Poems & Short Stories: 4,435
Forum Members: 67,986
Forum Posts: 1,216,101
And over 2 million unique readers monthly!
The plantation of Salem was in a region below the Pedro Plains in the
parish of St. Elizabeth, where grow the aloe, and torch-thistle, and
clumps of wood which alter the appearance of the plain from the South
Downs of England, but where thousands of cattle and horses even in those
days were maintained. The air of the district was dry and elastic, and it
filtered down to the valleys near like that where Salem was with its
clusters of negro huts and offices, its mills and distilleries where
sugar and rum were made. Salem was situated on the Black River,
accessible by boats and canoes. The huts of negro slaves were near the
sugar mills, without regard to order, but in clusters of banana,
avocado-pear, limes and oranges, and with the cultivated land round their
huts made an effective picture.
One day every fortnight was allowed the negroes to cultivate their crops,
and give them a chance to manufacture mats for beds, bark-ropes,
wicker-chairs and baskets, earthen jars, pans, and that kind of thing.
The huts themselves were primitive to a degree, the floor being earth,
the roof, of palm-thatch or the leaves of the cocoa-nut tree, the sides
hard-posts driven in the ground and interlaced with wattle and plaster,
and inside scarcely high enough for its owner to walk upright. The
furniture was scant--a quatre, or bed, made of a platform of boards, with
a mat and a blanket, some low stools, a small table, an earthen
water-jar, and some smaller ones, a pail and an iron pot, and calabashes
which did duty for plates, dishes and bowls. In one of the two rooms
making the hut, there were always the ashes of the night-fire, without
which negroes could not sleep in comfort.
These were the huts of the lowest grade of negro-slaves of the fields.
The small merchants and the domestics had larger houses with boarded
floors, some even with linen sheets and mosquito nets, and shelves with
plates and dishes of good ware. Every negro received a yearly allowance
of Osnaburgh linen, woollen, baize and checks for clothes, and some
planters also gave them hats and handkerchiefs, knives, needles and
thread, and so on.
Every plantation had a surgeon who received a small sum for attendance on
every slave, while special cases of midwifery, inoculation, etc., had a
particular allowance. The surgeon had to attend to about four hundred to
five hundred negroes, on an income of L150 per annum, and board and
lodging and washing, besides what he made from his practice with the
Salem was no worse than some other plantations on the island, but it was
far behind such plantations as that owned by Dyck Calhoun, and had been
notorious for the cruelties committed on it. To such an estate a lady
like Sheila Llyn would be a boon. She was not on the place a day before
she started reforms which would turn the plantation into a model scheme.
Houses, food, treatment of the negroes, became at once a study to her,
and her experience in Virginia was invaluable. She had learned there not
to work the slaves too hard in the warm period of the day; and she showed
her interest by having served at her own table the favourite olio the
slaves made of plantains, bananas, yams, calalue, eddoes, cassavi, and
sweet potatoes boiled with salt fish and flavoured with cayenne pepper.
This, with the unripe roasted plantain as bread, was a native relish and
Ever since the day when she had seen Dyck Calhoun at Spanish Town she had
been disturbed in mind. Dyck had shown a reserve which she felt was not
wholly due to his having been imprisoned for manslaughter. In one way he
looked little older. His physique was as good, or better than when she
first saw him on the hills of Playmore. It was athletic, strenuous,
elastic. Yet there was about it the abandonment of despair--at least of
recklessness. The face was older, the head more powerful, the hair
slightly touched with grey-rather there was one spot in the hair almost
pure white; a strand of winter in the foliage of summer. It gave a touch
of the bizarre to a distinguished head, it lent an air of the singular to
a personality which had flare and force--an almost devilish force. That
much was to be said for him, that he had not sought to influence her to
his own advantage. She was so surrounded in America by men who knew her
wealth and prized her beauty, she was so much a figure in Virginia, that
any reserve with regard to herself was noticeable. She was enough
feminine to have pleasure in the fact that she was thought desirable by
men; yet it played an insignificant part in her life.
It did not give her conceit. It was only like a frill on the skirts of
life. It did not play any part in her character. Certainly Dyck Calhoun
had not flattered her. That one to whom she had written, as she had done,
should remove himself so from the place of the deserving friend, one whom
she had not deserted while he was in jail as a criminal--that he should
treat her so, gave every nerve a thrill of protest. Sometimes she
trembled in indignation, and then afterwards gave herself to the work on
the estate or in the household--its reform and its rearrangement; though
the house was like most in Jamaica, had adequate plate, linen, glass and
furniture. At the lodgings in Spanish Town, after Dyck Calhoun had left,
her mother had briefly said that she had told Dyck he could not expect
the conditions of the Playmore friendship should be renewed; that, in
effect, she had warned him off. To this Sheila had said that the killing
of a man whose life was bad might be punishable. In any case, that was in
another land, under abnormal conditions; and, with lack of logic, she saw
no reason why he should be socially punished in Jamaica for what he had
been legally punished for in Ireland. As for the mutiny, he had done what
any honest man of spirit would do; also, he had by great bravery and
skill brought victory to the king's fleet in West Indian waters.
Then it was she told her mother how she had always disobeyed her commands
where Dyck was concerned, that she had written to him while he was in
jail; that she had come to Jamaica more to see him than to reform Salem;
that she had the old Celtic spirit of brotherhood, and she would not be
driven from it. In a sudden burst of anger her mother had charged her
with deceit; but the girl said she had followed her conscience, and she
dismissed it all with a gesture as emphatic as her mother's anger.
That night they had dined with Lord Mallow, and she saw that his
attentions had behind them the deep purpose of marriage. She had not been
overcome by the splendour of his retinue and table, or by the
magnificence of his guests; though the military commander-in-chief and
the temporary admiral on the station did their utmost to entertain her,
and some of the local big-wigs were pompous. Lord Mallow had ability and
knew how to use it; and he was never so brilliant as on this afternoon,
for they dined while it was still daylight and hardly evening. He told
her of the customs of the country, of the people; and slyly and
effectively he satirized some of his grandiloquent guests. Not unduly,
for one of them, the most renowned in the island, came to him after
dinner as he sat talking to Sheila, and said: "I'm very sorry, your
honour, but good Almighty God, I must go home and cool coppers." Then he
gave Sheila a hot yet clammy hand, and bade her welcome as a citizen to
the island, "alien but respected, beautiful but capable!" Sheila had seen
a few of the Creole ladies present at their best-large-eyed, simple, not
to say primitive in speech, and very unaffected in manner. She had
learned also that the way to the Jamaican heart was by a full table and a
One incident at dinner had impressed her greatly. Not far away from her
was a young lady, beautiful in face and person, and she had seen a
scorpion suddenly shoot into her sleeve and ruthlessly strike and strike
the arm of the girl, who gave one cry only and then was still. Sheila saw
the man next to the girl--he was a native officer--secure the scorpion,
and then whip from his pocket a little bag of indigo, dip it in water,
and apply the bag to the wounded arm, immediately easing the wound. This
had all been done so quickly that it was over before the table had been
"That is the kind of thing we have here," said Lord Mallow. "There is a
lady present who has seen in one day a favourite black child bitten by a
congereel, a large centipede in her nursery, a snake crawl from under her
child's pillow, and her son nearly die from a bite of the black spider
with the red spot on its tail. It is a life that has its trials--and its
"I saw a man's head on a pole on my way to King's House. You have to use
firm methods here," Sheila said in reply. "It is not all a rose-garden.
You have to apply force."
Lord Mallow smiled grimly. "C'est la force morale toujours."
"Ah, I should not have thought it was moral force always," was the
"We have criminals here," declared the governor with aplomb, "and they
need some handling, I assure you. We have in this island one of the worst
criminals in the British Empire."
"Ah, I thought he was in the United States!" answered the girl sedately.
"You mean General George Washington," remarked the governor. "No, it is
one who was a friend and fellow-countryman of yours before he took to
killing unarmed men."
"You refer to Mr. Dyck Calhoun, I doubt not, sir? Well, he is still a
friend of mine, and I saw him today--this afternoon, before I came here.
I understood that the Crown had pardoned his mutiny."
The governor started. He was plainly annoyed.
"The crime is there just the same," he replied. "He mutinied, and he
stole a king's ship, and took command of it, and brought it out here."
"And saved you and your island, I understand."
"Ah, he said that, did he?"
"He said nothing at all to me about it. I have been reading the Jamaica
Cornwall Chronicle the last three years."
"He is ever a source of anxiety to me," declared the governor.
"I knew he was once in Phoenix Park years ago," was the demure yet sharp
reply, "but I thought he was a good citizen here--a good and well-to-do
Lord Mallow flushed slightly. "Phoenix Park--ah, he was a capable fellow
with the sword! I said so always, and I'd back him now against a
champion; but many a bad man has been a good swordsman."
"So, that's what good swordsmanship does, is it? I wondered what it was
that did it. I hear you fight him still--but with a bludgeon, and he
"I do not understand," declared Lord Mallow tartly. "Ah, wasn't there
some difference over his going for the treasure to Haiti? Some one told
me, I think, that you were not in favour of his getting his
ticket-of-leave, or whatever it is called, and that the provost-marshal
gave it to him, as he had the right to do."
"You have wide sources of information in this case. I wonder--"
"No, your honour need not wonder. I was told that by a gentleman on the
steamer coming here. He was a native of the island, I think--or perhaps
it was the captain, or the mate, or the boatswain. I can't recall. Or
maybe it came to me from my manager, Darius Boland, who hears things
wherever he is, one doesn't know how; but he hears them. He is to me what
your aide-de-camp is to you," she nodded towards a young man near by at
"And do you dress your Darius Boland as I dress my aide in scarlet, with
blue facings and golden embroidery, and put a stiff hat with a feather on
"But no, he does not need such things. I am a Republican now. I am a
citizen of the United States, where men have no need of uniform to tell
the world what they are. You shall see my Darius Boland--indeed, you have
seen him. He was there to-day when you gave me the distinction of your
"That dry, lean, cartridge of a fellow, that pair of pincers with a
"And a tongue, your honour. If you did not hear it yet, you will hear it.
He is to be my manager here. So he will be under your control--if I
"If you permit him, mistress?"
"If I permit him, yes. You are a power, but you are not stronger than the
laws and rules you make. For instance, there was the case of Mr. Dyck
Calhoun. When he came, you were for tying him up in one little corner of
this island--the hottest part, I know, near to Kingston, where it
averages ninety degrees in the shade at any time of the year. But the
King you represent had not restricted his liberties so, and you being the
King, that is, yourself, were forced to abide by your own regulations. So
it may be the same with Darius Boland. He may want something, and you,
high up, looking down, will say, 'What devilry is here!' and decline. He
will then turn to your chief-justice or provost-marshal-general, or a
deputy of the provost-marshal, and they will say that Darius Boland shall
have what he wants, because it is the will of the will you represent."
Almost the last words the governor used to her were these: "Those only
live at peace here who are at peace with me"; and her reply had been:
"But Mr. Dyck Calhoun lives at peace, does he not, your honour?"
To that he had replied: "No man is at peace while he has yet desires." He
paused a minute and then added: "That Erris Boyne killed by Dyck
Calhoun--did you ever see him that you remember?"
"Not that I remember," she replied quickly. "I never lived in Dublin."
"That may be. But did you never know his history?" She shook her head in
negation. His eyes searched her face carefully, and he was astonished
when he saw no sign of confusion there. "Good God, she doesn't know.
She's never been told!" he said to himself. "This is too startling. I'll
speak to the mother."
A little later he turned from the mother with astonishment. "It's
madness," he remarked to himself. "She will find out. Some one will tell
her. . . . By heaven, I'll tell her first," he hastily said. "When she
knows the truth, Calhoun will have no chance on earth. Yes, I'll tell her
myself. But I'll tell no one else," he added; for he felt that Sheila,
once she knew the truth, would resent his having told abroad the true
story of the Erris Boyne affair.
So Sheila and her mother had gone to their lodgings with depression, but
each with a clear purpose in her mind. Mrs. Llyn was determined to tell
her daughter what she ought to have known long before; and Sheila was
firm to make the one man who had ever interested her understand that he
was losing much that was worth while keeping.
Then had followed the journey to Salem. Yet all the while for Sheila one
dark thought kept hovering over everything. Why should life be so
complicated? Why should this one man who seemed capable and had the
temperament of the Irish hills and vales be the victim of punishment and
shame--why should he shame her?
Suddenly, without her mother's knowledge, she sent Darius Boland through
the hills in the early morning to Enniskillen, Dyck Calhoun's place, with
a letter which said only this: "Is it not time that you came to wish us
well in our new home? We shall expect you to-morrow."
When Dyck read this note he thought it was written by Sheila, but
inspired by the mother; and he lost no time in making his way down across
the country to Salem, which he reached a few hours after sunrise. At the
doorway of the house he met Mrs. Llyn.
"Have you told her?" he asked in anxiety. Astonished at his presence she
could make no reply for a moment. "I have told her nothing," she
answered. "I meant to do so this morning. I meant to do it--I must."
"She sent me a letter asking if it was not time I came to wish you well
in your house, and you and she would expect me to-day."
"I knew naught of her writing you," was the reply--"naught at all. But
now that you are here, will you not tell her all?"
Dyck smiled grimly. "Where is she?" he asked. "I will tell her."
The mother pointed down the garden. "Yonder by the clump of palms I saw
her a moment ago. If you go that way you will find her."
In another moment Dyck Calhoun was on his way to the clump of palms, and
before he reached it, the girl came out into the path. She was dressed in
a black silk skirt with a white bodice and lace, as he had seen her on
her arrival in Kingston, and at her throat was a sprig of the wild
pear-tree. When she saw him, she gave a slight start, then stood still,
and he came to her.
"I have your letter," he said, "and I came to say what I ought to say
about your living here: you will bring blessings to the place."
She looked at him steadfastly. "Shall we talk here," she said, "or inside
the house? There is a little shelter here in the trees"--pointing to the
right--"a shelter built by the late manager. It has the covering of a
hut, but it is open at two sides. Will you come?" As she went on ahead,
he could not fail to notice how slim and trim she was, how perfectly her
figure seemed to fit her gown-as though she had been poured into it; and
yet the folds of her skirt waved and floated like silky clouds around
her! Under cover of the shelter, she turned and smiled at him.
"You have seen my mother?"
"I have just come from her," he answered. "She bade me tell you what
ought to have been told long ago, and you were not, for there seemed no
reason that you should. You were young and ignorant and happy. You had no
cares, no sorrows. The sorrows that had come to your mother belonged to
days when you were scarce out of the cradle. But you did not know. You
were not aware that your mother had divorced your father for crime
against marital fidelity and great cruelty. You did not know even who
that father was. Well, I must tell you. Your father was a handsome man, a
friend of mine until I knew the truth about him, and then he died--I
killed him, so the court said."
Her face became ghastly pale. After a moment of anguished bewilderment,
she said: "You mean that Erris Boyne was my father?"
"Yes, I mean that. They say I killed him. They say that he was found with
no sword drawn, but that my open sword lay on the table beside me while I
was asleep, and that it had let out his life-blood."
"Why was he killed?" she asked, horror-stricken and with pale lips.
"I do not know, but if I killed him, it was because I revolted from the
proposals he made to me. I--" He paused, for the look on her face was
painful to see, and her body was as that of one who had been struck by
lightning. It had a crumpled, stricken look, and all force seemed to be
driven from it. It had the look of crushed vitality. Her face was set in
paleness, her eyes were frightened, her whole person was, as it were, in
ghastly captivity. His heart smote him, and he pulled himself together to
tell her all.
"Go on," she said. "I want to hear. I want--to know all. I ought to have
known--long ago; but that can't be helped now. Continue--please."
Her words had come slowly, in gasps almost, and her voice was so frayed
he could scarcely recognize it. All the pride of her nature seemed
"If I killed him," he said presently, "it was because he tried to tempt
me from my allegiance to the Crown to become a servant of France, to--"
He stopped short, for a cry came from her lips which appalled him.
"My God--my God!" she said with bloodless lips, her eyes fastened on his
face, her every look and motion the inflection of despair. "Go on--tell
all," she added presently with more composure.
Swiftly he described what happened in the little room at the traitor's
tavern, of the momentary reconciliation and the wine that he drank,
drugged wine poured out but not drunk by Erris Boyne, and of his later
unconsciousness. At last he paused.
"Why did these things not come out at the trial?" she asked in hushed
He made a helpless gesture. "I did not speak of them because I thought of
you. I hid it--I did not want you to know what your father was."
Something like a smile gathered at her pale lips. "You saved me for the
moment, and condemned yourself for ever," she said in a voice of torture.
"If you had told what he was--if you had told that, the jury would not
have condemned you, they would not have sent you to prison."
"I believe I did the right thing," he said. "If I killed your father,
prison was my proper punishment. But I can't remember. There was no other
clue, no other guide to judgment. So the law said I killed him, and--he
had evidently not drawn his sword. It was clear he was killed
"You killed a defenceless man!" Her voice was sharp with agony. "That was
mentioned at the trial--but I did not believe it then--in that long ago."
She trembled to her feet from the bench where she was sitting. "And I do
not believe it now--no, on my soul, I do not."
"But it makes no difference, you see. I was condemned for killing your
father, and the world knows that Erris Boyne was your father, and here
Lord Mallow, the governor, knows it; and there is no chance of friendship
between you and me. Since the day he was found dead in the room, there
was no hope for our friendship, for anything at all between us that I had
wished to be there. You dare not be friends with me--"
Her face suddenly suffused and she held herself upright with an effort.
She was about to say, "I dare, Dyck--I do dare!" but he stopped her with
a reproving gesture.
"No, no, you dare not, and I would not let you if you would. I am an
ex-convict. They say I killed your father, and the way to understanding
between us is closed."
She made a protesting gesture. "Closed! Closed!--But is it closed? No,
no, some one else killed him, not you. You couldn't have done it. You
would have fought him--fought him as you did Lord Mallow, and in fighting
you might have killed him, but your sword never let out his life when he
A look of intense relief, almost of happiness, came to Dyck's face. "That
is like you, Sheila, but it does not cure the trouble. You and I are as
far apart as noon and midnight. The law has said the only thing that can
be said upon it."
She sank down again upon the wooden bench. "Oh, how mad you were, not to
tell the whole truth long ago! You would not have been condemned, and
She paused overcome, and his self-control almost deserted him. With
strong feeling he burst out: "And then, we might have come together? No,
your mother--your friends, myself, could not have let that be. See,
Sheila, I will tell you the whole truth now--aye, the whole absolute
truth. I have loved you since the first day I saw you on the hills when
you and I rescued Christopher Dogan. Not a day has passed since then when
you were not more to me than any other woman in all the world."
A new light came into her face, the shadows left her eyes, and the pallor
fled from her lips. "You loved me?" she said in a voice grown soft-husky
still, but soft as the light in a summer heaven. "You loved me--and have
always loved me since we first met?"
Her look was so appealing, so passionate and so womanly, that he longed
to reach out his arms to her, and say, "Come--come home, Sheila," but the
situation did not permit that, and only his eyes told the story of what
was in his mind.
"I have always loved you, Sheila, and shall do so while I have breath and
life. I have always given you the best that is in me, tried to do what
was good for us both, since my misfortune--crime, Lord Mallow calls it,
as does the world. Never a sunrise that does not find you in the
forefront of all the lighted world; never a flower have I seen that does
not seem sweeter--it brings thoughts of you; never a crime that does not
deepen its shame because you are in the world. In prison, when I used to
mop my floor and clean down the walls; when I swept the dust from the
corners; when I folded up my convict clothes; when I ate the prison food
and sang the prison hymns; when I placed myself beside the bench in the
workshop to make things that would bring cash to my fellow-prisoners in
their need; when I saw a minister of religion or heard the Litany; when I
counted up the days, first that I had spent in jail and then the days I
had still to spend in jail; when I read the books from the prison library
of the land where you had gone, and of the struggle there; when I saw
you, in my mind's eye, in the cotton-fields or on the verandah of your
house in Virginia--I had but one thought, and that was the look in your
face at Playmore and Limerick, the sound of your voice as you came
singing up the hill just before I first met you, the joyous beauty of
"And at sea?" she whispered with a gesture at once beautiful and
pathetic, for it had the motion of helplessness and hopelessness. What
she had heard had stirred her soul, and she wanted to hear more--or was
it that she wished to drain the cup now that it was held to her
lips?-drain it to the last drop of feeling.
"At sea," he answered, with his eyes full of intense feeling--"at sea, I
was free at last, doomed as I thought, anguished in spirit, and yet with
a wild hope that out of it would come deliverance. I expected to lose my
life, and I lived each day as though it would be my last. I was chief
rogue in a shipful of rogues, chief sinner in a hell of sinners, and yet
I had no remorse and no regret. I had done all with an honest purpose,
with the good of the sailors in my mind; and so I lived in daily touch
with death, honour, and dishonour. Yet I never saw a sailor in the
shrouds, or heard the night watch call 'All's well!' in the midst of
night and mutiny, that I did not long for a word from you that would take
away the sting of death. Those days at sea for ten long weeks were never
free from anxiety, not anxiety for myself, only for the men who had put
me where I was, had given me captain's rank, had--"
Suddenly he stopped, and took from his pocket the letter he was writing
on the very day she landed in Jamaica. He opened it and studied it for a
moment with a dark look in his face.
"This I wrote even as you were landing in Jamaica, and I knew naught of
your coming. It was an outbreak of my soul. It was the truth written to
you and for you, and yet with the feeling that you would never see it. I
was still writing it when Michael Clones came up the drive to tell me you
and your mother were here. Now, I know not what Christopher Dogan would
say of it, but I say it is amazing that in the hour you were first come
to this land I should be moved to tell you the story of my life since I
left prison; since, on receiving your letter in London, forwarded from
Dublin, I joined the navy. But here it is with all the truth and terror
in it.--Aye, there was terror, for it gave the soul of my life to one I
never thought to see again; and, if seeing, should be compelled to do
what I have done--tell her the whole truth at once and so have it over.
"But do not think that in telling it now I repent of my secrecy. I repent
of nothing; I would not alter anything. What was to be is, and what is
has its place in the book of destiny. No, I repent nothing, yet here now
I give you this to read while still my story of the days of which you
know is in your ears. Here it is. It will tell the whole story; for when
you have read it and do understand, then we part to meet no more as
friends. You will go back to Virginia, and I will stay here. You will
forgive the unwilling wrong I have done you, but you will make your place
in life without thought of me. You will marry some one--not worthy of
you, for that could not be; but you will take to yourself some man from
among the men of this world. You will set him apart from all other men as
yours, and he will be happy, having been blessed beyond deserving. You
will not regret coming here; but you will desire our friendship to cease;
and what has been to be no more, while the tincture of life is in your
veins. Sheila, read this thing, for it is the rest of the story until
He handed her the papers, and she took them with an inclination of the
head which said: "Give it to me. I will read it now while my eyes can
still bear to read it. I have laid on my heart the nettle of shame, and
while it is still burning there I will read all that you have to teach
"I will go out in the garden while you read it," he said. "In a half-hour
I will come back, and then we can say good-bye," he added, with pain in
his voice, but firmly.
"No, do not go," she urged. "Sit here on the bench--at the end of it
here," she said, motioning with her hand.
He shook his head in negation. "No, I will go and say to your mother that
I have told you, and ease her mind, for I know she herself meant to tell
As he went he looked at her face closely. It was so young, so pathetic,
so pale, yet so strangely beautiful, and her forehead was serene. That
was one of her characteristics. In all her life, her forehead remained
untroubled and unlined. Only at her mouth and in her eyes did misery or
sorrow show. He looked into her eyes now, and he was pleased with what he
saw; for they had in them the glow of understanding and the note of will
which said: "You and I are parted, but I believe in you, and I will not
show I am a weak woman by futile horror. We shall meet no more, but I
shall remember you."
That was what he saw, and it was what he wished to see. He knew her
character would stand the test of any trial, and it had done so. Horror
had struck her, but had not overwhelmed her. She had cried out in her
agony, but she had not been swept out into chaos. She had no weak
passions and no futilities. But as he turned away now, it was with the
sharp conviction that he had dealt a blow from which the girl would
recover, but would never be the same again. She was rich "beyond the
dreams of avarice," but that would not console her. She had resources
within herself, had what would keep her steady. Her real power and force,
her real hope, were in her regnant soul which was not to be cajoled by
life's subterfuges. Her lips opened now, as though she would say
something, but nothing came from them. She only shook her head sadly, as
if to say: "You understand. Go, and when you come again, it will be for
us to part in peace--at least in peace."
Out in the garden he found her mother. After the first agitated
greeting-agitated on her part, he said: "The story has been told, and she
is now reading--"
He told her the story of the manuscript, and added that Sheila had
carried herself with courage. Presently the woman said to him: "She never
believed you killed Erris Boyne. Well, it may not help the situation, but
I say too, that I do not believe you did. I cannot understand why you did
not deny having killed him."
"I could not deny. In any case, the law punished me for it, and the book
is closed for ever."
"Have you never thought that some one--"
"Yes, I have thought, but who is there? The crowd at the Dublin hotel
where the thing was done were secret, and they would lie the apron off a
bishop. No, there is no light, and, to tell the truth, I care not now."
"But if you are not guilty--it is not too late; there is my girl! If the
real criminal should appear--can you not see?"
The poor woman, distressedly pale, her hair still abundant, her eyes
still bright, her pulses aglow, as they had ever been, made a gesture of
appeal with hands that were worn and thin. She had charm still, in a way
as great as her daughter's.
"I can see--but, Mrs. Llyn, I have no hope. I am a man whom some men
"Lord Mallow!" she interjected.
"He does not fear me. Why do you say that?"
"I speak with a woman's intuition. I don't know what he fears, but he
does fear you. You are a son of history; you had a duel with him, and
beat him; you have always beaten him, even here where he has been supreme
as governor--from first to last, you have beaten him."
"I hope I shall be even with him at the last--at the very last," was Dyck
Calhoun's reply. "We were made to be foes. We were from the first. I felt
it when I saw him at Playmore. Nothing has changed since then. He will
try to destroy me here, but I will see it through. I will try and turn
his rapier-points. I will not be the target of his arrows without making
some play against him. The man is a fool. I could help him here, but he
will have none of it, and he is running great risks. He has been warned
that the Maroons are restive, that the black slaves will rise if the
Maroons have any initial success, and he will listen to no advice. He
would not listen to me, but, knowing that, I got the provost-marshal to
approach him, and when he knew my hand was in it, he stiffened. He would
have naught to do with it, and so no preparations are made. And up
there"--he turned and pointed--"up there in Trelawney the Maroons are
plotting and planning, and any day an explosion may occur. If it occurs
no one will be safe, especially if the blacks rise too--I mean the black
slaves. There will be no safety then for any one."
"For us as well, you mean?"
"For you as well as all others, and you are nearer to Trelawney than most
others. You are in their path. So be wise, Mrs. Llyn, and get back to
Virginia as soon as may be. It is a better place than this."
"My daughter is mistress here," was the sorrowful reply. "She will have
her own way."
"Your daughter will not care to stay here now," he answered firmly.
"She will do what she thinks her duty in spite of her own feelings, or
yours, or mine. It is her way, and it has always been her way."
"I will tell her what I fear, and she may change her mind."
"But the governor may want her to stay," answered Mrs. Llyn none too
sagely, but with that in her mind which seemed to justify her.
"Lord Mallow--oh, if you think there is any influence in him to keep her,
that is another question," said Dyck with a grim smile. "But,
nevertheless, I think you should leave here and go back to Virginia. It
is no safe place for two ladies, in all senses. Whatever Lord Mallow
thinks or does, this is no place for you. This place is your daughter's
for her to do what she chooses with it, and I think she ought to sell it.
There would be no trouble in getting a purchaser. It is a fine property."
"But the governor might not think as you do; he might not wish it sold."
Mrs. Llyn was playing a bold, indeed a reckless game. She wanted to show
Dyck there were others who would interest themselves in Sheila even if
he, Dyck, were blotted from the equation; that the girl could look high,
if her mind turned towards marriage. Also she felt that Dyck should know
the facts before any one else, so that he would not be shocked in the
future, if anything happened. Yet in her deepest heart she wished him
well. She liked him as she had never liked any of Sheila's admirers, and
if the problem of Erris Boyne had been solved, she would gladly have seen
him wedded to Sheila.
"What has the governor to do with it!" he declared. "It is your
daughter's own property, and she is free to hold or to part with it.
There is no Crown consent to ask, no vice-regal approval needed."
Suddenly he became angry, almost excited. His blood pounded in his veins.
Was this man, Mallow, to come between his and her fate always, come into
his problem at the most critical moment? "God in heaven!" he said in a
burst of passion, "is this a land of the British Empire or is it not? Why
should that man break in on every crisis? Why should he do this or
that--say yea or nay, give or take away! He is the king's representative,
but he is bound by laws as rigid as any that bind you or me. What has he
to do with your daughter or what concerns her? Is there not enough
trouble in the world without bringing in Lord Mallow? If he--"
He stopped short, for he saw coming from the summerhouse, Sheila with his
paper in her hand. She walked slowly and with dignity. She carried her
head high and firmly, and the skin of her face was shining with light as
she came on. Dyck noticed how her wide skirts flicked against the flowers
that bordered the path, and how her feet seemed scarcely to touch the
ground as she walked--a spirit, a regnant spirit of summer she seemed.
But in her face there was no summer, there was only autumn and winter,
only the bright frost of purpose. As she came, her mother turned as
though to leave Dyck Calhoun. She called to her to wait, and Mrs. Llyn
stood still, anxious. As Sheila came near she kept her eyes fixed on
Dyck. When she reached them, she held out the paper to him.
"It is wonderful," she said quietly, "that which you have written, but it
does not tell all; it does not say that you did not kill my father. You
are punished for the crime, and we must abide by it, even though you did
not kill Erris Boyne. It is the law that has done it, and we cannot abash
"We shall meet no more then!" said Dyck with decision.
Her lips tightened, her face paled. "There are some things one may not
do, and one of them is to be openly your friend--at present."
He put the letter carefully away in his pocket, his hand shaking, then
flicking an insect from the collar of his coat, he said gently, yet with
an air of warning: "I have been telling Mrs. Llyn about the Maroons up
there"--he pointed towards Trelawney--"and I have advised your going back
to Virginia. The Maroons may rise at any moment, and no care is being
taken by Lord Mallow to meet the danger. If they rise, you, here, would
be in their way, and I could not guarantee your safety. Besides, Virginia
is a better place--a safer place than this," he added with meaning.
"You wish to frighten me out of Jamaica," she replied with pain in her
voice. "Well, I will not go till I have put this place in order and
brought discipline and good living here. I shall stay here in Jamaica
till I have done my task. There is no reason why we should meet. This
place is not so large as Ireland or America, but it is large enough to
give assurance we shall not meet. And if we meet, there is no reason why
we should talk. As for the Maroons, when the trouble comes, I shall not
be unprepared." She smiled sadly. "The governor may not take your advice,
but I shall. And remember that I come from a land not without its
dangers. We have Red Indians and black men there, and I can shoot."
He waved a hand abruptly and then made a gesture--such as an ascetic
might make-of reflection, of submission. "I shall remember every word you
have said, and every note of your voice will be with me in all the lonely
years to come. Good-bye--but no, let me say this before I go: I did not
know that Erris Boyne was your father until after he was dead. So, if I
killed him, it was in complete ignorance. I did not know. But we have
outlived our friendship, and we must put strangeness in its place.
Good-bye--God protect you!" he added, looking into Sheila's eyes.
She looked at him with sorrow. Her lips opened but no words came forth.
He passed on out of the garden, and presently they heard his horse's
hoofs on the sand.
"He is a great gentleman," said Mrs. Llyn.
Her daughter's eyes were dry and fevered. Her lips were drawn. "We must
begin the world again," she said brokenly. Then suddenly she sank upon
the ground. "My God--oh, my God!" she said.
|Art of Worldly Wisdom Daily|
In the 1600s, Balthasar Gracian, a jesuit priest wrote 300 aphorisms on living life called "The Art of Worldly Wisdom." Join our newsletter below and read them all, one at a time.
Shakespeare wrote over 150 sonnets! Join our Sonnet-A-Day Newsletter and read them all, one at a time.