impatient outfling of the hands, he bade reason go hang. He
wanted Althea because he loved her, because, he realized now,
to his frank surprise, he had loved her since the moment when
from his prison window he had watched her at work in the
sunshine of the Graystones garden.
He trailed away into dreams, as profitless as that of the
dowried gentlewoman which he now so despised. He was
young, and the world was wide. Somewhere, somehow,
he must make Althea his. He caught breath sharply. Oh,
what if that day were come ! If this were his own roof that
sheltered him, and the girl that slept yonder were indeed his
wife, his own, his own!
On the hearth a log broke and fell apart in a drift of white
ashes, and at the sound Jock started, recalled to the world
about him. By the heaviness that oppressed him he judged
that it must be the odd hour between night and morning, a
time that is death to illusion. He knew himself now for what
he was, a penniless, friendless vagabond, a fugitive prisoner
with every man's hand against him. It was by merest chance
that he could hope to escape recapture and, if not death at
Wogan's hands, a term of servitude in Barbadoes that would
be limited only by the length of his life. If he did contrive
to escape by a miracle, what life was his that he should ask
the girl he loved to share it? Surely, to love her truly were
to leave her free.
At that moment he heard Althea speak his name. He
hesitated, steadying himself with effort, and then went slowly
to the pallet. " A draught of water," she begged.
He fetched the water, but she took only a sip. " My throat
206 THE FAIE MAID OF GRAYSTONES
'tis all one hurt," she said, looking up at him piteously.
Her cheeks were glowing and her eyes were bright.
Presently, after restless turning in her bed, she slept again,
but this time her sleep was broken. Bitterly thankful to be
thus distracted from his brooding, Jock listened for any sound
that might betray her need of him, and soon, to his anxiety,
heard her mutter in her sleep. He offered her water, the
only comfort that he had to give, but she shook her head, and
soon was moaning and tossing as before. Her moans began
to shape themselves to feverish murmurs. " The waves ! Oh,
the gray waves all about me!" she cried once; and again,
"Oh, help me! Help me!" He knew that once more she
struggled for life in the rising tide, and powerless to give aid,
he could only sit and hope that peace and the relief of quiet
sleep might come to her at last.
Slowly the wind-swept dawning broke, and a first dull
gleam of light crept down the wide chimney. Jock saw, and,
heavy-headed with long musing and anxiety, rose up to cross
the hut and set the window wide. At that moment from the
pallet he heard Althea moan aloud : " The waters ! Oh, they
gain upon me !" and in the vain hope that he might be of
comfort, he went to her.
He found her half risen in her bed, and her eyes were wide
and in them was no trace of recognition. " The waters ! The
waters !" she moaned still; and then with a sudden cry, " Oh,
He stood dumbfounded till she reached forth and caught
his hand and laid her cheek against it. " Daddy, dear !
You've been long!" she whispered.
Then he knew that in delirium she mistook him for her
father, that long-dead Sam Lovewell, and at the thought he
stood afraid and half ashamed. " Althea ! Don't you know
me?" he urged.
She lifted her burning face. "Kiss me!" she murmured.
"Kiss your lass I"
PASSAGE PERILOUS 207
He hesitated. So nearly did her pleading run with the
desire that in the watches of the night he had bitted and
bridled, that for a moment, even to give her ease, he dared
not comply. Then "God forgive me!" he muttered, and
bent, shamefaced yet eager, and kissed her forehead.
She leaned, trusting and secure, against the arm that he
had slipped about her. With a sudden clenching of the teeth,
he sat himself down on the pallet, and lifting her, in her blan-
kets, pillowed her head upon his shoulder. "Have no fear,
little lass," he said. "Tis your father holds you now, in
truth, and you're safe safe!"
Several times yet she stirred; once she murmured aloud:
" The waves ! Keep me from them !" but at last, better than
he had dared to hope, she relaxed in his arms and slept quietly.
Minute after minute, hour after hour, he sat and held her,
while he watched the gray light that came stronger through
the crack of the shuttered window, and listened to the patter
of rain on the roof that dwindled and at last ceased. He felt
the pain that shot through his arm that supported her weight,
and then he sensed that the arm was numb, that all one side
of his body was numb, and in the torture of his cramped posi-
tion he knit his brows and clenched his free hand. But he
could hear that the girl breathed regularly now, and when,
half deprecatingly, he glanced at her face, he saw that the
flush was fading from her cheeks.
The fire on the hearth died down, but he would not risk
waking the girl by rising to rekindle it. He knew that she
was warmly wrapped, and for himself, when the room grew
cold he shivered and endured, until on the hearth he saw the
gleam of light that was his clock begin to fade. Mid-after-
noon was come, and for hours he had held the girl, and at last
he found that the strength was not in him to hold her longer.
Gently, with all the craft that was in his outworn body, he
slipped his numbed arm from about her and eased her down
208 THE FAIR MAID OF GRAYSTONES
into the bed with his other hand. He rose from his place
beside her, yet for an instant he paused, with eyes upon her
face, like a white flower in the shadow of her disordered hair,
and then, weary and exhausted, he let the devil take the upper
"T'other time was for your father, my own dear 1" he whis-
pered. "This time 'tis for myself, and all I'm ever like to
have!" He bent to the girl's lips, and he saw how easily
she slept in her trust of him, the trust for which he had been
grateful, and, red and shamed and sick at heart for his sorry
self, he stood erect again.
At that moment, without warning, Althea opened her eyes,
and her own soul looked from them. She smiled weakly up
at him where she lay. " Why, Jock ! " said she. " I've surely
" Ay," he said huskily, and in his heart gave humble thanks
that, by a greater boon than he deserved, she had not waked
an instant earlier.
"At first I had troubled dreams," she went on, "but at the
last oh ! my sleep has been sweet and I have had none but
From the depth of his heart he answered, " I thank God for
TWO AND A BARGAIN
IN the wind-driven dawn of the next morning Jock left
Althea asleep, and for the first time went forth to look about
him. With satisfaction he scanned the swollen waters of
the Illey where no craft was likely to venture, and the low,
marshy banks of the river where no sign of life was visible,
and the harried sky of ink-dashed gray, in itself a menace
sufficient to keep all prowlers within doors. Up to that
moment he had feared lest the smoke from the hut should
betray to some loiterer the presence of unlawful tenants
upon the islet, but now he was rid of that fear. In such
weather there was small likelihood of anyone's strolling
along the river paths, and he could count on at least a few
hours of security in which to plan what was next to do for
himself and for Althea.
Through the drenched gorse and beaten sedges he made his
way down to the shore, where a little space of sand and of
foot-worn grasses showed that here the fording place and the
stepping stones began. He knew it to be the hour of the ebb-
tide, when in the nature of things he should find the passage
to the mainland easiest, but he saw the waves swirling
through the channel and he could discover no sign of the
stepping stones. Patiently he sought them, wading to and
fro, hip-deep sometimes in the strong current, and he sought
in vain. By the violence of wind and water the very bed
210 THE FAIR MAID OF GRAYSTONES
of the river had been altered and the fording place blotted
out. As far as he could discover, he and Althea were hope-
lessly cut off from the mainland.
When at last he returned, chilled and shivering, to the
shore, he lingered moment after moment, under pretext of
pacing up and down to warm himself. In truth, he dreaded
to go back to the hut and face Althea, while he was bur-
dened with the weight of this evil discovery and, as yet, saw
no way of relief. Had he been alone, he had found all easy.
Without further stay he would have tried to swim the north-
ern channel of the Illey. He cheerfully admitted that there-
by he should have run a fair chance of drowning, but quite
honestly he would have preferred to drown rather than to
take the risk a risk that hourly grew greater of being
recaptured by Captain Wogan.
But now that he had Althea to care for, Jock scarcely knew
what to do. He could not convey her across a channel that
he had no more than an even chance of crossing alone and
unencumbered. He could not leave her behind, sick and
alone in the deserted hut, with the risk that no one would
come thither and she would perish, helpless and forsaken, or
with the worse risk that Phineas Hendie, the villainous ne'er-
do-well, would come thither without his mother. He could
not, on the other hand, remain himself with Althea. That
were to court in longer or shorter time discovery, and dis-
covery meant that Althea would go beggared of reputation
to the end of her days and that he would be delivered over
to Wogan, the fate against which every fibre of his soul and
body cried aloud.
He had decided nothing, he could see no way to a decision,
but he knew that some time had passed since he had left Althea
and he dared stay no longer from her. Heavily he climbed
the path to the hut, and after a last glance at the vacant
river and the deserted shores, pushed open the door and en-
TWO AND A BARGAIN 211
tered. For an instant he blinked in the dimness of the room,
and then he was aware of Althea's face, white and tense, and
of her eyes that sought his. She was sitting up in her bed,
and her arms were rigidly crossed upon her breast.
"Oh!" she cried in a voice of hard sobbing that startled
him. " Are you come back ? Jock ! Are you come back, in-
deed ? I woke. You were gone. I thought I thought "
She stopped there, and bending her head, fought silently for
In that moment Jock drew a long breath of relief, for he
knew that his decision at last was made for him. Almost
light-heartedly he went to the pallet and bade Althea lie
down and rest quiet and have no fear. "Surely, I shall not
go hence while you have need of me," he promised.
Now that he had made his decision, he went without
further talk about the homely, necessary task of cooking
breakfast. He could find only a small store of meal and that
little he used in making Althea's porridge. For himself, he
had unearthed a hunch of bread, hard and somewhat mouldy,
but at the siege of Colchester he had learned not to be over-
dainty in the matter of diet.
When they both had eaten, Jock set the room to rights,
not that he hankered for household tasks, but he felt that
Althea, womanlike, was worried by the disorder about her.
While he worked he talked to her, foolishly and jestingly, in
much the same tone that he had used at Draycote. Partly
he wanted to win her to laugh and give over her anxiety,
and partly he was fain, in the desperate pass to which he
now had pledged himself, to snatch what comfort he could,
even on the brink of disaster. At first he moved Althea to
reply in kind, with the ghost of the old quick smile upon her
white face, but after a time he realized that, though her
eyes followed him always, her thoughts were straying, and
then at last she spoke seriously.
212 THE FAIR MAID OF GRAYSTONES
"Nay, Jock, no more of words. We must plan soberly.
You see, since I have eaten, I feel myself stronger. Indeed,
I am well recovered. You can see that I am !" she pleaded
to his impassive face. "And now, Jock, this very hour you
must go hence."
Much as he had done two nights btfore, when he had
braced himself against the waves that fought to hurl him
from the stepping stones, Jock braced himself now. Stub-
bornly he held to the dubious, narrow way that, all in an
instant, he had resolved to follow, while round him beat and
broke the torrent of the girl's arguments and pleadings. He
did not find it easy to stand firm, for the girl was no milksop
to waste herself in futile tears, and her reasoning, the reason-
ing that an hour before had been his own, had power to dis-
turb him. He was no paladin to scorn the prospect of bodily
hurt, nor was he a fool to believe that Wogan, when he should
overtake him, would be likely to clap him on the shoulder
and cry quits. When Althea urged him go for his own
safety's sake, he felt a coward something within him leap to
assent, and angered at that coward self, he crushed it sav-
"No more of that, Althea!" he said with a sternness that
struck her dumb. "Come what may, I stay here upon this
Soon she was back to the assault on another, surer line.
He must go, then, for her sake. He must not be taken there.
Surely he could see !
Yes, he saw so clearly that for a moment he stood perplexed,
but then he saw again, not the picture of her bitter shaming
that she had faintly limned, but that other vision that afore-
time had decided him the vision of a pale little girl with
fever-bright eyes, lying in an empty hut that was cold with
the chill of the grave, calling for food when there was no one
to hear, calling for water when there was no one to set a cup
TWO AND A BARGAIN 213
to her lips, meeting the terror of death long drawn out, and
meeting it alone and uncomforted.
"Peace, peace!" said he. "I cannot go and leave you,
and there's an end on't !"
She looked at him in the dim light of the darkened room, and
the light was not so dim nor he so little skilled in the reading
of her face but that he marked the flame of joy that bea-
coned in her eyes. That he remembered, even as he remem-
bered the piteous thanksgiving in her worn young face at that
earlier moment when she had seen him returning, and to those
memories he held firmly in the hard minutes that followed.
Hard minutes they were indeed, for the girl, weak and weary
with sickness, broke down and wept piteously, begging him
to leave her, vowing that she would rather die than bring
death upon him, and so honestly did she plead that he would
have gone near to yielding, had he not known that, so deep
within her heart that she was herself scarce conscious of the
voice, her truest self was praying him to stay.
Not till afternoon did the warfare of their two wills have
an end, and then the girl slept, utterly forspent. Once and
twice in her sleep she sobbed aloud, and at the sound Jock
reproached himself, wondering if he had done well to resist
her, but when at last her eyes opened and instantly sought
him, where he sat upon the hearth, he told himself that he
had done well. Between them there was now peace, and the
twilight hour of that day, when he sat by her and they talked
together for the first time as something nearer than comrades,
remained with him always as a blessed memory.
Next morning Jock woke where he lay along the hearth,
and sat up in vague wonder as to what had brought him the
quiet sense of peace that was upon him. He could hear
Althea's steady, soft breathing, and on the hearth he glimpsed
a touch of brighter light that hinted that at last the sun was
shining. He realized too that the hut no longer shivered in
214 THE FAIR MAID OF GRAYSTONES
the great gusts of the wind. For quiet air and sunlight and
Althea, he found himself giving thanks, and then he smiled,
not ungently, and chided himself for a fool. Surely, he ap-
pealed to his vaunted reason, he should remember that he
was a fugitive, in imminent peril, and then he smiled even
more heartily at the folly of that thought. Somehow, on
that morning, he could not help feeling that Wogan and
Graystones were many leagues behind him, and that by
some kind miracle they never would be suffered to overtake
Adrift in such contentment, Jock went at last to the door,
and moving softly, lest he waken Althea, opened it to the
light and the free air. Southward he saw a tumble of white
clouds, and rain-washed blue above them, and a fair sun,
that well-nigh smote him blind, swinging upward, like a cen-
ser, at his left hand. Blinking, he shaded his eyes with his
palm and looked lower, to the sun-shotten waters of the
Illey, and right off shore he spied a little boat. Upon her
thwarts sat two men, and at sight of him they rested on their
oars and spoke together.
Jock stepped within the hut, and when he had closed the
door behind him, leaned heavily against it. For an instant
he was conscious of an agonized waking, like that of a child
in a world of bewilderments, and then, restored to his old
fighting self, he stepped to the window, hard by the door.
This window, all unglazed, was protected by a rude wooden
shutter that was in place, but through the crack of the shutter
he could overlook the river and the boat and the two men.
He saw that they conferred together for a moment, and then
they pulled hastily back to the southern shore. The one, a
tall fellow, with hair so sun-bleached that it was almost white,
hurried away along the path while the other, as if on guard,
sat down on the gunwale of the boat.
"White-head has gone with the news to. Graystones," Jock
TWO AND A BARGAIN 215
told himself dispassionately. "And t'other knave is left to
see that I do not escape hence."
With the zest of hatred in his every movement, as if
already he were at hand-grips with his enemies, Jock made
his preparations against the coming siege. He fetched water
from the spring till every pail in the hut and even the
bucking tub was full. He took down a broadaxe that
hung in the lean-to, he charged his pistol, he laid on the
table, ready to hand, the powder and ball that he had levied
from the chestnut-haired Philip, and finally he barred the
door and the windows with strips of wood.
In the midst of this noisy task he became for the first
time conscious of Althea's presence. He turned toward the
pallet, and he saw that she lay wide-eyed and watched him.
Though she had not cried out nor troubled him with vain
questions, he knew that she realized the desperate pass to
which they had come. Her lips were thin. Her hands that
rested on the coverlet clenched and unclenched in nervous
"They are coming the soldiery?" she asked, in a
Jock bowed his head, and then he flung down the hammer
that he held and sprang to Althea's side, for she had sunk
back with closed eyes and he believed her near to swooning.
At his touch on her shoulder, however, she opened her
eyes. "Do not heed me," she whispered. "Go to your
work. I am not afraid."
Because she said it, he knew that she was afraid, and with
only half a heart for the conflict, he went back to the window
where he had ranged his weapons. He had finished his
preparations. He had nothing now to do but to wait, and
watch the girl, and think.
About midmorning, as he read the time by the station of
the sun, Jock spied through the crack of the shutter a boat of
216 THE FAIR MAID OF GRAYSTONES
four oars and then another rowing leisurely down the river.
In the boats he made out the gleam of light given back from
the steel caps of soldiers. "They are coming," he said, in
a voice that unconsciously he lowered, and then over his
shoulder he glanced at Althea. She had dragged herself
erect and sat with her arms crossed tensely upon her breast.
Her face was very white, and in her eyes was a fear more
poignant than the fear of death.
In that moment Jock realized that, for the first time in
his life, the joy of combat was not for him. In the girl who
waited yonder for the issue of the fight, he had given a hostage
to Fortune that beat his weapon down and bound his arms.
If he should fight now as he had fought at Barbroke, resist
with his back to the wall till they struck him dead, what of
the girl? He had to answer the question quickly, for his
time was short. Already he could see that the foremost boat
was nosing to the shore. Before they killed him, he
sketched the future swiftly, he would make shift to kill
a man or two of Wogan's troopers, but then, as he knew
well, he would have roused them to fury, and to that fury
the hut and the girl that it sheltered would lie defenceless.
Had the girl stood before the soldiers as Mistress Lovewell,
she might perhaps have challenged forbearance, but now she
would be to them no more than Captain Hetherington's light
To himself Jock repeated that phrase and others, more
brutal, that he knew would be urged in ample justification
of any shame that Althea might suffer, and meanwhile he saw
the boats beached and a file of troopers make a landing on
the shore below him, and he saw that Wogan led them. Then
he made his decision, and looking upon Wogan, he did not
find it easy to make.
Pistol in hand, he waited till the troopers were filing up
the slope, till Wogan, stolidly marching at the head of the
TWO AND A BAKGAIN 217
line, was within forty feet of the hut, and then he thrust the
shutter half open and showed himself in the window. " Cap-
tain!" he cried. "I'm fain to speak with you."
Instantly the little column was halted. There were twelve
soldiers, Jock counted them swiftly, and on their outskirts
several of the coast men who had rowed the boats, and among
them the white-headed fellow who first had sought the island.
Before them all Wogan stood forth. He wore no helmet, but
a dark felt hat, slouched forward to ward the sun from his
"Well!" said Wogan, dryly. "You are free to speak."
" I would speak alone with you, sir," Jock urged, while he
prayed for patience to be civil.
Wogan gave a perfunctory sneer: "And what warranty
have I that you will not pistol me? How shall I trust to
your honor you that have broken your parole ? "
With sudden misgiving, Jock faced a new vista of menace.
In the spirit of the law he knew that he had been released
from his promise not to try to escape when Wogan, on his
own side, broke his corresponding pledge of fair treatment by
putting him under lock and key, but he feared, from his
knowledge of Puritan subtleties, that, by the letter of the law,
he might be held guilty of breach of parole. In any case,
the judges of the matter were also his jailers and his sworn
enemies, and he kept a clear recollection of Wogan's threat
of vengeance in the event of a broken parole. Dumb with
dismay, he looked a moment at Wogan, and then, by old
habit, he returned, in spite of all, to the task that he had
set out to do.
Taking the only course that was left to him, he laid down
his pistol and rested his empty hands on the window-ledge
before him. "Look you!" said he. "I have put down my
arms. Now, sir, in mercy let me speak with you unless
you fear me!"
218 THE FAIR MAID OF GRAYSTONES
The taunt had its effect. After all, Wogan was not a coward,
and, pricked by Jock's words, he strode up and halted just
below the window. "Now, sirrah! Be brief!" he ordered.
For an instant Jock hesitated, and then with a touch of
grim humor, he told himself that it was well for him that, as
Rafe Heyroun had delighted to remind him, he had been born
in Yorkshire where men were steady-headed and audacious
in bargaining. Never in his life had he had greater need of
shrewd audacity. "Captain," he began in a voice that he
lowered lest Althea overhear, "you wish to take me alive?"
"I am going to take you alive," Wogan amended pithily.
Jock showed his teeth in a hateful grin. " You said that at
Barbroke. 'Twas not an easy task to take me then. 'Twill
be a harder task to take me now. I have a pistol, and powder,
and ball. I have a broadaxe for the first man, and perchance
the second, that comes through the door. And I have a clasp
knife for mine own throat at the last. You will lose a man or
two, and you will not take me living, unless you be pleased to
grant the terms that I shall name."
Wogan indulged himself in a bitter smile. " You are in no
case to dictate terms," he said, and made as if to turn upon his
In silence Jock waited, though he felt his heart leap into his
throat. He wondered if Wogan would bear himself as a man
with a private grudge, too angered even to hear to a compro-