The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Love of Monsieur

This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this ebook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this eBook.

Title: The Love of Monsieur

Author: George Gibbs

Release date: March 16, 2016 [eBook #51468]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Donald Cummings and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive/American Libraries.)













Copyright, 1903, by Harper & Brothers

Copyright, 1903, by J. B. Lippincott Company



M. H. G.


with all my heart and best endeavors in tender appreciation of those sympathies and encouragements which make a pleasure of labor, and life a fruition of every hope and dream


I. The Fleece Tavern 1
II. Mistress Barbara Dances the Coranto 11
III. Monsieur Mornay Becomes Unpopular 31
IV. Monsieur Waits upon a Lady 47
V. Indecision 68
VI. The Escape 87
VII. Barbara 113
VIII. The Saucy Sally 134
IX. “Bras-de-Fer” 146
X. Bras-de-Fer Makes a Capture 165
XI. The Enemy in the House 184
XII. Prisoner and Captor 201
XIII. Monsieur Learns Something 213
XIV. The Unmasking 231
XV. Mutiny 249
XVI. Marooned 268




“Who is this Mornay?”

Captain Cornbury paused to kindle his tobago.

“Mornay is of the Embassy of France, at any game of chance the luckiest blade in the world and a Damon for success with the petticoats, whether they’re doxies or duchesses.”

“Soho! a pretty fellow.”

“A French chevalier—a fellow of the Marine; but a die juggler—a man of no caste,” sneered Mr. Wynne.

“He has a wit with a point.”

“Ay, and a rapier, too,” said Lord Downey.

“The devil fly with these foreign lady-killers,” growled Wynne again.

“Oh, Mornay is a man-killer, too, never fear.[2] He’s not named Bras-de-Fer for nothing,” laughed Cornbury.

“Bah!” said a voice near the door. “A foundling—an outcast—a man of no birth—I’ll have no more of him.”

Captain Ferrers tossed aside his coat and hat and came forward into the glare of the candles. Behind him followed the tall figure of Sir Henry Heywood, whose gray hair and more sober garb and lineaments made the gay apparel of his companion the more splendid by comparison. Captain Ferrers wore the rich accouterments of a captain in the Body-guard, and his manner and address showed the bluster of a bully of the barracks. The face, somewhat ruddy in color, was of a certain heavy regularity of feature, but his eyes were small, like a pig’s, and as he came into the light they flickered and guttered like a candle at a puff of the breath. There were lines, too, at the corners of the mouth, and the pursing of the thin lips gave him the air of a man older than his years.

“Come, Ferrers,” said Cornbury, good-naturedly, “give the devil his due.”


Wynne laughed. “Gawd, man! he’s givin’ him his due. Aren’t you, Ferrers?”

The captain scowled. “I’ faith I am. Two hundred guineas again last night. May the plague take him! Such luck is not in nature.”

“He wins upon us all, by the Lord!” said Cornbury, stoutly.

Heywood sneered. “Bah! You Irish are too easy with your likes—”

“And dislikes, too,” returned Cornbury, with a swift glance.

“Faugh!” snapped Ferrers. “The man saved your life, but you can’t thrust him down our throats, Captain Cornbury.”

“He’s cooked his goose well this time, thank God!” said Wynne. “We’ll soon be rid of him.”

“Another duel?” asked Heywood, carelessly.

“What!” cried Downey. “Have you not heard of the struggle for precedence this afternoon? Why, man, ’tis the talk of London. To-day there was a fight between the coaches and retainers of the Embassades of France and Spain. Thanks to Mornay, the French coach[4] was disastrously defeated by the Spaniards. There is a great to-do at Whitehall, for the Grand Monarque thinks more of his prestige in London even than in Paris. God help the man who thwarts him in this! It is death or the Bastile, and our own King would rather offend God than Louis.”

“And Mornay—”

“As for Mornay—” For an answer, Lord Downey significantly blew out one of the candles upon the table. “Pf!—That is what will happen to Mornay. The story is this: The coaches were drawn up on Tower Wharf, waiting to follow the King. In the French coach were seated Mornay and the son of the ambassador. In the Spanish coach were Baron de Batteville and two ladies. After his Majesty had passed, both the French and Spanish coaches endeavored to be first in the street, which is here so narrow that but one may pass at a time. The Frenchman had something of the advantage of position, and, cutting into the Spaniard with a great crash, sent the coach whirling over half-way upon its side, to the[5] great hazard of the Spaniard and ladies within. Then Mornay, who has a most ingenious art of getting into the very thick of things, leaped upon the coachman’s seat and seized the reins of the coach-horses. He was beset by the Spaniards and cut upon the head.”

“And he hung on?”

“What d’ye think the fellow did? Pulled the French horses back and aside and let the Spanish coach down upon four wheels and out of danger. Was it not a pretty pass? The rest was as simple as you please. The Spaniard whipped, and though smashed and battered, won first through the narrow passage.”

“And Mornay?”

“Does not deny it. He says it would have been impossible for a gentleman to see such ladies thrown into a dirty ditchwater.”

“And the ladies, man? Who were the ladies?” said Ferrers.

“Aha! that is the best of it. The Spaniards relate that Mornay came down from the coachman’s seat wiping the blood from his cheek. To one of the ladies he said, ‘Madame, the kingdom[6] of France yields precedence only to a rank greater than Majesty. The honor France loses belongs not to Spain, but to the beautiful Barbara Clerke.’”

Sir Henry Heywood caught at a quick breath.

“Mistress Clerke! My ward!”

Captain Ferrers looked from Downey to Cornbury, only to see verification written upon their faces. He pushed back his bench from the table, his countenance fairly blazing with anger, and cried, in a choking voice:

“Mornay again! To drag her name into every ordinary and gaming hell in London! Coxcomb!—scoundrel!—upstart that he is! Mornay, always Mornay—”

The candles flickered gayly as Monsieur Mornay entered. His figure and costume were the perfection of studied elegance. The perruque was admirably curled, and the laces and jewels were such that a king might have envied him. A black patch extending along the forehead gave him an odd appearance, and the white brow seemed the more pallid by contrast. His features in repose bore the look of settled melancholy[7] one sometimes sees on the faces of men who live for pleasure alone. But as his eyes turned towards the table a smile, full of careless good-humor, came over his features. He advanced, pausing a moment as Wynne and Heywood pushed Ferrers down by main force into his seat.

“Messieurs,” said Mornay, smiling quizzically, “your servitor.” He stopped again. “I thought my name was spoken. No?” He looked from one to the other. “My name I comprehend, but, messieurs, my titles—my new titles! To whom am I indebted for my titles? Ah, Monsieur le Capitaine Ferraire, mon ami, I am glad that you are here. I thought that I had fallen among enemies.”

He laughed gayly. It was rippling and mellow, a laugh from the very cockles of the heart, full of the joy of living, in which there lurked no suspicion of doubt or insincerity—the situation was so vastly amusing. Cornbury laughed, too. He was an Irishman with a galloping humor; nor was Downey slow to follow his example.


For Heywood and Ferrers it was another matter. The elder man sat rigidly, glaring at the Frenchman with eyes that glittered from lids narrow with hate. Ferrers, disconcerted by the defenselessness of the Frenchman, sat stupidly, his features swollen with rage, his lips uncertain and trembling for a word to bring the quarrel to a head. But before he could speak, Sir Henry Heywood, very pale, had thrust himself forward over the table to Mornay in a way not to be mistaken, and said, briefly:

“Gad, sirrah, your laugh is the sign of an empty mind!”

Mornay was truly taken by surprise. But as he looked up at this new enemy he found no difficulty in understanding Heywood’s meaning. He rose to his feet, still smiling, and said, coolly, with a sedulous politeness:

“I am empty of brains? It takes a wit like that of monsieur to discover something which does not exist.”

Captain Ferrers had floundered to his feet, blustering and maddened at being cheated out of his quarrel. He burst violently upon the[9] colloquy, and, seizing Heywood by the arm, dragged him back to the window-seat.

“’Tis not your quarrel, Heywood,” he began.

But Sir Henry shook himself free of Ferrers, and they both faced Monsieur Mornay, who, somewhat languidly, but with a polite tolerance, stood leaning against the table watching this unlooked for development of the drama.

“Messieurs,” he smiled, “an embarras de richesse. Never have I been so greatly honored. I pray that you do not come to blows on my account. One of you might kill the other, which would rob me of the honor of killing you both.”

Captain Cornbury until this time had been an interested and amused onlooker. He dearly loved a fight, and the situation was enjoyable; but here was the evening flying and his game of cards gone a-glimmering.

“Zounds, gentlemen!” he broke in. “A pretty business—to fight at the Fleece Tavern. Pleasant reading for the Courant—a fitting end to a comedy begun upon the street.”


“’Tis not your quarrel, Cornbury,” growled Ferrers.

“Nor yours, Ferrers,” said Heywood, coldly.

“You see, monsieur,” said Mornay to Downey, with mock helplessness, “there is no help for it.”

Cornbury swore a round oath:

“I’ faith, I wash my hands of ye. If fight ye must, quarrel dacently over the cards, man; but do not drag a lady’s name through the streets of London.”

Mornay turned to Cornbury. “It is true, mon ami—it is true.” Then, in a flash, gayly, aloud, almost like a child, he shouted: “Allons, time is flying. To-morrow we shall fight, but to-night—to-night we shall play at quinze. Monsieur Ferraire, you owe me three hundred guineas. We shall play for these. If you win, you will die to-morrow with a clear conscience. If you lose, monsieur, I’ll be your undertaker. Come, maître d’hôtel!—wine!”



Mistress Barbara’s deep-abiding dislike for Monsieur Mornay began even before the struggle for precedence between the French and Spanish coaches. Such an incident, grown to international importance, might have turned the heads of ladies with greater reputations than hers. Nor should it have been a small thing that a reckless young man had risked his life to say nothing of his honor, in her service, and got a very bad cut upon his head in the bargain. But Mistress Clerke was not like some other ladies of the court. She had heard of the gallantries of Monsieur Mornay, and had set him down as a woman-hunter and libertine—a type especially elected for her abomination. His recent attentions to the Countess of Shrewsbury and the engaging Mrs. Middleton were already the[12] common gossip of the court. She herself had seen this man, perfumed and frilled, flaunting himself in Hyde Park or the Mall with one or the other of his charmers, but the assurance which made him successful elsewhere only filled her with disgust. What the Englishwomen could see in such a fellow it was difficult for her to determine. He was certainly not over-handsome. What strength the face possessed she ascribed to boldness; what pride in the curve of the nose and lips—to arrogance; what sensitiveness and delicacy of molding in lip and chin—to puny aims and habits of fellows of his trade. She was a person who divined rapidly and with more or less inaccuracy, and so she had prepared herself thoroughly to dislike the man, even before his own presumption had heightened her prejudice. Mistress Barbara had first won and now held her position at court, not by a lavish display of her talents and charms, but by a nimble wit and unassailable character and sincerity, qualities of a particular value, because of their rarity. This was the reason she could discover no compliment in the[13] gallantry of Monsieur Mornay on Tower Wharf. For beneath the mask of his subservience she discovered a gleam of unbridled admiration, which, compliment though it might have been from another, from him was only an insult.

Several days of deliberation had brought no change in her spirit. She resolved, as she put the last dainty touches to her toilet, that if Monsieur Mornay again thrust his attentions upon her that night at the ball of the Duchess of Dorset, she would give him a word or two in public which should establish their personal relations for all time. And as she stood before her dressing-table, her mirror gave her back a reflection which justified her every jealous precaution. The candles shimmered upon the loveliest neck and arms in the world. The forehead was wide, white, and smooth, and her hair rippled back from her temples in a shower of gold and fell in a natural order which made the arts of fashion superfluous. Her cheeks glowed with a color which put to shame the rouge-pot in her toilet-closet. She was more like some tall Norse goddess, with the breath of the sea and[14] the pines in her nostrils, than a figure in a world of luxury and pampered ease. Her eyes, clear and full, were strangers to qualms and apprehensions, and the thought of a possible scene with this impertinent Frenchman gave them a sparkle which added to their shadowed luster. In the thinking, she did Monsieur Mornay the honor to add just one more patch to her chin. And then, of course, if trouble arose and the worst came, there was Captain Ferrers, whom she might marry some day, or her guardian, Sir Henry Heywood, who could be called upon. Little did she know of the meeting between Mornay and Sir Henry, arranged for that very morning, which had miscarried because of an untimely intervention by the watch.

The Duke of Dorset danced well. When Mistress Clerke entered his ballroom the tabors were sounding for a brawl. His grace espied her at this moment, and, coming forward with an air of the grand seigneur which many a younger man might have envied him, carried her off under the very noses of Wynne,[15] Howard, Russell, and Jermyn, to say nothing of Captain Ferrers, who had brought her there in his coach.

It was a very merry dance, better suited to young legs than to old, and Mistress Barbara, with a rare grace, put even his grace’s spryness to the test. Monsieur Mornay, who had just come in, made to himself the solemn promise that if it lay in his power she should favor him upon that evening. If he suspected that she would receive him with an ill grace, he did not show it, for he made no scruple to hide his open admiration as she danced along the gallery. Twice she passed the spot where he stood, and once she looked quite through him at the blank wall behind. But, unabashed, when the dance was done he lost no time in letting the Duke of Dorset know that he wished to be presented, in such a manner that recognition would be unavoidable.

“With all the good-will in the world,” said his grace. “Another moth to the flame,” he laughed. “Another star to the constellation.[16] Be careful, Sir Frenchman. ’Tis not a lady pleased with frivolity.”

“Monsieur, behold,” said Mornay, piously, “I am as solemn as a judge—as virtuous as—ma foi! as virtuous as the she-dragon duenna of the Queen.”

“Nor will that please her better,” said Captain Cornbury, who had come up at this moment. “I’ faith, Mornay, she’s most difficult—as full of whims as the multiplication table. At present she spends both her time and her fortune—where d’ye suppose, Monsieur Mornay? In the fire region and the prisons. Strange tastes for the heiress of half a province in France and the whole of the fortune of the Bresacs.”

“Ma foi! Une sérieuse!”

“Ochone! she’s saucy enough—with a bit of a temper, too, they say.”

“But the prisons?”

“Are but her trade to-day—perhaps to-morrow—that’s all. What do ye think? She has but just promised the coranto and an hour[17] alone in the garden to the man who brings her Nick Rawlings’ pardon from the King.”

“The cutpurse?”

“The very same. She says ’tis an old man and ill fit to die upon the scaffold.”

Pardieu!” said Mornay, casting a swift glance at her train of followers. “She’s more cruel to her lovers than to her poor.”

Cornbury laughed. “I’ faith, so far as she’s concerned, they’re one and the same, I’m thinking. A stroke of janius, Mornay! Have yourself but thrown into prison, and you may win her, after all.”

He moved away. Mornay looked around him for this scornful mistress, but she had gone into the garden with Captain Ferrers.

Mordieu!” he growled. “There’s truth in that jest. In prison I’ll be, soon enough, unless the King—” He paused, with a curious smile. “The King—aha! I’ve a better use for Charles than that,” and he made his way to the retiring-room, where his lackey, Vigot, resplendent in a yellow coat and black waistcoat, was awaiting his orders.


The night progressed. Came next the country dances—invented upon a time by his grace of Buckingham’s grandmother to introduce to the court some of her country cousins. Hoydenish they were, but the sibilance of the silks and satins and the flaunt of laces robbed them of much of their rustic simplicity. Mistress Clerke, her color heightened, held her court up and down the gallery, until Mistress Stewart and my lady Chesterfield, in turn, jealous of their prestige, called their recalcitrant admirers to account. His grace of Dorset, somewhat red and breathless, could contain himself no longer. “By my faith!” he said, “Castlemaine and Hamilton had better look to their laurels. Nay, she has a wit as pretty as that of my lord of Rochester.”

“But cleaner,” put in Jermyn, dryly.

In the meanwhile Monsieur Mornay had received a packet.

“In God’s name, what have you done?” (it ran). “You juggle too lightly with the affairs of nations, Monsieur Mornay. ’Tis a serious offense for you, and means death, or the Bastile[19] at the very least. Here is what you ask. I have no more favors to give. Leave London at once, for when the post from France arrives, I cannot help you.—C.”

Mornay looked at it curiously, with pursed lips and loose fingers, and then rather a bitter smile came over his features. “’Twas too strong a test of his fellowship,” he muttered; “too strong for his friendship even.”

He shoved the document among his laces and moved to the gallery, where the gentlemen were choosing their partners for the coranto. He sought the Duke at once. His grace was standing near Mistress Barbara’s chair, watching with amusement a discussion of the rival claims of the Earl of St. Albans and Captain Ferrers upon her clemency for the dance.

“Your grace,” said Mornay, “I claim your promise. I am for the coranto.”

“With la belle Barbara? My word, Mornay, you are incurable.”

“A disease, monsieur; I think fatal.” Mistress Barbara beamed upon the Duke. Ferrers[20] made way; he did not see the figure at the heels of Dorset.

“Madame,” said his grace, with a noble flourish of the arm, “I present to you a gentleman of fine distinction in Germany and England, a gallant captain in the Marine of France—René Bras-de-Fer—Monsieur le Chevalier Mornay.”

During the prelude she had sat complaisantly, a queen in the center of her court. But as Mornay came forward she arose and drew herself to her splendid height, looking at the Frenchman coldly, her lips framed for the words she would have uttered. But Monsieur Mornay spoke first.

“Madame,” he said, quietly, his hand upon his heart, “I am come for the coranto.”

She looked at him in blank amazement, but for a moment no sound came from her lips.

“Monsieur,” she stammered at last in breathless anger—“monsieur—”

Mornay affected not to hear her.

“The coranto, madame,” he said, amusedly; “madame has promised me the coranto.”


“’Tis an intrusion, monsieur,” she began, her breast heaving. Mornay had drawn from his laces the pardon of Nick Rawlings. Before she could finish he had opened the paper and handed it towards her.

“It is the pardon, madame.”

That was all he said. But the crimson seal of the crown, dangling from its cords, caught her eye, and, half bewildered, she glanced down over the writing.

“Clemency—thief—murderer—Nick Rawlings—pardon?—a pardon for me, monsieur?”

Monsieur Mornay showed his white teeth as he smiled.

“Madame forgets her promise of the coranto. Voilà! Here is the pardon. There is the musique. Will madame not dance?”

A silence had fallen upon those within earshot, and not a couple took the floor for the dance. His grace of Dorset looked serious. Sir Henry Heywood thrust himself into the circle. But the music tinkled bravely, and Monsieur Mornay still stood there, awaiting her reply.


The struggle lasted for some moments. She turned white and red by turns as she fought for her self-control and pressed her hand to her breast to still the tumult which threatened to burst from her lips.

Captain Ferrers made a step as though to come between them, but Monsieur Mornay did not notice him. Nor until then did Mistress Clerke break her silence.

“Stop, Captain Ferrers,” she coldly said. “I will dance with this—this Monsieur Mornay.” Her tone was frozen through and through with the bitterness of utter contempt.

And then, giving Mornay her fingers, she went with him to the middle of the gallery. While the company, too interested or amazed to follow in the dance, stood along the walls of the ballroom, Mistress Barbara Clerke and Monsieur Mornay ran through the mazes of the dance.

Mornay moved with an incomparable grace and skill. It was a dance from Paris, and every turn of the wrist, neck, or heel proclaimed him master. From his face one could only discover[23] the signal joy he felt at being honored by so gracious and beautiful a companion. The countenance of Mistress Clerke betrayed a less fortunate disposition. In the bitterness of her defeat by this man whom she had promised herself publicly to demean, she maintained her outward composure with difficulty. The physical action of dancing gave her some relief, but as she faced him her eyes blazed with hatred and her fingers, fairly spurning a contact, chilled him with the rigidness of their antipathy.

Twice they made the round of the room, when Ferrers, who had mounted the steps into the loft, bade the musicians stop playing. A look of relief chased the scorn for a moment from Mistress Barbara’s face, and, as though half unconscious of Mornay’s presence, she said aloud, in a kind of gasp:

“Thank God, ’tis done!”

They stood opposite an open window that led to the garden. Mornay frowned at her.

“And the hour alone?” he asked. “Surely madame cannot so soon have forgotten?”

Her gray eyes had turned as dark as the[24] open window looking into the night, and the lids which her scorn let down to hide her anger concealed but in part the smoldering light of her passion.

“It is preposterous, monsieur!” she said, chokingly. “I cannot! I will not!”

“And your promise, madame. Mistress Clerke will forget her promise?”

She looked about helplessly, as though seeking a way to escape. But Mornay was merciless.

“Perhaps, madame, you fear!” he said, ironically.

He had judged her aright. With a look that might have killed had Mornay been made of more tender stuff, she caught her gown upon her arm and swept past him out into the darkness of the terrace beyond.

The air was warm and fragrant, full of the first sweet freshness of the summer. The light of the moon sifted softly through the haze that had fallen over the gardens and trembled upon each dewy blade and leaf. It was so peaceful and quiet!—so far removed from rancor and[25] hatred!—a night for fondness, gentleness, and all the soft confidences of a tenderness divine and all-excelling—a night for love!

This thought came to them both at the same moment—to Mistress Barbara with a sense of humiliation and anger, followed by the burst of passion she had struggled so long to control. She stopped in the middle of the garden-walk and turned on him:

“You!” she cried, immoderately. “You again! Has a lady no rights which a man, whatever he be, is bound to respect? Why do you pursue me? Listen to me, Monsieur Mornay. I hate you!—I hate you!—I hate you!” And then, overcome by the every excess of her emotion, she sank to the bench beside her. Monsieur Mornay stood at a distance and occupied himself with the laces at his sleeves.

To a Frenchman this was surely an ill-requiting of his delicate attentions.

“Madame,” he began, calmly, then paused.

“No, madame does not mean that.” He made no attempt to go nearer, but stood, his hand resting upon the hilt of his sword, his eyes,[26] dark and serious, looking quietly down at her.

She made no reply, but sat rigidly, her arm upon the back of the bench, the seat of which her skirts had completely covered. There was no indication of the turmoil that raged within her but the tapping of her silken shoe upon the graveled walk.

“How have I offended, madame?” he continued. “Is it a fault to admire? Is my tribute a sin? Is my service a crime? Have I not the right of any other of your poor prisoners—to do you honor from afar?”

“From afar?” she asked, coldly satirical.

Mornay shrugged his shoulders with a pretty gesture.

Ma foi, madame. My mind cannot imagine a greater distance between us—”

“Monsieur’s imagination is not without limits,” she interrupted; and then, after a pause, “In England a lady is allowed the privilege of choosing her own following.”

“In France,” he replied, with an inclination of the head—“in France the following confers an honor by choosing the lady.”


“Yes, in France, monsieur.”

There was a hidden meaning to her words.

He thought a moment before replying.

“But madame is of a house of France. The English Mistress Clerke is also the French Vicomtesse de Bresac.”

She turned fully towards him and met his gaze steadily.

“But, thank God! the part of me that is English is the part of me which scorns such attentions as yours. To be the object of such gallantries is to be placed in a class”—she paused to measure out the depth of her scorn—“in a class with your Shrewsburys and Middletons. It is an insult to breathe the air with you alone. My cavaliers are gentlemen, monsieur, and in England—”

She broke off abruptly, as if conveying too full an honor by conversing with him; and then, woman-like, “Why did you save the Spanish coach?” she cried, passionately.

Monsieur Mornay smiled blithely.

“Madame would not look half so handsome dead as she does alive.” He took a step as[28] though to go nearer, and she rose to her feet, turning towards the house.

“Come nearer, monsieur, and I—I leave at once.”

Mornay’s brows contracted dangerously as he said:

“The hour is mine”; and then, with an angry irony, “You need not fear me, madame. I am no viper or toad that you should loathe me so.”

She looked defiantly up at him.

“There are things even less agreeable than toads and vipers.” The words dropped with cold and cruel meaning from her lips. In a moment she would have given her fortune to withdraw them. Monsieur Mornay stepped back a pace and put the back of his hand to his head where a patch still hid the scar upon his temple. He stammered painfully, and lowered his head as though bowing to some power over which he had no control.

“You—you mean the misfortune of my birth?”

Mistress Clerke had turned her face away[29] again; she put her hand to her brow, her look steadily averted. Deep down in the heart she so carefully hid, she knew that what she had done was malignant, inhuman. Whatever his sins of birth or education, was he not built in the semblance of a gentleman? And had he not jeopardized his life and good repute in her service? It was true. Whatever his origin, his frank attachment deserved a better return than the shame she had put upon it. If he had not stood there directly before her she would have said something to have taken the bitter sting from her insult. But as she felt his eyes burn into her, she could not frame her words, and her pride made her dumb.

“Madame has heard that?” he stammered; and then, without waiting for a reply, he said, with a quiet dignity, “It is true, I think. If madame will permit, I will conduct her to the gallery.”

Mistress Clerke did not move. Her eyes were fixed upon the swinging lanterns at the end of the terrace.

“Come, madame, I give you back your hour,”[30] he said. “Nick Rawlings and I will take our liberty together. If you will but allow me—”

There was a sound of rapid footsteps upon the walk, and three figures came into the glare of the shifting lanterns. In the colored light Mornay could dimly make out Ferrers, Heywood, and Wynne. Heywood peered forward into their faces.

“Enough of this,” he said, sternly. “Mistress Clerke, be so kind as to give your arm to Captain Ferrers. If you will but take her to the Duchess, Ferrers—”

Mistress Clerke had arisen to her feet and looked from her guardian to Monsieur Mornay, who stood at his ease, awaiting their pleasure. She opened her lips as though to speak, but the Frenchman, with an air of finality which could not be mistaken, bowed low, and then, turning coldly away, stood facing the darkness of the garden.



The footsteps of Mistress Barbara and Captain Ferrers vanished into the night. Sir Henry Heywood moved a step nearer Mornay, and the Frenchman turned. His face shone with an unwonted pallor, and an air of distraction had settled in the repose of his features which the dim light of the swinging lanterns could not conceal. His eyes, dark and lustrous, looked at Sir Henry from under half-closed lids, a little ennuyé, but with a perfect composure and studied politeness.

“It is unfortunate that we cannot seem to meet,” said Sir Henry, struggling to control himself.

“I am bereaved, Monsieur de Heywood. Perhaps to-morrow.”

“To-morrow?” broke in Heywood, violently. “There may be no to-morrow. I will meet you[32] to-night, monsieur, here—now—at this very spot!” He nervously fingered the laces at his throat.

Mornay paused a moment. “Monsieur de Heywood would violate the hospitality—”

“Yes,” interrupted Heywood, “we shall have no constables here—”

“But, monsieur—”

“Enough! Will you fight, or shall I—” He made a movement towards Mornay. There came so dangerous a flash in the Frenchman’s eyes that Heywood stopped. Mornay drew back a step and put his hand upon his sword.

“At last,” sneered Heywood—“at last you understand.”

Mornay shrugged his shoulders as though absolving himself from all responsibility.

Eh bien,” he said. “It shall be as you wish.”

There had been so many duels with fatal results in London during the last few months that it was as much as a man’s life was worth to engage in one, either as principal or second. But this affair admitted of no delay, and Ferrers[33] and Wynne had so deep a dislike for Mornay that they would have risked much to see him killed. Wynne found Captain Cornbury, who hailed with joy the opportunity of returning Mornay a service the Frenchman had twice rendered him. The gentlemen removed their periwigs, coats, and laces, and when Captain Ferrers returned, the game began.

It was soon discovered that Monsieur Mornay had a great superiority in the reach, and he disarmed his elderly opponent immediately. It was child’s play. Almost before the Baronet had taken his weapon in hand it flew to the ground again. With this he lost his temper, and, throwing his seconds aside, sprang upon the Frenchman furiously. A very myriad of lunges and thrusts flashed about Monsieur Mornay, and before the seconds knew what had happened the Baronet seemed to rush upon the point of the Frenchman’s sword, which passed into his body.

Ferrers and Cornbury ran forward and caught the wounded man in their arms, while Wynne, seeing that he still breathed, ran without[34] further ado to the house in search of aid. Monsieur Mornay alone stood erect. As Cornbury rose to his feet the Frenchman asked:


“Clear through. There’s a hole on both sides. Ye must be off. They will be here presently.”

“And you?”

“I’ll stay. I can serve ye better here”; and as Mornay paused, “Come, there’s no time to be lost.” He caught up the Frenchman’s coat, hat, and periwig, and hurried down the garden towards the gate. Mornay cast a glance at the figure upon the ground and followed.

“I mistrust Ferrers,” whispered Cornbury. “If he will but tell a dacent story, his grace may hush the matter. If not—”

Eh bien—I care not—”

“If not, ’tis a case for the constables, perhaps of the prison; ’tis difficult to say—a plea of chance-medley—a petition to the King—”

Mornay tossed his head impatiently as he replied:


“I have nothing to expect from the King, Cornbury.”

“Tush, man! All will be well. But do ye not go to yer lodgings. Meet me in an hour at the Swan in Fenchurch Street, and I’ll tell ye the lay of the land. Go, and waste no time where ye see the lantern of the watch,” with which he pushed the Frenchman past the grilled door at the garden entrance and out into the street.

Monsieur Mornay paused a moment while he slowly and carefully adjusted his coat, cravat, and periwig. As he moved down the lane in the deep shadow of the high wall in the darkness and alone with his thoughts, his poise and assurance fell from him like a doffed cloak; his head drooped upon his breast, as with shoulders bowed and laggard feet he walked, in the throes of an overmastering misery. He passed from the shadows of the walls of Dorset Gardens and out into the bright moonlight of the sleeping street. Had he wished to hide himself, he could not have done so more effectually, for in this guise he made rather the figure of a[36] grief-ridden beldam than the fiery, impulsive devil-may-care of the Fleece Tavern. When he again reached the protecting shadow he sank upon a neighboring doorstep and buried his face in his knees, the very picture of despair. No sound escaped him. It was the tumultuous, silent man-grief which burns and sears into the soul like hot iron, but knows no saving relief in sob or tear. Once or twice the shoulders tremulously rose and fell, and the arms strained and writhed around the up-bent knees in an agony of self-restraint. Ten, fifteen minutes he sat there, lost to all sense of time or distance, until his struggle was over. Then he raised his head, and, catching his breath sharply, arose.

“If there were but an end,” he sighed aloud, constrainedly—“an end to it all!”

Then a bitter laugh broke from him.

“It is true—what she said was true. I am a loathsome creature—a thing, a creeping thing, that lives because it must, because, like a toad or a lizard, it is too mean to kill.” There was a long silence. At last he brushed his hand[37] across his forehead and rose to his feet abruptly.

“Bah! a bit of womanish folly!” he laughed. “’Tis some humor or sickness. The plague is still in the air. Mordieu!” he shouted. “There is money to win and bright eyes to gleam for Monsieur Mornay. I can laugh and jest still, mes amis—”

The closing of doors and the clatter of a coach upon the cobbles surprised him into a sense of the present. A footstep here and there and the sound of shouts close at hand recalled him to himself. He saw from the garden gate of Dorset House the flashing of a lantern and heard the shooting of the bolts and the rasp of a rough voice. The spirit of self-preservation rose strong within him and put to rout every thought but flight. He peered cautiously from his doorway, and, finding that the gate was not yet opened, he went forth and hurried down the street and around the corner until all the sounds of pursuit were lost to hearing.

By the time Monsieur Mornay had reached the Swan in Fenchurch Street, he was so far[38] in possession of his senses that, with a manner all his own, he roused the master of the house from his bed and bade him set out a cold pâté and two bottles of wine in the back room upstairs against the coming of the Irishman. Nor had he long to wait, for Captain Cornbury, flushed and breathless, soon burst into the room. When he saw Mornay his face relaxed in a look of relief.

“Egad! ye’re here,” he said. “’Twixt this and that I’ve had a thousand doubts about ye. For the present, then, ye’re safe.”

Mornay pushed a bench towards him.

“Then Ferrers has—”

“Ferrers and Dorset—I’ faith, between them they’ve raised the divil. And Captain Ferrers—by the ten holy fingers of the Pope! there was a fine notary spoiled when Ferrers took service with the King. For all the lyin’ scoundrels—”

“He accused me?”

“Egad! he swore you were the head and foot of the whole business—”

Tonnerre de Dieu! And the Duke?”

“I raged and swore to no purpose. Dorset[39] believes Ferrers. He says you began it in the gallery.”

The Frenchman looked towards the ceiling with hands upraised. “The unfortunate politesse of Monsieur Mornay! The English I cannot understand.”

“Ferrers swears it was a plot hatched in the Fleece Tavern, and that I was a party to it.”

Mornay arose and grasped the Irishman’s shoulder.

You! My poor friend, YOU!” he exclaimed; “and I disarmed him twice. It is too much—let us go at once and face them.”

Cornbury pushed him down. “Ye’ll do no such thing. ’Twould be arrant suicide. The streets are full of men looking for you by this—and me, too.”

“They cannot—you didn’t even know.”

“’Tis true, or I’m Dutch. Look ye, man, we’re safe here, and snug. Four-and-twenty lances couldn’t get through Tom Boyle downstairs if he’d set his mind to stop them. Rest awhile and compose yer mind. Besides—” He broke off abruptly and reached for the bottle.[40] “Give me a drink—I can talk no more. The words are all—parchin’ in my throat.”

Mornay sank back upon his bench, while the Irishman filled and drained his cup. At last he gave a great grunt of satisfaction, and with smiling face set the vessel down upon the table with a clatter.

“Ochone! Talking is but a dry thrade.”

Allons, Captain,” said Mornay, “tell me all.”

He drew the platter over and helped himself liberally from the pâté.

“Well, monsieur, when I went back, Heywood was making a kind of statement to Ferrers—something in the nature of a dying confession. It appears that this fellow Heywood is a thieving rascal, and if ye’ve killed him ’tis good riddance, say I.” He paused a moment to pour his wine. “As ye know,” he continued, his mouth full—“as ye know, the man is the guardian of Mistress Barbara Clerke. He has the disposition in the law of her fortune. Well, from what he confesses, ’tis not her fortune, after all.”


Mornay’s eyes opened wide with astonishment and interest. He set down upon the table, untasted, the cup he had raised to his lips, and leaned intently forward.

“Is it true?” he exclaimed; “and Mistress Barbara has nothing—nothing at all?” He broke into a hard, dry little laugh. “Pardieu! ’twill lower her chin, I’m thinking.” Then his face clouded again.

“Go on, monsieur,” he urged, impatiently—“go on.”

“If I can remember it, there’s a bit of family history ye have not heard, perhaps. Well, ye must know that the Chevalier Bresac, great-grandfather of this Mistress Clerke, bore a most intolerant hatred of Spain and the Spanish. His son René inherited this antipathy. So when he married an English girl and settled in London, he vowed that if any one of his three daughters married a Spaniard he would cut her off with a louis.”

He took a long draught of his wine. “Here is where the confession begins. The eldest daughter disobeyed and married a Spaniard in[42] Paris. She kept the marriage from her father, and, going to Amiens, gave birth to a boy. Before she could summon courage to tell old Bresac of her disobedience, poor cratur, she died.”

“Leaving an heir to the estate.”

“Not so fast. Ye see, not a word of this was known in London; nor is to-day. At her death the bulk of the fortune went to the second daughter, who was the mother of this Mistress Barbara. The third daughter married Heywood’s uncle. Of this there was no issue, but that’s how the man came to be the guardian.” Cornbury pulled a pipe from a rack and filled it.

“Now here’s the villainy of the thing. This Spaniard came of gentle birth, but au fond was a sodden beast. Heywood went to Paris as the envoy of Wilfred Clerke—Barbara’s father—and, after a shrewd bargain, bought all the secret papers in evidence of this Spanish marriage.”

“And the real heir?”

“As much alive as you are.”


Monsieur Mornay contemplated the bottom of his bowl.

Mille tonnerres!” he growled. “’Tis the very refinement of perfidy.”

The Irishman drank deep. “A lucky stroke of yours, Mornay, I say. I would it had been mine.”

“What became of the papers?”

“That’s why Heywood confessed, I suppose. Ye see, he loved his ward, and wanted Ferrers to destroy them. This he will do, I’m thinking, for he loves the lady himself.”

“And Mistress Clerke?”

“Hasn’t a notion of it.”

Mornay folded his arms and sat looking at the floor, a strange smile upon his lips. “Pardieu!” he said; “’twould touch her pride—’twould wring her proud heart to have the heir come back to his own.” The bitterness of his tone caused Cornbury to look at him in surprise.

“Oh, there’s never a chance of it,” he said. “You see, this Spaniard, D’Añasco, put the boy upon a ship. Why, what ails ye, man? What is it? Are ye mad?”


Mornay had seized him by the arm with a grip of iron and leaned forward with eyes that stared at him like one possessed.

“The name, monsieur?” he said, huskily—“the name—the Spanish name you said—?”

“Gawd, man, don’t grip me so! You’ve spilled the tobago. ’Twas D’Añasco, I think, or Damasco, or some such unspeakable thing.”

“Think, man—think!” cried Mornay, passionately. “’Tis a matter of life and death. Was the name Luis d’Añasco, of Valencia?”

It was Cornbury’s turn to be surprised. He looked at Mornay in amazement.

“I’ faith, now you mention it, I think it was. But how—”

“And the name of the boy became Ruiz? The ship was the Castillano?”

Cornbury’s eyes were wider than ever.

“It was—it was!”

Cornbury paused. Mornay had arisen to his feet and stumbled to the dormer-window, where he fell rather than leaned against the sill. The Irishman could see nothing but the upheave of the shoulders and the twitching of the hands as[45] the man straggled for his self-control. Cornbury was devoured with curiosity, but with due respect for the Frenchman’s silence sat smoking vigorously until Mornay chose to speak. As the Frenchman looked out at the quiet stars across the roof-tops of London he became calmer, and at last turned around towards the flickering candles.

“Monsieur,” began Cornbury, with a touch of sympathy.

But Mornay raised his hand in quiet protest. “D’Añasco was my father, voilà tout,” he said slowly. And as the Irishman arose, Mornay continued:

“I can finish the story, Monsieur Cornbury,” he said, lightly, but with a depth of meaning in his tone that did not escape the other. “When the boy Ruiz grew old enough to know, the Spaniard told him that he had no mother—nor ever had—that he was no-woman’s child. He put him on the Castillano and sent him out into the great world, without a thought, without a blessing, without a name—the very shuttle and[46] plaything of fortune. That child, Cornbury, was myself.”

The Irishman put his arm upon Monsieur Mornay’s shoulder and clasped him by the hand.

They stood thus a moment until Cornbury broke away and, with a shout that made the rafters ring, again filled the drinking-bowls upon the table.

“A health, monsieur!” he cried. “You’ll never drink a better. To the better fortunes of René d’Añasco, Vicomte de Bresac!”



Captain Cornbury was no fledgling. He was the younger son, none too highly esteemed by the elder branch, of a hard-drinking, quick-fighting stock of ne’er-do-wells. He knew a trick with a sword, and for twenty years had kept a certain position by his readiness to use it. His last employment had been in the King’s service as captain in a regiment of dragoons, but he lived, of a preference, upon his wits. There was never a game of dice or cards at which he could not hold his own at luck or skill. Skill at the Fleece Tavern, too, often meant dexterity in manipulation; and where every man with whom he played took shrewd advantage of his neighbor there was little to cavil at.

But of late fortune had turned a wry face upon the man. His regiment was disbanded for[48] lack of money, his pittance from the Earl, his brother, ceased altogether; and, with a reckless manner of living, a debtors’ prison stared him in the face. He sat upon the couch in Mornay’s new room at the Swan Tavern, watching with a somewhat scornful expression of countenance Vigot help his master to make his toilet. His eyes blinked sleepily at the light, for it was high noon; and his wig having been removed for comfort, the light shone brilliantly upon a short crop of carroty-red hair which took all the colors of the rainbow.

Mornay wore a splendid silken night-gown, little in keeping with the dinginess of the apartment. While Vigot dressed his master’s perruque, Mornay told the Irishman of the note from the King and of the arrival of the post from France, with the news of the anger of the Grand Monarque and of his promise of death or imprisonment should Mornay be brought to France.

Cornbury pursed his lips in a thin whistle.

“Viscount,” he said, frowning, “ye’re skatin’ on thin ice.”


Mornay had completely recovered his good spirits. He tossed his night-robe to Vigot and snapped his fingers.

Mais, monsieur,” he smiled. “’Tis an exercise so exhilarating.”

“D—n it, man, ’tis no time for jesting,” growled the Irishman, rising. “The post from France to-day says ye are to be put in the Bastile or have your head chopped off; in London ye’re a fugitive from justice for killing; and, lastly, yer good friend Charles has turned a cold shoulder on ye. And ye talk of exhilaration!” Cornbury’s disgust was illimitable.

Mornay dusted a speck from his sleeve and smiled gayly. “It is not every day, my good Cornbury, that a man may become possessed of a family, a fortune, and, ma foi, such a beautiful, scornful she-cousin—”

“Zoons, man! How can ye prove it without the papers? The mere word ‘D’Añasco’ will not open their ears or their hearts. I believe it, but who else would?”

“I can prove that I am the boy Ruiz, I tell you.”


“And ye’re fleeing for your life?”

Mornay’s face grew stern. “Yes, I am fleeing for my life,” he cried, “but they have not caught me yet. Last night I would not have cared if they had sent me back to France. To-day it is different. They have robbed me of my estates, of my name; they have made me a mere creeping thing—a viper. Morbleu! they shall feel the viper’s sting. Monsieur de Heywood is dead. Mistress Barbara Clerke—”

Cornbury leaned forward in his chair. “Surely you don’t mean—”

“Oh, put your mind at rest, mon ami. I shall do my pretty cousin no violence. I shall see her—that’s all. But first—first, about the papers with this Capitaine Ferraire—”

Cornbury smiled dryly.

“Why, ye have but to poke a nose an inch beyond the door to be carted to the Tower. How will ye see Captain Ferrers, then? ’Tis the height of absurdity. Take my advice and keep close till ye find a ship. Then set your course for the Plantations till yer matter is cooled.[51] I’ve a debt or two myself, and I’m inclined to accompany ye.”

Mornay looked at him in surprise. “Why, Cornbury, you have but a faint heart!”

“It is this news from France—ye have no backing—”

“Come! have done!” cried Mornay. “You sap my will. If you cannot look the situation gallantly in the face, why, then—” He stopped and lowered his voice, casting a glance at the Irishman. “Mon ami, I expect too much. More than I can claim.” Mornay walked towards the door and took Cornbury’s cloak and hat. “Allons! You shall leave me at once. Your only danger is in my society. Go at once upon the street, and they can prove nothing; stay with me, and you harbor an enemy of the state and a fugitive from justice.”

Cornbury threw a look at him and rose to his feet with an oath. “D—n ye, man, d’ye think I’d quit ye now? Ye give me credit for a smallish sense of dacency.” He walked to the window and looked down upon the street. Mornay[52] followed him at once and took him by the hand.

“I have offended you? Forgive me. This matter is the turning of gall to honey for me, Cornbury. I cannot leave it without a struggle. I pray you, bear with me.”

Cornbury was smiling in a moment. “What do ye plan?” he said.

“Listen. Vigot is clever. He shall discover for me when Captain Ferrers will wait upon madame, ma cousine. I, too, will call upon her.”

“And ye’ve just killed her guardian!” said Cornbury, dryly. “She’ll not receive ye with kisses.”

Mornay smiled and slowly answered:

“You will think it strange that a gentleman should intrude upon a woman. But to-morrow, perhaps to-day, I may go from this city and country forever. Before that I shall make one effort to establish my good name. I shall not succeed; but I shall have done my duty to myself and the mother who bore me. As for the Capitaine Ferraire—” Mornay’s eyes flashed[53] ominously. “If I knew where he had put the papers—if I could but get him to fight—”

“Fight! Ye couldn’t coax a fight from Ferrers with the flat of yer hand. He’d rather see ye in the Bastile or the Tower. He’s too sure to take any risks. Besides, if ye’d kill him the papers would be lost forever. No, he’ll not fight. He owes ye money, and while the constables can cancel the debt ye may be sure that he will not.”

Mornay passed his hand over his brow. “’Tis true. But I must see them together. That is the only chance. I will go to-day.”

“But how, Mornay?” asked Cornbury, dryly. “In a coach and four?”

Mornay sprang to his feet in delight. “C’est ça!” he cried, joyfully. “Oh, monsieur, but you have the Irish wit. Vigot shall bring me a coach. I shall ride in state.”

Cornbury rose to his feet angrily.

“What nonsense is this?” he cried. Mornay smiled on him benignly.

“Can you not see, Monsieur le Capitaine? While they are looking for me at the Fleece,[54] in Covent Garden, in the Heaven Inn, or in the Hell Tavern, here will I be riding along the Mall to the very place they would be least likely to look for me—in my lady’s boudoir!”

Cornbury at once saw the value of the plan, but he never looked more sober.

“And after?” he asked.

“After?” replied Mornay, lightly. “After? Monsieur, you leave too little to the imagination. I think but of the present. Le bon Dieu will provide for the future.”

Vigot was given his orders to make shrewd inquiries of the servants of the neighbors of Mistress Clerke as to the hour of Captain Ferrers’s daily visits. He was also told to get a coach for monsieur. He stood puzzled a moment.

“Monsieur wishes a haquenée?” he asked.

“A haquenée? No, sirrah!” said Mornay, brusquely.

“A pair, then?” he asked, scratching his head.

“A pair?” roared Mornay. “No, sirrah! Foi de ma vie! I wish a coach and four.[55] Twenty guineas at the very least. If I wait upon madame at night, a dozen links. Be off with you!”

Cornbury shook his head hopelessly.

“Ye’re going to your funeral in style,” he said.

Mistress Barbara sat alone, looking out upon the quiet street. While she looked she saw nothing, and every line of her figure, in abandonment to her mood, spoke of sorrow and distraction. Her eyelids were red, and the richly laced mouchoir which fell from the hand beneath her chin was moist with tears. Upon a tray were the dishes of a luncheon, untouched, and a number of papers, some of them torn, fell from her hand upon the floor. A dish of roses, a few French romances, a manteau girdle, a copy of the Annus Mirabilis of Dryden, a pair of scented gloves of Martial, and a cittern in the corner completed the gently bred disorder of the room.

True, Sir Henry Heywood was no blood relation of hers, and had only been her guardian.[56] A man of the world in the worst rather than the better sense, there had been little in his life to appeal to her. But he loved her in his own way and had been good to her in all matters that pertained to her estate, and so she mourned him as one would mourn the loss of one whom nearness had made dear. There was some bond which seemed to bind them more closely than their mere surface relations of ward and guardian—an undercurrent of devotion and servitude which she felt, though she could not understand the meaning. His death wrung her mind, if it did not wring her heart.

And by this Frenchman! There had been a moment or two of regret the other night that she should have used this Mornay so cruelly, a moment when the bitterness, the grief, the utter loneliness and longing she had seen in his face had filled her rebellious soul with compassion for his misery. For she had a glimpse—the very first—of his pride overborne and beaten to earth in spite of its mighty struggle to rise. But now! Now, whatever regret had sprung into her heart, whatever kindliness, had[57] been engulfed again in a bitterness which cried out for justice. While the woman in her had shrunk from the thought of him and wished him well away from London, a sense of the fitness of things called for retribution for the wrong that had been done her and hers. They had not caught him yet. Oh, he was cunning and skillful; that she knew. But Captain Ferrers had assured her that to oblige Louis of France, the King had directed all the constables of London to be upon the watch for him. It could not be long before they would have him fast behind the walls of the Tower, with God knows what in store for him there, or at the Bastile if he were taken back to France. The Bastile? She shivered a little and put her kerchief over her face.

“God forgive me,” she murmured, “if I have misjudged him!”

There was a commotion below in the street—the sound of galloping horses and the rumble of a fast-flying vehicle. A plum-colored calash with red wheels and splendid equipments was coming at a round pace up the street.[58] There were four sorrel horses, a coachman, footman, and two outriders. With a whirl of dust and the shouting of men the horses were thrown upon their haunches and the coach came to a stop directly before Mistress Barbara’s door. She peered out of the window, curiously agape, to know the identity of her visitor. From the way in which he traveled abroad it must be a person of condition—she felt assured a minister or dignitary of the city, come perhaps to beseech her influence. There was a glimmer of bright color in the sunlight. A splendid figure, periwigged and bonneted in the latest mode, sprang out and to her front door. She had barely time to withdraw her head before there was a knock and her lackey opened in some trepidation.

“Madame, ’tis Monsieur the Vicomte de Bresac—”

“Did I not give orders—” she began, and then stopped. “De Bresac! De Bresac! What can it mean?”

“Madame, ’tis a matter of importance and—er—”


She stood debating whether she should call her governess or deny herself to her visitor, but before she could do the one or the other footsteps came along the hallway and the lackey stepped aside as Monsieur Mornay entered.

Mistress Clerke turned a pallid face towards him. She stepped back a pace or two, her hands upon her breast, her eyes glowing with fear. Monsieur Mornay turned to the lackey, who still stood doubtful upon the threshold. The look he gave the man sent him through the doorway and hall, where the sound of his footsteps mingled with those of others without. Mistress Clerke cast a fleeting glance towards the boudoir, but Monsieur Mornay had taken his stand where he could command both entrances to the room. She scorned to cry aloud for assistance, nor would she risk his interference by trying to pass him. He read her easily. She made no motion to leave or speak to him, but stood against the wall of the fireplace, her muscles rigid and tense with fear and her eyes regarding him with all the calmness she could command.


“Madame,” he said, solemnly, looking out at her from under his dark brows, “before God, I mean you no harm!” He said it as though it were a sacrament. “In half an hour or less I shall be gone from this room, from your life forever. But you must hear what I have to say.” He paused. “No, no, madame. It is not that which you suppose—you need have no fear of me. It is not that—I swear it!”

Mistress Barbara moved uneasily.

“I pray that you will be seated, madame. No? As you please. What I have to say is not short. Shall I begin?”

“’Twere sooner over,” she said, hoarsely.

He bowed politely. “I will endeavor to be brief. Many years ago, your great-grandfather went to Florida with the expedition of Jean Ribault. Perhaps you have been told of the massacre by the Spanish and how the Seigneur de Bresac escaped to France? Merci! You also doubtless know his and your grandfather’s great hatred of the Spanish people as the result of this massacre? Eh bien. Your grandfather told his three daughters—one of whom was your[61] mother—that if one of them married a Spaniard he would refuse her a part of his fortune and deny her as a child of his—”

“I pray you, monsieur—”

“I crave your patience. Lorance, your mother, married Monsieur Clerke, and Julie, the younger sister, married Sir George Maltby. That is well known. The elder sister was Eloise.” His voice fell, and the name was spoken with all the soft tenderness of the name itself. “Perhaps you do not know, madame, that she, too, was married—”

“There was a mystery,” she muttered. “I heard—” Then she stopped.

“Madame heard?” he asked, politely. But she was silent again.

“Eloise was married,” he continued, “while visiting at the château of the Duc de Nemours, near Paris, to Don Luis d’Añasco, who was a Spaniard. Fearing her father’s wrath and disinheritance, this unfortunate woman concealed the facts of this marriage, the record of which was the acknowledgment of the priest who married them and the statements of a nurse[62] and another witness who had accompanied her to Amiens, where in or about the year 1635 she gave birth to a son—”

If Mistress Clerke had allowed herself to relax a little before, her interest now had dominated all feeling of fear and suspense. She leaned a little forward, breathless, her hand upon the chair before her, her eyes fixed upon the lips of the Frenchman, who spoke slowly, concisely, and held her with an almost irresistible fascination.

“The saddest part of the story is to come, madame. The mother was grievously ill—she suffered besides all the pangs of solitude at a time when a woman needs consolation and sympathy the most. Her mother had died, her husband was worse than useless, and she feared to let her father know the truth, lest his stern and pitiless nature would wreak some terrible vengeance upon the Spanish husband, whom she still loved, in spite of the fact that he had married her for her fortune and not for herself. She had almost made up her mind to tell her father all when—she died.” He paused a[63] moment to give her the full import of his words. And then, looking at her steadily and somewhat sternly, “Her son, René d’Añasco, Vicomte de Bresac, is still alive.”

Mistress Barbara stood looking at him. He met the look unflinchingly. At last her eyes fell. When she lifted them she did so suddenly and drew herself up at the same time, all instinct with doubt and suspicion of this man, who had first insulted, then injured her, and was now seeking to rob her of her birthright.

“And you?” she asked, bitterly, her scorn giving wings to her fear. “And you? Can I believe you?”

It was as though she had expressed her thought in words. Monsieur Mornay felt the thrust. But where the other night it could wound him mortally, to-day it glanced harmlessly aside. He still looked calmly at her, and the least perceptible touch of irony played at the corners of his lips.

She mistook the smile for effrontery—for the mere impudence of a man without caste who recks nothing for God or man. She flung her[64] back towards him with a sudden gesture and turned towards the window.

“You lie,” she said, contemptuously.

Monsieur Mornay knit his brows, and his eyes followed her angrily, but he did not even take a step towards her. His voice was as low as before when he spoke.

“Madame has a certain skill at hatred,” he said. “Insults fall as readily from her lips as the petals from a flower.” He paused. “But they do not smell so sweet. I do not lie, madame,” he said, with a gesture as though to brush the insult aside. When he raised his voice it was with a tone and inflection of command which surprised and affrighted her. She turned in alarm, but he had not moved from his position near the door.

“Hear me you shall, madame. Listen.” And rapidly, forcefully, masterfully even, he told the story of the fate of the young D’Añasco, called Ruiz, the perfidy of the drunken father in sending him away upon the ship Castillano, and the bargain by which his inheritance had been sold. She heard him through, because she could[65] not help it, but as he proceeded, and the names of her father, Sir Wilfred Clerke, and Sir Henry Heywood were mentioned, she arose to her full height, and with magnificent disdain threw fear to the winds and said, coldly:

“Stop! I have heard enough.” And with reckless mockery, “You, monsieur, I presume, are René d’Añasco, Vicomte de Bresac?”

Monsieur Mornay bowed.

The door of the room opened suddenly and Captain Ferrers entered. A look of bewilderment was on his features as he glanced at Mistress Clerke.

“Why, Barbara—these men without— What—?” Monsieur Mornay had turned his head, and the flowing curls no longer hid his countenance.

“I was expecting you, Capitaine Ferraire,” said the Frenchman.

Ferrers stepped back a pace or two, astonishment and consternation written upon his features. Had Sir Henry Heywood come back to life, the Captain could not have been put into a greater quandary. He looked at the Frenchman[66] and then at Mistress Clerke for the solution of the enigma. But Mistress Barbara had sunk upon the couch in an agony of fear. A moment before she had prayed for this interruption. Now that it had come she was in a terror as to its consequences. She made no reply, but looked at the two men who stood a few feet apart with lowering looks—the Englishman flushed red with anger, the Frenchman cool, impassive, dangerous.

Ferrers spoke first. He stepped a pace or two towards the Frenchman, his brow gathered, his shoulders forward, menace in every line of his figure.

“You have dared to force your way into this house?”

The elbow was bent and the fist was clinched, and an exclamation burst from Mistress Barbara, who was gazing horror-struck at the impending brutality. But the Frenchman did not move. The only sign of anything unusual in his appearance was the look in his eyes, which met those of the Englishman with an angry glitter of defiance. If Ferrers had meant personal[67] violence to the Frenchman, he did not carry out his intentions. He cast his eyes for a moment in the direction of Mistress Barbara, and then, drawing back again with a muttered exclamation, made straight for the door. Before he could place his hand upon the knob Mornay interposed.

“One moment, Ferraire. My men were told to let you in—not to let you out.” And as Ferrers paused a moment, “Have patience, Monsieur le Capitaine. Presently I will leave madame and you; but first you must listen.” Ferrers had grown white with rage, and his hand had flown to his sword hilt. He looked at the quiet figure of the Frenchman and at Mistress Barbara, whose eyes were staring at him widely. He bit his lip in chagrin, and then struggled to control his voice.

“Your reckoning is not far distant, Monsieur Mornay,” he said, hoarsely. “If there is justice in England, you shall hang this day week.”



Mornay waited while the Englishman smothered his rage. Then, with a sudden motion, he brushed his kerchief across his temples, as though to wipe the clouds from his forehead.

“If madame will but bear with my brutality a little longer”—he smiled—“a little longer—then she will have done with me forever.” The gesture and the air of contrition were rather racial than personal characteristics. But, as one sometimes will in times of great stress, Mistress Barbara could not but compare Mornay’s ease and sang-froid with the heavy and somewhat brutal bearing of Captain Ferrers. She hated herself for the thought, and, as Monsieur Mornay spoke, turned her face resolutely to the window and away from him.


“If madame will remember what I have had the honor to tell her, she will now discover how Monsieur Ferraire becomes concerned.” He glanced at Ferrers, who stood to one side, his arms folded, his features sullen and heavy with the impotence of his wrath. The Frenchman was playing a desperate game, with every chance against him. To unmask the secret, he must take the somewhat heavier Englishman off his guard. Of one thing he felt sure, Ferrers knew little more as to the papers than did Cornbury and himself. He began abruptly, without further preface:

“Madame has just learned from my lips of certain matters, Monsieur le Capitaine, which bear strongly upon her interests in the estate of Bresac. She has yet to learn how much a part of it all you have become. She has been told of the fortunes of Eloise d’Añasco and of the rightful heir to the estates. What she wishes most to learn is the contents and purport of the papers in your possession.”

Mornay had spoken slowly, to give force to his words, and the effect of his information[70] upon Ferrers was remarkable. The lowering crook came out of his brows, and his hand made an involuntary movement to his breast, the fingers trembling a moment in the air. His face relaxed like heated wax, and he stared at the Frenchman, his mouth open, the picture of wonderment and uncertainty.

Mistress Clerke, who had been about to speak, paused bewildered. Ferrers stammered awkwardly, as though gathering his wits for a reply.

“The papers!” he gasped at last. “The papers!” And then with a futile attempt at sang-froid, “What papers, monsieur?”

If the Englishman had not been so completely off his guard he would have seen a flash of triumph in the Frenchman’s eyes. Mornay narrowly watched his discomfiture; then continued, quietly:

“Monsieur le Capitaine Ferraire, René d’Añasco has been found. The son of Eloise de Bresac has come to life and is to-day in London. He knows of the sale of his birthright. He has discovered the proofs of his mother’s marriage[71] and of his birth at Amiens. He but awaits a favorable opportunity to bring the matter before a court.” By this time Captain Ferrers had recovered a certain poise. He swaggered over to the mantel, where he turned to Mistress Clerke.

“A fine tale!” he sneered. “A pretty heir, Mistress Barbara, to send a hunted man as his ambassador.” Then the presence of Cornbury at the dying confession came to his memory, and the situation dawned upon him for the first time. He laughed aloud with real blatant merriment.

“I see!” he cried. “It is you—you, Mornay, the outcast—Mornay, the broken gambler, the man without a creed or country, who is now become the Vicomte de Bresac. It is a necromancy worthy of Dr. Bendo.”

He was firm upon his feet again. The very absurdity of the claim had restored his heavy balance—somewhat disturbed by the announcement of his possession of the papers. He turned to Mistress Clerke and found her eyes, full of wonder and inquiry, still turned upon him. She[72] was sensible of an influence which the Frenchman’s words had wrought, and felt rather than saw the surprise and alarm which underlay the somewhat blustery demeanor of Captain Ferrers. During the dénouement not a word had passed her lips. When she had tried to speak it seemed as though she had been deprived of the power. She had sat looking from the one to the other, fear and doubt alternating in her mind as to the intentions of the Frenchman. What did it all mean? Captain Ferrers, at the best of times, was not a man who could conceal his feelings; but why had he lost countenance so at the mention of papers? Why had he not done something at the first that would prove the Frenchman the cheat and impostor that he was? Why did the irony of his words fall so lightly upon the ears of Monsieur Mornay that he seemed not even to hear them? Why were the Frenchman’s eyes so serious, so steady, so clear to return her gaze? With an effort she slowly arose, struggling against she knew not what—something which seemed to oppress her and threaten the freedom of her speech and[73] will. A feeling that she had allowed herself, if even only for a moment, to be influenced against her better judgment, filled her with resentment against this man who had broken past her barriers again and again, and now offended not only the laws of society but the laws of decency by brutally pushing past her servants and holding her against her will a prisoner in her own apartments. As she stood upon her feet she regained her composure, and when she spoke her voice rang with a fearlessness that surprised even herself. It was the exuberance and immoderation of fear—the sending of the pendulum to the other end of its swing.

“For shame, sir, to make war upon a woman! Is there not left a spark of the gallantry of your race that you should break into a woman’s house like a cutpurse, a common pirate and outlaw? Have you no pride of manhood left—no honor? No respect for the sanctity of the sex that bore you? Would you oppress and hold a helpless woman in restraint? Monsieur, you are a coward!—a coward! I repeat for the last[74] time, I do not believe you. I would not believe you if you gave me your oath.”

Ferrers said nothing, but the curl of his lips told the volume of his pleasure.

They were dreadful words to Mornay, but he looked at her with a calmness that gave no sign of hidden discomfiture. His eyes did not drop under her lashing sneers. Instead, as she paused he began speaking, with a quiet insistence in which there was the least touch of patronage.

“Madame, hear me out, I pray you. I have come brutally into your house. I have been the bully with you and yours. I have held you prisoner. To ask your pardon would be still further to insult you. But I leave London to-night and—” As Ferrers interposed, he raised his hand. “Pardon, monsieur, a moment and I have done. I leave London to-night, and I shall not trouble you more.”

“Thank God for that!” she said, bitterly.

Mornay continued as though he did not hear her: “I have broken in upon you because it was the only way that I could see you—the only way[75] that I could tell you what I had to say. That I have sinned is because—well, because I had hoped that, after all, madame, perhaps the blood could flow warmly from your heart.” He tossed his chin defiantly. “You have scorned me for one who bears false witness, though you have seen your English captain go pale at the mention of those papers. You will believe what he says and scorn me, in whom runs the blood of the same grandparents as yourself. You have looked upon me as an impostor. Eh bien. Think what you will. Impostor I am not.” He drew himself up and said, clearly, in a full measure of pride and dignity, “I am René de Añasco, Vicomte de Bresac.”

He moved to the door, looking not at her or even noticing the contemptuous laugh of Captain Ferrers; then, slowly, “I leave you, madame. To-morrow I will be but a memory—an evil dream, which soon passes away. You have chosen to be my enemy and to send me away from you in scorn, hatred, and disbelief. Let it be so. But remember, madame, when I am gone every pretty sweetmeat you put in your[76] mouth, every dainty frock you put upon your back, every slipper, every glove, every ring and spangle that you wear, is mine—all mine.”

She shrank back with horror at the thought, and Ferrers broke in with an illy suppressed oath:

“One moment, sirrah!” he cried. “If the play-acting’s done, I’d have a word with you. Will you permit Mistress Clerke to withdraw?”

Mornay took his hand from the knob of the door and turned, while a gleam of satisfaction crossed his features. In that look Mistress Barbara read a sinister intention. She thrust herself before Captain Ferrers.

“No! No!” she cried. “You shall not! There shall be no more—no more blood-shedding, Captain Ferrers! Let the man go. Let him go, I tell you! Let him go! As you love me, let him go!”

Captain Ferrers disengaged her arms from about his shoulders, while Mornay watched them, half amused, half satirical.

“Fear nothing for him, madame,” he interrupted, dryly. “There will be no fight with[77] Capitaine Ferraire. ’Tis only a touch of irritation and will speedily pass when I am gone.” He opened the door and called into the hall, “Vigot!—the coach!”

But Captain Ferrers had put Mistress Clerke aside.

“You must go!” he cried, furiously, almost jostling the shoulder of the Frenchman.

“Tush, monsieur!” said Mornay, sternly. “You forget yourself. I will be at the Fleece Tavern to-night at eleven. If you would see me before I leave England, you will find me there. Madame, your servitor.” In a moment he had closed the door and was walking down the hallway.

Monsieur Mornay knew that Ferrers would lose but little time in arousing the servants of Mistress Clerke, and that before he should have gone very far upon his way there would be a hue and cry after him. But he had great confidence in Vigot, and the coachman and outriders were rogues with comfortable consciences, who, if they were well paid, could be depended on. He entered the coach and waved[78] his hand. The coachman snapped his lash over the heads of the leaders. The fire flew from the cobbles as the animals clattered into a stride.

The vehicle had not moved its own length before Ferrers and two lackeys came running out of the house, shouting at the top of their bent. But Vigot had his instructions. The lash came down again and the horses broke into a brisk trot. One of the lackeys sprang for the bridle of the nearest outrider, but the horseman gave the man a cut across the face with his whip, and he fell back with a scream of pain. Ferrers was absolutely helpless. There were not half a dozen people in the street. Monsieur Mornay thrust his head out of the window of the coach and took off his hat.

“The Fleece Tavern at eleven,” he said.

Ferrers hurled a curse at him and renewed his shouting, to the end that men by this time came running from the houses and shops farther up the street, through which the coach must pass. But the horses were moving at a full gallop. It would have been easier to stop a charge of cavalry. Most people simply looked back at[79] Ferrers and stared. One or two venturesome fellows rushed out, but a sight of the resolute faces of the outriders, who guarded the leaders’ heads, was enough to make them pause, and the coach clattered on to safety. There were twenty plum-colored calashes in the city, and Mornay knew that detection would be difficult if not impossible at this time of the evening, when the streets were cleared and the coach could wind deviously to the distant purlieus of Fenchurch Street. Soon the clamor they had made was lost in the turns of the winding streets, and the coach was brought by a distant route to the spot at which Monsieur Mornay had entered it—not a stone’s-throw from the Swan.

Cornbury was awaiting him upstairs. He had puffed the room full of smoke, and a look of relief passed over his face as Mornay entered. “Well, monsieur?” he asked.

Mornay did not answer. He tossed his hat down and threw himself into a chair.

“I’ve lost,” he muttered at last. He said no more, and Cornbury did not press him for information. But presently, when the supper[80] was brought, and his eye alighted upon the face of his servant, he broke into a smile.

“Ah, Vigot!” he cried. “Did my honest rogues get back to their stable?”

“In perfect safety, monsieur. ‘Scaldy’ Quinn and Tom Trice are not the ones to be caught napping. They only wish another venture in your service.” Mornay sadly shook his head. “Vigot, I shall need no further service in England. You, too, shall go back to France—and I—” He paused as a sudden thought came to him. He brought his fist down upon the table. “Parbleu! Wait, Vigot! Perhaps we may yet have need for these fellows. Tell them to come here quietly by ten of the clock.”

Cornbury had been watching him narrowly. Now he broke out angrily.

“Can ye not be satisfied? Why must ye go forever risking yer neck in the noose? Ye’ve escaped this time. How, God knows, save by that presumption which ye wear as a garment. Come, now, I’ve made up my mind to go to the Plantations. Take ship with me, man. I know of a venture there that is worth the pains of the[81] trouble twenty times over. Come at least for the present, until yer peril is grown less.”

Mornay was holding his chin in his hand, lost in thought.

Mon ami,” he said at last, “I’ve shot my bolt and lost. There was never so heartless a maid since the world began.”

“Tush, dear man! Must ye be forever thinking of the girl? A wench is a wench in England or Ameriky.”

Mornay arose and put his hands frankly upon the other’s shoulders.

“I’ll go with you, my good friend, where you please—after to-night.”

“Ay, and to-night—ye may go to the devil—”

“’Tis so. I have an appointment with Captain Ferrers at the Fleece for eleven.”

Cornbury’s face fell.

“Egad, man, ye’re incorrigible! And d’ye think he’ll meet ye?”

“I don’t know. He may not, alone. But I think that he will, in company. If he does, I’ll not fail him.”


“Don’t ye go. It will be a trap. The man will not fight, I tell you, while the law of England can do his vengeance for him. Ye’ll run afoul of an army of constables.”

“I know it, but I’ll risk it.”

“And if ye kill him ye destroy the last proof of yer birth,” sneered the Irishman.

“I don’t know,” replied Mornay, coolly. Cornbury stormed up and down the room in a rage.

“Ye’ll have your will,” he cried, “for the sake of a little fight. Go to your death, rash man that ye are, but don’t say that I haven’t warned ye.”

“Cornbury, listen. I’ve a desire to look into the pockets of this Capitaine Ferraire.”

“And what do ye think ye’ll find there—the blessing of the Pope?”

Mornay laughed outright. “Perhaps, but not for me. An idea has grown upon me, and now possesses me body and soul. It is that these papers are in the coat of Monsieur Ferraire.”

Cornbury sent out a sudden volume of smoke to signify his disgust.


“P’sh! Do ye think the man has but one suit? Ye’ll lose your labor, sir. He has hidden yer proofs most secretly by this.”

“None the less, mon ami, I’m going to pick his pocket!”

There was a thin skim of storm over the face of the moon as Mornay and Cornbury left the Swan Tavern. The wind was fitful in the streets, and, though the season was June, as they passed a corner now and then a heavy gust, full of the dampness and rigor of October, flew full in their faces and caused them to pull their summer cloaks more closely about them. Following in their footsteps were three men, one of whom was Vigot. The other two were the rascals who had served as outriders to Monsieur Mornay in the afternoon: Tom Trice, a tall and slender, stoop-shouldered man, who peered uneasily to left and right, and “Scaldy” Quinn, who was short, with a most generous breadth of leg and shoulder. The Frenchman had paid them liberally before leaving the Swan, and the understanding was that they should follow instructions without question, and if necessary be[84] prepared to strike a sturdy blow or two for monsieur, who was going into the camp of his enemies. The Fleece Tavern had lately gained a bad name by reason of the many brawls and homicides that had occurred within its walls. The place was not inaptly named, for its master, Papworth, took money when and how he might, and bore the name of one who would not stop at a sinister deed if it would avail him to achieve his end. But in spite of its disrepute among the more careful of its gamesters at the court, the Fleece was still frequented by a larger following than any other gaming-house in London. There was more money to be seen there. Most of its rooms were filled at all hours with a motley crowd of men of the town, noblemen, and soldiers of fortune, who would play at dice, basset, and quinze for days and nights at a time, dropping out only when the lack of food and sleep made it necessary.

Cornbury strode along, muttering in his cloak.

“Why go on this d——d fool’s errand?” he said, at last. “Why will ye not take ship comfortably,[85] like a gentleman? Like ye the look of a prison that ye must be prying and poking yer head inside the bars? Ye’re a fool, man.”

Mornay paused to look at him curiously for a moment, and then he laughed.

“I am. And you’re another, mon ami, for going with me.” They walked along for a moment in silence before the Frenchman spoke again. “Here is what we shall do, Cornbury: Vigot shall go into the house next to the Fleece, which is upon the corner. It is a mercer’s shop, with lodgings above, to let. He will choose a room, and so gain his way to the roof. He will then steal over the leads to the dormer of the Fleece and down into the hall, making all clear for our escape. The other two rascals will enter by the cook-room, and, gaining their way upstairs, await our signal there. We will then meet Capitaine Ferraire and his friend with an eye in the back of our heads for any signs of his followers.” As Mornay proceeded he could see the eyes of the Irishman flash with delight in the moonlight.


“’Tis a good plan,” he returned, “and but for one thing—”


“They may be too many for you. Ferrers will have half of the watch with him, for by this there’s a pretty premium upon your head.”

“The more credit, then, in outwitting them”; and then, sinking his voice, “Silence, monsieur, we are already in the shadow of St. Paul’s.”



They walked quickly along under a wall, keeping in the shadow. Vigot received his orders and went forward alone. When last they saw him he was swaggering and staggering by turns up to the mercer’s, where he began pounding lustily upon the door for admittance. Trice and Quinn Mornay despatched by a side street to approach the tavern from another direction.

At the Fleece there was no unusual sign. From an open window came the rattle of dice, the clink of the counters, and the laughter of men. The night being still young, many people were passing to and fro upon the streets, and Mornay and Cornbury, wrapped in their cloaks, looking neither to the right nor left, pushed open the door at the front and walked boldly into the room. Several drinkers lounged upon[88] the benches, and there was a game of basset in the corner, but the players were so intent that they had no eyes for the new arrivals. Cornbury drummed loudly upon the floor with his foot, and one of the fellows, a pigeon-breasted ensign in a dragoon regiment, cast a loser’s curse over his shoulder, but failed to recognize them. They ordered a drink and the room on the second floor at the head of the stairway.

Mornay’s reasons for this were obvious. He wanted a narrow passage, where more than two men would be at a disadvantage, and where all opportunity for outside interference would be obviated. The host himself brought their lights and bottles. When he saw that it was Monsieur Mornay who was his guest, he started back in amazement.

“Monsieur!” he cried. “You? I thought—”

“Sh— Yes, it is I. But keep your tongue, Papworth. Is Captain Ferrers here?”

“No, sir. Two notes have arrived for him, but—”

Mornay glanced significantly at the Irishman.

“You think he will come?”


“I should be sure of it, sir.”

“Very good. When he comes tell him Captain Cornbury and I are awaiting him.”

“But, sir, if you’ll pardon me, the Fleece Tavern is no place for you, sir. There’s been constables watching for you all yesterday and to-day.”

Mornay laughed a little to himself.

“’Tis plain I’m too popular. Listen, Papworth. I did you a good turn with the King when Captain Lyall was killed in your garden. Now you can return me the compliment.”

“Yes, monsieur, but—”

“I’ll have no refusal.”

The man rubbed his chin dubiously while Cornbury told him their plans. When the Irishman had finished, Mornay slipped a handful of coins into his palm, which worked a transformation in his point of view.

“I’ll do what I can, monsieur,” he said, jingling the money. “But if there’s to be fighting, the Fleece will lose its good repute forever.” Mornay and Cornbury both laughed at[90] the long face and hollow note of virtuous regretfulness and resignation in his voice.

“Ochone! If there has been a duel in yer garden once in forty years, I’d never be the man to suspect it,” said the Irishman. The landlord raised a deprecating hand and disappeared.

“The garden?” growled Mornay. “I hope it may not be necessary to carry this matter there.”

“But have ye thought? He may not come up to yer room?”

“He must—”

There was a cautious knock at the door, and Vigot entered, despair and distress written upon his features.

“Monsieur! Ill news! There was no room to let at the mercer’s. To-morrow is market-day, and the house is full to the garret. He would not let me even inside the door.”

Tonnerre de Dieu!

“And worse yet, monsieur—this place is watched. A number of black, silent figures are regarding it from the shadows—”


“Ye have read the man aright, Mornay,” said Cornbury.

Mille diables! We must go by the roof. It is our only chance. Listen, Vigot. Do you go up those stairs and out upon the leads. Curse the fellow! if you cannot get into his house at the bottom you must get in at the top.”

Vigot was off again as the landlord entered.

“Monsieur Mornay, Captain Ferrers awaits you below.”

A quick glance passed between the two men. Mornay paused a moment before replying.

“Tell him, Papworth,” he said, coolly, “that Monsieur Mornay has a quiet room upstairs where matters can be privately discussed. I will await him here.”

The man departed.

Cornbury drained his bowl.

“The man’s an arrant coward. Ten guineas that he doesn’t come. Why, monsieur, he couldn’t have entrapped us better himself. Ye’ve made the bait too tempting. He’ll smell a rat.”


“Pouf! Cornbury, he has it all his own way. Twenty guineas that he comes.”

Cornbury did not answer; he was bending towards the door, his mouth and eyes agape, as though to make his hearing better. But only the clatter of the game and the sound of the coarsened voices of the players came up the dimly lighted stairway. Upon the coming of this man hung Mornay’s only chance for success.

Five minutes they waited in silence, but at last there was a sound of footsteps upon the stairs, and in a moment Captain Ferrers and Mr. Wynne stood before them. The exuberance and confidence of Captain Ferrers’s smile found no echo in the face of Wynne, who looked sullenly and suspiciously at Cornbury and the Frenchman, as though the adventure were little to his liking. Mornay arose from his bench with great politeness, the perfection of courtesy and good-will, and waved Captain Ferrers to a seat. Cornbury sat puffing volumes of smoke, with an appearance of great contentment and unconcern.


Captain Ferrers was clearly taken off his guard, and his smile became the broader. He had at first thought Monsieur Mornay’s promise to come to the Fleece a mere French flippancy. Surely, after what had happened he could expect no clemency from Ferrers. Monsieur Mornay would have been flattered had he known how much of Captain Ferrers’s thoughts he had occupied during the last few hours. The Frenchman’s demeanor in the house of Mistress Clerke, his earnestness, his self-confidence, his assurance and poise, outdid anything that Ferrers remembered of that presumptuous person. A man with one leg in the grave or a lifetime of imprisonment staring him in the face would only play such a part because of one or two circumstances: he was using a desperate resort to gain some great end—perhaps to influence Mistress Barbara for clemency in the case of the death of Sir Henry Heywood; or else he was the real heir of the estate which Mistress Barbara was enjoying. To tell the truth, Ferrers did not care what he was. If the Frenchman came to the Fleece Tavern, he would[94] be in the Tower by midnight. The prison would know no distinctions. He hated this man as one hates another to whom he is under obligations and who has done him a great injury. And if he was the real heir, come to dispossess Mistress Barbara and balk him in a marriage that meant a fortune beyond the wildest dreams, the worse for him. He should suffer for it!

All of these things passed again somewhat heavily through his mind. The air of unconcern and assurance which he met in the faces of both Mornay and the Irishman disarmed him. He thought how easy it had been to gain his ends, and comfortably fingered the whistle in his pocket with which he should presently call in his hounds upon his enemy. Nor would his pistols be required. If he had wished he could have sent his constables up from below to take these men in the trap they had made for themselves. But he enjoyed the situation. It was as easy as a game of quinze with the mirror behind your opponent’s back.

“Monsieur Ferraire,” began Mornay, pleasantly, “I am meeting you to-night at great risk[95] of my life. I thank you that you have kept my plans and this rendezvous a secret.”

Ferrers’s small eyes blinked as though they had been liberally peppered, but the smile did not disappear.

“What I have to say is to your great advantage. If after I am through you still wish to meet me, I shall be at your service below in the garden, or elsewhere. Will you sit down?”

The Captain’s lip twitched a little and his fingers left the whistle and moved to a chair-back.

It was apparent that Mornay’s mind was a thousand miles from all thought of distrust or suspicion. He was as guileless as a child. Cornbury had filled another pipe and crossed his legs.

“It will be useless to sit or talk, monsieur,” said Ferrers, coldly. “I have brought Mr. Wynne with an object which cannot be mistaken. If you are agreeable, Mr. Wynne will talk with Captain Cornbury as to the arrangements.” He folded his arms and walked to the[96] window with an air of rounding off a conversation.

Mornay arose from his seat and walked around the table to the side nearest the door.

“You must hear me, monsieur,” he said, calmly. “I offer you friendship and a proposition which cannot but be to your advantage.” Ferrers had turned, but his head shook in refusal.

“There can be but one proposition between us, Mornay.”

Mornay shrugged his shoulders.

“Captain Cornbury,” he said, “will you have the kindness to arrange with Monsieur de Wynne?”

He stopped, bit his lip a moment, then turned to Ferrers once more. “I entreat you to listen to me. I have told you that I was the Vicomte de Bresac. No, it is no jest. I am René d’Añasco. Eh bien. One day I shall prove it. What I ask is only to save a little time.”

He moved nearer to the Englishman, until he could have touched him with his outstretched arm.


“Listen, monsieur. If you will but give me the papers—”

There was a motion—if ever so slight—of the fingers of Ferrers’s right hand. Only Mornay saw it. But it was enough. He sprang forward upon the man, and Ferrers’s whistle never reached his lips. In his wish to give the alarm he did not attempt to draw his fire-arm until Mornay’s hands and arms had pinioned him like a vise. All the fury of a life of longing was in that grasp. It seemed as though the years of sweat and privation had wrought upon his will and energy for this particular moment. He bore the Englishman back until his head struck the wall, and they came to the floor together. At the first sign of trouble, Wynne had started for the door, but Cornbury was there ahead of him. Not until then had there been a word spoken, a cry uttered; but now, almost at the same instant that Mornay and Ferrers crashed to the floor, Wynne set up a loud cry, which resounded down the corridor and stairs. In a moment there was a sound of tumbling furniture, and the cries of men seemed to come from[98] every part of the building. But Vigot and his two fellows from above were first upon the landing, and set so vigorously upon the men mounting the stairs that their ascent was halted and they were thrown back in confusion.

In the meanwhile the struggle between Mornay and Ferrers continued. The Englishman had found his voice, and between his cries and curses and the clashing of the steel of Cornbury and Wynne the room was now a very bedlam of sound. Either the blow of his head at the wall or the sudden fury of Mornay’s assault had given the Frenchman the advantage, for Ferrers lay prone upon the floor, and, though he shouted and struggled, both of his wrists were held helpless in one of Mornay’s sinewy hands.

Suddenly Monsieur Mornay sprang away from the Englishman and to his feet, waving in his hands a packet of papers. He rushed past Cornbury and Wynne to the table, his eyes gleaming with excitement. With a fascination which made him oblivious to everything but his one overmastering passion, he tore the cover from the packet and examined the papers in the[99] glare of the candles. In one of them he saw the name D’Añasco. It was enough.

None but a desperate man would have done so foolhardy a thing at such a time. Captain Ferrers was not slow to take advantage of his opportunity. He struggled painfully to his knee, and, drawing his pistol, took a careful aim and fired at the Frenchman. Mornay’s wig twitched and fell off among the candles. He staggered forward and dropped like a drunken man, his elbows on the table. Ferrers reached his feet, and, drawing his sword, made for the door. But Mornay was only stunned.

“Vigot! Vigot!” he shouted, rising. “Prenez garde, Vigot!”

But before Vigot could turn, Captain Ferrers had rushed out and thrust the unfortunate servant through the back. As Mornay saw Vigot go down he sprang after the Englishman into the corridor. Ferrers had set upon one of the fellows in the passageway at the same time that another and more determined attack was made from below. For a moment it seemed as though the constables had gained the landing.[100] They would have done so had not Mornay, with an incomparable swiftness, engaged Ferrers and driven him step by step to the stairs, where at last he fell back and down into the arms of the men below. At this moment Cornbury, having disabled Wynne, came running to Mornay’s assistance with two heavy benches, which were thrown down the stairs into the thick of the men below, so that they fell back, groaning and bruised, to the foot of the stairway. Then, without the pause of a moment, Mornay dashed out the lights, and, carrying Vigot, ordered a retreat up the second flight of steps.

Vigot had a mortal wound and was even then at the point of death.

“Monsieur,” he said, faintly, “c’est fini! Laissez-moi!”

There were some heavy chests of drawers in the corridor above, and Mornay directed that these be piled for a barricade. The stairway was here very narrow and but one man could come up at a time. So two chests were balanced on the incline of the stairs and two more were ready at the top to replace the others.[101] When this was done, Mornay sent Quinn and Trice up to the next floor to gain the roof and find a way to the street.

When they were gone, Mornay leaned over the dying man upon the floor.

“My poor Vigot,” he said.

“Laissez-moi, monsieur,” whispered Vigot. “C’est fini. They cannot hurt me. Over the roof a window is open into the garret of the mercer’s. Go, but quickly, monsieur—quickly.”

Mornay tried to lift him, but a deep groan broke from his breast.

“Non, monsieur, non.”

Mornay and Cornbury lifted him, and, placing him on a bed in one of the rooms, quietly closed the door.

By this time the men below had reached the landing. Mornay had one advantage. While the movements of the figures below were plainly to be seen, there was no light above, and the Frenchman knew that the constables could not tell whether his party were one or six. It was plain that they did not relish an attack on the dark stairway. If they had not been able to gain[102] the landing below, how could they expect to fare better here? They caught a glimpse of the dim outline of the chests of the barricade, but beyond that all was black and forbidding.

Mornay and Cornbury only waited long enough to give the fellows above a chance to get over the roof, when they, too, quickly followed. As they crawled out of the window they heard the voice of Ferrers cursing the men for laggards, and at last a clatter of feet and the fall of one of the chests down the stairs.

They made their way stealthily but quickly across the leads to the dormer-window of the mercer’s shop, where they saw Trice beckoning. With a last backward glance they stole into the room. Its inmate was sitting upright in bed. Quinn was binding and gagging him with a kerchief and a sheet. They shut the window and took the key from the door, and passing into the hallway, locked their man in his room. It was none too soon, for a sound of shouts above announced that their escape was discovered. Upon this Cornbury threw discretion to the winds, and with drawn sword went down the[103] stairs three steps at a time. The rickety stairs swayed and groaned under this noisy invasion, doors opened, and nightcapped heads with frightened faces peered from narrow doorways. There was a lantern burning in a sconce upon the wall. This Mornay seized as he passed. At the head of the first flight the mercer came out. But Cornbury stuck him in the leg with the point of his sword, and, seizing him by the back of the neck, pushed and dragged him down the stairs.

“The way out, ye vermin!” he said. “Quick! No. Not the front—the back door.”

The man was sallow with terror.

“The b-back door?” he chattered. “There is no back door.”

“A window, then,” jerked out Cornbury. “Quick!” There was a warning prod of the sword. The man cried out, but staggered through the mercer’s shop into a passage. Mornay and Cornbury thrust ahead of him.

“Which way?” they cried, in unison.

He indicated a window. When it was opened they saw it was not six feet from the ground.


By this time the whole neighborhood was aroused, and cries and shouts resounded in all quarters. Mornay had put the light out, and, pausing not a moment, stepped over the sill and let himself down into a kind of roofed alley or court which ran between the rear portions of the buildings. While Mornay covered the landlord to keep him silent, Cornbury and the others quickly followed. Without waiting a moment, the four men gathered themselves into a compact body and dashed down the alley as fast as they could run. It was a case now for speed and stout blows. There was a turn in the alley before it reached the street. It was on rounding this that they came full into the midst of a party of men who were running in to meet them. The surprise was mutual. All the commotion had been on the roof and in the main street, and there was so much noise that the constables had not even heard the footfalls around the corner. But Mornay’s men had the advantage of being on the offensive. There was a hurried discharge of firearms, and a shout broke from Bill Quinn, but he kept on running. Cornbury[105] fired his pistol at one man and then threw the weapon full at another who cut at him with a pike. In a moment they were through and in the street. A scattering of shots sent the dust and stones flying from a wall beside them, but the moon was gone and aim was uncertain. The shouting had increased and the sound of footfalls was just behind.

“Which way?” said Mornay.

“Straight ahead,” replied Cornbury. “To the river afterwards. Our chances with a boat are best.”

They turned into a dark street, and Trice, who was slender and nimble-footed, led the way into the darkness with the speed of a deer. He wound in and out of alleys and narrow streets where the shadows were deeper, closely followed by Mornay and Cornbury. The pace was so rapid that Quinn was nearly spent. Seeing that if he were not heartened he would be taken, Mornay slackened and came back beside him. As he glanced around he saw that two men were approaching rapidly not a hundred yards away.


“There’s nothing for it,” panted Cornbury. “If I had a pistol I could wing the man in front.” Mornay drew his own from his pocket and handed it to him. Cornbury leaned against a wall and carefully fired. With a shout the man clapped his hand to his leg. He hobbled a few paces, and then fell head over heels into the gutter. With singular discretion the other man slackened his speed and stopped to await his fellows, who were coming up in a body not far behind.

Tom Trice had disappeared, but the river was not far distant. Cornbury saw the shimmer of it and said so to poor Quinn. This plucked up his courage, and with a hand at either arm he managed to make so good a progress that they had crossed the wide docks and tumbled into a boat before the first of their pursuers had emerged from the darkness. Quinn fell like a gasping fish under the thwarts, but Cornbury and Mornay pulled at the oars with such vigor that before a single black figure appeared upon the coping of the dock they had put fifty feet of water between themselves and the shore. There[107] was a splash of light—and another—and the bullets spat viciously around them. But they kept on pulling, and made the lee of a barge not far away in safety. When they heard the constables clatter down into one of the boats, they took off their doublets and pulled for their lives. The tide was running out, and they shot the bridge like an arrow, but they could see the black mass of the boat of their pursuers as it stole, like some huge black bug, from the inky reflection into the gray of the open water. There was a patch of light under the bows, and the frequent glimmer of the wind-swept sky upon the oars was far too rapid and steady for their comfort. A fellow stood up in the stern, giving the word for the oarsmen, and, hard as the fugitives pulled, the boat gained steadily upon them. Bill Quinn was useless, and, even had he been able to row, there were only two pairs of oars. So they set him to loading the pistols, while they cast their eyes over their shoulders in search of a place of refuge. They knew if they made immediately for the shore they would fall too probably into the hands of[108] the watch, for the streets here were wider and there were fewer places for concealment than in the thickly settled part of the city which they had left. Their course was set directly across the bows of a large vessel getting under way. The anchor had clanked up to the bows, and there was a creak of halyard and sheet-block as her canvases took the wind, a clamor of hoarse orders mingled with oaths and the sound of maudlin singing. But the boat of the constables was every moment splashing nearer and nearer, and Mornay, seeing escape by this means impossible, determined to lay aboard the ship and take his chances. Accordingly they stopped rowing and waited until the vessel should gather way enough to come up with them. When the black boat-load of men saw this they gave a cheer, for they thought themselves certain of their game. For answer there was a volley from three pistols, which sent one man into the bottom of the boat, so that the oars upon one side caught so badly in the water that the boat slewed around from her course and lost her way in the water.


At the sound of the shots a dozen heads appeared in the bows of the ship, which was coming up rapidly.

“What ho, there!” yelled a heavy voice. “Out o’ the way, or I’ll run ye down!”

Cornbury and Quinn arose to their feet, but Mornay sat at his oars, keeping the boat broadside to the approaching vessel.

“Jump before she strikes, man—the fore-chains and spritsail-rigging.”

The huge fabric loomed like a pall upon the sky, and they could see two long lines of foam springing away from the forefoot, which was coming nearer—nearer.

“Look alive there!” shouted the gruff voice again.

There was a grinding crash as Cornbury and Quinn sprang for the rigging. Quinn struck his head upon a steel stay, and had not the strength to haul himself clear of the water. With a cry he fell back into the submerged boat. Mornay waited a moment too long, and the vessel struck him fairly in the body. He, too, fell back into the water, but as he was tossed[110] aside he fell as by a miracle into the friendly arms of the anchor, which, not having been hauled clear, dragged just at the surface of the water. With an effort he pulled himself up, and at last climbed upon the stock, and so to the deck unharmed.

A cluster of dark faces surrounded him, and a short, broad man, with a black beard and rings in his ears, thrust his way through. He looked at the shivering and dripping figures before him with a laugh.

“Soho! Soho! Just in the very nick of the hoccasion, my bullies. ’Ere be three beauties. Ha! ha! Jail-birds at a guinea a ’ead!”

There was a sound of cries and the clatter of oars; but the vessel was moving rapidly through the water, and the constables were rapidly left astern.

“In the King’s name,” shouted the voice of Captain Ferrers, “let me aboard!”

The man with the black beard ran aft and leaned over the rail towards the boat which was struggling in the water.


“An’ who might you be!” he roared.

“I represent the law,” cried Ferrers, and his voice seemed dimmer in the distance. “These men are officers of the King, to arrest—” The remainder of the sentence was caught in the winds and blown away.

The black-bearded man slapped his leg. “The law! The law!” he shouted. Then he made a trumpet of his hands to make his meaning clear, and roared, “Go to ’ell!” He clapped his hand to his thigh and laughed immoderately.

Monsieur Mornay, who had been looking aft over the bulwarks, saw the figure of Ferrers stand up in the stern-sheets and shake his fist at the vessel. Then the boat pulled around to the half-sunken craft which the fugitives had abandoned. All in dark shadow they saw Quinn pulled out of the water by the constables, and then the figures leaned over again and lifted something out of the water and passed it to the figure in the stern.

The Frenchman took Cornbury wildly by the arm.


“God, God!” he cried. “My doublet! The papers were in my doublet!” He put a hand upon the rail and would have jumped into the water if Cornbury had not seized him and held him until the fit was past.



After Monsieur Mornay’s coach had rumbled away, Mistress Barbara excused herself to Captain Ferrers and threw herself upon her couch in poignant distress and indecision. Why she had hated this Monsieur Mornay so she could not for her life have told herself. Perhaps it was that she had begun by hating him. But now, when he had killed her friend and counsellor and had used violent means to approach and coerce her—now when she had every right and reason for hating him, she made the sudden discovery that she did not. The shock of it came over her like the sight of her disordered countenance in the mirror. The instinct and habit of defense, amplified by a nameless apprehension in the presence of the man, had excited her imagination so that she had been willing to believe anything of him in[114] order to justify her conscience for her cruelty. But now that he was gone—in all probability to the gallows—and she was no longer harassed by the thought of his presence, she underwent a strange revulsion of feeling. She knew it was not pity she felt for him. It would be hard, she thought, to speak of pity and Monsieur Mornay in the same breath. It was something else—something that put her pride at odds with her conscience, her mind at odds with her heart. She lay upon the couch dry-eyed, clasping and unclasping her hands. What was he to her that she should give him the high dignity of a thought? Why should the coming or the going of such a man as he—scapegrace, gambler, duelist, and now fugitive from justice—make the difference of a jot to a woman who had the proudest in England at her feet? Fugitive from justice! Ah, God! Why were men such fools? Here was a brave man, scapegrace and gambler if you like, but gallant sailor, soldier, and chevalier of France, a favorite of fortune, who, through that law of nature by which men rise or sink to their own level, had achieved a position[115] in which he consorted with kings, dukes, and princes of the realm, and boasted of a king for an intimate. In a moment he had rendered at naught the struggles of years—had tossed aside, as one would discard a worn-out hat or glove, all chances of future preferment in France and England—all for a foolish whim, for a pair of silly gray eyes. She hid her face in her arms. Fools! all fools!

She hated herself that she did not hate Monsieur Mornay. Struggle as she would, now that he was gone she knew that the impulsive words that she had used when she had spurned him had sprung from no origin of thought or reflection, but were the rebellious utterings of anger at his intrusion—of resentment and uncharity at the tale he told. But what if it were true? She sat upright, and with a struggle tried dispassionately and calmly to go over, one by one, each word of his speech, each incident of his bearing, as he told his portentous story of the secrets of her family. How had Monsieur Mornay come into possession of all this information? She knew that Eloise de Bresac had died in France[116] and that the Duke of Nemours had sent the body to be buried on the estates in Normandy, where it lay in the family tomb. She knew that Sir Henry Heywood’s intimacy with the Duke was of long standing, and that there was a mystery in regard to the death of this daughter of the house which had never been explained to her. Her grandfather had been ill at the time, she remembered, and had died before Sir Henry Heywood and her father—who had gone to France—had returned. The story of the Frenchman tallied strangely with the facts as she knew them. How did Mornay know of the unfortunate woman’s death at Amiens? Was the story of the Spaniard D’Añasco invented to comport with the family’s traditionary hatred of the Spanish? Were the names Castillano, of the ship, and Ruiz, of the boy, mere fabrications, to achieve an end? How did he know these things? The family history of the Bresacs was not an open book to all the world. No one but Sir Henry Heywood and herself had known of the visits to Paris and the death-place of Eloise.


And Captain Ferrers! How could she explain his loss of countenance when the tale was told? What papers were these the very mention of which could deprive him of his self-possession? And what reason had he for keeping papers referring to her estate from her knowledge? They were matters which put her mind upon a rack of indecision. She should know, and at once. The Frenchman had planned well. He had proved that Captain Ferrers was concealing something from her—of this she was confident; although in her discovery she had scorned to show Mornay that she believed him in anything. If Sir Henry Heywood had intrusted matters pertaining to the estate to Captain Ferrers, she was resolved that she should know what they were. She judged from his actions that Captain Ferrers had reasons for wishing these papers kept from her; she therefore resolved to learn what they contained. If he would not give them to her—and this she thought possible—she would meet him in a different spirit and try with art and diplomacy what she might not accomplish by straightforward methods.


“What if Mornay’s tale were true?” she asked herself again. “What if these papers were the secret proofs of the marriage of Eloise de Bresac and of the birth of a son and heir to the estates in accordance with her grandfather’s will? What if Monsieur Mornay could prove that he was Ruiz, son of D’Añasco, and had sailed from Valencia upon the Castillano?” In the cool light of her reasoning it did not seem impossible. She recalled the face of Monsieur Mornay and read him again to herself. It seemed as though every expression and modulation of his voice had been burned upon her memory. Had he flinched—had he quivered an eyelash? Had he not borne the face and figure of an honest man? Argue with herself as she might, she had only to compare the bearing of the Frenchman with that of Stephen Ferrers for an answer to her questions.

She arose and walked to the table by the window. The sun was setting in an effusion of red, picking out the chimney-pots and gables opposite in crimson splendor, glorifying the somber things it touched in magnificent detail.


She looked long—until the top of the very highest chimney-pots became again a somber blur against the greenish glow of the east.

“I shall know,” she murmured at last. “At whatever cost, Captain Ferrers shall tell me.”

And before the captain arrived the next day she had resolved upon a plan of action. In justice to Monsieur Mornay, she would give his tale the most exhaustive test. For the sake of the experiment she would assume that it was true. But if it were, and she believed it, the difficulty lay in getting Captain Ferrers to acknowledge anything. She must deceive him. If her deception did not avail, she would try something else; but of one thing she was resolved—that tell he should, or all the friendship she bore him should cease forever.

Captain Ferrers wore a jubilant look as he came in the door.

“My service, Barbara. You are better, I hope.”

She smiled. “Well?”

“He’s gone. Escaped us last night and got[120] to ship in the river. By this time he is well into the Channel.”

Mistress Barbara frowned perceptibly.

“You have allowed him to get away?” she asked, her eyebrows upraised.

“Yes,” he muttered; “a very demon possesses the man. If I had my way the fellow should never have left this room.”

She motioned to a seat beside her.

“Tell me about it,” she said.

He sat and told her such of the happenings at the Fleece Tavern as he thought well for her to hear, but he omitted to mention the rape of the papers from his pockets. Of this attack he said:

“After all, the fellow is but a common blusterer and bully. He waited for his chance and then set upon me like a fish-monger.”

Her eyes sparkled. “And you?” she asked.

“He had me off my guard, but as he broke away from me I shot at him”—he paused for a word—“as I would at a common thief.”

“And you did not kill him?” The words fell cold and impassive from her lips.


He looked at her in some surprise. She had set her teeth, and her hands were tightly clasped upon her knees, but her eyes were looking straight before her and gave no sign of any emotion.

“Why, Barbara,” he said, “’tis truly a mighty hatred you have for the fellow! I thought if you were rid of him—”

“I despise him!” she cried, vehemently. “I hate him!”

Captain Ferrers paused a moment, and the smile that crossed his lips told her how sweet her words sounded in his ears.

“Ever since he has been in London,” she went on, coolly, “he has crossed my path at every rout and levee. Wherever I’d turn I’d see his eyes fixed upon me. From such a man it was an insult. His attentions were odious.” She gave a hard, dry little laugh. “Why could he not have been killed then—before he told me this fine tale of his right to my fortunes and estates—”

“But surely you don’t believe—” Ferrers broke in.


“I do and I do not,” she said, carefully considering her reply. “It is a plain tale, and he tells it well, whether it be likely or unlikely.”

“Why, Barbara, ’tis a palpable lie! Can you not see—”

“I can and I cannot,” she said, evenly. Then she turned around, so that she looked full in his eyes. “I care not whether he be the heir or no—I would not listen to his pleadings were he my cousin thrice over.”

Captain Ferrers laughed.

“’Tis plain he has not endeared himself, mistress mine”; and then, with lowered voice and glance full of meaning, “Do you really mean that you hate him so?”

It was the first time that his manner had given a hint of a secret. She turned her head away and looked at the opposite wall.

“I do,” she replied, firmly. “I do hate him with all my heart.”

Ferrers leaned towards her and laid his hand upon one of hers. She did not withdraw it—her fingers even moved a little as though in response to his touch.


“Barbara, this man”—he paused to look down while he fingered one of her rings—“is an impostor. But if he were not, would you—would you—still wish him dead?”

She looked around at him in surprise.

“Why, what—’tis a strange question. Is there a chance that it is true—that he is what he says?”

He halted at this abrupt questioning and did not meet her eye. “No, Barbara, I have not said so. But suppose he were the real Vicomte de Bresac, would you still wish him dead?”

It was her turn to be discomfited. She averted her head, and her eyes moved restlessly from one object upon the table to another.

“Have I not told you that I hate him?” she said; the voice was almost a whisper. Ferrers looked at her as though he would read the inmost depths of her heart. She met his eyes a moment and then smiled with a little bitter irony that had a touch of melancholy in it.

“Can I find it pleasant thinking,” she went on, “that the houses, the lands, the people who[124] owe me allegiance, my goods, my habits, my very life, are not mine, but another’s?”

A look of satisfaction crossed Captain Ferrers’s face. He relinquished her hand and arose.

“What nonsense is this, Barbara, to be bothering your pretty head about such a matter! Zounds, dear lady, it is the silliest thing imaginable!”

“Nay,” she said, with a gesture of annoyance and a woful look that was only half assumed—“nay, it is no nonsense or silliness. Should Monsieur Mornay come back, my quandary becomes as grievous as ever.”

Ferrers had been pacing up and down, his hands behind his back. “He will not come back. Besides, what could he prove?” He stopped before her.

She did not answer, but, trembling, waited for him to continue.

“Listen, Barbara. There has been something I have had in my mind to tell you. The Frenchman’s story has made some impression upon you.”


She looked up almost plaintively. “How could it fail?” Then she went on, for his encouragement: “It would make no difference to me whether he is the heir or no. So why should it make a difference to you?”

“That decides me. The fellow is gone forever. He will never cross your path again. You think your quandary is grievous. Even if the fellow came back, what could he prove? Nothing. I will tell you why. Because the only proofs of another heir to the estate are in my possession.”

It was out at last. The thing she half hoped yet most dreaded to hear rang in her ears. She got up, making no effort to conceal her emotion, and, walking to a window, leaned heavily upon the back of a chair.

“The proof—the papers—are in your possession?” And then, with an attempt at gayety which rang somewhat discordantly, “’Tis fortunate that they still remain in the hands of my friends.”

“I have been through fire and water for them, dear Barbara, and will go again if need be.[126] Last Wednesday night these papers were given me in sacred trust to safely keep or destroy. It were better had I destroyed them. As you know, my regiment is about to take the field. I have but just changed my lodgings, and had no place of security for them. So since then I have carried them upon my person, until I could place them safely.” And then he told her how they had been taken from him by Mornay, and how he had recovered them, to his surprise and delight, somewhat moist but perfectly legible, from the doublet in the boat which was sunk by the vessel in the river. She listened to him with eyes that spoke volumes of her interest and wonder. When that was done she asked him more of the secret. And he told her how her guardian had so long kept it from her, and how Captain Cornbury had carried the story to Mornay. He broke off suddenly and went over to where she stood.

“Barbara, can you not put this matter from your mind? Will you ruin our day with this silly business? Have you no word for me? Have you no thought for me—no answer to the[127] question that is forever on my lips, in my eyes and heart?”

She looked around at him, her clear eyes smiling up with an expression he could not fathom. The level brows were calm and judicial—the eyes, though smiling, were cognizant and searching.

“The lips—yes, Stephen,” said she, in a tantalizing way; “the eyes—a little, perhaps; but the heart”—she dropped her eyes and turned her head away—“the heart of man is a mystery.”

But Captain Ferrers was undaunted. He took in his the hand that hung at her side.

“Why, Barbara,” he said, “have I not given you all my devotion? Can you not learn—”

She drew a little away from him.

“I am but a dumb scholar.”

“Then do not add deafness to your failings. Listen to me. I have asked you again and again the same question. Answer me now, Barbara. Promise me that you will—”

She had turned around and faced him, looking him full in the eyes.


“What would you do for me if I promised you what you wish?”

“By my love! anything—anything in my power to win, anything in my gift to bestow.”

She smiled gayly. “Very well,” she said, “I shall begin at once. First, I shall want the papers in your possession.”

His face clouded; he dropped her hand and fell back a pace or two.

“The proofs—”

“The very same,” she said, coolly.

“My trust!” he exclaimed. “I have sworn to keep them secret or destroy them!”

She turned away pettishly.

“So much for your love, Captain Ferrers. You swear to give me anything. The first favor I ask, you refuse.”

“But my honor, Barbara. You would not have me break oath with the dead?”

“Will you give me the papers?” she asked again, imperturbably. He looked at her uncertainly.

“And if I do not give them to you?”


“Then you may go.” She pointed imperiously to the door.

“You are cruel. And if I do give them?”

Her face lighted.

“Ah. If you give them, perhaps—”

He leaned forward. “Well?”

“Perhaps—perhaps—you may have an answer.”

When he took her hand again she gave it to him unresistingly. “If I give you these papers, will you promise me—to be my wife?”

She had attained her end and at the price she had expected to pay. And yet she hesitated. She dropped her head and her figure seemed to relax and grow smaller under his touch. He leaned over her, expectancy and delight written upon his features.

“Will you promise, Barbara?” he repeated.

She straightened her head, but did not draw away as she answered, at last:

“I will.”

He put his hands in his breast, and, drawing out the packet, laid it before her upon the table.

“There is my honor, Barbara. Take it. I[130] give it to you willingly—as I give you my life.”

She took the packet of papers and looked at the blurred writing upon the outside. Captain Ferrers made a step towards her, and, taking her hand again, would have drawn her towards him. But as he approached and she felt his breath warm upon her cheek, a change came over her and she drew back and away from him to the other side of the table.

Captain Ferrers could not understand. His brows knit angrily.

“How now, Barbara—” he began.

“Not to-day, Stephen. Not to-day, I pray you.” She was half smiling, half crying. “Can you not see I am overwrought with my grief and worries? Leave me for the day. I will requite you better another time.”

She fell upon the couch and buried her face in her hands. Captain Ferrers looked at her quizzically for a moment, but the smile at his lips was not a pleasant one. Then he tossed his chin and walked towards the door.

“Very well, then! Until to-morrow.” He took his hat and was gone.


For some moments Mistress Barbara lay there as one stricken and unable to move. But at last, with a struggle, she broke the seal of the packet which she had held tightly clutched in her hand. Then, while the sun gilded again the chimney-pots opposite her, one by one she read over the papers before her—the attestation of the nurse, Marie Graillot, and the witnesses, Anton Gratz and Pierre Dauvet; the last testament of Eloise de Bresac, and her confession; the statement of the priest who had confessed her, and the description of the child; all sworn and properly subscribed to before an official of the parish of Saint-Jacques. Then there were some letters from Juan d’Añasco, clear proof of Henry Heywood and Wilfred Clerke’s complicity in the plot. The tears came to her eyes and made even dimmer the blur of the ink in the faded documents. At last the letters became indistinct, and she could read no more.

Far into the night she lay there. Her duenna would have entered, but she sent her away. Servants came with food, but she refused to eat.[132] At last, when the reflection from the passing links no longer flashed in fiery red across her ceiling, and the sounds of the street were no longer loud or frequent, she arose, and, putting her head out of the window, looked up at the quiet stars. The cool air bathed her brow, and the tranquillity and all-pervading equality of peace helped her to her resolution.

The next day, as Captain Stephen Ferrers presented himself at Mistress Clerke’s lodgings, he was given a letter.

This is the cry of a soul that suffers [it ran]. I have read one by one the papers you have given me, and from them an iron resolution has been forged—forged with the warmth of passion and tempered with the wet of tears. Yesterday I was your promised wife. Unless you wish to be released, I am the same to-day. But this morning every estate that I possess, every revenue—all my fortune, in fact, down to the last penny—has been placed under the Crown, where it will remain until the rightful heir of the estates of De Bresac is found. Believe me, this decision of mine is irrevocable. If you would claim me for yourself under these new conditions, I shall still be the same to you.



Captain Ferrers left the house in some haste. A week later he went to France upon a commission to purchase guns for the Royal Artillery. And Mistress Barbara Clerke sailed as duenna to Señorita de Batteville, the daughter of the Spanish Ambassador, to visit the señorita’s uncle, who was governor of a castle at Porto Bello, upon the Spanish Main.



Monsieur Mornay and his companions made but a sorry spectacle upon the decks of the vessel aboard of which the hand of destiny had so fortuitously tumbled them. The Frenchman had lost his doublet, hat, and periwig, the blood flowed freely from a wound in his head, and his bowed figure was slim and lean in his clinging and dripping garments. The Irishman stood near, with one hand upon the Frenchman’s shoulder, watching him narrowly, fearful that in another mad moment he might throw himself overboard after his lost heritage. But Monsieur Mornay made no move to struggle further. He stood supine and subordinate to his fate. The light of battle which had so recently illumined them shone in his eyes no more. And the head which by the grace of God had been raised last night so that he could look every[135] man level in the eyes was now sunk into his shoulders—not in humiliation or abasement, but in a silent acquiescence to the whelming sense of defeat that was his.

Cornbury, his red poll glowing a dull ember in the moonlight, stood by the side of his friend, erect, smiling—his usual inscrutable self. Presently, when a lantern had been brought, the man with the black beard came forward again and placed himself, arms akimbo, before the bedraggled figures of the fugitives. His voice was coarse and thick, like his face and body. As he leaned sideways to accommodate the squint of one eye and looked at them in high humor, an odor of garlic and brandy proclaimed itself so generously that even the rising breeze could not whip it away.

“Soho!” he said again. “Soho! soho!” while he swayed drunkenly from one foot to the other. “Queer fishin’ even for the Thames, mateys. Soho! If there be luck in hodd numbers, then ’ere’s the very luck o’ Danny McGraw, for of all the hoddities— Ho, Redhead, whither was ye bound? Newgate or Tyburn or[136] the Tower? The Tower? Ye aren’t got much o’ the hair o’ prisoners o’ state.”

Cornbury looked him over coolly, and then, with a laugh, “Bedad, my dear man, we’d had a smell of all three, I’m thinking.”

By this time half the crew of the vessel were gathered in a leering and grinning circle.

“Pst!” said one; “’tis the Duke o’ York in dishguise.”

“The Duke o’ York,” said another. “Ai! yi! an’ the little one’s the Prince o’ Wales.”

Blackbeard thrust his nose under that of the Irishman. “Well, Redhead,” he cried, “wot’s the crime? Murder or thieving or harson?” To lend force to his query he clapped his hand down upon Cornbury’s shoulder. The Irishman’s eyes gleamed and his hand went to his side, but he forgot that his weapon was no longer there. He shrugged a careless shoulder and drew away a pace.

“Whist!” he said, good-humoredly; “’tis the King I’ve just killed.”

“Yaw! ’Tis the red of the blood-royal upon[137] his head,” said the drunkard, amid a wild chorus of laughter.

Here a tall figure thrust through the grinning crowd, which gave back a step at the sound of his voice.

“Nom d’un nom!” he cried. “They shiver with the cold. A drink and a dip in the slop-chest is more to the point—eh, captain?” Blackbeard swayed stupidly again, and, with a growl that might have meant anything, rolled aft and down below. The tall man took the lantern and led the way into the forecastle, whither the fugitives followed him. But it was not until they got within the glare of the forecastle lantern that they discovered what manner of man it was to whom they owed this benefaction. He was tall and thin, and his long, bony arms hung heavily from narrow shoulders, which seemed hardly stout enough to sustain their weight. From a thick thatch of tangled beard and hair, a long, scrawny neck thrust forward peeringly, like that of a plucked fowl; and at the end of it a smallish head, with a hooked nose, black, beady eyes, and great, projecting[138] ears was bonneted in a tight-fitting woolen cap which made more prominent these eccentricities of nature. This astonishing figure would have seemed emaciated but for a certain deceptive largeness of bone and sinew. His nether half ended in a pair of long shanks attired in baggy trousers and boots, between which two bony knees, very much bowed, were visible. By his manner he might have been English, by his language French, by his ugliness anything from a pirate to an evil dream of the Devil.

Monsieur Mornay had reached the forecastle in a kind of stupefaction, and it was not until the ugly man returned from below with some dry clothing and a bottle of brandy that he came broadly awake. Then, wet and shivering, he threw aside his shirt and drank a generous tinful of grateful liquor, which sent a glow of warmth to the very marrow of his chilled bones. For the first time he glanced at his benefactor.

Mille Dieux!” he cried, in joyful surprise. “Jacquard!” The tall man bent forward till his neck seemed to start from its fastenings.

“By the Devil’s Pot! why, what—wh—? It[139] cannot be—Monsieur le Chevalier! Is it you?”

In his surprise he dropped the bottle from his hand, and the liquor ran a dark stream upon the deck; but, regardless, he made two strides to Mornay’s side, and, taking him by the shoulders, looked him eagerly in the face. “It is! It is! Holy Virgin, Monsieur le Capitaine, how came you here?”

Cornbury had never looked upon so ill-assorted a pair, but watched them stand, hand clasped in hand, each looking into the face of the other.

“A small world, Jacquard! How came you to leave Rochelle?”

“Oh, Monsieur,” said the other, wagging his head, “times are not what they have been. The sea has called me again. My flesh dried upon my bones. I could not stay longer ashore. And a profitable venture—a profitable venture—”

“Honest, Jacquard! Where do ye go?”

“Monsieur, the Saucy Sally is no proper ship for you.” He moved his head with a curious solemnity from side to side. “No place for you—we go a long voyage, monsieur,” and[140] he broke off abruptly. “But tell me how came you in such straits as these?” Then Monsieur Mornay told Jacquard briefly of the fight in the Fleece Tavern and of their escape, and after this Cornbury learned how Jacquard had been the Chevalier Mornay’s cockswain upon the Dieu Merci in the Marine of France. But through it all Jacquard preserved a solemn and puzzled expression, which struggled curiously with his look of delight at the sight of Mornay. At last, unable longer to contain himself, he glanced stealthily around to where the men were swinging their hammocks, and said, in a kind of shouting whisper:

“Monsieur, you cannot stay upon the Saucy Sally. To-morrow, before we leave the Channel, you must get ashore.”

Mornay looked curiously at the man. “Why, Jacquard! You, too? Your Sally is none so hospitable a lass, after all. Upon my faith, ’tis too bad in an old shipmate. I had but just coaxed myself into a desire to stay, and—here—”

Jacquard’s face was a study in perplexities.[141] He drew the fugitives to a small room, or closet. When the door was shut he sat down, his mouth and face writhing with the import of the information he could not bring himself to convey.

“Ods-life, man,” growled Cornbury, “have ye the twitches? Speak out!”

“Monsieur le Chevalier,” said Jacquard, “’tis no cruise for you. We go to the Havana and Maracaibo and—” He hesitated again.

“Out with it before ye get in irons. Ye hang in the wind like a fluttering maid.”

“Well, monsieur, we are a flibustier—no more, no less,” he growled. “Voilà, you have it. I had hoped—”

To his surprise, Monsieur Mornay broke into a wild laugh. “You, Jacquard—honest Jacquard—a farbon, a pirato?”

“Well, not just that, monsieur—a flibustier,” he said, sulkily. “There is a difference. Besides, the times were bad. I went to the Spanish Main—”

“And became a boucanier—”

“Monsieur, listen. We are not a common pirato. No, monsieur. This ship is owned by a[142] person high in authority, and Captain Billee Winch bears a warrant from the King. Under this we make a judicious war upon the ships of Spain and none other. We have taken their ships in honest warfare, with much mercy and compassion.”

“A very prodigy of virtue. Your Sally is too trim a maiden to be altogether honest, eh?” Mornay paused a moment, looking at his old shipmate, then burst into a loud laugh.

“Bah, Jacquard! sail with you I will, whether or no. I am at odds with the world. From to-night, I, too, am a flibustier. If I cannot go in the cabin, aft, I will go in the forecastle; if not as master, as man. Pardieu, as the very lowest and blackest devil of you all—”

“You, monsieur—you!”

“Yes, I. I have squeezed life dry, Jacquard. I have given my best in the service of honor and pride. They have given me rank and empty honors, and all the while have kept me from my dearest desire. From to-night virtue and I are things apart. I throw her from me as I would throw a sour lemon.”


“A pirato!” Cornbury came around and placed a hand upon each of the Frenchman’s shoulders, while he looked him straight in the eyes. “Monsieur le Chevalier,” he said, soberly—“Monsieur de Bresac—”

At the sound of that name he had staked so much to win, the Frenchman dropped his eyes before the steady gaze of the Irishman. But if his poor heart trembled, his body did not. Slowly but firmly he grasped the wrists of his friend and brought his hands down between them.

“No, no, Cornbury,” he said; “it must not be. That sacred name—even that—will not deter me. It is done. May she who bears it find less emptiness in honor and life than I. I wish her no evil, but I pray that we may never meet, or the fate which makes men forget their manhood, as I forget mine to-night, may awake the sleeping God in me to living devil, and demand that I make of her a very living sacrifice upon its very altar—”

“René, I pray you!” cried Cornbury. Mornay did not even hear him.


“I yield at last. From the time I came into the world I have been the very creature of fate. I have struck my colors, Cornbury. I have hauled down my gay pennons. I have left my ship.” He leaned for a moment brokenly upon the bulkhead. But before Cornbury could speak he started up. “No, no. Vice shall command here if she will. She will be but a poor mistress can she not serve me better than Ambition and Honor. Come, Cornbury. Come to the Spanish Main. There’ll be the crash of fight once more and a dip into the wild life that brings forgetfulness. Come, Cornbury.”

Jacquard, who had been listening to this mad speech with his mouth as wide agape as his eyes and ears, rose to his feet.

“Monsieur,” he asked, joyfully, “you will go with us to the Spanish Main?”

“Yes, yes!”

“And be a common boucanier, a cutthroat?” said Cornbury the ironical.


“But, man, you have no position here; ye’ll be[145] cuffed and beaten—maybe shot by yon drunken captain—”

“I’ve been beaten before—”

“Monsieur,” gladly broke in Jacquard, upon whom the light had dawned at last—“monsieur, I am second in command here, and half the crew are French. I’m not without authority upon them. Set your mind at rest. With these men you shall have fair play.” He paused, scratching his head. “With the captain it is another matter—”

“Bah, Jacquard! I’ve weathered worse storms. Your captain is a stubborn dog, but I’ve a fancy he barks the loudest when in drink. Come, Cornbury, I’m resolved to start from the bottom rung of the ladder once more. Will you not play at pirate for a while?”

“Unless I mistake,” said Cornbury, coolly, “I have no choice in the matter. The walking is but poor, and I’ve no humor for a swim. My dear man, ye may rest your mind on that—ye’re a madman—of that I’m assured. But I’ll stay with ye awhile.”



And so for the present it was settled. Monsieur Mornay sought rest vainly, and crept upon deck at the first flashing of the sun upon the horizon. The Sally, dressed in a full suit of cloths upon both her masts, went courtesying upon her course with a fine show of white about her bows and under her counter. The brig was not inaptly named, for there was an impudence in the rake of her masts and in the way she wore her canvas which belied her reputation for a sober and honest-dealing merchantman. There was a suggestion of archness, too, in the way her slender stem curved away from the caresses of the leaping foam which danced rosy and warm with the dawn to give her greeting, and a touch of gallantry in the tosses and swayings of her prow and head as they nodded up and down, the very soul of careless coquetry. But[147] now and then an opalescent sea, more venturesome and intrepid than his fellows, would catch her full in the bluff of the bows and go a-flying over her forecastle in a shower of spume and water-drops, which in the golden light turned into jewels of many hues and went flying across the deck to be carried down to the cool, translucent deeps under her lee. But she shook herself free with a disdainful, sweeping toss and set her broad bows out towards the open, where the colors were ever growing deeper and the winds more rude and boisterous, as though she recked not how impetuous the buffets of the storm, how turbulent the caresses of the sea.

Something of the exhilaration of the old life came upon Monsieur Mornay as he sent a seaman-like eye aloft at the straining canvases. The Sally was leaving the narrows and making for the broad reaches where the Channel grew into the wide ocean. Far away over his larboard quarter, growing ever dimmer in the eastern mist of the morning, was the coast of France, the land where he was born, where he had suffered and struggled to win the good[148] name he thought his birth had denied him. On his right, slipping rapidly astern, was England, where he had come to crown his labors with a new renown, and where he had only squandered that favor he had passed so many years of stress in winning—squandered it for a fancy that now was like some half-forgotten dream. It seemed only yesterday that he had been standing there upon a vessel of his own, looking out to sea. A year had passed since he had given up the command of the Dieu Merci and gone to Paris—a year of reckless abandon to pleasure at the gay court of Charles, a year in which he had lived and forgotten what had gone before, a year in which he had been born into the life that was his by every right. A dream? Yes, a dream. It was a rough awakening. He looked down at his rough clothing—his baggy, red trousers, with the tawdry brass buttons, his loose, coarse shirt and rough boots, the rudest slops that the brig provided; he felt of his short hair under the woolen cap, and he wondered if this could be himself, the Chevalier Mornay; the cock of the bird-cage walk, friend[149] of princes and the intimate of a king! Astern, across the swirling wake, lay the city of pleasure, but the bitter smile that came into his face had none of the rancor of hatred. It spoke rather of failure, of disappointment, of things forsaken and unachieved.

From these reflections he was surprised by the sound of a voice at his elbow. There, beside him, stood a fat man munching at a sea-biscuit. His face, in consonance with the body, was round and flabby, but there the consistency ended, for in color it was gray, like a piece of mildewed sail-cloth. The distinguishing feature of his person was his nose, which, round and inflamed, shone like a beacon in the middle of his pallid physiognomy. His voice was lost in the immensity of his frame, for when he spoke it seemed to come from a long distance, as though choked in the utterance by the layers of flesh which hung from his chin and throat. The pucker which did duty for a frown upon his brow became a fat knot.

“You vhos a passenger upon dis schip, hey?” he said, with well-considered sarcasm. “You[150] vhos a passenger? You t’ink you make dis voyage to America und do noding, eh? By Cott! we’ll see about dot.” And all the while he kept munching at the sea-biscuit, and Monsieur Mornay stood leaning against the rail watching him. “You vhos a French duke or someding, ain’t it? Vell, ve vant none of de royal family aboardt de Saucy Sally. Und vhen I, or de capdain, or Shacky Shackart gif de orders, you joomp, or, py Cott! I’ll know vy not!”

But still Mornay looked at him, smiling. He was in a reckless mood, and welcomed any opportunity that took him out of himself.

“Vell,” the Dutchman asked, his little, thin voice grown shrill with rising temper, “vy don’t you moofe? Vy you standt looking at me?” And, rushing suddenly forward, he aimed a blow of his heavy boot at Mornay, which, had it reached its destination, must have wrought a grave injury to the Frenchman. So great an impetus had it that, not finding the expected resistance, the foot flew high in the air. But the Frenchman was not there. He had stepped quickly aside, and, deftly catching the heel of[151] the boot in his hand, threw the surprised Dutchman completely off his balance, so that he fell, a sprawling mass of squirming fat, upon the deck. The commotion had drawn a number of the crew aft, and the captain, reeling uncertainly to the roll of the vessel, came blinking and puffing up the after-ladder. By this time the Dutchman had struggled to an upright posture and came rushing upon Mornay again, all arms and legs, sputtering and furious.

But the captain, no matter how deep in drink, was a person with the shrewdest sense of his importance upon a ship of his own. He was jealous of all blows not aimed by his own sturdy fist, and it was his fancy that none should strike any but himself. It was therefore with a sense of his outraged office that he rushed between the two men, and with his bulky body and long arms averted the windmill attack of the burly Dutchman.

“Mutiny, by ——, and not hout of soundings! Stand fast, Gratz! Stand fast, I say! Hi’ll do the billy-coddling on this ship. Stand, I say! Now, what is it?”


Gratz stepped forward a pace and spat. “Yaw! I gif her orders. And she stumpled me packwards upon de deck.”

“What!” roared the captain. “Soho! we’ll see!” and he seized a pin from the rail. The situation was threatening. Winch was already striding forward, and his upraised pin seemed about to descend upon the luckless Mornay when Jacquard interposed a long, bony arm.

“Fair play, Billee Winch! You’ll slaughter the man!”

“Out of the way!”

“Fair play, I say, Billee Winch!” Jacquard stood his ground and only gripped the captain the tighter. “Fair play, Billee Winch, I tell you! Gratz fell over his own feet. I saw it. Listen to me.”

The captain paused a moment. The lie had distracted him, and in that pause Jacquard saw safety. The captain looked blearily at Mornay, who had made no move to defend himself, but stood with little sign of discomposure, awaiting the outcome of the difficulty.


“If Monsieur le Capitaine will but allow me—”

“By Cott,” broke in Gratz, “you shall not!” and made a wild effort to strike Mornay again. But this time Jacquard caught him and twisted him safely out of the way.

“By the Devil’s Pot!” roared Winch, “am I in command, or am I not?” He raised his weapon this time towards Gratz, who cowered away as though he feared the blow would fall.

“If Monsieur le Capitaine will allow me,” began Mornay again, politely, “I would take it as a pleasure—”

“You!” sneered the captain, with a kind of laugh. “You! Why, Frenchman, Yan Gratz will make three of ye. He’ll eat ye skin an’ bones.”

Jacquard smiled a little. “Voilà! Billee Winch,” he cried, “the way out of your difficulty: a little circle upon the deck, a falchion or a half-pike—fair play for all, and—”

“Yaw! yaw! Fair play! fair play!” yelled the crew, rejoicing at the prospect of the sport.

Billy Winch blinked a bleared and bloodshot[154] eye at Jacquard and Mornay, and then a wide smile broke the sluggish surface of the skin into numberless wrinkles.

“If ye’ll have it that way,” he grinned, “ye’ll be stuck like a sheep. But ’twill save me trouble. So fight away, my bully, an’ be dammed to ye!”

Immediately a ring was formed, into which the combatants were speedily pushed. Gratz laughed in his shrillest choked falsetto, while he threw off his coat and leered at the Frenchman. The huge bulk of the man was the more apparent when his coat had been removed, for in spite of his girth and fat his limbs were set most sturdily in his body, and though the muscles of his arms moved slothfully beneath the skin, it was easily to be seen that this was a most formidable antagonist. That he himself considered his task a rare sport, which would still further enhance his reputation among the crew, was easily to be perceived in the way he looked at Monsieur Mornay. And in this opinion he was not alone, for even Cornbury, who had pressed closely to the Frenchman’s side, wore a look which showed how deep was his concern[155] over his friend’s predicament. Only Jacquard, of all those who stood about, felt no fear for Mornay. Upon the Dieu Merci he had seen the chevalier do a prodigy of strength and skill which had settled a mutiny once and for all, and had earned him a title which had given him a greater reputation in the Marine of France than all the distinctions which the King had seen fit to bestow. And as Jacquard looked at him, slim and not over-tall, but cool and deliberate, as upon his own deck three years ago, the Frenchman became again “René Bras-de-Fer,” “René the Iron Arm,” who fought for the love of fighting only, and who knew nothing of fear on sea or land.

That superiority in men which in spite of every adverse circumstance will not be denied shone so conspicuously in the face and figure of the Frenchman that the row of hairy faces about him looked in wonder. There was a rough jest or two, for Yan Gratz had won his way from the bowsprit aft by buffets and blows, and had waxed fat in the operation. To them he was the very living embodiment of a fighting devil of[156] the sea. But many of them saw something in the cool, impassive expression of the Frenchman—a something which had won him friends (and enemies) before this, and were silent.

The Frenchman, with a quiet deliberation, rolled the sleeves of his shirt above his elbows and took the half-pike that was thrust into his hands. It has been said that the Chevalier Mornay was not above the medium height, nor, with the exception of an arm which might have seemed a little too long to be in perfect proportion, gave in his appearance any striking evidence of especial physical prowess. He had been known in London for a graceful and ready sword, and in his few encounters he had never received so much as a scratch. But even Gratz was stricken with wonderment at the appearance of the forearm, which his wide sleeves had so effectually concealed. The arm of the chevalier, as he brought his pike into a posture of defense, showed a more remarkable degree of development than he had ever seen before in any man—Frenchman or Englishman—of his stature. The legs, strong and straight as they[157] were, with a generous bulge at the calf, betrayed nothing of this wonderful arm, which, swelling from a strong though not unslender wrist, rose in fine layers of steel-like ligament, tangled and knotted like the limbs of an oak. And up above the elbow the falling cotton shirt scarcely hid the sturdy bulk of muscle which swelled and trembled as the fingers moved the weapon down upon guard to resist the furious attack of the Hollander. Gratz prided himself no less upon his use of the pike than upon his use of his fists and boots, and, thinking to end the matter in a summary fashion, which might atone for his somewhat awkward fall upon the deck, he began thrusting hotly and with a skill which had hitherto availed his purposes. But he soon discovered that with this Frenchman, whom he had so hardily challenged, he was to have no advantage either in the reach or in the knowledge of the game. Mornay’s play, he quickly learned, was to allow him completely to exhaust himself. This, instead of teaching him caution, only increased his fury, so that at the end of a few moments of fruitless exertion he found himself[158] puffing like a great grampus, the perspiration pouring blindingly into his eyes and down his arms, until his fat hands grew moist and slipped uncertainly upon the handle of his weapon.

The cloud that had hung upon Cornbury’s face at the beginning of the combat had disappeared, and with a childish delight in the clash of arms he watched his friend slowly but surely steal away the offensive power of the Dutchman, whose look of confidence had been replaced by a lightness of eye and a quivering of the forehead and lips which denoted the gravest quandary of uncertainty. Monsieur Mornay was breathing rapidly, but his brows were as level, his eye as clear, his hand as steady as when he had begun.

In a few moments the struggle which had promised such dire results became a farce. The Frenchman had suddenly assumed the offensive, and, beating down the guard of the other, began pricking him gently, with rare skill and discrimination, in different conspicuous parts of his anatomy. The chevalier’s weapon was sharp, and the skin of Yan Gratz was tender,[159] but so nicely were the thrusts of the Frenchman tempered to the occasion that they did no more than draw a small quantity of blood at each place, which oozed forth in patches upon his moist and clinging shirt, so that he presently resembled some huge, spotted animal of an unknown species which disaster might have driven from his fastnesses in the deep. It would have been a remarkable exhibition of skill with a cut-and-thrust sword or a rapier, but with a half-pike it was little less than marvelous.

Yan Gratz struggled on, his tired arms vainly striving against the Frenchman’s assaults. Once, when the Dutchman had been disarmed, Monsieur Mornay generously allowed him to regain his weapon, choosing the advantage of Yan Gratz’s posture, however, to complete the circle of his punctures by a prick in the seat of his honor, which quickly straightened him again.

When the game had gone far enough, and the pallid pasty face of Yan Gratz was so suffused that it looked little less red than his nose or the blood upon his shirt, and his gasps for breath[160] were become so short that they threatened to come no more at all, Monsieur Mornay threw his weapon down upon the deck and, breathing deeply, folded his arms and stood at rest.

“Mynheer,” he said, “it was a mistake to have begun. I am the best half-pikeman in France.”

The Dutchman blinked at him with his small pig-eyes, out of which the bitterness of his humiliation flashed and sparkled in a wild and vengeful light. The Frenchman turned his back to pass beyond the circle of grinning men who had not scrupled to hide their delight and admiration at his prowess in vanquishing their bully. But Gratz, whose exhaustion even could not avail to curb his fury, put all the small store of his remaining energy into a savage rush, which he directed full at the back of the retiring Frenchman. A cry arose, and Mornay would have been transfixed had not Cornbury intercepted the cowardly thrust by a nimble foot, over which the Dutchman stumbled and fell sprawling into the scuppers. The point of his[161] weapon grazed the arm of Mornay and stuck quivering in the deck, a yard beyond where he had stood. Jacquard rushed to the prostrate figure in a fury at his treachery, but the man made no sign or effort to arise.

“By the ’Oly Rood! A craven stroke!” cried the captain, fetching the Dutchman a resounding kick, which brought forth a feeble groan. “Get up!” he roared. “Get up an’ go forward. Hods-niggars! we want none but honest blows among shipmates.”

Yan Gratz struggled to his feet and stumbled heavily down into the deck-house. Jacquard was grinning from ear to ear. If he had planned the combat himself, the result could not have been more to his liking. The favor of Billy Winch was no small thing to win, and Monsieur Mornay had chosen the nearest road to his heart. The captain, after hurling a parting curse at the Dutchman’s figure, slouched over to Mornay.

“Zounds! but ye ’ave a ’and for the pike, my bully. ’Ave ye aught o’ seamanship? If[162] ye know your hangles, ye’re the very figure of a mate for Saucy Sally, for we want no more o’ ’IM,” and he jerked his finger in the direction taken by Yan Gratz.

Mornay laughed. “I’ve had the deck of a taller ship than Saucy Sally.” Billy Winch grasped Mornay by the hand right heartily.

“Come, what d’ye say? Me an’ Jacky Jacquard an’ you. We three aft. We’ve need o’ ye. Zounds! but ye’ve the useful thrust an’ parry.” Then he roared with laughter. “An’ I’m mistaken if ye’re not as ’andy a liar as a pikeman. I’ve seen the play of the best in the French Marine, and Captain René Mornay would have a word to say with ye as to who’s the best half-pikeman in France.”

Jacquard held his sides to better contain himself; his mouth opened widely and his little eyes were quite closed with the excess of his delight. Mornay and Cornbury smiled a little, and the Frenchman said, with composure:

“Perhaps. Monsieur le Capitaine Mornay and I are not strangers. But he holds his reputation[163] so low and I mine so high, that I cannot bring myself to fight him.”

Here Jacquard could no longer contain himself.

“Can you not see farther than the end of your bowsprit, Billee Winch?” he cried; and while the captain wondered, “Can you not see, stupid fish?—’tis Bras-de-Fer himself!”

Blackbeard fell back a step or two in his amazement, while a murmur swept over the crew, who, loath to leave the scene, had remained interested listeners to the colloquy.

“What! René the Iron Arm aboard the Sally?” said the captain, approaching the Frenchman again. “Soho! Though, by St. Paul’s—ye’re not unlike— An’ with a wig an’ doublet— ’Pon my soul, Jacky Jacquard, but I believe ’tis the truth. Say, is it so, master?”

“I am René Mornay,” said the Frenchman.

“Soho!” he roared in delight. “Then Sally shall give ye meat and drink and make a bed to ye. An’ when ye will she’ll set ye ashore in France. Or, if ye care for the clashin’ of arms,[164] she’ll show ye the path of the galleons o’ Spain. Come, let’s below and drink to a better understanding.”

It was thus that Monsieur Mornay sailed forth for the Spanish Main.



The feat at arms of Monsieur Mornay at the expense of the luckless Gratz had set the ship by the ears, and with little opposition Bras-de-Fer became the third in command. Before many weeks were gone it was discovered that he had his seamanship at as ready a convenience as his pike-play, for in a troublesome squall in a windy watch on deck, while Jacquard was below, he had not scrupled to take the command from Captain Billy Winch, who was so deep in liquor that he didn’t know the main-brace from a spritsail sheet, and who had had the Sally upon her beam-ends, with all his ports and hatches open. Mornay sprang to the helm and gave the orders necessary to bring her to rights. Indeed, the command had clearly devolved upon Jacquard; for the lucid intervals of Captain Billy Winch were becoming less and[166] less, until from that state of continued jubilation which marked his departure from the port of London he had passed into one of beatific unconsciousness, from which he only aroused himself to assuage his thirst the more copiously. One black morning in the wilds of the Atlantic he reached the deck, his eyes wide with fever and his mouth full of oaths, swearing that he would no longer stay below, but his legs were so completely at a loss that, what with the wild plunges of the vessel and the assaults of the seas which made clean breaches over her, he was thrown down into the scuppers again and again, and all but drowned in the wash of the deck. But the bruising and sousing in the saltwater, instead of rebuffing him or abating a whit of his ardor, but served to sober him and make him the more ambitious to take his proper place aboard the vessel. Jacquard would have restrained him, but he threw the Frenchman aside, and, while trying to descend the ladder at the angle of the poop, lost his balance, and, catching wildly at the lee bulwark, disappeared in the[167] dirty smother under the quarter and was seen no more.

After this mishap, Jacquard went below to the cabin with Mornay to make his plans for the future of the Saucy Sally. There, among the rum-reeking effects of the captain, he discovered the royal charter and warrant under which the vessel sailed, together with the lists of Spanish vessels which should have left port, their destinations and probable values. Jacquard outlined the plans he had made for their operations when they should have reached the waters he had chosen. Cornbury, who had been reading abstractedly in the warrant, gave a sudden cry.

“Bresac,” he said, pointing a long forefinger upon the parchment. “Faith, my dear man, your fortune is a silly, whimsical jade, after all. Cast your eye hither for a moment of time.”

Mornay took the document in amazement.

Whereas it hath come to Our Notice [it began] that certain Enemies of the State sailing in the Vessels of the Kingdom of Spain have prepared, ordered, and levied war against Us, and have molested[168] and harassed Our lawful Commerce upon the Sea, to the oppression of Our loyal Subjects carrying on the same, by the advice of Our Privy Council we hereby grant to our good and loyal subject Henry Heywood, Knt., that his vessel or vessels—

“’Tis as plain as a pike-handle,” said Cornbury. And as Mornay still scanned the document: “Faith, can ye not see?—ye’re a guest upon a vessel of your own. The vessel and all she owns is yours, man—yours!”

Parbleu!” said Mornay, when the edge of his wonderment was dulled. “I believe you. A rare investment, indeed, for the millions of the Bresacs.”

“A thousand per centum at the very least, with a modicum for the King. Ye cannot wonder how Charles bewailed the man’s demise. Ye touched his purse, René. And friendship has little to expect from the conscience of an empty pocket.”

“By my life, it is so!” said the wide-eyed Mornay. “Jacquard shall know. Listen, my friend.” And, with a particular reticence with regard to the name of Mistress Clerke, he told[169] Jacquard of the great secret, the rape of the papers, and the other things pertaining to his discovery. It was learned that in the matter Jacquard knew only one Captain Brail, a ship-chandler and owner, who had the finding of all the sea appurtenances, the making of the contracts, and the furnishing of the stores. The sympathetic Jacquard followed Monsieur Mornay through a description of the duel, his face wreathed in smiles, his eyes shining with delight. He wept at the tale of the mother, commiserated the orphan, and, when he learned how Sir Henry Heywood had taken possession of the proofs of the boy’s birth and lineage and had kept him from his rightful inheritance, Jacquard rose upon his long legs and swore aloud at the man’s perfidy. When Mornay had finished, he sat silent a moment, clasping and unclasping his knotted, bony fingers.

“It is a strange story, monsieur—the strangest I have ever heard. It means, monsieur, that upon the Saucy Sally, at least, you have come into your own. Besides, once my captain, always my captain. Allons! It shall be as before.[170] Bras-de-Fer shall lead. Jacquard shall obey. That is all.” He arose and took Monsieur Mornay by the hand. “Henceforth,” he said, “it shall be Captain René Bras-de-Fer. Now we will go upon deck, and I shall tell them.”

Although the death of Billy Winch had caused much commotion aboard the vessel, the crew in the main were tractable and compliant. Upon his own great popularity, upon the reputation of Bras-de-Fer, and upon the large portion of the crew who were Frenchmen like himself, Jacquard relied to effect the necessary changes in the management of the vessel. The Frenchman’s bearing since he had come aboard had been such as to enhance rather than to remove the early impression that he had made, and but a spark was needed to amalgamate him with the ship’s company. That spark Jacquard dexterously applied. He called all hands aft, and with a stirring appeal to their imagination, one by one, recalled the feats of the chevalier—the fight in the open boat with the Austrian pirate, the defiance of the Spanish Admiral under the very guns of the Bona Ventura, the six[171] duels upon the landing-place at Cronenburg, the wreck of the Sainte Barbe, and the mutiny and ignominious defeat of Jean Goujon upon the Dieu Merci. All of these things he painted with glowing colors, so that as he stepped forth on deck they hailed Bras-de-Fer with a glad acclaim. Then Bras-de-Fer told them what he hoped to do, and read them (amid huzzahs) the list of Spanish shipping.

When the matter of the captaincy had been duly settled beyond a doubt, with a grace which could not fail to gain approval, he unhesitatingly appointed Yan Gratz again the third in command, and this magnanimity did much to unite him to the small faction which stood aloof. The frank confidence he placed in the Hollander put them upon the terms of an understanding which Gratz accepted with as good a grace as he could bring to the occasion. A cask of rum was brought up on the deck and the incident ended in jubilation and health-giving, which in point of good-fellowship and favorable augury left nothing to be desired. At the end of a week Bras-de-Fer had given still more adequate[172] proofs of his ability. With a shrewd eye he had discovered the natural leaders among the crew. These he placed in positions of authority. Then, appointing Cornbury master-at-arms, put the men upon their mettle at pike-play and the broadsword with such admirable results that the carousing and laxity engendered by the habits of Captain Billy Winch became less and less, until the rum-casks were no more brought up on deck, except upon rare and exceptional occasions. Of growls there were a few, and here and there a muttering apprised him of dissatisfaction among the free-drinkers. But he offered prizes from the first Spanish vessel captured for those most proficient in the manly arts, to appease their distaste for the sport, himself entering upon the games with a spirit and a poise which were irresistible. The unrestrained life had caught the fancy of Cornbury, too, and with nimble tongue and nimbler weapon he won his way with the rough blades as though he had entered upon this service by the same hawse-pipe as themselves. Once, when a not too complimentary remark had been passed upon[173] his beard, which was grown long and of an ingenuous crimson, he took the offender by the nose and at the point of his sword forced him upon his knees to swear by all the saints that his life-long prayer had been that some exclusive dispensation of nature should one day turn his beard the very self-same color as the Irish captain’s; who then, in satisfaction of the cravings of that reluctant delinquent, forced him below to the paint closet, where he caused him to bedaub himself very liberally with a pigment of the same uncompromising hue—so liberally that not storm nor stress could avail for many weeks to wash clean the stigma. Indeed, so strikingly did the combative characteristics of his race manifest themselves in the performance of his new duties that but for Jacquard the aggressive Irishman had been almost continually embroiled. But as it was, Cornbury served his captain a useful purpose; and, though the ready tact of Bras-de-Fer averted serious difficulties, there were adventures aplenty for the master-at-arms—enough, at least, to satisfy the peculiar needs of his temperament.


In this fashion, learning a discipline of gunnery, arms, and seamanship, and a little of discontent at the restraint besides, they crept south and across the broad Atlantic. Gales buffeted them and blew them from their course, but after many weeks they made northing enough to cross the path of the Spanish silver ships from South America. The first vessel they took was a galleon from Caracas. She was heavy with spices and silks, but had lost her convoy in the night, and was making for Porto Bello. A shot across her bows hove her to, and her guard of soldiers gave her up without a struggle. The Sally hove alongside, and here came the first test of the discipline of Bras-de-Fer. The fellows rushed aboard with drawn weapons, and, finding no resistance, were so enraged at the lack of opportunity to display their new prowess that they fell to striking lustily right and left, and driving the frightened Spaniards forward shrieking down into the hold. ’Twas rare sport for Cornbury, who went dancing forward, aiding the progress of the flying foe with the darting end of his backsword. Only the best efforts of Bras-de-Fer[175] prevented the men from following the victims below, where darker deeds might have been done. Yan Gratz, who had made one voyage with an old pirato named Mansfelt, made so bold as to propose that the Spaniards be dropped overboard, that being the simplest solution of the difficulty. But Bras-de-Fer clapped the hatches over the prisoners with a decision which left little doubt in the minds of the crew as to his intentions. There was a flare of anger at this high-handed discipline, for they were free men of the sea, they said, and owed nothing to any one. Captain Billy Winch had been none too particular in this matter of detail. But, in spite of their curses, Bras-de-Fer brought the prisoners and the prize to port in safety.

It was the beginning of a series of small successes which filled the Sally’s store-rooms and brought three prizes for her into the harbor of Port Royal, Jamaica. There, quarrelsome, bedizened, and swaggering through the streets of the town, Bras-de-Fer and Cornbury saw many of these gentlemen of the sea, who owed allegiance to no man, company, or government.[176] In the same trade as themselves, it might be, save only that with a less nice discrimination these gentry robbed broadly, while the Sally, in despite of her very crew, fought and took only from the enemies of the English King. It was there, too, that the Frenchman met the new English governor, and explained the freak of fortune by which he had come to command the Sally. The governor became most friendly, and (with a sly look of cupidity, which had but one meaning) gave information of the sailing of the San Isidro from Spain, bearing the new governor of Chagres, several bishops and priests, and gold and silver coin of inestimable value for the priests of the Church in the Spanish colonies of America.

Learning that the San Isidro would stop at the Havana, Bras-de-Fer filled his water-tanks and sailed boldly forth to intercept her. It was untried water to the Frenchman, and charted with so little adequacy that the booming of the surf upon the reefs sounded with a too portentous frequency upon the ears. But Jacquard had eyes and ears for everything, and they won[177] their way to the Florida coast without mishap. There a herikano buffeted them out to sea, and it was with many misgivings that they won their way back to the channels of the Bahamas.

The storm had blown itself out, and the ocean shone translucent as an emerald. Low-hanging overhead, great patches of fleecy white, torn from a heaped-up cloud-bank over the low-lying islands of the eastern horizon, took their wild flight across the deep vault of sky in mad pursuit of their fellows who had gone before and were lost in a shimmer of purple, where the sea met the palm-grown spits of the western main. The cool, pink glow upon the Sally’s starboard beam filled the swell of the top-sails with a soft effulgence which partook of some of the coolness and freshness of the air that drove them. Far down upon the weather bow, first a blur, then a shadow which grew from gray to silver and gold, came the San Isidro. Jacquard sighted her, but it was Bras-de-Fer who proclaimed her identity. She was a fine new galleon, spick and span from the Tagus, with three tiers of guns, and masts of the tallest. Her[178] bright new fore-topsail bore the arms of Spain, and the long pennons floating from her trucks and poles proclaimed the high condition of her passengers.

Bras-de-Fer cleared his ship for action and called his men aft.

“There, my fine fellows,” he cried, “is steel worthy of your metal. Let it not be said that Saucy Sally takes her sustenance from the weak and cowardly and flirts her helm to the powerful. Yonder is your prize. She has thrice your bulk and complement—three gun tiers and twenty score of men. So much the more honor! For in her hold are gold and silver bright and new minted from the Spanish treasury, and wines for fat priests, which shall run no less smoothly down your own proper throats. Yonder she is. Take her. Follow where I shall lead and she is yours for the asking.”

A roar of approval greeted him, and the manner in which the rascals sprang to their places showed that, if they growled at his discipline, they were ready enough for this opportunity.

If the Spanish vessel had aught of fear of[179] the English brig, she did not show it. The sound of trumpets had proclaimed that she had called her gun-crews, but she shifted her helm not a quarter-point of the compass and came steadily on.

Bras-de-Fer lost no time sending the English colors aloft and firing a shot from his forward guns, as a test of distance. This brought the Spaniard speedily to himself, for he shortened sail and came upon the wind to keep the weather-gauge. When he had reached easy gunshot distance, the Sally began firing a gun at a time with great deliberation, and so excellent was her aim that few of these failed to strike her huge adversary. Cornbury, who had taken a particular fancy for great-gun exercise, practised upon the rigging to such advantage that he brought the mizzen topsail and cross-jack yard in a clatter about the ears of the fellows upon the poop. As the Frenchman suspected, the Spaniards’ gun-play was of the poorest, and the glittering hordes of harnessed men upon his decks availed him nothing. Then the San Isidro, with true concern, and thinking to end the matter,[180] eased her sheets in the effort to close with her troublesome antagonist. Bras-de-Fer kept all fast, and, braving a merciless broadside which churned the ocean in a hundred gusts of water all about him, went jauntily up to windward with no other loss than that of the main top-gallant yard, the wreck of which was quickly cut away.

For two hours the roar of the battle echoed down the distances. The Sally presented a forlorn appearance with her main topsail torn to shreds. Two guns of her broadside had been dismounted and ten of her men had been killed and injured; but upon the Spaniard the wreck of yards and spars hung festooned with the useless gear upon her wounded masts, like tangled mosses or creepers upon a dying oak.

At last a lucky shot of the unremitting Cornbury carried away her pintle, rudder, and steering-gear, so that she lay a heavy and lifeless thing upon the water. Bras-de-Fer called for boarders, and, firing a broadside pointblank, lay the Sally aboard, and with a wild cry for those who dared follow, himself sprang for the mizzen[181] chains of his adversary. In the light of the dying day, like a hundred wriggling, dusky cats, they swarmed over the sides of the luckless San Isidro, springing through the ports and over the bulwarks upon the deck with cries that struck terror to the hearts of their adversaries, many of whom threw down their weapons and sprang below. A few men in breast-pieces, who gave back, firing a desultory volley, made a brief stand upon the forecastle, from which they were speedily swept down into the head and so forward upon the prow and into the sea.

Bras-de-Fer and Cornbury sprang into the after-passage. Two blanched priests fell upon the deck, raining their jewels like hailstones before them and chattering out a plea for mercy from the pirato. Indeed, Bras-de-Fer looked not unlike the pictures of the most desperate of those bloody villains. A splinter-cut upon the head had bathed him liberally with blood, and the wild light of exultation glowed from eyes deep-set and dark with the fumes of dust and gunpowder. His coat was torn, and his naked sword, dimmed and lusterless, moved in reckless[182] circles with a careless abandon which spoke a meaning not to be misconstrued.

The priests he pushed aside, and burst through the door into the cabin. It was almost dark, but the glow in the west which shone in the wide stern ports shed a warm light upon the backs of a dozen persons who had taken refuge there, and were now gazing wide-eyed upon him. By the table in the center two or three figures were standing, and an old man with streaming gray hair drew a sword most pitifully and put himself in posture of defense. Several women thereupon fell jibbering prone upon the deck, and two figures in uniform crouched back in the shadow of the bulkhead. But the shedding of blood was done. Cornbury took the weapon from the patriarch, and Bras-de-Fer, seeing no further resistance, bowed in his best manner and begged that the ladies be put to no further inquietude. It was then for the first time that he noticed the figure of one of them, tall, fair, and of a strange familiarity, standing firm and impassive, her hand upon a small petronel, or pistolet, which lay upon the port sill. The[183] splendid lines of the neck, the imperious turn of the head, the determination in the firm lines of the mouth, which, in spite of the ill-concealed terror which lurked in the eyes and brows, betrayed a purpose to defend herself to the last. Bras-de-Fer stepped back a pace in his surprise to look again; but there was no mistake. He had seen that same figure, that same poise of the head, almost that same look out of the eyes, and, deep as he had steeped his mind in the things which brought forgetfulness, every line of it was written upon his memory. The lady was Mistress Barbara Clerke.



In the first flood of his astonishment the Frenchman lost countenance and fell back upon the entrance of the cabin. He forgot the efficiency of his disguise. In London he had worn the mustachio, smooth chin, and perruque; and the deft touches of poor Vigot had given him a name for a beau which no art of the tailor alone could have bestowed. All of these were lacking in the rough garments that he wore. When last my lady had seen him it had been in the laces, orders, and all the accouterments of a man of fashion, as befitted his station. Now the deep shadows which the fog of battle had painted under his brows and eyes served a purpose as effectual as the growth of his hair and beard. For no sign passed the lady’s features, though she looked fair at him. A momentary wonder there was, as the Frenchman paused;[185] then a mute and pallid supplication. Two Spanish women fell heavily upon their knees before him, demeaning themselves in every conceivable manner for a look or a word that would lull their apprehension and alarm.

It was not until then that Cornbury saw Mistress Clerke. She looked at him blankly; but he, swearing audibly, fled past Bras-de-Fer to the door.

“Bedad!” he muttered—“the lady in the play!” and vanished into the passage.

Cast upon himself, Bras-de-Fer halted and stammered again. He was daunted by that cold, gray eye, and discovered an inquietude and trepidation greater than he had felt in the presence of a company of pikemen. He wiped his sword and thrust it into its scabbard with something of an air of the blusterer, fumbled at the collar at his throat, and with a gesture tossed back the curls from his brow, finally taking refuge in the women at his knees from that chill glance which seemed to read and reproach him. Then, learning that his identity was still unrevealed, he plucked up courage, and, releasing[186] himself, coldly but with a certain gallantry bowed to the gray-haired Spanish lady who had been the most timorous in her embraces.

“Your fear, señora, pays neither me nor my ship a compliment,” he said, coolly. “Your San Isidro is of a nation that of late has proved itself the enemy of my King upon the sea. I have taken her in honorable battle, and—”

Here Jacquard, leering wickedly, the personification of the very thing the women most feared, with Yan Gratz and a dozen pikes, came rushing in at the door, rendering at naught his amiable intentions, for the women fell to screaming again, and Mistress Clerke raised her pistolet to her breast, it seemed, in the very act of firing. With a hoarse cry Bras-de-Fer quelled the turmoil and sent Jacquard and the men growling back upon the deck; but it was some moments before the qualms of the women were relieved and quiet and order brought out of the tumult.

“Señor, what you say may be true,” said the patriarch who had sought to defend himself, “but not all who bear the warrant of the King[187] of England have so honest a notion of warfare in these waters. What proof have we of your integrity?”

Bras-de-Fer tossed his head with a touch of the old hauteur. He looked past the gray-beard to the casement window, where the last glimmer of the western light was burnishing her hair to gold. He saw only the fair head of the woman who had discredited him, scorned and spurned him as though he had been as low as the very thing he now appeared. The lips grew together in a hard line that had in it a touch of cruelty.

“It is not the custom of officers of the King,” he said, “to give proofs of integrity to prisoners of war. I offer no proof but my word. I shall do with you as I see fit to do.” And stationing two pikemen at the door of the cabin, he went upon the deck, filled with the thought which almost drove from his mind the serious business of bringing the wreck to rights and mending his own affairs.

There was much to be done before the Sally and her huge captive could be brought out into[188] the safety of the broad ocean, away from this dangerous proximity to the Havana. But Bras-de-Fer set himself resolutely to the task, and, putting beside him all but the matter in hand, with a fine, seaman-like sense brought order out of the tangle and wreck of rigging both upon his own vessel and the Spaniard.

The night had come on apace, and with it a rising wind which ground the vessels together in a manner which threatened to make them the more vulnerable to the assaults of the sea. The business of shifting the valuable part of the cargo was going swiftly forward under great flares and ship’s lanterns, which were stuck in the bulwarks and hung from the chains and rigging. Bras-de-Fer, a black shade against the lurid glow, stood with folded arms and downcast eyes at a commanding eminence upon the poop, watching the struggling, dusky, gnomelike figures below him. A hoarse order rang from his lips now and then, which was echoed down into the bowels of his own vessel and mingled with the cries and oaths of the fellows below. Blocks creaked above, and the[189] swaying bales and chests, growing for a moment into fiery patches against the sooty darkness behind them, swept over the bulwarks and into gray shadow again, when they were speedily borne down into the gaping black maws of the brig.

A pale and sibilant presence rustled from the shadows of the mizzen-mast behind Bras-de-Fer. Trembling in limb and more pallid even than the white frock that enfolded her, Mistress Barbara, in a ferment of uncertainty, unattended and unguarded, had crept resolutely and with indomitable courage past the guard at the cabin door to the side of the conqueror of San Isidro. So frail and slender a thing she was, emerging pale and spectral into the glare of the torches, that at the touch of her halting hand upon his arm he started with a quick intaking of the breath and sought his weapon. But when the light glowed upon the brow and hair, and he saw, his hand dropped to his side and he bowed his head to hide his features. With a gesture of annoyance designed to serve the same end, he turned away towards the bulwarks.


“No, no,” she began, pleadingly; “you must hear me. I am English, like the King you serve. At your hands I have every right to consideration.”

“You sail in parlous times, madame,” he replied, coldly, striving to disguise his voice.

“Listen, sir. I have braved danger of insult, and worse, to come hither to-night. But there is something—I cannot tell what—which says that you will deal fairly.”

“Your confidence, I trust, is not ill-placed,” with averted head.

“Your manner of speaking betrays that you are French. Nay, do not turn away, monsieur. If you are not English, you serve an English master, and that should be the guarantee of all honesty.”

“Honesty is as honesty does,” he replied, turning with more assurance to address her. And then, “You come a cool dove of peace in time of hot war, madame. You have no place in such a scene as this.”

“Give me a word, sir, and I will go.”

His gaze was fixed blankly upon the starless[191] vacancy. “I can promise nothing, madame. It is the fortune of war ... or fate.” The last he murmured half below his breath.

“You will take us to Jamaica, monsieur—not the Tortugas—say it will not be the Tortugas!”

“The Tortugas are the lair of the piratos. If I am such, it were useless further to converse. A pirate has small stomach for mercy—much for requital.”

Puzzled somewhat, she grasped her wrap more closely and drew back in dismay. “What do you mean? That you will have no pity, that—” She paused as she saw his bitter smile, stepping a pace back from him in horror.

But the cruel pleasure he had in torturing her, at the sight of her dread and fear was pleasure no longer.

“Madame, forgive me,” he said, with a carefully studied frankness. “I have only said I can make no promises. There are two vessels, and I cannot be upon both. The wind even now is rising, and soon we must be parting company. But I will do for you and for the Spanish lady, your friend, what I may; and now”—bending[192] over her with all his old grace—“now, if madame will permit me, I will conduct her to the cabin.”

The speech, the very words, the very gesture, the very modulations of the voice—where had she heard them before? A hurried winging of thought brought the swaying of colored lanterns—a garden—a graveled walk—a perfumed night; and while she still looked in wonder, a boisterous puff of wind flared up the torch on the mast and tossed his wide-brimmed hat back upon his head so that she saw a scar upon his temple.

She peered straight forward and he turned his head in vain.

“Good God!” she cried. “This! Is it this?”

It was too late to continue the concealment, had he wished to do so. Then, while he in turn was peering at her, startled at the lively expression of horror in her eyes—a horror at his condition and plainly not at himself—she covered her face with her fingers and bowed her head into them, not shrinkingly in loathing as he might have expected from the woman he had[193] left in London, but in an anguish as of penitence, the impotence of a child at the reproof of an angry parent, in contrition, remorse, or humiliation. He could not understand. But, straightening himself with a stern dignity, which sat well upon him, he replied in a tone so low that its vibrant note barely reached her ears.

“This, madame, ... even this.”

When she looked up at him again it was with clear, level, unflinching eyes.

“Monsieur—” she began, haltingly.

But he held up his hand. “I had hoped to have withdrawn ere this upon my own ship and to have left you.”

“Thank God that you did not. I would atone to you for many things. Could you have deserted us? You owe me a greater debt of humiliation and abasement than you can ever hope to pay. But would you abandon us to that crew of demons below! Ah,” she shuddered; “it is a vengeance worthy of the name.”

“Madame, the sparks of such hatred as that you bear for me are best unfed to flame. You shall be adequately guarded upon the San[194] Isidro. But before dawn I and my ship will have sailed—”

“No, no,” she broke in. “You must not. You cannot leave—”

The woman in her rebelled at the thought that he could find it possible to do what he promised.

Must and can are strong words.” He smiled coldly. “There is no must or can upon the San Isidro but mine. The convenances of St. James’s Square are not those of the Spanish Main, madame.”

But the evil she had wrought in this man’s life, though she had wrought it unconsciously, gave her a new humility. She had done and dared much already. She would not go back.

“I pray you, monsieur, in the name of that mother you once swore by—in the name of all the things you hold most holy—I pray that you will heed my prayer. Take, at least, the Señorita de Batteville upon your vessel. Take us from the faces of the men at the cabin door who leer and grin at us with a too horrid import.”

A frown crossed the Frenchman’s features.

“These men will be upon the Saucy Sally.”


“But you, monsieur, will be there—you will not permit—”

“Madame has a too generous confidence in my competency.”

“Ah, it is for you to be generous. A man who can win so great a victory can afford to be kind.” She put her hands forward in the act of supplication, and in doing so the wrap slipped from the shoulder and arm it had so scrupulously hidden. A cloth, dull and blurred with red, was wrapped half-way between the elbow and the shoulder. When he saw that dark patch, his cool composure fell from him like a mantle and he bent forward eagerly, all his perceptions aquiver with sensibility.

“Sainte Vierge!” he whispered. “How came you by that?”

“It is nothing,” she said, drawing back at his ardor. “A scratch of broken glass. That is all.”

He bent to the deck for the erring silk. “I did not know,” he stammered, his voice mellow with sympathy. “I did not know. Forgive me, madame.”


“There is nothing to forgive. It is the fortune of war.”

“Is it painful? I am something of a chirurgeon. Let me—” He looked her in the face, and then drew back in a mingling of confusion and pride.

“It is nothing, I tell you,” she broke in, with a stamp of the foot. “Nothing. I do not even feel it.” And when she had enwrapped it again she lowered her voice until it trembled with the earnestness of her entreaty. “Have pity, monsieur—pity!”

The Frenchman had turned away and was looking out into the moonless night. The slender white hand stole faltering forward until it rested upon the coarse sleeve of his coat.

“Take me with you, monsieur. Take me aboard the Saucy Sally.”

And still looking out to sea, he replied, in a voice gruff and rugged, which did not avail to hide a generous courtesy beneath:

“It shall be as you wish, madame. Bid the señorita prepare at once.”


And in a moment, when he looked again, she was gone.

How was it that the thread of this woman’s life had become entangled again with his? Could it be that the hand which controlled his destiny had wrought these miracles in his strange career in a mere sport or purposeless plan? Could it be that, two grains of sand afloat on the winds of life’s desert, they had met, parted, and come together again? In the infinity of wide ocean he had gone adrift upon the tide of another life with nothing but his memories to bind him to the old. But sure as metal to its loadstone his vessel had been driven, in spite of wind and the raging of the sea, with an unerring certainty into the very path of the San Isidro. How was she, the toast of London, the bright particular planet in that bright firmament, divested of all the bright luster of her constellation, alone and all but friendless, adrift in these wild waters? How came this gay paradise bird, despoiled of its plumage, in so foreign a clime? Why had she left London? Had some convulsion of her starry sky cast her down from[198] her high seat? Where was Captain Ferrers? Were they become estranged? What had come of the papers? The enigma grew in complexity. Her speech had puzzled him. Why had she been thankful to have found him? Was it the joy of learning that her captor was one who had not sunk so low that he could do the vile deeds she had feared of him? What atonement was it she offered? And for what? His heart leaped wildly, only to shrink again to a dull, drowsy beat. What did it mean? Nothing, or anything; conciliation, mock humility—a sop to Cerberus. Bah! He was done with hope. There, a shadow of disconsolation, he stood, fixed and nerveless, struggling against the soft, cajoling hand-maidens of Virtue—Gentleness, Beauty, Reverence, Love—personified in this woman, whom, try as he might, he could not pluck from his life.

The pale light of dawn found him where he watched until the transshipping was done, and the cases of coin, the silks and plate, were stowed safely below. The fitful wind, which had tossed up a restless sea, was now become so[199] boisterous that the grappling irons were cast off and the Saucy Sally drifted away from the Spaniard and hung with a backed mainsail a half-cable’s length under her lee. The prisoners of the San Isidro had been carefully secured below and a prize crew of Jacquard, Cornbury, and thirty men had been placed upon her to bring the wreck into port. She was sound enough below. But the rigging, in spite of all their endeavors, was still a mere tangle of useless gearing. The sails drew on the jury-masts, and together, with gathering impetus, the two vessels moved slowly out into the growing light of the East.

The wisdom of the efforts of Bras-de-Fer in removing to the handier vessel the most movable of the priceless freight was soon apparent. For there, dull patches upon the southern sky, were the sails of two large vessels bearing smartly up under the stress of the fine westerly wind. Hoarse curses rang forth, and fists were wildly brandished towards the approaching ships, which, as it was plainly to be seen, were Spanish men-of-war, aroused to alertness by the cannonading[200] at sunset and the night-long flares. It would have been hopeless for Bras-de-Fer to try and bring both vessels clear away, for the unwieldly prize rolled heavily in the rising swell and made scarce a bubble under the forefoot. And in her damaged condition, with crippled spars and many guns out of service, the Sally could hardly hope to repeat her success over the San Isidro with two war vessels fresh from the Havana. The weight of argument lay upon the side of his defeat with the loss of all that he had gained. There were two alternatives—to remain with the San Isidro and fight it out to the last, or take his prize crew aboard the Sally and abandon the San Isidro and her prisoners to her compatriots.

Bras-de-Fer chose the latter. There was only time to effect the change. He called Jacquard and his master-at-arms and the prize crew aboard their own vessel, and, clapping all sail upon the Saucy Sally that she could carry in safety, sailed clear away and abandoned the huge hulk to the approaching enemy.



When the heels of the Sally had put so great a distance between herself and her pursuers that there was nothing to fear of their overhauling her, Bras-de-Fer went below to the cabin. Exhausted by the events of the night, leaning listlessly against the sill of the stern-port, was Mistress Clerke, her lids drooping with weariness as she struggled against tired nature to keep her lone vigil. Her eyes started wide at the sound of his footsteps. She struggled to her feet and stood, her face pallid and drawn, in the cold, garish light of the morning. She scanned him eagerly, peering fearfully into his face for any portentous sign. The dust of battle was still streaked upon it, and the shadows under the brows which had made his countenance forbidding in the mad flush of war upon the San Isidro now only gave the shadows[202] a darker depth of settled melancholy. There was a fierceness and wildness, too, but it was distant, hidden, and self-contained; at bay, only with nothing of aggressiveness for immediate apprehension or alarm. Instead, there was a reserved dignity and aloofness which spoke of a nice sense of a delicate situation. He made no move to draw near her, but stood in the narrow cabin door, hat in hand.

“Madame is weary?” he said. “If you will permit—” And then he searched the cabin, a question in his eyes.

“The señorita, madame?” he asked.

Mistress Clerke sighed wearily. “I am alone, monsieur. She came frozen with terror—and fled again—”

“You alone!”

“I can only crave your pity.”

He peered around at the dingy surroundings. “I am bereaved, madame. This cabin is not the San Isidro. ’Twere better, more cleanly. I am sorry. I had come to order it to your comfort. See. I have brought your bedding and belongings from the San Isidro. In a moment, if you[203] will permit, I can do very much to better your condition.”

A spark of gratitude at this evidence of his kindly disposition gleamed in her eyes a moment and she signed an acquiescence. The Frenchman conducted her to the half-deck, while two negroes set busily about the place, removing his and Cornbury’s effects and making it sweet and clean for its gentle tenant.

The Frenchman would have left her, but Mistress Barbara stopped him at the cabin door.

“I cannot thank you, monsieur. To do so pays no jot of my great obligation, which every moment becomes greater.”

He bowed and would have passed out. “You owe me nothing but silence, madame,” he said, coldly.

“And that I cannot pay,” she cried. “Oh, why will you not listen to me, monsieur? Have you no kindness?”

“I have done what small service I could, madame. If I owe you more—”

She clenched her small hands together, as though in pain. “Ah, you do not understand.[204] Why will you not see? It is not that. I wish you to do me justice.”

“Madame, justice and I are many miles asunder. I have no indulgent memory. It is best that there should be no talk of what has been. Only what is and what is to be has any power to open my ears or my lips. And so, if you will permit me,” and once more he made the motion to withdraw.

“It is the present and the future, Monsieur le Chevalier,” she began. But at the sound of that name he turned abruptly towards her, frowning darkly.

“It cannot be, madame,” he cried, with a brusqueness which frightened her. “I have no name but Bras-de-Fer aboard this ship. Please address your needs to him.”

She recoiled in dismay in the corner of the bulkhead to listen to the tramp of his heavy sea-boots down the passage. For the first time she feared him. She could not know that it was the sight of her face and of something new he saw there which raised a doubt that had entered, a canker, into his mind. She could not know[205] what a struggle it was costing him and at what pains he took refuge in the silence he demanded. His brutality was but the sudden outward manifestation of this battle, which, should it not take one side, must assuredly take the other. He had decided. Nothing should turn the iron helm of his will. But as he sought the deck, hot memory poured over him in a flood. He recalled the times she had tossed her head at him, even before the incident of the coach. That, too, he remembered, even with a sense of amusement. The coranto! and how he had sought to patch and mend his wounded pride by fruitlessly assailing hers, battering abortively at the citadel of the heart he could never hope to win. Ferrers! The precious papers he had had for a sweet half-hour in his bosom and had thrown away! Where had Ferrers hidden them from her? The priceless heritage with which he could have daunted this woman-enemy of his whom he had loved and hated at the same time and from whom he had received only scorn and misprision. Could he refuse her now that she was a helpless captive, weak, frail, and unfriended[206] among a crew of rascals who stood at nothing and from whom only himself could preserve her? Had he not secretly welcomed her wish last night to be carried aboard the Saucy Sally, and the contingency which made it impossible for her to be returned to the San Isidro? Was he not conscious of a sense of guilt that he had not found an opportunity to send her back to safety? She was completely in his power. His heart sang high; but the cord was frayed, and the note rang false. It was impossible; no matter how deeply he had seared his soul, no man born as he had been born could refuse the mute appeal of a woman in distress. He thought of his dishonor the night he had come upon the Saucy Sally, when in a fury against the fortune which still denied him he had railed, madly, impotently, against all virtue, and in a passion of vengefulness sunk so low that he had loudly threatened, like a common street ruffian and card-room bully, this woman, whom—God help him!—he loved and would love throughout all time. The depth of his degradation cumbered him about, remorse fell upon him,[207] and anguish wrung his heart from his body as nothing—not even the loss of the papers—had done.

The old life in London, with its gaming, its carousing and gallantry—he could see it all through new eyes, washed clean and clear by the purging winds and storms of heaven. Himself he marked from a great moral distance, almost as though from another planet—the silly, spoiled child of folly that he had been. And it was this impotent creature who had cried out against his fate, which, with a rare honesty, had only lowered him from the high estate to which he had won, in accordance with the same inexorable regulations of the human law which had raised him there. The figures in that London life passed before him like a row of tawdry puppets, serving the same martyrdom to folly as himself, at the expense of love, charity, and all true virtue. Soft thinking for a powder-blackened, bearded flibustier, with hands even yet red from his last depredation! He smiled supinely to himself, that he could think thus of the things that so recently had been his very[208] existence. In that London life, amid that throng of tinsel goddesses, one figure stood eminent and conspicuous. It was that of the woman who in all companies of men and women held her fame so fair that, whatever their reputations for high deeds or ignoble vices, none was so great as she. In that great court where virtue was a gem of so little worth that it was kept hid and secret, Mistress Barbara had worn it openly, broadly, high upon her brow, with a rare pride, as the most priceless of her inestimable jewels.

He loved her. Flaunted, scorned, despised, he loved her the more. The past was engulfed and vanquished. He only saw her an actuality of the flesh here aboard his very ship—the dove in the eagle’s nest, whom every law and impulse, human and divine, impelled him to succor and protect. The vibrant voice, the gentle touch, the soft perfume of her presence provoked the covetous senses and stole away his will. It was with mingled feelings of apprehension and alarm that he discovered to himself the persistency of his attachment. He acknowledged it[209] only when he learned that nothing else was possible. And when that was done he planned and resolved again, with a new fervency of determination. The future should atone. She had thought him a wild, reckless gallant, who had won his way and continued to win—by his wits—a worthless creature who consorted with the worst men of the court and presented in the world the characteristics she most despised. How he hated the thing that he had been, the mask that he had worn! If she had cared, she could have seen, she would have learned that he was not all that she had thought him. The reckless gallant was become a rough boucanier and pirato. She had seen him in the red fever of battle. Eh bien. He would not undeceive her. Red-handed pirato he would remain. No glimpse should she have of the struggle beneath. He would set her safe ashore at Port Royal. He would sail away from her forever, and she should enjoy her fortune. That was the price that he would pay.

None the less, he found the occasion to wash away the stains of battle, and in fresh linen and[210] hose became less offensive to the sight. When he sought the deck there was no sign of a vessel upon any side. Cornbury he found at the after-hatch, puffing upon a pipe.

“Ochone, dear Iron Arm,” the Irishman began, “ye’re the anomalous figure of a pirato, to be sure. One minute your form is painted broad upon the horizon with a cutlass in your teeth, an’ glistenin’ pikes in both your fists. I’ the next ye’re playin’ the hero part of ‘Vartue in Distress.’”

Bras-de-Fer smiled.

“Oh, ye may laugh. But in truth ’tis all most irregular. Ye violate every tradition of the thrade. By the laws, ye’re no dacent figure of a swashbuckler at all at all.”

“What would ye have then, mon ami?”

“Ah, he’s clean daffy! What would I have? Bah! ye know my misliking for the sex, and ye ask me what would I have? Egad! a walk on the plank, and a little dance on nothing would not be amiss for her. ’Tis the simplest thing in the world. The least bit of a rope, three ten-pound shot, a shove of the arm, and spsh! your[211] troubles are sunk in a mile of sea. To England, a treaty of peace with Captain Ferrers, and, voilà! ye’re a French viscount, with a fortune beyond the dreams of avarice, and an out-at-the-knees-and-elbows of an Irishman to help ye spend it. Man, ’tis a squanderin’ waste of opportunity.” He growled, and puffed upon his pipe, sending crabbed, sour glances at his captain.

“Oh, ye may laugh. Instead of this, what do ye do? Ye have my lady aboard the ship to the pervarsion of all dacent piratical society, give her my bed and board, and my particular niggar for waiting-man. Ye’re sowin’ the seeds of ripe mutiny, me handsome picaroon, an’ a red-headed Irishman will be there to aid in the blossomin’.”

“Nay, Cornbury,” said Bras-de-Fer. “We do but go a short cruise to Port Royal. I’ve set my mind on seeing my lady safe in English hands.”

“There ye are,” fumed the Irishman. “There ye are! Ye’ll kill the golden goose. Ye’ll jeopardize your callin’ again, all for that[212] same finical bundle of superficialities. Slapped once in the face, ye turn your cheek with new avidity for more. Zoons! I’ve no patience with such shilly-shallyin’.” And, as Bras-de-Fer was silent, he sent forth a quick succession of smoke puffs which chased madly down the wind.

“Ask Jacquard,” he growled again; “he likes it no more than I. There’s a mutterin’ forward. ’Tis discipline—the lack of drink and an unequal partitionin’ of the spoils—”

Pardieu!” interrupted the Frenchman at last, his eyes flashing in a fury. “Do they growl? Let them do it in the forecastle. No man, no, not even you, shall beard me on my quarter-deck!”

Cornbury did not arise or show the least sign of a changed countenance. “Ask Jacquard,” he repeated again.

Bras-de-Fer swung hotly on his heel and went below.



When the night had fallen again, Mistress Barbara Clerke went timorously upon the deck in search of Bras-de-Fer. His insensibility and brutality in turning away from her when she would have spoken to him in the cabin had tried her to the last extremity. But the thought of the duty she owed herself and him stifled the impulses of her spirit. And her pride, rebellious and insensate that the man who had so frankly sacrificed himself in London should care so little here, impelled her inevitably. Her fear of him was short-lived. In spite of all she knew to his discredit and the bloody guise in which she had found him, that look of humiliation and distress which she had brought into his face a night so long ago remained ineffaceably written upon her memory. It spoke[214] better than all the proofs she had discovered of the wrong that had been done him.

She found him, by the light of a lantern, directing the repair of a gun-carriage upon the poop. She addressed him timidly.

“Monsieur—er—Bras-de-Fer—” she began.

He raised his head and turned abruptly towards her, and the sense of security from rebuke she had counted upon, in the presence of the men, fled away at the sight of his frowning countenance.

“What are you doing here, madame?” he said, harshly. “The deck is no place for you. Go below at once or—”

But with never a glance at the grinning fellows at her elbow, she looked him steadily in the eyes as she replied, with a will and spirit which surprised even herself:

“I shall not, monsieur.” The voice was low and even. But the small hands were clenched, her head was tossed a little upon one side, and every line of her lithe body, which swung rhythmically to the motion of the sliding deck, spoke of invincible courage and determination. Bras-de-Fer[215] scowled darkly a moment, and even took a step in her direction, but she stood undaunted. With an assumption of carelessness he waved his hands, and presently they were alone.

“I thank you for that condescension,” she said at last.

“Speak your will quickly, madame. I am in a press of business.”

“You must hear me to the end, monsieur. No matter what—”

Ma foi, madame,” he sneered. “Is it you who command the ship or I? If there is aught you require, say on. If not, you will go below at once.”

“You must hear me, monsieur.”

“Madame”—he scowled and spoke with a studied brutality—“is it not enough that I have done your will once? I am taking you to safety. Try me not too far or—you may find reason to regret your presumption.” And as she shrank a little away from him: “What have you to expect from me? By what right do you seek me or ask me any favor?”


“By the right of a gentle birth. If not by that, by the right of a decent humanity.”

He laughed with an assumption of coarseness which sat strangely upon him.

“And have you no fear, Mistress Clerke? Does your instinct teach you no tremor?” He moved a pace nearer and glanced down upon her. “Do you not see, proud woman? Have you no trembling, no terror at the sight of me? Am I so gentle, so tractable, so ingenuous that you can defy me with impunity? You are in my power. There is no one to say me nay. What is there to prevent me doing with you as I will?”

She had not moved back from him the distance of a pace. And it was his eye that first fell before hers.

“You will doubtless do your will,” she said, evenly. “But I cannot find it in my heart to fear you, monsieur.” And the quietude of her reliance paled his mock brutality into a mere silly effusiveness.

“At the sight of you, monsieur,” she continued, “there is little room for fear in my breast. No, even if you should strike me down here upon[217] this foreign, friendless deck, I believe that I could raise no hand or voice in protest.”

“Madame!” he said.

“It is true. You are powerless to offend. Why, your threats are mere empty vaunts, monsieur! Even in this dusky light I can see it in your eyes. You are clean of evil intent as a babe unborn.”

Bras-de-Fer bowed his head.

“Oh, let me right the great wrong that has been done—”

“It is impossible—”

“When you learn— Listen, oh, listen, monsieur!” she cried, passionately, as he moved away. “When you learn that I have left London for you; that I have given up all I possessed that a great wrong might be righted, a great martyrdom ended, you will no longer refuse me.” The words came tumbling forth any way from her lips in the mad haste that he might hear before he was gone out of earshot.

And as he paused to listen, fearfully: “Yes, yes, monsieur, I have learned,” she cried again. “I know. It is yours—it is all yours.”


Bras-de-Fer turned his body towards her again, but as he faced her his head was still bowed in his shoulders and she could see no other sign of any emotion. The revelation that he had longed for, and feared because he longed for it so much, was made. The secret was out. However he planned and whatever guise of unfriendliness he took, the relations between himself and this woman were changed thenceforward. The struggle for the mastery was fierce as it was brief. And in that moment, no matter how changed his duty to himself and her, he resolved that she should have no sign of it. When he raised his head again to the lantern-light all trace of the storm that had passed over his spirit was gone.

“It is too late, madame,” he muttered. “Too late. I stand by the cast of the die.”

“You cannot know what you say, monsieur. If the estates do not go to you, they will go to no one. It is the end of the house of De Bresac. Your fortune, your titles, your honors—”

“And my good name?” he asked, coldly.[219] “Who will restore to me my good name? No. I shall not return to London, madame.”

“You must return,” she broke in, wildly. “It is a sacred duty. If not for yourself, for the blood that runs in our veins.”

The phrase sang sweet in his ears. But he gave no sign.

“Blood is thicker than water, but it seeks its level as surely. I have made my bed; I shall sleep no less soundly because it is a rough one.”

She struggled to contain the violence of her emotion. “No, no, it cannot be, it must not be. You will learn how I have striven for you. You cannot refuse. It would be cruel, inhuman, monstrous!”

“Mistress Clerke has much to learn of the inhumanities,” he said. And then, with cool composure, “What power availed to convince her, where Monsieur Mornay was so unfortunate?”

“You are cruel, cruel. What had you to expect of me? What had you done in London to merit my favor? Why should I have believed in one of whom I knew nothing—nothing but[220] presumption and indignity? How should I have known?”

“Madame’s advisers—”

“Do not speak of them,” she interrupted. “It is past. The proofs were brought me. That is all. Why need you know more?”

“Captain Ferrers?” he said, insinuatingly.

“Yes, he!” She drew herself to her full height, and he could not fail to mark the lofty look of scorn that curved her lips and brow. “All London learned of the story of your escape. My agents were told that the vessel upon which you had fled was in the American trade. And so I sought service where I might best reach you. Thank God, my quest has not been in vain!”

“Madame sought service?” he said, in a wonder which vied with his cold assumption of apathy.

“I sought service with the Señorita de Batteville, monsieur,” she continued, with a proud lift of the chin, “in the capacity of waiting-woman and duenna.”

The words fell with cruel import upon his[221] ears. He could hardly believe that he had heard aright.

“You serve—?” he stammered.

“Have I not said that every livre of my fortune—”

“Yes. But, madame—to serve!—you!—”

“Is it so strange? Would you have me take that which is not mine? No, monsieur, I am no thief.”

Bras-de-Fer had turned resolutely towards the bulwarks with a mind more turbulent even than the seething waters below him. In the turmoil of his emotions he knew not which way to turn, what to say or what to do. The plan that he had marked for himself was becoming every moment less and less distinct.

It was with an effort that he turned towards her, his resolution giving him an implacability he was far from feeling.

“Madame, your probity does you credit. Were your judgment as unerring as your honesty, I had not left London. As it is, I’ve no mind to return.”

“Monsieur,” she faltered—“monsieur—”


“If you please, madame. I would have you below. ’Tis a rough crew, and I’ll not answer for them—”

“But you will tell me—”

“Madame, you’ve purged your conscience. There your duty ends. At Port Royal it shall be arranged that you are sent to Porto Bello. As for me, my will is made.”

“Ah, you are malignant,” she cried, with a flash of spirit, his cold, sinister eye sinking and piercing deep into her heart like cold steel. “You are not he whom I have sought. He was frank, generous, kind. A strange, bitter, monstrous creature has grown in his guise.” Her voice trembled and broke as she moved to the hatchway.

“May God help you,” she said, in a kind of sobbing whisper, “who have so little kindness and pity for others.” And in a moment she had faded, a slender, shrinking shade of sorrow, from his vision.

When she was gone he fell upon the bulwarks and buried his face in his hands.

“Ah, bon Dieu!” he murmured; “how could I[223] do it! She who has been so kind—so kind.” The new delight that swept over him at the thought of all that this rare, sweet woman had done for him came over him in a delicious flush, which drove away the pallor of his distemper like the warm glow of the tropics upon the frozen north. The heavy burden of his melancholy was lifted. If he crept about with bowed head now, it was because of some failing of the spirit or some craven dishonor of his own. He and his were forever raised to high estate, and no careless proscription of his inconsequent Mistress Fate could cast him down again. The freedom of his soul from the blight which his birth had put upon it lent it wings to soar gladly into the wide empyrean of his imagination. And he gave himself up without stint to the new joy in their motion. Did he wish, he could go at once to London and take a place among the men of his kind, a place which no mere art could win for him.

To London! There was a time when that word was magic for him—when, in careless bravado, he was challenging his fortune to deny[224] him what he wished. Now he wondered at the singular distaste which grew at the very thought of the life that had been. With such a fortune and such a name there were no favors or honors he could not buy. He would know how to win his way again. But his spirit was listless at the thought. With the joy at his freedom from the cloud of his birth his pleasure ended. The estates, his titles and honors, dwelt so little in his mind that he marveled again at his change of disposition. He could go to London. But at what cost! Summon the goddesses of his past as he might, their essenced wiles and specious blandishing, distance gave them no added charm. He could only see this pale, proud woman, with a rare and imperturbable honesty which showed how justly she had worn the honors she relinquished, in a pure nobility which brought a flush to his cheek, giving up without a qualm or faltering the life and habits, the high condition, to which she had been born and in which she had been so carefully nurtured. Could he go back to London to leave this woman a wanderer, a servant, whose only hope even[225] for a bare existence lay in the bounty of a Spaniard? The thought grew upon him and oppressed him and drove all the joy from his heart. All this she had done for him—for him. He rolled the thought over and over in his mind, like a sweetmeat in the mouth, with a new taste of delicacy and delight at every turn. She had given it all for him—that he, the man she had affected so profoundly to despise, might be exalted. It was not a triumph, but a quiet joy, the joy that the sick feel at the touch of a ministering angel. It did not matter what the cause, whether she had made this sacrifice for the principle or whether she had made it for the individual. He was the cause of this great outflow of human kindness and self-sacrifice from the deep, warm well-springs of this wonderful woman’s heart, which he had so often sought to reach and sought in vain. The glimmer of a single tear which had trembled a moment upon her cheek in the lantern-light reached to the very quick of the unrevealed secret depths of his nature, where no plummet had ever before sounded. It had glistened a jewel more inestimable[226] than all the wealth she had brought him. Could he leave this woman upon the world, at the mercy of every bitter occasion? He had chosen wisely. Red-handed boucanier he would remain. He would not undeceive her. The light in which she held him removed all chance of an understanding. He would set her safely ashore at Porto Bello; then, with the aid of Cornbury and the English government, so dispose his affairs that the fortune would revert to her in case of his death whether she willed it or no. Then he would set to sea and take the precaution to die as speedily and publicly as might be. So far as she was concerned that would be the end. He would see England no more. It was here that his talents found their readiest employment. Of all his fortune, he would take only the ship upon which he sailed, and under another name, which would serve his purposes as adequately as the one he now bore, he would continue as he had begun, with a wider license only, a free-trader, a picaroon, a pirato, if you will.


It was Jacquard who broke, without ceremony, upon his meditations.

“Monsieur le Capitaine,” he began, with an air of some brusqueness.

“Oh, Jacquard,” he replied, abstractedly, “are we well repaired?”

“Monsieur, it is not that. For some days I have wished to see you. There is a muttering in the forecastle. Yan Gratz—”

“Ah! Well—”

“Monsieur, there is nothing upon the surface; from outward view ’tis placid as a pond. But I know. I have ears upon all sides of my head. ’Tis Yan Gratz. You’ve set his value too low. Gratz will not forget the leopard spots upon him. Like the leopard, he will bite, and as stealthily he will crawl.”

Pardieu, Jacquard, is it so?” Bras-de-Fer lifted his brows. “And what is the grievance now?”

Jacquard scratched his great nose in perplexity before he replied.

“It is the discipline,” he began, slowly—“the discipline which has wearied them; they have[228] little rum to drink: two tins yesterday, one tin to-day, and, lastly—monsieur will pardon me—lastly, monsieur, this matter of the lady prisoner. Monsieur, they say—”

“Jacquard, it is enough,” he interrupted. “You need say no more. You may tell them that upon the Saucy Sally I command. If there is grumbling, let them come to me openly at the mast and not skulk like cats in the dark.”

“If monsieur will permit, I would think it better—”

“What! You, too, Jacquard? Why, ’tis a very honeycomb of faithlessness.”

“Monsieur, monsieur!” cried Jacquard in an agony of awkward anguish. “You know that it is not so, monsieur. It is not so; I am but giving my opinion. It would be wise to notice them. There is yet time to set the lady upon a vessel.”

“It shall not be, Jacquard. We sail straight forth into the broad ocean, and then by way of the wide passage of Porto Rico, west to Port Royal, in Jamaica. That is my plan. It is unalterable. If we happen upon Spanish prizes, so much the better. We shall take them. But[229] we shall seek none. And as for the lady, she shall be set ashore upon Jamaica, and not upon any passing ship.”

Jacquard, whose jaw had dropped, and whose face had been growing longer and longer during this recital, burst forth at last.

Mais, monsieur,” he cried, “it is unwise to taunt them so. The Spanish ships are thick about us. In another month the carrying will be less. It is the time of times. Their blood is hot with victory.”

Bras-de-Fer broke in with an oath. “It will be cold with death if they balk me. If Yan Gratz has aught to say, let him come forth like a man,” and then, with a smile, “Perhaps he has the stomach for a little play upon the pike.”

“Monsieur, he will not come. He fears you like the plague. He will do his work the more effectively in quiet.”

Bras-de-Fer paused a moment and then came to Jacquard and put both hands upon his shoulders.

Mon ami,” he said, “what you ask is impossible. It is impossible. I give you my word. If[230] I could do what you advise I should do so; for what you urge is wise. But I must try to do what I have planned to do. If I cannot do it with you, I must do it without you.”

“Oh, monsieur,” interrupted Jacquard, almost at the edge of tears, “I would do for you always—speak for you, work for you, fight for you—and now, do not doubt me, monsieur!” The appeal shone forth with so true a light from his small, glittering eyes that Bras-de-Fer was truly affected by the demonstration.

“I believe you, mon ami. Go. Tell me all that happens. I will follow your advice as I can.”



Mistress Barbara reached her cabin door, free, save for that rebellious tear which the Frenchman had seen, of any outward mark of the turbulence of her emotions. But once within, and the key turned in the lock, she buried her face in her hands, her frame racked by hard, dry sobs which filled her throat and overwhelmed her. Fearful that the sounds might reach the ears of him who had caused them, she clenched her teeth upon her kerchief, wrapped her cloak closely about her neck and face, and threw herself upon the bench in an agony of mortification. God help her! Had it all been in vain? She had sought the man, she had found him, and he had repulsed her unkindly, even cruelly, as though she had been a foolish child or a dotard—a person unworthy of consideration. Was this the one she had known[232] in London, the gallant Chevalier Mornay, who, however bold or daring, carried forward his presumptions with a grace and courtesy which robbed them of their offensiveness? She might acknowledge this now that he was grown so different. What had come over him? Was he mad? He had repulsed her as though she sought to do him an injury; had spoken to her as she had heard him speak to the vile creatures about him, in a tone which lowered her to their own low level. He had spurned her, scorned her lightly, carelessly, coolly, as though even his scorn were too valuable an emotion to squander upon one he held in such a low estimation. Never had she been treated thus by man or woman, and her gorge rose at the thought of it. The sobbing ceased, and in place of her distress came an unreasoning, quiet fury—fury at herself, at him, at the world which had brought her to such a pass. She rose and, angrily brushing the wet, straggling hair from her eyes, threw wide the stern casement to look out on the gray turmoil of waters which vanished into the unseen. Was this the man for whom she had left[233] London and sacrificed everything? Was this fool who threw her favors aside like a tarnished ribbon, was this the man who had followed her about from place to place in London, seeking to win her by the same bold methods he had used with other women, fawning—yes, fawning—for a look or a glance which he might read to his advantage? She laughed aloud. Ah! he had found none. No sign, not the faintest quiver of an eyelid had she ever given him; nor even dignified him by her righteous anger until that night in the garden at Dorset House, when by a trick he had taken her unawares, to the end that her lofty disdain had given way to an active, breathing hatred. Then, when she had learned that the man was no impostor, but her own kinsman, of whose martyrdom she had been unwittingly the cause, pity had taken the place of scorn, contrition the place of vengefulness, compassion the place of hate.

The damp night wind touched her cheek and brow, the luster died out of her eyes, her lips parted, and the deep intaking of breath and trembling sigh bespoke the passing of the emotion—a[234] surrender. Was he not moving strictly within the letter of his rights? Could she expect him to come flying on wings of ardency at the mere crooking of her finger? Search her heart as she might, she could find no anger there. Of that she was sure, no matter how great the rebellion of her spirit against his cool impenetrability. She knew better than any words could tell that had he been precipitate in response to her news and her petitions, she must have been as stone to his advances. But he wore his armor so well that her woman’s weapons needed all their burnishing. She was conscious even of a sense of guilt. The noble sentiments which had sent her forth upon this wild chase across half the world were suborned to the feminine appetite for tribute withheld. The woman in her saw only her natural enemy, man, rebellious and declaring war, who must at all hazards be brought into subjection.

It might be possible. And yet she doubted. She could not understand. One moment he was masterful in a way which thrilled her. In another the eyes would reveal that which no tangling[235] or knitting of the brows or thinning of the lips could belie. Had she rightly read him? She could not forget that she had surprised him in his subterfuges, that, in spite of herself and him, she could not fear him. What if—? She dared not think. Was the love which this man’s eyes had spoken to her so great as this? Could it be that her fate was ever cruelly to misjudge him? Was there something finer in his life than she had ever known in another’s—something that she could not learn of or understand?

She trembled a little and drew the casement in. The lantern was flickering dimly, casting strange patches of shadow, which danced upon the beams and bulkhead. If monsieur loved her she would learn it from his own lips. If this were so, and she had not read him amiss, ’twas but a paltry excuse for a man of his birth and attainments to throw away his life at this wild calling, to the end that a silly person (who merited nothing) might continue to enjoy the benefits he could thus relinquish. He should not leave her again. At whatever cost he must return to London. The estates were his, and nothing[236] save his death could give her any right to them.

She was warm and cold by turns. She must gain time to win him over, dissimulate, deceive him if necessary. It might, perhaps, be accomplished; a look or a gesture, a speech with a hidden meaning (however at variance with the fact) which might give him hope that she was no longer indifferent to him. Then, perhaps, she might draw aside the mask. He would be tractable and perhaps even pliant. Ah, she must act well her part, with all her subtle woman’s weapons of offense; conceal her feelings (however at variance with the actual performance), that he might not question her integrity. He was clever and keen. It would call for all the refinements of her arts. Were she not to throw a depth of meaning into her play of the rôle he would learn of the fraud and all her labors would be at naught. Despicable as the task would be (what could be more despicable than mock coquetry?), she must go through it in the same spirit with which she had entered upon this quest. There would be no need, of course,[237] to promise anything (what would there be to promise?), and, when the time was come, she could go out of his life as speedily as she had come into it. Far into the night she thought and planned, while she watched the guttering lamps and the wavering shadows, until at last weariness fell heavily upon her eyelids and she slept.

The cabin was aflood with light when she awoke. There was a sound of rushing feet overhead, the clatter of heavy boots, and the rattle of blocks and spars. Hoarse orders rang forward and aft, and the very air seemed aquiver with import. Deep down in the bowels of the vessel below her she heard the jangling of arms and the jarring of heavy objects. She started up, half in wonder, half in fear, and rushed to the port by the bulkhead.

There the reason for this ominous activity was apparent. Not a league distant under the lee was a large vessel under full press of canvas, fleeing for her life. ’Twas evident that the Saucy Sally had crept near her during the night; and the laggard Spaniard, unaware of the nationality or dangerous character of his[238] neighbor, had permitted her to come close, until the full light of day had convinced him of his error. That he was making a valiant effort to repair it was evident in the way the vessel was heeling to the wind and the lashing of the amber foam into which she frantically swam in her mad struggle to win clear away. But even Mistress Barbara’s untutored eye could see that the effort was a vain one. For the slipping seas went hurrying past the Sally’s quarter with a rush which sent them speedily astern to mingle with the dancing blue line which marked the meeting of the sky and sea.

The intention of the Sally was soon apparent. A crash split Mistress Barbara’s ears and set her quivering with fear. Flight was impossible, and so, in a ferment of terror, yet fascinated, she watched the shot go flying towards the luckless fugitive. It was not until then that the real danger of her situation became apparent. A cloud of white floated away from the Spaniard’s stern. She saw no shot nor heard any sound of its striking, but she knew that monsieur had willfully gone into action, and heedlessly exposed[239] her to the shocks of war. Had he no kindness, no clemency or compassion? Was it, after all, a mistake that she should have given this man her solicitude and confidence?

A knock at the door fell almost as loudly upon her ears as the crash of ordnance had done. When a second and sharper knock resounded, she summoned her voice to answer.

“Madame, it is I,” came in low tones from without. “If you can find it convenient to open—”

At the sound of the voice she gained courage. Monsieur had come to her. Trembling, yet still undismayed, she crept to the door and opened it.

The face of the Frenchman was dark and impassive. If the night had brought a new resolution to her, it was plain that monsieur was in no wise different from yesterday. All this she noted while her hand still clung falteringly to the knob of the door.

“Madame,” he began, “the matter is most urgent. If it will please you to follow me—”

Mistress Barbara with difficulty found her tongue.


“Where, monsieur. What—”

“Madame, I pray that you will make haste. There is little time to lose. I should be at this moment upon the deck.”

“Monsieur would take me—?”

“Below the water-line, madame. There will be a fight. Shots may be fired. I would have you in safety.”

Alas for Mistress Barbara’s crafty plans and gentle resolutions. In a moment they were dissipated by the imperturbability, the tepid indifference of his manner, which should have been so different in the face of a situation which promised so much that was ominous to her. His coolness fell about her like a bucket of water, and sent a righteous anger to her rescue, so that her chill terror was driven forth for the nonce by a flush of hot blood. When she spoke, her voice rang clear with a certain bitter courage.

“Safety!” she cried. “Monsieur is too kind. I shall prefer to be killed here—here in the decent privacy of the cabin.”

“Madame,” said he, in impatience, “it is no[241] time for delay. There must be no obstacle to your obedience.”

She looked at him in an angry wonder. If this were mock insult, it had too undisguised a taste to be quite palatable.

“Monsieur,” she said, stamping her foot in a rage, “I go nowhere for you. Nowhere. I will die before I follow you. Battle or no battle, here I shall remain. Am I a lackey or a woman-of-all-work that you order me thus! Safety! If you value my safety, why do you permit them to make war over my very head? No, no. You are transparent—a very tissue of falsities. I read you as an open book, monsieur.”

She paused a moment for the lack of breath.

“I do not believe in you. How do you repay me for what I have done? Refuse me, deny me, and order me about like a willful child with your insolent glare and your cool, puckered brow. What is my safety to you? I do not believe—”

“Madame, you must come at once.”

“Never!” she cried. “Never! No power shall move me from the spot. Nothing—” At this moment a crash ten times more dreadful[242] than the first shook the vessel like a hundred thunderbolts. Cornbury, in blissful ignorance of the battle raging below, had opened the battle above with the entire starboard broadside.

Mistress Barbara stammered, faltered, and fell back towards the table, trembling with fear. She put her hands to her ears as though to blot out the sounds. And then, in a supplicating dependence which set at naught all the hot words that had poured from her lips, she leaned forward listlessly upon the table.

“Take me,” she said, brokenly. “Take me. I am all humility. I will go, monsieur.”

A soft light she had seen there before crept into the eyes of Bras-de-Fer. As though unconscious, she saw his extended arms thrust forward to her support and heard as from a distance the resonant voice, the notes of which, with a strange, sweet insistence, sang among her emotions until, like lute strings, they sang and trembled in return. And the chord which they awoke to melody rang through every fiber of her being with a new-pulsing joy, a splendid delight,[243] like the full-throated song of praise of a bird at early morn.

She felt his hand seek hers. She made no move to resist him. She could not. Something in the break of his voice, the reverence in his touch, sought and subdued her. In a moment she learned that the love of a life had come and that all else was as nothing.

“Barbara! Barbara!” he was saying. “Look at me, chérie. Tell me that you are not angry. I have tried so hard to leave you—so hard. I have spoken to you bitterly and coldly, that your mind might be poisoned and frozen against me, that you might hate and despise me for the unworthy thing that I am. Alas! it is my own heart that I have pierced and broken. Look up at me, Barbara. I cannot bear to see you thus. Ah, if you had only opposed me in anger, I could have continued the deception. Your anger was my refuge. It was the only thing that made my cruelty possible. It cried aloud like a naked sword. I welcomed it, and set steel upon steel that I might shield my heart. But now, listless, yielding, submissive, you disarm me, you rob[244] me of my only weapon. I am yours. Do with me what you will.”

His voice trembled, and he bent his head upon her hand to hide the excess of his emotion. As she felt the touch of his lips, she started and moved ever so slightly, but with no effort to withdraw. When he lifted his head it was to meet eyes that wavered and looked away.

“Do not turn from me, Barbara. Do not add to the deep measure of my contrition. The cup is full. Add to it but one drop and it will overflow. Requite me with tenderness, madame, if you can find it in your heart, for mine is very near to breaking. Look in my eyes, where my love glows like a beacon. Listen, and you will hear it speak in my voice like a young god. Can you not feel my very finger-tips singing into your palms the cadences of my heart’s chorus? Is it not thus that women wish to be loved? Search my heart as you will, you’ll find an answer there to every wish and every prayer.”

She trembled and swayed in his arms like a slender shrub in a storm. It seemed as though, in his fervor, he were running the gamut of her[245] every vulnerable sensibility. But as she felt his breath warm upon her hair and cheek she raised her eyes until they looked into his; then drew away from him with a gentle firmness. She was perturbed and shaken with the compounding of new emotions. She could not see all things clearly. She only knew that what she had expected least had come to pass. She had burnished her woman’s weapons in vain. She had sought to delude and beguile, and had only deluded and beguiled herself. As she had promised herself, she had drawn aside the mask, but she had unmasked herself at the same time. She had sought and she had found so many things that she knew not which way to turn. She must do something to gain time to think and plan. It was all so different to London. In spite of herself, she knew that he had conquered, and a suffusion of shame that she had been so easily won mounted to her neck and forehead, and she turned her head away. And then, in a last obedience to that instinct of self-preservation which sets a woman upon the defensive when she knows not what she would defend (nor[246] would defend it if she could), she broke away from him and stood alone, pulsing with the effort, but triumphant.

“Monsieur,” she breathed with difficulty, “it is unfair—to—to—press me so.”

But he was relentless. “Ah, madame, am I then despised, as on that night in Dorset Gardens? Nay, I am as God made me—not the thing you would have supposed—”

“Monsieur, have pity.”

“Ah, then look at me again, Barbara. Look in my face and deny. Look in my eyes, chérie—deny me if you can.”

She felt his arms encircle her, and she struggled faintly.

“No, no. It is not so.”

“Look me in the eyes, Barbara; I will not believe it else. If I am nothing to you, look me in the eyes and tell me so.”

“No! No! No!”

She raised her face until her closed eyes were on a level with his own. Then she opened them with an effort to look at him, as though to speak.

A deafening crash again shook the Sally, so[247] that the ship’s dry bones rattled and quivered under their feet like a being with the ague, and she seemed about to shake her timbers asunder. Mistress Barbara’s answer was not spoken, for at this rude sound a fit of trembling seized her again and she sank listlessly into the protecting shelter of his arms, and hid her face upon his bosom in a commingling of terror and wonderment that were only half real.

“No, no,” she sobbed at last, “it is not true. It is not true.”

Bras-de-Fer bent over her in a blind adoration and gently touched his lips to her hair. She made no further effort to resist him. Then, when the tear-stained face was raised to his own, in her eyes he read a different answer to his pleading.

Bien adorée!” he whispered, kissing her tenderly—“Barbara!”

The hand within his own tightened and the lissome figure came closer to his own. “Take me away, monsieur,” she murmured. “Take me away. Oh, I am so weary—so weary.”

“Struggle no more,” he whispered. “Courage;[248] all will yet be well. Come with me below to safety, and it will soon be over.”

He had moved away from her towards the door, and would have withdrawn his hand, but she held it with both of her own while her eyes looked into his with an anxious query.

“Oh, I,” he said, with a smile—“I shall be in no danger, madame. That I promise you. ’Tis but a Spanish merchantman, with little skill in war. Why, Sally will run her aboard in the skipping of a shot. And now”—as they moved towards the door—“but a little while and I shall be with you again, to keep guard over your door, to keep guard upon you always—always.”



She summoned all her courage, and Bras-de-Fer led her forward along the passage upon the deck to the other hatch. Yan Gratz, Jacquard, and the crew were crowded at the broadside guns, and at the sight of monsieur the Dutchman’s face broke into a pasty smile as he sneered to his neighbor.

“Vos dis a schip or Vitehall Palace? Pots blitz!” And he spat demonstratively.

But Bras-de-Fer was handing my lady down the hatch into the after-hold, with a gesture into which he put even more of a manner than the occasion demanded. Jacquard had gone down before with a lighted lantern, and had unfastened the hatch of the lazaretto, the opening of which made a murky patch in the obscurity. Mistress Barbara shuddered a little and drew back, but the strong arm of monsieur encircled[250] her waist, his firm hand reassured her own, and his low voice spoke in even accents.

“These are chests of gold and silver, jewels and silks, madame”; and then, “It is here that we keep our priceless captures,” he whispered, smiling. “Sit in comfort. The water-line is above, where you see the beams o’erhead. In a little while I will come again, and all will be well.” He pressed the trembling hand in both his own, and she saw him follow the long figure of Jacquard, who with sympathy and discretion, of which his glum demeanor gave no indication, had left the light hanging to a timber and gone growling above.

Alone with the swaying lantern, the beams and bulkheads, the boxes and chests, she gave herself over to her own turbulent reflections. There was a swish and hollow gurgle at her very ear as the seas alongside washed astern, a creaking and a groaning of the timbers, which made her tremble for the stanchness of the vessel. The boxes and chests resolved themselves into great square patches of light which thrust their staring presence forward obtrusively;[251] and the vagrant diagonal shadow took a new direction and meaning in the misty darkness beyond the sphere of light at each new posture of the vessel. Strange odors—musty, dry, and evil-smelling—afflicted her nostrils; and the air, hot and fetid, hung about her and upon her offensively. Breathing became a muscular exertion and an effort of the will. She bit her lip and clenched her hands upon the chest where she was seated, to keep from crying aloud her misery and terror. Suddenly there was a sound of rending and tearing among the complaining timbers, and the guns above renewed their angry threats. One, two, three, four single discharges she heard, a scattering broadside, and then silence. Again that chorus of unfamiliar sounds, each one of which spoke to her in a different way of danger in some new and dreadful form. Presently the clamorous sea sang a louder, wilder note, the timbers cried aloud in their distress, the lantern swung sharply in abrupt and shortening circles, and the shadows, like arms, thrust out at her from the unseen and filled her with a new and nameless[252] terror. The motion of the vessel was sickening. And the black, noisome air, from which there was no escape, seemed to fill her very brain and poison her faculties.

With a blind effort she arose, and in affright at she knew not what crept up the ladder to the hatch. It were better to die the death at once than to be poisoned by inches. She drank gratefully of the purer air above her and listened to the sounds of shouting from the deck. There was a shock and a crash as the ships came together, and then all sounds, save at intervals, were lost in the grinding of the vessels and the roar of the sea between. She heard several shots as though at a great distance, but these were as nothing after the noise of the great guns, and she almost smiled as she thought how easily the victory was accomplished.

And he—had monsieur come off free of harm? She trembled a little at the thought of it, and yet even the trembling had in it something of a new and singular delight. With her eyes free to roam in the gray of the half-deck, where there was air, if ever so faint, and the sweet[253] smell of the sea, she thought no more of herself. The silence above boded no ill. She heard nothing but the wash of the sea alongside, the creaking and clatter of blocks on the deck, and the craunch of the ships to the roll of the sea. At last the sound of voices was nearer and louder, whether in anger, fear, or pleasure she could not discover; then the tramping of heavy boots and the rushing of men forward and aft; but no sound of shot or clash of steel, to remind her of her continued jeopardy. Five, ten minutes she listened, all her faculties alert for the sound of his voice. The grinding of the vessels ceased, and when the main-deck hatch was removed she could hear quite plainly the sounds upon the deck. The voices of men in fierce disputation fell hollowly down through a crack in the narrow aperture. One was thin and small, like that of a child. Another was heavy and gruff, and cursed volubly in French. Sharper tones rang between and through it all, the roar or continuous murmur of a crowd. Something had fallen amiss, she was sure. Suddenly, as though a spell had fallen upon their tongues, the clamor[254] was hushed, and in the brief second of desperation the sea noises about her sang loudly in her ears, which strained to catch every sound.

At last a single voice, slow, calm, dispassionate, began to speak; it was his. She emerged upon the half-deck in order that nothing of what was passing might escape her, and leaned upon the ladder, looking to where the daylight flickered down.

“Your humor is changed wondrously, mes amis. You ask many things, not the least of which is this Spaniard’s death. You, Yan Gratz, and you, Barthier, Troc, and Duquesnoy, you, Craik and Goetz, stand aside. I grant nothing—nothing—where I see the gleam of a weapon naked. Sheathe your cutlasses and stand aside. Then, maybe, we shall see.”

There was an ominous movement of scraping feet, a clatter of weapons, and then a hoarse turmoil, a very bedlam of sounds, a wild scratching and scuffling upon the deck, and hoarse, dreadful cries, savage and fierce, like the bark of hungry dogs, yet, with its ringing accompaniment of clanging steel, infinitely more terrible.[255] Half mad with the terror at this struggle, of which she could see nothing, faint and weak with the accumulation of her distresses, she hung more dead than alive to the companion-ladder, in one moment shutting her ears to the mad din above her, in another listening eagerly for the broken fragments of sound, fearful that the end of all things might come in one of those merciful moments in which she heard nothing. She thrust her hand into her breast and pulled forth the slender petronel which she had brought from the San Isidro. She looked at the shining barrel and saw to the flint and charge. There should be no hesitation. If monsieur—

But no! no! He was there yet. She heard his voice, strong, valiant, ringing like a clarion above the medley: “Aha, Cornbury!” it cried. “Point and edge, mon ami!... Your pupils are too apt, Monsieur le Maître d’Armes.... Ah, Craik, would you?... Voilà ... touché, Duquesnoy ... touché, mais ... ce n’est rien!... Well struck, Cornbury!... Jacquard, help us, coquin!... To the rail ...[256] back to back ... we will drive them ... into the sea!”

The rushing feet clattered over her head and she heard the sound of his voice no more. She wondered whether it was because it rang no more that she did not hear it, or whether her terror and her weakness had deprived her of her senses. The seconds grew into hours. Broken cries and curses in strange, harsh voices came to her again, and she knew that she heard aright; the sound of blows, the hard breathing of men, all swallowed in the many noises of the combat, and at the last the fall of something muffled, heavy, and resistless upon the deck came with a new and dreadful portent to her ears. She stifled the shriek which rose to her lips and pressed her hands to her bosom to still its tremors. That dull, echoless sound could have but one meaning.

She stood inert, her mind and body things apart. She could not bring herself into accord with the too obtrusive fact, and wondered aimlessly that her ear caught at the cries of the complaining timbers and rush of water alongside,[257] rather than at the vortex of her life’s tragedy which whirled just at her elbow. And thus, in a merciful tempering of her spirit to the occasion she hung swaying to the ladder, her mind gaining a cool and purposeful self-possession which was to nerve her frail body to further efforts. If monsieur were dead, then she had but to die also. She knew that she must keep her strength, for if she lost consciousness they would come below and find her; and when she awoke—alive and alone upon this horrible ship— The thought gave a new life to her energies, and she determined to put an end at once to the uncertainty. Anything were better than the suspense which each moment made the danger of weakness more imminent. Step by step she crept up the staggering ladder until her head had reached the level of the hatch above. Then she pushed aside the covering, and, the pistolet in her nerveless fingers, peered forth upon deck.

Joy gave her new strength and energy. There against the bulwarks, pale and breathless, but erect and strong, with the light of battle still[258] undiminished in his eyes, was Bras-de-Fer; while around him in a wide, snarling circle were a dozen of the wolves of the Saucy Sally, ready to spring in upon him, and yet each fearful to be the first to bite. There was a smell of rum in the air, and a broken cask told a part of the cause of the difficulty. Upon the deck curious loose distortions made a ghastly parody of the flesh which they had been. All these things she noted in a glance, but her eyes fell instinctively upon the figure of a tall man, the one who had lighted her below, who was brandishing his arms, not at monsieur, but towards a stout man in baggy breeches, who stood defiantly blinking at him, raising first a pistol and then a sword towards Bras-de-Fer in a manner not to be misinterpreted. Here was the key to the situation. He was not then quite alone. But as she looked a thrill of horror came over her. Two men fell upon the tall man from behind and seized his arms. Then the fat man leaned forward towards monsieur, with an oily, vicious smile. He said nothing at all, but, keeping his sword in front of him, with his left hand, slowly and with[259] a grim deliberation, raised his pistol into a line.

Barbara’s wild cry rang from one end of the deck to the other. Regardless of her own danger and scarce responsible, she was flying across the intervening space towards Yan Gratz. The startled Dutchman, disconcerted for a moment by this unfamiliar sound, turned, his mouth agape, his pistol pointing purposeless at the empty air. “Stop!” she cried, supremely imperious, yet affrighted at the sound of her own voice. “Stop! You must not! I command you!

Yan Gratz paused, uncertain for a moment. He looked at this gentle adversary as though he did not know whether to scowl or laugh. Then his lumpy face broke into a smile and his lifted brows puckered his forehead into innumerable wrinkles. The pistol dropped to his side.

“Aw—yaw—you commandt me?”—he began wagging his head—“but who in de name o’ Cott vhas you?”

Then for the first time his eye fell upon the[260] pistolet which Mistress Barbara still held tightly clutched in her extended hand. In her solicitude for monsieur she had forgotten herself and the weapon, which now, still unconsciously, she pointed directly at the portly person of Yan Gratz. He stammered and fell back a pace in amazement. The diversion was sufficient. For by this time Jacquard had struggled to his feet, and, throwing aside the fellows who were holding him, had rushed in and seized the pistol from the hand of the Dutchman before he could use it. At the same moment Bras-de-Fer, with a fierce cry, had sprung forward among the amazed mutineers and had taken Barbara under the cover of his weapon.

“Listen, mes camarades!” roared Jacquard above the confusion, waving the pistol in wide, commanding circles. “Listen, mes braves, and you will not regret. Listen, I say. It is I, Jacquard, who speaks. Wait but a moment and hear me. Listen. And when I am done you will say old Jacquard is wise.” His ungainly figure towered before them—the swinging arms like great wings, the hooked brows and curved beak[261] making him look not unlike some gigantic bird of prey ready at a moment to fall upon any who denied him. At last, such was his influence that they were brought to a measure of calmness. Then with crafty deliberation he began to speak.

“Ah, mes galants, we have hunted together long, you and I, and we have hunted well. Last year you drank or spent or gamed a thousand pounds away. To-day the hold and lazaretto of old Sally are full of Spanish silks and laces and plate for the selling. In Port Royal are other ships which will yield ye more. And you will sacrifice these ships and these cargoes and all the money they’ll bring to you.”

Many cries arose, the loudest of which was that of Yan Gratz. “Sacrifice de schips, Shacky Shackart! Py Cott! It is a lie, verdomd!”

“It is so, mateys, I will swear it. Kill monsieur, yonder, and not one shilling from the ships do you get. Why? In Port Royal monsieur showed his warrant to the governor. The governor has a certain share in the takings from the Isidro. ’Twill be a strange tale ye’ll tell if[262] Bras-de-Fer comes not back with the ship. The master-at-arms ye’ve killed, if I mistake not. He’s captain in his Majesty’s Guards. Perhaps ye can explain that.”

Anxious glances passed among the rascals as they looked first at monsieur and then at Jacquard. But Yan Gratz was not to be deceived or robbed of his vengeance.

“Donner vetter!” he cried. “Ay, yai. Vhat tifference it makes? De varrant is de varrant of Pilly Vinch; no odder—I am as goot a man as him. Tunder of der Teufel! I vill make a call mineself upon de covernor of Chamaica.”

In answer to this sally, Jacquard burst into a loud laugh. “Ha, ha! Ye’re swelled out of all proper dimensions, Yan Gratz. Ye forget that Monsieur the Governor and Monsieur Bras-de-Fer are friends. Listen, then, to what I propose. Bras-de-Fer will write us a letter saying that you or I may receive the ships for our owners. In return we will give monsieur and madame the pinnace and let them go whither they will.”

“No, py Cott!” roared Gratz, furious at being[263] balked of his vengeance. “He shall not get avay from me!”

There was a mingling of opinions, loudly and profanely expressed, and it looked for the moment as though the strife would be renewed. Yan Gratz’s Dutchmen stood by him to a man. And while the gleaming sword and pistolet of monsieur held them at a safe distance, they sought by their shouting of wild threats to make up for their other deficiencies. Barbara, hid behind Bras-de-Fer, sought valiantly to match her courage to his, but with pale face and quaking limbs she awaited the decision upon which rested his life or death, and hers. It mattered little which it was to be. She had suffered so much that anything—anything which brought rest—would be welcome. But monsieur had lost no whit of his aggressiveness. If he was silent, it was because silence was best. With a keen eye he noted the effect of the speech of Jacquard. He saw that his compatriot had chosen wisely in leaving his sword undrawn. Thus Jacquard retained his influence with the crew, whose sympathy and arms he could not have swayed alone[264] against Yan Gratz. Had Jacquard drawn his weapon, all would have been lost. As it was, Bras-de-Fer noted that the larger number of the crew were wagging and nodding their heads in a propitious deliberation. Frenchmen, many of them, they were willing to forget the discipline and restriction of their liberties. Only one of them, Duquesnoy, had joined in the conflict against their compatriot. Duquesnoy was dead. They would be satisfied now if the cause of their grievances was removed. There was a way which offered complete compensation. With Bras-de-Fer marooned with his lady and his imperious notions, they would be free to lead the life which Billy Winch had not scrupled to deny them.

Barthier, gray-haired, pock-marked, earringed, shoved his huge frame before Yan Gratz.

“We have deliberated, Yan Gratz,” said he. “Jacquard has spoken the truth. Monsieur has fought well. He has bought his life, and that of his lady. San Salvador is distant but twenty leagues to the south. We will give[265] them provisions for a week, weapons, and the pinnace, and set them free.”

Gratz glared around at him and past Barthier at the row of grim, hairy faces; and he knew that he was defeated. With an ill grace he sheathed his sword, thrust his pistol in his belt, and, muttering, waddled forward into the forecastle with his following.

When they were gone, Bras-de-Fer fell upon his knees beside a figure upon the deck at his feet. He lifted Cornbury’s head upon his knee, and, calling for a pannikin of rum, forced a small quantity of the fluid between the lips of the Irishman. Jacquard felt for his heart, and Barbara tore a bit of her skirt to stanch the flow of blood. They bathed his forehead with water, and in a moment were rewarded by a flicker of the eyelid and a painful intaking of the breath. Presently, resting upon Jacquard’s knee, he opened his eyes and heaved a deep sigh.

“I am near spent,” he muttered. And then, as his eye caught those of Bras-de-Fer, a smile with the faintest glimmer of professional pride twitched at his lip.


“Ah, monsieur,” he said, “did I not teach them well their thrust and parry?”

“Too well, indeed; Destouches himself could not have done better. I would you had given them less skill, mon ami.”

“’Twas Craik—my favorite stroke—in tierce,” he gasped, and then his head fell back against Jacquard. Presently he revived and looked at Barbara and Bras-de-Fer, while another smile played at the corner of his blue eye.

“Madame,” he whispered to Barbara—“madame, he has loved ye long and well. Take him to London and there serve him as a boucanier and renegado should be served. Take him prisoner to yer house and yer heart, and keep him there for as long as ye both shall live.” A spasm of pain shot across his features, and he clutched at his wound. “Bedad,” he said, “but the plaguy thing burns at me like an ember. It’s nearly over, I’m thinking. René,” he cried, “my dear man, if ye tell them at the barracks that I was brought to my death by the low thrust in tierce in the hands of such a lout, I’ll come from my grave and smite ye. An’ if ye see my[267] brother, the Earl, ye may tell him for me—to send my pittance to—”

The effort had been too much for his waning strength. His eyes closed again. And this time they did not open.



Jacquard conducted Mistress Barbara aft to the cabin until the boat could be prepared. And Monsieur silently followed, his eyes dim with tears at the loss of this friend to whose helpful skill both he and Mistress Barbara owed their lives. When they were safe within, Jacquard blurted forth:

“It was the best I could do, monsieur, the very best I could do. The danger is not yet past. There is no safety for you or madame upon the same ship with Yan Gratz.”

Bras-de-Fer silently wrung his hands.

“It is a desperate journey for a lady tried already to the point of breaking, Jacquard. If they would but land us—”

“Ah, monsieur. It were madness to try them again. Have you not seen their temper?”


“No, no, monsieur, I am strong!” cried Barbara. “See! I am strong. Let us leave this dreadful charnel-ship. If I must die, let it be alone upon the broad ocean. That at least is clean of evil intent.”

“Nay, madame,” continued the Frenchman. “If they would but sail us—”

“No, no. Let us go at once. I can meet death bravely if need be, but not here.”

“Monsieur, it will not be so bad,” broke in Jacquard. “The sea has gone down, and, although a long swell is running, it is low and smooth. A fair breeze draws from the west. The pinnace is stanch. The day is young. By the morrow you should raise the palms of Guanahani above the sea. I shall see you well provided with food, water, and weapons. Upon San Salvador are friendly Caribs, and in due course—”

Mon ami,” said Bras-de-Fer at last, “you are right. Were it not for madame, perhaps, I should yet make some small effort to establish myself upon the Sally. They have beaten me, but I am grieving little. I have no stomach for[270] this life, my friend. The letting of blood in any but honest warfare sickens me and turns me to water. I leave the dogs without regret. But you, you and my gallant Cornbury.” He paused a moment, his hand to his brow, then raised his head with a glad smile.

“Jacquard, will you not come with us? If we get safe ashore I can perhaps give you a service which will requite you.”

But Jacquard was wagging his head.

“No, no, monsieur. It is too late. I am too old a bird. Would ye clip the eagle’s wings? Would ye pen the old falcon in a gilded humming-bird cage? I’ve chosen to fly broadly, and broadly I’ll fly till some stray bullet ends my flapping. And now make ready, madame. A warm cloak against the night air, a pillow—for boat-thwarts are none too soft; and when ye are ready I shall be at the door.” And he vanished, his bullet head, with its round wool cap, scraping at the door-jamb as he passed.

When he had gone, Barbara sank upon the bench at the table. Had it not been for the strong arms of Bras-de-Fer she must have[271] fallen to the deck. Tired nature, overwrought nerves, rebellious, refused to obey.

“But a little while, Barbara, dear, and we will be alone. Courage, brave one! Courage! We will soon gain the shore. Then, a ship—and—life!”

“Ah, monsieur, I am weary. So weary that I fear for this journey in the open boat. God grant we may reach its ending.” Her head fell forward upon his breast and she breathed heavily as one in a deep sleep.

He laid her gently so that her arms rested upon the table. Then he quickly prepared a package of articles which would be most necessary for her. Jewels there were and a packet of his own money. He found a flask of eau-de-vie, and when he had aroused her he gently forced her to drink a half-tumbler of it mixed with water.

Presently Jacquard and Barthier came with the papers for him to sign. When this was done they all went upon the deck. The Spanish prize lay at a distance of several cables’ lengths, and, from a movement among the spars, was getting[272] under way in charge of the prize crew. Alongside, at the starboard gangway, rode the pinnace. It looked so small, so masterless and helpless, by the side of the larger vessels in that infinity of ocean, that Mistress Barbara shivered as she looked down into it. But one glance around the decks to where the prostrate figures had lain reconciled her to her lot.

Between Bras-de-Fer and Jacquard there was but one hearty hand-shake. The very lack of more effusive demonstration between them meant more than many words could have done. And as monsieur passed over the gangway and down into the vessel there was little in his demeanor to show the sting of his defeat at the hands of these devils of the sea, whom he had sought, and unsuccessfully, to bring into the domain of a proper humanity. A scornful laugh broke from among the men as he disappeared over the side, and Yan Gratz, waving a pistol, piped obscene threats and criticism from the quarter-deck. But presently, when Mistress Barbara had been slung over the side in a whip from the main-yard, Jacquard disappeared[273] from the rail, and the falsetto of the Dutchman was no longer heard.

The mast in the pinnace had been stepped, and the sail, strong and serviceable, but none too large, flapped impatiently in the breeze. And so when Barbara was seated, white and dark-eyed, showing with a painful effort a last haughty disdain to the rascals at the portholes and bulwarks, Bras-de-Fer shipped his tiller and hauled his sheet aft to the wind. The little vessel bounced in a sprightly, joyous fashion, the brown sail bulged stanchly, and in a moment a patch of green water, ever growing wider, flashed and trembled between the pinnace and the Saucy Sally. Among the row of dark heads along the rail Bras-de-Fer looked for only one, and to him he presently turned and raised his hat in salute. Jacquard replied; and then his long arms went flying and his hoarse voice cried aloud the orders to set the vessel upon her course. Presently the yards flew around, the vessel squared away, and the Saucy Sally was but a memory. A vessel nameless, without[274] identity, was sailing away from them upon the sea, and they were alone.

Barbara looked no more. She had seated herself upon the gratings at the bottom of the craft, her arms resting upon the stern thwart. But now that all immediate danger had passed and she sat safe and at peace, the wonderful spirit and courage to which she had nerved herself in a moment failed her. Her head fell forward upon her arms and she sank inert and prone at the feet of the Frenchman. Scarce realizing what had happened, yet fearful that some dreadful fate had intervened to take his love from him, he dropped the tiller and fell upon his knees by her side, his mind shaken by the agony of the moment; for her face had taken a kind of waxen, leaden color more terrifying than mere pallor, and the lips, save for a faint-blue tinge, became under his very eyes of the same deathly hue. He dashed handful after handful of the sea-water into her face and rubbed her chill arms and hands. He poured a draught of the rum between her cold lips. But she moved not. Beseech her as he might, there was no response[275] to his petitions. He sought the pulse; he could feel nothing. The breath had ceased. Oh, God! Had the cup of happiness been placed at their lips only to sip? Was it to be poured out before his very eyes? He cried aloud in his agony and raised the face to his own, kissing it again and again, as if by the warmth of his own passion he could awaken it to life.

“My love! my love!” he cried. “Come back to me! Come back to me again! Open thine eyes! Breathe but my name! Come back to me, my love!”

He had waited an eternity. At last, as he put his ear to her breast, a sound, ever so faint, but still a sound, told him that the heart was pulsing anew. He forced a generous draught of the rum through her lips and madly renewed his efforts to arouse the blood. Several moments more he struggled in pitiful suspense, and then a gentle color flowed under the marble skin, a touch of pink rose to the blue lips, the eyelids quivered a moment and then opened. He hauled the sail to shield her from the glare of the sun, and held a cup of fresh water to her[276] lips. She looked at him, but no words came from her lips. Instead, she breathed a sigh and with a faint smile relinquished herself and fell back peacefully into his arms. Once or twice she opened her eyes in an effort to speak, but each time he soothed her and bade her rest. He was but a man, and it needed a gentler hand to cope with such an emergency; but now that the danger was past he felt instinctively that nature would seek in her own ways to restore, and he let her lie quiet, pillowed in the curve of his arm against his breast. And so, presently, her breathing was regular, and she slept.

He could not know how long it had been since they left the Sally, but by the sun he saw that there was yet an hour or two of the day. The ships were become mere dull blotches upon the sky, and from his position the lower tier of guns seemed just at the line of the sea. Time was precious, for the land lay a full day’s sail, even should the breeze continue to favor them, and he could not tell how long it would blow thus steadily. Fearful of awakening Barbara and yet anxious to take advantage of every favorable[277] opportunity, he reached for the sheet and tiller and set the little vessel upon her course. She heeled gladly to the wind, and the coursing of the water beneath her long keel made a sound grateful to his ears. He had taken the Sally’s position upon the charts before leaving, and steered a course which should surely fetch a sight of the land upon the morrow. If the breeze held and the night were clear, he could steer by the stars. He blessed the habits of his training, in which he had studied the heavens in his night watches, wherever he might be. There was no sign of any disturbance of the elements. The heavy swell now and then shook the wind out of his tiny sail, but not a cloud flecked the sky above him, and the sea which glittered and sprang playfully at the sides of the pinnace seemed to beckon to him gladly in hopeful augury for the hours to come.

The apprehensions that he had felt were dissipated in the mellow glow of the southern sun. Had he been alone, this voyage in an open boat over an unknown sea would have filled him with delight. But the slender figure at his side,[278] which lay pale and silent in the shadow of the gunwale, filled him with vague alarms.

On, on into the void, the tiny vessel crept. The sun sank low in the sky and dropped, a red ball, behind the disk of sea. The dusk swept up over the ocean like the shadow of a storm, and night drew a purplish curtain across the smiling heaven. The stars twinkled into sudden life, and night fell, clear, warm, spangled, while the soft, stealthy seas crept alongside and leaped and fawned at the shearing prow of the pinnace. An arching moon arose and sailed, a silver boat, high into the heavens. But Bras-de-Fer moved not and Barbara still slept. Continually his keen eyes swept the dark rim of the horizon for a blur of sail or the sign of any portentous movement of the elements. He knew the horrors of this southern ocean, and the catlike purring of the silken seas did not deceive him; for in the swaying deep he could feel the great rhythmical pulse of the heart of the sea, which spoke a continuous, sullen, ominous threat of resistless might, ready at the turn of a mood to rise, engulf, and devour.


By midnight the wind fell, and with the flapping of the idle sail Barbara awoke.

She lay for some moments, her eyes winking at the swinging stars, then pushed the cloak aside, lifted her head, and looked wide-eyed around and into the face of Bras-de-Fer.

“I have slept?” she asked, bewildered—“I have slept in this boat?” He bent forward over her eager delight.

“The clock around, Barbara, dear. You were so weary, so weary, I have let you rest.”

“Ah, yes, I remember. The Saucy Sally—”

“An evil dream, a nightmare. See; we are borne upon a fairy sea. All the world is at peace. This infinity of beauty is ours—it is for us alone.”

She shuddered a little and drew closer to him. “Oh, it is so vast, so inscrutable, this treacherous, pitiless water! Have we come nearer to the land?”

“Fifteen leagues at least. The wind has failed us but this half-hour. After you have eaten and drunk you shall sleep again, and[280] when you awake I promise you land under the very lid of the eye.”

“And you—have you not slept?”

“Madame, I am a very owl of birds. But I have the hunger of a lynx.”

Then while she took the helm he set before her the food which Jacquard had provided. There were sea-biscuit, boucan, preserved fruits from the store of the San Isidro, and a pannikin of rum-and-water.

It was not until she ate that she discovered how hungry she was; Bras-de-Fer had eaten nothing for eight-and-forty hours. And so like two children they sat and supped hungrily. When the meal was done, Bras-de-Fer arranged the bread-bags and the pillow so that she might sleep in greater comfort, but she would not have it so.

“No, no,” she insisted, “I am well again and strong. If you do not sleep I shall not.” And so resolute was her tone that he forbore to press her further.

But sleep was the furthest from his own eyes. He felt not even the faintest touch of weariness.[281] She leaned back upon his arm again, and so, hand in hand, they sat in their little vessel, mute and spellbound at the completeness of their happiness, which even the presence of grim danger was powerless to steal away from them. The air was sweet and balmy and brushed their cheeks like the breath from an angel’s wing. The first pungent aromatic odor of the land reached their nostrils, mingled delicately with the salt of the sea. In silence they watched the planets burn and glow red like molten iron against the star-bepowdered sky, across which the placid moon sailed down upon its promised course. Flying stars vied with each other in the brightness of their illuminations in their honor. And presently, shaming them into darkness, a giant meteor shot like a flaming brand across the spacious sky, spurning and burying in its splendid pathway a myriad of the lesser embers; which, when it was done, peeped forth again timidly upon the velvet night, ashamed of their small share in its glory. All of this they saw reflected doubly on an ocean of gray satin, which sent the bright reflections in wriggling[282] rays like so many snakes of fire to mingle and play amid the glow of the caressing surges, which gushed languidly at their very feet.

To have spoken would have been to break the spell which bound them to the infinite. And so they sat enthroned in these wonderful dominions of which for the nonce they were prince and princess.

“Thou art content?” he asked at last.

She did not answer him at once. When she did, it was softly and with eyes which sought the distant horizon away from him.

“If to be content means to breathe freely, deeply, the pure air of heaven, to thank God for the present, to care not what evil has been or what evil may be, to be engulfed in quiet delight, to be swathed in peace, then, monsieur, I am content.”

He flushed warmly, and the arm about her tightened. He sought her lips with his own. She did not resist him. And so before the high, effulgent altar of God’s heaven, with the surges for choristers, the stars for candles, and the[283] voices of the sentient night for company, he plighted her his troth.

It was then that she swept away the only shadow that remained upon their love. With head bowed, in deep contrition he told her of his madness that first night upon the Saucy Sally, when he had wildly railed at fate, at all things, and promised to wreak upon her he knew not what dire vengeance.

“Our accounts are balanced, then,” she smiled. “We shall begin anew. For I, too, have many times denied you in my heart and on my lips. And I know that I have loved you always.”

Adorée!” he whispered.

It was Barbara, as if to belie her own happiness, who first broke the spell of witchery that had fallen upon them. Her eyes, which had aimlessly sought the horizon, stopped and dilated as she fixed her gaze upon one spot which trembled and swam in the light. Bras-de-Fer started up, straining his eyes to where she pointed.

“Look!” she cried. “Is it—”


There, her rigging and sails clearly drawn in lines of ice, a phantom of the thing that she was, hung a vessel. She had crept up on some flaw of wind, her sail in the shadow, and now upon another tack had thrown her white canvases to the reflection of the sky.

“It is no phantom,” cried monsieur, in delight. “A ship, Barbara, chérie! By her build a man-of-war, not two leagues distant.”

“Will she have seen us, do you think?”

“If she has not, it will be but a matter of moments.”

He ran forward to where the provisions and weapons had been put under a piece of pitched canvas. He drew forth a musket, and loaded it with an extra charge of powder. Barbara put her fingers to her ears as the gun roared forth its salute.

The silent night was split and riven asunder by the mighty echoes; the robe of enchantment fell, the prince and princess were prince and princess no longer. Barbara sighed. Their throne was but a rugged boat and themselves but castaways wildly seeking a refuge. The[285] dream of an hour was over. But none the less she helped monsieur load the muskets, and cried gladly when a flash and a puff of smoke came from the side of the stranger, and the low reverberation of the echoes of the shot told her that they were rescued.

The ship came slowly down. ’Twas evident she brought the wind with her, for about the pinnace all was a dead calm. Barbara’s qualms that she, too, might be a boucanier were speedily set at rest; for as she came nearer they discovered that she sat tall upon the water, and the glint of her ordnance along her larboard streaks proclaimed her trade. No sign of her nationality she gave until she had come within long earshot. Then a round, honest English voice rang heartily:

“Ahoy the boat! Who are ye? Whence d’ye come?”

To this Bras-de-Fer replied that they were castaways, marooned, and in sore need of help. The ship, they learned, was his Majesty’s Royal Maid, war brig of his excellency the governor of Jamaica.


“See, madame,” he murmured as the ship drew near. “’Tis manifest you are my destiny. While you have frowned, Dame Fortune would have none of me. And now she is benignity itself.” He paused, sighing. “And yet I could almost wish she had not smiled so soon.”

Her hand under cover of the cloak sought his. “Insatiable man, can you not be content?”

“It was too, too sweet an enchantment to be so soon ended.”

“Nay,” she whispered. “It is but just begun.”


The Books You Like to Read
at the Price You Like to Pay

There Are Two Sides to Everything

—including the wrapper which covers every Grosset & Dunlap book. When you feel in the mood for a good romance, refer to the carefully selected list of modern fiction comprising most of the successes by prominent writers of the day which is printed on the back of every Grosset & Dunlap book wrapper.

You will find more than five hundred titles to choose from—books for every mood and every taste and every pocketbook.

Don’t forget the other side, but in case the wrapper is lost, write to the publishers for a complete catalog.

There is a Grosset & Dunlap Book
for every mood and for every taste


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list.

“Although my ancestry is all of New England, I was born in the old town of Petersburg, Virginia. I went later to Richmond and finally at the age of five to Washington, D. C., returning to Richmond for a few years in a girl’s school, which was picturesquely quartered in General Lee’s mansion.”


The eternal conflict between wealth and love. Jerry, the idealist who is poor, loves Mimi, a beautiful, spoiled society girl.


The romance of little Jane Barnes who is loved by two men.


Unusual short stories where Miss Bailey shows her keen knowledge of character and environment, and how romance comes to different people.


Randy Paine comes back from France to the monotony of every-day affairs. But the girl he loves shows him the beauty in the common-place.


A man who wishes to serve his country, but is bound by a tie he cannot in honor break—that’s Derry. A girl who loves him, shares his humiliation and helps him to win—that’s Jean. Their love is the story.


A girl in Maryland teaches school, and believes that work is worthy service. Two men come to the little community; one is weak, the other strong, and both need Anne.


An old-fashioned love story that is nevertheless modern.


A novel that deals with a question, old and yet ever new—how far should an engagement of marriage bind two persons who discover they no longer love.

Grosset & Dunlap,      Publishers,      New York


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list.


A gripping story of a doctor who failed in a crucial operation—and had only himself to blame. Could the woman he loved forgive him?


A love story based on the creed that the only important things between birth and death are the courage to face life and the love to sweeten it.


Nan Davenant’s problem is one that many a girl has faced—her own happiness or her father’s bond.


How a man and a woman fulfilled a gypsy’s strange prophecy.


How love made its way into a walled-in house and a walled-in heart.


The story of a woman who tried to take all and give nothing.


Do you believe that husbands and wives should have no secrets from each other?


An absorbing romance written with all that sense of feminine tenderness that has given the novels of Margaret Pedler their universal appeal.

GROSSET & DUNLAP,      Publishers,      NEW YORK


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list.

Ask for Complete free list of G. & D. Popular Copyrighted Fiction

GROSSET & DUNLAP,      Publishers,      NEW YORK


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list.

GROSSET & DUNLAP,      Publishers,      NEW YORK


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list.

Ask for Complete free list of G. & D. Popular Copyrighted Fiction

Grosset & Dunlap,      Publishers,      New York


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list.

GROSSET & DUNLAP,      Publishers,      NEW YORK


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list.

Ask for Complete free list of G. & D. Popular Copyrighted Fiction

GROSSET & DUNLAP,      Publishers,      NEW YORK


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset and Dunlap’s list.


The life story of “Buffalo Bill” by his sister Helen Cody Wetmore, with Foreword and conclusion by Zane Grey.


GROSSET & DUNLAP,      Publishers,      NEW YORK


May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list.


Frontispiece by Frank Street.

The California Redwoods furnish the background for this beautiful story of sisterly devotion and sacrifice.


Frontispiece by George Gibbs.

A collection of delightful stories, including “Bridging the Years” and “The Tide-Marsh.” This story is now shown in moving pictures.


Frontispiece by C. Allan Gilbert.

The story of a beautiful woman who fought a bitter fight for happiness and love.


Illustrated by Charles E. Chambers.

The triumph of a dauntless spirit over adverse conditions.


Frontispiece by Charles E. Chambers.

An interesting story of divorce and the problems that come with a second marriage.


Frontispiece by C. Allan Gilbert.

A sympathetic portrayal of the quest of a normal girl, obscure and lonely, for the happiness of life.


Frontispiece by F. Graham Cootes.

Can a girl, born in rather sordid conditions, lift herself through sheer determination to the better things for which her soul hungered?


Illustrated by F. C. Yohn.

A story of the big mother heart that beats in the background of every girl’s life, and some dreams which came true.

Ask for Complete free list of G. & D. Popular Copyrighted Fiction

Grosset & Dunlap,      Publishers,      New York

Transcriber’s Notes:

Punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.

Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

The Author’s em-dash style has been retained.

Two slightly different advertisement book lists for author Grace Livingston Hill were both retained.