he said ; "but if I must live, let me live here. I am blind, I do not
know the darkness of this place, and all I ask of you is air and
Old Adam, too, protested loudly, whereupon Jorgen Jorgensen
answered with a smile that he had supposed that all he intended to
do was for the benefit of the prisoner himself, who would surely
prefer a whole island to live upon to being confined in a cell at
"He will there have liberty to move about," said Jorgen, "and
he will live under the protection of the Danish laws."
"Then that will be more than he has done here," said Adam,
boldly, "where he has existed at the caprice of a Danish tyrant."
The people of Reykjavik heard of the banishment with surprise
and anger, but nothing availed to prevent it. When the appointed
day came, Michael Sunlocks was marched out of his prison and
taken off toward the Bursting-sand desert between a line of guards.
There was a great throng to bid adieu to him, and to groan at the
power that sent him. His face was pale, but his bodily strength
was good. His step was firm and steady, and gave hardly a hint
of his blindness. His farewell of those who crowded upon him was
simple and manly.
"Good-by," he said, "and though with my eyes I can not see
you, I can see you^with my heart, and that is the better sight
whereof death alone can rob me. No doubt you have much to
forgive to me ; so forgive it to me now, for we shall meet no more."
There was many a sob at that word, but the two who would have
been most touched by it were not there to hear it, for Greeba and
old Adam were busy with their own enterprise, as we shall learn
When Michael Sunlocks was landed at Grimsey, he was offered
first as bondman for life, or prisoner-slave to the largest bonder
there, a grasping old miser named Jonsson, who, like Jorgen him-
self, had never allowed his bad conscience to get the better of him.
But Jonsson looked at Sunlocks with a curl of the lip and said:
"What's the use of a blind man ?" So the end of all was that Sun-
298 THE BONDMAN
locks was put in charge of the priest of the island. The priest
was to take him into his house, to feed, clothe, and attend to him,
and report his condition twice a year to the Governor at Reykja-
vik. For such service to the State, the good man was to receive
an annual stipend of one hundred kroner. And all arrangements
being made, the escort that had brought Michael Sunlocks the ten
days' journey over the desert set their faces back toward the
Michael Sunlocks was then on the edge of the habitable world.
There was no attempt to confine him, for his home was an island
bound by a rocky coast; he was blind and, therefore, helpless, and
he could not step out a thousand yards alone without the danger of
walking over a precipice into the sea. So that with all his brave
show of liberty, he was as much in fetters as if his feet had been
enchained to the earth beneath them.
The priest, who was in truth his jailer, was one who has already
been heard of in this history, being no other than the Sigfus Thorns-
son (titled Sir from his cure of souls) who was banished from his
chaplaincy at Reykjavik six and twenty years before for marrying
Stephen Orry to Rachel, the daughter of the Governor-General
Jorgensen. He had been young then, and since his life had been
cut in twain he had fallen into some excesses. Thus it had often
happened that when his people came to church over miles of their
trackless country he had been too drunk to officiate, and some-
times when they wished to make sure of him for a wedding or a
christening, they had been compelled to decoy him into his house
overnight and lock him up until morning. Now he was elderly
and lived alone, save for a fractious old man-servant, in a straggling
old moss-covered house, or group of houses. He was weak of will,
timid as a deer, and infirm of purpose, yet he was beloved by all
men and pitied by all women for his sweet simplicity, whereof any-
one might take advantage, and for the tenderness that could never
resist a story of distress.
The coming of Michael Sunlocks startled him out of his tipsy
sleep of a quarter of a century, and his whole household was put
into a wild turmoil. In the midst of it, when he was at his wit's
end to know what to do for his prisoner-guest, a woman, a stranger
to Grimsey, carrying a child in her arms, presented herself at his
door. She was young and comely, poorly but not meanly clad, and
she offered herself to the priest as his servant. Her story was sim-
ple, touching, and plausible. She had lately lost her husband, an Ice-
lander, though she herself was a foreigner, as her speech might tell.
And hearing at Husavik that the priest of Grimsey was a lone old
THE BONDMAN 299
gentleman without kith or kin or belongings, she had bethought
herself to come and say that she would be glad to take service
from him for the sake of the home he might offer her.
It was Greeba, and simple old Sir Sigfus fell an easy prey to
her woman's wit. He wiped his rheumy eyes while she told her
story, and straightway sent her into the kitchen. Only one condition
he made with her, and that was that she was to bear herself in his
house as Iceland women bear themselves in the houses of Iceland
masters. No more than that and no less. She was to keep to her
own apartments and never allow herself to be seen or heard by a
guest that was henceforth to live with him. That good man was
blind, and would trouble her but little, for he had seen sorrow,
poor soul, and was very silent.
Greeba consented to this with all earnestness, for it fell straight
in the way of her own designs. But with a true woman's innocent
duplicity she bowed modestly and said : "He shall never know that
I'm in your house, sir, unless you tell him so yourself."
Thus did Greeba place herself under the same roof with Michael
Sunlocks, and baffle discovery by the cunning of love. Two pur-
poses were to be served by her artifice. First, she was to be con-
stantly by the side of her husband, to nurse him and tend him, to
succor him, and to watch over him. Next, she was to be near him
for her own sake, and for love's sake, to win him back to her some
day by means more dear than those that had won him for her at the
first. She had decided not to reveal herself to him in the mean-
time, for he had lost faith in her affection. He had charged her
with marrying him for pride's sake, but he should see that she had
married him for himself alone. The heart of his love was dead, but
day by day, unknown, unseen, unheard, she would breathe upon
it, until the fire in its ashes lived again. Such was the design with
which Greeba took the place of a menial in the house where her
husband lived as a prisoner, and little did she count the cost of it.
Six months passed, and she kept her promise to the priest to live
as an Iceland servant in the house of an Iceland master. She was
never seen and never heard, and what personal service was called
for was done by the snappish old man-servant. But she filled the
old house, once so muggy and dark, with all the cheer and comfort
of life. She knew that Michael Sunlocks felt the change, for one
day she heard him say to the priest, as he lifted his blind face and
seemed to look around, "One would think that this place must be
full of sunshine."
"Why, and so it is," said the priest, "and that's my good house-
3 oo THE BONDMAN
"I have heard her step," said Michael Sunlocks. "Who is she ?"
"A poor young woman that has lately lost her husband," said
"Young, you say?" said Sunlocks.
"Why, yes, young as I go," said the priest.
"Poor soul !" said Sunlocks.
It cost Greeba many a pang not to fling herself at her husband's
feet at hearing that word so sadly spoken. But she remembered
her promise and was silent. Not long afterward she heard
Michael Sunlocks ask the priest if he had never thought of mar-
riage. And the priest answered yes, that he was to have married
at Reykjavik about the time he was sent to Grimsey, but the lady
had looked shy at his banishment and declined to share it.
"So I have never looked at a woman again," said the priest
"And I daresay you have your tender thoughts of her, though
so badly treated," said Sunlocks.
"Well, yes," said the priest, "yes."
"You were chaplain at Reykjavik, but looking to be priest or
dean, and perhaps bishop some day ?" said Sunlocks.
"Well, maybe so; such dreams come in one's youth," said the
"And when you were sent to Grimsey there was nothing before
you but a cure of less than a hundred souls?" said Sunlocks.
"That is so," said the priest.
"The old story," said Sunlocks and he drew a deep breath.
But deeper far was the breath that Greeba drew, for it seemed
to be the last gasp of her heart.
A year passed, and never once had Greeba spoken that her
husband might hear her. But if she did not speak, she listened al-
ways, and the silence of her tongue seemed to make her ears the
more keen. Thus she found a way to meet all his wishes, and be-
fore he had asked he was answered. If the day was cold he found
gloves to his hand; if he thought to wash there was water beside
him ; if he wished to write the pen lay near his fingers. Meantime
he never heard more than a light footfall and the rustle of a dress
about him, but as these sounds awoke painful memories he listened
and said nothing.
The summer had come and gone in which he could walk out by
the priest's arm, or lie by the hour within sound of a stream, and
the winter had fallen in with its short days and long nights. And
once, when the snow lay thick on the ground, Greeba heard him
say how cheerfully he might cheat time of many a weary hour of
days like that if only he had a fiddle to beguile them. At that she
THE BONDMAN 30!
remembered that it was not want of money that had placed her
where she was, and before the spring of that year a little church
organ came from Reykjavik, addressed to the priest, as a present
from some one whose name was unknown to him.
"Some guardian angel seems to hover around us," said Michael
Sunlocks, "to give us everything that we can wish for."
The joy in his blind face brought smiles into the face of
Greeba, but her heart was heavy for all that. To live within hourly
sight of love, yet never to share it, was to sit at a feast and eat
nothing. To hear his voice, yet never to answer it, to see his face,
yet never to touch it with the lips that hungered to kiss it, was an
ordeal more terrible than any woman's heart could bear. Should
she not speak? Might she not reveal herself? Not yet, not yet!
But how long, oh, how long?
In the heat of her impatience she could not quite restrain
herself, and, though she dared not speak, she sang. It was on the
Sunday after the organ cam<e, when all the people at Grimsey
were at church, in their strong odor of fish and sea-fowl, to hear the
strange new music. Michael Sunlocks played it, and when the pejfc-J
pie sang Greeba also joined them. Her voice was low at first, but
she soon lost herself and then it rose above the other voices. Sud-
denly the organ stopped, and she was startled to see the blind face
of her husband turning in her direction.
Later the same day she heard Sunlocks say to the priest, "Who
was the lady who sang?"
"Why, that was my good housekeeper," said the priest.
"And did you say that she had lost her husband ?" said Sunlocks.
"Yes, poor thing, and she is a foreigner, too," said the priest.
"Did you say a foreigner?" said Sunlocks.
"Yes, and she has a child left with her also," said the priest.
"A child?" said Sifnlocks. And then after a pause he added,
with more indifference, "Poor girl ! poor girl !"
Hearing this, Greeba fluttered on the verge of discovering her-
self. "If only I could be sure," she thought, but she could not; and
the more closely for the chance that had so nearly revealed her,
she hid herself henceforward in the solitude of an Iceland servant.
Two years passed and then Greeba had to share her secret
with another. That other was her own child. The little man
was nearly three years old by this time, walking a little and talking
a great deal, and not to be withheld by any care from going over
every corner of the house. He found Michael Sunlocks sitting
alone in his darkness, and the two struck up a fast friendship. They
talked in baby fashion, and played on the floor for hours. With a
302 THE BONDMAN
,\vild thrill of the heart, Greeba saw those twain together, and it
cost her all she had of patience and self-command not to break in
upon them with a shower of rapturous kisses. But she held back
her heart like a dog on the leash and listened, while her eyes
rained tears and her lips smiled, to the words that passed between
"And what's your name, my sweet one?" said Sunlocks in En-
"Michael," lisped the little man.
"So ? And an Englishman, too. That's brave."
"Ot's the name of your 'ickle boy?"
"Ah, I've got none, sweetheart."
"But if I had one perhaps his name would be Michael also."
The little eyes looked up into the blind face, and the little lip
\ began to fall. Then, by a sudden impulse, the little legs clambered
f up to the knee of Sunlocks, and the little head nestled close against
"I'll be your 'ickle boy."
"So you shall, my sweet one, and you shall come again and sit
with me, and sing to me, for I am very lonely sometimes, and your
dear voice will cheer me."
But the little man had forgotten his trouble by this time, and
scrambled back to the floor. There he sat on his haunches like a
frog, and cried, "Look ! look ! look !" as he held up a white pebble
in his dumpy hand.
"I can not look, little one, for I am blind."
"Having eyes that can not see, sweetheart."
"But your eyes can see, and if you are to be my little boy, my
little Michael, your eyes shall see for my eyes also, and you shall
come to me every day, and tell me when the sun is shining, and
the sky is blue, and then we will go out together and listen for the
birds that will be singing."
"Dat's nice," said the little fellow, looking down at the pebble
in his palm, and just then the priest came into the house out of
"How comes it that this sweet little man and I have never met
before?" said Sunlocks.
"You might live ten years in an Iceland house and never see
the children of its servants," said the priest.
THE BONDMAN 303
"I've heard his silvery voice, though," said Sunlocks. "What
is the color of his eyes ?"
"Blue," said the priest.
"Then his hair this long curly hair it must be of the color
of the sun?" said Sunlocks.
"Flaxen," said the priest.
"Run along to your mother, sweetheart, run," said Sunlocks,
and, dropping back in his seat, he murmured, "How easily he might
have been my son indeed."
Kneeling on both knees, her hot face turned down and her parted
lips quivering, Greeba had listened to all this with the old delicious
trembling at both sides of her heart. And going back to her own
room, she caught sight of herself in the glass, and saw that her eyes
were dancing like diamonds and all her cheeks a rosy red. Life,
and a gleam of sunshine, seemed to have shot into her face in an
instant, and while she looked there came over her a creeping thrill
of delight, for she knew that she was beautiful. And because he
loved beauty whose love was everything to her, she cried for joy,
and picked up her boy, where he stood tugging at her gown, and
kissed him rapturously.
The little man, with proper manly indifference to such endear-
ments, wriggled back to the ground, and then Greeba remembered,
with a flash that fell on her brain like a sword, that her husband
was blind now, and all the beauty of the world was nothing to him.
Smitten by this thought, she stood a moment, while the sunshine
died out of her eyes and the rosy red out of her cheeks. But
presently it came to her to ask herself if Sunlocks was blind for-
ever, and if nothing could be done for him. This brought back,
with pangs of remorse for such long forgetfulness, the memory
of some man, an apothecary of Husavik, who had the credit of
curing many of blindness after accidents in the northern mines
where free men worked for wage. So, thinking of this apothecary
throughout that day and the next, she found at last a crooked way
to send money to him, out of the store that still remained to her,
and to ask him to come to Grimsey.
But, waiting for the coming of the apothecary, a new dread,
that was also a new hope, stole over her.
Since that first day on which her boy and her husband talked
together, and every day thereafter when Sunlocks had called out
"Little Michael ! little Michael !" and she had sent the child in,
with his little flaxen curls combed out, his little chubby face rubbed
to a shiny red, and all his little body smelling sweet with the soft
odors of childhood, she had noticed she could not help it that
304 THE BONDMAN
Sunlocks listened for the sound of her own footstep whenever by
chance (which might have been rare) she passed his way.
And at first this was a cause of fear to her, lest he should dis-
cover her before her time came to reveal herself ; and then of hope
that he might even do so, and save her against her will from the
sickening pains of hungry waiting ; and finally of horror, that per-
haps after all he was thinking of her as another woman. This last
thought sent all the blood of her body tingling into her face, and on
the day it flashed upon her, do what she would she could not but
hate him for it as for an infidelity that might not be forgiven.
"He never speaks of me," she thought, "never thinks of me; I
am dead to him ; quite, quite dead and swept out of his mind."
It was a cruel conflict of love and hate, and if it had come to
a man he would have said within himself, "By this token I know
that she whom I love has forgotten me, and may be happy with an-
other some day. Well, I am nothing let me go my ways." But
that is not the gospel of a woman's love, with all its sweet, delicious
selfishness. So after Greeba had told herself once or twice that
her husband had forgotten her, she told herself a score of times that
do what he would he should yet be hers, hers only, and no other
woman's in all the wide world. Then she thought, "How foolish !
Who is there to take him from me? Why, no one."
About the same time she heard Sunlocks question the priest
concerning her, asking what the mother of little Michael was like
to look upon. And the priest answered that if the eyes of an old
curmudgeon like himself could see straight, she was comely beyond
her grade in life, and young, too, though her brown hair had some-
times a shade of gray, and gentle and silent, and of a soft and
"I've heard her voice once," said Sunlocks. "And her husband
was an Icelander, and he is dead, you say?"
"Yes," said the priest; "and she's like myself in one thing."
"And what is that?" said Sunlocks.
"That she has never been able to look at anybody else," said the
priest. "And that's why she is here, you must know, burying her-
self alive on old Grimsey."
"Oh," said Sunlocks, in the low murmur of the blind, "if God
had but given me this woman, so sweet, so true, so simple, instead
of her of her and yet and yet "
"Gracious heavens!" thought Greeba, "he is falling in love
At that, the hot flush overspread her cheeks again, and her
dark eyes danced, and all her loveliness flowed back upon her in
THE BONDMAN 305
an instant. And then a subtle fancy, a daring scheme, a wild ad-
venture broke on her heart and head, and made every nerve in her
body quiver. She would let him go on; he should think she was
the other woman ; she would draw him on to love her, and one day
when she held him fasrttnd sure, and he was hers, hers, hers only
forever and ever, she would open her arms and cry, "Sunlocks,
Sunlocks, I am Greeba, Greeba!"
It was while she was in the first hot flush of this wild thought,
never doubting but the frantic thing was possible, for love knows
no impediments, that the apothecary came from Husavik, saying he
was sent by some unknown correspondent named Adam Fair-
brother, who had written from London. He examined the eyes of
Michael Sunlocks by the daylight first, but the season being the
winter season, and the daylight heavy with fog from off the sea,
he asked for a candle, and Greeba was called to hold it while he
examined the eyes again. Never before had she been so near to
her husband throughout the two years that she had lived under the
same roof with him, and now that she stood face to face with him,
within sound of his very breathing, with nothing between them but
the thin gray film that lay over his dear eyes, she could not per-
suade herself but that he was looking at her and seeing her. Then
she began to tremble, and presently a voice said :
"Steadily, young woman, steadily, or your candle may fall on
the good master's face."
She tried to compose herself, but could not, and when she had
recovered from her first foolish dread, there came a fear that was
not foolish a fear of the verdict of the apothecary. Waiting for
this in those minutes that seemed to be hours, she knew that she
was on the verge of betraying herself, and however she held her
breath she could see that her bosom was heaving.
"Yes," said the apothecary, calmly, "yes, I see no reason why
you should not recover your sight."
"Thank God!" said Michael Sunlocks.
"Thank God again," said the priest.
And Greeba, who had dropped the candle to the floor at length,
had to run from the room on the instant, lest the cry of her heart
should straightway be the cry of her lips as well, "Thank God,
again and again, forever and forever."
And, being back in her own apartment, she plucked up her
child into her arms, and cried over him, and laughed over him,
and whispered strange words of delight into his ear, mad words
of love, wild words of hope.
"Yes, yes," she whispered, "he will recover his sight, and see
306 THE BONDMAN
his little son, and know him for his own, his own, his own. Oh,
yes, yes, yes, he will know him, he will know him, for he will see
his own face, his own dear face, in little Michael's."
But next day, when the apothecary had gone, leaving lotions
and drops for use throughout a month, and promising to return at
the end of it, Greeba's new joy made way for a new terror, as she
reflected that just as Sunlocks would see little Michael if he re-
covered his sight, so he would see herself. At that thought all
her heart was in her mouth again, for she told herself that if Sun-
locks saw her he would also see what deception she had practised
in that house, and would hate her for it, and tell her, as he had told
her once before, that it came of the leaven of her old lightness that
had led her on from false-dealing to false-dealing, and so he would
turn his back upon her or drive her from him.
Then in the cruel war of her feelings she hardly knew whether
to hope that Sunlocks should recover his sight, or remain as he
was. Her pity cried out for the one, and her love for the other.
If he recovered, at least there would be light for him in his dun-
geon, though she might not be near to share it. But if he remained
as he was, she would be beside him always, his second sight, his
silent guardian spirit, eating her heart out with hungry love, but
content and thanking God.
"Why couldn't I leave things as they were?" she asked herself,
but she was startled out of the selfishness of her love by a great
crisis that came soon afterward.
Now Michael Sunlocks had been allowed but little intercourse
with the world during the two and a half years of his imprison-
ment since the day of his recapture at the Mount of Laws. While
in the prison at Reykjavik he had heard the pitiful story of that
day ; who his old yoke-fellow had been, what he had done and said,
and how at last, when his brave scheme had tottered to ruin, he
had gone out of the ken and knowledge of all men. Since Sunlocks
came to Grimsey he had written once to Adam Fairbrother, asking
tenderly after the old man's own condition, earnestly after Greeba's
material welfare, and with deep affectionate solicitude for the last
tidings of Jason. His letter never reached its destination, for the
Governor of Iceland was the postmaster as well. And Adam on his
part had written twice to Michael Sunlocks, once from Copenhagen,
where (when Greeba had left for Grimsey) he had gone by help
of her money from Reykjavik, thinking to see the King of Den-