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Title: Joan of the Pilchard
Author: Mary Gaunt
* A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook *
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Language: English
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------------------------------------------------------------------------

JOAN OF THE PILCHARD.

BY

MARY GAUNT


Books by the same author:

ALONE IN WEST AFRICA
A WOMAN IN CHINA
A BROKEN JOURNEY
WHERE THE TWAIN MEET
THE UNCOUNTED COST
EVERY MAN'S DESIRE
THE MUMMY MOVES
A WIND FROM THE WILDERNESS
AS THE WHIRLWIND PASSES
THE FORBIDDEN TOWN
SAUL'S DAUGHTER
THE LAWLESS FRONTIER
etc. etc. etc.


JOAN OF THE PILCHARD


MARY GAUNT


LONDON, ERNEST BENN LIMITED

MCMXXX (1930).

Printed in Great Britain by PURNELL AND SONS, Somerset

Also published in serial form in The Age (Melbourne, Vic.) commencing
12 October 1929.

============================================

TO MY BROTHER

ADMIRAL SIR GUY GAUNT

I dedicate this book, with grateful thanks for the trouble he has taken
with it. Had he not sailed the Bounty's boat from Tahiti to the Great
Barrier, had he not told me what the Great Barrier was like, I could
never have written it. I hope he will take it as a remembrance of the
pleasant time we two spent in Polperro together many years ago.

Also I would warmly thank Sir Robert Roden, the late Chief Justice of
Honduras, who helped me with his legal knowledge, and my friend Mrs.
Lang, whose drastic criticism is always a godsend to me.

MARY GAUNT.

============================================

JOAN OF THE PILCHARD




CHAPTER I

'They that go down to the sea in ships, 
That do business in great waters. . . .'


'A fine evening, skipper,' said Lieutenant Thomas Quested.

The setting sun shone on all the bravery of his blue and gold, for men
wore their uniforms habitually at the end of the eighteenth century,
even as they did later in the days of the Great War.

The naval officer would hardly have thought of addressing the skipper
of the Reaper, even though she was a fine brig and he was her owner
and a man of property besides, but Daniel Reynell had on his arm a very
pretty girl in a red cloak. He knew now, to his own dismay, did Thomas
Quested, he would do a great deal for Loveday Corthew. And Loveday
Corthew was to wed the sailor man at the New Year.

'It's not going to last,' said Reynell looking round. 'There's a body
of rain coming up from the south soon. If we get it at the spring tide
the town is like to be flooded again.'

A careless speech made in an idle moment!

Years after Daniel Reynell, looking back, remembering that December
night, knew it was that prophecy which altered the whole course of his
life. It was the gentle thoughtless push which set the overwhelming
avalanche in motion.

To many of us in our lives come such moments. It is only afterwards
that we recognise them--only when, for weal or for woe, the deed is
done, the passing years have set their seal upon it, and it is too late
to alter.

'Is the town often flooded?' asked Quested curiously. It was as if a
devil were crying, 'Here is your opportunity!' 'It must make a lot of
confusion, I should think.'

'It does,' said the skipper of the Reaper.

The wind was coming up in little puffs from the south-west, a warm, wet
wind. At the foot of the Peak the white water was showing on the Rocks.
There was a mist over the sea, too, the clouds hung low and the sea
birds swept down with a piteous wail in their cries.

The pilchard boats, one after the other, were slipping out of the
harbour, making long stretches first to the east and then away to the
west because of the head wind. Presently he would have to go and do a
kindly act; but he hesitated about leaving Loveday Corthew with the
navy man, who spoke to him indeed, but whose eyes never left the face
of the fair-haired girl beside him.

'But it doesn't often happen,' he went on. 'It wants a high wind from
the south, a spring tide and a heavy fall of rain to fill up the
stream.'

'It's near the new moon now,' said Quested thoughtfully.

'Friday,' said Reynell, 'but we don't always flood the town with a
spring tide. I hope for the housewives' sakes we won't this time. Good
evening to you.'

'Good evening.'

Quested saw the roses in Loveday's cheeks deepen as she dropped her
laughing hazel eyes before the look in his dark ones. They glowed
dangerously though he did not know it. She found it necessary to remind
herself she was to wed Daniel Reynell at the New Year, and Lieutenant
Quested was nothing at all to her.

He looked back at Chaple Rock. It was the usual thing at Polperro to
sit on Chaple Rock and smoke in the evening. He might as well watch
the fishing boats. Then he caught sight of a girl leaning over the
half-door of the Pilchard, a girl with a mop of hair dark as the
raven's wing, deep sad eyes blue as the sea, red lips, teeth like
pearls, and skin that had the delicate cream of the magnolia, the
makings of a lovely woman, thought the man who knew the world. The
fisher folk of Polperro did not recognise the beauty in their midst.
It was too uncanny for their simple taste. They only saw in Joan of
the Pilchard an alien. They laughed even when she claimed her father's
name. Oh they remembered him well enough. He had been wrecked on the
cruel Cornish coast, and had taken away with him the daughter of old
Tom Olivier, the poorest, most feckless fisherman in the little town.

When she came back thirteen years after, with what, to Polperro, was
plenty of money in her pocket, and a tall lanky girl of twelve by her
side, Polperro shook its head over her. It did not believe, what Joan
knew was the simple truth, that José d'Ath had honestly married the
girl and done his very best to make a good husband and father.

The fisher girl had wearied of the gentleman long before he had
thoroughly wakened to the awful mistake he had made. When he died
she had joyfully and thankfully taken her inheritance and her
child--because she was only a girl her father's people had let her
go--and gone back to the place of her birth.

The money in her pocket took the sting out of scornful looks. She
bought the Pilchard, and married a man who was much more to her taste.
Husband and wife were cheerful, if not boisterous, on their own ale by
noon; by four o'clock they were stupid.

To Joan had come the bitterness.

She had been torn away from the class to which she belonged, from
the comfort and refinement of her Spanish home, and set down in a
little low fishermen's tavern. She resented the tavern, resented the
coarse stepfather, resented the tone the fisherfolk in their unco
righteousness took towards herself, resented her lot with a dumb
child's resentment, never fitted into the new environment.

The environment scorned and treated her, the girl who had the blood of
proud Spanish nobles in her veins, simply as the drudge of the Pilchard.

She was the drudge. Gradually, as her mother and stepfather gave
way to their besetting sin, all the burden of the inn fell on her
young shoulders. She took it up and worked, from dawn till dark worked
sullenly, hopelessly, with that smouldering bitterness in her heart
behind all she did.

As she leaned over the half door this December day she looked the
ill-tempered slave she was. Her feet were bare; her short winsey skirt
of a dark dull red was dirty and torn, the jacket open at the round
young throat was not set off by a kerchief. The deep sea-blue eyes
watched the young couple go down the street, then they wandered to the
young man in uniform who was also watching.

He did not look in silence. He cursed aloud.

Why, she wondered idly, should Lieutenant Quested swear. If she, Joan,
had cursed——But she was inarticulate. Reynell was the light of her eyes
and the desire of her heart.

She was under no delusion with regard to him. Joan always saw things
clearly. He had chucked her under the chin, turned her face up to his,
said she had eyes like the sea on a summer's day and kissed her. Once
even, when the Reaper had come back from France, he had brought her
an orange scarf which he said would set off her dark hair. It didn't
suit her. She knew it, but that scarf was her greatest treasure, folded
away as too precious to wear save on great occasions that never came
into her poor starved, drab life.

Daniel Reynell never looked at her now. He was going to marry Loveday
Corthew, whom he had known ever since she was a baby, and whom he had
courted ever since she had blossomed into the belle of the district
round. Joan's sorrow was beyond all tears, a dull aching, hopelessness
that could never be put into words.

Lieutenant Quested was vehement in the language he used. He was a
fine-looking fellow, not as tall or as handsome or as broad shouldered
as Daniel Reynell; but then the fisherman's jersey could not compare
with the blue and gold of the navy, and his powdered hair made his eyes
look dark.

He saw Joan looking at him and sombrely crossed the street.

'What's offended you, my maid?' he asked, seeing his own chagrin
reflected on her face. He put his hand on her shoulder.

'Naught,' said Joan sullenly, 'an' a'll thank 'ee to keep hands to
'eeself.'

Joan's Spanish was that of a lady. Her English that of the fisher class
to which she belonged.

'He's a pretty lad, eh, Joan?' the King's man went on, though it was of
the maid he was thinking. Because he could do nothing, there was some
easement to be got out of talking to this girl whom he thought could
not understand his feelings.

There Lieutenant Quested made a mistake. The maid of the inn read him
through and through.

'She's a winsome maid,' he went on.

Joan said nothing. The matter did not seem to call for remark.

'He ought to be in his Majesty's navy.'

'Her's skipper and owner of Reaper in harbour there. Her's not for
Navy,' said Joan. 'Her hath a permit.'

'And the pretty maid? What about her?'

'Her'll wed she at New Year,' said Joan as if every word were wrung
from her. She noticed that the other flinched. The New Year was so
close.

'He'd make a good King's man, wouldn't he, Joan?' said Quested again,
because having plunged into the conversation he was not minded to leave
it just as the words he hated had been said.

'Her hath a permit,' said Joan again.

'Oh her hath a hermit, hath her?' mimicked Quested, showing Joan the
fault in her own speech, 'but if her were serving the King her couldn't
marry that other pretty maid, eh my wench, what think you of that?' and
he scorned himself for saying it, scorned himself for so nearly putting
his desire into words.

Joan raised to him a pair of blue eyes into which something flashed
that let a light into his own soul.

He turned away silent and sullen as Joan herself.

If Daniel Reynell, who had a permit, were serving in his Majesty's Navy
he could not wed Loveday Corthew on New Year's Day, and if Loveday were
not wed on New Year's Day who knew but that--and Lieutenant Quested
cursed again. Why did he think of Loveday Corthew? Suppose she were
free to wed him--suppose he could win her--suppose he married her. That
would end his career in the Navy. And he did not want to leave the
Navy. He was quite sure of that.

But Loveday had bonny curling hair, she had dancing hazel eyes, and
laughing lips. She would stick in a man's mind. Did she love Daniel
Reynell? Did she know what love meant? He was sure she did not. He
was sure, too, that the only man who could teach her properly was not
Daniel Reynell, but the man who was vowing to himself he would think of
her no more.

He would not take Daniel Reynell. He meant to have Polperro men though.
Men the King's ships must have. He had a very special order for four,
and what better men than these capable Cornish fishermen? By fair means
or foul he intended to have them. That hint about the spring tide was
well worth considering.

To do him all justice, Thomas Quested firmly believed it was a step
up in the social scale to join the Navy. Since they were not willing,
of course, it must be managed. The men who resisted most were content
enough before the year was out. There was plenty of excitement, plenty
of prize money. Ordinarily I am afraid he would not have hesitated one
moment to disregard even a permit. Now the fact of Reynell's permit
only troubled him because he stood in the position of a rival, and it
was his instinct to give him fair play. If Loveday Corthew really loved
him best--he was the last man--the very last man. But did she love him
best?

She did not know what love meant! And if her wedding day had not been
fixed——Not for a moment did he think any ill of Loveday Corthew. She
was dear and sweet and good, but she had seen nothing of the world. She
had known the master of the Reaper all her life. He was backed by
the approval of her father, an excellent match. It was a family affair.
But she would never love Daniel Reynell, whereas she was his born mate.
He had known it from the moment he had looked into her winsome face.
This man stood in the way. It was bitter--bitter.

If he had only known it Loveday's thoughts were straying in much the
same direction though she had not realized it herself. Her trousseau
was ready, even the cake was baked, and she knew she had been the
happiest girl in the world when Daniel Reynell had asked her. It was a
triumph that had echoed along the coast, had reached Looe, and even, it
was whispered, was talked about in Plymouth itself. No wonder she had
been pleased and proud.

Was she fickle for thinking now what might have been?

Loveday considered a fickle woman something mean and despicable. She
ought not to think of Lieutenant Quested who had come longing too late.
In fact, of course, she did not think about him.

But she shivered in spite of herself, and her lover would have drawn
her closer. She held back gently. She was in no mood for lovemaking.

'Not here--in the street,' she said. She was so wise--so kind, but
Reynell was repelled. Did not this girl he loved and longed for, take
things a little too calmly? Would she ever waken and respond to his
passion? Just for a moment it flashed through his mind that she never
had. She had always been the dear little girl, the dearest little girl
in the world ever since he had known her. Of course things would be
different when they were married.

'I rather mistrust a King's man in a fishing town,' he said, tearing
his thoughts away from his doubts and fears.

'Why?' she asked. 'He will not harm you. He is Parson Trevenick's
friend.'

'Parson's friend or not,' said Reynell a little savagely, 'when a navy
man comes poking round he generally wants recruits, and when he wants
recruits he's not over particular how he gets them.'

'Oh but Lieutenant Quested,' began Loveday. She felt she could explain
easily enough why Lieutenant Quested lingered in Polperro. She hardly
thought he was thinking of recruits. Then she stopped. The explanation
might not please her lover.

Perhaps it was lucky that a fisher boy running up interrupted them at
that moment.

'Cap'en Toms sent I along, Skipper. Hers already.'

Reynell caught the girl's arm and held it so tightly he hurt her.

'I must go,' he said, 'I promised old Cap'en Toms to go out with him
to-night. There aren't likely to be many more nights when he can go
out. His son has a catarrh and he can't cast the net alone. You will
not let Lieutenant Quested walk back with you, will you?'

'But, Dan,' she protested, 'how can I help it if you are not there.
And,' she added with spirit, 'if he offers to carry my fish 'tis only
courtesy on his part.'

'I'll not go with Toms,' said Reynell jealously.

'Fie on you,' she laughed, 'and we to wed on New Year's Day! What sort
of life shall I have with a man who is jealous of a shadow! If you
can't trust him, can't you trust me?'

She looked at him smiling roguishly. How winsome she was! Of course he
ought to trust her he thought miserably. She was right too about the
kiss. The place was too public for such kisses as he wanted.

She stood a moment watching his stalwart figure clad in fisherman's
jersey and high sea boots as he strode away reluctantly to the little
quay where the fishing boats lay.

His handsome face was tanned with sun and wind; those blue eyes that
looked so straight into hers were honest and true; his fair hair curled
in tight little rings all over his uncovered head. Of course, she loved
him, this great stalwart man, was he not the man of her childish dreams?

Because she was so sure that she loved him she felt she might allow
herself a little latitude. To reward herself for her own good
intentions, she smiled at Lieutenant Quested when he joined her.

Looking back Daniel Reynell saw them both at the fish scales and cursed
the good nature that had pledged him to a night at sea.

Lieutenant Quested not only helped her buy mackerel but carried it for
her all the way to Raphiel Farm a good half hour's walk away.

By way of keeping his thoughts from straying to another man's promised
bride, Lieutenant Quested talked of Polperro, and gained a great deal
of information that was likely to be useful to him. By the time he had
reached the farm he knew all about the behaviour of the fisherfolk when
the town was flooded. That, he told himself, was so strictly business,
that when the farmer invited him to stay to supper, he allowed himself
to be persuaded.

By the end of the evening the farmer had supplied him with a great deal
more information.

So Lieutenant Quested spent an evening that was not only pleasant to
himself but was likely to be profitable to his King.

As for Loveday she was well content. She saw her father's pride in
her--felt it was deserved. Was she not going to wed the handsomest,
most sought-after man along all the Cornish coast, and here was the
King's officer looking at her with--well she was a good girl. But even
a good girl could not fail to know he was looking at her with eyes of
desire. She was flattered.

She went to bed deliriously happy. Quested had wakened in her that
which Reynell had failed to stir. She had known nothing of a woman's
passion and longing. It was Thomas Quested who was teaching her, not
her affianced lover.

As yet it was only intoxicating, not disquieting.

She fell asleep at last happy, and without a thought of fear for the
future.




CHAPTER II.

'What hath man of all his labour, 
and of the vexation of his heart,
wherein he had laboured under the sun?'


The body of rain Reynell prophesied came in torrents the next day. The
hills that made the Coombe were hidden in mist. A wild wind tore up
the gully, driving before it the spring tide. In the harbour the men
gave all their attention to the fastening of their boats. In the town
the women slipped in the boards at the front doors to keep out the
water. The waves were tumbling in great green seas over the quay, and
the stout stone wall that ran round the harbour on the west threatened
every moment to give way. For the sea was as high as the Peak itself.
There seemed no chance that it would go down.

Reynell, with young Quiller and Robert Trevenick, the parson's son,
stood at the fish scales watching the rising water. From the half-door
of the Pilchard, Joan, with a shawl thrown over her head, watched them.
Seen by the dim light on the fish scales, she only recognized Reynell
by his height. But the others were nothing to her.

She had just made a discovery, a discovery of vital import. There was
a band of navy men, how many she was not quite sure, crouching on the
slope of the hill just behind the tavern. They could rush it when they
pleased, break through the doors, and be in the street in a moment.
That, she was fairly sure, was what they intended to do. Even half a
dozen men, catching the fishermen unawares, might take heavy toll in
the storm.

She knew well enough what she ought to do. She had only to raise the
alarm from the half-door where she stood and all would be well. However
many there were, and of course there were others besides those she had
seen, once the fishermen were warned they could look after themselves.

But Polperro had not been kind to Joan. Let them be pressed. Only that
stalwart figure, blurred by the driving rain, pulled at her heart
strings. At any time she would have given much for an opportunity of
speech with Daniel Reynell, and here was such an opportunity made right
to her hand. She would tell him, and tell him only. For once in her
starved life she would be looked upon by the man she loved with all the
strength of her passionate repressed nature as of some account, as the
woman who kept her eyes open and helped the town.

The thought of his commendation sent the hot blood racing through her
veins. She pulled the shawl tighter over her head, opened the half-door
and stepped out on to the cobble stones of the roadway, where already
the water was washing a foot deep. It was a very turmoil outside, dark
as pitch but for the evil-smelling pilchard oil lamps that hung, one
on the fish scales, and one in the doorway of the tavern. Not a star
was to be seen. The clouds, driven before the south-west wind, hid all
the heavens, only the white water on top of the waves that broke over
the quay showed a line like cruel teeth. The roar of it rushing down
the Peak, mingling with the shriek of the wind tearing up the gully,
drowned all other sounds.

It took strength, Joan found, to keep her feet even on the cobble
stones in front of the inn where she was, in a measure, sheltered. What
faint light there was fell on Reynell's face under his sou'wester. She
made her way to him, and in her tense excitement laid her hand on his
arm. Never before had she done such a thing. Now it seemed to her the
occasion warranted what she had only dared think of before with bated
breath. He would understand. He would praise----

'Why, Joan,' he said smiling, 'the very lass I'm looking for. Canst
send a message for me?'

His eyes looked straight down into hers. She felt for a moment a sense
of companionship and friendliness that warmed her heart and steadied
her nerves.

'Iss, that a' can,' she said eagerly, and the delight of pleasing him
made her hesitate just one moment before giving him the warning. Those
men on the hillside would not act just yet. She would prolong the
delight of this proximity. Perhaps she could persuade him to come into
the tavern. How could she say the words that would send him racing from
her to organise Polperro. Just a moment----

With a careless hand he smashed her poor little dream of bliss.

'Get me someone, my lass, will run up to Raphiel Farm and tell them I
cannot be there to-night. It's going to be a dirty night and I must
stay near the harbour.'

The words choked in Joan's throat. She literally could not answer.

There was no need.

A small boy ran past. Reynell caught him and promised him a penny if he
delivered his message. Then he put his hand to his face and looked out
to sea again.

The very devils of hell raged in the girl's heart. He had forgotten
her very existence. He had looked kindly at her just because he wanted
to send a message to his sweetheart, just that----And Loveday Corthew
would be as happy with Lieutenant Quested, or Robert Trevenick, or with
young Quiller there for that matter. She was a good girl. She would
make any decent man a good wife.

Joan lingered a moment. Perhaps he would look round.

But his head was full of the business of the town. If he thought of any
woman at all it was of Loveday Corthew waiting for him at Raphiel Farm.
Joan was less than nothing to him. He had sent his message. He turned
to Bob Trevenick as if she had never been.

'What about the lamps at the head of the quay?'

So he sealed his own fate, and hers too, though he did not know it. Not
from her should he hear of the cutter's crew on the hillside.

'They be knocked about proper,' said young Quiller. 'It's no good
thinking of they. There be no boats out to-night. If so be's they's
out, out they'll have to stay. How long to high water?'

'Not for a couple of hours yet,' said Reynell anxiously.

'Then by all that's holy the town had better clear to the hills in
double quick time,' said Trevenick as a swirl of water came racing
round their knees. 'It'll take some of the women all they know to fetch
it.'

Not one of them gave a second thought to the girl standing swaying
beside them. She could not see their faces, only the light of the
little lamp on the fish scales shone on the gleaming sou'-westers of
the two tall men and Bob Trevenick, sturdy but hardly up to their
shoulders. She looked down the street. It was black as a wolf's maw;
the driving rain blotted out everything, and the light from the
pilchard oil lamps in the windows, which was all the lighting Polperro
got in the ninth decade of the eighteenth century, came out as a dim
gleam here and there fitful and uncertain. Another gust and out went
the lamp over the door of the tavern.

The only one that counted now was the one at the fish scales.

Another swirl of water came; another; and another.

The three young men shouted at the top of their voices.

'The water! The water is in! The water is in!'

There was no doubt about it. This was no stray wave. The water was in.
The town was flooding fast.

'Rouse out! Lee! Garrett! Ross! Look alive there! Rouse out, men. You
can't hold the houses against the sea! Best take the women and children
to the upper town. Rouse out! Rouse out!'

Not one of them remembered Joan. They rushed to the nearest house and
pounded on the door.

'Take the houses up Chaple Rock way, Quiller. Some of them are in
danger,' ordered Reynell. 'Bob, you take the houses on the right of the
street up to the Green. I'll take those on the left.'

Above the roaring of the storm Joan heard him shout. Never one word for
her, never one thought though she had stood beside him a moment ago.
She was a capable girl, quick to think and quick to act. Had she not
been hampered by her love she could have called attention to herself as
equal in this emergency as any man to help. But that love somehow bound
her hands. She could think of nothing but that she was naught to him.

The storm was growing. It was difficult to hear each other's voices.
But it was self-evident they must warn the town, for this was no
ordinary gale, that might merely flood out the kitchens of the
housewives till the tide turned. This would drown children and women
and men too, for that matter, unless they cleared out quickly.

The people were loath to leave their possessions. They might be small,
but they were all they had. Reynell, standing still, sheltering one
moment at the tavern door where Joan had relighted the lamp, knew there
was a good night's work before him. Then Joan made her last bid for
happiness for many a long day.

'Dan'el Reynell! Dan'el Reynell. Come an' help I.'

'What, Joan! A strapping wench like you!'

With a laugh he stepped back into the swirling water, knowing nothing
of the raging anger in the girl's heart.

She would never tell him now of the men hidden up on the hill behind
the tavern. If they liked to rush down through the bar they might for
all she cared. The other women were being helped; no one was giving
thought to her difficulties. Yet all Polperro might have known them.
Her mother and stepfather were half drunk as usual. Betsey, the girl
who helped her, was not all there. And yet she could have grappled with
them if only Daniel Reynell had seen fit to give her one kindly word of
encouragement. She was no weakling. But it was hard he should not even
care what became of her when he was ready to help every other woman in
the town.

The door of the next house was open. By a little lamp hung on a bracket
on the wall high above the flood Reynell saw a man with a woman in his
arms step out into the street which was running like a river now. Two
little crying children were looking helplessly at the water running in
and out among the chairs and tables, threatening every moment to upset
the form on which they stood. He remembered then that Hugh Ross's wife
had been very sick indeed. He stepped inside and picked up the babies
in his arms.

'Any more, Hugh Ross?' he asked.

'No, thank God,' said the man, and they toiled up the street among a
confused crowd of shrieking women, cursing men and wailing children,
across the Green, feeling their way in the dark and driving rain till
the hill rose. A door opened, a light streamed out, and, what was much
more to the purpose, showed a room comfortable and dry. A woman's voice
begged them to come inside.

Reynell, with a cheering word, put down the children and raced back.
There were probably others needing help.

The street, knee deep in water, was alive with people. The rain driven
before the howling wind was like a dark sheet; the forms huddled
against the wet and cold showed as darker bulks in the gloom, now
crushed together, an indistinguishable mass, now in single figures,
blurred and indistinct. None could say who was who.

From the disorderly crowd struggling up the hillside came shrieks and
curses and the shrill wail of terrified children, for such a night had
not been known in Polperro in the memory of any living.

As the storm waxed the turmoil grew worse. The wind took charge the
moment a door was opened, and blew out the lamps fixed against the
walls. Only occasionally from a sheltered corner a man's face, set and
strenuous, showed up as he crossed; a woman bent before the storm, her
shawl held close; a chair floated along; a broken table; a bundle of
clothing. But it would hardly have been possible for anyone who was
watching--and no one was watching--to say who were the figures that
drifted past, indefinite, shadowy, mysterious as figures in a dream.

When first the men of Polperro were aware that strangers were helping
them they could hardly have said. Glad enough were they of that
help, they were not stopping to ask questions. A strong arm picked
up a girl who had slipped and fallen; another rescued a good dame's
precious feather bed; and yet again a pair of stout arms helped a young
woman carry her possessions up the hill, and when a light showed her
comeliness, snatched a kiss as payment. No one said aught, least of all
the lady herself.

But the disaster had come upon them so suddenly there was no method
in the work. The driving rain, the howling wind, the rising water and
the roaring of the sea took charge, deadening and belittling all other
sounds. Rescuers and rescued could not see each other's faces save by
chance; shouts and shrieks and wails were feeble things before the
roaring of the storm; every man could only do what seemed best in his
own eyes. The obvious thing was to get the helpless and such furniture
as they could lay hands on to the higher houses in the upper town.

Confusion there was bound to be.

But it seemed to Reynell, as the night wore on, that the confusion,
instead of settling itself, grew worse. He raced along from house to
house and satisfied himself that they were empty; there was no danger
of anyone being drowned even if the houses fell.

There came a sudden lull, as if sea and wind had hushed for a moment.
The worst had passed?

Then to his surprise a cry arose out of the darkness that the chains
had broken, and the boats were adrift.

Down came the wind again with a wild shriek. But even above it was the
cry.

'The boats! The boats! The boats are adrift!'

It was an ominous cry, for by the boats the little fishing town lived.
If the boats were lost then starvation stared Polperro in the face.

Daniel Reynell was close to the upper town when it reached his ears.
He raced for the harbour. The cry of alarm rang louder and louder. He
could hear it above the howl of the storm.

'The boats! The boats! The boats! Look to the boats!'

'The boats are all right!' he shouted. 'The boats are all right! I saw
to them myself. Ross, Trevenick, Quiller, the chains are fast, I tell
you. The chains are fast. Garrett,' he shouted to the man next him,
'what is the meaning of this? Tell them the boats are all right. Yell,
man, yell. You don't know what may happen if they lose their heads.'

They passed the long pencil of light that came through an open door.
Just for a moment it fell on the face of the man beside him. It was not
Amos Garrett, as he had supposed, but a total stranger. They plunged
into darkness again. The rain beat cutting on his face. He put out his
hand and laid it on the stranger's shoulder.

'And who the devil----' he began, for he knew every creature in the
town, where he had lived all his days, and he was surprised to see a
stranger on a night like this.

'All right, Skipper,' said the man with a laugh. 'Any port in a storm.
I'll help if I am a stranger. They boats are adrift they say----'

'The boats are not adrift,' said Reynell, still racing towards the
harbour and glancing at his other side.

There was another man there. Of course it was----But no, a light
streamed from another door, a comparatively bright light this time, for
someone had made a flare with a rope soaked in pitch. This man too was
a stranger.

Something was wrong. Conviction came. Something was very wrong. It was
from the group round him the alarm about the boats was coming. But what
in heaven's name was their object? The women were safe as far as he
knew, and to send the men racing back to the quay----

In a flash he knew--he knew.

'The press gang!' he yelled. 'The press gang! Look to it there! The
press gang.'

He did not fear for himself. He had a permit, but his sympathies were
with these fishermen who would be rudely torn from their homes. He
raced on with the men beside him till the street opened out at the
head of the harbour. There he paused, for the water rose to his waist.
Unless he swam he could go no farther. Besides, there was no object in
going farther. He turned. And found a man still on either side.

'Clear out!' he swore angrily, 'and be damned to you!'

He ran back to the fish scales still shouting, 'The press gang! The
press gang!'

The night was ideal for their purpose.

He would warn all he could. He heard above the tumult the man beside
him laugh derisively and fear just touched him with his cold breath.
These two strangers, sailor men by the cut of their jib, were after
his stalwart proportions. Once taken could he convince any one he was
skipper and owner of the Reaper, a man with a permit? It would
take time. Such men had been taken before--had been killed before the
mistake had been rectified. And he was to be married on New Year's Day!
Lieutenant Quested had not lingered in the little town for nothing.

He grew hot with anger and wild with anxiety.

Not a fortnight to his wedding day! But surely it was simple enough to
get away!

He made for the narrow lane that ran by the Pilchard. Once there he
reckoned on the steep slippery steps that led uphill to baffle his
pursuers. He was familiar with them. They were not. He turned and hit
out furiously. The thought of Loveday's bright eyes lent strength to
his arms. One man dodged him. The other slipped and stumbled on the
cobble stones. He took advantage of the momentary hold up to put on
a spurt that brought him right into the narrow passage between the
Pilchard and the house opposite.

Now was his chance. He was fresh still, for all his hard work. Once on
the hillside of which he knew every inch, every stick and stone and
turn----He could have shouted with laughter at the thought of the dance
he would lead the poor beggars, saving some poor fishermen from their
unwelcome attentions too. They had put their money on the wrong horse
when they thought to take the owner of the Reaper under cover of the
night. There would be some sick and sorry sailor men----

And then----

If Joan had arranged things on purpose to vent her spite on him she
could not have arranged it better. The door of the little tavern
opened, and there tumbled out into the narrow street the landlord and
landlady of the inn, both somewhat dazed with sleep and drink, followed
by Betsey, the stupid serving maid. Between them they bore a great
feather bed, with, heaped among its folds, pillows and blankets and
various other odds and ends. Joan stood just above.

By the lamp which flickered and died down and rose again in the wind
he saw her face, and saw too, to his dismay that the whole way was
blocked. Turn he could not. It would be running right into the arms of
his pursuers. His only hope now was that he might slip through into the
inn. He looked back.

Against the white water tumbling over the sea wall loomed the bulk of
men, friend or foe he was not sure which. He dared not chance anything.
If only the first comers were enemies they were more than he could
tackle.

'Gangway there,' he cried. 'Gangway! Joan, clear them for God's sake or
there'll be no wedding for me at the New Year!'

A simple soul was Daniel Reynell!

He looked forward to his wedding. To him it seemed the very strongest
reason why he should preserve his freedom. He felt the girl would
recognise it as such. It was an appeal not to be gainsaid.

Joan stood like a block of wood looking down on the three people
struggling so futilely with the great smothering bed. Her stepfather
was cursing as usual; her mother was whining; while Betsey was giggling
and groaning alternately.

But Reynell's voice dominated all the rest.

'Gangway there! Gangway there!' The sodden landlord stood staring
stupidly. As Reynell ran he stepped out of his way but he still clung
to the bed, brought it right across the fugitive's path, and before he
could stop himself he was on top of it. The three people clinging to
it collapsed on top of him, and on top of them came the men who were
racing up the street.

For a brief second the human wails were smothered by the water.

Joan, looking on, knew she would have helped if he had not mentioned
his wedding day. She did not want him wed. That stayed her hand.

The men on top were up, cursing and laughing and spitting out water;
Betsey, shrieking, made a grab at her mistress, and Reynell, scrambling
up half drowned out of the knee-deep water, hit out wildly and,
catching the landlord one on the mouth, turned him into an active enemy.

For a moment it was pandemonium. The light from the inn fell directly
on the struggling crowd. The girl, looking on, saw legs and arms and
heads bobbing up in the water in the midst of the smothering feather
bed that kept coming up in unexpected places. Every head that rose up
swore aloud. She could hear the angry voices even above the howling of
the gale. For a moment she thought Reynell was going to fight his way
free. She was prepared to help him; to shut the tavern door and hold it
in the face of all comers. Unluckily, as she stepped forward Reynell
saw her and guessed her intention.

'Good girl, Joan! For my girl's sake----'

One of the men caught his legs and pulled him under water again. When
he got his head up four men had him in their grasp.

'Got un at last,' said one with an oath. 'My word, Bill! But he's a
dandy to fight! Look out, Bill!'

But Bill wasn't quick enough. Their victim managed to wrench an arm
free, clenched his fist and hit Bill a clout between the eyes that sent
him reeling under water.

Now was Joan's opportunity.

But instead of flinging herself upon his captors as she might well have
done, as he fully expected her to do--she and Betsey might easily have
made a diversion in his favour--she stood there looking down idly in
the flaring lamplight as if it were no business of hers.

'Oh, curse the girl! Why was she such a fool when so much was at stake!
If these four people at the Pilchard would only fight for him--Joan
standing there must see how little it would take----'

'Joan! Joan! Give a helping hand for Loveday Corthew's sake! Rouse the
lads! If I can't get away----'

The thought that he might after all be carried away overwhelmed him.
Such things had been. Such things would be again. With set teeth he
wrestled with these men who were cursing him with all the fervour and
fluency of which the lower deck of the navy of those days was capable.
Their remarks were torrid and to the point. They were using their
fists. He was getting the worst of it.

And the woman to whom he was all the world looked on dully. Why should
she save him for another woman? They had his arms. They had his legs.
He turned his face to the girl standing there.

'Tell them up at Raphiel Farm----'

As he mentioned the farm that held all he cared for, he gave another
last struggle. His captors, with an oath that rang above the storm,
dragged him down under water again. His message ended in a sobbing
gurgle.




CHAPTER III.


'I made me great works; I builded me houses; 
I planted me vineyards; I made me gardens and orchards, 
and I planted trees in them of all kinds of fruit; 
I made me pools of water to water therewith the wood that
bringeth forth trees; and behold all was vanity and vexation of spirit,
and there was no profit under the sun.'


Daniel Reynell came to himself on the narrow track that led round
the cliff in the direction of Talland. Through the pelting rain the
wind off the sea drove in his face, but dimly by the light of a
ship's lantern he saw three men bending over him. The rough, sea-worn,
sun-tanned faces did not look unkindly, though the mouth of one man was
bleeding and another had a huge bruise over his eye.

Half dazed as he was, he guessed he had fought hard for his liberty.

'He's all right, Bill,' said the leader, with an oath of satisfaction.
'Damned if I didn't think you'd finished un. Come on, mate. You's a
weighty parcel. Dost think 'ee could walk a bit.'

'I can walk my own way,' said Reynell. 'Let me up like good chaps.'

'Aha, mate, but it's our way you must walk,' and Bill, as if to impress
on him his helplessness, turned the lantern slowly--its light all
blurred by the rain--first on one and then on another of the party.

They were four stalwart men young and strong. The rain dripped in great
drops from the edges of their sou'-westers, and ran down their oilskins
in little rivers.

'I am skipper and owner of the Reaper,' said their captive
struggling into a sitting position, 'with a protection. When I am found
missing there will be a great shindy.'

'I reckon we'll take that risk,' said the leader serenely. 'Come along
quiet now.'

Quiet in the clutches of the merciless press gang! And his wedding day
fixed!

The thought drove him frantic! With clenched fists he rose to his knees
only to realise he was a child in their hands.

He had worked hard all the evening; he had run; he had fought; now he
was done. If he could walk it was all he could do. They were four to
one. It was no good attempting to defy them.

Bill of the black eye looked down at him with a twinkle in the other as
if he understood all about it. Probably he did.

'You come along 'o us mate and to-morrow you can put that there
protection to the Lootenant.'

He struggled to his feet. It was lonely here on the hillside. There was
absolutely no hope of help. The sea was beating on the cliffs below;
the gale shrieked as it rushed inland. No sound of life was there. But
they were breasting the steep hill that led up to old Talland church.
His hopes rose again when he made sure which way they were taking him.
Once he spoke to Parson Trevenick all would be well. These men were
regarding the parson as Quested's friend--doubtless he was. But he knew
Daniel Reynell, the son of his lifelong friend; he had christened him;
prepared him for confirmation; was going to marry him next Wednesday
week. He would not see him wronged.

He could have shouted aloud so relieved was he. Already he was seeing
this night as but an incident for memory and laughter.

It was a stiff pull, but with a mind almost at rest his strength was
coming back to him. By the time they reached the church porch he felt
equal to making a bolt of it with some hopes of success.

As they turned into shelter he looked back into the wild night.
Doubtless one of them would go for the key and the parson would come
out himself. He knew Parson Trevenick was not the man to let anyone
shelter in his church. Now--now----Oh it would be worth it all when he
sat in the parson's study over a pipe and a glass of grog. Or no, he
would go straight to Polperro. What did he care about the wild night so
long as he was free?

Then, like a puff of cold wind, came the first breath of doubt. Bill
held up the lantern so that its light--the water on the horn made it
nebulous--fell on the stone wall to the right. There, on a little hook,
hung the church key.

The leader took it and opened the door. Reynell, almost mechanically
hung back and looked over his shoulder.

'None of yer little games now,' said the man beside him, giving him a
shove forward which sent him stumbling into the church.

He put a curb upon his temper.

'I must speak to the parson.'

'Oh you must, must you? Wantin' the banns put up, I presume. Well,
the Bounty's bound for the South Seas, an' then for Jaimacy, an'
then--an' then--we'll call it three year.'

And only this afternoon he had looked into Loveday's dancing hazel eyes.

'God! Man! It's not much to ask. I want to see the parson.'

He had come up the hill happily believing he should. If they prevented
him now----He felt as if a band were drawn tightly round his chest
cramping his breathing.

The leader turned round.

'Well, Parson's away to Looe on some jinks. How d'ye think we got the
key else? We squared the wench, a right smart wench she is. I guess
you'll have to wait for the Lootenant.'

And he laughed. It was nothing to him.

These sailor men, friendly enough, had not the slightest intention
of allowing him to escape. Laughing, they hustled him to the end
of the church, set their little lantern on the big square knight's
tomb, and--despite his struggles, and he struggled all he knew, they
succeeded in binding his legs and arms with good stout rope which was
coiled up there ready for that very purpose. Then he was helpless and
he knew it.

'Us can't afford to take no risks,' said Bill half apologetically.
'There's others acomin' along. Bless you, mate, in a week you won't
mind. It ain't three months since I was pressed meself.'

'But I have a permit, and I'm to be married Wednesday week!'

'Married!' It was a great joke. They were doubled up with merriment.

'Then I guess,' put in the leader, 'we're adoin' you a service, mate.
Lord! You'll be sayin' hallelujahs in six months' time. I wisht some
kind friend had a pressed me a fortnight afore I was tied up.'

The others guffawed. The jokes they made were unprintable.

At last Bill said soothingly, 'You put it to the Lootenant, mate.'

Reynell suppressed a groan.

It was a jest to them, a trifling thing.

The bitter part was he was but two miles from Polperro. The whole town
would turn out to his help did they know his predicament. But if they
missed him in the town they would think he was at Raphiel Farm. At
Raphiel Farm they would not come down to the harbour so long as the bad
weather lasted. No one knew.

Then, with a glow of thankfulness, he thought of Joan of the Pilchard.
It was no good counting on Bet or the landlord or his wife. They would
only know a man had been taken. But Joan had recognised him. She not
only knew he had been taken but the way he had gone--of that he felt
sure. She would give the alarm. An important man like him--the whole
town would be simmering. He only wondered he had not been found before.
He was sure the Polperro men were scouring the country looking for him.
The moment they saw the light in the church they would come to find out
the reason. Any moment they might be here now.

He strained his ears to listen for their coming.

They would come--they must come--not a fortnight to his wedding--the
Fates would surely never be so cruel. He must be rescued.

Presently there came trampling of feet. His heart beat high.

His captors took it too coolly. Other men came in, bringing in two
prisoners, three in fact, but one was a dead man. They flung the body
down in a heap.

The chief of the men who had captured him turned on them angrily.

'What did you bring him for? Much use he is to the King! The orders was
not to hurt any one, damn you.'

'That's all very well,' grumbled one of the culprits, 'but it were just
a scrappin' match an' Job here has stout fistes of his own.'

One of the prisoners seized the lantern and flashed it on the dead
man's face. Reynell saw that it was young Amos Garrett, who had married
pretty Lavinia Curtis only this autumn and had been repenting the deed
ever since.

'Good Lord! Poor Garrett!' he said. 'Well that settles his matrimonial
difficulties anyhow.'

'Why, Dan!'

'Why, Bob Trevenick! You don't mean to say they've taken you!'

'Went to a deal of trouble about it too,' laughed Trevenick, a little
ruefully. 'And a nice mess I've made of my friend's face here. All for
nothing, for the King might have had me for the asking. Who's the other
unfortunate?'

The other man was a fisherman from Polruan, who, unluckily for himself,
was spending the night in Polperro. He had fought desperately for his
liberty, and was now nursing a bruised shoulder tenderly.

'The skipper here has a protection,' went on Trevenick, 'I'd have
come if the King had asked me nicely without all this scrapping. My
father'll be glad to get rid of me for a bit. The old gentleman finds
my presence upsetting in a quiet parsonage, and as for this poor
chap----'

The Polruan man turned to his friend in affliction.

'An' Kitty wi the twinses,' he groaned, 'how'll her do wi'out I? 'A
lost the boat last week----'

'Oh, did you,' said cheerful Bob Trevenick, whom even the sight of
death could not damp for long. 'Well, his Majesty's not unfeeling. If
you'll sign on quiet I've no doubt he'll send half your pay home to
Kitty, and when you come back the twins'll be over their teething.
It'll be a power of trouble saved.'

'Will her? Will her?' The Polruan man cheered up at once.

Trevenick clapped the leader of the press gang on the back.

'By my soul, mate,' he begun.

'I'm a bos'un,' said that worthy gruffly. 'You'll call me "Mr.
Thompson," and you'll keep your paws to yourself.'

Evidently he was not too pleased with his night's work.

'Well; Mr. Thompson,' went on Trevenick unabashed, 'I don't wonder you
feel it. You've gone to a great deal of trouble for nothing, and you've
done for poor Amos Garrett. Why the poor fellow'd have gone cheerful
if you'd only explained the matter to him. The wench he married had a
tongue and----'

'For heaven's sake quit fooling, Bob,' said Reynell anxiously. He could
hear no sound of the rescue party. They could not take him. Yet such
things had happened. 'What are they planning to do with us?'

'Do with us? Don't you know? Here's the Bounty put in at Spithead
bound for the South Seas. Four of her men had the bad taste to desert,
so Captain Bligh, recalling the gallant men of Cornwall, suggests that
Captain Quested should pick him out four men of Polperro and--why,
bless you, it's as easy as falling down a hatchway. Clap us on board
the Alert, and if this wind holds ten hours we ought to have the Nab
behind us--and once on board the Bounty----'

'I have a protection,' said Reynell again. He had said it so often this
evening. Trevenick shrugged his shoulders. 'Reckon a captain short of
men and in blue water practically----'

One of the sailors interrupted. 'Mr. Thompson,' he said, 'there's some
un at the door.'

'If it's one man let un in,' said the bos'un. 'We're short. And take
that', pointing to poor Garrett, 'out, and if Job don't want to get
into trouble over it----'

He nodded.

They opened the door, and there came in, not a man, but a woman muffled
to the eyes in a dripping red shawl. She stood looking round her in a
dazed sort of way.

For one wild moment Reynell thought it might be Loveday Corthew. Only
for a moment though. She was much too tall for Loveday.

Dropping her shawl she came straight towards him. By the feeble light
of the lantern he saw it was Joan of the Pilchard. Thank God!

'Why Joan, my pretty maid!' said Trevenick, who was still excited.

'Joan! Joan!' cried Reynell, too anxious to pay compliments, besides he
didn't think Joan exactly pretty, 'did you raise the town?'

But, of course, his mind went on arguing, she wouldn't own to it if she
had. That would be sheer foolishness. Still she might give some sign,
some look--something to let him understand instead of standing there
like a stuck pig--surely----

'A' followed 'ee,' said Joan. 'A' was afeared a' might miss 'ee.'

His heart sank. But of course, what else could she say? She had
followed him. That was something. It was a line thrown to the wreck on
which men were drowning. Now to make use of that line.

'An' here she stops,' said the bo'sun, 'till we've gone. We're not
going to have the Polperro men down on us. Please God they've plenty on
hand to-night, an' they won't be troubling over much for a day or two
about a missing man. But Joan won't sell us, will you, my wench?'

Joan turned round gravely and looked at him in silence.

Reynell, commending her, felt it was policy on her part to keep on
friendly terms with their captors. They were not bad-hearted. Evidently
they thought these two were lovers.

'Here, Bill, Tom, let 'un alone,' said the bo'sun. ''Tis a three year
voyage, an' the wench has followed un. Let be, on'y see as he don't
give us leg bail.'

He drew off the men towards the door. Light-hearted Bob Trevenick burst
out laughing.

'Well, I don't know if Mistress Loveday Corthew be jealous,' he began,
'but upon my word----'

Reynell could not chaff. Things were too serious.

'Joan,' he asked, 'are you sure the Polperro men don't know what's
happened?'

'It was powerful dark,' hesitated Joan. She had begun to be painfully
conscious of her slipshod English. She wished this man could hear her
Spanish. But he had no tongue but his own, 'a', had all a' cud do to
follow 'ee.'

'Follow me!' And he swore an oath he would have gulped down in
Loveday's presence. 'It would have been much more to the purpose if
you'd got someone else to follow me.'

Poor Joan! Dumbly she had faced the storm because she liked to be near
him--because she had some vague idea that the sight of a friendly face
might soften him towards her. But his voice sounded as she had felt
when she let the men surround him--bitter--yes, bitter. Then he had
given no thought at all to her. Now he was thinking of her--reviling
her--feeling she had failed in doing all she might. She had failed
too. She was no fool. It would have been much better for him if she had
sent the Polperro men.

Of course then she would have stepped aside--for ever.

A careless word of thanks tossed to her as he prepared for his wedding
would have been all her reward.

She would rather it was this way. Of course she wanted to be first
with him. To be the one to whom he should turn as his only help. Oh,
delicious thought--this grand man--this one man out of all the world
should turn to her for help--to her, the despised drudge of the tavern.
But he was angry--and his anger hurt.

'A' mocht help,' she said, sullenly twisting her fingers in and out of
the fringe of her dripping shawl.

Reynell laughed, but there was no mirth in his laughter.

'You might,' he said, 'and my friend the bo'sun might let me go.'

Trevenick, the carefree, laughed too, laughed lightly.

'Come, Dan, old chap, don't be so damnably bitter. I daresay there's
ways and means of turning the bo'sun's heart if we only knew them.
Twenty pounds down now and he'd see your protection written all over
you.'

In a moment Reynell had hitched himself into a sitting position despite
his bonds.

'Twenty pounds! Well, of course----'

'I'm afraid it would have to be cash down,' said Trevenick,
extinguishing the hope as soon as he'd raised it, 'for lieutenants
ain't too pleased with bo'suns who see protections too quickly.'

'I haven't five shillings in my pocket,' said Reynell, sinking back
again, 'but when the bank opens to-morrow----'

'I'm afraid,' said Trevenick, 'you'll be in blue water before the bank
opens. But we could get it from my dad. Or, better still, he'll point
out the iniquity of taking you, and you'll be twenty pounds to the
good.'

'And how am I to get at your dad?'

'Why not send a message by Joan? He's in Looe. He'll swear to you, and
Bligh himself wouldn't dare to keep you.'

'Joan, will you? Joan, will you?'

Reynell's voice was eager and full of hope again. The eagerness went
straight to her heart.

'Iss, surely, that a' will,' she said. 'Deed, 'an 'deed a' will.'

'There now,' said Trevenick. 'Can you ride?'

There was a little twinkle in his eyes, for he had seen Joan helping
to run contraband. He knew that at any rate she was at home on a quiet
horse.

She nodded.

'Well you beg, borrow, or steal a nag and off to the parsonage at Looe,
the church close by the harbour, any one'll tell you. Put the whole
thing to my dad, and tell him he must catch the Alert before she
sails. Think you're up to the job?'

He looked the dripping girl up and down with eyes that seemed to
condemn her as a useless drudge.

Her soul rose up in revolt. She would save this man.

She crept closer to Reynell. The thought that she might count for
something in his life transfigured her face for a moment.

By the dim horn lantern on the Knight's tomb Reynell saw, and wondered
a passing wonder--that he had not done full justice to her good looks
before.

'A'll do all a' can for 'ee.'

'Penrhyn's got the bay mare,' said Reynell seeing how simply it might
be done. 'You must borrow Kitty. Tell him I sent you for her, and if
he isn't there just take her. The main thing is to get to Looe. I'll
make it all right with Penrhyn afterwards. Ride, like a good wench, the
moment you get the chance.'

'A'd do a deal for 'ee.'

'Good girl.' His eyes looked kind, and his voice softened, for he was
thinking of another woman. 'If, by the worst of luck, you don't catch
the parson, and I'm carried off, you'll tell Mistress Loveday Corthew
at Raphiel Farm--that--that--tell her----'

It is not very easy when you come to think of it to send a message
of love by the drudge of a fisherman's tavern. Reynell felt the
difficulty. In those days paper and pencil came not readily to every
man's hand. He had neither. Neither had Trevenick.

'Oh, don't worry. Joan'll get the mare.'

'Mind, if Dick Penrhyn isn't there just take her, Joan,' insisted
Reynell. 'The great thing is not to waste time.'

'Don't be afraid. The skipper here'll see you through,' declared
Trevenick. 'He's a good friend of Penrhyn's.'

'You understand?' said Reynell anxiously.

'Iss,' said the girl, dragging her shawl over her face. He was glad,
for he felt all his love and longing must be written on his face. Yet
that it had any interest for her never occurred to him.

'And if you don't get me free in time--if I'm taken you'll tell
Mistress Corthew----'

'A'd a deal rather free 'ee.'

'Oh, if you could do that!' and his face lighted.

'That's the ticket,' said Trevenick cheerfully. 'Once you set eyes on
that mare, Joan, you stick to her till you've told the sorrowful story
to my governor. Get the mare and ride her for all you're worth. Have
you got that clear, Joan?'

Joan nodded.

Trevenick was not particularly anxious to be freed. Things were likely
to be troublous at home. There was a certain bill falling due--want
of the necessary suggested that absence--that top'sle sheets in fact,
would settle it better than any other way he could think of. Reynell's
freedom was another matter. That Joan should be able to manage. He
curled himself up and went to sleep. The Polruan man, comforted by the
thought that his Kitty would get half his wages, and that the teething
of the twins would not bother him, followed his example. Most of their
captors were already snoring.

Joan sank down on the stones at Reynell's feet, drew her shawl over her
face, and, though he did not know it, feasted her eyes on him. Never
before in all her starved, miserable life had she been so close to the
man she loved. She had only to put out her hand and she could lay it
on his feet. She was cold; she was weary; but she would have been more
than content if the night had stretched itself out to twice its normal
length.

Reynell lay on his back, with his head resting on a step; gazed at
the lantern; thought of Loveday; and feared. The light was so dim he
could not see the beams in the roof of the old church--everything was
nebulous like his future. Yet Joan should be able to get the parson on
board the Alert before they sailed. It all seemed quite simple. Why
fear? Surely Fate could not deal a man such a cruel blow!

The thought of what he might lose filled his whole mind, to the
exclusion of everything else.

'There is no sorrow, like unto my sorrow.' We have all said it once we
have left our childhood behind, nay even children feel it, and always
it seems to us it is we alone who suffer.

Reynell would have been amazed could he have known that his trouble
was but a small thing beside the agony of the girl crouching there on
the floor. She was nothing to him--nothing but a dull, stupid lass who
had not done all she might to save him. He felt impatient at having to
trust her. But there was no one else.

And she knew--knew with gladness--there was no one else.

At last the bo'sun rose up, pushed the girl aside, and began to
unfasten the ropes that bound the prisoner.

'Now then,' he said roughly, 'we're goin' to start. You'd better come
along quiet like, or it'll be so much the worse for you. Here, you
wench, out of the way. I guess you can't bring help till we're safe on
board the Alert. If the Polperro men come there we'll know what to
do with them. Stir yourselves now. Come along, mates, stir yourselves.
Look lively now, Amos Garrett, up with you,' and he caught Reynell by
the shoulder.

'I am not Amos Garrett,' said Reynell. 'My name is Daniel Reynell,
skipper of the Reaper. I have a protection.'

'Reynell, is it? Well, I guess now, we have just buried Daniel Reynell
and his protection in the churchyard here. A mighty handy thing is a
churchyard. But if you don't like your own name you're perfectly at
liberty to take another. Get a move on you, mates. March!'




CHAPTER IV.


'The grave is mine house;
I have made my bed in the darkness.'


Joan, left behind, stood watching the lantern bobbing down the steep
path in the direction of Looe. The wind, carrying great spurts of rain,
was still coming up in sighing gusts, but a star or two peeped out from
among the flying clouds. Whenever the wind died down in a momentary
lull she could hear the rain falling on the sodden dead leaves that lay
round the porch door. A long trail of ivy had been torn away. It swayed
up and down in the wind, thrashing against the wall. Already it was
battered--crushed.

All her life she remembered that night. The scent of wet autumn leaves
pressed into the earth and decaying, the acrid odour of ivy, torn and
broken, always spelled to her hopeless despair.

Nowadays, when a woman has some standing, at least in the British
Empire, it is somewhat difficult for us to realize the position of a
girl of the labouring classes in the end of the eighteenth century. She
counted for absolutely nothing in the cosmogony. Had she beauty--beauty
that attracted--she might possibly have some standing in her own
little circle as long as it lasted; but if she had none she was of no
importance at all save to those who loved her.

No one saw Joan's beauty, and she was aware that no one loved her. Her
mother had insisted on bringing her away from the comfort--nay the
luxury--of her Spanish home: for love she said.

That was six long years ago. If she had loved her then that love had
long since died.

She was alone in the world. The wind that stormed round the church
mournfully wailed it. The cold rain pattering on the brown leaves drove
the fact home. No one wanted her, no one cared for her. Daniel Reynell
was willing to use her simply because he could get no one else. He only
wanted some one to take a message. She could not deceive herself. The
most worthless little scamp of a boy hanging round the boats on the
lookout for odd jobs would have been more to his mind.

Well, she would show him that she could do better for him than most,
better than pretty Loveday Corthew, who would love any man who was good
to her.

Joan, though she did not even know it herself, was extremely capable.
She had an orderly mind. Given a fair chance--no, less than a fair
chance, given some little opportunity, she would certainly make the
most of it.

As she stood watching the departing lantern, she might mourn, but she
was arranging things in her own mind, deciding what she should do.
She could not bear to think that Daniel Reynell should go right out
of her life--three years in the South Seas was certainly a life-time
to the girl not yet nineteen. If she saved him he would certainly
marry Loveday Corthew--but--if she, Joan, could save him--the glory of
it--Joan the despised drudge of the Pilchard!

And she would! Her mind refused to go any further. She would.

It is wise to take short views. If we give our minds wholly to the
thing we have in hand it is generally the best policy. There are the
far-seeing, of course, but often those peering for possibilities in the
future are apt to neglect the means for good that lie ready to their
hand.

Joan crossed the churchyard; made her way through the wild parsonage
garden and, emerged close to Penrhyn's farm. She decided definitely she
would not appeal to the Corthews or to Polperro. She could manage this
thing alone.

For her own glory she chose. She did not realize--she was not to
realize for many a long day--that she was altering the lives of four
people. Only one of them gave her a passing thought. For Reynell she
was a means to an end, and a very inadequate means at that.

At Penrhyn's farm she paused at the broken gate that led into a muddy
yard in the middle of which was a great midden. Penrhyn was a hopeless
farmer, untidy, drunken. His whole interests lay in the free traders,
and the tiny woodland that attached to the farm gave him a bit of
shooting occasionally. He cheerfully broke the law with regard to
smuggling, and, like many of his betters, upheld it with regard to
poaching. The only difference was that he was so active a free trader
that when he came into Looe to seek the help of the law, because he
had evidence his pheasants and rabbits were in danger, and he wanted
to take the culprits red-handed, the coast-guard indulged in ribald
merriment and declared they might sleep peacefully in their beds that
night at least.

His only really valuable possession was the bay mare. It was an open
secret that Kitty was on the forlorn farm because she was useful
when there was a cargo to be run. She was a well known horse in the
countryside was Kitty Penrhyn. She was quiet too. Joan knew she could
manage her. The only question was would Penrhyn lend. She thought he
would, because Reynell stood high in his esteem, but there were times
when he was abominably surly.

If he would not, there would still be time to make her way either to
Raphiel Farm or to Polperro. There she would find those who would make
it their business to reach the Alert before it was too late.

But she wanted to go herself.

She ran splashing across the yard and beat against the door.

Rap! Rap! Rap! No sound but the wind in the eaves and the rain beating
against the walls. Rap! Rap! Rap! Joan was painfully conscious of the
passing of time. It was ages since she had watched the lantern go down
the steep hillside; Daniel Reynell must be half way to Looe by now. He
would think she had forgotten.

She must get a message through before dawn. Oh God! Where was Dick
Penrhyn? It would be cruel if she had to walk to Raphiel Farm and then
drop out of the picture.

Why didn't Dick Penrhyn answer? There was no cargo to be run to-night.
She could hear the mare moving uneasily in her ramshackle stable. She
knew where the key was kept. It would be the simplest thing in the
world to do as Reynell had told her to do--just take the mare. Horse
stealing had been rife round Polperro of late, in spite of the fact
that the penalty was death. Still, Looe once reached, not only would it
be all right but she would be covered with glory.

'Mr. Penrhyn! Mr. Penrhyn!'

There came over her that eerie feeling that does come over us if we
raise our voice alone in the night and no one answers. For the first
time this evening she was terrified. She pulled herself together. Mrs.
Penrhyn might easily have gone to her sister's, and quite likely her
husband was dead drunk, lost to the world. She leaned against the door.
It gave.

She went inside, and found herself in the dark kitchen with the last
embers of the fire glowing red on the hearth. Her dire need gave her
courage. She felt about for some wood, and stirred the glowing coals
into a blaze.

No one here.

She found a candle; lighted it and held it above her head.

No sign of the farmer. His boots were not there. No sign of Mrs.
Penrhyn. Should she go upstairs in search of them?

But the need of haste kept pressing on her.

She found the key of the stable in its accustomed place. It would be
quite simple to return the mare when she had found Parson Trevenick.
Penrhyn would never go to the stable again to-night. She would have
loads of time to do the job she had on hand and be back before
daybreak. In that case the farmer need never know--or if he must--oh,
glorious thought, Daniel Reynell would stand by her side, knowing he
owed his freedom to her pluck and promptitude.

That settled it. Guarding the candle, she went to the stable. To her
dismay there was neither saddle nor bridle. It struck her as curious.

Looking round she found the bridle of the old plough horse, and slipped
that over the mare's head. The plough horse was not there. Penrhyn was
a careless man; he must have forgotten poor old Dobbin, and left him in
the field.

She looked about carefully. Not a sign of a saddle.

These little hitches worried her, and made her hot over. The Alert
would not sail before dawn. Dawn was late in December, but she knew
well enough the Alert would not lose a moment. Even when she found
the parson he had to be got on board.

A saddle----Well she must manage without a saddle. She threw a sack
across the mare and mounted, gathering her petticoats about her and
sitting astride.

The stars were peeping fitfully now and then between the storm clouds.
She found the gate again, and got into the wet road that dipped down
between the hawthorn hedges.

Kitty picked her way strangely soberly for Kitty. But Joan could only
be thankful for that. Her seat was precarious, and the rain had worn
this side road into ruts and holes. She would be able to go more
quickly once she reached the high road.

She was desperately impatient, but her sound common sense told her
that any accident to herself or the mare would wreck her project. She
tried to calculate what time she had. It seemed like years and years
since she had seen Reynell struggling with the press-gang outside the
Pilchard, but it could not yet be midnight.

Her eyes were accustomed to the gloom by the time she reached the
turning into the high road. She could see the wet road and the dripping
hedges quite plainly.

She expected an empty road at this time of the night, but to her
surprise there were two men riding towards her. She was suddenly
conscious of her petticoats huddled round her waist for convenience.
She drew rein instinctively, and, as if divining her discomfort, the
rain came down again heavily. Joan sighed a sigh of relief. She could
see the two riders as dark masses on the roadway. If they had not moved
they would have been indistinguishable from the hedges on either hand.
She could not make up her mind whether to call to them for help or
whether to wait where she was.

After all she could manage by herself.

She drew a little into the hedge. For a moment it seemed they would
pass her. The rain stopped again, and just as they drew abreast the
mare moved uneasily. One of the passing horses whinnied loudly. Both
the men came to a full stop.

Kitty replied.

Concealment was useless now. Time pressed. She dug her heels into the
mare's flank.

'Kitty!' An oath! It was Penrhyn's voice, 'The devil! Stolen by Gom!
Out in the wet! It'll be the death o' she! Ater un Clayton!'

The two men wheeled.

Before Joan, slow of speech, could make up her mind what she was to
say they were one on each side of her. She felt the fiery fumes of the
farmer's breath.

'Mr. Penrhyn! Mr. Penrhyn! 'Tis Joan of the Pilchard! You know I.'
She had wit enough to know she must make her excuses as quickly as
possible. 'The press gang ha' taken the Polperro men--Daniel Reynell,
and I mun ride to Parson Trevenick at Looe!'

'It'll be the death o' thiccy mare,' roared the farmer. 'Her'n had a
narrer squeak of it. We's gotten this un red-handed. Grab un, Clayton.'

Clayton, being evidently a man slow at the uptake, he himself lugged
Joan so roughly from the mare's back she fell on her face in the muddy
roadway. Her long black hair came down and was dabbled in the mud and
water.

She scrambled up, the one thought uppermost that she must not be
stopped.

'Mr. Penrhyn! Mr. Penrhyn!' she begged wildly, 'if 'ee' wunnot let I
go, go 'ee 'ee'self. The press gang got 'em, an' they be off to the
South Seas 'less Parson Trevenick be there to speak for un. Oh, Mr.
Penrhyn! A'm Joan of the Pilchard!'

'A' niver heerd no good o' the Pilchard,' said the other man with
portentous solemnity. Joan began to realize that these two were far
gone in liquor, but not drunk enough, unluckily, to be helpless;
yet seeing they were two strapping big Cornish-men in the pride of
their manhood quite drunk enough to stupidly hinder her. They paid no
attention to her prayer.

Penrhyn shook her again and again, pouring out a torrent of angry
words, which ended on a triumphant note.

She gathered that the mare had been sick; that accounted for her
sluggishness. Mrs. Penrhyn was away, and Penrhyn had ridden the old
plough horse to fetch his neighbour, Clayton, who was skilled in all
things veterinary, to help him. Now they had taken a horse thief
red-handed. Clayton could swear to it. Not for a moment did they listen
to Joan's wild prayers.

'Be 'est goin' to give she in charge, varmer?' asked Clayton, putting
his great hand on her shoulder.

'Dom'd if I ain't. It's a bit of good luck you's along o' I. Fair
caught red-handed!'

'Oh, Mr. Penrhyn,' prayed Joan, 'for God's sake,' and then she did what
she had never thought to do. 'If so be 'ee won't let I go, send word to
Raphiel Farm. 'Tis for Skipper Daniel Reynell.'

'I'll Raphiel Farm 'ee,' roared the farmer. 'An' maybe thiccy mare done
to death, eh, Clayton?'

'Likely as not from what you'm tellin',' said Clayton sombrely.

At the thought of his worst fears being confirmed, the farmer waxed
more wrath. Letting go Dobbin he laid both hands on Joan.

'Ee'll just come along o' we, ee' limb o' Satan,' he said. 'Ee'll hang
for this.'

Not yet did fear for herself come to Joan. The only thing that she
could think of was that she was failing Daniel Reynell. If they would
not let her ride then she must get to Polperro and let someone else
save him. There was time enough yet if she could get quit of these men.
She must not fail him.

With that thought uppermost she fought--fought with all her strength.
She kicked, she bit, she cursed, she used her hands; she was just such
a wild termagant as any sensible man would have expected to come out of
the little low pot-house.

There were two angry men before three minutes had passed.

In another three minutes they had her down; had tied her hands, and
were cursing her for a wild cat. They made her walk back to the farm.

Once there, paying no heed to her passionate pleading, they tied her up
to the great four poster in an alcove in the kitchen and, lighting a
lantern, they both went out to attend to the mare.

That night stretched itself into years.

She was firmly tied. She had no more chance of escaping than Reynell
himself. Less, for he had right on his side when all was said and done,
while, look at it what way she would, she had to admit, with the sound
common sense that was at the back of all Joan did that she was in the
wrong. If the farmer were not inclined to mercy, she might very easily
be very much in the wrong.

Yet her intentions were so good she could not bring herself to believe
that either he or Ted Clayton would really think she had intended to
steal the mare.

They came in and out; mixed what seemed to her messes in saucepans;
warmed them at the fire; burnt them and cursed. Each time the farmer
came in he was an angrier man. For things were going badly with the
mare.

Joan was cramped, sick, wet, heartbroken and hopeless. She was so
young. And she had failed in the only great thing that it had ever come
her way to do. She tried again and again to put the case to the men as
they came in. They paid no heed. Their minds were concentrated on the
fact that she had stolen the sick mare; she had taken her out of her
warm stable; she had actually ridden her. They would not listen to what
she said. They told her, angrily, what they would do to her if the mare
died.

They came in at last, stamping, and shaking the rain from their
clothes. Threatening her with their fists, they said the mare was dead.
She should swing for the night's work. They steamed in the warmth. They
refreshed themselves from the great barrel that stood in the corner.
When it was finished they were only a little more muddled.

The dawn broke sullen and grey.

Joan knew the Alert must be sailing from Looe. Her heart sank. But
not for herself. She did not mind being cursed. She was accustomed to
discomfort and misery of all sorts, and the blazing fire made the room
warm.

Her real grief was that she had failed. The thought that Daniel Reynell
would go away cursing her crushed the very heart out of her. There was
nothing to live for--nothing. He would hate her--hate her. Her utter
misery was greater than she could bear, even death could bring her no
comfort. And she had to live on, live a life in which she could see not
a ray of light breaking through the darkness.




CHAPTER V.


'Oh that my grief were thoroughly weighed, 
and my calamity laid in the balances together.
For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea.'


The press gang went straight to Looe to the coast-guard station, turned
their prisoners into a room with heavily barred windows, and, making
sure there was no possibility of escape, locked the door and left them.
No officer came near them. In truth that gentleman felt that the less
he knew about the capture of the press gang the simpler for him.

All the livelong night Reynell hoped and Trevenick, being a kindly
soul, roused himself from his slumbers again and again to speak a word
of comfort.

'But if Joan had seen your father,' said Reynell gloomily, 'he'd have
been here by now.'

'Not he,' said Bob cheerfully, against his own convictions. 'The old
boy'll spend the night comfortably in the parsonage. No good routing
out a naval captain till he has to. It'll be simpler to interview him
as he's interviewing us.'

'But if he spoke to the officer of the coast-guard here----'

'And how the dickens is he to know we're at the coast-guard? Joan would
tell him Talland Church and he'd know better than to go there.'

Reynell dropped into an uneasy sleep at last, for he was very weary.
Hardly had his eyes closed it seemed to him when Thompson the bos'un
roused them out again. They were embarked in the pinnace, and just as
the sullen winter's dawn was breaking, they were passed on board the
Alert.

Reynell looked round eagerly. Where was Parson Trevenick? The ship's
lanterns struggled with the gloomy daylight. One glance showed no one
there who had not business on board.

'He's below,' said Trevenick, hopeful to the last.

But Reynell knew he was not below. Joan had failed him. He had known
she would. He cursed--not her--she was too slight a thing in his mind
to curse--but his own evil fate.

His comrade, seeing in the dim light his strained face, knew he was
taking it worse than even he had expected. Truly he was in the depths
of despair.

But Trevenick was wrong. Reynell still hoped. There lay the pain. It is
when we have nothing to hope for that turmoil ceases.

'See the captain,' urged Bob. 'Quested knows all about you, and he's a
very decent chap, though you've never done him justice?'

He might have been a decent chap--he was in fact--but he had no mind to
see the Polperro men in the toils. He was making the most of an attack
of fever. His senior officer--on leave--very obligingly undertook to
take the Alert round to Portsmouth. It was he--roused out from his
sleep--who received the pressed men.

Nothing was said about the dead man, dead and buried in Talland
churchyard. He looked at the three stalwart young men, in the prime of
their manhood, with satisfied eyes.

'Only three,' he said. 'Bligh wanted another man. However, we must
manage. Now, my lads, you've got to obey orders, serve the King and----'

'Sir,' said Reynell angrily, 'I protest. I am Daniel Reynell, skipper
and owner of the Reaper. I must protest----'

'Oh you protest, do you?' Captain Maitland pushed back his wig and
rubbed his forehead to assist thought. It didn't help him much so he
turned to the paper in his hand.

'Robert Trevenick, resigned and willing, George Simpson, the same
wants his pay sent to Kitty Simpson, opposite the town pump, Polruan.
All right, George Simpson. We'll make a man of you. Amos Garrett,
discontented, very troublesome and anxious to escape. All right, Amos
Garrett, we will curb that little desire on your part and see if we
cannot induce a serene content. Take Amos Garrett to the fo'c'sle,
lash him in his hammock there and keep him there till he's in a more
reasonable frame of mind--or, hold on, shove him in the forepeak and
put him one leg in irons. He'll have time to cool there, and we'll let
Captain Bligh settle his little difficulties for him. I guess it'll
interest both him and Amos Garrett more than it does me. I'll put his
name on the list, and his wife shall have half his pay. The King is
ever considerate to his servants--willing or unwilling.'

'I am Daniel Reynell,' shouted the unlucky captive, struggling with
might and main, and dragging four sailors across the bulwarks in a wild
struggle to throw himself overboard, 'you have no more right to take me
than you have to take the King himself. Let go, I say, damn you, let
go. I would rather be dead than go now.'

'The young cock's mighty anxious to part with his life,' panted the
bos'un, 'an' ater all we yerd about this wife of his, too. Come quiet,
my lad, come quiet now, for come you must. There ain't no gainsaying
the skipper when he gives an order. Into the forepeak you're goin' an'
ironed you'll be. Speak to Trevenick and get him to send a message.'

It was wisdom. All he could hope for now was to send a message to
Raphiel Farm. His heart was sick and cold within him. Since he must
stay--and he knew he must--it was no good incensing these men against
him. The thought stayed his hand as he was about to hit a sailor in the
face.

'Bob,' he called, 'Bob, send a message for me. If you don't care
yourself at least remember----'

The light was growing. Through the pouring rain they could see a boat
approaching. It might, thought Reynell, be Quested.

'Bos'un,' came the angry order, 'remove the prisoner. Take the others
to the fo'c'sle.'

Maitland knew well enough if this man's story was true he had no right
to take him. But pressed men told all sorts of lies. They all settled
down in the end. To do him justice, he did not think he was doing him
any particular harm. And he was just the sort of man Bligh would be
glad of. A merchant skipper and owner! He was dressed as a fisherman!
Let Bligh do the investigating. When Amos Garrett came back from the
West Indies three years hence Amos Garrett would have quietly settled
into his place--risen to be a warrant officer probably--he knew a good
seamen when he saw him--and would have forgotten any unpleasantness at
the beginning of his career. As for the girl he wanted to marry--well,
Captain Maitland was married himself to the best little woman in the
world but--if any one had had the foresight to send him to sea on a
three years' cruise a fortnight before his wedding day he knew very
well he would have had a better chance of----Oh well, he wasn't doing
this man any great harm even if his story was true. And having seen his
recruits disposed of so that no messages could possibly be sent, he,
with the comfortable feeling that he had nobly done his duty, turned to
meet the newcomer.

'Let me stay on deck,' pleaded Reynell, feeling keenly the mistake
he had made. Had he come quietly he had had a better chance to get a
message off--to speak to this man who was coming on board. 'I'll stay
quiet on deck.'

'You should have thought on that afore, me lad,' said the bo'sun
laughing. ''Tis three dozen for disobeying of orders, an' no questions
asted. Come along.'

There was nothing else for it. He went. They pushed him into a small
dark forepeak on to a pile of spare rope and canvas, dragged him along
and soon had his leg secured to the bar.

'Remind Trevenick, for God's sake, remind Trevenick,' pleaded Reynell,
and he was not accustomed to plead, 'to send a message for me.'

'I will, my lad, I will that,' said the bo'sun, relieved to find his
unruly prisoner quiet at last. Then they shoved on the hatch and he was
in darkness.

For a moment he was tempted to shout for assistance, to shout to
whoever was this man coming on board, Quested perhaps, that he would
be taking a mean advantage of him if he left him to be carried to sea
there against his will. But resistance had not served him well as yet,
so he reversed his policy just when shouting and calling attention to
his wrongs would have brought an investigation. Truly the Fates were
against the union of Daniel Reynell and Loveday Corthew.

He sat down on a corner of rope, putting strong pressure upon himself
and waited. It could not be long. They were putting to sea at once.
Some one would come for him in a moment. When the man he had seen
coming on board heard the story he would surely send for him and ask
a few pertinent questions. All naval officers were not as callous as
Captain Maitland.

The time was not really long--it only seemed long to him because he was
so desperately anxious, because he was here in the dark, and so very
much depended on his getting away.

It was pitchy dark. He could not see a gleam of light. He could hear
the vague sea noises; the grinding of a boat against the cutter's
side; the rattle of ropes; the tramp of bare feet overhead, and the
inevitable bustle and confusion attendant on a ship just about to go to
sea.

But no one came to him. He waited. Then he fell into a panic. Suppose
this last chance should fail. And he was tied by the leg--literally.

'Lieutenant Quested!' he shouted, raising his voice to the utmost,
'Lieutenant Quested!' It must be Quested. But his voice died away.
It was lost among other sounds. He paused for a moment listening
painfully. Surely--surely----Trevenick would get a message through
and that officer--whoever he was--would send for him. It was his last
chance--his very last chance. He grew hot and cold and sick with
anxiety as he found himself here helpless and it slipping away from him.

'Shove off, for'ard.'

The order rang out clear. He heard the rattle of the boat-hooks along
the cutter's side, and knew that the other naval man, Quested, or not
Quested, was gone--gone without seeing him. He shouted aloud and dashed
himself against the side. This thing could not happen--it could not--it
could not. But it was happening. He felt the Alert moving, slipping
along through the water. His last hope died.

All now depended on the captain of the Bounty. And what
consideration could he expect from a man already short handed and
anxious to get to sea?

Oh, Loveday! Loveday! He went over their time together. He had known
her as a little child. He had slipped into being her lover, when he
could hardly have told. Had he ever made her understand how much she
was to him? There were a thousand things he might have said, a thousand
things he had left unsaid. He had always thought--I can tell her when
we are wed.

His house was ready. The Reaper was all prepared. There were the
bunks in the cabin--the little fireplace in the cuddy--the carpet that
her dainty feet might not be cold. His wife would come to sea with him
oftener than not.

He could not bear it. It was more than mortal man could stand. The
unshed tears burned hot beneath his eyelids. And three long dreary
years at the very least must pass before he saw her again.

Oh, Loveday! Loveday!

By and by a man brought him some dinner. He hung up a little horn
lantern on a nail so that he might have some light by which to eat
it. But he knew nothing, or pretended to know nothing, save that they
expected to be alongside the Bounty a little after six, and that the
prisoners were to be handed over then. He came back for the light after
a time.

In darkness the wretched man spent the rest of the afternoon
calculating his chances of making Captain Bligh understand the
situation and, because there was just still the slenderest chance, it
was agonizing work.

It seemed as if he had been there years when the hatch was lifted off,
a light was flashed in his face, and, while he sat there blinking, the
padlock was taken off the irons and he was told to follow his guide to
the upper deck. It was pouring with rain, pitch dark, icy cold. The
lanterns gleamed on the black sides of a ship, the Bounty of course.
He saw Trevenick and the Polruan man ahead of him. But when he would
have spoken the sailors held him back. He watched them clamber up the
dangling rope ladder. Then his turn came. Every precaution was taken
that he should not throw himself overboard.

Once on the Bounty's deck he was painfully aware that his character
had preceded him. He was received by the master-at-arms and three
bluejackets. Not an officer was in sight. He was hustled forward into
the fo'c'sle.

'I want to see the captain,' protested Reynell.

'Captain!' said the ship's corporal, grinning, 'Not so much of your
chin music, mate. The captain sees request men on Fridays, same as all
other ships. The forepeak's your slinging billet for a bit, matey.'

He gave up hope then. Gave it up utterly. Nothing short of a miracle
could save him now. No good fighting them. The end was a foregone
conclusion. He was done. He had toiled; he had fought; and then he had
hoped. Perhaps the vain hoping had been the most wearing.

He was replaced in irons. It might have been the Alert over again.
They put on the hatch and left him to his own reflections.

It seemed to him he had been thinking for ages, going over and
over again all his chances, and now there were no chances save the
possibility of the Bounty being wrecked on the Cornish coast. It
did not want a fortnight to his wedding day. Loveday had said nothing
could happen in a fortnight. Loveday would wait, he knew she would
wait, he never doubted that for a moment, but was it fair to ask a girl
to wait for him for three long years. Besides, when she had waited the
years he might never come back, none knew that better than he. He knew
the dangers of the seas round the English coast, and he was bound to
unknown parts where the dangers were trebled.

A letter--well he had small chance of posting a letter, and if it were
posted there was no trusting the mails in these unknown parts.

No; there was nothing to depend on but the message he had sent
through Joan of the Pilchard. It added to his torment that he could
not remember exactly what he had said; that he could only think how
much better he might have said it. If only the time were to come over
again----

There came the sound of the working of the cables right over his head.

He had expected no less; yet it was like executing the sentence.

Now there really was no hope.

The bustle on deck increased. He heard the sobbing of a woman, and
guessed one of the wives had transgressed orders and come down in the
miserable cold December darkness to bid her husband farewell. If he
might only have had a last word!

Commands came thick and fast. At last he heard the order given to man
the capstan. That meant they were just about to start. He heard the
capstan manned and the song of the men as they put their weight on the
bars. They didn't usually sing chanties in the navy, but the Bounty
was an exception. Bligh felt his men required all the cheering they
could get.


'Come rise up Jack, let John sit down,
For you're outward bound, you're outward bound.'


Possibly the only man on board who really wanted to go was the captain,
that is among the regular seamen. There was no enthusiasm among the
sailors, and their mournful chanty floated drearily over the water of
the harbour, telling the watching wives they must be widows for three
long years.

To the prisoner in the forepeak it sounded a death knell. The good
ship Bounty was fairly on her way. She had made many starts, but this
was not likely to be a false one. He heard the sharp orders to the
helmsman, and then again the chanty of the men as they manned the yards
and loosened the sails. There is always a sad ring about a sailors'
chanty, and these were going into unknown lands and might never return.
Very hopeless it sounded in the ears of the unwilling member of the
crew, a prisoner in the forepeak. His very life was going from him. It
was no good then, it was no good. He must resign himself to his fate.

Suddenly he felt that he was very weary. He had compressed the emotions
of a life-time into the last thirty-six hours. It was no good trying to
keep up any longer. It was all over. There was nothing left for which
to hope. He felt he should never see Loveday again.

All he wanted now was a little air--a little air. He was suffocating
down here in this cold and darkness.

A little air!

The ship gave a sudden lurch as the wind caught her sails. Falling
forward, he remembered no more.

A few minutes later the ship's corporal came to release him. He found
his prisoner insensible on the deck.




CHAPTER VI.


'The sorrows of hell compassed me about, 
the snares of death prevented me.'


Everything was against Joan of the Pilchard that night. The farmer had
just drunk enough to want to get very drunk. Had he been able to do
that all might have been well. But unluckily the barrel was low. It was
soon empty, and, dismayed at the loss of the mare, short of his usual
cheerer, it was an angry man that hitched poor Dobbin to the cart, put
the barrel in it, Joan beside it--Clayton, after a feeble protest,
helped--and drove straight to Looe.

Joan was as miserable as he, though she did not at first grasp the
full meaning of her tragedy. Her cheek was bleeding from a gash where
a stone had cut it, but that was a mere trifle beside the fact that
she had utterly failed Daniel Reynell; that he had gone out of her
life; that she had lost even the little glory that might have come to
her had she helped him. There was nothing now to look forward to but
the weary drudgery at the Pilchard. As for stealing Kitty, she was so
conscious of her innocence that she felt she had only to explain the
circumstances to someone who was not fuddled with drink to be instantly
released.

Dick Penrhyn might take her to Looe if it pleased him. She wanted to go
to Looe. That she sat at the bottom of a cart with her hands tied was
a mere detail. She wanted to see if the Alert was there. What she
proposed to do if she were she hardly knew herself.

All the way into Looe, in the dim breaking of the unwilling winter's
day, she wondered--wondered--had the Alert sailed? She had.

The wind was driving before it the heavy rain, and everything, houses,
trees, hedges, the grey sea with the white topped waves, the fishing
boats drawn up on the foreshore, Joan saw through the misty blurr. But
the King's cutter was gone.

She huddled back then under the sacking Clayton had thrown over her,
and noticed nothing till the cart drew up at a little dirty-looking
stone house. Out came the old man who was the town constable. Penrhyn
gave her in charge. Then, indeed, she raised a protest against the ways
of men in general and drunken Dick Penrhyn in particular.

'Dost think a'd touch mare? A'd other things on mind! An' Dick Penrhyn
be'est----' She let herself go pouring out the vials of her wrath in
the language learned in the fishermen's tavern.

It was not pretty. But perhaps in the end it made no difference. The
grim old constable, who was accustomed to wildly incoherent women
loudly proclaiming a stainless innocence, cut the ropes that bound her
hands and thrust her into a grimy little cell. Next day they took her
to the house of the nearest Justice of the Peace, the most important
man in the neighbourhood.

He had made a night of it the night before, had drank too much smuggled
brandy, and lost more than he could afford at cards to a man cleverer
than himself. The little party was ushered into the cavernous kitchen
where was an appetizing smell of cooking bacon.

There the great man interviewed them, his aching head tied up in a
large silk handkerchief. The odours of the breakfast he had no mind for
he found extremely upsetting. Naturally they deepened his conviction
that the growing criminality of the lower classes must be checked as
speedily as possible.

He gave scant attention to the accuser. He suspected he had been
drinking, which was unpardonable in a man in his position, and he
did not feel called upon to listen to Joan. She was an ugly, dirty,
lowering wench. Anyway he saw no beauty in a dark woman. He pinned his
faith on the constable. A decent man, who never gave any trouble.

The constable had the story pat.

The farmer and his friend had caught the girl riding away with the
horse. Penrhyn was an honest man. He knew him well. He did. Dick
Penrhyn never forgot the constable when he had a successful run and
was even good for an occasional rabbit. It was well to be in with the
representative of the law even if he were an old man. The girl's excuse
was she had borrowed the mare to let the people of Polperro know that
the press gang had taken Daniel Reynell. They were to raise a rescue
party.

The Justice was scandalised. How dare she try and interfere with the
just working of the law, the policy of her betters. The navy must
have men. Kidneys were grilling now. The odour seemed appetising,
specially to those who had no chance of partaking. But the master of
the proceedings felt it nauseating. It increased his disapprobation of
the criminally inclined.

The constable went on calmly.

They all knew the skipper of the Reaper. He had a permit. The press
gang would not have taken him. He had seen the men taken off to the
Alert. Two went willingly; the third was bound. The coast guard
officer who was just coming in would give their names. He had asked the
lieutenant to come because of the fuss the wench was making.

'Quite right, quite right,' said his worship. 'It is the policy of the
age, a right one, to give the criminal every chance.'

The lieutenant in charge of the coast-guard station was a young man who
was courting the daughter the Justice. He was always anxious to make
things go smoothly for that gentleman.

Here he was precise in his information. Three men had been taken by
the press gang in the execution of their duty. Amos Garrett and Robert
Trevenick were the names of the two Polperro men. They had not taken
Daniel Reynell. He had heard no mention of him. He had their names
from the bo'sun. Presumably they knew their own names. He had heard no
mention of Daniel Reynell. If by chance they had taken a man with a
permit he would be instantly released.

He never said he had not personally interviewed the prisoners. To do
him justice, he did not think it a matter of any consequence. The
bo'sun was a man to be trusted. Besides, he couldn't know their names
by intuition. He himself had interviewed Captain Maitland before the
Alert sailed. The pressed men could have asked to see him if they
had wanted to. Captain Maitland would have had a great deal to say if
they had brought him a man with a permit.

'So what is all this fuss about?' asked the Justice, who felt himself a
much tried man.

'Her sneaked mare and killed her,' said Dick Penrhyn, who also felt
himself aggrieved, and with more reason.

No one gave a thought to Joan's feelings.

'I suspect,' said the lieutenant, who hoped to be asked to breakfast,
'the girl took the mare and, being caught, fetched in Daniel Reynell as
a good excuse. We all know the skipper of the Reaper, an honest man.
But a pretty hopeless excuse, doesn't your worship think so?'

His worship's sense of scandal deepened the more he enquired into the
case. Squire Polsett had lost two horses only last week. Evidently a
gang of thieves operating in the neighbourhood. The girl was probably
a member. Not only had she stolen the mare but she must needs bring a
slur upon a decent man's name. Declaring she wanted to obstruct the
press gang too! There was only one thing for such hardened villainy.

The Justice sent for his clerk, and in all due form committed Juana
d'Ath--that, she said, was her name, and they all smiled--to trial at
the Plymouth Assizes; treated the constable to beer; asked the naval
man to the breakfast he could not eat himself; and retired to his own
room with the warm feeling at his heart that he had nobly done his duty
at no little cost to himself.

Afterwards Joan thought of those weeks in jail as a ghastly dream.

Life at the Pilchard had been hard, but at least there was much
work she must do. Work is the best of anodynes. Here there was
nothing--nothing to break the monotony. The place was overcrowded,
fetid, horrible; the women, who were her companions, rankly gave their
opinion of what her sentence would be.

In the dark, cold, sleepless nights, in the overcrowded room, she lay
staring up at the ceiling, feeling already the hard rope round her neck
and the cruel choking that should end her life. She spent days and
nights of torture. She gave no heed to her personal appearance. She was
unwashed, unkempt, a mockery and an object of derision to the hardened
women round her.

Then--curious are the ways of God--one day something happened.

Mrs. Treherne, the jailer's wife, who had charge of these women, was
helping one of them who was very sick. Taking her out of the ward she
stumbled. The woman caught at her dress and loosened a little turquoise
brooch. It fell upon Joan's ragged skirt, making no noise. It was not
missed by its owner.

Joan picked it up. Those who saw her looked to see her hide it.

'Ma'am,' said Joan quickly, 'ee's lost a jewel pin.'

A jewel indeed! A poor little thing! But the woman valued it. Her man,
who had been a sailor, had brought it to her from India in his courting
days. She took it back with an impatient oath. When she was gone the
other women jeered Joan. Why had she been such a fool? The woman did
not know she had dropped it. There were ways and means of making a
little on that pin and judging by her looks----

But Joan sank back drearily. She would not steal. The daughter of
old Spain had not fallen as low as all that. But she couldn't--and
wouldn't--explain to these women whom she despised.

When Mrs. Treherne came back a couple of hours later she sought out
Joan, looking her up and down with critical eyes. She saw a tall girl
with a mop of untidy dusky hair, who stood up with a slouch. There was
a half-healed wound on her cheek; there were shadows round her eyes,
and a world of hopeless weariness in their depths. She was ragged,
dirty, unkempt, as bad as any woman there, and God knows they were a
disgrace to civilization.

''Ee didn't pinch the pin?'

Joan only looked at her, and made a little impatient movement with her
fingers. These people would never understand that her father's daughter
did not steal. What was the good of explaining? Perhaps something of
her thoughts was written on her face, for the jailer went on in a
kindlier tone.

'An' yet 'ee wunt wash they face an' comb thy hair.'

It was a truth put before Joan in an unexpected manner. Her father--who
would have been shocked at her stealing--would have been equally
shocked at her dirt. The startled look on her face told the woman the
shaft had gone right home.

There was a trough for washing in the yard. But the inmates of the
women's portion of the prison were only allowed out there at certain
times.

'I'll let 'ee out an' 'ee can wash.'

She unlocked the door, and Joan followed her out into the cold stony
yard, where a bitter wind was blowing. The woman gave her a piece of
soap and an old towel.

There the girl, without any conveniences whatever, in the icy cold
water of the trough by the pump, washed herself well. Not only herself,
but her stockings and her ragged petticoat and underclothes. How she
was to get them dry she did not know. But it was Joan's nature to do
a thing whole-heartedly. She tied her clothes to a line the woman had
there. They flapped forlornly in the bitter wind. The girl herself took
such shelter as she could in the angle of the door and combed out her
wet hair.

There the jailer found her with white face and chattering teeth.
But the little kindness had comforted her. The woman saw at once an
improvement in this forlorn object.

'Why, Joan,' she said wondering,' 'ee's been a handsome lass!'

'Has been!' At eighteen! But Joan did not see the irony of it.

'A'm proper clean,' she said and tried to smile though she shivered.

'Get 'ee inside, lass. 'Ee's perisht.'

Joan indicated her wet things. They were not much, but they were nearly
all that she possessed.

'I'll see as they're safe. Get in.'

The freezing girl was thankful enough for the fetid ward. It was cold
but it was warmer than outside. She wrapped herself in the rough
blanket that was her bedding.

The trifling kindness--for her life had been very bare of kindness
since her father's death--warmed Joan's heart. She held herself more
upright; she combed out her long dark hair; always had it neatly wound
round her head; and always she had a smile for the jailer's wife.

The woman began to take a queer interest in her, and, seeing how
forlorn and bedraggled were her clothes in spite of all her efforts
at cleanliness, she one day gave her a blue dress. It was a linen of
a hard, bright colour that its former owner found most unbecoming. It
appealed to Joan.

It was with a funny little feeling of pleasure that was pathetic,
seeing she was in prison on a capital charge, that she put on that
dress. The gift made her feel as if a warm, friendly hand had been
stretched out to her in the cold darkness of her life. She made the
very best of herself. With the optimism of youth, she began to hope
for better things. If Daniel Reynell were gone away he could not marry
Loveday Corthew--not for three years. And if Loveday Corthew married
somebody else----She would--of course, she would. If Daniel Reynell
could only see her in this dress.

The next time Mrs. Treherne visited her charges Joan held herself
straight and smiling shyly--Joan was not accustomed to smiling--thanked
her warmly for her gift.

The metamorphosis in the girl astonished the woman. The weird beauty
that she had dimly seen before took her breath away. The despised blue
exactly set off Joan's dusky hair and vivid red lips; it toned with
the sea blue of long lashed eyes that looked out from under dark level
brows; it made a proper setting for clean-cut nose and chin. When the
red lips parted in a smile that showed the milk-white teeth, the woman
looking at her, the hardened jailer, was fain to confess the girl was
lovely beyond words. The cut in her cheek had healed; but it had left
behind a scar that masqueraded as a dimple, and gave to her smile a
curiously haunting effect.

Mrs. Treherne felt there was something uncanny in the change in her,
and never guessed that the only sorcery was the magic of her own
kindness.

Joan's mother came to see her. She brought her some clothes, the
forlornest rags, and reviled her for bringing disgrace on the tavern.
She had drunk too much as usual, and would not listen to Joan's
eager questions about the press gang, and swept aside carelessly her
struggles to send a belated message to Raphiel Farm. 'Everyone knew,'
she said, 'that Skipper Reynell was dead.' On that she went away,
leaving the girl sunk in the blackest woe.

For the moment.

But only for the moment. Had not she herself seen Daniel Reynell in the
hands of the press gang. He would be away for three long years if no
one rescued him. Of course no one would stop him writing. At Raphiel
Farm they probably knew all about it by now. But if Loveday Corthew
should think him dead--if only she thought he had gone away for three
long years--Loveday was not the sort to wait. So Joan read her. She was
a pretty girl with many admirers. She would marry somebody else long
before Daniel Reynell's three long years were up. Joan was almost happy
again in the thought.

Her mother never came again. No one else came near her. She did not
know she had any rights and did not expect any one. Probably the whole
fishing village thought her guilty.

It did as a matter of fact. But it gave less attention to the matter
than would usually have been the case because it was taken up with the
disappearance of Daniel Reynell and the carrying off of Bob Trevenick
and Amos Garrett. It occurred to no one to connect Joan with the matter.

'Have you no friends?' asked Mrs. Treherne.

Joan thought a moment. She was not sullen to this woman who had been
kind. Polperro would not have known her gentle. She wanted to have
friends because Mrs. Treherne seemed to expect it.

'No,' she said sadly.

'But the others?'

Joan looked at her puzzled.

'My mother'll be drunk when a' ain't home an' stepfather her'll be
drunk too. 'Sides her'll be main glad to be shut o' I.'

'But I meant,' said the woman gently; and, like Joan, she was
unaccustomed to being gentle, 'the others of the gang.'

Joan did not know she was reckoned a member of a clever gang of clever
horse thieves, taken red-handed, certain to be condemned to death.

'What gang?' she asked in all innocence.

Mrs. Treherne thought she was shielding her mates, and thought no worse
of her for that.

'But they ought to get counsel for you,' she said.

'There's no money for counsel,' said Joan dispiritedly, thinking how
difficult she had always found it to meet the calls of quarter day;
knowing that her mother and stepfather would find it still harder.

So the days went on to the Assizes.

The Judge and Sheriff came to the port with all pomp and circumstance,
with a band to welcome them, a company of soldiers to guard them, and
a chaplain to pray for them. They went to church, and the next day
in solemn array to the Courthouse, for the trial of some miserable
wretches who had never had a chance in life, and were really much
better men and women than might have been expected considering their
surroundings.

There was just a hint of the coming spring in the day. But the Law
Courts were cold and dark, so built that only here and there could a
ray of watery sunshine find its way through the long narrow windows.
One lighted up the coat of arms of England behind the bench just over
the Judge's head. The heraldic lion and unicorn and the crown they
upheld were in gold against a background of scarlet. The craftsman who
had fashioned them had made weird beasts. They were very elongated with
very long waists. In order to be quite fair he had given the lion as
well as the unicorn a horn in his forehead. At the end of each horn was
a little star, the facets of which caught the sun's rays and twinkled
like diamonds. There was a collar of stars round each beast's neck,
so that it seemed all the lights in the court were focussed over the
Judge's long grey wig.

He, in his scarlet and ermine, looked gravely down into the well of the
Court crowded with people, mostly unwashed. He saw no way of remedying
the reek that rose from them. He did not look on it from the point of
view of the sufferers, but as one of the penalties attached to his high
estate. And he was human enough to fear jail fever. In front of him
was a bunch of herbs in a pot, while he had hidden in his hand a small
gold box that, beneath a chased cover, held a piece of cloth steeped in
aromatic vinegar.

The bar sat below at their table. There, too, were a couple of bunches
of sweet herbs.

Two men had been sentenced to death before Joan's case came on, one
for having wounded a man in a poaching fray, and the other for having
stuck up a man and taken from him 2s. 3d. He had pleaded he was
starving, but that was no excuse in the eyes of outraged law.

The jailer's wife, to her own amazement, had been good to Joan. She had
given her the chance to wash and iron the blue dress, provided her with
a neat mob cap of white muslin and a kerchief to fold across her breast.

It had a curiously heartening effect upon the girl. The woman spoke to
her abruptly because she was afraid of her own impulses.

But it is the thought that really matters. Joan felt the kindliness,
and was wildly, passionately grateful. It cheered and comforted her on
the way to the Courthouse.

She caused a little sensation there, though she did not know it. Even
Dick Penrhyn, strictly sober, and with his black hair neatly plastered
down with soap and water, looked at the stately young woman behind the
bars of the dock with some amazement. He had to look again. Was this
the wild cat whose hands he had tied and whom he had flung into the
cart?

She gave her name as Juana d'Ath. Polperro would have guffawed. But so
potent is the effect of a good appearance that the court did not smile.
The name suited this dignified young woman.

'Had she no friends?' asked the Judge.

'No.'

'No counsel?'

'No.'

The Judge looked round the court and spoke very gravely in his
dignified voice.

'I sit here to administer justice. It is the earnest wish of this Court
that every man or woman accused here, however deeply they may have sunk
in iniquity, may have every facility to put their case before the jury.
I therefore call upon my learned friend Mr. James Henniker Hilton to
defend Juana d'Ath.'

Now it is the usual routine for the Judge to call upon the junior
member of the Bar present to defend a prisoner who has no counsel. But
one hundred and forty years ago they were not so particular. It was the
prisoner's affair to see to his own defence. This Judge, however, was
broad minded. He was anxious, too, to help his young friend just called
to the Bar.

James Henniker Hilton, pleased at the judge's notice, glad to be
concerned in the defence of so good-looking a girl, moved over to
consult the prisoner. Joan, leaning over the bars of the dock, told him
as quickly as possible how she had indeed taken the mare feeling sure
of Penrhyn's consent because it was for the rescue of Daniel Reynell.

The young man, listening to the low voice, very musical if it did
speak in patois, saw himself making a great success of his first case,
glorified in the sight of the judge who had appointed him. He was an
ardent believer in truth. In his cross-examination he would bring
everything out.

But alas!--and alas! He was unused to the ways of Courts. He made a
shocking bungle of things.

Prosecution for the Crown provided two respectable farmers who swore to
taking the girl red-handed.

Counsel for the defence, questioning in search of Daniel Reynell, found
that he had not been taken by the press gang; that the press gang had
no right to take him; if they had by chance they would immediately have
released him. All the men taken had been recognised; Robert Trevenick,
the parson's son; George Simpson, from Polruan; and Amos Garrett, a
fisherman from Polperro. The wives of these last were already drawing
their pay, and Parson Trevenick had no doubt about his son having been
taken; he had received notice from the Admiralty. No one had seen or
heard of Daniel Reynell in connection with the press gang; nor was
there any reason why this girl should be interested in him. He was
missing.

Counsel for the prosecution felt sure that was why she had used his
name. His hint threatened darker possibilities.

Counsel for the defence, in his efforts to improve matters, succeeded
in proving that his client had a bad reputation in Polperro. This he
rammed home by calling her mother and stepfather.

Counsel for the prosecution called attention to the fact that
horse-stealing had been rife in the district; but it was the defence
that successfully brought to the notice of the court the fact that the
suspected leaders of the gang were known to meet at the Pilchard, and
that very low class fishermen's tavern was run, in spite of her youth,
by Joan. It was due to her that it had paid better of late because
these suspected people had made their headquarters there.

This was all news to the listening girl. Never had she known so much
about herself before.

She had welcomed those strange men gladly--that was true enough.
Because of their coming she had been able to look forward to quarter
day for the first time since she had taken over the tavern with a
comparatively quiet mind.

The Judge asked her what reply she had to make to these accusations.
Pathetically she turned towards her counsel. His eyes were kind, and
she did not know how much he had already damaged her case.

He looked at the Judge eagerly, for he was an eloquent young man; the
girl's beauty had moved him, and here he could have helped her.

But the law of England in those days did not allow anyone accused of
felony to employ counsel to make his defence in court. All counsel
could do was to examine and cross-examine witnesses.

The Judge was a not unkindly man in his own way. But he was there to
administer the law, not to question it. And he was a stickler for the
dignity of the court.

'The prisoner,' he said, his tones were leisurely, precise, cultivated,
impartial, cold, 'must answer counsel herself. My learned friend,' he
looked at the defending counsel tolerantly, he knew a good man, and
knew he would do well when he had had a little more experience 'has
done all he can. The law does not allow him to speak for the prisoner.
Juana d'Ath, what have you to say?'

Could even a girl of modern times under such circumstances have
defended herself? Joan certainly could not. She was terrified; she was
illiterate; she was at the best of times slow of speech, and she was
utterly ignorant. She looked from her counsel to the Judge; back at
Dick Penrhyn pleadingly and finally stammered out,

'A' never took mare.'

And that in the face of her having been caught on the mare's back at
dead of night!

The Court laughed.

The usher called threateningly for silence.

The Judge felt impatient. But, being a conscientious man, he was
prepared to give the criminal classes every chance.

'Prisoner at the Bar that is all you have to say.'

It was all unless she burst into a torrent of abuse such as she had
been wont to indulge in.

But Joan was never to do that again. Prison had subdued her. And to-day
she had come in contact with men and manners such as she had not met
since her father died. The young man who had tried to defend her was
a gentleman; the Judge was a gentleman. Something in their manner so
impressed the girl that wild ungoverned speeches froze on her lips.
She bowed her head in dignified, stately fashion, and stood there with
eyelids cast down. Her counsel noted how beautiful were the long dark
lashes that lay on her white cheeks. She was trembling, but nothing in
her demeanour showed her terror.

The Judge charged the jury. She heard herself painted in the blackest
colours, yet realized that this man thought she was of some account;
she might be a danger to society. It was a new thought to Joan that she
might be of weight even if it were only for evil.

They led her away to await the verdict in one of the low dark cells
below the Court. No one thought of giving her anything to eat or drink;
was she not a criminal bound to be sentenced to death? It seemed to the
Judge and to almost every one else including counsel for the defence
that there could be no need for discussion. Had she not been taken
actually riding the horse away.

But one of the jury was contrary, a man who was always making excuses
for the people. He thought that there might have been more inquiries
made about this Daniel Reynell. The girl was young. It was hardly
possible she could have made up the whole story. Perhaps it was true
this Daniel Reynell had told her she could safely borrow the mare in
his name. She might have done it in all innocence.

The eleven good men and true laughed him to scorn, though it was dark
before they succeeded in convincing him they were only asked to say
whether she had taken the horse or not. Clearly she had. There was
really only one verdict to be given, and it was no good staying there
all night.

The Courthouse was dimly lighted by candles and evil-smelling lamps
when Judge and jury, prisoner and counsel, all came filing back for the
last scene. All the lights from the candles seemed to be caught by the
golden stars on the weird beasts of the coat of arms of England. There
was a coruscation of light above the head of the dispenser of English
justice, the handsome, clean-shaven Judge in his great wig and his
scarlet and ermine.

Joan fixed her eyes on his face. The well-cut thin lips were pressed
closely together.

'How say you?' asked the Associate turning to the jury, and his tones
rang through the Court, 'Guilty or not Guilty?'

Joan, listening intently, answered in her own mind. Of course, 'Not
Guilty.' How could she be guilty? Why even Dick Penrhyn had said he
was surprised when he had got her into the light. Of course she was
not guilty. The Judge looked calm and self-possessed, but not stern or
angry.

Such a child we should think her nowadays, an irresponsible child,
needing care and training. But most of that Court saw a good-looking
young woman with handsome, regular features under her big mob cap, a
woman whose feet were set on a dangerous path, who quite easily might
be a peril to the community. There was not much pity in the realm of
Christian England in the end of the eighteenth century.

'Guilty, my lord,' said the foreman.

Joan clutched tight at the bars to prevent herself from shrieking aloud.

But this was only the jury. The Judge looked like a man who would know
better.

She could not guess that he placed all such as she in one category,
'The Lower Orders.' The Lower Orders would be a danger to the
well-being of the community unless they were kept in their proper
place. A good-looking girl like this would be doubly a danger. He was
in the place where it was required of him to do his duty by society. He
did it to the very best of his ability.

Joan watched him put a black cap on the top of his grey wig. The
sparkling lights crowned it with a halo. They seemed to her to speak of
hope. She heard him saying something in his gravely musical voice.

The first words made no impression so stunned was she by the verdict.
Then it seemed they boomed out, roaring in her ears, filling the whole
court.

'Hanged by the neck till you be dead. And the Lord have mercy upon your
soul.'




CHAPTER VII.


'In all labour there is profit.'


'So, Amos Garrett, they have manhandled you.'

A strongly-made young fellow, in the uniform of a master's mate,
dark-eyed and brown-faced, was looking down at the sick man with not
unkindly eyes.

'I am not Amos Garrett,' said Reynell a little wearily. He was tired of
repeating it.

Fletcher Christian took him up sharply.

'And if you are not Amos Garrett who the devil are you then?'

That little spark of interest was better than the cordial the master's
mate held in his hand. Reynell struggled up to a sitting position and
told his story. Christian listened with interest.

'So that's the way the cat jumps,' said he. 'Bligh's got this
expedition on the brain. He'd kidnap his own father if it brought him
a mite nearer his blessed breadfruit trees. The Lord knows if they'll
ever be worth the trouble he's taking.'

If Christian could only see the mountain sides of Jamaica now! Perhaps
he does.

'We've had the devil's own luck,' he went on, 'first one thing and
then another delaying us. Then these four beggars to run. Well, even
if Maitland didn't give him a hint--and I'd not put it past him--Bligh
would be sure not to inquire into anything till we are in blue water.
All he'd want to know is that the men are sound.'

Reynell looked at him gloomily under his frowning brows. Black before
him stretched the years--years--and he had been counting the hours to
his wedding on Wednesday week.

'Here, drink this,' went on Christian. 'The surgeon sent it when he had
you carried into the fo'c'sle. Not a chance for you, I'm afraid.' His
voice was friendly. 'Here we are in the Chops of the Channel with no
possibility of seeing old England for three long years to come. Suppose
you write from the Canaries or Rio.'

'Did you ever hear of a letter fetching from those Dago countries?'
asked the unwilling recruit.

'Well, I don't know. You might be lucky.'

Reynell flipped his fingers. He had no faith. And as a matter of fact
though he did write both from Teneriffe and Rio no letter from him or
any telling of his whereabouts ever reached Polperro.

The Bounty was bowling along before a keen east wind. Though she
was only under courses and tops'les Reynell knew that every moment was
taking him farther and farther from his home and all that he held dear.

'See here, mate,' said Christian when they had spoken of the
hopelessness of letters, 'the only advice I can give you is to make the
best of it.'

'Would you? Would you? If your wedding day was fixed, the ring bought,
the house and the ship ready and the maid waiting for you?'

'I--I----' laughed the other, 'I'd like to see the lass 'ud bother me.
Man, there's an old salt of Cook's aboard here tells me the wenches at
our final port of call are all bronze nymphs--he didn't put it in those
words exactly--and, bless you, they're waiting with open arms.'

Reynell turned away disgusted. The thought that another woman might
smile on him did not stir his blood. He wanted the fair face, with
laughing hazel eyes and golden curls; he wanted only the decent,
ordered life he had always worked for; that one woman sitting by his
fireside, his honoured wife, her children at his knee.

'Cheer up, mate,' went on Christian kindly enough. 'Nothing so bad but
it might be worse. I see Bligh's booked you as leading seaman already.
Next step will make you a petty officer. I don't think you'll have much
difficulty in getting there by what I see. What? The prospect doesn't
allure you? Look here, man, don't throw away your chances. Make a
friend of Bligh. He's a jolly good friend once you get him, but, by the
living Jingo, he's a damned ruthless enemy.'

'I shall do him a bad turn,' said Reynell sombrely.

'Well, don't tell me,' said Christian laughing, 'because it's rank
mutiny. I can't afford that, not being prepared to cut myself off from
old England yet awhile. Besides, Bligh's on top now. You make the best
of it. That's my advice,' and he strolled away humming a tune.

It is a great thing to see but one path ahead. Reynell could not lie
moaning in the fo'c'sle like a sick girl. Presently, cheered in spite
of himself by Fletcher Christian's sympathy, he fell asleep.

He was young, strong and worn out. He slept profoundly.

When he wakened, because he so thoroughly realised his own
helplessness, he bowed to his fate and went quietly to his work.

The Bounty was 250 tons burden, ship rigged, a quaintly unwieldy
vessel. Also, because internally she had been prepared to receive fruit
trees, all the comfort of the ship's company--and heaven knows it was
not much considered long after the Bounty's time--was disregarded.
Reynell, thinking of his own dainty Reaper, disliked her from the
first. He was a silent, embittered, disappointed man. Still he worked,
did his duty and more than his duty. He had not handled the Reaper
in wild winter weather in the Channel and all round the stormy British
coast without thoroughly understanding his business.

Bligh, a critical man, had his eyes upon all his crew, but he took no
personal notice of his new leading seaman till the day a wild easterly
gale drove before it a sea that stove in part of the stern of the
labouring ship and tore all the planks from the large cutter's bows.
But for Reynell's promptness and skill the boat would have been washed
overboard.

When all had been made taut again, and the gale had passed, Bligh
called him out on the quarter-deck and publicly praised him.

'You are a thorough seaman, Amos Garrett,' he ended on a note of
commendation.

'Thank you, sir.'

Though many of the men hated Bligh, and Reynell thought he hated him
worst of all, yet they all felt his praise was worth having.

'But I am not Amos Garrett.'

'Not Amos Garrett?' Bligh's steely eyes snapped and his thin lips shut
closely together, 'then who the dickens are you?'

'Daniel Reynell, skipper and owner of the Reaper with a protection.'
He drew himself up, and stood before his captain a tall, fair, bronzed
young giant.

'So,' said Bligh, 'so,' and he looked him up and down as if appraising
at their full worth his inches and his brawn, 'then we stole you and
had no right to you?'

'No, sir, you had no right.'

'And you made no protest? There, there,' he put out his hand. 'I
remember now, you did protest. I know about how much good it would be
protesting to the bo'sun of the Alert.'

'Yes, sir.' Reynell spoke dully. The memory of those hours was bitter
still.

'Then, Daniel Reynell, since it has happened I am glad the Bounty
has the good fortune to have you on her books.'

Reynell was pleased in spite of himself. It is always something to earn
praise when the standard set is high. He remembered the fight; the
long vigil in the church; the weary day on the Alert; the hopeless,
feverish night that followed; the morning when the clank of the anchor
chains had beaten in on his brain; the wedding day that was long past
now; and instead of bursting into angry execration now that he had the
ear of authority--and authority was sympathetic--he merely saluted.

'I have tried to do my best, sir, though God knows I have wanted
to sink the ship and drown the lot of you.' But he spoke quite
respectfully.

Bligh smiled.

'I understand. I should have felt the same.'

'You're getting on, man, you're getting on,' said Christian cheerfully.
Reynell was in his watch, and they had many opportunities of speech.
Reynell was an educated man whom Christian liked. Bligh, with
extraordinary wisdom, had divided his crew into three watches instead
of the ordinary two. The master's mate was head of one of them.

They went southward, ever southward, through the seas that have been
known since the days when the Phœnicians wandered south and came back
to tell an unbelieving world they had found the sun in the north. The
weather grew warmer and warmer; the wild winds died away; the sun
overhead was overpowering; below decks it was like an oven; the men
went languidly about their work and the very pitch in the seams was
melting.

It was calms and little puffs of wind, and contrary winds; but still
they went on little by little southward. They called at Rio; they
failed to round the Horn; they went back by the Cape of Good Hope.

The weather grew cool once more, and the days were sunny and pleasant.

Then again it was cold, bitter cold. The gallant west wind came strong
astern of them, driving them into unknown seas. Lonely, lonely seas,
grey and empty seas, with a sky grey and lowering above and great grey
birds, swooping on outstretched wings following the ship day after day.
The albatross cried to them they were intruders into these far places;
they were straying beyond the edge of the world and might go sailing on
and on till----

But that was a question the men leaning over the quarters looking into
the empty world of sea and sky could not answer. They hushed their
voices as they watched the racing seas and the towering white topped
waves, greater waves than any one of them had ever seen before.

A puny thing was the good ship Bounty as she sank into the trough,
and they towered above her, taking the wind out of her sails, punier
still when she rose to the crest and they looked down over a waste
of grey water with never a sail; where they could not expect a sail;
where it would have been a phenomenon, perhaps, to fear; never a sign
of land; only the strange birds, graceful but uncanny, beings from
another plane--following--following--waiting--some of the men said with
a shiver.

For the unknown had them in its thrall, and some feared--all, perhaps,
feared a little, they had hardly been human else, but the spell was
upon them. They accepted the fear because of the wonder. And they told
tales of the Flying Dutchman who came out of the mists, sailing against
the wind and brought misfortune; of lovely maidens who dwelt at the
bottom of the sea, coming up to tempt men to their destruction--of
bishop fish that could swallow a greater fish than the Bounty at one
gulp--of the kraken--and the sea serpent only less to be feared than
the bishop fish.

They were staunch, brave men, as have always been British seamen, but
one thing was certain, the empty horizon voiced it, if anything befell
there was no hope of succour but in themselves. They must face it alone.

The wonder was not that Bligh had been delayed because four men had
run, but that he had any crew at all with which to work his ship.

All his life Reynell had lived and worked within the narrow seas. He
was an educated man, but once he had left school he had had small use
for books. He had been content; he had been more than content. He
thought every day how thankfully he would go back and yet, though he
did not know it himself, the witchery that holds the explorer was upon
him.


'Something lost and something calling . . .
Come and find me.'


He looked out into the emptiness round, up to the heavy grey clouds
that hung threatening overhead. He listened to the wild tales of the
men. He thought of the girl who was waiting for him. He began to
count--hopefully now. So many weeks behind him, and what a tale he
would have to tell her when he came back!

Never for one moment did it occur to him that Loveday Corthew would
never understand that tale. From beginning to end the glamour of this
voyage, the glamour that held him, would be a sealed book to her. She
would think of these men ploughing the seas, seeking--seeking--as men
pining for their firesides and for the loving arms that should enfold
them. She would be tender and sweet and true and roguish and merry, all
almost that a dear woman should be, but--she would never understand.

That, luckily, perhaps, Reynell did not know.

What he did, he did for her sake. She was the star to which he
had hitched his wagon. He felt he would come back to her, not the
narrow-minded ship master, skipper of the Reaper, satisfied with his
successful trading in the well-known tracks, but a man who had been to
the ends of the earth, who had indeed seen the glory of God in the deep.

He hardly realized himself on what broader lines he was now planning
his life. He felt that if he pleased Bligh, a man who was bound to rise
to greater things, he would rise with him.

And he was pleasing Bligh--it delighted him to please such a man.

He took to reading the books that Bligh lent gladly. He realized for
the first time in his life, how books might help and come into the
scheme of things. He worked to improve himself in his spare time. He
dreamed his dreams, and was happy, though he would have laughed at any
one who had told him so. For contentment is not stagnation as so many
would have us believe. It is the knowledge that we are certainly on the
right road to still better things.

Christian was his good friend. A wild, dare-devil young fellow he was.
Strangely enough, considering how their friendship had begun before
they reached Van Diemen's Land, it was Reynell who was preaching
patience to him, showing him how much wiser it would be to keep in
Bligh's good graces. It was Reynell who was pointing out the wonder of
the business on which they were bound; the glory that would be theirs
down to the smallest cabin boy if they succeeded in transplanting the
breadfruit, the fruit of which Cook had spoken so highly, to the West
Indies.

'Damn the breadfruit!' said Christian heartily, as he thrust his hands
well down into his pockets. 'Damn the Bounty, damn all the beastly
South Seas! Why the devil you take such an interest in it all, Reynell,
I'm blest if I know. What a damned fool I was not to run like the
others when I had the chance.'

'Do you mean to say you're not glad to be in it?' asked Reynell
astonished.

'Do you mean to tell me you are?' asked Christian in his turn.

Reynell stopped short in his march up and down the deck.

'Of course I wanted to be married,' he said. 'No man likes to be haled
away leaving his woman on the altar steps. But hang it all! It's a
great business! It's a proud man I shall be when we come sailing into
Plymouth Sound.'

'The devil! The devil!' said Christian. 'I shall be finding you loving
Bligh next.'

'Well, he's wonderful!' with conviction. 'Wonderful!'

'You've forgotten how you cursed him?'

'No,' said Reynell, looking out over the sea and speaking slowly, as
if he were groping in his own mind for something which he could not
exactly lay hold of, 'it gives me a pain to think of the old life and
all it promised. But this is a great thing this man is doing, that we
are all doing. If I can only hold out and wait,' he drew a long breath,
'it seems to me I shall have the old life back with--with, hang it
all--I'm not much of a scholar, but with the wider horizon, sir, what
all this will give.'

Christian stared at him.

'Give me a good mug of wine in a nice little seaport town, with my
mates all round me, a buxom wench to bring it, a fresh one every
evening for choice--to hell with your faithfulness, it's boring--and
your wider horizon may go to pot for all I care.'

'I'm afraid we'll find neither the wine nor the buxom wench in Van
Diemen's Land.'

Nevertheless, Reynell was the first to acknowledge they found a lovely
land there.

Their water was fetid. They wanted wood and fresh meat badly.

But Bligh would only give them one day. Time pressed. However, he gave
leave freely, for he knew quite well no man would stay behind.

It was a park-like land, lying there beneath a sky of Italian blue. The
grass was fresh and green; there was a sound of murmuring waters; the
soft wind bore on its breath the fresh aromatic scent of the untouched
bush vibrant with the coming of spring. Oh, a lovely land!

The sea-worn men wandered about for that whole day; rejoiced in it;
wished the captain would stay a week at least.

But Bligh was adamant. They had a great business on hand. Soon, not so
very long now, they would come to a still more enticing land. There
they would stay for a spell.

Reynell, looking at his stern face, felt there was not another man in
England could have managed this voyage as this man was managing it. He
vowed that he would follow him to the mouth of hell.

He said so to Christian as they watched the shores of Van Diemen's Land
grow dim in the haze of the early morning.

Christian saw the sparkle of enthusiasm in his blue eyes.

'So that's what you've come to,' said he moodily, looking at the fast
receding land. 'Well, for my part, I'm ready to swear an oath, so help
me God, I'll never sail with Bligh again. Think of the stinking water
we've had the last few days. Faugh!'

'That was but a passing incident and not Bligh's fault.'

'It belongs to him. Mark you, the man who follows Bligh will have to
drink stinking water without a murmur sometime or other in the course
of his following.'

'That is a tribute to a great leader.'

The steady west wind swept them onwards. Van Diemen's Land saw the last
of the bad water for many a long day. They were in summer seas now. The
going was delightful. Once they cleared the southern point of Australia
they sailed north-east. It was neither too hot nor too cold. There was
a cloudless blue sky, and a pleasant following breeze. Soon they began
passing islands set like jewels in a sapphire sea.

'The men say the Garden of Eden is hereabout,' reported Reynell to his
friend the next time he got the chance, 'or they think possibly we're
getting to heaven unawares.'

'Well, I don't know what drawbacks there are to heaven, but I reckon
we'll find a serpent in Eden somewhere before we're done, specially
with Bligh at the helm.'

But no one could complain of Bligh's harshness now. Eager as he was
to push on, whenever they approached an island he hove to and traded
with the natives, who looked upon the white men with awe and wonder
and bartered eagerly fruit and vegetables and fish for the precious
things they brought them; beads and axe heads and knives, and very
occasionally an old musket with a small store of powder and shot for a
very important chief.

Whatever came on board Bligh shared out equally, so that they were in
clover. Great content reigned. For, very naturally perhaps, a large
portion of a sailor's heart is in his stomach. These men were living
better now than most of them had ever lived in their lives.

At length, one bright, fine tropical morning, when the scent of the
land came strong and good to the men's nostrils, and the hills, clothed
in feathery palms, stood clean cut against a deep blue cloudless sky,
the Bounty reached her port in Tahiti. There came the clang of the
anchor chains running out; the anchor fell with an air of finality.
They had arrived at their destination.

When that anchor came up, thought Reynell, they would be homeward
bound. He had taken a great step forward.




CHAPTER VIII.


'I have come into my garden, my sister, my spouse; 
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; 
I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; 
I have drunk my wine with my milk.'


The Garden of Eden the men thought Tahiti. Truly it is a glorious land
now, when steam has brought the Tropics within a day or two of our
shores, and we are more or less accustomed to them; then, naturally, to
these men, fresh from the rigours of the seas further south, it was a
very Paradise.

Bligh, too, relaxed the iron discipline in which he had held them for
the last ten months. As far as the working of the ship allowed--a ship
at anchor in a safe harbour does not ask for much labour--his crew were
free to do pretty much as they pleased. Their leader had now shifted
his point of view. Instead of the stickler for naval discipline they
found, no little to their surprise, a man absorbed in the problem
of how best to plant and stow young breadfruit trees for their long
journey down into the icy south and back into warmer seas again.

All honour to Bligh.

Anyone who has ever seen the tall, spreading, broad-leaved breadfruit
trees that grow in thousands on every mountain side and round every
little cabin in Jamaica, can but respect the man who, at tremendous
cost to himself, provided the West Indies, not only with one of its
handsomest trees, but with an almost inexhaustible food supply.

The Bounty carried a botanist and a gardener. But their keenness was
as nothing to the keenness of the Bounty's commander. These three,
aided by Reynell, worked assiduously--anybody under Bligh was bound to
work--but for most of the crew this was the land of the Lotus Eaters, a
land of plenty. The brown, lithe-limbed islanders were the friendliest
people in the world. There was no need to ask. Everything they had
was freely offered. The houses, clean, palm-thatched, nestling among
the greenery, fragrant with the scent of the sea and the scent of the
bush, were theirs to command. Heaped on the decks were always shining,
silvery fish fresh from the sea, yams that, boiled and mashed, heaped
up snowy white, rivalled the best potatoes, scented, delicious bananas,
yellow and pink, coconuts that, green, gave a cooling drink, and ripe,
a crisp, firm nut, better in that climate than any flesh. There were
all manner of fruits, such as these men from the north had never heard
of before. Every brown man picked out one of the crew for special
attention. Nothing was denied his 'brother.'

The Englishmen accepted the homage calmly, for such is the custom of
the English.

They sail into some strange place. If the inhabitants are not agreeable
they accept it as all in the day's work, 'the blighters know no
better,' and fight for all they want, wood, or water, or food. But if
the inhabitants do all in their power to make them welcome, they are
also calm about it. They graciously allow themselves to be welcomed,
feeling that, somehow, they are not quite clear why, it is only their
due.

The Bounty's men felt the Tahitians had evidently realized, what
they had always dimly felt themselves, their superior worth.

Graceful girls, with softly-rounded limbs, clear golden skins,
tantalizingly half-hidden in wreaths of flowers and leaves, long dark
hair garlanded with hibiscus, languishing dark eyes and pearly teeth,
whispered in soft, liquid voices words that required no translating.

Who could resist such houris?

With wives and sweethearts very far in the background, and a long
stretch of sea between, the crew of the Bounty found them
irresistible. The gardener, so absorbed in the heart of his garden,
was allowing just outside its walls the little weed to grow apace that
presently was to come to such proportions as to smother the whole
enterprise.

Like true sailors, careless of the future so long as the present is
good, the majority of the men set up housekeeping. Daniel Reynell,
looking at the homes of his shipmates, set in the shade of handsome,
spreading breadfruit trees, with every broad green leaf glittering
in the tropical sunlight, with stately coconut palms and clumps of
plantains and bananas offering bounteous plenty, was fain to confess
that these homes in their own way compared most favourably with those
from which these men had come; these wives of an idle hour were as
loving as ever English wives could have been. Nay, more, no English
wife would have been so submissive to her husband, so open in her
devotion, as these half-savage girls of the South Seas. Whether they
expected these strangers who had come among them to remain he did not
know. Probably they were like the sailors; they, too, were living only
for the present, taking no heed for the future.

Bligh seemed to see nothing--or when he saw merely laughed his grim
laugh.

Reynell, because he had not succumbed to the general fascination,
seemed to be drawn closer to his commander. He was a quartermaster now.
The distance between a quartermaster and the commander of a ship was
great even in those days, when ratings were not so clearly defined. But
the one thing these two had in common in a measure bridged it.

'Look at that, Reynell,' said Bligh, thrusting out a long spear he
carried, 'what d'ye think of that?'

Bob Trevenick scrambled to his feet shamefacedly. He had been caught
stretched out on the warm sands in the shade of a group of coconut
palms. A golden-skinned girl bent over him and gave him coconut milk to
drink.

'It's no business of mine,' said Reynell soberly, 'but I assure you,
sir, it is worrying me not a little.'

Bligh laughed.

'The exuberance of youth. I am not entirely without insides as I
believe the men think.' He knew everything, did Bligh. 'We must relax a
little after a voyage like ours. It's only skin deep with most of them.
Tops'le sheets'll cure it.'

'Do you think so, sir? Sometimes I'm afraid----'

'Damn you, Reynell!' Reynell knew he was highly favoured. 'There are
always two sides to a thing. I prefer to look at the one I like best.
A sailor's expected to have a wife in every port. You and I have not
succumbed.'

'You took me,' said Reynell with sudden sombreness, 'when my woman was
waiting for me on the altar steps. I know she's waiting there still,
and I'm going back to her.'

'So,' Bligh laid his hand on his quartermaster's shoulder. Bligh was a
man whose touch gave honour, 'my friend, she will get back a man far
better worth having.'

A light sprang into Reynell's eyes.

'Thank you, sir. I do believe, strange as it seems----' he hesitated
for the right word. 'You've made a man of me, as the bos'un of the
Alert said you would.'

'Ah, the man was none of my making. He was there before. But we have
shown the man something of the world worth seeing. This voyage will
mark an epoch in your life.'

'A step upward,' said Reynell. He hardly knew how earnest were his own
words.

'Well we are not going to stop there,' said Bligh, 'make your mind easy
as to that. I think the quartermaster will share and share largely in
the Bounty's honours.'

His listener was more than content. It seemed to him that all the
weariness of the struggle was behind him; before him lay a future
alluring in its vagueness. All, all was to be laid at the feet of a
girl with laughing hazel eyes and golden hair. Even the one little
misgiving was but a thing of the moment. It would pass.

Christian brought it back again. On another occasion he, too, pointed
out Bob Trevenick, Bob lazily in the shade, with his head on a
flower-wreathed girl's lap.

'How would that girl look, d'ye think, dressed just as she is in green
leaves and scarlet hibiscus in the old Talland Church parsonage?'

He laughed aloud at the picture he had conjured up.

''Tis all very well to laugh,' said Reynell gravely, 'but it's a serious
matter. What are you going to do with Lola when we sail? The breadfruit
trees are nearly all collected. We must sail soon.'

He expected some laughing answer about Jack returning to the true love
of his heart. Trevenick had given him that answer a dozen times. But he
had never before ventured the question with his superior officer.

To his surprise no such answer came. Glancing round, he saw Fletcher
Christian, with very tender eyes, was looking across to where he could
just see his own little palm-leaf hut.

'Mr. Christian! Sir!'

'That's the question, Reynell. That's the question. We have
put down roots here. How are we ever going to tear them up
again--ruthlessly--ruthlessly?'

'It is not as bad as that surely?' said Reynell, speaking lightly, for
there was that in Christian's face that made him turn his eyes away.

'It is as bad as can be,' said Christian, sombre as Reynell himself had
been many a time. 'Sometimes I feel, quartermaster, that I can't go
back.'

Reynell was amazed.

He turned it off lightly.

'Who's talking rank mutiny now, sir?' he asked.

'Mutiny,' repeated Christian. 'Oh, no! It needn't come to that. They
could do without me. Why, you could take my place easily.'

'You wouldn't ruin your whole career for a dark-skinned girl, surely?'

'Damn it all, Reynell,' said Christian fiercely, 'do you think I want
to ruin my career? Do you think I don't lie awake at nights counting
the cost, seeking a way out? But what other way is there? I can't take
her, that's clear enough. And how can I leave her? My God! How can I
leave her! Think of the loving trust in those soft eyes! She believes
in me, man! She thinks there's no one in the world like me! Why, her
eyes would haunt me all the days of my life! I should never see a
little child----'

He paused.

Reynell whistled a little in his dismay.

'Would you take everything given so trustfully--so freely--would you
use the woman who loved you for your own convenience, then sail away
without the faintest prospect of ever coming back again? Is that a nice
thing for a decent man to contemplate doing?'

'No,' said Reynell slowly and reluctantly. He thought of Loveday
Corthew. Was it possible this man loved this dark girl, Lola, as he
loved Loveday Corthew? He dared not say to this fierce young man,
who was taking the matter so seriously, that he had considered these
connections as something purely temporary. The others were not half
as much in earnest he was sure. He had scented danger, because he
felt they were entranced with the sensuous life, that contrasted so
wonderfully with the hard life of a sailor; but he was sure they did
not love those who ministered to their delights. This was putting
the matter on an entirely different plane. This man was desperately
troubled. He tried to bring him back to normal.

'You'll come on board to-night, sir, won't you?'

'Why should I? Bligh has never asked for me. Reynell, Reynell, the days
are flying so quickly. I count them. I lie awake counting them.'

'He asked for you last night.'

'Well, he said nothing when he found I wasn't there.'

Christian turned away in the direction of his native home, and the
quartermaster returned on board the Bounty very troubled indeed.

That night Bligh, strolling along the deck, stopped opposite Reynell.
The tropic moon was at its full, and high overhead; the waters of the
harbour were golden; the great feathery tops of the palms leaning over
the sea were shimmering in her light; every rope and yard was outlined
in inky black on the snowy decks. The faint land wind, so faint as
hardly to ruffle the surface of the sea, yet brought with it a nameless
fragrance, balmy, enticing. Reynell, leaning idly over the quarter, was
drawing in long breaths, thinking of Loveday. How she would love this.
Because he was counting the days till they should be homeward bound his
thoughts ran on to Christian and his predicament.

But a brown girl--a brown girl!

Across his thoughts came cutting Bligh's voice; hardly friendly now,
somewhat harsh and metallic, with just perhaps a touch of anxiety in it.

'Quartermaster, where is Mr. Christian?'

'Sir,' Reynell started, 'in his bunk.'

'You know very well he is not. Go and fetch him.'

'Sir,' in protest.

'That'll do, Reynell. You know and I know he isn't on board. Go and
fetch him.'

Bligh was not a man to be trifled with, still Reynell dared to linger a
moment. He sought vainly some excuse for Christian.

'Fetch him in double quick time,' thundered Bligh, and Reynell knew
that the misgivings that had assailed him had taken firm hold of his
commander also.

There was nothing for it but to fetch him. With a sinking heart he went
ashore and made his way to Christian's hut. He stood outside in the
scented moonlight and looked at the little place covered in a smother
of hibiscus and starry passion-flowers. The purple cross in the centre
of the blossoms stood out black against the waxen white wide-open
petals.

'Mr. Christian! Mr. Christian!'

The stillness was not broken for a moment. He could hear the roar of
the breakers on the outer reef; the faint rustic of the fronds of the
coconut palms; but here all was still; not a sound; not a breath. His
heart was heavy. He had never enjoyed these gorgeous tropics to their
full, always he had counted them but as a means to an end. Now some
presentiment of evil had hold of him.

This was the beginning of the end. Success was as vital to Daniel
Reynell as it was to Bligh himself. As he stood there in the moonlight
he feared he knew not what.

'Mr. Christian! Mr. Christian!'

'Ay, ay,' came the answer at last. 'What is it?'

'Sir, the captain has sent me for you.'

'The devil! At this time of night! What's his little game?'

'He sent me to fetch you,' repeated Reynell.

He heard a few words in the soft language of Tahiti; then Christian
joined him, evidently troubled. His anxiety showed itself in a display
of temper.

'What does the brute mean by sending for me at this hour of the night,
eh, Reynell?'

'I suspect,' said Reynell soberly, 'he's beginning to gather things in
ready for departure. The breadfruit trees are nearly all on board you
know. He wants to get his officers and men accustomed to being on board
again. It is very necessary,' he added significantly.

'My God!' groaned Christian, half to himself. 'What is a man to do?'

Bligh was not a man who could ever wait quietly, even though, as now,
he had expected to wait. Besides, he had been employing his time in
going over the situation, and he didn't like the look of it. There was
not a man on board who by any excuse could be on shore. There was not
an officer on watch.

They found him marching up and down the little poop deck.

'What is the meaning of this, Mr. Christian?' he said. 'How is it I
have to send ashore when I want an officer? A son of a sea cook you
are. A damned lazy, skulking hound----' and for the next two minutes
he poured on the astonished young man's head a torrent of wild sea
epithets.

Christian stood still a moment too utterly astonished to speak. Indeed
he had no apology to offer. He had no right to be absent from his ship
without leave. His only excuse was that Bligh had seemed to wink at it.

Reynell slipped away out of sight, but not out of earshot. He was
quite aware that he, as an onlooker, an impartial man, understood the
feelings of these two better than they, at the moment, did themselves.
Bligh, now that he began to think of departure, was appalled at the
state of affairs his own slackness had brought about.

He checked himself by the time he had thoroughly roused Christian to
wrath.

'Where were you, Mr. Christian?' he asked.

'I was with my wife, sir.'

'Your what? Your what?' Bligh asked significantly.

'With my wife, sir,' said Christian, a note of defiance in his
respectful voice.

Bligh looked at him, standing there in the golden moonlight, as if he
were inspecting some rare and extraordinary thing he had this moment
seen for the first time. There was really more insult in his attitude
than in his angry and abusive words of a moment before.

'Pardon me, Mr. Christian.' There was no one could be so rude as Bligh
when occasion offered. 'Pardon me, I didn't quite catch what you said.
Doubtless you have some good excuse to offer. Where did you say you
were?'

Christian's anger was rising.

'I said I was with my wife.' He laid a slight emphasis on the 'wife'.

'Do I hear aright?'

'You did, sir.'

'Your wife. Come, I like that.' Bligh laughed disagreeably. In the
bright moonlight the young man could see he was not in the least
amused. 'Your wife! A dark-skinned girl, whose best gown is merely a
wreath of hibiscus, the wife of an officer in his Majesty's navy! It's
the best joke I've heard for a long time. What do you propose to do
with the lady when your duties call you to sea once more? It strikes
me the Admiralty will have some little difficulty in sending her share
of your pay. Have you thought of any little arrangement that might be
made?'

Christian had been thinking of nothing else, day and
night--since--since--well, it seemed to him since he had held Lola in
his arms, felt her yielding to his embrace. He loved her with all the
fervour of hot-blooded five-and-twenty. The thought of parting made him
sick with misery. And Bligh was making a joke of the matter.

'She is my wife, sir,' he said as soberly as his passion would allow.
'She is as certainly my wife as if we had been wed by the priest. I
cannot help it that there is none here to do it. We have been married
by the rites of her own people.'

'Faith, those need never trouble you nor anybody else,' laughed Bligh.
He felt a little relief in getting the matter aired. His temper was
passing. 'They hold such bonds lightly hereabouts. Now, Mr. Christian,
I choose to have my officers on board at night, so, unless by my
express leave, you will be on board by sundown every night for the
future. Do you hear?'

'Yes, sir,' said Christian as if his thoughts were miles away.

'Your wife,' with a little emphasis on the word, 'will easily find some
one to console her, and will----'

But he did not finish the sentence. Christian was on him in a moment.
Lithe and strong and sinewy, he was shaking him as a terrier shakes a
rat.




CHAPTER IX.


'The heart knoweth his own bitterness; 
and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy?'


Loveday Corthew was a good girl, a sweet, loving girl, who would make
any man, who did not look for enterprise in a woman, an excellent wife.
Very naturally, seeing she was a woman, she liked attention from men.

Daniel Reynell had been her willing slave ever since she had budded
into womanhood. She had been proud at the thought of marrying him. To
disquiet and excite her came Thomas Quested, in all the glory of his
blue and gold. He said nothing with his lips, but his eyes told his
story.

They moved her, shamed her a little, because they had power to move
her, and yet filled her with a certain curious pride in herself,
because she barely responded and firmly intended to be true to Daniel
Reynell.

Then came the day of the storm, the high tide and the raid of the press
gang. She had spent that night safe in the farmhouse, listening to the
shriek of the wind, not guessing at the destruction that was going on
below; rising with the pleasant thought that she would meet one lover,
perhaps two that day.

No lover came--not even the one she had a right to expect.

'My maid,' comforted her father, 'look at the weather.'

It took a day or two to discover that Daniel Reynell was not there to
come. Another day or two, and it was plain he had vanished from the
district.

Uncertainty is a very hard cross to bear.

Loveday's face grew white and worn, for if she did not yet realize how
desperately a woman might love, this man she was to wed had been her
playmate and friend ever since she could remember, and she had a deep
affection for him.

Where was he?

He was not on board the Reaper. His two mates were looking for him.
His housekeeper had seen nothing of him since the storm. He was nowhere
in Polperro. He had not been pressed, they were sure of that. Loveday
falteringly suggested they should ask Lieutenant Quested.

But Lieutenant Quested had left the town. Men had been pressed. Their
names had been sent in. They knew them all. Three had gone to the
Bounty and three to the fleet at Plymouth. It was a serious loss
to the town. But Daniel Reynell was not among them. Anyhow they would
not take him. He had a protection. Taken, he would have been instantly
released.

Joan of the Pilchard had been taken for horse-stealing that same night.
But no one gave more than a passing thought to the drudge of the little
low fishermen's tavern. Her mother was drinking worse than ever now she
was gone. Some one said she had taken Joan clothes, but that was simple
waste, for Joan was sure to be hanged. No one connected her with Daniel
Reynell, not even her mother and stepfather, who, if they had used
their wits, might have remembered they had seen him taken.

'Where, in God's name, can he be?' asked the farmer. 'There's my maid
well nigh crazy with the uncertainty of it, and the day fixed for next
week!'

There the curtain dropped. At one fell swoop Loveday had lost both her
lovers.

The farmer was sorry.

But he was mortal. His house was a dreary place with only a mourning
daughter for company. He hastened his wooing of Mistress Treluan, the
buxom widow of his neighbour, and brought her home to the farm on the
pretext that it would be good for his little maid to have the company
of another woman.

Loveday had ruled in her father's house ever since she was a small
child. The new Mrs. Corthew, a woman of the world, knew it would
be bitter for her to take second place. She meant very well by her
husband's daughter. She had married her own very satisfactorily and
did not doubt she could do the same for his. Since Daniel Reynell was,
if not dead, apparently gone out of the girl's life, she felt it well
that Lieutenant Quested should be encouraged. All Polperro knew how he
had looked at Loveday Corthew. The girl was very sweet, and should be
easily won.

But not too easily. Her kindly stepmother meant to take care of that.
She set about the business of matchmaking skilfully, and with right
good will.

Poor Loveday. She had lost her lover, and her father no longer had need
of her. She, who had been the head of the household, was displaced,
loved most dearly, but the third person. That was a trouble she could
not put into words. Where she had given orders she had now to take
them. She had lost everything. Even the dignity that comes from great
grief she found but a passing thing.

That was a truth Mrs. Corthew let sink in. She had every intention of
mending things, but she must have the soil ready. Midsummer came, and
a white-faced little girl sat beneath the trees idly sewing for the
baby that was coming, the baby that would set her still farther from
her father, who had been hers only. Harvest and the heat tired her, and
nothing had come to fill the blank in her life.

Mrs. Corthew felt the time was ripe. She suggested to the son she had
left at Treluan that he should invite Lieutenant Quested down for the
shooting. Reuben Treluan fell into line right heartily.

His invitation was accepted with alacrity. The sailor had not forgotten
the girl he had found so charming. Of course a lieutenant in the navy
was better without a wife.

But possibly he was going to the ends of the earth. He would like to
take with him the remembrance of a sweet rosebud of an English girl. He
felt pathetic about it.

In fact, Lieutenant Thomas Quested was a good deal more in love than
he himself realized. Certainly Reuben Treluan was a little surprised
at the insistence of his guest that it was his bounden duty to pay his
respects to Mrs. Corthew at once.

Afterwards the thing explained itself to Mr. Treluan's laughing eyes.

At first Loveday accepted his attentions languidly. But she did accept.
He made her feel she was first with him, and that was a position
Loveday had not held since Daniel Reynell had disappeared. She would
be of less account than ever on the farm if the baby were the son the
farmer was counting on, an heir to carry on the old name.

What is the position of a sister more than eighteen years older than
her brother? All her life she must stand aside.

A woman need not be very selfish if such an outlook does not appeal to
her.

So Lieutenant Quested was comforting because he undoubtedly thought a
great deal of her, and was much more anxious to sit under she trees
with Mrs. Corthew's stepdaughter than to go shooting pheasants with
Mrs. Corthew's son.

Indeed, he found himself a great deal more in love than he had ever
intended to be. Day and night he thought of nothing but those hazel
eyes with the wistful, pathetic look in them. If he could make her
laugh he counted the day a red-letter one.

Before his visit was over he had spoken. He was quite convinced in his
own mind now, that a naval officer was better married. It steadied him.
He planned he would come back during his Christmas leave and put the
momentous question.

He didn't.

He couldn't wait.

He asked her, stammering and stuttering like a schoolboy, the day
before he intended to post to Plymouth.

'Loveday--Loveday--I--I--won't--won't you--will you--I mean----'

Oh what need of words!

The sun fell full on the opposite bank of the lane, on the trailing
blackberry wreathed with white convolvulus and honeysuckle, on
meadowsweet and blue corn cobs and on a tuft of oak just touched by the
finger of autumn. A bee droned drowsily in the air, and a big black
beetle tried vainly to climb over the handle of Loveday's basket. They
supposed themselves to be blackberrying.

'Loveday! Loveday!' She felt his breath on her cheek; saw the eagerness
in his eyes. She turned away, and buried her face in the bank at her
side, crushing the wild thyme against her cheek.

'Oh don't! Oh don't!'

'I can't help it,' he said desperately, and his voice broke. 'I love
you. Whether you love me or not I shall always love you.'

It was the break in his voice that did it.

'Oh!' She frankly broke down sobbing. 'But there is Daniel Reynell. How
could I be so mean!'

Thomas Quested could have sung a pæan of joy. Only a dead man stood in
the way now, and, spite of a twinge of jealousy, a dead man is not a
tangible rival.

'He is dead, my dear,' he said very, very tenderly. What woman is not
won by tenderness. 'If he were alive could he have stayed away from
you? I want to take care of you, my darling. Loveday, I will not ask
more at first--just let me take care of you.'

A modest man! He might have asked more.

He held her in his arms, and she clung to him, just a little ashamed.
A little over nine months since Daniel Reynell had gone out of her
life and she was in another man's arms. All the convention of the time
was against it, and convention, whether we will or no, does, in a way,
guide our lives.

He soothed her.

'I am only asking to take care of you. You cannot mourn all your days.'

Had she not always loved him best? The thought was in his mind and in
hers. A comforting thought to them both though neither spoke it aloud.

'But if he should come back,' she breathed.

The thought came to Quested that she did not want him back. The poor
dead! Their place is filled. No, it was not that. He knew he could
always have won Loveday Corthew.

Loveday cried on then, cried away all the grief, all the discomfort,
all the vague, unexplainable tribulations of the last nine months, with
her head on his shoulder.

Before night they had confided in a sympathetic and kindly stepmother,
who approved highly, and understood so thoroughly that she succeeded
in putting the girl on very good terms with herself. The farmer was
pleased, and even Quested got a word of comfort.

'She thinks of Reynell still,' he had said as a man states a fact he
hopes will be denied.

'My dear boy,' said the wise stepmother, 'never grudge her such
thoughts as she gives the man who first came courting her. I saw her
with him and I know. The day you two are wed Daniel Reynell will be but
a dim shadow.'

He went away a glad and happy man. He was to come back at Christmas and
they would fix the wedding day.

He came before that. He marched into the sitting-room one stormy day
early in December, when the farmer was bending happily over the wooden
cradle where lay the son of his old age. His daughter was looking on a
little forlornly.

The farmer wanted to talk about his son. His wife was wiser.

'We are very glad to see Lieutenant Thomas Quested,' said she, 'but we
do wonder what gives us the pleasure so soon.'

'I am Captain Quested, at last,' he said proudly, and his eyes danced,
for he had seen the light come into Loveday's face as he entered, 'I, a
man without a spark of influence.'

'Congratulations, my boy. Loveday, give him a kiss for that.'

The sailor slipped his arm round her waist lightly.

'Will you let her come across the sea with me?' he asked.

'Nay, nay,' said the farmer, 'we cannot part with our little maid. You
will get you a house in Plymouth. Then she can come across, and see how
the boy and the old folks are getting on.'

'But,' said Quested, 'they are fitting out ships to take the convicts
to New Holland. The captain of the Venus has died, and they have
offered his place to me.'

'New Holland!' said the farmer vaguely. 'New Holland!'

Farmers in Cornwall knew little about Australia in those days.

'The plantations are to be there now we've lost Virginia.'

'But 'tis the other side of the world!' He felt much as we should feel
if some enterprising young lover were to speak of taking his bride to
Mars.

'Yes,' said Quested with a motion of his hand, 'away in the South Seas.
Captain Cook says it is a goodly land.'

'But you cannot take our little maid there!'

There was a finality about the farmer. For a moment Quested looked cast
down.

'We might come back in two years,' he said.

'Two years!' said the farmer. 'No, no. When you come back we'll think
about it. Loveday is needed at home.'

Loveday thought, was she? They were good to her. They loved her, but
was she needed now? Did not the farmer and his wife and the little son
make a perfect trio? Thomas Quested gave her dignity, put purpose into
her life. She would be first with him. How could she decline to go?
The future looked dark without Captain Quested. Two long years playing
second fiddle to the baby.

She was a loyal little soul, and would not for the world have put her
thoughts into such words. But that idea lay behind. She wanted Captain
Quested. She had not before realized how much she wanted him.

'Oh, father,' she said, 'I want to go!'

After a night's discussion the farmer gave in, and there went to bed
that night a wildly, deliriously happy sailor man.

The Venus was to sail in two months' time, and Mr. Corthew had
promised that he should wed his daughter and take her out with him.

Best of all! The moving spirit in the decision had been that daughter
herself.




CHAPTER X.


'He that soweth iniquity shall reap vanity; 
and the rod of his anger shall fail.'


Just for one moment Christian held his superior officer by the throat,
as if he would do murder. Then he let him go, and, with a sweeping bow,
apologized.

'I beg your pardon, sir. I am sure you will forgive a man who cannot
allow even his commanding officer to speak ill of his wife.'

Bligh's face worked. He seized the young man by the shoulders.

Then he looked round. There had been no witnesses.

He stepped back and shook his clenched fists. A set look came over his
face. In the clear moonlight the man before him saw it like a mask, and
guessed the meaning of it.

In truth, he was remembering that most of the other men had formed
ties just as this young fellow had done. If they chose to insist upon
the permanence of those ties his expedition was ruined. Here he was,
at their mercy. True, he could come back with a cruiser and teach them
that there was no limit to the reach of England's power. But that could
only be for the future. His breadfruit trees, collected with so much
care and trouble, would be lost by a quarrel with his officers. Already
he was not on good terms with his master. He must try more subtle means.

'Mr. Christian,' he said coldly, 'I am surprised at you. You surely
remember it is rank mutiny to lay hands on your superior officer?'

'Yes, sir.' Christian was shaking with anger, and spoke rarely above
his breath. Even Bligh could see he was putting a bridle upon his
passion. 'I could murder the man who spoke ill of my wife.'

'I see,' said Bligh. 'Some allowance must be made for a lad's foolish
infatuation. You will know better as you grow older. Go below, Mr.
Christian, and consider yourself under arrest till to-morrow morning.'

Christian hesitated. Looked round over the moonlit sea; then obeyed
quietly.

As for Bligh, he walked up and down the poop half the night before he,
too, went below.

Next morning he had decided on the course he should take. As soon as he
had breakfasted he sent for Christian.

'Mr. Christian,' as if he had entirely forgotten the painful incident
of the night before, 'you will be glad to hear we are pretty near
homeward bound at last. You will take the longboat and sail along
outside the reef to the village where we got those last breadfruit
trees'--it was a good twelve hours away--'and see about laying in a
store of vegetables for the voyage. We've eaten the country out round
here.'

It was a perfectly reasonable request. Christian knew he was getting
off very lightly. But he looked moody as he came on deck and gave the
necessary orders. Reynell saw him and begged to be taken.

For a moment Christian hesitated.

'No, Reynell, I won't take you. I don't trust him somehow. He's got
something up his sleeve for me. Stay here and look after my little
wife, will you? If aught ill should come to her----'

'You will have to leave her, sir, next week.' Reynell did not look at
him.

'Ay, but how I'm to do it I do not know.'

Reynell laughed a little bitterly.

'We manage to do a good many things we do not like.' Then he smiled,
for homeward bound meant to him the green hills round Polperro and the
laughing eyes of Loveday Corthew.

When Christian was gone Bligh went ashore and wandered up to the hut
Christian had called his home.

They lay close in. Plainly from the Bounty's deck Reynell could see
him standing there talking to Christian's wife, who had come out and
stood shyly before him. He took her by the chin and looked down into
her face critically.

Peter Heywood, a midshipman of seventeen, a dare-devil young scamp from
the Isle of Man, speaking broad Manx, laughed openly. It was odd to
see their Captain with a girl's face between his hands. But Charles
Stewart, an older man though still a midshipman, shook his head.

'Christian would half kill him if he could see. The girl is right
enough. She thinks it's her duty to be civil to Christian's captain. I
wonder what she dare refuse him. They've different standards from us.
If I catch him so much as looking at my Tolea, by the nine gods, I'll
skin him alive.'

'My dear,' said Peter Heywood, 'we'd best be givin' her a hint to be
hidin' in the bush till her man's back.'

'Upon my word,' said Stewart, 'I believe it'ud save bloodshed.'

Reynell, listening, decided if they did not he would.

When Bligh left the girl and strolled away to the village he turned to
Stewart who was the officer of the watch in Christian's absence. For
six months no watches had been kept. This morning Bligh had set them
again. He was tightening things up. The men chafed, but it was very
necessary, seeing how soon they would be at sea again.

'May I go ashore for a moment, sir?'

'What d'ye want to go ashore for, Reynell? Strict orders none of the
watches to be allowed ashore unless they're sent.'

'Couldn't you send me, sir?'

'Well, I like that. I could, of course. What do you want ashore?'

'To----' Reynell checked himself. 'No harm, sir,' he said earnestly. He
knew very well the other two knew he had heard their conversation. As
a superior man, in the general relaxation of discipline he was on very
friendly terms with the young officers, 'only maybe it's as well you
shouldn't know aught about it.'

'Mysterious,' said Stewart. 'Well, really----'

'It's as well,' said Reynell, looking at Christian's little hut, 'to
avoid all causes of quarrel.'

Peter Heywood grinned. Stewart, smiling, said,

'Perhaps it would be as well if I kept an eye seaward when I send you
ashore to tell Trevenick, whom I see doing himself very well over
there, that the brasswork about the capstan head demands his immediate
attention.'

'Thank you, sir.'

Promptly Reynell was ashore delivering the message to Trevenick, who
swore he intended to cut such a dog's life at the first opportunity.
Reynell did not stay to listen, but made for Christian's hut. Not
standing on ceremony, he stepped inside, for he did not want Bligh to
catch him.

Lola, Christian had called his wife, because he swore she was a Spanish
beauty. She was a pretty girl of sixteen, with a golden brown skin,
soft, melting brown eyes, streaming dark hair, and softly rounded
limbs. Her manner was gentle and confiding. For the moment Reynell
fully entered into Christian's feelings. How was he to leave this young
thing who loved him?

'Lola, what did the Captain say when he spoke to you just now? Quick,
my child, quick.'

He spoke in the soft Tahitian tongue. She answered, looking at him with
frank innocent eyes.

'He said I was pretty. He said I had lovely eyes and I must come on
board the Bounty. He will send a boat for me to-night. Fletcher will
be there?' she asked.

'Lola,' said Reynell quickly. Bligh might be acting with the best
intentions, but he suspected him of wanting to show Christian his wife
as a frail thing. 'You must get away to the bush and stay there, Lola;
stay there till Christian comes back. You must not do what the captain
tells you. Christian will be miserable if you spend a night on board
the Bounty and he not there.'

'He will be there,' said the girl, her eyes lighting up. 'He cannot
come ashore at night now.'

'He will not be there. He has gone along the reef. You must see for
yourself it is an utter impossibility that he should be there.'

The girl's face grew piteous.

'Fletcher'--he had taken such trouble to make her learn how to
pronounce his harsh name--'told me I must never go aboard without him.'

'Certainly not. And you must not disobey the captain. Hide yourself,
Lola. Trust some one to tell you when Christian returns. Mind, I am his
friend, and I tell you for his good. The captain is not his friend.
Hide, Lola, hide,' and, afraid of lingering, Reynell returned on board,
wondering whether he had made the simple little girl understand his
meaning.

Towards evening Bligh gave an order to Heywood.

'Go to that little hut there, Mr. Heywood, and bring me off the girl
you will find there. I promised to send for her this evening.'

'Is it Mr. Christian's girl you're invitin', sir?' asked Heywood, in
his broad Manx, which was so like Irish.

'I did not ask you who the girl was, Mr. Heywood. I told you to bring
her.'

Heywood's dismay was comical.

'Upon my word, sir,' said he, 'there isn't a sign of her,' and
he gently insinuated that, if his captain's mind was set in that
direction, he could find a dozen girls who would be deeply honoured by
his notice. That particular one, however, was away to the bush. Her
husband was the only person who could wile her back.

'Her husband?' questioned Bligh, as if surprised.

'Mr. Christian, sir.' There was a little twinkle in Heywood's eye.
Bligh caught him by the shoulder and shook him angrily.

'You are all mad, crew and officers alike! You'll be telling me you
have a wife next.'

'Sure, sir,' said Heywood coolly, 'I'm a general lover. But there's
some of the lads have fixed thimselves up pretty tight.'

Bligh looked furious.

'Bless you, sir, tops'le sheets'll work a wondrous cure.'

'You be hanged for an impudent young scamp,' said Bligh recovering
himself, 'blessing your betters. Come now, has this girl any relations?'

'Lashings of 'em. There's her brother, that gossoon on the rock there.'

A boy of fourteen was sitting idly fishing.

'Fetch him here.'

Heywood was glad to be given something he really could do.

In a very short time the lad was on deck, smiling all over his face,
for he had never been here before that some good had not come to him.

This time Bligh frowned at him.

'Where is your sister?' he asked harshly.

'Master of men,' said the boy softly, 'I don't know. She has doubtless
gone to the bush till her husband returns.'

'But where is she?'

'Leader of men, I do not know.' The boy held out a deprecating hand.

'Oh, you don't know, don't you? We'll arrange that. McKoy, bring a
lashing here.'

'Sir, sir,' protested the master, the only man who dared to speak,
'in all probability the lad speaks the truth. If you will pardon me
reminding you, yourself taught us the necessity for being on friendly
terms with the natives.'

'The necessity is nearly over,' said Bligh curtly. 'The breadfruit is
all on board. I will not be defied. McKoy, trice me up this lad and use
the rope's-end on him when I tell you. Now, my lad,' he said again in
Tahitian, 'where is your sister?'

The boy cast an imploring glance round. He wrestled with the bonds that
bound his wrists.

'Leader of men,' he wailed, 'I do not know.'

Bligh made a sign.

McKoy stood with the rope's-end raised in the air. At his sign down it
came on the brown young back, raising a broad weal.

Frankly, the South Sea Islanders are pleasure lovers, basking in
eternal sunshine. The boy was no Stoic. He gave a long wailing cry.

There was dismay among the onlookers, for the great majority had allied
themselves with these people.

But it takes a good deal to make men oppose a man who holds the power
of life and death, from whose decision only open rebellion can save
them.

Reynell sought the surgeon, whom, unluckily, he could not find at first.

'Where is your sister?' asked Bligh again, calm and judicial.

The lad writhed.

'Leader of men, I do not know. She has gone to the bush.'

Bligh lifted his hand. Down came the rope's end again. Another weal.
The boy screamed.

The same question brought the same answer mingled with wild prayer for
mercy.

So the little tragedy went on till the boy's wails sank to low moans.

Bligh looked on calmly. It was nothing to him that the crew were
wrathful. He was pleased to show his authority.

The boy's back was all raw before Reynell came back with the surgeon,
Mr. Ledward.

He glanced down at the boy and caught McKoy's arm upraised for another
blow.

'If you do not wish to kill him, sir, he has had enough.'

Bligh laughed.

'See he's put ashore, Mr. Stewart. His sister will have something to do
making a salve for a sore back. They will all learn it is not well to
defy William Bligh.'

He went below to his own cabin.

With his going tongues were loosened. Officers and men, even the
staid old master, joined in the universal disapprobation. The surgeon
had the boy cut free and called for some one to run to his cabin for
restoratives. McKoy, who had delivered the lashes, scratched his head
ruefully.

'A' give it un mild, a' did. A' sutinly laid it on mild.'

'If you hadn't, man,' said the surgeon, 'he certainly would be dead.
These islanders can't stand much. Carry him below, and we'll see what
can be done.'

When the surgeon had done what he could for him, Reynell put the boy
in his own hammock. The crew came and sympathized, making little
offerings, and disclaiming, each for himself, all part and parcel in
the captain's cruelty.

The boy looked round him with wide, wondering eyes. His back pained
him; he felt sick and ill; this was the work of the white man whom he
had trusted. Yet these others were kind. It was more than his simple,
untutored mind could understand. He closed his eyes wearily.

Charles Stewart, looking at him, shook his head.

'Is he much hurt, Reynell? Will he get over it?'

'Mr. Ledward says he will, sir.'

'It's a bad business. Upon my word it's a bad business. How the devil
Bligh comes to be such a fool passes me! Why, more than three quarters
of us are only too anxious to stop here as it is. If it comes to a
row--or if they depart for the woods----'

'They can't do much without a leader, sir,' said Reynell, daring since
Stewart spoke so openly. 'I'm afraid, though, of what Mr. Christian
will say. And do. He will imagine all sorts of insults were intended
for his wife, and if any one insults his wife----'

He really thought Christian would kill Bligh.

'Oh, Christian!' Stewart gave a long whistle. 'Christian will raise
Cain. And he will be back to-morrow night.'




CHAPTER XI.


'Boast not thyself of to-morrow for thou knowest not what a day may
bring forth.'


Bligh was excited in his dour way. The last hundred breadfruit trees
were being brought aboard. He had sacrificed the comfort of the whole
ship's company, but not another one could he have stowed. Still fifteen
hundred! He might count surely on at least half surviving. If only a
quarter got through----Once he got them to Jamaica he had little doubt
but all would be well.

Now the great thing was speed. He was hustling the men. He felt they,
too, should understand the importance of the matter in hand.

'Gardener,' he said, 'we want a few stays.'

'A few more sticks wouldn't come amiss----'

The gardener stopped as the master came down the companionway. He was a
middle-aged man, older than Bligh, whom he held in some awe.

'Sir,' he reported a little anxiously, 'a couple of men, Muspratt and
Churchill, got away with the cutter.'

Bligh looked thunder. The pacific master quailed.

'And what was the master doing, may I ask, to permit such a thing?'

'I was arranging a place for the trees,' he said deprecatingly. 'By
your orders the chest of arms was left in the gangway there to make
room. They took it.'

'I suppose you can send after them,' very curtly.

'Mr. Stewart has just brought them in, sir. I felt it my duty to report
to you.'

'You did get as far as that, did you? Well, I'll attend to Messrs
Muspratt and Churchill to-morrow.'

Bligh went on deck. He was troubled. But he did not say so. He had been
too lax with the men. This should be mended.

On deck Reynell was coiling down a rope end.

'Tell Mr. Heywood I want him.'

Heywood appeared.

'Mr. Heywood, take a boat's crew ashore and fetch me a few stout sticks
for stays. There's an empty hut over there. Just pull that down and
bring me the timber.'

Heywood rubbed his eyes.

'Mr. Christian's hut, sir?'

Bligh laughed and his laugh was not pleasant.

'You yourself assured me it was empty last night.'

Heywood still looked troubled.

'We are off in less than a week,' Bligh explained elaborately, and
when Bligh explained there was trouble in the air, 'Mr. Christian will
not be wanting a hut any longer. No more shore leave. Mr. Heywood,' he
rapped out sharply, 'do you intend to obey me? If I choose to pull down
an empty hut I shall.'

There was nothing more to be said.

'Quartermaster,' called Heywood to Reynell.

They got together a crew and made for the hut. Heywood stepped inside
and told the men to take out anything that seemed of value.

Before they were half through their work of salvage there came a hail
from the ship telling them not to be all night over the job.

Heywood looked ruefully at his quartermaster.

''Tisn't any fault of yours, sir,' Reynell comforted him. 'Mr.
Christian'll know you did your best. Look lively now, men.'

They levelled the little house to the ground in less than five minutes.

It was dark when Christian got aboard from his trip. His request to go
ashore was curtly refused, so it was not till morning that he saw the
destruction of his property. He turned angrily and went straight for
Bligh's cabin. Reynell made bold to stop him.

'Sir, sir, is it your hut you're thinking about?'

'My hut! My home, you mean, Reynell! I must go ashore at once.
Where----! How----!'

'Your wife is all right, sir. Upon my honour I believe she is all
right. She's away to the bush. The hut was empty and the captain had it
pulled down for stays.'

'He knew it was mine,' said Christian. 'The whole ship knew it was
mine. It is a piece of wanton destruction to spite me.'

'Never mind,' said Charles Stewart's soothing voice, 'you'll be even
with him before you're done. Let it go now, old man, let it go.'

He took Christian by the arm and walked him below, evidently putting as
good a face upon things as he could. But there was yet the beating of
the boy and the driving away of Christian's wife to be explained.

The ship seemed to be in a state of suppressed ferment.

Bligh had been anxious at first that his crew should be on friendly
relations, should even form ties with the islanders; now he seemed as
anxious to show his scorn for those ties. Reynell would have given a
great deal to have the Bounty a week away from Tahiti and all well
with her.

In the afternoon Christian got ashore.

The whole ship waited for his coming back. But the sun went down and it
was well on into the night before he came.

The deck was in darkness, the moon had not yet risen, only the lantern
at the companion showed a dim light. As its rays fell on Fletcher
Christian's face, Reynell, lounging on deck, saw that it was dark with
passion.

Straight to Bligh's cabin he went. Reynell heard voices raised in
anger. He expected next a call for a file of marines to put Mr.
Christian under arrest. Would it be the signal for a general mutiny,
for all the ship sympathized with Christian?

Perhaps Bligh understood that, for the order never came.

Christian came out, went down the ship's side without a word to any
one, into a native canoe that was waiting, and back to the shore again.
Reynell wondered if he were gone for good.

But no. Next day he came aboard and resumed his duties. Stewart patted
him on the back.

'By Jingo! I thought you'd turned nigger and the Bounty had lost
you!'

'I'm not so sure,' said Christian grimly, 'that she hasn't. It wouldn't
be a bad life here, and Bligh is enough to harry the life out of a man.'

'You appear to have got the better of him. He don't allow any one else
ashore at night.'

'I told him I'd wreck the whole expedition in revenge for my wrecked
hut unless he let me go my own way.'

'And he didn't send for the jaundy?' asked Stewart amazed.

'He didn't,' said Christian. 'Muspratt and Churchill did me a good
turn, poor beggars. If he's to land those breadfruit trees safely in
Jamaica he'd better go a bit easy.'

Charles Stewart shook his head over things.

'Will we get away, sir?' asked Reynell voicing his anxiety. 'I'd give
ten years of my life to be sure of seeing old England again.'

'And why shouldn't you see it?'

'I hope I shall, sir. But there's something unrestful in the air. I
wish the Captain had let Mr. Christian's wife alone.'

'And her brother. And her hut. He's not over kind, but as a rule he's
not wanton.'

'He had to show his power,' hazarded Reynell. It was to his mind the
only explanation of Bligh's conduct.

'He must have been possessed to meddle with Christian,' opined Stewart.

'I assure you it isn't wise to meddle with Christian,' said that
gentleman laughing grimly. 'The meddler generally comes off worst.'

'Well,' said Stewart, 'I'd as soon touch a hedgehog with his prickles
out.'

Christian smiled. He was grave as a man who has made up his mind to a
momentous step. But he was not unhappy about it.

'I shall tell you, Stewart,' he went on, 'and you, too, Reynell,
because you have both been sympathetic and friendly. I shall give
messages to you both to deliver in England. I have a brother and sister
there. I don't want them to think I've forgotten them.'

'But----' Stewart and Reynell spoke in a breath.

Christian held up his hand.

'No, I shan't be there as soon as you will. I had it out with Bligh the
other night. It was very nearly all over with him. I let him off on one
condition.'

Stewart stared at him. Reynell was not so very much surprised. He had
seen Christian come up that night.

'That you should stay behind,' he asked. 'You'd surely never be so
foolish. Your prospects----'

'My prospects pretty well wrecked themselves, I should say, when I
held that knife to Bligh's throat. He takes it coolly here because
he's bound to, but once in English waters I wouldn't give much for my
prospects in the navy. The alternative--is--ah well, it's worth it.'

'Don't,' implored Stewart, 'don't. You are ruining your life.'

'Gaining it! Gaining it! Stewart, I've never in my life been so happy
as I've been the last six months.'

'It won't last. You're like a god to these people now, but by and
by--when the ship is gone----'

'I'll chance it,' said Christian, leaning over the side and hailing a
canoe that had been waiting for that hail, for he meant to spend the
night ashore as usual.

'Reynell, keep a quiet tongue in your head,' warned Stewart anxiously.
'It won't do to let the rest of the men get wind of this. I don't know
what'll be the end of it.'

'The mischief is,' said Reynell, 'that half the crew would give their
eyes to do the same.'

There was no way to alter things.

The preparation for departure went on apace. The men were sullen and
discontented. Bligh, noticing it, said to his officers that that was to
be expected after so long a spell of freedom ashore. Blue water would
cure it.

At last the fateful 4th of April dawned, bright and sunny. They
expected nothing else of the weather in that part of the world. Little
by little, Christian had taken most of his things ashore, until now his
little cabin was bare and empty. He wrote two letters, and gave one to
Stewart and one to Reynell.

'So if one don't reach old England, the other will,' he said. 'I'm keen
on them getting those letters.'

'And you're going to-day,'said Stewart. 'You're really sure you're
going to-day. It's so unlike Bligh.'

'Exactly,' said Christian, 'but I had my knife at his throat.'

'Still he has something up his sleeve for you, I warrant.'

'Ah, man, you're thinking of the navy and promotion. I have cut all
that. I am going to be a naked savage. Perhaps he thinks I will find
that punishment enough.'

'So you will,' said Reynell sombrely.

Christian laughed, and beckoned to a canoe that was close in shore in
which was the girl Lola, his wife.

On board all was bustle. The men were shortening in. Round the ship was
a fleet of canoes filled with weeping women. They might not mourn long,
these light-hearted islanders, but they were mourning most sincerely.
Only the stern commands of Bligh and his officers kept the men from
running every moment to the ship's side to look over and shout tender
words in answer to the loving ones that in a soft language were shouted
at them.

'Sail loosers 'way aloft,' came the order. The pipes of the bo'sun's
mate sounded shrilly across the harbour.

'The anchor's away, sir,' came the cry from for'ard.

Slowly the ship paid off, heading towards the passage in the reef. As
the men tramped round the capstan their shanty rose sadly on the air
for all they were homeward bound and it should have been a cheerful
song.

'For, oh I never will forget ye.'

'Tofa my phalangi, tofa so e tua,' responded the people in the
canoes, setting their own words to the air, words that said that the
strangers, the white men whom they loved, were leaving them, and they
were desolate.

As the anchor rose Christian stepped forward and prepared to slip over
the side. It had been agreed he should not leave till the very last
moment. He would just drop down quietly into the canoe that was waiting
for him; Lola's canoe. In the bustle he reckoned that no one would
notice him, or if they did, it would be too late to follow his example.

He had his hand on the rail when the master-at-arms and a couple of
sailors appeared beside him.

'Cap'en's orders, sir. He says you'm agoin' to desert.'

For one moment Christian was speechless with dismay. Bligh had had
the last word, as Stewart had said he would. It was checkmate. He was
losing everything.

Then he fought madly.

But the master-at-arms called another man to his aid. It took but a
moment to overpower him.

The anchor was up. The breeze had filled the sails. The Bounty was
forging ahead through the water at a rate that threatened quickly to
leave all the canoes behind. They would have dragged Christian below
but he, remembering that Lola would think he had purposely deceived
her, begged and prayed them to let him stay on deck. Gladly enough
would they have deserted themselves, but they saw no reason why he
should have what they were denied, so they held him, a sailor on each
arm, the master-at-arms behind him. He could look over at the receding
land, while those in the canoes must see he was a prisoner.

He saw only the little brown canoe with the outrigger, and the girl in
it, with her frightened, anxious face turned towards the ship that was
fast going out to sea.

'My love, my dear, my wife,' he cried, 'they are taking me by force. I
will come back. Fear not, I will come back. Trust me I will come!'

'Master-at-arms,' called Bligh, a curious note of triumph in his voice,
'take the prisoner below, and set a sentry at his door.'

The sails were full now, the Bounty looked like a great white bird
tearing her way through the water. Daniel Reynell's heart swelled with
thankfulness. Half his probation was over. He was homeward bound.
Loveday Corthew would be waiting for him.

They dragged Fletcher Christian past him.

'I told you, I told you,' said Stewart. 'I knew that Bligh would never
let him stop. Now he has lost promotion and everything.'

'I have not lost everything,' shouted Christian, as if he guessed what
they were thinking, 'not yet. I am not the only one that wants to stay
behind.'

Bligh broke in angrily, asking if they were going to be all day over
the job. The little party reached the gangway and disappeared from
sight.




CHAPTER XII.


'For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope; 
for a living dog is better than a dead lion.'


It was the custom, I believe, at the end of the eighteenth century,
or, at any rate, it was a very general practice after a prisoner had
been declared guilty, for the judge to inflict the very highest penalty
allowed by the law. Afterwards they might consider a little mercy.

The law in those days was a fierce thing. Since the death penalty could
be, and was, inflicted for stealing from the person anything over
a shilling in value, the woman who stole a valuable horse might be
considered to have well earned it. Perhaps, in any case, it would not
have been carried out.

Luckily for Joan, the young barrister who had defended her and the
older man who had prosecuted for the Crown, were both so struck by her
beauty that they came together and talked the case over.

Dick Penrhyn's wife, too, was properly shocked. She was a pious woman,
and, though she thought it very wicked indeed to have killed the mare,
she could not bear to think that the blood of a girl she had known
would be on her husband's head.

She stopped the two men as they were walking down the street.

'You'uns,' and she looked pointedly at the junior, 'done she to death.
Her ah had a mortal fright. Couldn't you 'uns beg she off?'

'That's an idea,' said the junior with a sigh of relief.

'Years of imprisonment, that's the alternative,' mused the elder, 'her
youth and that strange beauty gone. 'Pon my word I'd rather be dead.'

But then, of course, it wasn't he who was sentenced to be hanged by the
neck till he was dead. He might have held a different opinion if it had
been.

'There's transportation,' said the junior thoughtfully.

'I dunno,' said Mrs. Penrhyn, 'as it ud be a bad thing for Joan to put
the world atween she an' that good for naught mother of hers.'

The two men laughed.

'Well, if we get her off,' said the Crown Prosecutor, 'will you get her
a few little comforts for the voyage?'

'Iss, iss, sure,' then more cautiously, 'a'm a poor woman an' my man,
he's a bit tight fisted, but a'll do best a' can.'

'Get her off,' said the junior counsel looking at his elder, 'and I'll
gladly provide her with some clothes and necessaries myself.'

So it came that after long days in the condemned cell that made her
feel she had died a thousand deaths, and left her numb and broken, Mrs.
Treherne came to Joan at last.

She was lying on her pallet staring at a faint ray of watery sunshine
that found its way through the Judas hole in the door, and she was
saying to herself that she supposed she would not see many more rays of
sunshine. It behoved her to make the most of it. Yet how could she when
day and night she was thinking that she would be choked to death--for
a crime of which she felt herself entirely innocent. Just because Dick
Penrhyn had not been reasonable she must die--and die horribly.

'Get up, Joan. I've good news for 'ee. Well, maybe----' the woman
hesitated.

Joan got up wearily. She was a brave woman, ashamed to be found
bewailing herself.

'What is it?' she asked. 'Will they shoot I? 'Twould be easier.'

'A' has na to die,' said Mrs. Treherne, sitting down on the pallet
and letting herself go with a sob. It was no little thing, she found,
to tell a girl she was reprieved. Joan put out her hands blindly and
caught the woman's. She could not speak and she would not cry out.

'There! There! Poor maid! Poor maid! An' long years of jail afore ye.'

But Joan did not think of that for the moment. The rope--the horror
she had dreaded so unspeakably had been taken away! She looked at
the woman, afraid to believe so great a good had come to her. Then,
seeing her jailer's face, she slipped to her knees and sobbed out her
gratitude in that dirty lap. Mrs. Treherne had had naught to do with
the reprieve, but she liked the gratitude. It made her take an interest
in the girl though, to her, her future looked terribly dark.

Then there came a present for Joan, money to buy a dress, underclothes,
everything a girl could need, with a request that the dress should be
blue.

It was the sentimental junior who desired to see the girl he had been
instrumental in saving, and who did not wish the picture to be spoiled
by the sight of her bedraggled and dirty as he knew only too well weeks
of jail in those days was bound to make her.

The jailer's wife did her best, though she shook her head over what she
thought Joan's future was likely to be. After all, her own life had
been no bed of roses, who was she to deprive the girl of any scrap of
pleasure that was likely to come her way. Besides, things might be made
profitable for Susan Treherne.

When a fortnight later, the junior counsel, after a little struggle
with himself, and quite against his better judgment, made a special
journey to Plymouth just to see her, Mrs. Treherne smiled a knowing
smile, and saw that the girl was clean and neat, and dressed in the new
clothes when she was sent in to see him.

Joan counted him her saviour. A fortnight's freedom from the shadow
of the gallows had brought back the clear pallor to her cheeks, the
colour to her lips, and the brightness to her eyes. It was a stately,
good-looking young woman who stood before him, thanking him gravely and
with desperate gratitude for all he had done for her.

The grace and charm of this daughter of the people took his breath
away. Her voice, though she spoke broadest dialect, was rich, low and
melodious. He could not know that it was his own manner and that of
the judge who had condemned her, that reminded her of the dignity that
was her father's, and that, she realised, was so much better a thing
than the noisy manners of the tavern where she had spent the last six
years of her life. Not that she had ever been noisy except when she let
herself go in furious anger. She had taken refuge in a sullen silence.

'It is long years for you,' said the junior counsel regretfully,
'unless----' he paused.

''Tis better than hangin',' said Joan with a shudder, 'an' when a' had
no mind to steal mare----'

'There's no good going into that,' he said hastily. What a sin it was
this stately young woman should be soiled and smirched by a life in
jail. Was it possible--transportation----But the American colonies had
been lost to England; Jamaica and Barbadoes no longer needed white
bond-women, having their wants in that direction supplied by West
Africa. They were sending convicts to Captain Cook's land in the South
Seas. It was a sin to send so handsome a girl so far away. And yet----

He conquered his own desires, like the decent fellow he was. He knew
very well he would never marry a woman of the people and a jailbird at
that. Some other man would take her, he supposed, but the sin should
not be on his shoulders.

'Joan, you would not like to go to the South Seas?'

He was amazed at the light that sprang into the girl's sea blue eyes.
Her whole face glowed with hope and delight. He felt for a moment he
could not let this lovely woman go out of his life. There were ways----

'A'd be main glad--I would like to go to the South Seas,' she said,
trying to model her speech on his.

Daniel Reynell had gone to the South Seas!

In these days of swift communication, when the world is open to every
one, many speak of Australia as if it were all comprised in a ring
fence, and people bound to Port Darwin and Hobart are within visiting
distance. What wonder, then, if an ignorant girl whose only ideas of
geography had been imparted by the nuns at the convent school at Cadiz,
should think that here would lie her chance of meeting the one man in
the world for her. The one man still! This good-looking young fellow,
before whom she was willing to abase herself in gratitude, could never
be anything but a means to an end. Hope was born again. If this man
would help her to go to the South Seas----

'Away from all your friends? Never to see them again perhaps? Wouldn't
you rather stay in England, Joan? I think perhaps----'

'I have no friends,' said Joan speaking deliberately, to try and get
her words right, just as this man spoke them. 'None had been good to me
but you and Mistress Treherne.'

'So you think I have been good to you?'

'You have been very good to me,' said Joan gravely, 'I ha' no words to
thank 'ee.' She made a little curtsey, and the deep grave eyes looked
straight into his.

He sighed because he thought he was being a fool.

'Well, Joan, we must try and make it as easy for you as possible. Now
be a good girl, don't despair, and I'll do all I can to make the voyage
smooth and the landing comfortable for you. If you're grateful, to
me you may put up a little prayer occasionally that I find a wife as
beautiful as you.'

He drew her towards him, looked gravely into her face--she was tall as
he--and he, though no giant, was above the medium height--and drew her
towards him. He stood so a moment, his hands on her shoulders. And it
was his heart that beat to suffocation. He put a very grave kiss on her
forehead and let her go.

Joan walked on air back to the fetid ward. So--he thought her
beautiful, this good-looking young man--he had treated her with
courtesy--he had kissed her. She was to go to the South Seas--to begin
a new life--and--hope whispered it--she did not know how utterly
improbable it was--she might meet Daniel Reynell there.




CHAPTER XIII.


'All things come alike to all: 
there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; 
to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; 
to him that sacrificeth and to him that sacrificeth not; 
as is the good, so is the sinner.'


Not till they were well out of Tahitian waters and the islands, and the
lotus-eating life was becoming, it seemed, a mere memory, did Bligh
release Christian and send for him to his cabin.

Christian, entering, found his captain sitting at the table with a
pistol beside him.

'Well, Mr. Christian, are you prepared to admit I have won in the
little game?'

Christian hesitated.

'Yes, sir,' he spoke coldly, bitterly--'but you will also admit, I
suppose, you hardly played fair. I was to desert at the last moment,
you will remember.'

'Exactly. You were good enough to inform me of your intention with your
knife at my throat, you will remember. We also agreed to let things
take their natural course. The natural course was for me to have all
ready to insure proper discipline on board my ship. Checkmate, Mr.
Christian, checkmate.'

Christian manifestly only kept himself under control with an effort.

Bligh went on.

'Now, Mr. Christian, you are a good officer, an excellent officer. I
need excellent officers. We will let bygones be bygones. You must admit
you assaulted me in a manner which,--well, upon my word, I have seen
men hanged for much less. On my part I will admit that possibly I was a
little hard on you. That was for your own good, Mr. Christian, entirely
for your own good. Six months hence you will thank me for my conduct.
Long before you are my age you will feel that you cannot be grateful
enough. Now, Mr. Christian, you may go back to your duty.'

'And a lucky dog you may think yourself,' was Stewart's comment. 'He's
got some guts, Bligh, after all.'

'Do you think he means it?' asked Christian.

'Why, yes. Why shouldn't he?'

'Because he is not the man to forgive that knife. Oh, no, he will not
log it because it won't read well if he tells the truth. But he will
never forgive me all the same.'

Still, he seemed not only to have forgiven but to have entirely
forgotten. He allowed Christian to resume his position as head of the
third watch. He even asked him to dinner, and as a man who had lived
for the past six months under their shadow, he consulted him about the
precious breadfruit trees. The unfortunate episodes of the last days at
Tahiti seemed to be entirely blotted out.

The change was in Christian.

Reynell, of whom from the very first he had made something of a friend,
could not but notice it. He was irritable and bad tempered. That might
be set down to his grief for the girl he had left behind him. It was
only natural. But in another way he had changed too. He had made a
friend of Reynell when he was only a leading seaman. But then Reynell
was a man of some education. So far out of the world as they were, it
was excusable that a man should take a companion where he could find
him. With the rest of the crew he had preserved the distance expected
from an officer.

Now that was changed.

Reynell noted, uneasily, that Christian seemed to be on the friendliest
and most intimate terms with Muspratt and all the discontented spirits
on board. So troubled was he, he even went so far as to point it out to
Stewart.

That young man laughed.

'Poor beggar! He's got it bad, very bad! We all of us felt the parting
a wrench, but on the whole I shouldn't, myself, fly to William Muspratt
for distraction and consolation. Still we all of us take things
differently. And time cures all things we're told. We're getting on.
More than three weeks out, Reynell. Some of us are beginning to wonder
what the Jamaican girls are like.'

As a matter of miles, they were really not so very far from Tahiti.
Calms and contrary winds had delayed them.

The work of the ship went on quietly. The iron discipline of a man of
war was never for a moment relaxed, though the cabin was full of young
breadfruit trees. The men seemed to be settling down far better than
Reynell had dared hope, seeing the freedom they had enjoyed for the
last six months.

As the 27th April drew to a close, and the light breeze was dying with
the daylight, Bligh beckoned Reynell.

'Quartermaster, give my compliments to Mr. Christian, and tell him I
expect him to sup with me.'

'Tell him to go to hell,' was Christian's comment when the message was
delivered.

'I can't very well take that for an answer,' said Reynell uneasily,
'can I, sir?'

'Say what you please. I'm not going. I'm turning in.' Christian moodily
shut the door of his cabin.

So he was still mourning the girl in Tahiti. Because they were well on
their way home Reynell felt a certain measure of sympathy.

'Mr. Christian's compliments,' he reported to Bligh, 'he regrets very
much he is too unwell to come to supper.'

'What! Sick! What are these young men coming to! I'd have had to be
dying when I was a youngster before I refused an invitation from my
captain.'

'Mr. Christian has turned in, sir,' ventured Reynell. 'He looked very
sick,' was the way he translated Christian's moody face.

'Lovesick, I suppose, you mean, eh, Reynell?' said Bligh with a little
twinkle in his eyes. 'Hasn't he got over that yet?' Bligh liked
Reynell, and when they were entirely alone sometimes relaxed with
him. Reynell, in his turn, liked Bligh, in spite of his brutality on
occasion. He was so capable a man, so efficient, he felt he could
forgive him his many sins.

'It was a bad case, sir. But top s'le sheets, they say--and--every
day----'

'Not quite as far as I could wish, Reynell,' said the commander. 'Still
we are getting on. That young man will live to know I'm right. But he
isn't taking his medicine quite as I'd like.'

The wind was light, and died away altogether as, in purple and gold,
the sun sank into the sea. It was still and calm. There wasn't a ripple
on the waters. A long line of golden light stretched up to the moon in
her first quarter. She hung, a golden crescent, in the Western sky.
Reynell lay in the shadow of the cook-house. It was his watch below,
but the fo'c'sle was a stifling, noisome place, unbearable in the
tropics. In the pleasant warmth he could sleep quite comfortably on
deck.

The gunner had charge of the watch. Reynell, turning over sleepily, saw
him walking up and down the poop. The moonlight showed him the clean
white deck still encumbered with some of the yams and other produce
brought from Tahiti, for there was no room below. He heard voices,
someone talking in the cook-house; but he did not hear what they were
saying, he did not want to hear; only the subdued voices mingled
pleasantly with the sob of the waters against the ship's sides, and the
sound of the sails idly flapping against the masts.

Then a voice was raised emphatically. The words fell distinctly on his
ears.

'We must do it to-night, Muspratt. Once we get a strong wind she'll
walk. Then every hour'll take us farther and farther away.'

The voice was the voice of Fletcher Christian. Reynell had supposed
Christian in his berth. Not ill, of course, but a man does not openly
flaunt his disrespect for his commanding officer whatever he may feel.
Yet here he was talking to Muspratt, one of the most notoriously
discontented spirits on board.

'It's a ticklish job, a mighty ticklish job,' said the man thoughtfully.

'It's quite easy once we make up our minds to go through with it. I
tell you we're not far off as the crow flies. Is there a sentry at
Bligh's door?'

'No.'

'And Churchill understands he's to be ready the moment eight bells
strike?'

He was listening to some conspiracy. And Christian was in it. For the
moment that was the only thing Reynell grasped. Christian was in it! If
he had only given himself a moment to think he would have kept quiet
and gone on sleeping as the wisest thing to do.

If this was a conspiracy that would be the simplest way to thwart it.
But Christian had always been his friend. It seemed only natural to
remonstrate with him. In a moment he was in the cook-house.

'Good Lord!' cried Christian startled.

The other man with an oath drew a knife.

'Dead cocks can't crow,' said he.

Christian pushed it aside.

'Why, man, Reynell's a pressed man! Bligh's only just given him back
his name and they're stealing half his pay. He's much more likely to be
with us than against us.'

'What are you up to?' asked Reynell, only half mollified. Was it
mutiny? Christian hated Bligh. He would stick at nothing.

'Well, it's a treasonable matter,' said Christian. 'If I didn't count
you a friend, Reynell, I'd be like Muspratt here, looking for some way
to stop your mouth.'

'Oh, I'm your friend. You ought to know that. But we're homeward bound
now, and half my time's worked off. I wouldn't for the world,' he
added, afraid of he hardly knew what, 'join you in anything that would
delay for a moment my home-coming.'

'I told you,' grumbled Muspratt, 'he'll wreck it.'

Still Christian checked him.

'You reckon that Bligh'll get you home quicker than any man. I'm not
saying he won't. But you must know that the same thing that makes you
want to go makes me and my mates want to stay here.' Reynell felt it
strangely unnatural that Christian should speak of Muspratt and his
lot as 'my mates.' 'Bligh broke his word and baulked me. By heaven he
shan't have the chance again. Now, Reynell if you're thinking about
betraying us----'

Reynell felt that in that case his friendship with Christian would be a
thing of naught. Still there were limits.

'You're not thinking about destroying the seaworthiness of the ship?'
he asked. Why had he barged in? He could not make up his mind what he
ought to do now. It was almost his duty to have lain still and listened.

'Good Lord! No. The last thing I'd dream of. Ships like this are mighty
useful in these seas, and not over plentiful.' He laughed, but there
was something uncomfortable in his laughter. 'Half a dozen of us, you
can guess who, can't stand the life. We're going to steal the long boat
and clear to-night. We've squared the gunner. You'd better sleep and
know nothing about it. We're going, if we die for it.'

'It's the maddest thing I ever heard of,' remonstrated Reynell. 'If
you'd done it three weeks ago there might have been some sense in it.
Why, you'll never fetch Tahiti!'

'You bet we know what we're about! Now, Reynell, go quietly to your
hammock, unless you like to join us.'

'You know I won't join you,' said Reynell roughly. 'I ought to tell the
Captain.'

In truth he was troubled. For he liked his first friend on board, owed
him much and had no mind to embroil him further with Bligh.

'If you've got another weasand you may,' threatened Muspratt.

Christian laid a not unkindly hand on his shoulder.

'Now, like a good fellow, go down and turn in. There'll be row enough
by and by. Best let things take their course. I've sworn back to
England Bligh shall not take me, and I'm keeping my word.'

'Will you leave enough men to man the ship?'

'Oh, sure! Most of the ship's company, I'll swear.'

'I should think so. It's a mad venture.'

Christian laughed. 'Not so mad, I assure you.'

'If I sleep like the dead will you promise to do things quietly?
Muspratt is too ready with his knife. He'll be a drawback in your Eden,
I'm thinking.'

Christian was suddenly gloomy.

'We can't have all we want in this world. Bligh should have let me go
when he promised. I'm bound to go back. I promised Lola, and I keep my
promises, whatever Bligh may do.'

'Pray God you don't repent,' said Reynell. 'But I feel that Bligh was
right. Give it up, man, give it up. The worst is over now.'

'The worst isn't over. Good-bye, Reynell, sleep like the dead.'

Daniel Reynell saw that remonstrance was useless. Here was a young man
wrecking his life. Even if he betrayed him to Bligh--if he could betray
him which would not be easy--matters would not be mended. He held out
his hand to Christian. Christian apparently did not see it.

'Get on, man, to your hammock,' he said somewhat roughly, 'and good
luck to you. Remember I gave you the chance to join us.'

Reynell tumbled into his hammock in the hot and fetid fo'c'sle.

But he could not sleep, much as he desired to do so. There was a dim
light swinging from the deck above. He could see John Norton, one of
the quartermasters, snoring in the next hammock, and the light fell
full on Robert Tinkler's sleeping face. Several of the hammocks were
empty. Quite likely their owners, as he himself had done, thought the
fo'c'sle too stifling on a night like this.

As eight bells struck he saw the master-at-arms go to the hammock of a
gunner's mate. He roused out John Mills. The pair went quietly on deck.
It was Christian's watch now. Reynell listened intently.

How were they to launch the boat? Who was going to keep Bligh in his
cabin while they brought the ship to?

He was half minded to go to the cockpit and see what Charles Stewart
thought of the situation. But that would be risky. Perhaps it was best
to know nothing. Asleep in his hammock he could know nothing. He closed
his eyes.

He was desperately anxious. So little would wreck all his hopes. So
long as Christian, with his wild longing after the brown girl, and
Muspratt and Churchill, with their longing for freedom of any sort,
were on board, he felt there was no security that the ship would ever
arrive at her destination. Bligh elected to behave as if his crew were
one contented family. He must know better in his heart. Something was
going to happen. Reynell lay and looked at the lamp and wondered what.

Time went on. Regularly the good ship rose; regularly she slipped down
again into the trough of the waves; the lamp swayed backwards and
forwards as if it had been worked by machinery; the hammock swayed,
too. It was Reynell's watch on deck. He would have to plead illness,
and Christian's express permission. But the fact made him uneasy,
though the gentle swaying of the ship was like the rocking of a cradle.

It was so important to him to keep in with Bligh. Should he slip on
deck, disregarding Muspratt's threats?

His doubts were settled by a wild hullabaloo; the sound of many voices;
the grounding of arms; the rush of feet across the deck. One voice
above others rose in protest.

It was the voice of Captain Bligh.

So he had caught and stopped them. Poor beggars! Reynell went up the
companion ladder. He had to risk things now. It was better Bligh should
find him on deck.

There, instead of confusion reigning, apparently the greatest order
prevailed. The dawn had broken; in the east, lines of gold were
heralding the sunrise. Reynell looked to see Christian between a couple
of seamen with the master-at-arms in charge of him.

His eyes fell on Bligh behind the mizzen, bound, and in his shirt,
with two men armed with muskets standing over him. Christian, a drawn
cutlass in his hand, was shouting orders to bring the ship to.

For a moment Reynell rubbed his eyes. Surely Christian couldn't have
deceived him. Instinctively he made a step towards Bligh. In a moment
Muspratt's musket was at his breast.

'You move and you're dead meat.'

'But--Mr. Christian--sir----'

'It's all right, Reynell,' said Christian kindly enough. 'That little
arrangement I told you of wasn't practicable. We're going take the ship
back. That's best.'

'But,' blurted out Reynell, 'I don't want to go back!'

'Well, that's a little unlucky for you. It's impossible to please
everybody. The majority of us do. However there's an alternative.
Bos'un,' he shouted, 'pipe all hands to get out the launch.'

The bos'un hesitated. He was an old man with a good record.

'We're not standing on ceremony here,' said Christian bitterly. 'If you
don't jump to it, bos'un, you can jump overboard.'

He waved his hand, and a seaman presented his musket ready cocked at
the old man's head.

The bos'un raised his whistle to his lips. Half a dozen seamen jumped
into the boat to clear her away.

The ship came to quietly; the ropes rattled through the blocks; the
launch touched the water.

'Now,' said Christian quietly, 'where are those three lads? Have you
got them?'

Three seamen, with muskets and cutlasses, pushed forward a couple of
the youngest midshipmen and the ship's clerk, Mr. Samuels. They seemed
dazed, as if they did not quite understand what had happened. Indeed,
it was only natural, roused as they had been from their slumbers in the
grey of the morning.

'Will you go back with us, lads?' asked Christian. 'We are going back
to Tahiti. Or will you go with your commander in the boat there?'

'Mr. Christian,' remonstrated Bligh, 'this is mutiny. This is a hanging
matter. Samuels, Mr. Hallett, rouse out the master. We will not give in
like this.'

'Hold your tongue, sir,' said Christian angrily, 'or you are a dead
man this minute. Men, if he so much as opens his lips you know what to
do. I have warned him twice. I shan't warn him again. Some of you jump
below and fetch up the master and the gunner.'

The master was an old man; the gunner a man in the prime of life.

The sun had risen now. His golden beams lighted up the decks, white as
holystoning could make them; the masts cast long shadows for'ard, the
air began to be warmed a little, for even in the tropics here it was a
little fresh at night.

'I take it,' said Christian very politely, looking at Mr. Fryer, the
master, 'you prefer to go with your commander.'

The old man said nothing. The gunner said scornfully,

'You don't take it that we want to keep company with gallows birds, do
you?'

Christian waved his hand.

'Into the boat with you. We've made our choice. We none of us can have
exactly what we want in this world. Now then, who else is below?'

One by one they fetched them up; the surgeon and the botanist, the
cooks and the butcher, Elphinstone, the other master's mate, and the
rest of the crew who would not join the mutineers.

Reynell saw, with a sinking heart, that the best of the men were
staying behind, the old men and the boys kept straight, and those they
had been in the habit of regarding as weaklings. He looked down at the
little launch already crowded and shockingly low in the water. What
chance, what possible chance could that little boat have of reaching
safety? Why, he would not have put out in her so heavily laden from
Polperro to go for Fowey; he would certainly never have attempted to
cross to France in her! Yet here they were thousands of miles from any
place, far, far from all the tracks of shipping----

'Christian,' he burst out, 'this is rank murder!'

Christian frowned.

'The fault is that of those who brought me here. I have wished myself
far enough away, God knows. Now will you join us, Reynell?'

'Join you,' said Reynell hotly, and he felt as he had felt when first
the Bounty rose to the swell of the Channel and all hope of rescue
was gone, 'join you! When all I want is to get to England!'

'Step down then,' said Christian pointing to the boat, ''tis the only
craft I know likely to be bound in that direction.'

'Mr. Christian! It is murder!'

For a moment there came into Christian's eyes a look that made Reynell
think he repented. But, surely, if ever a man had gone too far he had.
He turned away with a sigh.

'I've offered you the alternative. You may stay, Reynell.'

'And turn savage? And never hold up my head again?'

'I have told you you may stay,' said Christian, with a curious little
wistful ring in his voice, 'I've always been friendly to you, Reynell,'
he added.

Reynell looked again at the boat. Should he go below for his few
possessions? But she was gunwale deep already. Everything they could do
without must be left behind. That was evident.

'The first gale,' said Reynell like a man speaking his thoughts
aloud----.

'I have told you you may stay,' but Christian's voice was cold now.
Perhaps he, too, was regretting.

'I'm no mutineer,' said Reynell, and slipped down the rope without
another word.

Trevenick leaned over the side.

'Come on,' said Reynell.

'Old man,' said that laughing young gentleman, grave for once, 'I'm
no mutineer either. But it's too big a contract. Since it's a choice
between the girls of Tahiti and a watery grave----'

Christian pushed him away.

'Now, Mr. Bligh,' he said, 'your officers are all in the boat, will you
join them?'

'Mr. Christian, men,' said Bligh earnestly, 'don't do this thing. I
don't ask you because it is practically murder. How do you suppose we
can all live in a little boat like that, but even for your own sakes
you couldn't do a worse thing. Believe me, there is no happiness in a
life of licence. None. None. Now you have begun there is no knowing
where you will stop. You have deposed me. How long will you obey Mr.
Christian? Whose life will be safe? Men, come back to your duty, not
for my sake but for your own. It is the best thing you can do. England
never forgets. She will seek you out in the ends of the earth!'

'I tell you,' growled Muspratt, 'the yardarm's the place for a cock
like him. Too spry altogether. We'll never be safe with him above
ground.'

'Mr. Christian,' said Reynell reproachfully, 'is this the man you take
for a mate? For your wife's sake--think--think----'

For a moment Christian seemed to hesitate.

'I've been in hell, Daniel Reynell, in hell the last three weeks. I
promised her I'd come back. This is the only way to keep my word.'

He raised his hand and brought down his cutlass on the deck with a
clash.

Bligh would have spoken again, but Muspratt caught him by the shoulder.

'Come now, we've had enough of your chin music. Slip there, lively now.'

The others laughed. It was an exquisite joke to see their commander,
the man who had ruled them with a rod of iron on occasion, slip down
the rope into the boat in his night shirt just as he had been aroused
from his sleep.

Christian, half shamefacedly, gave an order. His clothes were flung
after him and some small possessions. His pocket book, a pencil, his
watch.

Now the boat hung by a single rope and they drifted astern.

The forlorn men settled themselves drearily.

Bligh sent his keen eyes searching round the boat. Reynell was lost in
admiration at the way he pulled himself together.

'Are there any provisions in the boat? They'd surely never be such
brutes as to set us adrift without? Mr. Hallett, what's that bag by
you?'

'Bread, sir,' said Hallett.

'The breakers are full of water,' said Reynell, 'and those four little
barricoes, if it rains, or if we land anywhere, would hold a little.
But we want meat Christian. Mr. Christian? You will not be inhuman? You
are going back to plenty.'

He caught Bligh's eye. There was approval in it. It said plainer than
words, 'Go ahead. He's more likely to pay attention to you.'

Christian put his head over the ship's side and spoke drearily, like a
man sunk in the deepest melancholy.

'There's wine and rum there,' he said. 'You'll find it under the
thwarts. Here, Smith,' to the man afterwards known as Adams, 'bring
along that pork.'

The pork was in pieces weighing about a couple of pounds apiece. It was
flung at them loose. Reynell caught it, and stowed it in one of the
empty barricoes.

The men were leaning over the sides of the ship now, making a great
display of the cutlasses and muskets with which they were armed.
Already there was no discipline on board. It seemed to Reynell they had
taken on a piratical cut-throat air.

But nothing was to be gained by defying them. He could only speak them
fair.

'Mates,' he said, making the best of it, 'if you're bound for Tahiti
and we for London town ours is bound to be the longer voyage. You
couldn't in decency part the carpenter from his chest.'

There was a roar of laughter from the men above.

'Oh, come, I say,' protested Muspratt, 'you forget you've got Bligh
on board. I'll be damned if he doesn't find his way home if he gets
nothing more with him.'

Bligh seemed about to reply in kind, but Reynell's eyes implored him to
let him take charge.

'Well, mates, I really can't see it will matter to you,' he said.
'Tahiti's a long way off. Come now, we've all been decent shipmates,
never a quarrel. Though we don't happen to want to go back to Tahiti,
give us a chance for our lives. It's murder to turn us out without a
tool.'

There was a storm of argument above. It was clear that had Bligh alone
been considered, he would have had nothing.

'Damn my eyes,' said Muspratt, 'but he'll have a vessel built in a
month.'

Reynell was meditating on his own folly. Why hadn't he betrayed them
the moment Christian had left him? A deliberate crime Bligh would have
considered his conduct. He was sure now that Bligh was right. As he
came to that conclusion the carpenter's chest was lowered.

'Thank you, mates,' said he, 'that lifts a load from my mind. Now what
about arms? You'll give us some arms. I see you've plenty and to spare.'

They hauled themselves in a little on the rope. The sea was dead calm
or their position would have been fraught with danger. The sunlight
shone on the anxious faces of the men who looked up, at the fierce
bearded faces of the seamen who looked down. They laughed, most of
them. But it was pitiless laughter. Only Christian's stern face
promised to Reynell a measure of mercy.

'Mr. Christian,' began Bligh again.

'Hold your tongue, sir,' said Christian. 'You have brought it on
yourself.'

Reynell's look again implored his commander not to provoke this man
further.

'Well, the rest of us haven't harmed you,' said he bitterly. 'Why are
you sending us to our deaths merely because we've been law-abiding. I
thought Mr. Stewart and Mr. Heywood might at least have been trusted to
join us.'

A grim smile broke over Christian's face.

'They're not very happy just at present,' said he. 'But they'll thank
us by and by. You may hear Mr. Heywood protesting, if you listen.'

'I'll remember,' said Bligh with deliberation.

Reynell wished he wouldn't interfere. He felt it was not well for them
that these men should think the future of those left on board could be
affected one way or another by any man in the boat there.

Perhaps Bligh thought the same. He glanced from the helpless people in
the little boat to the bristling array of muskets and cutlasses above.
Nineteen unarmed men against at least twenty heavily armed there in the
ship. He understood the hopelessness of angering them. Diplomacy was
the only thing. He smiled at Reynell, as much as to say he left it in
his capable hands.

'Come, man, a couple of cutlasses won't be missed, and may make all the
difference to us.'

'I'll be hanged if I don't go wid 'em,' said an Irish voice. ''Tis they
have the pluck, me bhoys, goin' so quiet.' Michael Byrne made as if he
would have climbed down the ropes. A dozen pairs of hands held him back.

Opposition made him still more determined.

'Ye'll remimber, Captain Bligh, ye'll remimber, I wanted to join ye.'

'I'll remember,' said Bligh.

Again Reynell's eyes implored him not to behave as if what he did or
thought was likely to make any difference to these men.

'A couple of cutlasses,' begged Reynell. 'I think you owe me that,
Christian.'

'Upon my word I think I do,' said Christian. 'Here, Muspratt.' He
seized his cutlass and that of Milward, who stood beside him.

'He'll be back in Tahiti before you can turn round,' remonstrated
Muspratt.

Christian paid no attention.

The men in the boat, without any orders, hauled on the rope till they
were close alongside again. Christian handed down the cutlasses.
Churchill threw in a couple more.

'There you are,' said Christian. 'Cast them off. A pleasant voyage to
you. Reynell, you can still come aboard if you like.'

Reynell shook his head.

'Be a little more pitiful. We've nothing to navigate by.'

'You're asking a good deal,' said Christian.

He left the deck for a moment. Returning, he handed down a book of
nautical tables and his own sextant.

'That book is sufficient for every purpose,' he said. 'And you know,'
and he looked at Bligh, 'my sextant is a good one.'

'Thank you. Now----'

'Cast off,' said Christian curtly. He did not wait for his order to be
obeyed. With his own hands he cast loose the rope, and they were adrift.

There came a jeering yell from the ship.

'Lay along there, men,' shouted Christian. 'Hands to stations. 'Ware
ship.'

In a moment the Bounty was a thing of life. The soft breeze filled
her sails, snowy white in the brilliant sunshine. She swept round, and,
nodding and curtseying as she met the waves, she started on her course
to Tahiti.

Fletcher Christian was keeping his word, ruining his life for a girl of
the wilds. Those who had stood in his path were adrift in an open boat,
with provisions that, in the ordinary course of events, would last them
five days at the very most.

The nearest civilized land was thousands of miles away.

A long sigh, like a moan, went up from the forlorn boat's company.

'Upon my word,' said Reynell, 'we're better away from such a piratical
company. A pack of ruffians. They'll be cutting each other's throats
next. I bet you the captain gets us through.'

'Thank you, Reynell. I'll remember that to you. Yes, I generally do
what I want. We'll get through if you all back me. They had need to be
afraid. That lot haven't done with us yet.'




CHAPTER XIV.


'Counsel is mine and sound wisdom: 
I am understanding; I have strength.'


'Don't look after the ship,' said Reynell as cheerfully as he could.
'No good looking back. We, thank God, are bound for old England, aren't
we, sir?'

'We are, Reynell,' said Bligh, huddling on his clothes, 'and we'll get
there if the rest of them take it as you are doing.'

Looking round, Reynell could not help knowing--and he felt that Bligh
was thinking the same thing--they had got the old men and the weaklings.

'The older men have knowledge.' He put his thoughts in the most
favourable shape. He had never before known himself as a diplomat, 'and
the younger ones will have the common sense to obey them. I've been
skipper of a ship in the stormy north seas, and I know how necessary it
is one man should have supreme command if we're to get through. Now,
who amongst us has most sea sense and can judge best?'

'You,' said a voice.

Reynell laughed, and purposely laughed loud.

'Leading seaman and quartermaster,' said he. 'It's just taught me how
much the quartermaster does not know. Now, if I, a pressed man, believe
in the captain, have been proud to please him----'

He half turned to Bligh respectfully, as coolly as if they had been on
the deck of the Bounty instead of all crowded together in a little
boat thousands of miles from their destination.

Bligh acknowledged his courtesy with a friendly smile.

'Men,' said he, 'I need not tell you we are in desperate straits. You
can see that for yourselves. But there is one thing I must impress upon
you, the only way we can get out of this is by the maintenance of a
perfect discipline. You must give implicit obedience to the man who can
judge best, and can carry out his judgments. Naturally I should be that
man. But I see now that some of you have been very discontented with my
authority. If any of you know a better man you had best make him your
leader.'

His eyes for a moment wandered to the master, John Fryer.

There had always from the very first been friction between him and the
master.

'Only, mark you this, whoever is leader must be obeyed even to death.'

He paused, looking round at the wide expanse of sea, the ship so
rapidly drawing away, then brought his eyes back to the eighteen faces,
all grave, some very troubled, that were looking at him.

'I think I am the best man.' His voice was incisive. 'Will you have me
for a leader?'

Reynell waited for the master to speak. But there was silence.

'Most surely we will,' he said without undue haste, but as one who
thoroughly realized and weighed up the gravity of the situation.

'We will,' said the master, 'I speak for the officers.'

'And I have spoken for the men,' said Reynell. 'Ay, men.'

'Ay! Ay! Ay!' The response came willingly, gladly.

The men hardly knew how desperate was the situation. Bligh's confidence
and that of Daniel Reynell, a fo'c'sle hand, and one of themselves, but
an educated man and a good seaman, cheered them.

Reynell knew Bligh, with all his harshness, perhaps because of his
harshness, was the man to hold them together. He repeated again firmly
and loudly,

'We will have you for a leader.'

'Very well then,' said Bligh with his own air of authority, 'I shall be
a hard leader, but it will be for your own good. Be sure I shall not
spare myself. Now we must divide ourselves into watches. Mr. Fryer, I
shall pick my watch. You will take what I leave. But I shall pick fair,
so that our strength is evenly divided. I am going to give you Daniel
Reynell, who is a good man.'

'Yes, sir,' said Fryer dully.

Bligh's look at Reynell seemed to be saying he would be virtual head of
the master's watch.

'Now,' he ordered when the choice was made, 'you and your watch, Mr.
Fryer, will lie down on the bottom boards of the boat, it is the only
way to secure that she be properly worked.'

Reynell laid himself down. The boat was leaking a little, and the water
came washing around him. They were desperately crowded. His knees were
drawn up. He could turn over on his side, but, without inconveniencing
the man next him, he could do nothing else but stare up at the sky
overhead. At first it had been bright with sunshine, but the clouds
were gathering, and the blue growing less and less. It was a relief; a
tropical sun pouring down on them was unbearable. Yet it was bound to
come.

From this position he saw the faces of the men above him from a new
angle. His head rested against Bligh's feet. His pointed chin seemed
to be emphasized. Hallett's tired little face looked girlish in its
prettiness.

The sea was almost smooth, yet the boat moved up and clown on the swell
so the faces above moved up and down. First there was a background of
blue sky; then a background of cloud; then came the sky again. Every
now and again the swell rose so high it was a background of sea that
seemed about to overwhelm them. They could not escape. They were right
down at the bottom of a great depression. The sea must come in.

'Shut your eyes,' said Bligh, 'you will soon get accustomed to it.'

He understood. He was a marvellous man, this man who had such a
capacity for making men hate him. If any one could bring them
through he could. How he had hated him, when first he was dragged
on board. Now--did he hate Christian? It was cruel, it was bitter,
but Christian's motives were human and understandable. Lying there
cramped and weary, Reynell still felt he could spare a certain amount
of sympathy for Christian, torn from the woman he loved, made to seem
forsworn in her eyes. If that woman had been Loveday----He moved
uneasily. He dared not think of Loveday. It was too cruel, baulked a
second time.

Bligh gave the order to take stock of the provisions. They found they
had 16 pieces of pork, each weighing about 2 lbs., 150 lbs. of bread, 6
quarts of rum, 6 bottles of wine and 28 gallons of water.

'We must keep our stock intact,' said Bligh. 'If possible we must not
break in on those provisions while we are among the islands. We will
want them when we get a long stretch of sea. We must land somewhere and
see if we cannot get coconuts and fish.'

'Whereabouts are we?' asked a dozen voices.

'East of the Friendly Isles,' said Bligh, 'Tofoa should be hereabouts.'

'It's a long while since supper last night,' suggested Hallett, with a
quiver in his voice.

'It is, my lad, it is, so the sooner we reach Tofoa the better, but it
is nothing to fast for a day.'

Poor little Hallett's face fell. Reynell, opening his eyes, looked at
him pityingly. He was glad he was not leader. He would have felt sorely
tempted to give the child a piece of bread. Bligh would not be tempted
that way, he knew. In his heart he was thankful. It would want a strong
man to carry them through.

'Where shall you make for?' asked the master.

'Tofoa, Mr. Fryer.'

'And after, sir. You will not stay at Tofoa,' said Reynell.

'No, Reynell,' said Bligh, slowly, as if he were weighing his words,
'If the people are friendly, and if it is a fertile land, it is
possible I may leave half of us there. The rest of us will go on to the
Dutch East Indies.'

'God Almighty!' the master swore, 'it's thousands of miles away.'

'Nevertheless it is the nearest civilised land. There is nothing else
to be done.'

'It can never be done,' said Fryer despairingly.

A moan went round the crew. Reynell opened his eyes again, and watched
to see what Bligh would say next.

'Men,'--he raised his voice a little--'It can be done. More than one
hundred years ago it was done. By men who had not the conveniences we
have nowadays. Listen to me. About one hundred and fifty years ago a
ship called the Batavia was wrecked on the coast of New Holland, on
a reef known as Houtman's Abrolhos. Her crew escaped to the surrounding
islands. You do not know the west coast of New Holland. It is a barren
desert, incapable of supporting life. The captain, Francis Pelsart, in
the longboat sailed to Batavia, brought help to the crew, and took the
survivors back to Holland. Now what Dutchmen can do Englishmen need not
fear.'

That voyage of the Dutchman, dead long ago, gave them something to
think about. Reynell felt his admiration deepen. It was discussed in
all its points by the men lying down and the men who were working the
boat. They debated whether the Dutchman had sailed farther or whether
they would have the farthest to sail; and whether the chances were in
their favour.

Bligh settled that point promptly.

'It is easier done this side of New Holland,' he said. 'There is some
chance of falling in with land where we may get food. The west of New
Holland, all men are agreed, is a barren desert.'

The discussion went on. Each man added some little information, or told
some tale of suffering and endurance from his own knowledge.

But the time was terribly long. Thinking it over afterwards, Reynell
decided that of all the long and weary days they spent in that boat
that first was perhaps the hardest to bear.

As the day wore on the watches were changed. The men grew
hungrier--thirstier. They reviled their shipmates bitterly, calling
down curses on men who could wantonly abandon messmates with whom they
had not the shadow of a quarrel.

'You need not curse,' said Bligh grimly. 'Believe me, lawlessness is
its own punishment. Not one of those men----'

'You are going to say "will die in his bed,"' said Fryer laughing
forlornly, 'but at present we don't care much how they die; what we are
concerned with is how to keep alive ourselves.'

'That we will manage, I doubt not for a moment,' said Bligh.

The watch was changed again. Reynell watched the sun till he sank
beneath Lebogue's back, making a halo of glorious rays round the
old sail-maker's head. The light vanished suddenly. It was all
dark. Presently he was watching the stars, trying to think of the
old home in Cornwall; the house he had furnished with such care on
the heights above Polperro; the Reaper, swept before a northerly
gale--anything--everything--to try and deaden the hunger that was
gnawing at his vitals--the thirst that was making his throat dry and
his tongue parched. Only he did not let his thoughts dwell on Loveday
Corthew's hazel eyes. He did not dare do that yet. By and by, when he
felt sure they had a chance of getting through, the thought of her
would comfort him. But that was not yet.

All through the night they sailed steadily, changing watches as
regularly as if they had been on board the Bounty.

At dawn of day there went up a great cry of rejoicing. There was land,
rugged and mountainous, a great high peak three points on the starboard
bow.

The men shouted as if they were sighting the Lizard itself. Then came
Bligh's voice, cool, and calm.

'Steady, men, steady. Shake another reef out of the sail, bo'sun.
She'll stand it.'

In a couple of hours they had run into a little rocky cove. A safe
enough harbour, but the rocks round the beach were steep and high.
There was not a sign of human habitation, unless some rough ladders,
made of the natural vines, were signs.

'Yes,' said Bligh, 'yes, the Indians have certainly been here. But
the country inland looks poor. Now, Norton, and you, Hallett, and
you, Lebogue, must stay by the boat. The rest of us will go look for
water and food, and at least some sign of human habitation. There are
coconuts at least.'

There were about thirty trees on the top of a cliff, steep as the wall
of a house. Hallett looked imploringly at Bligh.

'If we might have a drink of water, sir.'

Bligh pointed to the palms.

'There is meat and drink, Mr Hallett. Let me remind you again, if we
are to be saved we must keep all our food and water intact till we have
left the islands.'

At the foot of that cliff the surf roared. The only way to reach those
coconuts was a long climb round.

'Come,' said Reynell kindly, his hand on the boy's shoulder, 'I believe
we can get them.'

They did.

Reynell felt he might think of Loveday Corthew again when he helped
young Elphinstone gather and throw them into the surf whence they
dragged them into the boat.

There were only twenty. But at least it was meat and drink, the first
they had had since the Bounty had cast them adrift. All the hungry
faces looked a little more hopeful.

Bligh was a stern taskmaster.

'We must save them,' he said, when the men looked to have one apiece,
'just a little to each.'

They acquiesced.

So quietly they took it these starving men that Reynell could only
wonder again that any one could have been found to oppose Bligh. If
Christian had not been there--had not had such a strong motive----

But what was the good of going over it all again. Christian had been
there, at first, Reynell admitted it, a justly incensed man. His guile
opposed to Bligh's will had worked their destruction. He ate the
fragment of coconut and drank the very small drop of milk that fell to
his share, and wondered if he did not feel more hungry after it had
gone.

'We must certainly not break in on our bread till we are absolutely
obliged. We are thousands of miles from help,' said Bligh quietly, as
if he felt there might be discontent.

There was wisdom in what he said.

But it was very hard.

That night it blew a gale from the east-south-east.

They dare not venture to sea. When at last the wind died down they had
to row along the coast. The keen air and the exercise increased their
hunger. The wind got up again, and there was nothing for it but to
return to the cove.

Hallett was moaning pitifully with hunger. No one took any notice.
Every now and again he apologized.

'I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I can't help it. I can only think of the scones
my mother bakes and the butter in the dairy.'

'Hush, lad,' said Reynell sharply, though the lad was his officer. 'We
can't stand talk like that.'

'We're fair clemmed,' said the boy.

Bligh was lying on the bottom of the boat. He rose, and slowly and
gravely as if they were in the midst of abundance, doled out to each
person a morsel of bread and a spoonful of rum. Though they were in
the tropics, the wind blew keen and cold, and they were wet through,
so that the rum sent a little glow through their bodies. Some of them
for the moment took more hopeful views. Poor little Hallett, leaned up
against Reynell and dropped into an uneasy sleep.

Reynell tried to follow his example. But he had more on his mind than
hunger and thirst.

Presently the sea calmed a little.

'Now, men,' said Bligh, 'up with you and see if some one's sharp eyes
can't find water.'

But it was a desolate country, covered with lava. Away in the distance
they could see smoke and flame. A wild yell broke from the little
company.

'May I be forgiven,' said the master, 'but I believe we have found the
entrance to the bottomless pit.'

Ledward, the surgeon, was a man of knowledge and education. In his
desire to see the unknown world, he had shipped before the mast. Bligh
had raised him to his present position when his original surgeon fell
ill.

''Tis a burning mountain, man,' he said. 'A thing mighty curious to
see. And there--there's a hut for you at last.'

'And a plantain walk,' said Reynell with a shout.

'Be careful, be careful now, Reynell,' warned Bligh. 'It'll never do to
offend the Indians.'

'Those huts are deserted,' said Reynell taking a good look around.
'And there are only three little bunches of plantains left, I reckon,
because they aren't worth taking.'

'I think we may be glad of them,' said Bligh with a sigh of
satisfaction.

Reynell could not but admire how faithfully the men kept their promise
to this leader. Those plantains were carried off and carefully lowered
down the cliff, no man touching them.

They found a cave with a pleasant sandy bottom.

'My watch will go ashore and sleep there,' said Bligh.

'Why not all of us?' asked the master.

'Because, Mr. Fryer, it is necessary,' said Bligh, 'to be watchful. If
the Indians come upon us unawares they may be friendly, or it may be
we have been putting ourselves to unnecessary pain. If they knock us
on the head that bread and pork will have been wasted as far as we are
concerned.'

The grim pleasantry set them laughing. That night all rested
comfortably. Hallett hoped that Bligh would let them eat all the
bananas.

'I could eat the whole blooming lot myself,' he whispered to Reynell.

'One will keep life in you, lad. And I fear it's all you will get.'

'I'm beginning to doubt if it's worth keeping,' said the boy with a sad
little laugh.

He felt better next morning when the natives found them out, just as
Bligh was doling out that wretched plantain apiece.

Remembering the kindly people of Tahiti, the men hailed them with
delight. But these people were not like the Tahitians. They were a
shade darker in colour and rougher in their manners.

They brought breadfruit and coconuts to trade. The men parted with
their own scanty possessions; their clothes; their pocket knives; their
buttons. Even stern Bligh could only see wisdom in eating their fill.

They bought provisions for the voyage, too: breadfruit and coconuts,
perishable, certainly, but it would save their bread and pork.

'By Jove, we are in luck,' said the surgeon as he lay back and drank
luxuriously of coconut milk.

'I wouldn't be too sure,' said Bligh. 'I don't quite like the look of
them. If they get wind we're shipwrecked I wouldn't give much for our
lives. Get up, Mr. Ledward, you must go, a party of you, and get water,
if you have to carry it in coconut shells. Eight of you will stop with
me to guard the boat. See, for your own sakes, you don't get separated
one from another. I warn you, these men are not Tahitians or anything
like them.'

The dark men and women, in their petticoats of yellow grass and their
necklaces of shell and sharks' teeth, kept bringing breadfruit,
coconuts, and plantains, till a goodly heap lay on the floor of the
cave. The men grew more and more cheerful. Young Hallett began shouting
a gay chanty.

Then the women did not come any more.

Reynell cast an anxious glance round. Where was Mr. Fryer and
his party. He saw two men knocking stones together, a little
surreptitiously it was true. But it was a certain sign of hostility.

'Sir, did you see that?'

'I did. Where is Mr. Fryer? At sunset we must be off. They are coming
in crowds. Not a woman amongst them. Close up, men. Don't let them get
behind you. Where the devil is Mr. Fryer?'

Reynell gave more than one hail before it was answered. Down the vines
they came, hand over hand, each man guarding carefully a coconut-shell
full of water.

'And of all the darned cussed ways of cartin' water,' said John Norton
as, with a sigh of relief, he emptied his into one of the little casks.

'Are you all here?' came Bligh's voice. To Reynell there sounded a note
of anxiety in it.

'All here, sir,' said Reynell. 'Shall we make a break for it?'

'The sooner we get away the better. Quietly, now, men, quietly. Each
man take something and put it in the boat.'

The natives were crowding round them, chattering and gesticulating.

There was a clash.

Stones beating one against the other.

Like an electric flash it went through the little band they were in
danger. They were outnumbered two to one. If the enemy made a rush,
unarmed as the sailors were, they were undone. The boat was a very
little way off. Four of the crew were already in her. They had been
stowing the stuff brought by the others.

'Steadily, men, steadily.' Bligh's voice was quite calm.

He approached the chief, after the fashion they had all used in Tahiti.
He slipped his arm through his, and, taking his hand, began leading him
towards the boat, talking all the while suavely, saying the politest
things in Tahitian--which he hoped the other might dimly understand.
He regretted the necessity for departure; thanked the chief for his
courtesy; said he would come again.

If he had not held the chief's brown hand fast in his neither he nor
any one else would have reached that boat unmolested.

'Get in quietly, men,' he said. 'I can't hold this beggar long. He's
getting restive.'

'All in, sir,' reported Reynell, jumping in himself.

Bligh bid the chief a fervent farewell, perhaps a little hurriedly and
followed him.

'Haul off,' said Reynell, taking upon himself to give the order, for
the master had said nothing. 'Haul off.'

The others were all watching Bligh in silent horror. If the chief had
not been beside him they knew he would never have reached the boat in
safety.

They were still attached by a stern rope to a rock.

'Pull, men, pull; we can't afford to lose the rope,' said the master.

'Damn it,' said John Norton, 'I know a trick worth two of that.' He was
overboard and running up the beach.

It might almost have been the signal for attack. Like a flash three
savages were upon him. While his startled cry of 'Mates' was ringing
in their ears they had beaten him to the ground with their clubs. His
blood was dyeing the wet sand. He was surely dead. Not that they could
have rescued him if he had not been.

The natives got the stern rope and pulled at it.

Without waiting for orders, Reynell bent over and cut it with his
seaman's knife.

'Promptly done,' came Bligh's rare praise.

Indeed, it was not a moment too soon. Heavy stones came showering
among them like so many shot. The men who had been providing them with
provisions so short a time before were yelling like demons, greeting
each successful shot with a howl that showed them the savages they were.

Down went Mr. Ledward. The blood was streaming from Mr. Elphinstone's
face; young Hallett had a cut in his shoulder. Reynell, hauling off to
the grapnel, got one on the back of his hand that covered it with blood.

That grapnel stuck.

All the canoes the natives had come in lay along the beach. The white
men saw them filling them with stones. Before they were clear, round
and round them those canoes were paddling, bombarding them with stones.

They had nothing to return the fire with but the stones that fell in
the boat. And they were no match at the game. The fierce, brown-skinned
men, now thirsting for their blood, could run rings round them.

Still that grapnel held.

With the veins on his forehead bursting, Reynell pulled. Three men
behind him were putting their weight on to it. Savage shouts of triumph
were ringing in his ears. He had little doubt what their fate would be
were they taken.

Suddenly the fluke broke.

Back they fell in a heap in the boat. But she was free at last.

'Out oars,' cried Bligh. 'Out oars and close with them. It's our only
chance!'




CHAPTER XV.


'They are fainthearted; 
there is sorrow on the sea; 
it cannot be quiet.'


The boat was deep in the water--lumbered. The men of Tofoa, nimble
adversaries, rowed yelling round it, raining stones upon such an
excellent mark. If this went on the white men had small chance of their
lives.

'It's like to be short and sharp,' muttered Elphinstone, wiping the
blood from his eyes. 'My faith! But I wish we hadn't wasted that bread.'

Reynell snatched the cap from his head and a coat of Bligh's that lay
on the thwart and tossed them overboard.

The first canoe came to a full stop.

'That's right,' shouted Bligh. 'Anything you can spare. Quick men.
Heave them overboard. It'll be dark in a few moments. We can get away
to sea.'

Every man contributed a garment, flinging them all round the boat.

They bent to the oars and shot out to sea. To their relief the canoes
made no effort to follow.

'Make the best of the respite,' urged Bligh. 'They'll be after us
before you can say knife.'

The light was dying fast; the canoes were but dim shadows on the
water; the land behind was becoming just a darker mass against the
dark sky. For ten minutes they pulled with every ounce of strength
they possessed, men fleeing for their lives. Then Reynell drew a long
breath. There was no sign of pursuit.

'I think we're safe. I hope we are, for I'm done.'

'In oars,' said Bligh. 'We'll set sail. It is evident,' he added
thoughtfully, 'we must exercise extreme caution before we mingle with
the natives again. It is all very well to trust them when we are
heavily armed, and have a ship at our back, but as it is----'

'What can we do, then?' asked the Master.

That was the question. Here they were, eighteen men adrift in an open
boat, twenty-three feet long, without even a chart to guide them. Bligh
had been in these seas before, once with Cook; but all that meant was
he could give very general directions. Their stoppage at Tofoa had cost
them one man's life, had gained them a little, a very little, water, a
few coconuts and some breadfruit, all trampled now in the heat of the
fight.

It was coming on a dirty night.

'It'll swamp the canoes, thank heaven, if they attempt to follow us
up,' said the surgeon with a sigh of relief.

'It might be more of a consolation,' said Elphinstone, 'if we could be
sure it wouldn't swamp us too.'

'She ought to stand the foresail with a reef in it,' said Bligh.
'Anyhow, we must risk it.'

It might have been other reasons than greed for European clothes had
prevented the savages from following them.

The moment they were out from under the shelter of the land they got
the full force of the storm. The wind strengthened. First it came in
puffs; presently it was a wild hurricane.

The sea rose and rose.

The wind came with a rush that carried them on to the top of the wave.

Reynell sat at the sheet and Bligh held the tiller; the rest were soon
crouching in the boat watching, awestruck, the waves. Up, up, up the
racing sea carried them.

'Ease your sheet a bit,' yelled Bligh, 'ease your sheet. For God's
sake, don't let her jibe!'

High above the sea they looked down a precipice of inky-black water,
which the faint moonbeams touched here and there. Down that precipice
they rushed. It seemed impossible they could ever rise again. Down,
down till the seas towered over them on either side, and the sail hung
slack, becalmed, for the wind that shrieked overhead could not reach
them.

'Bale! Bale! For your lives bale!' urged Reynell, as the following sea
curled up over their stern and more than half filled the boat.

'Hayward, Simpson, Linkletter,' called Bligh, calm still. 'Everything
must go overboard except the provisions. Ropes, sails, spare clothes.
Everything but the carpenter's chest. We'll hold on to that as long as
we can. The rest of you bale! Bale! Ease the sheet, Reynell. For your
life don't let her jibe!'

Overboard went all the men's treasures, little things precious to men
in such straits. It lightened the boat somewhat, gave them a little
more room to bale.

'Half of us had better go overboard too,' said Linkletter grimly. 'It's
the only chance of safety.'

'No,' said Bligh quietly. 'We'll see it through together.'

They rose on the wave again. The gale was shrieking in their ears,
drowning every other sound.

Not till half the night was through did that storm blow itself out.
Even when the wind had gone down there was the great sea to be reckoned
with.

The master took the tiller, and Bligh served out all round a
teaspoonful of rum to each man. It put heart into them, and helped the
time to pass.

At long last the day broke, grim and unwilling, more like a dawn in
cold, northern latitudes than anything they had been accustomed to in
those Southern seas. It showed the faces of the men weary and worn,
like those of men who have come through a great trial.

'But we are through,' said Bligh, as if voicing their thoughts, 'we are
through. If this launch can weather a sea like last night's, she can
weather anything. I am proud of you, men. You behaved like Englishmen.
Reynell, you managed that sail well, we owe you thanks,' and though
their chances were so miserably small Reynell felt himself honoured.

Bligh went through the provisions. Taking out his pocket book sodden
with wet, he began making some calculations.

'We must make those provisions last eight weeks,' he announced.

The master laughed bitterly.

'God!' he said, 'what sort of scarecrows'll we be at the end of it?'

'What else have you to suggest, Mr. Fryer? We dare not land at any
islands. We are less able to defend ourselves than we were at Tofoa. We
may get a little fish or a bird or two, but what we have here will keep
life in us. We are not doing any hard work.'

'We can't even stretch our legs properly,' said Fryer.

'But you all agree there is nothing else to be done.'

'There is nothing else to be done,' said the men wearily.

'Reynell, take the tiller. Keep her nor' west by west. 'Twill take us
somewhere by the Fijis, I think.'

He dropped down into the bottom of the boat and began busily making
a pair of scales with a piece of twine and a couple of halves of
coconut-shell.

When it was completed he held up a pistol bullet. Pistol bullets in
those days were fairly large things. Twenty-five went to the pound.

'Do you see that, men? I propose that each of us shall have the weight
of that pistol bullet in bread, breakfast and dinner, and we will make
the pork and damaged breadfruit go as far as we can. You understand. It
cannot possibly last long.'

They understood, and assented without enthusiasm.

'As for the water, we will have a quarter of a pint each three times a
day; but the coconuts should last, I think, with care, at least three
days.'

Then the long, weary voyage began.

They were cold; they were wet; they were parched with thirst; their
limbs were cramped; the sea water raised sores on their flesh; their
faces grew hollow, pinched, wolfish.

But no one murmured. They did not even curse the shipmates who had
driven them to this. They were past all that.

The days were cloudy. Luckily perhaps. The nights were actually cold.
As each man waked in the morning from his troubled sleep he painfully
made such efforts as he could in the crowded boat to stretch his
cramped limbs. Bligh served to each one a spoonful of rum before giving
them their breakfast of broken breadfruit, and afterwards the fragment
of bread--that is hard ship's biscuit--that was represented by one
pistol bullet.

That teaspoonful of rum was the one treat they had in the long dreary
round of hours. It added to their thirst afterwards, but for the moment
it sent a warm glow through their numbed, aching bodies. Some thanked
God for it. Some cursed aloud at their fate. But to all it was the one
thing in the day worth having.

Always one half sat up, and always the other half lay on the bottom of
the boat, crouched together, not only for warmth but because there was
so little room.

Once Reynell hooked a fish, a great fish. Then even those lying in
the bottom of the boat were obliged, in their excitement, to kneel up
and watch, for a great fish like that would have supplied them with
food for a day or more--would have allayed, in no small measure, the
cravings of hunger. Closer and closer he came. Reynell played with him
steadily.

'He's too big for the tackle, I fear,' he said.

They could see him now, a great, long-finned angelfish. Reynell pulled
steadily. Up. Nearer. Nearer. He was almost within reach of the hands
outstretched to catch him.

Then the tackle broke! He was gone!

There went up a moan from the eager men. Reynell dropped back to his
seat and covered his face. He wondered if he had felt anything so much
since they had ironed him in the fore peak of the Bounty.

The bitterness of it was that they were in a world of islands. Hungry,
thirsty, weary, and again and again a bright green island, whereon they
could see the coconut palms that meant life to them, rose up out of the
sea.

'Land oh! Land oh!' was the cry more than once in the course of a day.

Eager faces turned to Bligh. But he always shook his head.

'We daren't. We daren't. After Tofoa we daren't.'

There was sound common sense in what he said. The eagerness died out of
their faces.

All differences of rank had disappeared now. They were comrades in
misfortune, only Bligh was their leader, the man to whom they looked
for orders and suggestions.

Once they were chased by two sailing canoes full of armed men. It was
close to a mountainous island that seemed to invite the sea-weary men
to land and rest. The brown men made signs to them that they were
friends. But they dare not risk it, and they pushed on for the open sea.

'I know the water is trickling down those hillsides,' said Fryer
wistfully.

'Don't, man,' said Reynell sharply, for the thirst was unbearable.

When they had reached breaking point, and want of water was driving
them to risk their lives by landing, there came on a storm of rain. The
heavens opened and it came down in sheets that beat the sea flat. Sea
and sky were blotted out by the falling water; there was no sound in
their ears but the roar of the rain. It took their breath away. They
were wet to the skin in a moment. But for the first time since they had
been adrift they quenched their thirst.

'Spread the sail thwarts,' cried Bligh. 'Reynell, Fryer, Elphinstone,
Linkletter, spread the sail. We ought to catch enough to last us to the
coast of New Holland.'

Hardly had they the sail spread before it was full to overflowing with
water. They emptied it into one of the little baricoes and spread it
again. And again. And again.

Before the rain stopped, as suddenly as it had come down, they had
added thirty-four gallons of good, sweet rainwater to their store, and
every man had thoroughly quenched his thirst.

Now for a space the weather was calmer. They fitted a pair of shrouds
to each mast, and contrived, from one of the sails, a canvas weather
cloth round the boat, nailed on the gun'als round the seats; thus
raising the quarters about nine inches.

'Ah,' said Reynell with a sigh of satisfaction, as he held the canvass
while the carpenter knocked in the last nail, 'I don't think we'll have
such a time baling next time we have a storm. But maybe we won't have
another storm. We ought to be getting into warmer waters.'

'It don't feel much like warm waters,' said the carpenter. 'I'm friz to
the marrer, and there ain't a pound weight's blow in me arms.'

It was cold, dark and gloomy. The rain came so often that their clothes
were drenched with water that felt icy to their ill-fed bodies.

Bligh put his hand in the sea and dabbled.

'The sea is warmer men,' he said. 'Take off your shirts and dip them.
They're wet anyway.'

The sea was warmer. With their clothes soaked in sea water they were
not so cold. But the garments were harder to dry again when the sun did
appear.

'But the gloomy weather is a blessing, a blessing,' repeated Bligh over
and over again. 'See the rain that has fallen. Thirty-four gallons one
day, twenty another. I assure you, men, we could not have lived had the
sun blazed in the sky as he did the last time I was in these seas.'

Nevertheless, there were no more ardent sunworshippers than those poor,
starving castaways. They greeted the reappearance of the Lord of light
with frantic joy. Not unnaturally, seeing that such broken rest as they
could get must be taken lying in the water, for even continuous baling
could not keep the boat dry.

Presently all extra provisions had given out. They were reduced to one
twenty-fifth of a pound of bread and an ounce of salt pork apiece twice
a day. It kept life in them. But that was all.

Reynell, looking at the worn and weary faces, haggard and thin and
half dead, noticing the painfully slow movements--to move a hand or a
foot seemed agony--thought that never in his life had he seen such a
horrible boatload of creatures masquerading in wet rags as human beings.

Judging by himself, active hunger seemed to have passed; the weather
was so wet the thirst had gone completely; but there remained a
restless gnawing that refused to let him rest. He did not feel as if he
wanted meat. He wondered what he did want.

'How much more can we stand?' he asked the surgeon.

'Faith 'tis impossible to say. 'Tis wonderful how long a man, given
water, can hold out. You can't call this living, it's bare existing,
and if it wasn't for a certain little daughter I have in Portsmouth
there----'

'If it weren't for the girl in Cornwall waiting for me----'

'Ah, I suppose we all have something. I suppose it's worth it. I know
my little maid is.'

'Some of us, I'm afraid, won't see it through.' Reynell spoke for the
surgeon's ear alone. 'This boy is dying.'

Little Hallett was leaning against his knees, apparently only about
half conscious. His white face was turned up to the sky. His eyes were
half shut.

The surgeon looked at him curiously, not unkindly, but with a remote
sort of manner, as if the case were entirely beyond him. He shook his
head.

'I shall ask the skipper for a scrap of pork for him.'

'You might as well ask the nether millstone.'

Fryer was steering. Bligh was in the bottom of the boat. His eyes had
sunken; his mouth had fallen in; his beard had grown, but it could not
hide the deep lines that ran down from his nose to his mouth. Reynell
bent forward.

'Sir. Sir. A little bit of pork for the lad. He is dying of hunger.'

Bligh hardly looked at the boy.

'He has had his allowance for to-day,' he said.

'But, sir--but, sir--he is dying. No one would grudge him a small piece
to put a little life in him.'

'If I gave in to you, Reynell,' said Bligh quietly, so quietly they
could not tell whether he felt any pity for the boy or not, 'the same
plea could be put forth by sixteen others in less than half an hour,'
and he dropped his chin on his breast again as if there the discussion
ended.

'I told you he had no bowels,' said Ledward.

'He'd never have got us so far if he had,' said Reynell justly.

Cruel as it was, he felt that Bligh was right. In the interest of the
majority the boy must take his chance with the rest.

Still, Hallett did not die. During his watch below Reynell took him in
his arms and held him close, trying to put a little of his own warmth
into him.

The night was a bad one. They were obliged to run before the sea,
watching the helm with care, for the least error would have been
disastrous. When morning dawned, dull and lowering, Hallett was still
alive. Boobies and noddies were breasting the waves round the boat.

Bligh looked round on the heaving, lead-coloured sea.

'Land,' said he tersely. He looked so near death's door Reynell thought
the land would be only useful as a burial place.

The master gave a sobbing sigh.

'If we could land,' he said, 'I don't believe I could lift a leg to get
out of the boat. I'm that crippled with rheumatism.'

'There's an open sore on me leg,' said Lebogue, 'you could put your
fist in.'

They were all crippled with aching pains, stiff joints and open sores.
They spoke about it dully, the pains inside and out, the unbearable
aching that allowed no rest. Perhaps it was the thought of land so near
and yet so unattainable that opened their lips.

'What's the good,' asked Elphinstone, 'of tantalizing us with the
thought of land. We daren't go ashore.'

Bligh roused himself with an effort.

'I think,' said he, slowly and deliberately, 'we must be approaching
the great reefs off the coast of New Holland.'

To most of the men it meant much the same as if he had mentioned the
coasts of Laputa or the Delectable Mountains. It was something in his
tone that gave them hope.

'Could we land there?' It came like one shout.

'Ay,' said Bligh. 'We might land there. In safety.'

'My God!' said Reynell. There was something in his leader's face that
sent his own poor starved blood racing through his veins. All his
future spread out once more fair before him. The worst was over. Was
it possible the worst was over? Had he fairly covered the cruel first
stage of the road that led straight to the arms of the woman he loved?
To the girl who had been his star and his hope? She seemed quite near
now.

'I take it,' went on Bligh with deliberation, 'we may not only land
there in safety but we shall find there some sort of food----'

His voice was drowned in jubilation, thin and hectic; the men were
sobbing like children, but it was jubilation for all that. They caught
a glimpse of the end of the long, weary voyage.

'My God, sir!' cried Reynell, and his voice was shaking, 'if we get
there we get home!'

'I thought you understood,' said Bligh, harshly perhaps to hide his own
emotion, 'we are bound for England.'




CHAPTER XVI.


'Now men see not the bright light which is in the clouds; 
but the wind passeth and cleanseth them.'


Mistress Corthew did her duty by her husband's daughter. It seemed to
the farmer she laid in clothes to last a life-time.

But the last stitch was put in the last garment; linen; dresses;
house-linen, and many a thing the far-seeing woman imagined might be
useful in a land where nothing could be bought, were all laid away in
lavender in stout oak chests, which were carried down to Polperro and
there shipped aboard the Reaper which was bound for Wapping. It was
surely the irony of fate that Reynell's old ship should carry those
boxes, all neatly labelled, 'Captain Quested, R.N., H.M.S. Venus,
Deptford.'

On the 1st February, 1789, when all the paths were like glass, and
the bare hedges were white and heavy with snow that had fallen the
night before, they went across to Lansallos Church and married Loveday
Corthew to Thomas Quested.

The bride's face was white as the snow itself, but the winter sunshine
streamed through the leaded windows and fell on her golden curls.
Polperro said it was a good sign.

'If it rest with me,' said Quested fervently, 'if it rest with me----'

To Loveday it was all like a dream--a happy dream, though she would not
have said so. It was the convention of the time to be sentimental. She
was not regarded as a child. She was a woman--a woman who should have
mourned her lost lover longer. Or--since it would have been folly to
let such a good offer of marriage go by, she was expected to be pensive
about it--to marry Captain Quested because--her heart being dead--she
might as well be kind and save him from misery. As for enjoying it--no;
she was not supposed to enjoy her wedding, and a wedding under such
circumstances----

So in a dream she was wed; in a dream she cut the cake and sat out the
feasting; in a dream she kissed her father and her baby brother, and
the stepmother to whom she owed far more than she realized; in a dream
she went horseback behind her husband to Fowey, there to take ship in
the Lottery to London. Her new life had begun.

There she saw the ship that was to be her home for the long, long
voyage. The Venus was only three hundred tons burden, but she was a
great ship to the girl whose husband was as proud of his new command
as he was of his bride. Her quarters were astern, cramped and small
Loveday thought them at first, palatial she felt they were when she saw
how narrowly the rest of the company were stowed.

They were women, sixty of them, so ten marines and a sergeant in charge
were considered ample to insure good order. Gloomy and dreary looked
their quarters to the carefree girl peeping in. On either side of the
deck were small cells to be used either for refractory prisoners or
as rewards for good conduct, which the sergeant had not yet decided.
Otherwise there was just the deck, at each end doors with iron bars
like those to a wild beast's cage. That deck was bare and clean as
stout sailor arms and holystoning could make it. Other preparations for
the passengers there were none. Beyond the convicts' quarters for'ard,
and before those of the crew were reached, there was a galley, where
sundry tin pots and messkids hung.

'But where will they sleep?' asked Loveday.

'There, there on the deck, my darling,' said Quested.

'On the bare boards?' The girl thought of the feather bed and other
comforts that had been provided for her.

'Well we have been told to provide nothing but pannikins, messkids and
a few tin plates and spoons. They are convicts, you know.'

He did not like his dainty wife to see any blemishes in his new command.

'Oh poor, poor things,' said the country girl.

She said, 'Poor things' again, when, on a dull dark February day, their
unwilling passengers came aboard. A bitter north wind drove before it
an icy sleet; the river looked grey and forbidding; the thermometer was
down just below freezing point; it seemed as if the sun would never
shine again.

Down through the mist, chained together, two and two, came a line of
figures, each bearing some sort of bundle. They were the women whom
England was sending away from her shores to start life in a new land.
Not that England was in the least concerned about their starting a
new life, all she wanted was to get rid of them. Not six had any
pretensions to youth--most of the sixty were decrepit.

In those hard old days a woman of their class aged very quickly.
There was no decent, happy, contented middle-age for her, when she
was comely as became her years. She was young--then presently she was
old--that was all the difference. The wiseacres who chose the convicts
for New South Wales sent out old women. Possibly they thought it well
that the future nation should be born of free women. Most of them
were toothless: their mouths had fallen in; their unkempt grey hair
straggled across their dirty faces; their clothes were torn and soiled,
mere rags most of them, soaked with the cold February rain. Each woman
had a rough blanket, but otherwise their bundles seemed woefully small.
And the voyage would take at least nine months, perhaps a year.

On the wharf stood ten or a dozen onlookers. One or two seemed
to recognize acquaintances among the convicts. They made little
offerings--of tobacco mostly. It was received, sometimes with a jeer,
sometimes with tears. The women seem too despairing to speak, but now
and again one would call to another some derisive word respecting their
miserable condition.

A well-dressed young man stood a little apart, watching them. The
jailers were hustling them, anxious to get the business of embarkation
over and to get out of the wet. It was a pitiable sight.

Quested looked at his wife's face and then, with a little dismay, at
his passengers. The two foremost were at the bottom of the gangway
which was too narrow to admit of the passage of the two chained women
and their belongings.

'Dump those bundles! Dump those bundles!' called Quested. 'Here,
Quartermaster, send along a couple of men to hand up that dunnage.'

But the women objected to parting with their poor possessions. They
trusted no one. The sergeant of Marines came forward angrily. Quested
was more merciful.

'Oh, my God! Poor wretches. It isn't much they've got. Let us see that
each gets her own. Send along half a dozen more hands, Quartermaster.
When's the rest of their baggage coming?' he asked.

The head jailer hitched his head at the miserable women.

'They've got all their traps there,' he said.

Quested swore an impatient oath. He was a kindly man, old enough to
be pitiful, and he did not like to think of the unfortunate wretches
shut up on that cold, bleak deck, wet and uncomfortable, and likely to
remain so till they got into warmer waters. He saw, too, that his wife
was looking troubled.

'Go below, my darling, and get warm.'

'There's a gentleman wants to come on board to speak to you,' reported
the quartermaster.

'I thought we'd done with England for a bit,' said Quested, smiling at
the wife who stood beside him so proudly. It was wonderful to be wife
to the man who ruled this great ship. 'Ask him to come on board.'

It was the junior counsel who had defended Joan, come to take a last
look at the girl who had interested him so deeply. He was even a little
ashamed of his own interest.

He came up that gangway after the convict women and stood before the
ship's captain, a goodly young man in a three-cornered hat and a neat
wig. He made a bow to Captain Quested, a deeper bow with his hand on
his heart before the pretty little lady who stood beside him.

'And what can I do for you, sir? My time is short. We go in less than
half an hour.'

'I have not much to say, sir,' said the other young man, a little
stiffly. 'I take an interest in one of your unfortunate passengers. Oh,
nothing that your lady may not hear,' he added quickly with a glance
and another little bow to Loveday, 'but I defended Juana d'Ath at the
Plymouth Assizes. She was convicted of horse-stealing and sentenced
to death, but reprieved. Now I have reason to think that there has
been--hardly a miscarriage of justice--but some misunderstanding.
I believe, though unfortunately I could get neither the judge nor
the jury to agree with me, that she took the horse under some
misapprehension. She felt she was doing the right thing. She wanted to
rescue--her lover, I suppose, from the press gang.'

Quested laughed. He knew all about the press gang, and the name Juana
d'Ath conveyed nothing to him.

'Yes,' he said, 'I could understand the situation.'

'Well, that being so, I want to give the girl a chance. I have ventured
to order a few comforts to be sent,' he glanced over the side to where
a porter was standing with a bundle, 'that might be useful for the
voyage, and I thought if I gave you £5 perhaps you would take charge
and might lay it out in the new country. It would give the girl a
chance to start a fresh life.'

'Why, you are goodness itself,' said Quested. 'Where is this Juana
d'Ath? She shall come and thank you herself.'

'It is hardly necessary,' said the junior counsel smiling. 'I have
only met her in the Court and the jail. But to tell you the truth,' he
said deprecatingly, as a man apologizes for a great folly, 'she was
so beautiful her face haunted me. I felt it was a shame she had not a
better chance, and I thought I'd like, with your aid, to help her. By
your leave, sir.'

He beckoned the porter to come on board.

On the main deck they were knocking off the women's fetters. They could
hear plainly the clank of the irons as they fell on the boards, and a
confused murmur, the women raising their voices, the marines trying to
keep them in order and yet not make them heard above by authority.

'Quartermaster,' ordered Quested, 'tell the Sergeant of Marines to take
off her irons and send Juana d'Ath along to the cuddy. You will come
below, sir, will you not, and drink to our good fortune on our long
voyage. My wife will be honoured.'

They bowed to each other, and Loveday happily felt herself a very great
lady indeed, the simple maid of the farm was left very far behind. It
was all pure delight, touched, but not to hurt her, with pity for the
women who were to be their passengers.

Into the cuddy, quite a comfortable place in the stern of the ship,
with walls panelled in carved teak, came Joan. Her dress was wet round
the skirts, but her shoes, thanks to the junior counsel, were stout,
and she had been wrapped in a shawl, also thanks to him. As the cuddy
was warm she slipped it off and stood before them, tall and stately and
silent.

She knew them all.

There came to her a moment of exquisite joy. This Captain Quested was
the captain of the ship, and beside him was Loveday Corthew!

So she had been right. Loveday Corthew had married--had married the man
who had been virtually courting her in those days that seemed so long
ago at Polperro. Joan had said she would marry. But to be sure of it!
The joy of it!

The look on her face was misinterpreted. The junior counsel felt his
own heart miss a throb, for she was very good to look upon, and he
thought it was for him, as indeed--not unnaturally--did the other two.

Then Loveday recognized her.

'Why, 'tis Joan,' she cried wonderingly, 'Joan of the Pilchard!'

She had heard indeed that Joan of the Pilchard had been condemned for
horse stealing; but the drudge of the fishermen's tavern had had small
place in her thoughts among her own sorrows--and joys. She did not even
know whether she was alive or dead.

This was Joan truly, but Joan with a difference.

How should a simple little soul like kindly Loveday Quested even dimly
grasp what had gone to the making of a handsome woman out of the sullen
girl. She would have wilted and shrivelled before the storm that had
effected such a change for the better in Joan. Very naturally, too, in
addition to the gladness of seeing Loveday married, came the flattering
thought that the junior counsel had found it worth while to come and
see her, to bring her gifts at this her parting with the old life.
Never, surely, had a convict had such a good send-off. No wonder Joan
held up her head and felt as few convicts can have felt that the world
was at her feet.

'But Joan, Joan,' said Loveday, quite glad to see a face from Polperro,
'surely you never stole a horse.'

Joan spoke deliberately, remembering the decent speech that this man
before her, the man who had defended her, had first brought to her
notice.

'I took Dick Penrhyn's mare to let you know they had pressed Daniel
Reynell!'

'Daniel Reynell!' It was Quested who winced.

'Daniel Reynell!' cried Loveday, brought back to earth from her heaven.
She had forgotten Daniel Reynell. He was far, far away. She was
realizing it.

'Dost mean to say,' for the moment Joan forgot her efforts at culture,
'hast forgot Daniel Reynell!'

Mr. Henniker Hilton looked at these people in amazement. It seemed to
him he had dropped a bomb amongst them. Then he took charge.

'Joan was sentenced,' he said, 'because a farmer accused her of
stealing his horse. She admitted she took it, but her plea that this
man Reynell had told her she might safely take it was not admitted,
because it was proved that Daniel Reynell was not pressed.'

'He was,' said Joan, looking at them all gravely, and speaking slowly
and impressively. 'He was. I saw him in Talland Church myself. He told
me to take the mare. He was sure Dick Penrhyn would lend when he knew
how keen he was to get a message'--she turned to Loveday--'to the
parson to get him off and to Raphiel Farm--to you.'

Loveday crumpled up and burst out crying.

'He sent a message to me--to me. He is dead--drowned dead.'

'Oh no,' said Joan, still thinking of her speech, 'he has gone to
the South Seas in the Bounty. Dick Penrhyn,' she drifted into
colloquialism, 'her give I in charge, and if Parson did na speak for
her her a gone for sure.'

'Impossible!' said Quested.

''A saw men take her,' went on Joan, implacable as fate, 'in lane by
Pilchard. 'A followed she.'

Loveday had covered her face now.

'So it seems there was truth in her story.'

Quested stood silent for a moment. 'I cannot understand it. Three men
from Polperro were taken to Talland Church.'

'Four,' said Joan, thinking of her speech again. 'But Amos Garrett was
dead.'

'Ah!' said Quested, and the thing was clear to him. 'I understand now.
But it was no doing of mine.'

He looked from Joan to Mr. Henniker Hilton and then to his wife.

But he was captain of this ship. Whatever his private feelings there
was much to do. He was starting for a new world in twenty minutes.

'It may be true, or it may not. Sir, we will do our best for your
protégée, but I fear we must be sailing. You will bid her good-bye now.'

The junior counsel turned to Joan.

'I have done my best for you, Juana d'Ath,' he said. 'I am leaving with
the captain's lady a little money and a parcel of clothes to help you
on your journey and when you land. There is nothing to be done now, but
in a year or so the Bounty will be back. Then I shall make inquiries
for Daniel Reynell, and if your story be true--but'--he finished up
hurriedly--'unfortunately you did take the mare.'

Joan smiled. For a moment she was a very happy woman.

'I thank you with all my heart,' said she. 'I did take the mare and I'd
do it again.'

'Oh, come, come. You are incorrigible.'

He did not understand what Joan had said that had so upset the captain
of the ship and his wife, and he was at a loss to explain the joy that
was written so plainly on this girl's face. It was not for him--or was
it? Well, his own behaviour gave him a comfortable glow. He took her
hand.

'A happy ending to all your tribulations,' said he. 'The captain here
has my card and if at any time I can help----A pleasant voyage, sir, to
you and your lady,' and he bowed low, ignoring the tear-stained face
that Loveday raised. No, he thought, whatever it was that had disturbed
her, it was not a tragedy, only a summer storm.

When he was gone Quested curtly dismissed Joan.

'Mrs. Quested will speak to you again,' he said.

The girl walked on air to be locked in her wretched quarters.

Quested turned to his wife and spoke to her constrainedly.

'We are just casting off,' said he. His voice sounded strange in her
ears, 'you'll understand I must be at my post.'

'Oh, Captain Quested!'

They were formal days. My own grandmother, a generation after that,
never called that gallant sailor man, her husband, anything but 'Mr.
Palmer' all her married life. Loveday still thought of and called her
husband 'Captain Quested.'

'Are you--are you angry with me?'

'Angry with you! My darling! My darling!' He gathered her up in his
arms and held her close, and looked down at her passionately out of his
dark eyes.

'You will despise me, and think me fickle that I love you so,' she
whispered with a sob.

'Love me! Did you say you love me!'

She did not answer, only clung to him closer, hiding her face against
his rough peajacket.

'Oh, Loveday! Loveday! I must go!'

He put her gently down on to the cushioned locker, and went about his
business of leaving old England behind, up on the deck there, glad and
happy and triumphant as Joan was in her miserable quarters below.




CHAPTER XVII.


'He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty, 
and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.'


At first even Reynell had looked at the birds with dull half-interested
eyes. It seemed mere waste of labour to try and catch them. Labour of
any sort was a thing to be avoided when it took so great an effort even
to move when movement was absolutely necessary. Now, with hope re-born,
he felt he must try for one of those noddies that were swooping around
them.

'A thread from your coat,' he begged of Ledward. The surgeon had on a
wreck of a coat that had once been red.

'Oh, help yourself,' said he hopelessly. 'I'm not ungenerous with
England in the offing.'

Reynell leaned over and cut away a fragment of the cloth where the
colour was brightest. He fastened it to his line and threw it overboard
as he had done a hundred times already.

He cast again.

And again.

With no result. Why weary himself?

Once more.

With almost hysterical joy he found he had caught a noddy, a bird about
the size of a pigeon.

'Elphinstone!' he shouted.

But there was no need to shout. The weary, half-dead men roused
themselves eagerly. Elphinstone caught the poor fluttering thing and
wrung its neck.

Bligh sat up alert and stern as ever.

'We must divide it,' said he.

'Only the blood for the boy,' pleaded the captor. 'It may put life in
poor little Hallett.'

'I was going to suggest it was your due,' said Bligh dryly.

'I will give it to him,' said Reynell. He paused a moment, 'gladly.'

This was but a small thing to do. If the boy improved it would surely
add glory to the day, a day that would stand out above all others; the
day that marked the turning point in a long, weary lane.

So he cut a slit in the neck of the bird, put it to the boy's lips, and
told him to suck.

Mechanically he obeyed.

Reynell was rewarded by a faint brightening on the haggard young face.
He handed the noddy over to Lebogue who divided it into eighteen small
portions. Very small they were. The eyes that looked at them were
wolfish for each man knew he could have eaten three or four birds such
as that.

He turned his back on it and Bligh asked,

'Who shall have this?'

'Mr. Ledward.'

'And this?'

'Mr. Fryer.'

So it went on. As each man's name was mentioned he snatched at the tiny
fragment of flesh and crammed it in his mouth.

It was horrible; it was terrible; yet, if there had been any one
there to see, there was a certain dignity about it. These famishing
men had control over themselves; they could wait. If they were to be
saved surely such self-control should save them. There was a little
half-remorseful titter when the feet and beak fell to Reynell himself.

He laughed ruefully.

'After all, anything the rest of you got don't count.'

'It has saved the boy's life,' said Ledward.

'We must get another.'

Now, men who had been thinking only of the severe racking pains in
their bones forgot those pains to watch the birds, and speculate on the
chances of getting another. Next day they did get another, a booby, the
size of a large duck.

It came in the nick of time. Lebogue, the old sail-maker, Hallett, the
midshipman, and Nelson, the botanist, were sinking fast. The blood
revived them, while the meat they divided as they had done the day
before.

Now the birds began to be more numerous. They caught four.

Branches of trees were seen in the sea, and they passed much other
drift wood. Certainly, Bligh declared, they were approaching the reefs
round New Holland.

Next day, when they saw white water--the breakers that beat ceaselessly
on the Great Barrier Reef--the forlorn, hollowed-eyed little band
raised a heartbreaking cheer for the first stage of the journey thus
safely behind them.

The anxiety with which they sought an opening was piteous.

They found it at last, and by noon were sailing through to water that
lay smooth as some great blue lake beyond. Straight for the first
island that lay in their course they went.

Round the island grew mangroves, their glossy leaves bright in the
sunshine. In their branches, sheltering in the heat of noonday, they
saw the brilliant gleam of parrots' gay plumage and numerous great
pigeons. But they were too weary to hunt.

'I see no coconut palms,' said Ledward anxiously.

'And I see no native huts or canoes, which is a matter of quite as much
importance,' said Bligh.

They drew closer and closer, seeking a place among the mangrove to
land. At last they came on a strip of sandy beach. As the water
shallowed Reynell slipped overboard.

So weak was he that it was all that he could do to keep from falling
face forward in the water. As for pulling up the boat, he had not the
strength of a baby in his arms.

But the wind and the water took her on.

She grounded.

One by one those weak, weary wrecks of humanity fell overboard, and,
crawling out of the water, lay stretched at full length on the warm
sand.

'The boat,' said Bligh, 'we must safeguard the boat.'

But all they could find strength to do was to take ashore a rope and
wind it round a tree trunk. Then they fell back on the sand again.

Young Hallett was Reynell's chief concern. He lay there, a little
apart, like a dead thing. There must be food here surely. If there were
not then they must all perish. But if there were, then it was a shame
to let the lad die without some attempt to succour him. So cramped was
he, he felt that he could not go in search of that food.

He crawled to Bligh's side. Like the rest, he was lying spread out on
the warm sand, as if rejoicing at being able to stretch his limbs to
their full length after a month in the cramped space of the boat.

'Sir, sir, the lad will die if you do not give him something. A morsel
of bread, a scrap of pork! We must surely find something here to make
up for it.'

Bligh shut up his mouth as if it had been a trap.

'Reynell, I explained to you before, we all share alike. It is waste of
breath to ask me.'

'I will give him my share gladly.'

'To-morrow morning then. You have had your share for to-day.'

'Sir, sir! He is dying!'

'So are we all. Fast I think. If he were my son I should say the same.'
He closed his eyes. The discussion was at an end.

Reynell crawled back to the lad. Lying there he looked at the point of
death. Even the warmth of the sand did not seem to help him. He was
not dozing as the others were doing. The excitement of landing had
been more than the weakened frame could bear. He was sinking--sinking
from starvation. Yet could he have had some strong broth--some blood
even--Reynell felt sure he would revive.

But till he himself was rested he had no strength to seek out a bird.
Presently----He looked again at the lad.

Presently would be too late for him. And, he, Reynell, was going back
to the woman he loved, to Loveday of the laughing hazel eyes and sunny
hair. Surely there would be a cloud over their meeting if he let this
lad die now that he knew so little would save him.

The bread was in the carpenter's chest along with the bottles of wine.
Bligh had the key. The only thing he could get at was the pork.

Should he steal some?

The crime was terrible. To steal from starving men! A pigeon cooed in
the manchineel tree above, and was answered by its mate in the pandanus
palm opposite. Once these men were rested they would not be starving
long. But the boy would be dead and his death--it seemed to him now he
had thought of it--would be at his door.

He crawled back to the boat and cut off a large slice of the pork.

He was a starving man. It cost him a great effort to refrain from
putting it in his own mouth. He looked at his companions sleeping, or
at least drowsily resting in the shade, for the sun was hot now, and
they were dry for the first time since they had left the Bounty. Not
for himself would he have robbed them. But Hallett was in extremity.

He went back to the boy lying moaning under a pandanus palm.

'Mr. Hallett! Mr. Hallett! See here, lad.'

He put the pork to his lips. The boy opened his eyes.

'It's no good, Quartermaster,' he whispered. 'I can't hold out any
longer.'

'Eat this, lad. For God's sake eat it quick!'

It was cruel to keep him in such temptation.

'What? Where?'

'Eat this. It will pull you together.'

The boy took the meat languidly. Heaven knows the fat salt pork was an
untempting morsel enough, but to see the boy eating slowly made the
mouth of the starving man, looking on, water. He had to repress the
strong temptation that came to him to snatch it away from the nerveless
fingers and crowd it into his own greedy mouth. When it was all gone he
turned away, shaking and trembling, for the effort had been terrible.

He made his way to Bligh's side.

'Captain Bligh, sir. I have stolen some of your pork.'

'I did not think,' Bligh looked at him reproachfully. 'Daniel Reynell
capable of so mean a theft.'

His voice was hollow and cold, and cutting.

'Before God I have not touched a scrap. It was to save the boy's life.'

Reynell's voice was shaking.

There came a light into Bligh's eyes for a moment that almost made
Reynell feel that his sin had been worth while. But others were
listening, and the voice that answered him was colder than ever.

'I trust you will find it has been worth your while, for most certainly
I shall find a punishment to fit the crime. It is a terrible thing to
steal from starving men.' The words rang sad and bitter.

Reynell's heart sank. Had he lost a friend, a friend he valued?

Bligh closed his tired eyes. Reynell went back and stretched himself
out alongside young Hallett. In the pleasant warmth he grew drowsy and
dozed till the chattering birds overhead awoke him. He watched for a
moment the bright-hued parrots, red and blue and green and yellow,
flashing in and out among the bushes opposite.

He sat up.

They were eating berries that grew plentifully on a vine, yellow
berries streaked with red, something like a gooseberry.

What birds could eat could surely not be harmful to men! He crept
across and tasted. They were pleasant and agreeable. He gathered a
handful and ate eagerly. Here was food that was better than raw pork!
Fool that he had been to commit a crime before looking round.

But if there were plenty of food here it was not such a terrible crime.
He took some berries to young Hallett.

The boy ate, then struggled to his feet and joined him. He shouted to
the others. The wrecks and shadows of humanity rose up and picked too.

The birds were flitting in and out, parrots and wild pigeons half
as large again as an ordinary pigeon. They were so tame they hardly
troubled to get out of the men's way.

But they had no firearms, and the weak hands had no skill with a stick
or a stone.

''Tis a pity,' said Ledward ruefully as he missed a red and green
parrot that flew shrieking from the branch he had hit, 'for what we
want is meat.'

'Let us look along the rocks,' suggested Reynell, 'maybe we shall come
across some shell fish. If we could make a fire then we might find a
use for that copper pot Linkletter has stuck to for so long.'

Along the rocks, growing even on the branches of the trees that
overhung the water, to their great joy, they found oysters in plenty.
Could there be anything better for starving men? There went up a great
cry. One by one the men came hastening to join in the search. There
was plenty for all. No need to stint or divide! At last they might eat
their fill. The men fairly sobbed with delight.

Even Bligh was stirred.

'Get a little brushwood together,' he said. 'I think I can start a fire
with this little magnifying glass.'

Cheerfully the fire crackled. They built it in a hollow, where there
were plenty of shrubs round to act as a screen, for they had no mind to
call attention to their whereabouts if there should be any inhabitants
to see.

Bligh brought out the pork. There was about two pounds left.

'Someone has pilfered,' he said, looking meaningly at Reynell. Hallett
had apparently quite forgotten that he had had any, 'we will put the
remainder into the stew. Then there will be no further temptation.'

Reynell's heart lightened. He took that to mean that Bligh, in view of
their present plenty, was going to overlook the past, and let bygones
be bygones.

That night they fed well. It was wonderful how the lines smoothed out
of hollow faces, and the colour crept back to deathlike cheeks. They
cracked jokes and laughed light-heartedly, as sailors will, sailors who
are like so many children, living only in the present, forgetting the
miserable past, never looking forward into the future.

'The worst is past, men,' said Bligh, 'the very worst. I congratulate
you. It will be a trifle to reach Timor since we have come so far,'
and the sailors agreed with him and talked as if it might be a day's
journey off.

That night Reynell slept comforted.

They were in the midst of plenty: oysters, clams, dogfish, turtle,
pigeons, parrots, and plenty of berries. What more was there to be
feared? Bligh spoke to him gaily. The worst had passed for him indeed.
The long weary voyage that began when they carried him to the chapel at
Talland was over; he was homeward bound, a man with his mind broadened
by suffering and travel; with his foot on the rungs of a ladder that
was to lead upward, right upward; that would be so much easier to mount
because he had just a little money behind him and Bligh's good will to
aid him.

Then the blow fell.

The men, who had been so patient and obedient when death was ever at
their elbow, leaning over their shoulder, now became careless and
disobedient, ripe for mutiny. Purcell, the carpenter, was the leader.

'Me,' said he, 'I'm as good as Bligh any day.'

'No,' Reynell discouraged him. 'No one but Bligh could have brought us
here.'

Purcell jeered.

'Much you care for Bligh. Think we don't tumble to it t'was you sneaked
the blooming pork. An' he just said nuthin'. Dassent, I guess.'

His sin to find him out now! Reynell quailed.

'I had to do it,' he said quietly. 'I swear I never touched any for
myself. I'm afraid Bligh will find a punishment. He said he would.'

'Dassent, my bloke, dassent,' said Purcell. 'If he does you call on me.'

'What for?' asked a quiet voice that cut like a knife.

'I was just mentioning,' but the carpenter's voice was not quite so
confident, 'as you'd be the fudst to say one man's as good as another
now.'

Without one word Bligh took a step forward, shot out a fist and struck
the carpenter a blow in the face. He was weak from long starvation, so
Purcell only staggered back.

'Mates,' he whined, 'he's killin' me!'

'Not at all.' Bligh snatched a cutlass from Mr. Fryer and thrust it
into the carpenter's hand. 'Now, if one man's as good as another and
you feel aggrieved you just defend yourself.'

'He knows I ain't no hand agin a trained man,' whined the unlucky
carpenter. 'He'll kill me an' let off the man as sucks up to him, the
quartermaster. We mun clem, but he may scoff the pork.'

'Come on, you dog.' Bligh raised his sword threateningly.

The carpenter gave in at once, and dropped to his knees.

Bligh looked at him contemptuously, then turned away.

'You see, Reynell, the necessity for a stern discipline.' His voice
rang sadly. 'If I'm to get to Timor I must keep my word.'

Reynell said nothing. What could he say?

Death was to have been the punishment for any man tampering with the
provisions.

That night Reynell lay and looked into the glowing coals and wondered
how Bligh would punish him.

Punished he would be, he knew it now. But, surely, in the midst of
plenty, it could not be death.

Next morning he knew.

They were all awake with the dawn, cheerful and light-hearted. Bligh
set them gathering oysters and berries for the voyage.

'For we start to-day, men. We start to-day. We must not linger.'

'Shall we land on the mainland, sir?' asked Reynell, for the mainland
of Australia was so close they could see the shore quite plainly. It
was apparently about half a mile away.

Reynell was desperately uneasy. What was his punishment to be? He would
bear anything, anything, so long as he was taken on to England. Surely
Bligh would not kill him. But would he take him in irons? Not that they
had any irons in the boat--but he might use some humiliating form of
restraint. The uncertainty nearly drove him mad.

Bligh looked at him. Reynell saw great pity in that look. Then he was
again the man who had held them together through that cruel month in
the cramped boat. He spoke harshly.

'We shall not land on the mainland, Quartermaster,' he said giving
him his official rating again, 'I do not know what you may do.'

Reynell's heart grew heavy as lead. Why should his doings be separated
from those of the others?

By noon they were ready to start.

They had been well fed. They had a goodly collection of clams, oysters
and birds all cooked ready for the voyage, and a great quantity of
berries. The men were grumbling good-humouredly at having to resume
their cramped quarters again.

Bligh took a turn up and down the sand. Reynell watched him feverishly.
Now. Now. What was his punishment to be?

Three times he marched up and down. Then he stopped in front of them
and spoke with deliberation and without a note of regret or pity in his
voice. Knowing the man, Reynell had not expected pity. But what--what
was his decision?

'Men,' began Bligh, 'could anyone have led you as I have led you,
brought you out of the very jaws of death?'

'No, sir. No, no, sir.'

'And do you remember when you chose me for a leader you invested me
with the powers of life and death?'

'Ay, ay, sir.'

'You have no desire that I should abrogate that authority? You would
not, for instance, prefer Mr. Purcell here for your leader?'

'No, sir. No, no, sir.' The response was unanimous.

'You remember we have still a long and weary voyage to go? Not so bad
as that we have come through, but possibly bad enough, though it will
not be so long, please God.'

'Ay, ay, sir.' The men were getting a little impatient. Where was all
this leading to?

'And now we come to the point. Do you not think that the man who
pilfers from a starving community, for whatever purpose, is worthy of
death?'

'Ay, ay, indeed yes.'

And there had been berries within reach. All the while there had been
berries within reach. Reynell felt as if he had been looking into the
bottomless pit. He held his breath. Life was sweet! He would make a
fight for it, if he had to kill Bligh and take the leadership himself.

'The quartermaster, by his own confession, has pilfered the pork.'

Bligh's voice was cold, a little harsh, entirely devoid of emotion.

For a moment there was dead silence.

'Not for myself,' Reynell heard his own voice speaking in strangled
tones, 'not for myself.' He did not want his shipmates to think him
guilty of a mean action.

The silence was profound.

He could hear the slop of the little wavelets on the shore, the soft
cooing of a great pigeon overhead, the raucous screech of a parrot as
it flew from one tree to another; even the long-drawn breaths of the
listening men.

'Now for that,' went on Bligh relentlessly, 'he should surely die. But,
I put it to you, great mercy has been extended to us. We are here safe,
we have every chance of reaching Timor, do you not think we can afford
to be merciful?'

He paused.

A great load was lifted from Reynell's heart. He raised his head and
a sob burst from his lips. To be allowed to go on--to Loveday. The
men gave a shout. Purcell, the rebel, snapped a contemptuous finger
and thumb. Bligh saw it. Reynell saw it. The seed of the spirit of
rebellion! If this went on----

Reynell's head fell forward again. Bligh would never overlook that. He
could not. But surely--surely he would not order his death.

'I am glad you agree with me.' Bligh went on calmly as if he had
noticed nothing. 'We will give this man his life.' Reynell drew a long
sobbing breath. 'You understand men are often reprieved at the foot
of the gallows, and they are transported. Once they were sent to the
plantations in America. Now I hear they are making preparations to
send such men to plantations in New South Wales. This New Holland,' he
waved his hand to the mainland, 'is part of New South Wales. Somewhere
here, Captain Phillip, in the Sirius, is making a settlement,
probably about a thousand miles to the south. Now you understand we
cannot take this man with us lest the evil spread. But we can afford
to be merciful, we can afford to make a thank-offering of his life to
the great God who has brought us so far in safety. We will maroon him
here. Here we have found food in plenty, his plight will not be much
worse than ours, and he may perhaps make his way down to the convict
settlement at Botany Bay. He has earned death by our own decree. But we
will be merciful. Launch the boat, men.'

For a moment Reynell stood stunned. He hardly knew what he had
expected, but not a living death like this. To be left alone on an
island off the coast of a land where, as far as he knew, only one ship
had ever been since the world was created. Should he protest? Would
Bligh, since he was obviously only condemning him to uphold his own
authority, be open to a plea for mercy?

He looked at his leader.

His face was dark and shadowed.

Should he try and raise the men against him?

Perhaps Bligh, looking at him, read his thoughts.

'Let me remind you, men!' came his incisive voice, 'once we have
dissension we are wrecked.'

The men moved slowly toward the boat.

'What is this, Quartermaster?' Ledward touched his arm.

'It is true,' gasped Reynell. 'I took the pork . . . for the boy. ...
He was dying. . . . I swear I never touched a fragment. . . . I told
Bligh myself. . . . I asked him first, and when he would not give it
I stole it. And there were the berries. . . . God, there were the
berries . . . better than the stinking pork. . . . But I was too done.'

Ledward turned to Bligh.

'Sir,' he began.

But Purcell, beside him, was listening eagerly. Reynell knew there was
to be no lightening of his sentence.

'It is expedient,' came Bligh's harsh voice, with a ring of pain in it,
'that one man should die for the people. Only he will not die. There
is plenty here for a hundred men. He can make his way along the coast
to the new colony. He has as good a chance as we have. It will be no
greater feat than we have accomplished already.'

He turned away.

'Listen to that,' said Ledward, 'he could do it. So can you.'

'Alone?' Reynell's voice was hopeless.

The surgeon held out his hand.

'Can I take any message for you, Daniel Reynell, though I would not
give much for either of our chances?'

'If you get back,' said the lonely man, and he felt as if his tongue
could never, in the time at his command, give all the last messages
of which his heart was full; he was dying--dying, 'send to Polperro,
in Cornwall, to a maid called Loveday Corthew. . . . She will be
waiting . . . waiting . . . and tell her I never for one moment
forgot----'

'Mr. Ledward, we are waiting for you,' said Bligh.

Young Hallett ran back sobbing.

'It was for me,' he sobbed. 'I ate the pork. I will stay, too!'

Reynell started. Two men together they might manage it. It would be no
greater feat, as Ledward said, than they had already accomplished.

But he put the temptation from him. It would ruin the boy to come with
him. Surely he had not saved him for that. He was dying. He would die
with dignity. The bitterness was the parting with Loveday Corthew--he
was giving her up again. That could not be altered by ruining a boy's
life.

'No, lad, no. You mustn't. I won't forget your offer, but your staying
would be the death of me. You aren't strong enough. Go you and rise
in the Navy, and think of the men sometimes, and don't let them say I
stole meanly. I swear I never touched a bit of pork myself. Good-bye,
lad, good-bye. I'm glad I did it.'

'Here is my knife,' sobbed the boy, 'and Linkletter is leaving his
copper pot and Mr. Fryer sends his coat and----'

'Mr. Hallett! Mr. Ledward!' called Bligh, who understood the danger of
delay, 'are we to understand that you, too, desire to remain on this
key. Mr. Ledward, you will cast off the rope.'

Reynell pulled himself together.

'I will cast off the rope,' he said, and his voice rang firm. There was
not a quiver in it.

Bligh looked at him.

He was heartened, for he saw admiration in that look.

Ledward and Hallett shook hands again and got into the boat.

Reynell stood till they were safe in her. Then he cast off the rope.

Bligh took the tiller.

'Up jib. Keep the sheet to win'ard.'

The boat went astern, and as her head slowly paid off, 'Hoist the
foresail,' he ordered.

Reynell fancied that his voice was thick and uncertain.

For the only time on that long and weary voyage his men disregarded him.

'Three cheers for Daniel Reynell,' shouted Ledward.

They stood up in the boat and faced him, even Bligh himself, and sent
up a feeble cheer. The sun shone down on the sparkling waters as he
stood, his back to a fan palm, looking at them yearningly; a lonely,
abandoned man, with all his hopes destroyed, and hardly a chance of
seeing his fellows again.

'Hip, hip, hip, hurrah!' they shouted. The tones were feeble enough,
but their earnestness brought the tears to his eyes. These his
messmates, were doing him all the honour they could, 'Hip, hip, hurrah!'

The wind caught their sails. They steered northward.

He dropped down on the sand, covering his face, and felt that he had
tasted the very bitterness of death.




CHAPTER XVIII.


'Wisdom is a defence and Money is a defence; 
but the excellency of Knowledge is, 
that Wisdom giveth Life to them that have it.'


Eleven long months the Venus took to reach Port Jackson. She
stopped at the Canaries; she slanted across to Rio; she came back
again and spent a fortnight at the Cape, taking in stock and plants,
and preparing for the struggle in the roaring forties; then down--down
south, to round the southernmost point of Van Diemen's Land, which they
thought was part of Australia.

And at last, north again, with hope in their hearts, for were they not
nearing their destination?

Many were sick; four of the old women died, and two of the sailors.
The poor little bride was so prostrate with sea-sickness for the first
month that Quested was thankful to find he could safely trust her to
Joan of the Pilchard when he could not be with her himself--and he
could not most of the time. But Juana d'Ath, who had been condemned to
death for horse stealing, was a very pillar of strength.

Loveday forgot her crime soon. Loveday always lived in the present.
When she found Joan was more capable of making her comfortable than
the husband who loved her so dearly, she insisted on having her with
her always. Quested had a small store-room opening out of the cuddy
cleared; Joan took up her quarters there, and was recognised as one of
the afterguard.

Her conviction, extraordinary as it seemed, terrible as it was, had
opened the door for her to better things.

Her childhood had been spent in luxury in her Spanish home, so she
appreciated the comfort that her association with Quested's beloved
young wife brought her. Such comfort she knew well enough she never
could have attained to in Polperro.

Her stately beauty brought the men of the ship to her feet. Possibly
but for those terrible days in jail under sentence of death, her head
might have been turned. But she knew that in the eyes of the law she
was a convict, no better than the miserable old women on the main
deck there; only the partiality of Loveday Quested had rescued her
from their lot. She was sure that not one of those ship's officials
who tried to make love to her--her life had early brought her
knowledge--would have married her.

Yet the hopeless bitterness that had been hers as the drudge of the
Pilchard had passed. She was comfortably lodged, thanks to Quested;
thanks to the junior counsel she was well dressed; and, perhaps, best
of all, her trial had given her a good opinion of herself.

The Judge who condemned her had thought she might be a power for evil;
her counsel, and she blessed him every day for it, had had a higher
opinion of her. She was determined, if she could, to justify that good
opinion.

They both, Judge and counsel, had spoken a different English to that
to which she had been accustomed. So did Quested. Loveday's speech
emphasized this. It smacked of her native Cornwall. Quested thought
it quaint in a pretty girl. Joan, seeing the difference, modelled her
speech on Quested's.

She was far older than her nineteen years. It was as if the cruel
experience she had gone through had crushed all the youth out of her.
She knew too much. She knew that this wonderful beauty that attracted
all men was a gift to rejoice over; but a gift that compelled her in
all things to walk warily. The universal admiration steadied her,
and neutralized itself. Not one of these men was a match for Daniel
Reynell, the man she had given her heart to, the man who had never
looked at her. She could not forget. She was not the sort that forgets.
Vaguely, she hoped to meet him again, for were they not all bound to
the South Seas! A very shadowy hope, but worlds have been conquered on
hopes as shadowy!

One great consolation she had. Quested told her he had heard there were
no jails in the new land. The convicts were 'assigned' for service to
the settlers. He hoped to keep her as part of his household, for she
was necessary to Loveday's comfort, more necessary than ever now, for a
baby was coming.

Loveday was a kind mistress, indeed she, a friendly little soul, made
of her a companion and confidante, pouring into her patient ears all
the tale of her woes. She was proud of her husband and her position
as the wife of the captain of a big ship, but she was wretchedly
sea-sick--only happy those weeks, all too short, they spent in port.
She was miserable down in the forties, between Africa and Australia.
The seas towering above what, to her, was a great ship, sent her
shuddering to her cabin to hide her face in her pillows wailing with
terror. She was despairing, as despairing as any of the convict women,
when at last Quested came to her with the glad tidings that they had
sighted the Australian coast, and that the days of their voyage were
nearly numbered.

She cried a little then, and to Joan she confided.

'I shall never be able to go back, never, never. I shall never see
Daddy and the boy again.'

'Oh yes, you will,' said Joan comforting. 'You know well enough why you
have been so sick and miserably frightened. You will stay till your
baby is born and then you will gladly----'

Joan stopped. The gladness that was to be this woman's might never be
hers. She could not look forward to going back to England, the man she
loved beside her, his child in her arms.

'Do you think it is that?'

'Why, what else? Of course. Come on deck and look at the land. Captain
Quested will be pleased. It is lovely.'

It was not exactly lovely. There are those who have been heard to say
that there is a great monotony in the Australian shores seen from the
sea. But the bright blue sky overhead, the deep blue sea below, these
people of the Venus had been accustomed to for so long that they
hailed with joy the long line of blue grey coast to the west.

After all these long months here was the land. Somewhere here was their
harbour.

Quested took his wife's hand. Joan brought up cushions and rugs; a
quartermaster came behind with more; Loveday was a very great lady.

'Oh, this is really New Holland,' she sighed.

'New South Wales, they are calling it.'

The foolish name has stuck.

'And when shall we land?'

That is what Quested was asking himself. Here or hereabouts must be
Botany Bay. But there was no sign of a settlement.

'Nowadays, with wireless, cables, aeroplanes and swift steamers, we can
hardly realize what coming to the journey's end after an eleven months'
voyage was like. Suppose the settlement had been attacked and destroyed
by a superior power, or even wiped out by savages? It was quite a
possible contingency. No one knew what manner of inhabitants dwelt in
the interior of New Holland.

All the ship's company, from Quested himself to the feeblest old crone
on the main deck, and the smallest ship's boy in the fo'c'sle, was on
the look out for the settlement.

Quested's anxiety was sickening. He was heartened by a cry from aloft,
but presently his heart was in his boots again.

High on a cliff he saw a flagstaff with the Union Jack flying, and on
the shore a tiny hut. Two men were launching a boat.

Was this all that was left of the new plantation?

He turned away so that his wife could not see his face. He would know
presently. They were coming quickly.

'Boat ahoy!' yelled Quested between his hands.

'Ship ahoy!' came back the answer in regular nautical tones. 'What
ship's that?'

'Brig Venus. With convicts. Captain Quested. Bound for Botany Bay.
Where's the settlement?'

They had flung the boat a rope now. The two men scrambled aboard and
prepared to tow the boat.

'Settlement? The settlement's all snug, only a bit hungry. Have you
brought any provisions? Any salt meat?'

'A little,' said Quested. 'But where is the settlement?' for he only
saw what, save for the flagstaff and the hut, looked like untouched
woods.

'Inside Port Jackson there. It's a glorious harbour, the finest in the
world,' declared the man in a ragged seaman's frock, with all the pride
of possession, the very first of Sydney's inhabitants to dilate on the
beauties of her harbour. 'Two of us are always on watch to look out for
passing ships.'

Quested laughed.

'We have not seen a ship since we left Table Bay. Can you pilot us in?
Can so big a ship get in?'

The newcomer looked the little sea-worn Venus up and down from stem
to stern.

'The biggest battle-ship that ever was built, the biggest that ever was
thought of, could lie right along side the wharf, that is when there is
a wharf.'

'Then for heaven's sake pilot us in for we are weary of the sea.'

He turned to his wife.

'Darling! Darling!' he said incoherently, and kissed her and left her
to Joan.

Joan's own heart was beating madly. What was this new life holding for
her?

'Oh, Joan! Joan! Joan!' Loveday was sobbing unrestrainedly, 'thank God
we have arrived! And you mustn't leave me, Joan. We'll like it. We'll
surely like it very much. And I couldn't get on without you now.'

'How do I know what they'll do with me?' said Joan with a little
shiver. No one was likely to take thought for her.

So they sailed through the frowning heads of Port Jackson, and the
harbour full of wooded islands and points of land set in a sparkling
sea lay stretched before them in all the glory of the golden summer
sunshine. There was mercifully a cool breeze from the south; the very
smell of the earth was a delight; the fresh scent of the bush was
entrancing.

At last they saw the settlement.

Rough little houses built of any odd planks and of grass trees
plastered with mud, roofs that might have been thatched in Devon; a
bigger house, slightly bigger, a little apart for the Governor, Captain
Phillip; another building for a store house; occasional tents here
and there. There were strange trees growing in the irregular unmade
streets; there were stumps left where the trees had been cut down;
there was a field of wheat white to the harvest, because the hot dry
sunshine of Australia bleaches the ears. Behind all was park-like land
that rose in gentle undulations, and right down between the houses
trickled a stream that fell into the Cove right opposite them.

A lovely land! A land of promise it seemed to the tired voyagers.

'I shall love it!' cried Loveday, happy as she had not been since first
the Venus rose to the swell of the Channel.

'I may hope,' thought Joan to herself.

At the landing-place were red-coated marines; sailors and ragged
prisoners, some one or two chained to heavy planks; there were just a
sprinkling of women; there were some better-dressed men, the officials;
and way was made for Captain Phillip, who, in spite of the heat, was in
his naval uniform and cocked hat.

All the white population of New South Wales was crowding down to see
the ship that had come from 'home,' that brought news--eleven months'
old news--from the dear old land.

His Honour the Governor was first aboard.

'Welcome to you, Captain Quested and your lady. A brave woman! You are
to be envied, and I am pleased indeed to see her.'

The Governor, addressing Mrs. Quested, let his eyes wander to the tall
young woman in a striking blue gown standing a little behind her.

Joan was excited. Her eyes were bright, her lips red, there was even a
trace of delicate colour in her cheeks. In truth, her beauty was such
as to take a man's breath away, though Quested, with eyes only for his
wife, never saw it. As she was not introduced to him, the Governor
guessed she was not of any importance, and went on,

'I am glad to see you have brought us some young women. We need young
women if this colony is to succeed.'

'But I am afraid we haven't,' said Quested. 'My passengers are
shockingly old; only a few young ones amongst them, and they are not of
much account.'

'Indeed, I should have thought----'

'Oh, you are thinking of Joan, my wife's maid. I am hoping they will
let her stay with my wife. She has been most useful, and I am inclined
to think she has been wrongly condemned.'

'They all have--they all have. I never met a convict yet who was justly
condemned,' laughed the Governor. 'But some, I admit, promise well. I
shall have all the place wanting to marry that girl. Have you brought
any salt meat?'

'You, too, sir! That was our salutation!'

'I'm sorry,' said Phillip, half apologetically.

'We have about twenty casks,' said Quested, a little damped.

'Any stock?'

'Two cows we have. One died, I'm sorry to say. We brought them from
the Cape. They are in rather poor condition. And that ewe--she may be
useful if you have a ram.'

Phillip shook his head.

'Sheep don't seem to thrive here. Nor will things grow well. I cannot
help thinking Sir Joseph Banks was mistaken in thinking so much of this
country. There is no soil like we have in the West of England. Have you
any poultry?'

'Ten ducks, three turkeys, two geese, about a score of hens, all from
the Cape. Nice work I have had to get them so far. If it hadn't been
for my wife I should have eaten them and thrown the coops overboard.'

'My thanks to Mrs. Quested. I am glad you didn't.'

It was Joan's forethought, but no one thought of giving her credit in
those days.

'Could that pretty girl actually contemplate settling?' thought the
Governor astonished, and dismissed the thought.

He regarded this lovely land as a prison--a prison from which there
was no escaping. Though he strove to hide his feelings, for he had the
welfare of the colony at heart, his opinion impressed itself upon every
one he came in contact with.

'We can land the convicts?' asked Quested, a little damped.

'There are three huts down by the brickfields we can clear out for
them.' Phillip turned to the Judge Advocate who had followed him on
board, 'We can serve them out a ration of flour and salt meat, and they
must make shift to gather their own sticks for their fires. By and bye
we'll get some of them drafted out as hutkeepers. But at present that
is all we can do.'

'All!' said Quested. 'Why it's freedom! They'll be more than content.'

'They'll be a marked contrast to the rest of the colony then. Wait till
they're hungry!'

'They won't be hungry surely?'

'Won't they? We're all hungry here. You'll be hungry yourself if
you stay here long enough. Come to Government House and dine this
afternoon. I am sorry to say I shall have to ask you to bring your own
bread. We are obliged to ration ourselves very strictly. And if Madam
will honour me----'

Loveday excused herself, blushing.

'Well you must allow me to place the hospitality of the house at your
service when you land to-morrow. You must stay until we can find you a
place of your own. Or perhaps you'd rather not leave your comfortable
quarters here. We can give you nothing approaching this at Government
House.'

'Oh, I never want to see a ship again,' declared Loveday fervently.

At five that evening, when the heat was still great, Quested, having
put all things in train for the landing on the morrow, went to
Government House to dine.

He found himself at the right hand of the Governor, with Lieutenant
King opposite and the Judge Advocate at the other end of the table.

The walls of the dining-room were made of rough slabs, unpolished and
unpapered, the floors were bare save for an occasional kangaroo's skin.
Quested was soon to learn that to have a floor at all was to live in
the lap of luxury; the heavy oak chairs and tables brought from England
were solid and good; the napery was dainty and white; the silver was
exquisite.

The house stood on a bit of ground from which all the timber had been
cleared. Through the open windows was a lovely view of the cove,
sparkling in the sunshine. There was not much of a garden, only clumps
of geranium blossomed, a brilliant scarlet, and a white convolvulus had
climbed up the wall and was peeping through the window.

Quested was charmed with everything. He said so in the somewhat stilted
and flowery language of the time.

'And my wife is delighted. She loves a farmyard, and thought if we
could have a few acres here----'

It did not seem to require this modest way of putting it, since here
were some millions of acres lying untilled and unwanted, but Quested
approached the matter delicately.

'You would settle?' asked Phillip. His surprise was apparent.

'Well, it would require a little thinking about. I don't want to decide
hastily--with your Honour's permission. But I was country bred, my wife
comes of farming stock, we cannot see why things should not grow here.'

'It is too far away--too far away,' sighed Phillip, as if that had
anything to do with it.

'I was to place myself at your Honour's disposal when I arrived,' said
Quested.

'And I am minded to send the Venus to Timor for provisions,' said
Phillip, 'but if you would settle----' He paused.

It seemed to him so unlikely that this nice-looking young couple would
actually consent to stay in this land which had brought him nothing but
disappointment. His sad eyes looked him up and down.

'Your Honour will understand,' said Quested, flushing, 'I would gladly
have a billet ashore, at least for a while. I would like to be with my
wife till her baby is born. She is so young and in a strange land----'

'I understand,' said Phillip. 'Of course it rests with the people at
home, but I cannot see why you should not have land, and I can assure
you you shall both have the warmest welcome.'

But he did not really think a man who was free to go would actually
elect to stay in New South Wales.

'My wife is enchanted with the look of the place, and detests and fears
the sea,' said Quested, fearing lest he should take the offer and then
repent.

'It is a lovely land,' said the Judge Advocate, speaking rather
apologetically. 'We have had nine months of gorgeous weather,
and three too hot. Even then, when we make up our minds to sleep
outside, the nights are divine. As for farms not flourishing, I have
sometimes wondered whether we do not lack skill and want of farming
knowledge. Besides, conditions are different. Once we understand the
conditions----'

Phillip's sad eyes looked at him a little amused. How could any place
be good where conditions differed from those that prevailed in the dear
homeland so far away?

'It should be something to begin in a new land,' said Quested, also a
little apologetically, for men do not differ from a Governor easily.

He knew now the command of a convict ship was not likely to lead him
anywhere. Without influence his advancement in the Navy was very
problematical. It seemed to him there should be more possibilities here
for a family man than in England. Even if he elected to take his chance
in the Navy it would be a miserable life for him, with Loveday always
tugging at his heart strings. She wanted caring for. What had these men
found wrong with this country?

Nothing apparently.

The response to his last remark was cordial.

'You shall try it, man. King shall take the Venus to Timor. You
shall stay here, and if you don't make good you shall be free to take
her back to England. You and your wife and that good-looking girl you
have as maid are exactly the people the country wants as settlers. If
this country does succeed, as once I hoped it would, you should rise to
wealth, as the early settlers did in Virginia. Look at Mr. Washington.
The grandson of a settler no better placed than you are.'

'I am not thinking of my grandsons,' said Quested, a little damped.

'Ah, man, but you'll care for the son who'll be here presently. If you
choose to stay I'll get you a grant of land, and do my best to help
you.'

Quested asked if he might put it before his wife. But he knew very
well what she would say. There was a light in his eyes that made the
Governor feel he was sure of his new settler. King, too, was well
content. He wanted to go to Timor.

That night Loveday and he made their decision.

The next day, in all the dewy freshness of the early morning, she and
Joan landed. Loveday vowed she could not wait a moment longer.

To these sea-weary women the solid feel of the land beneath their feet
was a delight. The cloudless sky above, far, far away, seemed to show
them ethereal depths, there were trees and the sound of trickling water
where the Tank stream found its way to the sea. The faint breeze that
came from the west bore on its breath an aromatic scent from the mighty
forests that lay away in the unknown beyond there.

The two young women drew it into their lungs, hoped for great things
and saw nothing pitiful in the two little streets of mean wooden houses
with thatched roofs, and window holes protected with a lattice work
of twigs in lieu of leaded glass. They never noticed the trampled
grass and the broken stumps of trees, marking man's sordid possession.
They only saw the park-like land beyond; the harbour full of islands
crowned with green; they only listened to the rich, haunting song of
the magpies, and the ringing laughter of the kookaburras, that spoke to
them of hope.

'Lovely! Lovely!' cried Joan in a burst of enthusiasm. 'It is surely a
great thing to be able to begin.'

It was more than two years since she had stood a free woman greeting
the midsummer morning. True, she was a convict, but she was happier
than she had been since her father had died and left her a lonely
little girl at the mercy of a selfish peasant mother. The freedom of
the new life and the new land gripped her. She was wise beyond her
years. She forgot for a moment her servitude and the lowly position
which made any exhibition of feeling out of place.

But the other two hailed with delight an enthusiasm that marched with
their own. For them a new life was beginning. They were not to be
parted.

'Right, right, my girl,' said Quested, seeing the colour in his wife's
pale checks. 'We are going to make a success of it. This is only the
beginning. Now, think you, you can take Madam up to the Governor's
house there. There it is, the greatest house, you cannot miss it. He
said she would be welcome any time. It was better to come in the early
morning, before the heat of the day. I am taking him at his word. Say I
will send a man up with her traps presently.'

They went together to the Governor's house, a house where there were
actually windows, a house where dwelt the man who governed from Cape
York, in Torres Straits, to the southernmost point of land in Van
Diemen's Land; from the Pacific Ocean to the 135 deg. of longitude,
though most of those places knew just about as much about their new
Governor as he knew about them--which was nothing at all.

There Mrs. Quested, being young in a land where young women were at a
premium, was received with such a welcome as overflowed, and left Juana
d'Ath with a feeling that it was a very good thing to be alive.




CHAPTER XIX.


'Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser; 
teach a just man and he will increase in learning.'


For a brief space Reynell lay on the sand, then he scrambled to his
feet.

The boat was going! He was missing her!

Already she was a good bit from the shore. He could not distinguish the
faces of the men, the friendly faces that had been his close companions
through the long weary days.

In the end they had deserted him. For such a trifle. Foremast hands
should have stood by a comrade better!

But even as he blamed he understood.

Half of them were not foremast hands. They were men of education. They
thoroughly realized that there must be no dissension amongst them. He
could not even blame Bligh. Gladly would that stern disciplinarian have
reprieved him, but, had he shown himself tender with the falling away
of the man he had always favoured, how was he to make sure of other
men's obedience in the next crisis?

It was the foremast hand who had done him to death.

Other crises there would be. That, Daniel Reynell, even in his
unutterable misery, knew well. Why had he confessed to pilfering the
pork? Once they found themselves in the midst of plenty a trifle like
that might have been overlooked. He had done what seemed to be right.
Now he must take the consequences.

He stood there straining his eyes across the empty sea, which the
little boat made more empty.

He spoke aloud the names of his mates, as if he already feared he
should forget them, should forget perhaps how to speak. First low--lest
they should hear him repining--then louder and louder as the fear
of loneliness grew upon him, and he cared not what any one thought.
Perhaps Bligh would feel he had shown his authority, and would take him
aboard. He lost all control of himself. He ran along the beach shouting
for the boat come back.

His voice was swallowed up by the sighing of the sea.

The boat grew smaller and smaller, till she was but a tiny speck on the
horizon. She was lost to him behind a great clump of pandanus palm that
grew on another key.

He flung himself down on the ground again. Life had surely ended for
him now. He was broken. He lay cold and dead in the shadow. The warm
sun was beyond. But he only beat his hands on the ground. There was no
one to hear him, no one to see him, there never would be anyone again.
It was not worth while to move. He was outcast, abandoned, forgotten.

His emotion wore him out.

He had been well fed. The sun coming round the bushes comforted him
with his pleasant warmth. At last, soothed, he slept--so soundly that
when he wakened darkness had fallen. He could only see the loom of the
bush round him, and the white crests of the surf breaking on the reef.
Overhead the bright stars of the Australian tropics were twinkling. He
noted mechanically, as a sailor would, the glittering belt of Orion,
and the upper stars of the Bear lifting above the horizon. Another
thought came to him as he looked at the stars. The fire! The fire they
had lighted this morning! If he did not look to it, it would be black
out.

He realized, with dismay, that he had left it so long it would be the
merest chance if there were a live ember left.

He gave himself no time to wonder at his sudden interest in life, but
ran to the little hollow.

It was all black. He could not see even a spark.

He cursed his own folly, for he had made life harder than it need have
been. He thought with horror of the way he had eaten raw flesh in the
boat, yet that must be his fate unless he could get a fire going.

Then he laughed grimly.

So after all hope was not quite dead. He still thought how he could
make life bearable. He was walking about feverishly in the darkness,
moving circumspectly, trying with his feet to find out if there were
not a spark of fire lingering.

He found the place where the fire had been, black but not cold. He
could feel warmth yet.

He dropped on his knees, and as he knelt he felt the sharp stinging
pain of a burn! Never was pain more welcome. The fire was not dead
then! Hurrah! Hurrah! He found an ember with a tiny spark of life in it
still! Again hurrah! The hands that gathered cinders and half-charred
sticks round that ember trembled with excitement. The cinders were hot
to his hands; once or twice too hot to hold.

He did not waste time wondering at his own thankfulness. He searched
for the dried frond of a pandanus and split it into long straws.
Delicately he built a lightly enlaced structure with the live coal for
its heart. Then he added a dry leaf or two and blew softly upon his
handiwork. The core glowed and deepened, a straw or two caught.

He held his breath and blew again. The little flame grew. He threw upon
it leaves so dry they crumpled at his touch. The whole thing went like
gunpowder. A little sheet of flame!

He gave a shout of triumph that sounded weird on this lonely key.
Another leaf caught! The sticks caught!

There was no fear now. The fire was burning brightly, a jewel on the
darkness of the night. The first bitterness of loneliness was conquered!

He fed that fire till it was burning bravely as if it knew it was the
only comfort of a desolate man. He lay looking into the glowing coals,
that danced and beckoned to him in such friendly fashion. He fed them
till he began to fear lest the fire should be too bright and attract
those who might take advantage of his unprotected position.

He went out into the darkness and made the circuit of the little hollow.

From a little distance away the fire could not be seen; the bushes and
the contour of the ground hid it completely. Re-assured, he filled his
handkerchief with oysters. The bright little fire welcomed him back as
a friend. He baked the shellfish in their own shells. He would like to
have gathered some berries, but it was too dark. After all, to the man
who but a short time before had been only too grateful for a morsel of
sea bird's flesh, raw, leathery and fishy, the baked oysters were a
dish for a king. He ate till his teeth gritted on something hard.

He was about to spit out the offending scrap. A sudden thought stopped
him. He caught it in his palm. Something round and smooth.

What----? He held it in the dancing firelight.

A man in his position knew little enough about jewels--only he did
associate pearls with oysters. He had even seen small pink pearls got
on the Scottish coast. But here, in the palm of his hand, lay such a
gem as he had never before dreamed of. The firelight gleamed on its
softly polished surface. His excellent teeth had made no mark upon it.
Such a pearl might surely be worth a king's ransom.

To him!

He might as well throw it away!

He lifted his hand to fling.

Then he paused.

Why throw away a good thing that had been given him? Perhaps this was a
sign and a token that all should be well with him.

Of course he was alone. Fear stalked behind there in the dark. If he
but stumbled and hurt his foot he must die a miserable death. Even if
no harm came to him, he might linger out a dreary existence, day after
day, day after day, till, an old man, he died alone in the wilderness.

Why then had this pearl of price been sent?

He thought of Loveday Corthew--mistily as a man might think of the
joys of his childhood. She was so far away. Yet this pearl seemed to
bring her nearer. Here, surely, would be a competency for her--and--he
thought softly--her children, their children. He lay back and held the
pearl close. They said pearls were tears. But this spoke of hope. A
promise for the future!

All the way out on the long, long voyage he had thought of her. How
sweet--and kind--and dear she was. In the islands for her sweet sake
he had been deaf to the seductions of the island women. He always
remembered--sometimes a little ruefully--how she had never seemed to
understand his passion, had shrunk from it indeed, had gently put it
aside. When she was older----When he returned----

Then in the struggle for life in the boat--he thought of it now--he
had not thought much of her, save as a creature apart, one who should
always be sheltered from the roughness and bitterness of life.

He would never be able to tell her the sordid horror of it. Never.
Never.

He would think of her--a little--not too much--as a beacon light to
which he was struggling. He was cut off from all his fellows. He must
face life as it presented itself to him. He lay and looked into the
glowing red embers, the dancing flames, blue and purple and orange, the
friendly flames.

He began to calculate as a seaman calculates.

Where was he?

Bligh himself had said coldly but with meaning--he might reach the new
plantations in New South Wales.

Would it be possible?

He remembered the last observation Bligh had taken. Botany Bay was
about latitude 32 deg. He was sure of that to a degree or two; 17 deg.
of latitude away or perhaps 18 deg., with the coast of New Holland,
trending--from here--south with something of easterly in it.

Yes, he was sure of that. He nodded to the flames. What was 17 deg.
of latitude? 1,000 miles. A little more. Say 1,500. Could he do 1,500
miles alone--on foot? They had done 1,000 in the boat, cramped and
starved, and always in danger of swamping in stormy seas. Say he had to
traverse double that distance, for he could not go in a straight line!
Say it took him a year?

Hopeless!

He laughed aloud. The laugh sounded weird and unearthly in the
stillness of the night.

He was dismayed because he found he had reduced things to a year! He
was evidently making very sure of striking the new settlement some time
or other.

He tore a rag from his ragged shirt, put the pearl in it carefully,
plaited a string from some of the vines round by which to sling it
about his neck. There it should stay till he reached civilization. An
emblem of hope! A dowry for the woman he loved!

When a man has been starved; when he has been wet and sore, and cramped
in every limb; when he has snatched a broken sleep, wakening always
with the still unsatisfied craving gnawing at his vitals; when this has
gone on for days and days--for interminable weeks, till he has almost
reached breaking point--then one day he wakes to find himself by a
glowing fire, well fed, comfortable, the cramp gone from his limbs,
thoroughly at ease. The horror of loneliness may be very great, but the
mere sensation of well-being, of comfort, will tell.

Before long Reynell was sleepily wondering if he were not better off
than those who had gone in the boat. If only he had allowed Hallett to
stay!

A drowsiness stole over him.

He could surely do that land journey even if he were alone.

Trying to calculate how best to arrange things, he fell asleep. He
slept soundly--dreamlessly.

Once he wakened to put wood on the fire. Then, carefree for the moment,
slept again till the bird chorus of the dawn wove itself into his
waking, and the sunbeam's golden path on the calm blue sea brought him
a message of hope.

A glorious tropical morning!

His eye caught sight of something white, or something that had once
been white, stuck in one of the shrubs, something that had not been
there the night before. Something that had been left for him by one of
the men, for even rags were too precious to be lightly discarded.

He went across and unrolled a shirt, ragged and much worn, but still
a shirt. It was wrapped round a tool, perhaps in those days the most
precious a seaman could have, an adze.

Then Reynell knew that Bligh himself must have left it, for they only
had two adzes, both locked in the carpenter's chest, of which Bligh had
the key. He had given his shirt, too, the only shirt he had.

Reynell lifted it up with the deepest gratitude, seeking some scrap of
writing.

There was something hard in paper in the sleeve. It was the glass of
Bligh's watch.

On the paper was written, evidently very hurriedly.

'With an adze and a burning glass a seaman may go anywhere. You should
rise to honourable rank in the Navy. Call on me at the Admiralty and we
will see what can be done.'

It was signed 'William Bligh.'

Not one word of pity, not one word in justification of his own
harshness, merely the assumption that they two would meet again in
England and that he, Bligh, would not only help, but thought him well
worthy of helping.

With an adze and his knife--why he could make a canoe, not as good as
those he had seen in the South Seas, but a perfectly useful craft on
this smooth water. And Bligh had thought of this for him.

He felt the tears burning behind his eyeballs, but for the moment he no
longer felt outcast and abandoned.

Such an awakening he had not had for weeks.

The sunshine was everywhere. A little soft breeze, a very baby breeze,
rippled the calm waters into tiny wavelets that broke on the sand at
his feet, a miniature of the surf that thundered on the weather side of
the reef.

Innumerable birds, beings of rare beauty, greeted the new-born day.
With the dawn came flocks of white cockatoos, with sulphur crests,
screaming from the mainland; in the manchineel trees and the pandanus
palms great pigeons, black and white, stirred; others joined them, clad
in shimmering green, with crests like gay flowers; he saw a hawk in
the blue above and two kookaburras, solemn grey birds with heavy heads
laughed at him gaily in human fashion. There were birds scuttering in
the scrub that reminded him of the housewives' chickens in Polperro;
and numberless smaller birds that flitted in the trees like brilliant
jewels. There were great graceful black swans with coral feet and
coral beaks sailing in and out along the seashore; there were sea
birds beyond count; and teal in plenty; he even saw a great sea eagle
questing for his prey. And he saw two turtle. Truly a goodly land. He
had awakened to a glorious day in the land of plenty.

And he had awakened to such awful days of long drawn out misery.

He certainly was not physically miserable now. Bligh considered he
might hope.

Why should he not? All nature seemed to be saying it was good to be
alive. The pigeons overhead were murmuring it softly; the magpie wove
it into his haunting melody; the little birds, more impudent, chirped
it cheerfully. A right royal day. A day on which to begin a new life.

He walked along the reef looking for oysters and other shellfish. The
pools in the rocks were gorgeous sea gardens, brilliant in colours, red
and purple, gold and green. The fish that swam in those pools glittered
in all the colours of the rainbow. They could not escape now the tide
was out. He tried to catch them.

But it is no easy thing to take a fish with one's hands. More than
once the fish slipped away and went swimming down a narrow channel, so
shallow that half the fish was out of the water. This gave Reynell an
idea, he blocked the channel where the water raced swiftly, and with a
piece of stick carefully guided his fish into it.

When it reached his barrier and found itself unable to turn in the
narrow channel he caught it, a long narrow, scaleless fish, like an
eel, weighing at least three pounds, he knew now that at low tide he
had an ample larder ready to his hand so long as he stayed here.

That fish, with berries, made an excellent breakfast. His drink was
water fresh from the tiny creek that trickled to the sea down from the
thick bush covering the heart of the island. There was plenty--plenty
of everything for a sea-weary man.

The mainland was only half a mile off. He could swim it easily if
he were put to it. But he decided, since he was so far from all
civilization, to stay here and recruit. Not till he had recovered from
the hardships of the last month--not till he was thoroughly strong,
would he set forth to face the unknown dangers that must await him on
his journey through unknown lands.

After his breakfast, cutting himself a stout stick, he explored the
key. He judged it to be about three square miles in extent, and
well watered. He found no less than three running creeks, as future
Australians were to call all smaller streams. A goodly place. He did
not wonder the birds loved it.

Just as he was getting back to his camping place he made another
discovery--a bark canoe. It was very badly made originally, and so
damaged it had probably been left derelict because it was useless.
Still, its presence disquieted him a little.

He marched away from it very cautiously.

Then he went back again.

Clearly no one had been near that canoe for a long time. He examined it
carefully. He had meditated making a canoe, why not patch up this one
for the time being? It would certainly carry him on the smooth waters
inside the reef. Afterwards he might improve on it.

He did not know how far south the smooth waters extended; he thought
Bligh had said about 600 miles, but whether it was 600 altogether or
600 miles south of this point he could not remember. At any rate, he
would go from here to the next key, which he could see about a couple
of miles off. The water was smooth as an inland lake.

He went back and carried the canoe nearer his camp. Then he set to work
to make himself a stout club, ornamenting the end with jagged pieces of
oyster-shell and coral. It took him two days, and when it was done it
was something of a formidable weapon. All this time he had not seen a
human being. Now he felt more prepared to meet them.

He mended the canoe, stripping for the purpose the largest tree on
the island of its bark, and sewing it together with the fibres from
the pandanus palm. He could not have been prouder if he had built a
cruiser. Though it was not equal to the graceful boats of the South Sea
Islanders, at least it would float. And it would serve.

It took him a week to fashion the paddles.

Full of pride, he launched himself in his canoe, and found he had still
much to learn. Paddling and directing a canoe does not come by nature,
to a white man at least. It was only with infinite labour he paddled
himself the length of his own island.

Still he did it.

He was in the wildest spirits when he had accomplished so much. He
began to dream again of Loveday Corthew--of home and happiness far
away at the other side of the world. He might be back even before
Bligh and his men in the launch, at least he might reach the modified
civilization of the plantations of New South Wales. Why not?

He felt strong and well, capable of anything now. He had filled
out the last few days. The strength had come back to his arms, and
the lightness to his heart. In truth, though he did not know it
himself--did not think about such things--he was leading an ideally
healthy life. The sun, that great physician, bathed him in his
life-giving rays. He had plenty to occupy his mind in the present;
something to hope for in the future; and he spent comfortable, peaceful
nights in the balmy, perfumed air, with the little fire dancing and
gleaming beside him. Plenty to eat he had; oysters and shellfish, and
fish; berries and pigeons and bush fowl. The pigeons were so tame he
felt it a shame to take advantage of their trustfulness. But luckily
for them, feeding as they did, on the pandanus, they were tough,
and stringy. The grey bush fowl, on the contrary, were like tender
chickens. They built great mounds, too, and in colonies laid there
their very large eggs. When he got them fresh they were excellent.

So well, indeed, was the island provided with all that a castaway
needed to live that he felt some compunction about leaving it.

But he could not stay here for ever. There were moments when he was
desperate for the sound of a human voice.

At last the day arrived when he built up the fire so that it would last
many hours in case he might have to return and put a patch of hard clay
surrounded by sand in the stern of his canoe for his fire-stick. Then
with his heart in his mouth he left his first shelter to paddle to the
next key.

His arrival there was a veritable triumph.

It was not unlike the first one, only a little smaller--two miles to
the south. He was fairly on his way. The great adventure had begun.

Looking back, he saw that voyage in a series of pictures, vivid
pictures, where every little action, every hope and fear, stood out
sharp cut as the scenery--the sea and the land--the pandanus and the
tea tree and the bird life, stood with outlines defined in this clear
Australian atmosphere.

He guarded his fire carefully. To be sure he had successfully started
a fire with the help of the watch glass, but he was always a little
afraid lest that means should fail him. The glass was a frail thing,
easily broken. Besides he knew very well that even in this land of
sunshine he could not always count on the lord of day. He always
carried a fire stick. When he left a key he left a good fire behind
him. Landed on another his first care was to start a fresh one.

He was hardly unhappy, for he was so occupied during the day he had
not time to think. At night he was so healthily tired that once he had
eaten and made up his fire he fell into a dreamless sleep.

There came a day when he struck an islet upon which he found no water.
His precious copper pot was empty. The only island he could see was the
one he had left on the far horizon to the north. Without water he could
not stay. He must go back.

But his canoe leaked. Feverishly he worked upon her. While he worked a
wind arose--a strong wind. He dare not put to sea. His heart sank as he
saw the sea rising and the blue sky overspread with clouds. He could
not face the voyage back in the frail canoe. It might be the wind would
go down. But suppose it lasted a week!

The heavenly blue of the Australian sky--than which there is none more
lovely in the world--was overcast. Blacker it grew and blacker. The
wind dropped and--almost to his surprise--it began to rain.

He had not expected that solution to his difficulty.

Mercifully it rained. How it rained! Straight down tropical rain! He
was thankful to see it. Yet it depressed him.

He scooped a hole in the rocks, watched it fill, filled his copper pot
and gave way to melancholy.

He would never see the plantations. There were no plantations. He could
never hope to see England again. Looking out through the rain he could
see the long line of breakers, their tops white and threatening against
the grey of the sea.

He found a place sheltered and dry for the fire among the dense scrub
and sand. He watched it anxiously, and as the hours passed and he grew
drowsy, he piled it with brushwood and heavy logs, taking care that it
should not spread, for he feared it might do so though it was raining.

His depression grew.

He found himself conjuring up all the terrors he might meet.

He had heard of men with their eyes between their shoulders and no
heads. Bligh had laughed at the idea as a phantasy. Reynell was not a
well read man, but he had a certain seaman's wisdom, and he thought
that a score of savages armed with bows and arrows would be much more
dangerous. He was not quite sure whether the dragon was a fabulous
beast, and whether its haunts might extend to New Holland. He wished
he did know. It would not be pleasant to see a dragon coming out of
the sea in the driving rain. It would not be pleasant in the sunshine
either for that matter. But he had given it no thought in the sunshine.

It rained for two days. Then it cleared as suddenly as it had begun.
The sun came out in all his glory. All nature was revived.

But there were no more islands dotting the edge of the reef.

He must have made 150 miles southing. Reynell put his trust in Bligh,
and determined to go on seeking the settlement.

He broke into a new world when for the first time he landed on the
Australian coast.

Very troubled he was when he paddled his fragile little canoe into a
creek the mouth of which was set about with blue grey mangrove, that
curious tree that delights in the saline mud, a condition which would
kill other vegetation. It began to rain again, and he went a couple of
miles up the stream till he could land on a little sandy beach. Forlorn
it looked in the driving rain.

It was warm rain, but the terror of loneliness seized on him again. He
trembled at every sound. An alligator rose up out of the water like a
great muddy log.

Another danger. Men who had traded to West Africa had told him of such
things, but this was the first he had ever seen. He grasped his club
for he did not want to leave his canoe; but it turned off and left him
untouched.

His fire-stick was only a spark by now, and there was no sun. He gave
his mind to finding dry tinder and lighting a fire, for he was wet and
aching in every limb. Never before had he paddled so far. He was too
weary to seek other food than the oysters he had brought with him.
He feared lest the fire he had set going might prove a false friend,
betraying him to the savages. The duck he saw on the creek were wild.
He argued they had been hunted. The thought made him anxious and
troubled.

But he had to sleep.

The dawn broke gloriously.

He had to rest that day. He was too weary to paddle. He had a hook in
the collar of his seaman's frock that he had been carefully guarding.
But now there was no reef with the friendly holes in it where he might
catch his fish by hand. He baited the hook with a mussel and found he
could catch as many fish as he wanted.

The land rose up from the seashore heavily timbered with trees that
were unknown to him; mighty trees, tall and straight, and bound
together with many a trailing creeper. The heat was damp and steamy,
but there was a pleasant scent of warm and growing things, an aromatic
scent and a smell of musk, with across it a sharp tang of the sea.

A magpie, a pied crow, sat on a dead branch of a tree and poured out
liquid notes that made a song more delicious than anything he had ever
heard before.

A wholesome place, he thought, if he had not been afraid. How should he
not fear?

He rose up to listen, and suddenly there stood in his path a tall,
naked black man, with great wheals across his chest. He held a
threatening spear; his bushy beard was out-thrust. He peered out at the
first white man he had ever seen with little bloodshot eyes, from under
the overhanging brows of a man of the Stone Age.

For the moment Reynell's fears left him. If this were an enemy he was
a very ordinary one. He tore down a branch in sign of amity, and with
that in one hand and his club in the other, advanced on the stranger.

The black fellow threw the spear, half-heartedly he knew afterwards. It
whizzed past his head. With a howl the thrower turned and fled.

He picked up the spear. It was barbed, and made of stout hard-wood. He
returned to his canoe, and slept that night--because he must.

When he wakened the ache had gone from his bones, and the chorus of
birds from the trees spoke to him again of hope. Still he was more
downhearted than ever, for if savages, like his friend of yesterday,
came after him in any numbers how was he to stand up against them!

What was the good of saving his pearl? Loveday Corthew was remote--far,
far away.

But an unexpected pleasure awaited him. He found, to his delight, he
had thoroughly mastered the art of paddling. The little canoe shot
ahead easily, and went the way he wished her to go. Greatly elated he
went down the creek and out into the open sea again, paddling on till
presently the outer reef was once more dotted with islands.

He began again what, for him, was the old life now, paddling along
easily from island to island. Sometimes he saw canoe-loads of savages
but he always avoided them. Apparently they were not curious, or
possibly they were afraid, for they never approached him.

His days were wonderfully alike. It was generally fair, bright, warm
weather, with occasional tropical squalls of rain that came with such
force they compelled him to bale the little canoe.

Early in the morning he hunted for food. As the sun dropped to the
west, away over the unknown land, he began to look out for some place
where he might sleep. Having found it, he made a fire and hunted for
food before he lay down to rest.

There was not much difficulty about the food.

For vegetable food, if he could find nothing else, there were always
the cones of the pandanus. Not that he liked it, but beggars may not be
choosers. Fish and sea slugs he liked. Snakes and lizards he ate for
the same reason that he ate the pandanus cones. He could not afford
to be particular. On the reef he often found sea birds' eggs, very
palatable when they were fresh. And there was a never ending supply
of oysters, different varieties, some mud, large and coarse, and some
rock, a delicacy fit for an epicure.

Never again did he find any pearls. Indeed he had done well. Though he
did not know it, the pearls that are plentiful further north are seldom
found as far south as was that that Reynell treasured round his neck.

His canoe was old when it came into his possession. With his useful
adze he had mended it and mended it, but the day came at last when he
felt it was beyond mending.

He made his way to the mainland in search of materials to make another.

He was spared the trouble.

The fates were good to him, or perhaps they were unkind to some one
else. As he sought a suitable tree for his purpose he came across,
dragged high and dry on the sandy beach, a new canoe, sound and whole,
not as good, certainly, as those made by the South Sea Islanders, but
good enough for his purpose. Better than the one he had made shift with
for so long.

It was too much for a desperate man's probity.

He looked round. No owner seemed in sight.

Hurriedly he transferred his belongings, launched the new canoe and
paddled away as quickly as he could, fearing every moment lest the
owner should overtake him and claim his property.

Nothing happened.

He paddled on till darkness fell, and landed on an islet by moonlight
with a fire-stick black out. Not till midday did he get a fire going
again. But the day was warm and pleasant. He breakfasted on oysters,
and put in time paddling to the next key, pleased indeed with his find.
It steered much more easily than his old canoe.

He pushed on that day, anxious to put the miles between himself and the
late owner of his new canoe.

Indeed he was always anxious to push on. He had lost count of the days.
But what matter? If he arrived at the plantations they would know the
day. If he didn't what matter what day he died?

Strangely, he found he was growing accustomed to the life. Fear was
not ever at his right hand. The wheeling sea birds were his friends.
Sea and sky he had been accustomed to all his life, but this was a sea
and sky more gorgeous than anything he had ever before known. Even the
rain, when it came, was warm and life-giving.

There is truly no more fascinating place in all the world than the
Great Barrier Reef on the Queensland coast.

Still, naturally there came to Reynell sometimes qualms. It was so long
since he had spoken to a living creature, and the new colony of New
South Wales--the plantations--seemed as far off as ever.

Was it a myth? Was it a dream?

Only his faith in Bligh kept him with his face turned south.

He was a mighty man now, a great tall man of powerful frame, sound in
mind and body. No wonder the savages who saw him propelling his canoe
through the calm waters within the reef kept out of his way.

When he had almost given up hope of a change, the change came.

One afternoon he landed on a sandy island; not that he particularly
wanted to land, only it came right in his way. He drew up his canoe,
and with a lively recollection of how he himself had stolen her, took
care not to leave her in too conspicuous a place. Then he walked across
the island. The open ocean was on the other side. The surf was beating
in in great rollers. No canoe could live in such a sea, at least not
with him at the paddles.

He came back and paddled along the coast all the afternoon. He camped
for the night; sought his supper and slept. The next day he resumed his
voyage. The island was still there. When at last he saw the end of it
he knew that his pleasant voyage or his dreary voyage or at any rate
his easy-going voyage, had come to an end.

For the reef that goes up north for 1,250 miles of the Queensland coast
ended here.

If he would go further south he must take to the bush and walk.

His heart sank at the prospect. The sea was a familiar danger now, but
what terrors might not lie behind that fringe of greenery.

From very fear of the unknown future he spent all that day on the
island, gathering half idly a large store of sea slugs, oysters,
crayfish and other shellfish. But when he waked next morning to another
day he remembered he was not twenty miles nearer his goal, that Loveday
Corthew was just as far off as she had been yesterday.

It was curious that a man, cast away as he was, should feel this a
matter of great moment, but he did so feel it. Immediately he paddled
to the mainland, gave himself no time to think, took from his canoe
all he felt he really needed; made a pack, and slung it on his paddle,
secreted the canoe in case he should need her again--afterwards he
realized there was no hiding from the sharp eyes that were likely to
look for her--and started to walk along the coast.

Reynell found tramping a far, far harder mode of progression than
paddling. The soil was loose and rough, untrodden by foot of man, or
hoof of beast; the vegetation was dense, tropical in its luxuriance. He
knew so little of the real danger of the Australian bush--woods--was
the word he used--that he did not know he should have been thankful for
the damp weather that gave him plenty of water.

He grumbled, for he was often cold and wet at night, and when a wide
river mouth turned him far inland he was still more injured.

But he soon learned that most of these rivers of New South Wales had a
bar at their mouths; only for the larger streams had he to go inland;
very often, waiting for low tide, he could actually jump across the
narrow stream that broke through the bar.

There came a day when, with a creepy, eerie feeling, he knew himself
watched--followed without being able to see who was stalking him. When
the darkness fell he lighted with many misgivings, a fire, and kept
himself well beyond the range of the firelight. He had set a snare in
the darkness without much hope of catching anything, but his larder was
low.

In the morning, waking from an uneasy doze, he heard something
struggling and looked to his snare. He found he had caught an animal
new to him. It was only a wallaby, a small kangaroo, a little beast
with pathetic eyes in its deer's head.

He put it out of its misery swiftly with his knife.

Then up round him rose five or six black fellows, lithe savages, with
beetling brows, bearded chins, touzly heads, bodies ornamented with
cicatrices, bits of bone in their noses, and long spears in their
hands. They looked at him out of little bloodshot eyes, but they did
not attempt to harm him.

By way of being friendly he offered them the wallaby, though he wanted
its skin to make moccasins, for his boots were done.

They took it casually, as if it were not a matter of great moment.
Indeed they considered it theirs, for he was trespassing on their
hunting grounds. They broiled steaks on his fire, laughing and
jabbering to each other.

When the rough meal was finished they made signs to him to come with
them. Gathering up his belongings, for he was afraid to leave them, he
followed.

The blacks' camp was by a waterhole. To Reynell, remembering the
flower-clad homes of the South Sea Islands, these rough shelters of
bark, leaning casually against a tree trunk, looked most miserable.
Nomads were these people, he was to find out presently, with no need
of a home. Their possessions were a few spears and throwing sticks,
woomeras, while the very repulsive-looking women, whom he was not
allowed to approach, counted as their own the neatly-made grass baskets
so closely woven they would carry water.

There were some skins of animals about, some quite large.

Reynell looked at them with interest. He thought they were, perhaps,
dangerous though, save the alligator he had seen further north, he had
never in his life met a dangerous animal. But surely there must be
dangerous animals in this vast land. He might learn of these people.
Indeed he might learn many things of them. He would stay with them a
day or two.

The first night he was anxious.

But no one molested him. Each unit, almost each individual, had a
little fire for himself; only the children snuggled up to their
mothers. When the darkness fell in the hills behind, he heard, as
he had heard at other times, a quavering cry, weird, threatening,
long drawn out, and he wondered--as he had wondered before--could it
be wolves? Were the little fires protection against them. He had so
considered this.

He followed the custom, only he made rather a larger fire, and made
it a little apart. Yes, in view of that cry from the ranges he must
certainly stay a day or two.

At the end of a day or two he had found out several things. That
quavering cry, that sounded so terrifying, came from the dingo, the
native dog. He did not hunt in packs but singly, and though he might be
dangerous to a sick man alone, or a child if he were hungry, they did
not fear him. They feared something intangible at night. He was rather
inclined to think it was something not of this world. In that case he
thought it did not concern him. He had plenty to trouble him without
worrying about a ghostly enemy.

One trouble--and a pressing one--was that the blacks would not let him
go. The moment he made a move away from them one or two of the bucks
gently shepherded him back.

There was no mistaking their action. They intended he should say.

The Australian savage has always been the most improvident creature on
earth, with scarcely an idea of personal property. Reynell might have
rugs, skins, baskets; they gave him the best of everything they had to
offer, eggs and meat and fish; they introduced him to the delights of
wild honey--almost anything they had he was welcome to take save only a
woman or a spear.

They wandered, hunting and fishing, along the coast, exactly the way he
wished to go. The trouble was they went too slowly.

But he knew now, a valuable knowledge--exactly what would be most
useful to him to know in this life, and he set himself diligently to
learn their woodcraft. If they would not let him go, he would at least
profit by his captivity.

Keen as he was to get on, he found much to interest him in this
enforced companionship. Never had he dreamed it possible men could
track as these men tracked. They could tell the movements of a man or
beast, by the mere bending of a blade of grass. A hair, a broken leaf,
a bent twig, a displaced stone, were as the opening of an encyclopaedia
to them. His heart sank as he felt the impossibility of getting away
from such experts. Still he persevered, learning, because each day
brought its new lesson--but sometimes learning hopelessly.

Only not entirely despairing because he was in such rude health.

The weeks stretched into a month--two months. It seemed to him the
last vestiges of civilization were dropping away from him. He was a
savage of the savages. He could understand and make himself understood.
He told them stories of the white men just like him they would find
further south if they would only go on a little faster.

They listened. They shook their dirty heads, adorned with fish guts and
other abominations to keep off the heat of the sun.

There was a river they told him they would arrive at presently. Across
that they dare not go because it was the hunting ground of a fierce and
strong tribe who objected to trespassers--forcibly. Arrived there they
would turn north again. There would be a great feast and he, Daniel
Reynell, should be initiated into the tribe. Then he might take a wife
and be one of them.

That initiation, besides the loss of one of his excellent front teeth,
included various unpleasant, not to say dangerous proceedings.

Reynell decided that he would not, with his own consent, take any part
in that feast. Whatever happened he had to cross that river and risk
the fierce strong tribe who objected to trespassers.

He was nearly mad with impatience and anxiety before they arrived at a
great wide estuary. The tribe turned inland, skirting the shores. His
heart sank when he found himself facing west going towards the heart
of this great empty land. Suppose--suppose it was impossible to get
further south.

Greatly to his content the estuary became a river.

He made his preparations. Every night he lay down with his gear
ready for flight. At last, after a week's waiting, when the river
had narrowed considerably, he decided that the time had come. In the
morning his place should be vacant.

It was a still, warm night, without a moon. He made his camp, as usual,
apart.

After a couple of hours he rose up softly. The glittering
constellations of the southern heavens were, he felt, almost too
bright for his purpose. He looked out over the camp. Each little dark
humpy had a tiny fire in front of it, not because it was cold--it was
pleasantly warm--but in all probability the inhabitants were sleeping
soundly. It would be no darker.

Now was the time.

He only hoped that what they had told him was true, and they dared not
cross the river. If they could he knew well enough he could not elude
their vigilance for a moment. Also--it was a disquieting thought--he
might easily come upon savages who would not be so amiably disposed to
him.

But he had to risk something. Here he could stay no longer.

The night was full of sound. He could hear the river singing to itself.
Occasionally there would be a splash, some nocturnal beast or fish,
possibly an alligator. The thought made him shudder. But it did not
turn him from his purpose. An owl hooted softly.

'M-o-r-e p-o-r-k! M-o-r-e-p-o-r-k!' cried another night bird again and
again.

'Q-u-a-r-t p-o-t! Q-u-a-r-t p-o-t!' croaked the leader of the frog's
chorus on a deep, low note. His call was taken up by the others in a
higher key. He heard the pigeons sleepily murmuring to each other in
the trees, and the quavering cry of the dingoes in the ranges behind.
It was eerie in the extreme. Familiarity with conditions made him feel
safe this side. Now, once more he was daring the unknown.

A branch broke in the bush behind, falling with a great crash.

Daniel Reynell gathered together all his possessions, for he knew that
would keep his too exacting hosts closer in their lairs.

He slipped into the river, breaking up the dark mirror that reflected
the shining stars on high. The water was not cold. He got across
without any difficulty, and, clambering up on the other bank, the air
that was soft and balmy caressed his naked body.

Now he was his own man again, better equipped, after his weeks of
detention, to tackle the difficulties of a life in the wilds. Far
better equipped. It had been a hard school, but he had learned much.
If there were a settlement--plantations--and there must be--there must
be--he would find it.

He thrust the thought of other savages aside. For the moment he was
triumphant. He was freed from the unutterable dullness of savage life.
Now once more he could progress swiftly. He had a strong sense of
well-being. He set his face towards the east again, and made for the
sea.

In a couple of days he was once more looking out over the Pacific. A
little saddened, a little depressed. Then he cheered. The sparkling sea
held a welcome for him. He was well to the south, and more capable of
journeying in the bush than ever he had dreamed possible. He set out
with high hopes. He must reach that plantation--that settlement, even
if it were as far south as that pleasant land where the Bounty had
lingered a day--ages ago it seemed to him--in another world.




CHAPTER XX.


'Joy and gladness shall be found therein, 
thanksgiving and the voice of melody.'


'The brute has gone!' Quested spoke sharply. 'Corporal what a devil
possessed you to strike him.'

The corporal of Marines scratched his head.

'Sir, t'was the littlest tap,' he said perplexedly 'There's never a
man in the regiment 'ud have heeded it. An' they're the cussedest,
contrariest varmints----'

'But they do know their way through these woods, and I'm blest if any
of the rest of us do.'

Quested was taken with the colony. Under Loveday's loving care, the
vegetables, the wheat, the peach trees, the apricots and the vines he
had brought from the Cape were prospering. She declared herself more
than content with the little four-roomed cottage, with walls of grass
trees plastered with mud, a roof of thatch, and windows guarded with
the lattice of twigs. She knew now that Government House held the only
floor in the colony, but she was satisfied with the skins her husband
laid over the beaten earth. When her baby came, in March, she urged him
to leave the Navy for good and throw in his lot in the new land.

She laughed very much at a sailor man on a farm, and made very merry
indeed--privately--over the well-meant efforts of the Governor and his
staff. The land was a good land. Her sailor man should not make the
like mistakes if she could help it.

Joan followed in her footsteps at first. But she was a cleverer woman,
more observant, so that she soon knew more than her teacher.

Presently, so well were they doing that the Governor allowed them,
tentatively, and subject to the approval of the home authorities, to
take up land at Rose Hill as a farm. Loveday, much as she hated to part
with her, put Joan in the two-roomed hut to run the place, going there
herself whenever occasion offered. Success to them was vital, and whom
could they trust as they could trust Joan. She was better than any
man, and she could manage men. Beautiful as she was, these two forgot
to see her beauty. She had impressed upon them that she was capable
and trustworthy. And Loveday loved her. When she found herself alone
she always took the boy and had herself rowed up to Rose Hill to be
with Joan. Besides the companionship she felt safer with her when her
husband was away.

It was a happy man who went out with the Governor seeking some trace of
the cattle lost by a careless herd soon after they were landed. Cows
in this place would be a godsend. Quested, a family man now, had been
urging this expedition ever since there had arrived the most precious
of children in a land where every child was an asset.

With two black fellows as guides, they had gone on and on through
the tall gum trees and feathery wattle and black currajong,
wondering--wondering, for this was a new land and what might they not
meet?

There was the Governor, gracious, kindly Phillip, a slim young Irish
officer, Devereux by name; Quested, as a most interested settler, and a
corporal's guard of marines.

They had seen no sign of the lost cattle, but the country was fair;
lovely the man who had given up the Navy to settle was glad to think
it. They were trusting the aborigines, taking but scant note of the way
they had passed.

As the future Australians were to do through the years, they were
travelling light, with besides the Governor's just one pack-horse for
the equipment. Now the corporal had struck one of the guides, and these
irresponsible people had incontinently departed, leaving the little
expedition to shift for itself.

'Well, that settles it,' said the Governor. 'After all we have gone far
enough. We must go back.'

It seemed simple enough. Just turn back in their tracks.

'And we must keep a bright look out,' opined Quested. 'Those Indians
are treacherous brutes.'

'We'll follow the tracks of the horses.'

'Better get back to the waterhole where we spent last night,' said
Governor Phillip, as so many, many men in the bush have said since.

'South by west, I think.' Quested looked up at the sky where the clouds
were gathering. 'We can't be more than thirty miles from Rose Hill, at
the very most.'

They none of them as yet were bushmen. Not one had grasped the
difficulties of the country. Though the soil was loose, and here and
there the horses had left traces, hoof marks and droppings, they soon
lost all sign of them. By nightfall they were still seeking that
waterhole, seeking it somewhat feverishly. They were weary, but they
were also very thirsty. It was impossible to camp without water.
Already their mouths were dry.

Here was the darkness upon them.

The grass grew in little tufts and tussocks, scanty beneath the great
trees, whose spreading roots made walking a penance even when they
could see the way.

They camped because they must. Phillip tried to cheer them with promise
of what to-morrow would bring. But his words had little weight. This
was the fourth night they had been out, and they had not intended to be
away more than two at the very most.

By dawn the thirst was bad. Not a sign of their passing anywhere.
Everyone was suffering, but the leaders had no remedy to suggest. They
must make for the sea and follow down the coast. Eventually this must
bring them to the settlement--if they could find water, and the country
did not claim them as victims first.

The dawn came sullen--unlike a February dawn. It was as if some
malicious devil were tormenting them, for it was unusual that the sky
should be so overcast, the clouds so heavy, as to show no sign of
the sun. Whichever way they looked aisles of giant trees, with their
curious, long, blue-green scythe-shaped leaves, seemed to radiate from
them. They were the centre of a circle from which they could not escape.

Monotonous! Terrifying! The air was heavy. The birds were silent. A
magpie began his liquid note, and let it die into silence as if afraid;
far in the distance a bell-bird called. It might have cheered them with
hopes of civilization, but they had been taken in before; the parrots,
blue and red and green, flew away into the bush and hushed their usual
screaming; one or two lizards scuttered lazily out of their path; but
nowhere could they see traces of their own passing yesterday. Their
eyes were the blind eyes of civilization.

'We must go on,' said the Governor. 'It is no good sitting still.'

It would have been better than going, as they were, right out into the
wilderness.

It was park-like country, with here and there a little undergrowth.
Every now and again they came on a hollow where were tree ferns that
rose out of a dense jungle of undergrowth; tea-tree, and supplejack,
and hart's tongue, and dainty maidenhair. Everything was growing
riotously; there was a damp smell of fragrant musk in the air that
promised water. But they could find no water.

Again and again they came to such hollows. The sight of their freshness
aggravated their thirst. 'Faith,' said Devereux, 'here's a patch of
fern again. 'Tis good to look at, but----'

'We've passed that place before,' said Quested.

'No. Impossible!'

'We have. Now I come to think of it this is the fourth time we've
passed it. See, here where the corporal sat down in this clump of
maidenhair.'

'But that was this morning,' said the Governor.

'Yes. This morning. I'm afraid it was the first time we passed. I can
only blame myself for being a fool.'

'We're witched,' cried the corporal. 'I've hearn on it afore. Black
Davy, when he bolted, lost hisself, an' he said as he went round and
round like a squirrel on a cage. He only tumbled to it when he come on
his breeches he'd taken off an' left, being a bit off his head like.
He'd a died only the Captain here comes across him. The country's
bewitched.'

The Governor looked at Quested.

'It's true, sir.' He spoke reluctantly, for Black Davy had not been six
miles from his own farm at Rose Hill. Incidentally he had started to go
to China.

'Sit down,' said Phillip, dismounting, 'sit down. Let's take counsel
together. Of course we are not bewitched.'

'Of course not,' echoed Quested, 'only careless. We must----'

He stopped. For he was not careless. He was incompetent to deal with
such a country. Whichever way he looked he seemed to be looking
down an aisle among the great trees. This to the right--this to the
left--straight in front of him--they all looked equally possible. They
couldn't be lost.

Yet all points of the compass couldn't be the right way.

The thirst was maddening.

He was chewing the astringent leaves, but his mouth was parched and
dry. He stood there looking up at the heavy clouds overhead. Perhaps it
would rain. That would save them for the moment.

But those clouds prevented him from knowing north from south; or from
east or west for that matter.

The air was very heavy--and very still. Only the shrill stridulation of
the cicadas seemed to emphasize the heat and the dryness.

'We will unload the pack-horse,' said Phillip's voice, carefully
modulated, featureless like the country. He, like Quested, was afraid,
for he, too, had those dear to him and dependent on him, though they
were not in this country. 'We will put a halter round his neck and tie
a note to his mane. He will go back to his stable.'

He paused.

But there was no need to finish. It seemed to Quested as if he were
emphasizing their desperate plight. Even if the horse went home and
they raised a search party with black fellows as guides, what chance of
their arriving in time? And their situation did not admit of delay. Men
could not live long without water in this heat.

Fear clutched at Quested's heart. He had been in danger more than
once, but this was a danger he felt himself incapable of grappling
with. He was a child--they were all children in the grip of the wilds.
The whole country was resenting the effort to fix on it the chains of
civilization.

'Whatever we do must be done quickly,' said Phillip, taking out his
pocket book and beginning to write in it.

They stripped the horse of all but a rope halter which they loosely
knotted round his neck so that it could be easily grasped. They tied
the white note in his mane so that it stood out markedly, not to be
missed; they led him out and smacked him on the rump and so set him
off. They cheered as they saw him disappearing into the trees.

Perhaps he would have better luck than they had.

How long would they have to wait? Should they still try and push on?

In half an hour that horse was back with them whinnying and rubbing his
muzzle against his mate.

They looked at one another with something like consternation in their
faces. What sort of a country was this? A horse that must be thirsty,
given his freedom, and he would not go back to his stable, where his
wants would be supplied. Men more conversant with the ways of beasts
would have seen that this horse was no longer thirsty, and would have
known how to make use of the fact.

'The darned place bewitches the bosses too,' said the corporal gloomily.

'Lead him out a little way, Quested,' suggested the Governor. 'Once he
gets right away----'

Quested took the halter in his hand.

'Call to me,' he said, 'call to me.'

He did not understand how he could have gone in a circle and done it
more than once--he who had a seaman's sense of direction. This bush was
getting on his nerves. There was all this great wild land--and that
little settlement that they could not find--set somewhere--somewhere----

They called. Down through the echoing aisles of great tree trunks came
their voices,

'Quested! Mr. Quested! Captain Quested!'

Fainter.

And fainter.

And fainter.

Now so low that if he was to have any hope of finding his companions
again he must turn back. He turned the horse's head the way he thought
he ought to go; wound the halter round his neck; hit him a sounding
blow; saw him jump forward.

Then he turned back and was glad and thankful when the calling voices,
hoarse with thirst, rose loud on the air again.

'I have done the best I can,' he told them. 'The nag certainly started
at a good pace. What next? Still for the sea?'

'It is all I can think of,' said Phillip.

They staggered on.

It was purposeless walking. Men who walked like that, thought Quested,
were never likely to get anywhere. Chance could not favour them.

Then they heard behind them a rustling, the tramp of a horse.

It brought them to a full stop. All turned, facing the danger. Slack
they were because they did not understand, but no cowards.

There, coming through the aisles of tree trunks, was the horse Quested
had driven from him so short a time before.

But this time he did not come alone.

He was being led by a tall man with an opossum-skin rug slung round
him. He walked as if the world belonged to him.

'He has brought the horse,' said Governor Phillip. 'Perhaps we can
persuade him to take us----'

The man was advancing, a great broad-shouldered fellow, with a shock of
fair curling hair and a beard that covered his chest.

A shout went up from the lost men.

On came Daniel Reynell.

At last! At last! At long last! He had arrived! These were men from the
plantations! After all the toil--all the weariness--all the hope long
deferred he had struck men from the tiny spot that lay in a vast waste
of lonely land. His heart was beating to suffocation. His head was in a
whirl. His knees trembled. He could not find his voice.

How long had he been alone? Six months? Seven months? More than seven
months, surely, since he had seen a white face, heard a voice that
spoke to him in the clear tones of his own people. It must be a dream.
Or he must be going off his head, imagining the whole thing. For it
seemed to him the man who was addressing him was Quested, the naval
lieutenant whom he had last seen standing besides the scales with
Loveday Corthew, long, long ago in Polperro, at the other end of the
world!

Was he mad? Had loneliness reduced him to this?

He tried to speak to reassure himself. But so much was at stake his
voice broke, and died away in something like a sob.

'A white savage!' cried the Governor in surprise, and broke the spell.

'The devil!' cried Quested.

Reynell's heart missed a beat. It was not a dream then. He was not mad.
This was Quested!

'Bejabers!' said Devereux, 'it wouldn't be meself 'ud like to be
meetin' the likes av him by me lonesome.'

Then Reynell found his tongue.

'I'm no savage,' said he, 'only a castaway at your service. The real
savages have been following you for a couple of days. They sent and let
me know you were here.' His voice was shaking. 'Is this the settlement
at Botany Bay Bligh told me to make for?'

Discipline was forgotten. All the little company broke into comment.
One of Bligh's men! A castaway! He wanted help then more than they did!
The disappointment was intense.

'The nearest house is at Rose Hill,' said the Governor, and he
took credit to himself that he spoke calmly, and explained things
courteously to this man who was putting off their only hope of rescue
by bringing back the horse, 'all of thirty miles away. But we are lost.
We hoped the horse would find his way to his stable and there they
would see the note tied to his mane----'

'What note?'

Reynell looked at the horse. There was a red wound ploughed along his
crest. It was only skin deep, but that white note had made an excellent
target for a spear.

'The Indians have been watching you,' said Reynell. He drew a long
sigh of relief. It would have been so very easy to have come upon the
scene after the frightened savages had worked their will on these white
strangers who were invading their hunting grounds. 'He never would have
reached his stable. They would have speared him long before. Is the
settlement really only thirty miles away? I have been hearing rumours
of strangers--but I have been disappointed so often--I have hoped for
so long----'

He could have flung himself on the ground and cried and sobbed like a
child. And Quested----Was this Quested? He must put it to the test?

'Are you Lieutenant Quested?'

Quested stared at him, startled.

'Yes, of course. But how do you----?'

'And I am not dreaming! Do you remember the fish scales at Polperro?
And the night when the wind came up from the south with a spring tide?
Oh, but you were not there that night?'

'I--Polperro----We are dying of thirst and I am going off my head,'
cried Quested.

'No. I can mend the thirst though, and I am Daniel Reynell, from
Polperro. Didn't you hear of me? And now I come from the Great Barrier
Reef, and before that from Bligh's ship, the Bounty. But how are you
lost?'

'Get us to water,' came the Governor's eager voice, 'then we can
explain things.'

'In twenty minutes,' said Reynell, 'less if you walk fast. Follow me,
but don't meddle with the Indians. I don't think they will harm you
now. They could have killed you any time they pleased these last two
days. Your only chance would be to slip away in the dark.'

'Faith, it's far we'd get in the dark,' said Devereux. 'With all the
daylight we could get we've tangled ourselves up nicely. And not so
much as a hair have we seen of the Indians. It's scared we'd have been
if we'd known they were on the watch without showing up.'

Quite simply and easily Reynell led them to a waterhole set in the
midst of great blue gums. There were the waxen cups of waterlilies,
blue and white, floating on its surface; there was fresh green
maidenhair fern growing among the reeds and tall rushes on its banks.
The parched men flung themselves face downwards and drank and drank.

Daniel Reynell come to life! What would Loveday say! But Quested did
not doubt his wife's feelings.

'And now we can eat,' said Devereux. 'And then perhaps our preserver
can show us the nearest way home.'

'Can you?' asked the Governor. 'But how should you, when we don't know
the way ourselves?'

'But your tracks should be easily followed. I've been following them
for half a day.'

'Impossible! We've lost them, or we didn't make any.'

'Oh, you made them. I've wasted some months of my life if I can't take
you home.'

'Tell us how you came here,' suggested the Governor, as the corporal
directed by young Devereux, spread out the scanty remnant of their food
before them.

So Reynell, watching them eat, and eating when he was offered civilized
food, told them the tale of his pressing; of the long voyage of the
Bounty; of the shipping of the breadfruit: of the mutiny; of
the long, long voyage in the boat, and then of his crime and its
punishment. In proof of the truth of his statement he produced Bligh's
letter.

Nothing he hid. He told the story to Phillip, but his eyes kept
wandering to Quested; Quested who knew Polperro, who knew Loveday;
Quested of whom he had been jealous.

He felt like a man in a dream.

He kept saying to himself, so far have I got. The very worst is over.
I am on the home stretch. I am reaching the last port of call, and
Loveday--Loveday----

Oh, Loveday filled all his thoughts. He wanted to ask Quested about
her. But he had wanted so much he was shy now at mentioning her name.
Besides, he had waited so long now he could wait a little longer for
the opportunity that was sure to come.

She filled all Quested's thoughts, too. He could not but remember that
unlucky engagement. Surely Reynell was not thinking of Loveday now,
after all these years. Whatever he was thinking he could not rush at
him and say,

'I have married the girl to whom you were engaged. She thought you were
dead.'

He might have said that all Polperro had mourned him as dead, but
somehow he didn't. He only felt uncomfortable and guilty. Yet he was
thankful. This man said he could take them back. He remembered that day
in Polperro when he had looked at his stalwart proportions and wanted
him for the King's ships. So the King's ship had got him. And if he had
not turned up in the very nick of time Loveday would surely have been a
widow and her child--his child--fatherless.

'But how can you tell north from south when there is no sun, as there
was none all yesterday?'

'Even you can tell on which side of the trees the sun falls once you
think about it. See here. And here.'

So simple as that! Well, every thing is simple once you know the way.
The way to tell this man he had married Loveday Corthew would perhaps
come as simply if he waited. Possibly he, too, had forgotten. So
strenuous a time must have driven all other desires from a man's heart.
Those South Sea women were seductive. Reynell had acknowledged that.

But Loveday was charming, thought her loyal husband, thankful and
feeling guilty at the same time.

'Be the powers,' said Devereux, 'I beg to suggest that we get this
gentleman to display the tracking ability he talks of so lightly. It's
meself is just wearying to be sure of seeing the farms at Rose Hill.
Not that I'm doubting him,' he laughed, saluting Reynell, 'but it's
trying time we've put in, an' I'd like to be sure.'

Reynell echoed his laugh. Now he came to think of it, he had not
laughed aloud for a very long time.

'If you only knew,' he said, 'I'd like to be sure myself. I have hoped
so long I can't help being afraid this may be all a dream. I'll wake
to find myself by a black fellow's fire, or paddling along the Great
Barrier. To meet Captain Quested here! And I saw him last in Polperro!'

Quested waved his hand.

'Will you lead then? We will follow.'

Could he have said, 'And Captain Quested has married your sweetheart?'

No. He couldn't. Alone, he would have found it difficult. Before these
others it was distinctly impossible. All sorts of things stood in
the way. Reynell was a lower deck hand, too. He did not like putting
himself in the position of rival to a lower deck hand.

But he was so uncomfortable that he found himself managing that Reynell
could not have speech alone with him.

The Governor marvelled at this man's skill. He showed them their own
tracks when they doubted. Next day they found themselves in country
that they, unobservant as they were, remembered. Towards late afternoon
it was quite familiar. Reynell's own heart was beating high, for he
saw at last signs he had looked for in vain ever since he had landed
on Australian shores, the signs of the white man's presence, of his
destroying hand. Never had such signs been so welcome.

'Rose Hill,' they cried with one voice.

Reynell sat clown, for he felt the earth rising up to hit his face.

He had come through. At last he had come through. It was no dream.

'You have tracked like an Indian himself,' said the Governor, much
moved. 'How are we to thank you!'

'You need not thank me at all, sir. It is you who have done me a far
greater service than ever I have done you. Any of the black fellows
could have done the same had you asked them.'

'You must remember we didn't even know the Indians were there. I'm
inclined to think we might have been somewhat alarmed if we had known
it. To be watched without being able to get a glimpse of the watchers.'

He shrugged his shoulders. Governor Phillip had hoped great things
for this colony. But more than once he had found himself up against
circumstances that were too much for him.

'Faith,' said cheerful young Devereux, 'your lady'll be thanking this
gentleman for bringing her husband back to her. Did you say she'd be
waiting for us at Rose Hill?'

'And very anxious and troubled I'm afraid she'll be,' said Quested,
carefully keeping his eyes from Reynell. 'I never thought to be away so
long.'

So Quested was married! Good luck to him! And he had actually been
jealous of him!

'I'd like,' said Reynell, smiling and turning to Quested, 'to get hold
of some garments before you present me to your lady.'

'And where are we to get hold of anything to cover so fine a specimen
of manhood in this poor colony,' mused the Governor. 'We'll have to
appeal to Joan, I suppose, as usual.'

Yes, they really had arrived. These men were at their ease at last,
making the little jokes that grow up in a family, that only please when
men's minds are at rest.

And Quested said nothing. How could he indeed? It was an impossible
situation. He was uneasy. Had this man forgotten? He was quite sure
about Loveday. Only what would she say?

Reynell was walking on air.




CHAPTER XXI.


'Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, 
they have trodden my portion underfoot, 
they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.'


Just as the sun was declining to his setting, from a little rise Daniel
Reynell--thankfully--caught his first glimpse of the beginnings of the
civilization from which he had been parted for so long.

It was a very humble beginning, really just a spoiling of a beautiful
picture. The Parramatta River was at the very head of Port Jackson and
there--just where the fresh water began--close down to it--for water
was the great necessity of the settler--was a hut of slabs with a bark
roof that Quested considered was a great advance on the ordinary roof
of thatch. It was quite a large hut, as huts went in those days, ten
feet by twenty, two rooms, with a little lean-to behind for a kitchen,
and window places with shutters of wood, to be closed when it rained.

Some of the 'native trees' as they called the eucalyptus and wattle,
had been cut down to build the hut and clear the place for a garden.
About a couple of acres were surrounded by a rough bush fence of logs
and odd roots and branches. It was February, and spite of all Joan's
care some of the garden was a little parched though the part she
managed to keep watered grew riotously.

There was the rich dark green of half-a-dozen little orange trees; the
scent of their white bridal blossom was in the air; the little apricot
and peach trees were in full leaf, with a fruit or two nestling among
the greenery; there were some spikes of maize ready for cutting, and
about an acre of wheat was already in stooks waiting to be stacked.
It was a late harvest, but they were late with things for many a long
day after the early pioneers, for they had a habit of regarding this
country as the Antipodes, where things must be exactly opposite to what
they were in England. Therefore had they arranged for their harvest to
be in February which they considered the same as an English August.
Even a sailor knows that August is the month for harvest.

Stock had not been forgotten. There was a black and white nanny goat
tethered in one corner, and in another, carefully fenced off, some
chickens were scratching. There were turkeys too, and tame ducks, and
some geese on the river. A settler's home.

Reynell's heart beat high.

How thankful he was to see these crude beginnings, so thankful he had
no words. But most of all did that little house appeal to him, the
little house where Quested, the lucky beggar, had a wife. A geranium
from the Cape climbed up the wall; one corner was smothered to the
roof with its scented green leaves and scarlet flowers, while on the
other side the close-growing vivid green of a dolichos creeper was even
covering the bark roof itself with its mat of triangular pale green
leaves.

'Ah!' cried the Governor, as they came on at a run, 'why, I declare
there are ladies to welcome us! Mrs. Quested----'

The door had opened, and there came out into the evening sunlight a
little woman, dainty in white muslin with cherry-coloured ribbons, and
a tall and stately woman with a child in her arms. The little woman ran
towards them with arms outstretched. There were traces of tears on her
cheeks. But she looked glad and happy now.

'Oh, I have been so frightened, Captain Quested,' she called, 'but Joan
said--Joan said----'

Reynell stopped still. Loveday! Loveday! Impossible! What should
Loveday be doing here! He had dreamed of her so long that he saw her in
the first white woman he had seen in three long years. He was thankful
it was not Loveday. He would not meet her like a wild man of the woods.

Yet the girlish voice was ringing in his ears, prattling on.

The voice he knew so well.

'Oh I am thankful to see you! And his honour, too! We will do our best
for him! And here is little Tom wearying to see his Daddy. And you so
late! We thought it was going to rain and spoil your jaunt! And what
a great Indian you have brought back with you! Oh, don't let him come
near little Tom! Joan! Joan! have a care of my baby!'

So she thought he was one of the Indians! Her baby!

Could it possibly be Loveday? Her baby? Yes, surely it was Loveday.
There could not be two people in the world so much alike. He knew all
those little tricks with her hands, and the very toss of her head. That
other tall and stately woman was surely Mrs. Quested. Lucky beggar
Quested! If only he had not been such a scarecrow----

But how can a man clad in skins--inadequately clad, for the weather
was hot, rush forward and claim a dainty little lady who apparently is
unconscious of his existence, not only unconscious but quite content
and happy, and very much taken up with another man?

The tall woman she called Joan must be Quested's wife. She must be. He
would not let himself think anything else was possible.

But it was Loveday who flew across to him, caught his arm in both her
hands, looked up at him with adoring eyes. The man looking on could
not help seeing that. There was no other man in the world for the girl
Daniel Reynell had been treasuring in his heart but Thomas Quested,
some time captain in his Majesty's Navy, now, for love of her sweet
face, settler in his Majesty's new colony of New South Wales.

Quested was utterly thankful. There would be no need of words, awkward
explanations. His wife's attitude explained the situation. He never
raised his eyes to Reynell, only bent over his wife, murmuring a little
incoherently words of endearment such as seemed natural to the other
men, seeing he had come back to her from the Gates of Death.

The Governor and young Devereux turned quite naturally to Joan.

It was she who saw; she who realized; she who knew.

The man she had loved dumbly and hopelessly in Cornwall had come
here--here--was standing bewildered--looking on while his old love
greeted her husband, telling him plainly--plainly that he held no place
in her heart.

Joan did not know how it came about that he was there or what had
happened. But she did grasp the important facts. And she was no longer
the dumb, sullen, frightened girl who had stood by the fish scales
afraid to assert herself, unable to help herself or anyone else--three
years ago in Polperro.

She was a convict certainly. But she was a very beautiful young woman
in a land where any woman was a precious possession. She was accustomed
to make decisions and command. Even the Governor thought much of her.
It never occurred to her to be shy now, to wait for someone else to act.

She put the baby in his mother's arms.

'Madam there is much to be done. Will you take little Tom?'

Loveday was very proud of her boy.

'Come to his mother, then, darling.' She held him up to the Governor,
sure he would be admired.

'Here's my little Tom to welcome your honour, and to thank you for
bringing his Daddy safe home again.'

Reynell, dumb, stunned, was listening.

He had been saved for this. To see Loveday holding up a child--her
child--to a man she called his Daddy. Loveday happy, joyous even.

He heard a soft, rich voice addressing him, and looked into a pair of
sea-blue eyes. A tall woman, a match for his own stature, a lovely
woman, even in the midst of his stinging pain he thought her beautiful,
this woman with masses of dusky hair growing a little low on her
forehead, a clear creamy complexion, like a magnolia, and ripe red
lips, who was addressing him.

'Daniel Reynell,' she said, and her voice shook.

For her pain was great, too. This was the man she had loved so
faithfully, come to her out of the sea after three long years. She had
come to the South Seas to meet him; deliberately chosen when she had
not realized how shadowy was the hope she was building upon--and here
he was looking with miserable eyes at the woman who had forgotten him
long, long ago--the woman who had never really loved him.

She, Joan, was bound to remember she was a convict who had been
sentenced to death.

'Yes,' he said dully, 'yes.'

That was Loveday there with the child in her arms. Surely the Loveday
he had known had been more beautiful. This Loveday----

'You don't remember Joan, Joan of the Pilchard, Daniel Reynell. Your
honour,' she curtseyed to the Governor, 'I knew Skipper Daniel Reynell
in Polperro--in another world.'

Joan of the Pilchard talking like that! Joan of the Pilchard! He
remembered her, but he could not connect her with this young woman!

He swore an astonished oath.

'I am mad, I think. It must be a dream!'

Whatever happened Joan was sure of herself.

'You remember you told me to take Dick Penrhyn's mare. I couldn't find
him to ask so I took her. He caught me and gave me in charge for horse
stealing. No one heeded what I said. No one would take my message.
I was naught. She thought,' she dropped her voice, and the Governor
turned away, 'you were dead, and she married Captain Quested. Come with
me. I am sure I can find you some clothes.'

Well, clothes the Governor understood.

'That's right, Joan,' he said, 'we'll trust you to look after our
preserver.'

'He couldn't be in better hands,' came Quested's cordial voice, warmer
and more contented than it had yet been. Matters were explaining
themselves very comfortably. 'Rout in the store, Joan. I'm sure you'll
find something for our friend.'

He would not say his name--not yet. He did not want to startle his
wife. He would tell her when he got her all to himself.

Once Joan had laid her hand on Reynell's feet and thrilled at the
touch. She thrilled, as of old, as she laid her hand on his arm. She
was shy but not at a loss.

'Do come,' she said. 'I can help you a little here, though I failed you
that time.'

He was at a disadvantage, she was feeling keenly, standing there like a
savage.

He followed her meekly. He was worn out. He had fought and struggled
and endured, upheld by his one high hope. He had come through and it
was dust and ashes in his mouth. The clouds gathered. The setting sun
was hidden; there came a breath of wind from the south, and drops of
rain fell on his head.

'It is going to rain,' said Joan, 'and, oh, the wheat is not in yet.
Come in, come in. Captain Quested, sir. Can't the marines help stack
the wheat? Job and Michael will never get it done in time, and 'tis a
sin to let it spoil.'

'Forgive me,' she turned to Reynell, 'but the wheat is vital in this
new country.'

'Of course. I can help.'

'Not at all,' came Quested's courteous voice. 'There are plenty of us.
You have earned a little rest. Joan will find you a razor and cut your
hair for you. She always cuts mine. And, Joan, there are some blue
serge slops you might----'

'In the cedar chest,' said Loveday. 'Oh, Joan can manage all right.'
She was looking at Reynell, and smiling kindly at him. 'Little Tom and
I will give his Honour and Mr. Devereaux some rum to cheer them after
their long journeying.'

Joan drew Reynell into the little lean-to she used as a kitchen.

'I know,' she spoke very tenderly. She did not know how tenderly. 'We
come through things. I do not know how, but we do. There, sit down. I
will trim your hair and your beard. Then there is hot water. You can
wash and shave.'

Such a soft, soothing voice. She was kind--she was beautiful--this
woman, Joan--Joan of the Pilchard. He had not thought of her for years
save as a vehicle for carrying a message and doing it badly. To her own
hurt apparently. But she had not been much hurt surely. He remembered a
rough, surly, peasant girl. This woman----

She was very quick.

She got out the serge slops, very ordinary garments, but they seemed
wonderful to him. She was deftly fitting, ripping--letting out and
sewing, doing it--though he did not know it--with a great gladness in
her heart. For this--for this--to serve this man had she been sent to
the South Seas. For this she had improved herself, remembered her birth
and early training--for this----

No. She would not look ahead, nor back in the past. What was the good
of remembering far-off unhappy things.

She cut his hair and brought him her own brush and comb and little
glass.

'Rather short,' she said, keeping a strong hand on herself, 'but it is
so much more handy in this country. Now, there is a good lather, and
I'll go out while you shave. Presently I'll bring you this jacket. It
will serve. To-night I will make it better.'

He came out of that kitchen a different man. Joan drew in a quick
breath and her heart stopped a beat. She had been right to love this
man. If it never came to anything--if she walked lonely all her
days--she had honoured herself by loving him.

Reynell held up his head. It was raining a little. But many hands had
made light work. The marines with Quested, Job and the other assigned
man had stacked that precious wheat, and were now drawing over the
little stack the canvas that Quested had stored up so carefully against
his first harvest home.

Because it was hot inside Loveday had put the rough table under the
overhanging roof that made a sort of veranda and a protection from the
falling rain. The lamp shed its yellow light on her happy face with the
matronly white cap on her pretty curls. She had got over her emotion
and was important, entertaining the Governor. Reynell stood and looked
at her.

Then he looked at Joan, whom he could hardly see in the gathering
darkness.

He hesitated a moment. Not so had he thought to meet his love again.
It seemed to him his life was in ruins round him. Yet this was not the
woman he had dreamed of.

'Get it over,' suggested Joan's quiet voice. 'Why not go and report
yourself? If it had not been for you----'

He stepped forward into the lamplight, and, raising his hand to his
forehead, saluted the Governor.

'Come on board, sir,' he said because he really could not think of what
a man should say under the circumstances.

'Well done, Reynell,' said Phillip kindly, 'Joan has metamorphosed you.
I knew she would.'

'Reynell!' cried Loveday.

He found himself being sorry for her. Surely he had done wrong to
startle her like this.

'Daniel Reynell!'

But no. It had never gone deep enough to hurt her. In a moment she had
recovered herself. She remembered she was a lady, the wife of a man
who had been a captain in the Royal Navy. She must think for him her
husband, the man she loved. She must bring no slur, even a passing one,
on his name. But Daniel Reynell had been her childhood's friend. She
could not remember when she had not known him.

'Oh, Daniel Reynell,' she cried again, 'where have you been? And we
have mourned you for dead! And to think I thought you a savage! Forgive
me!' She was half laughing, half crying. 'I cannot remember when I did
not know Daniel Reynell, your honour. When I was a tiny child he made
dolls for me.'

So that was the way she elected to take it! Not a word of their
plighted faith; not a thought, apparently, of the wedding that was to
have been on New Year's Day, 1788. All his longing, all his waiting,
all his agony, were so much waste. They might never have been. Better
for him if they had not been.

Quested was looking at his wife with tender eyes. A wife after his own
heart! Not only a dear, loving little girl, but one who was capable of
saving his face in what might have been an awkward situation.

Against his breast Reynell felt the pearl he had saved for her; to make
life smooth and easy for her.

She wanted nothing from him.

Yes, she did. He saw in her eyes the fear that he would give her away,
tell the Governor of the Colony, a man she wanted to stand well with,
of their former relations. That was all that was left of the thing that
had been his life. She was begging him to forget.

He took her outstretched hand lightly in his own and, stooping, laid a
kiss upon it such as any gallant of the time might have done.

'I never thought to meet my little playmate grown into a great lady
at this end of the world,' he said quite simply. 'They tell me I have
given your husband back to you. Indeed I am glad that my long and
dreary voyage was of so great a service to my old friend.'

Then she broke down, sobbing and clasping his hand in both hers.

'Oh, indeed, I can't thank you enough! If Captain Quested had never
come back--and his honour says--Oh, Daniel Reynell----'

Was she not a pearl of a wife? Quested put his arm round her.

She turned and hid her face quite naturally on his shoulder.

'There, there, my dear. There is no need to cry now. Daniel Reynell,
your honour, as I have already told you, was an important man in
Polperro, skipper and owner of a fine brig. They had no right to press
him. I had no hand in it. If I had known----'

He looked at Reynell and spoke very earnestly.

'All to get me out of a terrible mess apparently,' said the Governor
genially. 'It was no ordinary man who could do that. By your leave,
Captain Quested. We drink to you, Daniel Reynell, and you will drink
with us. You must tell me what we can do to make your stay in this
colony pleasant, for I fear there is no ship as yet to take you home.'

'I've been so long away,' said Reynell, stumbling a little in his
speech, for he felt that the ship had lost her rudder, 'that it really
seems as if a year more or less----'

'Ah, youth,' said the Governor a little enviously. But he should have
known better. It is age that feels like that. 'Well, here are our
grateful thanks to you, Daniel Reynell.'

Very gravely he stood up and drank a toast.

'You have saved the lives of eight men. If you want anything that it is
in my power to give you I can assure you I am at your service.'

What he wanted was the years he had wasted longing for the woman
who was leaning her head on her husband's shoulder, looking at him
contentedly from that vantage point.

'I thank your honour,' he said, lifting the glass the Governor had
filled to his lips. 'For the moment I feel I have had as much as any
man could want.'

THE END.


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