主页 Complete Works of John Steinbeck

Complete Works of John Steinbeck

0 / 0
你有多喜欢这本书?
下载文件的质量如何?
下载该书,以评价其质量
下载文件的质量如何?
年:
2019
出版社:
Delphi Classics
语言:
english
文件:
EPUB, 10.73 MB
下载 (epub, 10.73 MB)

您可能会感兴趣 Powered by Rec2Me

 

关键词

 
0 comments
 

To post a review, please sign in or sign up
您可以留下评论,分享你的经验。其他读者也会有兴趣了解您对您所读书籍的看法。不管你喜不喜欢这本书,只要您如实、详细地告诉他们,大家就能找到感兴趣的新书。
1

Giallo in città

年:
2005
语言:
italian
文件:
EPUB, 112 KB
0 / 0
2

Rizia - Empress of Inde

年:
1942
语言:
english
文件:
DJVU, 1.43 MB
0 / 0
The Complete Works of

JOHN STEINBECK

(1902-1968)



Contents

The Novels and Novellas

Cup of Gold

The Red Pony

To a God Unknown

Tortilla Flat

In Dubious Battle

Of Mice and Men

The Grapes of Wrath

The Moon Is Down

Cannery Row

The Wayward Bus

The Pearl

Burning Bright

East of Eden

Sweet Thursday

The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication

The Winter of Our Discontent

The Shorter Fiction

The Pastures of Heaven

The Long Valley

How Mr. Hogan Robbed a Bank

The Short Stories

List of Short Stories in Chronological Order

List of Short Stories in Alphabetical Order

The Non-Fiction

The Harvest Gypsies

Bombs Away

A Russian Journal

The Log from the Sea of Cortez

Once There Was a War

Travels with Charley

America and Americans

The Delphi Classics Catalogue



© Delphi Classics 2019

Version 1





Browse our Main Series



Browse our Ancient Classics



Browse our Poets



Browse our Art eBooks



Browse our Classical Music series





The Complete Works of

JOHN STEINBECK



with introductions by Gill Rossini


By Delphi Classics, 2019





COPYRIGHT


Complete Works of John Steinbeck



First published in the United Kingdom in 2019 by Delphi Classics.

© Delphi Classics, 2019.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form other than that in which it is published.

ISBN: 978 1 78877 975 3

Delphi Classics

is an imprint of

Delphi Publishing Ltd

Hastings, East Sussex

United Kingdom

Contact: sales@delphiclassics.com



www.delphiclassics.com





Parts Edition Now Available!



Love reading John Steinbeck?

Did you know you can now purchase the Delphi Classics Parts Edition of this author and enjoy all the novels, plays, non-fiction books and other works as individual eBooks? Now, you can select and read individual novels etc. and know precisely where you are in an eBook. You will also be able ; to manage space better on your eReading devices.



The Parts Edition is only available direct from the Delphi Classics website.

For more information about this exciting new format and to try free Parts Edition downloads, please visit this link.





Explore American Masters with Delphi Classics



Explore Classic American Literature





The Novels and Novellas





Salinas, California — Steinbeck’s birthplace





John Steinbeck House , 132 Central Avenue, Salinas, California — this Queen Anne style Victorian house was the birthplace and childhood home of the author; today the building functions as a restaurant.





Inside view of the birthplace





Cup of Gold




A LIFE OF SIR HENRY MORGAN, BUCCANEER, WITH OCCASIONAL REFERENCES TO HISTORY

Steinbeck’s first novel was published in 1929 by Robert McBride & Company. He was 26 years old at the time of publication and McBride understandably chose a short print runoff of 1537 copies for the unknown author. In 1936, Steinbeck’s new publisher, Covici-Friede, capitalised on Steinbeck’s later successes and reprinted Cup of Gold with an edition of just under a thousand copies. His third publisher, Viking, did the same again in 1938.

Steinbeck’s only historical novel, Cup of Gold is a greatly revised version of an unpublished short story he wrote previously, about the Elizabethan pirate, Henry Morgan. He was influenced by writers such as James Branch Cabell, author of the popular novel Jurgen and as a result it is different from Steinbeck’s mature and much terser style in novels such as Grapes of Wrath.

The Central American state of Panama is one of the settings for this story, an inspiration that came to Steinbeck from his visit there on the freighter Katrina, on which he had obtained work. He found it challenging to write a full length novel and at one point he returned to writing short pieces, one of which was accepted for publication, encouraging him to keep going. He also sent Cup of Gold to friends from Stanford, his alma mater, as a work in progress, for honest appraisal. His pressures were exacerbated by the demands from his domineering mother, Olive Steinbeck, that he should stop wasting his life scribbling and find a proper career.

Steinbeck was determined to persevere, however, and he revised the novel extensively over the winter of 1928. Living in an isolated cabin and drinking far too much, he was honest enough to say that he knew the novel was flawed, but he took heart from the thought that from this work, he would progress to better things. Steinbeck admitted his opinions about this novel and the early works of other writers in a letter to Bob Cathcart: ‘I think all first novels ought to be burned as a matter of course…I shall erect an altar with horns. And on this pyre shall my brainchild go up in smoke.’

The story opens in the Morgan ancestral home in Wales, in the 1600’s, a scene of ancient armour, a blazing hearth and heavy chests containing old family chronicles. Here lives Old Robert, his aged mother, Gwenliana, his wife, Mother Morgan and his much loved, handsome, 15 year old son, Henry. As the family sits by the fire, a visitor calls on them – a bent and enfeebled man named Dafydd. A former local farm hand, he has been away at sea for years and tells the family that he has been to the Indies, Jamaica and Hispaniola and over time, has become rich. As the seafarer talks of taking galleons with a force of only 24 men armed with pistols and log knives, of fights with Indians and bleak tales of slavery and tropical illnesses, Henry is increasingly entranced. Here is a life beyond his own stifling existence and he feels he must experience it — his ambition is to conquer a Spanish town in the way Dafydd had fought.

His father accepts that Henry must go out into the world and experience some adventures. However, before he leaves, he asks his son to visit the local wise man, Merlin and take advantage of his protective magic. He does so and is even more encouraged by Merlin’s reinforcement of grandmother Morgan’s prophesy that Henry will be a great man one day; on his way home, he thinks of visiting Elizabeth, the young woman he loves, but he is fearful that her charms will bewitch him into staying and he runs away instead.

As time passes, it is clear that Henry will not be deterred from his ambition, so his father writes to Henry’s uncle, Sir Edward, who is the Lieutenant-Governor of Jamaica, to ask if he will take on the boy as a protégé. Henry, anxious to avoid his mother’s distress if he leaves in the morning, sneaks away in the middle of the night and sets off on his adventures, his grandmother’s prophesies of his future greatness ringing in his ears.

Henry eventually arrives in the port of Cardiff and is entranced by the many nationalities he sees and hears there. However, he makes the mistake of trusting the erroneously named Honest Tim, who says he will set Henry up with safe passage on the ship Bristol Girl, bound for the Indies. The passage itself is uneventful, apart from Henry’s dreaming about great deeds and piracy, but he then finds out he has been sold as an indentured slave to a plantation owner, James Flower. Devastated, he begins his servitude, but is fortunate in his master. Flower sees potential in the lad and rather than have him work in the fields, treats him more as a companion and trainee. Henry matures and becomes plantation manager, efficient and respected and the plantation thrives as never before. However, Henry has two secrets – firstly, he is siphoning off profits from the business into his own account, his way of compensating himself for the unwanted direction his life has taken; secondly, Henry still harbours a passionate desire to become a pirate and take a Spanish town and his stolen money will be used to that end. Yet, he is still in servitude and his master has other uses for his talented manager – can Henry use his trusted role in the plantation management to achieve his life ambition?

This is very much a ‘first novel’ in style and pace, by no means mediocre, but rather old fashioned and in strong contrast to Steinbeck’s later, accomplished prose. It offers an interesting study in the failure to fulfil one’s heart’s desire and the effects of disappointment, but there is also an element of ‘be careful what you wish for…’ Some of the characters are two-dimensional — particularly the females — but this may be due to Steinbeck’s lack of experience as a young man in his twenties. Experience, after all, is a vital tool in the author’s kit.

For anyone that is Welsh, or has an interest in Welsh history and culture, Steinbeck’s descriptions of Welsh houses and their contents in the seventeenth century are perplexing and inaccurate and calling aspects of the Welsh landscape ‘glens’ conjures up images of Scottish valleys and hillsides, not Welsh mountains. There is some authenticity, though – with references to Welsh legends of King Arthur and the Tylwyth Teg or ‘fair folk’ (Welsh fairies). This entertaining novel may not be one of Steinbeck’s best, but for the aficionado it does offer glimpses of themes common to his later work – notions of idealism that may or may not be fulfilled; a quest; a close relationship between humankind and the land; the abuse of power; and conflict between males and females.





The first edition





The first edition’s title page





CONTENTS


CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE





A 1736 engraving of Sir Henry Morgan before Panama





CHAPTER ONE


I



ALL AFTERNOON THE wind sifted out of the black Welsh glens, crying notice that Winter was come sliding down over the world from the Pole; and riverward there was the faint moaning of new ice. It was a sad day, a day of gray unrest, of discontent. The gently moving air seemed to be celebrating the loss of some gay thing with a soft, tender elegy. But in the pastures great work horses nervously stamped their feet, and all through the country small brown birds, in cliques of four or five, flew twittering from tree to tree and back again, seeking and calling in recruits for their southing. A few goats clambered to the tops of high lone rocks and long stared upward with their yellow eyes and sniffed the heavens.

The afternoon passed slowly, procession-like with an end of evening, and on the heels of the evening an excited wind rushed out, rustled in the dry grasses, and fled whimpering across the fields. Night drew down like a black cowl, and Holy Winter sent his nuncio to Wales.

Beside the high-road which lined the valley, ran up through a cleft in the hills, and so out into the world, there stood an ancient farm-house built of heavy stones and thatched. The Morgan who had built it played against Time and nearly won.

Inside the house a fire was burning on the hearth; an iron kettle hung over the blaze, and a black iron oven hid in the coals which fell about the edges of the flame. The brisk firelight glinted on the tips of long-handled pikes in racks upon the walls, weapons unused in the hundred years since Morgan clamored in Glendowers’ ranks and trembled with rage at the flinty lines of Iolo Goch.

The wide brass bindings of a great chest, which stood in a corner, sucked in the light and glowed resplendently. Papers there were in the chest, and parchments, and stiff untanned skins, written in English and Latin and the old Cumric tongue: Morgan was born, Morgan was married, Morgan became a knight, Morgan was hanged. Here lay the history of the house, shameful and glorious. But the family was few now, and little enough likely to add records to the chest other than the simple chronicle: Morgan was born — and died.

There was Old Robert, for instance, sitting in his high-backed chair, sitting and smiling into the fire. His smile was perplexity and a strange, passive defiance. You would have said he sought to make that Fate which was responsible for his being, a little ashamed of itself by smiling at it. Often he wearily considered his existence, ringed around with little defeats which mocked it as street children torment a cripple. It was strange to Old Robert that he, who knew so much more than his neighbors, who had pondered so endlessly, should be not even a good farmer. Sometimes he imagined he understood too many things ever to do anything well.

And so Old Robert sipped the burned ale of his own experimenting and smiled into the fire. His wife would be whispering excuses for him, he knew, and the laborers in the fields removed their hats to Morgan, not to Robert.

Even his aged mother, Gwenliana, here beside him, shivering to the fire as though the very wind sounds about the house called in the cold to her, was not so judged incompetent. In the cottages there was a little fear of her and a great respect. Any day when she sat in the garden, holding her necromantic court, you might see some tall farm lad blushing and hugging his hat across his chest while he listened to Gwenliana’s magic. For many years, now, she had been practicing the second sight and taking pride in it. And though the family knew her prophecies to be whole guesses whose shrewdness grew less sharp with her years, they listened to her with respect, and simulated awe, and asked of her the location of lost things. When, after one of her mystic recitations, the scissors were not discovered under the second board of the shed floor, they pretended to find them there anyway; for, had she lost the robe of augury, there would have remained only a little wrinkled old woman soon to die.

This play of claque to a simpleton was a harsh tax on the convictions of Mother Morgan. It outraged her nature, for she was one who had, apparently, come into the world to be a scourge to all foolishness. Such matters as had so obviously no connection either with the church or with the prices of things were plainly nonsense.

Old Robert had loved his wife so well and so long that he could think sharp things about her, and the thoughts could not injure his affection. When she had come home this afternoon, raging over the price of a pair of shoes she hadn’t wanted anyway, he had considered: “Her life is like a book crowded with mighty events. Every day she rises to the peak of some tremendous climax which has to do with buttons or a neighbor’s wedding. I think that when true tragedy comes in upon her, she will not see it over her range of ant-hills. Perhaps this is luck,” he thought, and then— “I wonder, now, how she would compare the king’s own death with the loss of one of the sow’s red pigs.”

Mother Morgan was too busy with the day itself to be bothered with the foolishness of abstractions. Some one in the family had to be practical or the thatch would blow away — and what could you expect of a pack of dreamers like Robert and Gwenliana and her son Henry? She loved her husband with a queer mixture of pity and contempt born of his failings and his goodness.

Young Henry, her son, she worshiped, though of course she could not trust him to have the least idea of what was to his benefit or conducive to his health. And all of the family loved Mother Morgan and feared her and got in her way.

She had fed them and trimmed the lamp. Breakfast was on the fire. Now she searched about for something to mend, as though she did not mend everything the moment it was torn. In the midst of her search for busyness, she paused and glanced sharply at young Henry. It was the kind of harsh, affectionate look which says, “I wonder, now, if he is not in the way of catching cold there on the floor.” And Henry squirmed, wondering what things he had neglected to do that afternoon. But immediately she caught up a cloth and went to dusting, and the boy was reassured.

He lay propped on one elbow and stared past the fire into his thoughts. The long gray afternoon, piercing to this mysterious night, had called up strong yearnings in him, the seeds of which were planted months before. It was a desire for a thing he could not name. Perhaps the same force moved him which collected the birds into exploring parties and made the animals nervously sniff up-wind for the scent of winter.

Young Henry was conscious, this night, that he had lived on for fifteen tedious years without accomplishing any single thing of importance. And had his mother known his feeling, she would have said,

“He is growing.”

And his father would have repeated after her,

“Yes, the boy is growing.” But neither would have understood what the other meant.

Henry, if you considered his face, drew from his parents almost equally. His cheek bones were high and hard, his chin firm, his upper lip short and thin like his mother’s. But there, too, were the sensual underlip, and the fine nose, and the eyes which looked out on dreams; these were Old Robert’s features, and his was the thick, wiry hair coiled like black springs against the head. But though there was complete indecision in Robert’s face, there was a great quantity of decision in Henry’s if only he could find something about which to decide. Here were three before the fire, Robert and Gwenliana and young Henry, whose eyes looked out beyond the walls and saw unbodied things — looked into the night for the ghosts.

It was a preternatural night; a time when you might meet corpse-candles gliding along the road, or come upon the ghost of a Roman legion marching at double quick to reach its sheltering city of Caerleon before the full storm broke. And the little misshapen beings of the hills would be searching out deserted badger holes to cover them from the night. The wind would go crying after them through the fields.

In the house it was quiet except for the snapping fire-noises and for the swishing sound of blown thatch. A log cracked on the hearth; and out of the crevice a thin blaze leaped up and curled about the black kettle like a flower of flame. Now Mother flurried to the fireplace.

“Robert, you will never be paying attention to the fire. You should be poking at it now and again.”

Such was her method. She poked a large fire to make it smaller, and, when it died, she stirred the embers violently to restore the flame.

A faint sound of footsteps came along the high-road — a sound that might have been the wind or those walking things which cannot be seen. The steps grew louder, then stopped in front of the door from whence came a timid knocking.

“Come!” Robert called. The door opened softly, and there, lighted against the black night, stood a bent, feeble man with eyes like weak flames. He paused on the threshold as though undecided, but in a moment advanced into the room, asking in a strange, creaking voice,

“Will you be knowing me, I wonder, Robert Morgan? Will you be knowing me that have been out so long?” His words were a plea.

Robert searched the shrunken face.

“Know you?” he said. “I do not think — wait! — can it be Dafydd? our little farm lad Dafydd that went away to sea years past?”

A look of complete relief came into the face of the wayfarer. He might have been applying some delicate, fearful test to Robert Morgan. Now he chuckled.

“It’s Dafydd, sure; and rich — and cold.” He finished with a wistfulness like a recurring pain.

Dafydd was gray-white and toughened like a dry hide. The skin of his face was stiff and thick so that he seemed to change expression with slow, conscious effort.

“I’m cold, Robert,” his queer, dry voice went on. “I can’t seem ever to get warm again. But anyway I’m rich,” — as though he hoped these two might balance— “rich along with him they call Pierre le Grand.”

Young Henry had risen, and now he cried:

“Where have you been to, man — where?”

“Where? Why, I’ve been out to the Indies, that’s where I’ve been; to Goaves and to Tortuga — that’s the turtle — and to Jamaica and the thick woods of Hispaniola for the hunting of cattle. I’ve been all there.”

“You’ll be sitting down, Dafydd,” Mother Morgan interrupted. She spoke as though he had never been away. “I’ll about getting something warm to drink. Will you look how Henry gobbles you with his eyes, Dafydd? Like as not he’ll be wanting to go to the Indies, too.” To her, the words were a pleasant idiocy.

Dafydd kept silence, though he appeared to be straining back at a desire to talk. Mother Morgan frightened him as she had when he was a tow-headed farm boy. Old Robert knew his embarrassment, and Mother, too, seemed to sense it, for when she had put a steaming cup in his hands she left the room.

Wrinkled old Gwenliana was in her seat before the fire, her mind lost in the swimming future. Her clouded eyes were veiled with to-morrow. Behind their vague blue surfaces seemed to crowd the mounting events and circumstances of the world. She was gone out of the room — gone into pure Time, and that the future.

Old Robert watched the door close behind his wife, then settled himself with turnings as a dog settles.

“Now, Dafydd, he said, and peered smiling into the fire, while Henry, kneeling on the floor, gazed with awe at this mortal who held the very distances in his palm.

“Well, Robert — it’s about the green jungle I wanted to tell and the brown Indians that live in it, and about him they call Pierre le Grand. But, Robert, there’s something gone out of me like a little winking light. I used to lie on the decks of ships at night and think and think how I’d talk and boast when only I came home again — but it’s more like a child, I am, come home to cry. Can you understand that, Robert? Can you understand that at all?” He was leaning forward eagerly.

“I’ll tell you. We took the tall plate ship they call a galleon, and we with only pistols and the long knives they have for cutting trails in the jungle. Twenty-four of us there was — only twenty-four and ragged — but, Robert, we did horrid things with those same long knives. It’s no good for a man that was a farm lad to be doing such things and then thinking about them. There was a fine captain — and we hung him up by his thumbs before we killed him. I don’t know why we did it; I helped and I don’t know why. Some said he was a damned Papist; but then, so was Pierre le Grand, I think.

“Some we pushed into the sea with their breast plates shining and shimmering as they went down — grand Spanish soldiers and bubbles coming out of their mouths. You can see deep into the water there.” Dafydd ceased and looked at the floor.

“You see, I don’t want to be hurting you with these things, Robert, but it’s like something alive hidden in my chest under my ribs, and it’s biting and scratching to get out of me. I’m rich of the venturing sure, but most times that doesn’t seem enough; I’m richer, maybe, than your own brother, Sir Edward.”

Robert was smiling with tightened lips. Now and then his eyes wandered to the boy where he knelt on the hearth. Henry was taut with attention, gluttonously feeding on the words. When Robert spoke, he avoided Dafydd’s eyes.

“Your soul’s burdening you,” he said. “You’d best have a talk with the Curate the morning — but about what I don’t know.”

“No, no; it’s not my soul at all,” Dafydd went on quickly. “That soul leaks out of a man the very first thing in the Indies, and leaves him with a dry, shrunken feeling where it was. It’s not my soul at all; it’s the poison that’s in me, in my blood and in my brain. Robert, it’s shriveling me up like an old orange. The crawling things there, and the little flying beasts that come to your fire of nights, and the great pale flowers, all poisonous. They do horrible things to a man. My blood is like cold needles sliding in my veins the moment, and the fine fire before me. All this — all — is because of the dank breathing of the jungle. You cannot sleep in it nor lie in it, nor live in it at all but it breathes on you and withers you.

“And the brown Indians — why, look!” He rolled back his sleeve, and Robert in disgust motioned him to cover the sick white horror which festered on his arm.

“It was only a little scratch of an arrow — you could hardly see it; but it’ll be killing me before years, I guess. There’s other things in me, Robert. Even the humans are poisonous, and a song the sailors sing about that.”

Now young Henry started up excitedly.

“But the Indians,” he cried; “those Indians and their arrows. Tell me about them! Do they fight much? How do they look?”

“Fight?” said Dafydd. “Yes, they fight always; fight for a love that’s in it. When they do not be fighting the men of Spain, they’re at killing amongst themselves. Lithe as snakes they are, and quick and quiet and brown as ferrets; the very devil for getting out of sight before a man might get a shot at them.

“But they’re a brave, strong people with the fear in them for only two things — dogs and slavery.” Dafydd was immersed in his tale. “Why, boy, can you think what they would be doing to a man that might get himself taken in a skirmish? They stick him full of long jungle thorns from his head to his toes, and on the thick end of every thorn a ball of fluff like wool. Then the poor captive man stands in a circle of naked savages while they set light to the fluff. And that Indian that does not be singing while he burns there like a torch, is cursed and called a coward. Now, can you imagine any white man doing that?

“But dogs they fear, because the Spaniards hunt them with huge mastiffs when they’re at slave gathering for the mines; and slavery is horrible to them. To go chained body to body into the wet earth, year on the crown of year, until they die of the damp ague — rather would they be singing under the burning thorns, and dying in a flame.”

He paused and stretched his thin hands into the fireplace until they were nearly touching the blaze. The light which had come into his eyes as he talked died out again.

“Oh, I’m tired, Robert — so very tired,” he sighed, “but there’s one thing I want to tell you before I sleep. Maybe the telling will ease me, and maybe I can speak it out and then forget about it for the one night. I must go back to the damned place. I can never stay away from the jungle any more, because it’s hot breath is on me. Here, where I was born, I shiver and freeze. A month would find me dead. This valley where I played and grew and worked has cast me out for a foul, hot thing. It cleans itself of me with the cold.

“Now will you be giving me a place to sleep, with thick covers to keep my poor blood moving; and in the morning I’ll be off again.” He stopped and his face flexed with pain. “I used to love the winter so.”

Old Robert helped him from the room with a hand under his arm, then came and sat again by the fire. He looked at the boy who lay unmoving on the floor.

“What are you thinking about now, son?” he asked very softly after a time. And Henry drew his gaze back from the land beyond the blaze.

“I’m thinking I’ll be wanting to go soon, father.”

“I know, Henry. The whole of this long year I’ve seen it growing in you like a strong tree — London or Guinea or Jamaica. It comes of being fifteen and strong, with the passion for new things on you. Once I saw the valley grow smaller and smaller, too, until finally it smothered me a little, I think. But aren’t you afraid of the knives, son, and the poisons, and the Indians? Do not these things put fear on you?”

“No-o-o,” Henry said slowly.

“Of course not — and how could they? The words have no meaning to you at all. But the sadness of Dafydd, and the hurt of him, and his poor, sick body — aren’t you afraid of those? Do you want to go about the world weighed down with such a heart?”

Young Henry considered long.

“I would not be like that,” he said at last. “I would be coming back very often for my blood’s sake.”

His father went on smiling valiantly.

“When will you be off, Henry? It will be lonely here without you.”

“Why, I’ll go, now, as soon as I may,” said Henry; and it seemed that he was the older and Robert a little boy.

“Henry, will you do two things for me before you go? Will you be thinking to-night of the long sleeplessness I’ll have because of you, and of how lost my days will be. And will you remember the hours your mother will fret about your underclothing and the state of your religion. That’s the first thing, Henry; but second, will you go up to old Merlin on the crag-top to-morrow and tell him of your going and listen to his words? He is wiser than you or I may ever be. There is a kind of magic he practices which may be a help to you. Will you do these two things, son?”

Henry had become very sad.

“I would like to stay, my father, but you know—”

“Yes, boy.” Robert nodded. “It is my sorrow that I do know. I cannot be angry nor forbid your going, because I understand. I wish I might prevent it and whip you, thinking that I helped you. But go to bed, Henry, and think and think when the light is out and the dark in around you.”

Old Robert sat dreaming in his chair after the boy had gone.

“Why do men like me want sons?” he wondered. “It must be because they hope in their poor beaten souls that these new men, who are their blood, will do the things they were not strong enough nor wise enough nor brave enough to do. It is rather like another chance with life; like a new bag of coins at a table of luck after your fortune is gone. Perhaps the boy is doing what I might have done had I been brave enough years past. Yes, the valley has smothered me, I think, and I am glad this boy of mine finds it in his power to vault the mountains and stride about the world. But it will be — so very lonely here without him.”

II

Old Robert came in from his rose garden late the next morning and stood in the room where his wife was sweeping. She eyed the good soil on his hands with disapproval.

“He’ll be wanting to go now, Mother,” Robert said nervously.

“Who will be wanting to go, and where?” She was brusque and busy with her sweeping; the quick, inquisitive broom hounded dust from the corners and floor cracks and drove it in little puffs to the open.

“Why, Henry. He’ll be wanting to go to the Indies now.”

She stopped her work to stare at him. “The Indies! But, Robert! Oh, nonsense!” she finished, and the broom swung more rapidly in her hands.

“I’ve seen it for long and long growing in him,” Robert went on. “Then Dafydd came with his tales. Henry told me last night that he must go.”

“He’s only a little boy,” Mother Morgan snapped. “He can’t be going to the Indies.”

“When Dafydd set out, a little time ago, there was a longing in the child’s eyes that will never be satisfied at all, not even if he does go to the Indies. Haven’t you noticed, Mother, how his eyes look away beyond the mountains at something he wants?”

“But he may not go! He may not!”

“Ah, there is no use in it, Mother. A great gulf lies between my son and me, but none at all between me and my son. If I did not know the lean hunger of him so well I might forbid his venturing, and he would run away with anger in his heart; for he cannot understand the hunger that’s in me for his staying. It would come to the same thing, anyway.” Robert gathered conviction.

“There’s a cruel difference between my son and me. I’ve seen it in the years of his growing. For whereas he runs about sticking his finger into pot after pot of cold porridge, grandly confident that each one will prove the pottage of his dreaming, I may not open any kettle, for I believe all porridge to be cold. And so — I imagine great dishes of purple porridge, drenched with dragon’s milk, sugared with a sweetness only to be envisioned. He tests his dreams, Mother, and I — God help me! — am afraid to.”

She was becoming impatient with his talking.

“Robert,” she cried almost angrily, “in any time when there’s boding on us, or need, or sorrow, you hide in words. Here is a duty to you! This boy is too young. There are horrible places across the sea, and the winter comes in at us. He would be sure to find his death in a cough that came to him from the winter. You know how the dampness on his feet sets him sick. He must not leave this farm, not even to London, I say — if these eyes you talk about starve in his head.

“How could you possibly know what kind of people he would be taking up with, and they telling him nonsense and wickedness. I know the evil that’s in the world. Doesn’t the Curate mention it nearly every Sabbath— ‘pitfalls and snares’ he calls them, do you see? And so they are, too. And here you stand, content to talk foolishness about purple porridge when you should be doing something or other. You must forbid it.”

But Robert answered her impatiently.

“To you he is only a little boy who must be made to say his prayers of nights and to wear a coat into the fields. You have not felt the polished steel of him as I have. Yes, to you that quick, hard set of his chin is only the passing stubbornness of a headstrong child. But I do know; and I say to you, without pleasure, that this son of ours will be a great man, because — well — because he is not very intelligent. He can see only one desire at a time. I said he tested his dreams; he will murder every dream with the implacable arrows of his will. This boy will win to every goal of his aiming; for he can realize no thought, no reason, but his own. And I am sorry for his coming greatness because of a thing Merlin once spoke of. You must look at the granite jaws of him, Mother, and the trick he has of making his cheek muscles stand out with clenching them.”

“He must not go,” she said firmly, and pinched her lips tightly together.

“You see, Mother,” Robert went on, “you are something like Henry yourself, for you never admit the existence of any idea save your own. But I will not forbid his going, because I must not have him stealing out into the lonely dark with bread and cheese under his coat and a hurt feeling of injustice in his heart. I permit him to go. More, I help him to go if he wishes it. And then, if I have misjudged my son, he will come sneaking back with the fearful hope that no one may mention his cowardice.”

Mother Morgan said, “Nonsense!” and went back to her work. She would dissolve this thing by disbelieving it. Oh, the thousand things she chained to Limbo with her incredulity! For many years she had beaten Robert’s wild thoughts with a heavy phalanx of common sense; her troop simply charged in and overwhelmed him. Always he retired wearily and sat smiling for a time. He was sure to come back to sanity in this case as in others.

Robert was working the soil about the roots of a rose bush with his strong brown hands. His fingers lifted the black loam and then patted it gently back into place. Now and again he stroked the gray trunk of the bush with the touch of great love. It was as though he smoothed the covers over one about to sleep and touched its arm to be reassured of its safety.

The day was light, for winter had inched back a bit and returned its hostage to the world — a small, cold sun. Young Henry came and stood near an elm by the wall, a tree draggled and leafless and gaunt with nursing the winds.

“You have been thinking as I asked you?” Robert spoke quietly.

Henry started. He did not know that the man, kneeling as though in adoration of the earth, had noticed him; and yet he had come here to be noticed.

“Yes, father,” he said. “How could I help be thinking?”

“And has it bound you here? Will you be staying?”

“No, father; I may not stay.” He had been made sad with his father’s sadness. He felt mean and shoddy to be the cause of it, but the hunger to be going still gnawed in his heart.

“Will you be walking up to speak with Merlin on the crag-top, then?” Robert pleaded. “Will you listen to his words with great care?”

“I shall go now.”

“But, Henry, the day is half done with, and the track is long. Be waiting until the morrow.”

“I must be away the morrow, father.”

Old Robert’s hands slipped away slowly to the ground and lay, half-open, on the black soil at the roots of the rose bush.

III

Young Henry turned soon from the road to climb up a broad trail which soared to Crag-top and then over the wild mountains. Its windings could be seen from below until it disappeared into the great cleft. And on the topmost point of the trail dwelt Merlin; Merlin whom the farm boys might have jeered at and stoned on his infrequent journeys down the path had they believed him harmless. But Merlin was one who collected about himself a swarm of little legends. It was established that the Tylwyth Teg obeyed him and carried his messages through the air on soundless wings. Children whispered of his acquaintance with certain mottled weasels which might carry on his vengeance had he need of such. Then, too, he kept a red-eared dog. These were terrific things, and Merlin one not to be trifled with by children who did not know all the signs for protecting themselves.

Once Merlin had been a fine poet, the old people said, and might have been a greater. They would softly sing The Sorrow of Plaith or the Spear Song, to prove it. Several times he had taken the chief prize of the Eisteddfod, and would have been chosen First Bard if an aspirant of the House of Rhys had not entered against him. Then, without known cause, and Merlin a young man, too, he had shut up his song in the stone house on Crag-top and kept it a strict prisoner there while he grew old and old — and those who had sung his songs forgot them, or died.

The Crag-top house was round like a low gray tower with windows letting sight on the valley and on the mountains. Some said that it was built by a beleaguered giant, centuries ago, to keep his virgins hidden while they were in that state; and others, that King Harold had fled there after Hastings to live out his life ever watching and peering, with his one eye, down the valley and over the mountains for the coming of Normans.

Merlin was old now; his hair and long, straight beard were white and soft as spring clouds. There was much about him of an ancient Druid priest with clear, far-seeing eyes which watched the stars.

The pathway narrowed on young Henry as he climbed. Its inward side was a stone wall cutting into the heavens knife-like, and the misshapen, vague images along the way made it seem the rock temple of some old, crude god whose worshipers were apes.

There had been grass at first, and bushes, and a few brave, twisted trees; but upward all living things died of the rock loneliness. Far below, the farmhouses huddled like feeding bugs and the valley shrank and drew into itself.

Now a mountain closed in on the other side of the trail, leaving only a broad chasm to the sky. A fierce, steady wind poured out of the blue heavens and shrilled toward the valley. Upward, the strewn rocks were larger and more black and dreadful — crouched guardian things of the path.

Henry climbed tirelessly on. What could old Merlin have to tell him, or, perhaps, to give him? A lotion to make his skin tough and proof against arrows? Some charm? Words to protect him from the Devil’s many little servants? But Merlin was to talk and he to listen; and what Merlin said might cure young Henry of his yearnings, might keep him here in Cambria for always. That could not be, for there were outland forces, nameless foreign ghosts, calling to him and beckoning from across the mysterious sea.

There was no desire in him for a state or condition, no picture in his mind of the thing to be when he had followed his longing; but only a burning and a will overpowering to journey outward and outward after the earliest risen star.

The path broke on a top of solid stone, semi-spherical like the crown of a hat; and on the peak of its rise was the low, round house of Merlin, all fitted of irregular rough rocks, and a conical roof on it like a candle-snuffer.

The old man met him at the door before he could knock.

“I’m young Henry Morgan, sir, and I’m going outward from here to the Indies.”

“Indeed, and are you? Will you come in and talk to me about it?” The voice was clear and low and lovely as a young wind crooning in a Spring-time orchard. There was the music of singing in it, the quiet singing of a man working with tools; and underneath, half-heard or completely imagined, there rang the seeming of harp strings lightly touched and left to thrill.

The single room was thick carpeted in black, and on the walls were hung harp and spear-head, harp and spear-head, all the way around; small Welsh harps and the great bronze leaf spears of the Britons, and these against the unfinished stone. Below these were the all-seeing windows wherefrom you might look out on three valleys and a mighty family of mountains; and lower still, a single bench circled around the room against the wall. There was a table in the center loaded with tattered books, and beside it a copper brazier, set on a Greek tripod of black iron.

The great hound nuzzled Henry as he entered so that he drew away in fright, for is there anything under the blue cup so deadly as the merest notice of a red-eared dog?

“You are going to the Indies. Sit here, boy. See! you can watch your home valley now, so that it go not flying off to Avalon.” The harps caught up his tones and hummed an answering faint resonance.

“My father said I was to come here and tell you of my going and listen to your speech. My father thinks your speech may keep me here.”

“Going to the Indies,” Merlin repeated. “Will you be seeing Elizabeth before you go and making grand promises to flutter the heart of her and strangle the breath in her, after you’re gone, from thinking of the things you will bring back to her?”

Henry blushed deeply. “Who told you I thought at all of the little rat?” he cried. “Who is it says at all that I care for her?”

“Oh, the wind whispered something,” said Merlin; “and then there was some word of it in your talking cheeks and your blustering just now. I think you should be speaking to Elizabeth, not to me. Your father should have known better.” His voice died away. When he spoke again it was with sad earnestness.

“Must you leave your father, boy — and he so sure alone in the valley of men who are not like him? Yes, I think that you must go. The plans of boys are serious things and unchangeable. But what can I say to you to keep you here, young Henry? Your father sends me a task difficult to fulfill.

“I went out on a tall Spanish ship a thousand years ago — it must be more than that, or perhaps I did not go at all and only dreamed it. We came at last on these green Indies, and they were lovely but unchanging. Their cycle is a green monotony. If you go there you must give up the year; must lose the pang of utter dread in the deep winter with its boding that the world has fled solar fealty to go careening into lonely space so that Spring may never come again. And you must lose that wild, excited quickening when the sun turns back, the joy of it flooding over you like the surge of a warm wave and choking you with pleasure and relief. No change there; none at all. Past and future mingle in an odious, eternal now.”

“But there is no change here,” young Henry interposed. “Year on top of year are the crops put in and new calves licked by their mothers; year on top of year is a pig slaughtered and the hams smoked. Spring comes, surely, but nothing happens.”

“True enough, blind boy; and I see that we are talking of different things.” Merlin looked out of his windows to the mountains and the valleys, and a great love for the land shone in his eyes; but when he turned back to the boy there was the look of pain in his face. His voice took on the cadence of a song.

“I will plead with you for this dear Cambria where time is piled mountain high and crumbling, ancient days about its base,” he cried passionately. “Have you lost your love of wild Cambria that you would leave it when the blood of your thousand ancestors has gone soaking into the soil to keep it Cambria for always? Have you forgotten that you are of the Trojan race? Ah, but they wandered too, didn’t they, when Pergamus fell in?”

Henry said, “I have lost no love, sir, but my dream is over the sea that I do not know. I know Cambria.”

“But, boy, here great Arthur lived who drove his standards into Rome and sailed away undying to dear Avalon. And Avalon itself lies off our coasts, somewhere over the sunken cities; there it floats endlessly. And have you not heard them, Henry, the ghosts of all those good, brave, quarrelsome, inefficient men — Llew Llaw Giffes and Belerius and Arthur and Cadwallo and Brute? They walk like clouds through the land and guard it from the high places. There are no ghosts in the Indies, and no Tylwyth Teg.

“In these wild, black hills there are a million mysteries. Have you found out the Chair of Arthur or the meaning of the circling stones? Have you heard the voices that cry out triumph in the night, and the hunters of souls with their screaming horns and their packs of blue hounds who rush into the villages on the storm?”

“I have heard them,” said Henry, shuddering. He glanced shyly at the dog asleep on the floor and spoke in a lower tone. “The Curate says these things are lies. He says the Red Book is a book for little children before the fire and a shame for men and big boys to be believing in. He told us at church school these were lying tales, and unchristian. Arthur was an unimportant chieftain, he said, and Merlin, whose name you bear, a figment of the mad brain of Geoffrey of Monmouth. He even spoke ill of the Tylwyth Teg and of the corpse-candles, and of such as his Honor, your dog, here.”

“Oh, the fool!” cried Merlin in disgust. “The fool to be breaking these things! And he offers instead a story given to the world by twelve collaborators with rather slovenly convictions in some matters. Why must you go, boy? Do you not see that the enemies of Cambria fight no more with the sword, but with little pointed tongues?” The harps sang his question, then slowly ceased their throbbing, and there was silence in the round house.

Henry studied the floor with drawn brows. At last he said, “There is so much bother about me. I cannot seem to talk of this thing, Merlin. I will come back. Surely I will when this burning for new things is quenched. But don’t you see that I must go, for it seems that I am cut in half and only one part of me here. The other piece is over the sea, calling and calling me to come and be whole. I love Cambria, and I will come back when I am whole again.”

Merlin searched the boy’s face closely. Sadly he looked up at his harps. “I think I understand,” he said softly. “You are a little boy. You want the moon to drink from as a golden cup; and so, it is very likely that you will become a great man — if only you remain a little child. All the world’s great have been little boys who wanted the moon; running and climbing, they sometimes caught a firefly. But if one grow to a man’s mind, that mind must see that it cannot have the moon and would not want it if it could — and so, it catches no fireflies.”

“But did you never want the moon?” asked Henry in a voice hushed with the room’s quiet.

“I wanted it. Above all desires I wanted it. I reached for it and then — then I grew to be a man, and a failure. But there is this gift for the failure; folk know he has failed, and they are sorry and kindly and gentle. He has the whole world with him; a bridge of contact with his own people; the cloth of mediocrity. But he who shields a firefly in his hands, caught in reaching for the moon, is doubly alone; he only can realize his true failure, can realize his meanness and fears and evasions.

“You will come to your greatness, and it may be in time you will be alone in your greatness and no friend anywhere; only those who hold you in respect or fear or awe. I am sorry for you, boy with the straight, clear eyes which look upward longingly. I am sorry for you, and — Mother Heaven! how I envy you.”

Dusk was stealing into the mountain creases, filling them with purple mist. The sun cut itself on a sharp hill and bled into the valleys. Long shadows of the peaks crept out into the fields like stalking gray cats. When Merlin spoke, it was with a little laugh.

“Do not think deeply of my words,” he said, “for I myself am not at all sure of them. Dreams you may know by a quality we call inconsistency — but how could you classify the lightning?” Now the night was closing in quickly, and Henry jumped to his feet.

“Oh, but I must be going! The dark is in!”

“Yes, you must go, but do not think closely of my words. I may have been trying to impress you with these words. Old men need a certain silent flattery when they have come to distrust that which is spoken. Only remember that Merlin talked with you. And if you come on the Welsh folk anywhere, singing my songs that were made so long ago, tell them that you know me; tell them that I am a glorious creature with blue wings. I don’t want to be forgotten, Henry. That is greater horror to an old man than death — to be forgotten.”

Henry said, “I must be going now; it’s really dark. And thank you, sir, for telling me these things, but you see, I must be sailing outward to the Indies.”

Merlin laughed softly. “Of course you must, Henry. And catch a big firefly, won’t you. Good-by, child.”

Henry looked back once as the black silhouette of the house sank behind the crag’s shoulder, but no light had flashed behind the windows. Old Merlin sat there pleading with his harps, and they echoed him jeeringly.

The boy quickened his steps down the path. All below was a black lake, and the farm lights stars’ reflections in its deep. The wind had died, leaving a thick silence on the hills. Everywhere the sad, soundless ghosts flitted about their haunting. Henry walked carefully, his eyes on the path which glimmered pale blue before him.

IV

On the path there in the dark, Henry’s mind went back to the first speech of Merlin. Should he see Elizabeth before he went sailing away? He did not like her; sometimes he thought he had discovered hatred for her, and this he nursed and warmed only to feel it grow to a desire to see her.

She was a thing of mystery. All girls and women hoarded something they never spoke of. His mother had terrific secrets about biscuits, and cried, sometimes, for no known reason. Another life went on inside of women — some women — ran parallel to their outward lives and yet never crossed them.

A year before, Elizabeth had been a pretty child who whispered to the other girls and giggled and pulled hair when he was about; and then suddenly she had changed. It was nothing Henry could see, exactly, but rather he felt that a deep, quiet understanding had been given her. It frightened him, this wisdom which had come all at once to Elizabeth.

Then there was her body — different somehow from his, and capable, it was whispered, of strange pleasures and alchemies. Even this flowering body she kept a secret thing. A time ago they had gone together to swim in the river, and she had been unconscious of it; but now she covered herself carefully from him and appeared stricken with the thought that he might see. Her new character frightened and embarrassed Henry.

Sometimes he dreamed of her, and waked in agony lest she should ever know his dream. And sometimes it was a strange, shadowy composite of Elizabeth and his mother that came to him in the night. After such a dream, the day brought loathing of himself and her. He considered himself an unnatural monster and her a kind of succubus incarnate. And he could tell no one of these things. The people would shun him.

He thought perhaps he would like to see her before he left. There was a strange power in her this year, a drawing yet repelling power which swayed his desire like a windblown reed. Other boys might have gone to her in the night and kissed her, after they had boasted a little of their going; but then, the other boys did not dream as he did, nor did they think of her, as he sometimes did, as a loathsome being. There was surely something monstrous about him, for he could not distinguish between desire and disgust. And then, she could embarrass him so easily.

No, certainly, he would not go to her. Where had Merlin — where had any one — caught the idea that he cared a farthing for her, the daughter of a poor tenant? Not worth bothering about!

Footsteps were coming down the path behind him, loud clashes in the quiet night, and soon a quick, thin figure came up with him.

“Might it be William?” Henry asked politely, while the roadmender stopped in the path and shifted his pick from one shoulder to the other.

“It’s William right enough. And what are you doing on the path, and the dark come?”

“I’ve been to see Merlin and to hear him talk.”

“Pest on him! That’s all he ever does now. Once he made songs — good, sweet songs as I could repeat to you if I’d a mind to — but now he roosts up on that Crag-top like an old molted eagle. Once when I was going past I spoke to him about it, too, as I can prove by him. I’m not a man to be holding my tongue when I’ve been thinking.

“ ‘Why are you making no more songs?’ I said to him in a tone like that. ‘Why are you making no more songs?’ ‘I have grown to be a man,’ he answered, ‘and there be no songs in a man. Only children make songs — children and idiots.’ Pest on him! It’s an idiot himself, is the thought is on me. But what did he say to you, the old white-beard?”

“Why, you see, I’m going to the Indies and—”

“The Indies, and are you? Ah, well — I was at London once. And all the people at London are thieves, dirty thieves. There was a man with a board and little flat sticks on it. ‘Try your skill, friend?’ he says. ‘What stick has a black mark on the underside of it?’ ‘That one,’ says I; and so it was. But the next time — Ah, well, he was a thief, too; all of them thieves.

“People there are at London, and they do nothing but drive about and about in carriages, up one street and down another, bowing to each other, while good men sweat out their lives in the fields and the mines to keep them bowing there. What chance have I or you, say, with all the fine, soft places taken up by robbers? And can you tell me the thieving price of an egg at London?”

“I must take this road now,” said Henry. “I must go home.”

“Indies.” The road-mender sighed with longing. Then he spat in the trail. “Ah, well — I’ll stake it’s all thieves there, too.”

The night was very black when Henry came at last to the poor hut where Elizabeth lived. There was a fire in the middle of the floor, he knew, and the smoke drifted up and tried to get out at a small hole in the thatch. The house had no flooring, but only rushes strewn on the packed ground, and when the family slept they wrapped themselves in sheepskins and lay in a circle with their feet to the fire.

The windows were not glazed nor curtained. Henry could see old black-browed Twym and his thin, nervous wife, moving about inside. He watched for Elizabeth to pass the window, and when at last she did, he whistled a shrill bird-call. The girl stopped and looked out, but Henry was quiet in the dark. Then Elizabeth opened the door and stood framed against the inside light. The fire was behind her. Henry could see the black outline of her figure through her dress. He saw the fine curve of her legs and the swell of her hips. A wild shame filled him, for her and for himself. Without thought and without reason he ran away into the dark, gasping and almost sobbing under his breath.

V

Old Robert looked up hopefully when the boy came into the room, and then the hope died away and he turned quickly to the fire. But Mother Morgan jumped from her seat and went angrily to Henry.

“What is this foolishness? You going to the Indies!” she demanded.

“But, Mother, I must go; truly I must — and father understands. Can’t you hear how the Indies are calling to me?”

“That I cannot! It’s wicked nonsense is in it. A little child you are, and not to be trusted from home at all. Besides, your own father is going to tell you it may not be.”

The strong jaw of the boy set like a rock and the muscles stood out in his cheeks. Suddenly there came a flash of anger into his eyes.

“Then, Mother, if you will not understand, I tell you that I am going the morrow — in spite of all of you.”

Hurt pride chased incredulity from her face, and that, too, passed, leaving only pain. She shrank from the bewildering hurt. And Henry, when he saw what his words had done, went quickly to her.

“I’m sorry, Mother — so very sorry; but why can you not let me go as my father can? I don’t want to hurt you, but I must go. Won’t you see that?” He put his arm about her, but she would not look at him. Her eyes stared blankly straight in front of her.

She was so sure that her view was right. Throughout her life she had insulted and browbeaten and scolded her family, and they had known her little tyranny to be the outcropping of her love for them. But now that one of them, and he the child, had used the tone she spoke with every hour, it made a grim hurt that might never be quite healed again.

“You spoke with Merlin? What did he say to you?” asked Robert from the hearth.

Henry’s mind flashed quickly to Elizabeth. “He talked of things that are not in my belief,” he said.

“Well — it was only a chance,” murmured Robert. “You’ve hurt your mother badly, boy,” he went on. “I’ve never seen her so — so quiet.” Then Robert straightened himself and his voice became firm.

“I have five pounds for you, son. It’s little enough; I suppose I might give you a small matter more, but not enough to help much. And here is a letter recommending you to my brother, Sir Edward. He went out before the king was murdered, and for some reason — perhaps because he was quiet — old Cromwell has let him stay. If he is there when you come to Jamaica, you may present this letter; but it’s a cold, strange man who takes great pride in his rich acquaintance and might be a little annoyed with a poor relative. And so I do not know that good will come of this letter. He would dislike you unless you were able to see nothing funny in a man who looks like me, only strides about with a silver sword and plumes on his head. I laughed once, and he has not been a near brother to me since. But keep the letter; it may help you with other people if not with your uncle.”

He looked at his wife sitting huddled in the shadow. “Will we not have supper, Mother?” She made no sign that she heard him, and Robert himself poured the pot and brought the food to the table.

It is a cruel thing to lose a son for whom you have lived continuously. Somehow, she had imagined him always beside her — a little boy, and always beside her. She tried to think of the coming days, and Henry not there, but the thought was shattered on the bleak wall of a lean imagination. She attempted to consider him ungrateful so to run away from her; she recalled the harsh blow he had dealt her — but always the mind snapped back. Henry was her little boy, and, naturally, he could not be mean nor treacherous. In some way, when all this talk and pain had drifted into the thin air, he would be yet beside her, deliciously underfoot.

Her mind which had been always a scalpel of reality, her imagination which dealt purely with the present outsides of things, went fondling back to the baby who had crawled and stumbled and learned to talk. She forgot that he was going away at all, so deeply was she laved in a revery of the silver past.

He was being baptized in a long white dress. All the water of baptism collected in one big drop and rolled down his blobby nose, and she, in her passion for tidiness, wiped it off with a handkerchief and then wondered if he shouldn’t be baptized again. The young Curate was perspiring and choking over his words. He was lately come to the parish and was only a local boy anyway. He was really too young, she thought, to be trusted with an affair of this importance. Perhaps it wouldn’t take. He might get the words in the wrong order or something. And then — Robert had made a mess of his waistcoat again. He never could get the right button in the right hole to save him. It made him look all wracked to one side. She must go and tell Robert about his waistcoat before people in the church noticed it. Small things like that were surest to cause talk. But could she trust this foolish young curate not to let the baby fall while she went?

Supper was over, and aged Gwenliana rose from the table to struggle back to her seat before the fire. Quietly she was slipping back into her friendly future.

“What time will you be starting, the morning?” asked Robert.

“Why, about seven, I think, father.” Henry tried to sound casual.

The ancient woman paused in her journey and looked sharply at him.

“Now where is Henry going?” she asked.

“Why, don’t you know? Henry is going away from us in the morning. He is going to the Indies.”

“And not coming back again?” she questioned anxiously.

“Not for a time, anyway. It’s a great distance.”

“Why, but — I must lay the future before him then, that’s what I must do — before him like the white pages of an open book,” she exclaimed in pleased excitement. “I must tell him of the future and the things in it. Let me look at you, boy.”

Henry went to her and sat at her feet while she talked. There is truly a spell in the ancient Cumric tongue. It is a speech made for prophecy.

“Of course,” Gwenliana said, “if I had only known of this to-day I should have got the shoulder bone of a new-killed sheep. It’s a means of greater antiquity and better thought of than just snap-prophecy. And since I have grown old and rusty and lame I cannot go about any more to meet the spirits that wander the high-road. You cannot do as well if there is not the means in you to walk among the strolling dead and listen to their thoughts. But I shall give you a thorough life, grandson, and as fine a future as I ever pondered on.”

She leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes, but if one had looked closely he might have seen their glint below the lids where they peered out at the set face of the boy. A long time she sat entranced, and it seemed that her old brain combed out the tangles of the past to make a straight, tellable future. At length she spoke in the low, hoarse, chanting voice that is reserved for dread things.

“This is the tale out of Abred, when earth and water battled. And from the impact of their clash was born a little, struggling life to squirm upward through the circles toward Gwynfyd, the sheening Purity. In that first blundering flesh is written the world’s history and the world’s journey through the Void.

“And thou — often has Annwn set its fanged maw to entrap the little pinch of life thou carryest about, but thou hast made thy path to go around its snaring. A thousand centuries hast thou lived since earth and sea struggled in thy generation, and a thousand eons shalt thou carry about the little pinch of life that was given thee, so only thou shelterest it from Annwn, the Chaos.”

Always she began her prophecies thus. It was a thing taught her by a wandering Bard, to whom it had come, from Bard to Bard, back and back to the white Druids. Gwenliana paused to let her words find footing in the boy’s brain. She continued:

“This is the tale of thy present wandering. Thou shalt become a great shining for the Divine, teaching the things of God.” Her secret eyes saw the boy’s face fall in disappointment, and she cried:

“But wait a moment! I go too far ahead. There shall be fighting and shedding of blood, and the sword shall be thy first bride.” Henry’s face lighted up with pleasure. “The whisper of thy name shall be a foregathering command to the warriors of the world. Thou shalt sack the cities of the infidel and spoil him of his plunderings. The terror will precede thee like a screaming eagle over the shields of men.” She knew, now, that her forecast was a success, but she hastened on to greater glories.

“The government of islands and continents shall be thine, and thou shalt bring justice and peace to them. And at last, when thou art girded with honor and repute, thou shalt marry a white-souled maiden of mighty rank — a girl of good family, and wealthy,” she finished. Her eyes opened and she glanced about for their approbation.

“I could have done better with a sheep’s shoulder,” she said plaintively, “or if I could be walking about on the high-road now and then; but age robs you of your little pleasures and leaves you with only a cold, quiet waiting.”

“Ah, well, mother, it was a good prophecy,” said Old Robert; “as good as I ever heard you make. You are just coming to the peak of your occult strength, I think. And you have taken away my dread and reassured me about Henry’s going. Now I am only proud of what my boy is to be. Only I wish he didn’t have to kill people.”

“Well, then — if you think it was really good!” said Gwenliana happily. “It did seem to me that the air was propitious and my eyes clear to-night. Still, I should have liked a sheep’s shoulder.” She closed her eyes contentedly and went to dozing.

VI

All night Old Robert tossed nervously in his bed, and his wife lay motionless beside him. At last, when the darkness was changing to silver gray in the window, she rose quietly.

“What? Have you not been sleeping, Mother? And where are you going?”

“I am going to Henry, now. I must talk with him. Perhaps he will listen to me.” Only a moment she was gone, and then she returned and laid her head on Robert’s arm.

“Henry is gone,” she said, and her whole body stiffened a little.

“Gone? But how could he do that? Here is his first cowardice, Mother. He was afraid to say good-by to us. But I am not sorry for his fear, because it holds the sureness of his sorrow. He could not bear to hear the thing of his feeling in words.”

“Why, Mother!” He was startled at her silence and her coldness. “He will come back to us, Mother, in a little; perhaps when the spring grass is lifting out. Surely he will come back to us. I swear it. Can’t you believe it? He is gone only for a week — a few days. Oh, believe me!

“The years are gone from us surely, dear, and now we are as we were — do you remember? — only closer — closer of all the things that have been. We are rich with all the little pictures of the past and the things he played with. They can never go from us while life is here.”

She did not weep nor move nor even seem to breathe.

“Oh, my wife — Elizabeth — say that you will believe in his coming, very soon — soon — before you have missed him,” he cried wildly. “Do not lie there silently and lost. He will be here when the Spring comes in. You must believe it, dear — my dear.” Very softly he stroked the still cheek beside him with his great tender fingers.

VII

He had crept from the house in the false dawn, and started briskly walking on the road to Cardiff. There was a frozen, frightened thing in his heart, and a wondering whether he wanted to go at all. To his mind the fear had argued that if he waited to say good-by he would not be able to leave the stone house, not even for the Indies.

The sky was graying as he went by pastures where he had tossed and played, and by the quarry where was the cave in which he and his friends acted the delightful game of “Robbers,” with Henry always the Wild Wag, Twym Shone Catti, by acclamation.

The mountains stood sharply before him, like cardboard things, and along their rims a silver fringe. A little wind of dawn blew down the slopes, fresh and sweet smelling, bearing the rich odor of moistened earth and leaves. Horses whinnied shrilly at him as he passed, then came close and gently touched him with their soft noses; and coveys of birds, feeding on belated night crawlers in the half dark, flew up at his approach with startled protests.

By sun-up there were new miles behind him. As the yellow ball said from behind the peaks, coloring all the tattered clouds of the mountains, Henry drew a thick curtain down against the past. The pain and loneliness that had walked with him in the dark were pushed back and left behind him. Cardiff was ahead. He was coming to new country which he had never seen before, and below the morning horizon, faint and glorious, seemed to glow the green crown of the Indies.

He passed through villages whose names were unknown to him; friendly little clusters of rude huts, and the people staring at him as at a stranger. It was a joyous thing to young Henry. Always he had stared at others who were strangers, dreaming their destinations and the delicious mystery that sent them forth. The name of Stranger made them grand beings with mighty purposes. And now he was a stranger to be thought about and stared at with a certain reverence. He wanted to shout, “I’m on my way to the Indies,” to widen their dull eyes for them and raise their respect. Silly, spineless creatures, he thought them, with no dream and no will to leave their sodden, dumpy huts.

The land changed. He was coming out of the mountains to a broad, unbounded country of little rolls and flat lands. He saw large burrows like the holes of tremendous gophers, and dirty black men coming out of them with sacks of coals on their backs. The miners emptied their sacks in a pile on the ground and then walked back into the burrows. He noticed that they stooped when they walked as though the heavy bags were still bearing them down.

Mid-day came, and a long, clear afternoon, and still he trudged on. There was a new odor in the air, the sweet, compelling breath of the sea. He wanted to break into a run toward it like a thirsty horse. In the late afternoon an army of black clouds drew over the sky. A wind rushed out with snow in its breath, and the grasses bowed before it.

Still he went on into the gathering storm until it was armed with sleet which pricked his face viciously, and until the cold went piercing through his jacket. There were occasional houses to either side of the road, but Henry would seek shelter and food at none of them. He did not know the customs of this place, nor the prices of things, and his five pounds must be intact when he came at last to Cardiff.

At length, when his hands were blue and his face raw with the wild sleet, he crawled into a lonely, stone barn filled with the summer’s hay. It was warm, there, and quiet after the screaming of the wind in his ears. The hay was sweet with the honey dried in its stems. Henry burrowed into the soft bed and slept.

It was dark night when he awakened. Half-dreaming, he remembered where he was, and at once the thoughts which he had shut from him the day before thronged back with clamoring, strident voices.

“You are a fool,” said one. “Remember the big room and the pikes and the bright fire! Where are they now? Oh, you will not see them any more. They are gone out like things of dreams, and you do not even know where dreams go. You are a fool!”

“No, no; listen to me! Think of me! Why did you not wait for Elizabeth? Were you afraid? Yes, you were afraid. This boy is a coward, brothers. He is afraid of a small girl with yellow hair — a tenant’s daughter.”

A sad, slow voice broke in. “Think of your mother, Henry. She was sitting straight and still when you last saw her. And you did not go to her. You only looked from the doorway as you went. Perhaps she has died in her chair, with the look of hurt in her eyes. How can you tell? And Robert, your own father — Will you think of him, now — lonely, and sad, and lost. It’s your doing, Henry; because you wanted to go to the Indies you did not think of any one else.”

“And what do you know of the future?” asked a tiny, fearful voice. “It will be cold, and perhaps you will freeze. Or some stranger may kill you for your money, little as it is. Such things have happened. Always there has been some one to look after you and to see that you were comfortable. Oh, you will starve! you will freeze! you will die! I am sure of it!”

Then the noises of the barn edged in among his tormentors. The storm was past, but a breeze sighed around corners with infinite, ghostly sadness. Now and again it voiced a little wail of sorrow. There was a creaking in the hay as though every straw squirmed and tried to move stealthily. Bats flitted about in the dark gnashing their tiny teeth, and the mice were screaming horribly. Bats and mice seemed to be glaring at him from obscurity with small, mean eyes.

He had been alone before, but never so thoroughly alone, among new things, in a place he did not know. The terror was growing and swelling in his breast. Time had become an idling worm which crawled ahead the merest trifle, stopped and waggled its blind head, and crawled again. It seemed that hours passed over him like slow, sailing clouds while he lay shivering with fright. At last an owl flew in and circled above him, screeching maniacally. The boy’s overstrung nerves snapped, and he ran whimpering from the barn and down the road toward Cardiff.





CHAPTER TWO




FOR MORE THAN a century Britain had watched with impatience while Spain and Portugal, with the permission of the Pope, divided the New World and patrolled their property to keep out interlopers. It was a bitter thing to England there imprisoned by the sea. But finally Drake had burst the barrier and sailed the forbidden oceans in his little Golden Hind. The great red ships of Spain considered Drake only a tiny, stinging fly, an annoying thing to be killed for its buzzing; but when the fly had gutted their floating castles, burned a town or two, and even set a trap for the sacred treasure train across the Isthmus, they were forced to alter their conception. The fly was a hornet, a scorpion, a viper, a dragon. They named him El Draque, and a fear of the English grew up in the New World.

When the Armada fell before the English and the angry sea, Spain was terrified at this new force which emanated from such a very little island. It was sad to think of these bright carven ships lying on the bottom or torn to fragments on the Irish coast.

And Britain thrust her hand into the Caribbean; a few islands came under her power — Jamaica, Barbados. Now the products of the home island could be sold in colonies. It added prestige to a little country to have colonies, provided they were strongly populated; and England began to populate her new possessions.

Younger sons, spendthrifts, ruined gentlemen sailed out for the Indies. It was a fine way to be rid of a dangerous man. The king had only to grant him land in the Indies and then express the desire that he live on his property and cultivate the rich soil there for the good of the English crown.

The out-sailing ships were crowded with colonists; gamblers, touts, pimps, dissenters, papists — all to own the land, and none to work it. The slave ships of Portugal and the Netherlands could not move black flesh from Africa fast enough to supply the increasing demands of those who clamored for workers.

Then felons were gathered out of the prisons, and vagrants from the streets of London; beggars who stood all day before the church doors; those suspected of witchcraft or treason or leprosy or papism; and all these were sent to work the plantations under orders of indenture. It was a brilliant plan; the labor needed was supplied, and the crown actually received money for the worthless bodies of those it once fed and clothed and hanged. More could be made of this. Whole sheaves of orders of indenture, ready sealed by the government, with blank spaces for names, were sold to certain captains of ships. They were given instructions to act with extreme discretion about the names they filled in.

And rows of coffee and oranges and cane and cocoa grew and ever spread out on the islands. There was some little trouble, of course, when the terms of indenture ran out. But the slums of London bred new slaves quickly enough, God knew! and the king was never without a fine supply of enemies.

England was becoming a sea power with her governors and palaces and clerks in the New World, and ships of manufactured things were sailing out of Liverpool and Bristol in ever increasing numbers.

I

With breaking day, Henry was in the outskirts of Cardiff, all his terror gone and a new blossoming wonder in him. For it was an unbelievable thing, this city of houses, rank on rank — no two of them exactly alike — the lines of them stretching out endlessly like an army in the mud. He had never considered such magnitude when people spoke of cities.

The shops were opening their shutters, putting their goods on display, and Henry stared wide-eyed into every one as he passed. Down a long street he went until he came at last to the docks with their fields of masts like growing wheat, and their clouds and cobwebs of brown rigging in an apparent frenzy of disorder. There was loading of bundles and barrels and slaughtered animals into some of the ships, and others were sending out of their curved bellies goods in queer foreign boxes and sacks of braided straw. A tremendous bustle of excitement lived about the docks. The boy felt that holiday tingle which had come to him when men were putting up pavilions for a fair at home.

A loud song burst out of a ship just getting under weigh, and the words were clear, beautiful foreign words. The water slapping smooth hulls was a joy to him to the point of pain. He felt that he had come home again to a known, loved place, after days and nights of mad delirium. Now a great song of many voices came from the moving barque, and its brown anchor rose from the water; its sails dropped from the yards and caught the morning wind. The barque said from its berth and moved softly down the channel.

Onward he walked to where the ships were careened, showing weeds and barnacles, gathered in many oceans, hanging to their shining sides. Here was the short, quick hammering of the calkers and the rasp of iron on wood, and brusque commands built up to roars by the speaking trumpets.

When the sun was well up, Henry began to feel hungry. He wandered slowly back to the town to find his breakfast, reluctant to leave the docks even for food. Now the crimps were coming out of their holes, and the sniffling gamblers who preyed on sailors. Here and there a disheveled, sleepy-eyed woman scurried homeward as though fearing to be caught by the sun. Seamen on shore leave rubbed their puffed eyes and looked into the sky for weather signs as they lounged against the walls. Henry wondered what these men had seen in the sailing days of their lives. He stepped aside for a line of carts and tumbrils loaded with boxes and bales for the ships, and immediately had to dodge another line coming away, loaded with goods from across the sea.

He came at last to a busy inn. “The Three Dogs” it was called, and there they were on the sign looking very like three startled dromedaries. Henry entered and found a large apartment crowded with people. Of a fat man in an apron he asked whether he could get breakfast.

“Have you money?” the host asked suspiciously.

Henry let the light fall on a gold piece in his hand, and, as he had made the sign of power, the apron was bowing and gently pulling him by the arm. Henry ordered his breakfast and stood looking around the inn.

There were a great many people in the room sitting at the long tables or leaning against the walls; some, even, were seated on the floor. A little serving girl went among them with a tray of liquors. Some were Italians from the ships of Genoa and Venice, come with rare woods and spices that had been carried overland on camel back from the Indian Ocean to Byzantium. Frenchmen were there from the wine boats of Bordeaux and Calais, with an occasional square-faced, blue-eyed Basque among them. Swedes and Danes and Finns were in from the whalers of the north ocean, dirty men who smelled of decaying blubber; and at some of the tables were cruel Dutchmen who made a business of carrying black slaves from Guinea to Brazil. Scattered among these foreign men were a few Cambrian farmers, looking frightened and self-conscious and alone. They had brought pigs and sheep from the country for victualing the ships, and now were bolting their food so that they might get home again before nightfall. These looked for security to three man o’ war’s men wearing the King’s uniform who talked together by the door.

Young Henry lost himself in the lovely clamor of the room. He was hearing new speech and seeing new sights: the ear-rings of the Genoese; the short knife-like swords of the Dutch; the colors of faces from beef red to wind-bitten brown. All day he might have stood there with no knowledge in him of the passing of time.

A big hand took his elbow, a hand gloved in callouses; and Henry looked down into the broad, guileless face of an Irish seaman.

“Will you be sitting here, young man, along side of an honest sailor out of Cork named Tim?” As he spoke he squeezed violently against his neighbor, flinging him sideways and leaving a narrow space on the bench end for the boy. There are no men like the Irish for being brutally gentle. And Henry, as he took the seat, did not know that the sailor out of Cork had seen his gold piece.

“Thank you,” he said. “And where is it that you go sailing?”

“Ah! any place that ships go I do be sailing,” replied Tim. “I’m an honest sailor out of Cork with no fault on me save never having the shine of a coin to my pocket. And I wonder, now, how I’m to be paying for the fine breakfast, and me with never a shine,” he said slowly and emphatically.

“Why, if you have no money, I’ll buy your breakfast — so you will be telling me of the sea and ships.”

“I knew it was a gentleman you were,” Tim cried. “I knew it the minute my eyes landed on you soft like — And a small drink to be starting with?” He shouted for his drink without waiting for Henry’s consent, and when it came, raised the brown liquor to his eyes.

“Uisquebaugh, the Irish call it. That means water of life; and the English call it ‘Whiskey’ — only water. Why! if water had the fine body and honest glow of this, it’s sailing I would give up and take to swimming!” He laughed uproariously and tipped the glass up.

“I’m going to the Indies,” Henry observed, with thought to bring him back to talking of the sea.

“The Indies? Why, so am I, to-morrow in the morning; out for Barbados with knives and sickles and dress goods for the plantations. It’s a good ship — a Bristol ship — but the master’s a hard man all stiff with religion out of the colony at Plymouth. Hell-fire he roars at you and calls it prayer and repentance, but I’m thinking there’s joy in all the burning to him. We’ll all burn a good time if he has his way. I do not understand the religion of him; there’s never an Ave Mary about it, and so how can it be religion at all?”

“Do you think — do you think, perhaps — I could go in your ship with you?” Henry asked chokingly.

The lids drew down over the ingenuous eyes of Tim.

“If it was ten pound you had,” he said slowly, and then, seeing the sorrow on the boy’s face, “five, I mean—”

“I have something over four, now,” Henry broke in with sadness.

“Well, and four might do it, too. You give me your four pound, and I’ll be talking with the master. It’s not a bad man when you get to be knowing him, only queer and religious. No, don’t be looking at me like that. You come along with me. I wouldn’t run off with the four pound of a boy that bought my breakfast at all.” His face bloomed with a great smile.

“Come,” he said; “let’s be drinking that you go with us in the Bristol Girl. Uisquebaugh for me and wine of Oporto for you!” Then breakfast arrived and they fell to eating. After a few mouthfuls Henry said:

“My name is Henry Morgan. What is your other name besides Tim?”

And the sailor laughed heartily.

“Why, if there was ever a name to me but Tim you might find it kicking around in a wheel rut at Cork. The father and mother of me did not wait to be telling me my name. But Tim was on me without giving. Tim is a kind of free name that you can just take and no one to mention it, like the little papers the Dissenters be leaving in the streets, and they scuttling off not to be seen with them. You can breathe Tim like the air, and no one to put hand on you.”

Breakfast over, they went into the street, busy with the trade of carters and orange boys and peddling old women. The town was crying its thousand wares, and it seemed that delicate things from the far, unearthly corners of the world had been brought by the ships and dumped like clods on the dusty counters of Cardiff: lemons; cases of coffee and tea and cocoa; bright Eastern rugs; and the weird medicines of India to make you see things that are not, and to feel pleasures that fly away again. Standing in the streets were barrels and earthen jugs of wine from the banks of the Loire and the Peruvian slopes.

They came again to the docks and the beautiful ships. The smell of tar and sunburned hemp and the sweetness of the sea breathed in to them from off the water. At last, far down the row, Henry saw a great black ship, and Bristol Girl painted in letters of gold on her prow. And the town and all the flat hulks became ugly and squalid beside this beauty of the sea. The curved running lines of her and the sensuous sureness of her were tonic things to make you gasp in your breath with pleasure. New white sails clung to her yards like long, slender cocoons of silk worms, and there was fresh yellow paint on her decks. She lay there, lifting slightly on a slow swell, champing, impatient to be flying off to any land of your imagination. A black Sheban queen she was, among the dull brown boats of the harbor.

“Oh, it’s a grand ship — a fine ship,” cried Henry, wonder-struck.

Tim was proud. “But only come aboard of her, and see the fittings — all new. I’ll be talking with the master about you.”

Henry stood in the waist while the big seaman walked aft and pulled his cap before a lean skeleton of a man in a worn uniform.

“I have a boy,” he said, though Henry could not hear; “a boy that’s set his heart in the Indies, and I’m thinking you might be liking to take him, sir.”

The hungry master scowled at him.

“Is he a strong boy who might be some good in the islands, Bo’s’n? So many of them die within the month, and there you have trouble the next trip.”

“He is there, behind me, sir. You can see him yourself, standing there — and very well made and close knit he is, too.”

The hungry master appraised Henry, running his eyes from the sturdy legs to the full chest. His approval grew.

“He is a strong boy, all right; and good work for you, Tim. You shall have drink money of it and a little extra ration of rum at sea. But does he know anything about the arrangement?”

“Never a bit.”

“Well, then, don’t tell him. Put him to working in the galley. He’ll think he’s working out his passage. No use of caterwauling and disturbing the men off watch. Let him find out when he gets there.” The master smiled and paced away from Tim.

“You can be going with us in the ship,” the sailor cried, and Henry could not move for his pleasure. “But,” Tim continued seriously, “the four pound is not enough for passage. You’ll be working a bit in the galley and we sailing.”

“Anything,” Henry said, “anything I’ll do, so only I can go with you.”

“Then let’s ourselves go ashore and have a toast to a fine, free voyage; uisquebaugh for me, and that same grand wine for you.”

They sat in a dusty shop whose walls were lined with bottles of all shapes and volumes, little pudgy flasks to giant demijohns. After a time they sang together, beating out the measures with their hands and smiling foolishly at each other. But at length the warm wine of Oporto filled the boy with a pleasant sadness. He felt that there were tears coming to his eyes, and he was rather glad of it. It would show Tim that he had his sorrows — that he was not just a feather-head boy with a craving to go to the Indies. He would reveal his depths.

“Do you know, Tim,” he said, “there was a girl I came away from, and she was named Elizabeth. Her hair was gold — gold like the morning. And on the night before I came away, I called to her and she came to me in the dark; the dark was all about us like a tent, and cold. She cried and cried for me to stay, even when I told her of the fine things and the trinkets and the silks I would bring back to her in a little time. She would not be comforted at all, and it’s a sad thing on me to be thinking of her crying there for my leaving.” The full tears came into his eyes.

“I know,” said Tim softly. “I know it’s a sad thing to a man to be leaving a girl and running off to sea. Haven’t I left hundreds of them — and all beautiful? But here’s another cup to you, boy. Wine is better to a woman than all the sweet pastes of France, and a man drinking it. Wine makes every woman lovely. Ah! if the homely ones would only put out a little font of wine in the doors of their houses like the holy water to a church, there would be more marriage in the towns. A man would never know the lack they had for looks. But have another cup of the grand wine, sad boy, and it may be a princess, and you leaving her behind you.”

II

They were starting for the Indies — the fine, far Indies where boys’ dreams lived. The great sun of the morning lay struggling in gray mist, and on the deck the seamen swarmed like the angry populace of a broken hive. There were short orders and sailors leaping up the shrouds to edge along the yards. Circling men were singing the song of the capstan while the anchors rose out of the sea and clung to the sides like brown, dripping moths.

Off for the Indies — the white sails knew it as they flung out and filled delicately as silken things; the black ship knew it and rode proudly on the fleeing tide before a fresh little morning wind. Carefully the Bristol Girl crept out of the shipping and down the long channel.

The mist was slowly mixing with the sky. Now the coast of Cambria became blue and paler blue until it faded into the straight horizon like a mad vision of the desert. The black mountains were a cloud, and then a trifle of pale smoke; then Cambria was gone, as though it had never been.

Porlock they passed on the port side, and Illfracombe, and many vague villages tucked in the folds of Devon. The fair, sweet wind carried them by Stratton and Camelford. Cornwall was slipping off behind them, league on blue league. Then Land’s End, the pointed tip of Britain’s chin; and, as they rounded to the southward, Winter came in at last.

The sea rose up and snarled at them, while the ship ran before the crying dogs of the wind like a strong, confident stag; ran bravely under courses and spritsail. The wind howled out of Winter’s home in the north, and the Bristol Girl mocked it across its face to the southwest. It was cold; the freezing shrouds twanged in the wind like great harp strings plucked by a demented giant, and the yards groaned their complaint to the tugging sails.

Four wild days the persistent storm chased them out to sea with the ship in joy at the struggle. The seamen gathered in the forecastle to boast of her fleetness and the tight shape of her. And in this time Henry exulted like a young god. The wind’s frenzy was his frenzy. He would stand on the deck, braced against a mast, face into the wind, cutting it with his chin as the prow cut the water, and a chanting exultation filled his chest to bursting — joy like a pain. The cold wiped off the lenses of his eyes so that he saw more clearly into the drawn distance lying in a circle around him. Here was the old desire surfeited with a new; for the winds brought longing to have sweeping wings and the whole, endless sky for scope. The ship was a rocking, quaking prison for him who would fly ahead and up. Ah! to be a god and ride on the storm! not under it. Here was the intoxication of the winds, a desire which satisfied desire while it led his yearning onward. He cried for the shoulders of omnipotence, and the elements blew into his muscles a new strength.

Then, as quickly as the devil servants of the year had rushed at them, they slunk away, leaving a clear, clean sea. The ship rode under full sail before the eternal trade wind. It is a fresh, fair wind out of heaven, breathed by the God of Navigation for the tall ships with sails. All the tension was gone from them; the sailors played about the deck like wild, strong children — for there is young happiness in the trade wind.

Sunday came, a day of sullen fear and foreboding on the Bristol Girl. Henry finished his work in the galley and went on deck. An aged seaman was sitting on a hatch plaiting a long splice. His fingers seemed each a nimble intelligence as they worked, for their master never looked at them. Instead, his small blue eyes, after the manner of sailors’ eyes, looked out beyond the end of things.

“So you would know the secrets of the lines?” he said, without moving his gaze from the horizon. “Well, you must just watch. It’s so long I’ve been doing it that my old head has forgotten how; only my fingers remember. If I think what I’m doing I get muddled up. Will you be a sailor and go aloft one day?”

“Why, I’d like to, if I could learn the workings,” Henry said.

“It’s not so hard to learn the workings. You must learn first to bear things that landsmen never heard of. That’s the first thing. It’s very cruel, but you may never leave it once you start. Here I’ve been trying to take my old hulk ashore and berth it in front of a fire for a dozen years. I want to think awhile and die. But it’s no use. Every time I find myself running my legs off to get aboard some ship or other.”

He was interrupted by a vicious ringing of the ship’s bell.

“Come,” he said; “the master will be telling us the hot tales now.”

The skull-faced master stood before his crew, armed with his God. The men looked fearfully at him, as small birds gaze at an approaching snake, for his faith was in his eyes and words of fury fell from his thin lips.

“God has struck you with only the tittle of His shattering might,” he shouted. “He has shown you the strength of His little finger that you may repent before you go screaming in hell-fire. Hear the name of the Lord in the frightful wind and repent you of your whorings and your blasphemies! Ah! He will punish you even for the wicked thoughts in your heads.

“There is a parable in the sea that should close about your throats like a freezing hand and choke you with the terror. But now the storm is done you have forgotten it. You are happy, and contrition is not in you. But take warning of the lesson of the Lord. Repent! Repent! or the wrath destroys you.”

He swung his arms wildly and spoke of the poor lonely dead, suffering and burning for dear human faults; and at last he sent his men terrified away.

“That is not so,” said the old sailor fiercely to Henry. “Do not be taking stock in his crazy talk. Who made the storm — God or devil — made it for itself and took joy of it. What being could hurl the wind so would not be bothering himself about a chip of a boat floating in immensity. I know I would not, if I were that god or devil.”

The Bo’s’n, Tim, had come up with his last words, and now he took Henry’s arm protectingly.

“True for you,” he said; “but do not let it get back to him that you say such things or even hear them with your ears, or he will be demonstrating the might of God to you with a rope’s end. He and his God are a hard pair to be getting down on you, and you a boy scrubbing pots in the galley.”

The trade wind blew on unceasingly, and, when his scouring and peeling were done, Henry talked with the men while he laid hand to the ropes and went aloft and learned the names and workings of the ship’s gear. The sailors found him a quiet, courteous boy with a way of looking at them as though their speech were a great gift and they wise, kind men to be giving it to him; and so they taught him what they could, for very plainly this boy was born to the sea. He learned the short and long haul chanteys, the one quick and nervous and the other a slow, swinging rhythm. He sang with them the songs of death and mutiny and blood in the sea. To his lips came the peculiar, clean swearing of sailors; phrases of filth and blasphemy and horror, washed white by their utter lack of meaning in his mouth.

And in the nights he lay back quietly while the men talked of wonders seen and imagined; of mile-long serpents which coiled about ships and crushed and swallowed them, and of turtles so huge that they had trees and streams and whole villages on their backs and only sank once in five hundred years. Under the swinging lamps they told how Finns could whistle up a deadly storm for their revenge; how there were sea-rats that swam to the ships and gnawed holes through the planking until the ships sank. They spoke shudderingly of how one, sighting the dread, slimy kraken, might never see land again for the curse that was on him. Water spouts were in their speech, and mooing cows that lived in the sea and suckled their calves like land cows; and ghost ships sailing endlessly about the ocean looking for a lost port, their gear worked by seamen who were bleached skeletons. And Henry, lying there, reached breathless for their words with his avidity.

On such a night, Tim stretched himself and said, “I know nothing of your big snakes at all, nor have I seen the kraken, God save me! But I’ve a bit of a tale myself if you’ll be listening.

“ ’Twas when I was a boy like this one here, and I sailing in a free ship that tucked about the ocean picking up here and there — sometimes a few black slaves and now and then a gold ring from a Spanish craft that couldn’t help itself — whatever we could get. We had a master by election and no papers at all, but there were different kinds of flags, and they on the bridge. If we did be picking out a man o’ war in the glass, then we ran for it.

“Well, anyway, as I’m telling you, one morning there was a little barque to the starboard, and we wetting sail to run her down; and so we did, too. Spanish, she was, and little enough in her but salt and green hides. But when we turned out the cabin there was a tall, straight woman with black hair to her, and a long white forehead, and the slenderest fingers I ever looked on with my eyes. So we took her aboard of us and didn’t take the rest. The captain was for leading the woman to the quarter deck along side of him, when the bo’s’n stepped up.

“ ‘We’re a free crew,’ he says, ‘and you the master by election. We want the woman, too,’ he says, ‘and if we don’t be getting her there’ll be a bit mutiny in a minute.’ The captain scowled around, but there was the crew scowling back at him; so he pulled up his shoulders and laughed — a nasty kind of laugh.

“ ‘How will you be deciding?’ he asks, thinking there would be a grand fight over the woman. But the bo’s’n slipped some dice out of his pocket and threw them on the deck.

“ ‘We’ll use these!’ he says, and in a minute every man of the crew was on his knees and reaching for the dice. But I was taking a long sight of the woman there alone. I says to myself, ‘That do be a hard kind of woman, and one that might be doing cruel things to hurt the man she hated. No, my boy,’ I says, ‘you’d best not be coming in on this game.’

“But just then the dark woman ran to the rail and picked a round shot out of the racks and jumped overside, hugging it in her arms. That was all! We ran to the rail and looked — but only a few bubbles there were to show.

“Well, it was two nights later, the afterwatch was for running into the fo’c’sle and the hair bristling up on his head. ‘There’s a white thing, and it swimming after us,’ he says, ‘and the looks on it like the woman that went overboard.’

“Of course we ran and looked over the taffrail, and I could see nothing at all; but the others said there was a thing with long white hands reaching out for our stern post, not swimming but just dragging after us like the ship was lodestone and it a bit of iron. You can know there was little enough sleeping that night. Those that did dust off cried and moaned in their sleep; and I need not tell you what that same thing signifies.

“The next night, up comes the bo’s’n out of the hold screaming like a mad one, and the hair all turned gray on his head. We did be holding him and petting him awhile, and finally he managed to whisper,

“ ‘I seen it! Oh, my God, I seen it! There was two long, white, soft-looking hands with slender fingers — and they came through the side and started to ripping the planks off like they were paper. Oh, my God! Save me!’

“Then we felt the ship give a list and start to settling down.

“Well, three of us came floating ashore on an extra spar, and two of them crazed — poor souls — and wild like cats. I never did be hearing whether any others were saved or not, but I’m thinking not. And that’s the nearest I’ve ever seen with my eyes the things you do be talking of. But they say on clear nights in the Indian Ocean you can be seeing the poor murdered Hindu ghosts chasing the dead da Gama about in the sky. And I have heard that these same Hindus are a very unfruitful people to pick out, and you going in for murder.”

From the first day, the cook had taken it upon himself to instruct young Henry. The man seemed to crave to give information. It was a wistful instruction, as though he feared every minute to be contradicted. He was a gray man, the cook, with sad brown eyes like a dog’s eyes. There was something of a priest about him, and something of a dull lecturer, and something of a thug. His speech had the university in it, and his unclean habits the black, bitter alleys of London. He was gentle and kind and stealthily insincere. No one would ever give him a chance to prove himself trustworthy, because the whisper seemed to come from him that if it were in the least worthwhile he would be treacherous.

Now they had sailed into a warm sea, and a warm wind drove them on. Henry and the cook would stand at the rail, watching the triangle fins of sharks cut back and forth across their wake waiting for refuse. They saw little brown clusters of weed go floating by, and the leisurely, straight-swimming pilot fish on the point of the prow. Once the cook pointed to the brown birds with long, slender wings foll