of the Governor-General, and the inhabitants of the capital of Ice-
land are fewer than two thousand in all, I was more than a week
in Reykjavik before I came upon any real news of her. When I
found her at last she was in her grave. The poor soul had died
within two months of my landing on these shores, and the joiner of
the cathedral was putting a little wooden peg, inscribed with the
initials of her name, over her grave in the forgotten quarter of
I 3 4 THE BONDMAN
the cemetery where the dead poor of this place are buried. Such
was the close of the first chapter of my quest.
"But I had still another duty, and, touched by the pathos of that
timeless death, I set about it with new vigor. This was to learn
if the unhappy soul had left a child behind her, and if she had done
so to look for it as I had looked for its mother, and succor it as I
would have succored her. I found that she had left a son, a lad of
my own age or thereabouts, and therefore less than twenty at that
time. Little seemed to be known about him, save that he had been
his mother's sole stay and companion, that they had both lived
apart from their neighbors, and much under the shadow of their
distresses. At her death he had been with her, and he had stood by
her grave, but never afterward had he been seen by any one who
could make a guess as to what had become of him. But, while I
was still in the midst of my search, the body of a young man came
ashore on the island of Engy, and though the features were no
longer to be recognized, yet there were many in the fishing quarter
of this city who could swear, from evidences of stature and of
clothing, to ks identity with him I looked for ; and thus the second
chapter of my quest seemed to close at a tomb.
"I can not say that I was fully satisfied, for nothing that I had
heard of the boy's character seemed to agree with any thought
of suicide, and I noticed that the good old Lutheran priest who had
sat with the poor mother in her last hours shook his head at the
mention of it, though he would give no reasons for his determined
unbelief. But perhaps my zeal was flagging, for my search ceased
from that hour, and as often since as my conscience has reproached
me with a mission unfulfilled I have appeased it with the assurance
that mother and son are both gone, and death itself has been my
"Some day, dear Greeba, I will tell you who sent me (which
you may partly guess) and who they were to whom I was sent.
But it is like the way of the world itself, that, having set ourselves
a task, we must follow it as regularly as the sun rises and sets,
and the day comes and the night follows, or once letting it slip
it will drop into a chaos. For a thing happened just at that mo-
ment of my wavering which altered the current of my life, so that
my time here, which was to be devoted to an unselfish work, seems
to have been given up to personal ambitions.
"I have mentioned that the good woman had been the daughter
of the Governor-General. His name was Jorgen Jorgensen. He
had turned her adrift because of her marriage, which was in de-
fiance of his wish, and through all the years of her poverty he
THE BONDMAN 135
had either abandoned her to her necessities, or her pride had hidden
them from his knowledge. But he had heard of her death when it
came to pass, and by that time his stubborn spirit had begun to feel
the lonesomeness of his years, and that life was slipping past him
without the love and tenderness of a child to sweeten it. So partly
out of remorse, but mainly out of selfishness, he had set out to find
the son whom his daughter had left behind her, thinking to give the
boy the rightful place of a grandson by his side. It was then that
on the same search our paths converged, and Jorgen Jorgensen met
with me, and I with Jorgen Jorgensen. And when the news
reached Reykjavik of the body that had come out of the sea at
Engy, the Governor was among the first to give credence to the
rumor that the son of his daughter was dead. But meantime he
had found something in me to interest him, and now he asked who
I was, and what and why I was come. His questions I answered
plainly, without concealment or any disguise, and when he heard
that I was the son of Stephen Orry, though he knew too well what
my father had been to him and to his daughter (all of which, dear
Greeba, you shall yet learn at length), he asked me 'to take that
place in his house that he had intended for his daughter's son.
"How I came to agree to this while I distrusted him and almost
feared him would take too long to tell. Only remember that I was
in a country foreign to me, though it was my father's home, that I
was trifling with my errand there, and had no solid business of life
beside. Enough for the present that I did so agree, and that I be-
came the housemate and daily companion of Jorgen Jorgensen.
His treatment of me varied with his moods, which were many.
Sometimes it was harsh, sometimes almost genial, and always self-
ish. I think I worked for him as a loyal servant should, taking no
account of his promises, and never shutting my eyes to my true
position or his real aims in having me. And often and again when
I remembered all that we both knew of what had gone before, I
thought the Fates themselves must shriek at the turn of fortune's
wheel that had thrown this man and me together so.
"I say he was selfish ; and truly he did all he could in the years
I was with him to drain me of my best strength of heart and
brain," but some of his selfish ends seemed to lie in the way of
my own advancement. Thus he had set his mind on my succeeding
him in the governorship, or at least becoming Speaker, and to that
end he had me elected to the Althing, a legislative body very like
to the House of Keys, violating thereby more than one regulation
touching my age, nationality, and period of residence in Iceland.
There he made his first great error in our relations, for while I was
136 THE BONDMAN
a servant in his house and office my mind and will were his, but
when I became a delegate they became my own, in charge for the
people who elected me.
"It would be a long story to tell you of all that occurred in the
three years thereafter; how I saw many a doubtful scheme hatched
under my eyes without having the power or right to protest while
I kept the shelter of the Governor's roof ; how I left his house and
separated from him ; how I pursued my way apart from him, sup-
ported by good men who gathered about me ; how he slandered and
maligned and injured me through my father, whom all had known,
and my mother, of whom I myself had told him ; how in the end he
prompted the Danish Government to propose to the Althing a new
constitution for Iceland, curtailing her ancient liberties and violat-
ing her time-honored customs, and how I led the opposition to this
unworthy project and defeated it. The end of all is that within
these two months Iceland has risen against the rule of Denmark
as administered by Jorgen Jorgensen, driving him away, and that
I, who little thought to sit in his place even in the days when
he himself was plotting to put me there, and would have fled from
the danger of pushing from his stool the man whose bread I
had eaten, am at this moment president of a new Icelandic Re-
"It will seem to you a strange climax that I am where I am
after so short a life here, coming as a youth and a stranger only
four years ago, without a livelihood and with little money (though
more I might perhaps have had), on a vague errand, scarcely able
to speak the language of the people, and understanding it merely
from the uncertain memories of childhood. And if above the pleas-
ures of a true patriotism for I am an Icelander, too, proud of the
old country and its all but thousand years there is a secret joy
in my cup of fortune, the sweetest part of it is that there are those
there is one in dear little Elian Vannin who will, I truly think,
rejoice with me and be glad. But I am too closely beset by the
anxieties that have come with my success to give much thought
to its vanities. Thus in this first lull after the storm of our revolu-
tion, I have to be busy with many active preparations. Jorgen
Jorgensen has gone to Copenhagen, where he will surely incite the
Danish Government to reprisals, though a powerful State might
well afford to leave to its freedom the ancient little nation that
lives on a great rock of the frozen seas. In view of this certainty,
I have to organize some native forces of defense, both on land and
sea. One small colony of Danish colonists who took the side of the
Danish powers has had to be put down by force, and I have re-
THE BONDMAN 137
moved the political prisoners from the jail of Reykjavik, where they
did no good, to the sulphur mines at Krisuvik, where they are open-
ing an industry that should enrich the State. So you see that my
hands are full of anxious labor, and that my presence here seems
necessary now. But if, as sanguine minds predict, all comes out
well in the end, and Denmark leaves us to ourselves, or the powers
of Europe rise against Denmark, and Iceland remains a free nation,
I will not forget that my true home is in the dear island of the
Irish Sea, and that good souls are there who remember me and
would welcome me, and that one of them was my dear little play-
fellow long ago.
"And now, dear Greeba, you know what has happened to me
since we parted on that sweet night at the gate of Lague, but I
know nothing of all that has occurred to you. My neglect has been
well punished by my ignorance and my many fears.
"How is your father? Is the dear man well, and happy, and
prosperous ? He must be so, or surely there is no Providence dis-
pensing justice in this world.
"Are you well ? To me the years have sent a tawny beard and
a woful lantern jaw. Have they changed you greatly? Yet how
can you answer such a question ? Only say that you are well, and
have been always well, and I will know the rest, dear Greeba that
the four years past have only done what the preceding eight
years did, in ripening the bloom of the sweetest woman-
hood, in softening the dark light of the most glorious eyes, and in
smoothing the dimples of the loveliest face that ever the sun of
Heaven shone upon.
"But, thinking of this, and trying to summon up a vision of
you as you must be now, it serves me right that I am tortured by
fears I dare not utter. What have you been doing all this time?
Have you made any new friends? I have made many, yet none
that seem to have got as close to me as the old ones are. One old
friend, the oldest I can remember, though young enough yet for
beauty and sweet grace, is still the closest to my heart. Do you
know whom I mean? Greeba, do you remember your promise?
You could hardly speak to make it. I had forgotten my manners
so that I had left you little breath. Have you forgotten? To me
it is a delicious memory, and if it is not a painful one to you, then
all is well with both of us. But, oh, for the time to come, when
many a similar promise, and many a like breach of manners, will
wipe away the thought of this one ! I am almost in love with my-
self to think it was I who stood with you by the bridge at Lague,
and could find it in my heart, if it were only in my power, to kiss
I 3 8 THE BONDMAN
the lips that kissed you. I'll do better than that some day. What
say you ? But say nothing, for that's best, dearest. Ah, Greeba "
At this point there was a break in the letter, and what came
after was in a larger, looser, and more rapid handwriting.
"Your letter has this moment reached me. I am overwhelmed
by the bad news you send me. Your father has not yet come. Did
his ship sail for Reykjavik? Or was it for Hafnafjord? Certainly
it may have put in at the Orkneys, or the Faroes. But if it sailed
a fortnight before you wrote, it ought to be here now. I will make
"I interrupted my letter to send a boat down the fiord to look.
It is gone. I can see it now skirting the Smoky Harbor on its way
to the Smoky Point. If your father comes back with it, he shall
have a thousand, thousand welcomes. The dear good man how
well I remember that on the day I parted from him he rallied me
on my fears, and said he would yet come here to see me ! Little
did he think to come like this. And the worst of his misfortunes
have followed on his generosities ! Such big-hearted men should
have a store like the widow's cruse to draw from, that would grow
no less, however often they dipped into it. God keep him till we
meet again and I hold once more that hand of charity and blessing,
or have it resting on my head.
"I am anxious on your account also, dearest Greeba, for I know
too well what your condition must be in your mother's house. My
dear girl, forgive me for what I send you with this letter. The
day I left the island your father lent me fifty pounds, and now I
repay it to his daughter. So it is not a gift, and, if it were, you
should still take it from me, seeing there are no obligations among
those who love.
"The duties that hold me here are now for the first time irk-
some, for I am longing for the chance of hastening to your side.
But only say that I may do so with your consent and all that goes
with it, and I will not lose a day more in sending a trustworthy
person to you who shall bring you here to rejoin your father and
me. Write by the first ship that will bring your letter. I shall not
rest until I have heard from you ; and having heard in such words
as my heart could wish, I shall not sleep until you are with me,
never, never to be parted from me again as long as life itself shall
last. Write, dearest girl write write."
Here there was another break in the letter, and then came this
"It is part of the penalty of life in these northern lands that
for nearly one-half of the year we are entirely cut off from inter-
THE BONDMAN 139
course with the rest of the world, and are at the mercy of wind and
sea for that benefit during the other half. My letter has waited
these seven days for the passing of a storm before the ship that is
to carry it can sail. This interval has seen the return of the sloop
that I sent down the fiord as far as Smoky Point, but no tidings
has she brought back of the vessel your father sailed in, and no
certain intelligence has yet reached me from any other quarter.
So let me not alarm you when I add that a report has come to
Reykjavik by a whaler on the seas under Snaefell that an Irish
schooner has lately been wrecked near the mouth of some basaltic
caves by Stappen, all hands being saved, but the vessel gone to
pieces, and crew and passengers trying to make their way to the
capital overland. I am afraid to fear, and as much afraid to hope,
that this may have been the ship that brought your father; but I
am fitting out an expedition to go along the coast to meet the poor
ship-broken company, for whoever they are they can know little of
the perils and privations of a long tramp across this desolate
country. If more and better news should come my way you shall
have it in its turn, but meantime bethink you earnestly whether
it is not now for you to come and to join me, and your father also,
if he should then be here, and, if not, to help me to search for him.
But it is barely just to you to ask so much without making myself
clear, though truly you must have guessed my meaning. Then,
dear Greeba, when I say 'Come,' I mean Come to be my wife. It
sounds cold to say it so, and such a plea is not the one my heart
has cherished; for through all these years I have heard myself
whisper that dear word through trembling lips, with a luminous
vision of my own face in your beautiful eyes before me. But that
is not to be, save in an aftermath of love, if you will only let the
future bring it. So, dearest love, my darling more to me than
place and power and all the world can give come to me come
STRONG KNOTS OF LOVE
Now never did a letter bring more contrary feelings to man or
maid than this one of Michael Sunlocks brought to Greeba. It
thrilled her with love, it terrified her with fear; it touched her
with delight, it chilled her with despair ; it made her laugh, it made
her weep; she kissed it with quivering lips, she dropped it from
i 4 o THE BONDMAN
trembling fingers. But in the end it swept her heart and soul away
with it, as it must have swept away the heart and soul of any
maiden who ever loved, and she leaped at the thought that she must
go to Sunlocks and to her father at once, without delay not wait-
ing to write, or for the messenger that was to come.
Yet the cooler moment followed, when she remembered Jason.
She was pledged to him; she had given him her promise; and if
she broke her word she would break his heart. But Sunlocks
Sunlocks Sunlocks ! She could hear his low, passionate voice
in the words of his letter. Jason she had loved for his love of
her; but Sunlocks she had loved of her love alone.
What was she to do? Go to Sunlocks, and thereby break her
word and the heart of Jason, or abide by Jason, and break her own
heart and the hope of Sunlocks ? "Oh," she thought, "if the letter
had but come a day earlier one little day nay, one hour one
little, little hour !" Then, in her tortured mind, she reproached
Jason for keeping it back from her by his forgetfulness, and at
the next instant she reproached Sunlocks for his tardy despatch,
and last of all she reproached herself for not waiting for it. "Oh,"
she thought, "was ever a girl born to bring such misery to those
who love her !"
All the long night thereafter she tossed in restless doubt, never
once closing her eyes in sleep; and at daybreak she rose and
dressed, and threw open her window, and cool waves of morning
air floated down upon her from the mountains, where the bald
crown of Barrule was tipped with rosy light from the sun that was
rising over the sea. Then, in the stillness of the morning, before
the cattle in the meadows had begun to low, or the sheep on the
hills to bleat, and there was yet no noise of work in the rickyard
or the shippon, and all the moorland below lay asleep under its thin
coverlet of mist, there came to her from across the fields the sound
of a happy, cheery voice that was singing. She listened, and knew
that it was Jason, chanting a song of Iceland after a night spent
on the mountains ; and she looked and saw that he was coming on
toward the house, with his long, swinging stride and leap, over
gorse and cushag and hedge and ditch.
It was more than she could bear after such night-long torment,
to look upon the happiness she seemed about to wreck, so she
turned her head away and covered her ears with her hands. But,
recking nothing of this, Tason came on, singing in snatches and
whistling by turns, until his firm tread echoed in the paved court-
yard in the silence that was broken by nothing beside, except the
wakening of the rooks in the elms.
THE BONDMAN 141
"She " must be awake, for she lies there, and her window is
open," he thought to himself.
"Whisht!" he cried, tossing up a hand.
And then, without moving from where she stood, with her back
resting against the window shutter, she turned her head about and
her eyes aslant, and saw him beneath her casement. He looked
buoyant and joyous, and full of laughter. A gun was over his
shoulder, a fishing rod was in the other hand, at his belt hung a
brace of birds, with the blood dripping on to his leggings, and
across his back swung a little creel.
"Greeba, whisht!" he called again, in a loud whisper; and a
third time he called her.
Then, though her heart smote her sore, she could not but step
forward ; and perhaps her very shame made her the more beautiful
at that moment, for her cheeks were rosy red, and her round neck
drooped, and her eyes were shy of the morning light, and very
sweet she looked to the lad who loved her there.
"Ah !" he said almost inaudibly, and drew a long breath. Then
he made pretense to kiss her, though so far out of reach, and laughed
in his throat. After that he laid his gun against the porch, and
untied the birds and threw them down at the foot of the closed
"I thought I would bring you these," he said. "I've just shot
"Then you've not been to bed," said Greeba nervously.
"Oh, that's nothing," he said, laughing. "Nothing for me.
Besides, how could I sleep? Sleep? Why I should have been
ready to kill myself this morning if I could have slept last night.
"You could never think what a glorious night it has been
"So you've had good sport?" she said, feeling ashamed.
"Sport!" he cried, and laughed again. "Oh, yes; I've had sport
enough," he said. "But what a night it was ! The happiest night
of all my life. Every star that shone seemed to shine for me;
every wind that blew seemed to bring me a message; and every
bird that sang, as the day was dawning, seemed to sing the song
of all my happiness. Oh, it has been a triumphant night, Greeba."
She turned her head away from him, but he did not stop.
"And this morning, coming down from Barrule, everything
seemed to speak to me of one thing, and that was the dearest thing
in all the world. 'Dear little river,' I said, 'how happily you sing your
way to the sea.' And then I remembered that before it got there
it would turn the wheel for us at Port-y-Vullin some day, and so
I said, 'Dear little mill, how merrily you'll go when I listen to your
plash and plunge, with her I love beside me."
She did not speak, and after a moment he laughed.
"That's very foolish, isn't it?" he said.
"Oh, no," she said. "Why foolish?"
"Well, it sounds so; but, ah, last night the stars around me on
the mountain top seemed like a sanctuary, and this morning the
birds among the gorse were like a choir, and all sang together,
and away to the roof their word rang out Greeba ! Greeba !
He could hear a faint sobbing.
"You are crying."
"Am I? Oh, no! No, Jason, not that."
"I must go. What a fool I am," he muttered, and picked up
"Oh, no; don't say that."
"I'm going now, but "
"I'm not my own man this morning. I'm talking foolishly."
"Well, and do you think a girl doesn't like foolishness?"
He threw his head back and laughed at the blue sky. "But I'm
coming back for you in the evening. I am to get the last of my
rafters on to-day, and when a building is raised it's a time to make
He laughed again with a joyous lightness, and turned to go, and
she waved her hand to him as he passed out of the gate. Then,
one, two, three, four, his strong rhythmic steps went off behind
the elms, and then he was gone, and the early sun was gone with
him, for its brightness seemed to have died out of the air.
And being alone Greeba knew why she had tried to keep Jason
by her side, for while he was with her the temptation was not
strong to break in upon his happiness, but when he was no longer
there, do what she would, she could not but remember Michael
"Oh, what have I done that two brave men should love me?"
she thought; but none the less for that her heart clamored for
Sunlocks. Sunlocks, Sunlocks, Sunlocks, always Sunlocks the
THE BONDMAN 143
Sunlocks of her childhood, her girlhood, her first womanhood
Sunlocks of the bright eyes and the smile like sunshine.
And thinking again of Jason, and his brave ways, and his sim-
ple, manly bearing, and his plain speech so strangely lifted out of
itself that day into words with wings, she only told herself that she
was about to break his heart, and that to see herself do it would
go far to break her own. So she decided that she would write to
him, and then slip away as best she could, seeing him no more.
At that resolve she sat and wrote four pages of pleading and
prayer and explanation. But having finished her letter, it smote
her suddenly, as she folded and sealed it, that it would be a selfish
thing to steal away without warning, and leave this poor paper
behind her to crush Jason, for though written in pity for him,
in truth it was fraught with pity only for herself. As mean of
soul as that she could not be, and straightway she threw her letter
aside, resolved to tell her story face to face. Then she remembered
the night of Stephen Orry's death, and the white lips of Jason as
he stood above the dying man his father whom he had crossed the
seas to slay and, again, by a quick recoil, she recalled his laughter
of that morning, and she said within herself, "If I tell him, he will