Rachel's helplessness chafed her. For all her fine fingering the
girl could finger nothing that would fill the pot. "A pretty wife
you've brought me home to keep," she muttered morning and night.
But Rachel's abasement was not even yet at its worst. "Oh,"
she thought, "if I could but get back my husband to myself alone,
he would see my humiliation and save me from it." She went a
woman's way to work to have the old mother sent home to Stappen.
But the trick that woman's wit can devise woman's wit can balk,
and the old mother held her ground. Then the girl bethought her
of her old shame at living in a hovel close to her father's house,
and asked to be taken away. Anywhere, anywhere, let it be to the
world's end, and she would follow. Stephen answered that one
place was like another in Iceland, where the people were few and
all knew their history; and, as for foreign parts, though a seaman
he was not a seagoing man, farther than the whale-fishing lay
about their coasts, and that, go where they might to better their
condition, yet other poor men were there already. At that, Rachel's
heart sank, for she saw that the great body of her husband must
cover a pigmy soul. Bound she was for all her weary days to the
place of her disgrace, doomed she was to live to the last with the
woman who hated her, and to eat that woman's bitter bread. She
was heavy with child at this time, and her spirit was broken. So
she sat herself down with her feet to the hearth, and wept.
There the old mother saw her as often as she bustled in and out
of the house from the beach, and many a gibe she flung her way.
But Stephen sat beside her one day with a shamefaced look, and
cursed his luck, and said if he only had an open boat of his own
what he would do for both of them. She asked how much a boat
would cost him, and he answered sixty kroner ; that a Scotch captain
then in the harbor had such a one to sell at that price, and that it
was a better boat than the fishermen of those parts ever owned,
for it was of English build. Now it chanced that sitting alone that
very day in her hopelessness, Rachel had overheard a group of noisy
THE BONDMAN 13
young girls in the street tell of a certain Jew, named Bernard Frank,
who stood on the jetty by the stores buying hair of the young
maidens who would sell to him, and of the great money he had paid
to some of them, such as they had never handled before.
And now at this mention of the boat, and at the flash of hope
that came with it, Rachel remembered that she herself had a
plentiful head of hair, and how often it had been commended for
its color and texture, and length and abundance, in the days (now
gone forever) when all things were good and beautiful that be-
longed to the daughter of the Governor. So, making some excuse
to Stephen, she rose up, put off her little house cap with the tassel,
put on her large linen head-dress, hurried out, and made for the
There in truth the Jew was standing with a group of girls about
him. And some of these would sell outright to him, and then go
straightway to the stores to buy filigree jewelry and rings, or
bright-hued shawls, with the price of their golden locks shorn off.
And some would hover about him between desire of so much arti-
ficial adornment and dread of so much, natural disfigurement, until,
like moths, they would fall before the light of the Jew's bright
Rachel had reached the place at the first impulse of her thought,
but being there her heart misgave her, and she paused on the out-
skirts of the crowd. To go in among these girls and sell her hair
to the Jew was to make herself one with the lowest and meanest
of the town, but that was not the fear that held her back. Sud-
denly the thought had come to her that what she had intended to
do was meant to win her husband back to her, yet that she could
not say what it was that had won him for her at the first. And
seeing how sadly the girls were changed after the shears had
passed over their heads, she could not help but ask herself what it
would profit her, though she got the boat for her husband, if she
lost him for herself? And thinking in this fashion she was turn-
ing away with a faltering step, when the Jew, seeing her, called to
her, saying what lovely fair hair she had, and asking would she part
with it. There was no going back on her purpose then, so facing
it out as bravely as she could, she removed her head-dress, dropped
her hair out of the plaits, until it fell in its sunny wavelets to her
waist, and asked how much he would give for it. The Jew an-
swered, "Fifty kroner."
"Make it sixty," she said, "and it is yours."
The Jew protested that he would lose by the transaction, but he
paid the money into Rachel's hands, and she, lest she should repent
J4 THE BONDMAN
of her bargain, prayed him to take her hair off instantly. He was
nothing loth to do so, and the beautiful flaxen locks, cut close to
the crown, fell in long tresses to his big shears. Rachel put back
her linen head-dress, and, holding tightly the sixty silver pieces in
her palm, hurried home.
Her cheeks were crimson, her eyes were wet, and her heart
was beating high when she returned to her poor home in the fishing
quarter. There in a shrill, tremulous voice of joy and fear, she
told Stephen all, and counted out the glistening coins to the last
of the sixty into his great hand.
"And now you can buy the English boat," she said, "and we
shall be beholden to no one."
He answered her wild words with few of his own, and showed
little pleasure; yet he closed his hand on the money, and, getting
up, he went out of the house, saying he must see the Scotch captain
there and then. Hardly had he gone when the old mother came in
from her work on the beach, and, Rachel's hopes being high, she
could not but share them with her, and so she told her all, little as
was the commerce that passed between them. The mother only
grunted as she listened and went on with her food.
Rachel longed for Stephen to return with the good news that
all was settled and done, but the minutes passed and he did not
come. The old woman sat by the hearth and smoked. Rachel
waited with fear at her heart, but the hours went by and still
Stephen did not appear. The old woman dozed before the fire
and snored. At length, when the night had worn on toward
midnight, an unsteady step came to the door, and Stephen reeled
into the house drunk. The old woman awoke and laughed.
Rachel grew faint and sank to a seat. Stephen dropped to his
knees on the ground before her, and in a maudlin cry went on to
tell of how he had thought to make one hundred kroner of her
sixty by a wager, how he had lost fifty, and then in a fit of despair
had spent the other ten.
"Then all is gone all," cried Rachel. And thereupon the old
woman shuffled to her feet and said bitterly, "And a good thing,
too. I know you trust me for seeing through your sly ways,
my lady. You expected to take my son from me with the price
of your ginger hair, you ugly bald-pate."
Rachel's head grew light, and with the cry of a baited creature
she turned upon the old mother in a torrent of hot words. "You
low, mean, selfish soul," she cried, "I despise you more than the
dirt under my feet."
Worse than this she said, and the old woman called on Stephen
THE BONDMAN 15
to hearken to her, for that was the wife he had brought home to
revile his mother.
The old witch shed some crocodile tears, and Stephen lunged
in between the women and with the back of his hand struck his
wife across the face.
At that blow Rachel was silent for a moment, trembling like
an affrighted beast, and then she turned upon her husband. "And
so you have struck me me me," she cried. "Have you forgotten
the death of Patricksen?"
The blow of her words was harder than the blow of her hus-
band's hand. The man reeled before it, turned white, gasped for
breath, then caught up his cap and fled out into the night.
THE LAD JASON
OF Rachel in her dishonor there is now not much to tell, but
the little that is left is the kernel of this history.
That night, amid the strain of strong emotions, she was brought
to bed before her time was yet full. Her labor was hard, and long
she lay between life and death, for the angel of hope did not pull
with her. But as the sun shot its first yellow rays through the little
skin-covered windows, a child was born to Rachel, and it was a boy.
Little joy she found in it, and remembering its father's inhumanity,
she turned her face from it to the wall, trying thereby to conquer
the yearning that answered to its cry.
It was then that for the first time since her lying-in that the
old mother came to her. She had been out searching for Stephen,
and had just come upon news of him.
"He has gone in an Engish ship," she cried. "He sailed last
night, and I have lost him forever."
And at that she leaned her quivering white face over the bed,
and raised her clenched hand over Rachel's face.
"Son for son," she cried again. "May you lose your son, even
as you have made me to lose mine."
The child seemed likely to answer to the impious prayer, for its
little strength waned visibly. And in those first hours of her
shameful widowhood the evil thought came to Rachel to do with it
as the baser sort among her people were allowed to do with the
children they did not wish to rear expose it to its death before it
had yet touched food. But in the throes, as she thought, of its ex-
l6 THE BONDMAN
tremity, the love of the mother prevailed over the hate of the wife,
and with a gush of tears she plucked the babe to her breast. Then
the neighbor, who out of pity and charity had nursed her in her
dark hour, ran for the priest, that with the blessing of baptism
the child might die a Christian soul.
The good man came, and took the little, sleep-bound body from
Rachel's arms, and asked'her the name. She did not answer, and
he asked again. Once more, having no reply, he turned to the
neighbor to know what the father's name had been.
"Stephen Orry," said the good woman.
"Then Stephen Stephenson," he began, dipping his fingers into
the water; but at the sound of that name Rachel cried, "No,
"He has not done well by her, poor soul," whispered the woman ;
"call it after her own father."
"Then Jorgen Jorgensen," the priest began again; and again
Rachel cried, "No, no, no," and raised herself upon her arm.
"It has no father," she said, "and I have none. If it is to
die, let it go to God's throne with the badge of no man's cruelty;
and if it is to live, let it be known by no man's name save its own.
Call it Jason Jason only."
And in the name of Jason the child was baptized, and so it
was that Rachel, little knowing what she was doing in her blind
passion and pain, severed her son from kith and kin. But in what
she did out of bitterness of her heart God himself had his own great
From that hour the child increased in strength, and soon waxed
strong, and three days after, as the babe lay cooing at Rachel's
breast, and she in her own despite was tasting the first sweet joys
of motherhood, the old mother of Stephen came to her again.
"This is my house," she said, "and I will keep shelter over your
head no longer. You must pack and away you and your brat,
both of you."
That night the Bishop of the island Bishop Petersen, once a
friend of Rachel's mother, now much in fear of the Governor, her
father came to her in secret to say that there was a house for her
at the extreme west of the fishing quarter, where a fisherman had
lately died, leaving the little that he had to the Church. There
she betook herself with her child as soon as the days of her lying-in
were over. It was a little oblong shed of lava blocks laid with peat
for mortar, resembling on the outside two ancient seamen shoving
shoulders together against the weather and on the inside two tiny
THE BONDMAN 17
And having no one now to stand to her, or seem to stand, in the
place of bread-winner, she set herself to such poor work as she
could do and earn a scanty living by. This was cleaning the
down of the eider duck, by passing it through a sieve made of yarn
stretched over a hoop. By a deft hand, with extreme labor, some-
thing equal to sixpence a day could be made in this way from the
English traders. With such earnings Rachel lived in content, and
if Jorgen Jorgensen had any knowledge of his daughter's necessi-
ties he made no effort to relieve them.
Her child lived a happy, sprightly, joyous bird in its little
cage and her broken heart danced to its delicious accents. It
sweetened her labors, it softened her misfortunes, it made life more
dear and death more dreadful; it was the strength of her arms
and the courage of her soul, her summons to labor and her desire
for rest. Call her wretched no longer, for now she had her child
to love. Happy little dingy cabin in the fishing quarter, amid the
vats for sharks' oil and the heaps of dried cod ! It was filled witH
heaven's own light, that came from above but radiated from the
little cradle where her life, her hope, her joy, her solace lay swathed
in the coverlet of all her love.
And as she worked through the long summer days on the beach,
with the child playing among the pebbles at her feet, many a dream
danced before her of the days to come, when her boy would sail
in the ships that came to their coast, and perhaps take her with him
to that island of the sea that had been her mother's English home,
where men were good to women and women were true to men.
Until then she must live where she was, a prisoner chained to a
cruel rock; but she would not repine, she could wait, for the time
of her deliverance was near. Her liberator was coming. He was
at her feet; he was her child, her boy, her darling; and when he
slumbered she saw him wax and grow, and when he awoke she
saw her fetters break. Thus on the bridge of hope's own rainbow
she spanned her little world of shame and pain.
The years went by, and Jason grew to be a strong-limbed,
straight, stalwart lad, red-haired and passionate-hearted, reckless
and improvident as far as improvidence was possible amid the
conditions of his bringing up. He was a human waterfowl, and all
his days were spent on the sea. Such work as was also play he
was eager to do. He would clamber up the rocks of the island of
Engy outside the harbor, to take the eggs of the eider duck from
the steep places where she built her nest; and from the beginning
of May to the end of June he found his mother in the eider down
that she cleaned for the English traders. People whispered to
I8 THE BONDMAN
Rachel that he favored his father, both in stature and character,
but she turned a deaf ear to their gloomy forebodings. Her son
was as fair as the day to look upon, and if he had his lazy humors,
he had also one quality which overtopped them all he loved
his mother. People whispered again that in this regard also
he resembled his father, who amid many vices had the same
Partly to shut him off from the scandal of the gossips, who
might tell him too soon the story of his mother's wrecked and
broken life, and partly out of the bitterness and selfishness of her
bruised spirit, Rachel had brought up her boy to speak the tongue
of her mother the English tongue. Her purpose failed her, for
Jason learned Icelandic on the beach as fast as English in the
house ; he heard the story of his mother's shame and of his father's
baseness, and brought it back to her in the colors of a thrice-told
tale. Vain effort of fear and pride! It was nevertheless to pre-
pare the lad' for the future that was before him.
And through all the days of her worse than widowhood, amid
dark memories of the past and thoughts of the future wherein many
passions struggled together, the hope lay low down in Rachel's
mind that Stephen would return to her. Could he continue to stand
in dread of the threat of his own wife ? No, no, no. It had been
only the hot word of a moment of anger, and it was gone. Stephen
was staying away in fear of the brother of Patricksen. When that
man was dead, or out of the way, he would return. Then he would
see their boy, and remember his duty toward him, and if the lad
ever again spoke bitterly of one whom he had never yet seen, she
on her part would chide him, and the light of revenge that had
sometimes flashed in his brilliant blue eyes would fade away and in
uplooking and affection he would walk as a son with his father's
Thus in the riot of her woman's heart hope fought with fear
and love with hate. And at last the brother of Patricksen did in-
deed disappear. Rumor whispered that he had returned to the
Westmann islands, there to settle for the rest of his days and travel
the sea no more.
"Now he will come," thought Rachel. "Wherever he is, he
will learn that there is no longer anything to fear, and he will
And she waited with as firm a hope that the winds would carry
the word as Noah waited for the settling of the waters after the
dove had found the dry land.
But time went on and Stephen did not appear, and at length
THE BONDMAN 19
under the turmoil of a heart that fought with itself, Rachel's health
began to sink.
Then Patricksen returned. He had a message for her. He
knew where her husband was. Stephen Orry was on the little
island of Man, far away south, in the Irish Sea. He had married
again, and he had another child. His wife was dead, but his son
Rachel in her weakness went to bed and rose from it no more.
The broad dazzle of the sun that had been so soon to rise on her
wasted life was shot over with an inky pall of cloud. Nor for
her was to be the voyage to England. Her boy must go alone.
It was the winter season in that stern land of the north, when
night and day so closely commingle that the darkness seems never
to lift. And in the silence of that long night Rachel lay in her
little hut, sinking rapidly and much alone. Jason came to her
from time to time, in his great sea stockings and big gloves and
with the odor of the brine in his long red hair. By her bedside he
would stand half-an-hour in silence, with eyes full of wonderment;
for life like that of an untamed colt was in his own warm limbs,
and death was very strange to him. A sudden hemorrhage brought
the end, and one day darker than the rest, when Jason hastened
home from the boats, the pain and panting of death was there
before him. His mother's pallid face lay on her arm, her great
dark eyes were glazed already, she was breathing hard and every
breath was a spasm. Jason ran for the priest the same that had
named him in his baptism. The good old man came hobbling
along, book in hand, and seeing how life flickered he would
have sent for the Governor, but Rachel forbade him. He read to
her, he sang for her in his crazy cracked voice, he shrived her, and
then all being over, as far as human efforts could avail, he sat him-
self down on a chest, spread his print handkerchief over his knee,
took out his snuff-box, and waited.
Jason stood with his back to the glow of the peat fire, and his
hard set face in the gloom. Never a word came from him, never a
sign, never a tear. Only with the strange light in his wild eyes he
looked on and listened.
Rachel stirred and called to him.
"Are you there, Jason?" she said, feebly, and he stepped to
"Closer," she whispered : and he took her cold hand in both his
hands, and then her dim eyes knew where to look for his face.
"Good-by, my brave lad," she said. "I do not fear to leave you.
You are strong, you are brave, and the world is kind to them that
20 THE BONDMAN
can fight it. Only to the weak it is cruel only to the weak and the
timid only to women only to helpless women -sold into the
slavery of heartless men."
And then she told him everything her love, her loyalty, her
Hfe. In twenty little words she told the story.
"I gave him all all. I took a father's curse for him. He
struck me he left me he forgot me with another woman. Listen
listen closer still still closer," she whispered, eagerly, and then
she spoke the words that lie at the heart of this history.
"You will be a sailor, and sail to many lands. If you should
ever meet your father, remember what your mother has borne from
him. If you should never meet him, but should meet his son, re-
member what your mother has suffered at the hands of his father.
Can you hear me ? Is my speech too thick ? Have you understood
Jason's parched throat was choking, and he did not answer.
"My brave boy, farewell," she said. "Good-by," she mur-
mured again, more faintly, and after that there was a lull, a pause,
a sigh, a long-drawn breath, another sigh, and then over his big
brown hands her pallid face fell forward, and the end was come.
For some minutes Jason stood there still in the same impassive
silence. Never a tear yet in his great eyes, now wilder than they
were ; never a cry from his dry throat, now surging hot and athirst ;
never a sound in his ears, save a dull hum of words like the plash
of a breaker that was coming coming coming from afar. She
was gone who had been everything to him. She had sunk like a
wave, and the waves of the ocean were pressing on behind her.
She was lost, and the tides of life were flowing as before.
The old pastor shuffled to his feet, mopping his moist eyes with
his red handkerchief. "Come away, my son," he said, and tapped
Jason on the shoulder.
"Not yet," the lad answered hoarsely. And then he turned with
a dazed look and said, like one who speaks in his sleep, "My father
has killed my mother."
"No, no, don't say that," said the priest.
"Yes, yes," said the lad more loudly ; "not in a day, or an hour,
or a moment, but in twenty long years."
"Hush, hush, my son." the old priest murmured.
But Jason did not hear him. "Now listen," he cried, "and
hear my vow." And still he held the cold hand in his hands, and
still the ashy face rested on them.
"I will hunt the world over until I find that man, and when I
have found him I will slay him."
THE BONDMAN 21
"What are you saying?" cried the priest.
But Jason went on with an awful solemnity. "If he should die,
and we should never meet, I will hunt the world over until I find
his son, and when I have found him I will kill him for his father's
"Silence, silence," cried the priest.
"So help me God!" said Jason.
"My son, my son, Vengeance is His. What are we that we
should presume to it?"
Jason heard nothing, but the frost of life's first winter that had
bound up his heart, deafening him, blinding him, choking him,
seemed all at once to break. He pushed the cold face gently back
on to the pillow, and fell over it with sobs that shook the bed.
They buried the daughter of the Governor in the acre allotted to
the dead poor in the yard of the Cathedral of Reykjavik. The
bells were ringing a choral peal between matins and morning ser-
vice. Happy little girls in bright new gowns, with primroses on
their breasts yellowing their round chins, went skipping in at the
wide west doorway, chattering as they went like linnets in spring.
It was Easter Day, nineteen years after Stephen Orry had fled
Next morning Jason signed articles on the wharf to sail as
seaman before the mast on an Irish schooner homeward bound for
Belfast, with liberty to call at Whitehaven in Cumberland, and
Ramsey in the Isle of Man.
AN ANGEL IN HOMESPUN
THE little island in the middle of the Irish Sea has through
many centuries had its own language and laws, and its own judges
and governors. Very, very long ago, it had also its own kings;
and one of the greatest of them was the Icelandic seadog who
bought it with blood in 1077. More recently it has had its own
reigning lords, and one of the least of them was the Scottish noble-
man who sold it for gold in 1765. After that act of truck and trade
the English crown held the right of appointing the Governor-Gen-
eral. It chose the son of the Scottish nobleman. This was John,
fourth Duke of Athol, and he held his office fifty-five bad years.
In his day the island was not a scene of overmuch gaiety. If the
memory of old men can be trusted, he contrived to keep a swash-
22 THE BONDMAN
buckler court there, but its festivities, like his own dignities, must
have been maimed and lame. He did not care to see too much
of it, and that he might be free to go where he would he appointed
a deputy governor.
Now when he looked about him for this deputy he found just
six and twenty persons ready to fall at his feet. He might have