that Greeba did not understand.
"This man is an Icelander," said Jason.
"Didn't you know that before?" said Greeba.
"What is his name?" said Jason.
"Haven't you heard it yet?"
"What is his name ?"
Then for one quick instant he turned his face toward her face,
and she seemed to read his thought.
"Oh God!" she cried, and she staggered back.
Just then there was the sound of footsteps on the shingle out-
side, and at the next moment Stean and Thurstan Fairbrother and
old Davy Kerruish pushed open the door. They had come to fetch
"The Methodee man tould us," said Davy, standing by Jason's
side, "and, my gough, but it's mortal cur'ous. What's it saying,
'Talk of the devil, and sure enough it was the big widda man his-
self we were talking of, less nor a half hour afore we struck.' "
"Come, my lass," said Thurstan.
"No, no, I'll stay here," said Greeba.
"But your mother is fidgeting, and this is no place for a slip of
of a girl come !"
"I'll stay with him alone," said Jason.
"No, no," cried Greeba.
"It's the lad's right, for all," said old Davy. "He fetched the
poor chap out of the water. Come, let's take the road for it."
"Will no one stay instead of me?" said Greeba.
94 THE BONDMAN
"Where's the use," said Davy. "He's really past help. He's
outward bound, poor chap. Poor Orry! Poor ould Stephen!"
Then they drew Greeba away, and with a look of fear fixed on
Jason's face she passed out at the door.
Jason was now alone with Stephen Orry, and felt like a man
who had stumbled into a hidden grave. He had set out over the
seas to search for his father, and here, at his first setting foot on
the land, his father lay at his feet. So this was Stephen Orry;
this was he for whom his mother had given up all ; this was he for
whom she had taken a father's curse; this was he for whom she
had endured poverty and shame ; this was he who had neglected her,
struck her, forgotten her with another woman; this was he who
had killed her the poor, loving, loyal, passionate heart not in a
day, or an hour, or a moment, but in twenty long years. Jason
stood over the bed and looked down. Surely the Lord God had
heard his great vow and delivered the man into his hands. He
would have hunted the world over to find him, but here at a stride
he had him. It was Heaven's own justice, and if he held back now
the curse of his dead mother would follow him from the grave.
Yet a trembling shook his whole frame, and his heart beat
as if it would break. Why did he wait? He remembered the ten-
derness that had crept upon him not many minutes ago, as he
listened to the poor baby babble of the man's delirium, and at
that the gall in his throat seemed to choke him. He hated himself
for yielding to it, for now he knew for whom it had been meant.
It had been meant for his own father doting over the memory of
another son. That son had supplanted himself; that son's mother
had supplanted his own mother ; and yet he, in his ignorance, had
all but wept for both of them. But no matter, he was now to be
God's own right hand of justice on this evil-doer.
Dawn was breaking, and its woolly light crept lazily in at the
little window, past the lamp that still burned on the window board.
The wind had fallen, and the sea lay gloomy and dark, as if with
its own heavy memories of last night's work. The gray light fell
on the sick man's face, and under Jason's eyes it seemed to light
up the poor miserable, naked soul within. The delirium had now
set in strong, and many were the wild words and frequent was the
cry that rang through the little house.
"Not while he is like that," thought Jason. "I will wait for the
He took up a pillow in both hands and stood by the bed and
waited, never lifting his eyes off the face. But the lull did not
come. Would it not come at all? What if the delirium were never
THE BONDMAN 95
to pass away? Could he still do the thing he intended? No, no,
no! But Heaven had heard his vow and led him there. The
delirium would yet pass; then he would accuse his father, face to
face and eye to eye, and then
The current of Jason's thoughts was suddenly arrested by a
cry from the sick man. It was "Rachel ! Rachel ! Rachel !" spoken
in a voice of deep entreaty, and there came after it in disjointed
words of the Icelandic tongue a pitiful appeal for forgiveness. At
that a great fear seized upon Jason, and the pillow dropped
from his hands to the ground. "Rachel ! Rachel !" It was the
old cry of the years that were gone, but working with how great
a difference then, to stir up evil passions now, to break down
the spirit of revenge.
"Rachel ! Rachel !" came again in the same pitiful voice of sup-
plication ; and at the sound of that name so spoken, the bitterness
of Jason's heart went off like a wail of the wind. It was a cry
of remorse ; a cry for pardon ; a cry for mercy. There could be no
jugglery. In that hour of the mind's awful vanquishment a human
soul stood naked behind him as before its Maker.
Jason's great resolve was shaken. Had it been only a blind
tangle of passion and pain ? If the Almighty had called him to be
the instrument of His vengeance, would He have delivered his
enemy into his hands like this dying, delirious, with broken brain
and broken heart?
Still his mother's name came from his father's lips, and then his
mind went back to the words that had so lately passed between
them. "Let me be your father, though I am a dying man." Ah!
sweet, beautiful, blind^ fallacy could he not let it be?
The end was very near ; the delirium passed away, and Stephen
Orry opened his eyes. The great creature was as quiet as a child
now, and as soft and gentle as a child's was his deep hoarse voice.
He knew that he had been wandering in his mind, and when he
looked into Jason's face a pale smile crossed his own.
"I thought I had found her," he said, very simply, "my poor
young wife that once was; it was she that I lost so long ago, and
did such wrong by."
Jason's throat was choking him, but he stammered out: "Lie
still, sir. lie still and rest."
But Stephen Orry talked on in the same simple way : "Ah, how
silly I am! I forgot you didn't know."
"Lie still and rest," said Jason again.
"There was some one with her, too. I thought it was her son
her child and mine, that was to come when I left her. And, only
9 6 THE BONDMAN
think, I looked again, and it seemed to be you. Yes, you for it
was the face of him that fetched me out of the sea. I thought you
were my son indeed."
Then Jason could bear up no longer. He flung himself down on
his knees by the bedside, and buried his face in the dying man's
"Father," he sobbed, "I am your son."
But Stephen Orry only smiled, and answered very quietly : "Ah,
yes, I remember that was part of our bargain, my good lad.
Well, God bless you, my son. God bless and speed you."
And that was the end of Orry.
THE BOOK OF MICHAEL SUNLOCKS
Now the facts of this history must stride on some four
years, and come to a great crisis in the lives of Greeba and Jason.
Every event of that time seemed to draw these two together, and
the first of the circumstances that bound them came very close
on the death of Stephen Orry. Only a few minutes after Greeba,
at the bidding of her two brothers, Stean and Thurstan, had left
Jason alone with the dying man, she had parted from them without
word or warning, and fled back to the little hut in Port-y-Vullin.
With a wild laboring of heart, panting for breath and full of dread,
she had burst the door open, fearing to see what she dared not think
of; but, instead of the evil work she looked for, she had found
Jason on his knees by the bedside, sobbing as if his heart would
break, and Stephen Orry passing away with a tender light in his
eyes and a word of blessing on his lips. At that sight she had
stood on the threshold like one who is transfixed, and how long
that moment had lasted she never knew. But the thing she re-
membered next was that Jason had taken her by the hand and drawn
her up, with all the fire of her spirit gone, to where the man lay
dead before them, and had made her swear to him there and then
never to speak of what she had seen, and to put away from her
mind forever the vague things she had but partly guessed. After
that he had told her, with a world of pain, that Stephen Orry had
been his father ; that his father had killed his mother by base neg-
lect and cruelty; that to wipe out his mother's wrongs he had
vowed to slay his father; and that his father, not knowing him,
save in the vision of his delirium, had died in the act of blessing
him. Greeba had yielded to Jason, because she had been conquered
by his stronger will, and was in fear of the passion which flashed
in his face; but hearing all this, she remembered Michael Sun-
locks, and how he must stand as the son of the other woman ; and
straightway she found her own reasons why she should be silent
on all that she had that night seen and heard. This secret was the
first of the bonds between them; and the second, though less ob-
vious, was even more real.
Losing no time, Adam Fairbrother had written a letter to
5 "> Vol. II.
p8 THE BONDMAN
Michael Sunlocks, by that name, telling him of the death of his
father, and how, so far as the facts were known, the poor man
came by it in making the port in his boat after seeing his son away
in the packet. This he had despatched to the only care known to
him, that of the Lord Bishop Petersen, at his Latin School of
Reykjavik; but after a time the letter had come-back, with a note
from the Bishop saying that no such name was known to him, and
no such student was under his charge. Much afraid that the same
storm that had led Stephen Orry to his end had overtaken Michael
Sunlocks also, Adam Fairbrother had then promptly readdressed
his letter to the care of the Governor-General, who was also the
Postmaster, and added a postscript asking if, after the sad event
whereof he had thought it his task in love and duty to apprise him,
there was the same necessity that his dear boy should remain in
Iceland. "But, indite me a few lines without delay," he wrote,
"giving me assurance of your safe arrival, for what has happened
of late days has haunted me with many fears of mishap."
Then in due course an answer had come from Michael Sunlocks,
saying he had landed safely, but there being no regular mails, he
had been compelled to await the sailing of English ships to carry his
letters ; that by some error he had missed the first of these, and was
now writing by the next, that many strange things had happened
to him, and he was lodged in the house of the Governor-General ;
that his father's death had touched him very deeply ; being brought
about by a mischance that so nearly affected himself; that the
sad fact, so far from leaving him free to return home, seemed to
make it the more necessary that he should remain where he was
until he had done what he had been sent to do: and, finally, that
what that work was he could not tell in a letter, but only by word of
mouth, whenever it pleased God that they should meet again. This,
with many words of affection for Adam himself, in thanks for his
fatherly anxiety, and some mention of Greeba in tender but
guarded terms, was the sum of the only letter that had come from
Michael Sunlocks in the four years after Stephen Orry's death to
the first of the events that are now to be recorded.
And throughout these years Jason had lived at Lague, having
been accepted as housemate by the six Fairbrothers, when the
ship-broken men had gone their own ways on receiving from their
Dublin owners the wages that were due to them. Though his re-
lation to Stephen Orry had never become known, it had leaked out
that he had come into Orry's money. He had done little work.
His chief characteristics had been love of liberty and laziness. In
the summer he had fished on the sea and in the rivers and he had
THE BONDMAN 99
shot and hunted in the winter. He had followed these pursuits out
of sheer love of an idle life ; but if he had a hobby it was the col-
lecting of birds. Of every species on the island, of land or sea fowl,
he had found a specimen. He stuffed his birds with some skill,
and kept them in the little hut in Port-y-Vullin.
The four years had developed his superb physique, and he had
grown to be a yet more magnificent creature than Stephen Orry
himself. He was rounder, though his youth might have pardoned
more angularity; broader, and more upright, with a proud poise of
head, long wavy hair, smooth cheeks, solid white teeth, face of
broad lines, an intelligent expression, and a deep voice that made
the mountain ring. His dress suited well his face and figure. He
wore a skin cap with a peak, a red woolen shirt belted about the
waist, breeches of leather, leggings and seaman's boots. The cap
was often awry, and a tuft of red hair tumbled over his bronzed
forehead, his shirt was torn, his breeches were stained, and his
leggings tied with rope; but rough, and even ragged, as his dress
was, it sat upon him with a fine rude grace. With a knife in his
sheath, a net or a decoy over his arm, a pouch for powder slung
behind him, a fowling-piece across his shoulder, and a dog at his
heels, he would go away into the mountains as the evening fell.
And in the early gleams of sunrise he would stride down again and
into the "Hibernian," scenting up t^ie old tavern with tobacco
smoke, and carrying many dead birds at his belt, with the blood
still dripping from their heads hung down. Folks called him Red
Jason, or sometimes Jason the Red.
He began to visit Government House. Greeba was there, but
at first he seemed not to see her. Simple greetings he exchanged
with her, and that was all the commerce between them. With the
Governor, when work was over, he sat and smoked, telling of his
own country and its laws, and the ways of its people, talking of
his hunting and fishing, calling the mountains Jokulls, and the Tyn-
wald the Loberg, and giving names of his own to the glens, the
Chasm of Ravens for the Dhoon, and Broad Shield for B'allaglass.
And Adam loved to learn how close was the bond between his
own dear isle and the land of the great sea kings of old time, but
most of all he listened to what Jason said, that he might thereby
know what kind of world it was wherein his dear lad Michael
Sunlocks had to live away from him.
"A fine lad," Adam Fairbrother would say to Greeba; "a lad
of fearless courage, and unflinching contempt of death, with a
great horror of lying and treachery, and an inborn sense of justice.
Not tender and gentle with his strength, as my own dear Sunlocks
ioo THE BONDMAN
is, but of a high and serious nature, and having passions that may
not be trifled with." And hearing this, and the more deliberate
warning of her brothers at Lague, Greeba would remember that she
had herself the best reason to know that the passions of Jason
could be terrible.
But nothing she recked of it all, for her heart was as light as
her manners in those days, and if she thought twice of her rela-
tions with Jason she remembered that she was the daughter of the
Governor, and he was only a poor sailor lad who had been wrecked
off their coast.
Jason was a great favorite with Mrs. Fairbrother, notwith-
standing that he did no work. Rumor had magnified the fortune
that Stephen Orry had left him, and the two hundred pounds stood
at two thousand in her eyes. With a woman's quck instinct she
saw how Jason stood toward Greeba, almost before he had him-
self become conscious of it, and she smiled on him and favored
him. A whisper of this found its way from Lague to Government
House, and old Adam shook his head. He had nothing against
Jason, except that the lad was not fond of work, and whether Jason
was poor or rich counted for very little, but he could not forget
his boy Sunlocks.
Thus while Greeba remained with her father there was but-
little chance that she could wrong the promise she had made to
Michael; but events seemed to force her into the arms of Jason.
Her mother had never been of an unselfish spirit, and since parting
from her husband she had shown a mean penuriousness. This
affected her six sons chiefly, and they realized that when she had
taken their side against their father she had taken the cream of
their living also. Lague was now hers for her lifetime, and only
theirs after she was done with it ; and if they asked much more for
their work than bed and board she reminded them of this, and
bade them wait. Soon tiring of their Lenten entertainment, they
trooped off, one after one, to their father, badly as they had
dealt by him, and complained loudly of the great wrong he had
done them when he made over the lands of Lague to their mother.
What were they now, though sons of the Governor ? No better than
hinds on their mother's farm, expected to work for her from light
to dusk, and getting nothing for their labor but the house she kept
over their heads. Grown men they all were now, and the elder
of them close on their prime, yet none were free to marry, for
none had the right to a penny for the living he earned ; and all this
came of their father's unwise generosity.
Old Adam could not gainsay them, and he would not reproach
THE BONDMAN 101
them, so he did all that remained to him to do, and that was to ex-
ercise a little more of the same unwise generosity, and give them
money. And finding this easy means of getting what they wanted,
they came again, and again, all six of them, from Asher to Gentle-
man Johnny, and as often as they came they went away satisfied,
though old Adam shook his head when he saw how mean and small
was the spirit of his sons. Greeba also shook her head, but from
another cause, for though she grudged her brothers nothing she
knew that her father was fast being impoverished. Once she hinted
as much, but old Adam made light of her misgivings, saying that if
the worst came to the worst he had still his salary, and what was
the good of his money if he might not use it, and what was the
virtue of charity if it must not begin at home?
But the evil was not ended there for the six lumbering men who
objected to work without pay were nothing loth to take pay without
work. Not long after the first of the visits to Government House,
Lague began to be neglected.
Asher lay in the ingle and dozed; Thurstan lay about in the
"Hibernian" and drank; Ross and Stean started a ring of game-
cocks, Jacob formed a nest of private savings, and John developed
his taste for dress and his appetite for gallantries. Mrs. Fairbrother
soon discovered the source of the mischief, and railed at the name
of her husband, who was ruining her boys and bringing herself to
Thus far had matters gone, during the four years following the
death of Stephen Orry, and then a succession of untoward circum-
stances hastened a climax of grave consequence to all the persons
concerned in this history. Two bad seasons had come, one on the
end of the other. The herring fishing had failed, and the potato
crop had suffered a blight. The fisher folk and the poor farming
people were reduced to sore straits. The one class had to throw
the meal bag across their shoulders and go around the houses beg-
ging, and the other class had to compound with their landlords or
borrow from their neighbors.
Where few were rich and many were poor, the places of call
for either class were not numerous. But two houses at least were
always open to those who were in want Lague and Government
House; though their welcome at the one was very unlike their
welcome at the other. Mrs. Fairbrother relieved their necessities
by lending them money on mortgage on their lands or boats, and
her interest was in proportion to their necessities. They had no
choice but accept her terms, however rigid, and if in due course
they could not meet them they had no resource but to yield up
102 THE BONDMAN
to her their little belongings. In less than half a year boat after
boat, croft after croft, and even farm after farm had fallen into
her hands. She grew rich, and the richer she grew the more penu-
rious she became. There were no banks in the north of the island
then, and the mistress of Lague was in effect the farmers' banker.
Government House, in the south of the island, had yet more
applicants; but what the Governor had he gave, and when his
money was gone he served out orders on the millers for meal and
the weavers for cloth. It soon became known that he kept open
house to the poor, and from north and south, east and west, the
needy came to him in troops, and with them came the idle and the
dissolute. He knew the one class from the other, yet railed at both
in threatening words, reproaching their improvidence and pre-
dicting his own ruin, but he ended by giving to all alike. They
found out his quarter-day and came in throngs to meet it, knowing
that, bluster as he would, while the good man had money he was
sure to give it to all who asked. The sorry troop, good and bad,
worthy and unworthy, soon left him without a pound. He fumed
at this when Greeba cast up his reckoning, but comforted himself
with the thought that he had still his stipend of five hundred
pounds a year coming in to him, however deeply it might be con-
At the first pinch of his necessity his footman deserted him and
after the footman went the groom.
"They say the wind is tempered to the shorn sheep, Greeba,"
said he, and laughed.
He had always stood somewhat in awe of these great persons,
and his spirits rose visibly at the loss of them, for he had never
yet reconciled himself to the dignity of his state.
"It's wonderful how much a man may do for himself when he's
put to it," he said, as he groomed his own horse next morning.
His sons were not so easily appeased, and muttered hard words at
his folly, for their own supplies had by this time suffered curtail-
ment. He was ruining himself at a breakneck pace, and if he
came to die in the gutter, who should say that it had not served
him right ? The man who threw away his substance with his eyes
open deserved to know by bitter proof that it had gone. Jason
heard all this at the fireside at Lague, and though he could not
answer it, he felt his palms itch sorely, and his fists tighten like
ribs of steel, and his whole body stiffen up and silently measure its
weight against that of Thurstan Fairbrother, the biggest and heav-
iest and hardest-spoken of the brothers. Greeba heard it, too, but
took it with a gay lightsomeness, knowing all, yet fearing nothing.
THE BONDMAN 103
"What matter?" she said, and laughed.
But strange and silly enough were some of the shifts that her
father's open-handedness put her to in these bad days of the bitter
need of the island's poor people.
It was the winter season, when things were at their worst, and
on Christmas Eve Greeba had a goose killed for their Christmas
dinner. The bird was hung in one of the outhouses, to drain and
cool before being plucked, and while it was there Greeba went
out, leaving her father at home. Then came three of the many who
had never yet been turned empty from the Governor's door. Adam
blustered at all of them, but he emptied his pockets to one, gave the
goose to another, and smuggled something out of the pantry for the
The goose was missed by the maid whose work it was to
pluck it, and its disappearance was made known to Greeba on her
return. Guessing at the way it had gone, she went into the room
where her father sat placidly smoking, and trying to look wondrous
serene and innocent.
"What do you think, father ?" she said ; "some one has stolen the
"I'm afraid, my dear," he answered meekly, "I gave it away to
poor Kinrade, the parish clerk. Would you believe it, he and his
good old wife hadn't a bit or a sup for their Christmas dinner?"
"Well," said Greeba, "you'll have to be content with bread
and cheese for your own, for we have nothing else in the house
"I'm afraid, my dear," he stammered, "I gave away the cheese
too. Poor daft Gelling, who lives on the mountains, had nothing
to eat but a loaf of bread, poor fellow."
Now the rapid impoverishment of the Governor was forcing
Greeba into the arms of Jason, though they had yet no idea that
this was so ; and when the crisis came that loosened the ties which
held Greeba to her father, it came as a surprise to all three of them.
The one man in the island who had thus far shown a complete
indifference to the sufferings of the poor in their hour of tribulation
was the Bishop of Sodor and Man. This person was a fashionable