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- No Defense, Volume 3. - 10/23 -
is closed for ever."
"Have you never thought that some one--"
"Yes, I have thought, but who is there? The crowd at the Dublin hotel where the thing was done were secret, and they would lie the apron off a bishop. No, there is no light, and, to tell the truth, I care not now."
"But if you are not guilty--it is not too late; there is my girl! If the real criminal should appear--can you not see?"
The poor woman, distressedly pale, her hair still abundant, her eyes still bright, her pulses aglow, as they had ever been, made a gesture of appeal with hands that were worn and thin. She had charm still, in a way as great as her daughter's.
"I can see--but, Mrs. Llyn, I have no hope. I am a man whom some men fear--"
"Lord Mallow!" she interjected.
"He does not fear me. Why do you say that?"
"I speak with a woman's intuition. I don't know what he fears, but he does fear you. You are a son of history; you had a duel with him, and beat him; you have always beaten him, even here where he has been supreme as governor--from first to last, you have beaten him."
"I hope I shall be even with him at the last--at the very last," was Dyck Calhoun's reply. "We were made to be foes. We were from the first. I felt it when I saw him at Playmore. Nothing has changed since then. He will try to destroy me here, but I will see it through. I will try and turn his rapier-points. I will not be the target of his arrows without making some play against him. The man is a fool. I could help him here, but he will have none of it, and he is running great risks. He has been warned that the Maroons are restive, that the black slaves will rise if the Maroons have any initial success, and he will listen to no advice. He would not listen to me, but, knowing that, I got the provost-marshal to approach him, and when he knew my hand was in it, he stiffened. He would have naught to do with it, and so no preparations are made. And up there"--he turned and pointed--"up there in Trelawney the Maroons are plotting and planning, and any day an explosion may occur. If it occurs no one will be safe, especially if the blacks rise too--I mean the black slaves. There will be no safety then for any one."
"For us as well, you mean?"
"For you as well as all others, and you are nearer to Trelawney than most others. You are in their path. So be wise, Mrs. Llyn, and get back to Virginia as soon as may be. It is a better place than this."
"My daughter is mistress here," was the sorrowful reply. "She will have her own way."
"Your daughter will not care to stay here now," he answered firmly.
"She will do what she thinks her duty in spite of her own feelings, or yours, or mine. It is her way, and it has always been her way."
"I will tell her what I fear, and she may change her mind."
"But the governor may want her to stay," answered Mrs. Llyn none too sagely, but with that in her mind which seemed to justify her.
"Lord Mallow--oh, if you think there is any influence in him to keep her, that is another question," said Dyck with a grim smile. "But, nevertheless, I think you should leave here and go back to Virginia. It is no safe place for two ladies, in all senses. Whatever Lord Mallow thinks or does, this is no place for you. This place is your daughter's for her to do what she chooses with it, and I think she ought to sell it. There would be no trouble in getting a purchaser. It is a fine property."
"But the governor might not think as you do; he might not wish it sold."
Mrs. Llyn was playing a bold, indeed a reckless game. She wanted to show Dyck there were others who would interest themselves in Sheila even if he, Dyck, were blotted from the equation; that the girl could look high, if her mind turned towards marriage. Also she felt that Dyck should know the facts before any one else, so that he would not be shocked in the future, if anything happened. Yet in her deepest heart she wished him well. She liked him as she had never liked any of Sheila's admirers, and if the problem of Erris Boyne had been solved, she would gladly have seen him wedded to Sheila.
"What has the governor to do with it!" he declared. "It is your daughter's own property, and she is free to hold or to part with it. There is no Crown consent to ask, no vice-regal approval needed."
Suddenly he became angry, almost excited. His blood pounded in his veins. Was this man, Mallow, to come between his and her fate always, come into his problem at the most critical moment? "God in heaven!" he said in a burst of passion, "is this a land of the British Empire or is it not? Why should that man break in on every crisis? Why should he do this or that--say yea or nay, give or take away! He is the king's representative, but he is bound by laws as rigid as any that bind you or me. What has he to do with your daughter or what concerns her? Is there not enough trouble in the world without bringing in Lord Mallow? If he--"
He stopped short, for he saw coming from the summerhouse, Sheila with his paper in her hand. She walked slowly and with dignity. She carried her head high and firmly, and the skin of her face was shining with light as she came on. Dyck noticed how her wide skirts flicked against the flowers that bordered the path, and how her feet seemed scarcely to touch the ground as she walked--a spirit, a regnant spirit of summer she seemed. But in her face there was no summer, there was only autumn and winter, only the bright frost of purpose. As she came, her mother turned as though to leave Dyck Calhoun. She called to her to wait, and Mrs. Llyn stood still, anxious. As Sheila came near she kept her eyes fixed on Dyck. When she reached them, she held out the paper to him.
"It is wonderful," she said quietly, "that which you have written, but it does not tell all; it does not say that you did not kill my father. You are punished for the crime, and we must abide by it, even though you did not kill Erris Boyne. It is the law that has done it, and we cannot abash the law."
"We shall meet no more then!" said Dyck with decision.
Her lips tightened, her face paled. "There are some things one may not do, and one of them is to be openly your friend--at present."
He put the letter carefully away in his pocket, his hand shaking, then flicking an insect from the collar of his coat, he said gently, yet with an air of warning: "I have been telling Mrs. Llyn about the Maroons up there"--he pointed towards Trelawney--"and I have advised your going back to Virginia. The Maroons may rise at any moment, and no care is being taken by Lord Mallow to meet the danger. If they rise, you, here, would be in their way, and I could not guarantee your safety. Besides, Virginia is a better place--a safer place than this," he added with meaning.
"You wish to frighten me out of Jamaica," she replied with pain in her voice. "Well, I will not go till I have put this place in order and brought discipline and good living here. I shall stay here in Jamaica till I have done my task. There is no reason why we should meet. This place is not so large as Ireland or America, but it is large enough to give assurance we shall not meet. And if we meet, there is no reason why we should talk. As for the Maroons, when the trouble comes, I shall not be unprepared." She smiled sadly. "The governor may not take your advice, but I shall. And remember that I come from a land not without its dangers. We have Red Indians and black men there, and I can shoot."
He waved a hand abruptly and then made a gesture--such as an ascetic might make-of reflection, of submission. "I shall remember every word you have said, and every note of your voice will be with me in all the lonely years to come. Good-bye--but no, let me say this before I go: I did not know that Erris Boyne was your father until after he was dead. So, if I killed him, it was in complete ignorance. I did not know. But we have outlived our friendship, and we must put strangeness in its place. Good-bye--God protect you!" he added, looking into Sheila's eyes.
She looked at him with sorrow. Her lips opened but no words came forth. He passed on out of the garden, and presently they heard his horse's hoofs on the sand.
"He is a great gentleman," said Mrs. Llyn.
Her daughter's eyes were dry and fevered. Her lips were drawn. "We must begin the world again," she said brokenly. Then suddenly she sank upon the ground. "My God--oh, my God!" she said.
LORD MALLOW INTERVENES
Two months went by. In that time Sheila and Dyck did not meet, though Dyck saw her more than once in the distance at Kingston. Yet they had never met since that wonderful day at Salem, when they had parted, as it might seem, for ever. Dyck had had news of her, however, for Darius Boland had come and gone between the two plantations, and had won Michael Clones' confidence. He knew more perhaps than he ever conveyed to Dyck, who saw him and talked with him, gave him advice as to the customs of Jamaica, and let him see the details in the management of Enniskillen.
Yet Dyck made no inquiries as to how Mrs. Llyn and Sheila were; first because he chose not to do so, and also because Darius Boland, at one time or another, would of his own accord tell what Mrs. Llyn and Sheila were doing. One day Boland brought word that the governor had, more than once, visited Salem with his suite; that he had sat in judgment on a case in Kingston concerning the estate of Salem, and had given decision in its favour; and that Mrs. Llyn and Sheila visited him at Spanish Town and were entertained at King's House at second breakfast and dinner--in short, that Lord Mallow was making hay in Salem Plantation. This was no surprise to Dyck. He had full intuition of the foray the governor would make on Sheila, her estate and wealth.
Lord Mallow had acted with discretion, and yet with sufficient passion to warrant some success. He was trying to make for himself a future which might mean the control of a greater colony even. If he had wealth, that would be almost a certainty, and he counted Sheila's gold as a guarantee of power. He knew well how great effect could be produced at Westminster and at the Royal Palace by a discreet display of wealth. He was also aware that no scandal could be made through an alliance with Sheila, for she had inherited long after the revolutionary war and with her skirts
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