Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything
- No Defense, Volume 3. - 4/23 -
I feel sometimes as Beelzebub may feel, and I long to do what Beelzebub might do as part of his mission. Sometimes a madness of revolt comes over me, and I long to ravage all the places I see, all the people I know--or nearly all. Why I do not have negroes thrashed and mutilated, as some do, I know not. Over against the southern shore in the parish of St. Elizabeth is an estate called Salem, owned, it is said, by an American, where the manager does such things. I am told that savageries are found there. There are too many absentee owners of land in this island, and the wrongs done by agents who have no personal honour at stake are all too plentiful. If I could, I would have no slavery, would set all the blacks free, making full compensation to the owners, and less to the absentee owners.
I look out on a world of summer beauty and of heat. I see the sheep in hundreds on the far hills of pasturage--sheep with short hair, small and sweet as any that ever came from the South Downs. I see the natives in their Madras handkerchiefs. I see upon the road some planter in his ketureen--a sort of sedan chair; I see a negro funeral, with its strange ceremony and its gumbies of African drums. I see yam-fed planters, on their horses, making for the burning, sandy streets of the capital. I see the Scots grass growing five and six feet high, food unsurpassed for horses--all the foliage too --beautiful tropical trees and shrubs, and here and there a huge breeding-farm. Yet I know that out beyond my sight there is the region known as Trelawney, and Trelawney Town, the headquarters of the Maroons, the free negroes--they who fled after the Spanish had been conquered and the British came, and who were later freed and secured by the Trelawney Treaty. I know that now they are ready to rise, that they are working among the slaves; and if they rise the danger is great to the white population of the island, who are outnumbered ten to one.
The governor has been warned, but he gives no heed, or treats it all lightly, pointing out how few the Maroons are. He forgets that a few determined men can demoralize a whole state, can fight and murder and fly to dark coverts in the tropical woods, where they cannot be tracked down and destroyed; and, if they have made supporters of the slaves, what consequences may not follow!
What do the Maroons look like? They are ferocious and isolated, they are proud and overbearing, they are horribly cruel, but they are potent, and are difficult to reach. They are not small and meagre, but are big, brawny fellows, clothed in wide duck trousers and shirts, and they are well-armed--cutlass, powder-horn, haversack, sling, shot-gun, and pouch for ball. They dress as the country requires, and they are strong fighters against our soldiers who are burdened with heavy muskets, and who defy the climate, with their stuffed coats, their weighty caps, and their tight cross- belts. The Maroons are not to be despised. They have brains, the insolence of freedom among natives who are not free, and vast cruelty. They can be mastered and kept in subjection, can be made allies, if properly handled; but Lord Mallow goes the wrong way about it all. He permits things that inflame the Maroons.
One thing is clear to me--only by hounds can these people be defeated. So sure am I upon this point, that I have sent to Cuba for sixty hounds, with which, when the trouble comes--and it is not far off--we shall be able to hunt the Maroons with the only weapon they really fear--the dog's sharp tooth. It may be the governor may intervene on the arrival of the dogs; but I have made friends with the provost-marshal-general and some members of the Jamaica legislature; also I have a friend in the deputy of the provost- marshal-general in my parish of Clarendon here, and I will make a good bet that the dogs will be let come into the island, governor or no governor.
When one sets oneself against the Crown one must be sure of one's ground, and fear no foe, however great and high. Well, I have won so far, and I shall win in the end. Mallow should have some respect for one that beat him at Phoenix Park with the sword; that beat him when he would have me imprisoned here; that beat him in the matter of the ship for Haiti, and that will beat him on every hazard he sets, unless he stoops to underhand acts, which he will not do. That much must be said for him. He plays his part in no small way, and he is more a bigot and a fanatic loyalist than a rogue. Suppose--but no, I will not suppose. I will lay my plans, I will keep faith with people here who trust me, and who know that if I am stern I am also just, and I will play according to the rules made by better men than myself.
But what is this I see? Michael Clones--in his white jean waistcoat, white neckcloth and trousers, and blue coat--is coming up the drive in hot haste, bearing a letter. He rides too hard. He has never carried himself easily in this climate. He treats it as if it was Ireland. He will not protect himself, and, if penalty followed folly, should now be in his grave. I like you, Michael. You are a boon, but--
Dyck Calhoun's letter was never ended. It was only a relic of the years spent in Jamaica, only a sign of his well-being, though it gave no real picture of himself. He did not know how like a tyrant he had become in some small ways, while in the large things he remained generous, urbane, and resourceful. He was in appearance thin, dark-favoured, buoyant in manner, and stern of face, with splendid eyes. Had he dwelt on Olympus, he might have been summoned to judge and chastise the sons of men.
When Michael Clones came to the doorway, Dyck laid down his quill-pen and eyed the flushed servant in disapproval.
"What is it, Michael? Wherefore this starkness? Is some one come from heaven?"
"Not precisely from heaven, y'r honour, but--"
"But--yes, Michael! Have done with but-ing, and come to the real matter."
"Well, sir, they've come from Virginia."
Dyck Calhoun slowly got to his feet, his face paling, his body stiffening. From Virginia! Who should be come from Virginia, save she to whom he had just been writing?
"Who has come from Virginia?" He knew, but he wanted it said.
"Sure, you knew a vessel came from America last night. Well, in her was one that was called the Queen of Ireland long ago."
"Queen of Ireland--well, what then?" Dyck's voice was tuneless, his manner rigid, his eyes burning. "Well, she--Miss Sheila Llyn and her mother are going to the Salem Plantation, down by the Essex Valley Mountain. It is her plantation now. It belonged to her uncle, Bryan Llyn. He got it in payment of a debt. He's dead now, and all his lands and wealth have come to her. Her mother, Mrs. Llyn, is with her, and they start to-morrow or the next day for Salem. There'll be different doings at Salem henceforward, y'r honour. She's not the woman to see slaves treated as the manager at Salem treated 'em."
Dyck Calhoun made an impatient gesture at this last remark.
"Yes, yes, Michael. Where are they now?"
"They're at Charlotte Bedford's lodgings in Spanish Town. The governor waited on them this morning. The governor sent them flowers and--"
"Flowers--Lord Mallow sent them flowers! Hell's fiend, man, suppose he did?"
"There are better flowers here than in any Spanish Town."
"Well, take them, Michael; but if you do, come here again no more while you live, for I'll have none of you. Do you think I'm entering the lists against the king's governor?"
"You've done it before, sir, and there's no harm in doing it again. One good turn deserves another. I've also to tell you, sir, that Lord Mallow has asked them to stay at King's House."
"Lord Mallow has asked Americans to stay at King's House!"
"But they're Irish, and he knew them in Ireland, y 'r honour."
"Well, he knew me in Ireland, and I'm proscribed!"
"Ah, that's different, as you know. There's no war on now, and they're only good American citizens who own land in this dominion of the king; so why shouldn't he give them courtesy?"
"From whom do you get your information?" asked Dyck Calhoun with an air of suspicion.
"From Darius Boland, y'r honour," answered Michael, with a smile. "Who is Darius Boland, you're askin' in y'r mind? Well, he's the new manager come from the Llyn plantations in Virginia; and right good stuff he is, with a tongue that's as dry as cut-wheat in August. And there's humour in him, plenty-aye, plenty. When did I see him, and how? Well, I saw him this mornin', on the quay at Kingston. He was orderin' the porters about with an air--oh, bedad, an air! I saw the name upon the parcels-- Miss Sheila Llyn, of Moira, Virginia, and so I spoke to him. The rest was aisy. He looked me up and down in a flash, like a searchlight playin' on an enemy ship, and then he smiled. 'Well,' said he, 'who might you be? For there's queer folks in Jamaica, I'm told.' So I said I was Michael Clones, and at that he doffed his hat and held out a hand. 'Well, here's luck,' said he. 'Luck at the very start! I've heard of you from my mistress. You're servant to Mr. Dyck Calhoun--ain't that it?' And I nodded, and he smiled again--a smile that'd cost money annywhere else than in Jamaica. He smiled again, and give a slow hitch to his breeches as though they was fallin' down. Why, sir, he's the longest bit of man you ever saw, with a pointed beard, and a nose that's as long as a midshipman's tongue-dry, lean, and elastic. He's quick and slow all at once. His small eyes twinkle like stars beatin' up against bad weather, and his skin's the colour of Scots grass in the dead of summer-yaller, he'd call it if he called it anything, and yaller was what he called the look of the sky above the hills. Queer way of talk he has, that man, as queer as--"
"I understand, Michael. But what else? How did you come to talk about the affairs of Mrs. and Miss Llyn? He didn't just spit it out, did he?"
"Sure, not so quick and free as spittin', y'r honour; but when he'd sorted me out, as it were, he said Miss Llyn had come out here to take
Previous Page Next Page
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 20 23
Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything