Mrs. Clinton by Louis Becke

I.

As the sun set blood red, a thick white fog crept westward, and the miserable fever-stricken wretches that lay gasping and dying on the decks of the transport Breckenbridge knew that another day of calm—and horror—waited them with the coming of the dawn on the morrow.

Twenty miles away the dark outline of the Australian shore shone out green and purple with the dying sunshafts, and then quickly dulled again to the sombre shades of the coming night and the white mantle of fog.

On the starboard side of the high quarterdeck of the transport the master stood gazing seaward with a worn and troubled face, and as he viewed the gathering fog a heavy sigh broke from him.

"God help us!" he muttered, "ninety-six dead already, and as many more likely to die in another week if this calm keeos up."

A hand was laid on his shoulder, and turning he met the pale face of the surviving surgeon of the fever-stricken ship.

"Seven more cases, Belton—five prisoners and two marines."

The master of the Breckenbridge buried his face in his hands and groaned aloud.

"Can nothing be done, doctor? My God! it is terrible to see people perishing like this before our eyes when help is so near. Look! over there, only twenty miles away, is Twofold Bay, where there is a settlement, but I dare not send a boat ashore. There are not ten sound men in the ship, and if an easterly wind springs up I could not keep my ship from going ashore."

The young surgeon made no answer for awhile. Ever since the Breckenbridge had left Rio, one or more of the convicts, seamen, or military guard had died day after day; and he had striven hard since the outbreak of the fever to stay its deadly progress. The cause he knew well: the foul, overcrowded 'tween decks, where four hundred human beings were confined in a space not fit to hold a hundred, the vile drinking-water and viler provisions, the want of even a simple disinfectant to clear the horrible, vitiated atmosphere, and the passage, protracted long beyond even the usual time in those days, had been the main causes of their present awful condition.

Presently the surgeon spoke—

"Nothing can be done, Belton."

"How is Lieutenant Clinton, sir?" asked the master, as the surgeon turned to leave him.

"Dying fast. Another hour or so will see the end."

"And his wife and baby?"

"She bears up well, but her infant cannot possibly live another day in such weather as this. God help her, poor little woman! Better for her if she follows husband and child."

"Who is with Mr. Clinton, doctor?" asked the master presently.

"Adair—No. 267. I brought him into the cabin. Indeed, Clinton asked me to do so. He thinks much of the young fellow, and his conduct ever since the outbreak occurred deserves recognition. He has rendered me invaluable assistance with Clinton and the other sick in the main cabin."

"He's a fine young fellow," said Belton, "and his good example has done much to keep the others quiet. Do you know, doctor, that at any time during the last three weeks the ship could have been captured by a dozen even unarmed men."

"I do know it; but the poor wretches seem never to have thought of rising."

"What was Adair sent out for?" asked Belton.

"Lunacy; otherwise, patriotism. He's one of a batch of five—the five best conducted men on the ship—sentenced to end their days in Botany Bay for participating in an attack on a party of yeomanry at Bally-somewhere or other in Ireland. There was a band of about fifty, but these five were the only ones captured—the other forty-five were most likely informers and led them into the mess."

A hurried footstep sounded near them, and a big man, in a semi-military costume, presented himself abruptly before them. His dark, coarse race was flushed with anger, and his manner insolent and aggressive. Not deigning to notice the presence of the surgeon, he addressed himself to the master of the transport.

"Mr. Belton, I protest against the presence in the main cabin of a ruffianly convict. The scoundrel refuses to let me have access to Lieutenant Clinton. Both on my own account and on that of Mr. Clinton, who needs my services, I desire that this man be removed immediately."

"What right, sir, have you, a passenger, to protest?" answered Belton surlily. "Mr. Clinton is dying and Prisoner Adair is nursing him."

"That does not matter to me, I——"

The surgeon stepped in front of the newcomer.

"But it shall matter to you, Mr. Jacob Bolger, Government storekeeper, jailer, overseer, or commissary's runner, or whatever your position is. And I shall see that No. 267 suffers no molestation from you."

"Who are you, sir, to threaten me? The Governor shall hear of this when we arrive at the settlement. A pretty thing that I should be talked to like this by the ship's doctor!"

"By God, sir, I'll give you something to talk about," and the surgeon's Welsh blood leapt to his face. Advancing to the break of the poop, he called—

"Sergeant Matthews!"

The one remaining non-commissioned officer of the diminished convict-guard at once appeared and saluted.

He was a solemn-faced, taciturn man, devoted to Clinton.

"Mr. Belton," said the doctor, "in the serious illness of Lieutenant Clinton I now assume charge of the military guard and convicts on this ship, and as a first step to maintain proper discipline at such a critical time, I shall confine Mr. Bolger to his cabin. Sergeant, take him below and lock him in."

Bolger collapsed at once. "I beg your pardon, doctor, for my hastiness. I did not know.... I was——"

The surgeon cut his apologies short. "Go to your cabin, sir. I shall not have you locked in, but, by heavens! if you attempt to go into Mr. Clinton's cabin I'll put you in irons, Government official though you are. I am well aware that your presence is particularly objectionable to Mrs. Clinton."

With an evil look Bolger left them, and the surgeon, turning to Belton, said: "That settles him, anyway, for a time. He's a thorough scoundrel, I believe. Mrs. Clinton has a positive horror of the man; yet the brute is continually pestering her with offers of his services. Now I must go below again to poor Clinton."

In the dimly lighted cabin the young officer lay breathing heavily, and as the doctor softly entered he saw that the time was now very near. By her husband's side sat Marion Clinton, her loosened wavy brown hair hiding from view her own face and the dying hand which she held pressed to her quivering lips. At her feet, on a soft cushion on the floor, lay her infant, with one thin waxen hand showing out from the light shawl that covered it; at the further end of the cabin stood a young, broad-shouldered man in grey convict garb. As the doctor entered he stood up and saluted.

The sound of the opening door made Clinton turn his face. "Is that you, Williams?" he said, in slow, laboured tones. "Marion, my girl, bear up. I know I am going, old fellow. Do what you can for her, Williams. The Governor will see to her returning to England, but it may be long before a ship leaves.... Marion!"

"Yes," she answered brokenly.

"Is baby no better?"

"No," she answered with a sob, as she raised her tear-stained face to Surgeon Williams, who shook his head. "There is no hope for her, Harry."

His hand pressed hers gently. "God help you, dear! Only for that it would not be so hard to die now; and now I leave you quite alone."

She stooped down and lifted the fragile infant, and Williams and No. 267 turned their faces away for awhile. Presently Clinton called the surgeon.

"Williams," and his eyes looked wistfully into the doctor's, "do what you can for her. There is something like a hundred guineas among my effects—that will help. Thank God, though, she will be a rich woman when my poor old father dies. I am the only son."

The surgeon bent down and took his hand. "She shall never want a friend while I live, Clinton, never."

A light of thankfulness flickered in Clinton's eyes, and the pallid lips moved; and then as wife and friend, each holding a hand, waited for him to speak, there came the sound of a heavy sob. Convict 267 was kneeling and praying for the departing soul.

Slowly the minutes passed, the silence broken but by the creaking and straining of the ship as she rose and fell to the sea, and now and again the strange, mournful cry of some night-fishing penguin.

"Marion," Clinton said at last, "I would like to speak to Adair before I die. He has been good to you and to me."

Walking softly in his stockinged feet, Adair advanced close to the bed.

"Give me your hand, Adair. God bless you," he whispered.

"And God bless you, sir, and all here," answered the young Irishman in a husky, broken voice.

"Hush," said the surgeon warningly, and his eyes sought those of the watching wife, with a meaning in them that needed no words. Quickly she passed her arm around Clinton, and let his head lie upon her shoulder. He sighed heavily and then lay still.

The surgeon touched the kneeling figure of Convict Adair on the arm, and together they walked softly out of the cabin.

"Come again in an hour, Adair," said Dr. Williams; "you can help me best. We must bury him by daylight. Meanwhile you can get a little sleep."

No. 267 clasped his hands tightly together as he looked at the doctor, and his lips worked and twitched convulsively. Then a wild beseeching look overspread his face. "For God's sake don't ask me!" he burst out. "I implore you as man to man to have pity on me. I cannot be here at daylight!"

"As you please," answered Williams, with a surprised expression; and then as he went on deck he said to himself, "Some cursed, degrading Irish superstition, I suppose, about a death at sea."


Slowly the hours crept on. No noise disturbed the watcher by her dead save the low voices of the watch on deck and the unknown sounds that one hears at night alone. Prisoner Adair was sitting in the main cabin within near call of Mrs. Clinton, and, with head upon his knees, seemed to slumber. Suddenly the loud clamour of five bells as the hour was struck made him start to his feet and look quickly about him with nervous apprehension. From the dead officer's state-room a narrow line of light from beneath the door sent an oblique ray aslant the cabin floor and crossed the convict's stockinged feet.

For a moment he hesitated; then tapped softly at the door. It opened, and the pale face of Marion Clinton met his as he stood before her cap in hand.

"Have you come to take"—the words died away in her throat with a sob.

"No," he answered, "I have but come to ask you to let me say goodbye, and God keep and prosper you, madam. My time here is short, and you and your husband have made my bitter lot endurable."

She gave him her hand. He clasped it reverently in his for a moment, and his face flushed a dusky red. Then he knelt and kissed her child's little hand.

"Are you leaving the ship? Are we then in port or near it?" she asked.

He looked steadfastly at her for a moment, and then, pushing the door to behind him, lowered his voice to a whisper.

"Mrs. Clinton, your husband one day told me that he would aid me to regain my freedom. Will you do as much?"

"Yes," she answered, trembling; "I will. I shall tell the Governor how you——"

He shook his head. "Not in that way, but now, now."

"How can I help you now?" she asked wonder-ingly.

"Give me Mr. Clinton's pistols. Before daylight four others and myself mean to escape from the ship. The guard are all too sick to prevent us even if we are discovered. There is a boat towing astern, lowered with the intention of sending it ashore to seek assistance. Water and provisions are in it. But we have no firearms, and if we land on the coast may meet with savages."

Without a word she put her husband's pistols in his hands, and then gave him all the ammunition she could find.

"Do not shed blood," she began, when the convict clutched her arm. A sound as of some one moving came from the next cabin—the one occupied by Jacob Bolger—and a savage light came into Adair's eyes as he stood and listened.

"He would give the alarm in a moment if he knew," he muttered.

"Yes," she answered; "he hates you, and I am terrified even to meet his glance."

But Mr. Jacob Bolger made no further noise; he had heard quite enough, and at that moment was lying back in his bunk with an exultant smile, waiting for Adair to leave the cabin.

Then the convict, still crouching on the floor, held out his hand.

"Will you touch my hand once more, Mrs. Clinton?" he said huskily.

She gave it to him unhesitatingly.

"Goodbye, Adair. I pray God all will go well with you."

He bent his face over it and whispered "Goodbye," and then went up on deck.


As No. 267 stumbled along the main deck he saw that all discipline was abandoned, and even the for'ard sentry, that for the past week had been stationed to guard the prisoners when on deck, had left his post.

At the fore-hatch four shadowy forms approached him, and then the five men whispered together.

"Good," said Adair at last. Then they quickly separated.


Six bells had struck when Jacob Bolger opened his cabin door, peered cautiously about, and then, stepping quickly to Mrs. Clinton's door, turned the handle without knocking, and entered.

"Why do you come here, Mr. Bolger?" said Marion Clinton, with a terrified look in her dark eyes. "Do you not know that my husband is dead and my child dying?" And, holding the infant in her arms, she barred a nearer approach.

"I am sorry to disturb you, Mrs. Clinton; but I come as a friend, first to offer you my poor services in your great affliction, and secondly—but as a friend still—to warn you of the dangerous step you have taken in assisting a party of convicts to escape from the ship."

"For Heaven's sake, Mr. Bolger, have some pity on me! My dear husband is dead, my child has but a few hours—perhaps minutes—to live. Do not add to my misery."

"I shall not betray you!" and he advanced a step nearer to her; "but it is my duty," and his cunning eyes watched her shrinking figure keenly, "to prevent these men from escaping." And then he turned as if to go.

Her courage came back. "Mr. Bolger"—and she placed her hand on his cuff, shuddering as she did so—"you are not a rich man. Will you—can I—will a hundred guineas buy your silence? It is all I have. Forget that which you know. Let these wretched men escape. What harm can it do you?"

His savage, brutal nature came out, and he laughed coarsely.

"None, but—but you would like to see them get away, would you not?"

"Yes," she answered, looking at him with dulled eyes, "Adair has been very good to us."

"Well, look here; money cannot buy my silence, but you can. Now do you know what I mean?"

"No," she answered despairingly. "How should I? What is it you wish me to do?"

"This"—and he bent his evil-eyed face close to hers—"promise to marry me three months from now."

She gave a gasping cry, and sank back upon her seat. He followed and stood over her, and then spoke quickly—

"Ever since I first saw you I have loved you. You are a free woman now, and I shall have a good position at the settlement."

She made a gesture of horror, and his voice grew savage and threatening. "And unless you make me that promise I'll give the alarm now, and Adair and his confederates shall hang together. Come, think, and decide quickly—their life or death rests in your hands."

For some moments she bent her gaze upon the pinched and sunken features of her dying child; then she raised her head, and a swift gleam of fire came into her eyes.

"I will do as you wish. Now go."

Without a word Bolger turned and left the cabin.

As he walked quickly through the main cabin he did not see the tall figure of Sergeant Matthews standing a few feet aft from Mrs. Clinton's cabin-door. The moment Bolger disappeared the sergeant tapped and called—

"Mrs. Clinton!"

A new terror beset her as she recognised the sergeant's voice; but she bravely stifled it and bade him come in.

The solemn, wooden-faced soldier looked at her steadily for a second or so, and then, being a man of few words, got through with them as quickly as possible.

"Beg pardon, madam, doctor sent me with a message to Mr. Bolger, telling him he was at liberty to leave his cabin; found he was gone; heard his voice in here; waited to see if could be of any assistance to you, madam."

There was a kindly ring in his voice which encouraged her.

"Matthews, did you hear what Mr. Bolger was saying?"

The sergeant looked stolidly before him. "I did, madam—part of it."

"Part?" she repeated agitatedly.

"Yes, madam—about Adair and some other men."

She pressed her hand to her throat. Matthews was an old, tried servant of her husband's in former years. "Close the door!" she said suddenly.

Opening a locker, she took out a leathern-bound writing-desk, unlocked it, and in a moment or two more turned to the sergeant with a small but heavy purse in her hand.

"Sergeant," she said quietly; "this money, nearly a hundred guineas, is for you. I may not live to reach the settlement at Port Jackson. And I would like to reward you for—for——" The rest died away.

Matthews understood. He took the money, saluted, and with softened tread left the cabin. He was not a hard man, and had meant to do his duty when he heard Bolger speak of Adair's intended escape; but a hundred guineas was a large sum to him.

As the door closed after the sergeant, Marion Clinton, holding the infant close to her bosom, saw the grey shadow deepen on the pallid race, as with a gentle tremor of the frail body the child's head fell back upon her arm.


No one on board heard a soft splashing of the Water as Adair swam to the boat towing astern and cut the painter where it touched the water-line; the dense fog hid everything from view. Holding the line in his left hand he swam silently along, drawing the boat after him, till he reached the fore-chains. Then four figures clambered noiselessly over the bulwarks and got into the boat, which was at once pushed off.

Wrapped in the white mantle of fog, they drifted slowly away, watching with bated breath the misty outlines of the towering spars grow feinter and fainter, and then vanish altogether, till, although they were but forty yards away, the position of the Brekenbridge was discernible only by a dull blurr of sickly light that came from her stern ports. Then suddenly there came the sound of a splash, followed by tramping of feet and Captain Belton's hoarse voice.

"Hands to the boat, here! Mrs. Clinton and her baby have fallen overboard."

Lights appeared on the deck, and then a voice called out, "The boat is gone, sir!"

"Clear away the starboard-quarter boat, then!" roared Belton; "quick!"

But before the quarter-boat could be lowered, the sound of oars was heard, a boat dashed up, and a man, leaning over the side, grasped the drowning woman and lifted her in, her dead baby still clasped tightly in her arms.

"Have you got her?" called out Williams and Belton together.

"No," came the answer, and those in the boat began rowing again, but instead of approaching the ship, she seemed to be swallowed up in the fog, and the click clack of the oars momentarily sounded feinter.

"By heavens, the scoundrels are pulling away!" shouted Belton. "After them, you fellows in the quarter-boat!"

But the dense, impenetrable mantle of fog made pursuit useless, and the quarter-boat returned an hour later with an exhausted crew.

At ten o'clock next morning a keen, cold air came from the south-east, and two days later the Breckenbridge brought her load of misery into Sydney Cove, and her master reported the escape of Edward Adair, Michael Terry, William O'Day, Patrick O'Day, and Daniel McCoy, and the death by drowning of Mrs. Clinton, who, with her baby in her arms, had jumped overboard on the same night.





II.

Till dawn the convicts urged the boat along through the fog, then they ceased rowing and ate ravenously of the food in the boat's locker.

Lying upon the sail in the bottom, of the boat, Mrs. Clinton slept. The night was warm, her wet clothing did her no harm, and her sleep was the sleep of physical and mental exhaustion. As the rising sun sent its rays through the now lifting fog, Adair touched the sleeping woman on her shoulder.

She opened her eyes and looked wildly about her, then at the outline of a little figure that lay beside her covered with a convict's coarse jacket, and seizing it in her arms, looked at the five men with eyes of such maddened terror, they thought her reason was gone.

But rough, unkempt and wild-looking as were Adair's four companions, they treated her with the tenderest pity, and watched in silent sympathy the bitter tide of grief that so quickly possessed her. As the sun rose higher, the glassy water rippled here and there in dark patches, and the men looked longingly at the sail on which she sat, holding the infant, but hesitated to disturb her. Away to the westward the dim summits of a range of mountains showed faintly blue, but of the Breckenbridge there was no sign, and a grey albatross sailing slowly overhead was their only companion. Already Adair and the others had cast away their hated convict garb, and clothed themselves in tattered garments given them by some of the transport's crew.

Another hour passed, and then helping Mrs. Clinton to a seat in the stern, they hoisted the mainsail and jib, and headed the boat for the land, for the breeze was now blowing freshly.

What Adair's intentions were regarding Mrs. Clinton the others did not ask. Theirs was unquestioning loyalty, and they were ready to follow him now with the same blind and fateful devotion that had brought them with him on board the Breckenbridge in manacles.

As the boat sped over the sunlit sea Adair spoke—

"Mrs. Clinton, I shall try to reach a settlement near here. There we may be able to put you ashore."

She only smiled vacantly, and with a feeling of intense pity Adair saw her again bend her head and heard her talking and crooning to the dead child.

"Sure 'tis God's great pity has desthroyed her raison, poor darlin'," muttered a grey-headed old prisoner named Terry; "lave her alone. We'll take the babe from her by an' by."

Between the boat and the faint blue outline of the distant land lay the rounded wooded slopes of Montagu Island, showing a deep depression in the centre. As the boat sailed round its northern point a small bay opened out, and here in smooth water they landed without difficulty. Carrying Mrs. Clinton to a grassy nook under the shade of the cliffs, she unresistingly allowed old Terry to take the infant from her arms, and her dulled eyes took no heed of what followed.

Forcing their way through the thick, coarse grass that clothed the western side of the island, and disturbing countless thousands of breeding gulls and penguins, Adair and Terry dug a tiny grave on the summit under a grove of low, wide-branched mimosa trees, and there the child was buried.

As they were about to descend, the old man gave a shout and pointed seaward—there, not a mile away, was a large ship, whose many boats showed her to be a whaler, and quite near the shore a boat was pulling swiftly in towards the landing-place.

Rushing down to their companions they gave the alarm, and then a hurried consultation was held.

"We must meet them," said Adair, "we can't hide the boat. If they mean mischief we can take to the woods."

In another five minutes the newcomers saw the little group and gave a loud, friendly hail. Stepping out from his companions, who followed him closely, Adair advanced to meet the strangers.

A young, swarthy-faced man, who steered, jumped out of the boat and at once addressed him. He listened with interest to Adair's story that they had escaped from a ship that had gone ashore on the coast some weeks before, and then said quietly—

"Just so. Well, I'm glad that I can assist you. I've just come from Port Jackson, and am bound to the East Indies, sperm-whaling. Come aboard, all of you, and I'll land you at one of the Dutch ports there."

Adair's face paled. Something told him that his story was not believed. What should he do?

The captain of the whaler beckoned him aside. "Don't be alarmed. I can guess where you come from. But that doesn't concern me. Now look here. My ship—the Manhattan, of Salem—is a safer place for you than an open boat, and I'm short-handed and want men. You can all lend a hand till I land you at Amboyna or Ternate. Is that your wife?"

"Yes."

"Well, what are you going to do—stay here or come aboard?"

"We accept your offer gladly," answered Adair, now convinced of the American's good intentions.

"Very well; carry your wife down to the boat while my men get some gulls' eggs."


For two weeks after Mrs. Clinton was carried up the whale-ship's side she hovered between life and death. Then, very, very slowly, she began to mend. A month more and then the Manhattan hove-to off the verdant hills and shining beaches of Rotumah Island.

"You cannot do better than go ashore here," the captain had said to Adair a few hours before. "I know the natives well. They are a kind, amiable race of people, and many of the men, having sailed in whale-ships, can speak English. The women will take good care of Mrs. Clinton" (Adair had long since told him hers and his own true story); "have no fear of that. In five months I ought to be back here on my way to Port Jackson, and I'll give her a passage there. If she remains on board she will most likely die; the weather is getting hotter every day as we go north, and she is as weak as an infant still. As for yourself and old Michael, you will both be safe here on Rotumah. No King's ship has ever touched here yet; and if one should come the natives will hide you."

That evening, as the warm-hearted, pitying native women attended to Mrs. Clinton in the chiefs house, Adair and Terry watched the Manhattan's sails disappear below the horizon.


There for six months they lived, and with returning health and strength Marion Clinton learned to partly forget her grief, and to take interest in her strange surroundings. Ever since they had landed Adair and old Michael Terry had devoted themselves to her, and as the months went by she grew, if not happy, at least resigned. To the natives, who had never before had a white woman living among them, she was as a being from another world, and they were her veriest slaves, happy to obey her slightest wish. At first she had counted the days as they passed; then, as the sense of her utter loneliness in the world beyond would come to her, the thought of Adair and his unswerving care for and devotion to her would fill her heart with quiet thankfulness. She knew that it was for her sake alone he had remained on the island, and when the six months had passed, her woman's heart told her that she cared for him, and that "goodbye" would be hard to say.

But how much she really did care for him she did not know, till one day she saw him being carried into the village with a white face and blood-stained garments. He had been out turtle-fishing, the canoe had capsized on the reef, and Adair had been picked up insensible by his native companions, with a broken arm and a deep jagged cut at the back of his head.

Day by day she watched by his couch of mats, and felt a thrill of joy when she knew that all danger was past.

One afternoon while Adair, still too weak to walk, lay outside his house thinking of the soft touch and gentle voice of his nurse, there came a roar of voices from the village, and a pang shot through his heart—the Manhattan was back again.

But it was not the Manhattan, and ten minutes afterwards four or five natives, headed by old Terry, white-faced and trembling, came rushing along the path.

"'Tis a King's ship!" the old man gasped, and then in another minute Adair was placed on a rude litter and carried into the mountains.

It was indeed a King's ship, bound to Batavia to buy stores for the starving settlers at Port Jackson, and in want of provisions even for the ship's company. Almost as soon as she anchored, the natives flocked off to her with fruit, vegetables, and such poultry as they had to barter. Among those who landed from the ship was a tall, grave-raced Sergeant of Marines, who, after buying some pigs and fowls from the natives on the beach, had set out, stick in hand, for a walk along the palm-lined shore. At the request of the leading chief, all those who came ashore carried no weapons, and, indeed, the gentle, timid manner of the natives soon convinced the white men that there was no need to arm themselves. A quarter of a mile walk hid the ship from view, and then Sergeant Matthews, if he did not show it, at least felt surprised, for suddenly he came face to face with a young, handsome white woman dressed in a loose jacket and short skirt. Her feet were bare, and in one hand she carried a rough basket, in the other a heavy three-pronged wooden crab-spear. He recognised her in a moment, and drawing himself up, saluted, as if he had seen her but for the first time.

"What do you want?" she asked trembling; "why have you come here—to look for me?"—and as she drew back a quick anger gave place to fear.

"No, Madam," and the sergeant looked, not at her, but away past her, as if addressing the trees around him, "I am in charge of the Marine guard on board the Scarborough. Put in here for supplies. Ship bound to Batavia for stores, under orders of Deputy-Commissary Bolger, who is on board."

"Ah!" and she shuddered. "Matthews, do not tell him I am here. See, I am in your power. I implore you to return to the ship and say nothing of my being here. Go, go, Matthews, and if you have pity in your heart for me do all you can to prevent any of the ship's company from lingering about the village! I beg, I pray of you, to ask me no questions, but go, go, and Heaven reward you!"

The sergeant again saluted, and without another word turned on his heel and walked leisurely back to the boat.

An hour before sunset, Adair, from his hiding-place in the mountains, saw the great ship fill her sails and stand away round the northern point. Terry had left him to watch the movements of the landing party, and Adair but waited his return. Soon through the growing stillness of the mountain forest he heard a footfall, and then the woman he loved stood before him.

"Thank God!" she cried, as she clasped her hands together; "they have gone."

"Yes," he answered huskily, "but... why have you not gone with them? It is a King's ship,... and I hoped—oh! why did you stay?"

She raised her dark eyes to his, and answered him with a sob that told him why.

Sitting beside him with her head on his shoulder, she told him how that morning she had accompanied a party of native women to a village some miles distant on a fishing excursion, and knew nothing of the ship till she was returning and met Sergeant Matthews.

"And now," she said, with a soft laugh, "neither King's ship nor whale-ship shall ever part us."


Another month went by all too swiftly now for their new-found happiness, and then the lumbering old Manhattan came at last, and that night her captain and Adair sat smoking in the latter's thatched hut.

"That," said the American, pointing to a heavy box being borne past the open door by two natives, "that box is for Mrs. Clinton. I just ransacked the Dutchmen's stores at Amboyna, and bought all the woman's gear I could get. How is she? Old Terry says she's doing 'foine.'"

"She is well, thank you," said Adair, with a happy smile, and then rising he placed his hand on the seaman's shoulder, while his face reddened and glowed like a boy's.

"Oh, that's it, is it?" said the American with a good-natured laugh. "Well, I'm right pleased to hear it. Now look here. The Manhattan is a full ship, and I'm not going to Port Jackson to sell my oil this time. I'm just going right straight home to Salem. And you and she are coming with me; and old Parson Barrow is going to marry you in my house; and in my house you and your wife are going to stay until you settle down and become a citizen of the best country on the earth."


And the merry chorus of the sailors, as they raised the anchor from its coral bed, was borne across the bay to old Terry, who sat watching the ship from the beach. No arguments that Adair and the captain used could make him change his mind about remaining on the island. He was too old, he said, to care about going to America, and Rotumah was a "foine place to die in—'twas so far away from the bloody redcoats."

As he looked at the two figures who stood on the poop waving their hands to him, his old eyes dimmed and blurred.

"May the howly Saints bless an' kape thim for iver! Sure, he's a thrue man, an' she's a good woman!"

Quickly the ship sailed round the point, and Marion Clinton, with a last look at the white beach, saw the old man rise, take off his ragged hat, and wave it in farewell.