by Annie T. Colcock
THE STORY OF MARGARET TUDOR
A Romance of Old St. Augustine
By ANNIE T. COLCOCK
NEW YORK · FREDERICK A.
STOKES COMPANY · PUBLISHERS
BY FREDERICK A. STOKES COMPANY
All rights reserved
That thee is sent receive in buxomnesse,
The wrastling of this world asketh a fall,
Here is no home, here is but wildernesse,
. . . . .
Looke up on high, and thanké God of all!
The names of Mr. John Rivers,kinsman and agent of Lord
Ashley,Dr. Wm. Scrivener and Margaret Tudor appear in the passenger
list of the Carolina, as given in the Shaftesbury Papers
(Collections of the South Carolina Historical Society, Vol. V, page
135). In the same (page 169) may be found a brief account of the
capture, at Santa Catalina, of Mr. Rivers, Capt. Baulk, some seamen,
a woman, and a girl; also (page 175) mention of the unsuccessful
embassy of Mr. Collins; and (page 204) the Memorial to the Spanish
Ambassador touching the delivery of the prisoners, one of whom is
alluded to as Margaret, presumably Margaret Tudor.
The names of the two Spaniards, Señor de Colis and Don Pedro
Melinza, each appear once in the Shaftesbury Papers (pages 25 and 443):
the latter individual was evidently a person of some consequence in San
Augustin; the former, in the year 1663, was Governour and
Captain-General, Cavallier, and Knight of the Order of St. James.
ANNIE T. COLCOCK.
THE STORY OF MARGARET TUDOR
San Augustin, this 29th of June, Anno Domini 1670.
It is now more than a month since our captivity began, and there
seems scant likelihood that it will come to a speedy close,altho',
being in good health myself, and of an age when hope dies slowly, I
despair not of recovering both liberty and friends. Yet, in the event
of our further detention, of sickness or any other evil that may befall
meand there is one threateningI write these pages of true history,
praying that they may some time reach the hand of my guardian and
uncle, Dr. William Scrivener, if he be still alive and dwelling in
these parts. Should they chance, instead, to meet the eyes of some
friendly-disposed person of English blood and Protestant faith, to whom
the name of William Scrivener is unknown, I beseech him to deliver them
to any person sailing with the sloop Three Brothers, which did
set out from the Island of Barbadoes on the 2nd of November
last,being in the hire of Sir Thomas Colleton, and bearing freight
and passengers for these shores.
If the sloop has suffered some misadventure (as I fear is not
unlikely,either at the hands of the Spaniards, or else of the Indians
of these parts, who do show themselves most unfriendly to all
Englishmen, being set on to mischief by the Spanish friars), then I
pray that word may be forwarded to his Lordship, the Duke of Albemarle,
and others of the Lords Proprietors who did commission and furnish a
fleet of three vessels, to wit: the Carolina, the Port Royal, and the Albemarle, which did weigh anchor at the Downs in
August of last year, and set forth to plant an English colony at Port
In particular would I implore that word might reach Lord Ashley,
seeing that his kinsman, Mr. John Rivers, is here detained a prisoner
in sorry state, laden with chains in the dungeon of the Castlefor
which may God forgive me, I being in some degree to blame; and yet,
since it hath pleased Heaven to grant me the fair face that wrought the
mischief, I hold myself the less guilty and grieve the more bitterly,
inasmuch as I love him with a maid's true love and would willingly give
my life to spare him hurt.
If it were so that I might give the true narrative of our present
plight, and how it fell about, without cumbering the tale with mention
of my own name, it would please me best; but as those who read it may
be strangers, I would better tell my story from the start.
Of myself it is enough to say that my name is Margaret Tudor, and
saving my uncle, Dr. Scrivener, I am alone in the world and well-nigh
portionlessmy father having spent his all, and life and liberty to
boot, in the service of King Charles, being one of those unfortunate
royalists who plotted for His Majesty's return in the year '55. For, as
Cromwell did discover their designs ere they were fully ripe, many were
taken prisoners, of whom some suffered death and others banishment. Of
these last was my father, who was torn from the arms of his young wife
and babe and sent in slavery to Barbadoes. We could learn nothing of
his after fate, though many inquiries were made in his behalf.
And so it fell about that,my mother having gone to her rest,I
did take passage with my uncle, Dr. William Scrivener, on board the
Carolina, with intent to stop at Barbadoes and make some search for
my poor father in the hope that he yet lived.
Among the passengers of the Carolina was Lord Ashley's
kinsman and agent, Mr. John Rivers, of whom I can find naught to say
that seems fitting; for although it may hap that in this great world
there are other men of a countenance as fine, a mien as noble, and a
heart as brave and tender, it has not been my lot as yet to encounter
Together we did sail for three months on the great deep, in danger
of pirates, in peril of tempests, and in long hours of golden calm when
the waters burned blue around us and the wide heaven shone pale and
clear over our heads. And in all that time we came to know one another
passing well; and Mr. Rivers heard my father's story and promised to
aid us in our search.
It was October when we reached Barbadoes and landed. Of the news
that we obtained, and the strange chance that brought it to our ears,
it is needless here to speak. Let it suffice that my dear father did
not suffer long, as death soon freed him from his bondage.
We had no further cause to detain us in Barbadoes, so we yielded to
the persuasions of Mr. Rivers that we should continue with the
expedition to Port Royal; and, in November, we set sail once more in
the Three Brothers, a sloop hired to replace the Albemarle, which, in consequence of a broken cable, had been driven ashore in a
gale and lost upon the rocks.
From now on, for the truth's sake, I must needs tell somewhat of my
intercourse with Mr. Rivers. It may seem I am lacking in a proper
modesty if I declare that, even then, there was more than friendship
betwixt us. But surely there were reasons enough and to spare. That I
should love him was no mysteryhe being the gallant gentleman he is;
and, since there chanced to be no other maid upon the vessel of proper
age and gentle condition, I suppose it was in nature that he should
make the best of the little society he had. But nay, I would be false
to my own faith if I doubted that it was foreordained of Heaven that we
should come together and love one another.
It is true that I did not make confession of this belief until I had
tormented my would-be lord with every teasing device that entered into
my brain. But though he was often cast down for hours together, he gave
me to understand that he could read my heart in my blue eyes.
An you were to swear upon your soul you hated me, dear lady, I'd
not believe it, he once said. Mistress Margaret is too unversed in
city ways and shallow coquetries to play a partand 'tis for that I
love her so. And though it angered me to have him praise my innocence
and country airs, I knew he spoke the truth, and that a time would come
when I would own my love for him. And so it did.
A terrible storm had raged for eight-and-forty hours. There had been
wild, black, awful nights, and sullen days when the gray curtains of
the sky were torn asunder and whirled over us in inky folds, their
tattered fringes lashing up the seas, and whipping our frail bark till
it skulked and cowered, like a beaten cur that looks in vain for mercy.
We had drifted northward far from our course, our two consorts had
disappeared, and we had well-nigh given up hope, when with the dawning
of the third day the wind lulled, and through the ragged clouds we saw
the blue arch of heaven high above us.
I had climbed out upon the deck alone; and from a sheltered corner I
saw the sun rise and gild a far-off strip of shore that lay to west of
us. It seemed a vision of a new heaven and a new earth, and I gave God
thanks. Then a hand touched mine, and a voice whispered my nameand
other words that need not be recorded here; and I could answer nothing
in denial, for the reason that my heart was too full.
The land to west of us was Virginia, and we sought harbour at
Nancemund, and lay there some weeks for needful repairs on the sloop,
which was also provisioned afresh for her further voyage.
It was then the month of February; we had been six months
a-journeying, and still the promised land was far away.
This tale of mine, however, bids fair to spin itself at too great
length, so I must hasten on to the story of our captivity.
In spite of fairly good weather on our way southward we somehow over
passed the latitude of Port Royal harbour; and of a Saturday in
Maythe fifteenth day of the monthwe did cast anchor at a little
isle upon the coast, in order to obtain wood and water for the sloop's
This island is within the territory of the Spaniards, who have named
it Santa Catalina. It lies some days' journey north of San
Augustin,the exact latitude I know not, although I have heard it more
times than one; but there are some things that abide never in a woman's
Here appeared many Indians, who seemed at first not unfriendly, and
spoke words of welcome to us in the Spanish tongue.
Much trading was done aboard the sloop, and the barbarians appeared
strangely content with strings of paltry beads and the cast-off
garments of the crew, giving in their stead good provender, and skins
of the wild deer dressed soft and fine.
The second day of our stay, Mr. Rivers, with the ship's master and
three seamen, went ashore with such stuff as the Indians desire, to
trade for pork and other provisions; and it being a Monday morn, Dame
Barbara did crave leave to take her washing and go with them, in the
hope of finding a softer water to cleanse the linen.
It was early morning; the breeze from the land blew sweet and
fragrant, and the woods beyond the sandy beach bourgeoned in new
leafage, green and tender. I longed for the scent of the warm earth,
and the tuneful courting of bird-lovers in the thicket; so I prayed my
uncle to let me go ashore with the dame. He acceded willingly enough;
but Mr. Rivers, who is always over-anxious where my safety is
concerned, counselled me earnestly not to leave the ship.
I was ever a headstrong maid, and the sunshine and the scent of
far-off flowers had set me nearly wild with longing; so I chid him
roundly for his caution and merrily warned him to beware how he sought
to clip the wings of a free bird. Go I did, therefore, though he smiled
and shook his head at me; and when we all parted company at the
watering-place he seemed uneasy still, and, looking backward over his
shoulder as I waved farewell, entreated me to wander no farther from
The little spring where they had left us welled up, cold and clear,
at the foot of a tall cypress-tree, and trickled thence in a tiny
stream, a mere thread of crystal, that tangled itself in the low bush
and wound its way helplessly through the level wooded country, as
though seeking for some gentle slope that would lead it to the sea.
The dame rinsed her linen till it fairly shone, and spread it out to
dry in a sunny nook; while I lay prone on the warm earth and stirred up
the damp brown leaves that had drifted into a tiny hollow, and found
beneath them a wee green vine with little white star-flowers that
blinked up at the sun and me. And I dreamed of the new home we would
make for ourselves in this far country, and of the very good and docile
wife I would be to my dear love. Then at last,because I grew aweary
at the prospect of my very great obedience in the future, and because,
too, I thought it was high time my gallant gentleman came back to ask
me how I did,up from the ground I started, rousing the dame from a
Look, Barbara! the linen is dry; the sun is on its westering way,
and the shadows grow longer and longer.'Tis very strange that Mr.
Rivers and the master have not returned!
Mayhap they have clean forgot us and gone back to the ship alone,
moaned the old woman, rubbing her sleepy eyes and beginning at once to
croak misfortune, after the manner of her class.
Such an idea was past belief and set me smiling. I laid my hollowed
palms behind my ears and listened.
Master Wind, passing through the tree-tops, had set every leaf
a-whispering and nid-nodding to its gossips,just as the peddler on
his way through the village at home stirs all the women-folk to
chattering about the latest news from the whole countryside. In the
thicket beside us a chorus of feathered singers were all a-twitter,
each trying to outdo his neighbour; but one saucy fellow piped the
merriest tune of all, mingling in a delicious medley the sweetest notes
of all the rest. Of a sudden, as I listened, there was a soft rustle in
the undergrowth, and out from a clump of myrtles bounced a little brown
rabbit, who cocked an astonished eye at me and disappeared again with a
series of soundless leaps and a terrified whisk of his little white
tail. Upon that the laugh in my throat bubbled over; I dropped my hands
and turned to the dame.
Gather up your linen, good Barbara, and let us explore the trail
ourselves. They are doubtless picnicking somewhere in the woods beyond,
and 'tis very discourteous not to bid us to the entertainment.
She would have demurred at first: the linen was not to be left, and
yet was too weighty to carry; her back was aweary and she was fain to
rest in peace. But Mistress Margaret was minded to have her own way,
and, dividing the bundle in two, started on ahead with the larger share
of it; so that, will she, nill she, the dame must follow.
I knew, of course, that I was disobeying Mr. Rivers's last
injunction, and 'twas that thought quite as much as the sweet woodland
airs that lured me on: I desired, above all things, to behold the
countenance of my gallant gentleman when he discovered my wilfulness.
So I hastened forward, pausing now and again to encourage the good dame
and entice her still farther with glowing descriptions of new beauties
just coming into view.
It fell about, therefore, that I was some forty paces in advance of
her when I suddenly came upon the Indian settlement and saw there a
sight that made my heart stand still.
I drew back hastily behind the trunk of a wide-branched oak, whence
I could lookunseen, I thoughtupon the town.
A great concourse of barbarians was assembled in the open space
before the chief building, which was of considerable size, built round
after the manner of a dove-house, and completely thatched with palmetto
leaves. Many smaller buildings surrounded it: one, in especial, I would
have done well to take note of; for it was doubtless a kind of sentinel
or watch-tower, being set on tall, upright timbers which gave it an
elevation much greater than any part of the surrounding country.
I had eyes for naught, however, but one figure, that stood, with
hands and feet bound, at the foot of a great wooden cross planted
opposite the entrance of the chief building. It was my dear loveI
knew him on the instant by the proud poise of his head and shoulders.
He was speaking in his usual calm and courtly tones to the circle of
half-naked savages, who seemed to hear him with respectful
consideration, though they made no motion to loose his bonds.
On the ground beside him lay the ship's master, old Captain Baulk,
and the three seamen, their arms securely pinioned. Near them was the
bale of goods which had been brought from the ship: it lay wide open,
and was being most unscrupulously rifled of its contents.
For the moment I thought it was the sight of the gewgaws this bale
contained that had roused the cupidity of the barbarians; but now I
believe otherwise. The savages would have paid for them willingly, in
skins and such like, and then suffered our men to depart in peace, had
not that smooth-tongued hypocrite, Ignacio, been behind. But this, of
course, was unknown to me at the time.
The idea came over me, like a flash, that we should go for help to
the ship; and I turned quickly and signalled the dame to be silent. It
was too late, however, for she had caught sight of the savages and of
our men bound in the midst of them; and turning to the right about with
a shrill scream, she cast away the bundle of linen and started back the
way we had come at a speed which 'tis likely she had never equalled in
her life before. After her I hastened, and implored her to be still,
lest the barbarians should hear and overtake us. My one thought was to
summon aid; for, though there seemed to be over two hundred of the
Indians, I believed that our handful of men, armed with muskets,
swords, and pikes, would be sufficient to strike terror into them at
We had scarce run an hundred yards down the trail when four savages
stepped from a thicket and laid hands upon us. They had lain in wait,
there is no doubt, so 'twas evident we had been seen some while before.
Barbara resisted them with much wild shrieking, but I submitted in
silence. 'Twas not that I was any braver than she, but simply that I
could not believe that they meant to do us any real harm; and all the
while I was possessed with the thought that there was some one
stationed in the thicket who was directing the actions of the savages.
It appeared to me that, as they fastened our arms behind us, their
eyeballs rolled ever toward a certain myrtle-bush, as if they were
waiting for a cue.
We were led back at once to the town, and I shall never forget the
look upon my dear love's face as he caught sight of me.
Margaretyou also! I had hoped you and the dame were safe! he
cried out, as our captors led us to his side.
'Twas all my wilfulnessI came hither seeking you, I answered,
and hung my head.
He looked at me dumbly, and then turned his face away; and I saw his
arms writhing in their bonds. A strange feeling came upon me, part
shame and sorrow that I should have grieved him so, and part exultation
thatwhatever our fateat least we would meet it side by side. Fear
had the least place in my thoughts as I waited, breathless, for the
outcome of this strange situation. My eyes wandered round the circle of
barbarians, and I noted with some wonderment that numbers of the men
wore their crowns shaven, after the manner of a priest's tonsure.
One among them, who seemed of greater consequence than the rest,
began to speak; but I could make nothing of his discourse, although he
used many words that I thought had somewhat of a Spanish ring.
Yet his meaning was fathomed by Mr. Rivers, who gave him the reply
on the instant, couched in the Spanish, and delivered with some heat
There was a stir among the barbarians, and presently there appeared
a new figure on the scene. The shaven crown, the bare feet, the coarse
woollen robe fastened by a knotted cord about the waist, all denoted a
friar of the Franciscan order.
So, muttered Mr. Rivers, under his breath, now we have the real
chief to deal with.
Scarcely less swarthy than the Indians themselves was the dark face
of the Spanish friar. As he came forward into the open space, he raised
his eyes to the great cross at the foot of which we were standing, and
straightway bent the knee and crossed himself. Some few of the Indians
likewise made the sign upon their breasts, though the greater part
contained themselves with the same stolidity that had marked them from
Mr. Rivers gave a low laugh, and turned to me with a curling lip.
These be Christians, he said.
The Spaniard caught the sneer, and a scowl gathered on his coarse
face; but he checked it suddenly and began in smooth tones to address
Old Captain Baulk had raised himself to a sitting posture, and the
seamen all held themselves in attitudes of strained attention.
What says he? I asked, in a whisper, of my dear love, when the
friar had ceased and turned away from us.
Naught but a tissue of lies, exclaimed Mr. Rivers, through his
clenched teeth. He would have us believe that he is wholly
irresponsible for the doings of these 'banditos'; but he will exert
what influence he has among the believers of his flock to procure our
release,I would we had fallen among infidels! These can have learned
naught of their teacher but deceit. They tricked us, on the plea of our
most mutual confidence, to lay aside our arms, and then fell instantly
upon us and made us captive.
I would to Heaven I could have gone back to the ship and given
warning, I sighed dolefully. Yet perhaps some of them may come out to
search for us.
Now God forbid! exclaimed Mr. Rivers, for they would walk into a
trap. Some of these Indians have muskets and ammunition, and are
therefore as well armed as our men. If many more of us were taken there
would not be left able-bodied men enough to sail the sloop. 'Twould be
better if they held off and waited for the Indians to take the
initiative. My hope is that we will be able to treat with the savages
for ransom,that is, if the friar bears us no real ill will. See, here
he comes again, with his oily tongue.
The shifty eyes and full-lipped mouth of the man filled me with a
sudden loathing. Fear began to take hold of me at last, and a little
sob broke in my throat.
My dear love turned to me with a quick, warm glance.
Cheer up, sweetheart, he whispered. It is too soon to lose
courage. Come, where is my brave Margaret?
Here! I answered, and forced a smile on my quivering lips.
The rest of the day passed by like a long nightmare. The friar had
us removed to a small but strongly built hut, containing two rooms,
separated by a thin partition of hides nailed to a row of upright
studs. These were of squared timber, as was the floor also, and the
outer frame and wall-plate. The roof and sides were overlaid with
thatch; and there was no window, only a square opening in the roof
which admitted the light, and also let out the smoke when a fire was
built upon the floor.
As dark came on, two young Indian girls entered the hut, where we
sat, bound, with our backs against the wall.
They seemed kindly disposed and gentle-mannered, for all their
outlandish garb, which consisted of a petticoat of long gray moss, and
strings of little shells and beads of divers colours festooned about
They loosed Barbara and me, for which we were mightily grateful, as
our arms had grown numb and sore. We made signs that they should cut
the bonds of the men also, which they declined to do. Yet they touched
us with gentle hands, and stroked our shoulders in token of their good
After this they brought wet clay and spread it upon the floor, and
on this laid a fire and kindled it; going forth again, they returned
with food and set it before us, making signs that we who were free
should feed the rest.
While I was serving my dear lovewho made pitiable pretence of
enjoying my ministrationsthe friar entered the hut, accompanied by
two others who were doubtless of mixed Spanish and Indian blood.
They bore with them heavy manacles and chains, which they fastened
upon our men, cutting the leathern thongs which had held them until
Mr. Rivers demanded to know by whose orders this was done.
For it would seem our true jailers are not the Indians. These
fetters are of Spanish forging. Is it to your nation, padre, we are
indebted for this urgent hospitality?
To this the friar made answer at great length, and what he said
appeared to enrage our men, who broke forth in a round volley of oaths
as soon as our jailers had left the hut. I turned to Mr. Rivers for
'Tis as I supposed, he said, and the friar is at the bottom of it
all. He maintains now that in landing here and attempting to trade with
the Indians we have committed an offence against the sovereignty of
Santo Domingo, which claims all this coast as Spanish territory. These
Indians, he declares, are under the protection of his government, and
therefore are not free to dispose of any goods to us English, or to
receive any favours at our hands; as such dealings would be to the
prejudice of the Spanish rights and influence over this country.
Therefore he has claimed us from the Indians and proposes himself to
hold us prisoners, awaiting the decision of the Governor at San
As I look back now, it seems to me that in those first hours of our
captivity I grew older by many years. That gladsome morning, with its
wilful moods and joyous daring, fell away back into the past, and
seemed as unreal as the day-dreams of my childhood.
We slept that night, Dame Barbara and I, upon a soft and springy
couch of moss piled in the little inner room. That is to say, we lay
there silently; but I think I scarce closed my eyes.
The wind, drifting through the gaping thatch, caught the loose
corner of a shrivelled strip of hide dangling on the rude partition
wall, and kept it swinging back and forth, with a faint tap-tap,
tap-tap, the whole night long. As it swung outward I could catch
fleeting glimpses of the little group huddled about the dying fire; and
for hours I lay and listened to the low murmur of their voices and the
heavy clank and rattle of their chains.
Old Captain Baulk was in a garrulous mood, and he poured into the
sailors' ears a horrid tale of how the Spaniards had massacred the
first French settlers on this coast.
'Twas just about one hundred years ago, he droned in a gruesome
whisper. Ribault's settlement was on the River May, somewhere in these
latitudes. There were about nine hundred of them in all, 'tis said,
counting the women and children; and not one of them escaped. The
bodies of dead and wounded were alike hung upon a tree for the
In God's name, hold your croaking tongue! Mr. Rivers broke in
angrily. 'Tis bad enough for the women as things are, and if they
overhear these old wives' tales, think you it will make them rest
Not old wives' tales, Mr. Rivers, but the fact, sir,the bloody
Silence! whispered my betrothed, in a voice that made me
tremble,for he hath a hot temper when it is roused. Unless thou
canst hold that ill-omened tongue of thine, there presently will be
another bloody fact between thy teeth!
A sudden silence fell. 'Twas broken finally by my dear love, whose
generous nature soon repented of a harshly spoken word.
I was over-hasty, my good Baulk; but I would not for the world have
Mistress Tudor hear aught of those horrors. And times have changed
greatly in an hundred years. But this inaction, this inaction! 'Tis
terrible upon a man!
A suppressed groan accompanied the exclamation, and my heart ached
for him. It must indeed be hard for menwho are used to carving their
own fates and wresting from fortune their desiressuddenly to be
forced to play the woman's part of patient waiting.
The next day brought no relief.
From the windowless hut we could see naught of what passed without;
but about an hour before noon we heard a drum beat in the village. The
sound grew ever fainter, as though receding; then came the distant
report of musketry, and we grew anxious for our people on the sloop.
Hours passed by, and again came the sound of heavy firing, which
gradually died away as before.
Late in the afternoon we were joined by another prisoner, whomfrom
his dress of skinswe mistook at first sight for a young Indian; but
'twas no other than the lad Poole, who was in Mr. Rivers's service and
most loyally attached to his master.
From him we learned that the Indians and some Spaniards had been
parleying with our men all day. He had swum ashore with a letter to the
friar, and had been received with kindness by the savages, who clad him
after their own fashion. The friar, however, vouchsafed him no reply;
and after a time gave a signal to his men to fire on the sloop. The
arrows of the Indians and the muskets of the Spaniards had finally
compelled the Three Brothers to weigh anchor and put out to sea.
Day after day dragged by. We grew aweary of discussing the
possibilities of our escape and fell gradually into silence.
It was on the first day of June that Don Pedro de Melinza arrived in
the galley from San Augustin, and our captivity took on a new phase.
He is a handsome man, this Spanish Don, and he bears himself with
the airs of a courtierwhen it so pleases him. As he stood that day at
the open door of our hut prison, in the full glow of the summer
morning, he was a goodly sight. His thick black hair was worn in a
fringe of wavy locks that rested lightly on his flaring collar. His
leathern doublet fitted close to his slight, strong figure, and through
its slashed sleeves there was a shimmer of fine silk. In his right hand
he held his plumed sombrero against his breast; his left rested
carelessly on the hilt of his sword.
I could find no flaw in his courteous greetings; but I looked into
his countenance and liked it not.
The nose was straight and high, the keen dark eyes set deep in the
olive face; but beneath the short, curled moustache projected a full,
red under lip.
Show me, in a man, an open brow, a clear eye, a firm-set mouth, and
a chin that neither aims to meet the nose nor lags back upon the
breast; and I will dub him honest, and brave, and clean-minded. But if
his forehead skulks backward, his chin recedes, and his nether lip
curls over redlythough the other traits be handsome, and the figure
full of grace and strength controlledtrust that man I never could!
Such an one I saw once in my early childhood. My mother pointed him out
to me and bade me note him well.
That man, she said, was once your father's friend and close
comrade; yet now he walks free and lives in ease, while my poor husband
is in slavery. Why is it thus? Because he over yonder was false to his
oath, to his friends, and to his king. He sold them all, like Esau, for
a mess of pottage. Mark him well, my child, and beware of his like; for
in these days they are not a few, and woe to any who trust in them!
I remembered those words of my mother when the Señor Don Pedro de
Melinza y de Colis made his bow to us that summer's day. The meaning of
his courtly phrases was lost upon me; but I gathered from his manner
that he had come in the guise of a friend,and I trembled at the
prospect of such friendship.
Nevertheless I was right glad when the fetters were struck from my
dear love and his companions, and we were taken upon the Spanish galley
and served like Christians.
At the earliest opportunity Mr. Rivers hastened to make things clear
to me. Our delivererso he termed him, whereat I marvelled
somewhat,our deliverer assures me that Padre Ignacio's action is
condemned greatly by his uncle, Señor de Colis, the Governor and
Captain-General at San Augustin. Don Pedro has been sent to transport
us thither, where we will be entertained with some fitness until we can
communicate with our friends.
Says he so? 'Twill be well if he keeps his word; but to my thinking
he has not the face of an honest man.
Mr. Rivers looked at me gravely. That is a hard speech from such
gentle lips, he said. Don Pedro is a Spanish gentleman of high
lineage. His uncle, Señor de Colis, is a knight of the Order of St.
James. Such hold their honour dear. Until he gives us cause to distrust
him, let us have the grace to believe that he is an honest man.
I looked back into the frank gray eyes of my true and gallant love,
and I felt rebuked. 'Twas a woman's instinct, only, that made me doubt
the Spaniard; and this simple trust of a noble nature in the integrity
of his fellow man seemed a vastly finer instinct than my own.
From that moment I laid by my suspicions, and met the courteous
advances of Señor de Melinza with as much of graciousness as I knew
how. But, as we spoke for the most part in different tongues, little
conversation was possible to us.
I marvelled at the ease with which Mr. Rivers conversed in both
Spanish and French. Of the latter I was not wholly ignorant
myself,although in my quiet country life I had had little opportunity
of putting my knowledge to the test, seldom attempting to do more than
prick in some flowers of foreign speech upon the fabric of my mother
tongue; so it was with great timidity that I essayed at first to thread
the mazes of an unfamiliar language.
The Spaniard, however, greeted my attempts with courteous
comprehension, and after a time I was emboldened to ask some questions
concerning the town of San Augustin, and to comment upon the vivid
beauty of the skies and the blue waves around us. Upon that he broke
into rapturous praises of his own land of Spainthe fairest spot upon
the earth! As I listened, smilingly, it seemed to me that I perceived
a shadow gathering upon the brow of my dear love.
So far the galley had depended solely upon her oarsof which there
were six banks, of two oars each, on either side,but now, the wind
having freshened, Don Pedro ordered her two small lateen sails to be
hoisted. While he was giving these directions and superintending their
fulfilment, Mr. Rivers drew closer to my side, saying, in a rapid
You have somewhat misread me, sweetheart, in regard to your
demeanour toward our host. 'Tis surely needless for you to put yourself
to the pain of conversing with him at such length.
Now it must be remembered that in the last few hours our situation
had greatly changed. I had left a dark and dirty hovel for a cushioned
couch upon a breezy deck. In the tiny cabin which had been placed at my
disposal, I had, with Barbara's aid, rearranged my tangled locks and my
disordered clothing; so that I was no longer ashamed of my untidy
appearance. With my outward transformation there had come a reaction in
my spirits, which bounded upward to their accustomed level.
The salt air was fresh upon my cheek; the motion of our vessel,
careening gaily on the dancing waves, was joyous and inspiring. I
forgot that we were sailing southward, and that, if our English friends
had survived to begin their intended settlement, we were leaving them
farther and farther behind. My thoughts went back to the earlier days
of our journey over seas; and a flash of the wilful mischief, which I
thought had all died from my heart, rose suddenly within me.
I leaned back upon my cushioned seat and looked with half-veiled
eyes at my gallant gentleman.
These nice distinctions, Mr. Rivers, are too difficult for me, I
said. If this Spanish cavalier of high lineage and honest intentions
is worthy of any gratitude, methinks a few civil words can scarcely
A heightened colour in the cheek of my betrothed testified to the
warmth of his feelings in the matter, as he replied:
You are wholly in the right, my dearest lady! If civil words can
cancel aught of our indebtedness I shall not be sparing of them.
Nevertheless, permit me, I entreat you, to assume the entire burden of
our gratitude and the whole payment thereof.
Not so, I rejoined, with some spirit. Despite our beggared
fortunes, I trust no one has ever found a Tudor bankrupt in either
courtesy or gratitude; andby your leave, sirI will be no
This I said, not because I was so mightily beholden to the Spaniard;
butshame upon me!because Mr. Rivers had chosen to reprove me, a
while since, for my uncharity.
'Tis passing strange how we women can find pleasure in giving pain
to the man we love; while if he suffered from any other cause we would
gladly die to relieve him! 'Twould seem a cruel trait in a woman's
characterand I do trust that I am not cruel! But I must admit that
when I greeted Don Pedro, on his return, with added cordiality, it was
nothing in his dark, eager countenance that set my heart beatingbut
rather the glimpse I had caught of a bitten lip, a knotted brow, and a
pair of woeful gray eyes gazing out to sea.
Repentance came speedily, however. There was that in the Spaniard's
manner that aroused my sleeping doubts of him; and I soon fell silent
and sought to be alone.
My gallant gentleman had withdrawn himself in a pique, and, in the
company of old Captain Baulk and the lad Poole, seemed to have wholly
forgotten my existence.
I made Dame Barbara sit beside me, and, feigning headache, leaned my
head upon her shoulder and closed my eyes. The dame rocked herself
gently to and fro, and from time to time gave vent to smothered prayers
and doleful ejaculations that set my thoughts working upon my own
Through my half-shut eyes I saw the sun go down behind the strip of
shore, and watched the blue skies pale to faintest green and richest
amber. A little flock of white cloudlets, swimming in the transparent
depths, caught fire suddenly and changed to pink flames, then glowed
darkly red like burning coals, and faded, finally to gray ashes in the
Lord, have mercy on our sinful hearts! groaned Dame Barbara
Amen! I sighed, and wondered what ailed mine, that it could be so
very wicked as to add to the burden of anxiety that my dear love had to
bear! A few tears stole from under my half-closed lids, and I was very
miserable and forlorn, when suddenly I felt a hand laid upon mine.
I looked up hastily, and saw the face of my gallant gentleman, very
grave and penitent, in the fast-deepening twilight. My heart gave a
glad leap within my bosom; but I puckered my lips woefully and heaved a
Thank you, dear Dame, for your kind nursing, I said to Barbara.
Truly, I know not what I should do without your motherly comforting at
Mr. Rivers took my hand, and drew me gently away, saying:
See what a bright star hangs yonder, above the sombre shores!
I glanced at the glittering point of light, and then, over my
shoulder, at the shadowy decks. The Spaniard was not in sight, and only
the bent figure of the dame was very near.
My dear love raised my fingers to his lips. Forgive me, sweetheart,
for being so churlishbut you cannot know the fears that fill me when
I see that man's dark face gazing into yours, and realize that we are
utterly in his power.
Surely he would not harm me! I said, hastily.
'Tis that he may learn to love you, said Mr. Rivers gravely.
He may spare himself the pain of it! I cried. Have you not told
him that we are betrothed?
Aye, lovebut he may lose his heart in spite of that. What wonder
if he does? The miracle would be if he could look upon your face
Am I so wondrous pretty, then?
Fairer than any woman living! he declared. I knew well enough it
was a tender falsehood, but since he seemed to believe it himself it
was every whit as satisfactory as if it had been truth!
Be comforted, I whispered, reassuringly. I know very well how to
make myself quite homely. I have only to pull all my curls back from my
brow and club them behind: straightway I will become so old and ugly
that no man would care to look me twice in the face. Wait till
to-morrow, and you will see!
A laugh broke from Mr. Rivers's lips, and then he sighed heavily.
Nay, sweetheart, if it be the head-dress you assumed one day some
months ago for my peculiar punishment, I pray you will not try its
efficacy on the Spaniard; for it serves but to make you the more
But already I have dwelt longer upon myself and my own feelings than
is needful for the telling of my tale. I must hasten on to those
happenings that more nearly concerned Mr. Rivers. Yet, in looking
backward, I find it hard to tear my thoughts from the memory of that
last hour of quiet converse with my dear love, under the starlit
southern skies. How seldom we realize our moments of great happiness
until after they have slipped away! It seemed to me then that we were
in the shadow of a dark-winged host of fears; but now I know that it
served only to make our mutual faith burn the more brightly.
I did not, thereafter, neglect Mr. Rivers's warning, and avoided the
Spaniard as much as possible. My dear love lingered always at my elbow,
and replied for me, in easy Spanish, to all the courteous speeches of
Sometimes I think it would have been far better had he left me to
follow my own course. There are some men who need only a hint of
rivalry to spur them on where of their own choice they had never
thought to adventure. Melinza's attentions did not diminish, while his
manner toward Mr. Rivers lost in cordiality as time went on.
Among the Spaniard's followers was a young mulatto whom he called
Tomas. Very tall and slight of figure was he, yet sinewy and strong,
with corded muscles twining under the brown skin of his lean young
limbs. He wore a loose shirt, open at the throat, with sleeves uprolled
to the shoulder; and his short, full trousers reached barely to the
I was admiring the agile grace of the lad as he bestirred himself
upon the deck the last morning of our voyage. With him young Poole
(clothed once more like a Christian, in borrowed garments) was engaged
in the task of shifting a great coil of rope; and the sturdy,
fair-skinned English youth was a pretty contrast to the other.
Don Pedro was standing near to Mr. Rivers and myself, and his eyes
took the same direction as our own.
They are well matched in size, said he, pointing to the lads. Let
us see which can bear off the palm for strength. He called out a few
words in Spanish to the young mulatto, who raised his dark headcurled
over with shiny rings of coal-black hairand showed a gleaming row of
white teeth as he turned his smiling face toward his master.
Mr. Rivers spoke a word to Poole, and the boy blushed from brow to
neck, and his blue eyes fell sheepishly; but he stood up against the
other with a right good will, and there was not a hair's difference in
At a signal from Don Pedro the lads grappled with each other; the
brown and ruddy limbs were close entwined, and with bare feet gripping
the decks they swayed back and forth like twin saplings caught in a
In the first onset the mulatto had the best of it; his lithe dark
limbs coiled about his adversary with paralyzing force: but soon the
greater weight of the English youth began to tell; his young, well-knit
figure straightened and grew tense.
I saw a sudden snarl upon the other's upturned face. His short,
thick upper lip curled back upon his teeth as a dog's will when in
anger. He rolled his eyes in the direction of his master, who threw him
a contemptuous curse. Stung into sudden rage, the mulatto thrust forth
his head and sank his sharp white teeth in the shoulder of young Poole.
There was a startled cry, and the English youth loosened his grasp.
In another moment the two figures rolled upon the deck, and the flaxen
head was undermost.
Foul play! cried Mr. Rivers, springing forward to tear the lads
apart; for now the mulatto's fingers were at his opponent's throat.
Melinza's hand flew to his sword; with a volley of oaths he
interposed the shining blade between Mr. Rivers and the writhing
figures on the floor. Quick as thought another blade flashed from its
sheath, and the angerful gray eyes of my betrothed burned in indignant
I had looked on in dumb amaze; but at the sight of the naked weapons
I screamed aloud.
Instantly the two men seemed to recollect themselves. They drew back
and eyed each other coldly.
Hasta conveniente ocasion, caballero! said the Spaniard,
returning his sword to its scabbard, and bowing low.
A la disposicion de vuestra señoria, Don Pedro, replied my
betrothed, following his example.
And I, listening, but knowing no word of the language, believed that
an apology had passed between them!
The scuffle on the deck had ceased when the swords clashed forth,
and the lads had risen to their feet. Melinza turned now to young Tomas
and struck him a sharp blow on the cheek.
Away with you both! said the gesture of his impatient arm; but I
believe his tongue uttered naught but curses.
All of our English had appeared upon the deck, and when Melinza
strode past them with a scowl still upon his brow they exchanged
meaning glances. Captain Baulk shook his grizzled head as he approached
What have I always said, Mr. Rivershe began; but my betrothed
looked toward me and laid a finger on his lip. Afterward they drew
apart and conversed in whispers. What they said, I never knew; for when
Mr. Rivers returned to my side he spoke of naught but the dolphins
sporting in the blue waters, and the chances of our reaching San
Augustin ere nightfall.
So, I thought, I am no longer to be a sharer in their
discussions, in their hopes or fears. I am but a very child, to be
watched over and amused, to be wiled away from danger with a sweetmeat
or a toy! And truly, I have deserved to be treated thus. But now 'tis
time for me to put away childish things and prove myself a woman.
I had the wit, however, not to make known my resolutions, nor to
insist on sharing his confidence. I leaned over the vessel's side and
watched the silver flashing of the two long lines of oars as they cut
the waves, and I held my peace. But in my heart there was tumult. I had
seen the glitter of a sword held in my dear love's face!and I grew
cold at the memory. I had coquetted with the man whose sword it
was!and that thought sent hot surges over my whole body. I shut my
eyes and wished God had made them less blue; I bit my lip because it
was so red. I had not thought, till now, that my fair face might bring
danger on my beloved.
He stood at my side, so handsome and so debonair; a goodly man to
look upon and a loyal heart to trust; not over-fervent in matters of
religion, yet never soiling his lips with a coarse oath, or his honour
with a lie! As I glanced up at him, and he bent down toward me, I
suddenly recalled the disloyal caution of our father Abraham when he
journeyed in the land of strangers; and I thought: Surely must God
honour a man who is true to his love at any cost of danger!
So passed the day.
It was evening when we crossed the bar and entered Matanzas Bay. The
setting sun cast a crimson glow over the waters; I thought of the blood
of the French martyrs that once stained these waves, and I shuddered.
Outlined against the western sky was the town of San
Augustin,square walls and low, flat roofs built along a low, green
shore. The watch-tower of the castle fort rose up in menace as we came
Upon the deck of the Spanish galley, hand in hand, stood my love and
Yonder isour destination, said Mr. Rivers.
Our prison, you would say, I answered him, and so I think also.
Nevertheless, I would rather stand here, at your side, than anywhere
else in this wide worldalone!
He smiled and raised my fingers to his lips. Verily, dear lady, so
would I also.
There was a rattle of heavy chains, and a loud plash as the anchor
slipped down in the darkening waters.
We were received by the Spanish Governor immediately after our
I had already pictured him, in my thoughts, as a man of commanding
presence, with keen, dark eyes set in a stern countenance; crisp,
curling lockssuch as Melinza'sbut silvered lightly on the temples;
an air of potency, of fire, as though his bold spirit defied the heavy
hand of time.
'Twas therefore a matter of great surprise to meand some
reliefwhen, instead, I beheld advancing toward us a spare little
figure with snow-white hair and a pallid face. His small blue eyes
blinked upon us with a watery stare; his flabby cheeks were seamed with
wrinkles, and his tremulous lips twitched and writhed in the shadowy
semblance of a smile: there was naught about him to suggest either the
soldier or the man of parts.
He was attired with some pretension, in a doublet of purple velvet
with sleeves of a lighter color. His short, full trousers were
garnished at the knee with immense roses; his shrunken nether limbs
were cased in silken hose of a pale lavender hue, and silver buckles
fastened the tufted purple ribbons on his shoes. On his breast was the
red cross of St. Jamespatent of nobility; had it not been for that
and his fine attire he might have passed for a blear-eyed and decrepit
tailor from Haberdashery Lane.
I plucked up heart at the sight of this little manikin.
Can this be the Governor and Captain-General of San Augustin? I
whispered in the ear of my betrothed.
'Tis not at the court of our Charles only that kissing, or
promotion, goes by favour! was his answer, in a quick aside. Then he
met the advancing dignitary and responded with grave punctilio to the
suave welcome that was accorded us.
Melinza's part was that of master of ceremonies on this occasion. He
appeared to have laid aside his rancour, and his handsome olive
countenance was lightened with an expression of great benignance when
he presented me to the Governor asthe honourable and
distinguished señorita Doña Margarita de Tudor.
I looked up at Mr. Rivers with an involuntary smile.
My betrothed, your Excellency, he said simply, taking me by the
The blear-eyed Governor made me a compliment, with a wrinkled hand
upon his heart. I understood no word of it, and he spoke no French, so
Mr. Rivers relieved the situation with his usual ease.
This audience had been held in the courtyard of the castle, which is
a place of great strength,being, in effect, a square fort built of
stone, covering about an acre of ground, and garrisoned by more than
three hundred men.
We stood in a little group beneath a dim lamp that hung in a carved
portico which appeared to be the entrance to a chapel. Captain Baulk
and the rest were a little aloof from us; and all around, at the open
doors of the casemates, lurked many of the swarthy soldiery.
Suddenly light footsteps sounded on the flagged pavement of the
chapel in our rear, and a tall, graceful woman stepped forth and laid
her hand upon my shoulder. Through the delicate folds of black, filmy
lace veiling her head and shoulders gleamed a pair of luminous eyes
that burned me with their gaze.
She waved aside the salutations of the two Spaniards and spoke
directly to me in a rich, low voice. The sight of a woman was so
welcome to me that I held out both hands in eager response; but she
made no move to take them: her bright eyes scanned the faces of our
party, lingering on that of my betrothed, to whom she next addressed
herself, with a little careless gesture of her white hand in my
Mr. Rivers bowed low, and said, in French: Madame, I commend her to
your good care. Then to me: Margaret, the Governor's lady offers you
the protection of her roof.
His eyes bade me accept it, and I turned slowly to the imperious
stranger and murmured: Madame, I thank you.
So! she exclaimed, you can speak, then? You are not dumb? I had
thought it was a pretty waxen effigy of Our Lady, for the padre here,
and she laughed mockingly, with a glance over her shoulder.
Another had joined our group, but his bare feet had sounded no
warning tread. The sight of the coarse habit and the tonsured head
struck a chill through me. Two sombre eyes held mine for a moment, then
their owner turned silently away and re-entered the chapel door.
Melinza was standing by, with a gathering frown on his forehead.
Such condescension on your part, Doña Orosia, is needless. We can
provide accommodations for all our English guests here in the castle.
What! Would Don Pedro stoop to trick out a lady's boudoir?Nay,
she would die of the horrors within these gloomy walls. Come with me,
child, I can furnish better entertainment.
I turned hastily toward my dear love.
Go! said his eyes to me.
Then I thought of Barbara, and very timidly I asked leave to keep
her by me.
She may follow us, said the Governor's lady carelessly, and
sharply clapped her hands. Two runners appeared, bearing a closed
chair, and set it down before us.
Enter, said my self-elected guardian. You are so slight there is
room for us both.
In dazed fashion I obeyed her, and then she followed me.
I thought I should be crushed in the narrow space, and the idea of
being thus suddenly torn away from my betrothed filled me with terror.
I made a desperate effort to spring out again; but a soft, strong hand
gripped my arm and held me still, and in a moment we were borne swiftly
away from the courtyard into the dark without.
I wrung my hands bitterly, and burst into tears.
O cielos! what have we here? cried the rich voice,
petulantly. 'Tis not a waxen saint, after all, but a living fountain!
Do not drown me, I pray you. What is there to weep for? Art afraid,
little fool? See, I am but a woman, not an ogress.
But 'twas not alone for myself that I feared: the thought of my dear
love in Melinza's power terrified me more than aught else,yet I dared
not put my suspicions into words. I tried hard to control my voice as I
implored that I might be taken back to the fort and to Mr. Rivers.
Is it for the Englishman, or Melinza, that you are weeping?
demanded my companion sharply.
Madame! I retorted, with indignation, Mr. Rivers is my betrothed
Good cause for affliction, doubtless, she replied, but spare me
your lamentations. Nay, you may not return to the fort. 'Tis no
fit place for an honest woman,and you seem too much a fool to be
aught else. Here, we have arrived
She pushed me out upon the unpaved street, then dragged me through
an open doorway, across a narrow court filled with blooming plants, and
into a lighted room furnished with rich hangings, and chairs, tables,
and cabinets of fine workmanship.
I gazed around me in wonder and confusion of mind.
How does it please your pretty saintship? 'Tis something better
than either Padre Ignacio's hut or Melinza's galley, is it not? Are you
content to remain?
Madame, I said desperately, do with me what you will; only see, I
pray you, that my betrothed comes to no harm.
What should harm him? she demanded. Is he not the guest of my
His guest, madame, or his prisoner?
She gave me a keen glance. Whichever rôle he may have the witor
the follyto play.
I wrung my hands again. Madame, madame, do not trifle with me!
Child, what should make thee so afraid?
I hesitated, then exclaimed: Señor de Melinza bears him no good
willhe may strive to prejudice your husband!
The Governor's wife looked intently at me. Why should Melinza have
aught against your Englishman?
I could not answer,perhaps I had been a fool to speak. I dropped
my face in my hands, silently.
Doña Orosia leaned forward and took me by the wrists. Look at me!
Timidly I raised my eyes, and she studied my countenance for a long
'Tis absurd, she said then, and pushed me aside. 'Tis impossible!
And yeta new face, a new face and passably pretty. Oh, my God,
these men! are they worth one real heart pang? Tell me, she cried,
fiercely, and shook me roughly by the shoulder, has Melinza made love
to you already?
Never, madame, never! I answered quickly, frightened by her
vehemence. Indeed, their quarrel did not concern me. 'Twas about two
lads that had a wrestling-match upon the galley. And although they were
both angered at the time, there may be no ill feeling between them now.
I was foolish to speak of it. Forget my imprudence, I pray you!
But her face remained thoughtful. Tell me the whole story, she
said; and when I had done so she was silent.
I sat and watched her anxiously. She was a beautiful woman, with a
wealth of dark hair, a richly tinted cheek, glorious eyes, and a small,
soft, red-lipped, passionate mouthfolded close, at that moment, in a
Suddenly she rose and touched a bell. A young negress answered the
summons. Doña Orosia spoke a few rapid words to her in Spanish, then
turned coldly to me.
Go with her; she will show you to your apartment, and your woman
will attend you there later on. You must be too weary to-night to join
us at a formal meal, and your wardrobe must be somewhat in need of
replenishing. To-morrow you shall have whatever you require. I bid you
goodnight!and she dismissed me with a haughty gesture of her white
The chamber that had been assigned to mewhich I was glad to share
with the good Dame Barbarawas long and narrow. There was a window at
one end that gave upon the sea; and through the heavy barred grating,
set strongly in the thick casement, I could look out upon the low
sea-wall, and, beyond that, at the smooth bosom of the dreaming ocean,
heaving softly in the quiet starlight, as though such a sorrow lay
hidden in its deep heart as troubled even its sleep with sighs.
If I pressed my face close against the bars I could see, to the left
of me, the ramparts of the castle, where my dear love was. The slow
tears rose in my eyes as I thought that this night the same roof would
not shelter us, nor would there be the same swaying deck beneath our
While we had been together no very real sense of danger had
oppressed me; but from the first hour of our parting my heart grew
heavier with forebodings of the evil and sorrow which were yet to come.
At first all seemed to go well enough. The Governor's lady was
fairly gracious to me; old Señor de Colis was profuse in his leering
smiles and wordy compliments, none of which I could understand; I saw
Mr. Rivers and Melinza from time to time, and they seemed upon good
terms with each other: but I did not believe this state of affairs
could last,and I was right in my fears.
One night ('twas the twenty-second of June, and the weather was
sultry and oppressive; the sea held its breath, and the round moon
burned hot in the hazy sky) the evening meal was served in the little
courtyard of the Governor's house, and both Mr. Rivers and Melinza were
This was not the first occasion on which we had all broken bread at
the same board; but there was now an air of mockery in the civilities
of Melinza,he passed the salt to my betrothed with a glance of veiled
hostility, and pledged him in a glass of wine with a smile that ill
concealed the angry curl of his sullen red lip.
'Twas a strange meal; the memory of it is like a picture stamped
upon my brain.
From the tall brass candlesticks upon the table, the unflickering
tapers shone down upon gleaming damask and glistening silver, and
kindled sparks amid the diamonds that caught up the folds of lace on
the dark head of Doña Orosia, and that gemmed the white fingers
clasping her slow-moving fan. Hers was a beauty that boldly challenged
men's admiration and exacted tribute of their eyes. The white-haired
Governor paid it in full measure, with a fixed and watery gaze from
beneath his half-closed lids, and a senile smile lurking under his
waxed moustache. But whenever I glanced upward I met the eyes of Mr.
Rivers and Don Pedro turned upon me; and I felt a strange thrill made
up, in part, of triumph that my dear love was not to be won from his
allegiance, and in part of terror because there was that in the
Spaniard's gaze that betokened a nature ruled wholly by its hot
passions and a will to win what it craved by fair means or by foul.
I could eat little for the heat and the pungent flavour of strange
sauces, so I dallied with my plate only as an excuse for lowered eyes;
and, although I listened all the while with strained attention, the
talk ran by too swiftly for me to grasp any of its meaning.
[Illustration: TO THE BRIGHTEST EYES AND THE LIPS MOST WORTHY OF
But Doña Orosia was neither deaf nor blind; her keen black eyes had
noted every glance that passed her by. With a deeper flush on her olive
cheek, and a prouder poise of her haughty head, she made to me at last
the signal for withdrawal.
The three gentlemen, glasses in hand, rose from their seats; and, as
we passed beneath the arched trellis that led away from the paved court
into the fragrant garden, Don Pedro lifted his glass to his lips with a
gesture in our direction, and exclaimed in French:
To the fairest face in San Augustin! To the brightest eyes and the
lips most worthy of kisses! May the light of those eyes never be
withdrawn from these old walls, nor the lips lack a Spanish blade to
guard them from all trespassers!
The Governor, who understood not the French words, lifted his glass
in courteous imitation of his nephew's gesture; but Mr. Rivers coloured
hotly and set down his upon the table.
I like not your toast, Señor Melinza, whichever way I construe it.
The face I hold fairest here shall leave San Augustin the day that I
depart; and, since it is the face of my promised wife, it needs no
other sword than mine to fend off trespassers!
He, too, spoke in French; and as the words passed his lips I felt
the soft, strong hand of Doña Orosia grasp my arm and drag me backward
among the screening vines, beyond the red light of the tapers, where we
could listen unseen.
Melinza was laughing softly. Señor Rivers says he cannot construe
my toast to his liking; but perhaps if I give it him in the Spanish
tongue he may find the interpretation more to his taste! Then he
lifted his glass again and slowly repeated the words in his own
language, with a meaning glance toward the Governor.
The old man drained his goblet to the dregs, and then turned a
flushed face upon the Englishman and laid his hand upon his sword.
My dear love had no thoughts of prudence left,for Melinza's words
had been a direct charge of cowardice,so for all answer he took the
frail goblet from the table and threw it in the younger Spaniard's
There was a tinkle of broken glass upon the stone pavement, and
Melinza wiped the red wine from his cheek. Then he held up the stained
kerchief before the eyes of my dear love and spoke a few words in his
An angry smile flickered over the countenance of my betrothed; he
bowed stiffly in response.
The blear-eyed Governor broke in hotly, with his hand still upon his
sword; his dull eyes narrowed, and the blood mounted higher in his
wrinkled cheek: but his nephew laid a restraining hand upon his arm,
and, with another laughing speech and a profound bow to Mr. Rivers,
pointed toward the door.
I saw the three of them depart through the passageway that led to
the street entrance. I heard the creak of the hinges, and the clang of
the bars as they fell back into place. Then a strong, sweet odour of
crushed blossoms turned me faint. I loosed my hold of the screening
vines and stepped backward with a sudden struggle for breath.
The woman beside me caught my arm a second time and drew me still
farther away down the moonlit path.
Is he aught of a swordsman, this fine cavalier of thine? she
demanded, grasping my shoulder tightly and scanning my face with her
Then my senses came to me: I knew what had happenedwhat was bound
to follow; and I began to speak wildly and to pray her to prevent
bloodshed between them.
I scarce know what I said; but the words poured from my lips, and
for very despair I checked them not. I told her of my orphan stateof
that lone grave in Barbadoes, and the sad young mother who had died of
a broken heart; I spoke of the long, long journey over seas, the love
that had come into my life, and the dreams and the hopes that had
filled our thoughts when we reached the fair, strange shores of this
new country; and I prayed her, as she was a woman and a wife, to let no
harm come to my dear love.
Ah! madame, I cried, a face so fair as yours needs not the
championship of one English stranger, who holds already a preference
for blue eyes and yellow hair. I grant you that he has a sorry taste;
but oh! I pray you, stop this duel!
She loosed her hand from the clasp of mine, and looked at me a
moment in silence; then she laughed bitterly.
Thou little fool! Thou little blue-eyed fool! What do men see in
that face of thine to move them so? A painter might love thee for the
gold of thy hair, thy white brow, and thy blue eyes,they would grace
a pictured saint above a shrine,but for a man's kisses, and such love
as might tempt him to risk his very life for thee,cielos! it
is more than passing strange. Then, as I stood dumb before her, she
tapped me lightly on the cheek. Go to! Art such a fool as to think
that either sword will be drawn for my beauty's sake?
That night I had but little sleep.
About an hour after midnight there was a great stir in the house and
the sound of opening doors and hurrying footsteps. The unwonted noises
terrified me. I leaned against the door, with a heart beating thickly,
and I listened. What evil tidings did those sounds portend? There was a
loud outcry in a woman's voice,the voice of Doña Orosia.
I felt that I must know what havoc Fate had wrought in the last
hours. I looked at Barbarashe slumbered peacefully on her hard
pallet; the moonlight, streaming through the barred window, showed me
her withered face relaxed in almost childlike peacefulness. I would not
rouse her,'twas a blessed thing to sleep and forget; but I
dared not sleep, for I knew not what would be the horror of my waking.
With my cheek pressed close against the door I waited a moment longer.
Perhaps only those planks intervened 'twixt me and my life's tragedy!
I laid my hand upon the latch. I feared to know the truth,and yet,
if I did not hear it, I must die of dread. Slowly I turned the key and
raised the bars: the door swung open.
I stepped out upon the balcony that overhung the court and I looked
over. There was no one in sight; the white moonlight lay over
everything, and a strong perfume floated up from the flowers in the
I crept down the stair and stood still in the centre of the empty
court. Voices sounded near me, but I knew not whence they came.
Trembling still, I moved toward the passage that led to the outer door,
and I saw that it was bright as day. The door stood ajar. Those who had
last gone out had been strangely forgetfulor greatly agitated.
Scarce knowing what I did, I crossed the threshold and hurried down
the street in the direction of the fort.
A group of three men stood upon the corner. At the sight of them I
paused and hid in the shadow of the wall; but, one of them turning his
face toward me, I recognized Captain Baulk, and, going quickly forward,
I laid my hand upon his arm.
How is he? Where have they taken him? I whispered.
What! is't Mistress Tudor? Have they turned you adrift, then? Lor',
'tis a frail craft to be out o' harbour such foul weather!
How is he? I repeated, tightening my grasp upon his sleeve.
Dead as a pickled herring, poor lad!
My head struck heavily against the wall as I fell, but I made no
Sink me! but the poor lassie thought I meant Mr. Rivers! I heard
the old sailor exclaim as he dropped on his knees beside me,and the
words stayed my failing senses.
Whom did you mean? I gasped.
Young Poole has been done to death, Mistress Margaret. As honest a
lad as ever lived, too,more's the pity!
I struggled to raise myself, crying: What do you tell me? Have they
killed the lad in pure spite against his master? And where is Mr.
They made me no answer.
He is dead, then! I knew it, my heart told me so!
Eh! poor lass! 'Tis not so bad as thatyet bad enough. They've
hung chains enough upon him to anchor a man-o'-war, and moored him fast
in the dungeon of the fort. Dn 'em for a crew o' dastard
furriners!an' he own cousin to an English earl!
Can you not tell me a straight tale? I cried. What has he done to
be so ill served? And whose the enmity behind it all,Melinza's, or
Lor'! exclaimed one of the sailors, the young Don is past
revenge, mistress. If he lives out the night 'tis more than I look to
Here, now, let me tell the tale, lad, the old captain interposed.
'Twas a duel began it, Mistress Tudor. The young bloods were so keen
after fighting they could not wait for sunrise, but must needs have it
out by moonlight on the beach. 'Twas over yonder, in the lee of the
Mr. Rivers and Don Pedro?
Aye, mistress. The Governor was not by,'tis likely he knew naught
Not so! I cried, he had his share in the quarrel, and they left
the house in company.
Mayhap, said Captain Baulk, I'd not gainsay itfor I trust no
one o' them; but he chose to go with his weather eye shut rather than
take precaution 'gainst the squall. So they had it out all by their
selves,and none of us a whit the wiser, saving young Poole, who had
guessed somewhat was amiss and followed his master.
What then? Speak quickly! Was Mr. Rivers wounded?
Not he! That's to say, not by any thrust of the Don's. Lor', but it
must ha' been a pretty fight! Pity no man saw it that lives to tell!
In the name of mercy, sir, speak plainly!
Aye, my young mistress, but give me time an' I will. Mr. Rivers ere
long did get in such a thrust that the Don went down before it as
suddenly as a ship with all her hull stove in. He lay stranded, with
the blood flowing away in a dark stream over the white sands. Our young
gentleman, gallant heart, did throw away his sword and fall down beside
the Spaniard and strive to staunch his wounds, crying aloud most
lustily for aid. Who should hear him but young Poole and that yellow
devil of a Tomas! They came from opposite quarters, and Poole was in
the shadow, so the other saw him not. The mulatto ran up alongside,
and, seeing 'twas the Don who had fallen, he whipped out a knife from
his belt and struck at our young master as he knelt there on the
ground. Nay, now, do not take on so! Did I not say he was but little
hurt? Had the blow struck him fairly in the back, as it was meant to
do, doubtless it would have put an end to him; but Poole was to the
rescue, poor lad! He threw himself on the mulatto in the nick o' time.
The knife had barely grazed Mr. Rivers on the shoulder; but young Tomas
never let go his hold of it. He and the faithful lad rolled together on
the groundand Poole never rose again. His body was stabbed through in
a dozen places. Mr. Rivers had no time to interfere; ere he could rise
from his knees, or even put out a hand to take his sword, a dozen
soldiers had laid hands on him. That devil of a Tomas finished his evil
work, and then picked himself up and walked away; never a one laid a
finger on him or cried shame on the foul deed!
The old sailor paused, and each man of the group breathed a curse
through his clinched teeth.
They have taken Mr. Rivers to the dungeon of the fort? I
Aye, so they tell us. None of us were there, which is perhaps for
the good of our necks,yet I would we had had a chance to strike a
blow in defence of the poor lad.
And the SpaniardDon Pedro?
They carried him into the Governor's own house a while since. I
think his wound is mortal.
Then he has brought his death upon himself, for he forced Mr.
Rivers into the quarrel, I declared hastily.
'Twas bound to come, admitted Captain Baulk, there has been bad
blood between them from the very first. But what are we to do with you,
mistress? Did they put you out in anger?
Nay, I exclaimed, I heard a great disturbance and hastened out to
seek the cause. The outer door was left unbarred.
Why then, mistress, we would best make for it again before 'tis
shut! This is no hour and no place for a young maid to be out alone.
Taking me by the hand he led me back the way I had come; but we were
too late. The entrance was closed and barred against us.
Now, what's to do? exclaimed the old sailor in dismay.
I had been too crushed and dazed by the ill news to think before of
my imprudence; but now I realized how very unwisely I had acted. I
turned hastily to the old captain.
Go and leave me, my good friend, I said. Already there has been
enough trouble of my making. Do not let me have to answer for more. I
will wait here and call for some one to open for me. 'Tis better for me
to say what is the truththat I wandered out in my anxiety. Go, I pray
you, and be discrete in your conduct, that they may have no just cause
to imprison you also.
He saw the wisdom of it and went away out of sight, while I beat
with all my might upon the door.
In a moment steps sounded within, the bars fell, and the door was
drawn back. It was the Governor himself who stood there. He looked at
me in astonishment as he drew aside for me to pass.
I attempted no explanation; for I knew he could not understand me.
Doubtless he would tell his lady and she would hold me to account.
Slowly I mounted to the balcony above and pushed open the door of my
The dame still slept peacefully. I went softly to the window and
knelt down. My heart was sick for the faithful lad who had died in
defending Mr. Rivers. Poor boy! He had no motherI wonder if there was
a little lass anywhere whom he loved? But no, he was young for that. I
think his love was all his master's. And to die for those whom we love
best is not so sad a fate as to live for their undoing!
The hot tears ran down my face. I leaned my cheek against the bars
and set free my thoughts, which flew, as swift as homing pigeons, to my
dear love in his dungeon cell.
Oh! I would that all the prayers I pray, and all the tender thoughts
I think of him, had wings in very truth; and that after they had flown
heavenward they might bear thence some balm, some essence of divinest
pity, to cheer him in his loneliness! If it were so, then there would
be in never-ending flight, up from the barred window where I kneel, and
downward to the narrow slit in his prison wall, two shining lines of
fluttering white wings coming and going all these long nights through!
Many days have passed since I began to write these pages.
All the morning after that terrible night, with Barbara I waited
fearfully for some manifestation of Doña Orosia's anger. But there was
none, nor were we summoned out that day. Food was brought to us, and we
remained like prisoners in our chamber. Don Pedro was very low, the
servant told us, and the Governor's lady was nursing him.
A week went by,the longest week I had ever known,and then we
heard that Melinza would recover. However, it was not until he had lain
ill a fortnight that Doña Orosia came to visit me.
I was sitting by the window with my head upon my hand, and Barbara
was putting some stitches in the worn places in her gown, when the door
opened to admit my hostess.
She came straight toward me with a glint of anger in her dark eyes.
The long nights of anxious watching had driven back the blood from her
smooth olive cheek, and the red lips showed the redder for her
unaccustomed pallor. She laid one hand on my head, tilting it backward.
You little white-faced fool! I would you had never set foot in this
town, she cried bitterly.
Ah! madame, I came not of my own free will, I answered her. I and
my dear love would willingly go hence, an you gave us the means to do
'Tis likely that we shall, truly, she replied. 'Tis likely that
the Governor of San Augustin will keep a galley to ply up and down the
coast for the convenience of you English intruders! There came two more
of you this morning, from the friar at Santa Catalina.
Two more English prisoners! I exclaimed. Who are they, madame?
I know not, and I care not, she said. I meddle not with things
that do not concern me. I come here now but to hear how you came to be
on the streets at midnight. Had I been in the Governor's place then, I
would have shut the door in your face.
I told her the truth, as it had happened to me; and when she had
heard it her brow lightened somewhat.
Are you deceiving me? You did not leave here till after the
duel had taken place?
Madame, I said, I have never yet told a lie, and I would not now
were it to save my life.
Her lip curled slightly as she turned to go. Stir not from this
room, then, until Don Pedro is well enough to leave the house, she
said. If I could prevent it he should never look upon your face
again. She paused an instant, then added: I will prevent it!
Amen to that! I said, and I felt the blood burn warmly in my
She turned and looked at me, and I met her gaze with defiant eyes.
Amen to that, madame!for truly I hate him with all my heart!
She stood still, a slow crimson rising in her pale face, and I
trembled a little at my own daring. Then, to my surprise, she laughed
You think that you hate him desperately? she exclaimed. Silly
child, it is not in thy power to hate that man as I do, as I have done
for years! and with that she went away and left me wondering.
July, the 16th day.
Two things have happened recently to break the sad monotony of my
life within these walls.
Doña Orosia and Melinza have had a disagreement, which has resulted
in his removal henceat his own demand. Although I know nothing of the
cause of their quarrel, Doña Orosia's last words to me, the other day,
make it possible to understand the man's reluctance to remain here in
her care,and yet they say it was her nursing that saved his life! I
would that I could understand it all!
Since his departure I have had the freedom of the courtyard and
garden; and yesterday, by good chance, I had speech with one of the
newly arrived English prisoners.
It had been a day of terrible heat, and just at nightfall I wandered
out into the garden all alone. There is a high wall to it, which so
joins the dwelling that together they form a hollow square. This wall
is of soft gray stone; it is of a good thickness, and about a man's
height. Along the top of it sharp spikes are set; and near one corner
is a wrought-iron gate of great strength, which is kept securely
It is not often that I venture near this gate, for it looks out upon
the street, and I care not to be seen by any Indian or half-breed
Spaniard who might go loitering by; but as I stood in the vine-covered
arbour in the centre of the garden I heard a man's voice from the
direction of the gate, humming a stave of a maritime air that I had
heard sung oft and again by the sailors on the sloop, in which some
unknown fair one is ardently invited to
be the Captain's lady!
and I knew it must be a friend. So I made haste thither and peered
out into the street.
Sure enough it was old Captain Baulk, and with him a gentleman whose
face, even in the twilight, was well known to me,he being none other
than Mr. John Collins of Barbadoes (the same who had given us news of
my poor father's end, and one of our fellow passengers on the Three
They both greeted me most kindly and inquired earnestly how I did
and if I was well treated. It seems that for days they had been trying
to get speech with me, but could find none to deliver a message; so for
two nights past they had hung about the gate, hoping that by chance I
might come out to them.
Mr. Collins related to me how the sloop had been sent back to Santa
Catalina with letters to the friar and the Governor of San Augustin,
demanding our release on the ground that as peace was now subsisting
between the crowns of England and of Spain, and no act of hostility had
been committed by us, our capture was unwarrantable. But Padre Ignacio,
with his plausible tongue, had beguiled them ashore into his power.
The man is a very devil for fair words and smooth deceits,
declared Mr. Collins. In spite of all the warnings we had received,
some of us landed without first demanding hostages of the Indians; and
when we would have departed two of us were forcibly detained on
pretence of our lacking proper credentials to prove our honesty. In
sooth he charged us with piratical intentions, though we had not so
much as cracked a pistol or inveigled one barbarian aboard. The sloop
lingered for three days, but finally made off, leaving us in the hands
of the padre. He despatched us here in canoes, under a guard of some
twenty half-naked savages, with shaven crowns, who are no more
converted Christians than the fiends in hell!
I asked, then, for news of my uncle, Dr. Scrivener, and Mr. Collins
assured me that he was most anxious for my safety, and would have come
back with them to demand us of the friar, but he had received a hurt in
the neck during the attack at Santa Catalina and was in no state to
travel, although the wound was healing wellfor which God be thanked!
So far, all the prisoners, except Mr. Rivers, have the freedom of
the town; but Captain Baulk declared he would as lief be confined
within the fort.
There be scarce two honest mensaving ourselvesin all San
Augustin, he said. The lodging-house where we sleep is crowded with
dirty, thieving half-breeds, who would as willingly slit a man's throat
as a pig's. Though they hold us as guests against our will, we must
e'en pay our own score; and some fine nightyou mark me!we shall
find ourselves lacking our purses.
Then the Governor will be at the cost of our entertainment, said
'Twill be prison fare, sir, grunted the old sailor, and we'll be
lucky if he doesn't find it cheaper to heave us overboard and be done
Tut! man,hold your croaking tongue in the poor young lady's
presence, whispered Mr. Collins; but I heard what he said, and bade
him tell us our true case and what real hope there was of our
There is every certainty, he said. When word reaches their
Lordships in England, they will not fail to make complaint to the
Spanish Council,and they have no just cause for refusing to set us
free. But I trust we shall not have to wait for that. If we had a
Governor of spirit, instead of a timorous old man like Sayle, he would
have already sent the frigate down here to demand us of the Spaniards.
There are not lacking men to carry out the enterprise: Captain Brayne
could scarce be restrained from swooping down on the whole garrisonas
Rob Searle did, not long ago, when he rescued Dr. Woodward out of their
Captain Brayne!the frigate! Do you mean that the Carolina
Two months ahead of our sloop, declared Mr. Collins; but Governor
Sayle has despatched her to Virginia for provisions, of which we were
beginning to run short. The Port Royal has not been heard of, so
'tis feared she went down in the storm.
He went on to tell me of the new settlement which had been already
laid out at a place called Kiawah,a very fair and fruitful country,
which Heaven grant I may one day see!
In my turn I related all that had befallen me since we reached this
place. They heard me out very gravely, and promised to contrive some
means of communicating with me in case of need.
Then, as it grew very late, we parted, promising to meet the
following night; and I crept softly back to the house and my little
room, greatly comforted that I now had a worthy gentleman like Mr.
Collins with whom I could advise; for with his knowledge of the Spanish
tongue and his sound judgment I hope he may influence the Governor in
* * * * *
The sun is setting now, I think, although I cannot see it from my
window; for all the sky without is faintly pink, and every ripple on
the bay turns a blushing cheek toward the west. I must lay by my pen
and watch for an opportunity to keep tryst at the gateway with my two
Nine of the clock.
God help me! I waited in the garden till I heard a whistle, and
stole down to the gate as before.
A man put out his hand and caught at mine through the bars. It was
that vile Tomasthe wretch who would have murdered my dear love! I
screamed and fled, but he called after me in Spanish. The words were
strange to mebut the tones of his voice and the coarse laughter
needed no interpreter!
As I flew across the garden, too frightened to attempt concealment,
Doña Orosia stepped out into the courtyard and demanded an explanation.
I knew not what to say, for I could not divulge the motive that had
sent me out; but I told her that a man had called me from the gate, and
when I went near to see who it might be I recognized the servant of
She seemed to doubt me at first, till I described him closely; then
she was greatly angered and forbade me the garden altogether.
If I find you here alone again, she hissed, seizing my shoulder
with no gentle grasp, if I find you here again, I will turn the key
upon you and keep you prisoner in your chamber.
So now I dare not venture beyond the court and the balconies; and
there will be no chance of speaking with Mr. Collins unless he dares to
come under my window, and there is little hope of his doing that
unseen, for 'tis in full view from the ramparts of the fort, where a
sentry paces day and night.
August, the 7th day.
When I began this tale of our captivity it was with the hope that I
might find some means of sending it to friends, in this country or in
England, who would interest themselves in obtaining our release.
However, from what Mr. Collins told me, I feel assured that news of Mr.
Rivers's capture has already been sent to their Lordships the
proprietors, and this record of mine seems now but wasted labour. Yet
from time to time, for my own solace, I shall add to it; and perchance,
some day in safety and freedom, I andanothermay together read
its tear-stained pages.
This day I have completed the seventeenth year of my age. It is a
double anniversary, for one year ago this nightit being the eve of
our departure from EnglandI first set eyes upon my dear love.
Can it be possible that he, in his dolorous prison, has taken
account of the passing days and remembers that nighta year ago?
'Twould be liker a man if he took no thought of the date till it was
past,yet I do greatly wonder if he has forgotten.
As for me, the memory has lived with me all these hours since I
unclosed my eyes at dawn.
I can see now the brightly lighted cabin of the Carolina,
where the long supper-table was laid for the many passengers who were
to set out on the morrow for a new world. I had been somehow parted
from my uncle, Dr. Scrivener, and I stood in the cabin doorway half
afraid to venture in and meet the eyes of all the strangers present. I
felt the colour mounting warmly in my cheek, and my feet were very fain
to run away, when Captain Henry Brayne, the brave and cheery commander
of the frigate, caught sight of me, and, rising hastily, led me to a
seat at his own right hand.
(I do recollect that I wore a new gown of fine blue clotha soft
and tender colour, that became me well.)
As I took my place I glanced shyly round, and saw, at the farther
end of the long table, the gallantest gentleman I had ever set eyes
upon in all my sixteen years of life. He was looking directly at me,
and presently he lifted his glass and said:
Captain Brayne, I give you the Carolina and every treasure she
There was some laughter as the toast was drunk, and my unclewho
had only that moment entered and taken his seat beside measked of me
Nay, Dr. Scrivener, said the jovial captain, 'tis not likely the
little lady was attending. But now I give youthe health of
Mistress Tudor! (and it will not be the first time it has been
And that was but a year ago. I would never have guessed that at
seventeen I could feel so very old.
San Augustin's DayAugust, the 28th.
Oh! but I have been angered this day!
What? when my betrothed lies in prison, ill, perhaps, or fretting
his brave heart away, am I to be dragged forth to make part of a
pageant for the entertainment of his jailers? I would sooner have the
lowest cell in the dungeonaye! and starve and stifle for lack of food
and air, than be forced to deck myself out in borrowed bravery, and sit
mowing and smiling in a gay pavilion, and clap hands in transport over
the fine cavalier airs of the man I hold most in abhorrence!
Do they take me for so vapid a little fool that I may be compelled
to any course they choose? Nay, then, they have learned a lesson. Oh,
but it is good to be in a fair rage for once!
I had grown so weary and sick at heart that the blood crawled
sluggishly in my veins; my eyes were dull and heavy; I had sat
listlessly, with idle hands, day after day, waitingwaiting for I knew
not what! Therefore it was that I had no will or courage to oppose the
Governor's wife when she came to me this morning and bade me wear the
gown she brought, and pin a flower in my hair, and sit with her in the
Governor's pavilion to see the fine parade go by.
This is a great day in San Augustin, she said, being the
one-hundred-and-fifth anniversary of its founding by the Spanish.
As the captives of olden times made part of the triumph of their
conquerors, 'twas very fit that I, forsooth, should lend what little I
possessed of youth and fairness to the making of a Spanish holiday!
But I was too spiritless, then, to dare a refusal. I bowed my head
meekly enough while Chépathe smiling, good-natured negressgathered
up the rustling folds of the green silk petticoat and slipped it over
my shoulders. I made no demur while she looped and twisted the long
tresses of my yellow hair, fastening it high with a tall comb, and
tying a knot of black velvet riband upon each of the wilful little
bunches of curls that ever come tumbling about my ears.
When all was finished, and the lace mantilla fastened to my comb and
draped about my shoulders, I was moved by Barbara's cries of admiration
to cast one glance upon the mirror. 'Twas an unfamiliar picture that I
saw there, and my pale face blushed with some mortification that it
should have lent itself so kindly to a foreign fashion.
I would have thrown off all the braveries that minute; but just then
came a message from Doña Orosia, bidding me hasten.
What matters anything to me now? I thought wearily; and, slowly
descending to the courtyard, I took my place in the closed chair that
waited, and was borne after the Governor's lady to the Plaza, where, at
the western end facing upon the little open square, was the gay
Its red and yellow banners shone gaudily in the hot sunlight of the
summer afternoon, and the fresh sea breeze kept the tassels and
streamers all a-flutter, like butterflies hovering over a bed of
Three sides of the Plaza were lined with spectators, but the eastern
endwhich opened out toward the baywas kept clear for the troops to
Against the slight railing of the little pavilion leaned Doña
Orosia, strangely fair in a gown of black lace and primrose yellow,
that transformed the soft contours of her throat and cheek from pale
olive to the purest pearl. She deigned to bestow but a single cold,
unfriendly glance upon me; then she bent forward as before, her lifted
fan shielding her eyes from the glare of the sun-kissed sea.
Presently, with the blare of trumpets and the deep rolling of the
drums, the King's troops came in sight, three hundred strong.
At the head of the little band, which marched afoot, rode Melinza
and the Governor. 'Twas the first time I had seen a horse in the town.
Old Señor de Colis was mounted on a handsome bay that pranced and
curvetted beneath him, to his most evident discomfort; but Melinza's
seat was superb. It was a dappled gray he rode, with flowing mane and
tail of silvery white; a crimson rosette was fastened to its crimped
forelock, and the long saddle-cloth was richly embroidered.
As the little company swept round the square, the two horsemen
saluted our pavilion. Don Pedro lifted his plumed hat high, and I saw
that his face was pale from his recent wound, but the bold black eyes
were as bright as ever they had been before.
I drew back hastily from the front of the pavilion and made no
pretence of returning his salute. Then, for the first time since I had
taken my seat beside her, Doña Orosia spoke to me.
Why such scant courtesy? she asked, with lifted brows.
Madame, I answered, had my betrothed been here at my side, an
honoured guest, I would have had more graciousness at my command.
What! she exclaimed, have you not yet had time to forget your
I will forget him, madame, when I cease to remember the treachery
of those who called themselves his entertainers.
She flushed angrily. Your tongue has more of spirit than your face.
I wonder that you have the courage to say this to me.
I dare, because I have nothing more to lose, madame!
Say you so? Would you rather I gave you into Melinza's keeping?
Nay! I cried, you could notsuch unfaith would surpass the
limits of even Spanish treachery! And you would notit would please
you better if he never set eyes upon my face again! I only
wonder that you should have brought me here to-day!
She opened her lips to speak; but the blare of the trumpets drowned
the words, and she turned away from me.
The troops were drawn in line across the square: on the right, the
Spanish regulars of the garrison; on the left, the militia companies,
which had come up while we were speaking. These last were made up, for
the most part, of mulattoes and half-breed Indians,a swarthy-faced,
ill-looking band that appeared fitter for savage warfare of stealth and
ambuscade and poisoned arrows than for valorous exploits and honest
The various man[oe]uvres of the troops, under the skilled leadership
of Don Pedro, occupied our attention for upward of an hour, during all
which time my companion appeared quite unconscious of my presence. She
sat motionless save for the swaying of her fan. Only once did her face
express aught but fixed attentionand that was when a sudden fanfare
of the trumpets caused the Governor's horse to plunge, and the old man
lurched forward on the pommel of his saddle, his plumed hat slipping
down over his eyes.
For an instant the swaying fan was still; a low laugh sounded in my
ear, and, turning, I saw the red lips of the Governor's lady take on a
very scornful curve.
She received him graciously enough, however, whenthe review being
overhe dismounted and joined us in the pavilion.
Melinza had retired with the troops; but just as the last rank
disappeared from view he came galloping back at full speed, flung
himself from the saddle, and, throwing the reins to an attendant,
mounted the pavilion stair.
I felt that Doña Orosia's eyes were upon me, and I believed that she
liked me none the less for my hostility to the man. It may have been
this that gave me courageI do not knowI think I would not have
touched his hand in any case.
He flushed deeply when I put both of mine behind my back; then, with
the utmost effrontery, he leaned forward and plucked away one little
black rosette that had fallen loose from my curls and was slipping down
upon my shoulder. This he raised to his lips with a laugh, and then
fastened upon his breast.
I was deeply angered, and I cast about for some means of retaliation
that would show him the scorn I held him in.
At the foot of the pavilion stood the youth who was holding
I leaned over the railing, and, loosing quickly from my hair the
fellow to the rosette Don Pedro wore, I tossed it to the lad below,
saying, in almost the only Spanish words I knew,
It is a gift!
Melinza's face grew white with anger; he tore off the bit of riband
and ground it under his heel; then he strode down the stair, mounted
his horse, and rode away.
The Governor's lady watched him till he was out of sight; then, with
a strange smile, she said to me,
I never knew before that blue eyes had so much of fire in them. I
think, my little saint, 'tis time I sent you back to your old duenna.
I would thank you for so much grace! was my reply. And back to
Barbara I was despatched forthwith.
But though I have been some hours in my chamber, my indignation has
not cooled. The very sight of that man's countenance is more than I can
I am resolved that I will never set foot outside my door when there
is any chance of my encountering him, and so I shall inform the
Governor's wife when she returns....
She laughs at me! She declares I shall do whatever is her pleasure!
And what is my puny strength to hers? With all the will in the world to
resist her, I am as wax in her hands!
The first day of March.
For six months I have added nothing to this record; though time and
again I have taken up my pen to write, and then laid it by, with no
mark upon the fresh page. Can heartache be written down in words? Can
loneliness and longing,the desolation of one who has no human
creature on whom to lavish love and care,the dull misery that is
known only to those whose best beloved are suffering the worst woes of
this woeful life,can all these be told? Ah, no! one can only feel
thembear themand be crushed by them.
If it had not been for the good old dame, I know not what would have
become of me. Many a day and many a night I have clung to her for
hours, weepingcrying aloud, I cannot bear it! I cannot! What choice
had I but to bear it? And tears cannot flow forever; the calm of utter
'Tis not that I have been ill treated. I am well housed, and
daintily clothed and fed. Unless Melinzaor some other guestis
present, I sit at the Governor's own table. His wife makes of me
something between a companion and a plaything: one moment I have to
bear with her capricious kindness; the next, I am teased or driven away
from her with as little courtesy as she shows to the noble hound that
follows her like her own shadow.
Until lately I have seen little of Melinza. Early in the winter he
went away to the Habana and remained absent two months, during which
time I had more peace of mind than I have known since first we came
here. But since his return he has tried in various ways to force
himself into my presence; and Doña Orosia,who could so easily shield
me if she chose,before she comes to my relief, permits him to annoy
me until I am roused to the point of passionate repulse. One could
almost think she loves to see me sufferunless it is the sight of his
discomfiture that affords her such satisfaction.
But all of this I could endure if only my dear love were free! I
have heard that he is ill. It may not be true,God grant that it is
not! Still, though the rumour came to me by devious ways, and through
old Barbara's lips at last (and she is ever prone to think the worst),
it is more than possible! I, myself, have suffered somewhat from this
long confinement; and in how much worse case is he!
I have tried to occupy myself, that I may keep my thoughts from
dwelling forever on our unhappy state. In the past six months I have so
far mastered the Spanish tongue that now I can converse in it with more
ease than in the French. The Governor declares that I have the true
intonation; and even Doña Orosia admits that I have shown some
aptitude. I care nothing for it as a mere accomplishment; but I hope
that the knowledge may be of use if ever we attempt escape. (Though
what chance of escape is there when Mr. Rivers is within stone walls
and I have no means of even holding converse with Mr. Collins?)
I have one other accomplishment that has won me more favour with the
Governor's wife than aught else. She discovered, one day, that I have
some skill with the lute, and a voice not lacking in sweetness; and now
she will have me sing to her by the hour until my throat is weary and I
have to plead for rest.
I had, recently, a conversation with her that has haunted me every
hour since; for it showed me a side of her nature that I had not seen
before, and that leads me to think that under her caprice and petulance
there is a deep purpose hidden.
I had exhausted my list of songs, and as she still demanded more I
bethought me of a curious old ballad I had heard many years ago. The
air eluded me for some while; but my fingers, straying over the
strings, fell suddenly into the plaintive melody; with it, the words
too came back to me.
I bade my love fareweel, wi' tears;
He bade fareweel to me.
How sall I pass the lang, lang years?
I maun be gane, quo' he.
The tear-draps frae mine een did rin
Like water frae a spring;
But while I grat, my love gaed in
To feast and reveling!
The tear-draps frae mine een did start
Salt as the briny tide:
Sae sair my grief, sae fu' my heart,
I wept a river wide.
Adoon that stream my man did rove,
And crossed the tearfu' sea.
O whaur'll I get a leal true love
To bide at hame wi' me?
The lang, lang years they winna pass;
My lord is still awa'.
Mayhap he loves a fairer lass
O wae the warst ava!
How sall I wile my lover hame?
I'll drink the tearfu' seas!
My red mou' to their briny faem,
I'll drain them to the lees!
Then gin he comes na hameward soon
His ain true love to wed,
I'll kilt my claes and don my shoon
And cross the sea's dry bed.
Oh in thine heart, my love, my lord,
Mak' room, mak' room for me;
Or at thy feet, by my true word,
Thy lady's grave sall be!
A melancholy air, yet with somewhat of a pleasing sadness in its
minor cadences, commented Doña Orosia when I had ceased. Translate me
the words, an your Spanish is sufficient.
That it is not, I fear, was my reply, and the task is beyond me
for the further reason that the song is not even English, but in a
dialect of the Scots. 'Tis only the plaint of a poor lady whose mind
seems to have gone astray in her long waiting for a faithless
loverand I gave her the sense of the verses as best I could.
Nay, said the Spanish woman, with a singular smile. She hath more
wit than you credit her with. You mark me, the flood of a woman's tears
will bear a man further than a mighty river, and her sighs waft him
away more speedily than the strongest gale. And once he has gone,
taking with him such a memory of her, 'twould be far easier for her to
drink the ocean dry than to wile him home. For let a man but suspect
that a woman could break her heart for him, and heis more
than content to let her do it!
She paused; but I made no answer, having none upon my tongue.
Presently she added: When once a woman has the folly to plead for
herself, in that moment she murders Love; and every tear she sheds
thereafter becomes another clod upon his grave. There remains but one
thing for her to do
Herself to die! I murmured.
Nay, child! To live and be revenged! She turned a flushed face
toward me; and, though the water stood in her eyes, they were hard and
angry. To be revenged! To plot and to scheme; to bide her time
patiently; to study his heart's desire, and to foster it; and then
And then? I questioned softly, with little shivers of repulsion
chilling me from head to foot.
To rob him of it.
The words were spoken deliberately, in a voice that was resonant and
slow. 'Twas not like the outburst of a moment's impulsethe sudden
jangling of a harpstring rudely touched; it was rather with the fateful
emphasis of a clock striking the hour, heralded by a premonitory
quivera gathering together of inward forces that had waited through
long moments for this final utterance.
What manner of woman was this? I caught my breath with a little
Doña Orosia turned quickly.
Go! Leave me! she cried. Do you linger? Can I never be rid of
you? Out of my sight! I would have a moment's respite from your great
eyes and your white face. Go!
And I obeyed her.
March, the 9th day.
Doña Orosia sent for me at noon to-day. There was news to tell, and
she chose to be the one to tell it.
I found her in her favourite seat,a great soft couch, covered with
rich Moorish stuffs, and placed under the shadow of the balcony that
overlooks the sunny garden. Up each of the light pillars from which
spring the graceful arches that support this balcony climbs a mass of
blooming vines that weave their delicate tendrils round the railing
above and then trail downward again in festoons of swaying colour.
Behind, in the luminous shadow, she lay coiled and half asleep; with a
large fan of bronze turkey-feathers in one lazy hand, the other teasing
the tawny hound which was stretched out at her feet.
She opened her great eyes as I came near.
Ah! the little blue-eyed Margarita, the little saint who frowns
when men worship at her shrine, she said slowly. There is news for
you. The Virgen de la Mar arrived last night from Habana,
bringing the commands of the Council of Spain that the English
prisoners here detained be liberated forthwith. For it seems that there
has been presented to the Council, through our ambassador to the
English Court, a memorial, which clearly proves that these persons have
given no provocation to any subject of his Catholic Majesty, Charles
the Second of Spain, and are therefore unlawfully imprisoned. How like
you that? The waving fan was suddenly stilled, and the brilliant eyes
Is this true? I asked, for my heart misgave me.
She laughed. It is true that the Virgen de la Mar has
brought those orders to the Governor of San Augustinand that my
husband has received them.
Will he obey them, señora?
Will who obey them? she asked; and there was a gleam of white
teeth under the red, curling lip. My husband, or the Governor of San
Are they not the same?
If you think so, little fool, she cried, half rising from her
couch; if you think so still, you would better go back to your chamber
and pray yourself and your lover out of prison!
I made no answer; I waited, without much hope, for what she would
say next. My heart was very full, but I would not pleasure her by
Child, she continued, sinking back among the cushions and speaking
in a slow, impressive manner, there are two Governors in San
Augustinand they take their commands neither from the child-King, the
Queen-mother, nor any of the Spanish Council. My husband is not one; he
obeys them both by turns. His Excellency Don Pedro Melinza decrees that
these orders from Spain shall be carried out except in the case of one
Señor Rivers, who will be held here to answer for an unprovoked assault
on one of his Majesty's subjects, whom he severely wounded; also for
inciting others of his fellow prisoners to break their parole, and for
various other offences against the peace of this garrison,all of
which charges Melinza will swear to be true.
Is he so lost to honour? And will your husband uphold him in the
Hear me out, she continued in the same tone. Melinza also decides
that these orders do not include the English señorita, Doña Margaret,
whom he intends to detain here forfor reasons best known to
himself; although the other Governor of San Augustin decreesshe
started up from her nest of pillows and continued in a wholly different
tone: I sayI saythat you shall quit this place with
the other prisoners, and my husband dares not oppose me! I am sick of
your white face and your saintly blue eyes; I am wearied to death of
your company; but I swear Melinza shall not have you! Therefore go you
must, and speedily.
And leave my betrothed at Don Pedro's mercy?
What is that to me? Let him rot in his dungeon. I care notso I am
rid of your white face.
She shut her eyes angrily and thrust out her slippered foot at the
sleeping hound. He lifted his great head and yawned; then, gathering up
his huge bulk from the ground, he drew closer to his mistress's side
and sniffed the air with solicitude, as though seeking a cause for her
displeasure. There was a dish of cakes beside her, and she took one in
her white fingers and threw it to the dog. He let it fall to the
ground, and nosed it doubtfully, putting forth an experimental
tongue,till, finding it to his taste, he swallowed it at a gulp. His
mistress laughed, and tossed him another, which disappeared in his
great jaws. A third met the same fate; but the fourth she extended to
him in her pink palm, and, as he would have taken it she snatched the
hand away. Again and again the poor brute strove to seize the proffered
morsel, but each time it was lifted out of his reach; till finally his
lithe body was launched upward, and he snapped both the cake and the
hand that teased him.
'Twas the merest scratch, and truly the dog meant it not in anger;
but on the instant Doña Orosia flushed crimson to her very brow, and,
drawing up her silken skirt, she snatched a jewelled dagger from her
garter and plunged it to the hilt in the poor beast's throat. The red
blood spouted, and the huge body dropped in a tawny heap.
I rushed forward and lifted the great head; but the eyes were
Señora! I cried, señora! the poor brute loved you!
She spurned the limp body with a careless foot, saying,
So didoncethe man who gave it me.
Then she clapped her hands, and the negro servant came and at her
command dragged away the carcass, wiped the bloody floor, and brought a
basin of clear water and a linen cloth to bathe the scratch on her
hand. When he had gone she made me bind it up with her broidered
kerchief and stamped her foot because I drew the knot over-tight.
Doña Orosia, I said, when I had done it to her liking. If all you
care for, in this other matter, is to get rid of my white face, I pray
you kill me with your dagger and ask your lord to let my love go free.
She looked up curiously. Would you die for him? she asked.
Most willingly, an it please you to make my death his ransom.
Still she gazed at me and seemed strangely stirred. Once I loved
like that, she said in musing tones. I will tell thee a tale, child,
for I like not the reproach in those blue eyes. Five years ago, when I
was as young as thou art now, I lived with my parents in Valencia,
where the flowers are even sweeter and the skies bluer than here in
sunny Florida. I had a lover in those days, who followed me like my
shadow, and, in spite of my old duenna, found many a moment to pour his
passion in my ears. He was a brave man and a handsome, and he won my
heart from me. Though he had no great fortune I would have wed him
willingly and followed him over land and sea. I never doubted him for a
day; and when he came to my father's house with an old nobleman, his
uncle and the head of his family, I was well content; for my mother
told me they had asked for my hand and it had been promised. But when
my father called me in at last to see my future husband, it was the old
man who met me with a simper on his wrinkled face. I turned to the
nephew; but he was gazing out of the window
She broke off with a fierce laugh and then added bitterly,And so
I came to marry my husband, the Governor of San Augustin!
The other was Don Pedro?
Has thy baby wit compassed that much? Yes, the other was Melinza.
But if you once loved him why should there be hate between you
Why? thou little fool! Why?she put out one hand and drew me
closer, so that she could look deep into my eyes. Why does a woman
ever hate a man? Canst tell me that?
We gazed at each other so until I sawI scarce know what I saw! My
head swam, and of a sudden it came over me that when the angels fell
from heaven there must have been an awful beauty in their eyes!
I awoke this morning with a sense of horror haunting me,and then I
recalled the scene of yesterday and the dumb appeal in the eyes of the
dying hound. The story the Spanish woman had told me of her own past
pleaded nothing in excuse. Hatred and cruelty seemed strange fruit for
love to bear.
I thought of my own ill fortunes, and I said within me: True Love
sits at the door of the heart to guard it from all evil passions. Loss
and Pain may enter in, and Sorrow bear them company; but Revenge and
Cruelty, Untruth, and all their evil kin, must hide their shamed faces
and pass by!
Secure in the thought of the pure affection that reigned in my own
bosom, I went forth and met Temptation, and straightway fell from the
high path in which I believed my feet to be so surely fixed!
Doña Orosia seemed to be in a strangely gentle mood.
Child, how pale thy face is! Didst thou not lie awake all night?
Deny it not, 'tis writ most plainly in the dark shadows round those
great blue eyes. Come, rest here beside meand she drew me down upon
the couch and slipped a soft pillow under my head.
I was fairly dumfounded at this unwonted courtesy, and could find no
words to meet it with. But she appeared unconscious of my silence and
'Tis the thought of the English lover that robs thee of sleep,
Margarita mia! Thou wouldst give thy very life to procure his freedom;
is it not so? Would any task be too hard for thee with this end in
I could not answer; I clasped my hands and looked at her in silence.
I thought as much, she said, smiling, and laid a gentle finger on
Oh, señora, you will aid me to save him! You will plead with the
Governoryou will set him free?
She drew back coldly. You ask too much. I have told you that there
are two Governors in San AugustinI divide the honours with Melinza;
but I plead with him for naught.
I turned away to hide the quivering of my lip.
Listen to me, she added more kindly. Between Pedro Melinza and
Orosia de Colis there is at present an armed peace; since each holds a
hostage. Not that I care anything for the Englishman, but my husband is
undesirous of defying the commands of the Council. Although he bears no
love to your nation, he maintains that it is not the policy of our
government, at present, to ignore openly the friendly relations that
are supposed to exist between the Crowns of England and of Spain. It
seems that the duplicate of the Council's orders has been sent to the
Governor of your new settlement on this coast; and if he sends hither
to demand the delivery of the prisoners, Señor de Colis would rather
choose to yield up all, than to risk a reprimand from the authorities
Dost thou understand all this? Well, let us now see the reverse of
Melinza sets his own desires in the scale, and they outweigh all
politic scruples. He has sworn that so long as I stand between him and
you, so long will Señor Rivers remain in the castle dungeon,unless
Death steps kindly in to set your lover free.
A little sob broke in my throat at these cruel words. Doña Orosia
laid her hand on mine.
Poor little one! she said.
You pity me, señora! What is your pity worth? I demanded, forcing
back the tears.
I have a way of escape to offer, she answered softly.
Escape for him? Or for me?
For both. Now listen! There is but one way to relax Melinza's hold
on Señor Rivers. He would exchange him willingly for you.
Better for us both to die! I exclaimed indignantly.
I would sooner kill you with my own hands than give you up to him,
said Doña Orosia, with a cold smile.
Then what do you mean, señora?
I mean, Margarita mia, that you should feign a tenderness for him
and let him think that it is I who would keep two loving souls apart.
What! when I have shown him naught but dislike in all these months?
He could never be so witless as to believe in such a sudden
Such is the vanity of man, said Doña Orosia, that he would find
it easier to believe that you had feigned hatred all this while from
fear of me, than to doubt that you had eventually fallen a victim to
What would it advantage me if I did deceive him?
He would then cease to oppose the liberation of all the other
But what of my fate, señora?
Leave that in my hands, little one,I am not powerless. I give
thee my word he shall never have thee. At the last moment we shall
undeceive himand she laughed a low laugh of triumph.
I glanced up quickly.
So! I exclaimed. This will be your revenge! And you would bribe
me, with my dear love's freedom, to act a part in it! To lie for you;
to play at love where I feel only loathing; to sully my lips with
feigned caresses; and to make a mockery of the holiest thing in life!
Is your Englishman not worth some sacrifice? she asked, with
What could I say? I left her. I hastened to my little room, shut
fast the door, and bolted it on the inner side. Then I knelt at the
barred window and looked out at the sunlight and the sea.
The blue waves danced happily, and the fresh wind kissed the
sparkling ripples till the foam curled over themas white lids droop
coyly over laughing eyes. Two snowy gulls dipped and soared, flashing
now against the blue skynow into the blue sea. I gazed at their white
wingsand thought of all the vain prayers I had sent up to Heaven.
And then the dark hour of my life closed down on me.
I bethought me of my father, that loyal gentleman whose only fault
was that he served his Prince too well,a Prince whose gratitude had
never prompted him to inquire concerning that servant's fate, or to
offer a word of consolation to the wife who had lost her all. I
bethought me of my young mother, of her white, tear-stained face, of
the long hours she had spent upon her knees, and how at last she
prayed: Lord! only to know that he is dead!yet she died ignorant.
Then did the devil come to me and whisper: Of what use is it to
have patience and faith? Does thy God bear thee in mindor is his
memory like that of the Prince thy father served? Dost thou still
believe that He doeth all things well, and is there still trust in thy
heart? Come, make friends of those who would aid theenever mind a
little lie! Wouldst be happy? Wouldst save thy dear love? Then cease
thy vain prayers and take thy fate in thine own hands.
I rose up from my knees and looked out again upon the laughing
waters,I would do this evil thing that good might come. I would act a
lying part, and soil my soul, so that I and my dear love might win
freedom and happiness. But I would pray no morefor I could not ask
God's blessing on a lie.
Then I went slowly back to where my temptress waited.
Doña Orosia, I said, I take your offer. I am youngI would be
happy; and youyou would be revenged! I am not the little fool you
think me: I know you too well to believe that you would aid me out of
love; I laugh at your pity; but I trust your hate!
Bueno, she said. It is enough. We understand one
another,but I must teach thee the part, or thou wilt fail.
I am not so simple, señora, I can feign lovefor love's sake.
Yet I would have thee set round with thorns, my sweet. The rose
that is too easy plucked is not worth wearing. And do thou give only
promises and never fulfil them,I'd baulk him of every kiss he thinks
A day went by, and though I had become even letter-perfect in my new
rôle I had not the chance to play it to my audience; but it came at
It was in the long, dreamy hour of the early afternoon, when sleep
comes easiest. Doña Orosia had ordered her couch to be placed in the
shadiest part of the breezy garden, close against the gray stone wall.
Designedly she chose the corner nearest the iron gate, through which we
could command a portion of the sunny street; and here she lay and made
me sing to her all the songs I knew, the while she dozed and waked
again, and whiles teased her parrot into uttering discordant cries
until for very anger I would sing no more.
Suddenly she laid aside her petulance, and with a quick, imperious
gesture bade me take up the lute again; then, falling back among her
pillows, she closed her eyes and let her bosom rise and fall with the
gentle breathings of a sleeping child.
I hesitated in some astonishment; but again the sharp command hissed
from her softly parted lips,
Sing, little fool!Melinza passes!
I touched the lute with shaking fingers and lifted my trembling
voice. The notes stuck in my throat and came forth huskily at first;
but then I thought on my dear love in his hateful prison, and I sung as
I had never sung before.
Above the gray wall I saw Don Pedro's plumed hat passing by. He
reached the gate and halted, gazing in with eager eyes. His quick
glance compassed the green nook, passed over the sleeping figure, and
fixed itself upon my face.
The song died away; I leaned forward, smiling, and laid a warning
finger on my lip.
He made me a bow so courtly that the feather in his laced hat swept
So, señorita, the caged bird can sing?
When her jailer wills it so, Don Pedro, I said softly, and
smiledand sighedand gave a half-fearful glance over my shoulder;
then added, in a lower whisper: And when she wills otherwise, I must
How, would she even keep a lock upon your lips?
Upon my lipsand my eyes also. Indeed, my very brows are under her
jurisdiction, and are oft constrained to frown, against their will!
So! he exclaimed; and I saw a sweet doubt creep over his face.
Must I place to her account the many frowns you have bestowed on me?
Si, señorand add to those some others that would not be
The fire in his black eyes frightened me not a little as he
If that be true, then grant me the rose in your bosom, lady!
I lifted a trembling hand to the flower, and shot a frightened
glance at the señora's quivering lashes.
Oh! I dare not! I murmured, and let my hand fall against the lute
upon my knee. The jangling strings roused the pretended sleeper from
She half rose, and, seizing a pillow from her couch, hurled it at
me, saying angrily: Here is for such awkwardness!
The soft missile failed of its proper mark; but found another in the
green parrot, who was dangling, head downward, from his perch; and
there was an angry squawk from the insulted bird.
I threw a timorous glance toward the gateway, motioning the intruder
away. He would have lingered, being to all appearances greatly angered
at the discourteous treatment of my lady warder; but prudence
prevailed, and he fell back out of sight, with a hand upon his heart,
* * * * *
The comedy had just begun. Now it must be played through to the end.
It is a strange thing to see the zest with which my gentle jailer
prepares, each day, an ambush for the unwary foe, and how he always
falls into the trapto be assailed by me with smiles, and soft
complaints, piteous appeals for sympathy, and shy admissions of my
tender friendship; which are always cut short by some well-contrived
interruption or the sudden appearance of Doña Orosia on the scene.
Though only a week has passed, already Don Pedro would take oath that I
love him well.
Early this morning I heard him underneath my window; and I was right
glad of the chance to smile on him from behind the protecting bars.
This meeting had not been of Doña Orosia's contriving, so I thought I
would use it for my own ends.
I vowed to him that I was unhappywhich was true. I protested that
I was sick with longing for freedomand that, too, was no lie. But to
that I added a whole tissue of falsehood, declaring that I had never
drawn a free breath since I came into the world; that my uncle had been
a tyrant, and the man to whom he had betrothed me was jealous and
exacting; that I had been brought across the seas against my will; and
that I dreaded the hardships of life in this new country. I said I had
no wish to rejoin the English settlers, and I denied, with tears, any
partiality for my dear love. Heaven forgive me! but I professed I loved
Don Pedro better than any man I had ever seen, and I entreated him to
take me away from these barbarous shores.
I had not thought that I could move him, yet, strange to say, the
man seemed touched. I wondered as I listened to him, for I had thought
him all bad, and deemed his passion but a passing fancy. He was
speaking now of Habana, a city of some refinement, where, as his wife,
I would enjoy the companionship of other ladies of my own station.
I'd never suffer thee to live here, my fairest lady, where yon dark
devil of a woman could vent her spite on thee! he whispered softly;
and my conscience smote me, for I was playing with a man's heart, of
flesh and blood.
But I bethought me, if there was in truth any good in that heart, I
would dare appeal to it; for I mistrusted that at any time Doña Orosia
would break her promised word.
Truly, Don Pedro, I would go gladly, for I hate the very sight of
these walls; butif you love meI would crave of your graciousness
another boon. Set free the English gentleman who was my promised
husband, and send him, with the other prisoners, back to his friends.
There was no answer, and I feared I had overstepped the mark; but I
Señor de Melinza, I said, it is true that I come of a race for
which you have no love, and that I hold a creed which you condemn;
nevertheless it must be remembered that we have our own code of
chivalry, and there have lived and died in England as brave knights and
true as even your valiant Cid. I would not have the man I am to wed
guilty of an unknightly act. Therefore be generous. You have been
mutually wounded; but it was in fair duello,this I said feigning
ignorance of the coward blow that so nearly reached my dear love's
heart,and now, Don Pedro, it would be the more honourable to set
free the countryman of your promised bride and send him in safety to
Señorita, said the Spaniard,and there was a cloud upon his
brow,I would you had asked me any boon but this. Nevertheless I give
you my knightly word that the man shall go, and go unharmed.
I thank you, Don Pedro, I said, and fought down the cry of joy
that struggled to my lips. Then, because I could find no other words,
and feared to fail in the part I had to play, I took Dame Barbara's
scissors and cut off a long lock of my yellow hair, bound it with
riband, and threw it down to him as guerdon for the favour he had
This noon, when I joined the Governor's wife as usual under the
vine-hung balcony, I boasted cheerfully of the promise I had wrung from
Melinza; and she demanded at once to hear all that had passed between
us,then called me a fool for my pains!
Little marplot! Had you shown less concern for the fate of your
Englishman, it would have been vastly better. You do but cast obstacles
in my way. There is nothing for me to do now but hotly to oppose his
leaving! If needs must I will pretend a liking for the man myself, and
vow to hold him as my guest yet a while longer, for the sake of his
pretty wit and his gallant bearing,any device to throw dust in their
eyes, so that we seem not to be of the same minds and putting up the
selfsame plea. Oh! little saint with the blue eyes, your métier
is not diplomacy!
In sooth, señora, till you first taught me to dissemble I was
unlessoned in the art.
She laughed then, and said that when I had less faith in others I
could more easily deceive.
If the little Margarita believed Melinza's pretty fable about
Habana, and the excellent company there which his wife would
enjoy, 'tis no wonder that she made a tangle of her own little web.
But Doña Orosia, think you he would deal unfairly with me? His
words rang so trueeven a bad man may love honestly! And if I trifle
with the one saving virtue in his heart, will it not be a grievous
The mocking smile died out of the Spaniard's eyes and left them
fathomless and sombre.
I felt as one wholooking into an open window, and seeing the light
of a taper glancing and flickering withindraws back abashed, when
suddenly the flame is quenched, and only the hollow dark stares back at
his blinded gaze.
If he loves you, she said slowly, it is but as he has loved
before, more times than one. He would skim the cream of passion, brush
the dew from the flower, crush the first sweetness from the
myrtle-blooms,and leave the rest. You child, what do you know of men?
It is only the unattainable that is worth striving for. There is much
of the brute beast in their passions. Did you mark, the other day, how
the dead hound turned a scornful nozzle to the first sweet morsel that
I pressed on his acceptance? But afterward, the fear of losing it made
him eager to the leaping-point. Just so I shall trick his mastershall
let him see thee, almost grasp and taste; then, when the moment
of mad longing comes, I'll stab him with the final loss of thee! Only
so can I arouse a desire that will outlive a day; for I know men's
hearts to the core, thou blue-eyed babe!
Señora, I cried, stung by her scornful words, I cannot say I know
men's hearts; but I do know the heart of one true gentleman; and I
believe, when he had won from me the betrothal kiss, I was not less
desirable in his eyes!
So you believe, she said, and shook her head. Bueno, go on
believingwhile you can. Woman's faith in man's fealty lives just so
long and she bent forward from her couch, plucked a fragile
blossom from the swaying vines, and cast it under foot.
I would have spoken again of my trust in the leal true heart that
trusted me; but I saw the trembling of the laces on her bosom, I saw
the dark eyes growing more angerful, and a slow crimson rising in the
rich cheek. She was always studying her revenge,this beautiful,
unhappy woman, keeping her wounds green which otherwise might heal and
As I watched her a great pity overcame me, so that I held my peace.
The 20th of Marcha day never to be forgot!
I have seen Mr. Rivers. It is the first time since that nightnine
months ago. I have seen him and spoken with him in the presence of
Melinza, Doña Orosia, and the Governor.
Whatever may befall us now, nothing can take away the memory of this
last hour. If ever we leave these walls together and taste freedom
again, it will have been dearly bought. A maid's truth tarnished, and
the brave heart of a most loyal gentleman robbed of its faith! Dear
God, what a price to pay!
'Twas noon when Doña Orosia came herself to fetch me.
There is some deviltry afoot, she said. I cannot fathom it as
yet; but, as you hope for freedom for yourself and your Englishman,
don't fail to play your part to the end. Come quickly! Melinza demands
to see you, and the Governor permits it. Don't blame me, childI can
do nothing to prevent it. But, I warn you, act the part, whatever it
may cost you.
I followed her, as in a dream, along the corridor, into the room
where the old Governor sat in his arm-chair beside a carved table,
whereon were a decanter of wine, glasses half drained, and a litter of
playing-cards. He drummed upon the table with his withered fingers, and
looked uneasily, first at his wife's flushed face as she entered the
door, and then at the determined countenance of Melinza, who was
standing before the heavy arras which divided that room from another in
Doña Margarita, said the Governor, clearing his throat nervously,
is it so that you are detained within my house against your will?
Your Excellency, I began, and was thankful I could speak truth,
I, and all the other English, have been held here in San Augustin for
many a long month against our will.
Without the orders of the Spanish Council I could not liberate you,
señorita; though now we purpose to do so, having authority. But
concerning yourselfMelinza assures me that you do not desire to be
sent with your countrymen.
I felt my heart grow cold. Must I still cling to the lie? I looked
at Doña Orosia, whose black eyes flashed a warning.
That is true, Señor de Colis, I said, and my voice sounded far off
You would wish to remain here as my guest and companion,
Margarita, said the Governor's wife in vehement tones.
I looked at her in wonder. What did they desire between them? My
head swam, and I would have said Yes to her also; but her black eyes
menaced me again. I drew a deep breath and shook my head. No, please
Melinza smiled a slow triumphant smile. Doña Orosia is unfortunate.
I trust I shall be more successful. You would rather go to Habana as
my companion,is it not so, Margarita mia?and he stepped
forward and held forth his hand to me.
One day in the early spring Doña Orosia had called me to see a new
pet which had been brought to her, a young crocodile, loathsome and
hideous; and she had forced me to touch the tethered monster as it
crawled, the length of its chain, over the floor. I do remember the
cold disgust I felt at the horrid contact; but it was as naught to the
feeling that passed over me when I let the Spaniard take my hand.
He drew me toward him, laughing softly. Who doubts that the lady
goes willingly? and lifted his voice with a defiant question in its
I do, señor!and it was my dear love who pushed aside the arras
and came forward into the room,my dear love, wasted by fever and long
imprisonment, white and gaunt and spectral, yet bearing himself with
all his olden dignity.
The Spaniard turned to meet him, holding me still within the circle
of his arm. I gave one final glance at the Governor's wife and read my
cue. After that I could see nothing but my love's white face.
Have I lied to you, Señor Englishman? Do you believe, now, that I
hold that golden tress as a pledge of future favours? The lady on whose
faith you were ready to stake your soul is here to answer for herself,
and she has thrown in her lot with mewith me, señor.
MargaretMargaret! cried my dear love, tell him he lies,
I opened my lips, but the words died on my tongue. Again my poor
love cried to me, holding out his arms. I saw his white face grow paler
still, and he swayed uncertainly where he stood. Then, gathering all
his strength, he threw himself upon the Spaniard and would have torn us
apart, had not his weak limbs given way, so that he fell prone upon the
Melinza's hand went to his sword; he drew the blade and held it to
my dear love's throat.
[Illustration: SPARE THE MAN, DON PEDRO! I LIKE NOT THE SIGHT OF
At last my voice came back to me; I laid my hand upon the Spaniard's
arm. Spare the man, Don Pedro! I like not the sight of blood!
Then I saw mortal agony in a brave man's eyes. He made no move to
rise, but lay there at my feet and looked at me.
Margaret Tudor, he said, do you love me still?
I looked down at him. If I spoke truth, Melinza's blade would soon
cut short his hearing of it. A wild laugh rose in my throat; I could
not hold it back, and it rang out, merrily mad, in the silent room.
Señores, I said, Señores, I love a brave man, not a coward! and
that was truth, though none in that room read me aright, save Doña
The man at my side laughed with me, and he at my feet gave me one
look and swooned away.
Melinza sheathed his sword, saying, Your Excellency, the prisoner
appears convinced; so you can scarce doubt the evidence yourself.
The Governor cleared his throat again, and glanced helplessly toward
his wife. She stepped forward with scornful composure and took my arm.
Things are come to a pretty pass, Señor de Colis, when Don Pedro
brings his prisoners under this roof and your wife is made a witness to
a brawl. I crave your leave to withdraw; and I take this girl with me
till the question of her guardianship is settled. Then, still holding
me by the arm, she left the room; and neither of the two men ventured
to stop our progress.
Arrived at my chamber Doña Orosia opened the door and thrust me in,
bidding me draw the bolt securely.
I was left alone with my thoughts. Such thoughts as they are! I
cannot weep; my eyes are hot and dry. There is no grief like unto this.
Oh, my mother! when your beloved clasped you to his heart in that last
farewell, there were between you thoughts of parting, of bodily pains
to be borne, of scourgings and fetters,aye, and of death. But what
were those compared with what I have to bear, who am humbled in the
sight of my dear love?
After writing these words I cast aside my pen, and, throwing myself
upon the bed, buried my face in the pillow. I could feel the drumming
pulses in my ears, and my heart swelled till it was like to burst
within my bosom. Though I pressed my hot fingers against my close-shut
eyes, I still could see my poor love's white, set face, the great
hollows in his bearded cheeks, the blue veins on his thin temples, and
the large eyes, one moment all love-lighted, the next, stricken with
horror at the sight of my unfaith.
How long I lay there I can scarcely tell. It was many hours after
noon when I heard heavy steps without my door, which suddenly began to
shake as though one beat upon it with frantic hands.
Who is there? I cried, lifting my head.
Oh! Mistress Margaret! a God's mercyundo the door!
I drew the bolt in haste, and Dame Barbara burst in and dropped
down, weeping, at my feet.
Lord love ye, Mistress Margaret! Lord help us both this day! They
have sent off all our men to meet the blessed English shipand we two
poor women left behind!
I could not think it true. I seized the weeping dame by her heaving
shoulders and fairly dragged her to her feet, demanding what proof she
had that this was so. She pointed dumbly to the window, and fell
a-sobbing louder than before.
Then I looked out.
The Carolina frigate stood off the bar of Matanzas Bay, and
over the waves, in the direction of the frigate, went a small boat
impelled by the brawny arms of six swarthy Spaniards. With them were
the English prisoners: I saw the honest face of Captain Baulk, and next
him worthy Master Collins; also the three seamen of the Barbadian
sloop; and another, whom I did not know, but guessed to be the second
of the two unlucky messengers; andin the midst of allmy dear love.
He lay full length, his white face resting against the good
captain's knees; and my first thought was one of terror lest he was
dead: but I saw him lift himself, and give one long look at the castle
walls, then fall back as beforeand I knew, in that moment, he put me
from his heart for ever.
They were gone, all gone. Doña Orosia had played me falseGod had
turned His face from meand the man I loved would never love me more.
I turned away from the window to the weeping dame, and I laughed,
laughed again as I had done in the face of my dear love that very morn.
The piece is near ended, dame, I said. 'Tis almost time to pray
God save His Majesty and draw the curtain. But what strange tricks
does Fate play sometimes with her helpless puppets! She did cast us,
long ago, for a lightsome comedy, and lo! 'tis to be a tragedy instead!
Think you, dear Barbara, that death would come easier by means of
yonder bed-cord, or of those great scissors dangling at thy waist? Or,
perhaps, if thou couldst play Othello to my Desdemona, it might seem a
gentler prelude to the grave. How heavy is a lie, good dame? Think you
it would drag a soul to hell? If so, I need not to go alone; for if I
lied to Melinza, he also lied to meand Doña Orosia alsothen a
strong shudder shook my frame. Barbara, Barbara, must I e'en have
their company for all eternity?
She ran to me, good soul, and hushed me like a child to her ample
Lord help ye, dear lamb! And He willHe will! I heard her say
over and over; then everything turned dark before my eyes, and I
thought death had come to me indeed.
When consciousness returned I lay upon my bed in a gray twilight,
and beside me were Dame Barbara and the Governor's wife.
As my eyes fell upon Doña Orosia, I cried out bitterly that I had
been a fool to trust even to her hate; for now she had grown weary of
her revenge, and would discard her tool without paying the price for
She covered my mouth with her hand, laughing shortly.
Melinza thinks he has been too sharp for me. He despatched the
prisoners in great haste to the English ship without my knowledge. I
went to him just now and demanded to know if he dared to send away
Señor Rivers without leave from me.
'Aye,' he said, and bowed to me. 'Since Doña Orosia desired for
some reason to detain him here, I thought it best to be rid of him at
once; but the girl remains.'
'The girl remains in my guardianship,' said I.
'Until to-morrow,' Melinza answered. 'To-morrow the Virgen de la
Mar returns to Habana, and with her go the English girl and your
'The Governor,' I cried, 'will not permit it!'
'Will he not? Ask him,' said Melinza, 'ask his Excellency the
Governor of San Augustin!' Then he laughed at meDios! he
laughed at me!
She bit her red lip at the remembrance, and clenched her white
And did you ask the Governor, señora?
She nodded fiercely. The old dotard! He did but shrug his shoulders
and offer me a diamond necklace in exchange for my pretty puppet of a
plaything. It is plain Melinza has some hold upon him, what it is I
cannot guess; but it is stronger than my wishes. He would sooner brave
my anger than oppose his nephew's schemes.
I watched the dark shadow settling on her brow, and I thought all
hope was over.
Doña Orosia, I said at last, will you lend me your dagger?
Not yet, childnot unless there is no other way to thwart them
both. Look she said, and threw a purse of gold pieces on the bed
beside me. This is your purchase money, and 'twill serve to buy
assistance. When I could make no better terms, I was forced to take
this and a kiss to bootPah! and she rubbed her cheek. To-morrow,
when the tide is full, the Virgen de la Mar will leave the
harbour. Before then I must contrive your escape.
And Barbara's, I added, for I could see the poor dame was in deep
Doña Orosia stared. Upon my soul, we had all forgotten the old
woman. She might have gone well enough with the other prisoners; but
how am I to smuggle two women from the town?
Then I besought her not to separate me from the dame, to whom I
clung as my last friend; and after a time she yielded me a grudging
promise and left me, bidding me make ready for the evening meal, at
which I must appear in order not to arouse the Governor's suspicions.
My hands were cold and trembling; but with Barbara's aid I decked me
out in one of the gay gowns which had been given me by my protectress,
and, taking up a fanwith which I had learned the Spanish trick of
screening my face upon occasionI joined the Governor and his
beautiful spouse in the brightly lighted comedor, where covers
at table were laid for three. I was thankful for Melinza's absence, for
to play at love-making that night would have been beyond my powers.
At first I could eat nothing; but an urgent glance from Doña Orosia,
and the thought of what need there would be for all my strength
prompted me to force some morsels, in spite of the convulsive swelling
of my throat. I made shift, also, to answer when addressed by either
host or hostess; but the Governor was in no great spirits himself and
seemed to stand in some awe of his lady's frown.
Suddenly, without the door, sounded voices in altercation, and a
servant entered, protesting with many apologies that there was a
reverend father without who demanded to see his Excellency at once on a
matter that would brook no delay.
The Governor leaned back in his chair with an air of great
annoyance; but Doña Orosia said quickly, Bid the father enter.
A tall form in a friar's dark habit appeared on the threshold. I
recognized, under the cowl, the thin, sallow face and the sombre eyes.
I had seen them at the door of the chapel in the castle courtyard on
the night of our arrival, and many times since. They belonged to Padre
Felipe, the confessor of the Governor's wife, and her adviser, I
believed, in affairs temporal as well as spiritual. Something told me
he had come hither at her bidding, and I glanced at her for
confirmation; but Doña Orosia leaned with one elbow on the table, her
chin upon her white hand, the other rounded arm outstretched with an
almond in the slim fingers for the delectation of the green parrot on
his perch beside her. Not a flicker of interest was visible on her
beautiful, sullen face; so I turned away with some disappointment to
hear what the padre was saying.
His voice was low-pitched and husky, and I could scarce distinguish
what he said, save that it concerned someone who was illnay, dead, it seemed, and needing instant burial.
The Governor listened with a gathering scowl upon his face, till
suddenly he started up with such haste that his chair fell backward
with a noisy clatter.
Santa Maria! Dead of the black vomit? And you come hither
with the vile contagion clinging to your very garments!
Nay, said the friar's deep, hollow voice, as he lifted a
reassuring hand. I have changed my robes. You and yours are in no
danger, my son.
In no danger! repeated the Governor, his face becoming purple and
his voice choked; no danger, when the foul carcass lies unburied,
tainting the very air with death! Throw it over in the seanay, set
fire to the miserable hut in which it lies, and let all be consumed
Who is it that is dead? asked Doña Orosia. She had risen, and
stood with one hand holding back her skirts, her full, red upper lip
slightly drawn, and her delicate nostrils dilated, as though the very
mention of the loathed disease filled her with disgust.
A wretched half-breed boy, some thieving member of the padre's
flock, exclaimed the Governor impatiently. Set fire to the hut, I
But Doña Orosia interrupted once again. Padre, what is it that you
The sombre eyes were turned on her for the first time. The boy was
a Christian, my daughter, and I would give him Christian burial.
Surely, said Doña Orosia. What is to prevent?
Would you spread the infection through the town? exclaimed the
Governor, white with fear.
Nay, said the friar, I ask but a permit to take the body without
the gates. None but I and a few of my followers need be exposed to
danger. Let a bell be rung before us, to warn all in the streets to
stand away; and we will carry a vessel of strong incense before the
bier. Those who go out with me, I pledge you my word, shall not return
for some days till they are free of all taint themselves.
My plan is better,to burn hut, corpse, and all, replied the
Governor. But Padre Felipe turned on him fiercely.
How shall I keep my hold upon my people, and they retain their
faith in consecrated things, if you treat a Christian's body as you
would the carcass of a dog?
As you will, the Governor exclaimed; and, throwing himself into a
chair, he called for pen and paper. Here, he added presently,
deliver this to Don Pedro de Melinza, and bid him warn the sentries at
the gate. Say, furthermore, that if any one in the town comes within
twenty paces of the bier, out of the gate he shall go also.
The friar received the permit silently, lifted his hand in
benediction, and left the apartment.
As my glance returned from the doorway it met that of Doña Orosia,
and in hers there was a passing flash of triumph. Soon after, she rose,
and together we withdrew. I felt her hand upon my arm tighten
convulsively; but I walked on with the same sense of unreality that had
oppressed me all the day.
When we reached my chamber she bade me change my dress again for
something dark and warm; for the night air was damp and chill. As I did
so I slipped within my bosom the roll of closely written pages
containing these annals of my prisonment. Then I asked for Barbara, and
Doña Orosia quietly replied,
She has gone upon an errand and will join us in due time. Then she
threw a mantle over my head, wrapped herself in another, and led me out
into the garden.
It was a moonless night, and a haze of cloud obscured the stars. We
passed silently under the vine-covered arbour, across the garden, to
the gateway. Into the heavy lock Doña Orosia slipped a great key; it
turned easily, the door swung open, and we stepped out. Locking it once
more, my companion took my arm and hurried me along the dark, deserted
street. We turned a corner, came upon an open square, and paused beside
a huge palmetto that grew near the centre. I heard the crisp rustle of
its leaves in the night wind, and I shivered with a nameless dread.
Then, through the darkness, two dim forms approached us. My heart
beat quickly, and I drew the mantle closer round my face; but one of
them proved to be the friar, the other, my dear, dear Barbara. I sprang
to meet her with a quick cry; but Doña Orosia laid a hand upon my lips
and hurried me on. Padre Felipe now led the way, and we followed him
for some moments more until he paused before a low doorway and motioned
us to enter.
Señora, I whispered, why do you come? I have no fear of the
disease, but why should you needlessly expose yourself?
Little fool, she answered, pushing me gently on, there is no
fever, no contagion here.
Wondering still, I entered the narrow passage, and beyond it a dimly
On the floor lay a long wooden stretcher covered with hide; at its
foot and head, fixed each in a rude socket, were two candles, still
unlighted. A brass pot with long chains, and a heap of dark cloth, lay
upon the floor; there was also a rough table on which stood a bottle of
water and a loaf of bread; otherwise, except for a dim lamp upon the
wall, the room was empty. Doña Orosia looked around, with quick eyes
taking in every detail; then she turned to Padre Felipe.
Can you trust the bearers?
He bowed his head.
Then the only difficulty is this old woman. Better to leave her
But again I pleaded most earnestly; and presently the friar left the
room and returned soon after with a dingy cloak, with which he
enveloped the poor dame from head to foot.
Let her follow behind, he said, and if there is no trouble she
may pass out with us. He charged her, then, to keep her face hidden
and to stand well away from the light of the candles.
After that there was a pause, and the Spanish woman and the friar
looked at each other.
See you do not fail! she said.
And remember your word, he replied.
A solid silver service for the new mission chapel at San Juan,I
swear it, was the quick response; that is, if you succeed.
The friar folded his arms silently.
Nay, then, in any case! only do your utmost, whispered Doña Orosia
The result is as God wills it, said Padre Felipe calmly, and,
pointing to the stretcher, he bade me lie down upon it. I did so,
trembling in every limb, and he would have covered me over with the
wrappings when the Governor's wife pushed him aside, knelt down
herself, and slipped into my hand a little dagger, whispering:
In case you are discovered.
I hid it in my bosom, thanking her. Farewell, señora, I said, with
tears, you have been kind to me and I am very grateful. Whether or not
I win freedom and friends, I believe you have done your utmost for me.
I cannot thinkand I lifted my head close to hers and whisperedI
cannot think it is for revenge alone. There must be some pity prompting
Thou little foolish one, she said, and laughed, pushing me back
upon the bier. Then suddenly I felt a hot tear drop upon my forehead.
She stooped lower and kissed me on the cheek.
I gave a little cry and would have risen again; but she drew the
dark coverings over me and I could see no longer. As I felt her soft
hands tucking me in, as a mother would her babe, I could only weep
silently and pray God bless her.
A pungent smoke of something burning filled the room and reached me
even through the coverings. I heard the padre lighting the tapers at my
head and feet. After a time the stretcher on which I lay was lifted up
and carried, foot foremost, from the roomout of the passage and into
the street. I heard the feet of my bearers pattering on the ground as
we moved onward at a swinging pace; I was conscious of the heavy smoke
of burning incense that enveloped us; I heard the sound of a bell going
before me, and a voice raised in a steady cry of warning; but I could
see nothing save a faint radiance through the wrappings, where the
After a time there was a halt and I heard voices in dispute. My
fingers closed around the hilt of the señora's dagger. If death must
come, so be it! I thought, and felt no fear, only regret that my dear
love could never understand, unless the spirit that quivered so wildly
within my still and shrouded form could speed to him in the first
moment of its freedom and whisper the truth to his heart!
Another voice joined in. It was Melinza's own.
Stand back! he called loudly. Out of the way, slaves! Who dares
dispute the orders of his Excellency? If a man goes within twenty paces
of that leprous crew he may follow them to perdition; but there'll be
no longer any room for him within these walls!
A murmur rose, and died away in the distance. We moved on once more.
Then sounded the rattling clang of iron barsbut it came from behind
us. The bell had ceased to ring; but as we moved slowly on I heard the
voice of the padre chanting in a low and solemn key. Then utter silence
fell, except the unshod footfall of my bearers and a murmur as of
night-winds in the trees. Suddenly an owl hooted overhead, and
thenI must have fainted.
I thought I was again in the Barbadian sloop, during the storm.
Bound in my narrow berth I rocked and swayed, while overhead the
boisterous wind howled in the rigging. The strained timbers creaked and
groaned, and now and then sounded the sharp snapping of some frail
spar. A woman's sobbing reached me through it all,the low, gasping
sobs of one whose breath is spent. I pushed back the covers and looked
It was gray dawn in the forest. Through the tossing branches
overhead I saw the pale clouds scudding beneath an angry heaven. I
looked toward my feet and perceived the back of a strange man with dark
head, bent shoulders, and bare brown arms grasping the sides of my
litter. Some one was at my head also; turning quickly, I met his eyes
looking into mine: it was Padre Felipe. I sat up, with a sudden gasp.
Barbara! I cried, where are you, Barbara?
When only the weak sobs answered me I threw myself from the litter
to the ground, falling in an impotent heap with my feet entangled in
the wrappings. But I caught sight of my good dame staggering on behind,
half dragged, half carried by two Indian youths. Her clothing was torn
and draggled, her face pitiably scratched, while great tears chased
each other down her wrinkled cheeks.
The litter had stopped. Padre Felipe helped me to my feet; but I
turned from him and threw my arms around Barbara's neck. She clung to
me desperately, her breath catching and her voice broken as she tried
The friar took her by the shoulder roughly.
She is worn out with tramping through the woods all night. It is no
wonder! But 'twas her own doing, for she would come; now she must keep
up or be left behind. We must reach shelter before the storm breaks in
earnest, for it will be no light one.
A heavier gust passed while he was speaking; there was a louder moan
in the tree-tops, and a broken branch crashed down at our very feet.
Have we much farther to go? I asked. He shook his head.
About a league, perhaps?
Not more, was his reply.
Then put the poor dame in the litter, and I will walk.
He looked intently at me. Can you do it?
Better than she. I feel faint here, I added, laying my hand upon
my bosom, but my limbs are young and strong and unwearied.
You want food, was his brief comment; and, turning to the litter,
he drew out from a concealed pouch that was slung beneath it, a bottle
of water, and a loaf of bread, and gave me to drink and to eat. I took
it gladly, and Barbara did likewise. I thought, then, he would have
taken some himself; but he put by the remainder, saying he had no need
of it, and signed to the old woman to take her place in the litter,
which was then raised by two of his followers. The third went in
advance to clear away obstacles from the path, and we followed behind,
I clinging to the padre's arm.
He said no more to me, but the touch of his hand was not ungentle. I
marked how he led me over the smoothest ground, choosing the briars
himself, though his feet were bare, and shielding me with his arm from
the sharp blades of the dwarf palmettos that hedged the way.
As I walked beside him I could but marvel at the strange turns of
Fate; for now it seemed that I would owe my deliverance, in part, to
one of the very class I most hated as being the first cause of our
captivity. From time to time I glanced up at his dark, stern face, and
wondered whether, if I had not chanced to be his charge and under his
sworn protection, he could have found it in his heart to burn me for a
The light grew ever stronger behind the hurrying clouds, but the
deep places in the forest held their shadows still. Tall cypress-trees
reared their heads amid the hollows and spread their branches like a
wide canopy over our heads; huge live-oaks crowned the hummocks; and
here and there great laurels lifted their pyramids of glossy,
dark-green foliage. Our passage was frequently obstructed by fallen
logs, mossed over with the growth of years; and tangles of vine,
tough-stemmed and supple, flung themselves from tree to tree across our
path, resisting our advance. All through the forest's higher corridors
howled the riotous wind; but along the tunneled ways we traveled it was
scarce perceptible at times.
In spite of my fatigue I felt a greater strength rising within me.
We had come so far without pursuit! I began to hope as I had never done
before; for was not my dear love free, and my face also set toward
As I mused thus we reached a higher level, and, through a rent in
the stormy sky a shaft of morning sunlight glanced across my shoulder
and plunged forward into the woods beyond. I looked back, startled, and
for a brief moment saw the sun's golden disc; then a black cloud
effaced it from the sky.
Padre! I cried, we are travelling westward!
Yes, he said calmly.
Westward! I exclaimed again. Westwardand inland! when the
English settlement lies to the north of us, upon the coast!
He bowed again in silent acquiescence. Then my indignation broke
forth, and without stopping for further question I accused him bitterly
of breach of trust.
Did you not promise Doña Orosia to deliver me to my friends? I
What cause have you to doubt my good faith? he asked, turning his
sombre eyes toward me, but still speaking in the same calm tones. Had
I a ship at San Augustin in which we could set sail? Or could such a
ship have left the harbour unperceived? Not even a canoe could have
been obtained there without danger of discovery. We have a long journey
before us,could we set out upon it unprovisioned?
I hung my head, ashamed, of my doubts. Once it was not my nature to
be suspicious; but so much of trouble had come to me of late that I
began to fear I would never again feel the same confidence in my fellow
creatures, the same implicit trust in Heaven that I had held two years
ago. I had never been a stranger to trouble; but, as a child, I knew it
only as a formless cloud that cast its shadow sometimes on my path,
dimming the sunlight for a moment and hushing the song upon my lips.
Even when my mother died I was too young for more than a child's
griefan April shower of tears; and although my earliest maidenhood
was often lonely, I had made me my own happiness with bright
imaginings, and prayed God to bring them to pass. So I awaited my
future always with a smile and never doubted that it would be fair. All
that had gone by. Trouble had shown its face to me, and I knew it for
something terrible and strong, ready to leap at my throat and crush
life out of me. What wonder, then, that I walked fearfully from hour to
Padre Felipe spoke again after a time. The woods are thinning, he
said. A few more steps and we shall come out on the shores of the San
Juan, near to a small village of the Yemassees, in which there are many
whose eyes have been opened to the truth. There we shall find shelter
from the storm, and means to pursue our journey when the clouds are
past. Let us hasten; the bearers with the litter are far ahead.
He gave me his arm once more, and ere many minutes were past, we
came in sight of the bold stream of the San Juan and the crowded huts
of an Indian village.
The settlement did not appear to be near so large as that at Santa
Catalina, nor did the buildings seem of as great size and
commodiousness. The most imposing edifice I took to be the mission
chapel, for before it was the great cross mounted aloft. It was
circular in shape, with mud walls, and a thatched roof rising to an
apex. There was a door in the side, of heavy planks battened strongly
together; but I could perceive no windows, only a few very small square
apertures, close under the eaves, for light and air.
The clouds were beginning to spill great drops upon our heads, so we
quickened our steps into a run. The litter and its bearers had paused
beside the door of the chapel, and from the neighbouring huts several
Indians emerged and advanced to meet us. A young woman with a little
copper-coloured babe strapped to her back, its tiny head just visible
over her shoulder, peered at us from the low doorway of her mud-walled
dwelling, but meeting my eyes, drew back hastily out of sight.
I was very weary, and Barbara, who had dismounted from the litter,
seemed unable to stand. The padre was holding converse with those of
his dark-skinned flock who had approached; so we two women crouched
down under the chapel eaves and gazed around us at the wind-tossed,
Before us was a thick grove of trees; to the left we could catch
glimpses of the river, gray and angry like the sky, and all along its
banks the huddled dwellings of the poor barbarians, whose ideals of
architecture were no whit better than those of the wasp,not near so
complex as those of the ant and the bee.
Suddenly, while we waited there forlorn, my thoughts flew back to an
English home, with its ivied walls, its turreted roof, its long façade
of warm red brick. I saw green slopes, broad terraces, a generous
portal, and a spacious hall; I thought of a room with an ample chimney
set round with painted tiles, and I pictured myself kneeling upon the
bearskin rug before a blazing fire, with my head upon my mother's knee
and her fingers toying with my hair. For that moment I forgot even my
dear love, and I would have given all the world just to be a little
child at home.
The padre turned to us at last and motioned us to follow him. He led
us to the rear of the chapel, where, plastered against the wall, was a
semicircular excrescence,a tiny cell, with a narrow door hewn from a
single plank and fastened with a heavy padlock. Drawing forth a key
from his belt he unlocked this and bade us enter. We did so, and he
closed the door behind us.
Within, the hard earth floor was slightly raised and covered with
mats of woven palmetto-leaves. A narrow chink in the wall admitted a
faint ray of light, enabling us to perceive dimly the few objects which
the room contained. Apparently it was Padre Felipe's sleeping apartment
and the chapel vestry combined in one. There was a curtained doorway
that gave access to the chapel itself; pushing aside the hangings, we
could see the dim interior, empty except for the high altar set with
tall candles, and a carven crucifix upon the wall.
As I caught sight of these emblems of a Christian faith I bethought
me of the bloody sacrifices that had been offered to a pitiful God in
the name of orthodoxy, and I wondered whether heretics like us would
not be safer out in the wild woods and the driving stormaye, even at
the mercy of infidel barbarians; but suddenly I remembered the solid
silver service which was to be the gift of Doña Orosia to this little
new mission, and I took courage.
The rain was now pouring in torrents from the thatched roof, and the
wind, which blew from the northeast, dashed it back against the mud
walls of our refuge. I turned to Barbara and gave voice to an anxiety
that for some time, had been growing within me.
Dear dame, I said, think you this storm is worse at sea?
Aye, my lamb,'tis from an ugly quarter; but the Carolina has
weathered harder blows, and haply she has found good anchorage in some
I tried to think the same; nevertheless, in the long hours that we
sat there, listening to the heavy gusts and beating rain, my heart went
faint at the possibility of this new danger to my beloved.
It must have been past noon when the padre came to us again. He
brought food with him freshly cooked,meat and fish, and broth of
parched corn-flour, not unpleasant to the taste.
The wind is abating, he declared, and the clouds are breaking
away. When the rain ceases we may venture to pursue our journey.
I begged to know how he purposed to convey us, for neither Barbara
nor I could go afoot much longer.
Then he laid his plans before us. This wide river, the San Juan,
flowing by the settlement, continues northward for many miles and then
curves eastward and empties itself into the sea. We were to start in
two swift canoespiraguas, he styled themand, keeping at first under
the lee of the shore, follow the river to its mouth, then proceed up
the coast along the safe passage afforded by an outlying chain of
islands. It would be a journey of about ten days to the Indian
settlement at Santa Helena; the Indians there, he explained, were
allies of our English friends and would doubtless aid us to rejoin
I asked if we must pass by Santa Catalina; and he said 'twas on our
way, but no one there would hinder us while we were under his
Unless, he added, the Governor of San Augustin sends out a ship
to intercept us there, or anywhere upon the way; in which case there
will be naught for me to do but give you up to him.
Upon that I was in a fever to be gone; for I felt that the day could
not pass by without Melinza's discovering my flight, and I would endure
any hardship rather than risk his intercepting us.
It was not until the rain-clouds had all passed by that the padre
chose to embark. The wind was still high, and our frail canoes were
roughly cradled on the river's turbulent bosom.
Padre Felipe, Barbara, and I, with two Indians, filled the smaller
of the two piraguas; the other held five Indians and a store of
provisions for the journey.
The afternoon sky was naught but windy gloom; white clouds rolled
over us in billowy folds, and tattered scarves of mist trailed lower
still and seemed almost to snare their fringes on the topmost branches
of the forest. Close under the protecting river-bank sped our light
canoes, cutting their way through the gray waters. The dark-skinned
crews bent to the paddle silently, with corded muscles tightening in
their lean brown arms, and still, impassive faces fixed upon the
seething current or the swiftly flying shores.
The gloom deepened slowly with the coming of the night. The waters
darkened, the dun forest became black and vague. At last, to my eyes,
it seemed that the sailing shadows in the sky, the inky, swirling
stream, and the mysterious shores blended in one all-pervading
impenetrable midnight. I could not realize that we were moving; it
seemed, rather, that we alone were still, while over us and around us
the spirits of the night flew past. I felt the wind of unseen wings
lifting my hair; I heard the splash and gurgle of strange creatures
swimming by. With my hands close locked on Barbara's arm, and wide eyes
staring into nothingness, I waited for some human sound to break the
Finally the padre spoke. He asked some question in the Indian
tongue. One of the rowers grunted in reply, and there was a sudden
cessation of the rapid paddle-strokes. Then a signal was given to the
other canoe, and after some further discussion I felt that we
approached the shore. There was a scraping, jarring sound, followed by
the soft trampling of feet upon a marshy bank; and then a hand drew me
up and guided me to land.
The tide is running too strongly against us, explained the voice
of Padre Felipe. We will rest an hour or two and wait for it to turn.
They kindled a fire somehow and spread a blanket upon the damp
ground. I remember that Barbara and I stretched ourselves upon it and I
laid my head against the dame's shoulder,then weariness overcame me.
It seemed the very next moment that I was roused; but the fire was
out, and in the sky glimmered a few dim stars. There was a strange calm
reigning as we re-embarked; for the wind had died and the whole aspect
of the night had changed. All around us a faintly luminous sky lifted
itself above the dense horizon line, and the broad bosom of the river
paled to the hue of molten lead. Still brighter grew the heavens; the
thin clouds drew aside, and the crescent of a waning moon spilled glory
over us. And now our dark piraguas sped over the surface of a silver
stream, and every paddle-blade dripped diamonds.
It is a noble river, this San Juan, with its broad sweeps and
curves. At times it widens to a lake, and again thrusts itself into the
shores as though its waters filled the print of some giant hand that in
ages past had rested heavily with outspread fingers on the yielding
soil. Aided by the strong current we glided on as swiftly as the
passing hours. Our faces were set eastward now, and I waited,
breathless, for the day to wake.
There was a slow parting of the filmy skies, as though Dawn's rosy
fingers brushed aside the curtains of her couch; then came a gleam of
golden hair that slid across her downy pillows. A long-drawn sigh
shivered across the silent world, and with a sudden dazzlement we saw
the opening eyelids of the Morn.
From the southwest a fresh wind arose and swept clean the blue
heavens; and, with the early sunbeams sparkling on the ripples of the
tide, the canoes darted on toward the river's mouth. A heron flew up
from the marshes suddenly, and sailed over our heads on its strong
white wings. As I watched it dip out of sight in the river far beyond
us I caught sight of another gleaming wing that slowly unfurled itself
toward the sky.
Touching the padre's arm, I pointed to it.
A sail! he said.
Our canoes quickly sought the curve of the shore and crept with
caution toward the unknown vessel.
It can scarcely be the Habana ship, murmured the padre, for the
Virgen de la Mar was at anchor in the harbour when we left San
Augustin, and ere morning the storm had risen, so she would hardly have
ventured forth to sea.
There are other vessels carrying sail that ply between the fort and
these coast islands. We came from Santa Catalina aboard one of them, I
Yes, said the padre, but this is too large. He paused for some
moments, and then added: Do you see the long, straight lines of her
hull, and the square stern? This is no Spanish galley, but a frigate of
'Tis the Carolina! I exclaimed, 'tis the Carolina!
Oh! the blessed, blessed English ship! sobbed the good dame.
Then all energies were bent to reach her, for it was plain that she
was making ready to leave her anchorage.
If we could only signal to those on board! I cried. Loose your
neck-kerchief, Barbara, and wave itwave it in the sunlight!
We are too close to the shore, the padre said. She can scarce
distinguish us until we strike out into the open.
But how plainly we can perceive her crew! And see the stir upon the
decksare they not drawing up the anchor? Oh, Padre Felipe! I cried
piteously, wave to them! signal them! or they will leave us after
The friar rose carefully to his feet; he, too, was heartily glad of
this chance to be rid of his charges, and in no mind to let it slip by.
With Barbara's white kerchief in his hand he was about to make another
effort to attract the notice of the Carolina, when suddenly he
glanced over his shoulder toward the land, his hand fell quickly to his
side, and he dropped back into his seat with an exclamation of dismay.
One of the Indians rose immediately, and with shaded eyes gazed
along the beach as it stretched away southward to San Augustin. He gave
a grunt of acquiescence and sat down, and the motion of the paddles
What have you seen? I cried in agony, struggling also to my feet.
We were so near the river's mouthalmost upon the blue waves of the
ocean rolling out to the shining east! Under the lee of the northern
shore lay the English ship; and south of us the coast spun out its
gleaming line of sandy beach away, away back to the prison we had left.
But what were those dark forms that swarmed the sands?
We are too late! muttered the Spanish friar. Discovering your
flight, they have not waited for calm weather to follow in a swift
sailing-vessel, as I had thought they would, but have sent out a
search-party afoot to overtake you at the outset.
But we must reach the Carolina before they arrive, Padre!
It can be done, easy enough, he answered, but what shall I and my
followers do if we are seen? Girl, I have too much at stake! I choose
not to incur the Governor's anger. 'Tis not likely that they connect us
with your disappearance, for Doña Orosia swore to shield me in the
matter. I have done all I could. It is thus far and no farther. But you
may yet escape; 'tis only a little distance to the ship; take up the
paddles and make your way thither.
As he spoke he stepped from our canoe to the larger one which had
closed up with us, and the two Indians followed him.
Padre! oh, Padre! Do not leave me, do not desert me!
They paid no heed to my appeal save to give a mighty shove to our
canoe that sent it out toward midstream; then, seizing their paddles,
with swift strokes they sent their own piragua speeding up the river.
It had all passed so quicklyso suddenly our hopes had been
destroyed! Barbara and I had been thrown forward by the impetus given
to our frail boat, and we cowered down in silence for a moment. The
current was still bearing us outward; but every second our motion
slackened: we would never reach the ship without some effort on our
I seized a paddle and worked vigorously; but the light boat only
swung round and round.
Barbara! I cried, take the other paddle and work with me. I can
do nothing all alone!
The dame obeyed me, sobbing and praying under her breath; but we
made sorry work of it.
I looked shoreward and could see our pursuers drawing closer and
closer; they had not yet perceived us, but in a moment more they could
not fail to do so. As they drew still nearer, riding on his dappled
gray in the midst of them, I recognized Melinza! With him were a troop
of Spanish soldiersI saw the sunlight flashing on their armsand
some twenty half-naked Indians, who might so easily swim out and drag
us back to land!
They see us! Mistress Margaret, they see us! shouted Barbara.
Oh! not yet, dame, not yet! I groaned, plying the paddle wildly.
The English, my lambthe English see us! Look you, they are
putting put a boat from the ship!
It was true; but ere I could utter a Thank God! a yell from the
shore told us that those fiends had seen us also. Barbara would have
dropped her paddle in despair, but I ordered her sternly to make what
play she could. As for me, I dipped my blade now on one side, now on
the other; the trick of it had come to me like an inspiration; my
fingers tightened their hold, and my arms worked with the strength born
of a great terror.
Our pursuers had reached the river-shore, and a swarm of dark forms
now threw themselves into the stream. But the long-boat from the
frigate came toward us rapidly; I saw white English faces and heard
shouts of encouragement in my mother tongue.
Then a volley of musketry rang out from the land. Instantly, the
frigate made response; her heavy guns thundered forth, and the white
smoke wreathed her like a cloud. But all the shots were falling short.
[Illustration: NEARER CAME THE LONG BOAT, YET NEARER WAS THE
FOREMOST SWIMMER.Page 162.]
Nearer came the long-boat, yet nearer was the foremost swimmer. I
saw his brown arms cleaving the clear tide, I saw the white eyeballs
gleaming in his dark face. Friends and foes were now so close together
that from the shore it was impossible to distinguish them; so the shots
had ceased, and in their place rang out wild curses and savage yells. A
sinewy brown hand rose from the water and seized the edge of our frail
canoe, tilting it far over. The sudden jerk destroyed my balance, and
in a moment I felt the waters close over my head.
Strong hands grasped me as I rose again and I battled fiercely; for
I thought the Indian had me in his hold, and I chose rather, to die.
But my weak strength was overcome, and I was liftedaye, thank
God!lifted into the English boat, and Master Collins wiped the water
from my face.
I saw them drag the dame in also, and then I closed my eyes. I did
not faint,never in all my life had I been so very much alive; but the
sunlight and the blue sky were too bright for me.
I cannot tell much of what followed. There were a few more shots,
and one of the English sailors dropped his oar and held up a bleeding
hand. I sought my kerchief to bind it up for him, but I could not find
it. And then, I looked up and saw the Carolina close beside us.
A ringing cheer went up to heaven, and kind hands raised me to the
deck. The sunburnt face of Captain Brayne bent over me, and there were
tears in his honest eyes.
There were other women on the ship, and one of them came forward and
led me away to her cabin and aided me to rid myself of my drenched
garments, lending me others in their stead. I learned from her that the
Carolina had come direct from Barbadoes, bearing freight and some
very few passengers,the noise of our treatment at the Spaniards'
hands deterring many who would else have ventured to throw in their lot
with the young colony. Captain Brayne bore also the duplicate of the
orders of the Spanish Councilwhich had been forwarded from England to
Barbadoes; and he had been instructed by their Lordships the
Proprietors, to stop at San Augustin and demand the prisoners.
All this my new friend told me during her kindly ministrations. She
asked, also, many questions concerning my escape and the treatment I
had received during our long captivity; but I was too exhausted to
answer these at length, and begged that I might be left awhile to rest.
She went away then, to get me a soothing potion from the ship's
surgeon; and I made haste to unwrap the little packet that had lain
hidden in my bosom, in which was the written story of my prison life.
As I smoothed out the damp pages I thought of how I would place it in
my dear love's hand and leave him to read all that my tongue could
never say to him!
I slept for some hours and woke refreshed. Then came a message from
the captain, asking if I would see him. I was eager to be out, for many
reasons, the chief being my desire to see him from whom I had been so
long parted; it was his face I sought first among the many familiar
ones that crowded round me. Besides Captain Brayne I recognized other
officers of the Carolina as the same with whom I had sailed from
the Downs nearly two years ago. All my fellow prisonerssave
onegreeted me joyfully and kindly. But that one missing facewhere
It was on my tongue to ask for Mr. Rivers; then, of a sudden, it
came over me how we had parted. So! and he still believed
methat thing which I had shown myself. He had nursed his doubts for
two whole days and nights, and now he would not even come forward to
touch my hand and wish me joy of my escape. It seemed to me I caught
glances of pity passing between one and another of the lookers-on. Did
they wait to see how Margaret Tudor would bear her lover's apathy? A
There was a mist before my eyes; but I smiled and said little
gracious words of thanks to each and all of them, and wished in my
heart that I was dead. Oh, my love! whatever doubts you may have had of
me were paid back that cruel moment in full measure. I recalled some of
the hard speeches I had heard from the embittered Spanish woman, and I
thought within myself, All men are made after the same pattern!
Captain Brayne and Master Collins and good old Captain Baulk of the
Three Brothers had been in earnest conversation for some moments;
and now the Carolina's commander came to me and took me gently
by the hand, leading me aside.
Mistress Margaret, he said, there is one aboard this ship to whom
your coming may mean life instead of death. He is very ill,so ill
that we despaired of him till now,and one name is ever on his lips.
Are you too weak and unstrung, my dear young lady, to go with me to his
That was how the truth came to me. I cannot write of what I felt.
Take me to him, I said.
He lay in his berth; his large eyes were alight with fever, and he
was talking ceaselessly, now in broken whispers, now with a proud
defiance in his husky tones.
God knows what the devils did to him, murmured Henry Brayne. He
was once a proper figure of a man; but starvation and ill usage have
worn him to a shadow!
Aye, but a shadow with a gnawing sorrow at its heart.
You may taunt me, Señor de Melinza, whispered the broken voice,
you may taunt me with my helplessness. I may not break these bonds, it
is true; but neither can you sever those that bind to me the love of a
true-hearted English maid.... That is a foul lie, Don Pedro, and I cast
it back into your teeth!... Strike a helpless prisoner? Do so, and you
add but another black deed to the long score that stands against the
name of Spaniard. Some day the reckoning will come, señorI dare stake
my soul on that!... I'll not believe it; no! not upon your oath, Don
Pedro!... Margaret, Margaret! Tell him he lies, dear lady!... In God's
name, speak, sweetheart! And though I knelt beside him, and called his
name again and again, he was deaf to my voice and put me by with feeble
hands, crying ever: Margaret! Margaret! till I thought my heart would
Oh! the terror of this new jailerdread Diseasethat held him in
its grip while Death lurked grimly in the background! For no wiles or
blandishments of mine could move them or loose their hold upon the life
most dear to me. When there was but man to deal with, my faith failed
me and I ceased praying; now it was my punishment that only God's mercy
could set my dear love free,and it might be his pleasure to loose him
in another world and leave me still on earth to mourn his loss.
As, hour after hour, I listened to his ravings, a deeper
understanding of the horrors of his long captivity began to grow upon
me. I could scarce forbear crying out when I thought how I had touched
the hand of that vile Spaniard, and listened, smiling, when he spoke of
love to me.
How terrible a thing is hatred! Heaven pardon me, but I think there
is somewhat of it in my heart. Yet, now that the fever is abating, and
my beloved is coming back to me from the very brink of the grave, I do
pray that I may forgive mine enemy, even as God in His clemency has
* * * * *
He knows me at last. It was some hours ago. I was bending over him,
and a light of recognition dawned in his eyes.
Margaret! Margaret! is it you? I dreamed just
nowthatthat you were untrue to me!
Did you so, dear love? I answered. Forget it then, and rest; for
now the fever and the dreams are past.
He smiled at me and fell asleep like a little child.
* * * * *
In the long hours that I have watched beside him I have written
these last pages of my story; and some time, when he is awake and
strong enough to bear the truth, I will put them all into his hand and
leave him here alone. And I think, when he has read them through to the
end, he will discernbetween the linesmore of my heart than I have
words to tell.