Martin Conisby’s Vengeance

Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Josephine Paolucci and PG
Distributed Proofreaders

MARTIN CONISBY’S VENGEANCE

BY JEFFERY FARNOL

1921

TO MY DEAR AUNTS

MRS. MARRIOTT
AND
MISS JEFFERY
“AUNTIE KIZ”
I DEDICATE THIS BOOK

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I HOW MY SOLITUDE CAME TO AN END

II MY TROUBLES BEGIN
III HOW I HEARD A SONG THAT I KNEW
IV HOW I LABOURED TO MY SALVATION
V TELLETH HOW ALL MY TRAVAIL CAME TO NOUGHT
VI HOW I SUCCOURED ONE DON FEDERIGO, A GENTLEMAN OF SPAIN
VII I AM DETERMINED ON MY VENGEANCE, AND MY REASONS THEREFOR
VIII HOW THE DAYS OF MY WATCHING WERE ACCOMPLISHED
IX WE FALL AMONG PIRATES
X HOW I CAME ABOARD THE HAPPY DESPATCH AND OF MY SUFFERINGS THERE
XI HOW I FOUGHT IN THE DARK WITH ONE POMPEY, A GREAT BLACKAMOOR
XII OF BATTLE, MURDER AND RESOLUTION DAY, HIS POINT OF VIEW
XIII HOW WE FOUGHT AN ENGLISH SHIP
XIV TELLETH HOW THE FIGHT ENDED
XV HOW I FELL IN WITH MY FRIEND, CAPTAIN SIR ADAM PENFEATHER
XVI HOW I HAD WORD WITH MY LADY, JOAN BRANDON
XVII TELLETH THE OUTCOME OF MY PRIDEFUL FOLLY
XVIII OF ROGER TRESSADY AND HOW THE SILVER WOMAN CLAIMED HER OWN AT LAST
XIX HOW JOANNA CHANGED HER MIND
XX I GO TO SEEK MY VENGEANCE
XXI HOW I CAME TO NOMBRE DE DIOS
XXII HOW AT LAST I FOUND MY ENEMY, RICHARD BRANDON
XXIII HOW I FOUND MY SOUL
XXIV OF OUR ADVENTURE AT SEA
XXV WE ARE DRIVEN ASHORE
XXVI OUR DESPERATE SITUATION
XXVII WE COMMENCE OUR JOURNEY
XXVIII WE FALL IN WITH ONE ATLAMATZIN, AN INDIAN CHIEF
XXIX TELLETH SOMEWHAT OF A STRANGE CITY
XXX WE RESUME OUR JOURNEY
XXXI I MEET A MADMAN
XXXII HOW I FOUND MY BELOVED AT LAST
XXXIII OF DREAMS
XXXIV OF LOVE
XXXV OF THE COMING OF ADAM AND OF OUR GREAT JOY THEREIN

MARTIN CONISBY’S VENGEANCE

CHAPTER I

HOW MY SOLITUDE CAME TO AN END

“Justice, O God, upon mine enemy. For the pain I suffer, may I see him
suffer; for the anguish that is mine, so may I watch his agony! Thou art a
just God, so, God of Justice, give to me vengeance!”

And having spoken this, which had been my prayer for three weary years, I
composed myself to slumber. But even so, I started up broad awake and my
every nerve a-tingle, only to see the moonlight flooding my solitude and
nought to hear save the rustle of the soft night wind beyond the open door
of the cave that was my habitation and the far-off, never-ceasing murmur
that was the voice of those great waters that hemmed me in,—a desolate
ocean where no ships ever sailed, a trackless waste that stretched away to
the infinite blue.

Crouched upon my bed I fell vaguely a-wondering what should have roused me,
hearkening to the distant roar of the surf that seemed to me now plaintive
and despairing, now full of an ominous menace that banished gentle sleep.

Thereupon I must needs bethink me how often I had waked thus during my long
and weary sojourn on this lonely island; how many times I had leapt from
slumber, fancying I heard a sound of oars or voices hailing cheerily beyond
the reef, or again (and this most often and bitterest phantasy of all) a
voice, soft and low yet with a wondrous sweet and vital ring, the which as
I knew must needs sound within my dreams henceforth,—a voice out of the
past that called upon my name:

“Martin—Oh, Martin!”

And this a voice that came to me in the blazing heat of tropic day, in
the cool of eve, in the calm serenity of night, a voice calling, calling
infinite pitiful and sweet, yet mocking me with my loneliness.

“Martin, dear love! Oh, Martin!”

“Joan!” I whispered and reached out yearning arms to the empty air.

“Damaris—beloved!”

Beyond the open door I heard the sighing of the wind and the roar of the
surf, soft with distance, infinite plaintive and despairing. Then, because
sleep was not for me, I arose and came groping within my inner cave where
stood a coffer and, lifting the lid, drew forth that I sought and went and
sat me on my bed where the moon made a glory. And sitting there, I unfolded
this my treasure that was no more than a woman’s gown and fell to smoothing
its folds with reverent hand; very tattered it was and worn by much hard
usage, its bravery all tarnished and faded, yet for me it seemed yet to
compass something of the vivid grace and beauty of that loved and vanished
presence.

Almost three years of solitude, of deluding hopes and black despair, almost
three years, forgotten alike of God and man. So that I had surely run mad
but for the labour of my days and the secret hope I cherished even yet that
some day (soon or late) I should see again that loved form, hear again the
sweet, vital ring of that voice whereof I had dreamed so long.

Almost three years, forgotten alike of God and man. And so albeit I prayed
no more (since I had proved prayers vain) hope yet lived within me and
every day, night and morn, I would climb that high hill the which I had
named the Hill of Blessed Hope, to strain my eyes across the desolation
of waters for some sign which should tell me my time of waiting was
accomplished.

Now as I sat thus, lost in bitter thought, I rose to my feet, letting fall
the gown to lie all neglected, for borne to me on the gentle wind came a
sound there was no mistaking, the sharp report of a musket.

For a moment I stood utterly still while the shot yet rang and re-echoed
in my ears and felt all at once such an ecstasy of joy that I came nigh
swooning and needs must prop myself against the rocky wall; then, the
faintness passing, I came hasting and breathless where I might look seaward
and beheld this:

Hard beyond the reef (her yards braced slovenly aback) a ship. Betwixt this
vessel and the reef a boat rowed furiously, and upon the reef itself a man
fled shorewards marvellous fleet and nimble. Presently from his pursuers in
the boat came a red flash and the report of a musquetoon followed by divers
others, whereat the poor fugitive sped but the faster and came running
to that strip of white beach that beareth the name Deliverance. There he
faltered, pausing a moment to glance wildly this way and that, then (as
Fortune willed) turned and sped my way. Then I, standing forth where he
might behold me in the moon’s radiance, hailed and beckoned him, at the
which he checked again, then (as reassured by my looks and gesture) came
leaping up that path which led from the beach. Thus as he drew nearer I saw
he was very young, indeed a mere stripling. From him I glanced towards
his pursuers (they being already upon the reef) and counted nine of them
running hitherward and the moon aglint on the weapons they bore. Thereupon
I hasted to my cave and brought thence my six muskets, the which I laid
ready to hand.

And presently comes this poor fugitive, all panting and distressed with his
exertions, and who (clambering over that rampire I had builded long ago to
my defence) fell at my feet and lay there speechless, drawing his breath
in great, sobbing gasps. But his pursuers had seen and came on amain with
mighty halloo, and though (judging by what I could see of them at the
distance) they were a wild, unlovely company, yet to me, so long bereft of
all human fellowship, their hoarse shouts and cries were infinitely welcome
and I determined to make them the means of my release, more especially as
it seemed by their speech that some of them were Englishmen. To this end I
waited until they were close, then, taking up my nearest piece, I levelled
wide of them and fired. Startled by the sudden roar they incontinent
scattered, betaking them to such cover as they might. Then I (yet kneeling
behind my rampire) hailed them in mighty kindly fashion.

“Halt, friends!” cries I. “Here is harm for no man that meaneth none. Nay,
rather do I give ye joyous welcome in especial such of you as be English,
for I am an Englishman and very solitary.”

But now (and even as I spake them thus gently) I espied the fugitive on his
knees, saw him whip up one of my muskets (all in a moment) and fire or
ever I might stay him. The shot was answered by a cry and out from the
underbrush a man reeled, clasping his hurt and so fell and lay a-groaning.
At this his comrades let fly their shot in answer and made off forthwith.
Deserted thus, the wounded man scrambled to hands and knees and began to
creep painfully after his fellows, beseeching their aid and cursing them by
turns. Hearing a shrill laugh, I turned to see the fugitive reach for and
level another of my weapons at this wounded wretch, but, leaping on him
as he gave fire, I knocked up the muzzle of the piece so that the bullet
soared harmlessly into the air. Uttering a strange, passionate cry, the
fugitive sprang back and snatching out an evil-looking knife, made at me,
and all so incredibly quick that it was all I could do to parry the blow;
then, or ever he might strike again, I caught that murderous arm, and, for
all his slenderness and seeming youth, a mighty desperate tussle we made of
it ere I contrived to twist the weapon from his grasp and fling him panting
to the sward, where I pinned him beneath my foot. Then as I reached for
the knife where it had fallen, he cried out to me in his shrill, strangely
clear voice, and with sudden, fierce hands wrenched apart the laces and
fine linens at his breast:

“Stay!” cried he. “Don’t kill me—you cannot!”

Now looking down on him where he lay gasping and writhing beneath my foot,

I started back all in a moment, back until I was stayed by the rampire, for

I saw that here was no man but a young and comely woman.

CHAPTER II

MY TROUBLES BEGIN

Whiles I yet stood, knife in hand, staring at her and mute for wonder, she
pulled off the close-fitting seaman’s bonnet she wore and scowling up at me
shook down the abundant tresses of her hair.

“Beast!” said she. “Oh, beast—you hurt me!”

“Who are you?” I questioned.

“One that doth hate you!” Here she took a silver comb from her pocket and
fell to smoothing her hair; and as she sat thus cross-legged upon the
grass, I saw that the snowy linen at throat and bosom was spotted with
great gouts of blood.

“Are ye wounded?” quoth I, pointing to these ugly stains.

“Bah! ‘Tis none of mine, fool! ‘Tis the blood of Cestiforo!”

Pages: First | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | ... | Next → | Last | Single Page