Chapter 24




WITH THE GOVERNOR

Lord Mallow frowned on his secretary. "Mr. Calhoun to see me! What's his
business?"

"One can guess, your honour. He's been fighting for the island."

"Why should he see me? There is the general commanding."

The secretary did not reply, he knew his chief; and, after a moment, Lord
Mallow said: "Show him in." When Dyck Calhoun entered the governor gave
him a wintry smile of welcome, but did not offer to shake hands. "Will
you sit down?" he said, with a slow gesture.

Calhoun made a dissenting motion. "I prefer to stand, your honour."

This was the first time the two men had met alone since Dyck had arrived
in Jamaica, or since his trial. Calhoun was dressed in planter's costume,
and the governor was in an officer's uniform. They were in striking
contrast in face and figure--the governor long, lanky, ascetic in
appearance, very intellectual save for the riotous mouth, and very spick
and span--as though he had just stepped out of Almack's; while Calhoun
was tough and virile, and with the air of a thorough outdoor man. There
was in his face the firm fighting look of one who had done things and
could tackle big affairs--and something more; there was in it quiet
exultation. Here he was now at last alone with the man who had done him
great harm, and for whom he had done so much; who had sought to wipe him
off the slate of life and being; who had tried to win the girl from whom
he himself had been parted.

In spite of it all--of his life in jail, of his stark mutiny, of the
oppression of the governor, he had not been beaten down, but had
prospered in spite of all. He had by his will, wisdom and military skill,
saved the island in its hour of peril, saved its governor from
condemnation; and here he was facing the worst enemy of his life with the
cards of success in his hands.

"You have done the island and England great service, Mr. Calhoun," said
the governor at last.

"It is the least I could do for the land where I have made my home, where
I have reaped more than I have sown."

"We know your merit, sir."

A sharp satirical look came into Calhoun's face and his voice rang out
with vigour. "And because you knew my merit you advised the crown to
confine me to my estate, and you would have had me shot if you could. I
am what I am because there was a juster man than yourself in Jamaica.
Through him I got away and found treasure, and I bought land and have
helped to save this island and your place. What do I owe you, your
honour? Nothing that I can see--nothing at all."

"You are a mutineer, and but that you showed your courage would have been
hung at the yard-arm, as many of your comrades in England were."

A cold smile played at Calhoun's lips. "My luck was as great as my
courage, I know. I have the luck of Enniscorthy!"

At the last words the governor winced, for it was by that touch Calhoun
had defeated him in the duel long ago. It galled him that this man whom
he detested could say such things to him with truth. Yet in his heart of
hearts he had for Calhoun a great respect. Calhoun's invincible will had
conquered the worst in Mallow's nature, had, in spite of himself, created
a new feeling in him. There was in Mallow the glimmer of greatness, and
only his supreme selfishness had made him what he was. He laid a hand on
himself now, though it was not easy to do so.

"It was not the luck of Enniscorthy that sent Erris Boyne to his doom,"
he said, however, with anger in his mind, for Dyck's calm boldness
stirred the worst in him. He thought he saw in him an exultancy which
could only come from his late experiences in the field. It was as though
he had come to triumph over the governor. Mallow said what he had said
with malice. He looked to see rage in the face of Dyck Calhoun, and was
nonplussed to find that it had only a stern sort of pleasure. The eyes of
Calhoun met his with no trace of gloom, but with a valour worthy of a
high cause--their clear blue facing his own with a constant penetration.
Their intense sincerity gave him a feeling which did not belong to
authority. It was not the look of a criminal, whatever the man might
be--mutineer and murderer. As for mutineer, all that Calhoun had fought
for had been at last admitted by the British Government, and reforms had
been made that were due to the mutiny at the Nore. Only the technical
crime had been done by Calhoun, and he had won pardon by his bravery in
the battle at sea. Yes, he was a man of mark, even though a murderer.

Calhoun spoke slowly. "Your honour, you have said what you have a right
to say to a man who killed Erris Boyne. But this man you accuse did not
do it." The governor smiled, for the assumption was ridiculous. He
shrugged a shoulder and a sardonic curl came to his lip.

"Who did it then?"

"If you will come to the house of the general commanding you will see."

The governor was in a great quandary. He gasped. "The general
commanding--did he kill Erris Boyne, then?"

"Not he, yet the person that did it is in this house. Listen, your
honour. I have borne the name of killing Erris Boyne, and I ought to have
killed him, for he was a traitor. I had proofs of it; but I did not kill
him, and I did not betray him, for he had alive a wife and daughter, and
something was due to them. He was a traitor, and was in league with the
French. It does not matter that I tell you now, for his daughter knows
the truth. I ought to have told it long ago, and if I had I should not
have been imprisoned."

"You were a brave man, but a fool--always a fool," said the governor
sharply.

"Not so great a fool that I can't recover from it," was the calm reply.
"Perhaps it was the best thing that ever happened to me, for now I can
look the world in the face. It's made a man of me. It was a woman killed
him," was Calhoun's added comment. "Will your honour come with me and see
her?"

The governor was thunderstruck. "Where is she?"

"As I have told you-in the house of the general commanding."

The governor rose abashed. "Well, I can go there now. Come."

"Perhaps you would prefer I should not go with you in the street. The
world knows me as a mutineer, thinks of me as a murderer! Is it fair to
your honour?"

Something in Calhoun's voice roused the rage of Lord Mallow, but he
controlled it, and said calmly: "Don't talk nonsense, sir; we shall walk
together, if you will."

At the entrance to the house of the general, the man to whom this visit
meant so much stopped and took a piece of paper from his pocket. "Your
honour, here is the name of the slayer of Erris Boyne. I give it to you
now to see, so you may not be astonished when you see her."

The governor stared at the paper. "Boyne's wife, eh?" he said in a
strange mood. "Boyne's wife--what is she doing here?"

Calhoun told him briefly as he took the paper back, and added: "It was
accident that brought us all together here, your honour, but the hand of
God is in it."

"Is she very ill?"

"She will not live, I think."

"To whom did she tell her story?"

"To Miss Sheila Llyn."

The governor was nettled.

"Oh, to Miss Llyn When did you see her?"

"Just before I came to you."

"What did the woman look like--this Noreen Boyne?"

"I do not know; I have not seen her."

"Then how came you by the paper with her signature?"

"Miss Llyn gave it to me."

Anger filled Lord Mallow's mind. Sheila--why now the way would be open to
Calhoun to win--to marry her! It angered him, but he held himself
steadily.

"Where is Miss Llyn?"

"She is here, I think. She came back when she left me at your door."

"Oh, she left you at my door, did she? . . . But let me see the woman
that's come so far to put the world right."

A few moments later they stood in the bedroom of Noreen Boyne, they two
and Sheila Llyn, the nurse having been sent out.

Lord Mallow looked down on the haggard, dying woman with no emotion. Only
a sense of duty moved him.

"What is it you wished to say to me?" he asked the patient.

"Who are you?" came the response in a frayed tone.

"I am the governor of the island--Lord Mallow."

"Then I want to tell you that I killed Erris Boyne--with this hand I
killed him." She raised her skinny hand up, and her eyes became glazed.
"He had used me vilely and I struck him down. He was a bad man."

"You let an innocent man bear punishment, you struck at one who did you
no harm, and you spoiled his life for him. You can see that, can't you?"

The woman's eyes sought the face of Dyck Calhoun, and Calhoun said: "No,
you did not spoil my life, Noreen Boyne. You have made it. Not that I
should have chosen the way of making it, but there it is, as God's in
heaven, I forgive you."

Noreen's face lost some of its gloom. "That makes it easier," she said
brokenly. "I can't atone by any word or act, but I'm sorry. I've kept you
from being happy, and you were born to be happy. Your father had hurt
mine, had turned him out of our house for debt, and I tried to pay it all
back. When they suspected you I held my peace. I was a coward; I could
not say you were innocent without telling the truth, and that I could not
do then. But now I'll tell it--I think I'd have told it whether I was
dying or not, though. Yes, if I'd seen you here I'd have told it, I'm
sure. I'm not all bad."

Sheila leaned over the bed. "Never mind about the past. You can help a
man back to the good opinion of the world now."

"I hurt you too," said Noreen with hopeless pain. "You were his friend."

"I believed in him always--even when he did not deny the crime," was the
quiet reply.

"There's no good going on with that," said the governor sharply. "We must
take down her statement in writing, and then--"

"Look, she is sinking!" said Calhoun sharply. The woman's head had
dropped forward, her chin was on her breast, and her hands became
clenched.

"The doctor at once-bring in the nurse," said Calhoun. "She's dying."

An instant later, the nurse entered with Sheila, and in a short time the
doctor came.

When later the doctor saw Lord Mallow alone he said: "She can't live more
than two days."

"That's good for her in a way," answered the governor, and in reply to
the doctor's question why, he said: "Because she'd be in prison."

"In prison--has she broken the law?"

"She is now under arrest, though she doesn't know it.

"What was her crime, your honour?"

"She killed a man."

"What man?"

"Him for whom Dyck Calhoun was sent to prison--Erris Boyne."

"Mr. Calhoun was not guilty, then?"

"No. As soon as the woman is dead, I mean to announce the truth."

"Not till then, your honour?"

"Not till then."

"It's hard on Calhoun."

"Is it? It's years since he was tried and condemned. Two days cannot
matter now."

"Perhaps not. Last night the woman said to me: 'I'm glad I'm going to
die.'" Then he added: "Calhoun will be more popular than ever now."

The governor winced.



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