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“Martin!” cried she, and down came the pistol well-nigh upon me where I lay. “Oh, dear, kind God, ’tis Martin!”

“Joan?” said I, wondering, “Damaris–beloved!”

I was on my feet and, heaving myself up by means of the tangle of gear that hung from the ship’s lofty side I sprang upon the deck and fell on my knees to clasp this lovely, trembling youth in my hungry arms, my head bowed against this tender woman’s body, lest she see how I wept out of pure joy and thankfulness. But now she raised my head, and thus I saw her weeping also, felt her tears upon my face; and now she was laughing albeit she wept still, her two hands clasping me to her.

“Such a great–fierce–wild man!” she sobbed; and then: “My man!” and stooping, she kissed me on the lips. But as for me, I could but gaze up at her in rapture and never a word to say. Then she was on her knees before me and thus we knelt in each other’s fast clasping arms. “Oh, Martin!” said she. “Oh, loved Martin–God hath answered my ceaseless prayers!”

And now when she would have voiced to Him her gratitude, I must needs crush her upon my heart to look down into this flushed and tear-wet face that held for me the beauty of all the world and to kiss away her prayers and breath together, yet even so did she return my kisses.

At last we arose but had gone scarce a step when we were in each other’s arms again, to stand thus fast clasped together, for I almost dreaded she might vanish again and feared to let her go.

“We have been parted so cruelly–so often!” said I.

“But never again, my Martin!”

“No, by God!” quoth I fervently. “Not even death–“

“Not even death!” said she.

And thus we remained a great while, wandering to and fro upon the weather-beaten deck, very silent for the most part, being content with each other’s nearness and, for myself, merely to behold her loveliness was joy unutterable.

She brought me into Adam’s great cabin under the poop, lighted by a great swinging silver lamp, its stern windows carefully shaded, lest any see this betraying beam; and standing amid all the luxury of tapestried hangings and soft carpets, I felt myself mighty strange and out of place; and presently, catching sight of myself in one of the mirrors, I stood all abashed to behold the unlovely object I was in my rough and weather-stained garments, my face burned nigh black by the sun and all set about in a tangle of wild hair and ragged beard.

“Is it so great wonder I should not know you at first, dear Martin, and you so wild and fierce-seeming?”

“Indeed I am an ill spectacle,” quoth I; at this, beholding me thus rueful, she fell to kissing me, whereat I did but miscall myself the more, telling her ’twas great marvel she should love one so ill-matched with her; for, said I, “here are you beautiful beyond all women, and here stand I, of manners most uncouth, harsh-featured, slow of tongue, dull-witted, and one you have seldom seen but in sorry rags!”

“Oh, my dearest heart,” said she, nestling but closer in my embrace, “here is long catalogue and ’tis for each and every I do love you infinitely more than you do guess, and for this beside–because you are Martin Conisby that I have loved, do love, and shall love always and ever!”

“And there’s the marvel!” quoth I, kissing her bowed head.

“And you do think me–very beautiful, Martin?”

“Aye, I do.”

“Even clad–in these–these things?” she questioned, not looking at me.

“Aye, truly!”

“I had not meant you to see me thus, Martin, but it was my custom to watch for your coming, and ’twas hard to climb the cliff in petticoats, and besides, since I have been alone, there was so much to do–and it didn’t matter.”

“Aye, but how came you alone, what of Adam and the rest?”

“Nay, ’tis long story.”

“But why are you thus solitary, you that do so fear solitude, as I remember.”

“When Adam marched away, I stayed to wait for you, Martin.”

“For me?”

“Yes, Martin!”

“Were you not afraid?”

“Often,” said she, clasping me tighter, “but you are come at last, so are my fears all past and done. And, more than the loneliness I feared lest you should come and find this poor ship all deserted, and lose hope and faith in God’s mercy.”

“Oh, my brave, sweet soul!” said I, falling on my knees to kiss her hands. “Oh, God love you for this–had I found you not, I should have dreamed you dead and died myself, cursing God.”

“Ah hush,” said she, closing my lips with her sweet fingers. “Rather will we bless Him all our days for giving us such a love!”

And now having no will or thought to sleep, she sets about preparing supper, while I with scissors, razors, etc. (that she had brought at my earnest entreaty), began to rid my face of its shaggy hair, and busied with my razor, must needs turn ever and anon for blessed sight of her where she flitted lightly to and fro, she bidding me take heed lest I cut myself. Cut myself I did forthwith, and she, beholding the blood, must come running to staunch it and it no more than a merest nick. And now, seeing her thus tender of me who had endured so many hurts and none to grieve or soothe, I came very near weeping for pure joy.

And now as she bustled to and fro, she fell silent and oft I caught her viewing me wistfully, and once or twice she made as to speak yet did not, and I, guessing what she would say, would have told her, yet could think of no gentle way of breaking the matter, ponder how I might, and in the end blurted out the bald truth, very sudden and fool-like, as you shall hear. For, at last, supper being over (and we having eaten very little and no eyes for our food or aught in the world save each other) my lady questioned me at last.

“Dear Martin, what of my father?”

“Why, first,” said I, avoiding her eyes, “he is dead!”

“Yes!” said she faintly, “this I guessed.”

“He died nobly like the brave gentleman he was. I buried him in the wilderness, where flowers bloomed, three days march back.”

“In the wilderness?” says she a little breathlessly. “But he was in prison!”

“Aye, ’twas there I found him. But we escaped by the unselfish bravery and kindness of Don Federigo. So together we set out to find you.”

“Together, Martin?”

“Yes, and he very cheery, despite his sufferings.”

“Sufferings, Martin?”

“He–he halted somewhat in his walk–“

“Nay, he was strong, as I remember–ah, you mean they–had tortured him–“

“Aye,” said I, dreading to see her grief. “Yet despite their devilish cruelties, he rose triumphant above agony of body, thereby winning to a great and noble manhood, wherefore I loved and honoured him beyond all men–“

“He was–your enemy–“

“He was my friend, that comforted me when I was greatly afraid; he was my companion amid the perils of our cruel journey, calm and undismayed, uncomplaining, brave, and unselfish to his last breath, so needs must I cherish his memory.”

“Martin!” Lifting my head I saw she was looking at me, her vivid lips quivering, her eyes all radiant despite their tears, and then, or ever I might prevent, she was kneeling to me, had caught my hand and kissed it passionately.

“Oh, man that I love–you that learned to–love your enemy!”

“Nay, my Damaris, ’twas he that taught me how to love him, ’twas himself slew my hatred!”

And now, drawing her to my heart, I told her much of Sir Richard’s indomitable spirit and bravery, how in my blind haste I would march him until he sank swooning by the way, of our fightings and sufferings and he ever serene and undismayed. I told of how we had talked of her beside our camp fires and how, dying, he had bid me tell her he had ever loved her better than he had let her guess, and bethinking me of his letter at last, I gave it to her. But instead of reading it, she put this letter in her pocket.

“Come,” said she, “’tis near the dawn, and you weary with your journey, ’tis time you were abed.” And when I vowed I was not sleepy, she took my hand (as I had been a child) and bringing me into that had been Adam’s cabin, showed me his bed all prepared. “It hath waited for these many weeks, dear Martin!” said she, smoothing the pillows with gentle hand.

“But we have so much to tell each other–“

“To-morrow!”

Hereupon she slipped past me to the door and stood there to shake admonishing finger:

“Sleep!” said she, nodding her lovely head mighty determined, “and scowl not, naughty child, I shall be near you–to–to mother you–nay, come and see for yourself.” So saying, she took my hand again and brought me into the next cabin, a fragrant nest, dainty-sweet as herself, save that in the panelling above her bed she had driven two nails where hung a brace of pistols. Seeing my gaze on these, she shivered suddenly and nestled into my arm.

“Oh, Martin,” said she, her face hid against me, “one night I seemed to hear a foot that crept on the deck above, and I thought I should have died with fear. So I kept these ever after, one for–them, and the other for myself.”

“And all this you endured for my sake!” quoth I.

“And God hath sent you safe to me, dear Martin, to take care of me, so am I safe with nought to fright or harm me henceforth.”

“Nothing under heaven,” quoth I. Very gingerly she took down the pistols and gave them to me and, bringing me to the door, kissed me.

“Good night, dear heart!” said she softly. “God send you sweet dreams!”

Thus came I back to my cabin and laying by the pistols, got me to bed, and mighty luxurious, what with these sheets and pillows, and yet, or ever I had fully appreciated the unwonted comfort, I was asleep.

I waked to the sudden clasp of her soft arms and a tear-wet cheek against mine, and opening my eyes, saw her kneeling by my bed in the grey dawn.

“Oh, loved Martin,” said she, “I love you more than I guessed because you are greater than I dreamed–my father’s letter hath told me so much of you–your goodness to your enemy–how you wiped away his tears, ministered to his hurts, carried him in your arms. I have read it but now and–’tis tale so noble–so wonderful, that needs must I come to tell you I do love you so much–so much. And now–“

“You are mine!” said I, gathering her in my arms. “Mine for alway.”

“Yes, dear Martin! But because I am yours so utterly, you will be gentle with me–patient a little and forbearing to a–very foolish maid–“

For answer I loosed her, whereupon she caught my hand to press it to her tender cheek, her quivering lips.

“Oh, Martin!” she whispered. “For this needs must I worship thee!” And so was gone.

CHAPTER XXXIII

OF DREAMS

I waked marvellous refreshed and full of a great joy to hear her sweet singing and the light tread of her foot going to and fro in the great cabin, where she was setting out a meal, as I guessed by the tinkle of platters, etc., the which homely sound reminded me that I was vastly hungry. Up I sprang to a glory of sun flooding in at shattered window and the jagged rent where a round-shot had pierced the stout timbering above; and having washed and bathed me as well as I might, found my lady had replaced my ragged, weather-stained garments by others chosen from the ship’s stores. And so at last forth I stepped into the great cabin, eager for sight of my dear lady, albeit somewhat conscious of my new clothes and hampered by their tightness.

“Indeed,” said she, holding me off, the better to examine me, “I do find you something better-looking than you were!”

“Nay, but I am burned browner than any Indian.”

“This but maketh your eyes the bluer, Martin. And then you are changed besides–so much more gentle–kindlier–the man I dreamed you might become–” Here I kissed her.

“And you,” said I, “my Damaris that I have ever loved and shall do, you are more beautiful than my dream of you–“

“Am I, Martin–in spite of these things?” “Indeed,” said I heartily, “they do but reveal to me so much of–“

Here she kissed me and brought me to the table. Now, seeing her as she sat thus beside me, I started and stared, well-nigh open-mouthed.

“What now?” she questioned.

“Your hair!”

“‘Twill grow again, Martin. But why must you stare?”

“Because when you look and turn so, and your hair short on your shoulders, you are marvellously like to Joanna.” Now at this, seeing how my lady shrank and turned from me, I could have cursed my foolish tongue.

“What of her, Martin?”

“She is dead!” And here I described how bravely Joanna had met Death standing, and her arms outstretched to the infinite. When I had done, my lady was silent, as expecting more, and her head still averted.

“And is this–all?” she questioned at last.

“Yes!” said I. “Yes!”

“Yet you do not tell me of the cruel wrong she did you–and me! You do not say she lied of you.”

“She is dead!” said I. “And very nobly, as I do think!”

Hereupon my lady rose and going into her cabin, was back all in a moment and unfolding a paper, set it before me. “This,” said she, “I found after you were fled the ship!” Opening this paper, I saw there, very boldly writ:

“I lied about him and ’twas a notable lie, notably spoke. Martino is not like ordinary men and so it is I do most truly love him–yes–for always. So do I take him for mine now, so shall lie become truth, mayhap.

“JOANNA.”

And even as I refolded this letter, my lady’s arms were about me, her lovely head upon my shoulder:

“Dear,” said she, “’twas like you to speak no harsh thing of the dead. And she gave you back to me with her life–so needs must I love her memory for this.”

And so we presently got to our breakfast,–sweet, white bread new-baked, with divers fish she had caught that morning whiles I slept. And surely never was meal more joyous, the sun twinkling on Adam’s silver and cut glass, and my lady sweeter and more radiant than the morn in all the vigour of her glowing beauty.

Much we talked and much she said that I would fain set down, since there is nothing about her that is not a joy to me to dwell upon, yet lest I weary my readers with overmuch of lovers’ talk, I will only set down all she now told me concerning Adam.

“For here were we, Martin,” said my lady, “our poor ship much wounded with her many battles and beset by a storm so that we all gave ourselves up for lost; even Adam confessed he could do no more, and I very woful because I must die away from you, yet the storm drove us by good hap into these waters, and next day, the wind moderating, we began to hope we might make this anchorage, though the ship was dreadfully a-leak, and all night and all day I would hear the dreadful clank of the pumps always at work. And thus at last, to our great rejoicing, we saw this land ahead of us that was to be our salvation. But as we drew nearer our rejoicing changed to dismay to behold three ships betwixt us and this refuge. So Sir Adam decided to fight his way through and sailed down upon these three ships accordingly. And presently we were among them and the battle began, and very dreadful, what with the smoke and shouting and noise of guns–“

“Ah!” cried I. “And did not Adam see you safely below?”

“To be sure, Martin, but I stole up again and found him something hurt by a splinter yet very happy because Godby had shot away one of the enemy’s masts and nobody hurt but himself, and so we won past these ships for all their shooting, and I bound up Adam’s hurt where he stood conning the ship, shouting orders and bidding me below, all in a breath. But now cometh Amos Marsh, the carpenter, running, to say the enemy’s shot had widened our leaks and the water gaining upon the pumps beyond recovery and that we were sinking. ‘How long will she last?’ said Adam, staring at the two ships that were close behind, and still shooting at us now and then. ‘An hour, Captain, maybe less!’ said the carpenter. ”Twill serve,’ said Adam, in his quiet voice. ‘Do you and your lads stand to the pumps, and we will be safe ashore within the hour. But mark me, if any man turn laggard or faint-hearted, shoot that man, but pump your best, Amos–away wi’ you!'”

“Aye,” quoth I, clasping tighter the hand I held, “that was like Adam; ’tis as I had heard him speak. And you in such dire peril of death, my beloved–“

“Why, Martin, I did not fear or grieve very much, for methought you were lost to me forever in this life perchance, but in the next–“

“This and the next I do pray God,” quoth I, and kissed her till she bade me leave her breath for her story. The which she presently did something as followeth:

“And now, whiles Godby and his chosen gunners plied our stern cannons, firing very fast and furious, Adam calls for volunteers to set more sail and himself was first aloft for all his wounded arm–“

“And where were you?”

“Giving water to Godby and his men, for they were parched. And presently back cometh Adam, panting with his exertions. ‘God send no spars carry away,’ quoth he, ‘and we must lay alongside the nearest Spaniard and board.’ ”Tis desperate venture,’ said Godby, ‘they be great ships and full o’ Dons.’ ‘Aye,’ said Adam, ‘but we are Englishmen and desperate,’ And so we stood on, Martin, and these great ships after us, and ever our own poor ship lying lower and lower in the water, until I looked to see it sink under us and go down altogether. But at last we reached this bay and none too soon, for to us cometh Amos Marsh, all wet and woebegone with labour, to say the ship was going. But nothing heeding, Adam took the helm, shouting to him to let fly braces, and with our sails all shivering we ran aground, just as she lies now, poor thing. While I lay half-stunned with the fall, for the shock of grounding had thrown me down, Adam commanded every one on shore with muskets and pistols, so I presently found myself running across the sands ‘twixt Adam and Godby, nor stayed we till we reached the cliff yonder, where are many caves very wonderful, as I will show you, Martin. And then I saw the reason of this haste, for the greatest Spanish ship was turning to bring her whole broadside to bear, and so began to shoot off all their cannon, battering our poor ship as you see. Then came Spaniards in boats with fire to burn it, but our men shot so many of these that although they set the ship on fire, yet they did it so hastily because of our shooting that once they were gone, the fire was quickly put out. But the ship was beyond repair which greatly disheartened us all, save only Adam, who having walked around the wreck and examined her, chin in hand, summoned all men to a council on the beach. ‘Look now, my comrades,’ said he (as well as I remember, Martin), ‘we have fought a sinking ship so long as we might, and here we lie driven ashore in a hostile country but we have only one killed and five injured, which is good; but we are Englishmen, which is better and bad to beat. Well, then, shall we stay here sucking our thumbs? Shall we set about building another vessel and the enemy come upon us before ’tis done? Shall we despair? Not us! We stand a hundred and thirty and two men, and every man a proved and seasoned fighter; so will we, being smitten thus, forthwith smite back, and smite where the enemy will least expect. We’ll march overland on Carthagena–I know it well–fall on ’em in the dead hush o’ night, surprise their fort, spike their guns and down to the harbour for a ship. Here’s our vessel a wreck–we’ll have one of theirs in place. So, comrades all, who’s for Carthagena along with me; who’s for a Spanish ship and Old England?'”

“Why, then,” cried I, amazed, “my dream was true. They have marched across country on Carthagena–“

“Yes, Martin, but what dream–?”

“With four guns, mounted on wheels?”

“Yes, Martin; they built four gun-carriages to Adam’s design. But what of your dream?”

So I told her of Atlamatzin and the visions I had beheld; “and I saw you also, my loved Joan; aye, as I do remember, you knelt on the deck above, praying and with your arms reached out–“

“Why, so I did often–one night in especial, I remember, weeping and calling to you, for I was very fearful and–lonely, dear Martin. And that night, I remember, I dreamed I saw you, your back leaned to a great rock as you were very weary, and staring into a fire, sad-eyed and desolate. Across your knees was your gun and all around you a dark and dismal forest, and I yearned to come to you and could not, and so watched and lay to weep anew.–Oh, dear, loved Martin!”

Here she turned, her eyes dark with remembered sorrow, wherefore I took and lifted her to my knee, holding her thus close upon my heart.

“Tell me,” said I after some while, “when Adam marched on his desperate venture, did he name any day for his likely return?”

“Yes, Martin!”

“And when was that?”

“‘Twas the day you came.”

“Then he is already late,” quoth I. “And he was ever mighty careful and exact in his calculations. ‘Tis an adventure so daring as few would have attempted, saving only our ‘timid’ Adam. And how if he never returns, my Damaris–how then?”

“Ah, then–we have each other!” said she.

“And therein is vast comfort and–for me great joy!” quoth I.

CHAPTER XXXIV

OF LOVE

My first care was to see how we stood in regard to stores, more especially powder and shot great and small, the which I found sufficient and to spare, as also divers weapons, as muskets, pistols, hangers, etc. The more I thought, the more I was determined to put the ship into as good a posture of defence as might be, since I judged it likely the Spaniards might pay us a visit soon or late, or mayhap some chance band of hostile Indians. To this end and with great exertion, by means of lever and tackle, I hauled inboard her four great stern-chase guns, at the which labour my lady chancing to find me, falls to work beside me right merrily.

“Why, Martin,” said she, when the four pieces stood ready to hand, “I have seen five men strain hard to move one of these; indeed you must be marvellous strong.”

At this I grew so foolishly pleased that I fell to charging these pieces amain, lest she should see aught of this.

“Strong, great men be usually the gentlest,” said she.

“And generally thick-skulled and dull-witted!” quoth I.

“Are you so dull-witted, my Martin?”

“Ah, Damaris, my sweet Joan, when I think on all the wasted tears–“

“Not wasted, Martin, no, not one, since each hath but helped to make the man I do so love.”

“That you should so love me is the abiding wonder. I am no man o’ the world and with no fine-gentlemanly graces, alas! I am a simple fellow and nought to show for his years of life–“

“Wherefore so humble, poor man? You that were so proud and savage in England and must burst open gates and beat my servants and fright me in my chamber–“

“Aye, I was brute indeed!” said I, sitting down and clean forgetting my guns in sudden dejection.

“And so gloomy with me on the island at the first and then something harsh, and then very wild and masterful; do you remember you would kiss me and I would not–and struggled–so desperately–and vainly–and was compelled?”

“Oh, vile!” said I. “You so lonely and helpless, and I would have forced you to my base will.”

“And did not, Martin! Because yours was a noble love. So is the memory of our dear island unutterably sweet.”

“Indeed and is this so?” quoth I, lifting my head.

“Beyond all expression!” said she a little breathlessly and her eyes very bright. “Ah, did you not know–whatever you did, ’twas you–that I loved. And, dear Martin, at your fiercest, you were ever–so innocent!”

“Innocent!” quoth I, wondering. And now her clear gaze wavered, her cheek flushed, and all in a moment she was beside me on her knees, her face hid against me and speaking quick and low and passionate.

“I am a very woman–and had loved for all my life–and there were times–on the island when–I, too–oh, dear Martin, oft in the night the sound of your steps going to and fro without our cave–those restless feet–seemed to tread upon my heart! I loved these fierce, strong arms, even whilst I struggled in their hold! A man of the world would have known–taken advantage. But you never guessed because you regarded ever the highest in me. So would I have you do still–honouring me with your patience–a little longer–until Adam be come again, or until we be sure he hath perished and England beyond our reach. Thus, dear, I have confessed my very secret soul to thee and lie here in thy merciful care even more than I did on our island, since I do love thee–greatly better! Therefore, be not so–infinite humble!”

Here for a while I was silent, being greatly moved and finding no word to say. At last, clasping her tender loveliness to me, and stooping to kiss this so loved head:

“Dear, my lady,” said I, “thou art to me the sweetest, holiest thing in all the world, and so shalt thou ever be.”

Some time after, having put all things in excellent posture to our defence, viz: our four great pieces full-charged astern, with four lighter guns and divers pateraros ranged to sweep the quarter-deck, forecastle and all approaches thereto, I felt my previous charge more secure and myself (seconded by her brave spirit) able to withstand well-nigh any chance attack, so long as our powder and shot held.

This done, I brought hammer, nails, etc., from the carpenter’s stores and set myself to mend such shot-holes, cracks, and rents in the panelling and the like as I judged would incommode us in wind or rain, and while I did this (and whistling cheerily) needs must I stay ever and anon to watch my sweet soul busy at her cookery (and mighty savoury dishes) and she pause to look on me, until we must needs run to kiss each other and so to our several labours again.

For now indeed came I to know a happiness so calm and deep, so much greater than I had ventured to hope that often I would be seized of panic dread lest aught came to snatch it from me. Thus lived we, joying in each hour, busied with such daily duties as came to hand, yet I for one finding these labours sweet by reason of her that shared them; yet ever our love grew and we ever more happy in each other’s companionship.

And here I, that by mine own folly of stubborn pride had known so little of content and the deep and restful joy of it; here, I say, greatly tempted am I to dwell and enlarge upon these swift-flying, halcyon days whose memory Time cannot wither; I would paint you her changing moods, her sweet gravity, her tender seriousness, her pretty rogueries, her demureness, her thousand winsome tricks of gesture and expression, the vital ring of her sweet voice, her long-lashed eyes, the dimple in her chin, and all the constant charm and wonder of her. But what pen could do the sweet soul justice, what word describe her innumerable graces? Surely not mine, so would it be but vain labour and mayhap, to you who take up this book, great weariness to read.

So I will pass to a certain night, the moon flooding her radiance all about me and the world very hushed and still with nought to hear save the murmurous ripple and soft lapping of the incoming tide, and I upon my bed (very wakeful) and full of speculation and the problem I pondered this: Adam (and he so precise and exact in all things) had named to my lady a day for his return, which day was already long past, therefore it was but natural to suppose his desperate venture against this great fortified city a failure, his hardy fellows scattered, and his brave self either slain or a prisoner. What then of our situation, my dear lady’s and mine, left thus solitary in a hostile country and little or no chance of ever reaching England, but doomed rather to seek some solitude where we might live secure from hostile Indians or the implacable persecution of the Spaniards. Thus we must live alone with Nature henceforth, she and I and God. And this thought filled me alternately with intoxicating joy for my own sake, since all I sought of life was this loved woman, and despair for her sake, since secretly she must crave all those refinements of life and civilisation as had become of none account to myself. And if Adam were slain indeed and England thus beyond our reach, how long must we wait to be sure of this?

Here I started to hear my lady calling me softly:

“Art awake, dear Martin?”

“Yes, my Joan!”

“I dreamed myself alone again. Oh, ’tis good to hear your voice! Are you sleepy?”

“No whit.”

“Then let us talk awhile as we used sometimes on our loved island.”

“Loved you it–so greatly, Joan?”

“Beyond any place in the world, Martin.”

“Why, then–” said I and stopped, lest my voice should betray the sudden joy that filled me.

“Go on, Martin.”

“‘Twas nought.”

“Aye, but it was! You said ‘Why, then.’ Prithee, dear sir, continue.”

Myself (sitting up and blinking at the moon): Why, then, if you–we–are–if we should be so unfortunate as to be left solitary in these cruel wilds and no hope of winning back to England, should you grieve therefor?

She (after a moment): Should you, Martin?

Myself (mighty fervently): Aye, indeed!

She (quickly): Why, Martin–pray why?

Myself (clenching my fists): For that we should be miserable outcasts cut off from all the best of life.

She: The best? As what, Martin?

Myself: Civilisation and all its refinements, all neighbourliness, the comforts of friendship, all security, all laws, and instead of these–dangers, hardship, and solitude.

She (softly): Aye, this methinks should break our hearts. Indeed, Martin, you do fright me.

Myself (bitterly): Why, ’tis a something desolate possibility!

She (dolefully): And alas, Adam cometh not!

Myself: Alas, no!

She: And is long overdue.

Myself: He marched on a perilous venture; aye, mighty hazardous and desperate.

She: Indeed, dear Martin, so desperate that I do almost pity the folk of Carthagena.

Myself (wondering): Then you do think he will succeed–will come sailing back one day?

She: Yes, Martin, if he hath to sail the ship back alone.

Myself: And wherefore believe this?

She: I know not, except that he is Adam and none like to him.

Myself: Yet is he only mortal, to be captured or slain one way or another. How if he cometh never back?

She: Why then, Martin–needs must I forego all thought of England, of home, of the comfortable joys of civilisation, of all laws, and instead of all these cleave to you–my beloved!

Myself: Damaris!

She: Oh, Martin, dear, foolish blunderer to dream you could fright me with tales of hardship, or dangers, or solitude when you were by, to think I must break my heart for home and England when you are both to me. England or home without you were a desert; with you the desert shall be my England, my home all my days, if God so will it.

Myself: Oh, loved woman, my brave, sweet Joan! And the laws–what of the laws?

She: God shall be our law, shall give us some sign.

Myself: Joan–come to me!

She (faintly): No! Ah, no!

Myself: Come!

She: Very well, Martin.

In a little I heard her light step, slow and something hesitant, and then she stood before me in her loveliness, wrapped about in my travel-stained boat-cloak; so came she to sink beside me on her knees.

“I am here, Martin,” said she, “since I am yours and because I know my will, thine also. For sure am I that Adam will yet come and with him cometh law and England and all else; shall we not rest then for God’s sign, be it soon or a little late, and I honour thee the more hereafter. If this indeed be foolish scruple to your mind, dear Martin, I am here; but if for this you shall one day reverence your wife the more–beloved, let me go!”

“Indeed–indeed, sign or no sign, thus do I love thee!” said I, and loosed her. And now, as she rose from my reluctant arms, even then, soft and faint with distance but plain and unmistakable came the boom of a gun.

CHAPTER XXXV

THE COMING OF ADAM AND OF OUR GREAT JOY THEREIN

The moon was paling to daybreak as, having climbed that rocky stair I have mentioned, we came upon the cliff and stood, hands tight-clasped, where we might behold the infinity of waters; and after some while, looming phantom-like upon the dawn, we descried the lofty sails of a great ship standing in towards the land and growing ever more distinct. And as we watched, and never a word, her towering canvas flushed rosy with coming day, a changing colour that grew ever brighter until it glowed all glorious, and up rose the sun.

Suddenly, as we watched the proud oncoming of this ship of glory, my lady uttered a little, soft cry and nestled to me.

“The sign, Martin!” cried she, “God hath sent us the sign, beloved; see what she beareth at the main!” And there, sure enough, stirring languid upon the gentle air was the Cross of St. George. And beholding this thing (that was no more than shred of bunting) and in these hostile seas, ship and sea swam upon my vision, and bowing my head lest my beloved behold this weakness, felt her warm lips on mine.

“Dear Martin,” said she, “hide not your tears from me, for yonder is England, a noble future–home, at last.”

“Home?” said I, “Aye, home and peace at last and, best of all–you!” Thus stood we, clean forgetting this great ship in each other until, roused by the thunder of another gun, we started and turned to see the ship so near that we could distinguish the glint of armour on her decks here and there, and presently up to us rose a cheer (though faint) and we saw them make a waft with the ensign, so that it seemed they had discovered us where we stood. Hereupon, seeing the ship already going about to fetch into the harbour, we descended the cliff and, reaching the sands below, stood there until the vessel hove into view round the headland that was like unto a lion’s head, and, furling upper and lower courses, let go her anchor and brought up in fashion very seamanlike, and she indeed a great and noble vessel from whose lofty decks rose lusty shouts of welcome, drowned all at once in the silvery fanfare of trumpets and a prodigious rolling of drums. Presently, to this merry clamour, a boat was lowered and pulled towards us, and surely never was seen a wilder, more ragged company than this that manned her. In the stem-sheets sat Adam, one hand upon the tiller, the other slung about him by a scarf, his harness rusty and dinted, but his eyes very bright beneath the pent of his weather-beaten hat. Scarce had the boat touched shore than his legs (dight in prodigiously long Spanish boots) were over the side and he came wading ashore, first of any.

“Praise God!” said he, halting suddenly to flourish off his battered hat and glance from one to other of us with his old, whimsical look. “Praise God I do see again two souls, the most wilful and unruly in all this world, yet here stand ye that should be most thoroughly dead (what with the peril consequent upon wilfulness) but for a most especial Providence–there stand ye fuller of life and the joy o’ living than ever.”

“And you, Adam,” reaching her hands to him in welcome, “you that must march ‘gainst a mighty city with men so few! Death surely hath been very nigh you also, yet here are you come back to us unscathed save for your arm; surely God hath been to us infinitely kind and good!”

“Amen!” said Adam and stooping, raised these slender hands to his lips. “Howbeit, my Lady Wilfulness,” quoth he, shaking his head, “I vow you ha’ caused me more carking care than any unhanged pirate or Spaniard on the Main! You that must bide here all alone, contemning alike my prayers and commands, nor suffering any to stay for your comfort and protection and all for sake of this hare-brained, most obstinate comrade o’ mine, that must go running his poor sconce into a thousand dangers (which was bad) and upsetting all my schemes and calculations (which was worse, mark you!) and all to chase a will-o’-the-wisp, a mare’s nest, a–oh, Lord love you, Martin–!” And so we clasped hands.

In a little, my dear lady betwixt us, and Adam discoursing of his adventures and particularly of his men’s resolution, endurance and discipline, we got us aboard the _Deliverance_ which the men were already stripping of such stores as remained, filling the air with cheery shouts, and yo-ho-ing as they hove at this or hauled at that. Climbing to the quarter-deck we came at last to the great cabin, where Adam was pleased to commend the means I had taken to our defence, though more than once I noticed his quick glance flash here and there as if seeking somewhat. At last, my lady having left us awhile, he turns his sharp eyes on me:

“Comrade, how goeth vengeance nowadays?” he questioned. “What of Sir Richard, your enemy?”

“Dead; Adam!”

“Aha!” said he, pinching his chin and eyeing me askance, “was it steel or did ye shoot him, comrade?”

“God forgive you for saying such thing, Adam!” quoth I, scowling into his lean, brown face.

“Aha,” said he again, and viewing me with his furtive leer. “Do ye regret his murder then, Martin?”

“Aye, I do from my heart–now and always!”

“Hum!” said he, seating himself on my tumbled bed and glancing whimsically at me, “Martin,” quoth he, “friend–brother–you that talked bloody murder and hell-fire with a heart inside you clean and gentle as a child’s, thou’rt plaguey fool to think thy friend Adam be such fool as not to know thee better. Hark’ee now, here’s your fashion: If you found the enemy you sought so long and him in a Spanish prison, first you cursed, then you comforted, then eased his pains, watched your chance, throttled your gaoler and away to freedom, bearing your enemy along wi’ you–is’t not something the way of it–come?”

“Truly, Adam!” said I, all amazed, “though how you chance to know this–“

“Tush!” said he. “‘Tis writ plain all over thee, Martin, and yonder cometh our lady, as peerless a maid as ever blessed man’s sight–for all of the which I do love thee, Martin. Come, now, I will take ye aboard the prize and hey for England–this night we sail!” So we joined my lady and coming down to the boat were presently rowed to the Spanish ship, a great vessel, her towering stem brave with gilding and her massy timbers enriched by all manner of carved work.

“She had a name well-nigh long as herself, Martin,” said Adam, “but Godby christened her _The Joyous Hope_ instead, which shall serve well enough.” So we came beneath her high, curving side, where leaned familiar figures–lean, bronzed fellows who welcomed us with cheer that waked many an echo. Upon the quarter-deck was Penruddock the surgeon, who bustled forward to greet us himself as loquacious as ever and very loud in praise of the cure he had once wrought in me; and here, too, was Godby, to make a leg to my lady and grasp my hand.

“Why, Mart’n–why, pal, here’s j’y, scorch me wi’ a port-fire else!” quoth he, then, hearing a hail from the beach, rolled away to look to his many duties.

“She’s good enough vessel–to look at, Martin,” said Adam, bringing us into the panelled splendour of the coach or roundhouse; “aye, she’s roomy and handsome enough and rich-laden, though something heavy on her helm; of guns fifty and nine and well-found in all things save clothes, hence my scurvy rags; but we’ll better ’em when our stores come aboard.”

And now, my lady being retired; he showed me over this great galleon, so massy built for all her gilding and carved finery, and so stout-timbered as made her well-nigh shot-proof.

“She’s a notable rich prize, Adam!” said I, as we came above deck again, where the crew were at work getting aboard us the stores from the _Deliverance_ under Godby’s watchful eye.

“Aye, we were fortunate, Martin,” pausing to view this busy scene, “and all with scarce a blow and but five men lost, and they mostly by sunstroke or snakebite; we could ha’ taken the city also had I been so minded.”

“‘Twas marvellous achievement for man so timid, Adam!” quoth I.

“Nay, comrade, I did but smite the enemy unbeknown and where least expected; ’twas simple enough. See now, Martin,” said he, pinching his chin and averting his head, “I am very fain to learn more of–to hear your adventures–you shall tell me of–of ’em if you will, but later, for we sail on the flood and I have much to do in consequence.”

So I presently fell to pacing the broad deck alone, dreaming on the future and in my heart a song of gratitude to God. Presently to me comes Godby:

“Lord, Mart’n!” said he, hitching fiercely at the broad belt of his galligaskins. “Here’s been doin’s o’ late, pal, doin’s as outdoes all other doin’s as ever was done! Talk o’ glory? Talk o’ fame? There’s enough on’t aboard this here ship t’ last every man on us all his days and longer. And what’s more to the p’int, Mart’n, there’s gold! And silver! In bars! Aye, pal, shoot me if ’tisn’t a-laying in the hold like so much ballast! Cap’n Adam hath give his share to be divided atwixt us, which is noble in him and doeth us a power o’ good!”

“Why, the men deserve it; ’twas a desperate business, Godby!”

“Aye, pal, good lads every one, though we had Cap’n Adam to lead ’em. ‘Twas ever ‘Come’ wi’ him! Ten minutes arter our first salvo the fort was ours, their guns spiked, an’ we running for the harbour, Sir Adam showing the way. And, Lord! To hear the folk in the tower, you’d ha’ thought ’twas the last trump–such shrieks and howls, Mart’n. So, hard in Cap’n Adam’s wake we scrambled aboard this ship, she laying nighest to shore and well under the guns o’ the fort as we’d just spiked so mighty careful, d’ye see, and here was some small disputation wi’ steel and pistol, and her people was very presently swimming or rowing for it. So ’twas hoist sail, up anchor and away, and though this galleon is no duck, being something lubberly on a wind, she should bear us home well enough. ‘Tis long since I last clapped eye on old England, and never a day I ha’n’t blessed that hour I met wi’ you at the ‘Hop-pole,’ for I’m rich, pal, rich, though I’d give a lot for a glimpse o’ the child I left a babe and a kiss from his bonny mother.”

Thus, walking the broad deck of this stout ship that was soon to bear us (and myself especially) to England and a new life, I hearkened to God-be-here Jenkins, who talked, his eyes now cocked aloft at spars or rigging, now observing the serene blue distances, now upon the boats plying busily to and fro, until one of the men came to say the last of our stores was aboard. And presently, being summoned, Adam appeared on the lofty poop in all the bravery of flowing periwig and ‘broidered coat.

“Ha, Mart’n,” sighed Godby, hitching at his belt as we went to meet him, “I love him best in buff and steel, though he’ll ever be my cap’n, pal. There aren’t what you’d call a lot of him, neither, but what there is goeth a prodigious long way in steel or velvet. Talk o’ glory! Talk o’ fame! Pal, glory’s a goblin and fame’s a phantom compared wi’ Cap’n Sir Adam Penfeather, and you can keel haul, burn and hang me else!”

This night at moonrise we warped out from our anchorage and with drums beating and fifes sounding merrily, stood out into the great deep and never a heart that did not leap at thought of home and England. And now cometh my lady, dressed in gown I thought marvellous becoming, and herself beautiful beyond all women, as I told her, whereat she cast down her eyes and smoothed her dainty silks with her pretty hands.

“Fie, Martin!” said she, mighty demure. “Is it well to be so extravagant in praise of your own?” Which last words put me to such ecstasy that I fell dumb forthwith; noting the which, she came a little nearer to slip her cool fingers into mine, “Though, indeed,” quoth she, “I am glad to find you so observant! And my hair? Doth it please you, thus?” And now I saw her silky tresses (and for all their mutilation) right cunningly ordered, and amid their beauty that same wooden comb I had made for her on the island. “Well, dear sir?” said she, leaning nearer. At this, being ever a man scant of words (and the deck deserted hereabouts) I kissed her. And now, hand in hand, we stood silent awhile to watch this cruel land of Darien fade upon our sight. At last she turned and I also, to view that vast horizon that lay before us.

“What see you, yonder in the distance, dear Martin?” she questioned.

“Yourself!” said I. “You fill my world. God make me worthy! Aye, in the future–ever beside me henceforth, I do see you, my Damaris!”

“Why, to be sure, loved man! But what more?”

“I want for no more!”

“Nay, do but look!” said she, soft cheek to mine. “There I do see happiness, fortune, honours–and–mayhap, if God is kind to us–” She stopped, with sound like a little sob.

“What, my Joan?” I questioned, fool-like.

“Greater blessings–“

“But,” said I, “what should be greater–“

“Ah, Martin–dear–cannot you guess?”

“Why, Joan–oh, my beloved!” But stepping out of my hold, she fled from me. “Nay,” cried I, “do not leave me so soon.”

“I must, dear Martin. You–you will be wanting to speak with Adam–“

“Not I–Lord, no!”

“Why, then–you shall!” said she and vanished into the roundhouse forthwith, leaving me wondering like the dull fellow I was until (and all at once) I understood and my wonder changed to joy so great I might scarce contain myself; wherefore, beholding Adam coming, I hasted to meet him and had clapped him in my arms or ever he was aware.

“Marry us, Adam!” said I. “Marry us, man!”

“What, ha’ ye just thought on’t at last, Martin?”

“Aye, I have!”

“Tush!” said he. “‘Twas all arranged by my lady and me hours agone. Come into the coach.”

And thus, upon the high seas, Adam (being both captain and magistrate) married us forthwith, and because I had no other, I wed my Damaris with my signet ring whereon was graven the motto of my house, viz: a couchant leopard and the words, “Rouse me not.” And who so sweet and grave as my dear lady as she made the responses and hearkened to Adam, and he mighty impressive. For witnesses we had Master Penruddock the surgeon and Godby, and now, my lady retiring, we must crack a bottle, all four, though I know not what we drank.

And presently Adam drew me out upon the quarter-deck, there to walk with me a while under a great moon.

“Martin,” said he suddenly, “you have come by rough seas and mighty roundabout course to your happiness, but there be some do never make this blessed haven all their days.”

“God comfort them, poor souls!” quoth I.

“Amen!” said he; and then in changed voice, and his keen gaze aloft amid the swelling sail, “What o’ the lady Joanna, shipmate?” So I told him all the best I remembered of her and described how nobly she had died; and he pacing beside me said never a word.

“Martin,” said he, when I had made an end, “I am a mighty rich man, yet for all this, I shall be something solitary, I guess.”

“Never in this world, Adam, so long as liveth my dear lady–“

“Your wife, comrade–’tis a sweet word!”

“Aye–my wife. And then, am I not your sworn brother? So like brothers will we live together in England, and friends always!” And hereupon I clasped an arm about him.

“This is well, Martin,” said he, gripping my hand. “Aye, ’tis mighty well, for nought under heaven is there to compare with true friendship, except it be the love of a noble woman. So now go, comrade, go to her who hath believed in you so faithfully, hath steadfastly endured so much for you–get you to your wife!”