now the need was past, and I could go. In the
hall at the Governor's house, I had written a line of farewell to
Rolfe, and had given the paper into the hand of a trusty fellow,
charging him not to deliver it for two hours to come.

I rowed two miles downstream through the quiet darkness, - so
quiet after the hubbub of the town. When I turned my boat to the
shore the day was close at hand. The stars were gone, and a pale,
cold light, more desolate than the dark, streamed from the east
across which ran, like a faded blood stain, a smear of faint red.
Upon the forest the mist lay heavy. When I drove the boat in
amongst the sedge and reeds below the bank, I could see only the
trunks of the nearest trees, hear only the sullen cry of some river
bird that I had disturbed.

Why I was at some pains to fasten the boat to a sycamore that
dipped a pallid arm into the stream I do not know. I never thought
to come back to the sycamore; I never thought to bend to an oar
again, to behold again the river that the trees and the mist hid from
me before I had gone twenty yards into the forest.


IT was like a May morning, so mild was the air, so gay the
sunshine, when the mist had risen. Wild flowers were blooming,
and here and there unfolding leaves made a delicate fretwork
against a deep blue sky. The wind did not blow; everywhere were
stillness soft and sweet, dewy freshness, careless peace.

Hour after hour I walked slowly through the woodland, pausing
now and then to look from side to side. It was idle going,
wandering in a desert with no guiding star. The place where I
would be might lie to the east, to the west. In the wide enshrouding
forest I might have passed it by. I believed not that I had done so.
Surely, surely I should have known; surely the voice that lived only
in my heart would have called to me to stay.

Beside a newly felled tree, in a glade starred with small white
flowers, I came upon the bodies of a man and a boy, so hacked, so
hewn, so robbed of all comeliness, that at the sight the heart stood
still and the brain grew sick. Farther on was a clearing, and in its
midst the charred and blackened walls of what had been a home. I
crossed the freshly turned earth, and looked in at the cabin door
with the stillness and the sunshine. A woman lay dead upon the
floor, her outstretched hand clenched upon the foot of a cradle. I
entered the room, and, looking within the cradle, found that the
babe had not been spared. Taking up the little waxen body with the
blood upon its innocent breast, I laid it within the mother's arms,
and went my way over the sunny doorstep and the earth that had
been made ready for planting. A white butterfly - the first of the
year - fluttered before me; then rose through a mist of green and
passed from my sight.

The sun climbed higher into the deep blue sky. Save where grew
pines or cedars there were no shadowy places in the forest. The
slight green of uncurling leaves, the airy scarlet of the maples, the
bare branches of the tardier trees, opposed no barrier to the
sunlight. It streamed into the world below the treetops, and lay
warm upon the dead leaves and the green moss and the fragile wild
flowers. There was a noise of birds, and a fox barked. All was
lightness, gayety, and warmth; the sap was running, the heyday of
the spring at hand. Ah! to be riding with her, to be going home
through the fairy forest, the sunshine, and the singing! . . . The
happy miles to Weyanoke, the smell of the sassafras in its woods,
the house all lit and trimmed. The fire kindled, the wine upon the
table . . . Diccon's welcoming face, and his hand upon Black
Lamoral's bridle; the minister, too, maybe, with his great heart and
his kindly eyes; her hand in mine, her head upon my breast -

The vision faded. Never, never, never for me a home-coming such
as that, so deep, so dear, so sweet. The men who were my friends,
the woman whom I loved, had gone into a far country. This world
was not their home. They had crossed the threshold while I lagged
behind. The door was shut, and without were the night and I.

With the fading of the vision came a sudden consciousness of a
presence in the forest other than my own. I turned sharply, and saw
an Indian walking with me, step for step, but with a space between
us of earth and brown tree trunks and drooping branches. For a
moment I thought that he was a shadow, not substance; then I
stood still, waiting for him to speak or to draw nearer. At the first
glimpse of the bronze figure I had touched my sword, but when I
saw who it was I let my hand fall. He too paused, but he did not
offer to speak. With his hand upon a great bow, he waited,
motionless in the sunlight. A minute or more thus; then I walked
on with my eyes upon him.

At once he addressed himself to motion, not speaking or making
any sign or lessening the distance between us, but moving as I
moved through the light and shade, the warmth and stillness, of the
forest. For a time I kept my eyes upon him, but soon I was back
with my dreams again. It seemed not worth while to wonder why
he walked with me, who was now the mortal foe of the people to
whom he had returned.

From the river bank, the sycamore, and the boat that I had fastened
there, I had gone northward toward the Pamunkey; from the
clearing and the ruined cabin with the dead within it, I had turned
to the eastward. Now, in that hopeless wandering, I would have
faced the north again. But the Indian who had made himself my
traveling companion stopped short, and pointed to the east. I
looked at him, and thought that he knew, maybe, of some war
party between us and the Pamunkey, and would save me from it. A
listlessness had come upon me, and I obeyed the pointing finger.

So, estranged and silent, with two spears' length of earth between
us, we went on until we came to a quiet stream flowing between
low, dark banks. Again I would have turned to the northward, but
the son of Powhatan, gliding before me, set his face down the
stream, toward the river I had left. A minute in which I tried to
think and could not, because in my ears was the singing of the
birds at Weyanoke; then I followed him.

How long I walked in a dream, hand in hand with the sweetness of
the past, I do not know; but when the present and its anguish
weighed again upon my heart it was darker, colder, stiller, in the
forest. The soundless stream was bright no longer; the golden
sunshine that had lain upon the earth was all gathered up; the earth
was dark and smooth and bare, with not a flower; the tree trunks
were many and straight and tall. Above were no longer brown
branch and blue sky, but a deep and sombre green, thick woven,
keeping out the sunlight like a pall. I stood still and gazed around
me, and knew the place.

To me, whose heart was haunted, the dismal wood, the charmed
silence, the withdrawal of the light, were less than nothing. All day
I had looked for one sight of horror; yea, had longed to come at
last upon it, to fall beside it, to embrace it with my arms. There,
there, though it should be some fair and sunny spot, there would be
my haunted wood. As for this place of gloom and stillness, it fell
in with my mood. More welcome than the mocking sunshine were
this cold and solemn light, this deathlike silence, these ranged
pines. It was a place in which to think of life as a slight thing and
scarcely worth the while, given without the asking, spent in
turmoil, strife, suffering, and longings all in vain. Easily laid
down, too, - so easily laid down that the wonder was -

I looked at the ghostly wood, and at the dull stream, and at my
hand upon the hilt of the sword that I had drawn halfway from the
scabbard. The life within that hand I had not asked for. Why
should I stand like a soldier left to guard a thing not worth the
guarding; seeing his comrades march homeward, hearing a cry to
him from his distant hearthstone?

I drew my sword well-nigh from its sheath; and then of a sudden I
saw the matter in a truer light; knew that I was indeed the soldier,
and willed to be neither coward nor deserter. The blade dropped
back into the scabbard with a clang, and, straightening myself, I
walked on beside the sluggish stream deep into the haunted wood.

Presently it occurred to me to glance aside at the Indian who had
kept pace with me through the forest. He was not there; he walked
with me no longer; save for myself there seemed no breathing
creature in the dim wood. I looked to right and left, and saw only
the tall, straight pines and the needle-strewn ground. How long he
had been gone I could not tell. He might have left me when first
we came to the pines, for my dreams had held me, and I had not
looked his way.

There was that in the twilight place, or in the strangeness, the
horror, and the yearning that had kept company with me that day,
or in the dull weariness of a mind and body overwrought of late,
which made thought impossible. I went on down the stream toward
the river, because it chanced that my face was set in that direction.

How dark was the shadow of the pines, how lifeless the earth
beneath, how faint and far away the blue that showed here and
there through rifts in the heavy roof of foliage! The stream
bending to one side I turned with it, and there before me stood the

I do not know what strangled cry burst from me. The earth was
rocking, all the wood a glare of light. As for him, at the sight of me
and the sound of my voice he had staggered back against a tree;
but now, recovering himself, he ran to me and put his great arms
about me. "From the power of the dog, from the lion's mouth," he
cried brokenly. "And they slew thee not, Ralph, the heathen who
took thee away! Yesternight I learned that you lived, but I looked
not for you here."

I scarce heard or marked what he was saying, and found no time in
which to wonder at his knowledge that I had not perished. I only
saw that he was alone, and that in the evening wood there was no
sign of other living creature.

"Yea, they slew me not, Jeremy," I said. "I would that they had
done so. And you are alone? I am glad that you died not, my
friend; yes, faith, I am very glad that one escaped. Tell me about it,
and I will sit here upon the bank and listen. Was it done in this
wood? A gloomy deathbed, friend, for one so young and fair. She
should have died to soft music, in the sunshine, with flowers about

With an exclamation he put me from him, but kept his hand upon
my arm and his steady eyes upon my face.

"She loved laughter and sunshine and sweet songs," I continued.
"She can never know them in this wood. They are outside; they are
outside the world, I think. It is sad, is it not? Faith, I think it is the
saddest thing I have ever known."

He clapped his other hand upon my shoulder. "Wake, man!" he
commanded. "If thou shouldst go mad now - Wake! thy brain is
turning. Hold to thyself. Stand fast, as thou art soldier and
Christian! Ralph, she is not dead. She will wear flowers, - thy
flowers, - sing, laugh, move through the sunshine of earth for many
and many a year, please God! Art listening, Ralph? Canst hear
what I am saying?"

"I hear," I said at last, "but I do not well understand."

He pushed me back against a pine, and held me there with his
hands upon my shoulders. "Listen," he said, speaking rapidly and
keeping his eyes upon mine. "All those days that you were gone,
when all the world declared you dead, she believed you living. She
saw party after party come back without you, and she believed that
you were left behind in the forest. Also she knew that the George
waited but for the search to be quite given over, and for my Lord
Carnal's recovery. She had been told that the King's command
might not be defied, that the Governor had no choice but to send
her from Virginia. Ralph, I watched her, and I knew that she meant
not to go upon that ship. Three nights agone she stole from the
Governor's house, and, passing through the gates that the sleeping
warder had left unfastened, went toward the forest. I saw her and
followed her, and at the edge of the forest I spoke to her. I stayed
her not, I brought her not back, Ralph, because I was convinced
that an I did so she would die. I knew of no great danger, and I
trusted in the Lord to show me what to do, step by step, and how to
guide her gently back when she was weary of wandering, - when,
worn out, she was willing to give up the quest for the dead. Art
following me, Ralph?"

"Yes," I answered, and took my hand from my eyes. "I was nigh
mad, Jeremy, for my faith was not like hers. I have looked on
Death too much of late, and yesterday all men believed that he had
come to dwell in the forest and had swept clean his house before
him. But you escaped, you both escaped" -

"God's hand was over us," he said reverently. "This is the way of it.
She had been ill, you know, and of late she had taken no thought of
food or sleep. She was so weak, we had to go so slowly, and so
winding was our path, who knew not the country, that the evening
found us not far upon our way, if way we had. We came to a cabin
in a clearing, and they whose home it was gave us shelter for the
night. In the morning, when the father and son would go forth to
their work we walked with them. When they came to the trees they
meant to fell we bade them good-by, and went on alone. We had
not gone an hundred paces when, looking back, we saw three
Indians start from the dimness of the forest and set upon and slay
the man and the boy. That murder done they gave chase to me,
who caught up thy wife and ran for both our lives. When I saw that
they were light of foot and would overtake me, I set my burden
down, and, drawing a sword that I had with me, went back to meet
them halfway. Ralph, I slew all three, - may the Lord have mercy
on my soul! I knew not what to think of that attack, the peace with
the Indians being so profound, and I began to fear for thy wife's
safety. She knew not the woods, and I managed to turn our steps
back toward Jamestown without her knowledge that I did so. It
was about midday when we saw the gleam of the river through the
trees before us, and heard the sound of firing and of a great yelling.
I made her crouch within a thicket, while I myself went forward to
reconnoitre, and well-nigh stumbled into the midst of an army.
Yelling, painted, maddened, brandishing their weapons toward the
town, human hair dabbled with blood at the belts of many - in the
name of God, Ralph, what is the meaning of it all?"

"It means," I said, "that yesterday they rose against us and slew us
by the hundred. The town was warned and is safe. Go on."

"I crept back to madam," he continued, "and hurried her away from
that dangerous neighborhood. We found a growth of bushes and
hid ourselves within it, and just in time, for from the north came a
great band of picked warriors, tall and black and wondrously
feathered, fresh to the fray, whatever the fray might be. They
joined themselves to the imps upon the river bank, and presently
we heard another great din with more firing and more yelling.
Well, to make a long story short, we crouched there in the bushes
until late afternoon, not knowing what was the matter, and not
daring to venture forth to find out. The woman of the cabin at
which we had slept had given us a packet of bread and meat, so we
were not without food, but the time was long. And then of a
sudden the wood around us was filled with the heathen, band after
band, coming from the river, stealing like serpents this way and
that into the depths of the forest. They saw us not in the thick
bushes; maybe it was because of the prayers which I said with
might and main. At last the distance swallowed them, the forest
seemed clear, no sound, no motion. Long we waited, but with the
sunset we stole from the bushes and down an aisle of the forest
toward the river, rounded a little wood of cedar, and came full
upon perhaps fifty of the savages" - He paused to draw a great
breath and to raise his brows after a fashion that he had.

"Go on, go on!" I cried. "What did you do? You have said that she
is alive and safe!"

"She is," he answered, "but no thanks to me, though I did set lustily
upon that painted fry. Who led them, d' ye think, Ralph? Who
saved us from those bloody hands?"

A light broke in upon me. "I know," I said. "And he brought you
here" -

"Ay, he sent away the devils whose color he is, worse luck! He told
us that there were Indians, not of his tribe, between us and the
town. If we went on we should fall into their hands. But there was
a place that was shunned by the Indian as by the white man: we
could bide there until the morrow, when we might find the woods
clear. He guided us to this dismal wood that was not altogether
strange to us. Ay, he told her that you were alive. He said no more
than that; all at once, when we were well within the wood and the
twilight was about us, he was gone."

He ceased to speak, and stood regarding me with a smile upon his
rugged face. I took his hand and raised it to my lips. "I owe you
more than I can ever pay," I said. "Where is she, my friend?"

"Not far away," he answered. "We sought the centre of the wood,
and because she was so chilled and weary and shaken I did dare to
build a fire there. Not a foe has come against us, and we waited
but for the dusk of this evening to try to make the town. I came
down to the stream just now to find, if I could, how near we were
to the river" -

He broke off, made a gesture with his hand toward one of the long
aisles of pine trees, and then, with a muttered "God bless you
both," left me, and going a little way down the stream, stood with
his back to a great tree and his eyes upon the slow, deep water.

She was coming. I watched the slight figure grow out of the dusk
between the trees, and the darkness in which I had walked of late
fell away. The wood that had been so gloomy was a place of
sunlight and song; had red roses sprung up around me I had felt no
wonder. She came softly and slowly, with bent head and hanging
arms, not knowing that I was near. I went not to meet her, - it was
my fancy to have her come to me still, - but when she raised her
eyes and saw me I fell upon my knees.

For a moment she stood still, with her hands at her bosom; then,
softly and slowly through the dusky wood, she came to me and
touched me upon the shoulder. "Art come to take me home?" she
asked. "I have wept and prayed and waited long, but now the
spring is here and the woods are growing green."

I took her hands and bowed my head upon them. "I believed thee
dead," I said. "I thought that thou hadst gone home, indeed, and I
was left in the world alone. I can never tell thee how I love thee."

"I need no telling," she answered. "I am glad that I did so forget my
womanhood as to come to Virginia on such an errand; glad that
they did laugh at and insult me in the meadow at Jamestown, for
else thou mightst have given me no thought; very heartily glad that
thou didst buy me with thy handful of tobacco. With all my heart I
love thee, my knight, my lover, my lord and husband" - Her voice
broke, and I felt the trembling of her frame. "I love not thy tears
upon my hands," she murmured. "I have wandered far and am
weary. Wilt rise and put thy arm around me and lead me home?"

I stood up, and she came to my arms like a tired bird to its nest. I
bent my head, and kissed her upon the brow, the blue-veined
eyelids, the perfect lips. "I love thee," I said. "The song is old, but
it is sweet. See! I wear thy color, my lady."

The hand that had touched the ribbon upon my arm stole upwards
to my lips. "An old song, but a sweet one," she said. "I love thee. I
will always love thee. My head may lie upon thy breast, but my
heart lies at thy feet."

There was joy in the haunted wood, deep peace, quiet
thankfulness, a springtime of the heart, - not riotous like the May,
but fair and grave and tender like the young world in the sunshine
without the pines. Our lips met again, and then, with my arm
around her, we moved to the giant pine beneath which stood the
minister. He turned at our approach, and looked at us with a quiet
and tender smile, though the water stood in his eyes. " 'Heaviness
may endure for a night,' " he said, " 'but joy cometh in the
morning.' I thank God for you both."

"Last summer, in the green meadow, we knelt before you while
you blessed us, Jeremy," I answered. "Bless us now again, true
friend and man of God."

He laid his hands upon our bowed heads and blessed us, and then
we three moved through the dismal wood and beside the sluggish
stream down to the great bright river. Ere we reached it the pines
had fallen away, the haunted wood was behind us, our steps were
set through a fairy world of greening bough and springing bloom.
The blue sky laughed above, the late sunshine barred our path
with gold. When we came to the river it lay in silver at our feet,
making low music amongst its reeds.

I had bethought me of the boat which I had fastened that morning
to the sycamore between us and the town, and now we moved
along the river bank until we should come to the tree. Though we
walked through an enemy's country we saw no foe. Stillness and
peace encompassed us; it was like a beautiful dream from which
one fears no wakening.

As we went, I told them, speaking low, for we knew not if we were
yet in safety, of the slaughter that had been made and of Diccon.
My wife shuddered and wept, and the minister drew long breaths
while his hands opened and closed. And then, when she asked me,
I told of how I had been trapped to the ruined hut that night and of
all that had followed. When I had done she turned within my arm
and clung to me with her face hidden. I kissed her and comforted
her, and presently we came to the sycamore tree reaching out over
the clear water, and to the boat that I had fastened there.

The sunset was nigh at hand, and all the west was pink. The wind
had died away, and the river lay like tinted glass between the dark
borders of the forest. Above the sky was blue, while in the south
rose clouds that were like pillars, tall and golden. The air was soft
as silk; there was no sound other than the ripple of the water about
our keel and the low dash of the oars. The minister rowed, while I
sat idle beside my love. He would have it so, and I made slight

We left the bank behind us and glided into the midstream, for it
was as well to be out of arrowshot. The shadow of the forest was
gone; still and bright around us lay the mighty river. When at
length the boat head turned to the west, we saw far up the stream
the roofs of Jamestown, dark against the rosy sky.

"There is a ship going home," said the minister.

We to whom he spoke looked with him down the river, and saw a
tall ship with her prow to the ocean. All her sails were set; the last
rays of the sinking sun struck against her poop windows and made
of them a half-moon of fire. She went slowly, for the wind was
light, but she went surely, away from the new land back to the old,
down the stately river to the bay and the wide ocean, and to the
burial at sea of one upon her. With her pearly sails and the line of
flame color beneath, she looked a dwindling cloud; a little while,
and she would be claimed of the distance and the dusk.

"It is the George," I said.

The lady who sat beside me caught her breath. "Ay, sweetheart," I
went on. "She carries one for whom she waited. He has gone from
out our life forever."

She uttered a low cry and turned to me, trembling, her lips parted,
her eyes eloquent. "We will not speak of him," I said. "As if he
were dead let his name rest between us. I have another thing to tell
thee, dear heart, dear court lady masking as a waiting damsel, dear
ward of the King whom his Majesty hath thundered against for so
many weary months. Would it grieve thee to go home, after all?"

"Home?" she asked. "To Weyanoke? That would not grieve me."

"Not to Weyanoke, but to England," I said. "The George is gone,
but three days since the Esperance came in. When she sails again I
think that we must go."

She gazed at me with a whitening face. "And you?" she whispered.
"How will you go? In chains?"

I took her clasped hands, parted them, and drew her arms around
my neck. "Ay," I answered, "I will go in chains that I care not to
have broken. My dear love, I think that the summer lies fair before
us. Listen while I tell thee of news that the Esperance brought."

While I told of new orders from the Company to the Governor and
of my letter from Buckingham, the minister rested upon his oars
that he might hear the better. When I had ceased to speak he bent
to them again, and his tireless strength sent us swiftly over the
glassy water toward the town that was no longer distant. "I am
more glad than I can tell you, Ralph and Jocelyn," he said, and the
smile with which he spoke made his face beautiful.

The light streaming to us from the ruddy west laid roses in the
cheeks of the sometime ward of the King, and the low wind lifted
the dark hair from her forehead. Her head was on my breast, her
hand in mine; we cared not to speak, we were so happy. On her
finger was her wedding ring, the ring that was only a link torn
from the gold chain Prince Maurice had given me. When she saw
my eyes upon it, she raised her hand and kissed the rude circlet.

The hue of the sunset lingered in cloud and water, and in the pale
heavens above the rose and purple shone the evening star. The
cloudlike ship at which we had gazed was gone into the distance
and the twilight; we saw her no more. Broad between its
blackening shores stretched the James, mirroring the bloom in the
west, the silver star, the lights upon the Esperance that lay between
us and the town. Aboard her the mariners were singing, and their
song of the sea floated over the water to us, sweetly and like a love
song. We passed the ship unhailed, and glided on to the haven
where we would be. The singing behind us died away, but the song
in our hearts kept on. All things die not: while the soul lives, love
lives: the song may be now gay, now plaintive, but it is deathless.

Book of the day: