Various.

Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science Volume 26, September, 1880 online

. (page 5 of 20)
Online LibraryVariousLippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science Volume 26, September, 1880 → online text (page 5 of 20)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


sooner was the fires seen to be out - meaning, as all thought, that the
Hart was safe off - than nothing would do but we must go on to Yellow
Rock, which meant waiting for over an hour till the tide served for
it."

"But you never gived in to 'em, Adam?"

"Gived in?" he repeated bitterly. "After Jerrem had once put the
thought into their heads you might so well have tried to turn stone
walls as get either one to lay a finger on anything. They wanted to
know what was the good o' taking the trouble to sink the kegs overboard
when by just waitin' we could store all safe in the caves along there,
under cliff."

"Most half drunk, I s'pose?" said Joan.

"By Jove! then they'd pretty soon something to make 'em sober," replied
Adam grimly; "for in little more than half an hour we spied the two
boats comin' up behind us, and 'fore they was well caught sight of
they'd opened out fire."

"And had 'ee got to return it?" asked Joan.

"Not till they were close up we didn't, and then I b'lieve the sight of
us would have been enough; only, as usual, Mr. Jerrem must be on the
contrary, and let fly a shot that knocked down the bow-oar of the
foremost boat like a nine-pin. That got up their blood a bit, and then
at it our chaps went, tooth and nail - such a scrimmage as hasn't been
seen hereabouts since the Happy-go-Lucky was took and Welland shot in
her."

"Lord save us! However did 'ee manage to get off so well?" said Joan.

"Get off?" he said. "Why, we could have made a clean sweep of the whole
lot, and all the cry against me now is that I kept 'em from doing it.
The fools! not to see that our best chance is to do nothing more than
defend ourselves, and not run our necks into a noose by taking life
while there's any help for it!"

"Was the man shot dead that Jerrem fired at?" asked Eve.

"No, I hope not; or, if so, we haven't heard the last of it, for,
depend on it, this new officer, Buller, he's an ugly customer to deal
with, and won't take things quite so easy as old Ravens used to do."

"You'll be faintin' for somethin' to eat," said Joan, moving toward the
kitchen.

"No, I ain't," said Adam, laying a detaining hand upon her. "I couldn't
touch a thing: I want to be a bit quiet, that's all. My head seems all
of a miz-maze like."

"Then I'll just run down and see uncle," said Joan, "and try and
persuade un to come home alongs, shall I?"

Adam gave an expressive movement of his face. "You can try," he said,
"but you haven't got much chance o' bringin' him, poor old chap! He
thinks, like the rest of 'em, that they've done a fine night's work,
and they must keep it up by drinking to blood and glory. I only hope it
may end there, but if it doesn't, whatever comes, Jerrem's the one
who's got to answer for it all."

While he was saying these words Adam was pulling off his jacket, and
now went to the kitchen to find some water with which to remove the
black and dirt from his begrimed face and hands.

Eve hastened to assist him, but not before Joan had managed, by laying
her finger on her lip, to attract her attention. "For goodness
gracious' sake," she whispered, "don't 'ee brathe no word 'bout the
letter to un: there'd be worse than murder 'twixt 'em now."

Eve nodded an assurance of silence, and, opening the door, Joan went
out into the street, already alive with people, most of them bent on
the same errand as herself, anxious to hear the incidents of the fight
confirmed by the testimony of the principal actors.

The gathering-point was the sail-house behind the Peak, and thither, in
company with several friends, Joan made her way, and soon found herself
hailed with delight by Uncle Zebedee and Jerrem, both of whom were by
this time primed up to giving the most extraordinary and vivid accounts
of the fight, every detail of which was entirely corroborated by those
who had been present and those who had been absent; for the constant
demand made on the keg of spirits which, in honor of the _victory_, old
Zebedee had insisted on having broached there, was beginning to take
effect, so that the greater portion of the listeners were now turned
into talkers, and thus it was impossible to tell those who had seen
from those who had heard; and the wrangling, laughter, disputes and
congratulations made such a hubbub of confusion that the room seemed
for the time turned into a very pandemonium.

Only one thing all gave hearty assent to: that was that Jerrem was the
hero on whom the merit of triumph rested, for if he hadn't fired that
first shot ten to one but they should have listened to somebody whom,
in deference to Zebedee, they refrained from naming, and indicated by a
nod in his direction, and let the white-livered scoundrels sneak off
with the boast that the Polperro men were afraid to give fight to them.
Afraid! Why, they were afraid of nothing, not they! They'd give chase
to the Hart, board the Looe cutter, swamp the boats, and utterly rout
and destroy the whole excise department: the more bloodthirsty the
resolution proposed, the louder was it greeted.

The spirit of lawless riot seemed suddenly let loose among them, and
men who were usually kind-hearted and - after their rough
fashion - tenderly-disposed seemed turned into devils whose delight was
in violence and whose pleasure was excess.

While this revelry was growing more fast and furious below Adam was
still sitting quietly at home, with Eve by his side using her every art
to dispel the gloom by which her lover's spirits were clouded - not so
much on account of the recent fight, for Adam apprehended no such great
score of danger on that head. It was true that of late such frays had
been of rare occurrence, yet many had taken place before, and with
disastrous results, and yet the chief actors in them still lived to
tell the tale; so that it was not altogether that which disturbed him,
although it greatly added to his former moodiness, which had originally
sprung out of the growing distaste to the life he led.

The inaction of the time spent in dodging about, with nothing to occupy
him, nothing to interest him, had turned Adam's thoughts inward, and
made him determine to have done with these ventures, in which, except
as far as the gain went, he really had nothing in common with the
companions who took part in them. But, as he very well knew, it was far
easier to take this resolution in thought than it was to put it into
action. Once let the idea of his leaving them get abroad, and
difficulties would confront him whichever way he turned: obstacles
would block his path and suspicion dodge his footsteps.

His comrades, though not very far-seeing men, were quite sharp enough
to estimate the danger of losing sight of one who was in possession of
all their secrets, and who could at any moment lay his finger upon
every hiding-place in their district.

Adam himself had often listened to - and, in company with others,
silently commended - a story told of years gone by, when a brother of
the owner of the Stamp and Go, one Herkles Johns, had been pressed into
the king's service, and had there acquitted himself so gallantly that
on his return a commission had been offered to him, which he, longing
to take, accepted under condition of getting leave to see his native
place again. With the foreboding that the change of circumstances would
not be well received, he seized the opportunity occasioned by the joy
of his return to speak of the commission as a reward offered to him,
and asked the advice of those around as to whether he had not best
accept it. Opposition met him on every side. "What!" they said, "of his
own free will put himself in a place where some day he might be forced
to seize his father's vessel or swear away the lives of those he had
been born among?" The bare idea was inadmissible; and when, from asking
advice, he grew into giving his opinion, and finally into announcing
his decision, an ominous silence fell on those who heard him; and,
though he was unmolested during his stay, and permitted to leave his
former home, he was never known to reach his ship, aboard which his
mysterious disappearance was much talked of, and inquiries set afloat
to find out the reason of his absence; but among those whose name he
bore, and whose confidence he had shared, he seemed to be utterly
forgotten. His name was never mentioned nor his fate inquired into; and
Adam, remembering that he had seen the justice of this treatment, felt
the full force of its reasoning now applied to his own case, and his
heart sank before the difficulties in which he found himself entangled.

Even to Eve he could not open out his mind clearly, for, unless to one
born and bred among them, the dangers and interests of the free-traders
were matters quite beyond comprehension; so that now, when Eve was
pleading, with all her powers of persuasion, that for her sake Adam
would give up this life of reckless daring, the seemingly deaf ear he
turned to her entreaties was dulled through perplexity, and not, as she
believed, from obstinacy.

Eve, in her turn, could not be thoroughly explicit. There was a
skeleton cupboard, the key of which she was hiding from Adam's sight;
for it was not entirely "for her sake" she desired him to abandon his
present occupation: it was because, in the anxiety she had recently
undergone, in the terror which had been forced upon her, the glaze of
security had been roughly dispelled, and the life in all its
lawlessness and violence had stood forth before her. The warnings and
denunciations which only a few hours before, when Reuben May had
uttered them, she had laughed to scorn as idle words, now rang in her
ears like a fatal knell: the rope he had said would hang them all was
then a sieve of unsown hemp, since sprung up, and now the fatal cord
which dangled dangerously near.

The secret thoughts of each fell like a shadow between them: an
invisible hand seemed to thrust them asunder, and, in spite of the love
they both felt, both were equally conscious of a want of that entire
sympathy which is the keystone to perfect union.

"You _were_ very glad to see me come back to you, Eve?" Adam asked, as,
tired of waiting for Joan, Eve at length decided to sit up no longer.

"Glad, Adam? Why do you ask?"

"I can't tell," he said, "I s'pose it's this confounded upset of
everything that makes me feel as I do feel - as if," he added, passing
his hand over his forehead, "I hadn't a bit of trust or hope or comfort
in anything in the world."

"I know exactly," said Eve. "That's just as I felt when we were waiting
for you to come back. Joan asked if we should read the Bible, but I
said no, I couldn't: I felt too wicked for that."

"Wicked?" said Adam. "Why, what should make you feel wicked?"

Eve hesitated. Should she unburden her heart and confess to him all the
fears and scruples which made it feel so heavy and ill at ease? A
moment's indecision, and the opportunity lost, she said in a dejected
tone, "Oh, I cannot tell; only that I suppose such thoughts come to all
of us sometimes."

Adam looked at her, but Eve's eyes were averted; and, seeing how pale
and troubled was the expression on her face, he said, "You are
over-tired: all this turmoil has been too much for you. Go off now and
try to get some sleep. Yes, don't stay up longer," he added, seeing
that she hesitated. "I shall be glad of some rest myself, and to-morrow
we shall find things looking better than they seem to do now."

Once alone, Adam reseated himself and sat gazing abstractedly into the
fire: then with an effort he seemed to try and shake his senses
together, to step out of himself and put his mind into a working order
of thought, so that he might weigh and sift the occurrences of these
recent events.

The first question which had flashed into everybody's mind was, What
had led to this sudden attack? Had they been betrayed? and if so, Who
had betrayed them? Could it be Jonathan? Though the thought was at once
negatived, no other outsider knew of their intended movements. Of
course the matter had been discussed - as all matters were discussed and
voted for or against - among the crew; but to doubt either of them was
to doubt one's self, and any fear of betrayal among themselves was
unknown. The amount of baseness such a suspicion would imply was too
great to be incurred even in thought. What, then, could have led to
this surprise? Had their movements been watched, and this decoy of the
cutter only swallowed with the view of throwing them off their guard?

Adam was lost in speculation, from which he was aroused by the door
being softly opened and Joan coming in. "Why, Adam, I thought to find
'ee in bed," she said. "Come, now, you must be dreadful tired." Then,
sitting down to loosen her hood, she added with a sigh, "I stayed down
there so long as I could, till I saw 'twasn't no good, so I comed away
home and left 'em. 'Tis best way, I b'lieve."

"I knew 'twas no good your going," said Adam hopelessly. "I saw before
I left 'em what they'd made up their minds to."

"Well, perhaps there's a little excuse this time," said Joan, not
willing to blame those who were so dear to her; "but, Adam," she broke
out, while her face bespoke her keen appreciation of his superiority,
"why can't th' others be like you, awh, my dear? How different things
'ud be if they only was!"

Adam shook his head. "Oh, don't wish 'em like me," he said. "I often
wish I could take my pleasure in the same things and in the same way
that they do: I should be much happier, I b'lieve."

"No, now, don't 'ee say that."

"Why, what good has it done that I'm otherwise?"

"Why, ever so much - more than you'll ever know, by a good bit. I
needn't go no further than my awnself to tell 'ee that. P'r'aps you
mayn't think it, but I've bin kep' fra doin' ever so many things by the
thought o' 'What'll Adam say?' and with the glass in my hand I've set
it down untasted, thinkin' to myself, 'Now you'm actin' agen Adam's
wish, you knaw.'"

Adam smiled as he gave her a little shake of the hand.

"That's how 'tis, you see," she continued: "you'm doin' good without
knawin' of it." Then, turning her dark eyes wistfully upon him, she
asked, "Do 'ee ever think a bit 'pon poor Joan while you'm away, Adam?
Come, now, you mustn't shove off from me altogether, you knaw: you must
leave me a dinkey little corner to squeeze into by."

Adam clasped her hand tighter. "Oh, Joan," he said, "I'd give the whole
world to see my way clearer than I do now: I often wish that I could
take you all off to some place far away and begin life over again."

"Awh!" said Joan in a tone of sympathy to which her heart did not very
cordially respond, "that 'ud be a capital job, that would; but you
ain't manin' away from Polperro?"

"Yes, far away. I've bin thinkin' about it for a good bit: don't you
remember I said something o' the sort to father a little time back?"

"Iss, but I didn't knaw there was any more sense to your words than to
threaten un, like. Awh, my dear!" she said with a decided shake of the
head, "that 'ud never do: don't 'ee get hold o' such a thought as that.
Turn your back upon the place? Why, whatever 'ud they be about to let
'ee do it?"

Joan's words only echoed Adam's own thoughts: still, he tried to combat
them by saying, "I don't see why any one should try to interfere with
what I might choose to do: what odds could it make to them?"

"Odds?" repeated Joan. "Why, you'd hold all their lives in your wan
hand. Only ax yourself the question, Where's either one of 'em you'd
like to see take hisself off nobody knows why or where?"

Adam could find no satisfactory reply to this argument: he therefore
changed the subject by saying, "I wish I could fathom this last
business. 'Tis a good deal out o' the course o' plain sailing. So far
as I know by, there wasn't a living soul but Jonathan who could have
said what was up for to-night."

"Jonathan's right enough," said Joan decidedly. "I should feel a good
deal more mistrust 'bout some of 'em lettin' their tongues rin too
fast."

"There was nobody to let them run fast to," said Adam.

"Then there's the writin'," said Joan, trying to discover if Adam knew
anything about Jerrem's letter.

Adam shook his head. "'Tisn't nothing o' that sort," he said. "I don't
know that, beyond Jerrem and me, either o' the others know how to
write; and I said particular that I should send no word by speech or
letter, and the rest must do the same; and Jonathan would ha' told me
if they'd broke through in any way, for I put the question to him 'fore
he shoved off."

"Oh, did 'ee?" said Joan, turning her eyes away, while into her heart
there crept a suspicion of Jonathan's perfect honesty. Was it possible
that his love of money might have led him to betray his old friends?
Joan's fears were aroused. "'Tis a poor job of it," she said,
anxiously. "I wish to goodness 't had happened to any o' the rest, so
long as you and uncle was out of it."

"And not Jerrem?" said Adam, with a feeble attempt at his old teasing.

"Awh, Jerrem's sure to fall 'pon his feet, throw un which way you
will," said Joan. "Besides, if he didn't" - and she turned a look of
reproach on Adam - "Jerrem ain't you, Adam, nor uncle neither. I don't
deny that I don't love Jerrem dearly, 'cos I do" - and for an instant
her voice seemed to wrestle with the rush of tears which streamed from
her eyes as she sobbed - "but for you or uncle, why, I'd shed my heart's
blood like watter - iss that I would, and not think 'twas any such great
thing, neither."

"There's no need to tell me that," said Adam, whose heart, softened by
his love for Eve, had grown very tender toward Joan. "Nobody knows you
better than I do. There isn't another woman in the whole world I'd
trust with the things I'd trust you with, Joan."

"There's a dear!" said Joan, recovering herself. "It does me good to
hear 'ee spake like that. 'Tis such a time since I had a word with 'ee
that I began to feel I don't know how-wise."

"Well, yes," said Adam, smiling, "'tis a bravish spell since you and me
were together by our own two selves. But I declare your talk's done me
more good than anything I've had to-day. I feel ever so much better now
than I did before."

Joan was about to answer, when a sound made them both start and stand
for a moment listening.

"'Tis gone, whatever it was," said Adam, taking a step forward. "I
don't hear nothing now, do you?"

Joan pushed back the door leading to the stairs. "No," she said: "I
reckon 'twas nothin' but the boards. Howiver, 'tis time I went, or I
shall be wakin' up Eve. Her's a poor sleeper in general, but, what with
wan thing and 'nother, I 'spects her's reg'lar wornout, poor sawl!
to-night."




CHAPTER XXVIII.


Wornout and tired as she felt when she went up stairs, Eve's mind was
so excited by the day's adventures that she found it impossible to lull
her sharpened senses into anything like repose, and after hearing Joan
come in she lay tossing and restless, wondering why it was she did not
come up, and what could possibly be the cause of her stopping so long
below.

As time went on her impatience grew into anxiety, which in its turn
became suspicion, until, unable longer to restrain herself, she got up,
and, after listening with some evident surprise at the stair-head,
cautiously stole down the stairs and peeped, through the chink left by
the ill-fitting hinge of the door, into the room.

"There isn't another woman in the whole world I'd trust with the things
I'd trust you with, Joan," Adam was saying. Eve bent a trifle farther
forward. "You've done me more good than anything I've had to-day. I
feel ever so much better now than I did before."

An involuntary movement, giving a different balance to her position,
made the stairs creak, and to avoid detection Eve had to make a hasty
retreat and hurry back, so that when Joan came up stairs it was to find
her apparently in such a profound sleep that there was little reason to
fear any sound she might make would arouse her; but long after Joan had
sunk to rest, and even Adam had forgotten his troubles and anxieties,
Eve nourished and fed the canker of jealousy which had crept into her
heart - a jealousy not directed toward Joan, but turned upon Adam for
recalling to her mind that old grievance of not giving her his full
trust.

At another time these speeches would not have come with half the
importance: it would have been merely a vexation which a few sharp
words would have exploded and put an end to. But now, combined with the
untoward circumstances of situation - for Eve could not confess herself
a listener - was the fact that her nerves, her senses and her conscience
seemed strained to a point which made each feather-weight appear a
burden.

Filled with that smart of wounded love whose sweetest balm revenge
seems to supply, Eve lay awake until the gray light of day had filled
the room, and then, from sheer exhaustion, she fell into a doze which
gradually deepened into a heavy sleep, so that when she again opened
her eyes the sun was shining full and strong.

Starting up, she looked round for Joan, but Joan had been up for a
couple of hours and more. She had arisen very stealthily, creeping
about with the hope that Eve would not be disturbed by her movements,
for Adam's great desire was that Eve's feelings should be in no way
outraged by discovering either in Uncle Zebedee or in Jerrem traces of
the previous night's debauch; and this, by Joan's help, was managed so
well that when Eve made her appearance she was told that Uncle Zebedee,
tired like herself, was not yet awake, while Jerrem, brisked up by
several nips of raw spirit, was lounging about in a state of lassitude
and depression which might very well be attributed to reaction and
fatigue.

Perhaps if Eve could have known that Adam was not present she would
have toned down the amount of cordiality she threw into her greeting of
Jerrem - a greeting he accepted with such a happy adjustment of pleasure
and gratitude that to have shown a difference on the score of Adam's
absence would have been to step back into their former unpleasant
footing.

"Adam's gone out," said Jerrem in answer to the inquiring look Eve was
sending round the kitchen.

"Oh, I wasn't looking for Adam," said Eve, while the rush of vexed
color denied the assertion: "I was wondering where Joan could be."

"She was in here a minute ago," said Jerrem, "telling me 'twas a shame
to be idlin' about so."

"Why, are you still busy?" said Eve.

"No, nothin' to speak of but what 'ull wait - and fit it should - till
I'd spoken to you, Eve. I ain't like one who's got the chance o' comin'
when he's minded to," he added, "or the grass wouldn't ha' had much
chance o' growin' under my feet after once they felt the shore. No,
now, don't look put out with me: I ain't goin' to ask ye to listen to
nothin' you don't want to hear. I've tried to see the folly o' that
while I've bin away, and 'tis all done with and pitched overboard; and
that's what made me write that letter, 'cos I wanted us two to be like
what we used to be, you know."

"I wish you hadn't written that letter, though," said Eve, only half
inclined to credit Jerrem's assertions.

"Well, as things have turned out, so do I," said Jerrem, who, although
he did not confess it to himself, would have given all he possessed to
feel quite certain Eve would keep his secret. "You see, it's so awkard
like, when everybody's tryin' to ferret out how this affair came about.
You didn't happen to mention it to nobody, I s'pose?" and he turned a
keen glance of inquiry toward Eve.

"Me mention it?" said Eve: "I should think not! Joan can tell you how
angry we both were, for of course we knew that unless Adam had some
good cause he wouldn't have wished it kept so secret."

"And do you think I should have quitted a word to any livin' soul but
yourself?" exclaimed Jerrem. "I haven't much sense in your eyes, I
know, Eve, but you might give me credit o' knowing who's to be trusted
and who isn't."

"What's that about trustin'?" said Joan, who now made her appearance.
"I tell 'ee what 'tis, Mr. Jerrem, you'm not to be trusted anyhows.
Why, what could 'ee ha' bin thinkin' of to go sendin' that letter you
did, after Adam had spoke to 'ee all? There'd be a purty set-out of it,
you knaw, Jerrem, if the thing was to get winded about. I, for wan,
shouldn't thank 'ee, I can tell 'ee, for gettin' my name mixed up with
it, and me made nothin' better than a cat's-paw of."

"Who's goin' to wind it about?" said Jerrem, throwing his arm round her
and drawing her coaxingly toward him. "You ain't, and I ain't, and I'll
answer for it Eve ain't; and so long as we three keep our tongues


1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Online LibraryVariousLippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science Volume 26, September, 1880 → online text (page 5 of 20)