|BOOK I - The Island|
|Chapter I.||The Primitive Norm|
|Chapter II.||Conscious of His Manhood|
|Chapter III.||The Word of the Book|
|Chapter IV.||Lesson and Labor|
|Chapter V.||The Voices of the Past|
|BOOK II - The Ship|
|Chapter VI.||The Baseless Fabric|
|Chapter VII.||The Joy of Freedom|
|Chapter VIII.||Cast up by the Sea|
|BOOK III - The Revelation|
|Chapter IX.||Latent Passions|
|Chapter X.||Hearts Awakened|
|Chapter XI.||The Conscience Quickened|
|Chapter XII.||The Ship on the Horizon|
|BOOK IV - The Coming of the World|
|Chapter XIII.||The Long Search|
|Chapter XIV.||Past and Present|
|Chapter XV.||Accusation and Admission|
|Chapter XVII.||The Woman's Plea|
|Chapter XIX.||The Man's Failure|
|Chapter XX.||The Repentance That Came Too Late|
|BOOK V - Abandoned|
|Chapter XXI.||The Resurrection|
|Chapter XXII.||Unavailing Appeal|
|BOOK VI - The New Life|
|Chapter XXIII.||A Great Purpose|
|Chapter XXIV.||A Promise Broken|
With constantly increasing affection and admiration,
The Island of Regeneration
I dedicate this book to my friend,
BEVERLY E. WARNER
Cover of A.L. Burt reprint edition.
Whether she had fainted or fallen asleep, she did not know, but of this one thing she was sure: it had been dark when consciousness left her and it was now broad day, although the light seemed to come to her with a greenish tinge which was quite unfamiliar. The transition between her state of yes terday and that of to-day was as great as if she had been born into morning from the womb of midnight. Like a young animal vaguely stirring she drank in life blindly with closed eyes. She could hear the thunderous roaring of the breakers crashing upon the barrier reef. Alone her boat had been wrecked in the darkness of the night before the noise softened and, mellowed by distance, came to her in a deep, low accompaniment to the sharper and nearer sounds of the birds singing and the breeze rustling gently through the long leaves of the trees overhead.
The dry sand on which she lay was soft and yield ing and made a comfortable bed for her tired body, racked with weary days in the constraint and nar rowness of a small boat. It was hot, too. She had been drenched and cold when she scrambled on the shore and fell prostrate on the beach, retaining just strength enough and purpose enough to crawl painfully inward to where the tall palms grew be fore she lapsed in whatsoever way it might have been into oblivion, and the warmth of the shore was very grateful to her.
Incoherent thoughts raced through her bewildered brain; each one, however, bringing her a little nearer the awakening point of realization. Then there ran through her young body a primal pang which dispelled the tremulous and vague illusions which her fancy had woven about herself as she lay warm and snug and sunny at the foot of the tall trees. She realized that she was frightfully thirsty, so thirsty that she did not know how hungry she was.
The demand of the material awakened the ani mal in her. Her thoughts centered instantly; they were at once localized on one supreme desire. Coincidently her eyes unclosed, and she sat up, blinking in the strong light. The rising sun, still low on the horizon, smote her full in the eyes and left her for the moment dazed again. She sat leaning upon her hands extended behind her back, staring sea ward, saying nothing, thinking nothing, until a strange sound to the right of her attracted her at tention. It was a sound made by a human voice, and yet it was like nothing human that she had ever heard. It was a wordless, languageless ejaculation, but it aroused her interest at once despite her material cravings.
She weakly turned her head, and there, standing erect with folded arms, looking down upon her, was a man. He was unclothed entirely save for a fantastic girdle of palm leaves about his waist. She stared at him puzzled, amazed, affrighted. He returned her look with an intent curiosity in which there was no suggestion of evil purpose, rather a great incomprehension, an amazing wonderment. There was nothing about him, save the fact that he was there, which should have caused any alarm in her heart, for with a woman s swift mastery of the possibilities of the other sex, she noticed in her vague terror and wonderment that he was remarkably good to look at. Indeed, she thought that she had never seen so splendid a specimen of physical manhood as that before her. In color he was white. Save that he was bronzed by the tropic sun, he was perhaps whiter than she was. His hair, which hung about his head in a wild, matted tangle, not unpicturesque, was golden; his eyes bright blue. Beneath his beard, unkempt but short and curly, she could see his firm, clean-cut lips. His proportions were superb. He was limbed and chested like the Apollo Belvidere. In him grace and strength strove for predominance. He was totally unlike all that she had read of the aborigines of the South Seas.
Instantly she saw him he naturally became the object of her undivided attention. There was much in Nature that might have awakened her interest. She sat in the shadow of great palms; below her hung a long reach of sand dazzlingly white in the sun. Bordering this was a smooth expanse of sea, waveless and still and bluer than any heaven she had ever looked into. Beyond that ran the jagged edge of the barrier reef, white-crested with foam from long assaulting breakers rolling landward over countless leagues of seas. Back of her and on either side the ground, gently undulating, was covered with the luxuriant verdure of the tropics. The island was set in the blue of the Pacific like an emerald bordered with pearls and sunk in a great sapphire of flashing light. She would have time to grow accustomed to this scene. Through weary days of staring seaward and longing for that which never came, it would be imprinted upon her soul, etched upon her consciousness with a graver's burin of unsatisfied desire. But for the moment the one object of her faculties was the man. Before Nature, in Nature, throughout Nature, the supreme interest is always in Man.
In her surprise, astonishment, admiration, and curiosity she even forgot for the moment that she was hungry and that she was thirsty; that she was starving for food and dying for water while she looked upon him. She was not the first woman nor will she be the last to forget earth and sea and every material passion while she looked upon a man. So Eve might have looked on Adam, awakening in the primal dawn. Nay, from his view point, so Adam might have looked on Eve at that selfsame hour. For this woman had looked on many men; this man had seen no woman but this at least since he clung to his mother's breast!
It was the man who broke the silence, as it had been the man whose hard stare had broken the spell of her slumber although she knew it not. He made that queer little chuckling noise in his throat which sounded familiar enough, albeit she had heard it from the lips of no man before. It meant nothing to her except that he who stood before her at least was not dumb, although the noise he made was certainly no articulate speech as she knew speech or could imagine it.
At any rate it was a stimulus to her. She opened her own parched lips and strove to make reply, but her thirst, with a rising terror and nervousness, made her dumb and no sound came forth. The man might be preparing to kill her. He could do so, if he willed, she thought, but she must drink or die. If she could not speak, she could make signs. She leaned forward, raised her arm, hollowed her hand and dipped as if from a well and made as if to pour it into her lips. Then she stretched out both her hands to him in the attitude of petition. The man stared hard at her. His brow wrinkled. It was such a simple sign that any savage would have comprehended it, she thought, and yet it appeared to her, watching in despair, that it took a long time for the idea to beat into his brain. She could wait no longer. She rose to her knees and stretched out her hands again.
"Water!" she gasped in a hoarse whisper. "Water, or I die!"
The man had started violently at her speech. Giving him no time to recover, she went through the motion again, this time with greater effect, for the man turned and vanished. She sank down on the sand too exhausted to follow him even with her eyes. If he brought the water, she would drink it and live; if he did not, she would lie where she was and die. She did not care much, she thought, which would happen. She had so sickened of life before she essayed that open boat, that she believed it was simply an animal craving in her which would make her take the water in case it should be brought her. And yet when he did appear with a cocoanut shell brimming with clear, sparking liquid, she felt as though the elixir of life had been proffered her.
She seized the shell with both hands, which yet so trembled that most of the precious water spilled on her dress as she carried it to her parched lips. This was good in the end, for if that vessel had been the famed Jotunheim drinking horn, she would have drained it dry ere she set it down. As it was, she got but little; yet that little was enough to set her heart beating once more. Emptying the shell of the last drop and with that keenness of perception which her long training had intensified and developed, marking the while that it had not been cut clean by any knife or saw or human implement, but was jagged and broken as if from a fall, she dropped it on the sand and looked again toward the man. He held in his hand fruit of some kind, she did not know what it was. It might have been poison. What mattered it? Having drunk she must also eat. She took it. It looked edible, it was inviting to the eye, and as she sunk her teeth into it, she found it agreeable to the taste also. He had brought it to her. If he had meant harm, present harm, surely he would not have given the water. She ate it confidently.
He held in his hand fruit of some kind. It might have been poison. What mattered it?
As the man saw her partake of what he had given her, he clapped his hands and laughed. She was grateful for that laugh. It was more human than the babbling sounds which he had made before.
There was but little of the fruit, just what a child would have brought, and this again was good for her, for had there been an abundance, in her need she would have eaten until she made herself ill. When she had eaten, she rose to her feet. Before doing this she had extended her hand to him as if seeking assistance, but he had simply stared at her uncomprehending and she had been forced to get to her feet unaided. Once standing, she trembled and would have fallen but that she caught his arm and steadied herself by holding tightly to it. The man at her touch started back. Color came and went in his face; little shudders swept over him; his mouth opened; he looked at her with a singular expression of awe not unmixed with terror in his eyes, for this was the first time in his recollection, or what would have been his recollection if his retrospective faculties had been developed, that he had ever felt the touch of a woman's hand, of any human hand upon him.
Noticing his peculiar demeanor in the, to her, perfectly natural situation, the woman, summoning some of the remains of the reserve of force which is in every human body until life is gone, released his arm and stared about her, leaning against the trunk of the nearest palm. This time, and for the first time, she took in that great expanse of sea, lonely yet beautiful, upon which her eyes were to look so often. Out of the deep and the night she had come. Into what deep and into what day had she arrived?
She turned and surveyed the shore. The beach curved sharply to the right and to the left, the long barrier reef following roughly is contour until the land obscured it on either side. Back of her stretched a grove of palms and back of that rose a hill; its crest, bare and craglike, towered above a sea of verdure. Through a chance vista she saw the mass of rock as a mountain peak. On one side of her high precipitous cliffs ran down close to the shore and shut out the view. Over them water fell to the beach.
Save in the person of the man beside her there was not an evidence of humanity anywhere. No curl of smoke rose above the trees. No distant call of human voices smote the fearful hollow of her car. The breeze made music in the tall palms and in the thick verdure farther up the hillside, birds sang softly here and there, but about her a tropic still ness prevailed, to which one great heaving diapason on the distant barriers was a foundation of sound upon which to build a lonely quiet. Human beings there might be, there must be, on that island, if island it were; but if so, they must be abiding on the farther side. She and the man were alone.
Standing on her feet, with a slight renewal of her strength from what she had eaten and drunk, the woman now felt less fear of the man. He had treated her kindly. His aspect was gentle, even amiable. He looked at her wistfully, bending his brows from time to time and ever and again shaking his head, as a great dog looks at the master with whom he would fain speak, whose language he would fain understand, to whom he would fain impart his own ideas if he could.
She stared at him perplexed. She was entirely at loss what to do, until her eyes, roving past him, etected a dark object on the water line just where the still blueness touched the white sand. The sun light was reflected from a surface of metal, and thinking that she recognized it, she stepped from the shade of the palms and made her way unsteadily toward it. The man, without a sound, followed closely at her side.
Her vision had been correct, for she drew out of the sand a leather handbag, such as women carry. It had been elaborately fitted with bottles and mirrors and toilet articles. Alas, it was in a sad state of dilapidation now. The bottles were broken, their contents gone. The bag had been lying in the boat when it had been hurled on the barrier in the night, and the same storm and tide which had borne her ashore had cast it also on the sand. It had come open in the battering and its contents were pitiably ruined. With eager eyes and fingers she examined everything. She found intact a little mirror, a pair of scissors, a little housewife, which was not a part of the fittings, and she wondered how it failed of being washed away, two combs, and a package of hairpins.
She had fought against starvation and thirst and loneliness and despair as she had fought against men, and she had not given way. She had set her teeth and locked her hands and endured hardship like the stoutest-hearted, most-determined soldier in the history of human struggles. But as the realization of this small misfortune burst upon her, she sank down on the sands and put her head in her hands and sobbed. Tears did her good. She had her cry out, utterly unhindered, for the man stood by, shaking his head and staring at her and making those strange little sounds, but offering in no way to molest her.
The water was beautifully clear and she could see on the other side of the barrier the remains of her boat. Perhaps some time, if there were need, she could get at that boat, but for the present all the flotsam and jetsam of her wild and fearful voyage lay in a water-soaked bag full of broken glass and battered silver from which she had rescued a pair of scissors, a mirror, two combs, a housewife full of rusty needles, and some hairpins. O vanitas vanitatum!
She was wearing a serviceable dress of blue serge with a sailor's blouse and a short skirt. Putting her precious treasure trove within the loose blouse and carrying the battered bag, which she meant to examine more carefully later, she turned and made for the shade of the trees again. For one thing, the sun, rising rapidly, was gaining power and beating down with great force upon her bare head. She had enjoyed the protection of a wonderfully plaited straw hat on her long voyage, else she could not have borne the heat, but that, too, was gone.
As she walked inward, she noticed again off to her right that stream of water which dropped over the tall cliff in a slender waterfall making a sweet inviting pool at the base before it ran through the sands toward the sea. She made her way thither and at the brink knelt down and took long draughts of it. Eating and drinking evidently went together in the mind of the man, for when she raised her head, she found him standing before her with both hands filled with some of the fruit she had partaken of before and other fruit. She thought she recognized the breadfruit and a species of banana. At any rate, she ate again and, having by this time recovered to some extent her mental poise, she ate sparingly and with caution.
Then having satisfied her material needs, she knelt down by the stream again and washed her face and hands. How sweet was the freshness of that water to her face, burned by the sun and the wind and subjected for a long time to the hard spray of the briny seas! She would have been glad to have taken off her clothing and plunged into the pool, to have washed the salt of days from her tired body, to have had the stimulus and refreshment of its sparkling coolness over her weary limbs. But in the presence of her doglike attendant this was not yet possible.
Still she could and must arrange her hair. Of all the articles in her dressing bag, she was more fervently thankful at that moment for the combs than anything else, the combs and the little mirror and the hairpins -- small things indeed, but human happiness as a rule turns on things so small that the investigator and promoter thereof generally overlook them. And we know not the significance of the little until upon some desert island we are left with only that.
Washed, fed, and dressed -- for it is astonishing the difference that the neat coils in which she arranged her hair made in her appearance -- and now in her right mind, she rose to her feet. As she did so, as an experiment, she handed the man the little silver-backed mirror. He stared into it and again uttered that cry of surprise. Then he turned it around as if to look on the other side. Then he looked again and still again. She took it from him unresisting; his eyes full of strange terror. Life was full of surprises for him that day. He had not only been touched by a woman, but he had looked at a man as well.
She put the mirror into her waist and then looked at her watch. By a miracle it was still running, and in a panic lest it should run down and she be timeless, she wound it up again, while he watched her with the same great interest. She would learn presently that time on that island was the least notable of all facts and the least valuable of all the things that she had to spend.
It was still early, about eight o'clock. How was she to pass the day? She must do something. She felt she could not sit idly staring from sea to shore. She must be moving. No business called her; she must invent some. The compelling necessity of a soul not born for idleness was upon her. She would explore the land. That was logically the first thing to be done any way, and this was a highly trained woman who thought to live by rule and law, albeit her rules were poor ones.
She started inland, the man following after. She had gained confidence in herself with every passing moment. The man who looked at her as a dog she would treat as one. She must have some privacy. She could not always have him trailing at her heels. She turned by a great boulder, pointed to it, laid her hand on the man's shoulder and gently forced him to a sitting position by it. Then she walked away. He stared wistfully after her departing figure, and as she turned around to look at him, he sprang to his feet.
"No, no!" she cried imperatively, making backward threatening motions with her hands, whereat he resumed his sitting position, staring at her until he lost her among the trees.
Presently she turned and came back to him. It was so deathly lonely without him. He leaped to his feet as he saw her coming and clapped his hands as a child might have done, his face breaking out into a smile that was both trustful and touching. She felt better since she had him under this control, and together they walked on under the trees.
High noon, and they were back at the landing place, and she at least was very tired. Accompanied by the man, who made not the slightest attempt to guide her, after some difficulty she had succeeded in forcing her way through the trees to the top of the hill. Part of the time she had followed the course of the rivulet from which she had drunk at the foot of the cliff. She was determined to get to the top, for she must see what was upon the other side. Humanity's supreme desire when facing the hills has always been to see what was on the other side. The stimulus of the unknown was upon her, but it was coupled with a very lively wish begot of stern necessity to know what there was to be known of the land upon which she had been cast up by the sea.
Her view from the hilltop -- she did not essay the unclothed and jagged peak, she could make her way around its base and see all that there was to see -- was not reassuring. She could detect on the other side of the island no more evidences of life than were presented by that she had first touched upon. In every direction lay the unvexed sea. The day was brilliantly clear; there was not a cloud in the sky. No mist dimmed the translucent purity of the warm air. Nothing broke the far horizon. The island, fair and beautiful, was set alone in a mighty ocean. In so far as she could tell, she and the man were alone upon it. The thought oppressed her. She strove to throw it off. The silence of the man oppressed her as well. She turned to him at last and cried out, the words wrung from her by the horror of the situation :
"Man, man, whence came you? How are you called? What language do you speak? Why are you here?"
The sound of her own voice gave her courage. Waiting for no answer, and indeed she realized that none could come, she stepped to the brow of the hill where the trees happened not to be and, raising her voice, called and called and called. There were answering echoes from the jagged crag behind her, but when these died away, there was silence, unbroken save by the queer babbling, chuckling noises of the man.
She looked at him with a sudden sinking of the heart. Had this godlike creature roaming the woods, this Faun of the island, been denied a brain, articulate speech? Was she doomed to spend the rest of her life alone in this Paradise of the Pacific with a harmless madman forever by her side? What a situation was that in which she found herself?
She was a highly specialized product of the greatest of universities. In science and in philosophy she was a master and a doctor. She should have had resources within herself which would enable her to be independent of the outside world, a world in which her experience, self-bought, had been bitter, in which the last few weeks had been one long disillusionment. And yet she was now overwhelmed with a craving for companionship, for articulate speech, as if she had never looked into a book or given a thought to the deep things of life. If this man beside her would only do something, say some thing, be something rather than a silent satellite for ever staring in wonder. If she could only solve the mystery of his presence, answer the interrogation that his very existence there alone presented.
Her future, her present, indeed, should have engrossed her mind. What she was to do, how she was to live, the terrible problems in which his presence on the island involved her, should have been the objects of her attention; they should have afforded food for thought to the keenest of women. She simply forgot them in her puzzled wonder at him. It would have been much simpler from one point of view if she had found the island uninhabited, and yet since the man was human and alive, in spite of her judgment, her heart was glad that he was there.
She motioned to him to sit down and then she sat in front of him and studied him. He looked as little like a fool as like a knave. She could indeed detect no evidences of any intellectual ability, but she thought, as she studied him keenly, that he possessed unlimited intellectual possibilities. There was a mind back of those bright blue eyes, that broad, noble brow, but it seemed to her a mind entirely undeveloped, a mind utterly latent. Here was a soul, she thought, half in fancy, half in earnest, that was virgin to the world. Howsoever wise, howso ever deeply learned she might be, she was face to face with this primeval norm.
Could she teach this man anything? He seemed tractable, reverential, deferential now. Knowledge was power. Would it be power with him? Could she open those sealed doors of his mind, what floods would outpour therefrom, of power, of passion? Would she be swept away? It mattered not. She must try. The impulse seized her to begin now. Fixing her dark eyes upon him, she pointed directly at him with her finger.
"Man," she said clearly and emphatically.
He was always looking at her. He had scarcely taken his eyes from her since she had seen him in the tall grass by the shore, but at her gesture and word his eyes brightened. There was that little wrinkling of the brow again which she had noticed, outward and visible sign of an inward attempt at comprehension.
"Man!" she said passionately. "Man," she repeated over and over again.
And then the unexpected happened. After in numerable guttural attempts, her unwitting pupil managed to articulate something that bore a distinct resemblance to the clearly cut monosyllable.
"Man!" he said at last.
It was a tremendous step in evolution, almost too great for any untutored human brain, for at once the man before her received a name, and the idea of name as well. In that instant, on that heaven kissing hill, he was differentiated from all the rest of creation forever. His consciousness, hitherto vague, floating, incoherent, indefinite, was localized, given a habitation and a name. He knew himself in some way to be.
"Man! " he cried, growing more and more confident with every repetition and more and more accurate in catching the very intonation with which she spoke.
"Man!" he cried, laying his hand upon his breast. "Man."
He leaped to his feet and stretched out his arms. The doors were open a little space. Ideas were beginning to edge their way through the crack.
"Man! Man! Man!" he said again and again, looking eagerly at her.
She rose in turn and patted him on the shoulder encouragingly as she might a dog. And again the touch, the third touch that she had given him, affected him strangely, so strangely that for a moment she felt the soul within her shrink, but realizing at once that her domination over him was spiritual and immaterial, and that the slightest evidence of timidity would be translated into universal language which even the lowest creation understands, and that her dominion would go on the instant, she mastered herself and so mastered him. Although she was but a woman whom he might have broken in his hands, she dominated him as the conscious soul ever dominates the unconscious soul.
She essayed no more lessons, but turned and retraced her way to the shore where she had landed, which, because she had landed there, she called home. On the way, she attempted an experiment. She plucked from a low bush a bright-colored fruit of whose quality and characteristics she was ignorant and slowly made as if to convey it to her lips.
"Man!" cried the voice behind her, uttering its only word. She turned to find her companion looking fixedly at her and proffering other fruit which he had quickly gathered. She handed him that she had plucked in exchange. He shook his head, not in negation but rather in bewilderment, and threw it from him, and then she understood in some way that the fruit was not good for food. How he had divined it, she could not tell. Some compensating instinct, sharpened by use into a protecting quality, had taught him. She had no such instinct. She had learned to depend upon reason and observation, and these failed her in the presence of this unknown. She was humbled a little in this thought.
She craved meat and salt, having been trained to these things, the artificial diet and stimulant to which she had become accustomed, and her craving was the more insistent because she had been with out them all that time in the boat. And yet when, she had eaten the fruit that nature had provided in that tropic island, her craving was abated and she was satisfied. She felt that she could soon grow accustomed to such a diet if it were necessary. So musing she passed on under the trees and sat down, on the sand again.
The next thing she remembered, she was unclosing her eyes as she had done early in the morning, and the man was still watching by her side. She had been so utterly tired out by her strange adventure, by her long wrestling with thirst and starvation in the open boat, that before she knew it, weariness overcame her and she slept. He had watched by her side without molesting her.
It was late in the evening now. The problems of the night had to be faced. This time the man took the initiative. He walked along the shore a little way and then looked back at her; then came back to her, then left her, and repeated the process once or twice as a dog might have done who was desirous of bringing his master to some appointed place. Understanding, she rose and followed him. He led her along the sands, now shadowed by the tall palms, until they came to the rivulet, where she stopped and drank once more. They passed it, he plunging bodily through its shallows; she leaping from rock to rock until she reached the other bank. He went swiftly around the face of the cliff. As she passed the point she saw that it curved suddenly inward away from the shores into a sort of amphitheater, and fair in the center of the face she perceived an opening. He halted opposite and entered fearlessly, she following.
The cave was roomy and spacious, at least it seemed so in the fading light. In the morning when the sun shone through the opening, it would be flooded with daylight, but now, when the sun was sinking behind the hill, it was quite dark. It was dry and clean and apparently empty. The man stood looking at her smiling, at least there was a suggestion of a smile upon his lips. He was nodding his head. She understood that he lived there. The dog had come back to his kennel and had taken this chance acquaintance there, too.
It would be a good place to pass the night. The night had to be passed somewhere. How, was the problem. She had little fear of any savage animals on the island. There had been no evidences of them observed in her progress; the man himself was testimony to immunity from attack from that source. Had it not been for him, she could have lain down in that cave with quiet confidence and slept without apprehension of molestation, but he complicated the issue.
Twice he had watched by her asleep, but that was in the broad daylight. When darkness came, what then? Her heart was filled with terror. She was suddenly afraid of the dark, a childish fear at which her soul would have mocked in other days and under other conditions. But now she was a prey to vivid apprehension, and the night was coming on with the swiftness of the tropics. She was glad that she had slept through the long afternoon. She would endeavor to keep awake during the night. She must turn the dog out of his kennel and occupy that her self. How was she to enforce her will under the circumstances? She could only try.
"Man!" she said, pointing to the door, "go!" The words conveyed nothing, but the gesture meant much. Even to that man association with his kind for one day had effected a revolution in him. He hung undecided, however, before her, while she repeated again and again her injunction. Finally she took him by the shoulder, risking the peculiar emotions that contact seemed to bring to him, and thrust him gently through the entrance outside. Then she went back farther into the cave and waited with a beating heart. She could see him silhouetted against the twilight standing where she had left him. He came toward the door at last and stood in the entrance.
"No, no!" she cried fiercely, praying that the note of terror might be lost in the imperative tones of her voice. "Man, go!"
She stood waiting, and he likewise. Mustering her courage at last, she went over to him and boldly thrust him out. Again and again the little drama was played until by and by it became impressed upon the mind of the man that he was to stay out and she was to stay in. He came no more to the entrance. He stood outside, aloof, looking in, although in the growing darkness he could not see her.
It was the second thing he had learned. The first ray of light in his dawning consciousness had illuminated the ego, the personal, the concrete. He was learning now the significance of a verb, and an abstract idea was being bred in him and some concept of constraint was entering his being. The first of those long checks that circumstances impose upon freedom in order that civilization may begin to be, was meeting him face to face. He had slept in that cave, she imagined, for years, and suddenly he was thrust out. There was no hardship in that, except the hardship in the necessity for obedience, if hard ship that might be. The night was balmy and pleasant; no shelter was needed. It was the fact that he had to go; that he was subject to another will and purpose; that something higher than himself was overruling him which might be hard. It would have been hard for the woman. She thought, however, that the limited comprehension of the man might not enable him to realize it.
He stood a long time on the sand while she watched him. Had she conquered? Had he learned his lesson? Had she laid foundations upon which consciousness of life and its relations might be builded? Would she be free from the terror of molestation, which in spite of herself sought expression in her voice and manner? Would she be permitted to pass the night undisturbed? Was her power over him sufficiently definite to be established and to be of value? Suppose she had not succeeded in mastering him, in dominating him? She shuddered at the probabilities involved. Of all the beasts of the field, the most terrible when he is a beast is man.
She was not a weak woman. She was above the middle height, athletic, splendidly developed, accustomed to the exercise of the gymnasium and the field, but her strength was no match for his. One ray of safety appeared in the fact that she believed him ignorant alike of the extent of his power or of the possibilities of the situation. She wondered what strange thoughts were going on in that latent brain over which, by the use of moral force and courage, she was striving to establish domination. She rejoiced to find that even in the midst of her anxieties she could think so clearly about the situation.
Did he know his lesson, she wondered. She could only hope. If she only had a weapon, she thought, the weakness of sex might be equalized. There was nothing. Yes, her thought reverted to the womanly pair of scissors. With trembling hand she drew them forth and clenched the little tool of steel tightly. It was a poor dependence, but the best she had. And then she drew quietly back into the recesses of the cave and sat down, leaning against the wall, her eyes bright with dread, anticipation, and curiosity. She watched and waited, resolved, if necessary, to remain awake the long night through.
Outside the man had stood motionless a long time after the final repulse. The dusk had not yet melted into dark out there and he was easily visible against the sky framed by the opening as a dim picture. She was hardly aware of the intensity with which she watched him, and she was greatly surprised when she saw him at last kneel down upon the sands. She saw that the palms of his hands were pressed together in front of him; that his head was bowed; that his attitude was that of prayer! He was saying something. She could hear him without difficulty. She could distinguish no words in the rude succession of sounds that seemed to come from his lips, but her acute and quickened perception seemed to recognize a nearer resemblance to articulate speech than anything she had yet heard from him.
What was he doing? In a flash the woman realized that the man was praying. The realization smote her like a blow, for this woman had long since put away prayer. In her philosophy of life there was no place for God; in her scheme of affairs the divine was unimminent. And yet alone on that island, in that darkness, despite her attempt to mock away the consciousness, she was relieved at that sight.
The little ritual on the sand ended with the one word her pupil knew.
"Man! " he said, striking his breast again and staring upward toward the heavens. "Man!" he cried, as if in his new consciousness he would fain introduce himself to his Maker, the woman thought. His Maker! Her lips writhed into a bitter smile that was half a sneer.
What would he do next? He rose to his feet and peered toward the door. She grasped the scissors tighter and held her breath. But he had learned his lesson. With indescribable relief she saw him turn aside and cast himself down upon the sand, where he lay motionless before her. If she had had any faith, she would have breathed "Thank God." As it was, she was very glad.
She watched him a long time, speculating on the questions she had asked him on the hill in the morning; who he was; what he was; whence he came; where he had learned that babble of prayer; why he was devoid of speech; what was the God to whom he prayed? She would study those things. The problems fascinated her. The desolation and loneliness of the island might have crushed her. Relieved from her immediate apprehensions, the man delighted her. She would investigate him, analyze him, synthesize him, teach him. She would mother him as a woman a child. No such opportunity as was hers had ever presented itself to a human being. Free, as she imagined herself, from inherited prejudices, devoid of old superstitions, crammed with new learning, illuminated with new light, abhorrent of narrow things, she fancied herself well fitted for that strangely maternal and preceptive role in which chance had placed her. She would play upon that mind, virgin to her touch, if she might use a woman's word, until it ran in harmony with her own. Alone upon that island, the rest of the world away, she would find occupation, interest, inspiration, in that nascent man.
He lay so still and so quiet that presently she arose and tiptoed softly to the entrance, where unseen she could look down upon him. The moon rose back of the hill. Although he was in the shadow, there was still refraction sufficient to enable her to see his face. He was asleep. The quiet, dreamless, unvexed sleep of a healthy animal, she thought. Their positions were reversed. He had watched her before when she was off guard and asleep, with what dim-dumb, inchoate effort it might be to comprehend, her. Now it was her turn. He took no disfavor in her mind after her inspection. He was a bold, splendid piece of ... what? Clay. She would put a soul in him, her soul. Her soul was the only thing she knew. She forgot, or if she remembered it, disdained the ancient concept that before the dust of the earth became alive, it had to be impermeated with the breath not merely of man or woman, but of God.
She came back at last and sought her corner, disposed her limbs to rest and kept through silent hours her lonely vigil. So long as he slept she was safe. When he awakened, what then? So long as his mind slept, his soul slept, his consciousness slept, she was safe, but when they, too, awakened, when whatsoever light there might be that dawns in personality dispelled the night of idle dreams in which he lived, what would happen then?
Instinctively she shrank from the thought of the future. She was as one who had a potent talisman in her hand and feared to put it to the touch. So the fisherman in the Arabian tale, if he had known the contents of the corked bottle thrown up from the sea, might have hesitated ere he drew the stopper and released the prisoned spirit. She must watch, she must wait, she must be on her guard. She forgot that when she had called him "Man" and laid her hand upon his shoulder that she had begun an evolution which no human power could stop.
Never had the hours seemed so long and so strange to her. Nothing happened. Even the capacity to think gives out in the strongest mind, the acutest brain, temporarily or otherwise. She was very tired; the silence was oppressive; the rusty scissors fell from her hand and at last she slipped down upon the sand and drifted away into that slumber, that suspension of consciousness, in which for the moment she was even as the man.
The upper edge of the sun was just springing from the sea when its level rays woke her. She unclosed her eyes to find the man standing in the opening of the cave.
This awakening was not as had been that of yesterday. She prided herself on being in full possession of her faculties at once, and she arose instantly and stepped out upon the sand. The man gave way to her respectfully as she passed through the entrance. The mind is brightest in the early morning after sleep. She would give him another concept before the uses of the day impaired his receptivity. She had differentiated him from the rest of creation when she taught him that he was a man. She would show him now that his was a divided empire by declaring herself a sharer in it. She laid her hand upon her own breast and said clearly:
"Woman!" giving the first syllable the long "o" and definitely accenting the second. She pointed to him and repeated "Man "; to herself and repeated "Woman." Patiently over and over again she said the word until by and by he could say it, too.
The baby begins his language with monosyllabic sounds which mean little, and yet which have been identified with the mother. It was fitting that this man, who was as a child and yet as a man, should begin with something deeper than infantile babble. Man and Woman! she drove these two ideas into his consciousness before she ceased her task. If his idea of man was at first infinite, she gave him the concept of limitations immediately following.
He was avid for instruction. Once he had learned the words, he babbled them "man, woman, man, woman," until the iteration was almost maddening.
While she washed her face and hands at the stream, he plunged into a brimming pool fed by the brook ere it descended to the sea. She noticed that he could swim like a fish itself, naturally, instinctively, in an untrained way, of course, without the fancy strokes in which she had been taught, but brilliantly and well nevertheless. She would have given the world for a dip, but it was not to be, not yet, that is.
Then they breakfasted, and she tried to teach him "No" and "Yes" and the meaning thereof. She intended to make a circuit of the island later, but there was no hurry. She began to realize that time was nothing to her or to him, and so she idled under the trees, setting him tasks, as the picking of fruit, and then stopping him with "No "; then encouraging him with "Yes," until he had some idea of those words also. It was a relief to her to get them firmly fixed in his mind, for they provided him with alternatives to the man and woman words on which he harped.
After a while they started around the island. It was perhaps six or eight miles in circumference. There was a sand beach everywhere, except in one place where the rocks came sheer down to the shore. From what she could tell by an inspection of the surface there was an underwater entrance to some cave in the rocks which some day might be worth exploring. They could not follow the shore at the foot of these cliffs, but managed to scramble over them, each for himself, although there were places where the man's strong arm and wonderful agility -- he climbed like a chamois, she noticed -- would have helped her. It was her policy, however, to be self-reliant, to depend upon him for nothing. To be independent was her mental habit, too. She confessed to no inferiority when compared with the other sex, save that physical weakness which was hereditary, for which she was in no way responsible, and which she assiduously strove to minimize by every means or expedient at her command.
On the other side of the island from the cave, which was already denominated home in her mind, she came across the remains of a ship's boat deep bedded in the sand. The boat had been perhaps wrecked and broken on the barrier reef, or possibly it had sailed through the entrance near at hand the only opening in the encircling guard of splintered rock which she had seen and had been hurled upon the beach where it had lain through years until buried in the shifting sand. Only the gunwales of the boat and the stem and the stern were exposed. She had no idea as to what its condition was, but she promised that so soon as she could she would make shift at something for a shovel and dig it out. She gazed at it for a long time, wondering if it were an explanation of the presence of the solitary of the island, but nothing was to be gained by wonderment and speculation.
A little stream she noticed trickled from under a thick covert across the sand toward the sea. She turned and idly walked away from the beach, following the stream. The man, who had stood with her watching the boat, did not for a moment notice her, but so soon as he discovered her direction, he ran after her and, without offering to touch her, barred the way with extended arms.
"No, no! " he cried, his first real spontaneous use of the word.
She stopped, reflected, waved the man aside, and went on. There was something in the coppice that he feared. She had not known that he possessed the faculty. Her curiosity was too strong to be denied. She must see what it was. She quickened her pace as if to shake him off, but he easily kept by her side, plaintively ejaculating his monosyllabic negative. It was evidence that he knew the meaning of the word she was glad to see.
When she reached the undergrowth of the coppice, she hesitated in apprehension of she knew not what, but summoning her courage, parted the reeds and peered in them. She shrank back with a sudden cry of horror, for at her feet, the vegetation springing through in every direction, lay a skeleton, a human skeleton. It lay athwart her path, and at the feet was a smaller skeleton which she judged to be that of a dog. With instinctive repugnance she released the rushes and turned hastily away.
"Yes, yes," said the man by her side, with an expression of unusual relief on his face which she could scarcely fail to notice.
She knew that she could not thus evade her duties or shrink from her problems. She had marked the gleam of metal amid the bones. She knew that she would have to come back and examine those last remainders of human presence, other than their own, upon the island, but she could not do it just then.
She was of the stuff that when the danger is realized approaches it deliberately, rather than of the rash and headlong courage which proceeds upon an undertaking without thought of consequence. And yet, in spite of the possibilities of power in the knowledge she bestowed, she was deliberately proceeding to enlighten this man in every way. If her death or worse were at the end of it, she could no more have helped it than she could have stayed the rising of the sun, she thought, although of course she counted upon maintaining her control by spirit over the animal before her. She had not learned the lesson, apparently, that animal apprehension and spiritual development sometimes grow side by side, and that unless the superiority of the one is early and definitely established, the superiority of the other will inevitably come about.
There was nothing else that she discovered on her tour about her prison until she returned to the cave. It was afternoon by this time, and she determined to employ some of her hours in a more careful inspection of it. Realizing that the lesson of the night before, if reinforced and maintained, would stand her in good stead, she made the man remain outside while she went within. Her hope was to establish in his mind a custom of avoidance of that recess which should develop into a fixed habit, else she could not be free. She could always secure a few moments respite from his presence, at least she had done so heretofore, but she did not dare to try how he would sustain longer absences; hence the necessity for establishing herself in the cave as a harbor of refuge, a sanctuary.
At first glance there was nothing within the little apartment, washed out ages ago from the hard stone by what action of water she could well imagine, but as she scrutinized it closely, she noticed in a recess a part where the rock wall cropped out in a sort of low shelf. On the shelf -- wonder of wonders! -- lay a book! Next to humanity, a book, she thought, would be the most precious sharer of her solitude.
It was a small, leather-bound volume. Dust in the form of tiny particles of sand lay thick upon it. The cave was sheltered from the prevailing winds, else it might have been buried, but under the circumstances, it might have lain there for ages and in that dry, pure air have suffered no deterioration or decay.
Crusoe was petrified when he saw the footprint in the sand. The woman was not less startled or less amazed when she saw the book on the rock. With a little cry of delight she stepped toward it, bent down, lifted it up, handling it carefully in spite of nervous exultation, shook the dust from it, and opened it. She instantly let it fall from her hands with a look of disappointment and disgust. One glance was enough. The book was the Bible. She had no interest in the Bible, a collection of ancient genealogies and time-worn fables, myths for the credulous and impossible legends, mixed up with poetry whose inspiration was trivial, and history whose details were false. For this woman, who had forgotten how to pray and who had abolished God, had little use for the Book of Books. Rather any other printed page, she had thought bitterly, than that one.
She had acted upon impulse, not in her disdain of the Bible and that for which it stood that was grounded upon reason and philosophy, she fondly believed but in her action in casting it from her. It had no more than rolled upon the sand at her feet when, with swift reconsideration, she stooped and lifted it again. It had occurred to her that there might be writing therein and that the writing might give her a clew to the mystery of the man. She knew that births and deaths were frequently entered upon the blank leaves interposed between the Old and New Testaments. Unfamiliar though she was with the contents of the book, she easily found the place and eagerly looked at the leaves. Alas, they were blank. She turned to the fly leaves at the beginning of the book. There was a name written there and in a woman's hand.
John Revell Charnock," she read.
Below was a date twenty-five years before the moment of her landing.
John Revell Charnock! It was a strange name, English in part, with a suggestion of France in the middle name. It meant nothing to her. Was this John Revell Charnock who stood outside looking at her? If so, who was John Revell Charnock? The problem was not greatly elucidated. There was no evidence that the book belonged to the man or the man to the book, or even that the one appertained remotely to the other. There was a certain likelihood, however, that they had come to the island together.
She had been sure that the man was a white man. She had thought that he looked like an American, or an Englishman, an Anglo-Saxon, and the longer she looked at him with the Bible in her hand, the more sure she became.
She had been disappointed that the book had turned out to be the Bible, but at least it would serve one useful purpose. By it, without the laborious effort involved in making letters upon the sand, she might teach the man before her to read. She wished she had had a worthier volume from her point of view through which to introduce him to the world s literature, but she would do the best she could with that. It was pitiful, as she saw it, that with a nascent soul to work with, she should be compelled to enlighten it through the medium of time-worn superstition.
Musing thus, she opened the book again and idly glanced at it. One phrase from the printed page caught her eye, and she read these significant words. " The Fool hath said in his heart there is no God." It was a Psalm of David's she recognized from the heading, a poet's dream, therefore. Her idea of a fool was one who made such confession. With a gesture of contempt she closed the volume, not throwing it away -- whatever it was, it was a printed book and too precious to risk damage which would be irreparable through mistreatment -- and looked further in the cave.
Below the shelf, not quite buried in the sand, there was a small metal box. She knelt down, scraped the sand away and presently uncovered it. It appeared to be of silver. It was of such a size that she could clasp it easily in her hand. She opened it not with out some difficulty, and found within it nothing! Well, not exactly nothing, but certainly that for which she could see little value. There were several hard pieces of stone of a reddish color, chipped and shaped in curious fashion, and a little bar of metal, nothing else. She turned the box over and examined it on all sides. There were initials upon it, a monogram. She rubbed it clean with her hands and studied it carefully "J. R. C." The book and the box had belonged to the same person, John Revell Charnock.
She laid the box aside and searched the cave further. There was absolutely nothing else to be seen. Disappointed vaguely, although she had expected nothing and had found more indeed than she realized if she had thought about it, she laid the book and box down upon the ledge and went out again. She walked along the sands until she came to the place where she had landed the day before. The tide was low. She could see the wreck of her boat, partly on the barrier reef and partly in the water. It would have been no trick for her to swim to it in the stillness, yet she hesitated to attempt it. Certainly weighted down by all her clothing, it was a matter of difficulty and inconvenience. If it were not for this man by her side! She tried to think of some way to restrain him, keep him away, but nothing occurred to her. Invention was paralyzed by the situation in which she found herself.
Desperately bidding him stay where he was, she went back to the cave. She was face to face with a crisis which had to be met. Indeed, the question of clothes was becoming a very serious one with her, and she knew she should have to decide upon some course of action immediately.
For the present, she took off her garments, hoping and praying in a shiver of dread and anxiety that he would remain where she had left him, which indeed proved the fact. She laid aside all that she had worn except the blouse and skirt, including her sadly worn shoes and stockings. Thus lightly clad she came out on the sand again. He did not notice any change in her condition. As a matter of fact, she gave him no time, for she flashed across the sand at full speed and plunged boldly into the smiling water of the lagoon. He followed her instantly and swam by her side with scarcely any exertion whatever.
It was not long before she reached the barrier reef. It stood up a foot or two above the water now, the tide being low, and she clambered upon it. The sharp rocks cut her naked and tender feet, unused to such exertions and unfitted for such demands, but she persevered. The boat had been beaten to pieces. It had been forced over the reef by the hurl of the sea. The stern had been wedged in between some projecting rocks. The rest of it had been torn away and had fallen into the lagoon. There was no wind, the sea was unruffled. She could see as if through a glass the wrecked remains of the boat. There was nothing in it except the battered motor, useless for days before she landed since her supply of gasoline had been exhausted. Everything else had been washed out of it and carried into the deeper recesses of the lagoon, where they were inaccessible to the human vision.
Stop! Under what remained of a piece of thwart, she caught a little gleam of metal. Calculating the distance nicely, she plunged in and dove. Keeping her eyes open, she easily found the piece of metal, dislodged it from the place where it had fallen and came to the surface with it. It was a sailor's sheath knife with a bit of lanyard fastened to it. She had had a fancy to wear it in her sailor's blouse and she had missed it since she had come ashore.
But there was nothing else in the boat, not a thing; nothing on the barrier reef. She tried to pull the stern away where it had been wedged, but found that impossible. She tugged at it valiantly, but could not move it. In despair she turned to the man who had watched silently as usual and pointed. He seemed to understand, for he came and with great effort lifted the torn part of the boat from the rocks and laid it down at her feet. She threw it into the water, where of course as it was wood, it floated easily. Then with a nod to him, she plunged in and together they guided it to the shore, he taking his cue from her action.
She had a fancy to test his strength, and she managed to convey to him by signs, mainly by trying herself in vain to pull it apart, what she wished him to do. The impossible to her was child's play to him, and in a moment the several pieces of the boat which made up the stern were scattered on the beach. There was one straight piece which went across the stern of the boat and made a little box for the coxswain to sit in, which would do for a shovel. It was too wide, but she broke it against a big stone and was possessed of what she wanted. The ends were rough and serrated and unfit for her hands, but these she smoothed by the aid of her knife. She sharpened the other end and soon had a rude semblance of a shovel. She intended to use that on the boat on the sand the next day.
Finished with this, she looked at the man and sighed in despair. Could she ever get rid of him. Instantly there flashed into her mind that which she had before overlooked as of no moment. A long heavy boat rope, the boat's painter, she had noticed when she dove, lay floating by the side of the boat from which it had not been severed. An idea came to her. Dropping the shovel and followed by her satellite, she plunged in once more and again swam to the boat. Wasting no time, she dove as before, found the rope and, having previously opened her knife, cut it quickly and came to the surface gasping.
There were perhaps fifteen or twenty feet of line. It was a stout piece of rope, of unusual quality, as had been everything on board the yacht. The very best of stuff had gone into it and she did not believe any man on earth could break it. She had amused herself on the cruise by learning the rudiments of seamanship, and she could tie knots like any sailor. This little accomplishment was to stand her in good stead. She wrapped the rope around her neck, plunged in the lagoon for the third time and swam once more to the shore.
She led the way up the sands to the palm grove. Then she tied the rope around the man's neck, not in a slip noose, of course, but in a hard circle, and quickly made a running bowline around the nearest tree. He had not made the slightest resistance. He had no idea evidently of what she was doing or the purport of her motions. Then she turned and went away from him quickly. He started for her at once and was nearly jerked from his feet by the tautening of the rope. It was a new situation for him, yet his hands instinctively went to his throat and he strove to tear away the noose, putting forth such a prodigious amount of strength that she stood in horror lest he should part the lashing. But it was made of stout stuff and he had no purchase; although he pulled until the sweat stood out on his forehead from the violence of his efforts, they were of no avail. She had not dared to interfere or to say a word, but when she saw his efforts slacken, she pointed to the sands to indicate to him that he was to sit down, and then she went away conscious that while the rope held she was free. She was conscious of another thing, too, and that was that he was learning a sad and bitter lesson of physical restraint, to which he had evidently never before been subject.
The look in his eyes -- and she had learned to estimate with a reasonable degree of accuracy what was going on behind his brows -- was one of intense and utter bewilderment. Whether to it would succeed the natural anger consequent upon restraint the cause for which is unrealized, and sometimes when it is realized as well, she could not tell. At any rate, she was free. She did not believe that he could by an possibility release himself. His hands were free, but she knew that he could have no experience in the untying of knots and he could bring nothing to aid him except brute strength, which had already proved inefficacious.
She had rejoiced in his companionship, of course. It had given her something to do, her mind something to work upon, and would do more in the future, but she never enjoyed a moment's freedom more. She ran to the little amphitheater formed by the cliffs where the cave was and, throwing aside her blouse and skirt, she luxuriated in a bath in the fresh, cool, delightful waters of the pool at the base of the fall. There was a certain amount of apprehension, for, of course, he might break his tether at any time, but she was sufficiently confident not to let this take away the pleasure she felt in the bath of fresh water after the long experience with the salt seas. If she had had a cake of soap, she would have been completely happy.
She had much to do and she could not linger. For one thing, she had to face the problem of clothes. She had absolutely nothing when she landed except what she wore. Besides the usual underwears, these consisted of her blue serge blouse and skirt -- a short skirt at that -- and a silk petticoat. She left the blouse and skirt outside on the rocks where they would soon dry in the sun. They had been wetted so often that there was no possibility of their shrinking further. Then she took stock of the rest. With needles and thread, of which she possessed some store in the housewife which had been saved from the bag, she thought she could make shift to manufacture three or four garments, open at the neck, without sleeves, and with skirts that came to the knee, garments just sufficient for modesty. There was no other need for clothes, so far as that went, in that balmy island.
Naturally she shrank from this, but unless she resorted to this expedient, her clothes would wear out all at once. Indeed they were in none too good a condition as it was, and when they were worn out she would have nothing. She would not have hesitated a moment had it not been for the man, but man or not, the decision in her mind was one to which she must come.
Unlike most overeducated women, she was still expert with her needle, and as her garments were to be of the simplest, she had not much difficulty in making over her silk skirt in the way she fancied. Belted in at the waist, it would do. She would use the rope that bound the man for that purpose, keeping it always about her. She had, of course, but one pair of stockings and one pair of light canvas boating shoes which were almost cut to pieces. She would have to go barefoot.
Putting her blue serge dress and the rest of her clothing carefully away, including her shoes and stockings, she stepped out on the sands, bare armed, bare footed, a gleaming figure like to an Olympian goddess. She was a woman naturally dark in complexion, and while the sun would probably burn her cruelly and turn her young flesh, never before exposed to its intensity, darker, she would not grow red or blister. She was thankful for that with unconscious femininity. At any rate, she must get used to going out in the sun without a hat, too. People, natives who were born and lived in this latitude, did become accustomed to such things, she knew, so undoubtedly could she.
With these thoughts, she stepped around the head land and walked across the beach toward the palm tree where she could see in the fading light ot the late afternoon her prisoner was still tied.
Modesty is a negative term. That which is in decent exposure in a ballroom is the height of convention on a sea shore, and vice versa. Certainly this man had no concept of such a quality. He had not noticed before when she had come out barefoot to swim to the barrier reef, and yet somehow she fancied as he stared at her approaching that this time he marked the difference. And a slow, fiery blush flamed over her from her bare feet to her bare head, extending along her bare arms. She stopped under the persuasion of impulse to turn and go back to the cave and resume her clothing, at least so long as it might last. But she was a woman of strong will. She reasoned that all the emotions to which she was subject were in her own bosom; that the man before her neither knew nor cared as to the things which vexed her. So she went on.
She had in her hand the sailor s knife, with the blade open. She could not tell exactly in what mood her prisoner might be. Indeed, she approached him with a certain terror, accounted for partly by the situation and partly by the fact that in making this change in her garments she had, as it were, cut herself off from civilization and brought herself in some degree at least nearer his physical level. But she could not leave him there all night. Summoning her courage, therefore, and with a bold front before him, she advanced to the tree and untied the rope from the trunk and untied it from his neck as well. He stood silent, unresisting, through it all, a rather pitiful figure, she thought at first, until he was freed from the degrading halter.
Then she waited in intense and eager curiosity as to what he should do next. The iron of his situation had eaten into his soul. He had been mastered by force. He could not understand it. He did not love the mastery. Still without the knowledge of his own powers, there occurred to him no way to resent the ignominy to which he had been subjected. He turned and walked away from her. She stood amazed, staring after him. It was the first time he had withdrawn himself from her presence. Where was he going? Was this a declaration of war? Was there to be enmity between them? In vague terror, moved by a sudden impulse again, she called him.
"Man!" she said.
He stopped, hesitated, looked back, turned and went on again. He was deeply hurt. She could not see him go. It was unthinkable that he should go. He was dangerous away from her. By her side she could control him.
"Man!" she called again.
But this time he did not heed. An idea sprang to her brain, working quickly under the pressure. She lifted up her voice, for he was far from her now and plodding steadily, doggedly toward the trees.
"John!" she cried. "John Revell Charnock!"
And at that sound the man stopped. He turned and looked at her again.
"John!" she repeated. "John!"
She approached him. As she did so and when she could get near enough to him, she observed that wrinkling of the brow, that look of amazement which she had noticed before. It was as if some latent memory, some recollection of the past, were struggling against the obscurity of years, as if some thing were endeavoring to thrust itself through a sea of oblivion and forgetfulness that overwhelmed his mind, as if she were a voice which brought back things he could neither understand nor utter, and yet which meant something to him.
"John!" she cried again, coming nearer to him.
She thrust out her hand; she touched him. Again she noticed that strange emotion consequent upon her touch. She laid her hand upon his shoulder. There was amity, confidence, reassurance. She patted him as she might a dog.
"John!" she said, and then she turned away and walked toward the shore.
Obediently he followed her. She thrust the knife between her waist and the rope which she had rapidly twisted about her middle and walked on in triumph. If he had learned something, so had she. Someone else had called this man John in days gone by. The sound was not unfamiliar to him. He answered to his name. That was he, John Revell Charnock! She felt as if she were entering upon the solution of the mystery of his presence. Perhaps the morrow would tell. She would examine that boat and those decaying evidences of humanity on the farther shore.
She felt elated that night ere she went to sleep in the cave. The clew to the mystery, she fancied, was in her hand. She had such occupation before her as she had never hoped to come upon in a desert island, at least. The rope added to her security. By piling stones before the entrance to the cave and reinforcing them with the boards from the wreck of the boat and some fallen tree branches on the shore, she made a sort of a barrier to it, not a barrier that would have kept out of the cave anyone who desired to enter, but one which would have to be removed before one could enter. And she so arranged matters, tying the end of the rope to her wrist, that any attempt to remove it would immediately waken her. That night she slept secure and unmolested.
The task to which she set herself in the morning would have been an impossible one to many women, and indeed it was a hard one to her. The buried boat lay in the sand some rods distant from the nearest tree. There was absolutely no shelter from the fierce heat of the tropic sun. She was not yet fully accustomed to it, and, indeed, perhaps she never would be able to endure it without some sort of a head covering. She improvised a bonnet from the leaf of a low springing palm tree, which with her remaining handkerchief she tied about her head. And then with her watchful friend by her side she descended the beach to the boat and began to dig.
It was hard and very tedious work. With the flat make-shift shovel in the shape of a rough piece of board it was almost impossible to lift the sand. Yet she attacked the task resolutely, and persevered sturdily for a long time until the sweat beaded her forehead; her back ached; her hands, unused to manual toil of any kind, were almost blistered. She realized at last that she would have to give it over.
She wondered as she ceased her labors whether the constant observation which the man had subjected her to would enable him to continue the work. As an experiment she handed him the shovel, stepped out of the excavation she had made, and pointed toward it. He understood instantly. She was surprised at the unusual quickness of his apprehension, for he set to work with a right good will and in a minute the sand was flying. She noticed, half in envy, how much more progress he made than she could effect. What was labor for her was play for him, and yet after a little space he stopped, threw down the shovel and looked at her.
She had got in the habit of speaking to him as if he understood, so she pointed to the shovel again, exclaiming :
"Pick it up and go on."
Her meaning was obvious to him if her language was not. It equally was evident to her that he had no desire whatever to proceed with his task, but he was still under the constraint of her superior personality, and presently he did as she bade him. It amused her to reflect that in addition to all the other lessons, so remarkable as almost to make his brain reel and whirl, he was now learning the lesson of toil. If she could only keep abreast of these great abstract concepts she was putting into his being by giving him some mental realization of them, so that the spiritual development would keep pace with the practical, she would be thoroughly satisfied with her educational processes.
She mused on the problem as he labored silently and vigorously. He stopped once or twice, but she kept him to it, a feat vastly greater than she realized, until the interior of the boat, which was a small ship's boat, a dinghy, had been entirely cleared out. She had watched carefully every spadeful of sand which had been tossed over the buried gunwales, and now she searched eagerly the boat itself. Her inspection revealed nothing. There were lockers at either end. These she opened, finding nothing therein but mouldering remains of cloth, bags of some sort which she surmised might have contained ship's bread, and a little barrel or keg, which had probably carried water for the voyagers.
The boat was in an excellent state of preservation. There was even a pair of oars lying on the thwarts. If she could have dug it out of the sand entirely, she fancied she could have launched it and used it. But such a task was utterly beyond her. Besides, there would have been no gain in having the boat afloat. She would not dare to take it out beyond the barrier reef, and there was nothing to row for in the lagoon.
She easily broke the rotting lines with which the oars were secured and took them out. They would be useful perhaps in some way. And then after a long look at the boat, and with a feeling that her labor had been mainly wasted, she was about to turn away when the thought struck her that sometimes boats carried the names of the ships to which they belonged on their bows or across their sterns. She had recourse to the shovel once more, and after some deliberation essayed the stern of the boat.
It was not so hard to shovel the sand away from it, and here she did make a discovery, for although the letters had been almost obliterated by the action of the sand, she could still make them out. After some study she decided that the name of the boat, or of the ship to which it had belonged, had been Nansemond, of Norfolk, Virginia. That was the net result of the hard labors of a long morning. It told her something, but not much. Assuming that the man with her was John Revell Charnock, and assuming that he had come to the island in the past on that boat, it indicated that he was at least an American and a Virginian. It identified him, if her suppositions were correct, and whether there was warrant for them or not, instinctively and naturally she concluded that she was right.
Admitting all this, however, it gave her no other clew from which to deduce a history. The testimony of the boat was interesting, that was all. Her first thought was to leave it all where it was, but her second thought was better. With the aid of the stout piece of board which had served her for a shovel, she hammered away at the stern-piece until she broke it off. She saw now that the boat must have lain there in the sand for many years, for the wood was brittle and the fastenings largely destroyed, for the stern-piece came easily away. She laid it aside for a moment, intending to preserve it with the Bible. Heaven knows what dream of future usefulness in the way of evidence establishing identity these might be entered her mind.
Then she threw herself down under the trees and rested. She had left her watch, her precious watch, back in the cave with the book. She did not dare to carry it around with her. She had no way of carrying it in the thin single garment which she wore, but she judged from the height of the sun that it must be noontime. They made their meal off the fruits of the island, this time with a rich and juicy cocoanut added, which the man got for her at her suggestion, in the sign language at which she was becoming expert, by climbing with wonderful agility, apelike agility almost, one of the tall cocoanut palms with which the island abounded. There were fruits of various sorts in great plenty on the island, and she was becoming accustomed to the diet by degrees.
She passed the noon hour in trying to add to the mental equipment of her companion. He could say a number of words now and had some idea of their meaning, although he had not yet attempted to frame sentences, nor had she yet tried to teach him so to do. It was pleasant under the shade of the trees. She found herself marveling at times as to the contentment that possessed her, a product of the civilization of the very end of the age suddenly plunged into this Edenlike existence which her forebears might have enjoyed ten thousand years before.
The hours ran on until the declining sun and the coolness that came with the late afternoon warned her that if she were to continue her explorations, she must be about it immediately. So she rose and, nerving herself to her task, went toward the coppice where lay the ghastly remains of what had been a human being. Forcing herself to the duty, with her knife she carefully cut away the rushes, being particular not to disturb the bones of the skeletons. As before, she did all this in the face of a vigorous remonstrance from the man. In some way, she could not tell how, the place was horrible to him. He would never have come near it evidently of his own will, and although the power of memory in him was but latent, the impression that had been produced upon him by what she found there at some period in his life was strong enough to make him avoid it forever.
She did not ask him for any assistance; indeed, she would not have trusted him with the knife under any circumstances, and he made no attempt to keep close to her. He stood on the outskirts of the coppice in a great state of excitement, uttering without sequence or reason, such words as she had taught him. To him, in this instance, she gave no heed.
Presently she had completely uncovered the two skeletons. She had studied anatomy, but was not a specialist in that department of human learning. She thought that the skeleton before her was that of a woman. She measured its length with a piece of tall grass and compared it with her own. They were both of a size. The soil on which the bones lay was soft and porous. Every vestige of clothing had long since rotted away and disappeared with the flesh it covered. If the person whose bones lay there had worn any articles of gold or silver which, being rustless, would have survived the long exposure, they were probably buried in the earth beneath the bones. She would attend to that later.
Then she looked toward the bones at the feet of the human remains and decided at last that they were the bones of a dog. Across the vertebrae lay a piece of metal. She picked it up, recognizing it instantly as a plate which had probably belonged to a dog-collar. There was an inscription on it which she did not take the trouble at the moment to read. Slipping it into the bosom of her tunic, and making sure that the confining rope would keep it from falling out, she stooped down and gathered the bones of the human being up in her arms, repulsive as the task was, and carried them down to the boat on the beach. She laid them in the bottom of the boat carefully, and then, moved by a sudden impulse, she went back and gathered up those of the dog, which she put in the boat also. It was an easy matter to tumble a few spadefuls of sand over the bones. Then she left them in that rude Viking sepulture, knowing that time would soon refill the empty dinghy, and the bones would be safely buried unless some other investigator should uncover them.
The man had assisted her in no way in this process, but his excitement was very great. While she stood looking down at the little heap of sand which covered all that remained of this forlorn and forgotten visitor to this island, wondering if the fate of that trespasser upon these silent shores would some day be hers, the man suddenly dropped on his knees, as she had seen him do on her first night on the island. He put his hands together and began that mumbled jargon which she had not been able to understand, but which had seemed to her more like language than anything to which he had given vent. She was surprised beyond measure, yet she listened with every faculty on the alert, if possible to comprehend what he might be saying, and presently a familiar sound or two flashed into her mind that he was making use of a prayer which she herself had used in childhood; that, absurd, fantastic, impossible though the conclusion was, he was saying the childish petition:
"Now I lay me down to sleep!"
The first impulse of the woman was to laugh. The next impulse was to take off the palm leaf hat and stand with bowed head and clasped hands.
What marvelous miracle was this that throughout the years which she could no longer doubt this man had been alone on the island, there had survived the one childish habit of prayer, and that the one vestige of language which had remained to him was the language of petition. She did not believe in it, of course. It was absurd to her, but it was none the less wonderful. It filled her with a certain awe. It was as if some power had maintained a hold upon the consciousness of this man in this way. What power?
"Now I lay me down to sleep!" How long it had been since she had said that! She believed nothing, she cared for nothing, but the woman hid her face in her hands for a moment. She clenched her teeth and forced out of her mind that which at that moment was striving for birth. She was to teach this man everything. She was to make him know life and history. She was to bring him in touch with all the glories of to-day, and she recognized in that hour, although she did not and could not admit it, that perhaps he might teach her some thing as well, something that she had not known, or something that she had forgotten, without the knowledge of which all her science was a vain, a foolish, a futile thing.
As she stood there with these thoughts running through her mind, there came back to her recollection those words of Scripture which she had read with such disdain last night, "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God" Was the poet right? Had there been vouchsafed to him revelations greater than those revealed to the microscope of the scientist, the scalpel of the anatomist, the telescope of the astronomer, the pure reason of the philosopher. Was she a fool? Nonsense ----
The little prayer was ended. The man rose to his feet. She took her spade and went back to the place where the bodies had lain, and there began carefully to scrape away the earth, examining scrupulously every shovelful ere she threw it aside. In one place, where the hands had rested, she remembered, her labors were rewarded. She came across two rings, a diamond and a plain circlet of gold. These she placed in her tunic with the collar and continued her digging.
It was growing late and growing dark, but she left no square inch of ground unexplored. She found nothing else. The rings belonged to a woman evidently. Her surmise in that particular was right. There were no other metal parts of her apparel left. The nails in her shoes, the steels of her corset had rusted away and left no sign. There was nothing remaining but the two little baubles pressing against her own warm flesh.
So intent had she been that the sun had gone down before she ceased, and upon the island there descended that quick and sudden night of the tropics.
The wind had risen, the old ocean was thundering on the barrier reef, and a heavy sea breeze was shrieking through the trees. The sky on the horizon was overclouded, and the clouds were rising rapidly. There would be a storm, which was developing with tropic rapidity. Quickly she retraced her steps along the sand toward the cave on the other side, the man following.
They had progressed not more than half the way when the storm burst upon them. Peals of thunder and flashes of lightning filled the air. It was such a display of the Titanic forces of the world as might have appalled the stoutest heart. It filled the woman with a vague terror. She noticed with satisfaction that the man was entirely unmoved by the terrific demonstrations of nature. By the flashes of lightning as they stumbled along in the otherwise total blackness, she could see his face serene. In a moment of apprehension she caught his hand with her own and clung to it tightly. It was the unconscious appeal of the physical weaker to the physical stronger. Her hand had clasped the hands of her fellow creatures many times. Never before had his palm met the palm of human being, much less a woman's. She could feel that tremor run through him, but by instinct as it were, he met her hand clasp with his own, and together they made their way to the cave.
They had scarcely reached it when the rain burst upon them. The heavens were opened, the floods descended, they beat upon the sands in fury. She could not drive him out there in that flood for the night. She motioned him to come within the entrance of the cave, which was sheltered from the wind and which was dry and still. She made him lie down near the entrance, and then withdrawing herself into a recess at the side, she disposed the oars which he had carried home on his shoulder, in front of her, from wall to wall, and lashing them with the rope to her person, made another feeble barrier, but which would yet give the alarm to her and waken her if it were moved. And presently she went to sleep. She was too tired even to speculate on her discoveries, or to piece them together; that would be occupation for the morning.
It rained hard during most of the night. The woman slept lightly, and whenever she woke she could hear outside of her sanctuary the roar of the storm. The man, as usual, slept the long hours through as undisturbed by the commotion as a child. It was apparent to her that he had absolutely no fear. Whether this was due to ignorance or temperament she could not say. Was fear, after all, under the conditions in which his life had been lived, a purely articificial [sic] quality, or was it natural and inherent? He had avoidances, abhorrences, antipathies, as the skeletons in the coppice which she had buried. Was that avoidance fear, or was it something else? Was it instinct, or did it arise from recollection? She rather fancied the last. If so, it was evident that the man had been on the island a long time. It would have taken years for the metal that must have been about that woman's person to rust away, for the steel clasps of the dog's collar entirely to disappear.
Upon that faint memory that he cherished, upon that prayer that he prayed, she could build the foundation of his education. She had been so successful in training him and in restraining him, in influencing him and swaying him so far, that she had abundant confidence in her ability to do so to the end. It was quite evident that life would be easily supportable under the conditions in which it must be lived on that island. She need have no physical concern as to her material well-being or comfort, and here was mental occupation and stimulus which made her for the time being forget the rest of the world.
Indeed, she thought bitterly, as she lay awake during the long watches of the night, that the rest of the world was nothing to her and that she hated it. She therefore not only was becoming resigned to her situation, but was rejoicing in it. She would teach this man all she knew. She would teach him to think, to reflect, to reason. She would teach him to talk. Since she had a book, albeit a sorry one, she would teach him to read.
It was evident that the island was an unknown one. At least no one could have landed upon it from any passing ship since this man had come there. No one could have sailed near enough to it to have espied him. She remembered that on the yacht she had sought for lonely and unfrequented seas, and had gained her wish. The most unhappy people in the world usually are those to whom wishes are granted. She had just escaped that unhappiness because of the presence of this man on the island. And yet when she landed on that island, she had escaped other things, she thought bitterly, infinitely more fraught with horrible and revolting possibilities than anything else that could occur to her or which she could imagine to be held in waiting for her by malign fate. Better this primitive savage than civilization as she had found it. How had her philosophy broken down before she reached that island. How abhorrent to remember had been her only attempt to put it in practice.
She would think of none of these things. She would put them out of her mind as they had gone out of her sight. She was lost to her world, to any world with which she had been familiar. She would create a new world of her own, he and she together. Her thoughts took strange leaps forward in the darkness. He would be hers, the product of her ability. She would teach him. She stopped. Would he teach her? That question came again and again. Like Banquo's ghost, it would not down. She was a woman, and he a man. What were the possibilities of that situation? She belonged to the sex called the weaker, to the sex characterized by dependence. She resented these things as she ever had, and yet she could not blind her eyes to the truth in them. Her resentment against things which ought not to be could in no wise alter conditions. Physically this man was the most perfect of his species. She had an artist's eye for the symmetry and perfection of his proportions. If his brain corresponded, what then? What would he teach her? What did Adam teach Eve, and what did Eve teach Adam?
The names of the ancient myth, the vague personalities associated with it, brought back the book that lay upon the ledge by her side. She reached her hand out in the darkness and laid it upon the volume. How strange that it alone of all the literature that the world held should have been thrown at her feet. In her enlightenment, with her superior knowledge, the book that she disdained from its spiritual side, although she regarded it with a certain amount of interest archeologically, was all she had of the world's writings. Yet she did not take her hand away from that book. Somehow, although she did not reason about it or understand it, possibly even admit it in her heart, certainly she would have denied it had anyone pressed it upon her attention, she took comfort from the mere feel of it under her hand.
"The fool hath said in his heart there is no God!" What a strange saying! In spite of herself she began to reason about it, to explore the sentence, to find out its meaning. What did it signify? That he who denied God was a fool? Certainly that, but anything more? Was there something subtler, deeper, in its content? Did it mean that he who would fain play the fool must begin by denying God? That there could be no ultimate folly so long as a belief in God abided? The saving grace of that mumbled prayer on the sand, uncomprehended, but remembered! What did it all mean? Might there be above this fine human intelligence a Power higher? She would look at that book in the morning.
The rain fell more softly now. Her eyes drooped. She would look at that book again in the morning. The fool had said . . . Who was a fool? . . . What had he said?
She slept again, only to wake and muse once more. She could have slept better had he been outside. How could he lie there in the complete and steeping insensibility of slumber. Her hand fell against her breast. There was the treasure trove of her existence the day before. What would they tell her? She could scarcely wait until morning to look. So she woke and slept and woke and slept until the day broke.
It was bright and sunshiny out, although there were ominous clouds all about the western horizon. It was probable that the rainy season was at hand, if not upon them. She regretted that she had not given more time to the study of nature, to the fauna and flora of the South Seas, to the conditions of wind and weather under which life was lived there. Much philosophy would she gladly have parted with for such practical information. She had to piece her ideas of affairs out from scraps and tags of knowledge, unclassified, incoherent; from vague recollections of childhood stories and romances; from carelessly scanned collections of voyages, books of travel and adventure. The result was unsatisfactory. In some particulars the instinctive man before her was her master. At the things which went to make up physical comfort and well-being in a state of absolute nature he certainly surpassed her.
She was thankful when she walked abroad that she had had the shelter of the cave, for everything was drenched from the terrific downpour. If it was the beginning of the wet season, she knew that the rains would soon come again. Still she luxuriated in what freedom she had. Without removing her single garment she plunged into the lagoon for a refreshing bath. The man followed her and swam about her, moving slowly, with less skill than she, but as easily as a porpoise plunges about the bow of a progressing ship.
Refreshed, she came back to the mouth of the cave and brought thence for a careful inspection all her worldly possessions save the little heap of clothing which she had carefully piled upon the jutting shelf in the shadow of the cave for time of need. She ranged them on the sands before her. There was the Bible, and the little silver box which she had found in the cave. She examined more critically its contents, wondering what they might be, and finally there came into her mind recognition that they were flint and steel! When she wished, she could make a fire. She was happy for the moment in the knowledge, and then the uselessness of the power came across her curiously. What did she want of fire? There was nothing to cook. Its warmth was unnecessary. Still she was glad to have the ancient flame kindlers, and she laid them aside carefully in the box, not knowing when they might be useful, under what circumstances invaluable. At least she might regard them as apparatus which would be helpful in the curriculum through which she meant her savage pupil should pass.
Then there was her watch, which she guarded as the apple of her eye. It was an American watch of the very best make, and although it had gone with her through the waters, such was the workmanship of the case that it had taken no harm. It was ticking away bravely, marking time. She thought that for her time had stopped, and yet she was glad indeed for the almost human sound it made when she laid it lovingly against her cheek.
There were the hairpins, also, for which she was most grateful. They enabled her to keep her hair in order. She had a wealth of glorious hair, black as the midnight sky. With the aid of the mirror and of the comb, which also was a priceless treasure, she arranged it carefully according to the mode which best became her, irrespective quite of the fashion that had prevailed. At least she was free from that tyranny upon the island! Sometimes, when she had finished her toilet, she shot a glance at the watchful man, a human, natural, instinctive glance, but she was able to detect no change in his mental attitude, which was that of such complete and entire adoration, mingled with timidity and hesitation, that no transient change apparently was able to modify it. He looked upon her as he might have looked upon a god, she thought, had he known what a god was and had there been such a thing to look at.
There was also the pair of scissors, together with the little housewife with needles and thread. Mirror, hairpins, scissors, sewing materials, comb -- woman's gear; and the Bible, a woman's book, she reflected with a certain bitterness, unconscious of the truth of her thought, -- a book for children, old women, and women-led men! Well, that philosophy upon which she prided herself must come to her assistance now, and she could not afford to disdain the volume, which was all that the world of many books offered to her for her purpose, because she did not believe in it. The truth was in her, and she could tell him what it was despite the assertions of the printed pages.
In the leather bag there was absolutely nothing except broken glass and scratched bottle tops of silver, and the bag itself was ruined. She separated the pieces of metal and the metal fittings of the bag, which were also of silver, and, filling the rotting leather with sand, she presently sank it in the lagoon.
Last of all she examined what she had brought from the other shore of the island the night before. The silver was tarnished, but by rubbing it in the sand she soon brightened it. It was heavily engraved, and she had no difficulty in making out the words "John Revell Charnock -- His Dog." After that was a date, "July 22, 1875." John Revell Charnock, then, would be twenty-one years old, assuming that this was he and that the dog had been given him when he was born. It was more probable, however, that he was from three to five years old before he became the owner of a dog, which would make him about twenty-five.
The man before her looked younger to her scrutiny than that. Care and trouble had passed him by. With nothing to vex him he might have been any age. He would probably look just as he was for twenty years or more. Still fancifully adjusting external relations to internal relations, which, after all, she realized was the secret of life according to her favorite philosopher, she concluded that the man was twenty-five, three years older than she at that moment, a proper difference in their ages for . . . Her face flamed. . . . She scarcely knew why, and she turned to an inspection of the rings.
The first was a diamond, a solitaire, of large size and of rare beauty, she judged. Although she was not especially expert in such matters, she deemed it must be of great value. There was no inscription of any sort within the narrow hoop of gold, although she searched keenly the inner surface. The diamond was curiously set. There was an exquisite tracery of a little coat of arms on either side of the setting, done in miniature, but with a skill to marvel at, yet too small even for her brilliant vision to decipher in detail.
The other she recognized with a sneer as one of those fetters of convention, a wedding ring. It was a heavier hoop of gold, much engraved within. She washed it in the stream and rubbed it in the sand until she could make it out. "J. R. C.," she read, "to M. P. T." There was a date after, "September 10, 1869," and then these cabalistic words, "II Cor. xii-15," which she presently divined to be a reference to some text in the Bible, fit source from which to select the "posy of a ring," agreeable to those who submit to such ancient follies as the well-named bonds of matrimony.
She reached for the Bible and with unfamiliar fingers searched through it until she found the place.
"I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved
The beauty of the phrase caught her fancy. She read with a strange new interest the chapter in which these words were enshrined. The touch of human passion came to her across the long years, and with the ring sparkling in her own white hand she embodied its tradition in personality, and the woman who had been so loved stood before her. Her eyes fell again upon the man, and the dream was broken.
She pieced together now all that she had of him, smiling as she did so at the thought of certain strange stories she had read wherein men of marvelous deductive powers had brought to solution problems which appeared as impossible of detection as this presented to her.
John Revell Charnock, evidently the father of the man of the island, had married one M. P. T. on the 10th of September, 1869. Perhaps within a year afterward this John Revell Charnock, assuming him, as was likely, to have borne his father's name, was born. Charnock was an old English name. The best English stock in the United States was of Massachusetts and Virginia. The stern-piece of the boat bore the name of a Virginia river and of a Virginia town. The man before her was a Virginian, therefore. Say he was born in 1871; it would make him twenty-five years old, in accordance with her first guess. The father and mother, possibly ruined by the results of the Civil War, had embarked on some vessel to seek fortune in a new land. Some thing had happened to the ship, and the woman, the little boy, and the dog had landed in some way upon these shores alone after some horrible voyage, perhaps like that she had passed through. The boy must have been five or six years old, else he would have died, being deserted. The woman had indeed died, and the dog with her, and left the lad alone. Alone he had been for a score of years on that island. What watchful Providence! . . . Stop! She believed in no Providence. What strange, mysterious fate had kept him from the end of the other two, had preserved him alive . . . for her?
So she wove a history out of her treasure trove for this man, a history which at least satisfied her and which, the more she reasoned about it and the more she tested it, seemed absolutely adequate and entirely correct. Well, she had opportunity now, and she was glad. She faced the future calmly, recognizing her chance and her work, and set about with systematic method, order, and persistence to teach this man what it was to be a human being, to give him, as rapidly as she might communicate it and as he might receive it, all the learning she possessed; to compensate him, with no further delay, for those twenty years of silence.
Was it for this she had been trained and educated at great cost of time and money and effort? That she, being a woman, should give it all to this one man without money and without price?
BOOK II -- THE SHIELD
True philosophy is ascetic. It may best be practised under conditions in which the material is in abeyance. It exalts the spiritual. It is distinguished by indifference to environment. There is nothing so fatal to its profession as extravagance. Frugality is to the philosopher what modesty is to a woman the essential thing without which it and she cease to be of value.
The atmosphere into which Katharine Brenton was suddenly plunged by her bold step was the very antithesis of all these requirements. It was unhealthful, and, like unhealthful airs, it bred disaster. She had been trained to independence of conditions, to disregard of circumstances, as well as to disdain of restraint; but there was that within her surroundings which, from her first experience of them, she felt instinctively to be vitiating, which tended to deprave, which precluded the exercise of clear, uninfluenced mentality. Especially in her case was this true since the luxury with which she had been surrounded appealed so subtly to the preponderant and, it must be admitted, immortal feminine in her composition. Sex distinction, sex difference, was the one thing against which she fought. Sex equality was the supreme good to be desired in her scheme of right relationships between the individual and the universe. Whiles she rebelled against her sex, whiles she rejoiced in it. Glad was she sometimes on that very account that to her was given the opportunity to prove her superiority to the limitations, disabilities, and man-made trammels of womankind.
Born of two fanatics on the same subject, whose insanity was modified and mollified by brilliancy of intellect in every other field of investigation and experiment, Katharine Brenton had been trained to the hour for her profession, for the exploitation of her principles. The greatest of universities pointed to her with peculiar pride as one of the children of the free; free from everything in thought, and determined to be free from everything in action. Much was expected from her, and the world was not disappointed at the first result of her mental labor. There were certain old-fashioned people who deplored the perversion of so much talent, and even genius, to the defense of error, but these did not count. The world bought her book in thousands, read it avidly, and regarded it as the last word of the last woman of the end of the age on the sex problem. Cleverly disguising her philosophy in the form of fiction, with one bound she had leaped to the fore front of all the writers struggling for recognition. Publishers sought her. Magazines pursued her. An other book took shape in her mind.
Singularly enough, her education and the erratic bent of her mind had left her primarily quite unspoiled. She was the product not merely of her age, her environment, her parents, but of a long generation of people to whom her thoughts would have been as abhorrent as her person was agreeable. The unconscious Christianity which surrounds the world, and especially the world of woman, kept her pure and sweet and lovable these In spite of, not because of, her perverse and perverted philosophy. Though she defied convention in its spirit, she was naturally subject to it in its exercise. For instance, to her the marriage bond was indeed a bond, the marriage vow a confession of weakness on the part of the woman at least and the marriage relation an acknowledgment of inferiority again on the part of the woman. She would have none of these things in her life. Yet, as she thought, she had given her heart to a man alas, the submission to the eternal law! and although their relationship was sanctioned by nothing but their affection, it was to her as pure and as holy a thing as if the contract had been witnessed and blest by a thousand priests. What was it to him? She counted without the other sex. Many other women, unfortunately, have done the same.
Not content with the writing of books, her intense devotion to her cause, coupled with her unflagging energy, had found vent upon the lecture platform. The curious crowded to hear her, at once so bold, so radical, so beautiful, and so innocent. One of her first converts had been the only son of a multi millionaire, bygone bonanza king of the Pacific slope. His conversion was not so much an effort of pure reason as of primal passion, although that fact was in no wise apparent to her. She would find that out later. This modern Hypatia, skilled in the learning of the schools, burning with exhaustless zeal, permeated with fiery energy, was yet as innocent in some ways as any of her humbler sisters. As that good Book which she disdained in the newer illuminations which had come to her might have said of her, she was in the world, but not of it.
Unconsciously she fulfilled many injunctions of Him who, had she but known it, was the greatest of philosophers. Naturally she kept herself unspotted from the world. Yet when the young man who had engaged her affections proposed to her that they should put her theories in practice, after some hesitation she had acceded to his proposition. It was a species of self-immolation not far from heroism that made her consent. Indeed, she did not realize how heroic it was. With no other ceremony than a clasp of the hand and an unspoken, wordless promise of trust, devotion, single-hearted alliance, publicly and before God and man, without a thought for the one and with no full realization of the thoughts of the other at least on her part they had gone away together, hand in hand, he and she together, in love like any other pair since Eve mated with Adam in the dawn of the world's first morning.
Yet there has never been an Eden of which man has known without its serpent. In the cabin of that gorgeous yacht, Sathanas reared his head. The first week or so of the adventure had been filled with idyllic happiness, happiness so great that it was strong enough to quiet certain low, still, small voices of conscience which the woman rightly ascribed to a strange atavism of ancient prejudice to which her philosophy was as yet unequal.
However, such conditions did not long persist. Her disciple was inclined, presently she found to her sorrow, to take a somewhat lower view of the situation than suited her own high-souled views. The ardor of her devotee cooled as his passion increased. Shut up in the narrow confines of a ship -- great and splendid though this yacht was beyond imagination -- little characteristics, heretofore unsuspected, developed in the mere man. The course of true love was not so smooth as the summer seas over which they sailed. The air in which they lived was ruffled by flurries in which experience would have found presage of coming deeper storm. The image that had feet of clay sought for similar earthly alloy in the companion image which was made of pure gold all through, and finding it not, resented it desperately. The convert, having gained his desire, weakened in his principles. There was no relaxation in his devotion, in his tenderness, in anything outward and visible, but the high philosophy which had made the joint effort almost a self-sacrifice of demonstration was slowly vanishing from one heart while the other clung the more tenaciously to it.
It was the old, old story. In a little time the cats-paw developed into the tempest. When it appeared it came with surprising swiftness. The woman found that in neither abstract thought nor mental speculation was there any protection for her. There might be no God in heaven, but there was a conscience in her breast. Finally she broke away from the man so far as she could do so when they were both in the same ship of which he was lord and master. She would have nothing more to do with him save that which common decency and the bare civilities of life demanded of her. Denied the privileges upon which he had counted, the man grew savage and showed the cloven foot. The disagreement became a quarrel. The quarrel ran through several phases. Ashamed of himself, he had recanted at first. Then he had sworn again allegiance to the specious philosophy which she now realized he had only professed, consciously or unconsciously, that he might possess her. But she was not deceived. There was no truth in his words; his asseverations carried no conviction to her soul. Again he stormed and raged; once more he apologized and appealed, but the periods of calm grew shorter and the periods of storm grew longer and more vehement. The woman alone was steadfast. She was overwhelmed with shame, the horror of the situation was rising upon her.
She began to realize how helpless she was. Under, the inspiration of a belief which was as honest as it was mistaken, she had put herself in the power of this man. Even if she were ashore, there would be no one to whom she could appeal, and here on the ship she was helpless. Lingering remains of better things had kept him from the last resort of the tyrant force! but how long these would be operative in restraint, she could not tell. She fancied not for long. What should she do then?
She saw the end coming when in his anger he resorted to drink, to drink which exploded the last vestige of his philosophy, however he had professed it. She was frightened beyond measure when she realized the depths to which he had sunk and to which, in spite of herself, he had dragged her. What further descent was before her? She did not even yet abandon that philosophy which had served her so ill. She clung to that with the more tenacious pride because of its very weakness, but she loathed mankind. On that yacht he summed up for her the whole human race, and she hated him and it. To what sorry pass had a few weeks practical experience reduced her? In the last analysis she felt that she could die. Suicide was always possible. Rather than endure further pollution, what she now characterized as the degradation of his touch, she could slip overboard into the blue depths whose calm was so attractive to her storm-torn soul.
Yet, in spite of the loathing with which she regarded herself for having been so foolish, so swayed by human feeling to which she had believed herself superior, as to be blinded to the real character of the man with whom she had so defiantly gone away in the full light of day, she still loved life. She protested in her soul that a single mistake should not blight her career; the decision of a moment should not be allowed to settle the affairs of a lifetime. She could repair her awful blunder and take up her life again, she thought fatuously, if she could only get away.
There was another thing that made her cling to existence. Suicide would be a confession of failure. She would not admit to herself that she had failed. She would not allow the world, which had stood at her feet with acclaim, to point, as it would do with the same zest, the finger of scorn at her. She must live. She had work to do. If she could only get away!
Her affection for this man, which had been largely maternal, experimental, inquisitorial, which had been begot of the martyr spirit in which she had resolved to show humanity that she could despise convention when it was wrong and live, was gone. She despised him and she pitied him. There yet remained one completing feeling which she would presently entertain for him, and when that found lodgment in her bosom, action would become imperative.
She had said, as they took their departure through the Golden Gate of vain, fond dreams that she wanted to go to unknown seas, when he had asked, on that never-to-be-forgotten night when they had left civilization behind, what was her pleasure. She felt somehow a sympathy for the unknown sea when adventuring upon such a course, and the yacht, provisioned for a long cruise, had steamed steadily to the southwest through the great Pacific. They had long since passed the line and were in strange and unfrequented waters. The navigating officer had told her that at any time they might expect to run across unknown, unvisited islands, from the exploration of which, when she started out with such rosy hopes, she had promised herself much pleasure. Now she desired only civilization, base, ignoble, restrained, thwarted, dwarfed, hideous civilization. As it was, she longed to be free of a presence even, not realizing that at least she could never be free from a recollection. She longed to stand before her kind and tell them how she despised them, perhaps lead some of them to better ways, warn some others from follies and trusts which had betrayed her; to be a philosopher once more, and not merely a stricken woman.
She had begged and pleaded with him to alter the yacht's course, but he had sworn he would go farther South into those unknown seas, and keep her there until she crawled to his feet. So the long hours dragged on. The inevitable rupture drew nearer. At last it came. In its details it was horrible, but there was in it a great relief after all.
One night at dinner she had fled from him. He had been drinking more heavily than usual and was in an ugly mood. His handsome face was flushed, a savage frown overspread his brow. He had risen during the meal and with a coarse endearment had at tempted to lay hands upon her at last! She had broken away and darted into the nearest cabin, which happened to be his own. She had closed the door and turned the key against him before he realized what she was about. She stood within the little room panting, enraged, fearful, yet ready to defend her all, and almost glad the crisis had arrived. She could hear his drunken laugh outside the door.
"Why, you little fool!" he cried, "do you think I can't break that lock down in a moment? The ship's mine, every man on it's mine. I pay 'em. They do my bidding. I have you where I want you, and I can have you again as before when I please; now or later."
Was it true? Could she appeal to the men? But what could she say? Although the world knew there was no binding tie between them, to the officers and men of the yacht she was his wife. They would not interfere. And if she declared the truth, she would put herself beyond the pale of their sympathies. Being merely stupid men with conventional ideas about propriety, in that event they would be less apt to interfere than ever. It was true she could do nothing. She sank down on a transom, clenching her hands. She could hear him outside chuckling to himself and, by the clink of bottle and glass, evidently drinking deeper. She feared him desperately when he was in his cups. Then he was another man, losing all resemblance to the being for whom she had fatuously thought she cared. Therefore she would wait until he drank himself into insensibility, as he had once or twice, or went up on deck, and then she would go out and go to her own cabin, although it would merely mean changing from one prison to another. What could she do by temporizing any way, temporizing and warding off as best she might until she was face to face with the final decision, death or compliance, freedom in the beyond whose existence was so vague and indefinite to her, or a slavery so base that any thing were preferable to it.
As she sat, her eyes fell on a chest of drawers screwed against the bulkhead. The top contained various toilet articles of silver. Among them was a picture, the picture of a woman. It was not her picture. Moved by what impulse she did not stop to analyze, she rose and picked it up. The face she looked at was ineffably vulgar and common.
Across the bottom was written in a scrawly, unformed hand, "Your devoted wife." There was a date several years before that hour. Your devoted wife! She had been in that stateroom before; she had never seen that picture. He had only brought it out since the rupture between them.
And so while entering into this relationship with her, in compliance with principles and ideas which she at least regarded as sacred and holy, he had not been a free man. There was another woman to whom he had been bound. Oh, not by the marriage tie that she disdained, but by the honor which was supposed to exist among thieves, and which certainly should exist among philosophers. And such a woman! A cold fury filled her mind as she looked at the picture. The last completing touch had been given. To contempt and pity for him was added hatred. The combination transformed her. In stead of avoiding, she would seek him.
He was still in the cabin. She could hear him muttering thickly to himself. Impulsively she stepped to the door, turned the key in the lock, threw it open and entered the brilliantly lighted, luxurious cabin. He had dismissed the stewards some time since with orders not to reappear unless he summoned them, and they were alone. There was no likelihood of any interruptions whatsoever. The man, who was leaning back in his chair, bent forward when she opened the door. He laughed viciously.
If she had reflected, she would have marveled at the change that a few weeks had wrought in one whom she had hitherto deemed worthy of her affection, but she had eyes and thought for nothing except the business in hand.
"So you've come out, have you?" he stammered triumphantly. "Come of your own free will? You've found out, have you, that I am master, and you are coming to heel?"
He whistled to her derisively, whistled as if to a dog!
"Who is this?" asked the woman in a voice care fully suppressed, yet which shook with wrath.
She held the photograph in its heavy silver frame up before him.
"That's my wife," he said equably, with no surprise or consternation. "We haven't lived together for some years," he went on with drunken good nature, "or I'd take you back to San Francisco and introduce you to her."
"Your wife!" exclaimed the woman in that same low, tense voice. "Then what am I?"
"My mistress," said the man bluntly, throwing the last shred of concealment and decency to the winds, "and a damned obstreperous one at that," he went on.
Now, the woman believed in no Providence, but a trick got from her ancestry wrung the words from her lips.
"My God! My God!" she whispered.
"You haven't any," sneered the man. " You told me so yourself." He laughed. "And I believed you. I would have believed anything to get you."
Well, there was no God the woman realized, but she would be her own god. Her body shrank together a little, her hands clenched. The feline was uppermost. She could have sprung upon him, but she waited, waited for she knew not what.
"Whom the gods destroy," ran the ancient phrase, "they first make mad."
He rushed to his doom with blind folly.
" You needn't be jealous of her, my dear," he mumbled on. "I used to think I loved her, and we were married. Damned foolishness, as you might say. She can't hold a candle to you, even if you are a little touched," he tapped his forehead impudently " in the upper story."
And this man, this degraded thing, regarded her as a mad woman. There might be no God, but there was a devil, and he stood before her. There might be no heaven, but there was a hell, and she was in it.
"On second thought," he rambled on, " I couldn't introduce you to her. You aren't respectable, and she is."
He stopped and poured himself another drink.
"Respectable!" he laughed. "To hell with respectability. We know a better thing than that! 'Soul to soul, heart to heart, the union of equals without the trammels of conventional bonds for weaker beings.' Yes, that's what you said."
And she recognized with horror that he was quoting her own words.
"But it doesn't go, you see. It's all very well in theory, but it doesn't work out in practice. The world's got some ideas of its own. It's been holding 'em for a good many thousands of years, and you can't change 'em. You belong to me now. To hell with your equality! You are nothing more nor less than my property and, mark you," he reached out a trembling finger and shook it at her "your salvation is with me. If I cast you off, you go into the gutter."
She wondered vaguely how much more of this she could stand and live.
"But don't be afraid," he went on with a drunken attempt at reassurance, "you are too fine and too handsome, even if you are cracked, for that . . . yet. I'm glad to see you've come to your senses."
He rose heavily as he spoke and felt his way around the table hand over hand. He approached her. She let him do it. She shrank a little closer together, every muscle tense for action. She was no longer a woman; she was a human tigress, and her philosophy was gone. He was too drunk to see it, too incapacitated to take warning.
"That's right," he continued as he lurched nearer to her. "Stay right there. I'm coming to you as fast as I can, and when I get close to you, we'll kiss, and . . ."
He was by her side now. He straightened himself up with a spasmodic effort, released his hold on the table, and stretched out his arms toward her. And then she sprang at him. How she did it she could never tell, but in some way her outstretched arms, grasping for his throat, struck him in the breast. Unsteady on his feet, he went down as if he had been shot. Such was the violence of his fall that the momentum carried her with him. She fell upon him with all her force. His head went back and struck the deck with a frightful crash. She herself was almost stunned by the violence of her own fall, although his body broke it.
She arose and stood over him for a minute, and then in her frenzy she lifted her foot and brought it down upon him. He had said she was a mad woman, and it was true. She was crazed by what she had heard, by the horror of the situation. She had not changed her dress for dinner that afternoon. She was wearing a pair of light boating shoes. It was lucky for him. If she had worn evening slippers with high, rigid heels, she would have torn his face beyond recognition. As it was, she left horrible marks upon it. He lay absolutely motionless. She could see that he was yet breathing and was not dead. If she had had a weapon, she might have killed him in the fury and transport of her rage. This wretched, wretched philosopher! As no resistance came from him, she presently stopped, the feminine in her slowly rising to the fore.
She realized now that the irrevocable had happened; that there was no longer room for two of them on that ship. As the mists of passion cleared away, although the fire of rage still burned in her heart, her mind cleared also. She thought with such rapidity as she had never thought before.
First she picked up a cloak, threw it about her and went on deck. A cabin steward was standing at the companion-way, as was always the case, waiting a possible summons. She told him that his master was ill and did not desire to be disturbed. He did not even want the dinner things cleared away. He wanted to be left entirely alone until morning. The servant smiled slightly, she thought, in the light from the cabin skylight. She noticed that it was a moonless night, cloudy, overcast, for she could see no stars. She knew what that smile meant; that the man realized what sort of sickness his owner and master was liable to. She bade him tell the officer of the deck her message, and then dismissed him.
Then she returned to the cabin and carefully locked the door. She glanced at the man as she did so. He lay just as he had lain before. She bent over him. He was still breathing, she noted with was it regret? But she wasted no time over him. Time was the most precious of all things to her at that moment.
She had a clear and definite plan of action. She knew exactly what she intended to do and how she intended to do it. Fortunately the means of escape were at hand. They had passed one or two tiny islands during the day, mere treeless spots of sand or coral in the vast of the ocean, but prospects that others more inviting might be raised had caused the man to order the power tender to be got overboard. This was a good, substantial boat, fifteen feet in length, broad-beamed and built for heavy seas, yet powerfully engined and capable of good speed. By his direction the tanks had been filled and everything overhauled so that it would be in readiness for use. The sea was very calm and the gentle air scarcely raised a ripple on its surface. To save the trouble of hoisting it aboard again the tender had been left trailing astern at the end of a long line. It would be ready for instant use. She would escape in that. She knew how to run the motor and how to steer the boat. She had done it many a time.
Carrying her heavy boat cloak, she entered her cabin, hastily packed her bag with what things she fancied she would need, returned to the table, took from it every scrap that was edible and portable, without much regard for the niceties in her hurry. She made it up in a heavy parcel which she tied with napkins. She remembered that the water tank in the launch had been filled, so that for a time at least she would lack nothing. Carrying bag and bundle in her hands and with the boat cloak over her arm and a straw hat tied on her head, after one long look at the man, she turned and went aft and re-entered the starboard after stateroom, her own.
The boat's painter had been affixed to the starboard side of the yacht. She opened the stern window and looked out. She leaned far out and by great good fortune in the darkness caught the painter. The boat, of course, was swinging to a long scope. She pulled at this line cautiously, although the effort taxed her strength to the utmost. Indeed, she seemed possessed of a fictitious strength for the time being, else she never could have accomplished her hard task. But she managed to get the boat practically under the overhang at last. She fastened the painter to her bed, which was of brass and securely screwed to the floor. Then she cut off the line and tied the bundle of provisions and her bag and the cloak to the end of it. These she carefully lowered into the boat. Among the pretty articles that she had picked up on the cruise was a sharp sailor's sheath knife fastened to a lanyard. She slipped this lanyard around her neck and thrust the knife into her blouse. Then she climbed up on the port sill and essayed the dangerous descent herself. She was glad that she was a strong, athletic woman, used to trusting to her own skill and powers, for it was no easy task to slide down that rope and get into a boat trailing along beneath the counter of a yacht going perhaps twelve knots an hour. Fortunately the motor was well aft and the bow of the launch was high out of the water, else her weight would have pressed it down and the back wash from the yacht would perhaps have swamped the launch.
At any rate, she succeeded, although after she got her foot in the bows she slipped and fell. But that she fell straight aft upon the cloak and bundles, she would have hurt herself severely. If she had not fallen that way, if she had pitched to the right or left, she would have gone overboard, and that would have been the end, for she knew that she would have died rather than appeal to that ship for help. She was fearful that the noise of her fall might have attracted the attention of someone on the deck, but the poop of the yacht was usually deserted at night and it was unlikely that anyone would be up there.
Scrambling to her feet, she drew her knife and severed the taut rope that held the launch to the yacht. It parted instantly. She was whirled backwards and sideways with a suddenness that again almost threw her out of the boat. For one agonizing moment the launch lay full in the broad beam of light that proceeded from the bright cabin window she had left. For one agonizing moment of suspense she hung there, and then the swirl of the wave carried her into the darkness.
She lay directly in the wake of the yacht, and the launch was pitched up and down by the waves made by the rapidly moving ship with a violence of motion that was sickening. There were a pair of oars in the boat, but she did not break them out. She just drew herself down in the stern sheets and lay there waiting. She knew that the clatter of the motor could be heard a long distance in so still a night and over so still a sea, and, therefore, although her impulse was to start it at once, she restrained herself and waited, watching the yacht rapidly draw away. She could mark her course easily by the light from that cabin window. Her ear was keen and she listened until she could no longer detect the beat and throb of the steamer's engines. Then she rose and started the motor.
The boat was provided with a compass, and although she could see no star, she was able to set a course which was directly at right angles to the course of the yacht. She realized, or at least she thought so, that she would be pursued. She believed that the yacht would retrace its course. She decided that those aboard her would reason that she would endeavor to put as much distance as possible between herself and the yacht, and therefore she would sail straight away from it. Consequently, she went broad off to starboard at right angles to the other course. The gasoline tanks were both full. Inasmuch as the boat had been designed for extended cruising in shallow waters, there was enough fuel to keep the motor going for over thirty hours at full speed. The motor was capable of developing at least ten knots per hour. By the same time tomorrow night she would be two hundred and forty miles away from the present spot. The yacht was going twelve knots an hour. Her escape would probably not be discovered for ten hours. By that time the yacht would be a hundred and twenty miles away. They would be a hundred and fifty miles apart by morning, measured on the hypotenuse, and by night who could tell? At any rate, she had now done all that she could.
Her condition was desperate; her prospects gloomy beyond expression. She was alone in a small power boat which would be helpless, the sport of wind and waves after perhaps thirty hours. That boat was alone in the great expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Somewhere about there were islands probably. Indeed, on the charts those seas were dotted with points of land, but they were small, inconsiderable, uninhabited, unknown. In that little boat she might pass close by many of them without seeing them. She had provisions, such as they were, and water sufficient perhaps for a week or ten days. After that, unless she landed som[e]where, she would drift on until she starved and died. If a storm came, the launch probably would not survive it. Her chances of escape in any event were worse than problematical. The end was almost certain.
But she was happy. The first real ray of happiness which had entered her soul since the beginning of the great awakening, which had culminated in the frightful scene of the night, illumined her being. As she sat in the stern sheets, her hand on the steering wheel, listening to the steady drumming of the motor, seeing the black water broken into foam by the boat's bows flash by her, keeping the launch steady on her course by the aid of the compass needle, her eyes turned ever and anon to the fast-diminishing point of light which marked the rapidly disappearing yacht, and she realized that she was free. She had hurled out of her path -- and how she exulted in her own prowess; it was some thing of a salve to her soul for the wretched humil iations which had been heaped upon it -- she had hurled out of her path and stricken down, as any other animal might have done, him who had brought her to this awful pass. She was away from him, free from him. She was once more, so far as wind and wave allowed, the master of her fate, the mistress of her destiny.
She was glad in her heart, too, that there were to be no physical consequences from her brief alliance. She did not realize that there were to be other consequences which not even all the waters of the seas over which she floated could wash out. There was a strange elation in her soul. She felt as if in some way she had vindicated her right to be. There was something yet in her philosophy, and, did opportunity serve, could she get free from the dangers that encompassed her, she vowed that she would prove it.
All night long she stayed awake, keeping the launch to her course. When morning broke she was absolutely alone upon the ocean. Standing erect upon a seat, from her low vantage point she could see nothing but smoothly undulating sea. She breakfasted sparingly from her scanty store, and resumed her post at the wheel. She was tired and sleepy, but while the little engine was alive she could not leave it to its own devices. She must hold on her chosen course so long as the motive power remained. She could not lose a moment while that motor throbbed and beat. She must be alive with it. There would be time to sleep when it was exhausted. She must put many leagues between her and pursuit by holding the direct course as long as was possible.
And so she sat there grimly, hands clutching the wheel, through the long day and through the longer night and well into the following morning. It must have been half-past ten on the morning of the second day before the motor stopped. The silence, after the ceaseless drumming of a night, a long day, a longer night, and a still longer morning, struck her with the same strange sense of shock. She calculated that the motor had been running for thirty-eight hours, and that she had gone three hundred and eighty miles at least on her course. She had seen nothing whatever of the yacht. The chances that it would pick her up, even if it came about and cruised for her, a lonely speck in the ocean, were millions to nothing. At any rate, she had done all she could. Her philosophy for once stood her in good stead. There was nothing more to be done. She was dead for want of sleep. The sky had been slightly overcast since she had left the yacht, but there had been no storm, and weather conditions looked just as they had and seemed to be permanent. Taking the precaution to examine the gasoline tanks and finding that indeed they had been drained of the last drop, she carefully closed and locked them, thereby assuring her salvation, and spreading the boat cloak in the stern sheets with her bag for a pillow and her straw hat tied over her face to shield it from the sun, she instantly dropped to sleep.
Day was just breaking again when the woman awoke. Reference to her watch, which she had taken the precaution to wind just before she retired, disclosed the fact that it was four o'clock in the morning. She had slept unbrokenly since eleven o'clock the morning before. Her sleep had been a stupor of utter and complete exhaustion. Added to the tremendous physical strain of keeping awake and attending to the duty to which she had enforced herself, had been the further strain of the terrible events on the night in which she left the yacht, and the apprehension of pursuit, which had been continually with her. Her first motion indeed was to rise to her feet and scan the horizon. With relief indescribable her scrutiny discovered nothing. She was still alone. Neither the yacht nor any other vessel nor any smallest speck of land was silhouetted against the circling skyline.
In her satisfaction she did not stop to think what her loneliness, her failure to sight land or ship, might mean. These possibilities were all obscured by the thrill of rapture which came again to her as she thought once more that she was away and still free. If her life were drawing to a close, if its hours were numbered, at least she could spend those that remained to her in the undisturbed enjoyment of her own philosophy. She had not put curiosity out of her constitution, and, being a woman, she wondered where the yacht was, what was happening, whether the man were alive or dead. The altruistic side of her nature was in abeyance. At the thought of him she locked her teeth and wished the worst. Her desire was that he might suffer as he had made her suffer. She shrank from the thought of his touch. He had robbed her of her ideal, of her trust, of her faith, of a large part of her self-confidence, of her belief in her own teaching. She would have to struggle to get these back. Alas, he had robbed her of more than that, and the extent of her loss, being what she was, thinking as she thought, she could not yet realize, although there was a sub-consciousness of it beneath her other cogitations. She fought it down and drove it away, but it came back again and again.
What had she taken from him in exchange for what he had taken from her? she asked, and the answer was, nothing. Under the spell of her beauty and her charm, he had assumed, whether deliberately or otherwise, virtues that he did not possess, opinions which he did not believe. He had no illusions about the matter, and had not been bereft of a single hope or aspiration. And yet she was woman enough, while she raged at the thought of his possession of her, to realize that his failure to hold her might mean a great deal to that lower nature which had so completely in a few weeks got the ascendency of the man whom she had fancied that she loved.
Her whole thought of him now was concentrated into intense and bitter loathing in which, in part at least, she included herself. It showed the strength and constancy of her feelings, the intensity of her conviction, that what she had been taught and what she had taught others was the truth, that all of her philosophy was not blown out into the Pacific by the wind of those terribly adverse circumstances.
She sat in the boat musing a long time and then woke to the fact that she was hungry. Again she satisfied her appetite sparingly from her scanty and rapidly diminishing store of food and drink, and then, putting the past resolutely behind her, hoping and perhaps fancying by some exercise of her will power finally she could put it behind her forever, she gave serious thought to her condition.
Life was still sweet to her, the future still presented possibilities to her inexperienced mind, and she had no intention of giving up the one and abandoning hope of the other without a struggle. In the first place, she had only the vaguest idea of where she was somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean. Latitude and longitude were alike unknown to her. In the first two or three weeks of the cruise, when the relation between the two had been altogether lovely, she had taken deep interest in the daily run. She had followed the course of the yacht day by day, and had seen her position plotted on the various charts of the South Seas, but in the last two or three weeks in her despair she had paid no attention to anything but her misfortune, and she had not now the slightest idea of her whereabouts, save that she was far south of the equator in as unknown waters as there were on the globe. She did remember having heard that there were islands in plenty in these waters, and she recalled having passed several in the yacht, but where they were and what they were she did not know. There was absolutely nothing in the boat which would give her any clew. She wished now that she had not been so precipitate in her flight; that the shuddering abhorrence which filled her soul at the sight of the man had not so moved her that her only thought had been to get away, and she barely had presence of mind to bring what she had in the boat with her. For she remembered that there were books on the South Seas in the yacht library, and some of them contained maps and much other information.
There was no use repining over the fact that she did not have them, however; nor was there any use in repining over her total ignorance of her where abouts. She realized at last that she was in the hands -- another would have said of God; she said of chance. The fact that she was so helpless; that all her learning and all her training, and all her skill and all her power were of no avail, made the situation the more galling. Was there nothing that she could do? She reflected deeply, and as she did so the breeze sprang up. She judged that the period during which she had slept had been calm and still. Any violent rocking of the boat would have awakened her. Indeed, she felt bitterly cramped and stiff from having lain so long on the hard floor, which only the boat cloak, thick and heavy, made a tolerable bed.
The coming of the breeze stimulated her imagination. It was a gentle breeze. She noticed that it blew from the direction whence she had come by her compass course. If she only had a sail of some kind, the boat would be driven along. She must move somewhere. She had heard of ocean currents and drift, but she doubted whether the boat was moving, at least sufficiently fast or in any definite direction to make any difference. Unless she got somewhere, she would slowly starve and die just where she was. She stepped forward in the boat and examined the oars. There was a sort of a deck forward over the gasoline tanks. She thought that she might make shift with the remains of the painter, of which she had a good length, to fasten one of the oars in an upright position against this deck. There were bolts and rings of various sorts on this forecastle. She could step the handle of the oar between cleats or ribs at the bottom. At least she would try.
Her training had not been manual, but she was bright enough to supplement her lack of skill, and after some hours of hard work she actually got one oar in an upright position and securely lashed. Out of the heavy cloak -- more a huge circular than anything else -- she improvised a sail with the other oar as a boom thrust across the boat between the mast and the little forward deck. The coat had been heavily braided. She ripped the silk braid from the edge, cut off the hood of the cloak, and managed a triangular sail laced by the silk braid to mast and boom.
The boom was immobile, and the only way she could sail was straight before the wind. If the wind shifted, she would shift with it. She had some slight control over the vessel with the helm, but that was all. It was noon when she finished her labors, but she was more than satisfied with what she had accomplished, for the cloak was big enough to give an appreciable way to the boat. She guessed it might be three or four knots an hour. That would be nearly a hundred miles a day. She could eke out her provisions and water for five or six days longer, and she could go without for two or three days after the last drop and morsel had vanished. Perhaps she might run down a habitable island in that time. Possibly, although this possibility was more faint than the other, she might be seen by some vessel and picked up. At any rate, all she could do was now done. She felt better, too, because she had made a human contribution to the determination of her fate. She was no longer absolutely at the play of chance or God!
For five days she sailed steadily on, the breeze remaining even and holding unvaryingly true for that period. She learned the trick of lashing the wheel at night, and so was able to take as much rest as her tired, worn, and racked body permitted in the confinement of the little boat.
She had abundance of time for thought. Time was when she had reveled in such opportunities, but there was less enjoyment in the chances afforded her now. That she who had lived in the high realms of speculation should suddenly become a woman of action, fighting for life, struck her as a strange thing. Insensibly the conditions of her present existence modified her philosophy. It seemed different, a smaller thing. She was less sure and less confident of herself alone in the great immensity than in the crowded city. There were no applauding thousands. She breathed no air of adulation. She was alone with her soul.
The man who is thus alone is always face to face with God, though his eyes may be holden so that he cannot see the divine. It was so with this woman. Never had she so craved other companionship. She would have been happy if she could have believed that there was a God, for had there been a God she would not have felt so deserted. So she fought on against her soul and her circumstances a losing battle.
The sixth day opened dark and gloomy. The wind had risen during the night. The day broke heavily overcast. Even to her inexperience she could realize that a storm was at hand. She had seen nothing during the period; that is, nothing of which she could avail herself. Twice, once to the starboard and another time to port, she had passed low-lying islands, dim on the horizon. She had no way of checking the boat or of changing its course to run down either of them. She had to go on just as she was. She realized that she could never land unless she were driven directly upon some island that might lie in her course. She knew, too, that the chances that might happen were very remote. She had daily diminished the portion of food and drink she allotted to herself. She had husbanded everything with the utmost care. On the sixth day they were gone. She awoke with a frightful craving, which was greatly intensified as the day drew on.
She was thankful for one thing that the sun was veiled, although the heat in the humid, heavy, over cast air was something almost unbearable. Under the freshening breeze the boat went much more swiftly than heretofore. She had that satisfaction, but she had the apprehension that if the wind grew any stronger her sail, serviceable as it had proved and stout as it was, would be torn to pieces. The silk braid had done splendid service, but she marked that it was now strained to the breaking point. Again the helplessness of her position came upon her. She could not take down the sail. In the first place she was afraid to leave the helm, and in the second place she realized that if she started to furl it, she could only do it by cutting the lashing, and at the first cut the whole thing would blow away. So she held on. There was nothing else to do.
The night fell in a burst of rain which was most grateful to her, but which was a forecast of a fiercer blow, and at midnight the hurricane broke in full force upon the little boat. The first blast tore the sail from the lashings. By a lightning flash she caught a glimpse of it for a second, whirled away like a great bird. For some reason, perhaps because one or two shreds of cloth still clung to the mast and perhaps because the broad blade of the oar offered some surface for the thrust of the wind, she was able, by the exercise of constant vigilance and all the strength of which she was capable, to keep the boat before the wind. Hitherto she had had no idea of the violence of the wave motion. It was with difficulty that she kept herself from being dashed to pieces against the sides or hurled overboard in the mad whirling and plunging to which the launch was suddenly subjected. It was caught up by one wave after another and driven on for hours. She could not tell how long. She lost all consciousness of time and of everything else, except that she must cling to the helm. The boat was still hurled forward. One great wave after another would seize her, uplift her and bear her on. The strain upon the woman's arms was terrific. She locked her teeth and hung on, breathless, exhausted, yet determined.
But there was a limit to her powers, and she felt that it had been reached. Yet she did not deliberately let go. One final and terrific heave jerked her away from the wheel. She fell sprawling in the bottom of the boat, but had sense enough to lock her hands around a thwart and lie there. The launch broached-to in an instant. She was turned broadside to the waves. Fortunately she did not capsize instantly, and the next breaker filled her. She lay, her gunwales flush with the water. Her motion was still violent, but less jerky. She was swept ever onward by the vast undulations.
The indomitable woman clinging to the thwart managed to keep her head out of the water. She realized that this was the end, and yet while she had a remainder of strength, while she could draw a flickering breath, she would not give up. The boat, being water-logged, did not pitch so much as before, and she was able to maintain her hold, although every wave that broke over her drenched her again and again.
She wondered why the boat did not sink, and then she realized that the empty gasoline tanks which she had closed and locked prevented the final catastrophe;, that the boat was in a certain sense a life boat; that it would float so long as the water pressure did not succeed in opening the tanks. Therefore, she was for the moment safe. The only immediate danger would be the capsizing of the boat, which would throw her out. Since the launch was already full of water, the woman did not think this was likely to happen.
She held on, her vitality gradually growing weaker, hoping for the morning and an abatement of the storm. She had no idea of time, of course. She could not tell what the hour was. It was still dark, however, when a strange sound smote her ear. She heard it above the wild scream of the wind and the awful beat of the waves. It was a crashing sound, a battering sound, a fearful, por[t]entous sound. The boat ran forward more swiftly now. She wondered the reason. Taking advantage of a brief lull, she abandoned her grip on the thwart and rose to her knees. Immediately in front of her she saw a white wall disclosed to her by the lightning flashes. She did not know what it was. The roaring sound came from thence. She was being borne rapidly toward it. She was nearing it with astonishing swiftness. The boat was moving more quickly now than at any time since she had been in it. At last it broke upon her consciousness that the white wall was a mass of foam; that the sea was crashing against some hidden shore and that great breakers were there.
The land that she had longed for indeed lay athwart her course. In another moment she would be in that mass of boiling foam. Well, she had fought a good fight. The end was at hand. With some instinct of the heroic she resolved that death would not find her lying down. Desperately she struggled to her feet and stood balancing herself to the wild onward rush of the boat. The wall of foam was close at hand. For one second she threw out her arms, and the next moment, with a crash which she could feel if not hear, the boat beneath her feet was lifted up and hurled on something fearfully solid. She was thrown through the air like a bolt from a catapult. A wave struck her in the back and beat her almost into insensibility. She was tossed and driven, half-unconscious, over a space of shallow water and rolling sea upon a sandy shore. Some instinct of life gave her motion. Blindly she crawled on. The waves seemed suddenly to have lost their power. She did not know that she had been thrown past a barrier reef and carried over a lagoon and dropped on a sea beach; that only the most unusual and gigantic waves could reach her; but she knew that they had little power to harm her. And so she crept desperately and doggedly on until she fell forward in the warm sand and lapsed into absolute and total unconsciousness.
Continued in Part III
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