had either of the Deemsters, but he selected neither ; he might have
had any of the twenty-four Keys, but he selected none. It was
then that he heard of a plain farmer in the north of the island,
who was honored for his uprightness, beloved for his simplicity,
and revered for his piety. "The very man for me," thought the
lord of the swashbucklers, and he straightway set off to see him.
He found him living like a patriarch among his people, sur-
rounded by his sons, and proud of them that they were many and
strong. His name was Adam Fairbrother. In his youth he had
run away to sea, been taken prisoner by the Algerines, kept twenty-
eight months a slave in Barbary, had escaped and returned home
captain of a Guineaman. This had been all his education and all
his history. He had left the island a wild, headstrong, passionate
lad : he had returned to it a sober, patient, gentle-hearted man.
Adam's house was at Lague, a loose, straggling, featureless and
irresolute old fabric, on five hundred hungry acres of the rocky
headland of Maughold. When the Duke rode up to it Adam himself
was ringing the bell above the door lintel that summoned his people
to dinner. He was then in middle life, stout, yet flaccid and slack,
with eyes and forehead of sweetest benevolence, mouth of softest
tenderness, and hair already whitening over his ears and temples.
"The face of an angel in homespun," thought the Duke.
Adam received his visitor with the easy courtesy of an equal,
first offering his hand. The Duke shook hands with him. He held
the stirrup while the Duke alighted, took the horse to the stable,
slackened its girths, and gave it a feed of oats, talking all the time.
The Duke stepped after him and listened. Then he led the way to
the house. The Duke followed. They went into the living room
an oblong kitchen with an oak table down the middle, and two
rows of benches from end to end. The farming people were troop-
ing in, bringing with them the odor of fresh peat and soil. Bowls
of barley broth were being set in front of the big chair at the
table end. Adam sat in this seat and motioned the Duke to the
bench at his right. The Duke sat down. Then six words of grace
and all were in their places Adam himself, his wife, a shrewd-
faced body, his six sons, big and shambling, his men, bare-armed
and quiet, his maids, with skirts tucked up, plump and noisy, and
THE BONDMAN 23
the swashbuckler Duke, amused and silent, glancing down the
long lines of the strangest company with whom he had ever yet
been asked to sit at dinner. Suet pudding followed the broth,
sheep's head and potatoes followed the pudding, then six words
of thanks and all rose and trooped away except the Duke and
Adam. That good man had not altered the habit of his life by
so much as a plate of cheese for the fact that the "Lord of Man"
had sat at meat with him. "The manners of a prince," thought the
They took the armchairs at opposite sides of the ingle.
"You look cozy in your retreat, Mr. Fairbrother," said the
Duke ; "but since your days in Guinea have you never dreamt of a
position of more power, and perhaps of more profit?"
"As for power," answered Adam, "I have observed that the
name and the reality rarely go together."
"The experience of a statesman," thought the Duke.
"As for profit," he continued, "I have reflected that money
has never yet since the world began tempted a happy man."
"The wisdom of a judge," thought the Duke.
"And as for myself I am a completely happy one."
"With more than a judge's integrity," thought the Duke. At
that the Duke told the purpose of his visit.
"And now," he said, with uplifted hands, "don't say I've gone
far to fare worse. The post I offer requires but one qualification
in the man who fills it, yet no one about me possesses the simple
gift. It needs an honest man, and all the better if he's not a
fool. Will you take it?"
"No," said Adam, short and blunt.
"The very man," thought the Duke.
Six months later the Duke had his way. Adam Fairbrother,
of Lague, was made Governor of Man (under the Duke himself
as Governor-General) at a salary of five hundred pounds a year.
On the night of Midsummer Day, 1793, the town of Ramsey
held high festival. The "Royal George" had dropped anchor in
the bay, and the Prince of Wales, attended by the Duke of Athol,
Captain Murray, and Captain Cook, had come ashore to set the
foot of an English Prince for the first time on Manx soil. Before
dusk, the Royal ship had weighed anchor again, but when night
fell in the festivities had only begun. Guns were fired, bands of
music passed through the town, and bonfires were lighted on the
top of the Sky Hill. The kitchens of the inns were crowded, and
the streets were thronged with country people enveloped in dust.
In the market-place the girls were romping, the young men drink-
24 THE BONDMAN
ing, the children shouting at the top of their voices, the pedlers
edging their barrows through the crowd and crying their wares.
Over all the tumult of exuberant voices, the shouting, the laughter,
the merry shrieks, the gay banter, the barking of sheep-dogs, the
snarling of mongrel setters, the streaming and smoking of haw-
kers' torches across a thousand faces, there was the steady peal
of the bell of Ballure.
In the midst of it all a strange man passed through the town.
He was of colossal stature stalwart, straight, and flaxen-haired,
wearing a goatskin cap without brim, a gray woolen shirt open at
the neck and belted with a leathern strap, breeches of untanned
leather, long thick stockings, a second pair up to his ankles, and no
shoes on his feet. His face was pale, his cheek bones stood high,
and his eyes were like the eyes of a cormorant. The pretty girls
stopped their chatter to look after him, but he strode on with long
steps, and the people fell aside for him.
At the door of the Saddle Inn he stood a moment, but voices
came from within and he passed on. Going by the Court House he
came to the Plow Tavern, and there he stopped again, paused a
moment, and then stepped in. After a time the children who had
followed at his heels separated, and the girls who had looked after
him began to dance with arms akimbo and skirts held up over their
white ankles. He was forgotten.
An hour later, four men, armed with cutlasses, and carrying
ship's irons, came hurrying from the harbor. They were blue-
jackets from the revenue cutter lying in the bay, and they were in
pursuit of a seaman who had escaped from the English brig at
anchor outside. The runaway was a giant and a foreigner, and
could not speak a word of English or Manx. Had any one seen
him? Yes, every one. He had gone into the Plow. To the
Plow the blue-jackets made their way. The good woman who
kept it, Mother Beatty, had certainly seen such a man. "Aw, yes,
the poor craythur, he came, so he did," but never a word could he
speak to her, and never a word could she speak to him, so she gave
him a bit of barley cake, and maybe a drop of something, and that
was all. He was not in the house then? "Och, let them look for
themselves." The blue- jackets searched the house, and came out
as they had entered. Then they passed through every street, looked
down every alley, peered into every archway, and went back to
their ship empty-handed.
When they were gone Mother Beatty came to the door and
looked out. At the next instant the big-limbed stranger stepped
from behind her.
THE BONDMAN 25
"That way," she whispered, and pointed to a dark alley oppo-
The man watched the direction of her finger in the darkness,
doffed his cap, and strode away.
The alley led him by many a turn to the foot of a hill. It was
Ballure. Behind him lay the town, with the throngs, the voices,
and the bands of music. To his left was the fort, belching smoke
and the roar of cannon. To his right were the bonfires on the
hilltop, with little dark figures passing before them, and a glow
above them embracing a third of the sky. In front of him was the
gloom and silence of the country. He walked on ; a fresh coolness
came to him out of the darkness, and over him a dull murmur hov-
ered in the air. He was going toward Kirk Maughold.
He passed two or three little houses by the wayside, but most of
them were dark. He came by a tavern, but the door was shut, and
no one answered when he knocked. At length, by the turn of a
byroad, he saw a light through the trees, and making toward it he
found a long shambling house under a clump of elms. He was at
The light he saw was from one window only, and he stepped
up to it. A man was sitting alone by the hearth, with the glow of
a gentle fire on his face a beautiful face, soft and sweet and
tender. It was Adam Fairbrother.
The stranger stood a moment in the darkness, looking into the
quiet room. Then he tapped on the window-pane.
On this evening Governor Fairbrother was worn with toil and
excitement. It had been Tynwald Day, and while sitting at St.
John's he had been summoned to Ramsey to receive the Prince of
Wales and the Duke of Athol. The royal party had already
landed when he arrived, but not a word of apology had he offered
for the delayed reception. He had taken the Prince to the top of
the Sky Hill, talking as he went, answering many questions and
asking not a few, naming the mountains, running through the
island's history, explaining the three legs of its coat-of-arms,
glancing at its ancient customs and giving a taste of its language.
He had been simple, sincere, and natural from first to last, and
when the time had come for the Prince to return to his ship he had
presented his six sons to him with the quiet dignity of a patriarch,
saying these were his gifts to his king that was to be. Then on
the quay he had offered the Prince his hand, hoping he might see
him again before long ; for he was a great lover of a happy face, and
the Prince, it was plain to see, was, like himself, a man of a
2 Vol. II
26 THE BONDMAN
But when the "Royal George" had sailed out of the bay at the
top of the tide, and the great folk who had held their breath in awe
of so much majesty were preparing to celebrate the visit with the
blazing of cannon and the beating of drums, Adam Fairbrother
had silently slipped away. He lived at Government House, but had
left his three elder boys at Lague, and thought this a happy chance
of spending a night at home. Only his sons' housekeeper, a spin-
ster aunt of his own, was there, and when she had given him a
bite of supper he had sent her after the others to look at the
sights of Ramsey. Then he had drawn up his chair before the fire,
charged his long pipe, purred a song to himself, begun to smoke,
to doze, and to dream.
His dreams that night had been woven with visions of his
bad days in the slave factory at Barbary of his wreck and capture,
of his cruel tortures before his neck was yet bowed to the yoke
of bondage, of the whip, before he knew the language of his mas-
ters to obey it quickly, of the fetters on his hands, the weights on
his legs, the collar about his neck, of the raw flesh where the iron
had torn the skin; and then of the dark wild night of his escape
when he and three others, as luckless and as miserable, had run
a raft into the sea, stripped off their shirts for a sail, and thrust
their naked bodies together to keep them warm.
Such was the gray silt that came up to him that night from
the deposits of his memory. The Tynwalk, the Prince, the Duke,
the guns, the music, the bonfires, were gone; bit by bit he pieced
together the life he had lived in his youth, and at the thought of
it, and that it was now over, he threw back his head and gave
thanks where they were due.
At that moment he heard a tap at the window-pane, and turn-
ing about he saw a man's haggard face peering in at him from
the darkness. Then he rose instantly, and threw open the door of
"Come in," he called.
The man entered.
He took one step into the house and stopped, seemed for a mo-
ment puzzled, dazed, sleepless, and then by a sudden impulse stepped
quietly forward, pulled up the sleeve of his shirt and held out his
arm. Around his wrist there was a circular abrasure where the
loop of a fetter had worn away the skin, leaving the naked flesh
raw and red.
He had been in irons.
With a word of welcome the Governor motioned the man to a
seat. Some inarticulate sounds the man made and waved his hand.
THE BONDMAN 27
He was a foreigner. What was his craft?
A tiny model of a full-rigged ship stood on the top of a corner
cupboard. Adam pointed to it, and the man gave a quick nod
He was a seaman. Of what country?
"Shetlands?" asked the Governor.
The man shook his head.
"Sweden? Norway? "
"Issland," said the man.
He was an Icelander.
Two rude portraits hung on the walls, one of a fair boy, the
other of a woman in the early bloom of womanhood Adam's
young wife and first child. The Governor pointed to the boy, and
the man shook his head.
He had no family.
The Governor pointed to the woman, and the man hesitated,
seemed about to assent, and then, with the look of one who tries to
banish an unwelcome thought, shook his head again.
He had no wife. What was his name?
The Governor took down from a shelf a Bible covered in green
cloth, and opened at the writing on the fly-leaf between the Old
and New Testaments. The writing ran: "Adam Fairbrother,
son of Jo: Fairbrother, and Mar: his wife, was born August the
nth, 1753, about 5 o'clock in the morning, half flood, wind at south-
west, and christened August 18." To this he pointed, then to him-
self, and finally to the stranger. An abrupt change came over
the man's manner. He grew sullen and gave no sign. But his
eyes wandered with a fierce eagerness to the table, where the re-
mains of the Governor's supper were still lying.
Adam drew up a chair and motioned the stranger to sit and eat.
The man ate with frightful voracity, the perspiration breaking
out in beads over his face. Having eaten, he grew drowsy, fell
to nodding where he sat, and in a moment of recovered conscious-
ness pointed to the stuffed head of a horse that hung over the door.
He wished to sleep in the stable.
The Governor lit a lantern and led the way to the stable loft.
There the man stretched himself on the straw, and soon his long
and measured breathing told that he slept.
Hardly had the Governor got back to the house when his boys,
his men, and the maids returned from Ramsey. Very full they all
were of the doings of the day, and Adam, who never asked that son
or servant of his should abridge the flow of talk for his presence,
sat with his face to the fire and smoked, dozed, dreamt or thought,
28 THE BONDMAN
and left his people to gossip on. What chance had brought the
poor man to his door that night ? An Icelander, dumb for all uses
of speech, who had lain in the chains of some tyrant captain a
lone man, a seaman without wife or child in his own country, and
a fugitive, a runaway, a hunted dog in this one! What angel of
pleading had that very night been busy in his own memory with the
story of his similar sufferings ?
All at once his ear was arrested by what was being said be-
hind him. The talk was of a sailor who had passed through the
town, and of the blue-jackets who were in pursuit of him. He had
stolen something. No, he had murdered somebody. Anyway there
was a warrant for his arrest, for the High Bailiff had drawn it.
An ill-looking fellow, but he would be caught yet, thank goodness,
in God's good time.
The Governor twisted about, and asked what the sailor was like,
and his boys answered him that he was a foreigneering sort of a
man in a skin cap and long stockings, and bigger by half a head
Just then there was the tramp of feet on the gravel outside and
a loud rap at the door. Four men entered. They were the blue-
jackets. The foreign seaman that they were in search of had
been seen creeping up Ballure, and turning down toward Lague.
Had he been there?
At that one of the boys, saying that his father had been at
home all evening, turned to the Governor and repeated the ques-
tion. But the good Adam had twisted back to the fire, and with the
shank of his pipe hanging loosely from his lips, was now snoring
"His Excellency is asleep," said the blue-jacket.
No, no; that could not be, for he had been talking as they
entered. "Father," cried the lad, and pushed him.
Then the Governor opened his eyes, and yawned heavily. The
blue-jacket, cap in hand, told his story again, and the good Adam
seemed to struggle hard in the effort to grasp it through the mists
of sleep. At length he said, "What has the man done ?"
"Deserted his ship, your Excellency."
"Nothing else no crime?"
"Nothing else, your Excellency. Has he been here?"
"No," said the Governor.
And at that the weary man shut his eyes again and began to
breathe most audibly. But when the blue- jackets, taking counsel
together, concluded that somewhere thereabout the man must surely
be, and decided to sleep the night in the stable loft, that they might
THE BONDMAN 29
scour the country in the morning, the Governor awoke suddenly,
saying he had no beds to offer them, but they might sleep on the
benches of the kitchen.
An hour later, when all Lague was asleep, Adam rose from his
bed, took a dark lantern and went back to the stable loft, aroused
the Icelander, and motioned him to follow. They crossed the
paved courtyard and came in front of the window. Adam pointed
and the man looked in. The four blue-jackets were lying on the
benches drawn round the fire, and the dull glow of the slumbering
peat was on their faces. They were asleep. At that sight the
man's eyes flashed, his mouth set hard, the muscles of his cheeks
contracted, and with a hoarse cry in his throat, he fumbled the haft
of the seaman's knife that hung in his belt and made one step
But Adam, laying hold of his arm, looked into his eyes stead-
fastly, and in the light of the lantern their wild glance fell before
him. At the next instant the man was gone.
The night was now far spent. In the town the forts were silent,
the streets quiet, the market-place vacant, and on the hilltops the
fires had smoldered down. By daybreak next morning the blue-
jackets had gone back empty-handed to Ramsey, and by sunrise the
English brig had sailed out of the bay.
Two beautiful creeks lie to the south of Ramsey and north of
Maughold Head. One is called Lague, the other Port-y-Vullin.
On the shore of Port-y-Vullin there is a hut built of peat and
thatched with broom dark, damp, boggy, and ruinous, a ditch
where the tenant is allowed to sit rent free. The sun stood high
when a woman, coming out of this place, found a man sleeping
in a broken-ribbed boat that lay side down on the beach. She
awakened him, and asked him into her hut. He rose to his feet
and followed her. Last night he had been turned out of the best
house in the island ; this morning he was about to be received into
The woman was Liza Killey the slut, the trollop, the trull, the
slattern and drab of the island.
The man was Stephen Orry.
3 o THE BONDMAN
ONE month only had then passed since the night of Stephen
Orry's flight from Iceland, and the story of his fortunes in the
meantime is quickly told. In shame of his brutal blow, as well
as fear of his wife's threat, he had stowed away in the hold of an
English ship that sailed the same night. Two days later famine
had brought him out of his hiding place, and he had been compelled
to work before the mast. In ten more days he had signed articles
as able seaman at the first English port of call. Then had followed
punishments for sloth, punishments for ignorance, and punishments
for not knowing the high-flavored language of his boatswain.
After that had come bickerings, threats, scowls, oaths, and open
ruptures with this chief of petty tyrants, ending with the blow
of a marlin-spike over the big Icelander's crown, and the little
boatswain rolling headlong overboard. Then had followed twenty-
eight days spent in irons, riveted to the ship's side on the under
deck, with bread and water diet every second day and nothing be-
tween. Finally, by the secret good fellowship of a shipmate with
some bowels of compassion, escape had come after starvation, as
starvation had come after slavery, and Stephen had swum ashore
while his ship lay at anchor in Ramsey Bay.
What occurred thereafter at the house whereto he had drifted
no one could rightly tell. He continued to live there with the
trull who kept it. She had been the illegitimate child of an in-
solvent English debtor and the daughter of a neighboring vicar,
had been ignored by her father, put out to nurse by her mother,
bred in ignorance, reared in impurity, and had grown into a buxom
hussy. By what arts, what hints, what appeals, what allurements,
this trollop got possession of Stephen Orry it is not hard to guess.
First, he was a hunted man, and only one who dare do anything
dare open doors to him. Next, he was a foreigner, dumb for
speech, and deaf for scandal, and therefore unable to learn more
than his eyes could tell him of the woman who had given him
shelter. Then the big Icelander was a handsome fellow; and the
veriest drab that ever trailed a petticoat knows how to hide her
slatternly habits while she is hankering after a fine-grown man.
So the end of many conspiring circumstances was that after much
THE BONDMAN 31
gossip in corners, many jeers, and some tossings of female heads,
the vicar of the parish, Parson Cell, called one day at the hut in
Port-y-Vullin, and on the following Sunday morning, at church,
little Robbie Christian, the clerk and sexton, read out the askings
for the marriage of Liza Killey, spinster, of the parish of Maug-
hold, and Stephen Orry, bachelor, out of Iceland.
What a wedding it was that came three weeks later ! Liza
wore a gay new gown that had been lent her by a neighbor, Bella
Coobragh, a girl who had meant to be married in it herself the
year before, but had not fully carried out her moral intention and
had since borne a child. Wearing such borrowed plumes and a
brazen smile of defiance, Liza strutted up to the Communion rail,
looking impudently into the men's faces, and saucily into the
women's for the church was thronged with an odorous mob that
kept up the jabbering of frogs at spawn and Stephen Orry
slouched after her in his blowzy garments with a downward,
shamefaced, nervous look that his hulky manners could not
Then what a wedding feast it was that followed ! The little cabin
in Port-y-Vullin reeked and smoked with men and women, and
ran out on to the sand and pebbles of the beach, for the time of
year was spring and the day was clear and warm. Liza's old lovers
were there in troops. With a keg of rum over his shoulder Nary
Crowe, the innkeeper, had come down from the "Hibernian" to
give her joy, and Cleave Kinley, the butcher, had brought her up
half a lamb from Ballaglass, and Matt Mylechreest, the net maker
a venal old skinflint had charged his big snuff horn to the brim
for the many noses of the guests. On the table, the form, the three-
legged stool, the bed, and the hearth, they sat together cheek by
jowl, their hats hung on the roof rafters, their plates perched on
And loud was their laughter and dubious their talk. Old
Thurstan Coobragh led off on the advantages of marriage, saying
it was middlin' plain that the gels nowadays must be wedded when
they were babies in arms, for bye-childers were common, and a
gel's father didn't care in a general way to look like a fool; but
Nary Crowe saw no harm in a bit of sweetheartin,' and Cleave
Kinley said no, of course, not if a man wasn't puttin' notions into
a gel's head, and Matt Mylechreest, for his part, thought the
gels were amazin' like the ghosts, for they got into every skeleton
closet about the house.
"But then," said Matt, "I'm an ould bachelor, as the sayin' is,
and don't know nothin.' "
32 THE BONDMAN
"Ha, ha, ha ! of course not," laughed the others ; and then there
was a taste of a toast to Liza's future in Nary's rum.
"Drop it," said Liza, as Nary, lifting his cup, leaned over to
"So I will, but it'll be into your ear, woman," said Nary. "So
here's to the king that's comin.' "
By this time Stephen had slipped out of the noisome place, and
was rambling on the quiet shore alone, with head bent, cheeks ashy
pale, eyes fixed, and his brawny hands thrust deep into his pockets.
At last, through the dense fumes within the house, Bella Coobragh