still. If their hour ever came they would restore him. On the
other hand, Jorgen realized that he himself was hated where he
THE BONDMAN 277
was not despised, jeered at where he was not feared, and that the
men whom he had counted upon because he had bought them with
the places in his gift, smiled loftily upon him as upon one who had
fallen on his second childhood. And so Jorgen Jorgensen hardened
his heart against Michael Sunlocks, and vowed that the Sulphur
Mines of Krisuvik should see the worst and last of him.
He heard of Jason, too, that he was not dead, as they had sup-
posed, but alive, and that he had been sent to the Mines for attempt-
ing the life of Sunlocks. That attempt seemed to him to come of a
natural passion, and as often as he spoke of it he warmed up visibly,
not out of any human tenderness toward Jason, but with a sense of
wild triumph over Sunlocks. And the more he thought of Jason,
the firmer grew his resolve to take him out of the Sulphur Mines
and place him by his side, not that his old age needed a stay, not
that he was a lonely old man, and Jason was his daughter's son, but
only because Jason hated Sunlocks and would crush him if by
chance he rose again.
With such thoughts uppermost he went down to Krisuvik, and
there his bitter purpose met with a shock. He found Jason the sole
ally of Michael Sunlocks, his friend, his defender and champion
against tyranny. It was then that he ordered the ruthless punish-
ment of Sunlocks, that he should be nailed by his right hand to a log
of driftwood, with meat and drink within sight but out of reach of
him, and a huge knife by his side. And when Jason had liberated
Sunlocks from this inhuman cruelty, and the two men, dearest foes
and deadliest friends, were brought before him for their punish-
ment, the gall of Jorgen's fate seemed to suffocate him. "Strap
them up together," he cried, "leg to leg and arm to arm." Thus
he thought to turn their love to hate ; but he kept his own counsel,
and left the Sulphur Mines without saying what evil dream had
brought him there, or confessing to his Danish officers the relation
wherein this other prisoner stood to him, for secrecy is the chain-
armor of the tyrant.
Back in Reykjavik he comforted himself with the assurance that
Michael Sunlocks must die. "There was death in his face," he
thought, "and he can not last a month longer. Besides, he will fall
to fighting with the other, and the other will surely kill him. Blind
fools, both of them !"
In this mood he made ready for Thingvellir, and set out with
all his people. Since the revolution, he had kept a bodyguard of
five-and-twenty men, and with this following he was crossing the
slope of the Basket Hill, behind the capital, when he saw half a
score of the guards from Krisuvik riding at a gallop from the
B 7 8 THE BONDMAN
direction of Hafnafiord. They were the men who had been sent
in pursuit of Red Jason and Michael Sunlocks, the same that had
passed them in the hummock, where the carcass of the dog still lay.
Then Jorgen Jorgensen received news that terrified him.
Michael Sunlocks had escaped, and Red Jason had escaped with
him. They had not been seen at Hafnafiord, and no ship had set
sail from there since yesterday. Never a trace of them had been
found on any of the paths from Krisuvik, and it was certain that
they must be in the interior still. Would his Excellency lend them
ten men more to scour the country?
Such was the message of the guards, and at hearing it Jorgen's
anger and fear overmastered him.
"Fools ! Blockheads ! Asses !" he cried. "The man is making
for Reykjavik. He knows what he is doing if you do not. Is not
this the time of the Althing, and must I not leave Reykjavik for
Thingvellir? He is making for Reykjavik now ! Once let him set
foot there, and these damned Icelanders will rise at the sight of
him. Then you may scour the country till you fall dead and turn
black, and he will only laugh at the sight of you. Back, you block-
heads, back! Back to Reykjavik, every man of you! And I am
going back with you."
Thus driven by his frantic terror, Jorgen Jorgensen returned
to the capital and searched every house and hovel, every hole and
sty, for the two fugitives; and when he had satisfied himself that
they were not anywhere within range of Reykjavik, his fears re-
membered Thingvellir, and what mischief might be going forward
in his absence. So next day he left his bodyguard with the guard
from Krisuvik to watch the capital, and set out alone for the
Mount of Laws.
The lonely valley of Thingvellir was alive that morning with
a great throng of people. They came from the west by the Chasm
of All Men, from the east by the Chasm of Ravens, and from the
south by the lake. Troop after troop flowed into the vast amphi-
theatre that lies between dark hills and great jokulls tipped with
snow. They pitched their tents on the green patch, under the fells
to the north, and tying their ponies together, head to tail, they
turned them loose to graze. Hundreds of tents were there by early
morning, gleaming white in the sunlight, and tens of hundreds of
ponies, shaggy and unkempt, grubbed among the short grass that
Near the middle of the plain stood the Mount of Laws, a lava
THE BONDMAN 279
island of oval shape, surrounded by a narrow stream, and bounded
by overhanging walls cut deep with fissures. Around this mount
the people gathered. There friend met friend, foe met foe, rival met
rival, northmen met southmen, the Westmann islander met the
Grimsey islander, and the man from Seydisfiord met the man from
Patriksfiord. And because the Althing gathered only every other
year, many musty kisses went round, with snuff-boxes after them,
among those who had not met before for two long years.
It was a vast assembly, chiefly of men, in their homespun and
sheepskins and woolen stockings, cross-gartered with hemp from
ankle to knee. Women, too, and young girls and children were
there, all wearing their Sunday best. And in those first minutes
of their meeting, before the Althing began, the talk was of crops
and stock, of the weather, and what sheep had been lost in the
last two hard winters. The day had opened brightly, with clear
air and bright sunshine, but the blue sky had soon become overcast
with threatening clouds, and this led to stories of strange signs in
the heavens, and unaccustomed noises on the earth and under it.
A man from the south spoke of rain of black dust as having
fallen three nights before until the ground was covered deep with
it. Another man, from the foot of Hekla told of a shock of earth-
quake that had lately been felt there, traveling northeast to south-
west. A third man spoke of grazing his horse on the wild oats of
a glen that he had passed through, when a line of some twenty col-
umns of smoke burst suddenly upon his view. All this seemed to
pass from lip to lip in the twinkling of an eye, and when young
men asked what the signs might mean, old men lifted both hands
and shook their heads, and prayed that the visitations which their
island had seen before might never come to it again.
Such was the talk, and such the mood of the people when the
hour arrived for the business of the Althing to begin, and then
all eyes turned to the little wooden Thing House by the side of the
church, wherein the Thing-men were wont to gather for their pro-
cession to the Mount of Laws. And when the hour passed, and the
procession had not yet appeared, the whisper went around that
the Governor had not arrived, and that the delay was meant to
humor him. At that the people began to mutter among themselves,
for the slumbering fire of their national spirit had been stirred.
By his tardy coming the Governor meant to humiliate them ! But,
Governor or no Goverenor, let the Althing begin its sitting. Who
was the Governor, that the Althing should wait for him? What
was the Althing that it should submit to the whim or the will of any
2 8o THE BONDMAN
Within the Thing House, as well as outside of it, such hot pro-
tests must have had sway, for presently the door of the little place
was thrown open and the six and thirty Thing-men came out.
Then followed the solemn ceremonies that had been observed
on the spot for nigh a thousand years. First walked the Chief
Judge, carrying the sword of justice, and behind him walked his
magistrates and Thing-men. They ascended to the Mount by a
flight of steps cut out of its overhanging walls. At the same mo-
ment another procession, that of the old Bishop and his clergy,
came out of the church and ascended to the Mount by a similar
flight of steps cut out of the opposite side of it. The two com-
panies parted, the Thing-men to the north and the clergy to the
south, leaving the line of this natural causeway open and free, save
for the Judge, who stood at the head of it, with the Bishop to the
right of him and the Governor's empty place to the left.
And first the Bishop offered prayer for the sitting of the Althing
that was then to begin.
"Thou Judge of Israel," he prayed, in the terrible words which
had descended to him through centuries, "Thou that sittest upon
the cherubims, come down and help Thy people. O, most mighty
God, who art more pleased with the sacrifice of thanksgiving than
with the burnt offerings of bullocks and goats, keep now our
mouths from guile and deceit, from slander and from obloquy. O
Lord God most holy, O Lord most mighty, endue Thy ministers
with righteousness. Give them wisdom that they may judge wisely.
Give them mercy that they may judge mercifully. Let them judge
this nation as Thou wilt judge Thy people. Let them remember
that he who takes the name of justice for his own profit or hatred
or revenge is worse than the vulture that watches for the carcass.
Let them not forget that howsoever high they stand or proudly they
bear themselves, nothing shall they take from hence but the oak
for their coffin. Let them be sure that when Thou shalt appear
with a consuming fire before Thee and a tempest round about Thee,
calling the heaven and the earth together, no portion can they have
in that day like to the portion of Thine inheritance."
The fierce prayer came to an end, and then the Judge, holding
his sword erect, read his charge and repeated his oath, ^to deal
justly between man and man, even as the sword stood upright be-
fore him. And the vast assembly of rude men in sheepskins and Jn
homespun looked on and listened, all silent and solemn, all worship-
ful of law and reverent of its forms.
The oath being taken, the Judge had laid the sword aside and
begun to promulgate the new laws, reading them clause by clause,
THE BONDMAN 281
first in Icelandic and then in Danish, when there was an uneasy
movement at the outskirts of th crowd to the west of the Mount.
"The Governor," whispered one. "It's himself," muttered an-
other. "He's here at last," murmured a third, and dark were the
faces turned round to see. It was the Governor, indeed, and he
pushed his way through the closely packed people, who saw him
coming, but stood together like a wall until riven apart by his
pony's feet. At the causeway he dismounted and stepped up to the
top of the Mount. He looked old and feeble and torn by evil pas-
sions; his straight gray hair hung like a blasted sheaf on to his
shoulders, his forehead was blistered with blue veins, his cheeks
were guttered with wrinkles, his little eyes were cruel, his jaw was
broad and heavy, and his mouth was hard and square.
The Judge made him no obeisance, but went on with his read-
ing. The Bishop seemed not to see him, but gazed steadfastly
forward. The Thing-men gave no sign.
He stood a moment, and looked around, and the people below
could see his wrath rising like a white hand across his haggard
face. Then he interrupted and said, "Chief Justice, I have some-
thing to say."
All heard the words, and the Speaker stopped, and, amid the
breathless silence of the people, he answered quietly: "There will
be a time and a place for that, your Excellency."
"The time is now, and the place is here," cried Jorgen Jorgen-
sen, in a tense voice, and quivering with anger. "Listen to me.
The rebel and traitor who once usurped the government of this
island has escaped."
"Escaped !" cried a hundred voices.
"Michael Sunlocks !" cried as many more.
And a wave of excitement passed over the vast assembly.
"Yes, Michael Sunlocks has escaped," cried Jorgen Jorgensen.
"That scoundrel is at liberty. He is free to do his wicked work
again. Men of Iceland, I call on you to help me. I call on you
to help the Crown of Denmark. The traitor must be taken. I call
on you to take him."
A deep murmur ran through the closely pressed people.
"You've got your guards," shouted a voice from below. "Why
do you come to us?"
"Because," cried Jorgen Jorgensen, "my guards are protecting
Reykjavik, and because they might scour your island a hundred
years and never find what they looked for."
"Thank God!" muttered another voice from below.
"But you know it, every fell and fiord," cried Jorgen Jorgensen,
282 THE BONDMAN
"and never a toad could skulk under a stone but you would root him
out of it. Chief Justice," he added, sweeping about, "I have a re-
quest to make of you."
"What is it, your Excellency?" said the Judge.
"That you should adjourn this Althing so that every man here
present may go out in search of the traitor."
Then a loud involuntary murmur of dissent rose from the peo-
ple, and at the same moment the Judge said in bewilderment:
"What can your Excellency mean?"
"I mean," cried Jorgen Jorgensen, "that if you adjourn this
Althing for three days, the traitor will be taken. If not, he will be
at liberty as many years. Will you do it?"
"Your Excellency," said the Judge, "the Althing has lived nigh
upon a thousand years, and every other year for that thousand
years it has met on this ancient ground, but never once since it
began has the thing you ask been done."
"Let it be done now," cried Jorgen Jorgensen. "Will you
"We will do our duty by your Excellency," said the Judge, "and
we will expect your Excellency to do your duty by us."
"But this man is a traitor," cried Jorgen Jorgensen, "and it is
your duty to help me to capture him. Will you do it?"
"And this day is ours by ancient right and custom," said the
Judge, "and it is your duty to stand aside."
"I am here for the King of Denmark," cried Jorgen Jorgensen,
"and I ask you to adjourn this Althing. Will you do it?"
"And we are here for the people of Iceland," said the Judge,
"and we ask you to step back and let us go on."
Then Jorgen Jorgensen's anger knew no bounds.
"You are subjects of the King of Denmark," he cried.
"Before ever Denmark was, we were," answered the Judge,
"And in his name I demand that you adjourn. Will you do it
now?" cried Jorgen Jorgensen, with a grin of triumph.
"No," cried the Judge, lifting an undaunted face to the face of
The people held their breath through this clash of words, but
at the Judge's brave answer a murmur of approval passed over
them. Jorgen Jorgensen heard it, and flinched, but turned back to
the Judge and said:
"Take care. If you do not help me, you hinder me; if you are
not with me, you are against me. Is that man a traitor? Answer
me yes or no."
THE BONDMAN 283
But the Judge made no answer, and there was dead silence
among the people, for they knew well in what way the cruel ques-
"Answer me yes or no," Jorgen Jorgensen cried again.
Then the Bishop broke silence and said:
"Whatever our hearts may be, your Excellency, our tongues
must be silent."
At that, Jorgen Jorgensen faced about to the crowd.
"I put a price on his head," he cried. "Two thousand kroner
lib any one who takes him, alive or dead. Who will earn it ?"
"No Icelander earns money with blood," said the Bishop. "If
this thing is our duty, we will do it without pay. If not, no bribe
will tempt us."
"Ay, ay," shouted a hundred voices.
Jorgen Jorgensen flinched again, and his face whitened as he
grew darker within.
"So, I see how it is," he said, looking steadfastly at the Bishop,
the Judge, and the Thing-men. "You are aiding this traitor's
escape. You are his allies, every man of you. And you are se-
ducing and deceiving the people."
Then he faced about toward the crowd more and more, and
cried in a loud voice:
"Men of Iceland, you know the man who has escaped. You
know what he is, and where he came from; you know he is not
one of yourselves, but a bastard Englishman. Then drive him
back home. Listen to me. What price did I put on his head?
Two thousand kroner ! I will give ten thousand ! Ten thou-
sand kroner for the man who takes him alive, and twenty
thousand kroner do you hear me? twenty thousand for the man
who takes him dead."
"Silence !" cried the Bishop. "Who are you, sir, that you dare
tempt men to murder?"
"Murder!" cried Jorgen Jorgensen. "See how simple are the
wise ? Men of Iceland, listen to me again. The traitor is an out-
law. You know what that means. His blood is on his own head.
Any man may shoot him down. No man may be called to account
for doing so. Do you hear me ? It is the law of Iceland, the law
of Denmark, the law of the world. He is an outlaw, and killing
him is no murder. Follow him up! Twenty thousand kroner to
the man who lays him at my feet."
He would have said more, for he was heaving with passion,
and his white face had grown purple, but his tongue seemed sud-
denly paralyzed, and his wide eyes fixed themselves on something
284 THE BONDMAN
at the outskirts of the crowd. One thin and wrinkled hand
he lifted up and pointed tremblingly over the heads of the
people. ."There !" he said in a smothered cry, and after that he
The crowd shifted and looked round, amid a deep murmur of
surprise and expectation. Then by one of the involuntary impulses
that move great assemblies, the solid wall of human beings seemed
to part of itself, and make way for some one.
It was Red Jason, carrying Michael Sunlocks across his breast
and shoulder. His bronzed cheeks were worn, his sunken eyes
burned with a dull fire. He strode on, erect and strong, through
the riven men and women. A breathless silence seemed to fol-
low him. When he came to the foot of the Mount, he stopped, and
let Sunlocks drop gently to the ground. Sunlocks was insensible,
and his piteous white face looked up at the heavy dome of the sky.
A sensation of awe held the vast crowd spellbound. It was as if
the Almighty God had heard the blasphemy of that miserable old
man, and given him on the instant his impious wish.
Then, in that breathless silence, Jason stood erect and said, in
a firm, clear, sonorous voice, "You know who I am. Some of you
hate me. Some of you fear me. All of you think me a sort of wild
beast among men. That is why you caged me. But I have broken
my bars, and brought this man along with me."
The men on the Mount had not time to breathe under the
light and fire that flashed upon them when Jason lifted his clenched
hand and said : "O, you that dwell in peace ; you that go to your
beds at night; you that eat when you are hungry and drink when
you are athirst, and rest when you are weary: would to God you
could know by bitter proof what this poor man has suffered. But 7
know it, and I can tell you what it has been. Where is your
Michael Sunlocks, that I may tell it to him ? Which is he ? Point
him out to me."
Then the people drew a -deep breath, for they saw in an instant
what had befallen these two men in the dread shaping of their
"Where is he?" cried Jason, again.
And in a voice quivering with emotion, the Judge said:
"Don't you know the man you've brought here?"
"No yes yes," cried Jason. "My brother my brother in
suffering my brother in misery that's all I know or care. But
THE BONDMAN 285
jvhere is your Michael Sunlocks ? I have something to say to him.
Where is he?"
Jorgen Jorgensen had recovered himself by this time, and press-
ing forward, he said with a cruel smile :
"You fool ; shall I tell you where he is ?"
"Heaven forbid it!" said the Bishop, stepping out and lifting
both hands before the Governor's face. But in that instant Jason
had recognized Jorgen Jorgensen.
"I know this old man," he said. "What is he doing here? Ah,
God pity me, I had forgotten. I saw him at the mines. Then he is
back. And, now I remember, he is Governor again."
Saying this, an agony of bewilderment quivered in his face.
He looked around.
"Then where is Michael Sunlocks?" he cried in a loud voice.
"Where is he? Which is he? Who is he? Will no one tell me?
Speak ! For the merciful Christ's sake let some one speak."
There was a moment of silence, in which the vast crowd trem-
bled as one man with wonder and dismay. The Bishop and Judge
stood motionless. Jorgen Jorgensen smiled bitterly and shook his
head, and Jason raised his right hand to cover his face from the
face of the insensible man at his feet, as if some dark foreshadow-
ing of the truth had swept over him in an instant.
What happened thereafter Jason never knew, only that there
was a shrill cry and a rustle like a swirl of wind, only that some
one was coming up behind him through the walls of human beings,
that still stood apart like riven rocks, only that in a moment a
woman had flung herself over the prostrate body of his comrade,
embracing it, raising it in her arms, kissing its pale cheeks, and
sobbing over it, "My husband ! my husband."
It was Greeba. When the dark mist had cleared away from
before his eyes, Jason saw her and knew her. At the same in-
stant he saw and knew his destiny, that his yoke-fellow had been
Michael Sunlocks, that his lifelong enemy had been his life's sole
It was a terrible discovery, and Jason reeled under the shock
of it like a beast that is smitten to its death. And while he stood
there, half-blind, half-deaf, swaying to and fro as if the earth
rocked beneath him, across his shoulders, over his cheeks and his
mouth and his eyes fell the lash of the tongue of Jorgen Jorgensen.
"Yes, fool that you are and have been," he cried in his husky
voice, "that's where your Michael Sunlocks is."
"Shame! Shame!" cried the people.
But Jorgen Jorgensen showed no pity or ruth.
286 THE BONDMAN
"You have brought him here to your confusion," he cried again,
"and it's not the first time you've taken his part to your own loss."
More he would have said in the merciless cruelty of his heart,
only that a deep growl came up from the crowd and silenced
But Jason heard nothing, saw nothing, felt nothing, knew noth-
ing, save that Michael Sunlocks lay at his feet, that Greeba knelt
beside him, and that she was coaxing him, caressing him, and kiss-
ing him back to life.
"Michael," she whispered, "Michael ! My poor Michael !" she
murmured, while she moistened his lips and parched tongue with
the brenni-vin from the horn of some good man standing near.
Jason saw this and heard this, though he had eyes and ears for
nothing besides. And thinking, in the wild tumult of his distem-
pered brain, that such tenderness might have been his, should have
been his, must have been his, but for this man who had robbed him
of this woman, all the bitterness of his poisoned heart rose up to
He remembered his weary life with this man, his sufferings
with him, his love for him, and he hated himself for it all. What
devil of hell had made sport of him, to give him his enemy for his
friend? How Satan himself must shriek aloud to see it, that he
who had been thrice robbed by this man robbed of a father, robbed
of a mother, robbed of a wife should in his blindness tend him,
and nurse him, and carry him with sweat of blood over trackless
wastes that he might save him alive for her who waited to claim
Then he remembered what he had come for, and that all was
not yet done. Should he do it after all ? Should he give this man
back to this woman? Should he renounce his love and his hate
together his love of this woman, his hate of this man? Love?
Hate? Which was. love? Which was hate? Ah, God! They
were one; they were the same. Heaven pity him, what was he
Thus the powers of good and the powers of evil wrestled to-
gether in Jason's heart for mastery. But the moment of their
struggle was short. One look at the piteous blind face lying on
Greeba's bosom, one glance at the more piteous wet face that hung
over it, and love had conquered hate in that big heart forever and
Jason was recalled to himself by a dull hum of words that