Mrs. Clinton by Louis Becke
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
"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
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
"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
"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
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.
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
"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
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
"Have you come to take"—the words died away in her throat with a
"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
"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
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
"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
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
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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—
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
"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
Lights appeared on the deck, and then a voice called out, "The boat is
"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.
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
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?"
"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'
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
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
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
"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
"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
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.