and already Stephen seemed to hear the grating of her keel over
the rocks below the beach. He could bear the suspense no longer,
and hoisted sail to bear down on the schooner and warn her.
the wind was strong by this time, driving hard off the sea and the
tide ran faster than before.
Stephen Orry was now some thirty fathoms' space to the north
of the broken pier, and at that point the current from across Maug-
hold Head meets the current going across the Mull of Galloway.
Laboring in the heavy sea he could barely fetch about, but when
at last he got head out to sea he began to drive down on the
THE BONDMAN 73
schooner at a furious speed. He tried to run close along by her on
the weather side, but before he came within a hundred fathoms he
saw that he was in the full race of the north current, and strong
seaman though he was, he could not get near. Then he shouted,
but the wind carried away his voice. He shouted again, but the
schooner gave no sign. In the darkness the dark vessel scudded
He was now like a man possessed. Fetching about, he ran in
before the wind, thinking to pass the schooner on her tack. He
passed her indeed: he was shot far beyond her, shouting as he
went, but again his voice was drowned in the roar of the sea. He
was almost atop of the breakers now, yet he fetched about once
more, and shouted again and again and again. But the ship came
on and on, and no one heard the wild voice, that rang out between
the dark sea and sky like the cry of a strong swimmer in his last
THE COMING OF JASON
THE schooner was the "Peveril," homeward bound from Reyk-
javik to Dublin, with a hundred tons of tallow, fifty bales of eider
down, and fifty casks of cods' and sharks' oil. Leaving the Ice-
landic capital on the morning after Easter Day, with a fair wind,
for the outer Hebrides, she had run through the North Channel
by the middle of the week, and put into Whitehaven on the Fri-
day. Next day she had stood out over the Irish Sea for the Isle of
Man, intending to lie off at Ramsey for contraband rum. Her
skipper and mate were both Englishmen, and her crew were all
Irish, except two, a Manxman and an Icelander.
The Manxman was a grizzled old seadog, who had followed
the Manx fisheries twenty years and smuggling twenty other years,
and then turned seaman before the mast. His name was Davy
Kerruish, and when folks asked if the Methodists had got hold of
him that he had turned honest in his old age, he closed one rheumy
yellow eye very knowingly, tipped one black thumb over his
shoulder to where the Government cutters lay anchored outside,
and said in a touching voice: "Aw, well, boy, I'm thinking Castle
Rushen isn't no place for a poor man when he's gettin* anyways
The Icelander was a brawny young fellow of about twenty, of
great height and big muscles, and with long red hair. He had
4 Vol. II.
shipped at Reykjavik, in the room of an Irishman who had died on
the outward trip and been buried at sea off the Engy Island. He
was not a favorite among the crew ; he spoke English well, but was
no good at a yarn in the forecastle ; he was silent, gloomy, not too
fond of work, and often the butt of his mates in many a lumbering
jest that he did not seem to see. He had signed on the wharf on
the morning the schooner sailed, and the only kit he had brought
aboard was a rush cage with a canary. He hung the bird in the
darkness above his bunk, and it was all but his sole companion.
Now and again he spoke to old Kerruish, but hardly ever to the
"Och, sollum and quiet lek," old Davy would say at the galley
Jire, "but none so simple at all. Aw no, no, no; and wonderful
cur'ous about my own bit of an island yander."
The Icelander was Jason, son of Rachel and Stephen Orry.
There is not a more treacherous channel around the British!
Isles than that which lies between St. Bee's Head, the Mull of Gal-
loway, and the Point of Ayre, for four strong currents meet and
fight in that neck of the Irish Sea. With a stiff breeze on the port
quarter, the "Percival" had been driven due west from Whitehaven
on the heavy current from the Solway Frith, until she had met the
current from the North Channel and then she had tacked down
toward the Isle of Man. It was dark by that time, and the skipper
had leaned over the starboard gangway until he had sighted the
light on the Point of Ayre. Even then he had been puzzled, for
the light was feebler than he remembered it.
"Can you make it out, Davy?" he had said to old Kerruish.
"Aw, yes, though; and plain as plain," said Davy; and then
the skipper had gone below.
The Manxman had been at the helm, and Jason, who was on
the same watch, had sidled up to him at intervals and held a con-
versation with him in snatches, of which this is the sum and
"Is it the Isle of Man on the starboard bow, Davy?"
"I darn' say no, boy."
"Lived there long, Davy?"
"Aw, thirty years afore you were born, maybe."
"Ever known any of my countrymen on the island ?"
"Just one, boy; just one."
"What was he?"
"A big chap, six feet six, if an inch, and ter'ble strong; and a
fist at him like a sledge; and a rough enough divil, too, and ye
darn' spit afore him; but quiet for all aw, yes, wonderful quiet."
THE BONDMAN 75
"Who was he, Davy?"
"A widda man these teens of years."
"But what was his name?"
"Paul ? no ! Peter ? no ! Chut, bless ye, it's clane gone at
me; but it's one of the lot in the ould Book, any way."
"Was it Stephen?"
"By gough, yes, and a middlin' good guess too."
"Stephen shoo! it's gone at me again! What's that they're
callin' the ould King that's going buryin' down Laxey way?"
"Stephen Orry, it is, for sure. Then it's like you knew him,
"No that is no, no."
"No. But is he still alive?"
"Aw, yes, though. It's unknownced to me that he's dead,
"Where is he living now?"
"Down Port Erin way, by the Sound, some place."
"Davy, do we put into the harbor at Ramsey?"
"Aw, divil a chance of that, boy, with sperrets comin' over the
side quiet-like in the night, you know, eighteen-pence a gallon,
and as much as you can drink for nothinV
"How far do we lie outside?"
"Maybe a biscuit throw or two. We never useder lie farther,
"That's nothing, Davy."
After that the watch had been changed, and then a strange
thing happened. The day had been heavy and cold, with a sky
that hung low over the sea, and a .mist that reduced the visible
globe to a circle of fifty fathoms wide. As the night had closed in
the mist had lifted, and the wind had risen and some sheets of
water had come combing over the weather quarter. The men had
been turned up to stow the yards and bring the schooner to the
wind, and when they had gone below they had been wet and mis-
erable, chewing doggedly at the tobacco in their cheeks, and growl-
ing at the darkness of the forecastle, for the slush-lamp had not yet
been lighted. And just then, above the muttered curses, the tramp-
ing of heavy boots, and the swish of oilskins that were being shaken
to drain them, there arose the sweet song of a bird. It was
Jason's canary, singing in the dark corner of his bunk a foot above
his head, for on coming below the lad had thrown himself down
76 THE BONDMAN
in his wet clothes. The growling came to an end, the shuffling
of feet stopped, and the men paused a moment to listen, and then
burst into peals of laughter. But the bird gave no heed either to
their silence or their noise, but sang on with a full throat. And the
men listened, and then laughed again, and then suddenly ceased to
laugh. A match was struck and the slush-lamp began to gleam
out over mahogany faces that looked at each other with eyes of
awe. The men shook out their coats and hung them over the
stanchions. Still the bird sang on. It was uncanny, this strange
singing in the darkness. The men charged their cuddies, fired up,
and crouched together as they smoked. Still the bird sang on.
"Och, it's the divil in the craythur," said one; "you go bail
there's a storm brewin'. It's just ould Harry hisself re j 'icing."
"Then by St. Patrick, I'll screw the neck of him," said another.
"Aisy, man, aisy," said old Davy; 'it's the lad's."
"The lad be " said the other, and up he jumped. Jason
saw the man coming toward his bunk, and laid hold of the wrist
of the arm that he stretched over it.
"Stop that," said Jason ; but the lad was on his back, and in an
instant the man had thrown his body on top of him, leaned over
him and wrenched open the door of the cage. The song stopped;
there was a short rustle of wings, a slight chirp-chirp, and then a
moment's silence, followed by the man's light laugh as he drew back
with the little yellow bird dangling by the neck from his black
thumb and forefinger.
But before the great hulking fellow had twisted about to where
his mates sat and smoked under the lamp, Jason had leaped from
his bunk, stuck his fist into the ruffian's throat and pinned him
against a beam.
- you," he cried, thrusting his face into the man's face;
"shall I kill you after it?"
"Help ! My God, help !" the man gurgled out, with Jason's
knuckles ground hard into his windpipe.
The others were in no hurry to interfere, but they shambled up
at length, and amid shouts and growls of "Let go," "Let go the
hoult," and "God's sake, slack the grip," the two were parted.
Then the man who had killed the bird went off, puffing and cursing
between his chattering teeth, and his mates began to laugh at the
big words that came from his weak stomach, while old Davy Ker-
ruish went over to Jason to comfort him.
"Sarve him right, the craythur," said Davy. "He's half dead,
but that's just half too much life in him yet, though. It's what I've
tould them times on times. 'Lave him alone,' says I; 'the lad's
THE BONDMAN 77
quiet, but he'll be coorse enough if he's bothered.' And my gough,
boy, what a face at ye yander, when you were twissin' the handker-
cher at him ! Aw, thinks I, he's the spittin picsher of the big widda
man Orry Stephen Orry brimstone and vinegar, and gunpowder
atop of a slow fire."
And it was just at that moment, as old Davy was laughing
through his yellow eyes and broken teeth at young Jason, and the
other men were laughing at Jason's adversary, and the dim fore-
castle under its spluttering slush-lamp echoed and rang with the
uproar, that a wild voice came down from the deck "Below there !
All hands up ! Breakers ahead !"
Now the moment when the watch had been changed had been
the very moment when Stephen Orry had run down the lamp, so
that neither by the Manxman who gave up the helm nor by the
Irishman who took it had the light been missed when it fell into the
sea. And the moment when Stephen Orry shouted to the schooner
to warn it had been the moment when the muffled peals of laughter
at the bird's strange song had come up from the watch below in
the forecastle. The wind had whistled among the sheets, and the
flying spray had smitten the men's faces, but though the mist had
lifted, the sky had still hung low and dark, showing neither moon
nor stars, nor any hint of the land that lay ahead. But straight
for the land the vessel had been driving in the darkness, under the
power of wind and tide. After a time the helmsman had sighted
a solitary light close in on the lee bow. "Point of Ayre," he
thought, and luffed off a little, intending to beat down the middle
of the bay. It had been the light on the jetty at Ramsey; and the
little town behind it, with its back to the sea, lay dark and asleep,
for the night was then well worn toward midnight. After that the
helmsman had sighted two stronger lights beyond. "Ramsey," he
thought, and put his helm aport. But suddenly the man on the
lookout had shouted, "Breakers ahead," and the cry had been sent
down the forecastle.
In an instant all hands were on deck, amid the distraction and
uproar, the shouting and blind groping of the cruel darkness.
Against the dark sky the yet darker land could now be plainly
seen, and a strong tide was driving the vessel on to it. The helm
was put hard to starboard, and the schooner's head began to pay
off toward the wind. Then all at once it was seen that right under
the vessel's bow some black thing lay just above the level of the
sea, with a fringe of white foam around it.
"Davy, what do you make of it?" shouted the skipper.
"Lord-a-massy, it's the Carick," screamed Davy.
7 8 THE BONDMAN
"Let go the anchor," roared the skipper.
But it was too late even for that last refuge. At the next mo-
ment the schooner struck heavily; she was on the reef in Ramsey
Bay, and pitching miserably with every heave of the sea.
The two bright lights that led the vessel to her ruin came from
the two little bays that lie under Maughold Head. The light in
Port-y-Vullin was in the hut of Stephen Orry, who had lit his
lamp and placed it in the window when he went out to bid fare-
well to Michael Sunlocks, thinking no evil thereby to any man, but
only that it would guide him home again when he should return in
the boat. The light in Port Lague was from the cottage of three
old net weavers, who had lived there without woman or girl, or
chick or child, through more than forty years. Two of the three were
brothers, Danny and Jemmy Kewley, both over seventy years old,
and their housemate, who was ninety, and had been a companion
of their father, was known as Juan McLady. Danny and Jemmy
still worked at the looms year in and year out, every working hour
of the day and night, and Juan, long past other labor, cooked and
sewed and cleaned for them. All three had grown dim of sight,
and now groped about like three old earthworms. Every year for
five years past they had needed an extra candle to work by, so that
eight tallow dips, made in their own iron mold, swung from the
open roof rafters over the meshes on that night when the "Peveril"
struck on the Carick.
It was supper-time, though old Danny and old Jemmy were still
at the looms. Old Juan had washed out a bowl of potatoes, filled the
pot with them, hung them on the chimney hook and stirred the
peats. Then to make them boil the quicker he had gone out with
the tongs to the side of the house for some dry gorse from the
gorse heap. While there he had peered through the darkness of
the bay for the light on the Point of Ayre, and had missed it, and
on going back he had said :
"It's out again. That's the third time inside a month. I'll go
bail something will happen yet."
He had got no answer, and so sat down on the three-legged
stool to feed the fire with gorse lifted on the tongs. When the
potatoes had boiled he had carried them to the door to drain them,
and then, with the click-clack of the levers behind him, he had
thought he heard, over the deep boom and plash of the sea in
front, a voice like a cry. Going indoors he had said : "Plague on
the water-bailiff and commissioners and kays and councils. I'll
go bail there's smuggling going on under their very noses. I'd
have the law on the lot of them, so I would."
THE BONDMAN 79
Old Danny and old Jemmy knew the temper of their house-
mate that he was never happy save when he had somebody to
higgle with so they paid no heed to his mutterings. But when
Juan, having set the potatoes to steam with a rag spread over
them, went out for the salt herrings, to where they hung to dry on
a stick against the sunny side of the porch, he was sure that above
the click of the levers, the boom and plash of the sea, and the
whistle of the wind, he could hear a clamorous shout of many
voices, like a wild cry of distress. Then he hobbled back with a
wizened face of deadly pallor and told what he had heard, and the
shuttles were stopped, and there was silence in the little house.
"It went by me same as the wind," said old Juan.
"Maybe it was the nightman," said old Danny.
At that old Jemmy nodded his head very gravely, and old Juan
held on to the lever handles; and through those precious minutes
when the crew of the schooner were fighting in the grip of death
in the darkness, these three old men, their nearest fellow creatures,
half dead, half blind, were held in the grip of superstitious fears.
"There again," cried old Juan ; and through the door that he
had left open the cry came in above roar of wind and sea.
"It's men that's yander," said old Jemmy.
"Ay," said old Danny.
"Maybe it's a ship on the Carick," said old Juan.
"Let's away and look," said old Jemmy.
And then the three helpless old men, trembling and affrighted,
straining their dim eyes to see and their deaf ears to hear, and
clinging to each other's hands like little children, groped their
slow way to the beach. Down there the cries were louder than
they had been on the brows above.
"Mercy me, let's away to Lague for the boys," said old Juan ;
and leaving behind them the voices that cried for help, the old
men trudged and stumbled through the dark lanes.
Lague was asleep, but the old men knocked, and the windows
were opened and night-capped heads thrust through. Very soon
the house and courtyard echoed with many footsteps, and the bell
over the porch rang out through the night, to call up the neighbors
far and near.
Ross and Stean and Thurstan were the first to reach the shore,
and there they found the crew of the "Peveril" landed every man
safe and sound, but drenching wet with the water they had passed
through to save their lives. The schooner was still on the Carick,
much injured already, plunging with every hurling sea on to the
sharp teeth of the shoal beneath her, and going to pieces fast.
80 THE BONDMAN
And now that help seemed to be no more needed the people came
flocking down in crowds the Fairbrothers, with Greeba, and all
their men and maids, Kane Wade, the Methodist, with Chaise
A'Killey, who had been sleeping the night at his house, Nary
Crowe, and Matt Mylechreest and old Coobragh. And while Davy
Kerruish shook the salt water from his sou'wester, and growled out
to them with an oath that they had been a plaguy long time coming,
and the skipper bemoaned the loss of his ship, and the men of their
kits, Chaise was down on his knees on the beach, lifting up his
crazy, cracked voice in loud thanksgiving. At that the growling
ended, and then Asher Fairbrother, who had been the last to come,
invited the ship-broken men to Lague, and all together they turned
to follow him.
Just at that moment a cry was heard above the tumult of the
sea. It was a wild shriek that seemed to echo in the lowering
dome of the sky. Greeba was the first to hear it.
"There was some one left on the ship !" she cried.
The men stopped and looked into each other's faces one
"No," said the skipper, "we're all here.'"
The cry was heard once more; it was a voice of fearful agony.
"That's from Port-y-Vullin," said Asher Fairbrother: and
to Port-y-Vullin they all hastened off, following the way of the
beach. There it was easy to see from whence the cries had come.
An open fishing boat was laboring in the heavy sea, her stern half
prancing like an unbroken horse, and her forepart jammed between
two horns of the rock that forks out into the sea from Maughold
Head. She had clearly been making for the little bay, when she
had fallen foul of the shoal that lies to the north of it. Dark as the
night was, the sea and sky were lighter than the black headland,
and the figure of a man in the boat could be seen very plainly.
He was trying to unship the mast, that he might lighten the little
craft and ease her off the horns that held her like a vise, but every
fresh wave drove her head deeper into the cleft, and at each vain
effort he shouted again and again in rage and fear.
A boat was lying high and dry on the shore. Two of the Fair-
brothers, Stean and Thurstan, ran it into the water, jumped into
it, and pushed off. But the tide was still making, the sea was
running high, a low ground swell was scooping up the shingle and
flinging it through the ftir like sleet, and in an instant the boat was
cast back on the shore. "No use, man," shouted many voices.
But Greeba cried, "Help, help, help !" She seemed to be beside
herself with suspense. Some vague fear, beyond the thought of a
THE BONDMAN 81
man's life in peril, seemed to possess her. Did she know what it
was? She did not. She dared not fix her mind upon it. She was
afraid of her own fear. But, low down within her, and ready at
any moment to leap to her throat, was the dim ghost of a dread that
he who was in the boat, and in danger of his life on the rock, might
be very near and dear to her. With her hood fallen back from
her head to her shoulders, she ran to and fro among the men on
the beach, crying: "He will be lost. Will no one save him?"
But the other women clung to the men, and the men shook
their heads and answered: "He's past saving," and "We've got
wives and childers lookin' to us, miss and what's the use of throw-
ing your life away?"
Still the girl cried "Help," and then a young fellow pushed
through to where she stood, and said: "He's too near for us to
stand here and see him die."
"Oh, God bless and keep you forever and ever," cried Greeba;
and, lifted completely out of all self-control, she threw her arms
about the young man and kissed him fervently on the cheek. It
was Jason. He had found a rope and coiled one end of it about his
waist, and held the other end in his hand. The touch of Greeba's
quivering lips had been as fire to him. "Lay hold," he cried, and
threw the loose end of the rope to Thurstan Fairbrother. At the
next moment he was breast-high in the sea. The man must have
seen him coming, for the loud clamor ceased.
"Brave lad !" said Greeba, in a deep whisper.
"Brave is it? It's mad, I'm calling it," said old Davy.
"Who is it?" said the skipper.
"The young Icelander," said Davy.
"Not the lad Jason?"
"Aw, yes, though Jason the gawk, as they're saying. Poor
lad, there's a heart at him."
The people held their breath. Greeba covered her eyes with
her hands, and felt an impulse to scream. Wading with strong
strides, and swimming with yet stronger strokes, Jason reached
the boat. A few minutes afterward he was back on the shore,
dragging the man after him.
The man lay insensible in Jason's arms, bleeding from a wound
in the head. Greeba stooped quickly to peer into his face in the
darkness, and then rose up and turned away with a sigh that was
like a sigh of relief.
"He's done for," said Jason, putting him down.
"Who is he ?" ried a score of voices.
"God knows; fetch a lantern," said Jason.
82 THE BONDMAN
"See, there's a light in old Orry's hut yonder. Let's away there
with him. It will be the nearest place," said Kane Wade.
Then shoulder-high they raised the insensible man and carried
him to Stephen Orry's hut.
"What a weight he is !" -said Kane Wade. "Slip along, some-
body, and get the door opened."
Chaise A'Killey ran on ahead.
"Where's Stephen, to-night, that he's not out with us at work
same as this?" said Matt Mylechreest.
"He's been down here all week," puffed Nary Crowe.
In another minute Chaise was knocking at the door, and call-
ing loudly as he knocked:
"Stephen! Stephen! Stephen Orry!"
There came no answer, and he knocked again and called yet
"Stephen, let us in. There's a man here dying."
But no one stirred within the house. "He's asleep," said one.
"Stephen Stephen Orry Stephen Orry wake up, man can't
you hear us ? Have you no bowels, that you'd keep the man out ?"
"He's not at home force the door," Kane Wade shouted.
One blow was enough. The door was fastened only by a hemp
rope wound around a hasp on the outside, and it fell open with
a crash. Then the men with the burden staggered into the house.
They laid the insensible man on the floor, and there the light of
the lamp that burned in the window fell upon his face.
"Lord-a-massy !" they cried, "it's Stephen Orry hisself."
THE END OF ORRY
WHEN the tumult was over, and all lives appeared to be saved,
and nothing seemed lost save the two vessels the schooner
and the yawl, which still rose and fell on the Carick and
the forked reef of the head and the people separated, and the three
old net weavers straggled back to their home, the crew of the "Pev-
eril" went off with the Fairbrothers to Lague. Great preparations
were already afoot there, for Asher had sent on a message ahead
of them, and the maids were bustling about, the fire was rekindled
in the kitchen, and the kettle was singing merrily. And first there